Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
 
The Tumbler’s Hunting Dry-foot
By Thomas Dekker (c. 1570–1632)
 
THIS tumbler being let loose runs snuffing up and down close to the ground, in the shops either of mercers, goldsmiths, drapers, haberdashers, or of any other trade, where he thinks he may meet with a ferret: and though upon his very first course he can find his game, yet to make his gallants more hungry, and to think he wearies himself in hunting the more, he comes to them sweating and swearing that the city ferrets are so coaped (that is to say, have their lips stitched up so close) that he can hardly get them open to so great a sum as five hundred pounds which they desire. This herb being chewed down by the rabbit-suckers almost kills their hearts, and is worse to them than nabbing on the necks to conies. They bid him if he cannot fasten his teeth upon plate or cloth, or silks, to lay hold on brown paper or tobacco, Bartholomew babies, 1 lute-strings, or hob-nails, or two hundred pounds in Saint Thomas onions, and the rest in money; the onions they could get wenches enough to cry and sell them by the rope, and what remains should serve them with mutton. Upon this, their tumbler trots up and down again, and at last lighting on a citizen that will deal, the names are received, and delivered to a scrivener, who enquiring whether they be good men and true that are to pass upon the life and death of five hundred pounds, finds that four of the five are wind-shaken, and ready to fall into the Lord’s hands. Marry the fifth man is an oak and there is hope that he cannot be hewed down in haste. Upon him therefore the citizen builds so much as comes to five hundred pounds, yet takes in the other four to make them serve as scaffolding, till the farm be furnished, and if then it hold, he cares not greatly who takes them down. In all haste are the bonds sealed, and the commodities delivered. And then does the tumbler fetch his second career, and that’s this.  1
 
Note 1. Bartholomew babies.  Dolls from Bartholomew Fair. [back]
 
 
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