“Lord love your worship,” said Jonas Greenfield; “a man of threescore and two may miss catching a kite upon wing. Fleetness doth not make folks the faithfuller, or that youth yonder beats us all in faithfulness.
“Look! he darts on like a greyhound whelp after a leveret. He, sure enough, it was! I now remember the sorrel mare his father bought of John Kinderley last Lammas, swift as he threaded the trees along the park. He must have reached Wellesbourne ere now at that gallop, and pretty nigh Walton-hill.”
“Merciful Christ! grant the country be rid of him for ever! What dishonour upon his friends and native town! A reputable wool-stapler’s son turned gipsy and poet for life.”
“A Beelzebub; he spake as bigly and fiercely as a soaken yeoman at an election feast,—this obedient and conducible youth!”
“It was so written. Hold thy peace, Silas!”
Twelve days are over and gone since William Shakspeare did leave our parts. And the spinster, Hannah Hathaway, is in sad doleful plight about him; forasmuch as Master Silas Cough went yesterday unto her, in her mother’s house at Shottery, and did desire both her and her mother to take heed and be admonished, that if ever she, Hannah, threw away one thought after the runagate William Shakspeare, he should swing.
The girl could do nothing but weep; while as the mother did give her solemn promise that her daughter should never more think about him all her natural life, reckoning from the moment of this her promise.
And the maiden, now growing more reasonable, did promise the same. But Master Silas said,
“I doubt you will, though.”
“No,” said the mother, “I answer for her she shall not think of him, even if she see his ghost.”
Hannah screamed, and swooned, the better to forget him. And Master Silas went home easier and contenteder. For now all the worst of his hard duty was accomplished,—he having been, on the Wednesday of last week, at the speech of Master John Shakspeare, Will’s father, to inquire whether the sorrel mare was his. To which question the said Master John Shakspeare did answer, “Yea.”
“Enough said!” rejoined Master Silas.
“Horse-stealing is capital. We shall bind thee over to appear against the culprit, as prosecutor, at the next assizes.”
May the Lord in his mercy give the lad a good deliverance, if so be it be no sin to wish it!