Read ACT IV of Fair Em, free online book, by William Shakespeare, on

     Scene I. Chester-Before the Citizen’s House

     [Enter the Citizen of Chester, and his daughter Elner, and

Citizen.  In deed, sir, it would do very well if you could intreat your father to come hither:  but if you think it be too far, I care not much to take horse and ride to Manchester.  I am sure my daughter is content with either.  How sayest thou, Elner, art thou not?

     As you shall think best I must be contented.

Manville.  Well, Elner, farewell.  Only thus much, I pray:  make all things in a readiness, either to serve here, or to carry thither with us.

     As for that, sir, take you no care; and so I betake you to
     your journey.

     [Exit Manville.]

     [Enter Valingford.]

     But soft, what gentleman is this?

     God speed, sir.  Might a man crave a word or two with you?

     God forbid else, sir; I pray you speak your pleasure.

     The gentleman that parted from you, was he not of Manchester,
     his father living there of good account?

     Yes, marry is he, sir.  Why do you ask?  Belike you have had
     some acquaintance with him.

Valingford.  I have been acquainted in times past, but, through his double dealing, I am growen weary of his company.  For, be it spoken to you, he hath been acquainted with a poor millers daughter, and diverse times hath promist her marriage.  But what with his delays and flouts he hath brought her into such a taking that I fear me it will cost her her life.

Citizen.  To be plain with you, sir, his father and I have been of old acquaintance, and a motion was made between my daughter and his son, which is now throughly agreed upon, save only the place appointed for the marriage, whether it shall be kept here or at Manchester; and for no other occasion he is now ridden.

     What hath he done to you, that you should speak so ill of
     the man?

     Oh, gentlewoman, I cry you mercy:  he is your husband that
     shall be.

Elner.  If I knew this to be true, he should not be my husband were he never so good:  And therefore, good father, I would desire you to take the pains to bear this gentleman company to Manchester, to know whether this be true or no.

Citizen.  Now trust me, gentleman, he deals with me very hardly, knowing how well I meant to him; but I care not much to ride to Manchester, to know whether his fathers will be he should deal with me so badly.  Will it please you, sir, to go in?  We will presently take horse and away.

     If it please you to go in, I’ll follow you presently.

     [Exit Elner and her father.]

     Now shall I be revenged on Manville, and by this means get
     Em to my wife; and therefore I will straight to her fathers
     and inform them both of all that is happened.


     Scene II

     The English Court.

     [Enter William, the Ambassador of Denmark, Demarch, and
     other attendants.]

     What news with the Denmark Embassador?

     Marry, thus: 
     The King of Denmark and my Sovereign
     Doth send to know of thee what is the cause
     That injuriously, against the law of arms,
     Thou hast stolen away his only daughter Blaunch,
     The only stay and comfort of his life. 
     Therefore by me
     He willeth thee to send his daughter Blaunch,
     Or else foorthwith he will levy such an host,
     As soon shall fetch her in dispite of thee.

     Embassador, this answer I return thy King. 
     He willeth me to send his daughter Blaunch,
     Saying, I conveyed her from the Danish court,
     That never yet did once as think thereof. 
     As for his menacing and daunting threats,
     I nill regard him nor his Danish power;
     For if he come to fetch her foorth my Realm
     I will provide him such a banquet here,
     That he shall have small cause to give me thanks.

     Is this your answer, then?

     It is; and so begone.

     I go; but to your cost.

     [Exit Embassador.]

     Demarch, our subjects, earst levied in civil broils,
     Muster foorthwith, for to defend the Realm. 
     In hope whereof, that we shall find you true,
     We freely pardon this thy late offence.

     Most humble thanks I render to your grace.


     Scene III

     Manchester.  The Mill.

     [Enter the Miller and Valingford.]

Miller.  Alas, gentleman, why should you trouble your self so much, considering the imperfections of my daughter, which is able to with-draw the love of any man from her, as already it hath done in her first choice.  Maister Manville hath forsaken her, and at Chester shall be married to a mans daughter of no little wealth.  But if my daughter knew so much, it would go very near her heart, I fear me.

