Old Fortunatus – Act One, Scene Two

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Enter AMPEDO, SHADOW after him, both sad.  ANDELOCIA after them.

S’hart, why how now.  Two knights of the post?

Ay, master, and we are both forsworn, as all such wooden knights be, for we both took an oath—marry, it was not corporal, you may see by our cheeks—that we would not fast twenty-four hours to amend, and we have tasted no meat since the clock told two dozen.

That lacks not much of twenty-four, but I wonder when that half-faced moon of thine will be at the full.

The next quarter, not this, when the sign is in Taurus.

And that’s to say when thou eats bull beef.  But, Shadow, what day is today?

Fasting day.

What day was yesterday?

Fasting day too.

Will tomorrow be so too?

Ay, and next day too.

That will be rare, you slave, for a lean diet makes a fat wit.

I had rather be a fool and wear a fat pair of cheeks.

Now am I prouder of this poverty, which I know is mine own, than a waiting gentlewoman is of a frizzled groatsworth of hair that never drew on her head.  Sirrah Shadow, now we can all three swear like puritans at one bare word; this want makes us like good bowlers.  We are able to rub out and shift in every place.

That’s not so.  We have shifted ourselves in no place this three months.  Marry, we rub out in every corner, but here follows no amendment either of life or of livery.

Why, brother Ampedo, art thou not yet tir’d with riding post?  Come, come, light from this logger-headed jade and walk afoot, and talk with your poor friends.

Nay, by my troth, he is like me.  If his belly be empty, his heart is full.

The famine of gold gnaws his covetous stomach more than the want of good victuals.  Thou hast look’d very devilishly ever since the good angel left thee.  Come, come, leave this broad brim fashions because the world frowns upon thee.  Wilt not thou smile upon us?

Did but the bitterness of mine own fortunes
Infect my taste, I could paint o’er my cheeks
With ruddy-coloured smiles.  ‘Tis not the want
Of costly diet or desire of gold
Enforce this rupture in my wounded breast.
Oh no, our father, if he live, doth lie
Under the iron foot of misery,
And, as a dove gripp’d in a falcon’s claw,
There pan’th for life being most assur’d of death.
Brother, for him my soul thus languisheth.

‘Tis not for my old master that I languish.

I am not enamoured of this painted idol,
This strumpet world, for her most beauteous looks
Are poisoned baits hung upon golden hooks.
When fools do swim in wealth, her Cynthian beams
Will wantonly dance on the silver streams;
But when this squinted age sees virtue poor
And by a little spark sits shivering,
Begging is all, reliev’d at no man’s door,
She smiles on her, as the sun shines on fire,
To kill that little heat, and with her frown
Is proud that she can tread poor virtue down;
Therefore here wrinkled bow makes not mine sour;
Her gifts are toys, and I deride her power.

‘Tis not the crab-tree fac’d world neither that makes mine sour.

Her gifts toys.  Well, brother virtue, we have let slip the ripe plucking of those toys so long, that we flourish like apple trees in September, which having the falling sickness, bear neither fruit nor leaves.

Nay, by my troth, master, mine flourish in these withering times, but ancient bearers and trumpeters.

Shadow, when thou provest a substance a substance, then the tree of virtue and honesty, and such fruit of heaven shall flourish upon earth.

True, or when the sun shines at midnight, or women fly, and yet they are light enough.

‘Twas never merry world with us, since purses and bags were invented, for now men sit lime twigs to catch wealth.  And gold, which riseth like the sun out of the East Indies to shine upon every one, is like a cony taken napping in a purse-net and suffers his glist’ring yellow face deity to be lapp’d up in lambskins, as if the innocency of those leather prisons, should dispense with the cheverill consciences of the iron-hearted gaolers.

Snudges may well be called gaolers, for if a poor wretch steal but into a debt of ten pound, they lead him straight to execution.

Doth it not vex thee, Shadow, to stalk up and down Cyprus, and to meet the outside of a man, lapp’d all in damask, his head and beard as white as milk, only with conjuring in the snowy circles of the field argent, and his nose as red as scarlet, only with kissing the ruddy lips of angels, and such an image to wear on his thumb, three men’s livings in the shape of a seal ring, whilst my brother virtue here—

And you, his brother vice.

Most true, my little lean iniquity, whilst we three, if we should starve, cannot borrow five shillings of him neither in word nor deed.  Does not this vex thee, Shadow?

Not me.  It vexes me no more to see such a picture than to see an ass laden with riches, because I know when he can bear no longer, he must leave his burden to some other beast.

Art not thou mad to see money on goldsmith’s stalls and none in our purses?

It mads not me, I thank the destinies.

By my poverty, and that’s but a thread-bare oath, I am more than mad, to see silks and velvets lie crowding together in mercers’ shops, as in prisons, only for fear of the smell of wax, they cannot abide to see a man made our of wax, for these satin commodities have such smooth consciences that they’ll have no man give his word for them, or stand bound for their coming forth, but vow to lie till they rot in those shop counters, except Monsieur Money bail them.  Shadow, I am out of my little wits to see this.

