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had till now supported himself against the table with his hands, slipped down upon his nether end, staring at her as foolishly as you please, with his mouth open; and the young haberdasher marched forward two paces, and with his arms in the usual position, addressed her thus:

“ O gentle daughter of King Edipus,
O sister dear to that unbappy wight
Whom brother's rage hath reaved of his right,
To whom thou knowest, in young and tender years,
I was a friend and faithful governor,
Come forth, since that her grace hath granted leave,
And let me know what cause hath moved now,
So chaste a maid to set her dainty foot
Over the threshold of her secret lodge."

“ Go it, fustain !” cried the mercer, giving the other so forcible a slap on the back that it put him quite out of his favourite position, and nearly sent him sprawling on the floor.

“ Father, I wonder you should make such a clatter at this time of the night,” said Joanna, as gravely as she could ; for in truth the scene was extremely ludicrous: then she added to the old woman,-“ Margery, let them have lights.” At the which, giving her candle to the other, she was hastening away, when she stopped suddenly, turned back, and said, “ I think you had best go to bed, father, for 'tis exceeding late, and the neighbours

will marvel hugely at your making such a disturbance;”—and then she went away.

“Well, the choicest of fooling must have an end,” exclaimed the jolly mercer; “so we must e'en part. Ralph, thou hadst best see Gregory Vellum to his house in St. Mary Axe, for I doubt much, if he were left to find his way, he would get beyond the next gutter.” At the which, the young haberdasher answered only by staring at the open door

very earnestly, and exclaiming thus:

6 Techelles, draw thy sword,
And wound the earth, that it may cleave in twain,
And we descend into th' infernal vaults
To hale the fatal sisters by the hair,
And throw them in the triple moat of hell,
For taking hence my fair Zenocrate.”

6. What, Zenocrate again? and be hanged to thee,” cried out his lusty host, and thereat lent him such a kick of the breech, that it sent him bounce against the old woman, as she was a going out at the door.

“Ya !” screamed she, as loud as she could bawl, and took herself out of the room as if she had been shot out of it.

- Haw! haw! haw!” roared the jolly mercer, whilst the discomfited haberdasher stood at a little distance, diligently rubbing his nether end. “But haste thee, Ralph, and take this fellow away

straight, for I am eager to have him out of my house.”

At this Ralph Goshawk took two or three of his most majestic strides to where Gregory Vellum now lay at his length, and with the assistance of his lusty companion, raised him on his legs. The old miser opened his lack-lustre eyes, and tried to look sensible, in the which, as may be supposed, he succeeded not at all.

“ Oh, woman ! lovely woman !" cried he, in his shrill treble; and thereupon hugged Ralph so closely in his arms, that both of them came tumbling to the ground together.

“ Odds my life, this fooling will be the death of me," exclaimed the mercer, his fat sides shaking with laughter; and then the two again essayed to raise the tipsy scrivener.

• Spare my money, and take my life,” drawled out he, as he arrived at his perpendicular.

“ Thy money's safe, I'll be bound for it; and as for thy life, 'tis the safer of the two, for it be not worth the taking." And then the mirth of Geoffrey Sarsnet burst out as loud as ever.

« Oh, my gold ! my gold !” cried the old miser, knocking his hands together, and looking marvelously helpless and pitiful, as, supported by the arm of Ralph Goshawk round his waist, he dragged


himself along. The young haberdasher accompanying him with a monstrous dignified slow march, and looking as tenderly on his charge, as if he had been some delicate princess; and the jolly mercer, following with the light, ever and anon breaking out in his customary laugh.

“Gently with him !” exclaimed he. “Hold him up, or he will slip down again, and mayhap hurt his foul's head. Stop, let me put on his hat-and here's thine. Now, let me ope the door; and if thou meet any of the watch, say it be an honest friend of mine, and they will molest thee not; for I be in good odour with Master Constable, and have treated many of his brethren with a tankard. Good night to thee, old boy; and, prythee, keep thy body up if thou canst. Good night, Ralph !”

The young haberdasher no sooner heard the words that had just been uttered, than holding his charge firmly with one arm, he struck out the other, and replied, " Thus Rhadamanthus spoke--'

“ Hang Rhadamanthus and thee too !” cried the other, as he banged the street door in his face: and what Rhadamanthus spoke remaineth to this day a mystery. The jolly mercer, like a careful citizen, fastened the door, and saw that all things

were safe in his house ; and then went he


stairs to bed, singing very merrily

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Full oft' to the great have I held my prate;

But when I have had good ale enow,
I be not afeard to wag my beard

With any woman's son, be he high or low.”

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