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did-it needs the spur. (Looking over his book.] Nineand-forty years have I been house-steward and butler. It is a long lease. Let me see-my tablets.
[Looking over them and singing. • When birds do carol on the bush,
With a heigh no nonny'-Heigho! These fatigues of office somewhat wear a man. I have had a long lease on't: I ha' seen out Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and King James. 'Tis e'en almost time that I should retire, to begin to enjoy myself. (Looking off, L.] Eh! by St. Thomas ! hither trips the fair mistress Blanch. Of all the waiting-gentlewomen I ever looked on, during the two last reigns, none stirred my fancy like this little rose-bud.
Enter BLANCH, L.
Win. What, wag ! what, tulip ! I never see thee, but
will soon be in your second childhood.
Win. What, you come from your mistress, the Lady Helen, in the forest here; and would speak with Sir Edward Mortimer, I warrant ? Blanch. I would. Is his melancholy worship stirring
Win. Fie, you mad-cap !-He is my master, and your lady's friend.
Blanch. Yes, truly, it seeins, her only one, poor lady : he protects her, now she is left an orphan.
Win. A blessing on his heart! I would it were merrier. Well, should they happen to marry, (and I have my fancies on't,) I'll dance a galliard with thee in the hall, on the round oak table. 'Sbud! when I was a youth, I would ha' capered with St. Vitus, and beat him.
Blanch. You are as likely to dance now, as they'to marry. What has hindered them, if the parties be agreed ? Yet I have, now, been with my mistress these two years, since Sir Edward first came hither, and placed her in the cottage hard by his lodge.
Win. Tush! family reasons. Thou knowest nothingthou art scarce catched. Two years back, when we came
from Kent, and Sir Edward first entered on his office here of head-keeper, thou wert a colt, running wild about New Forest. I hired you myself, to attend on Madam Helen.
Blanch. Nay, I shall never forget it. But you were as frolicsome then as I, methinks. Dost remember the box on the ear I gave thee, Adam ?
Win. Peace, peace, you pie ! - An' you prate thus, I'll stop your mouth-I will, by St. Thomas!
Blanch, An I be inclined to the contrary, I do not think you are able to stop it.
Win. Tut, you baggage! thou hast more tricks than a kitten. Well, go thy ways; (Blanch crosses to R.] Sir Ed. ward is at his study, and there thou wilt find him.—Ah, Mistress Blanch! had you but seen me sixty years ago, in the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign!
Blanch. How old art thou now, Adam ?
Win. Fourscore, come Martlemas; and, by our lady! I can run with a lapwing.
Blanch. Canst thou ? - Well said !- Thou art a merry old man, and shalt have a kiss of me, on one condition.
Win. Shall I l-Odsbud! name it, and 'tis mine.
(Runs off, R. Win. Pestilence on't !—There was a time when my legs had served : I was a clean-limbed stripling, when I first stood behind Sir Marmaduke's arm-chair in the old oak eating-room.
[Retires up, L. Enter WilFORD, R. Wil. Every new. act of Sir Edward's charity sets me a thinking; and the more I think, the more I am puzzled. 'Tis strange that a man should be so ill at ease, who is continually doing good! At times, the wild glare of his eye is frightful. I would stake my life there's a secret ; and I could almost give my life to unravel it. I must to him for my morning's employment. (Crosses to L
Win. Ah, boy! Wilford! secretary! whither away, lad?
Wil. Mr. Winterton !-(Aside.] Ay, marry, this good old man has the clue, could I but coax him to give it to
-(Aloud.) A good morning to you, sir.
Win. Yea, and the like to thee, boy! Come, thou shalt have a cup of Canary from my corner cupboard, yonder.
Wil. Not a drop!
Win. Troth I bear thee a good will for thy honest, old, dead father's sake.
Wil. I do thankfully perceive it, sir. Your placing me in Sir Edward's family some nine months ago, when my poor father died, and left me friendless, will never out of my memory:
Win. Tut, boy! no merit of mine in assisting the friendless ; 'tis our duty. I could never abide to see honest industry chop-fallen ; I love to have folks merry about me, to my heart.
Wil. I would you could instil some mirth into our good master, Sir Edward. You are an old domestic, the only one he brought with him, two years back, from Kent; and might venture to give his spirits a jog. He seems deyoured with spleen and melancholy.
Win. You are a prying boy-go to! I have told thee, a score of times, I would not have thee curious about our worthy master's humour.
Wil. I should cease to pray, sir, would you but once (as I think you have more than once seemed inclined,) gratify my much-raised curiosity.
