by Mr. S.

c. 1562-4?

A Ryght Pithy, Pleasaunt, anp Merie Comedie, Intytuled Gammer Gurtons Nedle: Played on Stage, not longe ago in Christes Colledge in Cambridge.
Made by Mr. S. Mr. of Art.

God Save the Queene.




The Names of the Speakers in this Comedy:

Gammer Gurton.

     Hodge, Gammer Gurton's Servant.

     Tib, Gammer Gurton's Maid.

     Cock, Gammer Gurton's Boy.

Diccon, the Bedlam.

Doctor Rat, the Curate

Master Baily, the Bailiff.

     Scapethrift, Master Baily's Servant.

Dame Chat.

     Doll, Dame Chat's Maid.




Note on Stage Directions.

     The original edition of Gammer included practically no stage directions; in order to make this text-only edition of the play more readable, stage directions have been generously added. These supplemental directions are provided by the present editor or other early editors, with a substantial number borrowed from the practical and abbreviated edition of Gammer published by Colin Clements in 1922.



As Gammer Gurton, with many a wide stitch,

Sat piecing and patching of Hodge her man's britch,

By chance or misfortune, as she her gear tossed,

In Hodge' leather breeches her needle she lost.

When Diccon the Bedlam had hard by report,

That good Gammer Gurton was robbed in this sort,

He quietly persuaded with her in that stound

Dame Chat, her dear gossip, this needle had found;

Yet knew she no more of this matter (alas),

Than knoweth Tom, our clerk, what the priest saith at mass.

Hereof there ensued so fearful a fray,

Mas Doctor was sent for, these gossips to stay,

Because he was curate, and esteemed full wise,

Who found that he sought not, by Diccon's device.

When all things were tumbled and clean out of fashion,

Whether it were by fortune, or some other constellation,

Suddenly the needle Hodge found by the pricking,

And drew it out of his buttock, where he felt it sticking.

Their hearts then at rest with perfect security,

With a pot of good nale they stroke up their plauditè.



Enter Diccon the Bedlam from off-stage.

Dic.  Many a mile have I walked divers and sundry ways,

And many a good man's house have I been at in my days;

Many a gossip's cup in my time have I tasted,

And many a broach and spit have I both turned and basted,

Many a piece of bacon have I had out of their balks,

In ronning over the country with long and weary walks;

Yet came my foot never within those door cheeks,

To seek flesh or fish, garlick, onions, or leeks,

That ever I saw a sort in such a plight,

As here within this house appeareth to my sight.

There is howling and scowling, all cast in a dump,

With whewling and puling, as though they had lost a trump.

Sighing and sobbing, they weep and they wail;

I marvel in my mind what the devil they ail.

The old trot sits groaning, with alas and alas!

And Tib wrings her hands, and takes on in worse case.

With poor Cock, their boy, they be driven in such fits,

I fear me the folks be not well in their wits.

Ask them what they ail, or who brought them in this stay?

They answer not at all, but "alack!" and "wellaway!"

When I saw it booted not, out at doors I hied me,

And caught a slip of bacon, when I saw none spied me,

Which I intend not far hence, unless my purpose fail,

Shall serve me for a shoeing horn to draw on two pots of ale.


[Still on Stage: Diccon, standing on the street.]

Hodge.  See, so cham arrayed with dabbling in the dirt!

She that set me to ditching, ich would she had the squirt!

Was never poor soul that such a life had?

Gog's bones! this vilthy glay hase dressed me too bad!

Gog's soul! see how this stuff tears!

Ich were better to be a bearward, and set to keep bears!

By the mass, here is a gash, a shameful hole indeed!

And one stitch tear furder, a man may thrust in his head.

Dic.  By my father's soul, Hodge, if I should now be sworn,

I cannot choose but say thy breech is foul betorn.

But the next remedy in such a case and hap

Is to planch on a piece as broad as thy cap.

Hodge.  Gog's soul, man, 'tis not yet two days fully ended,

Since my dame Gurton (cham sure) these breeches amended;

But cham made such a drudge to trudge at every need,

Chwold rend it though it were stitched with sturdy packthread.

Dic.  Hodge, let thy breeches go, and speak and tell me soon,

What devil aileth Gammer Gurton and Tib her maid to frown?

Hodge.  Tush, man, th'art deceived: 'tis their daily look:

They cow'r so over the coals, their eyes be bleared with smoke.

Dic.  Nay, by the mass, I perfectly perceived as I came hether,

That either Tib and her dame hath been by the ears together,

Or else as great a matter, as thou shalt shortly see.

Hodge.  Now, ich beseech our Lord they never better agree!

Dic.  By Gog's soul, there they sit as still as stones in the streite,

As though they had been taken with fairies, or else with some

Hodge.  Gog's heart! I durst have laid my cap to a crown,

Ch'would learn of some prancome as soon as ich came to town.

Dic.  Why, Hodge, art thou inspired? or didst thou thereof hear?

Hodge.  Nay, but ich saw such a wonder, as ich saw
     nat this seven year.

Tom Tankard's cow (by Gog's bones) she set me up her sail,

And flinging about his half acre, fisking with her tail,

As though there had been in her arse a swarm of bees;

And chad not cried "tphrowh, whore," she’ad leapt out of his

Dic.  Why, Hodge, lies the cunning in Tom Tankard's cow's tail?

Hodge.  Well, ich chave hard some say such tokens do not fail.

But ca[n]st thou not tell, in faith, Diccon, why she frowns, or

Hath no man stolen her ducks or hens, or gelded Gib, her cat?

Dic.  What devil can I tell, man, I could not have one word!

They gave no more heed to my talk than thou wouldst to a lord.

Hodge.  Ich cannot still but muse, what marvelous thing it is:

Chill in and know myself what matters are amiss.

Dic.  Then farewell, Hodge, a while, since thou dost inward

For I will into the good wife Chat's, to feel how the ale doth taste.

[Diccon exits into Chat's tavern.
 At some point after line 32,
Gammer and Tib have exited into their house.


[Still on Stage: Hodge, standing on the street

in front of Gammer's house.]

Hodge.  Cham aghast, by the mass, ich wot not what to do.

Chad need bless me well before ich go them to.

Perchance some felon sprit may haunt our house indeed;

And then chwere but a noddy to venture where cha' no need.

Enter Tib from Gammer's house.

Tib.  Cham worse than mad, by the mass, to be at this stay!

Cham chid, cham blamed, and beaten, all th' hours on the day;

Lamed and hunger-storved, pricked up all in jags,

Having no patch to hide my back, save a few rotten rags!

Hodge.  I say, Tib, if thou be Tib, as I trow sure thou be,

What devil make-ado is this, between our dame and thee?

Tib.  Gog's bread, Hodge, thou had a good turn, thou wert
     not here this while!

It had been better for some of us to have been hence a mile;

My gammer is so out of course, and frantic all at once,

That Cock, our boy, and I, poor wench, have felt it on our bones.

Hodge.  What is the matter, say on, Tib, whereat she taketh
     so on?

Tib.  She is undone, she saith, (alas!) her joy and life is gone!

If she hear not of some comfort, she is, faith, but dead;

Shall never come within her lips one inch of meat ne bread.

Hodge.  By'r lady, cham not very glad to see her in this dump;

Chold a noble her stool hath fallen, and she hath broke her rump.

Tib.  Nay, and that were the worst, we would not greatly care,

For bursting of her huckle-bone, or breaking of her chair;

But greater, greater, is her grief, as, Hodge, we shall all feel!

Hodge.  Gog's wounds, Tib, my gammer has never lost her

Tib.  Her nee'le!

Hodge.  Her nee'le?

Tib.  Her nee'le! by Him that made me, it is true, Hodge, I
     tell thee.

Hodge.  Gog's sacrament! I would she had lost th' arte
     out of her belly!

The devil, or else his dame, they ought her, sure a shame!

How a murrion came this chance, say Tib, unto our dame?

Tib.  My gammer sat her down on her pes, and bad me
     reach thy breeches,

And by and by, a vengeance in it, or she had take two stitches

To clap a clout upon thine arse, by chance aside she leers,

And Gib, our cat, in the milk-pan she spied over head and ears.

"Ah, whore! out, thief!" she cried aloud, and swapt the
     breeches down;

Up went her staff, and out leapt Gib at doors into the town.

And since that time, was never wight could set their eyes
     upon it.

Gog's malison, chave Cock and I bid twenty times light on it.

Hodge.  And is not then my breeches sewed up, to-morrow
     that I should wear?

Tib.  No, in faith, Hodge, thy breeches lie for all this never
     the near.

Hodge.  Now a vengeance light on all the sort that better
     should have kept it:

The cat, the house, and Tib our maid, that better should have
     swept it!

See where she cometh crawling! − come on, in twenty devils'

Ye have made a fair day's work, have you not? pray you, say!


[Still on Stage: Hodge and Tib in front of Gammer's house.]

Gammer Gurton has just crawled out of the front door
of her house, searching for her needle.

Gamm.  Alas, Hodge, alas! I may well curse and ban

This day, that ever I saw it, with Gib and the milk-pan;

For these and ill-luck together, as knoweth Cock, my boy,

Have stack away my dear nee'le, and robbed me of my joy,

My fair long straight nee'le, that was mine only treasure;

The first day of my sorrow is, and last end of my pleasure!

Hodge.  [Aside]

Might ha' kept it, when ye had it; but fools will be fools still:

Lose that is vast in your hands, ye need not, but ye will.

Gamm.  Go hie thee, Tib, and run thou, whore, to th' end
     here of the town.

Didst carry out dust in thy lap? seek where thou pourest it down;

And as thou sawest me roking in the ashes where I mourned,

So see in all the heap of dust thou leave no straw unturned.

Tib.  That chall, Gammer, swith and tite, and soon be here again!

Gamm.  Tib, stoop and look down to the ground − to it,
     and take some pain.

[Exit Tib into the house.]

Hodge.  Here is a pretty matter, to see this gear how it goes:

By Gog's soul, I thenk you would lose your arse, and it were

Your nee'le lost? it is pity you should lack care and endless

Gog's death, how shall my breeches be sewed?

Shall I go thus to-morrow?

Gamm.  Ah, Hodge, Hodge! if that ich could find my nee'le,
     by the reed,

Chould sew thy breeches, ich promise thee, with full good
     double threed,

And set a patch on either knee should last this moneths twain.

