Scene I. Before an alehouse on a heath.
Enter HOSTESS and SLYSLY.
I’ll pheeze you, in faith. HOSTESS.
A pair of stocks, you rogue! SLY.
Y’are a baggage; the Slys are no rogues; look in the chronicles: we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris; let the world slide. Sessa! HOSTESS.
You will not pay for the glasses you have burst? SLY.
No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy, go to thy cold bed
and warm thee. HOSTESS.
I know my remedy; I must go fetch the third-borough.
Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I’ll answer him by law.
I’ll not budge an inch, boy: let him come, and kindly.
[Lies down on the ground, and falls asleep.
Horns winded. Enter a Lord from hunting, with Huntsmen and Servants.LORD.
Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds;
Brach Merriman, the poor cur is emboss’d,
And couple Clowder with the deep-mouth’d brach.
Saw’st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good
At the hedge-corner, in the coldest fault?
I would not lose the dog for twenty pound. FIRST HUNTSMAN.
Why, Bellman is as good as he, my lord;
He cried upon it at the merest loss,
And twice today pick’d out the dullest scent;
Trust me, I take him for the better dog. LORD.
Thou art a fool: if Echo were as fleet,
I would esteem him worth a dozen such.
But sup them well, and look unto them all;
Tomorrow I intend to hunt again. FIRST HUNTSMAN.
I will, my lord. LORD.
[Sees Sly.] What’s here? One dead, or drunk?
See, doth he breathe? SECOND HUNTSMAN.
He breathes, my lord. Were he not warm’d with ale,
This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly. LORD.
O monstrous beast! how like a swine he lies!
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
What think you, if he were convey’d to bed,
Wrapp’d in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,
A most delicious banquet by his bed,
And brave attendants near him when he wakes,
Would not the beggar then forget himself? FIRST HUNTSMAN.
Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose. SECOND HUNTSMAN.
It would seem strange unto him when he wak’d. LORD.
Even as a flattering dream or worthless fancy.
Then take him up, and manage well the jest.
Carry him gently to my fairest chamber,
And hang it round with all my wanton pictures;
Balm his foul head in warm distilled waters,
And burn sweet wood to make the lodging sweet.
Procure me music ready when he wakes,
To make a dulcet and a heavenly sound;
And if he chance to speak, be ready straight,
And with a low submissive reverence
Say ‘What is it your honour will command?’
Let one attend him with a silver basin
Full of rose-water and bestrew’d with flowers;
Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper,
And say ‘Will’t please your lordship cool your hands?’
Someone be ready with a costly suit,
And ask him what apparel he will wear;
Another tell him of his hounds and horse,
And that his lady mourns at his disease.
Persuade him that he hath been lunatic;
And, when he says he is—say that he dreams,
For he is nothing but a mighty lord.
This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs;
It will be pastime passing excellent,
If it be husbanded with modesty. FIRST HUNTSMAN.
My lord, I warrant you we will play our part,
As he shall think by our true diligence,
He is no less than what we say he is. LORD.
Take him up gently, and to bed with him,
And each one to his office when he wakes.
[Sly is bourne out. A trumpet sounds.
Sirrah, go see what trumpet ’tis that sounds:
Belike some noble gentleman that means,
How now! who is it?SERVANT.
An it please your honour, players
That offer service to your lordship. LORD.
Bid them come near.
Now, fellows, you are welcome.PLAYERS.
We thank your honour. LORD.
Do you intend to stay with me tonight? PLAYER.
So please your lordship to accept our duty. LORD.
With all my heart. This fellow I remember
Since once he play’d a farmer’s eldest son;
’Twas where you woo’d the gentlewoman so well.
I have forgot your name; but, sure, that part
Was aptly fitted and naturally perform’d. PLAYER.
I think ’twas Soto that your honour means. LORD.
’Tis very true; thou didst it excellent.
Well, you are come to me in happy time,
The rather for I have some sport in hand
Wherein your cunning can assist me much.
There is a lord will hear you play tonight;
But I am doubtful of your modesties,
Lest, over-eying of his odd behaviour,—
For yet his honour never heard a play,—
You break into some merry passion
And so offend him; for I tell you, sirs,
If you should smile, he grows impatient. PLAYER.
Fear not, my lord; we can contain ourselves,
Were he the veriest antick in the world. LORD.
Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery,
And give them friendly welcome everyone:
Let them want nothing that my house affords.
[Exit one with the Players.
Sirrah, go you to Barthol’mew my page,
And see him dress’d in all suits like a lady;
That done, conduct him to the drunkard’s chamber,
And call him ‘madam,’ do him obeisance.
Tell him from me—as he will win my love,—
He bear himself with honourable action,
Such as he hath observ’d in noble ladies
Unto their lords, by them accomplished;
Such duty to the drunkard let him do,
With soft low tongue and lowly courtesy,
And say ‘What is’t your honour will command,
Wherein your lady and your humble wife
May show her duty and make known her love?’
And then with kind embracements, tempting kisses,
And with declining head into his bosom,
Bid him shed tears, as being overjoy’d
To see her noble lord restor’d to health,
Who for this seven years hath esteemed him
No better than a poor and loathsome beggar.
And if the boy have not a woman’s gift
To rain a shower of commanded tears,
An onion will do well for such a shift,
Which, in a napkin being close convey’d,
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
See this dispatch’d with all the haste thou canst;
Anon I’ll give thee more instructions.
I know the boy will well usurp the grace,
Voice, gait, and action of a gentlewoman;
I long to hear him call the drunkard husband;
And how my men will stay themselves from laughter
When they do homage to this simple peasant.
I’ll in to counsel them; haply my presence
May well abate the over-merry spleen,
Which otherwise would grow into extremes.