The Roaring Girl – Act One, Scene One

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Enter MARY FITZALLARD, disguised like a sempster with a case for bands, and NEATFORD a serving-man with her, with a napkin on his shoulder and a trencher in his hand as from table.

The young gentleman our young master, Sir Alexander’s son, is it into his ears, sweet damsel emblem of fragility, you desire to have a message transported, or to be transcendent?

A private word or two, sir, nothing else.

You shall fructify in that which you come for: your pleasure shall be satisfied to your full contentation. I will, fairest tree of generation, watch when our young master is erected, that is to say, up, and deliver him to this your most white hand.

Thanks, sir.

And withal certify him that I have culled out for him, now his belly is replenished, a daintier bit or modicum than any lay upon his trencher at dinner. Hath he notion of your name, I beseech your chastity?

One, sir, of whom he bespake falling bands.

Falling bands: it shall so be given him. If you please to venture your modesty in the hall amongst a curl-pated company of rude serving-men, and take such as they can set before you, you shall be most seriously and ingeniously welcome.

I have dined, indeed, already, sir.

Or will you vouchsafe to kiss the lip of a cup of rich Orleans in the buttery amongst our waiting-women?

Not now in truth, sir.

Our young master shall then have a feeling of your being here; presently it shall so be given him.

I humbly thank you, sir.                                                              [Exit NEATFOOT.
But that my bosom
Is full of bitter sorrows, I could smile
To see this formal ape play antic tricks:
But in my breast a poisoned arrow sticks,
And smiles cannot become me. Love woven slightly,
Such as thy false heart makes, wears out as lightly,
But love being truly bred i’the soul like mine
Bleeds even to death at the least wound it takes:
The more we quench this fire, the less it slakes.
Oh, me!


A sempster speak with me, sayst thou?

Yes, sir, she’s there, viva voce, to deliver her auricular confession.

With me, sweet heart? What is’t?

I have brought home your bands, sir.

Bands?  Neatfoot.


Prithee look in, for all the gentlemen are upon rising.

Yes, sir, a most methodical attendance shall be given.

And dost hear? If my father call for me, say I am busy with a sempster.

Yes, sir, he shall know it that you are busied with a needlewoman.

In’s ear, good Neatfoot.

It shall be so given him.                                                  [Exit NEATFOOT.

Bands? Y’are mistaken, sweet heart, I bespake none. When, where? I prithee, what bands? Let me see them.

Yes, sir, a bond fast sealed with solemn oaths,
Subscribed unto as I thought with your soul,
Delivered as your deed in sight of heaven.
Is this bond cancell’d? Have you forgot me?              [She removes her disguise.

Ha! Life of my life: Sir Guy Fitzallard’s daughter!
What has transform’d my love to this strange shape?
Stay, make all sure. So, now speak and be brief,
Because the wolf’s at door that lies in wait
To prey upon us both. Albeit mine eyes
Are bless’d by thine, yet this so strange disguise
Holds me with fear and wonder.

Mine’s a loathed sight.
Why from it are you banish’d else so long?

I must cut short my speech. In broken language,
Thus much: sweet Moll, I must thy company shun;
I court another Moll. My thoughts must run
As a horse runs that’s blind round in a mill,
Out every step yet keeping one path still.

Umh! Must you shun my company? In one knot
Have both our hands by th’hands of heaven been tied,
Now to be broke? I thought me once your bride:
Our fathers did agree on the time when,
And must another bedfellow fill my room?

Sweet maid, let’s lose no time. ‘Tis in heaven’s book
Set down that I must have thee. An oath we took
To keep our vows, but when the knight your father
Was from mine parted, storms began to sit
Upon my covetous father’s brow, which fell
From them on me. He reckon’d up what gold
This marriage would draw from him, at which he swore
To lose so much blood could not grieve him more.
He then dissuades me from thee, call’d thee not fair,
And ask’d what is she but a beggar’s heir?
He scorn’d thy dowry of five thousand marks.
If such a sum of money could be found,
And I would match with that, he’d not undo it,
Provided his bags might add nothing to it,
But vow’d, if I took thee, nay, more, did swear it,
Save birth from him I nothing should inherit.

What follows then, my shipwreck?

Dear’st, no:
Tho’ wildly in a labyrinth I go,
My end is to meet thee; with a side wind
Must I now sail, else I no haven can find
But both must sink forever. There’s a wench
Call’d Moll, mad Moll or merry Moll, a creature
So strange in quality a whole city takes
Note of her name and person. All that affection
I owe to thee on her in counterfeit passion
I spend to mad my father: he believes
I dote upon this roaring girl, and grieves
As it becomes a father for a son
That could be so bewitch’d. Yet I’ll go on
This crooked way, sigh still for her, feign dreams
In which I’ll talk only of her: these streams
Shall, I hope, force my father to consent
That here I anchor rather than be rent
Upon a rock so dangerous. Art thou pleas’d,
Because thou seest we are waylaid, that I take
A path that’s safe, tho’ it be far about?

My prayers with heaven guide thee.

Then I will on.
My father is at hand: kiss and be gone.
Hours shall be watch’d for meetings; I must now,
As men for fear, to a strange idol bow.


I’ll guide thee forth; when next we meet
A story of Moll shall make our mirth more sweet.                             [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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