Act 2, Scene II

Scene: Waltham Forest.


Mistress Merrythought.
Come, Michael; art thou not weary, boy?
No, forsooth, mother, not I.
Mistress Merrythought.
Where be we now, child?
Indeed, forsooth, mother, I cannot tell, unless we be at Mile-End: Is not all the world Mile-End, mother?
Mistress Merrythought.
No, Michael, not all the world, boy; but I can assure thee, Michael, Mile End is a goodly matter: there has been a pitchfield, my child, between the naughty Spaniels and the Englishmen; and the Spaniels ran away, Michael, and the Englishmen followed: my neighbour Coxstone was there, boy, and killed them all with a birding-piece.
Mother, forsooth——
Mistress Merrythought.
What says my white boy?
Shall not my father go with us too?
Mistress Merrythought.
No, Michael, let thy father go snick-up; he shall never come between a pair of sheets with me again while he lives; let him stay at home, and sing for his supper, boy. Come, child, sit down, and I'll show my boy fine knacks, indeed [They sit down: and she takes out a casket.] Look here, Michael; here's a ring, and here's a brooch, and here's a bracelet, and here's two rings more, and here's money and gold by th'eye, my boy.
Shall I have all this, mother?
Mistress Merrythought.
Ay, Michael, thou shalt have all, Michael.
How likest thou this, wench?
I cannot tell; I would have Ralph, George; I'll see no more else, indeed, la; and I pray you, let the youths understand so much by word of mouth; for, I tell you truly, I'm afraid o' my boy. Come, come, George, let's be merry and wise: the child's a fatherless child; and say they should put him into a strait pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass; he would never grow after it.]


Here's Ralph, here's Ralph!
How do you do, Ralph? you are welcome, Ralph, as I may say; it's a good boy, hold up thy head, and be not afraid; we are thy friends, Ralph; the gentlemen will praise thee, Ralph, if thou playest thy part with audacity. Begin, Ralph, a' God's name!]
My trusty squire, unlace my helm: give me my hat. Where are we, or what desert may this be?
Mirror of knighthood, this is, as I take it, the perilous Waltham-down; in whose bottom stands the enchanted valley.
Mistress Merrythought.
Oh, Michael, we are betrayed, we are betrayed! here be giants! Fly, boy! fly, boy, fly!
[Exit with Michael leaving the casket.
Lace on my helm again. What noise is this?
A gentle lady, flying the embrace
Of some uncourteous knight! I will relieve her.
Go, squire, and say, the Knight, that wears this Pestle
In honour of all ladies, swears revenge
Upon that recreant coward that pursues her;
Go comfort her and that same gentle squire
That bears her company.
I go, brave knight.
My trusty dwarf and friend, reach me my shield;
And hold it while I swear. First, by my knighthood;
Then by the soul of Amadis de Gaul,
My famous ancestor; then by my sword
The beauteous Brionella girt about me;
By this bright burning Pestle, of mine honour
The living trophy; and by all respect
Due to distressed damsels; here I vow
Never to end the quest of this fair lady
And that forsaken squire till by my valour
I gain their liberty!
Heaven bless the knight
That thus relieves poor errant gentlewoman!
Ay, marry, Ralph this has some savour in't; I would see the proudest of them all offer to carry his books after him. But, George, I will not have him go away so soon; I shall be sick if he go away, that I shall: call Ralph again, George, call Ralph again; I prithee, sweetheart, let him come fight before me, and let's ha' some drums and some trumpets, and let him kill all that comes near him, an thou lovest me, George!
Peace a little, bird: he shall kill them all, an they were twenty more on 'em than there are.]


Now, Fortune, if thou be'st not only ill,
Show me thy better face, and bring about
Thy desperate wheel that I may climb at length,
And stand. This is our place of meeting,
If love have any constancy. Oh, age,
Where only wealthy men are counted happy!
How shall I please thee, how deserve thy smiles,
When I am only rich in misery?
My father's blessing and this little coin
Is my inheritance; a strong revénue!
From earth thou art, and to the earth I give thee:
[Throws away the money.
There grow and multiply, whilst fresher air
Breeds me a fresher fortune.—How! illusion?
[Sees the casket.
What, hath the devil coined himself before me?
'Tis metal good, it rings well; I am waking,
And taking too, I hope. Now, God's dear blessing
Upon his heart that left it here! 'tis mine;
These pearls, I take it, were not left for swine.
[Exit with the casket.
I do not like that this unthrifty youth should embezzle away the money; the poor gentlewoman his mother will have a heavy heart for it, God knows.
And reason good, sweetheart.
But let him go; I'll tell Ralph a tale in's ear shall fetch him again with a wanion, I warrant him, if he be above ground; and besides, George, here are a number of sufficient gentlemen can witness, and myself, and yourself, and the musicians, if we be called in question.