Now God and good Saint Sithe, I pray to send it home again!

Hodge.  Whereto served your hands and eyes, but this your
     nee'le to keep?

What devil had you else to do? ye keep, ich wot, no sheep!

Cham fain abroad to dig and delve, in water, mire, and clay,

Sossing and possing in the dirt still from day to day.

A hundred things that be abroad, cham set to see them weel,

And four of you sit idle at home, and cannot keep a nee'le!

Gamm.  My nee'le, alas, ich lost it, Hodge, what time ich me
     up hasted,

To save the milk set up for thee, which Gib, our cat, hath wasted.

Hodge.  The devil he burst both Gib and Tib, with all the rest!

Cham always sure of the worst end, whoever have the best!

Where ha' you been fidging abroad, since you your nee'le lost?

Gamm.  Within the house, and at the door, sitting by this
     same post,

Where I was looking a long hour, before these folks came here;

But, wellaway, all was in vain, my nee'le is never the near!

Hodge. [Getting down on his hands and knees]

Set me a candle, let me seek, and grope wherever it be.

Gog's heart, ye be foolish (ich think), you know it not when
     you it see!

Gamm.  Come hether, Cock: what, Cock, I say!

Enter Cock from Gammer's house.

Cock.  How, Gammer?

Gamm.  Go, hie thee soon, and grope behind the old brass pan,

Which thing when thou hast done,

There shalt thou find an old shoe, wherein, if thou look well,

Thou shalt find lying an inch of a white tallow candle;

Light it, and bring it tite away.

Cock.                                      That shall be done anon.

Cock exits into the house.

Gamm.  Nay, tarry, Hodge, till thou hast light, and then we'll
     seek each one.

Hodge.  [Calling into the house]

Come away, ye whoreson boy, are ye asleep? ye must have
     a crier!

Cock.  [From within]

Ich cannot get the candle light: here is almost no fire.

Hodge.  [Rising]

Chill hold thee a penny, chill make thee come, if that ich may
     catch thine ears! −

Art deaf, thou whoreson boy? Cock, I say; why, canst not hear?

Gamm.  Beat him not, Hodge, but help the boy, and come
     you two together.

[Exit Hodge into the house.]


[Still on Stage: Gammer in front of her house.]

Enter Tib from the house.

Gamm.  How now, Tib? quick, let's hear what news thou
     hast brought hether!

Tib.  Chave tossed and tumbled yonder heap over and over again,

And winnowed it through my fingers, as men would winnow

Not so much as a hen's turd, but in pieces I tare it;

Or whatsoever clod or clay I found, I did not spare it,

Looking within and eke without, to find your nee'le, alas!

But all in vain and without help, your nee'le is where it was.

Gamm.  Alas, my nee'le, we shall never meet! adieu, adieu,
     for aye!

Tib.  Not so, Gammer, we might it find, if we knew where it lay.

Cock enters from the house.

Cock.  Gog's cross, Gammer, if ye will laugh, look in but at
     the door,

And see how Hodge lieth tumbling and tossing amids the flour,

Raking there some fire to find among the ashes dead,

Where there is not one spark so big as a pin's head:

At last in a dark corner two sparks he thought he sees,

Which were indeed nought else but Gib our cat's two eyes.

"Puff!" quod Hodge, thinking thereby to have fire without doubt;

With that Gib shut her two eyes, and so the fire was out;

And by and by them opened, even as they were before;

With that the sparks appeared even as they had done of yore;

And even as Hodge blew the fire (as he did think),

Gib, as she felt the blast, straightway began to wink;

Till Hodge fell of swearing, as came best to his turn,

The fire was sure bewitched, and therefore would not burn:

At last Gib up the stairs, among the old posts and pins,

And Hodge he hied him after, till broke were both his shins:

Cursing and swearing oaths were never of his making,

That Gib would fire the house, if that she were not taken.

Gamm.  See, here is all the thought that the foolish urchin

And Tib, me-think, at his elbow almost as merry maketh.

This is all the wit ye have, when others make their moan: −

Come down, Hodge, where art thou? and let the cat alone.

Hodge.  [Appears above.]

Gog's heart, help and come up! Gib in her tail hath fire,

And is like to burn all, if she get a little higher!

"Come down," quoth you? nay, then you might count me a

The house cometh down on your heads, if it take once the thatch.

Gamm.  It is the cat's eyes, fool, that shineth in the dark.

Hodge.  Hath the cat, do you think, in every eye a spark?

Gamm.  No, but they shine as like fire as ever man see.

Hodge.  By the mass, and she burn all, you sh' bear the
     blame for me!

Gamm.  Come down and help to seek here our nee'le,
     that it were found. −

Down, Tib, on thy knees, I say! Down, Cock, to the ground!

Hodge enters from the house.

To God I make a vow, and so to good Saint Anne,

A candle shall they have a-piece, get it where I can,

If I may my nee'le find in one place or in other.

Hodge.  Now a vengeance on Gib light, on Gib and Gib's

And all the generation of cats both far and near! −

Look on the ground, whoreson, thinks thou the nee'le is here?

Cock.  By my troth, Gammer, me-thought your nee'le here I saw,

But when my fingers touched it, I felt it was a straw.

Tib.  See, Hodge, what's this? may it not be within it?

Hodge.  Break it, fool, with thy hand, and see and thou canst
     find it.

Tib.  Nay, break it you, Hodge, according to your word.

Hodge.  Gog's sides, fie! it stinks! it is a cat's turd!

It were well done to make thee eat it, by the mass!

Gamm.  This matter amendeth not; my nee'le is still where it

Our candle is at an end, let us all in quite

And come another time, when we have more light.

[Exeunt all into Gammer's house.]


First a Song.

    Back and side go bare, go bare,

       Both foot and hand go cold:

    But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

       Whether it be new or old.

I cannot eat but little meat,

   My stomach is not good;

But sure I think that I can drink

   With him that wears a hood.

Though I go bare, take ye no care,

   I am nothing a-cold;

I stuff my skin so full within

   Of  jolly good ale and old.

    Back and side go bare, go bare,

       Both foot and hand go cold:

    But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

       Whether it be new or old.

I love no roast but a nut-brown toast,

   And a crab laid in the fire.

A little bread shall do me stead:

   Much bread I not desire.

No frost nor snow, no wind, I trow,

   Can hurt me if I would;

I am so wrapt, and throughly lapt

   Of jolly good ale and old.

    Back and side go bare, go bare,

       Both foot and hand go cold:

    But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

       Whether it be new or old.

And Tib my wife, that as her life

   Loveth well good ale to seek,

Full oft drinks she, till ye may see

   The tears run down her cheek:

Then doth she trowl to me the bowl,

   Even as a malt-worm should;

And saith, sweet heart, I took my part

   Of this jolly good ale and old.

    Back and side go bare, go bare,

       Both foot and hand go cold:

    But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

       Whether it be new or old.

Now let them drink, till they nod and wink,

   Even as good fellows should do;

They shall not miss to have the bliss

   Good ale doth bring men to;

And all poor souls that have scoured bowls,

   Or have them lustly trolled,

God save the lives of them and their wives,

   Whether they be young or old.

    Back and side go bare, go bare,

       Both foot and hand go cold:

    But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,

       Whether it be new or old.


Diccon enters from Chat's tavern.

Dic.  Well done, by Gog's malt! well sung and well said! −

Come on, mother Chat, as thou art [a] true maid,

One fresh pot of ale let's see, to make an end

Against this cold weather my naked arms to defend:

This gear it warms the soul: now, wind, blow on thy worst,

And let us drink and swill till that our bellies burst!

Now were he a wise man by cunning could define

Which way my journey lieth, or where Diccon will dine:

But one good turn I have: be it by night or day,

South, east, north or west, I am never out of my way.

Enter Hodge from Gammer's house,

carrying a piece of bread.

Hodge.  Chym goodly rewarded, cham I not, do you think?

Chad a goodly dinner for all my sweat and swink.

Neither butter, cheese, milk, onions, flesh, nor fish,

Save this poor piece of barley-bread: 'tis a pleasant costly dish!

Dic.  Hail, fellow Hodge, and well to fare with thy meat,
     if you have any:

But by thy words, as I them smelled, thy daintrels be not many.

Hodge.  Daintrels, Diccon? Gog's soul, man, save this piece
     of dry horsebread,

Cha bit no bit this livelong day, no crumb come in my head:

My guts they yawl, crawl, and all my belly rumbleth,

The puddings cannot lie still, each one over other tumbleth.

By Gog's heart, cham so vexed, and in my belly penned,

Chould one piece were at the spital-house, another at the
     castle end!

Dic.  Why, Hodge, was there none at home thy dinner for to set?

Hodge.  Gog's bread, Diccon, ich came too late, was nothing
     there to get:

Gib (a foul fiend might on her light!) licked the milk-pan so

See, Diccon, 'twas not so well washed this seven year, as
     ich ween!

A pestilence light on all ill-luck! chad thought, yet for all this,

Of a morsel of bacon behind the door at worst should not miss:

But when ich sought a slip to cut, as ich was wont to do,

Gog's soul, Diccon, Gib, our cat, had eat the bacon too!

[Which bacon Diccon stole, as is declared before.]

Dic.  "Ill-luck," quod he! − marry, swear it, Hodge this day,
     the truth tell,

Thou rose not on thy right side, or else blessed thee not well.

Thy milk slopped up! thy bacon filched! that was too bad
     luck, Hodge.

Hodge.  Nay, nay, there was a fouler fault, my Gammer
     ga' me the dodge;

Seest not how cham rent and torn, my heels, my knees,
     and my breech?

Chad thought, as ich sat by the fire, help here and there a stitch;

But there ich was pooped indeed.

Dic.                                       Why, Hodge?

Hodge.                                              Boots not, man, to tell.

Cham so dressed amongst a sort of fools, chad better be in hell.

My Gammer (cham ashamed to say) by God, served me not

Dic.  How so, Hodge?

Hodge.  Hase she not gone, trowest now, and lost her nee'le?

Dic.  Her eel, Hodge? who fished of late? that was a dainty

Hodge.  Tush, tush, her nee'le, her nee'le, her nee'le, man!
     'tis neither flesh nor fish;

A little thing with an hole in the end, as bright as any siller,

Small, long, sharp at the point, and straight as any pillar.

