The Witch of Edmonton – Act Three, scene two

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Prithee, no more.  Those tears give nourishment
To weeds and briers in me, which shortly will
O’ergrow and top my head.  My shame will sit
And cover all that can be seen of me.

I have not shown this cheek in company.
Pardon me now.  Thus singled with yourself,
It calls a thousand sorrows round about,
Some going before, and some on either side,
But infinite behind; all chain’d together.
Your second adulterous marriage leads;
That’s the sad eclipse, the effects must follow.
As, plagues of shame, spite, scorn, and obloquy

Why?  Hast thou not left one hour’s patience
To add to all the rest?  One hour bears us
Beyond the reach of all these enemies.
Are we not now set forward in the flight,
Provided with the dowry of my sin,
To keep us in some other nation?
While we together are, we are at home
In any place.

‘Tis fowl ill-gotten coin,
Far worse than usury or extortion.

Let my father then make the restitution,
Who forc’d me take the bribe.  It is his gift
And patrimony to me, so I receive it.
He would not bless, nor look a father on me,
Until I satisfied his angry will.
When I was sold, I sold myself again—
Some knaves have done’t in lands, and I in body—
For money, and I have the hire.  But, sweet, no more.
‘Tis hazard of discovery, our discourse,
And then prevention takes off all our hopes.
For only but to take her leave of me,
My wife is coming.

Who coming?  Your wife?

No, no, thou art her.  The woman.  I knew
Not how to call her now; but after this day
She shall be quite forgot, and have no name
In my remembrance.  See, see, she’s come.

Enter SUSAN.

                                                                      Go lead
The horses to the hill’s top; there I’ll meet thee.

Nay, with your favour, let him stay a little.
I would part with him too, because he is
Your sole companion; and I’ll begin with him,
Reserving you the last.

Ay, with all my heart.

You may hear, if it please you, sir.

No, ‘tis not fit.
Some rudiments, I conceive, they must be,
To overlook my slippery footings.  And so.

No, indeed, sir.

Tush, I know it must be so,
And ‘tis necessary.  Oh, but be brief.                                          [Walks aloof.

What charge soe’re you lay upon me, mistress,
I shall support it faithfully, being honest,
To my best strength.

Believ’t shall be no other.  I know you were
Commended to my husband by a noble knight.

Oh, gods!  Oh, mine eyes!

How now?  What ailst thou, lad?

Something hit mine eye!  Even as you said, “Commended to my husband.”
Some dor I think it was.  I was, forsooth,
Commended to him y Sir Arthur Clarington.

Whose servant once my Thorney was himself.
That title methinks should make you almost fellows,
Or at the least much more than a servant,
And I am sure he will respect you so.
Your love to him then needs no spur from me;
And what for my sake you will ever do,
‘Tis fit it should be bought with something more
Than fair entreats.  Look, here’s a jewel for thee;                        [Gives a jewel.
A pretty wanton label for thine ear;
And I would have it hang there, still to whisper
These words to thee, “Thou has my jewel with thee.”
It is but earnest of a larger bounty,
When thou returnst, with praises of thy service,
Which I am confident thou wilt deserve.
Why, thou art many now, beside thyself—
Thou must be servant, friend, and wife to him.
A good wife is them all.  A friend can play
The wife and servant’s part, and shift enough.
No less the servant can the friend and wife.
‘Tis put sweet society, good counsel,
Interchang’d loves; yes, and counsel-keeping.

Not done yet?

Even now, sir.

Mistress, believe my vow, your severe eye
Were it present to command; your bounteous hand,
Were it then by to buy or bribe my service,
Shall not make me more dear or near unto him
Than I shall voluntary.  I’ll be all your charge,
Servant, friend, wife to him.

Wilt thou?
Now blessings go with thee for’t.  Courtesies
Shall meet the coming home.

Pray you say plainly, mistress,
Are you jealous of him?  If you be,
I’ll look to him that way too.

Sayest thou so?
I would thou hadst a woman’s bosom now.
We have weak thoughts within us.  Alas!
There’s nothing so strong in us as suspicion.
But I dare not, nay, I will not think
So hardly of my Thorney.

Believe it, mistress,
I’ll be no pander to him; and if I find
Any loose lubric scapes in him, I’ll watch him,
And at my return, protest I’ll show you all.
He shall hardly offend without my knowledge.

Thine own diligence is that I press,
And not the curious eye over his faults.
Farewell.  If I should never see thee more,
Take it for ever.

Prithee, take that along with thee, and haste thee

[Gives WINNIFRIDE his sword.

To the hill’s top.  I’ll be there instantly.                                         [Exit WINNIFRIDE.

No haste, I prithee.  Slowly as thou canst.
Pray, let him obey me now.  ‘Tis happily
His last service to me.  My power is e’en
A-going out of sight.

What would you delay?
We have no other business now but to part.

And will not that, sweetheart, as a long time?
Methinks it is the hardest piece of work
That ere I took in hand.

Fie, fie, why look,
I’ll make it plain and easy to you.  Farewell.                                          [Kisses her.

Ah!  ‘Las, I am not perfect in it yet.
I must have it read over an hundred times.
Pray you take some pains.  I confess my dullness.

[Aside.] What a thorn this rose grows on!  Parting were sweet,
But what a trouble ‘twill be to obtain it?
[Aloud.] Come, again and again, farewell.  [Kisses her.] Yet wilt return?
All questions of my journey, my stay, employment,
And revisitation, fully I have answered all.
There’s nothing now behind, but nothing.

And that nothing is more hard than anything,
Than all the everythings.   This request—

What is it?

That I may bring you through on pasture more
Up to yon knot of trees; amongst these shadows
I’ll vanish from you, they shall teach me how.

Why, ‘tis granted.  Come, walk then.

Nay, not too fast.
They say slow things have best perfection.
The gentle shower wets to fertility.
The churlish storm may mischief with his bounty.
The baser beasts take strength, even from the womb;
But the lord lion’s whelp is feeble long.                                                           [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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