Westward Ho – Act Three, Scene Three

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Enter JUSTINIANO as Parenthesis, like a collier, and a Boy.

JUSTINIANO
Buy any small coal, buy any small coal.

BOY
Collier? Collier?

JUSTINIANO
What sayst thou, boy?

BOY
‘Ware the pillory.

JUSTINIANO
Oh, boy, the pillory assure many a man that he is no cuckold, for how impossible were it a man should thrust his head through so small a loophole if his forehead were branch’d, boy?

BOY
Collier, how came the goose to be put upon you, ha?

JUSTINIANO
I’ll tell thee. The term lying at Winchester in Henry the Third’s days, and many French women coming out of the Isle of Wight thither—as it hath always been since—though the Isle of Wight could not of long time neither endure foxes nor lawyers, yet it could brook the more dreadful cockatrice. There were many punk in the town—as you know our term is their term—your farmers that would spend but three pence on his ordinary, would lavish half a crown on his lechery, and many men—calves as they were—would ride in a farmer’s foul boots before breakfast; the commonest sinner had more fluttering about her than a French punk hath when she come to a town of garrison, or to a university. Captains, scholars, servingmen, jurors, clerks, townsmen and the blackguard used all to one ordinary, and most of them were call’d to a pitiful reckoning, for before two returns of Michaelmas, surgeons were full of business, the cure of most secrecy grew as common as lice in Ireland., or as scabs in France. One of my tribe, a collier, carried in his cart forty maim’d soldiers to Salisbury, looking as pitifully as Dutchmen first made drunk, than carried to beheading. Everyone that met him cried, “Wear the goose-collar,” and from that day to this, there’s a record to be seen at Croydon how that pitiful waftage which indeed was virtue in the collier, that all that time would carry no coals, laid this imputation on all the posterity.

BOY
You are full of tricks collier.

JUSTINIANO
Boy, where dwells Master Wafer?

BOY
Why, here! What wouldst? I am one of his juveniles.

JUSTINIANO
Hath he not a child at nurse at More-clack?

BOY
Yes. Dost thou dwell there?

JUSTINIANO
That I do. The child is wonderous sick. I was will’d to acquaint thy master and mistress with it.

BOY
I’ll up and tell them presently.                                                                                    [Exit.

JUSTINIANO
So, if all should fail me, I could turn collier. Oh, the villainy of this age! How full of secrecy and silence—contrary to the opinion of the world—have I ever found most women. I have sat a whole afternoon many times by my wife, and look’d upon her eyes, and felt if her pulses have beat, when I have nam’d a suspected love, yet all this while have not drawn from her the least scruple of confession. I have lain awake a thousand nights, thinking she would have revealed somewhat in her dreams, and when she had begun to speak anything in her sleep, I have jogg’d her, and cried “Ay, sweetheart.” But when will your love come, or what did he say to thee over the stall? Or what did he do to thee in the garden-chamber? Or when will he send to thee any letters, or when wilt thou send to him any money? What an idle coxcomb jealousy will make a man!

Enter WAFER,MISTRESS WAFER, and Boy.

Well, this is my comfort that here comes a creature of the same head-piece.

MISTRESS WAFER
Oh, my sweet child! Where’s the collier?

JUSTINIANO
Here, forsooth.

MISTRESS WAFER
Run into Blackfriarsbury for two ounces of dragon water, some spermacæty and treacle. What is it sick of, collier? A burning fever?

JUSTINIANO
Faith, mistress, I do not know the infirmity of it. Will you buy any small coal, say you?

WAFER
Prithee, go in and empty them. Come, be not so impatient.

MISTRESS WAFER
Ay, ay, ay, if you had groadn’d for’t as I have done, you would have been more natural. Take my riding hat, and my kirtle there. I’ll away presently.

WAFER
You will not go tonight, I am sure.

MISTRESS WAFER
As I live, but I will.

WAFER
Faith, sweetheart, I have great business tonight. Stay till tomorrow and I’ll go with you.

MISTRESS WAFER
No, sir, I will not hinder your business. I see how little you respect the fruits of your own body. I shall find somebody to bear me company.

WAFER
Well, I will defer my business for once, and go with thee.

MISTRESS WAFER
By this light, but you shall not! You shall not hit me i’th’teeth that I was your hindrance. Will you to Bucklersbury, sir?                                                         [Exit Boy.

WAFER
Come, you are a fool. Leave your weeping.

MISTRESS WAFER
You shall not go with me, as I live.                                                             [Exit WAFER.

JUSTINIANO
Pupil.

MISTRESS WAFER
Excellent master!

JUSTINIANO
Admirable mistress, how happy be our Englishwomen that are not troubled with jealous husbands. Why, your Italians in general are so sunburnt with these dog days that your great lady there thinks her husband love her not if he be not jealous. What confirms the liberty of our women more in England than the Italian proverb, which say if there were a bridge over the narrow seas, all the women in Italy would show their husbands a million of light pair of heels, and fly over into England.

MISTRESS WAFER
The time of our meeting. Come?

JUSTINIANO
Seven.

MISTRESS WAFER
The place?

JUSTINIANO
In Blackfriars; there take water, keep aloof from the shore, on with your masks, up with your sails, and Westward Ho!

MISTRESS WAFER
So.                                                                                                                                    [Exit.

JUSTINIANO
Oh, the quick apprehension of women! They’ll grope out a man’s meaning presently. Well, it rests now that I discover myself in my true shape to these gentlewomen’s husbands; for though I have play’d the fool a little to beguile the memory of mine own misfortune, I would not play the knave, though I be taken for a banquerout; but indeed as in other things, so in that, the world is much deceived in me, for I have yet three thousand pounds in the hands of a sufficient friend, and all my debts discharg’d. I have received here a letter from my wife, directed to Stode, wherein she more repentantly entreateth my return, with protestation to give me assured trial of her honesty.   I cannot tell what to think of it, but I will put it to the test. There is a great strife between beauty and chastity, and that which pleaseth many is never free from temptation. As for jealousy, it makes many cuckolds, many fools, and many banquerouts. It may have abused me and not my wife’s honesty. I’ll try it. But first to my secure and doting companions.                                                                                                                    [Exit.

Proceed to the Next Scene

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