Dic.  I know not what a devil thou meanest, thou bring'st me
     more in doubt.

Hodge.  Knowest not with what Tom-tailor's man sits
     broaching through a clout?

A nee'le, a nee'le, a nee'le! my Gammer's nee'le is gone!

Dic.  Her nee'le, Hodge! now I smell thee; that was a
     chance alone:

By the mass, thou hast a shameful loss, and it were but for
     thy breeches.

Hodge.  Gog's soul, man, chould give a crown chad it but
     three stitches.

Dic.  How sayest thou, Hodge? what should he have, again
     thy needle got?

Hodge.  Bem vather's soul, and chad it, chould give him a
     new groat.

Dic.  Canst thou keep counsel in this case?

Hodge.  Else chwold my thonge were out.

Dic.  Do thou but then by my advice, and I will fetch it
    without doubt.

Hodge.  Chill run, chill ride, chill dig, chill delve,

   Chill toil, chill trudge, shalt see;

Chill hold, chill draw, chill pull, chill pinch,

   Chill kneel on my bare knee;

Chill scrape, chill scratch, chill sift, chill seek,

   Chill bow, chill bend, chill sweat,

Chill stoop, chill stir, chill cap, chill kneel,

   Chill creep on hands and feet;

Chill be thy bondman, Diccon, ich swear by sun and moon,

[Pointing behind to his torn breeches.]

And channot somewhat to stop this gap, cham utterly undone!

Dic.  Why, is there any special cause thou takest hereat
     such sorrow?

Hodge.  Kirstian Clack, Tom Simson's maid, by the mass,
     comes hether to-morrow.

Cham not able to say between us what may hap;

She smiled on me the last Sunday, when ich put off my cap.

Dic.  Well, Hodge, this is a matter of weight, and must be
     kept close,

It might else turn to both our costs, as the world now goes.

Shalt swear to be no blab, Hodge?

Hodge.                                     Chill, Diccon.

Dic.  [pointing to his own backside]              Then go to,

Lay thine hand here; say after me, as thou shalt hear me do.

Hast no book?

Hodge.        Cha no book, I.

Dic.                                   Then needs must force us both,

Upon my breech to lay thine hand, and there to take thine oath.

Hodge.  I, Hodge, breechless,

Swear to Diccon, rechless,

By the cross that I shall kiss,

To keep his counsel close,

And always me to dispose

To work that his pleasure is.

[Here he kisseth Diccon's breech.]

Dic.  Now, Hodge, see thou take heed,

And do as I thee bid;

For so I judge it meet;

This needle again to win,

There is no shift therein,

But conjure up a spreet.

Hodge.  What the great devil, Diccon, I say?

Dic.  Yea, in good faith, that is the way;

Fet with some pretty charm.

Hodge.  Soft, Diccon, be not too hasty yet,

By the mass, for ich begin to sweat!

Cham afraid of syme harm.

Dic.  Come hether, then, and stir thee nat

One inch out of this circle plat,

But stand, as I thee teach.

Hodge.  And shall ich be here safe from their claws?

Dic.  The master-devil with his long paws

Here to thee cannot reach −

Now will I settle me to this gear.

Hodge.  I say, Diccon, hear me, hear:

Go softly to this matter!

Dic.  What devil, man, art afraid of nought?

Hodge.  Canst not tarry a little thought

Till ich make a courtesy of water?

Dic.  Stand still to it, why shouldest thou fear him?

Hodge.  Gog's sides, Diccon, me-think ich hear him!

And tarry, chall mar all!

Dic.  The matter is no worse than I told it.

Hodge.  By the mass, cham able no longer to hold it!

Too bad, ich must beray the hall!

Dic.  Stand to it, Hodge, stir not, you whoreson!

What devil, be thine arse-strings brusten?

Thyself a while but stay,

The devil − I smell him − will be here anon.

Hodge.  Hold him fast, Diccon, cham gone!

Chill not be at that fray!

[Exit quickly Hodge into Gammer's house.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon in front of Chat's tavern.]

Dic.  Fie, shitten knave, and out upon thee!

Above all other louts, fie on thee!

Is not here a cleanly prank?

But thy matter was no better,

Nor thy presence here no sweeter,

To fly I can thee thank.

Here is a matter worthy glosing,

Of Gammer Gurton's needle losing,

And a foul piece of wark:

A man, I think, might make a play,

And need no word to this they say,

Being but half a clark.

Soft, let me alone, I will take the charge

This matter further to enlarge

Within a time short;

If ye will mark my toys, and note,

I will give ye leave to cut my throat

If I make not good sport. −

Dame Chat, I say, where be ye, within?

Enter Dame Chat from her tavern.

Chat.  Who have we there maketh such a din?

Dic.  Here is a good fellow, maketh no great danger.

Chat.  What, Diccon? − Come near, ye be no stranger:

We be fast set at trump, man, hard by the fire;

Thou shalt set on the king, if thou come a little nigher.

Dic.  Nay, nay, there is no tarrying: I must be gone again;

But first for you in counsel I have a word or twain.

Chat.  Come hether, Doll; Doll, sit down and play this game,

And as thou sawest me do, see thou do even the same:

There is five trumps besides the queen, the hindmost thou
     shalt find her.

Take heed of Sym Glover's wife, she hath an eye behind her. −

Now, Diccon, say your will.

Dic.                                     Nay, soft a little yet;

I would not tell it my sister, the matter is so great.

There, I will have you swear by Our Dear Lady of Boulogne,

Saint Dunstan and Saint Dominic, with the three Kings of

That ye shall keep it secret.

Chat.                                 Gog's bread, that will I do,

As secret as mine own thought, by God and the devil two!

Dic.  Here is Gammer Gurton, your neighbour, a sad and
     heavy wight:

Her goodly fair red cock at home was stole this last night.

Chat.  Gog's soul! her cock with the yellow legs, that nightly
     crowed so just?

Dic.  That cock is stolen.

Chat.                       What, was he fet out of the hen's rust?

Dic.  I cannot tell where the devil he was kept, under key or lock,

But Tib hath tickled in Gammer's ear, that you should steal
     the cock.

Chat.  Have I, strong whore? by bread and salt!

Dic.                                               What, soft, I say, be still!

Say not one word for all this gear.

Chat.                                          By the mass, that I will!

I will have the young whore by the head, and the old trot by
     the throat.

Dic.  Not one word, dame Chat, I say, not one word for my coat!

Chat.  Shall such a beggar's brawl as that, thinkest thou,
     make me a thief?

The pox light on her whore's sides, a pestilence and mischief! −

Come out, thou hungry needy bitch! O, that my nails be short!

Dic.  Gog's bread, woman, hold your peace; this gear will
     else pass sport!

I would not for an hundred pound this matter should be known

That I am author of this tale, or have abroad it blown.

Did ye not swear ye would be ruled, before the tale I told?

I said ye must all secret keep, and ye said sure ye wold.

Chat.  Would you suffer, yourself, Diccon, such a sort to
     revile you,

With slanderous words to blot your name, and so to defile you?

Dic.  No, Goodwife Chat, I would be loth such drabs should
     blot my name;

But yet ye must so order all, that Diccon bear no blame.

Chat.  Go to, then, what is your rede? say on your mind, ye
     shall me rule herein.

Dic.  Godamercy to dame Chat; in faith thou must the gear begin:

It is twenty pound to a goose-turd, my Gammer will not tarry. −

But hetherward she comes as fast as her legs can her carry,

To brawl with you about her cock, for well I hard Tib say,

The cock was roasted in your house to breakfast yesterday;

And when ye had the carcase eaten, the feathers ye outflung,

And Doll, your maid, the legs she hid a foot-deep in the dung.

Chat.  O gracious God, my heart it bursts!

Dic.                                          Well, rule yourself a space;

And Gammer Gurton, when she cometh anon into this place,

Then to the quean let's see: tell her your mind, and spare not.

So shall Diccon blameless be; and then, go to, I care not.

Chat.  Then, whore, beware her throat! I can abide no longer: −

In faith, old witch, it shall be seen which of us two be stronger! −

And, Diccon, but at your request, I would not stay one hour.

Dic.  Well, keep it in till she be here, and then out let it pour!

In the meanwhile get you in, and make no words of this;

More of this matter within this hour to hear you shall not miss.

Because I knew you are my friend, hide it I could not, doubtless.

Ye know your harm, see ye be wise about your own business.

So fare ye well.

Chat.       Nay, soft, Diccon, and drink: − What, Doll, I say,

Bring here a cup of the best ale; let's see, come quickly away!

[Doll brings out a cup of ale for Diccon;

Doll and Chat exit into Chat's tavern.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon in front of Chat's tavern.]

Dic.  Ye see, masters, that one end tapped of this my short

Now must we broach tother too, before the smoke arise;

And by the time they have a while run, I trust ye need not
     crave it,

But look what lieth in both their hearts, ye are like sure to
     have it.

Enter Hodge from Gammer's house.

Hodge.  Yea, Gog's soul, art alive yet? What, Diccon,
     dare ich come?

Dic.  A man is well hied to trust to thee, I will say nothing but

But, and ye come any nearer, I pray you see all be sweet!

Hodge.  Tush, man, is Gammer's nee'le found? that chould
     gladly weet.

Dic.  She may thank thee it is not found, for if you had kept
     thy standing,

The devil he would have fet it out − ev'n, Hodge, at thy

Hodge.  Gog's heart! and could he tell nothing where the
     nee'le might be found?

Dic.  Ye foolish dolt, ye were to seek, ere we had got our ground;

Therefore his tale so doubtful was, that I could not perceive it.

Hodge.  Then ich see well something was said, chope one
     day yet to have it.

But Diccon, Diccon, did not the devil cry, "ho, ho, ho"?

Dic.  If thou hadst tarried where thou stood'st, thou wouldst
     have said so!

Hodge.  Durst swear of a book, chard him roar, straight
     after ich was gone;

But tell me, Diccon, what said the knave? let me hear it anon.

Dic.  The whoreson talked to me, I know not well of what;

One while his tongue it ran, and paltered of a cat,

Another while he stammered still upon a rat;

Last of all, there was nothing but every word, Chat, Chat;

But this I well perceived before I would him rid,

Between Chat, and the rat, and the cat, the needle is hid.

