Cony-Catching - How a cunning knave got a Trunk well stuffed with linen and certain parcels of plate out of a citizen's house, and how the master of the house holp the deceiver to carry away his own goods.

How a cunning knave got a Trunk well stuffed with linen and certain parcels of plate out of a citizen's house, and how the master of the house holp the deceiver to carry away his own goods.

            WITHIN the city of London, dwelleth a worthy man who hath very great dealing in his trade, and his shop very well frequented with customers: had such a shrewd mischance of late by a cony-catcher, as may well serve for an example to others lest they have the like. A cunning villain, that had long time haunted this citizen's house, and gotten many a cheat which he carried away safely: made it his custom when he wanted money, to help himself ever where he had sped so often, divers things he had which were never missed, especially such as appertained to the citizen's trade, but when any were found wanting, they could not devise which way they were gone, so politicly this fellow always behaved himself, well knew he what times of greatest business this citizen had in his trade, and when the shop is most stored with chapmen: then would he step up the stairs (for there was and is another door to the house besides that which entereth into the shop) and what was next to hand came ever away with. One time above the rest, in an evening about Candlemas, when daylight shuts in about six of the clock, he watched to do some feat in the house, and seeing the mistress go forth with her maid, the goodman and his folks very busy in the shop: up the stairs he goes as he was wont to do, and lifting up the latch of the hall portal door, saw nobody near to trouble him, when stepping into the next chamber, where the citizen and his wife usually lay, at the beds feet there stood a hansome trunk, wherein was very good linen, a fair gilt saltcellar, two silver french bowls for wine, two silver drinking pots, a stone jug covered with silver, and a dozen of silver spoons. This trunk he brings to the stairs' head, and making fast the door again, draws it down the steps so softly as he could, for it was so big and heavy, as he could not easily carry it, having it out at the door, unseen of any neighbour or anybody else, he stood strugling with it to lift it up on the stall, which by reason of the weight troubled him very much. The goodman coming forth of his shop, to bid a customer or two farewell, made the fellow afraid he should now be taken for all together: but calling his wits together to escape if he could, he stood gazing up at the sign belonging to the house, as though he were desirous to know what sign it was: which the citizen perceiving, came to him and asked him what he sought for? I look for the sign of the Bluebell sir, quoth the fellow, where a gentleman having taken a chamber for this term time, hath sent me hither with this his trunk of apparel. Quoth the citizen, I know no such sign in this street, but in the next (naming it) there is such a one indeed, and there dwelleth one that letteth forth chambers to gentlemen. Truly sir quoth the fellow, that's the house I should go to, I pray you sir lend me your hand, but to help the trunk on my back, for I thinking to ease me a while upon your stall, set it short, and now I can hardly get it up again. The citizen not knowing his own trunk, but indeed never thinking on any such notable deceit, helps him up with the trunk, and so sends him away roundly with his own goods. When the trunk was missed, I leave to your conceits what houshould grief there was on all sides, especially the goodman himself, who remembering how he helped the fellow up with a trunk, perceived that hereby he had beguiled himself, and lost more then in haste he should recover again. How this may admonish others, I leave to the judgement of the indifferent opinion, that see when honest meaning is so craftily beleaguered, as good foresight must be used to prevent such dangers.

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