The Roaring Girl – Act Three, Scene One

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Enter LAXTON in Gray’s Inn Fields with the Coachman.

  LAXTON
Coachman.

  COACHMAN
Here sir.

  LAXTON
[Giving him money.] There’s a tester more. Prithee drive thy coach to the hither end of Marybone Park, a fit place for Moll to get in.

 COACHMAN
Marybone Park, sir?

 LAXTON
Ay, it’s in our way, thou know’st.

 COACHMAN
It shall be done, sir.

 LAXTON
Coachman.

 COACHMAN
Anon, sir.

 LAXTON
Are we fitted with good frampold jades?

 COACHMAN
The best in Smithfield, I warrant you, sir.

 LAXTON
May we safely take the upper hand of any couch’d velvet cap or tufftaffety jacket? For they keep a vild swaggering in coaches nowadays; the highways are stopp’d with them.

 COACHMAN
My life for yours and baffle ’em too, sir. Why, they are the same jades, believe it, sir, that have drawn all your famous whores to Ware.

 LAXTON
Nay then, they know their business; they need no more instructions.

 COACHMAN
They’re so us’d to such journeys, sir, I never use whip to ’em, for if they catch but the scent of a wench once, they run like devils.    [Exit Coachman with his whip.

 LAXTON
Fine Cerberus: that rogue will have the start of a thousand ones, for whilst others trot afoot, he’ll ride prancing to hell upon a coach-horse. Stay, ’tis now about the hour of her appointment, but yet I see her not.              [The clock strikes three.

Hark, what’s this? One, two, three, three by the clock at Savoy: this is the hour, and Gray’s Inn Fields the place. She swore she’d meet me. Ha, yonder’s two Inns a’ Court men with one wench, but that’s not she; they walk toward Islington out of my way. I see none yet dress’d like her: I must look for a shag ruff, a frieze jerkin, a short sword, and safeguard, or I get none. Why, Moll, prithee make haste or the coachman will curse us anon.

Enter MOLL like a man.

 MOLL
[Aside.] Oh, here’s my gentleman: if they would keep their days as well with their mercers as their hours with their harlots, no bankrout would give seven score pound for a sergeant’s place, for would you know a catchpole rightly deriv’d, the corruption of a citizen is the generation of a sergeant! How his eye hawks for venery!  Come, are you ready, sir?

 LAXTON
Ready for what, sir?

 MOLL
Do you ask that now, sir? Why was this meeting ‘pointed?

 LAXTON
I thought you mistook me, sir.
You seem to be some young barrister.
I have no suit in law; all my land’s sold:
I praise heaven for’t; ‘t has rid me of much trouble.

 MOLL
Then I must wake you, sir. Where stands the coach?

 LAXTON
Who’s this? Moll? Honest Moll?

 MOLL
So young and purblind? You’re an old wanton in your eyes, I see that.

 LAXTON
Th’ art admirably suited for the Three Pigeons at Brainford; I’ll swear I knew thee not.

 MOLL
I’ll swear you did not, but you shall know me now.

 LAXTON
No, not here, we shall be spied, i’faith; the coach is better, come.

 MOLL
Stay.

 LAXTON
What, wilt thou untruss a point, Moll?           [She puts off her cloak and draws.

 MOLL
Yes, here’s the point that I untruss: ‘t has but one tag; ’twill serve tho’ to tie up a rogue’s tongue.

LAXTON
How!

 MOLL
There’s the gold with which you hir’d your hackney.
[Attacking him.] Here’s her pace;
She racks hard, and perhaps your bones will feel it!
Ten angels of mine own I’ve put to thine;
Win ’em and wear ’em!

 LAXTON
Hold, Moll, Mistress Mary!

 MOLL
Draw or I’ll serve an execution on thee
Shall lay thee up till doomsday!

 LAXTON
Draw upon a woman? Why, what dost mean, Moll?

 MOLL
To teach thy base thoughts manners: th’ art one of those
That thinks each woman thy fond, flexible whore
If she but cast a liberal eye upon thee;
Turn back her head, she’s thine, or amongst company,
By chance drink first to thee. Then she’s quite gone;
There’s no means to help her, nay, for a need,
Wilt swear unto thy credulous fellow lechers
That th’ art more in favour with a lady
At first sight than her monkey all her lifetime.
How many of our sex by such as thou
Have their good thoughts paid with a blasted name
That never deserved loosely, or did trip
In path of whoredom beyond cup and lip?
But for the stain of conscience and of soul,
Better had women fall into the hands
Of an act silent than a bragging nothing.
There’s no mercy in’t. What durst move you, sir,
To think me whorish, a name which I’d tear out
From the high German’s throat if it lay ledger there
To dispatch privy slanders against me?
In thee I defy all men, their worst hates
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts
With which they entangle the poor spirits of fools,
Distressed needlewomen, and trade-fall’n wives.
Fish that must needs bite or themselves be bitten,
Such hungry things as these may soon be took
With a worm fast’ned on a golden hook:
Those are the lecher’s food, his prey; he watches
For quarrelling wedlocks, and poor shifting sisters:
‘Tis the best fish he takes. But why, good fisherman,
Am I thought meat for you, that never yet
Had angling rod cast towards me? ‘Cause, you’ll say,
I’m given to sport, I’m often merry, jest.
Had mirth no kindred in the world but lust?
Oh, shame take all her friends then! But howe’er
Thou and the baser world censure my life,
I’ll send ’em word by thee, and write so much
Upon thy breast, ’cause thou shalt bear ‘t in mind:
Tell them ’twere base to yield where I have conquer’d.
I scorn to prostitute myself to a man,
I that can prostitute a man to me:
And so I greet thee.

