Ben Jonson

"Eastward Ho ~ Act 5. Scene 1"

An alehouse.

Enter GERTRUDE and SINDEFY.

Ger.
Ah, Sin! hast thou ever read i' the chronicle of any lady and her waiting woman driven to that extremity that we are, Sin?

Sin.
Not I, truly, madam; and, if I had, it were but cold comfort should come out of books, now.

Ger.
Why, good faith, Sin, I could dine with a lamentable story, now. O hone, hone, o no nera! etc. Canst thou tell ne'er a one, Sin?

Sin.
None but mine own, madam, which is lamentable enough: first to be stol'n from my friends, which were worshipful and of good account, by a prentice in the habit and disguise of a gentleman, and here brought up to London, and promis'd marriage, and now likely to be forsaken, for he is in possibility to be hang'd!

Ger.
Nay, weep not, good Sin; my Petronel is in as good possibility as he. Thy miseries are nothing to mine, Sin; I was more than promis'd marriage, Sin; I had it, Sin; and was made a lady; and by a knight, Sin; which is now as good as no knight, Sin. And I was born in London, which is more then brought up, Sin; and already forsaken, which is past likelihood, Sin; and, instead of land i' the country, all my knight's living lies i' the Counter, Sin; there's his castle, now!

Sin.
Which he cannot be forc'd out of, madam.

Ger.
Yes, if he would live hungry a week or two. "Hunger," they say, "breaks stone walls." But he is e'en well enough serv'd, Sin, that, so soon as ever he had got my hand to the sale of my inheritance, run away from me, as I had been his punk, God bless us! Would the Knight o' the Sun or Palmerin of England, have us'd their ladies so, Sin? or Sir Lancelot or Sir Tristram?

Sin.
I do not know, madam.

Ger.
Then thou know'st nothing, Sin. Thou art a fool, Sin. The knighthood nowadays are nothing like the knighthood of old time. They rid a-horseback; ours go afoot. They were attended by their squires, ours by their lackeys. They went buckled in their armor, ours muffled in their cloaks. They travell'd wildernesses and deserts; ours dare scarce walk the streets. They were still press'd to engage their honor, ours still ready to pawn their clothes. They would gallop on at sight of a monster; ours run away at sight of a sergeant. They would help poor ladies; ours make poor ladies.

Sin.
Ay, madam, they were knights of the Round Table at Winchester, that sought adventures; but these, of the Square Table at ordinaries, that sit at hazard.

Ger.
True, Sin; let him vanish. And tell me, what shall we pawn next?

Sin.
Ay, marry, madam, a timely consideration; for our hostess, profane woman, has sworn by bread and salt she will not trust us another meal.

Ger.
Let it stink in her hand then. I'll not be beholding to her. Let me see; my jewels be gone, and my gowns, and my red velvet petticoat that I was married in, and my wedding silk stockings, and all thy best apparel, poor Sin! Good faith, rather than thou shouldest pawn a rag more I'd lay my ladyship in lavender — if I knew where.

Sin.
Alas, madam, your ladyship?

Ger.
Ay. Why? You do not scorn my ladyship, though it is in a waistcoat? God's my life! you are a peat indeed! Do I offer to mortgage my ladyship for you and for your avail, and do you turn the lip and the "alas!" to my ladyship?

Sin.
No, madam; but I make question who will lend anything upon it.

Ger.
Who? marry, enow, I warrant you, if you'll seek 'em out. I'm sure I remember the time when I would ha' given a thousand pound, if I had it, to have been a lady; and I hope I was not bred and born with that appetite alone; some other gentle-born o' the city have the same longing, I trust. And, for my part, I would afford 'em a penny'rth; my ladyship is little the worse for the wearing, and yet I would bate a good deal of the sum. I would lend it, let me see, for forty pounds in hand, Sin; that would apparel us; and ten pound a year: that would keep me and you, Sin, with our needles; and we should never need to be beholding to our scurvy parents! Good Lord! that there are no fairies nowadays, Sin.

Sin.
Why, madam?

