Cony-Catching - Of a young nip that cunningly beguiled an ancient professor of that trade, and his quean with him, at a play.

Of a young nip that cunningly beguiled an ancient professor of that trade, and his quean with him, at a play.

            A good fellow that was newly entered into the nipping craft, and had not as yet attained to any acquaintance with the chief and cunning masters of that trade: In the Christmas holidays last came to see a play at the Bull within Bishopsgate, there to take his benefit as time and place would permit him. Not long had he stayed in the press, but he had gotten a young man's purse out of his pocket, which when he had, he stepped into the stable to take out the money, and to convey away the purse. But looking on his commodity, he found nothing therein but white counters, a thimble and a broken threepence, which belike the fellow that ought it, had done of purpose to deceive the cutpurse withal, or else had played at the cards for counters, and so carried his winnings about him till his next sitting to play. Somewhat displeased to be so overtaken, he looked aside, and spied a lusty youth entering at the door, and his drab with him: this fellow he had heard to be one of the finest nippers about the town, and ever carried his quean with him, for conveyance when the stratagem was performed: he puts up the counters into the purse again, and follows close to see some piece of their service. Among a company of seemely men was this lusty companion and his minion gotten, where both they might best behold the play, and work for advantage, and ever this young nip was next to him, to mark when he should attempt any exploit, standing as it were more then half between the cunning nip and his drab, only to learn some part of their skill. In short time the deed was performed, but how, the young nip could not easily discern, only he felt him shift his hand toward his trug, to convey the purse to her, but she being somewhat mindful of the play, because a merriment was then on the stage, gave no regard: whereby thinking he had pulled her by the coat, he twitched the young nip by the cloak, who taking advantage of this offer, put down his hand and received the purse of him. Then counting it discourtesy to let him lose all his labour, he softly plucked the quean by the coat, which she feeling, and imagining it had been her companion's hand: received of him the first purse with the white counters in it. Then fearing lest his stay should hinder him, and seeing the other intended to have more purses ere he departed: away goes the young nip with the purse he got so easily, wherin (as I have heard) was xxxvii. shillings, and odd money, which did so much content him, as that he had beguiled so ancient a stander in that profession. What the other thought when he found the purse, and could not guess how he was cozened: I leave to your censures, only this makes me smile, that one false knave can beguile another, which bids honest men look the better to their purses.

Prev Next

Back to Introduction