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The prince of darkness is a gentleman.

      — King Lear, Act III Scene 4

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Act III

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Scene 1. A field near Frogmore.

Scene 2. A street.

Scene 3. A room in FORD’S house.

Scene 4. A room in PAGE’S house.

Scene 5. A room in the Garter Inn.

---
       

Act III, Scene 1

A field near Frogmore.

      next scene .
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[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS and SIMPLE]

  • Sir Hugh Evans. I pray you now, good master Slender's serving-man,
    and friend Simple by your name, which way have you
    looked for Master Caius, that calls himself doctor of physic?
  • Simple. Marry, sir, the pittie-ward, the park-ward, every
    way; old Windsor way, and every way but the town 1195
    way.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. I most fehemently desire you you will also look that
    way.

[Exit]

  • Sir Hugh Evans. 'Pless my soul, how full of chollors I am, and
    trempling of mind! I shall be glad if he have
    deceived me. How melancholies I am! I will knog
    his urinals about his knave's costard when I have
    good opportunities for the ork. 'Pless my soul! 1205
    [Sings]
    To shallow rivers, to whose falls
    Melodious birds sings madrigals;
    There will we make our peds of roses,
    And a thousand fragrant posies. 1210
    To shallow—
    Mercy on me! I have a great dispositions to cry.
    [Sings]
    Melodious birds sing madrigals—
    When as I sat in Pabylon— 1215
    And a thousand vagram posies.
    To shallow &c.

[Re-enter SIMPLE]

  • Simple. Yonder he is coming, this way, Sir Hugh.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. He's welcome. 1220
    [Sings]
    To shallow rivers, to whose falls-
    Heaven prosper the right! What weapons is he?
  • Simple. No weapons, sir. There comes my master, Master
    Shallow, and another gentleman, from Frogmore, over 1225
    the stile, this way.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Pray you, give me my gown; or else keep it in your arms.

[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER]

  • Robert Shallow. How now, master Parson! Good morrow, good Sir Hugh.
    Keep a gamester from the dice, and a good student 1230
    from his book, and it is wonderful.
  • Slender. [Aside] Ah, sweet Anne Page!
  • Page. 'Save you, good Sir Hugh!
  • Robert Shallow. What, the sword and the word! do you study them 1235
    both, master parson?
  • Page. And youthful still! in your doublet and hose this
    raw rheumatic day!
  • Page. We are come to you to do a good office, master parson. 1240
  • Page. Yonder is a most reverend gentleman, who, belike
    having received wrong by some person, is at most
    odds with his own gravity and patience that ever you
    saw. 1245
  • Robert Shallow. I have lived fourscore years and upward; I never
    heard a man of his place, gravity and learning, so
    wide of his own respect.
  • Page. I think you know him; Master Doctor Caius, the 1250
    renowned French physician.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Got's will, and his passion of my heart! I had as
    lief you would tell me of a mess of porridge.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. He has no more knowledge in Hibocrates and Galen, 1255
    —and he is a knave besides; a cowardly knave as you
    would desires to be acquainted withal.
  • Page. I warrant you, he's the man should fight with him.
  • Robert Shallow. It appears so by his weapons. Keep them asunder: 1260
    here comes Doctor Caius.

[Enter Host, DOCTOR CAIUS, and RUGBY]

  • Page. Nay, good master parson, keep in your weapon.
  • Host. Disarm them, and let them question: let them keep 1265
    their limbs whole and hack our English.
  • Doctor Caius. I pray you, let-a me speak a word with your ear.
    Vherefore vill you not meet-a me?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. [Aside to DOCTOR CAIUS] Pray you, use your patience:
    in good time. 1270
  • Doctor Caius. By gar, you are de coward, de Jack dog, John ape.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. [Aside to DOCTOR CAIUS] Pray you let us not be
    laughing-stocks to other men's humours; I desire you
    in friendship, and I will one way or other make you amends.
    [Aloud] 1275
    I will knog your urinals about your knave's cockscomb
    for missing your meetings and appointments.
  • Doctor Caius. Diable! Jack Rugby,—mine host de Jarteer,—have I
    not stay for him to kill him? have I not, at de place
    I did appoint? 1280
  • Sir Hugh Evans. As I am a Christians soul now, look you, this is the
    place appointed: I'll be judgement by mine host of
    the Garter.
  • Host. Peace, I say, Gallia and Gaul, French and Welsh,
    soul-curer and body-curer! 1285
  • Host. Peace, I say! hear mine host of the Garter. Am I
    politic? am I subtle? am I a Machiavel? Shall I
    lose my doctor? no; he gives me the potions and the
    motions. Shall I lose my parson, my priest, my Sir 1290
    Hugh? no; he gives me the proverbs and the
    no-verbs. Give me thy hand, terrestrial; so. Give me
    thy hand, celestial; so. Boys of art, I have
    deceived you both; I have directed you to wrong
    places: your hearts are mighty, your skins are 1295
    whole, and let burnt sack be the issue. Come, lay
    their swords to pawn. Follow me, lads of peace;
    follow, follow, follow.
  • Slender. [Aside] O sweet Anne Page! 1300

