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“For your sake, I will say yes, good Gregory Vellum,” replied she, without hesitation.
“ It shall be yours—it shall be yours," cried the old man, chafing his hands, and every limb of him shaking with excitement. “Now give me the kiss, my heart! my soul! my life! give me the kiss, I prythee."
* The chain first, Gregory Vellum,” said the other quietly, as she retreated from his proferred caresses.
“Ay, but wait awhile-wait a while sweetheart, and I will fetch it,” said he, hastening to the door, in an agony of impatience, and immediately returning to her side, before he had got hall way; but when shall be the happy day?-name it, name it, excellent Joanna, for I do long for the time when we two shall be one.”
“We will talk of that anon ;-but, the chain,” replied she.
“I fly, sweetest,” cried the old man, shullling off towards the door; but, just as he was about to open it, he came back hastily, with his eyes glistening, and his leaden countenance all of a glow, "we will spend all the yellow gold; we will live a right merry life. I'faith you shall have all that heart can desire, you shall, you shall, you shall, my queen of beauty!” i
“The chain, worthy Gregory Vellum," repeated his fair companion, as she eluded his eager advances.
“I am gone," said he, again hastening off; but, before he opened the door, he turned round, clasped his skinny hands together, and turning up the whites of his eyes, exclaimed, “Indeed, I love thee infinitely.”
"That for thy love,” cried she, spitting on the floor, with every mark of indignation and disgust, as soon as she heard him rapidly ascending the stairs—“that for thy love, thou most abhorred and infamous old dotard : but I will use thee. For the sake of one whose little finger is dearer to me than thy old moth-eaten carcase, I will make thee bring out thy long hoarded gold, and squander it right liberally." Then, hearing a noise at the door which opened into the street, she looked to see who it was. The same modest youth entered to whom the reader hath been introduced, at Master Shakspeare his lodging, on the Bank Side.
“What, Joanna !” he exclaimed, hastening towards her, with a most smiling countenance--"nay, this is a pleasure I dreamt not of.”
“'Tis. I, Francis," she replied, allowing him to take her hand, which he passionately pressed to his lips ; “but thy cheek is flushed, and thine eye unsteady. What ails thee?" .
“Nothing, dearest,” said he, “I have been detained, and I thought my uncle would be angered with me for stopping; for thou knowest how easy he is of provocation, so I ran all the way
home.” “Thou hadst best make haste, and conceal thyself somewhere for the nonce," responded she, "for thy uncle hath just left me, meaning to return straight; and he is out of all temper with thee, for sundry offences which he saith thou hast committed. So go thy ways, and let me see thee soon, for I have much to say to thee.”
“I will do thy bidding lovingly; yet it is a most regretful thing
to be obliged to leave thee," he said, as with reluctant steps, and slow, he made towards the door. Then, keeping his eyes upon her till the last moment, eloquent with a most impassioned tenderness, he left the room.
"Poor boy!” murmured she, as with a countenance full of melancholy interest, she watched his departure—“poor boy! he little knoweth how many distasteful things I do for his dear sake.”
At this moment Gregory Vellum was heard upon the stairs. There was a marked difference betwixt his going and his returning; for, whereas, in the first instance, he had galloped like an ostrich, now he was heard descending, step by step, so slow that it would not be a great stretch of fancy to say, he might have fallen asleep between whiles. Presently he opened the door, and instead of hastening towards Joanna, with enamoured looks and impatient gestures, as might have been expected from his previous behaviour, he advanced, at a laggard's pace, with his eyes fixed upon a glittering chain of gold, that he kept turning about in his hand, and with a face in which the demon of avarice, had evidently got the better of the demon of sensuality.
How now!” exclaimed his companion, as she noticed his approach, “you went out as quick of motion as a young colt-you creep in with the preposterous tediousness of a snail.”
“It cost me fifty crowns!” remarked he, still keeping his eyes on the precious metal, as if there was a fascination in it he could not withstand.
“Well, and what then?” enquired Joanna ; "that is nothing to the store of gold of which you mean to make such generous use,
“Ay, said I so!" said he quickly, and with a monstrous serious look, “no, twas a mistake. Gold! I have no gold; where should I get gold? I am poor, miserably poor, as you see. 'Tis a most admirable chain, and of right delicate workmanship,” he continued feasting his eyes upon it, as it glittered in his hand.
