The Knight of the Burning Pestle/Act II
Enter Venturewell and Humphrey.
- And how, faith, how goes it now, son Humphrey?
- Right worshipful, and my belovèd friend
- And father dear, this matter’s at an end.
- ’Tis well: it should be so: I’m glad the girl
- Is found so tractable.
- Nay, she must whirl
- From hence (and you must wink; for so, I say,
- The story tells,) to-morrow before day. [Wife . George, dost thou think in thy conscience now ’twill be a match? tell me but what thou thinkest, sweet rogue. Thou seest the poor gentleman, dear heart, how it labours and throbs, I warrant you, to be at rest! I’ll go move the father for’t.
- No, no; I prithee, sit still, honeysuckle; thou’lt spoil all. If he deny him, I’ll bring half-a-dozen good fellows myself, and in the shutting of an evening, knock’t up, and there’s an end.
- I’ll buss thee for that, i’faith, boy. Well, George, well, you have been a wag in your days, I warrant you; but God forgive you, and I do with all my heart.]
- How was it, son? you told me that to-morrow
- Before day-break, you must convey her hence.
- I must, I must; and thus it is agreed:
- Your daughter rides upon a brown-bay steed,
- I on a sorrel, which I bought of Brian,
- The honest host of the Red roaring Lion,
- In Waltham situate. Then, if you may,
- Consent in seemly sort; lest, by delay,
- The Fatal Sisters come, and do the office,
- And then you’ll sing another song.
- Why should you be thus full of grief to me,
- That do as willing as yourself agree
- To any thing, so it be good and fair?
- Then, steal her when you will, if such a pleasure
- Content you both; I’ll sleep and never see it,
- To make your joys more full. But tell me why
- You may not here perform your marriage?
- God’s blessing o’ thy soul, old man! i’faith, thou art loath to part true hearts. I see ’a has her, George; and I’m as glad on’t!—Well, go thy ways, Humphrey, for a fair-spoken man; I believe thou hast not thy fellow within the walls of London; an I should say the suburbs too, I should not lie.—Why dost not rejoice with me, George?
- If I could but see Ralph again, I were as merry as mine host, i’faith.
- The cause you seem to ask, I thus declare—Help
- me, O Muses nine! Your daughter sware
- A foolish oath, and more it was the pity;
- Yet no one but myself within this city
- Shall dare to say so, but a bold defiance
- Shall meet him, were he of the noble science;
- And yet she sware, and yet why did she sware?
- Truly, I cannot tell, unless it were
- For her own ease; for, sure, sometimes an oath,
- Being sworn thereafter, is like cordial broth;
- And this it was she swore, never to marry
- But such a one whose mighty arm could carry
- (As meaning me, for I am such a one)
- Her bodily away, through stick and stone,
- Till both of us arrive, at her request,
- Some ten miles off, in the wild Waltham forest.
- If this be all, you shall not need to fear
- Any denial in your love: proceed;
- I’ll neither follow, nor repent the deed.
- Good night, twenty good nights, and twenty more,
- And twenty more good nights,—that makes three-score!
- [Exeunt severally.
Enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.
- Come, Michael; art thou not weary, boy?
- No, forsooth, mother, not I.
- Where be we now, child?
- Indeed, forsooth, mother, I cannot tell, unless we be at Mile-End: Is not all the world Mile-End, mother?
- No, Michael, not all the world, boy; but I can assure thee, Michael, Mile End is a goodly matter: there has been a pitchfield, my child, between the naughty Spaniels and the Englishmen; and the Spaniels ran away, Michael, and the Englishmen followed: my neighbour Coxstone was there, boy, and killed them all with a birding-piece.
- Mother, forsooth——
- What says my white boy?
- Shall not my father go with us too?
- No, Michael, let thy father go snick - up; he shall never come between a pair of sheets with me again while he lives; let him stay at home, and sing for his supper, boy. Come, child, sit down, and I’ll show my boy fine knacks, indeed. [They sit down: and she takes out a casket .] Look here, Michael; here’s a ring, and here’s a brooch, and here’s a bracelet, and here’s two rings more, and here’s money and gold by th’eye, my boy.
- Shall I have all this, mother?
- Ay, Michael, thou shalt have all, Michael.
- How likest thou this, wench?
- I cannot tell; I would have Ralph, George; I’ll see no more else, indeed, la; and I pray you, let the youths understand so much by word of mouth; for, I tell you truly, I’m afraid o’ my boy. Come, come, George, let’s be merry and wise: the child’s a fatherless child; and say they should put him into a strait pair of gaskins, ’twere worse than knot-grass; he would never grow after it.]
- Enter Ralph, Tim, and George.
- Here’s Ralph, here’s Ralph!
- How do you do, Ralph? you are welcome, Ralph, as I may say; it’s a good boy, hold up thy head, and be not afraid; we are thy friends, Ralph; the gentlemen will praise thee, Ralph, if thou playest thy part with audacity. Begin, Ralph, a’ God’s name!]
- My trusty squire, unlace my helm: give me my hat. Where are we, or what desert may this be?
- Mirror of knighthood, this is, as I take it, the perilous Waltham-down; in whose bottom stands the enchanted valley.
- Oh, Michael, we are betrayed, we are betrayed! here be giants! Fly, boy! fly, boy, fly!