Now whether Gib, our cat, hath eat it in her maw,

Or Doctor Rat, our curate, have found it in the straw,

Or this dame Chat, your neighbour, hath stolen it, God he

But by the morrow at this time, we shall learn how the matter

Hodge.  [Pointing behind to his torn breeches]

Canst not learn to-night, man, seest not what is here?

Dic.  'Tis not possible to make it sooner appear.

Hodge.  Alas, Diccon, then chave no shift; but lest ich tarry
     too long,

[Chill] hie me to Sym Glover's shop, there to seek for a thong,

Therewith this breech to tatch and tie as ich may.

Dic.  To-morrow, Hodge, if we chance to meet, shall see
     what I will say.

[Exit Hodge off-stage.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon.]

Enter Gammer from her house.

Dic.  Now this gear must forward go, for here my Gammer

Be still a while, and say nothing; make here a little romth.

Gamm.  Good lord, shall never be my luck my nee'le again
     to spy?

Alas, the while, 'tis past my help; where 'tis still it must lie!

Dic.  Now, Jesus, Gammer Gurton, what driveth you to this

I fear me, by my conscience, you will sure fall to madness.

Gamm.  Who is that? What, Diccon? cham lost, man! fie, fie!

Dic.  Marry, fie on them that be worthy; but what should be
     your trouble?

Gamm.  Alas, the more ich think on it, my sorrow it waxeth

My goodly tossing spurrier's nee'le chave lost, ich wot not

Dic.  Your nee'le? when?

Gamm.                   My nee'le, alas! ich might full ill it spare,

As God himself he knoweth, ne'er one beside chave.

Dic.  If this be all, good Gammer, I warrant you all is save.

Gamm.  Why, know you any tidings which way my nee'le is

Dic.  Yea, that I do, doubtless, as ye shall hear anon,

'A see a thing this matter toucheth within these twenty hours,

Even at this gate before my face, by a neighbour of yours;

She stooped me down, and up she took up a needle or a pin,

I durst be sworn it was even yours, by all my mother's kin.

Gamm.  It was my nee'le, Diccon, ich wot; for here, even
     by this post,

Ich sat, what time as ich up start, and so my nee'le it lost:

Who was it, leve son? speak, ich pray thee, and quickly
     tell me that!

Dic.  A subtle quean as any in this town, your neighbour
     here, dame Chat.

Gamm.  Dame Chat! Diccon, let me be gone: chill thither
     in post haste.

Dic.  Take my counsel yet or ye go, for fear ye walk in waste:

It is a murrion crafty drab, and froward to be pleased,

And ye take not the better way, [y]our needle yet ye lose it:

For when she took it up, even here before your doors,

"What, soft, dame Chat" (quoth I), "that same is none of yours."

"Avaunt" (quoth she), "sir knave! what pratest thou of that I find?

I would thou hadst kissed me I wot where": she meant, I
     know, behind;

And home she went as brag as it had been a body-louse,

And I after, as bold as it had been the goodman of the house.

But there, and ye had hard her, how she began to scold,

The tongue it went on patins, by him that Judas sold!

Each other word I was a knave, and you a whore of whores,

Because I spake in your behalf, and said the nee'le was yours.

Gamm.  Gog's bread! and thinks the callet thus to keep my
     nee'le me fro'?

Dic.  Let her alone, and she minds none other, but even to
     dress you so.

Gamm.  By the mass, chill rather spend the coat that is on
     my back!

Thinks the false quean by such a slygh, that chill my nee'le

Dic.  Sleep not you[r] gear, I counsel you, but of this take
     good heed:

Let not be known I told you of it, how well soever ye speed.

Gamm.  Chill in, Diccon, and clean apern to take, and set
     before me;

And ich may my nee'le once see, chill sure remember thee!

[Exit Gammer into her house.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon.]

Dic.  Here will the sport begin; if these two once may meet,

Their cheer, durst lay money, will prove scarcely sweet.

My Gammer sure intends to be upon her bones

With staves or with clubs, or else with cobble stones.

Dame Chat on the other side, if she be far behind,

I am right far deceived; she is given to it of kind.

He that may tarry by it awhile, and that but short,

I warrant him, trust to it, he shall see all the sport.

Into the town will I, my friends to visit there,

And hether straight again to see th'end of this gear. −

In the meantime, fellows, pipe up your fiddles: I say, take them,

And let your friends hear such mirth as ye can make them.

[Exit Diccon off-stage.]



Enter Hodge from off-stage.

Hodge.  Sym Glover, yet gramercy! cham meetly well-sped now,

Th'art even as good a fellow as ever kissed a cow! −

Here is a thong indeed, by the mass, though ich speak it;

Tom Tankard's great bald curtal, I think, could not break it!

And when he spied my need to be so straight and hard,

Hays lent me here his nawl, to set the gib forward;

As for my gammer's nee'le, the flying fiend go wi' it!

Chill not now go to the door again with it to meet.

Chould make shift good enough and chad a candle's end;

The chief hole in my breech with these two chill amend.


[Still on Stage: Hodge in front of Gammer's house.]

Enter Gammer from her house.

Gamm.  Now Hodge, may'st now be glad, cha news to tell thee;

Ich know who hais my nee'le; ich trust soon shall it see.

Hodge.  The devil thou does! hast hard, gammer, indeed,
     or dost but jest?

Gamm.  'Tis as true as steel, Hodge.

Hodge.                     Why, knowest well where didst lese it?

Gamm.  Ich know who found it, and took it up! shalt see or
     it be long.

Hodge.  God's mother dear! if that be true, farewell both
     nawl and thong!

But who hais it, gammer, say on: chould fain hear it disclosed.

Gamm.  That false fixen, that same dame Chat, that counts
     herself so honest.

Hodge.  Who told you so?

Gamm.  That same did Diccon the bedlam, which saw it done.

Hodge.  Diccon? it is a vengeable knave, gammer, 'tis a
     bonable whoreson,

Can do mo things than that, els cham deceived evil:

By the mass, ich saw him of late call up a great black devil!

O, the knave cried "ho, ho!" he roared and he thundered,

And ye 'ad been here, cham sure you'ld murrainly ha' wondered.

Gamm.  Was not thou afraid, Hodge, to see him in this place?

Hodge.  No, and chad come to me, chould have laid him
     on the face,

Chould have promised him!

Gamm.  But, Hodge, had he no horns to push?

Hodge.  As long as your two arms. Saw ye never Friar Rush

Painted on a cloth, with a side-long cow's tail,

And crooked cloven feet, and many a hooked nail?

For all the world (if I should judge), chould reckon him his

Look, even what face Friar Rush had, the devil had such

Gamm.  Now, Jesus mercy, Hodge, did Diccon in him bring?

Hodge.  Nay, gammer, hear me speak, chill tell you a
     greater thing.

The devil (when Diccon had him − ich hard him wondrous

Said plainly here before us, that dame Chat had your nee'le.

Gamm.  Then let us go, and ask her wherefore she minds to
     keep it;

Seeing we know so much, 'twere a madness now to sleep it.

Hodge.  Go to her, gammer; see ye not where she stands in
     her doors?

Bid her give you the nee'le, 'tis none of hers, but yours.


[Still on Stage: Gammer, Hodge and Chat

in front of Chat's tavern.]

Gamm.  Dame Chat, chould pray thee fair, let me have
     that is mine!

Chill not these twenty years take one fart that is thine;

Therefore give me mine own, and let me live beside thee.

Chat.  Why art thou crept from home hether, to mine own
     doors to chide me?

Hence, doating drab, avaunt, or I shall set thee further!

Intends thou and that knave me in my house to murther?

Gamm.  Tush, gape not so on me, woman! shalt not yet eat me,

Nor all the friends thou hast in this shall not entreat me!

Mine own goods I will have, and ask thee no by leave: −

What, woman? poor folks must have right, though the thing
     you aggrieves.

Chat.  Give thee thy right, and hang thee up, with all thy
     beggar's brood!

What, wilt thou make me a thief, and say I stole thy good?

Gamm.  Chill say nothing, ich warrant thee, but that ich
     can prove it well.

Thou set my good even from my door, cham able this to tell!

Chat.  Did I, old witch, steal oft was thine? how should that
     thing be known?

Gamm.  Ich cannot tell; but up thou tookest it as though it
     had been thine own.

Chat.  Marry, fie on thee, thou old gib, with all my very heart!

Gamm.  Nay, fie on thee, thou ramp, thou rig, with all
     that take thy part!

Chat.  A vengeance on those lips that layeth such things to
     my charge!

Gamm.  A vengeance on those callet's hips, whose
     conscience is so large!

Chat.  Come out, hog!

Gamm.                 Come out, hog, and let have me right!

Chat.  Thou arrant witch!

Gamm.   Thou bawdy bitch, chill make thee curse this night!

Chat.  A bag and a wallet!

Gamm.  A cart for a callet!

Chat.  Why, weenest thou thus to prevail?

I hold thee a groat,

I shall patch thy coat!

Gamm.  Thou wert as good kiss my tail!

Thou slut, thou cut, thou rakes, thou jakes! will not shame
     make thee hide [thee]?

Chat.  Thou scald, thou bald, thou rotten, thou glutton!
     I will no longer chide thee;

But I will teach thee to keep home.

Gamm.                                        Wilt thou, drunken beast?

[They fight.]

Hodge.  Stick to her, gammer, take her by the head, chill
     warrant you this feast!

Smite, I say, gammer!

Bite, I say, gammer!

I trow ye will be keen!

Where be your nails? claw her by the jaws, pull me out
     both her eyen!

Gog's bones, gammer, hold up your head!

Chat.  I trow, drab, I shall dress thee. −

Tarry, thou knave, I hold thee a groat I shall make these
     hands bless thee! −

Take thou this, old whore, for amends, and learn thy tongue
     well to tame,

And say thou met at this bickering, not thy fellow, but thy dame!

[Chat knocks Gammer to the ground.]

Hodge.  Where is the strong-stewed whore? chill gear a
     whore's mark!

Stand out one's way, that ich kill none in the dark! −

Up, gammer, and ye be alive! chill feygh now for us both. −

[Chat threateningly approaches Hodge.]

Come no near me, thou scald callet! to kill thee ich were loth.

[Hodge runs away to his own house,

then returns cautiously again.]

Chat.  Art here again, thou hoddypeke? − what, Doll, bring
     me out my spit!

[Doll enters from the tavern with a spit, which she

hands to Chat; Hodge picks up Gammer's staff.]

