I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty
I would there were no age between ten and
three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
rest, for there is nothing in the between but getting
wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing,
fighting—Hark you now. Would any but these
boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt
this weather? They have scared away two of my best
sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find than
the master. If anywhere I have them, 'tis by the
seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an ‘t be thy will,
what have we here? Mercy on ‘s, a bairn! A very
pretty bairn. A boy or a child, I wonder? A pretty
one, a very pretty one. Sure some scape. Though I
am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman
in the scape. This has been some stair-work,
some trunk-work, some behind-door work. They
were warmer that got this than the poor thing is
here. I'll take it up for pity. Yet I'll tarry till my son
come. He halloed but even now.—Whoa-ho-ho!
Enter Shepherd's Son.
What, art so near? If thou ‘lt see a thing to
talk on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither.
What ail'st thou, man?
I have seen two such sights, by sea
and by land—but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is
now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it, you
cannot thrust a bodkin's point.
Why, boy, how is it?
I would you did but see how it chafes,
how it rages, how it takes up the shore. But that's
not to the point. O, the most piteous cry of the poor
souls! Sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em.
Now the ship boring the moon with her mainmast,
and anon swallowed with yeast and froth, as you'd
thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land
service, to see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone,
how he cried to me for help, and said his
name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an
end of the ship: to see how the sea flap-dragoned it.
But, first, how the poor souls roared and the sea
mocked them, and how the poor gentleman roared
and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than
the sea or weather.
Name of mercy, when was this, boy?
Now, now. I have not winked since I
saw these sights. The men are not yet cold under
water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman.
He's at it now.
Would I had been by to have helped the old
I would you had been by the ship side,
to have helped her. There your charity would have
Heavy matters, heavy matters. But look
thee here, boy. Now bless thyself. Thou met'st with
things dying, I with things newborn. Here's a sight
for thee. Look thee, a bearing cloth for a squire's
child. Look thee here. Take up, take up, boy. Open
‘t. So, let's see. It was told me I should be rich by
the fairies. This is some changeling. Open ‘t. What's
Shepherd's Son opening the box
You're a made old
man. If the sins of your youth are forgiven you,
you're well to live. Gold, all gold.
This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so.
Up with ‘t, keep it close. Home, home, the next way.
We are lucky, boy, and to be so still requires
nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go. Come, good
boy, the next way home.
Go you the next way with your
findings. I'll go see if the bear be gone from the
gentleman and how much he hath eaten. They are
never curst but when they are hungry. If there be
any of him left, I'll bury it.
That's a good deed. If thou mayest discern
by that which is left of him what he is, fetch me to
th' sight of him.
Marry, will I, and you shall help to
put him i' th' ground.
‘Tis a lucky day, boy, and we'll do good
deeds on ‘t.