Enter CONSTANCE, ISABELLA, and NONSUCH.
Const: This is just the knight's hour; and lovers seldom come after their time.
Non: Good night, daughter; I'll to bed, and give you joy to-morrow morning. [Exit.
Isa: I'm glad he's gone: What, your train takes?
Const: Yes, yes; Loveby will come: Setstone has been with him in disguise; and promised him golden mountains, if he will not be wanting to his own fortune.
Isa: Is your habit provided too?
Const: All is ready.
Isa: Away then; for this is the place where we must part like knights errant, that take several paths to their adventures.
Const: 'Tis time, for I hear somebody come along the alley; without question 'tis Timorous. Farewell; the chaplain stays for me in the chamber.
Isa: And I'll post after you to matrimony; I have laid a fresh parson at the next stage, that shall carry me tantivy.
Enter BURR with TIMOROUS'S coat on.
Burr: My lady Constance!
Isa: The same: Sir Timorous?
Burr: The same.
Isa: Sir Timorous takes me for my cousin.
Burr: My lady Constance mistakes me for the knight.
Isa: Here, sir; through the dark walk: 'tis but a little way about--He's my own beyond redemption--
Burr: The Indies are mine; and a handsome lady into the bargain.
Enter FAILER, dogging them, as they go off.
Fail: He shall be hanged, ere he shall get her. Thus far I have dogged them, and this way I am sure they must pass, ere they come to the house. The rogue had got the old dog-trick of a statesman; to fish things out of wiser heads than his own, and never so much as to take notice of him that gave the counsel--
Enter ISABELLA and BURR again.
Now, if I can but give her the hint without his knowledge!--Madam--my lady Constance!
Isa: What voice is that?
Fail: A word in private, or you are undone--Pray step aside.
Burr: Where are you, madam?
Isa: Immediately, Sir Timorous.
Fail: You are mistaken, madam; 'tis not Sir Timorous, but Burr in his clothes; he has stripped the knight, gagged him, and locked him up.
Fail: The same. I could not but prevent your unhappiness, though I hazard my person in the discovery, I vow to gad, madam.
Burr: Who's that talks to you, my lady Constance?
Isa: A maid of my acquaintance, that's come to take her leave of me before I marry; the poor soul does so pity me.
Burr: How will that maid lie, thinking of you and me to-night!
Isa: Has he the key about him? [To FAILER.
Fail: I think so, madam.
Isa: Could not you possibly pick his pocket, and give me the key? then let me alone to release Sir Timorous; and you shall be witness of the wedding.
Fail: Egad, you want your cousin Isabella's wit to bring that to pass, madam.
Isa: I warrant you, my own wit will serve to fool Burr--and you too, or I am much deceived. [Aside.
Fail: I am a little apprehensive of the rascal's fingers, since I felt them last; and yet my fear has not power to resist the sweet temptation of revenge; I vow to gad I'll try, madam.
Isa: Never fear; let me alone to keep him busy.
Burr: Come, madam, and let me take off these tasteless kisses the maid gave you; may we not join lips before we are married?
Isa: No; fie, Sir Timorous.
[They struggle a little, and in that time FAILER picks his pocket of the key.
Fail: I have it--here it is--now, shift for yourself, as I'll do; I'll wait you in the alley.
Isa: Sir Timorous, pray go into my chamber, and make no noise till I return; I'll but fetch the little man of God, and follow you in a twinkling.
Burr: There's no light, I hope?
Isa: Not a spark.
Burr: For to light me to the mark--
Isa: What a scowering have I 'scaped to-night! Fortune, 'tis thou hast been ingenious for me! Allons, Isabella! Courage! now to deliver my knight from the enchanted castle.
Enter LOVEBY, led by SETSTONE, antickly habited; with a torch in one hand, and a wand in the other.
Lov: What art thou, that hast led me this long hour through lanes and alleys, and blind passages?
Set: I am thy genius; and conduct thee to wealth, fame, and honour; what thou comest to do, do boldly; fear not; with this rod I charm thee; and neither elf nor goblin now can harm thee.
Lov: Well, march on; if thou art my genius, thou art bound to be answerable for me; I'll have thee hanged, if I miscarry.
Set: Fear not, my son.
