— 5.1 —
Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Jerningham walked out into the street between the two inns, fastening their stockings to their jackets, in accordance with the then-current fashion.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Good morning, gentle knight. May you have a happy day after your short night’s rest!”
Sir Arthur Clare replied, “Ha, ha, Sir Ralph, stirring so soon indeed? By our Lady, sir, rest would have done right well: It would be very welcome. Our riding late last night has made me drowsy. Oh, well, those days of staying up late are long gone from us.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Sir Arthur, Sir Arthur, may cares and worries go with those days. Let them just go away together — let them go! It is time, in faith, that we were in our graves, when children stop obeying their parents. When there’s no fear of God, then there’s no care, no duty.
“Well, well, nay, nay, it shall not do, it shall not. No, Sir Richard Mounchensey, thou shall hear about it, thou shall, thou shall in faith!
“I’ll hang thy son, if there is law in England. A man’s child forcibly taken from a nunnery! This is ‘splendid’!
“Well, well, there’s a manservant gone to Friar Hildersham to bring him here to us.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Nay, gentle knight, do not vex yourself like this, it will only hurt your health. You cannot grieve more than I do, but to what end? What good will excessive grieving do?
“But listen. Sir Ralph, I was about to say something — it makes no matter. But listen in your ear. The Friar’s a knave, but may God forgive me, a man cannot tell neither. By God’s foot, I am so out of patience that I don’t know what to say.”
Both knights suspected Friar Hildersham of treacherously helping Raymond to run away with Millicent.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “There’s a manservant who went for Friar Hildersham an hour ago. Hasn’t he come yet? By God’s foot, if I find knavery under his cowl, I’ll tickle — vex — him, and I’ll firk — beat — him.
“Here! Here! He’s here! He’s here!”
Friar Hildersham walked over to them.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Good morning, Friar. Good morning, gentle Friar.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Good morning. Father Hildersham, good morning.”
Friar Hildersham replied, “Good morning, reverend knights, to you both.”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “Father, how are things with you now? You hear how things turned out. I am ruined, and my child is cast away. You did your best, at least I think you did your best. But we are all thwarted; flatly, all is dashed.”
They were assuming that Friar Hildersham knew about their plight and how their plot had turned out, but Friar Hildersham knew nothing about it.
Friar Hildersham said:
“Alas, good knights! What might the matter be?
“Let me understand your grief and pain for charity.”
Sir Arthur Clare replied, “Who does not understand my griefs? Alas, alas! And yet you do not! Will the Church permit a nun in probation of her habit to be ravished?”
The “habit” was her nun’s clothing.
Friar Hildersham said, “A holy woman, benedicite! May God bless and protect us from such evil! Now God forbid that anyone should presume to touch the sister of a holy house.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “May Jesus deliver me from misfortune!”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Why, Millicent, the daughter of this knight, was taken out of Cheston Nunnery last night.”
Friar Hildersham asked about Millicent Clare, “Did that fair maiden recently become a nun?”
If he had been in on the plot, as the two knights thought he had, he would have known that Millicent had entered the nunnery.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Did she, you ask? Knavery! Knavery! Knavery! I smell it! I smell it, in faith! Is the wind in that door? Is that the way the wind is blowing? Is it even so? Do thou ask me that question now?”
Friar Hildersham said, “It is the first time that I ever heard of it. I did not know that Millicent had entered the nunnery.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “That’s very strange.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Why, tell me, Friar Hildersham, tell me. Thou are accounted to be a holy man; do not play the hypocrite with me now. Bear with me. I cannot dissemble. Did I do anything other than but by thy own consent, by thy sanction, nay, further, by thy permission?”
Friar Hildersham said, “Why, reverend Knight —”
Sir Ralph Jerningham interrupted, “Unreverend Friar!”
Friar Hildersham said, “Nay, then give me permission, sir, to depart in quiet; I had hoped you had sent for me for some other end.”
He had not come here to be insulted or played with.
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Nay, stay, good Friar; if anything has happened about this matter in thy love to us that thy strict order cannot justify, admit it to be so, and we will deal with it and protect you. Don’t worry, man.
“Yet don’t repudiate thy counsel and advice thou gave to us. The wisest man who exists may be overreached and may have exceeded his limits.”
Friar Hildersham said, “Sir Arthur, I swear by my order and my faith, I don’t know what you mean.”
He was making a strong oath and saying very definitely that he did not understand what was going on.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “By your order and your faith? This is most strange of all.
