On one side Sir Thomas Clifford, at a table, with wine before him; on the other, Master Wilford, Gaylove, Holdwell, and Simpson, likewise taking wine.
Wilf. Your wine, sirs! your wine! You do not justice to mine host of the Three Tuns, nor credit to yourselves; I swear the beverage is good! It is as palatable poison as you will purchase within a mile round Ludgate! Drink, gentlemen; make free. You know I am a man of expectations; and hold my money as light as the purse in which I carry it.
Gay. We drink, Master Wilford. 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 a large draught? Fill, I pray you, else let us drink out of thimbles! This will never do for the friends of the nearest of kin to the wealthiest peer in Britain.
Gay. We give you joy, Master Wilford, of the prospect of advancement which has so unexpectedly opened to you.
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. His dissolution 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 the title and revenues of a scrivener’s clerk—am the undoubted successor to his estates and coronet.
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