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pressure of the hands she held clasped in her own, or in a softer and more thrilling glance from the clear hazel of her lustrous eyes. He continued
“My benefactress! my".
“Hush !" she exclaimed quickly, interrupting him. “Have I not told thee never to allude to what I have done for thy good ?"
He remained silent, as if conscious he had committed an error.
“And now, prythee, tell me how hast thou sped with thy tragedy ?'' she enquired. “It will not do, dear Joanna," he replied.
“Despair not-thou wilt do better anon,” she said, in an encouraging tone.
“ But methinks I have found a friend," added Master Francis, more cheerfully.
“I am truly glad on't,” said she.
“Hast heard of Master Shakspeare-whose plays so wonderfully do delight the town?" enquired the youth.
“Indeed have I," she replied. “My father hath often promised to take me to see the players do a play of his, but he liketh the sports of the Bear Garden best, therefore I have not been.”
“I should like to take thee mightily," observed he. “For it is most delectable entertainment. But I must tell thee-Master Shakspeare, to whom I was directed to send my tragedy, though he did tell me very candidly of its faults, expressed himself right glad to do me a service; and as earnest of his sincerity, he hath but now sent for me to the playhouse."
“Speed thee, then, Francis,” she exclaimed, rising from her seat and raising him from the ground. “It be not right of thee to lose the precious time when such a friend desireth to serve thee. But here,” she added, as she took from around her neck the very gold chain she did receive of old Gregory Vellum, and threw it over her youthful lover. “Wear that for my sake—but let not thine uncle see it, or mayhap he may think thou hadst it not honestly, and question thee churlishly upon it; and I do not wish thee to say I gave it thee, nor do desire that thou shouldst say what is not true. And let me again request of thee in true kindness, that when thou wantest aught that his miserly nature doth refuse; ask it of me, and thou shalt have it straight."
“Nay, dear Joanna,” he replied, looking somewhat distressed. "Thou hast lavished upon me so many gists already, that I am ashamed to accept of this, or to ask of thee anything; and, if thou wilt not be offended, I would sooner that thou shouldst continue to wear it. In truth, it is too good a thing for me to have.”
"That it cannot be,” answered she, regarding him with a more perceptible fondness. “I would have thee wear it beneath thy doublet, and affix it to the miniature of thy mother. Now, no excuses ! I will not hear of them. And be sure let me know when thou dost
“Oh, thou art too kind !” exclaimed the youth, with all the expression that love and gratitude could give.
“Now haste thee to Master Shakspeare,” said Joanna.
“Dare I ask of thee once again, to let me taste of those honey sweet delights thou didst bestow on me a brief while since ?” enquired he, looking into her eyes, as is his own were drawn thereunto by some marvellous magic. How she answered, methinks it be scarce necessary to state, when it cometh to be known, that in the next moment Master Francis was speeding on his uncle's errand with a heart as light as if he had not a care in the w ld.
Having delivered the account-more courteously than his miserly kinsman designed, he posted off to the playhouse on the Bankside, sometimes imagining what Master Shakspeare did want with him, and thereupon building many monstrous fine castles in the air, and then turning his thoughts to the contemplation of the exquisite excellences of Joanna, and feeding his mind with dreams of happiness she was to realise at some not far distant day. In this mood he arrived at the playhouse, which he recognised by the flag flying at the top. It was thronged with people-some waiting to see the queen, and others the play; round about were boys and serving men holding horses, and here and there might be seen costardmongers and others bawling out fruit. Making for a little door at which there was no crowd, he was entering thereat, when he was stopped by a surly looking fellow with a wooden leg and a red nose.
Well, how now! what dost want?" he cried in a gruff voice, “I am come to see Master Shakspeare," replied the youth.
“Won't do,” said the other sharply, as he took up a position before him, as if to stop his proceeding further, and then scrutinised his appearance very closely. “The players be all a dressing, and can't be disturbed for every jackanapes that wants to see the play for nothing.'
" But I have business with him,” added Master Francis.