“Why, tell me, Friar, aren’t you confessor to my son Frank?”
Friar Hildersham replied, “Yes, that I am.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “And didn’t I and this good knight here confer with you, who are his spiritual Father, about dealing with him and the unbanded marriage between him and that fair young Millicent?”
The “marriage” of Frank and Millicent was unbanded; that is, it was unsolemnized and unsealed. They weren’t even officially engaged.
Friar Hildersham said, “I have never heard of any match intended between Frank and Millicent.”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “Didn’t we reveal our intentions that very time we talked to you that our device of making her a nun was only a pretext and a complete plot to put aside young Raymond Mounchensey as Millicent’s husband-to-be? Isn’t that true?”
Friar Hildersham said, “The more I strive to know what you mean, the less I understand you.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “Didn’t you insistently tell us how Peter Fabell at length would thwart us, if we didn’t take heed?”
Friar Hildersham said, “I have heard of a Peter Fabell who is a great magician, but he’s at the university.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “Didn’t you send your novice Benedick to persuade Millicent to leave Raymond Mounchensey’s love? Didn’t you send your novice Benedick to thwart that famous magician Peter Fabell in his art, and for that purpose didn’t you make Benedick visitor-confessor to the nunnery?”
Friar Hildersham replied, “I never sent my novice Benedick away from the monastery, nor have we made our visitation to the nunnery yet.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Never sent him? Nay, didn’t he go? And didn’t I take him to the house, and talk with him along the way? And didn’t he tell me what orders he had received from you, word by word, as I requested at your hands?”
Of course, Raymond Mounchensey had been disguised as the novice Benedick as part of Peter Fabell’s plan. Peter Fabell himself had been disguised as Friar Hildersham.
Friar Hildersham said, “The answer to that you shall know definitely. My novice Benedick came along with me, and he is waiting outside.”
He called, “Come here, Benedick!”
Benedick entered the room.
Friar Hildersham asked, “Young Benedick, were you ever sent by me to Cheston Nunnery to be a visitor-confessor?”
“Never, sir, truly,” Benedick replied.
“This is stranger than all the rest!” Sir Ralph Jerningham said.
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “Didn’t I direct and accompany you to the nunnery? Didn’t I talk with you all the way from Waltham Abbey to the wall of Cheston Nunnery?”
“I never saw you, sir, before this hour!” Benedick answered.
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “The devil thou did not! Ho, chamberlain!”
A chamberlain, who was in charge of the rooms in the inn, entered the scene, crying, “At once! At once!”
Sir Ralph Jerningham ordered, “Call my host Blague to come here!”
The chamberlain, who worked at the White Horse Inn, not at Blague the host’s Saint George Inn, said, “I will send someone over to see if he is up; I think he is scarcely stirring yet.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “Why, knave, didn’t thou tell me an hour ago my host was up?”
The chamberlain, thinking he was referring to the host of the White Horse Inn, where in fact Sir Ralph had stayed that night, although Sir Ralph thought he was staying at the Saint George Inn, replied, “Aye, sir, my master’s up.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “You knave, is he up, and is he not up? Do thou mock me?”
The chamberlain said, “Aye, sir, my master is up, but I think Master Blague indeed is not stirring.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “Why, who’s thy master? Isn’t the master of the house thy master?”
The chamberlain replied, “Yes, sir, but Master Blague dwells over the way — on the other side of the street.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Isn’t this the Saint George Inn? Before God, I say there’s some villainy in this.”
The chamberlain, puzzled, looked around, and saw that the statue of the white horse was missing. He said, “By God’s foot, our sign’s been removed; this is strange!”
The chamberlain exited.
Blague the host, fastening his stockings to his jacket, walked out into the street.
Blague the host then said to his own chamberlain inside the Saint George Inn, “Chamberlain, speak up to the new lodgings, and tell Nell to look well to the baked meats!”
The Saint George Inn was financially successful, and some new rooms had recently been added.
Seeing Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Jerningham, Blague the host said, “What now! My old jennets balk my house, my castle,lie in Waltham all night, and yet do not lie under the canopyof your host Blague’s house?”
Jennets are horses, and to balk means to shy away from. Blague the host was jocularly complaining that the two knights had stayed at Waltham overnight but had lodged at a rival inn.
Sir Arthur Clare said, “My host, my host, we lay all night at the Saint George Inn in Waltham; but whether the George we lodged at is your fee-simple George or not, is a doubtful question. Look upon your sign.”
The statue of the white horse was outside Blague the host’s Saint George Inn.