- [Exit with Michael leaving the casket.
- Lace on my helm again. What noise is this?
- A gentle lady, flying the embrace
- Of some uncourteous knight! I will relieve her.
- Go, squire, and say, the Knight, that wears this Pestle
- In honour of all ladies, swears revenge
- Upon that recreant coward that pursues her;
- Go, comfort her, and that same gentle squire
- That bears her company.
- I go, brave knight.
- My trusty dwarf and friend, reach me my shield;
- And hold it while I swear. First, by my knighthood;
- Then by the soul of Amadis de Gaul,
- My famous ancestor; then by my sword
- The beauteous Brionella girt about me;
- By this bright burning Pestle, of mine honour
- The living trophy; and by all respect
- Due to distressèd damsels; here I vow
- Never to end the quest of this fair lady
- And that forsaken squire till by my valour
- I gain their liberty!
- Heaven bless the knight
- That thus relieves poor errant gentlewomen!
- Ay, marry, Ralph, this has some savour in’t; I would see the proudest of them all offer to carry his books after him. But, George, I will not have him go away so soon; I shall be sick if he go away, that I shall: call Ralph again, George, call Ralph again; I prithee, sweetheart, let him come fight before me, and let’s ha’ some drums and some trumpets, and let him kill all that comes near him, an thou lovest me, George!
- Peace a little, bird: he shall kill them all, an they were twenty more on ’em than there are.
- Enter Jasper.
- Now, Fortune, if thou be’st not only ill,
- Show me thy better face, and bring about
- Thy desperate wheel, that I may climb at length,
- And stand. This is our place of meeting,
- If love have any constancy. Oh, age,
- Where only wealthy men are counted happy!
- How shall I please thee, how deserve thy smiles,
- When I am only rich in misery?
- My father’s blessing and this little coin
- Is my inheritance; a strong revénue!
- From earth thou art, and to the earth I give thee:
- [Throws away the money.
- There grow and multiply, whilst fresher air
- Breeds me a fresher fortune.—How! illusion?
- [Sees the casket
- What, hath the devil coined himself before me?
- ’Tis metal good, it rings well; I am waking,
- And taking too, I hope. Now, God’s dear blessing
- Upon his heart that left it here! ’tis mine;
- These pearls, I take it, were not left for swine.
- [Exit with the casket.
- I do not like that this unthrifty youth should embezzle away the money; the poor gentlewoman his mother will have a heavy heart for it, God knows.
- And reason good, sweetheart.
- But let him go; I’ll tell Ralph a tale in’s ear shall fetch him again with a wanion, I warrant him, if he be above ground; and besides, George, here are a number of sufficient gentlemen can witness, and myself, and yourself, and the musicians, if we be called in question.
Enter Ralph and George.
- Comes not sir squire again?
- Right courteous knight,
- Your squire doth come, and with him comes the lady,
- For and the Squire of Damsels, as I take it.
Enter Tim, Mistress Merrythought, and Michael.
- Madam, if any service or devoir
- Of a poor errant knight may right your wrongs,
- Command it; I am prest to give you succour;
- For to that holy end I bear my armour.
- Alas, sir, I am a poor gentlewoman, and I have lost my money in this forest!
- Desert, you would say, lady; and not lost
- Whilst I have sword and lance. Dry up your tears,
- Which ill befit the beauty of that face,
- And tell the story, if I may request it,
- Of your disastrous fortune.
- Out, alas! I left a thousand pound, a thousand pound, e’en all the money I had laid up for this youth, upon the sight of your mastership; you looked so grim, and, as I may say it, saving your presence, more like a giant than a mortal man.
- I am as you are, lady; so are they;
- All mortal. But why weeps this gentle squire?
- Has he not cause to weep, do you think, when he hath lost his inheritance?
- Young hope of valour, weep not; I am here
- That will confound thy foe, and pay it dear
- Upon his coward head, that dares deny
- Distressèd squires and ladies equity.
- I have but one horse, on which shall ride
- This fair lady behind me, and before
- This courteous squire: fortune will give us more
- Upon our next adventure. Fairly speed
- Beside us, squire and dwarf, to do us need!
- Did not I tell you, Nell, what your man would do? by the faith of my body, wench, for clean action and good delivery, they may all cast their caps at him.
- And so they may, i’faith; for I dare speak it boldly, the twelve companies of London cannot match him, timber for timber. Well, George, an he be not inveigled by some of these paltry players, I ha’ much marvel: but, George, we ha’ done our parts, if the boy have any grace to be thankful.
- Yes, I warrant thee, duckling.
Enter Humphrey and Luce.
- Good Mistress Luce, however I in fault am
- For your lame horse, you’re welcome unto Waltham;
- But which way now to go, or what to say,
- I know not truly, till it be broad day.
- Oh, fear not, Master Humphrey; I am guide
- For this place good enough.
- Then, up and ride;
- Or, if it please you, walk, for your repose,
- Or sit, or, if you will, go pluck a rose;
- Either of which shall be indifferent
- To your good friend and Humphrey, whose consent
- Is so entangled ever to your will,
- As the poor harmless horse is to the mill.
- Faith, an you say the word, we’ll e’en sit down,
- And take a nap.
- ’Tis better in the town,
- Where we may nap together; for, believe me,
- To sleep without a snatch would mickle grieve me.