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6 But I have known that of her that hath harm in it!" exclaimed Master Francis, more disturbed
66 That had it not come of mine own knowledge, would I not have believedand now it be easy enough to credit almost any treachery. No! I will never allow myself to be bribed into a toleration of such villainous deceits !”
“ Well--if she do play her jade's tricks, let her go hang !” said the young chirurgeon indignantly. “ I tell thee, Master Francis, if that be it, she be not worth the caring for. Thou art as sweet a young gentleman as eye would wish to look on; therefore shalt thou easily meet with her betters at any time. I say again, let her go hang !”
“ She hath done me many great kindnesses—the which I now wish she had never done, or that she had left unthought of that which I now know of her," observed the youth in extreme thoughtfulness; then starting up suddenly, cried out, “but who was he she let out.”
“ That know I not," replied the boy. “For, as I told thee, he was so muffled
there getting a glimpse of his countenance, or in fact, of anything to know him by. Methinks, however, he was much about the size of that spouting piece of fustian, Ralph Goshawk, whom I have noticed to visit there very frequently of late.”
" Dost think 'twas he?” enquired Master Francis, with much earnestness.
“ I would not affirm it, of an absolute truth," answered Harry Daring. “ Although I mislike the fellow hugely, and would as soon give him a bloody coxcomb as look at him; for, indeed, I take him to be the impudentest jackanapes, and the shallowest poor fellow I ever came a nigh. I cannot abide his tragedy airs. But whether he be or be not the villain, I should take it kindly if thou wouldst let me break his fool's head for him."
“ Why, he be twice as big as thee, Harry,” said his companion.
66 What care I for his bigness ? ” replied the apprentice. “ In truth, the bigger he may be, seemeth all the more favourable, for then shall he afford space for a greater cudgelling. The varlet, for all the greatness of his humours, be nothing better than a very paltry swaggerer; and I should take it exceeding kind of thee, if thou wouldst let me give him a bloody coxcomb."
“ No, no, that must not be," observed Master Francis. 66 If he is to blame in this affair, his punishment must be at my hands. But I must make enquiries into this. As for her, I will see her, and have done with her.” So saying, he bid a hurried “good bye” to his companion, and immediately crossed the way to the mercer's.
Sooner hard steel will melt with southern wind,
Oh, what a sight, it was worthy of view,
How she came stealing to the wayward boy
How white and red did each other destroy,
HA, Master Francis !” exclaimed the jolly mercer, looking up from measuring of some silk, as the youth entered his shop.
“ I am rejoiced to see thee more especially, as thou comest in such famous fashion as this. I heard of thy good fortune, and was desperate glad on't: for I have liked thee well all along. And dost wear a sword, too? Well see that thou be not too ready to draw upon a man; and, as for a woman, thou wilt do none such any harm, I warrant." And then the old fellow burst out in his customary short loud laugh.
« Is Joanna at home?” enquired his visitor.
“ At home !" cried Geoffrey Sarsnet. Why, she maketh herself at home wherever she goes. By cock and pye, I do verily believe though, that she be as much abroad when she be at home, as at home when she be abroad; for at times I know not what to make of her. In truth, she be given to strange humours, though willing enough when in the mood.”
“ Think you I shall find her up stairs ?” asked the youth.
“ Either up or down,” replied the jolly mercer. " That is, if she allow herself to be found: for, mayhap, she shall be with some of her gallants, then shalt thou not find her, I warrant."
At any previous time such an intimation would have startled Master Francis; yet now it moved him not,—though it passed him not unnoticed.
66 But how fareth that superlative old pippin face, thine uncle ?” enquired Geoffrey Sarsnet merrily. “ Ha ! if thou hadst but seen him last night singing of a miserable love ditty to such a villainous hang-dog tune as the hundredth psalm, with a melancholy small voice, like that of a dying weasel hit on the head by a tinker's hammer, thou wouldst have laughed at it for the rest of thy life. But when he got up to dance the brawls, with his lack lustre eyes sinking into his pate, as if to see that his wonderful small stock of brains escaped him
not,—that was a sight to look on. Haw! haw! haw!” and here the old fellow shook his lusty sides famously.
The youth marvelled greatly that his kinsman should so conduct himself, it being so opposite to the usual staidness of his manner.
“ He aileth nothing,” said he.
“ By cock and pye, he aled so much last night, that I was forced to send Ralph Goshawk to see him home," observed the jolly mercer, laughing as loud as ever.
“ He had put so much of my good liquor into him, that he had scarce left for himself standing room.""
“I knew not that he was so given to dr ik," remarked the youth.
“ 'Ifaith I do believe this of him, that he be never given to drink unless the drink be given to him. Haw! haw! haw !” roared the old fellow, as if in exquisite delight with the conceit.
“ I will just step to speak with Joanna," said Master Francis, moving off to the door.
“ Prythee do," replied Geoffrey Sarnest, “ and see that thou hast a more pleasant look with thee at thy return; for, in truth, thy countenance seemeth about as cheerful as one that hath lost a shilling and found a groat.” Thereupon the jolly mercer gave his customary laugh; then bawled out, in the same humour, as the youth was leaving the shop, * Take heed, and spoil no sport; for there be few