[Exeunt SHALLOW, SLENDER, PAGE, and Host]

  • Doctor Caius. Ha, do I perceive dat? have you make-a de sot of
    us, ha, ha?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. This is well; he has made us his vlouting-stog. I
    desire you that we may be friends; and let us knog 1305
    our prains together to be revenge on this same
    scall, scurvy cogging companion, the host of the Garter.
  • Doctor Caius. By gar, with all my heart. He promise to bring me
    where is Anne Page; by gar, he deceive me too.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Well, I will smite his noddles. Pray you, follow. 1310

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

A street.

      next scene .
---

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]

  • Mistress Page. Nay, keep your way, little gallant; you were wont to
    be a follower, but now you are a leader. Whether
    had you rather lead mine eyes, or eye your master's heels? 1315
  • Robin. I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man
    than follow him like a dwarf.
  • Mistress Page. O, you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.

[Enter FORD]

  • Ford. Well met, Mistress Page. Whither go you? 1320
  • Ford. Ay; and as idle as she may hang together, for want
    of company. I think, if your husbands were dead,
    you two would marry.
  • Ford. Where had you this pretty weather-cock?
  • Mistress Page. I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my
    husband had him of. What do you call your knight's
    name, sirrah?
  • Robin. Sir John Falstaff. 1330
  • Ford. Sir John Falstaff!
  • Mistress Page. He, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a
    league between my good man and he! Is your wife at
    home indeed?
  • Ford. Indeed she is. 1335

[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]

  • Ford. Has Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any
    thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them.
    Why, this boy will carry a letter twenty mile, as 1340
    easy as a cannon will shoot point-blank twelve
    score. He pieces out his wife's inclination; he
    gives her folly motion and advantage: and now she's
    going to my wife, and Falstaff's boy with her. A
    man may hear this shower sing in the wind. And 1345
    Falstaff's boy with her! Good plots, they are laid;
    and our revolted wives share damnation together.
    Well; I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck
    the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming
    Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and 1350
    wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all
    my neighbours shall cry aim.
    [Clock heard]
    The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance bids me
    search: there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be 1355
    rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as
    positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is
    there: I will go.
    [Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, SLENDER, Host,]
    SIR HUGH EVANS, DOCTOR CAIUS, and RUGBY] 1360
  • Ford. Trust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home;
    and I pray you all go with me.
  • Slender. And so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine with 1365
    Mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for
    more money than I'll speak of.
  • Robert Shallow. We have lingered about a match between Anne Page and
    my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
  • Slender. I hope I have your good will, father Page. 1370
  • Page. You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you:
    but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
  • Doctor Caius. Ay, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-a
    Quickly tell me so mush.
  • Host. What say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he 1375
    dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he
    speaks holiday, he smells April and May: he will
    carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his buttons; he
    will carry't.
  • Page. Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is 1380
    of no having: he kept company with the wild prince
    and Poins; he is of too high a region; he knows too
    much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes
    with the finger of my substance: if he take her,
    let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on 1385
    my consent, and my consent goes not that way.
  • Ford. I beseech you heartily, some of you go home with me
    to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have
    sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor,
    you shall go; so shall you, Master Page; and you, Sir Hugh. 1390
  • Robert Shallow. Well, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooing
    at Master Page's.

[Exeunt SHALLOW, and SLENDER]

[Exit RUGBY]

  • Host. Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight
    Falstaff, and drink canary with him.

[Exit]

  • Ford. [Aside] I think I shall drink in pipe wine first
    with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles? 1400
  • All. Have with you to see this monster.