“Won't do,” repeated the fellow, stumping closer to him, and looking more forbiddingly. “Dost thou not know that this be no hour for him to see runaway apprentices who seek to be players ? So get thee gone.
“But he hath sent for me, and I must see him," said the youth more determinedly.
“Won't do, I tell thee!" shouted the man. “Nay, if thou dost not'take thyself off, I'll set the dog on thee. Here, Pincher! Pincher ! Pincher!” And immediately a savage looking wiry haired terrier came from under a chair barking and snapping at his heels. Master Francis, seeing that there was no remedy, was just about to turn back with a heavy heart, when, who should come into the place but the same wide-mouthed, squinting-eyed boy that had brought him the letter, bearing a tankard in his hand, as if he had come from a neighbouring tavern. Gib seemed to understand the state of the case immediately.
“How now, Will Peppercorn!” he cried, in a voice that shewed that the name of Stentor was not ill-applied. 6. This good youth is he whom I told thee Master Shakspeare did so much desire to see."
“How should I know that ?" said the fellow sulkily; then drawing off his dog, returned to his chair. Follow me, and I will shew you
the way with a very absolute good will,” added the call-boy; but before Master Francis had got but a few yards he turned round and enquired, “Why said you not you were my friend? He would not have dared serve thee so. But we must needs learn ere we get knowledge—so come on, and carefully.” Master Francis found himself in a very dark place in which he could see neither to the right, nor to the left, nor yet straight on; and was directed solely by the voice of his companion, which ceased not a moment.
“Stick to the women, I pray you,” he continued, “and you must needs be made a man of soon : but mind the thunder there!" At this injunction the youth was sadly puzzled.
“If you have not the proper modesty, I will soon put you in the way of getting it—as I have said ; therefore hesitate not; for such another opportunity is not like to happen. Here, mind you your footing, or you cannot help falling upon the rain.”
Master Francis looked about, expecting to find a pool of water near him: but nothing of the kind did he see.
“Now turn you sharp round the walls of Athens, and keep you on the left of Prospero's cell," said the other.
Unable quite to comprehend his meaning, the youth made a turn as he was desired, found his feet caught-laid hold of he knew not what, that his elbow struck against, this gave way, and down he came on his face upon something that seemed like a heap of canvass - bringing over him a pile of the same kind.
“There now!" exclaimed the call-boy, in a tone of apparent vexation. “You have tumbled smack upon the sea, and brought down upon you the palace of Antioch.” Frightful as this announcement might seem, it did not mean any great mischief after all.
Master Francis soon extricated himself from the fallen scenery, and without any more mishaps was conducted by his guide to the chamber in which Master Shakspeare was waiting for him.
Man's life's a tragedy; his mother's womb
Sir WALTER RALEIGH.
All the players were assembled in a large room of rather mean appearance, having little furniture, save settles, some few chairs, an old table, on which lay sundry tankards and drinking vessels, and a long mirror hung up against the wainscot. The players were dressed in character for the play of Henry the Fourth, the second part; and divers young noblemen and gentlemen were amongst them. Some were sitting—some standing in groups, and others walking up and down; going out and coming in at intervals; whilst a voice, evidently from its loudness, belonging to the “Stentor" of the company, kept bawling from without as the play proceeded—“Falstaff, on !" or "Shallow and Silence, on !"or, “the Prince, on!” and then, others knowing that their turn would be next, got themselves ready to appear upon the stage. A merrier set there seemed not in all her majesty's dominions. It was evident that care had naught to do with such choice spirits-for the quick jest, and the harmless jibe went round, and the loud laughter followed with them all-nor did there seem to be any distinction of rank amongst them and their associates ; or if such might be, it was without doubt in favour of the players, for they appeared wonderfully independent and careless of what they said.
Master Shakspeare stood in one corner of the room pointing out to Master Francis the different persons around them; and occasionally returning the friendly salutation of the young gallants who came thronging in, and looked as if they were mightily well pleased to have speech of him: but none could have received more satisfaction than did the modest youth at his side, for to him it was quite a new world. He, who had seen nothing of society save the customers and associates of the scrivener; now found himself among the most famous authors and players of the time; with a fair sprinkling of noble lords, distinguished knights, and honourable gentlemen. He listened with exceeding attention to every word that was uttered by his gifted companion, and regarded each individual that his attention was drawn unto, with an interest scarcely possible to be conceived.
