Westward Ho – Act Four, Scene One

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Enter MISTRESS BIRDLIME and LUCE.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Good morrow, Mistress Luce. How did you take your rest to night? How doth your good worship like your lodging? What will you have to breakfast?

LUCE
A pox of the knight that was here last night! He promis’d to have sent me some wild fowl. He was drunk, I’ll be stewed else.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Why do not you think he will send them?

LUCE
Hang them! ‘Tis no more in fashion for them to keep their promises then ‘tis for men to pay their debts. He will lie faster than a dog trots. What a filthy knocking was at door last night; some puny Inn-a-court-men, I’ll hold my contribution.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Yes, in troth, were they, civil gentlemen without beards, but to say the truth, I did take exceptions at their knocking; took them aside and said to them, “Gentlemen, this is not well that you should come in this habit, cloaks and rapiers, boots and spurs. I protest to you, those that be your ancients in the house would have come to my house in their caps and gowns, civilly and modestly.” I promise you they might have been taken for citizen, but that they talk more like fools. Who knocks there? Up into your chamber.                                                                                    [Exit LUCE.

Enter MASTER HONEYSUCKLE.

Who are you? Some man of credit that you come in muffled thus?

HONEYSUCKLE
Who’s above?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Let me see your face first. Oh, Master Honeysuckle! Why, the old party, the old party.

HONEYSUCKLE
Phew! I will not go up to her. Nobody else?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
As I live, will you give me some sack? Where’s Opportunity?

Enter CHRISTIAN.

HONEYSUCKLE
What dost call her?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Her name is Christian, but Mistress Luce cannot abide that name, and so she calls her Opportunity.

HONEYSUCKLE
Very good, good.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Is’t a shilling? Bring the rest in aqua vitæ.                                   [Exit CHRISTIAN.
Come, shall’s go to noddy?

HONEYSUCKLE
Ay, and thou wilt for half an hour.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Here are the cards. Deal. God send me deuces and aces with a court card, and I shall get by it.

HONEYSUCKLE
That can make thee nothing.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Yes, if I have a coat card turn up.

HONEYSUCKLE
I show four games.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
By my troth, I must show all and little enough too, six games. Play your single game; I shall double with you anon. Pray you, lend me some silver to count my games.

Enter CHRISTIAN.

How now, is it good sack?

CHRISTIAN
There’s a gentleman at door would speak with you.

HONEYSUCKLE
God’s so! I will not be seen by any means.

Enter TENTERHOOK.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Into that closet then? What, another muffler?

TENTERHOOK
How dost thou, Mistress Birdlime?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Master Tenterhook, the party is above in the dining room.

TENTERHOOK
Above.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
All alone?                                                                                      [Exit TENTERHOOK.

HONEYSUCKLE
Is he gone up? Who was’t, I pray thee?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
By this sack, I will not tell you. Say that you were a country gentleman, or a citizen that hath a young wife, of an inn-if-chancery-man, should I tell you? Pardon me, this sack tastes of horse-flesh; I warrant you the leg of a dead horse hangs in the butt of sack to keep it quick.

HONEYSUCKLE
I beseech thee, good Mistress Birdlime, tell me who it was.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Oh God, sir, we are sworn to secrecy as well as surgeons. Come, drink to me, and let’s to our game.

Enter TENTERHOOK and LUCE above.

TENTERHOOK
Who am I?

LUCE
You? Pray you, unblind me. Captain Whirlpool? No? Master Linstock? Pray, unblind me. You are not Sir Goslin Glowworm, for he wears no rings on his fingers. Master Freeze-leather? Oh, you are George, the drawer at the Miter! Pray you, unblind me. Captain Puckfoist? Master Counterpane the lawyer? What the devil mean you, beshrew your heart you have a verydry hand, are you not mine host, Dog-bolt of Brainford? Mistress Birdlime? Master Honeysuckle? Master Wafer?

TENTERHOOK
What, the last of all your clients?

LUCE
Oh, how dost thou, good cousin?

TENTERHOOK
Ay, you have many cousins.

LUCE
Faith, I can name many that I do not know, and suppose I did know them, what then? I will suffer one to keep me in diet, another in apparel, another in physic, another to pay my house rent. I am just of the nature of alchemy; I will suffer every plodding fool to spend money upon me, marry none but some worthy friend to enjoy my more retir’d and useful faithfulness.

TENTERHOOK
Your love, your love.

