Cony-Catching - A Pleasant Tale how Ned Brown Kissed a Gentlewoman and Cut Her Purse.

A Pleasant Tale how Ned Brown Kissed a Gentlewoman and Cut Her Purse.

            Amongst the rest I remember once walking up and down Smithfield, very quaintly attired in a fustian doublet and buff hose, both laid down with gold lace, a silk stock and a new cloak: I traced up and down very solemnly, as having never a cross to bless me withal, where being in my dumps there happened to me this accident following.

            Thus gentlemen being in my dumps, I saw a brave country gentlewoman coming along from Saint Bartholomew's in a satin gown and four men attending upon her: by her side she had hanging a marvellous rich purse embroidered, and not so fair without, but it seemed to be as well lined within: At this my teeth watered, and as the prey makes the thief, so necessity, and the sight of such a fair purse began to muster a thousand inventions in my head how to come by it: to go by her and nip it I could not, because she had so many men attending on her: to watch her into a press that was in vain, for going towards S. John's street, I guessed her about to take horse to ride home, because all her men were booted. Thus perplexed for this purse, and yet not so much for the bung as the shells: I at last resolutely vowed in myself to have it though I stretched a halter for it: and so calling in my head how to bring my fine mistress to the blow, at last I performed it thus. She standing and talking a while with a gentleman, I stepped before her and leaned at the bar till I saw her leave him, and then stalking towards her very stoutly as if I had been some young cavalier or captain, I met her and courteously saluted her, & not only greeted her, but as if I had been acquainted with her I gave her a kiss, and so in taking acquaintance closing very familiarly to her I cut her purse: the gentlewoman seeing me so brave used me kindly, & blushing said, she knew me not. Are you not mistress, quoth I, such a gentlewoman, and such a man's wife? No truly sir, quoth she, you mistake me: then I cry you mercy, quoth I, and am sorry that I was so saucily bold. There is no harm done sir, said she, because there is no offence taken, and so we parted, I with a good bung, and my gentlewoman with a kiss, which I dare safely swear, she bought as dear as ever she did thing in her life, for what I found in the purse that I keep to myself. Thus did I plot devices in my head how to profit myself, though it were to the utter undoing of anyone: I was the first that invented the letting fall of the key, which had like to cost me dear, but it is all one, as good then as now: and thus it was.

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