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incomparable dainty sweet creature, who hath such superlative excellences of condition that” —
“ And so we being filled with indignation at his monstrous impudency,” said Sir Narcissus, assuming. a very fierce aspect, “have resolved to punish him as the fellow deserveth of us, and would desire of you, from us three, to challenge him to a combat of life or death, if that he do not instantly give up all claim to her hand, and take himself straight away from her society: and, by the god of war! you may tell him from me, he had best provide him a coffin, for I will leave him not while there be any life in his pestilent body,'' - “ I will slay him outright,” cried my Lord Wise
“ A dead lover giveth no cause for jealousy." 6. He shall die before me like unto a rat after a dose of nux vomica," exclaimed Master Aniseed.
“ But it seemeth to me you know nothing of this person,” observed Master Shakspeare, very seriously. “ You surely can have no knowledge of his true character, else would you as soon fight with the devil as fight with him. For all that he look so quiet, there liveth not so deadly a swordsman in the queen's dominions. He is so cunning of fence that no man can do him
hurt. Indeed I can say of mine own knowledge, that a great fellow of a Frenchman, who had boasted of his skill at the weapon, he challenged, and after a few passes he left him dead at his feet. In private
quarrel I have heard that he hath killed at least a score. Nay, I know of a surety, he be so bloody minded that he maketh it a rule to kill all who
At the hearing of this alarming intelligence the three did look infinitely uneasy, and there was a dead silence for the space of some seconds, each one looking at the face of the other as if he expected of him to speak; and Master Shakspeare gazing upon all, as if watching the effect of what he had said.
“ He be nothing better than a paltry secretary !” cried Master Aniseed, at last, with a wonderful disdạin, " therefore is he no fit opponent for a gentleman." And then the rat-catcher's son marched himself off very haughtily.
“ I will have nought to do with such boys,” observed
Lord Wiseacre, in seeming great contempt : “He that would be wise consorteth only with they that have wisdom." And away went he after a like fashion as his companion.
“ By Medusa and all her horrid snakes, he be a murderous villain, and I will have none of him," exclaimed Sir Narcissus Wrinkles, in a sort of terrible indignation, and off he started.
When Master Shakspeare had sufficiently laughed at the success of his experiment, he went in search of Master Francis, whom, after some trouble, he found in an adjoining room, dancing of a gullard
with the merry Alice, so gracefully, and with such spirit, that it was the admiration of the whole company. Upon the conclusion of it, his partner hurried away, as she said, to make Dr. Bashful dance with her a coranto, because she knew he could not dance at all. Master Shakspeare found no difficulty in drawing of his young friend out of the crowd, through the glass door, into the open air, where, as they walked together, he told him of what Mistress Alice's lovers had said of him, and how he had made them so marvellous fearful that they would as soon take a mad bull by the horns as meddle with him. Whereat the young secretary could not help smiling; for his companion took off their several humours so capitally.
“I congratulate you that you are on such excellent terms with Mistress Alice,” said Master Shakspeare.
“ Indeed, 'tis very good of her she should take such notice of me,” replied Master Francis; “ but she does it at present merely to vex these fellows who are after her, knowing that she hath a fortune."
“ Methinks you have had a lucky escape with that Joanna," observed the other; and at the mention of her name, the youth's cheek became of a sudden paleness. “I must say I had a better opinion of her, for she did appear to me, although acting with great imprudence, considering of her
acknowledged fondness for you, one of a far superior nature than the ordinary."
“ I knew not you were acquainted with her,” said his companion, rather tremulously.
“ I knew of her but little, and that was before I had knowledge of your intimacy with her,” answered his friend; " and though, from what I saw, I did tremble for your happiness, I could not believe she was so bad as she hath proved herself, till calling upon
her father a short time since to make me a doublet, I found him like one that is crazed; and enquiring of the old woman of the house, I learned,
absolute astonishment, that Joanna had suddenly disappeared, taking with her her things, and gone no one knew where.
But the old dame hinted to me that there was very good reason for her taking of herself away; for that, to her certain knowledge, she could not stay in the house much longer without disgracing of herself and her family."
“ Lost, misguided creature !” exclaimed Master Francis, with great earnestness; “how hath she fallen from that high opinion in which I once held her. I do assure you, Master Shakspeare, that there was a time, when she shewed to me as noble a heart as ever woman possessed. She did me many kindnesses-many great kindnesses, and I could not but love her, she appeared to me of so loveable a nature.
Alack ! 'tis a most piteous
thing she should have so changed for the worse. I have been monstrously deceived in her, and never will I put my trust in woman again.”
“ That is ill said, Master Francis," observed the other, seriously sand I doubt not you will live to unsay it. There cannot be a more gross injustice than the condemning of the whole sex, because one hath been found at fault. Believe me, there is that excellence in woman which exceedeth your conception and mine too. In fact, her extreme goodness, her enduring patience, her wonderful kindness of heart, and the exquisite sweetness of her regard for the one she doth most affect, is a marvel, and will remain a marvel to the end of time.”
Soon after this they returned to the dancingroom, where they arrived just in time to see the conclusion of Mistress Alice's coranto with Dr. Bashful, which every one had crowded to see, it was of so amusing a sort. There was the
merry Alice, with as serious a face as if she had never laughed in her life, going through the graceful figure of the dance, with the young divine, one with an exceeding grave countenance, and with a habit becoming his profession, who, with his face in a constant blushing, his arms a trembling so they seemed about to drop from his shoulders, and his feet a shuffling along as though they knew not where they should go, tried to get through it as