LUCE
Oh, ay, ‘tis the curse that is laid upon our quality. What we glean from others we lavish upon some trothless well-fac’d younger brother that loves us only for maintenance.

TENTERHOOK
Hast a good term, Luce?

LUCE
A pox on the term! And now I tink on’t, say’s a gentleman last night let the pox be in the town seven year, Westminster never breeds cobwebs, and yet ‘tis as catching as the plague, though not all so general. There be a thousand bragging Jacks in London that will protest they can wrest comfort from me when, I swear, not one of them know whether my palm be moist or not. In troth, I love thee. You promis’d me seven ells of cambric.

WAFER knocks and enters below.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Who’s that knocks?

HONEYSUCKLE
What! More sacks to the mill! I’ll to my old retirement.                                   [Exit.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
How does your good worship? Passion of my heart, what shift shall I make? How hath your good worship done a long time?

WAFER
Very well, Godamercy.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Your good worship, I think, be riding out of town.

WAFER
Yes, believe me, I love to be once a week a horseback, for methinks nothing sets a man out better than a horse.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
‘Tis certain; nothing sets a woman out better than a man.

WAFER
What, is Mistress Luce above?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Yes, truly.

WAFER
Not any company with her?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Company! Shall I say to your good worship and not lie, she hath had no company—let me see how long it was since your worship was here—you went to a butcher’s feast at Cuckold’s-haven, the next day after Saint Luke’s day. Not this fortnight, in good truth.

WAFER
Alas, good soul!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
And why was it? Go to, go to, I think you know better than I. The wench asketh every day when will Master Wafer be here? And if knights ask for her, she cries out at stairhead, “As you love my life, let ‘em not come up! I’ll do myself violence if they enter!” Have you not promis’d her somewhat?

WAFER
Faith, I think she loves me.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Loves! Well, would you know what I know, then you would say somewhat. In good faith, she’s very poor; all her gowns are at pawn. She owes me five pound for her diet, besides forty shillings I lent her to redeem two half silk kirtles from the broker’s. And do you think she needed be in debt thus, if she thought not of somebody?

WAFER
Good honest wench!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Nay, in troth, she’s now ent’ring into bond for five pounds more; the scrivener is but new gonei up to take her bond.

WAFER
Come, let her not enter into bond. I’ll lend her five pound. I’ll pay the rest of her debts. Call down the scrivener.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I pray you, when he comes down, stand muffled, and I’ll tell him you are bere brother.

WAFER
If a man have a goon honest wench, that lives wholly to his use, let him not see her want.                                                  [Exit MISTRESS BIRDLIME and enter above.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Oh, Mistress Luce, Mistress Luce, you are the most unfortunate gentlewoman that ever breathed! Your young wild brother come newly out of the country! He calls me bawd, swears I keep a bawdy house, says his sister is turned whore, and that he will kill and slay any man that he finds in her company.

TENTERHOOK
What conveyance will you make with me, Mistress Birdlime?

LUCE
Oh, God, let him not come up! ‘Tis the swagg’rangst wild oats!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I have pacified him somewhat, for I told him that you were a scrivener come to take a band of her; now as you go forth, day she might have had so much money if she had pleased, and say she is an honest gentlewoman and all will be well.

TENTERHOOK
Enough. Farewell, good Luce.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Come, change your voice and muffle you.

[Exit MISTRESS BIRDLIME and TENTERHOOK above.

LUCE
What trick should this be? I have never a brother. I’ll hold my life some franker customer is come, that she slides him off so smoothly.

Enter below TENTERHOOK and MISTRESS BIRDLIME.

TENTERHOOK
The gentlewoman is an honest gentlewoman as any is in London, and should have had thrice as much money upon her single bond for the good report I hear of her.

WAFER
No, sir, her friends can furnish her with money.

TENTERHOOK
By this light, I should know that voice. Wafer! Od’s foot, are you the gentlewoman’s broker?

WAFER
Are you turn’d scrivener, Tenterhook?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I am spoil’d.

WAFER
Tricks of Mistress Birdlime, by this light!

Enter HONEYSUCKLE.

HONEYSUCKLE
Hoick covert, hoick covert! Why, gentlemen, is this your hunting?

TENTERHOOK
A consort! What made you here, Honeysuckle?

HONEYSUCKLE
Nay, what make you two here? Oh, excellent Mistress Birdlime, thou hast more tricks in thee than a punk hath uncles, cousins, brothers, son, or fathers; an infinite company!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
If I did it not to make your good worships merry, never believe me. I will drink to your worship a glass of sack.

