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Act 2 Scene 1

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Outside the Friar's Hut in the Forest. Enter KING RICHARD.

Strange lodging this for England's King,
A thievish friar for his host,
And for his food his own dun deer,
By outlaw's moonlight arrow slain.
Yet better than the pomp of kings
Is this free life in forest glade;
And better far my burly host
Than the false Louis, King of France,
Or Austria's Duke, or mine own brother John.
Till I have learned that brother's plans,
Here will I lie and take mine ease,
Couched like a stag in greenwood coverture.
Ho, jolly host! Where art thou?

Enter the FRIAR, bearing a huge pitcher of water.

Here am I!
I bring thee water from the well,
Wherein twixt dawn and set of sun
Holy Saint Dunstan did baptize
Five hundred red-haired heathen Danes.

In truth a wonder-working well,
Whose crystal waters can so paint
A hermit's face with roseate hues!
If thou wert not so strict a saint,
Stoutly I'd swear by book and bell,
The winecup thou didst not refuse.

Peace, idle man! Wert thou as I,
On pulse and water would'st thou dine;
But since thy carnal thoughts incline
Beyond my strict sobriety,
I do bethink me of a pie
Of ven'son, and a stoup of rosy wine,
Which a good keeper gave me one fine day,
Lest a poor weary traveller came my way.

That weary traveller am I;
So let's to supper presently.
A hand, mine host; let's hale thy table forth,
And eat like freemen in the forest air.
Out with thy ven'son pasty and thy wine!

They drag the table forth; the FRIAR places on it food and wine. As the KING eats, the FRIAR watches him with greedy eyes, munching some dry beans.

Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck and the Black Knight
(Wedgewood tile design.)
There is a custom in the East,
When strangers meet in merry feast,
That host should never fail to share
With stranger guest his goodly fare,
To prove no taint of poison there.

If truly 'tis the custom, I
Will do myself some violence,
And for the nonce will share thy meal.
Drink fair, I pray thee. (Putting his hand on the cup.)
Skoal to my honoured guest! Was heel!

Drink hael, most rosy friar!

They fall eating and drinking; after a time the FRIAR falls back in his seat.

Now I bethink me,
Thou didst come here to fight with me:
Hast thou forgot thy valour?

Nay, we will fight to-morrow.
To-day will I contend with thee
In peaceful art of minstrelsy.
Reach me yon harp, I pray thee.

But first drink deep!

So be it, jovial wine-skin!
Another draught for me, and so
The harp to my heart!

I ask nor wealth nor courtier's praise,
That woos a weary King,
If I may ride the woodland way
And breathe the air of spring.
The air of spring
An ashen spear in strong right hand,
Good horse between the knees;
What treasure can a king command
More glorious than these?
What treasure can a king command
More glorious than these?
More glorious than these?

I rouse me with the dawn's first light,
And breast the shadowed hill;
I know the forest's deep delight
When all the leaves are still.
There would I bend with whisper low,
To woo the nut-brown maid,
And see her blushes come and go
And see her blushes come and go
Beneath the dappled shade.

And forth I ride 'neath living green
To hear the throstle sing.
For bird and wandering knight, I ween,
Are happier than the King!
For bird and wandering knight, I ween,
Are happier than the King!
Are happier, happier than the King!
And bird and knight are happier than the King!
Are happier than the King!

Not bad, say I, nor badly sung!
I drink to wandering knights-at-arms,
And to all gallant men indeed!
But thou art none, not thou, I swear,
Who pourest water in good wine!

Didst thou not say 'twas from Saint Dunstan's well?
Shall I not qualify my cup
With liquor loved of holy saint?

'Tis true! Full many heathen in that well
Did the Saint plunge for their eternal good;
But neither chronicle nor popular tale
Doth state he drank its water.
Now hear me sing, and own thyself a crow.

The wind blows cold across the moor,
With driving rain and rending tree:
It smites the pious hermit's door,
But not a jot cares he,
For close he sits within,
And makes his merry din,
Close he sits within,
And makes his merry din,
With his "Ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
And trowl the brown bowl to me!
Then ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
And trowl the bonny bowl to me!

The wind a roaring song may sing,
In crashing wood or frightened town:
It whirls the mantle of a king
As 'twere a beggar's gown;
But caring not a jot,
We sing and drain the pot,
Caring not a jot,
We sing and drain the pot,
With our "Ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
And trowl the brown bowl to me!"
Then ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
And trowl, and trowl the bonny bowl to me!

As he sings, the outlaws gather; when he ends, they take up his stave.

Then ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
And trowl the brown bowl to me!"
Then ho, jolly Jenkin,
I spy a knave in drinkin',
Then trowl, then trowl,
Then trowl the bonny bowl to me!

And now for combat!
Where's this friend of mine?
No friendship stands till blows have passed.
What say'st thou, friend?
Broadsword or quarter-staff?

Nay, I'll not hurt thee!
I do protest I love thee so,
I would not crack thy shaven crown.
But if thou need'st a test, I'll stand,
And thou shalt strike me with thy hand,
And after thou shalt bide my blow.

No "after" shall there be.
A sennight long
Thou shalt lie gasping, ere thou rise again.
Stand, and stand firm! (He deals him a buffet.)
By all the saints in Saxon calendar,
He must be rooted like an ancient oak!

Stand, and stand firm!

He deals him a buffet. The FRIAR rolls upon the ground. The outlaws shout with laughter. Enter LOCKSLEY.

What folly have we here?
Arise, Thou rolling cask! Up, up, I say!
This is no time for revelry.
And thou, Sir Knight, in Ashby's lists
Thou wert a man indeed!
Now of thy manhood I demand
Succour for Cedric, Thane of Rotherwood,
And for his ward, Rowena, falsely ta'en
By vizored knaves and borne to Torquilstone.

To Torquilstone!

And by a strange mischance,
Cedric's own son,
Borne in the litter of a wealthy Jew,
Was captured with his hosts, and lies interned
And wounded in the same accursed walls!
I ask thy aid for gallant Ivanhoe.

For Ivanhoe!

My aid for Ivanhoe? Why waste your words?
Gather your men! Be speedy! On my soul,
If but a hair be harmed of Wilfred's head,
I'll tear their castle piecemeal with my hands
And give their bodies to the kite.
My friend, my friend of friends!
Let there be no delay!
Sound bugles and away!
To Torquilstone!

To Torquilstone! to Torquilstone!
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Page created 10 October 2003