Abbildungen der Seite

fifty crowns, besides sundry sums in rose nobles for her private expenses ; and when upon shewing her of what bountiful disposition I had been, I pressed her to pame the nuptial day, she did earnestly assure me of her willingness, provided I succeeded in the obtaining of thy consent.”

“Haw! haw! haw !” shouted the other, giving the table a thump that made it sound again, and looking as if he could hardly see out of his eyes, his cheeks were so squeezed up with laughing, “ That be best of all. So thou hast been courting Joanna, eh Gregory? Why, thou shadow I thou lath I thou rush! thou first cousin to nothing !-what could mislead thee into such egregious folly? to say nothing of the presumption on't. To think for a moment such a withered apple-john as thou art should succeed against so many fine young knights and sprightly gentlemen !”.

“ Prythee, if I am not to have her to wife, let her return the gists she had of me,” cried the old miser with exceeding earnestness.

“If thou ever seest a glimpse of one of them, then shalt thou have better eye-sight than is customary for one at thy time of life," replied the other, chuckling famously.

“ Nay, I will go to law on it an' I have them not,” cried the scrivener, starting up from his chair in a monstrous consternation at the thought of losing so many valuable things.

“ Prythee do no such thing," answered the jolly mercer, as well as he could for laughing, “ for of a surety thou wouldst be laughed out of every court in Christendom.”

"Oh, I be utterly ruined and undone l” exclaimed the old miser wildly, as he sunk his hands in his face and dropped again into his chair. : " I doubt it be so bad as that," observed Geoffrey Sarsnet," but it will be a good lesson for thee to take heed when thou dost again pay the piper, to see thou art not left alone in the dance.”

Gregory Vellum replied not-for indeed he did stand very much in fear of his lusty companion, and did scarce dare utter a word; but no unfortunate wight looked ever in so disconsolate a mood.

6. Come, drink, man! drink !” cried the mercer very merrily. " Care killed a cat, and if it could put a finish upon her nine lives, surely thy one must needs stand but a sorry chance. So drown care in the bowl, and thou shalt live all the happier for it.”

The scrivener of St. Mary Axe then, as if in a desperate taking, did begin to drink like a fish, in the which he was encouraged by the other, who joked and laughed without ceasing. At this time there entered one of a very impudent countenance, and monstrous swaggering manner. His hair was of the colour of flax that hath been scorched in the dressing, and was combed back in a mighty coxcombical fashion from his forehead, where it was twisted up like unto a cocaktoo's crest ; his beard was of the like hue, and cut to a peak. Of his face it may suffice to say that it did express a singular fine opinion of the owner, and for assurance was not like to meet with its peer. For his age it seemed nigh unto thirty. He wore a high ruff and a doublet very conceitedly cut, that had once been much better tban it was ; with breeches stuffed out extravagantly-red hose cross gartered, and yellow rosettes in his shoes, a world and all too large. Sticking his right arm straight out, with his other arm a-kimbo, as soon as he had entered; with a very fustian voice, and high and mighty look, he thus addressed the twain: ,

Brave peers of France! sith we have passed the bounds
Whereby the wrangling billows seek for straits
To war with Tellus and her fruitful mines;
Sith we have fnrrowed through those wandering tides
Of Tyrrhene seas, and made our galleys dance
Upon the Hyperborean billows' crests,
That braves with streams the watery occident”.

What, Ralph Goshawk !” cried the jolly mercer as he noticed the intruder. “Come, sit thee down, and help us to finish this bowl.” But the other, without minding the interruption, continued :

“ And found the rich and wealthy Indian clime,

Sought to by greedy minds for hostile gold”“Nay, give over bombasting out thy blank verse awhile,” said Geoffrey Sarsnet. “In truth, Ralph, thou art exceeding like a gutter on a house-top in a storm of rain-thou art so abominably given to spouting. Haw! haw! haw!"