“ l'faith your love is of a most miserly disposition," responded she, smiling most bewitchingly all the time, “it preferreth a sorry chain to the object of its pretended adoration. By my troth, if I marry you after this, I'll vex myself into fiddle strings."
“Ah! talked you of marrying, sweetest ?” asked the old man eagerly, as he raised his eyes to her face; and, immediately they rested upon her well-favoured countenance, they again bėgan to twinkle with delight. “Truly have you the softest and most insinuating looks, and your smile is most absolute and irresistible. Your eyes, sweetheart, are as bright as this Venetian gold—but it cost me fifty crowns; and the pouting ripeness of your lips hath as much temptation as the polish upon the links; and, in good truth, 'tis a most rare and costly trinket.” And thereupon he continued, now fixing his eyes upon the chain, and gloating upon its brilliance; and anon raising them to the face of his fair companion, as if doating upon its beauty. It was evident that there was a struggle in his soul, about parting with his property. He longed for a caress from the seductive Joanna; but the Venetian trinket had wound itself round
his heart so strongly, that he could not bring himself to part with it. Several times it appeared that her soft glances had subdued his selfish nature; but just as he was on the point of giving up the object of his miserly regard, a look at its glittering links would again awake his avarice, and he would hesitate about its disposal.
“Good morning to you, Gregory Vellum,” said Joanna, as she turned upon her heel, with the intention of departing by the door that led into the street.
“Nay, nay sweetest !” exclaimed the old man, as he hastened after her, and held her by the arm, “you go not yet; I part not with you in this way. Shall I have the kiss you promised me?”
“By my troth you shall,” replied she; “but why ask you? You love your paltry gold better than me, or you would seem less loth to part with it; so I'll e'en have none of you.”
“ There is the chain, sweetheart," said he, eagerly throwing it round her neck, “ and now for the kiss—the kiss—the kiss-my angel upon earth 1-the kiss, sweet mistress Joanna; throw your soft arms around me, and press me your delicate lips.”
“There's my hand,” quietly replied she, as, all impatience and eagerness, spite of her retreating, he advanced towards her, intent upon having her in his embrace. "Your hand!” he exclaimed, with some surprise, as he still strove to approach her more closely, “'tis your rosy mouth that I would have, sweetheart."
“Nay, nay; a bargain is a bargain,” said she gravely ; “you gave me a chain, and I promised you should have a kiss for it. There was nothing said about my lips; and I intend only, as a great favour, that you should kiss my hand; so, fulfil your contract:here's my hand.”
At this, nothing could exceed the change that took place in the old man's countenance. His delight and impatience forsook him of a sudden. From being exceeding restless in all his limbs, he stood as still as a stone, and he looked perfectly confounded, and unable to
say a word.
“Well, if you will not, mayhap another time will suit you better, observed Mistress Joanna very courteously, as she proceeded towards the door. “ I thank you for the chain very heartily; 'tis a gist worthy of the gravity of your affections; and I know not, if you go on making a shew of such liberal behaviour, to what extent you may be rewarded. You ought, however, to be aware, that a prudent woman granteth but small favours at first; she will not give largely, or she may be undone straight. I wish you an increasing generosity; and with this desire, worthy Gregory Vellum, I do most delightedly take my leave of you.” And thereupon she made a curtsey to the ground, and with one of the sweetest of smiles, departed from the offiee.
