The Witch of Edmonton – Act Three, scene four

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Enter SIR ARTHUR CLARINGTON, WARBECK, and SOMERTON.

SIR ARTHUR
Come, gentlemen, we must all help to grace
The nimble-footed youth of Edmonton,
That are so kind to call us up today
With an high morris.

WARBECK
I could wish it for the best it were the worst now.  Absurdity’s in my opinion ever the best dancer in a morris.

SOMERTON
I could rather sleep than see ‘em.

SIR ARTHUR
Not well, sir?

SOMERTON
Faith, not ever this leaden; yet I know no cause for’t.

WARBECK
Now am I beyond mine own condition highly despos’d to mirth.

SIR ARTHUR
Well, you may have yet a morris to help both;
To strike you in a dump, and make him merry.

Enter FATHER SAWGUT and Morris-dancers; all but YOUNG BANKS.

 FATHER SAWGUT
Come, will you set yourselves in morris-ray?  The fore-bell, the second-bell, tenor, and great bell; Maid Marion for the same bell.  But where’s the weathercock now?  The hobby-horse?

FIRST DANCER
Is not Banks come yet?  What a spite ‘tis!

SIR ARTHUR
When set you forward, gentlemen?

FIRST DANCER
We stay but for the hobby-horse, sir.  All our footmen are ready.

SOMERTON
‘Tis marvel your horse should be behind your foot.

SECOND DANCER
Yes, sir.  He goes further about.  We can come in at the wicket, but the broad gate must be opened for him.

Enter YOUNG BANKS, Hobby-horse, and DOG.

 SIR ARTHUR
Oh, we stayed for you, sir.

YOUNG BANKS
Only my horse wanted a shoe, sir, but we shall make you amends ere we part.

SIR ARTHUR
I?  Well said.  Make ‘em drink ere they begin.

Enter Servants with beer.

YOUNG BANKS
A bowl, I prithee, and a little for my horse.  He’ll mount the better.  Nay, give me; I must drink to him; he’ll not pledge else.  [He drinks.] Here, Hobby.  [Holds him the bowl.] I pray you, no?  Not drink?  You see, gentlemen, we can but bring our horse to the water; he may choose whether he’ll drink or no.

SOMERTON
A good moral made plain by history.

FIRST DANCER
Strike up, Father Sawgut, strike up.

FATHER SAWGUT
E’en when you will, children.  Now in the name of the best foot forward.  How now?  Not a word in thy guts?  I think, children, my instrument has caught cold on the sudden.

YOUNG BANKS
[Aside.] My Ningle’s knavery; Black Tom’s doing.

OMNES
Why, what mean you, Father Sawgut?

YOUNG BANKS
Why, what would you have him do?  You hear his fiddle is speechless.

FATHER SAWGUT
I’ll lay mine ear to my instrument that my poor fiddle is bewitch’d.  I played “The Flowers in May” e’en now, as sweet as a violet; not ‘twill not go against the hair.  You see I can make no more music than a beetle of a cow-turd.

YOUNG BANKS
Let me see, Father Sawgut.  Say once you had a brave hobby-horse that you were beholding to.  I’ll play and dance too.  Ningle, away with it.

OMNES
Ay, marry, sir!

DOG plays the morris, which ended, enter a Constable and Officers.

 CONSTABLE
Away with jollity—‘tis too sad an hour.
Sir Arthur Clarington, your own assistance,
In the king’s name, I charge, for apprehension
Of these too murderers, Warbeck and Somerton.

SIR ARTHUR
Ha!  Flat murderers!

SOMERTON
Ha, ha, ha!  This has awakened my melancholy.

WARBECK
And struck my mirth down flat.  Murderers?

CONSTABLE
The accusation is flat against you, gentlemen.
Sir, you may be satisfied with this.  [Shows warrant.] I hope
You’ll quickly obey my power.  ‘Twill make
Your cause the fairer.

SOMERTON AND WARBECK
Oh!  With all our hearts, sir.

YOUNG BANKS
[Aside.] There’s my rival taken up for hangman’s meat.  Tom told me he was about a piece of villainy.  Mates and morris-men, you see here’s no longer piping, no longer dancing.  This news of murder has slain the morris.  You that go the foot-way, fare ye well.  I am for a gallop.  Come, Ningle.

FATHER SAWGUT
[Strikes his fiddle.] I?  Nay, and my fiddle be come to himself again, I care not.   Think the devil has been abroad amongst us today.  I’ll keep thee out of thy fit now if I can.                                                                               [Exeunt with Morris-Dancers.

SIR ARTHUR
These things are full of horror, full of pity.
But if this time be constant to the proof,
The guilt of both these gentlemen I dare take
Upon mine own danger.  Yet, however, sir,
Your power must be obey’d.

WARBECK
Oh, most willingly, sir.
‘Tis a most sweet affliction.  I could not meet
A joy in the best shape with better will.
Come, fear not, sir.  Nor judge, nor evidence,
Can bind him o’er, who’s freed by conscience.

SOMERTON
Mine stands so upright to the middle zone,
It takes no shadow to’t, it goes along.                              [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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