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" But listen now, I prythee. Thou knowest my Lords Simple and Dimple?”

“ What, our Damon and Pythias ? our Castor and Pollux ? our David and Absalom ?” asked his friend with a laugh. “ To be sure I know them. There exists not a pair of fools so well matched throughout these realms."

66 Thou hast it, Will,” added Master Burbage in a like humour. “They are precious fools indeed: as innocent as lambkins, and as loving as turtles. They seem born of Folly, and twinned at a birth. l'faith they seem such sworn friends that one might as well expect to meet with but one pannier on an ass as one of these lords without the other. Now, methinks such pestilent affectations should be put down. I like them not: and doubtless 'twould be exquisite sport could we two set this Damon and Pythias by the ears so completely, that they shall not only be eager to forswear each other's company, but that there shall be so deadly a quarrel betwixt them, that they shall presently out with their tools, and appear to thrust away so nimbly, that it shall be a difficult matter to say which be the most ready to destroy the other."

6 I like the humour of it vastly,” replied Master Shakspeare, who seemed to enter into the jest with great spirit, “ indeed 'tis exceeding well conceited. But there must be no mischief come of it.”

66 Mischief !” exclaimed the other, as if in some

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astonishment at the idea. 6 Nay, Will_make thy mind easy on that score. If ever they come nigh enough with their weapons to hurt each other, then am I no judge of true valour: but we will be ready to interfere in case they shall be bent upon anything deadly."

“Well, 'tis a goodly scheme,” said his companions 6 and I doubt not 'twill afford marvellous proper sport. But how dost mean to set about it?"

“In this way, sweet Will,” replied Master Burbage.“ About this time we may make sure of finding these faithful shepherds taking of their customary walk towards Finsbury Fields, discoursing in very

delicate phrase of the delights of friendship. We will then be upon them. Thou shalt draw one aside and I the other, and with well asserted accounts of what one hath said and done in contempt of the other, we will moye both to a monstrous furiousness.”

66 'Tis admirable, Dick !” cried Master Shakspeare, starting up in evident delight. 66 I do commend thy wit hugely, in the devising of so superlative a piece of wickedness; and, mayhap, it shall afford thee a far more exquisite pleasure than did thy aims upon the mercer's daughter."

“ Hang the mercer's daughter !” exclaimed his companion, seemingly in some dudgeon. " By this light I would not throw away a thought on so errant a jade."

“ The grapes be sour, Dick," said the other mischievously.

Grapes ! grapes, quotha !” cried Master Burbage, with a well assumed indignation. “ Yes, she shall be thought such when grapes do grow on thorns and figs on thistles.”

« Oh, thou perjured piece of villainy !” exclaimed Master Shakspeare, laughing very heartily. 6 Dost remember when thou first spoke of her to me in my lodging at the Bankside, how, in a feverish ecstacy, thou didst assert that she had an eye like Venus, a bust like Juno, and every grace that all Olympus possessed?"

“ That was out of the very generosity of my disposition, I do assure thee, Will," added his companion, with as serious a face as he could put on. 66 Thou knowest I am ever inclined to make the best of matters at all times, let them be ever so bad; but believe me, her teeth be like park palings after a hurricane; and her nose hath an exceeding resemblance to an onion running to seed—it doth sprout up so abominably."

“ Alack, that disappointed vanity should make of thee such a thorough slanderer !" cried Master Shakspeare. “ If she be not as pretty a piece of womanhood as eye ever dwelt on delightedly, then know I not what is perfection in comeliness. All the harm I could say of her is, that in my thinking she is either mightily deceiving herself, or deluding

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others to a similar extent-mayhap, there shall be something of both when the truth cometh to be known; and I blame her only because I feel assured there will mischief happen of it either to one party or the other-like enough to all. But come along with thee, and let us after these lords."

Saying this, the two friends started off, and laughing and jesting all the way, they made for Finsbury Fields, out by Cripplegate. Here had they scarce arrived when lo ! they spied my Lords Simple and Dimple very soberly a strolling together for to take the air, in the direction of the windmills; and so earnest in talk, they knew not that the two players were close upon them, endeavouring all they could not to laugh aloud; and nudging of each other on the elbow when anything fell from them which was more than ordinary ridiculous.

“Now, Simple, thou art in the wrong there, said one, as if with great seriousness." Thou knowest I am full two days older than art thou; therefore, if, as I before said, some tyrant should order us to be executed to the death, I would have precedency of thee, and suffer first.”

* By this glove, that would I never allow !” exclaimed the other with extreme eagerness. 6 What, shall it be said that such a true heart as am I, should allow his friend to die before him? I tell thee, Dimple, it must not be. I will set thee such an example of friendship as shall

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do thee infinite good to look on; and shall be a marvel to the world ever after."

" It is for me to set the example, who am the oldest,” cried Dimple, more seriously than at first. 5 I claim it of natural right, which will I never give up; and peradventure it shall happen as I have said, then shalt thou wonder to see how heroic I will behave myself—ay, with such a strength of soul, that the name of Dimple shall be engraved on monuments of adamant unto latest posterity.”

66 If I let thee, then am I no true friend,” replied Simple, with a more earnest eagerness. will have it so. I would give way to none in so vital a matter. Indeed it must be. Then will I astonish human nature—then”.

6 Indeed it shall never be, my lord !” exclaimed the first, as if in some way nettled—“ I am the elder, and if I die not first, then will I know the reason why."

: My lord, you do ill in disputing upon this,” observed the other somewhat warmly. “ 'Tis my particular wish to suffer before you, and I will have it so."

6 You be no true friend for wishing what be against my inclination, and I will not suffer it," said Dimple, as if getting into a rage.

- You be a scurvy fellow, if you say I be no true friend,” replied Dimple angrily.

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