The miser of St. Mary Axe stared with a sort of consternation, for either what he had drunk had fuddled him in some measure, or he liked not the stranger's appearance: seeing which, the latter made two or three dignified strides to where the scrivener sat, and spoke him thus:

6 And I, my lord, am Mandricard of Mexico,

Whose climate fairer than Tyberius,
Seated beyond the sea of Tripoly,

And richer than the plot Hesperides.” “I drink your worship's health, Master Mandricard,” falteringly replied Gregory Vellum, with trembling hands raising the horn to his mouth. Thereat, the other proceeded after the same fashion.

“ As for myself, I walk abroad a nights,

And kill sick people groaning under walls :" At this the miser could not drink, he seemed struck with such a sudden fear.

“ Sometimes I go about and poison wells."
“You don't say so !” exclaimed the frightened scrivener.

And now and then to cherish Christian thieves
I am content to lose some of my crowns;
That I may, walking in my gallery,

See 'em go pinioned along by my door," “Hal” cried the frightened scrivener, in a long tremulous tone.

“ Then after that was I an usurer,

And with extorting, cozening, forfeiting,
And tricks belonging unto brokery,
I filled the jails with bankrupts in a year,

And with young orphans planted hospitals,

And every moon made some or other mad.” " Good Lord, deliver us !" piously exclaimed the old miser. Then raising his voice, and looking very frowningly, the other recommenced :

“ 'Twas I, my lord, that got the victory

The god of war resigns his room to me,
Meaning to make me general of the world.
Jove viewing me in arms looks pale and wan,
Fearing my power should pull him from his throne,
Where'er I come, the fatal sisters sweat,
And grisly Death,-by running to and fro
To do their ceaseless homage to my sword.”

At this, Gregory Vellum trembling in every joint, and looking as pale as any of his parchment, threw himself on his knees before the other, with closed palms and uplifted eyes, and cried out as loud as his fright would allow,

“Good, your worship, don't kill me this time!"

“ Haw! haw! haw!" shouted the jolly mercer, who with much ado, had refrained from laughing before. “Get thee up, Gregory, and fear nothing. It be only Ralph Goshawk, a young haberdasher from the Strand, as impudent a varlet as lives; but there be no harm in him, save that he be stage-struck. He goeth to the playhouse so oft, that his talk is all of fag ends of plays; and so far gone is he in it, that if one ask of him the price of pack-thread, he will answer, like an emperor, in blank verse. Sit thee down, Ralph! and take me off this horn of good ale, or I will beat thee out of thy humour in a jiffy."

The young haberdasher took two majestic strides to a chair, which, in the like princely manner, he drew to the table; then, with a right royal salutation to the company, he tossed off his ale, and sat himself down very gravely; at the which Geoffrey Sarsnet laughed louder than ever. The scrivener, in some degree assured that the other would do him no harm, now returned to his seat; but the drink he had had, evidently was getting into his head, for he had a very vacant look with him, and he walked unsteadily.

" Come, drink, my masters, drink." exclaimed the mercer, filling the cups of his guests as fast as they were emptied. “And how weareth the night, Ralph ?”

No sooner had the question been asked than he that was spoken to jumped up from his chair, placed his arms as before described, and thus answered:

“ The golden ball of Heaven's eternal fire,

That danced with glory on the silver waves,
Now wants the fuel that inflamed his beams;
And all with faintness and for foul disgrace,
He binds his temples with a frowning cloud.”

Then sat him down.

“ Thou villain, thou wilt be the death of me,” exclaimed his lusty host, with his usual hearty laugh. “But cannot we have a catch, my masters? I'm in a brave humour for singing. A catch, my masters—a catch!”

Upjumped the young haberdasher at this, exclaiming exactly after the same fashion as at first:

6 And in this sweet and curious harmony

The god that tunes this music to our souls
Holds out his hand in highest majesty
To entertain divine Zenocrate.”

"A fig for Zenocrate and all her generation !” cried the jolly mercer. “I tell thee we will have a catch, what sayest thou, Gregory? Art for a catch ?”

“I'd rather the hundredth psalm if it please thee, gossip,” drawled out the scrivener, winking his eyes abit, as if his sight was none of the clearest.

“Be this a time to sing psalms, thou heathen !” bawled out he of Eastcheap. " Hast no respect for places? well, if we cannot sing a catch, we will dance the brawls: so away with the tables and chairs, my masters, into the corner, and let's foot it bravely.”

