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tilties, and that no woman was longer good than till she had cause, or time to do ill? This you believed not; and thought it a thing so unlikely, that you have given me a hundred pounds for the knowledge of it. In brief, know, your wife is a woman, and therefore a wanton, a changeling :-to confirm that I speake, see heere (shewing him the crucifix ;) know you this? If this be not sufficient proofe, I will fetch you more.
"At the sight of this, his bloud left his face, running to comfort his faint heart, which was ready to breake at the sight of this crucifix, which he knew she alwayes wore next her heart; and therefore he must (as he thought) goe something neere, which stole so private a jewell. But remembering himselfe, he cheeres his spirits, seeing that was sufficient proofe, and he had wonne the wager, which he commanded should be given to him. Thus was the poore gentleman abused, who went into his chamber and being weary of this world, (seeing where he had put his only trust he was deceived,) he was minded to fall upon his sword, and so end all his miseries at once: but his better genius persuaded him contrary, and not so, by laying violent hand on himselfe, to leap into the divel's mouth. Thus being in many mindes, but resolving no one thing, at last he concluded to punish her with death, which had deceived his trust, and himselfe utterly to forsake his house and lands, and follow the fortunes of king Henry. To this intent, he called his man, to whom he said,-George, thou knowest I have ever held thee deare, making more account of thee than thy other fellowes ; and thou hast often told me that thou diddest owe thy life to me, which at any time thou wouldest be ready to render up to doe me good. True, sir, answered his man, I said no more then, than I will now at any time, whensoever you please, performe. I believe thee, George, replyed he; but there is no such need: I onely would have thee do a thing for me, in which is no great danger; yet the profit which thou shalt have thereby shall amount to my wealth. For the love that thou bearest to me, and for thy own good, wilt thou do this? Sir, answered George, more for your love than any reward, I will doe it, (and yet money makes men valiant,) pray tell me what it is? George, said his master, this it is; thou must goe home, praying thy mistress to meet me halfe the way to London; but having her by the way, in some private place kill her; I mean as I speake, kill her, I say this is my command, which thou hast promised to performe; which if thou performest not, I vow to kill thee the next time thou comest in my sight. Now for thy reward, it shall be this.-Take my ring, and when thou hast done my command, by virtue of it, doe thou assume my place till my returne, at which time thou shalt know what my reward is; till then govern my whole estate, and for thy mistress' absence and my own, make what excuse thou please; so be gone. Well, sir, said George, since it is your will, though unwilling I am to do it, yet I will perform it. So went he his way
toward Waltam; and his master presently rid to the court, where hee abode with king Henry, who a little before was inlarged by the earl of Warwicke, and placed in the throne again.
George being come to Waltam, did his duty to his mistris, who wondered to see him, and not her husband, for whom she demanded of George; he answered her, that he was at Enfield, and did request her to meet him there. To which shee willingly agreed, and presently rode with him toward Enfield. At length, they being come into a by-way, George began to speake to her in this manner: Mistris, I pray you tell me, what that wife deserves, who through some lewd behaviour of hers hath made her husband to neglect his estates, and meanes of life, seeking by all meanes to dye, that he might be free from the shame which her wickednesse hath purchased him? Why George, quoth shee, hast thou met with some such creature? Be it whomsoever, might I be her judge, I thinke her worthy of death. How thinkest thou? 'Faith mistris, said he I think so to, and am so fully persuaded that her offence deserves that punishment, that I purpose to be executioner to such a one myselfe: Mistris, you are this woman; you have so offended my master, (you know best, how, yourselfe,) that he hath left his house, vowing never to see the same till you be dead, and I am the man appointed by him to kill you. Therefore those words which you mean to utter, speake them presently, for I cannot stay. Poor gentlewoman, at the report of these unkinde wordes (ill deserved at her hands) she looked as one dead, and uttering aboundance of teares, she at last spake these words: And can it be, that my kindness and loving obedience hath merited no other reward at his hands than death? It cannot be. I know thou only tryest me, how patiently I would endure such an unjust command. I'le tell thee heere, thus with body prostrate on the earth, and hands lift up to heaven, I would pray for his preservation; those should be my worst words: for death's fearful visage shewes pleasant to that soule that is innocent. Why then prepare yourselfe, said George, for by heaven I doe not jest. With that she prayed him stay, saying,-And is it so? Then what should I desire to live, having lost his favour (and without offence) whom I so dearly loved, and in whose sight my happinesse did consist? Come, let me die. Yet George, let me have so much favour at thy hands, as to commend me in these few words to him: Tell him, my death I willingly imbrace, for I have owed him my life (yet no otherwise but by a wife's obedience) ever since I called him husband; but that I am guilty of the least fault toward him, I utterly deny; and doe, at this hour of my death, desire that Heaven would pour down vengeance upon me, if ever I offended him in thought. Intreat him that he would not speake aught that were ill on mee, when I am dead, for in good troth I have deserved none. 'Pray Heaven blesse him; I am prepared now, strike pr'ythee home, and kill me and my griefes at once.
