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" And I, my lord, am Mandricard of Mexico,
Whose climate fairer tban Tyberius,
" I drink your worship's health, Master Mandricard,” falteringly replied Gregory Vellum, with trembling hands raising the horn to his mouth. Thereat, the other proceeded after the same fashion,
“ As for myself, I walk abroad a nights,
And kill sick people groaning under walls :”
At this the miser could not drink, he seemed struck with such a sudden fear.
“ Sometimes I go about and poison wells."
- You don't say so !” exclaimed the frightened scrivener.
6 And now and then to cherish Christian thieves
I am content to lose some of my crowns ;
“ Ha !” cried the frightened scrivener, in a long tremulous tone.
“ Then after that was I an usurer,
And with extorting, cozening, forfeiting,
“ Good Lord, deliver us !” piously exclaimed the old miser. Then raising his voice, and looking very frowningly, the other recommenced:
“ 'Twas I, my lord, that got the victory
The god of war resigns his room to me,
At this, Gregory Vellum trembling in every joint, and looking as pale as any of his parchment, threw himself on his knees before the other, with closed palms and uplifted eyes, and cried out as loud as his fright would allow,
“ Good, your worship, don't kill me this time !"
66 Haw! haw! haw!” shouted the jolly mercer, who, with much ado, had refrained from laughing before. “ Get thee up, Gregory, and fear nothing. It be only Ralph Goshawk, a young haberdasher from the Strand, as impudent a varlet as lives; but there be no harm in him, sạve that he be stage-struck. He goeth to the playhouse so oft, that his talk is all of fag ends of plays; and so far gone is he in it, that if one ask of him the price of pack-thread, he will answer, like an emperor, in blank verse. Sit thee down, Ralph! and take
me off this horn of good ale, or I will beat thee out of thy humour in a jiffy."
The young haberdasher took two majestic strides to a chair, which, in the like princely manner, he drew to the table; then, with a right royal salutation to the company, he tossed off his ale, and sat himself down very gravely; at the which Geoffrey Sarsnet laughed louder than ever. The scrirener, in some degree assured that the other would do him no harm, now returned to his seat; but the drink he had had, evidently was getting into his head, for he had a very vacant look with him, and he walked unsteadily.
“ Come, drink, my masters, drink,” exclaimed the mercer, filling the cups of his guests as fast as they were emptied. “ And how weareth the night, Ralph ?”
No sooner had the question been asked than he that was spoken to jumped up from his chair, placed his arms as before described, and thus answered:
“ The golden ball of Heaven's eternal fire,
That danced with glory on the silver waves,
Then sat him down. 6. Thou villain, thou wilt be the death of me,”
exclaimed his lusty host, with his usual hearty laugh. - But cannot we have a catch, my masters? I'm in a brave humour for singing. A catch, my masters - a catch !”
Up jumped the young haberdasher at this, exclaiming exactly after the same fashion as at first:
“ And in this sweet and curious harmony
The god that tunes this music to our souls
" A fig for Zenocrate and all her generation !" cried the jolly mercer.
66 I tell thee we will have a catch, what sayest thou, Gregory? Art for a catch ?
6 I'd rather the hundredth psalm if it please thee, gossip,” drawled out the scrivener, winking his
eyes abit, as if his sight was none of the clearest. “ Be this a time to sing psalms, thou heathen !” bawled out he of Eastcheap.
66 Hast no respect for places ? well, if we cannot sing a catch, we will dance the brawls: so away with the tables and chairs, my masters, into the corner, and let's foot it bravely."
The table and chairs were quickly moved by the jolly mercer, assisted by Ralph Goshawk, who could not, in the mean while, refrain from breaking out
« Now Hecuba and Ilium's honoured line,"
“ Hang Hecuba and thee too !” cried Geoffrey Sarsnet; "and for the matter of that, Ilium may take his line and hang himself. Haw! haw! haw! Now then, my masters, at it in style, to the tune of Green Sleeves.””
Then commenced a scene, the like of which hath rarely been looked on; for the jolly mercer began throwing about his lusty limbs, singing of the tune to the top of his voice, with now and then varying it with a loud whoop, as he slapped one or other on the back. He was seconded by Ralph Goshawk, who moved about as gingerly as though the flooring was of pins and needles, and he was mightily afraid of pricking his toes; and after him came the old miser, with his eyes half shut, and hanging of his head on one side, as he staggered here and there, as if without the slightest knowledge of what he was a doing. Such a din they kicked up as would have astonished a blacksmith. In the very midst thereof, Gregory Vellum made a stumble, and came with his back against the table, knocking down from it the lights, the horns, the bowl, and every one thing that had been there, and putting the place in utter and complete darkness.
Immediately after the crash, the door opened, and there appeared at it the beautiful Joanna with a light, with Dame Margery close behind, peeping to know what such a terrible racket could be about. Seeing the mercer's daughter, the old miser, who