Blague the host said, “By the body of Saint George, my obstructive neighbor-host across the street has done this to seduce my blind customers.”
The customers were blind because with the signs moved they could not tell which inn was which.
Blague the host continued, “I’ll tickle his catastrophe for this; I’ll beat his butt. If I do not indict him for burglary at the next court assizes, then let me die of the horse disease known as the yellows; for I see it is useless in these days to serve the good Duke of Norfolk.”
One can do one’s best to look after business and serve oneself, but if one has criminally inclined neighbors, such efforts can go for naught.
He continued, “The villainous world is turned manger; one jade deceives another, and your hostler plays his part commonly for the fourth share.”
He was comparing this world in which villainy was present to a manger in which one jade — bad horse — deceives another to get more than its share (two shares to the other horse’s one share), and the hostler engages in villainy to get the fourth share.
One way for one jade to deceive another is to eat faster; another is to use muscular strength to push the other jade away from the hay. One way for the hostler to get the fourth share is to not feed it to the horses but nevertheless to charge for it.
Blague the host continued, “Have we comedies in hand, you whoreson, villainous male London lecher?”
Sir Arthur Clare had done nothing to be accused of London lechery; Blague the host was either angry or, more likely, pretending to be angry and insulting Sir Arthur with a random insult.
Sir Arthur Clare replied, “My host, we have had the moilingest — the most confused — night of it that we ever had in our lives.”
Blague the host asked, “Is that for certain?”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “We have been in the forest all night almost.”
Blague the host said, “By God’s foot, how did I miss you? By God’s heart, I was stealing a buck there.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “A plague on you; we were stayed because of you. We were forced to stop what we were doing.”
“Were you, my noble Romans?” Blague the host said. “Why, you shall share in the spoils; the venison is cooking right now.
“Sine Cerere etBaccho friget Venus.”
The Latin quotation from Terence’s Eunuchus(732) means, “Love is cold without Ceres [food] or Bacchus [wine].”
Ceres is the goddess of agriculture, and Bacchus is the god of wine.
Blague the host explained, “That is, there’s a good breakfast provided for a marriage that’s in my house this morning.”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “A marriage, my host?”
Blague the host said about the marriage, “It is firm, it is done. We’ll show you a precedent in the civil law for it.”
The marriage was completed, and it was legal.
Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “What? Married?”
Blague the host said, “Put aside tricks and surprise. There’s a clean pair of sheets in the bed in the Orchard Chamber, and the married couple shall lie there.”
The rooms of the inn had names.
The two knights looked surprised. They realized that the married couple was Raymond and Millicent.
Blague the host continued, “What! I’ll do it! I’ll serve the good Duke of Norfolk.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Thou shall repent this, Blague.”
Sir Ralph Jerningham said, “If any law in England will make thee smart for this, expect to smart with all severity.”
Blague the host said, “I renounce your defiance. If you speak so roughly, I’ll barracado my gates against you.
“Stand fair, worthy gallant! Priest, come off from the rearward! Come from behind!”
Sir John the priest came out of the Saint George Inn.
Blague the host said, “What can you say now? It was done in my house; I have shelter in the court for it.”
The law was on his side; Raymond and Millicent had been legally married.
Pointing to a window of the Saint George Inn, which he owned, Blague the host said, “Do you see yonder bay window? I serve the good Duke of Norfolk, and it is his lodging.”
The lodging belonged to Blague the host, who called himself the Duke of Norfolk. He owned it fee-simple; he had absolute possession of it, and he was his own boss.
He continued, “Rage and storm — I care not, serving as I do the good Duke of Norfolk.”
Sir Arthur Clair said to Sir John, “Thou are an actor in this, and thou shall carry fire in thy face eternally.”
He was angry at the priest, who had a red face due to alcohol consumption.
As Sir Arthur Clair said this, Smug, Raymond Mounchensey, Frank Jerningham, Harry Clare, and Millicent Clare entered the scene.
Having heard Sir Arthur Clair’s insult, Smug said, “Fire, by God’s blood, there’s no fire in England like your Trinidado sack.”
Sack is white wine, and Sir John apparently drank a lot of it.
Trinidad is known for its tobacco, but in “honor” of Sir John, Smug may have been attempting to pun on “trinity,” one Member of Whom is the Father, or Dad.
Smug then asked, “Is any man here humorous?”