Lov: Fear not, quotha! then, pr'ythee, put on a more familiar shape:--one of us two stinks extremely: Pr'ythee, do not come so near me; I do not love to have my face bleached like a tiffany with thy brimstone.
Set: Fear not, but follow me.
Lov: 'Faith, I have no great mind to't; I am somewhat godly at present; but stay a month longer, and I'll be proud, and fitter for thee. In the mean time, pr'ythee, stay thy stomach with some Dutchman; an Hollander, with butter, will fry rarely in hell.
Set: Mortal, 'tis now too late for a retreat; go on, and live; step back, and thou art mine.
Lov: So I am, however, first or last; but for once I'll trust thee. [Exeunt.
The scene opens, and discovers CONSTANCE, and a Parson by her; she habited like Fortune.
Set: Take here the mighty queen of good and ill, Fortune; first marry, then enjoy thy fill Of lawful pleasures; but depart ere morn; Slip from her bed, or else thou shalt be torn Piecemeal by fiends; thy blood caroused in bowls, And thy four quarters blown to the top of Paul's.
Lov: By your favour, I'll never venture. Is marrying the business? I'll none, I thank you.
[Here CONSTANCE whispers SETSTONE.
Set: Fortune will turn her back if twice denied.
Lov: Why, she may turn her girdle too on t'other side[A]. This is the devil; I will not venture on her. [Footnote A: A usual expression of indifference for a man's displeasure.]
Set: Fear not; she swears thou shalt receive no harm.
Lov: Ay, if a man durst trust her; but the devil is got into such an ill name of lying--
Set: Whene'er you are not pleased, it shall be lawful to sue out your divorce.
Lov: Ay, but where shall I get a lawyer? there you are aforehand with me; you have retained most of them already. For the favours I have received, I am very much her servant; but, in the way of matrimony, Mr Parson there can tell you 'tis an ordinance, and must not be entered into without mature deliberation; besides, marriages, you know, are made in heaven; and that I am sure this was not.
Set: She bids you then, at least, restore that gold, which she, too lavishly, poured out on you, unthankful man.
Lov: Faith, I have it not at present; 'tis all gone, as I am a sinner; but, 'tis gone wickedly; all spent in the devil her father's service.
Set: Where is the grateful sense of all your favours? Come, fiends, with flesh-hooks, tear the wretch in pieces, And bear his soul upon your leather wings, Below the fountain of the dark abyss.
Lov: What, are you a-conjuring? If you are good at that sport, I can conjure as well as you--[Draws his sword.
Const: Hold; for Heaven's sake, hold! I am no spirit; touch but my hand; ghosts have no flesh and blood. [Discovering.
Lov: My lady Constance! I began to suspect it might be a trick, but never could imagine you the author. It seems you are desirous I should father this hans en kelder here?
Const: I know not how, without a blush, to tell you, it was a cheat I practised for your love.
Set: A mere tympany, sir, raised by a cushion; you see 'tis gone already.
Const: Setstone was sent to have acquainted you; but, by the way, unfortunately missed you.
Lov: Twas you, then, that supplied me all this while with money? pretty familiar, I hope to make thee amends ere I sleep to-night. Come, parson, pr'ythee make haste and join us. I long to be out of her debt, poor rogue.
[The parson takes them to the side of the stage; they turn their backs to the audience, while he mumbles to them.
Set: I'll be the clerk; Amen--give you joy, Mr Bridegroom, and Mrs Bride.
Const: Thanks, honest Setstone.
[BIBBER, FRANCES, and music without--they play.
Music: God give your worship a good even, Mr Loveby.
Const: Hark! what noise is that! Is this music of your providing, Setstone?
Set: Alas, madam, I know nothing of it.
Lov: We are betrayed to your father; but the best on't is, he comes too late to hinder us--fear not, madam, I'll bear you through them all.
[As they rush out, BIBBER, FRANCES, and Music are entering in; BIBBER and FRANCES are beaten down.--Exeunt LOVEBY; CONSTANCE, SETSTONE, and Parson.
All cry out: Oh the devil! the devil! the devil!
Bib: Lord bless us, where are you, Frances!
Fran: Here, William! this is a judgment, as they say, upon you, William, for trusting wits, and calling gentlemen to the tavern, William.