So is not Shadow.  I am out of my wits to see fat gluttons feed all daylong, whilst I that am lean, fast every day, I am out of my wits to see our Famagosta fools turn half a shop of wares into a suit of gay apparel, only to make other idiots laugh and wise men to cry “who’s the fool now?”  I am mad to see soldiers beg, and cowards brave; I am mad to see scholars in the broker’s shop, and dunces in the mercer’s;  I am mad to see men that have no more fashion in them then poor Shadow, yet must leap thrice a day into three orders of fashions; I am mad to see many things, but horn-mad that my mouth feels nothing.

Why now, Shadow, I see thou hast a substance.  I am glad to see thee thus mad.

The sons of Fortunatus had not wont
Thus to repine at others’ happiness;
But fools have all ways thus loose garment wore,
Being poor themselves, they wish all others poor.
Fie, brother Andelocia, hate this madness.
Turn your eyes inward, and behold your soul
That wants more than your body.  Burnish that
With glittering virtue, and make idiots grieve
To see your beauteous mind in wisdom shine,
As you at their rich poverty repine.

Enter FORTUNATUS gallant.

Peace, good virtue.  Shadow, here comes another shadow.

It should be a camelion, for he is all in colours.

Oh, ‘tis my father.  With these tears of joy
My love and duty greet your fair return.
A double gladness hath refresh’d my soul:
One, that you live, and one, to see your fate
Looks freshly, howsoever poor in state.

My father Fortunatus, and thus brave?

‘Tis no wonder to see a man brave, but a wonder how he comes brave.

Dear Andelocia, and son Ampedo,
And my poor servant Shadow, plume your spirits
With light-wing’d mirth, for Fortunatus’ hand
Can now pour golden showers into their laps
That sometimes scorn’d him for his want of gold.
Boys, I am rich, and you shall ne’er be poor.
Wear gold, spend gold, we all in gold will feed.
Now if your father fortunate indeed.

Father, be not angry if set open the windows of my mind.  I doubt for all your bragging you’ll prove like most of our gallants in Famagosta that have a rich outside and a beggarly inside, and like mules wear gay trappings, and good velvet foot-clothes on their backs, yet champ on the iron bit of penury.  I mean, what coin?  You gild our ears with a talk of gold, but I pray dazzle our eyes with the majesty of it.

First will I wake your senses with the sound
Of gold’s sweet music.  Tell me what you hear?

Believe me, sir, I hear not anything.

Ha, ha ha!  S’hart, I thought as much.  If I hear any gingling  but of the purse strings that go flip, flap, flip, flap, flip, flap, would I were turn’d into a flip-flap and sold to the butchers.

Shadow, I’ll trim thine ears.  Hark, dost rattle?

Yes, like three blue beans in a blue bladder, rattle bladder, rattle.  Your purse is like my belly; th’one’s without money, th’other without meat.

Bid your eyes blame the error of your ears.
You misbelieving pagans; see, here’s gold;
Ten golden pieces.  Take them, Ampedo.

Shadow, there’s one for thee.  Provide the food.

Stay, boy.  Hold, Shadow, there are then for thee.

Ten, master?  Then defiance to Fortune, and a fig for famine.

Now, tell me, wags, hath my purse gold or no?

We the wags have gold, father, but I think there’s not one angel more wagging in this sacred temple.  Why, this is rare.  Shadow, five will serve thy turn; give me the other five.

Nay, soft, master, liberality died long ago.  I see some rich beggars are never well but when they be craving.  My ten ducats are like my ten fingers; they will not jeopard a joint for you.  I am yours and these are mine.  If I part from them, I shall never have part of them.

Father, if heaven have bless’d you once again,
Let not an open hand disperce that store.
Which gone, life’s gone, for all tread down the poor.

Peace, Ampedo.  Talk not of poverty.
Disdain, my boys, to kiss the tawny cheeks
Of lean necessity.  Make not enquiry
How I came rich.  I am rich, let that suffice.
There are four leathern bags trust full of gold;
Those spent, I’ll fill you more.  Go lads, be gallant.
Shine in the streets of Cyprus like two stars
And make them bow their knees that once did spurn you,
For to effect such wonders gold can turn you.
Brave it in Famagosta, or elsewhere.
I’ll travel to the Turkish emperor,
And then I’ll revel it with Prestor John,
Or banquet with great Cham or Tartary,
And try what frolic court the Soldan keeps.
I’ll leave you presently.  Tear off these rags.
Glitter, my boys, like angels, that the world
May, whilst or life in pleasure circle runs,
Wonder at Fortunatus and his sons.

Come, Shadow; now we’ll feast it royally.

Do, master, but take heed of beggary.                                         [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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