This society believed that the mixture of four humors in the body determined one’s temperament. One humor could be predominant. The four humors are blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. If blood is predominant, then the person is sanguine (optimistic). If yellow bile is predominant, then the person is choleric (bad-tempered). If black bile is predominant, then the person is melancholic (sad). If phlegm is predominant, then the person is phlegmatic (calm).
The kind of humor Smug was referring to was probably yellow bile. If someone was angry at Sir John and at Smug and the other poachers, that person could get revenge by informing on the poachers.
Smug continued, “We stole the venison, and we’ll justify it: What do you say now!”
He meant that he and his friends would be exonerated for poaching.
Perhaps Brian the gamekeeper had captured him after all, but decided to release him because the poachers had helped to make the marriage of Raymond and Millicent happen. Smug, after all, had changed the signs of the two inns, and the poachers had given Brian an excuse to delay and stop Sir Arthur Clair and Sir Ralph Jerningham’s pursuit of Raymond and Millicent. In addition, the venison would be served at the happy couple’s wedding supper.
Blague the host said, “In good sooth, Smug, there’s more sack on the fire, Smug.”
The wine was being mulled, and Blague the host wanted to calm down an angry Smug with a drink.
Smug said, “I do not take any exceptions against your sack, but if you’ll lend me a pike-staff, I’ll cudgel them all away from here, by this hand.”
Blague the host said, “I say thou shall go into the cellar.”
He wanted no violence, and he knew that Smug would fairly quickly accept his invitation to go into the cellar — that was where the wine was stored.
Smug said, “By God’s foot, my host, shall we not grapple with our foes? Please, I say to you — I could fight now for all the world like a cockatrice’s egg. Shall we not serve the Duke of Norfolk?”
Isaiah 59:5 states, “They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper” (King James Version).
Cockatrices, aka basilisks, can kill with a glance of their eyes. Chances are, Smug had meant to say “eye” instead of “egg,” but even the egg of a cockatrice is lethal.
Smug wanted to fight on the side of Blague the host and so serve him.
Blague the host said, “In, skipper, in!”
Smug went into the wine cellar.
Sir Arthur Clare asked his son, “Sirrah, has young Raymond Mounchensey married your sister?”
Harry Clare said, “That is certain, sir; here’s the priest who coupled them, the parties who were joined, and the honest witness who cried, ‘Amen.’”
Frank Jerningham was the witness.
Raymond Mounchensey knelt and said, “Sir Arthur Clare, my new-created father, I ask you to hear me out.”
Sir Arthur Clare replied, “Sir, sir, you are a foolish boy; you have done that which you cannot answer for. I dare to be bold and seize her — Millicent — and take her away from you, for she’s a professed nun.”
Millicent Clare knelt and said:
“With pardon, sir, that name of ‘nun’ is quite undone;
“This true love knot cancels both maiden and nun.
“When first you told me I should act that part,
“How cold and bloody it crept over my heart!
“To Cheston with a smiling brow I went;
“But yet, dear sir, it was to this intent:
“That my sweet Raymond might find better means
“To steal me thence. In brief, disguised he came.
“Like a novice to old Father Hildersham:
“His tutor [Peter Fabell] here did act that cunning part,
“And in our love has joined much wit [intelligence] to art [magical skill].”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “Is that true?”
Millicent Clare replied:
“With pardon therefore we entreat your smiles;
“Love, thwarted, turns itself to a thousand wiles.”
“Wiles” are “deceitful tricks.”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “Young Master Jerningham, were you an actor in your own love’s abuse?”
In other words: Did you help Millicent, whom you could have married, marry someone else?
Frank Jerningham replied, “My thoughts, good sir,
“Did labor seriously to this end,
“To wrong myself, before I’d abuse my friend.”
He would have abused his friend Raymond if he had married the woman whom Raymond loved and to whom he was legally engaged.
Blague the host said, “He speaks like a bachelor of music, all in numbers.”
Frank Jerningham was speaking verse and using meter.
Blague the host added, “Knights, if I had known you would have let this covey of partridges — Raymond and Millicent — sit thus long upon their knees under my sign-post, I would have spread my doorway with old coverlets.”
The coverlets would give the knees of Raymond and Millicent padding and make the couple more comfortable.
Sir Arthur Clare said to Blague the host, “Well, sir, to allow this marriage to happen, your sign was removed, was it?”
Blague the host said, “By my faith, we followed the directions of the devil, Master Peter Fabell. Smug, Lord bless us, could never stand upright since.”
Smug had injured his butt while dismounting from the sign of the White Horse Inn — that, is, the statue of the white horse.