Bib: No; 'twas a judgment upon you, for desiring preferment at court, Frances. Let's call up the watch, and Justice Trice, to have the house searched.
Fran: Ay, ay; there's more devils there, I warrant you. [Exeunt.
Enter LOVEBY, CONSTANCE, and SETSTONE again.
Lov: It was certainly Will Bibber and his wife, with music; for, now I remember myself, I 'pointed him this hour at your father's house: but we frighted them worse than they frighted us.
Const: Our parson ran away too, when they cried out the devil!
Lov: He was the wiser; for if the devil had come indeed, he has preached so long against him, it would have gone hard with him.
Set: Indeed, I have always observed parsons to be more fearful of the devil than other people.
Lov: Oh, the devil's the spirit, and the parson's the flesh; and betwixt those two there must be a war; yet, to do them both right, I think in my conscience they quarrel only like lawyers for their fees, and meet good friends in private, to laugh at their clients.
Const: I saw him run in at my cousin Isabella's chamber door, which was wide open; I believe she's returned: We'll fetch a light from the gallery, and give her joy.
Lov: Why, is she married, madam?
Const: I'll tell you as we go. [Exeunt.
BURR and the Parson enter, meeting in the dark.
Burr: My lady Constance, are you come again? That's well; I have waited sufficiently for you in the dark.
Par: Help, help, help, good Christian people! the devil, the devil's here.
Burr: 'Tis I, madam; what do you mean?
Par: Avoid, Satan! avoid, avoid.
Burr: What have I here, the hairy woman?
Enter LOVEBY, and CONSTANCE with the light.
Ha! yonder's my lady Constance! who have I got? a stone priest, by this good light. How's this, Loveby too!
Lov: Burr a-beating my reverend clergy? What makes you here at this unseasonable hour? I'll know your business. [Draws.
Burr: Will you, sir? [They fight.
Const. Set. Par: Help, murder, murder!
Enter, at one door, TRICE drunk, with the Watch; BIBBER and FRANCES following; at the other, NONSUCH and Servants, and FAILER.
Non: Murder, murder! beat down their weapons. Will you murder Sir Timorous, Mr Loveby?--[They disarm both.] Sir Timorous?--ha, Burr! Thieves, thieves!--sit down, good Mr Justice, and take their examinations. Now I shall know how my money went.
Trice: They shall have justice, I warrant them. [Goes to sit, and misses the chair.
Bib: The justice is almost dead drunk, my lord.
Fran: But an't please your worship, my lord, this is not the worst sight that we have seen here to-night in your worship's house; we met three or four hugeous ugly devils, with eyes like saucers, that threw down my husband, that threw down me, that made my heart so panck ever since, as they say!--
Non: The devil again in my house?
Lov: Nay, here he was, that's certain; he brought me hither, I know not how myself, and married me; Mr Setstone there can justify it: But the best is, I have a charm about me, that will lay him yet ere midnight.
Fail: And I vow to gad, my lord, I know as little how I came hither as any man.
Burr: Nor I.
Trice: Nor I.
Lov: No, I dare swear do'st thou not, Mr Justice.
Trice: But I wonder how the devil durst come into our ward, when he knows I have been at the duties of--my family--this evening.
Enter one of the Watch, with TIMOROUS and ISABELLA.
Watch: An please your worship, I met this couple in the street late, and so, seeing them to be a man and woman, I brought them along with me, upon suspicion of felony together.
Fran: This is the proud minx, that sought shelter in my house this afternoon, Mr Justice.
Fail: Sir Timorous and Madam Isabella! I vow to gad, we are undone, Burr.--
Isa: Do not you know me, Mr Justice?
Lov: Justice is blind, he knows nobody.
Isa: My name is Isabella.
Fran: No, thy name is Jezebella; I warrant you, there's none but rogues and papists would be abroad at this time of night.
Bib: Hold, Frances.--
Trice: She's drunk, I warrant her, as any beast. I wonder, woman, you do not consider what a crying sin drunkenness is: Whom do you learn it from in our parish? I am sure you never see me worse.
Isa: Burr and Failer, acknowledge yourselves a couple of recreant knights: Sir Timorous is mine: I have won him in fair field from you.
Const: Give you joy, cousin, give you joy!
Isa: And in Diana's grove, boy.