 LAXTON
Hear me!

 MOLL
Would the spirits
Of all my slanderers  were clasp’d in thine
That I might vex an army at one time!                                [They fight.

 LAXTON
I do repent me! Hold!

 MOLL
You’ll die the better Christian then.

 LAXTON
I do confess I have wrong’d thee, Moll.

 MOLL
Confession is but poor amends for wrong,
Unless a rope would follow.

 LAXTON
I ask thee pardon.

 MOLL
I’m your hir’d whore, sir.

 LAXTON
I yield both purse and body!

 MOLL
Both are mine and now at my disposing.

 LAXTON
Spare my life!

 MOLL
I scorn to strike thee basely.

LAXTON
Spoke like a noble girl, i’faith! [Aside.] Heart, I think I fight with a familiar or the ghost of a fencer! Sh’has wounded me gallantly. Call you this a lecherous voyage? Here’s blood would have serv’d me this seven year in broken heads and cut fingers, and it now runs all out together. Pox a’ the Three Pigeons! I would the coach were here now to carry me to the chirurgeon’s.                                     [Exit LAXTON.

 MOLL
If I could meet my enemies one by one thus,
I might make pretty shift with ’em in time
And make ’em know she that has wit and spirit
May scorn to live beholding to her body for meat
Or for apparel like your common dame
That makes shame get her clothes to cover shame.
Base is that mind that kneels unto her body,
As if a husband stood in awe on’s wife:
My spirit shall be mistress of this house
As long as I have time in’t. 

Enter TRAPDOOR.

[Aside.] Oh,
Here comes my man that would be: ’tis his hour.
Faith, a good well-set fellow, if his spirit
Be answerable to his umbles. He walks stiff,
But whether he will stand to’t stiffly, there’s the point;
H’as a good calf for’t, and ye shall have many a woman
Choose him she means to make her head by his calf.
I do not know their tricks in’t. Faith, he seems
A man without; I’ll try what he is within.

TRAPDOOR
[Aside.] She told me Gray’s Inn Fields ‘twixt three and four.
I’ll fit her mistress-ship with a piece of service!
I’m hir’d to rid the town of one mad girl.                      [She justles him.
What a pox ails you, sir?

MOLL
[Aside.] He begins like a gentleman.

 TRAPDOOR
Heart, is the field so narrow, or your eyesight?    [She comes towards him.
Life, he comes back again!

 MOLL
Was this spoke to me, sir?

 TRAPDOOR
I cannot tell, sir.

 MOLL
Go, y’are a coxcomb!

 TRAPDOOR
Coxcomb?

 MOLL
Y’are a slave!

 TRAPDOOR
I hope there’s law for you, sir.

 MOLL

Yea, do you see, sir?                                                         [Turn his hat.

 TRAPDOOR
Heart, this is no good dealing!
Pray let me know what house you’re of.

 MOLL
One of the Temple, sir.                                                      [Fillips him.

 TRAPDOOR
Mass, so methinks!

 MOLL
And yet sometime I lie
About Chick Lane.

 TRAPDOOR
I like you the worse
Because you shift your lodging so often.
I’ll not meddle with you for that trick, sir.

 MOLL
A good shift, but it shall not serve your turn.

 TRAPDOOR
You’ll give me leave to pass about my business, sir?

 MOLL
Your business?
I’ll make you wait on me before I ha’ done,
And glad to serve me too.

 TRAPDOOR
How, sir! Serve you?
Not if there were no more men in England!

 MOLL
But if there were no more women in England,
I hope you’d wait upon your mistress then.

 TRAPDOOR
Mistress!

 MOLL
Oh, you’re a tried spirit at a push, sir!

 TRAPDOOR
What would your worship have me do?

 MOLL
You a fighter?

 TRAPDOOR
No, I praise heaven; I had better grace and more manners.

 MOLL
As how I pray, sir?

 TRAPDOOR
Life, ‘t had been a beastly part of me to have drawn my weapons upon my mistress! All the world would ‘a cried shame of me for that.

 MOLL
Why, but you knew me not.

 TRAPDOOR
Do not say so, mistress; I knew you by your wide straddle, as well as if I had been in your belly.

 MOLL
Well, we shall try you further; i’th’mean time we give you entertainment.

 TRAPDOOR
Thank your good mistress-ship.

 MOLL
How many suits have you?

 TRAPDOOR
No more suits than backs, mistress.

 MOLL
Well, if you deserve, I cast off this next week,
And you may creep into’t.

 TRAPDOOR
Thank your good worship.

 MOLL
Come, follow me to St. Thomas Apostle’s;
I’ll put a livery cloak upon your back
The first thing I do.

 TRAPDOOR
I follow, my dear mistress.                                               [Exeunt omnes.

Proceed to the next scene

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