Hodge.  Chill broach thee with this, by m'father's soul, chill
     conjure that foul spreet. −

Let door stand, Cock! − why, comes indeed? − keep door, 
     thou whoreson boy!

Cock enters from Gammer's house,

and stands in front of the open door.

Chat.  Stand to it, thou dastard, for thine ears; ise teach thee a
     sluttish toy!

Hodge.  Gog's wounds, whore, chill make thee avaunt! −

[Chat strikes Hodge hard;

Hodge runs away and into his house.]

Take heed, Cock, pull in the latch!

[Exit Cock into the house,

closing the door after him.]

Chat.  I'faith, Sir Loose-breech, had ye tarried, ye should
     have found your match!

[As Chat stands facing Gammer's house,

Gammer gets up and attacks Chat from behind.]

Gamm.  Now 'ware thy throat, losel, thouse pay for all!

[Hodge sticks his head out the door, as Gammer

succeeds in knocking Chat down to the ground.]

Hodge.  Well said, gammer, by my soul.

Hoise her, souse her, bounce her, trounce her, pull her

Chat.  Com'st behind me, thou withered witch? and I get
     once on foot,

Thou'se pay for all, thou old tar-leather! I'll teach thee what
     'longs to 't!

[Chat gets up and strikes Gammer in the face,

knocking her down once again.]

Take thee this to make up thy mouth, till time thou come by

[Exit Chat into her house.

Hodge hurries over to help Gammer up.]

Hodge.  Up, gammer, stand on your feet; where is the old whore?

Faith, would chad her by the face, chould crack her callet crown!

Gamm.  Ah, Hodge, Hodge, where was thy help, when
     [th’] fixen had me down?

Hodge.  By the mass, gammer, but for my staff Chat had
     gone nigh to spill you!

Ich think the harlot had not cared, and chad not come, to kill

But shall we lose our nee'le thus?

Gamm.  No, Hodge, chwarde loth do so.

Thinkest thou chill take that at her hand? no, Hodge, ich
     tell thee no.

Hodge.  Chould yet this fray were well take up, and our
     nee'le at home.

'Twill be my chance else some to kill, wherever it be or whom!

Gamm.  We have a parson, Hodge, thou knows, a man
     esteemed wise,

Mast Doctor Rat; chill for him send, and let me hear his advice.

He will her shrive for all this gear, and give her penance strait;

Wese have our nee'le, else dame Chat comes ne'er within

Hodge.  Yea, marry, gammer, that ich think best: will you
     now for him send?

The sooner Doctor Rat be here, the sooner wese ha' an end.

And hear, gammer, Diccon's devil, (as ich remember well)

Of cat and Chat, and Doctor Rat, a felonious tale did tell.

Chold you forty pound, that is the way your nee'le to get again.

Gamm.  Chill ha' him straight; call out the boy, wese make
     him take the pain.

Hodge.  What, Cock, I say, come out! What devil, can'st not

Enter Cock tentatively.

Cock.  How now, Hodge? how does gammer, is yet the
     weather clear?

What would chave me to do?

Gamm.  Come hether, Cock, anon.

Hence swith to Doctor Rat hie thee, that thou were gone,

And pray him come speak with me, cham not well at ease.

Shalt have him at his chamber, or else at Mother Bee's;

Else seek him at Hob Filcher's shop, for as chard it reported,

There is the best ale in all the town, and now is most resorted.

Cock.  And shall ich bring him with me, gammer?

Gamm.  Yea, by and by, good Cock.

Cock.  Shalt see that shall be here anon, else let me have
     on the dock.

[Exit Cock off-stage.]

Hodge.  Now, gammer, shall we two go in, and tarry for his
     coming? −

What devil, woman, pluck up your heart, and leave off all
     this glooming.

Though she were stronger at the first, as ich think ye did find her,

Yet there ye dressed the dronken sow, what time ye came
     behind her.

Gamm.  Nay, nay, cham sure she lost not all, for, set th'end
     to the beginning,

And ich doubt not, but she will make small boast of her winning.


[Still on Stage: Hodge and Gammer in front of

Gammer's house.]

Enter Tib from Gammer's house, frantic.

Tib.  See, gammer, gammer, Gib, our cat, cham afraid what
     she aileth;

She stands me gasping behind the door, as though her wind
     her faileth:

Now let ich doubt what Gib should mean, that now she doth
     so doat.

[Hodge steps into the house,

 then returns holding Gib the cat.]

Hodge.  Hold hether! Ich hold twenty pound, your nee'le
     is in her throat.

Grope her, ich say, methinks ich feel it; does not prick your

Gamm.  Ich can feel nothing.

Hodge.                     No! ich know thar's not within this land

A murrainer cat than Gib is, betwixt the Thames and Tyne;

Sh'ase as much wit in her head almost as chave in mine.

Tib.  Faith, sh'ase eaten something, that will not easily down;

Whether she gat it at home, or abroad in the town,

Ich cannot tell.

Gamm.          Alas! ich fear it be some crooked pin,

And then farewell Gib, she is undone, and lost, all save the skin!

Hodge.  'Tis your nee'le, woman, I say! Gog's soul, give me
     a knife,

And chill have it out of her maw, or else chall lose my life.

Gamm.  What! nay, Hodge, fie! Kill not our cat, 'tis all the
     cats we ha' now!

Hodge.  By the mass, dame Chat hays me so moved, ich
     care not what I kill, ma' God a vow!

Go to then, Tib, to this gear; hold up her tail and take her!

[Hodge hands Tib the cat.]

Chill see what devil is in her guts, chill take the pains to
     rake her!

Gamm.  Rake a cat, Hodge! what wouldest thou do?

Hodge.  What, think'st that cham not able?

Did not Tom Tankard rake his curtal t'o'er day standing in
     the stable?

Enter Cock from off-stage.

Gamm.  Soft! be content, let's hear what news Cock
     bringeth from Mast Rat.

Cock.  Gammer, chave been there as you bad, you wot well
     about what.

'Twill not be long before he come, ich durst swear off a book,

He bids you see ye be at home, and there for him to look.

Gamm.  Where didst thou find him, boy? was he not where
     I told thee?

Cock.  Yes, yes, even at Hob Filcher's house, by him that
     bought and sold me:

A cup of ale had in his hand, and a crab lay in the fire;

Chad much ado to go and come, all was so full of mire:

And, gammer, one thing I can tell: Hob Filcher's nawl was lost,

And Doctor Rat found it again, hard beside the door-post.

Ichold a penny can say something, your nee'le again to fet.

Gamm.  Cham glad to hear so much, Cock, then trust he will
     not let

To help us herein best he can; therefore, till time he come,

Let us go in; if there be ought to get, thou shalt have some.

[Exeunt all into Gammer's house.]



Enter Gammer from her house into her yard.

Enter Doctor Rat from off-stage.

Dr. Rat.  A man were better twenty times be a bandog and bark,

Than here among such a sort be parish priest or clerk,

Where he shall never be at rest one pissing while a day,

But he must trudge about the town, this way and that way,

Here to a drab, there to a thief, his shoes to tear and rent,

And that which is worst of all, at every knave's commandment!

I had not sit the space to drink two pots of ale,

But Gammer Gurton's sorry boy was straightway at my tail;

And she was sick, and I must come, to do I wot not what;

If once her finger's-end but ache − trudge, call for Doctor Rat!

And when I come not at their call, I only thereby lose,

For I am sure to lack therefore a tithe-pig or a goose.

I warrant you, when truth is known, and told they have their tale,

The matter whereabout I come is not worth a half-penny-
     worth of ale;

Yet must I talk so sage and smooth, as though I were a gloser;

Else ere the year come at an end, I shall be sure the loser. −

What work ye, Gammer Gurton? How? here is your friend
     M[ast] Rat.

Gamm.  Ah! good M[ast] Doctor, cha troubled, cha troubled
     you, chwot well that.

Dr. Rat.  How do ye, woman? be ye lusty, or be ye not well
     at ease?

Gamm.  By Gis, Master, cham not sick, but yet chave a disease.

Chad a foul turn now of late, chill tell it you, by Gigs!

Dr. Rat.  Hath your brown cow cast her calf, or your sandy
     sow her pigs?

Gamm.  No, but chad been as good they had as this, ich wot

Dr. Rat.  What is the matter?

Gamm.  Alas, alas! cha lost my good nee'le!

My nee'le, I say, and wot ye what? a drab came by and spied it,

And when I asked her for the same, the filth flatly denied it.

Dr. Rat.  What was she that −

Gamm.  A dame, ich warrant you! She began to scold and
     brawl −

Alas, alas! − come hether, Hodge! − this wretch can tell you all.


[Still on Stage: Gammer and Doctor Rat

in front of Gammer's house.]

Enter Hodge from Gammer's house.

Hodge.  Good morrow, Gaffer Vicar.

Dr. Rat.                                 Come on, fellow, let us hear!

Thy dame hath said to me, thou knowest of all this gear;

Let's see what thou canst say.

Hodge.                                 By m' fay, sir, that ye shall,

What matter soever there was done, ich can tell your maship

My Gammer Gurton here, see now,

    Sat her down at this door, see now;

And as she began to stir her, see now,

    Her nee'le fell in the floor, see now;

And while her staff she took, see now,

    At Gib her cat to fling, see now,

Her nee'le was lost in the floor, see now −

    Is not this a wondrous thing, see now?

Then came the quean dame Chat, see now,

    To ask for her black cup, see now:

And even here at this gate, see now,

    She took that nee'le up, see now:

My gammer then she yede, see now,

    Her nee'le again to bring, see now,

And was caught by the head, see now −

    Is not this a wondrous thing, see now?

She tare my gammer's coat, see now,

    And scratched her by the face, see now;

Chad thought sh'ad stopped her throat, see now −

    Is not this a wondrous case, see now?

When ich saw this, ich was worth, see now,

    And start between them twain, see now;

Else ich durst take a book-oath, see now,

    My gammer had been slain, see now.

Gamm.  This is even the whole matter, as Hodge has plainly

And chould fain be quiet for my part, that chould.

But help us, good Master, beseech ye that ye do:

Else shall we both be beaten, and lose our nee'le too.

Dr. Rat.  What would ye have me to do? tell me, that I were

I will do the best that I can, to set you both at one.

But be ye sure dame Chat hath this your nee'le found?

Enter Diccon from off-stage.

