1 Honest Whore – Act Four, Scene Three

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Enter VIOLA in her shop, and the two Prentices.

VIOLA
What’s a’ clock now?

SECOND PRENTICE
‘Tis almost twelve.

VIOLA
That’s well.
The senate will leave wording presently.
But is George ready?

SECOND PRENTICE
Yes, forsooth, he’s furbish’d.

VIOLA
Now as you ever hope to win my favour,
Throw both your duties and respects on him
With the like awe as if he were your master;
Let not your looks betray it with a smile,
Or jeering glance to any customer:
Keep a true settled countenance, and beware
You laugh not whatsoever you hear or see.

SECOND PRENTICE
I warrant you, mistress, let us alone for keeping our countenance, for if I list, there’s never a fool in all Milan shall make me laugh, let him play the fool never so like an ass, whether it be the fat court fool or the lean city fool.

VIOLA
Enough then, call down George.

SECOND PRENTICE
I hear him coming.

Enter GEORGE.

VIOLA
Be ready with your legs then; let me see
How curtsy would become him. Gallantly!
Beshrew my blood, a proper seemly man,
Of a choice carriage, walks with a good port.

GEORGE
I thank you, mistress; my back’s broad enough now my master’s gown’s on.

VIOLA
Sure I should think it were the least of sin
To mistake the master and to let him in.

GEORGE
‘Twere a good comedy of errors, that, i’faith.

SECOND PRENTICE
Whist, whist, my master!

VIOLA
You all know your tasks.

Enter CANDIDO and exit presently.

God’s my life, what’s that he has got upon’s back?  Who can tell?

GEORGE
That can I, but I will not.

VIOLA
Girt about him like a madman!  What, has he lost his cloak too?  This is the maddest fashion that e’er I saw!  What said he, George, when he pass’d by thee?

GEORGE
Troth, mistress, nothing.  Not so much as a bee, he did not hum; not so much as a bawd, he did not hem; not so much as a cuckold, he did not ha; neither hum, hem, nor ha, only star’d me in the face, past along, and made haste in, as if my looks had work’d with him to give him a stool.

VIOLA
Sure he’s vex’d now; this trick has mov’d his spleen:
He’s ang’red now because he utt’red nothing;
And wordless wrath breaks out more violent.
Maybe he’ll strive for place when he comes down,
But if thou lov’st me, George, afford him none.

GEORGE
Nay, let me alone to play my master’s prize, as long as my mistress warrants me. I’m sure I have his best clothes on, and I scorn to give place to any that is inferior in apparel to me: that’s an axiom, a principle, and is observ’d as much as the fashion; let that persuade you then, that I’ll shoulder with him for the upper hand in the shop, as long as this chain will maintain it.

VIOLA
Spoke with the spirit of a master, though with the tongue of a prentice.

Enter CANDIDO like a prentice.

Why, how now, madman? What in your tricksy coats?

CANDIDO
Oh, peace, good mistress!

Enter CRAMBO and POH.

See what you lack, what is’t you buy?  Pure calicoes, fine hollands, choice cambrics, neat lawns!  See what you buy!  Pray come near, my master will use you well; he can afford you a pennyworth.

VIOLA
Ay, that he can, out of a whole piece of lawn, i’faith.

CANDIDO
Pray see your choice here, gentlemen.

VIOLA
[Aside.] Oh, fine fool!  What a madman!  A patient madman!  Whoever heard of the like?  Well, sir, I’ll fit you and your humour presently.  What?  Cross-points?  I’ll untie ’em all in a trice; I’ll vex you, faith.  Boy, take your cloak; quick, come.

[Exit with FIRST PRENTICE.

CANDIDO
Be covered, George; this chain and welted gown
Bare to this coat:  then the world’s upside down.

GEORGE
Umh, umh, hum.

CRAMBO
That’s the shop, and there’s the fellow.

POH
Ay, but the master is walking in there.

CRAMBO
No matter, we’ll in.

POH
‘Sblood, dost long to lie in limbo?

CRAMBO
And limbo be in hell, I care not.

CANDIDO
Look you, gentlemen, your choice: cambrics?

CRAMBO
No, sir, some shirting.

CANDIDO
You shall.

CRAMBO
Have you none of this strip’d canvas for doublets?

CANDIDO
None strip’d, sir, but plain.

SECOND PRENTICE
I think there be one piece strip’d within.

GEORGE
Step, sirrah, and fetch it, hum, hum, hum.           [Exit SECOND PRENTICE.

CANDIDO
Look you, gentlemen, I’ll make but one spreading; here’s a piece of cloth, fine, yet shall wear like iron:  ’tis without fault, take this upon my word, ’tis without fault.

CRAMBO
Then ’tis better than you, sirrah.

CANDIDO
Ay, and a number more . Oh, that each soul
Were but as spotless as this innocent white
And had as few breaks in it!

CRAMBO
‘Twould have some then.  There was a fray here last day in this shop.

CANDIDO
There was indeed a little flea-biting.

POH
A gentleman had his pate broke.  Call you that but a flea-biting?

CANDIDO
He had so.

CRAMBO
Zounds, do you stand in’t?                                                            [He strikes him.

