to you. When did you see your debtor Banister?

FRISKIBALL. I promise you, I have not seen the man This two months day; his poverty is such, As I do think he shames to see his friends.

BAGOT. Why, then, assure your self to see him straight, For at your suit I have arrested him, And here they will be with him presently.

FRISKIBALL. Arrest him at my suit? you were to blame. I know the man's misfortune to be such, As he's not able for to pay the debt, And were it known to some he were undone.

BAGOT. This is your pitiful heart to think it so, But you are much deceived in Banister. Why such as he will break for fashion sake, And unto those they owe a thousand pound, Pay scarce a hundred. O, sir, beware of him. The man is lewdly given to Dice and Drabs, Spends all he hath in harlots' companies; It is no mercy for to pity him. I speak the truth of him, for nothing else, But for the kindness that I bear to you.

FRISKIBALL. If it be so, he hath deceived me much, And to deal strictly with such a one as he-- Better severe than too much lenity. But here is Master Banister himself, And with him, as I take, the officers.

[Enter Banister, his wife, and two officers.]

BANISTER. O master Friskiball, you have undone me. My state was well nigh overthrown before, Now altogether down-cast by your means.

MISTRESS BANISTER. O master Friskiball, pity my husband's case. he is a man hath lived as well as any, Till envious fortune and the ravenous sea Did rob, disrobe, and spoil us of our own.

FRISKIBALL. Mistress Banister, I envy not your husband, Nor willingly would I have used him thus, But that I hear he is so lewdly given, Haunts wicked company, and hath enough To pay his debts, yet will not be known thereof.

BANISTER. This is that damned Broker, that same Bagot, Whom I have often from my Frencher fed. Ingrateful Villain for to use me thus!

BAGOT. What I have said to him is naught but truth.

MISTRESS BANISTER. What thou hast said springs from an envious heart. A Cannibal that doth eat men alive! But here upon my knee, believe me, sir, And what I speak, so help me God, is true: We scarce have meat to feed our little babes. Most of our Plate is in that Broker's hand, Which, had we money to defray our debt, O think,. we would not bide that penury. Be merciful, kind master Friskiball. My husband, children, and my self will eat But one meal a day, the other will We keep and sell As part to pay the debt we owe to you: If ever tears did pierce a tender mind, Be pitiful, let me some favour find.

BAGOT. Be not you so mad, sir, to believe her tears.

FRISKIBALL. Go to, I see thou art an envious man. Good mistress Banister, kneel not to me; I pray rise up, you shall have your desire. Hold; officers, be gone, there's for your pains.-- You know you owe to me a thousand pound: Here, take my hand; if ear God make you able, And place you in your former state again, Pay me: but if still your fortune frown, Upon my faith I'll never ask you crown: I never yet did wrong to men in thrall, For God doth know what to my self may fall.

BANISTER. This unexpected favour, undeserved, Doth make my heart bleed inwardly with joy. Ne'er may ought prosper with me is my own, If I forget this kindness you have shown.

MISTRESS BANISTER. My children in their prayers, both night and day, For your good fortune and success shall pray.

FRISKIBALL. I thank you both; I pray, do dine with me. Within these three days, if God give me leave, I will to Florence, to my native home. Bagot, hold; there's a Portague to drink, Although you ill deserved it by your merit. Give not such cruel scope unto your heart; Be sure the ill you do will be requited. Remember what I say, Bagot; farewell. Come, Master Banister; you shall with me. My fare is but simple, but welcome heartily.

[Exit all but Bagot.]

BAGOT. A plague go with you; would you had eat your last! Is this the thanks I have for all my pains? Confusion light upon you all for me. Where he had wont to give a score of crowns, Doth he now foist me with a Portague? Well, I will be revenged upon this Banister. I'll to his creditors, buy all the debts he owes, As seeming that I do it for good will. I am sure to have them at an easy rate, And when tis done, in christendom he stays not, But I'll make his heart to ache with sorrow: And if that Banister become my debtor, By heaven and earth I'll make his plague the greater.

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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The life and death of King John