On one side Sir Thomas Clifford, at a table, with wine beforehim; on the other, Master Wilford, Gaylove, Holdwell, and Simpson, likewisetaking wine.
Wilf. Your wine, sirs! yourwine! You do not justice to mine host of the Three Tuns, nor credit toyourselves; I swear the beverage is good! It is as palatable poison asyou will purchase within a mile round Ludgate! Drink, gentlemen; makefree. You know I am a man of expectations; and hold my money as lightas the purse in which I carry it.
Gay. We drink, MasterWilford. Not a man of us has been chased as yet.
Wilf. But you fill not fairly,sirs! Look at my measure! Wherefore a large glass, if not for alarge draught? Fill, I pray you, else let us drink out ofthimbles! This will never do for the friends of the nearest of kin tothe wealthiest peer in Britain.
Gay. We give you joy, MasterWilford, of the prospect of advancement which has so unexpectedly opened toyou.
Wilf. Unexpectedly indeed!But yesterday arrived the news that the Earl’s only son and heir had died;and to-day has the Earl himself been seized with a mortal illness. Hisdissolution is looked for hourly; and I, his cousin in only the third degree,known to him but to be unnoticed by him—a decayed gentleman’s son—glad of thetitle and revenues of a scrivener’s clerk—am the undoubted successor to hisestates and coronet.
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