“Fool! dolt! idiot! madman!” cried he vehemently, as he beat his head with his clenched fists, “ to be tricked, cozened, and imposed upon, in this barefaced manner, by a woman. Oh! Gregory Veilum, Gregory Vellum, what a very ass thou art! My chain of Venice gold is lost irretrievably, that I took for a debt of fifty crowns, and for which Master Ingot, the goldsmith, would have given me forty at any time. Oh! fool, that can only cozen boys and folks afar off, thou art cheated past all redemption !” Then he went and sat upon the stool, and leaned his head upon his hand, apparently in a monstrous melancholy humour. “Fifty crowns gone for nothing. Oh!" exclaimed he frantically, beating his heels against the stool, and then wringing his hands; "what a poor, wretched, miserable lunatic am I, to think of courting at my time of day. Such a brilliant chain! Oh! most preposterous idiot! fifty crowns! Oh! thou incomprehensible blockhead! I could beat out my brains with a whisp of straw, out of very vexation.” And thereupon he jumped off the stool, being perfectly restless, and unable to contain himself, and did begin to shuffle up and down the room with his stick, flinging himself about, ejaculating all sorts of condemnations upon his folly and insanity, and looking with a physiognomy as woeful and enraged as ever miser exhibited at the loss of a part of his gain.
Presently he stood still of a sudden; for a voice-a rich, clear, mellifluous voice-was heard singing the following words :
I gave my Love a poesie gay,
l'faith,' quoth she,
• Are these for me ?
But if thy maid
Thy love should aid,
Oh! bring her gifts that never fade.'” “A murrain on him! that's my pestilent nephew,” exclaimed the old man, in high dudgeon; “but I marvel infinitely how he got in;
-or hath he been in the house all the time?” He stopped, for the singer proceeded.
“ I gave my Love a ribbon rare,
To tie around her silken hair.
'Ah me,' she cried,
And looked and sighed,
But see! 'twill fray
And wear away
Oh! bring me gifts that last for aye.' “A pernicious varlet, will he never have done with his coxcombical singing,” cried Gregory Vellum : but the singer continued
“ I gave my Love a golden ring,
To prize above each meaner thing,
*Dear heart, I vow,
Thou hast me now,
'The sterling ore
And binds fond hearts, unbound before."" “Oh! the unwhipped rogue! he sings of love at his age, claimed the old miser, in seeming consternation. “Well, who can doubt the wickedness of the world after this! But I'll trounce him, I'll warrant me. Francis !” he bawled, as loud as he could, first opening the door, that he might be heard, and then muttering to himself, and crying out by turns, proceeded thus. “A young profligate, to think of singing love ditties at his time of life;—was ever such iniquity in this world ? Francis !” again screamed he, with all the strength of his lungs. “An I do not make him hear, I'll make him feel. Francis ! Francis ! Francis ! I say."
“Did you call, uncle?” said the youth quietly, as he presented himself at the door.
“Call, sirrah!" replied the old man, shaking with rage-"Call, varlet! have I not been bawling, and squalling, and tearing my lungs piecemeal after thee for these two hours past.'
“I did not hear you till this moment, or I should have come down," observed the youth.
"Hear me!"exclaimed Master Vellum vehemently, “how couldst thou expect to hear me, thou reprobate! when thou wert making the place ring with thy amorous ballads! Be that proper matter to sing at an honest scrivener's! Why, the passengers will take the house for a bagnio. Fie upon theel when I was of thy age I sung psalms and godly hymns-but I was noted as a youth of a most modest discretion. What art thou noted for, I wonder ? for impudency, disobediency, and all manner of dishonesty."
“Dishonesty, uncle !” said Master Francis, with unaffected surprise.
“Ay, dishonesty, sirrah! Look here!” and he took from his vest the dirty rag that hath previously been desribed, and begun carefully to unfold it—“here be a foul robbery thou hast committed. How didst get these fine pieces of candle I found in thy room? Hast no shame? What, pilfer from thy poor yet too liberal uncle, when candles stand me in fifty crowns to the pound !”
“Fifty crowns, uncle!” exclaimed his nephew with increasing astonishment, “why, I bought them myself of Tobias Mottle, the chandler over the way, and then they had only rose to threepence for the pound, in consequence of the exceeding scarcity of kitchen stuff.”
Well, no matter, sirrah, no matter!” cried the old man, in no way abating his passion," thou hast robbed me—that is manifest. Thou hast taken advantage of the natural generosity of my disposition, and art in the habit of consuming my substance without my privity. I tell thee it be infamous—I tell thee it be felony-I tell thee it be hanging, whipping, and the pillory. What a monster of ingratitude thou art, to defraud me of such exquisite gold of Venice of which they are made.”
“Gold of Venice, uncle !" exclaimed the youth, almost inclined