Lov: Why, 'tis fine, by Heaven; 'tis wondrous fine; as the poet goes on sweetly.
Tim: I am sure they had gagged me, and bound me, and stripped me almost stark naked, and locked me up as fast as a butterfly, 'till she came and made me a man again; and therefore I have reason to love her the longest day I have to live.
Isa: Ay, and the longest night too, or you are to blame. And you have one argument I love you, if the proverb be true, for I took you almost in your bare shirt.
Burr: So much for us, Failer!
Const: Well, my lord, it had as good out at first as at last: I must beg your lordship's blessing for this gentleman and myself. [Both kneel.
Non: Why, you are not married to him, I hope! he's married to the devil.
Lov: 'Twas a white devil of your lordship's getting, then; Mr Setstone and the reverend here can witness it.
Set. Par: We must speak truth, my lord.
Non: Would I had another child for your sake! you should ne'er see a penny of my money.
Lov: Thank you, my lord; but methinks 'tis much better as it is.
Isa: Come, nuncle, 'tis in vain to hold out, now 'tis past remedy: 'Tis like the last act of a play, when people must marry; and if fathers will not consent then, they should throw oranges at them from the galleries. Why should you stand off, to keep us from a dance?
Non: But there's one thing still that troubles me; that's her great belly, and my own too.
Const: Nay, for mine, my lord, 'tis vanished already; 'twas but a trick to catch the old one.
Lov: But I'll do my best; she shall not be long without another.
Isa: But as for your great belly, nuncle, I know no way to rid you on't, but by taking out your guts.
Lov: 'Tis such a pretty smart rascal, 'tis well I am pleased with my own choice: but I could have got such Hectors, and poets, and gamesters, out of thee!--
Const: No, no; two wits could never have lived well together; want would have so sharpened you upon one another.
Isa: A wit should naturally be joined to a fortune; by the same reason your vintners feed their hungry wines.
Const: And if Sir Timorous and I had married, we two fortunes must have built hospitals with our money; we could never have spent it else.
Lov: Or what think you of paying courtiers' debts with it?
Isa: Well, to shew I am in charity with my enemies, I'll make a motion: While we are in town, let us hire a large house, and live together: Burr and Failer--
Fail: Shall be utterly discarded; I knew 'twould come to that, I vow to gad.
Isa: Shall be our guests.
[BURR and FAILER throw up their caps, and cry, Vive Madam ISABELLA!
Lov: And Bibber shall make our wedding clothes without trusting.
Bib: No, henceforward I'll trust none but landed men, and such as have houses and apple-trees in the country, now I have got a place in the custom-house.
Fran: Nothing vexes me, but that this flirting gentlewoman should go before me; but I'll to the herald's office, and see whether the queen's majesty's dresser, should not take place of any knight's wife in Christendom.
Bib: Now all will out--no more, good Frances.
Fran: I will speak, that I will, so I will: What! shall I be a dresser to the queen's majesty, and nobody must know on't? I'll send Mr Church-warden word on't; and, gentlemen, when you come to St Bride's church (if ever you come to church, gentlemen), you shall see me in the pew that's next the pulpit; thank Mr Loveby's worship for it.
Lov: Spare your thanks, good landlady; for the truth is, they came too late, the place is gone; and so is yours, Will; but you shall have two hundred pounds for one, if that will satisfy you.
Fran: This is bitter news, as they say.
Lov: Cheer up thy wife, Will. Where are the fiddles? A dance should do it.
Bib: I'll run and call them.
Isa: I have found out that, will comfort her: Henceforward I christen her by the name of Madam Bibber.
All: A Madam Bibber, a Madam Bibber!
Fran: Why, I thank you, sweet gentlemen and ladies; this is a cordial to my drooping spirits: I confess I was a little eclipsed; but I'll cheer up with abundance of love, as they say. Strike up, fiddles.
Lov: That's a good wench.
Trice: This music and a little nod has recovered me. I'll in, and provide for the sack posset.
Non: To bed, to bed; 'tis late. Son Loveby, get me a boy to-night, and I'll settle three thousand a-year upon him the first day he calls me grandsire.
Lov: I'll do my best, To make the bargain sure before I sleep. Where love and money strike, the blow goes deep.
* * * * * * *