Gamm.  Here comes the man that see her take it up off the

Ask him yourself, Master Rat, if ye believe not me:

And help me to my nee'le, for God's sake and Saint Charity!

Dr. Rat.  Come near, Diccon, and let us hear what thou can

Wilt thou be sworn thou seest dame Chat this woman's nee'le

Dic.  Nay, by Saint Benet, will I not, then might ye think me rave.

Gamm.  Why, did'st not thou tell me so even here? canst
     thou for shame deny it?

Dic.  Ay, marry, gammer; but I said I would not abide by it.

Dr. Rat.  Will you say a thing, and not stick to it to try it?

Dic.  "Stick to it," quoth you, Master Rat? marry, sir, I defy it.

Nay, there is many an honest man, when he such blasts hath

In his friend's ears, he would be loth the same by him were

If such a toy be used oft among the honesty,

It may beseem a simple man of your and my degree.

Dr. Rat.  Then we be never the nearer, for all that you can tell.

Dic.  Yea, marry, sir, if ye will do by mine advice and counsel:

If mother Chat see all us here, she knoweth how the matter goes;

Therefore I rede you three go hence, and within keep close,

And I will into dame Chat's house, and so the matter use,

That or ye could go twice to church, I warrant you hear news.

She shall look well about her, but I durst lay a pledge,

Ye shall of gammer's nee'le have shortly better knowledge.

Gamm.  Now, gentle Diccon, do so; − and, good sir, let us

Dr. Rat.  By the mass, I may not tarry so long to be your judge.

Dic.  'Tis but a little while, man; what, take so much pain!

If I hear no news of it, I will come sooner again.

Hodge.  Tarry so much, good Master Doctor, of your gentleness!

Dr. Rat.  Then let us hie us inward, and, Diccon, speed thy

Dic.  Now, sirs, do you no more, but keep my counsel just,

And Doctor Rat shall thus catch some good, I trust;

[Aside] But mother Chat, my gossip, talk first withal I must,

For she must be chief captain to lay the Rat in the dust.

[Exit Rat, Hodge and Gammer into Gammer's house;

Diccon walks over to Chat's tavern.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon,

who is heading over to Chat's tavern.]

Enter Chat from her tavern.

Dic.  God deven, dame Chat, in faith, and well-met in this place.

Chat.  God deven, my friend Diccon; whither walk ye this pace?

Dic.  By my truth, even to you, to learn how the world goeth.

Hard ye no more of the other matter? say me now, by your

Chat.  O yes, Diccon: here the old whore and Hodge, that
     great knave −

But, in faith, I would thou hadst seen − O Lord, I dressed
     them brave!

She bare me two or three souses behind in the nape of the neck,

Till I made her old weasand to answer again, "keck!"

And Hodge, that dirty dastard, that at her elbow stands −

If one pair of legs had not been worth two pair of hands,

He had had his beard shaven, if my nails would have served,

And not without a cause, for the knave it well deserved.

Dic.  By the mass, I can thee thank, wench, thou didst so well
     acquit thee.

Chat.  And th' adst seen him, Diccon, it would have made
     thee beshit thee

For laughter: the whoreson dolt at last caught up a club,

As though he would have slain the master-devil, Belsabub;

But I set him soon inward.

Dic.                                  O Lord! there is the thing,

That Hodge is so offended, that makes him start and fling!

Chat.  Why? makes the knave any moiling, as ye have seen
     or hard?

Dic.  Even now I saw him last, like a mad man he farde,

And sware by heaven and hell he would a-wreak his sorrow,

And leave you never a hen alive by eight of the clock to-

Therefore mark what I say, and my words see that ye trust:

Your hens be as good as dead, if ye leave them on the rust.

Chat.  The knave dare as well go hang himself, as go upon
     my ground.

Dic.  Well, yet take heed, I say, I must tell you my tale round:

Have you not about your house, behind your furnace or lead,

A hole where a crafty knave may creep in for need?

Chat.  Yes, by the mass, a hole broke down even within
     these two days.

Dic.  Hodge, he intends this same night to slip in thereaways.

Chat.  O Christ, that I were sure of it! in faith, he should
     have his meed!

Dic.  Watch well, for the knave will be there as sure as is
     your creed;

I would spend myself a shilling to have him swinged well.

Chat.  I am as glad as a woman can be of this thing to hear tell;

By Gog's bones, when he cometh, now that I know the matter,

He shall sure at the first skip to leap in scalding water,

With a worse turn besides; when he will, let him come.

Dic.  I tell you as my sister; you know what meaneth "mum"!

[Exit Chat into her tavern.]


[Still on Stage: Diccon.]

Dic.  Now lack I but my doctor to play his part again.

Enter Doctor Rat from Gammer's house.

And lo, where he cometh towards, peradventure to his pain!

Dr. Rat.  What good news, Diccon? fellow, is mother Chat
     at home?

Dic.  She is, sir, and she is not, but it please her to whom:

Yet did I take her tardy, as subtle as she was.

Dr. Rat.  The thing that thou went'st for, hast thou brought
     it to pass?

Dic.  I have done that I have done, be it worse, be it better;

And dame Chat at her wits-end I have almost set her.

Dr. Rat.  Why, hast thou spied the nee'le? quickly, I pray thee,

Dic.  I have spied it, in faith, sir, I handled myself so well;

And yet the crafty quean had almost take my trump;

But, or all came to an end, I set her in a dump.

Dr. Rat.  How so, I pray thee, Diccon?

Dic.                                              Marry, sir, will ye hear?

She was clapped down on the backside, by Cock's mother dear,

And there she sat sewing a halter or a band,

With no other thing save gammer's needle in her hand;

As soon as any knock, if the filth be in doubt,

She needs but once puff, and her candle is out:

Now I, sir, knowing of every door the pin,

Came nicely, and said no word, till time I was within;

And there I saw the nee'le, even with these two eyes;

Whoever say the contrary, I will swear he lies.

Dr. Rat.  O Diccon, that I was not there then in thy stead!

Dic.  Well, if ye will be ordered, and do by my reed,

I will bring you to a place, as the house stands,

Where ye shall take the drab with the nee'le in her hands.

Dr. Rat.  For God's sake do so, Diccon, and I will gage my gown

To give thee a full pot of the best ale in the town.

Dic.  Follow me but a little, and mark what I will say;

Lay down your gown beside you, go to, come on your way!

See ye not what is here? a hole wherein ye may creep

Into the house, and suddenly unawares among them leap;

There shall ye find the bitch-fox and the nee'le together.

Do as I bid you, man, come on your ways hether!

Dr. Rat.  Art thou sure, Diccon, the swill-tub stands not

Dic.  I was within myself, man, even now, there is no doubt.

Go softly, make no noise; give me your foot, Sir John,

Here will I wait upon you, till you come out anon.

[Doctor Rat creeps in.]

Dr. Rat [calling from within].

Help, Diccon! out alas! I shall be slain among them!

Dic.  If they give you not the needle, tell them that ye will
     hang them. −

Ware that! How, my wenches, have ye caught the fox,

That used to make revel among your hens and cocks?

Save his life yet for his order, though he sustain some pain. −

Gog's bread, I am afraid they will beat out his brain.

[Exit Diccon off-stage.]

[Rat re-enters the stage, crawling back out of the hole.]

Dr. Rat.  Woe worth the hour that I came here!

And woe worth him that wrought this gear!

A sort of drabs and queans have me blessed −

Was ever creature half so evil dressed?

Whoever it wrought, and first did invent it,

He shall, I warrant him, ere long repent it!

I will spend all I have without my skin,

But he shall be brought to the plight I am in!

Master Baily, I trow, and he be worth his ears,

Will snaffle these murderers, and all that them bears:

I will surely neither bite nor sup,

Till I fetch him hether, this matter to take up.

[Exit Doctor Rat off-stage.]



[Enter Doctor Rat, Master Baily, and Scapethrift

from off-stage.]

Baily.  I can perceive none other, I speak it from my heart,

But either ye are in all the fault, or else in the greatest part.

Dr. Rat.  If it be counted his fault, besides all his grieves,

When a poor man is spoiled, and beaten among thieves,

Then I confess my fault herein, at this season;

But I hope you will not judge so much against reason.

Baily.  And methinks by your own tale, of all that ye name,

If any played the thief, you were the very same.

The women they did nothing, as your words made probation,

But stoutly withstood your forcible invasion.

If that a thief at your window to enter should begin,

Would you hold forth your hand and help to pull him in?

Or you would keep him out? I pray you answer me.

Dr. Rat.  Marry, keep him out; and a good cause why.

But I am no thief, sir, but an honest learned clerk.

Baily.  Yea, but who knoweth that, when he meets you in
     the dark?

I am sure your learning shines not out at your nose!

Was it any marvel, though the poor woman arose

And start up, being afraid of that was in her purse?

Me-think you may be glad that you[r] luck was no worse.

Dr. Rat.  [Showing his broken head]

Is not this evil enough, I pray you, as you think?

Baily.  Yea, but a man in the dark, of chances do wink,

As soon he smites his father as any other man,

Because for lack of light, discern him he ne can.

Might it not have been your luck with a spit to have been slain?

Dr. Rat.  I think I am little better, my scalp is cloven to the brain:

If there be all the remedy, I know who bears the knocks.

Baily.  By my troth, and well worthy besides to kiss the stocks!

To come in on the back side, when ye might go about,

I know none such, unless they long to have their brains
     knocked out.

Dr. Rat.  Well, will you be so good, sir, as talk with dame Chat,

And know what she intended? I ask no more but that.

Baily.  [to Scapethrift]

Let her be called, fellow, because of Master Doctor,

[Scapethrift walks to Chat's house to retrieve Chat.]

I warrant in this case, she will be her own proctor;

She will tell her own tale, in metre or in prose,

And bid you seek your remedy, and so go wipe your nose.


[Still on Stage: Baily and Doctor Rat.]

Chat enters from her tavern

and returns with Scapethrift to Baily.

Baily.  Dame Chat, Master Doctor upon you here complained

That you and your maids should him much misorder,

And taketh many an oath, that no word be feigned,

Laying to your charge, how you thought him to murder:

And on his part again, that same man saith furder,

He never offended you in word nor intent;

To hear you answer hereto, we have now for you sent.

Chat.  That I would have murdered him? fie on him, wretch!

And evil mought he thee for it, our Lord I beseech.

