Cony-Catching - Of one that came to buy a knife, and made first proof of his trade on him that sold it.

Of one that came to buy a knife, and made first proof of his trade on him that sold it.

            ONE of the cunning nips about the Town, came unto a poor cutler to have a cuttle made according unto his own mind, and not above three inches would he have both the knife and the haft in length: yet of such pure metal, as possible may be. Albeit the poor man never made the like before, yet being promised four times the value of his stuff and pains, he was contented to do this, and the day being come that he should deliver it, the party came, who liking it exceedingly, gave him the money promised, which the poor man gladly put up into his purse, that hung at a button hole of his wascoat before his breast smiling that he was so well paid for so small a trifle. The party perceiving his merry countenance, and imagining he guessed for what purpose the knife was, said, honest man, whereat smile you? By my troth sir (quoth the cutler) I smile at your knife, because I never made one so little before: and were it not offensive unto you, I would request to know to what use you will put it too: Wilt thou keep my counsel (quoth the nip?) yea on mine honesty (quoth the cutler.) Then hearken in thy ear said the nip, and so rounding with him, cut the poor man's purse that hung at his bosom, he never feeling when he did it: with this knife (quoth the nip) mean I to cut a purse: marry god forbid (quoth the cutler) I cannot think you to be such a kind of man, I see you love to jest, and so they parted.

            The poor man, not so wise as to remember his own purse, when by such a warning he might have taken the offender doing the deed, but rather proud (as it were) that his money was so easily earned: walks to the alehouse, which was within a house or two of his own, and finding there three or four of his neighbours, with whom he began to jest very pleasantly: swears by cock and pie he would spend a whole groat upon them, for he had gotten it and more, clearly by a good bargain that morning.

            Though it was no marvel to see him so liberal, because indeed he was a good companion: yet they were loath to put him unto such cost, notwithstanding he would needs do it, and so far as promise stretched, was presently filled in and set upon the board. In the drinking time often he wished to meet with more such customers as he had done that morning, and commended him for a very honest gentleman I warrant you. At length, when the reckoning was to be payed, he draws to his purse, where finding nothing left but a piece of the string in the button hole: I leave to your judgement, whether he was now as sorry as he was merry before.

            Blank and all amort sits the poor cutler, and with such a pitiful countenance, as his neighbours did not a little admire his solemn alteration, & desirous to know the cause thereof, from point to point he discourseth the whole manner of the tragedy, never naming his new customer, but with such a far fetched sigh, as soul and body would have parted in sunder. And in midst of all his grief, he brake forth into these terms. I'll beleve a man the better by his word while I know him, the knife was bought to cut a purse indeed, and I thank him for it he made the first proof of the edge with me. The neighbours grieving for his loss, yet smiling at his folly to be so overreached, were fain to pay the groat the cutler called in, because he had no other money about him, and spent as much more beside to drive away his heaviness. This tale, because it was somewhat misreported before, upon talk had with the poor cutler himself, is set down now in true form and manner how it was done, therefore is there no offence offered, when by better consideration, a thing may be enlarged or amended, or at least the note be better confirmed. Let the poor cutler's mishap example others, that they brag not over hastily of gain easily gotten, least they chance to pay as dearly for it, as he did.

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