Act 2, Scene VI

Scene: Before the Bell Inn, Waltham.

Enter RALPH, Mistress MERRYTHOUGHT, MICHAEL, TIM, and GEORGE.

[Wife.    
Oh, husband, here's Ralph again!—Stay, Ralph again, let me speak with thee. How dost thou, Ralph? art thou not shrewdly hurt? the foul great lungies laid unmercifully on thee: there's some sugar-candy for thee. Proceed; thou shalt have another bout with him.
Citizen.
If Ralph had him at the fencing-school, if he did not make a puppy of him, and drive him up and down the school, he should ne'er come in my shop more.]
Mistress Merrythought.
Truly, Master Knight of the Burning Pestle, I am weary.
Michael.
Indeed, la, mother, and I am very hungry.
Ralph.
Take comfort, gentle dame, and you, fair squire;
For in this desert there must needs be placed
Many strong castles, held by courteous knights;
And till I bring you safe to one of those,
I swear by this my order ne'er to leave you.
[Wife.    
Well said, Ralph!—George, Ralph was ever comfortable, was he not?
Citizen.
Yes, duck.
Wife.    
I shall ne'er forget him. When he had lost our child, (you know it was strayed almost alone to Puddle Wharf and the criers were abroad for it, and there it had drowned itself but for a sculler,) Ralph was the most comfortablest to me: “Peace, mistress,” says he, “let it go; I'll get you another as good.” Did he not, George, did he not say so?
Citizen.
Yes, indeed did he, mouse.]
George.
I would we had a mess of pottage and a pot of drink, squire, and were going to bed!
Tim.      
Why, we are at Waltham town's end, and that's the Bell Inn.
George.
Take courage, valiant knight, damsel, and squire!
I have discovered, not a stone's cast off,
An ancient castle, held by the old knight
Of the most holy order of the Bell,
Who gives to all knights-errant entertain:
There plenty is of food, and all prepared
By the white hands of his own lady dear.
He hath three squires that welcome all his guests;
The first, hight Chamberlino, who will see
Our beds prepared, and bring us snowy sheets,
Where never footman stretched his buttered hams;
The second, hight Tapstero, who will see
Our pots full filled, and no froth therein;
The third, a gentle squire, Ostlero hight,
Who will our palfreys slick with wisps of straw,
And in the manger put them oats enough,
And never grease their teeth with candle-snuff.
[Wife.    
That same dwarf's a pretty boy, but the squire's a groutnol.]
Ralph.
Knock at the gates, my squire, with stately lance.
[Tim knocks at the door.

Enter Tapster.

Tapster.
Who's there?—You're welcome, gentlemen: will you see a room?
George.
Right courteous and valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, this is the Squire Tapstero.
Ralph.
Fair Squire Tapstero, I a wandering knight,
Hight of the Burning Pestle, in the quest
Of this fair lady's casket and wrought purse,
Losing myself in this vast wilderness,
Am to this castle well by fortune brought;
Where, hearing of the goodly entertain
Your knight of holy order of the Bell
Gives to all damsels and all errant knights,
I thought to knock, and now am bold to enter.
Tapster.
An't please you see a chamber, you are very welcome.
[Exeunt.
[Wife.    
George, I would have something done, and I cannot tell what it is.
Citizen.
What is it, Nell?
Wife.    
Why, George, shall Ralph beat nobody again? prithee, sweetheart, let him.
Citizen.
So he shall, Nell; and if I join with him, we'll knock them all.]