George, seeing this, could not with-hold himselfe from shedding teares, and with pitie he let fall his sword, saying,—Mistris, that I have used you so roughly, pray pardon me, for I was commanded so by my master, who hath vowed, if I let you live, to kill me. But I being perswaded that you are innocent, I will rather undergoe the danger of his wrath than to staine my hands with the bloud of your cleere and spotlesse breast: yet let me intreat you so much, that you would not come in his sight, lest in his rage he turne your butcher, but live in some disguise, till time have opened the cause of his mistrust, and shewed you guiltless; which, I hope, will not be long.
"To this she willingly granted, being loth to die causelesse, and thanked him for his kindnesse; so parted they both, having teares in their eyes. George went home, where he shewed his master's ring, for the government of the house till his master and mistris returne, which he said lived a while at London, 'cause the time was so troublesome, and that was a place where they were more secure than in the country. This his fellowes believed, and were obedient to his will; amongst whom he used himselfe so kindely that he had all their loves. This poore gentlewoman (mistris of the house) in short time got man's apparel for her disguise; so wandered she up and downe the countrey, for she could get no service, because the time was so dangerous that no man knew whom he might trust: onely she maintained herselfe with the price of those jewels which she had, all which she sold. At the last, being quite out of money, and having nothing left (which she could well spare) to make money of, she resolved rather to starve than so much to debase herselfe to become a beggar. With this resolution she went to a solitary place beside Yorke, where she lived the space of two dayes on hearbs, and such things as she could there finde.
"In this time it chanced that king Edward, being come out of France, and lying thereabout with the small forces hee had, came that way with some two or three noblemen, with an intent to discover if any ambushes were laid to take them at an advantage. He seeing there this gentlewoman, whom he supposed to be a boy, asked her what she was, and what she made there in that private place? To whom she very wisely and modestly withall, answered, that she was a poore boy, whose bringing up had bin better than her outward parts then shewed, but at that time she was both friendlesse and comfortlesse, by reason of the late warre. He beeing moved to see one so well featured as she was, to want, entertained her for one of his pages to whom she showed herself so dutiful and loving, that in short time she had his love above all her fellows. Still followed she the fortunes of K. Edward, hoping at last (as not long after it did fall out) to be reconciled to her husband.
"After the battel at Barnet, where K. Edward got the best, she going up and down amongst the slaine men, to know whether her husband, which was on K. Henrie's side, was dead or escaped, happened to see the other who had been her ghest, lying there for dead. She remembring him, and thinking him to be one whom her husband loved, went to him, and finding him not dead, she caused one to helpe her with him to a house there-by; where opening his brest to dresse his wounds, she espied her crucifix, at sight of which her heart was joyfull, hoping by this to find him that was the originall of her disgrace: for she remembring herselfe, found that she had lost that crucifix ever since that morning he departed from her house so suddenly. But saying nothing of it at that time, she caused him to be carefully looked unto, and brought up to London after her, whither she went with the king, carrying the crucifix with her.