GEORGE
‘Sfoot!  Clubs, clubs, prentices!  Down with ’em!  Ah, you rogues, strike a citizen in’s shop?

Enter several Prentices with clubs, who disarm CRAMBO and POH.

CANDIDO
None of you stir; I pray, forbear, good George.

CRAMBO
I beseech you, sir, we mistook our marks; deliver us our weapons.

GEORGE
Your head bleeds, sir: cry clubs!

CANDIDO
I say you shall not; pray be patient.
Give them their weapons. Sirs, you’re best be gone;
I tell you here are boys more tough than bears:
Hence, lest more fists do walk about your ears.

CRAMBO & POH
We thank you, sir.                                                       [Exeunt CRAMBO and POH.

CANDIDO
You shall not follow them.
Let them alone pray, this did me no harm;
Troth, I was cold, and the blow made me warm.
I thank ’em for’t; besides I had decreed
To have a vein prick’d: I did mean to bleed,
So that there’s money sav’d. They are honest men;
Pray use ’em well when they appear again.

GEORGE
Yes, sir, we’ll use ’em like honest men.

CANDIDO
Ay, well said, George, like honest men, though they be arrant knaves, for that’s the phrase of the city.  Help to lay up these wares.

Enter VIOLA with Officers to one side.

VIOLA
Yonder he stands.

FIRST OFFICER
What, in a prentice coat?

VIOLA
Ay, ay, mad, mad; pray take heed.

CANDIDO
How now?  What news with them?  What make they with my wife?  Officers?  Is she attach’d?  Look to your wares.

VIOLA
He talks to himself. Oh, he’s much gone indeed!

FIRST OFFICER
Pray pluck up a good heart; be not so fearful.
Sirs, hark, we’ll gather to him by degrees.

VIOLA
Ay, ay, by degrees I pray.  Oh, me!  What makes he with the lawn in his hand; he’ll tear all the ware in my shop.

FIRST OFFICER
Fear not, we’ll catch him on a sudden.

VIOLA
Oh, you had need do so! Pray take heed of your warrant.

FIRST OFFICER
I warrant, mistress.  Now, Signior Candido?

CANDIDO
Now, sir, what news with you, sir?

VIOLA
What news with you, he says. Oh, he’s far gone!

FIRST OFFICER
I pray fear nothing, let’s alone with him.
Signior, you look not like yourself methinks.
[To Second Officer.] Steal you a’ t’other side.  Y’are chang’d, y’are alt’red.

CANDIDO
Chang’d, sir?  Why, true, sir.  Is change strange?  ‘Tis not the fashion unless it alter?  Monarchs turn to beggars, beggars creep into the nests of princes, masters serve their prentices, ladies their serving-men, men turn to women.

FIRST OFFICER
And women turn to men.

CANDIDO
Ay, and women turn to men, you say true. Ha, ha, a mad world, a mad world!

FIRST OFFICER
Have we caught you, sir?

CANDIDO
Caught me? Well, well, you have caught me.

VIOLA
He laughs in your faces.

GEORGE
A rescue, prentices, my master’s catchpol’d!

FIRST OFFICER
I charge you keep the peace, or have your legs gartered with irons; we have from the duke a warrant strong enough for what we do.

CANDIDO
I pray rest quiet; I desire no rescue.

VIOLA
La, he desires no rescue! ‘Las, poor heart,
He talks against himself.

CANDIDO
Well, what’s the matter?

FIRST OFFICER
Look to that arm;
Pray make sure work: double the cord.

CANDIDO
Why, why?

VIOLA
Look how his head goes!  Should he get but loose,
Oh, ’twere as much as all our lives were worth!

FIRST OFFICER
Fear not, we’ll make all sure for our own safety.

CANDIDO
Are you at leisure now?  Well, what’s the matter?
Why do I enter into bonds thus, ha?

FIRST OFFICER
Because y’are mad, put fear upon your wife.

VIOLA
Oh, ay, I went in danger of my life, every minute!

CANDIDO
What? Am I mad say you, and I not know it?

FIRST OFFICER
That proves you mad, because you know it not.

VIOLA
Pray talk as little to him as you can;
You see he’s too far spent.

CANDIDO
Bound with strong cord?
A sister’s thread, i’faith, had been enough
To lead me anywhere. Wife, do you long?
You are mad too, or else you do me wrong.

GEORGE
But are you mad indeed, master?

CANDIDO
My wife says so,
And what she says, George, is all truth you know.
And whither now?  To Beth’lem Monastery?
Ha?  Whither?

FIRST OFFICER
Faith, e’en to the madmen’s pound.

CANDIDO
A’ God’s name, still I feel my patience sound.   [Exeunt CANDIDO with Officers.

GEORGE
Come, we’ll see whither he goes.  If the master be mad, we are his servants and must follow his steps:  we’ll be madcaps too.  Farewell, mistress, you shall have us all in Bedlam.

[Exeunt GEORGE and the other Prentices.

VIOLA
I think I ha’ fitted now you and your clothes!
If this move not his patience, nothing can;
I’ll swear then I have a saint and not a man.                                                [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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