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sition,” responded she, smiling most bewitchingly all the time, “it preferreth a sorry chain to the object of its pretended adoration. By my troth, if I marry you after this, I'll vex myself into fiddle strings."
“Ah ! talked you of marrying, sweetest ?” asked the old man eagerly, as he raised his eyes to her face; and immediately they rested upon her wellfavoured countenance, they again began to twinkle with delight. « Truly have you the softest and most insinuating looks, and your smile is most absolute and irresistable. Your eyes, sweetheart, are as bright as this Venetian gold—but it cost me fifty crowns; and the pouting ripeness of your lips hath as much temptation as the polish upon the links; and, in good truth, 'tis a most rare and costly trinket.” And thereupon he continued, now fixing his
eyes upon the chain, and gloating upon its brilliance; and anon raising them to the face of his fair companion, as if doating upon its beauty. It was evident that there was a struggle in his soul, about parting with his property. He longed for a caress from the seductive Joanna; but the Venetian trinket had wound itself round his heart so strongly, that he could not bring himself to part with it. Several times it appeared that her soft glances had subdued his selfish nature; but just as he was on the point of giving up the object of his
miserly regard, a look at its glittering links would again awake his avarice, and he would hesitate about its disposal.
“ Good morning to you, Gregory Vellum,” said Joanna, as she turned upon her heel, with the intention of departing by the door that led into the street.
“ Nay, nay sweetest !” exclaimed the old man, as he hastened after her, and held her by the arm, “you go not yet; I part not with you in this way. Shall I have the kiss you promised me ?”
“ By my troth you shall,” replied she; “but why ask you? You love your paltry gold better than me, or you would seem less loth to part with it; so I'll e'en have none of you."
66 There is the chain, sweetheart,” said he, eagerly throwing it round her neck, “and now for the kissthe kiss—the kiss—my angel upon earth !- the kiss, sweet Mistress Joanna ; throw your soft arms around me, and press me your delicate lips.”
“ There's my hand," quietly replied she, as, all impatience and eagerness, spite of her retreating, he advanced towards her, intent upon having her in his embrace.
“ Your hand !” he exclaimed, with some surprise, as he still strove to approach her more closely, “'tis your rosy mouth that I would have, sweetheart."
“ Nay, nay; a bargain is a bargain,” said she gravely; "you gave me a chain, and I promised you should have a kiss for it. There was nothing said about my lips; and I intended only, as a great favour, that you should kiss my hand; so, fulfil your contract:-here's
hand.” At this, nothing could exceed the change that took place in the old man's countenance. His delight and impatience forsook him of a sudden. From being exceeding restless in all his limbs, he stood as still as a stone, and he looked perfectly confounded, and unable to say a word.
“ Well, if you will not, mayhap, another time will suit you better,” observed Mistress Joanna very courteously, as she proceeded towards the door. “I thank you for the chain very heartily; 'tis a gift worthy of the gravity of your affections; and I know not, if you go on making a shew of such liberal behaviour, to what extent you may be rewarded. You ought, however, to be aware, that a prudent woman granteth but small favours at first; she will not give largely, or she may be undone straight. I wish you an increasing generosity; and with this desire, worthy Gregory Vellum, I do most delightedly take my leave of you.” And thereupon she made a curtsey to the ground, and with one of the sweetest of smiles, departed from the office.
Fool! dolt! idiot! madman !” cried he vehe
mently, as he beat his head with his clenched fists, “to be tricked, cozened, and imposed upon, in this barefaced manner, by a woman.
Oh! Gregory Vellum, Gregory Vellum, what a very ass thou art ! My chain of Venice gold is lost irretrievably, that I took for a debt of fifty crowns, and for which Master Ingot, the goldsmith, would have given me forty at any time. Oh! fool, that can only cozen boys and folks afar off, thou art cheated past all redemption !” Then he went and sat upon the stool, and leaned his head upon his hand, apparently in a monstrous melancholy humour. “ Fifty crowns gone for nothing. Oh !” exclaimed he frantically, beating his heels against the stool, and then wringing his hands ; “what a poor, wretched, miserable lunatic am I, to think of courting at my time of day. Such a brilliant chain! Oh ! most preposterous idiot ! fifty crowns ! Oh! thou incomprehensible blockhead! I could beat out my brains with a whisp of straw, out of very vexation." And thereupon
he jumped off the stool, being perfectly restless, and unable to contain himself, and did begin to shuffle up and down the room with his stick, flinging himself about, ejaculating all sorts of condemnations upon his folly and insanity, and looking with a physiognomy as woeful and enraged as ever miser exhibited at the loss of a part of his gain.
Presently he stood still of a sudden; for a voice
a rich, clear, mellifluous voice-was heard singing the following words :
“ I gave my Love a poesie gay,
• I'faith,' quoth she,
• Are these for me?
But if thy maid
Thy love should aid,
66 A murrain on him! that's my pestilent nephew,” exclaimed the old man, in high dudgeon; “ but I marvel infinitely how he got in ;-or, hath he been in the house all the time?” He stopped, for the singer proceeded.
“ I gave my Love a ribbon rare,
grace So brave, so proud a resting place.'
Ah! me,' she cried,
And looked and sighed,
But see! 'twill fray
And wear away-
“A pernicious varlet, will he never have done