On a time, when he was a little recovered, she went to him, giving him the crucifix which she had taken from about his necke; to whom he said, ' Good gentle youth, keep the same: for now in my misery of sicknes, when the sight of that picture should be most comfortable, it is to me most uncomfortable; and breedeth such horrour in my conscience, when I think how wrongfully I got the same, that long as I see it I shall never be at rest.' Now knew she that he was the man that caused the separation 'twixt her husband and her selfe; yet said she nothing, using him as respectively as she had before: onely she caused the man in whose house he lay, to remember the words he had spoken concerning the crucifix. Not long after, she being alone, attending on the king, beseeched his grace to do her justice on a villain that had bin the cause of all the misery she had suffered. He loving her above all his other pages, most dearly, said, ' Edmund (for so had she named herself,) thou shalt have what right thou wilt on thy enemy; cause him to be sent for, and I will be thy judge my selfe.' She being glad of this, with the king's authority sent for her husband, whom she heard was one of the prisoners that was taken at the battle of Barnet; she appointing the other, now now recovered, to be at the court at the same time. They being both come, but not one seeing of the other, the king sent for the wounded man into the presence: before whom the page asked him how he came by the crucifix. He fearing that his villainy would come forth, denyed the words he had said before his oast, affirming he bought it. With that, she called in the oast of the house where he lay, bidding him boldly speake what he had heard this man say concerning the crucifix. The oast then told the king, that in the presence of this page he heard him intreat that the crucifix might be taken from his sight, for it did wound his conscience, to thinke how wrongfully he had gotten the same. These words did the page averre; yet he utterly denyed the same,
affirming that he bought it, and if that he did speake such words in his sicknesse, they proceeded from the lightnesse of his braine, and were untruthes.
"She seeing this villain's impudency, sent for her husband in, to whom she shewed the crucifix, saying, Sir, doe you know this? Yes, answered hee, but would God I ne're had known the owner of it! It was my wife's, a woman virtuous till the divell (speaking to the other) did corrupt her purity,-who brought me this crucifix as a token of her inconstancie.
"With that the king said, Sirra, now are you found to be a knave. Did you not, even now, affirme you bought it? To whom he answered with fearfull countenance, And it like your grace, I said so to preserve this gentleman's honour, and his wife's, which by my telling of the truth would have been much indamaged; for indeed she, being a secret friend of mine, gave me this as a testimony of her love.
"The gentlewoman, not being able longer to cover her selfe in that disguise, said, And it like your majesty, give mee leave to speake, and you shall see me make this villain confesse how he hath abused that good gentleman.' The king having given her leave, she said, First, sir, you confessed before your oast and my selfe, that you had wrongfully got this jewell; then before his majestie you affirmed you bought it; so denying your former words: Now you have denyed that which you so boldly affirmed before, and said it was this gentleman's wife's gift. With his majestie's leave I say, thou art a villaine, and this is likewise false.' With that she discovered herselfe to be a woman, saying
Hadst thou, villaine, ever any strumpet's favour at my hands? Did I, for any sinfull pleasure I received from thee, bestow this on thee! Speake, and if thou have any goodness left in thee, speak the truth.'
"With that, he being daunted at her sudden sight, fell on his knees before the king, beseeching his grace to be mercifull unto him for he had wronged that gentlewoman. Therewith told he the king of the match betweene the gentleman and him selfe, and how he stole the crucifix from her, and by that meanes persuaded her husband that she was a whore. The king wondered how he durst, knowing God to be just, commit so great a villainy; but much more admired he to see his page to turn a gentlewoman. But ceasing to admire, he said- Sir, (speaking to her husband,) you did the part of an unwise man to lay so foolish a wager, for which offence the remembrance of your folly is punishment inough; but seeing it concerns me not, your wife shall be your judge. With that Mrs. Dorrill, thanking his majestie, went to her husband, saying, Sir, all my anger to you I lay down with this kisse.' He wondering all this while to see this strange and unlooked-for change, wept for joy, desiring her to tell him how she was preserved; wherein she satisfied him at full. The king was like