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Chapter 11
1st Outlaw: Stand, sir, and throw us that you have about you;
If not, we'll make you sit, and rifle you.
Speed: Sir, we are undone! these are the villains
That all the travellers do fear so much.
Val: My friends,---
1st Out: That's not so, sir, we are your enemies.
2d Out: Peace! we'll hear him.
3d Out: Ay, by my beard, will we;
For he's a proper man.
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The nocturnal adventures of Gurth were not yet concluded; indeed he himself became
partly of that mind, when, after passing one or two straggling houses which stood in the
outskirts of the village, he found himself in a deep lane, running between two banks
overgrown with hazel and holly, while here and there a dwarf oak flung its arms
altogether across the path. The lane was moreover much rutted and broken up by the
carriages which had recently transported articles of various kinds to the tournament;
and it was dark, for the banks and bushes intercepted the light of the harvest moon.
From the village were heard the distant sounds of revelry, mixed occasionally with loud
laughter, sometimes broken by screams, and sometimes by wild strains of distant
music. All these sounds, intimating the disorderly state of the town, crowded with
military nobles and their dissolute attendants, gave Gurth some uneasiness. "The
Jewess was right," he said to himself. "By heaven and St Dunstan, I would I were safe
at my journey's end with all this treasure! Here are such numbers, I will not say of arrant
thieves, but of errant knights and errant squires, errant monks and errant minstrels,
errant jugglers and errant jesters, that a man with a single merk would be in danger,
much more a poor swineherd with a whole bagful of zecchins. Would I were out of the
shade of these infernal bushes, that I might at least see any of St Nicholas's clerks
before they spring on my shoulders."
Gurth accordingly hastened his pace, in order to gain the open common to which the
lane led, but was not so fortunate as to accomplish his object. Just as he had attained
the upper end of the lane, where the underwood was thickest, four men sprung upon
him, even as his fears anticipated, two from each side of the road, and seized him so
fast, that resistance, if at first practicable, would have been now too late.---"Surrender
your charge," said one of them; "we are the deliverers of the commonwealth, who ease
every man of his burden."
"You should not ease me of mine so lightly," muttered Gurth, whose surly honesty could
not be tamed even by the pressure of immediate violence,---"had I it but in my power to
give three strokes in its defence."