The Witch of Edmonton – Act Two, scene two

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Enter OLD CARTER, WARBECK, and SOMERTON.

 OLD CARTER
How now, gentlemen?  Cloudy?  I know, Master Warbeck, you are in a fog about my daughter’s marriage.

WARBECK
And can you blame me, sir?

OLD CARTER
Nor you me justly.  Wedding and hanging are tied up both in a proverb; and Destiny is the juggler that unties the knot.  My hope is, you are reserved to a richer fortune than my poor daughter.

WARBECK
However, your promise—

OLD CARTER
Is a kind of debt, I confess it.

WARBECK
Which honest men should pay.

OLD CARTER
Yet some gentlemen break in that point, now and then, by your leave, sir.

SOMERTON
I confess thou hast had a little wrong in the wench, but patience is the only salve to cure it.  Since Thorney has won the wench, he has most reason to wear her.

WARBECK
Love in this kind admits no reason to wear her.

OLD CARTER
Then love’s a fool, and what wise man will take exception?

SOMERTON
Come, frolic, Ned, were every man master of his own fortune, Fate might pick straws, and Destiny go a-wool-gathering.

WARBECK
You hold yours in a string though.  ‘Tis well, but if there be any equity, look thou to meet the like usage ere long.

SOMERTON
In my love to her sister Katherine?  Indeed, they are a pair of arrows drawn out of one quiver, and should fly at an even length.  If she do run after her sister—

WARBECK
Look for the same mercy at my hands, as I have received at thine.

SOMERTON
She’ll keep a surer compass.   Have too strong a confidence to mistrust her.

WARBECK
And that confidence is a wind, that has blown many a married man ashore at Cuckold’s Haven, I can tell you.  I wish yours more prosperous though.

OLD CARTER
Whate’er you wish, I’ll master my promise to him.

WARBECK
Yes, as you did to me.

OLD CARTER
No more of that, if you love me.  But for the more assurance, the next offer’d occasion shall consummate the marriage; and that once seal’d—

Enter FRANK THORNEY and SUSAN.

 SOMERTON
Leave the manage of the rest to my care.  But see, the bridegroom and bride comes; the new pair of Sheffield-knives fitted both to one sheath.

WARBECK
The sheath might have been better fitted if somebody had their due.  But—

SOMERTON
No harsh language, if thou lovest me.  Frank Thorney has done—

WARBECK
No more than I, or thou, or any man, things so standing, would have attempted.

SOMERTON
Good morrow, Master Bridegroom.

WARBECK
Come, give thee joy.
Mayst thou live long and happy in thy fair choice.

FRANK THORNEY
I thank ye, gentlemen.
Kind Master Warbeck, I find you loving.

WARBECK
Thorney, that creature—much good do thee with her—
Virtue and beauty hold fair mixture with her.
She’s rich no doubt in both.  Yet were she fairer,
Thou art right worthy of her.  Love her, Thorney,
‘Tis nobleness in thee, in her but duty.
The match is fair and equal; the success
I leave to censure.  Farewell, Mistress Bride,
Till now elected, thy old scorn deride.                                                            [Exit.

SOMERTON
Good, Master Thorney.                                                                                       [Exit.

OLD THORNEY
Nay, you shall not part till you see the barrels run a-tilt.                             [Exit.

SUSAN
Why change you your face, sweetheart?

FRANK THORNEY
Who?  I?
For nothing.

SUSAN
Dear, say not so.  A spirit of your
Constancy cannot endure this change for nothing.
I have observ’d strange variations in you.

FRANK THORNEY
In me?

SUSAN
In you, sir.  Awake!  You seem to dream
And in your sleep you utter sudden and
Distracted accents, like one at enmity
With peace.  Dear loving husband, if I may dare
To challenge any interest in you,
Give me the reason fully.  You may trust
My breast as safely as your own.

FRANK THORNEY
With what?
You have amazed me, prithee.

SUSAN
Come, you shall not;
Indeed, you shall not shut me from partaking
The least dislike that grieves you.  I am all yours.

FRANK THORNEY
And I all thine.

SUSAN
You are not, if you keep
The least grief from me; but I find the cause.
It grew from me.

FRANK THORNEY
From you?

SUSAN
From some distaste
In me of my behaviour.  You are not kind
In the concealment.  ‘Las, sir, I am young,
Silly, and plain; more, strange to those contents
A wife should offer.  Say but in what I fail,
I’ll study satisfaction.

FRANK THORNEY
Come, in nothing.