Sir Arthur Clare said to Sir John, “You, sir, it was you who was Peter Fabell’s minister who married them?”
Peter Fabell had arranged the details of the wedding.
Sir John said, “Sir, to prove myself an honest man, being that I was last night in the forest stealing venison — now, sir, to have you stand my friend, if that matter should be called in question, I married your daughter to this worthy gentleman.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “I may chance to requite you, and make your neck crack for it.”
He was threatening to have Sir John found guilty of poaching and hung; however, Smug believed that Brian the gamekeeper would not prosecute the poaching.
Sir John said, “If you do, I am as resolute as my neighbor the vicar of Waltham Abbey.”
Martyrs existed in England, but no vicar of Waltham Abbey is recorded as being a martyr. Sir John may not have been the type of man to be resolute.
Sir John added his catchphrase: “By hum, grass, and hay! We are all mortal; let’s live until we be hanged, my host, and be merry; and there’s an end.”
Peter Fabell entered the scene and said, “Now, knights, I enter; now my part begins. To end this difference between parties, know that at first I knew what you two knights intended, before your love took flight from old Mounchensey.
“You, Sir Arthur Clare, were minded to have married this sweet beauty to young Frank Jerningham; to thwart which match, I used some pretty sleights and tricks, but I protest that they were such as but sat upon the outskirts of human skill. I used no conjurations, nor such weighty spells as tie the soul to their performance. I did not have to sell my soul to thwart your plans.
“These pretty sleights and tricks I effected for the love and respect that I have for Raymond, who once was my dear pupil.
“Now, I think it is strange that you, Sir Arthur Clare, being old in wisdom, should thus knit your forehead because of this marriage match.
“Since reason fails and no law can curb the lover’s rash attempt, years spent in resisting this are sadly spent.
“Smile, then, upon your daughter and kind son, and let our toil to future ages prove that the Devil of Edmonton did good in love.”
Sir Arthur Clare said, “Well, it is in vain to cross high providence.”
He said to Raymond, “Dear son-in-law, I take thee up into my heart.”
He held Raymond’s hand and helped him stand from a kneeling position.
He then said to Millicent, “Rise, daughter; this is a kind father’s part. This is what a loving father should do.
Millicent stood up, smiling.
Blague the host said, “Why, Sir John, send for Spindle’s noise, quickly — ha, before it becomes night, I’ll serve the good Duke of Norfolk.”
A noise is a band of musicians.
A spindle is slender, and so the leader of the musicians was either very thin — or very fat. (Some very big people are nicknamed “Tiny.”)
Sir John said, “Grass and hay! My host, let’s live until we die, and be merry; and there’s an end.”
Sir Arthur Clare asked, “What, is breakfast ready, my host?”
Blague the host replied, “It is, my little Hebrew.”
Sir Arthur Clare ordered Bilbo, “Sirrah, ride straightaway to Cheston Nunnery. Fetch away from there my lady; the nunnery, I know, by this time misses their young votary: Millicent.”
He then said, “Come, knights, let’s go in to breakfast.”
Bilbo said, “I will go to horse immediately, sir.”
He then complained to himself, “A plague on my lady, I shall miss a good breakfast.”
Smug came up from the wine cellar, where of course he had been drinking.
Bilbo then said, “Smug, how does it happen that you are cut so plaguily behind, Smug?’
The seat of Smug’s pants was badly ripped from where he had sat on the statue of the white horse.
Smug said, “Stand back, or else I’ll lame you.”
Bilbo said, “Farewell, Smug, thou are in another element.”
The element is a sphere — one of the spheres in Ptolemaic astronomy. Smug had been drinking, and he was high from intoxication — high enough to be elevated into another sphere.
Smug said, “I will be by and by; I will be Saint George again.”
He would be high, high up on the statue of the white horse.
As the intoxicated Smug attempted to climb onto the white horse, Sir Arthur Clare said, “Take care that the fellow does not hurt himself.”
Looking at Smug, Sir Ralph Jerningham asked, “Didn’t we last night find two Saint Georges here?”
Peter Fabell replied, “Yes, knights, this martialist was one of them.”
Smug was a martialist, a follower of Mars, the god of war. Just recently, he had been ready to fight Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Jerningham — and Bilbo. He had also been on the white horse pretending to be Saint George when the two knights arrived at the inn the previous night. A statue of Saint George — the sign of the Saint George Inn — had stood beside the white horse.
Harry Clare said, “Then thus conclude your night of merriment!”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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