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“Nay, I'll tarry not to be made game of," cried she somewhat sulkily; and thereupon hurried out of the room.

..May hap, if she tarry to be made game of, then should none hurry to put her on the spit. Haw! haw! haw l" shouted her master, his eyes twinkling very merrily at the conceit.

“Methinks it would be but barbarous to make a roast of her,” observed the scrivener, with a perfect seriousness. And indeed she seemeth not very delicate eating."

“No more delicate eating than thou art; and I doubt not to find more juice in the fag end of a piece of dowlas than thou canst boast of in thy whole body," replied the mercer, who being of a well-fed person himself, held the other's lankness in seeming contempt. “But what sayest thou to a dainty young wench of some sixteen years or so - fresh and plump and tender as a chicken? Doth not thy mouth water at such fare-ey, Gregory ?

“In honest truth, I have no stomach for human flesh," answered the scrivener.

“Out on thee for a dull wit!” exclaimed the other. “I'll be hanged if thou hast more brains than a roast chesnut. But as thou canst not entertain me with thy discourse, see if thou canst tune up thy pipe for a song. A song-a song, Gregory !".

"Believe me, I have forgotten every tune but one,” said the miser of St. Mary Axe in very serious fashion, “and that be the hundredth psalm.”

“Psalm me no psalms! Dos't take me for a puritan?” cried the jolly mercer. , “Nay, but it be an excellent sober, tune, Geoffrey Sarsnet.”

“Then shall it be the most unfit tune in the world over a full bowl. Haw! hawl haw !” shouted his companion in the same merry key as

at first.

“Methinks I know of none other,” said Gregory Vellum.

“Then ale of mine shalt thou never taste till thou hast bethought thee of something more to the purpose. So look to thy memory, and quickly..".

“I do remember me there was a song I did use to affect in an idle hour when I was but an apprentice,” observed the scrivener.

“Prythee, then, out with it !” exclaimed the other.

“Indeed, I have no voice for singing, gossip. Hem! hem !" and then the old fellow began to clear his throat very diligently, looking, or rather striving to look, exceeding modest all the time.

“I have asked thee not to sing with any other voice than thine own; so I must needs make the best of it,” replied the jolly mercer very merrily.

"Hem, hem !" “Nay, I would as lief sit with a tailor as with one that doth nothing but 'hem,'” said his companion with a laugh as loud as ever.

I will fall to it as well as I may,” replied the scrivener. Then turning up his eyes to the ceiling, began in a wonderful shrill trem

bling pipe

“When little birds sat on their nests

“Nay, but good gossip, I be not in most excellent voice," said he, ere he had got any further. “Hem, hem."

" It wants no conjuror to tell me that," answered his companion with a chuckle. “But not a drop of my good ale shall moisten thy throat is thou dost not sing me the song before it be brought in."

“Hem, hem !” repeated the other quickly, for he had no objection to any good thing at another's expense. Then with a lack-a-daisical look, the like of which it is impossible to conceive, he recommenced

66 When little birds sat on their nests,

And conies to the young wheat hied;
And flowers hung down their dainty crests,
And Philomel her sweet trade plied.

• With my heigh-ho!
Whether or no,
Kiss me but once before I go,

Under the tree where the pippins grow.'» I say nothing against the matter of thy ballad," here interposed the mercer; “for it be as exquisite foolish stuff as heart can desire; but if thou art not singing it to the hundredth psalm then never gave I honest measure.”

“'Tis very like,” replied the old miser gravely; “for I did tell thee I knew of no other tune.”

“I'll have none on't. So look that thou sing the proper notes." At this, with a preliminary hem or two, Gregory Vellum did essay the second verse, much after the same die-away fashion as at first.

6 'Twas then a lover and his lass,

Her rosy cheek with his acquaint “Thou art at the psalm again, and be hanged to thee!" here exclaimed his companion.

“ Indeed then I knew it not; but I will take good heed I fall no more into that strain,” And then he continued his ballad.