SUSAN
I know I do.  Knew I as well in what,
You should not long be sullen.  Prithee love,
If I have been immodest or too bold,
Speak’t in a frown; if peevishly too nice,
Show’t in a smile.  They liking is the glass
By which I’ll habit my behaviour.

FRANK THORNEY
Wherefore dost weep now?

SUSAN
You, sweet, have the power
To make me passionate as an April day.
You are the powerful moon of my blood’s sea,
To make it ebb or flow into my face,
As your looks change.

FRANK THORNEY
Change thy conceit, I prithee.
Thou art all perfection.  Diana herself
Swells in thy thoughts, and moderates thy beauty.
Within thy left eye, amorous Cupid sits
Feathering love-shafts, whose golden heads he dipp’d
In thy chaste breast.  In the other lies
Blushing Adonis scarf’d in modesties.
And still as wanton Cupid blows love-fires,
Adonis quenches out unchaste desires.
And from these two I briefly do imply
A perfect emblem of thy modesty.
Then, prithee dear, maintain no more dispute,
For where thy speaks, it’s fit all tongues be mute.

SUSAN
Come, come, those golden strings of flattery
Shall not tie up my speech, sir.  I must know
The ground of your disturbance.

FRANK THORNEY
Then look here:
For here, here is the fen in which this hydra
Of discontent grows rank.

SUSAN
Heaven shield it!  Where?

FRANK THORNEY
In mine own bosom.  Here the cause has root.
The poisoned leeches twist about my heart,
And will, I hope, confound me.

SUSAN
You speak riddles.

FRANK THORNEY
Take’t plainly then.  ‘Twas told me by a woman
Known and approv’d in palmistry,
I should have two wives.

SUSAN
Two wives?  Sir, I take it
Exceeding lightly.  But let not conceit hurt you.
You are afraid to bury me?

FRANK THORNEY
No, no, my Winnifride.

SUSAN
How say you?  Winnifride?  You forget me!

FRANK THORNEY
No, I forget myself, Susan.

SUSAN
In what?

FRANK THORNEY
Talking of wives, I pretend Winnifride,
A maid that at my mother’s waited on me
Before thyself.

SUSAN
I hope, sir, she may live
To take my place.  But why should all this move you?

FRANK THORNEY
[Aside.] The poor girl, she has’t before thee,
And that’s the fiend torments me.

SUSAN
Yet, why should this
Raise mutiny within you?  Such presages
Prove often false.  Or say it should be true?

FRANK THORNEY
That I should have another wife?

SUSAN
Yes, many.
If they be good, the better.

FRANK THORNEY
Never any equal
To thee in goodness.

SUSAN
Sir, I could wish I were
Much better for you; yet if I knew your fate
Ordain’d you for another, I could wish—
So well I love you, and your hopeful pleasure—
Me in my grave, and my poor virtues added
To my successor.

FRANK THORNEY
Prithee, prithee, talk not
Of death or graves.  Thou art so rare a goodness,
As death would rather put itself to death
Then murder thee.  But we, as all things else,
Are mutable and changing.

SUSAN
Yet you still move
In your first sphere of discontent.  Sweet, chase
Those clouds of sorrow, and shine clearly on me.

FRANK THORNEY
At my return, I will.

SUSAN
Return?  Ah me!
Will you leave me then?

FRANK THORNEY
For a time I must.
But how?  As birds their young, or loving bees
Their hives, to fetch home richer dainties.

SUSAN
Leave me?
Now has my fear met its effect.  You shall not,
Cost it my life, you shall not.

FRANK THORNEY
Why?  Your reason?

SUSAN
Like to the lapwing have you all this while
With your false love deluded me?  Pretending
Counterfeit senses for your discontent,
And now at last it is by chance stole from you?

FRANK THORNEY
What?  What by chance?

SUSAN
Your pre-appointed meeting
Of single combat with young Warbeck.

FRANK THORNEY
Hah!

SUSAN
Even so.  Dissemble not.  ‘Tis too apparent.
Then in his look I read it.  Deny it not.
I see’t apparent.  Cost it my undoing,
And unto that my life, I will not leave you.

FRANK THORNEY
Not until when?

SUSAN
Till you and he be friends.
Was this your cunning?  And then flam me off
With an old witch, two wives, and Winnifride?
Y’are are not so kind indeed as I imagin’d.

FRANK THORNEY
And you more fond by far than I expected.
It is a virtue that attends thy kind.
But of our business within, and by this kiss,
I’ll anger thee no more.  Troth, chuck, I will not.

SUSAN
You shall have no just cause.

FRANK THORNEY
Dear Sue, I shall not.                                                                        [Exeunt.

Proceed to next scene

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