Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Touchstone, a goldsmith, has two daughters, Gertrude, a flutter-brained social climber, and Mildred, a modest, gentle girl. He also has two apprentices, Francis Quicksilver, a fellow as unstable as his name, and Golding, who is steady and conscientious. Caught while trying to slip away from the shop, Quicksilver makes a spirited defense of his way of life, especially of his prodigality among the town gallants. Touchstone answers with a severe moral lecture and points out the exemplary behavior of his fellow apprentice. The lecture is interrupted by a messenger from Sir Petronel Flash, who wishes to make arrangements to marry Gertrude. As soon as Touchstone is out of hearing, Quicksilver abuses the old citizen; Golding defends his master and warns and rebukes Quicksilver.
Mildred, with the help of a tailor and a maid, attires Gertrude elegantly to receive her knight, while Gertrude rattles away, full of herself and contemptuous of her bourgeois family. Touchstone brings in Sir Petronel and concludes the arrangements for the wedding, warning both Gertrude and the knight that they need not expect any gifts beyond the agreed dowry. Gertrude treats him impudently and leaves with the knight, with Mistress Touchstone fluttering in attendance on her soon-to-be-married daughter. After their departure, Touchstone proposes a match between Mildred and Golding.
From the wedding feast Quicksilver returns to the shop drunk, hiccuping and quoting lines from...
(The entire section is 1130 words.)
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