I will swear on all the books that opens and shuts,

He feigneth this tale out of his own guts;

For this seven weeks with me, I am sure, he sat not down; −

[To Doctor Rat]

Nay, ye have other minions in the other end of the town,

Where ye were liker to catch such a blow

Than anywhere else, as far as I know!

Baily.  Belike then, Master Doctor, yon stripe there ye got not!

Dr. Rat.  Think you I am so mad, that where I was bet I
     wot not?

Will ye believe this quean, before she hath tried it?

It is not the first deed she hath done, and afterward denied it.

Chat.  What, man, will you say I broke you[r] head?

Dr. Rat.  How canst thou prove the contrary?

Chat.  Nay, how provest thou that I did the dead?

Dr. Rat.  [Showing his broken head]

Too plainly, by St Mary,

This proof, I trow, may serve, though I no word spoke!

Chat.  Because thy head is broken, was it I that it broke?

I saw thee, Rat, I tell thee, not once within this fortnight.

Dr. Rat.  No, marry, thou sawest me not, for why thou
     hadst no light;

But I felt thee for all the dark, beshrew thy smooth cheeks!

[Showing his head]

And thou groped me, this will declare any day this six weeks.

Baily.  Answer me to this, M[ast] Rat: when caught you this
     harm of yours?

Dr. Rat.  A while ago, sir, God he knoweth; within less than
     these two hours.

Baily.  Dame Chat, was there none with you (confess,
     i' faith) about that season? −

What, woman? let it be what it will, 'tis neither felony nor

Chat.  Yes, by my faith, Master Baily, there was a knave
     not far,

Who caught one good filip on the brow with a door-bar;

And well was he worthy, as it seemed to me:

But what is that to this man, since this was not he?

Baily.  Who was it then? let's hear!

Dr. Rat.                                         Alas, sir, ask you that?

Is it not made plain enough by the own mouth of dame Chat?

The time agreeth, my head is broken, her tongue cannot lie;

Only upon a bare nay she saith it was not I.

Chat.  No, marry, was it not indeed! ye shall hear by this one

This afternoon a friend of mine for good-will gave me warning,

And bad me well look to my rust, and all my capons' pens;

For if I took not better heed, a knave would have my hens.

Then I, to save my goods, took so much pains as him to watch;

And as good fortune served me, it was my chance him for to

What strokes he bare away, or other what was his gains,

I wot not, but sure I am he had something for his pains!

Baily.  Yet tell'st thou not who it was.

Chat.                                           Who it was? A false thief,

That came like a false fox, my pullen to kill and mischief!

Baily.  But knowest thou not his name?

Chat.                                             I know it, but what than?

It was that crafty cullion Hodge, my Gammer Gurton's man.

Baily.  [To Scapethrift]

Call me the knave hether, he shall sure kiss the stocks.

I shall teach him a lesson for filching hens or cocks!

[Scapethrift heads over to Gammer's house

to retrieve Hodge.]

Dr. Rat.  I marvel, Master Baily, so bleared be your eyes!

An egg is not so full of meat, as she is full of lies:

When she hath played this prank, to excuse all this gear,

She layeth the fault in such a one as I know was not there.

Chat.  Was he not there? look on his pate; that shall be his

Dr. Rat.  I would my head were half so whole, I would seek
     no redress!

[Scapethrift returns with Gammer Gurton.]

Baily.  God bless you, Gammer Gurton!

Gamm.                                         God dild ye, master mine!

Baily.  Thou hast a knave within thy house − Hodge, a
     servant of thine;

They tell me that busy knave is such a filching one,

That hen, pig, goose or capon, thy neighbour can have none.

Gamm.  By God, cham much a-meved to hear any such report!

Hodge was not wont, ich trow, to bave him in that sort.

Chat.  A thievisher knave is not on-live, more filching, nor
     more false;

Many a truer man than he has hanged up by the halse;

And thou, his dame − of all his theft thou art the sole receiver;

For Hodge to catch, and thou to keep, I never knew none better!

Gamm.  Sir reverence of your masterdom, and you were
     out a-door,

Chould be so bold, for all her brags, to call her arrant whore; −

And ich knew Hodge as bad as t'ou, ich wish me endless sorrow,

And chould not take the pains to hang him up before to-morrow!

Chat.  What have I stolen from thee or thine, thou ill-favored
     old trot?

Gamm.  A great deal more, by God's blest, than chever by
     thee got!

That thou knowest well, I need not say it.

Baily.                                                     Stop there, I say,

And tell me here, I pray you, this matter by the way:

How chance Hodge is not here? him would I fain have had.

Gamm.  Alas, sir, he'll be here anon; ha' be handled too bad.

Chat.  [Thinking that Hodge his head was broke,

and that Gammer would not let him come before them]

Master Baily, sir, ye be not such a fool, well I know,

But ye perceive by this lingering there is a pad in the straw.

Gamm.  Chill shew you his face, ich warrant thee − lo, now
     where he is!

Enter Hodge from Gammer's house.

Baily.  Come on, fellow, it is told me thou art a shrew, i-wis;

Thy neighbour's hens thou takest, and plays the two-legged fox;

Their chickens and their capons too, and now and then their

Hodge.  Ich defy them all that dare it say; cham as true as
     the best!

Baily.  Wart not thou take within this hour in dame Chat's

Hodge.  Take there? no, master, chould not do't for a house
     full of gold!

Chat.  Thou, or the devil in thy coat − swear this I dare be bold.

Dr. Rat.  Swear me no swearing, quean, the devil he give
     thee sorrow!

All is not worth a gnat, thou canst swear till to-morrow!

Where is the harm he hath? shew it, by God's bread!

Ye beat him with a witness, but the stripes light on my head!

Hodge.  Bet me! Gog's blessed body, chould first, ich trow,
     have burst thee!

Ich think, and chad my hands loose, callet, chould have crust

Chat.  Thou shitten knave, I trow thou knowest the full
     weight of my fist;

I am foully deceived unless thy head and my door-bar kissed.

Hodge.  Hold thy chat, whore; thou criest so loud, can no
     man else be hard?

Chat.  Well, knave, and I had thee alone, I would surely rap
     thy costard!

Baily.  Sir, answer me to this: is thy head whole or broken?

Chat.  Yea, Master Baily, blessed be every good token,

Hodge.  Is my head whole! Ich warrant you, 'tis neither
     scurvy nor scald: −

What, you foul beast, does think 'tis either pilled or bald?

Nay, ich thank God, chill not for all that thou may'st spend,

That chad one scab on my narse as broad as thy finger's end.

Baily.  Come nearer here!

Hodge.                            Yes, that ich dare.

[Baily inspects Hodge's head.]

Baily.                                    By our Lady, here is no harm:

Hodge's head is whole enough, for all dame Chat's charm.

Chat.  By Gog's blest, however the thing he cloaks or smoulders,

I know the blows he bare away, either with head or shoulders. −

Camest thou not, knave, within this hour, creeping into my pens,

And there was caught within my house, groping among my

Hodge.  A plague both on the hens and thee! a cart, whore,
     a cart!

Chould I were hanged as high as a tree, and chwere as false
     as thou art!

Give my gammer again her washical thou stole away in thy lap!

Gamm.  Yea, Master Baily, there is a thing you know not on,

This drab she keeps away my good, the devil he might her snare:

Ich pray you that ich might have a right action on her.

Chat.  Have I thy good, old filth, or any such old sow's?

I am as true, I would thou knew, as [the] skin between thy brows.

Gamm.  Many a truer hath been hanged, though you escape
     the daunger!

Chat.  Thou shalt answer, by God's pity, for this thy foul

Baily.  Why, what can you charge her withal? to say so ye
     do not well.

Gamm.  Marry, a vengeance to her heart! that whore hase
     stol'n my nee'le!

Chat.  Thy needle, old witch! how so? it were alms thy skull
     to knock!

So didst thou say the other day, that I had stol'n thy cock.

And roasted him to my breakfast, which shall not be forgotten:

The devil pull out thy lying tongue, and teeth that be so rotten!

Gamm.  Give me my nee'le! as for my cock, chould be very loth

That chould hear tell he should hang on thy false faith and troth.

Baily.  Your talk is such, I can scarce learn who should be
     most in fault.

Gamm.  Yet shall ye find no other wight, save she, by bread
     and salt.

Baily.  Keep ye content a while, see that your tongues ye hold.

Methinks you should remember, this is no place to scold.

How knowest thou, Gammer Gurton, dame Chat thy needle had?

Gamm.  To name you, sir, the party, chould not be very glad.

Baily.  Yea, but we must needs hear it, and therefore say it

Gamm.  Such one as told the tale full soberly and coldly,

Even he that looked on − will swear on a book −

What time this drunken gossip my fair long nee'le up took:

Diccon, Master, the bedlam, cham very sure ye know him.

Baily.  A false knave, by God's pity! ye were but a fool to
     trow him.

I durst aventure well the price of my best cap,

That when the end is known, all will turn to a jape.

Told he not you that besides she stole your cock that tide?

Gamm.  No, master, no indeed; for then he should have lied;

My cock is, I thank Christ, safe and well afine.

Chat.  Yea, but that ragged colt, that whore, that Tib of thine,

Said plainly thy cock was stol'n, and in my house was eaten;

That lying cut is lost, that she is not swinged and beaten,

And yet for all my good name it were a small amends!

I pick not this gear, hear'st thou, out of my fingers' ends;

But he that hard it told me, who thou of late didst name,

Diccon, whom all men knows, it was the very same.

Baily.  This is the case: you lost your nee'le about the doors;

And she answers again, she hase no cock of yours;

Thus in you[r] talk and action, from that you do intend,

She is whole five mile wide from that she doth defend.

Will you say she hath your cock?

Gamm.                                     No, merry, sir, that chill not.

Baily.  Will you confess her nee'le?

Chat.                                              Will I? no, sir, will I not.

Baily.  Then there lieth all the matter.

Gamm.                                         Soft, master, by the way,

Ye know she could do little, and she could not say nay.

Baily.  Yea, but he that made one lie about your cock-stealing,

Will not stick to make another, what time lies be in dealing.

I ween the end will prove this brawl did first arise

Upon no other ground but only Diccon's lies.

Chat.  Though some be lies, as you belike have espied them,

Yet other some be true, by proof I have well tried them.

Baily.  What other thing beside this, dame Chat?