Win. What, greenhorn ! dost think to trap the old man? Go thy ways, boy! I have a head : old Adam Winterton can sift a subtle speech to the bottom. Wil
. Ah! good sir, you need not tell me that. Young as I am, I can admire that experience in another, which I want myself.
Win. (Aside.] There is something marvellously engaging in this young man. Sixty years ago, in Queen Elizabeth's time, I was just such another.- [Aloud.) Well, beware how you offend Sir Edward.
Wil. I would not, willingly, for the world. He has been the kindest master to me; but, whilst my fortunes ripen in the warmth of his goodness, the frozen gloom of his countenance chills me.
Win. Well, well, take heed how you prate on't. Out on these babbling boys! There is no keeping a secret with younkers in a family.
Wil. (Very eagerly.) What, then, there is a secret ?
Win. Why, how now, hot-head ? Mercy on me! an' this tinder-box boy do not make me shake with apprehen. sion ! Is it thus you take my frequent counsel?
Wil. Dear sir, 'tis your counsel which most I covet : give me but that, admit me to your confidence, steer me with your advice (which I ever held excellent), and, with such a pilot, I may sail prosperously through a current, which, otherwise, might wreck me.
Win, Well, well, I'll think on't, boy.
Wil. (Aside. The old answer; yet he softens apace. Could I but clench him now !-(Aloud.] Faith, sir, 'tis a raw morning, and I care not if I taste the Canary your kindness offered.
Win. Aha! lad, say'st thou so ? Here's the key of the corner cupboard yonder; see you do not crack the bottle, you heedless goose, you! (Exit Wilford, L., and returns with bottle and glasses.] Ha! fill it up. Od! it sparkles curiously. Here's to- I prithee, tell me, now, Wilford, didst ever in thy life see a waiting-gentlewoman with a more inviting eye than the little Mrs. Blanch ?
Wil. Drinking. Here's Mrs. Blanch!
Win. Ah, wag! well, go thy ways! Well, when I was of thy age-'Tis all over, now ! But here's little Mrs. Blanch !
[Drinks. Wil. 'Tis thought here, Sir Edward means to marry her lady, Madam Helen.
Win. Nay, I know not: she has long been enamoured of him, poor lady! when he was the gay, the gallant Sir Edward, in Kent. Ah, well! two years make a wondrous change!
Wil. Yes, 'tis a good tough love now-a-days that will hold out a couple of twelvemonths.
Win. Away! I mean not so, you giddy pate! He is ali honour; yet I wonder sometimes he can bear to look
Wil. Eh! why so ? Did he not bring her, under his protection, to the forest, since, 'tis said, she lost her rela.tions ?
Win. Hush, boy !-On your life, do not name her uncle--I would say, her relations!
Wil. Her uncle !-Wherefore 4-Where's the harm in having an uncle, dead or alive .
Win. Peace, peace! In that uncle lies the secret.
Wil. Indeed !-How, good Adam Winterton ?-I pritheo, how? Let us drink Sir Edward's health.
Win. That I would, though 'twere a mile to the bottom. (Drinking.] Ha! 'tis cheering, i'faith!
Wil. And this uncle, you say-
IVil. What mischief can be in him ?—[Wilford invites Adam to drink again—they do so.] Why, he is dead.
Win. Come nearer : see you prate not, now, on your life! Our good master, Sir Edward, was arraigned on his account, in open court.
Wil. Arraigned !-How mean you?
Win. Alas! boy, tried-tried for-nearer yet-his murder !
Wil. Mu-mur-murder !
Win. Why, what! why, Wilford !--Out, alas ! the boy's passion will betray all! What, Wilford, I say !
Wil. You have curdled my blood !
Win. What, varlet! thou darest not think ill of our worthy master ?
Wil. 1-I am his secretary; often alone with him, at dead midnight, in his library; the candles in the sockets ; and a man glaring upon me who has committed murUgh!
[Crosses to R. Win. Committed !—Thou art a base, lying knave to say it! Well, well; hear me, pettish boy, hear me.Why, look now, thou dost not attend.
Wil. I-I mark-I mark.
Win. I tell thee, then, our good Sir Edward was beloved in Kent, where he had returned, a year before, from his travels. Madam Helen's uncle was hated by all the neighbourhood, rich and poor-a mere brute.
Dost mark me ?
Wil. Like enough; but when brutes walk upon two legs, the law of the land, thank Heaven! will not suffer us to butcher them.
Win. Go to, you firebrand! Our good master laboured all he could, for many a month, to sooth his turbulence, but in vain. He picked a quarrel with Sir Edward in the public county assembly; nay, the strong ruffian struck him down, and trampled on him. Think on that, Wilford; on our good master, Sir Edward, whose great soul was nigh lo burst with the indignity!
Wil. Well, but the end on't ?