The table and chairs were quickly moved by the jolly mercer, assisted by Ralph Goshawk, who could not, in the mean while, refrain from breaking out,

“Now Hecuba and Jium's honoured line.” “Hang Hecuba and thee too!” cried Geoffrey Sarsnet; "and for the matter of that, Ilium may take his line and hang himself. Haw! haw! haw! Now then, my masters, at it in style, to the tune of “Green Sleeves.'

Then commenced a scene, the like of which hath rarely been looked on; for the jolly mercer began throwing about his lusty limbs, singing of the tune to the top of his voice, with now and then varying it with a loud whoop, as he slapped one or other on the back. He was seconded by Ralph Goshawk, who moved about as gingerly as though the flooring was of pins and needles, and he was mightily afraid of pricking his toes; and after him came the old miser, with his eyes half shut, and hanging of his head on one side, as he staggered here and there, as if without the slightest knowledge of what he was a doing. Such a din they kicked up as would have astonished a blacksmith. In the very midst thereof, Gregory Vellum made a stumble, and came with his back against the table, knocking down from it the lights, the horns, the bowl, and every one thing that had been there, and putting the place in utter and complete darkness.

Immediately after the crash, the door opened, and there appeared at it the beautiful Joanna with a light, with dame Margery close behind, peeping to know what such a terrible racket could be about. Seeing the mercer's daughter, the old miser, who had till now supported himself against the table with his hands, slipped down upon his nether end, staring at her as foolishly as you please, with his mouth open; and the young haberdasher marched forward two paces, and with his arms in the usual position, addressed her thus:

u O gentle daughter of King (Edipus,

o sister dear to that unhappy wight
Whom brother's rage hath reaved of his right,
To whom thou kuowest, in young and tender years,
I was a friend and faithful governor,
Come forth, since that her grace hath granted leave,
And let me know what cause hath moved now,
So chaste a maid to set her dainty foot
Over the threshold of her secret lodge.”

Go it, fustian !" cried the mercer, giving the other so forcible a slap on the back that it put him quite out of his favourite position, and nearly sent him sprawling on the floor.

“Father, I wonder you should make such a clatter at this time of the night,” said Joanna, as gravely as she could; for in truth the scene was extremely ludicrous: then she added to the old woman,“Margery, let them have lights.” At the which, giving her candle to the other, she was hastening away, when she stopped suddenly, turned back, and said, “I think you had best go to bed, father, for ’tis exceeding late, and the neighbours will marvel hugely at your making such a disturbance;"-and then she went away.

"Well, the choicest of fooling must have an end,” exclaimed the jolly mercer; “so we must e'en part. Ralph, thou hadst best see Gregory Vellum to his house in St. Mary Axe, for I doubt much, if he were left to find his way, he would get beyond the next gutter." At the which, the young haberdasher answered only by staring at the open door very earnestly, and exclaiming thus:

"Techelles, draw thy sword,
And wound the earth, that it may cleave in twain,
And we descend into th' infernal vaults
To hale the fatal sisters by the hair,
And throw them in the triple moat of hell,
For taking hence my fair Zenocrate."

“What, Zenocrate again? and be hanged to thee," cried out his lusty host, and thereat lent him such a kick of the breech, that it sent him 'bounce against the old woman, as she was a going out at the door.

Ya !" screamed she, as loud as she could bawl, and took herself out of the room as if she had been shot out of it.

“Haw! haw! haw !" roared the jolly mercer, whilst the discomfited haberdasher stood at a little distance, diligently rubbing his nether end. “But haste thee, Ralph, and take this fellow away straight, for I am eager to have him out of my house.”

At this Ralph Goshawk took two or three of his most majestic strides to where Gregory Vellum now lay at his length, and with the assistance of his lusty companion, raised him on his legs. The old miser opened his lack-lustre eyes, and tried to look sensible, in the which, as may be supposed, he succeeded not at all.

“Oh, womanI lovely woman!” cried he, in his shrill treble; and thereupon hugged Ralph so closely in his arms, that both of them came tumbling to the ground together.

“Odds my life, this fooling will be the death of me," exclaimed

« ZurückWeiter »