Spoken by a Dancer.

First my fear; then my courtesy; last my
speech. My fear is, your displeasure; my
courtesy, my duty; and my speech, to beg
your pardons. If you look for a good speech
now, you undo me: for what I have to say is
of mine own making; and what indeed I
should say will, I doubt, prove mine own marring.
But to the purpose, and so to the venture.
Be it known to you, as it is very well, I was
lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to
pray your patience for it and to promise you
a better. I meant indeed to pay you with this;
which, if like an ill venture it come unluckily
home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors,
lose. Here I promised you I would be and here
I commit my body to your mercies : bate
me some and I will pay you some and, as most
debtors do, promise you infinitely.
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit
me, will you command me to use my legs?
and yet that were but light payment, to dance
out of your debt. But a good conscience will
make any possible satisfaction, and so would
I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me:
if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen
do not agree with the gentlewomen, which
was never seen before in such an assembly.
One word more, I beseech you. If you be
not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble
author will continue the story, with Sir
John in it, and make you merry with fair
Katharine of France: where, for any thing I
know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unlessalready
a' be killed with your hard opinions;
for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not
the man. My tongue is weary; when my legs
are too, I will bid you good night: and so
kneel down before you; but, indeed, to pray
for the queen.

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