Ben Jonson

"The Case is Altered Act 2. Scene 1"

Enter Jaques, solus.

So now enough, my heart, beat now no
more,
At least for this affright. What a cold sweat
Flow'd o'er my brows, and over all my bo-
som!
Had I not reason? to behold my door
Beset with unthrifts, and myself abroad?
Why, Jaques? was there nothing in the
house
Worth a continual eye, a vigilant thought,
Whose head should never nod, nor eyes once
wink?
Look on my coat, my thoughts, worn quite threadbare,
That time could never cover with a nap,
And by it learn, never with knaps of sleep
To smother your conceits of that you keep.
But yet I marvel why these gallant youths
Spoke me so fair, and I esteem'd a beggar?
The end of flattery is gain or lechery:
If they seek gain of me, they think me rich;
But that they do not. For their other object,
'Tis in my handsome daughter, if it be:
And, by your leave, her handsomeness may
tell them
My beggary counterfeits, and that her neatness
Flows from some store of wealth, that breaks
my coffers
With this same engine, love to mine own breed;
But this is answer'd: Beggars will keep fine
Their daughters, being fair, though them-
selves pine.
Well, then it is for her; I, 'tis sure for her,
And I make her so brisk for one of them,
That I might live alone once with my gold.
O 'tis a sweet companion, kind and true;
A man may trust it when his father cheats
him,
Brother, or friend, or wife. O wondrous pelf!
That which makes all men false, is true it-
self.
But now this maid is but suppos'd my daughter;
For I being steward to a lord of France
Of great estate and wealth, call'd lord Cha-
mont,
He gone into the wars, I stole his treasure;
(But hear not any thing) I stole his treasure,
And this his daughter, being but two years
old,
Because it lov'd me so, that it would leave
The nurse herself, to come into mine arms,
And had I left it, it would sure have dy'd.
Now herein I was kind, and had a con-
science;
And since her lady-mother, that did die
In child-bed of her, lov'd me passing well,


It may be nature fashion'd this affection,
Both in the child and her: but he's ill
bred
That ransacks tombs, and doth deface the dead.
I'll therefore say no more, suppose the rest.
Here have I chang'd my form, my name
and hers,
And live obscurely, to enjoy more safe

Enter Rachel.

My dearest treasure: but I must abroad.
Rachel!

Rach.
What is your pleasure, sir?

Jaq.
Rachel, I must abroad.
Lock thyself in, but yet take out the key,
That whosoever peeps in at the key-hole,
May yet imagine there is none at home.

Rach.
I will, sir.

Jaq.
But hark thee, Rachel, say a thief
should come,
And miss the key, he would resolve indeed
None were at home, and so break in the ra-
ther:
Ope the door, Rachel; set it open, daughter;
But sit in it thyself, and talk aloud,
As if there were some more in house with
thee:
Put out the fire, kill the chimney's heart,
That it may breathe no more than a dead
man;
The more we spare, my child, the more we gain.

[ Exeunt.

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