Enter JUSTINIANO.

JUSTINIANO
God save you!

HONEYSUCKLE & WAFER
Master Justiniano, welcome from Stoad!

JUSTINIANO
Why, gentlemen, I never came there.

TENTERHOOK
Never there! Where have you been then?

JUSTINIANO
Marry, your daily guest, I thank you.

OMNES
Ours!

JUSTINIANO
Ay, yours. I was the pedant that learnt your wives to write; I was the collier that brought you news your child was sick, but the truth is, for ought I know, the child is in health, and your wives are gone to make merry at Brainford.

WAFER
By my troth, good wenches. They little dream where we are now.

JUSTINIANO
You little dream what gallants are with them.

TENTERHOOK
Gallants with them! I’d laugh at that.

JUSTINIANO
Four gallants, by this light. Master Monopoly is one of them.

TENTERHOOK
Monopoly? I’d laugh at that, in faith.

JUSTINIANO
Would you laugh at that! Why do you laugh at it, then? They are there by this time. I cannot stay to give you more particular intelligence. I have received a letter from my wife here. If you will call me at Putney, I’ll bear you company.

TENTERHOOK
Od’s foot, what a rogue is Sergeant Ambush! I’ll undo him, by this light!

JUSTINIANO
I met Sergeant Ambush, and will’d him come to this house to you presently. So, gentlemen, I leave you. Bawd, I have nothing to say to you now; do not think too much in so dangerous a matter for in women’s matters ‘tis more dangerous to stand long deliberating, than before a battle.                                                          [Exit.

WAFER
This fellow’s poverty hath made him an arrant knave.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Will your worship drink any aqua vitæ?

TENTERHOOK
A pox on your aqua vitæ! Monopoly, that my wife urg’d me to arrest, gone to Brainford!

Enter SERGEANT AMBUSH.

Here comes the varlet.

AMBUSH
I am come, sir, to know your pleasure.

TENTERHOOK
What, hath Monopoly paid the money yet?

AMBUSH
No, sir, but he sent for money.

TENTERHOOK
You have not carried him to the counter? He is at your house still?

AMBUSH
Oh, lord, ay, sir, as melancholic, &c.

TENTERHOOK
You lie like an arrant varlet. By this candle, I laugh at the jest!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
And yet, he’s ready to cry.

TENTERHOOK
He’s gone with my wife to Brainford, and there be any law in England I’ll tickle ye for this.

AMBUSH
Do your worst, for I have good security and I care not. Besides, it was his cousin your wife’s pleasure that he should go along with her.

TENTERHOOK
Hoy day, her cousin! Well, sir, your security?

AMBUSH
Why, sir, two diamons here.

TENTERHOOK
Oh, my heart! My wife’s two diamonds! Well, you’ll go along and justify this?

AMBUSH
That I will, sir.

Enter LUCE.

LUCE
Who am I?                                                                                              [Covers her eyes.

TENTERHOOK
What, the murrain care I who you are? Hold off your fingers, or I’ll cut them with this diamond.

LUCE
I’ll see ‘em, i’faith. So, I’ll keep these diamonds till I have my silk gown and six ells of cambric.

TENTERHOOK
By this light, you shall not!

LUCE
No, what do you think you have fops in hand? Sue me for them.

WAFER & HONEYSUCKLE
As you respect your credit, let’s go.                                                                   [Exeunt.

TENTERHOOK
Good Luce, as you love me, let me have them. It stands upon my credit. Thou shalt have anything. Take my purse.

LUCE
I will not be cross’d in my humour, sir.

TENTERHOOK
You are a damn’d filthy punk. What an unfortunate rogue was I, that ever I came into this house!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Do not spurn anybody in my house, you were best.

TENTERHOOK
Well, well.                                                                                                                      [Exit.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Excellent Luce! The getting of these two diamonds may chance to save the gentlewoman’s credit. Thou heardst all?

LUCE
Oh, ay, and, by my troth, pity them. What a filthy knave was that betrayed them!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
One that put me into pitiful fear, Master Justiniano here, hat lay’d lurking, like a sheep-biter, and in my knowledge hath drawn these gentlemen to this misfortune; but I’ll down to Queen-hive, and the watermen which were wont to carry you to Lambeth Marsh, shall carry me thither. It may be I may come before them. I think I shall pray more, what or fear of the water, and for my good success than I did this twelvemonth.                                                                                                          [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Next Scene

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