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singing hee was held in high reputation among all the shoomakers in Westminster, and he would scant speake anything but in rime. This jolly companion, seeing them bent so well to their breakfast and nothing at all to respect him, in the place where he sate cast out these merry speeches unto them:
"Much good doe it you, masters, and well may you fare,
"Nay, faith", quoth Meg, "that's but a jest."
'Tie sweare", quoth Robin, " 'tis none of the best."
"Tast it", quoth Meg, "then tell me thy mind."
"Yea, marry", quoth Robin, "now you are kind."
With that Magaret, filling a cup brim full, gave it into his hand, saying: "Now tast it, Robin, and take there the cup."
"Nay, hang me," quoth Robin, "if I drinke it not up."
"By my maidenhead," quoth Margaret, "I see that thou art a good fellow; and to have thee drinke it up is the thing that I crave."
"Then sweare," quoth Robin, "by the thing you have,
"Now, by my honesty", quoth Meg, "you doe me mighty wrong to thinke so ill of me; for though indeed I confesse I cannot excuse myselfe, for women are not angels, though they have angels' faces. For, to speake the truth, might I have had my owne heart's desire when time was, I would rather have chosen to lye with a man then a maid; but such merry motions were out of my mind many a deere day agoe, and now I vow that a maiden I will die."
"By this wine", quoth Robin, "I dare sweare you lye.
For were I as my master, by this good light,
You would leese your maidenhead ere twelve a clock at night,
With high derry derry,
If it be not gone already."
"Nay", quoth Margaret, "your master scornes me. He keeps all his gownes for Gillian of the George, — a pretty wench, I confesse, having a proper body but a bad leg. She hath a very good countenance but an ill coulour. And you talk of desire, but her desire I doubt will bring her the greene sicknesse if your master, like a good phisition, give her not a medicine against that malady."
"Why, Margaret", quoth Richard, "hath she told you so much of her mind that you know her griefe so well?"
"It may be she hath", quoth Margaret, "but whether she did or no, it is sufficient that I know so much. But I thinke", quoth Margaret, "you are not so besotted to make any account of a tallow cake."
"No, faith", quoth Robin, "a nut-browne girle
"Certainly", quoth Richard, "which is the best or worst I know not yet, nor doe I meane hastily to prove. And as [for] Gillian of the George, as she hath no reason to hate me so she hath no cause to love me. But if she doe, it is more favour then I did ever merit at her hand, and surely were it but in regard of her good will, I am not to scorne her nor for her favour to feed her with floutes, but for her good thoughts of me to think well of her — though not so well as to make her my wife." "Well said, master", quoth Robin,
"In this sort grind you still,
So shall we have mo sackes to mill."
"Trust me", quoth Margaret, "I speake not this so much to disgrace Gillian, as for the regard I have to your credit. But to make an end of Gillian and this jest altogether, let me entreat you soone at night to come to our house; and thinke this, though your cheere chance to be small, your welcome shall be great. I know that this summer, and especially against these holydaies, you will worke till ten; and I promise you by eleven I will have as good a posset for you as ever you did taste on in your life. My master is an old man and he commonly goes to bed at nine, and as for my mistris, I know where she will be safe till midnight masse be ended, so that for an houre we may be as merry as Pope John. What say you, Richard?" quoth she. "Will you come?"
"In troth, Margaret", quoth he, "I heartily thank you for your good will. I would willingly come, but I love not to be from home so late."
"I thinke so" quoth Robin, "least you should misse Kate,
"Robin", said he, "thou art so full of thy rime that often thou art without reason. Thou seest that Margaret hath been at cost with us to-day and it is more then good manners to charge her further before we have made amends for this. And beside that, late walking in the evening brings young men into much suspition."
"Tush", quoth Margaret, "once and use it not is not such a matter. Therefore, sweet Richard, you shall come, and you shall not say me nay; therefore I charge you on paine of displeasure not to faile, and forget not to bring Round Robin with you. And so farewell."
Palaeatra XVm. 9
"No, faith", quoth Robin, "it shall not need,
"Who bad thee?" quoth Margaret.
"What, are thy wits so unsteady?
You did bid me", quoth Robin, "have you forgot already?"
"Why, then I pray thee, good Robin", said Meg, "do not forget in any case, and put thy master in mind thereof if he should chance to change his opinion or overslip the time through greedines of work. For, i'faith, Robin, if thou bring him along with thee, I will thinke the better of thee while I live."
"Why, then", quoth he,
"And as I am no knight,
We will come to eate the posset soone at night."
Now, Margaret was no sooner gone, and Richard at his cutting-boord, and Robin set on his stoole, but in comes Gillian of the George, bringing in her aporne the corner of a venison pastie and a good deale of a lamb pye. Who with a smyling countenance entring the shop, bidding Richard good morrow, askt if he had broke his fast.
"Yes, verily", quoth Richard, "I thank Long Meg. we have beene at it this morning; and had you come a little sooner you had found her heere, for she went away but even now, and I verily thinke she is scant at home yet."
"Tis a lusty wench", quoth Robin, "gentle and kind,
Gillian, hearing Robin to enter into Meg's commendations, began to grow jealous of the matter. "Out upon her foule stammell!" quoth she. "He that takes her to his wife shall be sure of flesh enough, let him get bread where he can. Tis such a bold betrice'), she will acquaint herselfe with everybodie. Notwithstanding, this I will tell you, Richard: the lesse she comes in your company, the more it will be for your credit. And howsoever she deserves it — God knowes I cannot accuse her — but, I promise you, she hath but a hard report among many. But letting her rest as she is, see here what I have brought you —" and with that she gave him the venison and the rest, and drawing her purse, she would needs send for a quart of wine. Richard sought to perswade her to the contrary, but she would not be intreated. "What, man", quoth she, "I am able to give you a quart of wine."
') Probably buttrice (butteris, buttris, buttress), a big tool for paring a horse's hoof. It was used by being pushed, its long handle resting against the shoulder. Murray, Diet.; Wright, Engl. Dial. Diet.
"That's spoke like an angell", quoth Robin.
"And this I doe thinke,
If you be able to give it, we be able to drinke."
Hereupon the wine was fetcht, and so they sate them downe to their meate; at what time they fed not so
\ heartily on the venison pasty but Gillian's eye fed as
J greedily on Richard's favour. And as soone as the wine was come, she pluckt out of her pocket a good peece of sugar and, filling a glasse of wine tempered wel therwith, she drank to him, saying: "Here, Richard, to all that love you and me, but especially to him whom I love best."
"Let it come", quoth Richard, "I will pledge him, whosoever it be."
"So will I", quoth Robin, "without any faile,
Were it the best Hipocras, I would turn it over my naile."
Then Gillian, looking round about, spoke to this effect: "Verily, Richard, heere is a pretty house, and everything hansome, by Saint Anne. I see nothing wanting but a good wife to keep all things in his due kind."
Whereunto Robin made this answer:
"Now speake thy conscience and tell me, good Gill,
"Who, I? Alas", quoth she, "your master scornes me. He looks for a golden girle, or a girle with gold, that might bring him the red ruddocks chinking in a bag, and