Ger.
To do miracles, and bring ladies money. Sure, if we lay in a cleanly house, they would haunt it, Sin! I'll try. I'll sweep the chamber soon at night, and set a dish of water o' the hearth. A fairy may come and bring a pearl, or a diamond. We do not know, Sin. Or there may be a pot of gold hid o' the back-side, if we had tools to dig for 't! Why may not we two rise early i' the morning, Sin, afore anybody is up, and find a jewel i' the streets worth a hundred pound? May not some great court-lady, as she comes from revels at midnight, look out of her coach as 't is running, and lose such a jewel, and we find it? Ha?

Sin.
They are pretty waking dreams, these.

Ger.
Or may not some old usurer be drunk overnight, with a bag of money, and leave it behind him on a stall? For God-sake, Sin, let's rise to-morrow by break of day and see. I protest, law, if I had as much money as an alderman, I would scatter some on 't i' th' streets for poor ladies to find, when their knights were laid up. And, now I remember my song o' the "Golden Show'r": why may not I have such fortune? I'll sing it, and try what luck I shall have after it.

Fond fables tell of old
How Jove in Danaë's lap
Fell in a shower of gold,
By which she caught a clap;
Oh, had it been my hap,
(Howe'er the blow doth threaten)
So well I like the play,
That I could wish all day
And night to be so beaten.

Enter MISTRESS TOUCHSTONE.

Oh, here's my mother! Good luck, I hope. — Ha' you brought any money, Mother? Pray you, Mother, your blessing. Nay, sweet Mother, do not weep.
Mist. Touch.
God bless you! I would I were in my grave!

Ger.
Nay, dear Mother, can you steal no more money from my father? Dry your eyes, and comfort me. Alas! it is my knight's fault, and not mine, that I am in a waistcoat, and attired thus simply.

Mist. T.
Simply? 'T is better than thou deserv'st. Never whimper for the matter. "Thou should'st have look'd before thou hadst leap'd." Thou wert afire to be a lady, and now your ladyship and you may both "blow at the coal," for aught I know. "Self do, self have." "The hasty person never wants woe," they say.

Ger.
Nay then, Mother, you should ha' look'd to it. A body would think you were the older! I did but my kind, I. He was a knight, and I was fit to be a lady. 'T is not lack of liking, but lack of living, that severs us. And you talk like yourself and a citiner in this, i' faith. You show what husband you come on, iwis. You smell the Touchstone — he that will do more for his daughter that he has married to a scurvy gold-end man and his prentice, than he will for his tother daughter, that has wedded a knight and his customer. By this light, I think he is not my legitimate father.

Sin.
Oh, good madam, do not take up your mother so!

Mist. T.
Nay, nay, let her e'en alone. Let her Ladyship grieve me still, with her bitter taunts and terms. I have not dole enough to see her in this miserable case, ay, without her velvet gowns, without ribands, without jewels, without French wires, or cheat bread, or quails, or a little dog, or a gentleman usher, or anything, indeed, that's fit for a lady —

Sin.
[ aside ] Except her tongue.

Mist. T.
And I not able to relieve her, neither, being kept so short by my husband. Well, God knows my heart. I did little think that ever she should have need of her sister Golding!

Ger.
Why Mother, I ha' not yet. Alas! good Mother, be not intoxicate for me; I am well enough; I would not change husbands with my sister, I. "The leg of a lark is better than the body of a kite."

Mist. T.
I know that; but —

Ger.
What, sweet Mother, what?

Mist. T.
It's but ill food, when nothing's left but the claw.

Ger.
That's true, Mother. Ay me!

Mist. T.
Nay, sweet ladybird, sigh not. Child, madam; why do you weep thus? Be of good cheer; I shall die if you cry, and mar your complexion thus.

Ger.
Alas, Mother, what should I do?

Mist. T.
Go to thy sister's, child; she'll be proud thy Ladyship will come under her roof. She'll win thy father to release thy knight, and redeem thy gowns and thy coach and thy horses, and set thee up again.

Ger.
But will she get him to set my knight up too?

Mist. T.
That she will, or anything else thou'lt ask her.

Ger.
I will begin to love her, if I thought she would do this.

Mist. T.
Try her, good chuck; I warrant thee.

Ger.
Dost thou think she'll do 't?

Sin.
Ay, madam, and be glad you will receive it.

Mist. T.
That's a good maiden; she tells you true. Come, I'll take order for your debts i' the alehouse.

Ger.
Go, Sin, and pray for thy Frank, as I will for my Pet.

Exeunt.

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