Act 3, Scene II

Scene: A Room in the Bell Inn, Waltham.

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

Wife.    
Oh, Ralph! how dost thou, Ralph? How hast thou slept to-night? has the knight used thee well?
Citizen.
Peace, Nell; let Ralph alone.]
Tapster.
Master, the reckoning is not paid.
Ralph.
Right courteous knight, who, for the order's sake
Which thou hast ta'en, hang'st out the holy Bell,
As I this flaming Pestle bear about,
We render thanks to your puissant self,
Your beauteous lady, and your gentle squires,
For thus refreshing of our wearied limbs,
Stiffened with hard achievements in wild desert.
Tapster.
Sir, there is twelve shillings to pay.
Ralph.
Thou merry Squire Tapstero, thanks to thee
For comforting our souls with double jug:
And, if adventurous fortune prick thee forth,
Thou jovial squire, to follow feats of arms,
Take heed thou tender every lady's cause,
Every true knight, and every damsel fair;
But spill the blood of treacherous Saracens,
And false enchanters that with magic spells
Have done to death full many a noble knight.
Host.    
Thou valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, give ear to me; there is twelve shillings to pay, and, as I am a true knight, I will not bate a penny.
[Wife.    
George, I prithee, tell me, must Ralph pay twelve shillings now?
Citizen.
No, Nell, no; nothing but the old knight is merry with Ralph.
Wife.    
Oh, is't nothing else? Ralph will be as merry as he.]
Ralph.
Sir Knight, this mirth of yours becomes you well;
But, to requite this liberal courtesy,
If any of your squires will follow arms,
He shall receive from my heroic hand
A knighthood, by the virtue of this Pestle.
Host.    
Fair knight, I thank you for your noble offer:
Therefore, gentle knight,
Twelve shillings you must pay, or I must cap you.
[Wife.    
Look, George! did not I tell thee as much? the knight of the Bell is in earnest. Ralph shall not be beholding to him: give him his money, George, and let him go snick up.
Citizen.
Cap Ralph! no.—Hold your hand, Sir Knight of the Bell; there's your money [gives money]: have you any— thing to say to Ralph now? Cap Ralph!
Wife.    
I would you should know it, Ralph has friends that will not suffer him to be capt for ten times so much, and ten times to the end of that.—Now take thy course, Ralph.]
Mistress Merrythought.
Come, Michael; thou and I will go home to thy father; he hath enough left to keep us a day or two, and we'll set fellows abroad to cry our purse and our casket: shall we, Michael?
Michael.
Ay, I pray, mother; in truth my feet are full of chilblains with travelling.
[Wife.    
Faith, and those chilblains are a foul trouble. Mistress Merrythought, when your youth comes home, let him rub all the soles of his feet, and his heels, and his ankles with a mouse-skin; or, if none of your people can catch a mouse, when he goes to bed, let him roll his feet in the warm embers, and, I warrant you, he shall be well; and you may make him put his fingers between his toes, and smell to them; it's very sovereign for his head, if he be costive.]
Mistress Merrythought.
Master Knight of the Burning Pestle, my son Michael and I bid you farewell: I thank your worship heartily for your kindness.
Ralph.
Farewell, fair lady, and your tender squire.
If pricking through these deserts, I do hear
Of any traitorous knight, who through his guile
Hath light upon your casket and your purse,
I will despoil him of them, and restore them.
Mistress Merrythought.
I thank your worship.
[Exit with Michael.
Ralph.
Dwarf, bear my shield; squire, elevate my lance:—
And now farewell, you Knight of holy Bell.
[Citizen.
Ay, ay, Ralph, all is paid.]
Ralph.
But yet, before I go, speak, worthy knight,
Of aught you do of sad adventures know,
Where errant knight may through his prowess win
Eternal fame, and free some gentle souls
From endless bonds of steel and lingering pain.
Host.    
Sirrah, go to Nick the barber, and bid him prepare himself, as I told you before, quickly.
Tapster.
I am gone sir.
[Exit.
Host.    
Sir Knight, this wilderness affordeth none
But the great venture, where full many a knight
Hath tried his prowess, and come off with shame;
And where I would not have you lose your life
Against no man, but furious fiend of hell.
Ralph.
Speak on, Sir Knight; tell what he is and where:
For here I vow, upon my blazing badge,
Never to blaze a day in quietness,
But bread and water will I only eat,
And the green herb and rock shall be my couch,
Till I have quelled that man, or beast, or fiend,
That works such damage to all errant knights.
Host.    
Not far from hence, near to a craggy cliff,
At the north end of this distressèd town,
There doth stand a lowly house,
Ruggedly builded, and in it a cave
In which an ugly giant now doth won
Ycleped Barbarossa: in his hand
He shakes a naked lance of purest steel,
With sleeves turned up; and him before he wears
A motley garment, to preserve his clothes
From blood of those knights which he massacres
And ladies gent: without his door doth hang
A copper basin on a prickant spear;
At which no sooner gentle knights can knock,
But the shrill sound fierce Barbarossa hears,
And rushing forth, brings in the errant knight,
And sets him down in an enchanted chair;
Then with an engine, which he hath prepared,
With forty teeth, he claws his courtly crown;
Next makes him wink, and underneath his chin,
He plants a brazen piece of mighty bord,
And knocks his bullets round about his cheeks;
Whilst with his fingers, and an instrument
With which he snaps his hair off, he doth fill
The wretch's ears with a most hideous noise:
Thus every knight-adventurer he doth trim,
And now no creature dares encounter him.
Ralph.
In God's name, I will fight with him. Kind sir,
Go but before me to this dismal cave,
Where this huge giant Barbarossa dwells,
And, by that virtue that, brave Rosicleer
That damnèd brood of ugly giants slew,
And Palmerin Frannarco overthrew,
I doubt not but to curb this traitor foul,
And to the devil send his guilty soul.
Host.    
Brave-sprighted knight, thus far I will perform
This your request; I'll bring you within sight
Of this most loathsome place, inhabited
By a more loathsome man; but dare not stay,
For his main force swoops all he sees away.
Ralph.
Saint George, set on before! march squire and page!
[Exeunt.
[Wife.    
George, dost think Ralph will confound the giant?
Citizen.
I hold my cap to a farthing he does: why, Nell, I saw him wrestle with the great Dutchman, and hurl him.
Wife.    
Faith, and that Dutchman was a goodly man, if all things were answerable to his bigness. And yet they say there, was a Scotchman higher than he, and that the two and a knight met, and saw one another for nothing. But of all the sights that ever were in London, since I was married, methinks the little child that was so fair grown about the members was the prettiest; that and the hermaphrodite.
Citizen.
Nay, by your leave, Nell, Ninivie was better.
Wife.    
Ninivie! oh, that was the story of Jone, and the wall, was it not, George?
Citizen.
Yes, lamb.]