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thinks I can hear the chink of the money; or at least the ready laugh of the chapman at his customer's jest. These be they, fair Joanna! who are up early and late, labouring to the utmost every day of their lives that others may have the advantage of it—whose greatest pleasure consisteth in the counting their gains, and greatest consolation is the knowing that they are worth something more than their neighbours. These be they who are quainted with no virtue unless it be in the possession of wealth; and believe there cannot be any vice so abominable as poverty. In their idea, aldermen are on a footing with angels; and to be in the city compter is to be damned to all eternity. They will wink at one who defrauds the orphan and robs the widow of her right, if he hath done it to some tune; but at the necessitous wretch, who is driven to do any small villainy, they shout, . Oh, the horrid rogue !' and would have him hanged forthwith. A man who hath his thousands might turn his wife and children into the street, and live as sensually as he pleased, and they would never wag a tongue at him; but if another, who liveth honestly with what little he gains, be but suspected of kissing a pretty wench on the sly, they would raise such a hubbub about his ears, and would seem so shocked at his iniquity, that the poor fellow should be right glad to escape out of the city with
a whole skin. These be they—but why stop you here ?” he enquired suddenly, finding that his companion proceeded no further.
“ This is the house in which I live,” replied she, who had not been inattentive to what had passed. “ But shame upon you for keeping me unanswered ! you
have not told me your name yet!” “O my life I am exceeding tired, fair Joanna, said Master Shakspeare. « It would be but a charity to ask me in-and as for my name- why it may as well be told sitting as walking.”
It is scarcely necessary to add that Master Shakspeare was ushered up stairs into the best room; in the which he quickly made himself at home, as may be believed. Indeed, Joanna found his conversation so agreeable, that for a time she quite forgot to ask his name of him; but in truth he gave her not the opportunity, for as soon as one subject seemed about to be exhausted, he launched out with another; and displayed such abundance of wit, genius, and knowledge of the world, that she appeared quite in amaze with wonder and admiration.
“ Since you talk so well upon poetry,” said she, when she found opportunity for speech, “ I have some lines here of which I should like mightily to have your judgment.” Then from a drawer she took a paper, which she brought towards him; and added, “ they were writ by a worthy gentleman,
who doth fancy, much after your own fashion, that he is in love with me, and pays me such fine compliments, as you will therein peruse. Perhaps you also write verses ?”
“ A little," replied Master Shakspeare, with a smile; and, believing that he had a rival in the field, he opened the paper. His astonishment may in some degree be conceived when it is known that he began to read the very poem he had given to Master Burbage. He saw in an instant how the affair stood, and was in no small degree amused thereat.
• What think you of them?” enquired Joanna.
“O my life, I think of them very indifferently," answered he.
66 Indeed !” she exclaimed with some surprise, “I marvel at that—for they seem to me admirably ingenious. By my troth, between ourselves, I have my doubts that they were writ by him who brought them me; for he seemeth such a mad, hare-brained, wild, wilful gallant. I have given him but monstrous little encouragement, yet doth he go on at such a rate, one would think he was in so poor a case for the love of me, that he would be a knocking at death's door unless I smiled upon him.”
“Oh, the exaggerating varlet !” cried the other, laughing exceedingly as he compared in his own mind Master Burbage's statement with what he had just heard.
ór And when I told him I doubted his authorship,” continued his fair companion, “ he swore by Apollo and all the Nine that he wrote every line on't; and that it was the worst stuff he ever did.”
“ He said that, did he?” exclaimed Master Shakspeare.
“Ay that he did,” added Joanna ; "and moreover, vowed to me most solemnly that he was considered such an exquisite fine hand at the making of verses, that his friend Will Shakspeare, among many others, was oft obliged to borrow a line of him when he came to a halt in his measure."
66 Oh! Dick, Dick, Dick,” cried he, in a more subdued voice.
“ And when I asked of him his opinion of Master Shakspeare and his plays,” continued the other, “ he answered slightingly,—Why, a-to be sure, he was very well; but no one knows how much he hath been beholden to me for all his best verses.
“ If he deserved not cudgeling for this, then am I no judge of merit,” exclaimed Master Shakspeare; “but of course you know him, fair Jo
“ He hath told me that he was one of the queen's players,” replied she; “but else I know of him as little as I do of you. Tell me, I pray you, of what name you are, for in truth I am near tired of asking.”
“ Hush !” cried he, “ there cometh some one to
the door;" for a knocking was heard at that moment.
66'Tis he," replied the mercer's daughter, “and till now I had forgot he promised to pay me a visit.”
“ Hist! hist! Joanna,” cried a voice from the other side of the door, “ 'tis I, Richard the Third.”
66° Tis Dick sure enough,” thought Master Shakspeare: then whispering to his fair companion,“ Leave him to me, I pray you,” he advanced softly to the door.
“ Hist! hist! adorable Joanna,” exclaimed Master Burbage, through the keyhole, “'tis I, Richard the Third.”
“Go, get thee hence, thou crook-backed tyrant," replied Master Shakspeare, aloud; “knowest thou not that William the Conqueror reigned before Richard the Third ?”
“ What, Will!” cried the other, in the utmost astonishment; “ what ill wind brought thee here? Oh! thou abhorred traitor, thou hast betrayed me.”
“ Nay, thou errest in that, Master Dick,” responded his old associate, “ for knew I not till this moment that the truly adorable Joanna was known to thee. But if I had taken advantage of thy confidence, it would have been but a proper return for the most atrocious things thou hast said of me to this exquisite creature. So get thee gone, and