Valingford.  Father miller, such is the entire affection to your daughter, as no misfortune whatsoever can alter.  My fellow Mountney, thou seest, gave quickly over; but I, by reason of my good meaning, am not so soon to be changed, although I am borne off with scorns and denial.

     [Enter Em to them.]

Miller.  Trust me, sir, I know not what to say.  My daughter is not to be compelled by me; but here she comes her self:  speak to her and spare not, for I never was troubled with love matters so much before.

Em. [Aside.] Good Lord! shall I never be rid of this importunate man?  Now must I dissemble blindness again.  Once more for thy sake, Manville, thus am I inforced, because I shall complete my full resolved mind to thee.  Father, where are you?

     Here, sweet Em.  Answer this gentleman, that would so fayne
     enjoy thy love.

Em.  Where are you, sir? will you never leave this idle and vain pursuit of love?  Is not England stord enough to content you, but you must still trouble the poor contemptible maid of Manchester?

     None can content me but the fair maid of Manchester.

Em.  I perceive love is vainly described, that, being blind himself, would have you likewise troubled with a blind wife, having the benefit of your eyes.  But neither follow him so much in folly, but love one in whom you may better delight.

Valingford.  Father Miller, thy daughter shall have honor by graunting me her love.  I am a Gentleman of king Williams Court, and no mean man in king Williams favour.

Em.  If you be a Lord, sir, as you say, you offer both your self and me great wrong:  yours, as apparent, in limiting your love so unorderly, for which you rashly endure reprochement; mine, as open and evident, when, being shut from the vanities of this world, you would have me as an open gazing stock to all the world; for lust, not love, leads you into this error.  But from the one I will keep me as well as I can, and yield the other to none but to my father, as I am bound by duty.

Valingford.  Why, fair Em, Manville hath forsaken thee, and must at Chester be married:  which if I speak otherwise than true, let thy father speak what credibly he hath heard.

Em.  But can it be Manville will deal so unkindly to reward my justice with such monstrous ungentleness?  Have I dissembled for thy sake, and doest thou now thus requite it?  In deed these many days I have not seen him, which hath made me marvel at his long absence.  But, father, are you assured of the words he spake were concerning Manville?

Miller.  In sooth, daughter, now it is foorth I must needs confirm it:  Maister Manville hath forsaken thee, and at Chester must be married to a mans daughter of no little wealth.  His own father procures it, and therefore I dare credit it; and do thou believe it, for trust me, daughter, it is so.

Em.  Then, good father, pardon the injury that I have done to you, only causing your grief, by over-fond affecting a man so trothless.  And you likewise, sir, I pray hold me excused, a I hope this cause will allow sufficiently for me:  My love to Manville, thinking he would requite it, hath made me double with my father and you, and many more besides, which I will no longer hide from you.  That inticing speeches should not beguile me, I have made my self deaf to any but to him; and lest any mans person should please me more than his, I have dissembled the want of sight:  Both which shadows of my irrevocable affections I have not spared to confirm before him, my father, and all other amorous soliciters ­wherewith not made acquainted, I perceive my true intent hath wrought mine own sorrow, and seeking by love to be regarded, am cut of with contempt, and dispised.

     Tell me, sweet Em, hast thou but fained all this while for
     his love, that hath so descourteously forsaken thee?

Em.  Credit me, father, I have told you the troth; wherewith I desire you and Lord Valingford not to be displeased.  For ought else I shall say, let my present grief hold me excused.  But, may I live to see that ungrateful man justly rewarded for his treachery, poor Em would think her self not a little happy.  Favour my departing at this instant; for my troubled thought desires to meditate alone in silence.

     [Exit Em.]

     Will not Em shew one cheerful look on Valingford?

Miller.  Alas, sir, blame her not; you see she hath good cause, being so handled by this gentleman:  And so I’ll leave you, and go comfort my poor wench as well as I may.

     [Exit the Miller.]

     Farewell, good father.

     [Exit Valingford.]