“ Had set them on the tender grass;
Whilst he thus fondly made his plaint.

Singing heigh-ho!
Whether or no,
Kiss me again before I go,

Under the tree where the pippins grow.'» 6. Thou art clean past all hope," cried Geoffrey Sarsnet. “For to one note of the ballad thou hast given a score of the hundredth psalm.”

“Ah, did I so?—then in truth it did escape me unawares," replied the other, and resumed his ditty, the first two or three notes of the which seemed of a fitting tune; but the rest was the psalm beyond all possibility of contradiction.

“ He kissed her once, he kissed her twice,

Though oft she coyly said him nay ;
Mayhap she had him kiss her thrice,
Before she let him get away.

Singing heigh-ho!
Whether or no,
Kiss me again before you go,
Under the tree where the pippins grow.'


Odds, my life! thou hast no more notes in thy voice than hath a cuckoo, who singeth the same sorry tune ever," said the jolly mercer. "But here comes the bowl,” he added, seeing Margery enter with it in her hands, and place it before him.

“Ay, marry does it,” said the old woman-all trace of her late displeasure having vanished and there is in it as fine a roasted crab as heart could wish for, with store of all proper things."

“By cock and pye, so there is !” exclaimed her master, gloating over it with his rosy face, and sniffing up the spicy steam with wonderful satisfaction, “Now, will I believe, Margery, all that thou hast said of thy exceeding virtue: nay, more, looking into thy face, I could take upon me to swear, with a sase conscience, that thou hast never had a lover in thy life.” And thereupon he again burst out a laughing.

“Nay, you are wrong there, kind heart," replied Margery, with great complacency, “I have had no lack of lovers in my time, I warrant you. For, as I was a saying but now, it was just five and twenty years last Martinmas"

“Since thou wert taken up by the constable on evidence that thou wert like to become chargeable to the parish: a singular fine proof that thou hast had lovers sure enough. Hawl haw! haw !” Thereat he slapped the table so hard that it did overturn one of the drinking horns he had just filled.

The old dame answered not, save by bouncing out of the room more angry than before.

"Mind it not, Gregory !” exclaimed the jolly mercer, as he beheld his companion trying to save the ale, by catching it in the empty horn, as it run through the chinks of the table.

“It be a shame to let such good liquor run to waste, gossip," he replied.

“'Twould have been all the same hadst thou swallowed it," observed the other; “for to give it thee is to waste it indeed; because thou dost never look the better for it. Here, hand up thy cannikinthough, in truth, thou deservest not to partake of such brave stuff, seeing that thou didst make such a miserable hand at thy ditty.”

“To tell thee the exact truth,” said the old miser, very earnestly, “though I have, at divers times, essayed many different songs, somehow or another, yet know I not why, I never could find any other tune for them but the hundreth psalm.”

“Then art thou but a goose at singing," replied his companion, finishing a draught of the good liquor before him, which, by the smacking of his lips, seemed to please his palate mightily, “but I will troll thee a song, Gregory, and one worthy to be mated with such right exquisite tipple as this.”

"'Tis famous drinking, indeed !” remarked the scrivener, after a hearty draught of the same; "and the singing, I doubt not, will match it.”

“Thou shalt judge," said the other; then, with a full round voice, and in a very jovial manner, he did give out the following strain.

" I never had voice for a song that's choice,

And dainty ditties with me must fail:
Yet, weeks at a time, I fain would cbime,
Whenever I strike up in the praise of good ale.

Then troul, troul,

Each hearty old soul,
That loveth the sight of a foaming bowl;

For there's naught in the land

He should care to command,
· Who hath got such brave liquor as this at his hand.
Full oft to the great have I held my prate-

But when I have had good ale enow,
I be not afeard to wag my beard
With any woman's son, be he high or low.

Then troul, troul, &c.
Perchance I am shy when a woman is by“.

Yet if but good ale my jerkin line,

Wife, widow, or maid-in sun or shade,
'Ere an hour may have passed, shall have sworn herself mine.