“See you that most worshipful looking personage talking to Taylor and Condell?” enquired Master Shakspeare of his visitor, pointing out a very smartly dressed gallant, evidently much older than he wished to appear.
“ He that weareth so fine a satin cloak, and hath such gay rosettes in his shoes.” Master Francis easily perceived who was meant. “That is Sir Narcissus Wrinkles. He hath as many lines in his face as your may find in a chart of the new world, wherewith Time hath written the sum total of his age, yet doth he imagine that he can find a way to disprove his arithmetic; and with a periwig of the newest fashion, and a beard dyed to match -a very fustian voice prodigal in strange oaths-a leering look-a swaggering gait—and an infinite affectation of the air and apparelling of our youngest gallants, he seeketh to be thought as youthful as Ganymede, and as full of tricks as a kitten. See, now! he is telling his auditors some notable lie of the feats he did last week with the bottle, or the wonders performed yesterday eve at the Bordello; mayhap he digresses into some famous adventure with the constable of the watch, and then pathetically laments him, that his young blood should lead him into such scrapes. Hear how loudly he laughs at his own follies; and see with what a hearty smack of the shoulder he saluteth his next neighbour! But they who hear him know their man; and laugh not with him, but at him.”
Master Shakspeare then directed his attention to another group.
“ See you that sagacious looking youth,” said he, " that hath got Will Kempe in serious discourse, close unto where Anthony Wadeson, Thomas Pope, and Nicholas Towley are in such furious discussion ? Notice the very gravity of his features—the demure combing of his hair—the antique cut of his beard. See how soberly he is clad-mark how stiffly he bears himself. He speaks slowly-as if he weighed every word that fell from his lips—and seemeth quite shocked at the boisterousness of manner of the group of gay young lords at his right. He goeth among us by the name of Young Antiquity--yet is he called by his proper name, Lord Wiseacre. I warrant you, he is entertaining my friend Will with a right woeful lamentation upon the degeneracy of the age; and leaving him with a shake of the head worthy of a second Nestor, is now making the profound remark, “ Alack boys will be boys!'”
Master Francis could not help a smile, for the manner in which his companion spoke the last words, was marked with such an exceeding drollery, that to look grave the while, was out of the question.
“A little way to the lest of him, notice that neatly dressed old gallant, talking with so mysterious an air to a handsome young nobleman,” continued Master Shakspeare. “ The one is my Lord Howard of Walden, who sweareth every man of his acquaintance to strict confidence, and then letteth out the famous secret to all whom he can get to listen, of some fair dame being in love with him. He will dilate upon every look he has received from her, and enumerate what wonderful signs she hath given him of her regard ; and then he will assert his exceeding virtuousness, and the fear he is in that this affection of another woman for him should be noticed by my Lady Howard, whom he believed to be a very miracle of chastity--though there be others that have a different opinion; and will conjure his listener to be as secret as the grave, and straightway go and tell as many as he can the same story, the which, as may well be believed, hath no existence save in his own imagination, and thorough vanity. The person he hath hold of is my Lord Pembroke, as worthy, admirable, and generous a man as breathes; and desireth to be my excellent patron and friend.”
“Now, behold you those two young lords that have got Hart by the ear, up in the corner ?” continued he; “ they are my Lords Simple and Dimple; they affect to be the Castor and Pollux of these our times, and are never seen apart. At no time have they been heard to differ on any one subject; they dress alike on all occasions -ay, to such a nearness, that if my Lord Simple have thirty points to his hose, of a surety hath my Lord Dimple exactly the same. At meals they will be helped from the same dish, and have the same quantity to a nicety. If there be but one wing left of the pullet, it must needs be divided to the exactitude of a hair, or they will touch it not; and is the one hath a spoonful more gravy in his trencher than hath the other, then are both infinitely miserable till the ba