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Chapter 2
Talk you of young Master Lancelot? MERCHANT OF VENICE.
After some brief interval, Master Goldthred, at the earnest instigation of mine host, and
the joyous concurrence of his guest, indulged the company with, the following morsel of
"Of all the birds on bush or tree,
Commend me to the owl,
Since he may best ensample be
To those the cup that trowl.
For when the sun hath left the west,
He chooses the tree that he loves the best,
And he whoops out his song, and he laughs at his jest;
Then, though hours be late and weather foul,
We'll drink to the health of the bonny, bonny owl.
"The lark is but a bumpkin fowl,
He sleeps in his nest till morn;
But my blessing upon the jolly owl,
That all night blows his horn.
Then up with your cup till you stagger in speech,
And match me this catch till you swagger and screech,
And drink till you wink, my merry men each;
For, though hours be late and weather be foul,
We'll drink to the health of the bonny, bonny owl."
"There is savour in this, my hearts," said Michael, when the mercer had finished his
song, "and some goodness seems left among you yet; but what a bead-roll you have
read me of old comrades, and to every man's name tacked some ill-omened motto! And
so Swashing Will of Wallingford hath bid us good-night?"
"He died the death of a fat buck," said one of the party, "being shot with a crossbow
bolt, by old Thatcham, the Duke's stout park-keeper at Donnington Castle."
"Ay, ay, he always loved venison well," replied Michael, "and a cup of claret to boot--and
so here's one to his memory. Do me right, my masters."
When the memory of this departed worthy had been duly honoured, Lambourne
proceeded to inquire after Prance of Padworth.
"Pranced off--made immortal ten years since," said the mercer; "marry, sir, Oxford
Castle and Goodman Thong, and a tenpenny- worth of cord, best know how."