Then troul, troul, &c.
Mayhap I've no store of the sage's lorem

But when some good ale is in my pate,
l'faith I can speak in Dutch or Greek,
And argue a whole college as dumb as their gate.

Then troul, troul, &c.
It may be from fright I would run than fight-

Yet when with good ale beneath my skin;
With sword or with lance will I advance,
And leagured by my foes, cut through thick and thin.

Then troul, troul, &c.
'Twill needs be my hap to have not a rap

But when that good ale hath warmed my veins, :
There be none like myself, so rich in pelf-
For ne'er can I count up the whole of my gains.

Then troul, troul, &c.
I'm nigh unto Death for the lack of breath-

Yet if of good ale I am not scant,
Full many a bout shall I see out,
And never shall I know aught of pain or of want.

Then trogl, troul,

Each hearty old soul,
That loveth the sight of a foaming bowl :

For there's naught in the land

He should care to command,
Who hath got such brave liquor as this at his hand!”

“Indeed it be an excellent fine song, gossip, and a merry," oba served the old miser, with exceeding complacency.

“Somewhat better than thy miserable ditty, that be only fit to be sung over a kitten in a fit,” replied the jolly mercer, with his customary laugh. “But hand up thy vessel, Gregory, for it hath acquired a marvellous resemblance to thyself—it be singularly empty: Haw! haw! hawl

“In truth, it hath nothing in it," said the scrivener, losing no time in doing as he was bid. “But what hath become of the beautiful Joanna all this time ?''

“Like enough, she be above stairs with some of her gallants," answered the other, carelessly.

“With some of her gallants ?” exclaimed Gregory Vellum-his leaden visage in no small degree disturbed -"Prythee, tell me, be there many that consort with her?”

“Some score or two, at least,” replied his companion.

“But dost approve of it ?” asked the old miser, looking still less at his ease. . “To be sure I do, Gregory. Dost think I know not on which side of the bread the butter lies?-I tell thee, there be all sorts of notable gentlemen and brave gallants, come after her upon the fame of her infinite comeliness; and, doubtless, seeking of my favour, they order of me great store of fine things for their own wearing. Many's the piece of satin I have sold for a cloak; and as for velvets and silks, it be beyond calculation the store I have got rid of on that account. Mayhap, in time, some of them owe me a swinging bill, and I go with it to their houses, and, like enough, get no answer-then send I Joanna, and she bringeth me the money in a presently. Odds my life, man! seeing that she be of such profit to me, will I not let her do as she lists?

“But dost not fancy it may like to damage her reputation ?

“Damage her fiddlestick !” replied the jolly mercer, with his ready laugh. " I doubt not she be well able to take care of herself; and if she grant them any favour, 'tis like she maketh them pay roundly for it."

This communication the miser of St. Mary Axe in no way seemed to relish, as was evident from the increasing uneasiness of his countenance.

“Surely thou wouldst be glad to see her honestly married to some reputable person,” said he at last.

“Dost take me for an ass, Gregory ?" sharply enquired the other. “Neither honestly nor dishonestly, with my good will : for should I not lose by it all the good custom that is now drawn to my house? If she marry, I must needs make the best I can of it; but I would ever hinder it if I could.”

“Alack do not say so, gossip,” cried his companion in very woeful fashion, “ for in honest truth I love her infinitely, and would marry her myself.”

“ Thou marry her !" shouted the mercer, pushing back his chair, and staring on the other in exceeding surprise.

"Ay, good Geoffrey, and have come expressly to talk to thee upon the business.”

“Haw! haw! haw !” roared out his lusty companion.

"And, as she knoweth full well, have been courting of her for some time past.

“Haw I haw I haw l" repeated the jolly mercer louder than


"Nay, forsooth, it be no laughing matter to me, I do assure thee,” continued the old miser, now a little nettled at the manner in which his communication had been received. She hath had great store of gifts from me-owches, rings, a Venetian chain that cost me

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