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quickly; for in truth thou hast interrupted the infinite gratification I have been receiving."
“Oh! most sweet Joanna,” cried Master Burbage, in a marvellous moving voice,-“my heart's treasure !—my soul's idol !-my angel upon earth! my everything !-I do implore you, through the keyhole (because the door is fast, and I cannot get in), by that fathomless ocean of love I bear for your inconceivable excellences, get rid of that villain straight, for it be utter destruction to be seen in his pestilent company."
6 Who is he?” asked she, laughingly; although she began to have some suspicion of who he was.
“ The very notoriousest villain that walks, adorable Joanna,” replied he, outside ; "he hath done such mischief among women as you would find it horrible to think on. Item, five-and-twenty maids utterly undone-fifty widows sent stark mad- and a hundred and odd wives made miserable for life. I do assure you, sweet Joanna, that through him there hath lately been such abundance of crowner's quests, that the like hath not been known since the memory of man.
Indeed, it be beyond dispute, that half a dozen stout fellows are kept in constant employ fishing distracted damsels out of the conduit, such a traitor is he to your dear sex. for hanging, the citizens scarce dare leave a nail sticking in their wainscots, so many of their wives
and daughters have of late been found suspended to them, with these melancholy words pinned upon their kirtles,—- Oh! cruel-cruel Shakspeare'
“ Are you such a wretch as this, Master Shakspeare?” enquired Joanna, as seriously as she could.
“ No, on my life,” replied he, laughing very heartily.
“ Believe him not, dear Joanna," exclaimed Master Burbage, “ he hath a tongue that would undo the Gordian knot; therefore your undoing would be but an easy matter with such a thorough villain. Oh! incomparably sweet Joanna ! here on my bended knees, outside the door, (for lack of being in) I conjure you injure not your delicate reputation by talking to such a fellow. Listen not to what he hath to say, for truth and he are in no sort of acquaintance: he will swear you black's white, such a horrid reprobate is he; and then, on the instant, turn round and take oath it be crimson. I have preached to him by the hour, in hopes of getting him to repent of his villainies; but, I say it with tears in my eyes, adorable Joanna, he is incorrigible; and as clean past all good counsel as a chicken with the pip."
“ Prythee go on, Dick," cried Master Shakspeare, very merrily—his fair companion evidently being in much the same mood; “I admire thy invention hugely.”
“Out, traitor!" exclaimed the other.
“ If I had not heard this, I should have doubted thou wert clever enough to say the witty things thou hast.”
“Away, villain !”
66 But since I have known that thou art such an exquisite fine hand at the making of verses,” continued Master Shakspeare, “that I, of many others, am oft obliged to borrow a line of thee when I happen to come to a halt in my measure; and remember how much I am beholden to thee for all my best scenes, I marvel not at all at thy present cleverness, and do promise to have a better opinion of thee than I have done.”
“ A fico for thy opinion,” replied Master Burbage; “ all stratagems are fair in love and war; and when I gave her thy verses
6. What, wrote you not the poem?” quickly enquired Joanna, interrupting him; “ did you not swear to me by Apollo and all the Nine, that you wrote every line on't, and that it was the worst stuff you ever did ?”
- What a goose art thou for not keeping thine own counsel,” said his friend; “ for though thou hast used me very scurvily, I would not have betrayed thee for it."
“ Let me in, I pray you, most exquisite Joanna," exclaimed he through the keyhole, “ and I will say
such things to you that you shall be satisfied of my behaviour."
Nay, if you can put on me Master Shakspeare's lines as your own,” said Joanna, “I doubt hugely you can be more sincere in other matters.”
“Pardon me this one small fault," replied he, very movingly, “which I have been led into from exceeding love of your ravishing perfections, and send away that fellow, who, by this hand, is the errantest deceiver that lives; and let me see you more commodiously than through the chinks of the door, which in truth afford me but a mere glimpse of your infinite beauties ; and if I do not love you for it, in such a sort as will make amends for my transgression, then banish me for ever.”
“Dost take me for thy friend, Dick ?” enquired Master Shakspeare, leaning against the door.
Open the door, and get thee gone, and then thou shalt be held a friend indeed,” replied Master Burbage.
“ Well-my bowels yearn towards thee exceedingly,” continued the other.
"Ah! do they so? Thou wert ever a true friend,” said he on the outside : “ do open the door —there's a sweet Will.”
“But am I the very notoriousest villain that walks, Dick?"
“ By this light thou art a very angel ! Excellent Will, open the door.”
“ And have I really undone so many women as thou hast said?"
• Nay, on my life, thou hast so good a heart, thou wouldst not undo a mouse. Open the door, sweet Will, I prythee.”
“ Well, Dick”-
S-a most--delicious creature.”
“Out on thee, thou aggravating-tantalizingabominable caitiff !” cried Master Burbage, impatiently; for Master Shakspeare had said the preceding sentence so slowly, and with so much emphasis on the last words; and the sentence was so different from what he had expected, that he seemed terribly put out at it. “I do forswear thy acquaintance from this. Nay I will not remain another moment in thy villainous neighbourhood ;” and whilst Master Shakspeare and the beautiful Joanna were laughing heartily, Master Burbage made all haste to get out of the house.