Chat.                                                  Marry, sir, even this:

The tale I told before, the self-same tale it was his;

He gave me, like a friend, warning against my loss,

Else had my hens be stol'n each one, by God's cross!

He told me Hodge would come, and in he came indeed;

But as the matter chaunced, with greater haste than speed.

This truth was said, and true was found, as truly I report.

Baily.  If Doctor Rat be not deceived, it was of another sort.

Dr. Rat.  By God's mother, thou and he be a couple of subtle

Between you and Hodge I bear away the boxes.

Did not Diccon appoint the place, where thou should'st stand
     to meet him?

Chat.  Yes, by the mass, and if he came, bad me not stick to
     speet him.

Dr. Rat.  God's sacrament! the villain knave hath dressed us
     round about!

He is the cause of all this brawl, that dirty shitten lout!

When Gammer Gurton here complained, and made a rueful

I heard him swear that you had gotten her needle that was gone;

And this to try, he furder said, he was full loth: howbeit

He was content with small ado to bring me where to see it.

And where ye sat, he said full certain, if I would follow his

Into your house a privy way he would me guide and lead,

And where ye had it in your hands, sewing about a clout,

And set me in the back-hole, thereby to find you out:

And whiles I sought a quietness, creeping upon my knees,

I found the weight of your door-bar for my reward and fees.

Such is the luck that some men gets, while they begin to mell,

In setting at one such as were out, minding to make all well.

Hodge.  Was not well blessed, gammer, to 'scape that scour?
     And chad been there,

Then chad been dressed, belike, as ill, by the mass, as Gaffer

Baily.  Marry, sir, here is a sport alone; I looked for such an end;

If Diccon had not played the knave, this had been soon amend.

My gammer here he made a fool, and dressed her as she was;

And goodwife Chat he set to scole, till both parts cried, "alas"!

And D[octor] Rat was not behind, whiles Chat his crown did

I would the knave had been stark blind, if Hodge had not his

Hodge.  Cham meetly well-sped already amongs, cham
     dressed like a colt!

And chad not had the better wit, chad been made a dolt.

Baily.  Sir knave, make haste Diccon were here; fetch him,
     wherever he be!

[Exit Scapethrift off-stage.]

Chat.  Fie on the villain, fie, fie! that makes us thus agree!

Gamm.  Fie on him, knave, with all my heart! now fie, and
     fie again!

Dr. Rat.  Now "fie on him!" may I best say, whom he hath
     almost slain.

Baily.  Lo, where he cometh at hand, belike he was not fare.

Enter Scapethrift with Diccon from off-stage.

Diccon, here be two or three thy company cannot spare.

Dic.  God bless you, and you may be blessed, so many all at

Chat.  Come, knave, it were a good deed to geld thee, by
     Cock's bones!

Seest not thy handiwork? − Sir Rat, can ye forbear him?

Dic.  A vengeance on those hands light, for my hands came
     not near him.

The whoreson priest hath lift the pot in some of these
     alewives' chairs,

That his head would not serve him, belike, to come down the

Baily.  Nay, soft, thou may'st not play the knave, and have
     this language too!

If thou thy tongue bridle a while, the better may'st thou do.

Confess the truth, as I shall ask, and cease a while to fable,

And for thy fault I promise thee thy handling shall be reasonable.

Hast thou not made a lie or two, to set these two by the ears?

Dic.  What, if I have? five hundred such have I seen within
     these seven years:

I am sorry for nothing else but that I see not the sport

Which was between them when they met, as they
     themselves report.

Baily.  The greatest thing − Master Rat, ye see how he is dressed!

Dic.  What devil need he be groping so deep in goodwife
     Chat's hens' nest?

Baily.  Yea, but it was thy drift to bring him into the briars.

Dic.  God's bread! hath not such an old fool wit to save his

He showeth himself herein, ye see, so very a cox,

The cat was not so madly allured by the fox

To run into the snares was set for him, doubtless;

For he leapt in for mice, and this Sir John for madness.

Dr. Rat.  Well, and ye shift no better, ye losel, lither and lazy,

I will go near for this to make ye leap at a daisy. −

In the king's name, Master Baily, I charge you set him fast.

Dic.  What! fast at cards or fast on sleep? it is the thing I did

Dr. Rat.  Nay, fast in fetters, false varlet, according to thy deeds.

Baily.  Master Doctor, there is no remedy, I must entreat
     you needs

Some other kind of punishment.

Dr. Rat.                                  Nay, by All-Hallows!

His punishment, if I may judge, shall be nought else but the

Baily.  That were too sore; a spiritual man to be so extreme!

Dr. Rat.  Is he worthy any better, sir? how do you judge and

Baily.  I grant him worthy punishment, but in no wise so great.

Gamm.  It is a shame, ich tell you plain, for such false knaves

He has almost undone us all − that is as true as steel −

And yet for all this great ado, cham never the near my nee'le!

Baily.  Canst thou not say anything to that, Diccon,
     with least or most?

Dic.  Yea, marry, sir, thus much I can say well, the nee'le is lost.

Baily.  Nay, canst not thou tell which way that needle may
     be found?

Dic.  No, by my fay, sir, though I might have an hundred pound.

Hodge.  Thou liar lickdish, didst not say the nee'le would be

Dic.  No, Hodge; by the same token you were that time beshitten

For fear of hobgoblin  − you wot well what I mean;

As long as it is sence, I fear me yet ye be scarce clean.

Baily.  Well, Master Rat, you must both learn and teach us
     to forgive.

Since Diccon hath confession made, and is so clean shreve:

If ye to me consent, to amend this heavy chance,

I will enjoin him here some open kind of penance:

Of this condition − where ye know my fee is twenty pence:

For the bloodshed, I am agreed with you here to dispense;

Ye shall go quite, so that ye grant the matter now to run,

To end with mirth among us all, even as it was begun.

Chat.  Say yea, Master Vicar, and he shall sure confess to
     be your debtor,

And all we that be here present will love you much the better.

Dr. Rat.  My part is the worst; but since you all hereon agree,

Go even to, Master Baily, let it be so for me.

Baily.  How say'st thou, Diccon? art content this shall on me

Dic.  Go to, M[ast] Baily, say on your mind, I know ye are
     my friend.

Baily.  Then mark ye well: to recompense this thy former action,

Because thou hast offended all, to make them satisfaction,

Before their faces here kneel down, and as I shall thee teach,

For thou shalt take an oath of Hodge's leather breech:

First, for Master Doctor, upon pain of his curse,

Where he will pay for all, thou never draw thy purse;

And when ye meet at one pot, he shall have the first pull;

And thou shalt never offer him the cup, but it be full.

To goodwife Chat thou shalt be sworn, even on the same wise,

If she refuse thy money once, never to offer it twice.

Thou shalt be bound by the same, here as thou dost take it:

When thou may'st drink of free cost, thou never forsake it.

For Gammer Gurton's sake, again sworn shalt thou be,

To help her to her needle again, if it do lie in thee;

And likewise be bound, by the virtue of that,

To be of good a-bearing to Gib her great cat.

Last of all for Hodge, the oath to scan,

Thou shalt never take him for fine gentleman.

Hodge.  Come on, fellow Diccon, chall be even with thee now.

Baily.  Thou wilt not stick to do this, Diccon, I trow?

Dic.  No, by my father's skin, my hand down I lay it!

Look, as I have promised, I will not denay it. −

But, Hodge, take good heed now, thou do not beshit me.

[And give him a good blow on the buttock.]

Hodge.  Gog's heart, thou false villain, dost thou bite me?

Baily.  What, Hodge, doth he hurt thee, or ever he begin?

Hodge.  He thrust me into the buttock with a bodkin or a pin.

[He discovers the needle.]

I say, gammer! gammer!

Gamm.                          How now, Hodge, how now?

Hodge.  God's malt, gammer Gurton −

Gamm.                                           Thou art mad, ich trow!

Hodge.  Will you see the devil, gammer?

Gamm.                                   The devil, son! God bless us!

Hodge.  Chould ich were hanged, gammer −

Gamm.                               Marry, see, ye might dress us −

Hodge.  Chave it, by the mass, gammer!

Gamm.                                   What, not my nee'le, Hodge?

Hodge.  Your nee'le, gammer, your nee'le!

Gamm.                                            No, fie, dost but dodge!

Hodge.  Cha found your nee'le, gammer, here in my hand
     be it!

Gamm.  For all the loves on earth, Hodge, let me see it!

Hodge.  Soft, gammer.

Gamm.                        Good Hodge!

Hodge.                                      Soft, ich say; tarry a while.

Gamm.  Nay, sweet Hodge, say truth, and not me beguile!

Hodge.  Cham sure on it; ich warrant you, it goes no more

Gamm.  Hodge, when I speak so fair, wilt still say me nay?

Hodge.  Go near the light, gammer, this − well, in faith, good
     luck! −

Chwas almost undone, 'twas so far in my buttock!

Gamm.  'Tis mine own dear nee'le, Hodge, sickerly I wot!

Hodge.  Cham I not a good son, gammer, cham I not?

Gamm.  Christ's blessing light on thee, hast made me for ever!

Hodge.  Ich knew that ich must find it, else chould a' had it

Chat.  By my troth, gossip Gurton, I am even as glad,

As though I mine own self as good a turn had!

Baily.  And I, by my conscience, to see it so come forth,

Rejoice so much at it, as three needles be worth.

Dr. Rat.  I am no whit sorry to see you so rejoice.

Dic.  Nor I much the gladder for all this noise;

Yet say, "Gramercy, Diccon!" for springing of the game.

Gamm.  Gramercy, Diccon, twenty times! O, how glad cham!

If that chould do so much, your masterdom to come hether,

Master Rat, Goodwife Chat, and Diccon together;

Cha but one halfpenny, as far as ich know it,

And chill not rest this night, till ich bestow it.

If ever ye love me, let us go in and drink.

Baily.  I am content, if the rest think as I think.

Master Rat, it shall be best for you if we so do,

Then shall you warm you and dress yourself too.

Dic.  Soft, sirs, take us with you, the company shall be the more;

As proud comes behind, they say, as any goes before. −

[Exit all to Chat's tavern, except Diccon.]

But now, my good masters, since we must be gone,

And leave you behind us here all alone:

Since at our last ending thus merry we be,

For Gammer Gurton's needle sake, let us have a plauditè.