[Exeunt]

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. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

A room in FORD’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE]

[Enter Servants with a basket]

  • Mistress Ford. Marry, as I told you before, John and Robert, be
    ready here hard by in the brew-house: and when I
    suddenly call you, come forth, and without any pause
    or staggering take this basket on your shoulders:
    that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry 1415
    it among the whitsters in Datchet-mead, and there
    empty it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames side.
  • Mistress Ford. I ha' told them over and over; they lack no
    direction. Be gone, and come when you are called. 1420

[Exeunt Servants]

[Enter ROBIN]

  • Robin. My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door, 1425
    Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
  • Mistress Page. You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?
  • Robin. Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your
    being here and hath threatened to put me into
    everlasting liberty if I tell you of it; for he 1430
    swears he'll turn me away.
  • Mistress Page. Thou'rt a good boy: this secrecy of thine shall be
    a tailor to thee and shall make thee a new doublet
    and hose. I'll go hide me.
  • Mistress Ford. Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone. 1435
    [Exit ROBIN]
    Mistress Page, remember you your cue.

[Exit]

  • Mistress Ford. Go to, then: we'll use this unwholesome humidity, 1440
    this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to know
    turtles from jays.

[Enter FALSTAFF]

  • Falstaff. Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? Why, now let
    me die, for I have lived long enough: this is the 1445
    period of my ambition: O this blessed hour!
  • Falstaff. Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate,
    Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would
    thy husband were dead: I'll speak it before the 1450
    best lord; I would make thee my lady.
  • Mistress Ford. I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady!
  • Falstaff. Let the court of France show me such another. I see
    how thine eye would emulate the diamond: thou hast
    the right arched beauty of the brow that becomes the 1455
    ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of
    Venetian admittance.
  • Mistress Ford. A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing
    else; nor that well neither.
  • Falstaff. By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou 1460
    wouldst make an absolute courtier; and the firm
    fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion
    to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see
    what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature
    thy friend. Come, thou canst not hide it. 1465
  • Falstaff. What made me love thee? let that persuade thee
    there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I
    cannot cog and say thou art this and that, like a
    many of these lisping hawthorn-buds, that come like 1470
    women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury
    in simple time; I cannot: but I love thee; none
    but thee; and thou deservest it.
  • Mistress Ford. Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love Mistress Page.
  • Falstaff. Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by the 1475
    Counter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reek
    of a lime-kiln.
  • Mistress Ford. Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one
    day find it.
  • Falstaff. Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it. 1480
  • Mistress Ford. Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not
    be in that mind.
  • Robin. [Within] Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! here's
    Mistress Page at the door, sweating and blowing and
    looking wildly, and would needs speak with you presently. 1485
  • Falstaff. She shall not see me: I will ensconce me behind the arras.
  • Mistress Ford. Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman.
    [FALSTAFF hides himself]
    [Re-enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]
    What's the matter? how now! 1490
  • Mistress Page. O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed,
    you're overthrown, you're undone for ever!
  • Mistress Page. O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest man
    to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion! 1495
  • Mistress Page. What cause of suspicion! Out pon you! how am I
    mistook in you!
  • Mistress Page. Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the 1500
    officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman that
    he says is here now in the house by your consent, to
    take an ill advantage of his assence: you are undone.
  • Mistress Page. Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man 1505
    here! but 'tis most certain your husband's coming,
    with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a
    one. I come before to tell you. If you know
    yourself clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you
    have a friend here convey, convey him out. Be not 1510
    amazed; call all your senses to you; defend your
    reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.
  • Mistress Ford. What shall I do? There is a gentleman my dear
    friend; and I fear not mine own shame so much as his
    peril: I had rather than a thousand pound he were 1515
    out of the house.
  • Mistress Page. For shame! never stand 'you had rather' and 'you
    had rather:' your husband's here at hand, bethink
    you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot
    hide him. O, how have you deceived me! Look, here 1520
    is a basket: if he be of any reasonable stature, he
    may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as
    if it were going to bucking: or—it is whiting-time
    —send him by your two men to Datchet-mead.
  • Mistress Ford. He's too big to go in there. What shall I do? 1525
  • Falstaff. [Coming forward] Let me see't, let me see't, O, let
    me see't! I'll in, I'll in. Follow your friend's
    counsel. I'll in.
  • Mistress Page. What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
  • Falstaff. I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here. 1530
    I'll never—

[Gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen]

  • Mistress Page. Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men,
    Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!
  • Mistress Ford. What, John! Robert! John! 1535
    [Exit ROBIN]
    [Re-enter Servants]
    Go take up these clothes here quickly. Where's the
    cowl-staff? look, how you drumble! Carry them to
    the laundress in Datchet-meat; quickly, come. 1540

[Enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Ford. Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause,
    why then make sport at me; then let me be your jest;
    I deserve it. How now! whither bear you this?
  • Servant. To the laundress, forsooth. 1545
  • Mistress Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You
    were best meddle with buck-washing.
  • Ford. Buck! I would I could wash myself of the buck!
    Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck;
    and of the season too, it shall appear. 1550
    [Exeunt Servants with the basket]
    Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my
    dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my
    chambers; search, seek, find out: I'll warrant
    we'll unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first. 1555
    [Locking the door]
    So, now uncape.
  • Page. Good Master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself too much.
  • Ford. True, Master Page. Up, gentlemen: you shall see
    sport anon: follow me, gentlemen. 1560

[Exit]

  • Doctor Caius. By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not
    jealous in France.
  • Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search. 1565

[Exeunt PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Mistress Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband
    is deceived, or Sir John.
  • Mistress Page. What a taking was he in when your husband asked who 1570
    was in the basket!
  • Mistress Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so
    throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
  • Mistress Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same
    strain were in the same distress. 1575
  • Mistress Ford. I think my husband hath some special suspicion of
    Falstaff's being here; for I never saw him so gross
    in his jealousy till now.
  • Mistress Page. I will lay a plot to try that; and we will yet have
    more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will 1580
    scarce obey this medicine.
  • Mistress Ford. Shall we send that foolish carrion, Mistress
    Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the
    water; and give him another hope, to betray him to
    another punishment? 1585
  • Mistress Page. We will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow,
    eight o'clock, to have amends.

[Re-enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that
    he could not compass. 1590
  • Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. If there be any pody in the house, and in the
    chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses,
    heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment! 1600
  • Page. Fie, fie, Master Ford! are you not ashamed? What
    spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I
    would not ha' your distemper in this kind for the
    wealth of Windsor Castle. 1605
  • Ford. 'Tis my fault, Master Page: I suffer for it.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is as
    honest a 'omans as I will desires among five
    thousand, and five hundred too.
  • Ford. Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come, walk in
    the Park: I pray you, pardon me; I will hereafter
    make known to you why I have done this. Come,
    wife; come, Mistress Page. I pray you, pardon me;
    pray heartily, pardon me. 1615
  • Page. Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we'll mock
    him. I do invite you to-morrow morning to my house
    to breakfast: after, we'll a-birding together; I
    have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be so?
  • Ford. Any thing. 1620
  • Doctor Caius. If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.
  • Ford. Pray you, go, Master Page.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousy
    knave, mine host. 1625

[Exeunt]

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. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

A room in PAGE’S house.

      next scene .
---

[Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE]

  • Fenton. I see I cannot get thy father's love; 1630
    Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.
  • Fenton. Why, thou must be thyself.
    He doth object I am too great of birth—,
    And that, my state being gall'd with my expense, 1635
    I seek to heal it only by his wealth:
    Besides these, other bars he lays before me,
    My riots past, my wild societies;
    And tells me 'tis a thing impossible
    I should love thee but as a property. 1640
  • Fenton. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
    Albeit I will confess thy father's wealth
    Was the first motive that I woo'd thee, Anne:
    Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value 1645
    Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;
    And 'tis the very riches of thyself
    That now I aim at.
  • Anne Page. Gentle Master Fenton,
    Yet seek my father's love; still seek it, sir: 1650
    If opportunity and humblest suit
    Cannot attain it, why, then,—hark you hither!

[They converse apart]

[Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and MISTRESS QUICKLY]

  • Robert Shallow. Break their talk, Mistress Quickly: my kinsman shall 1655
    speak for himself.
  • Slender. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't: 'slid, 'tis but
    venturing.
  • Slender. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that, 1660
    but that I am afeard.
  • Anne Page. I come to him.
    [Aside]
    This is my father's choice. 1665
    O, what a world of vile ill-favor'd faults
    Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a-year!
  • Hostess Quickly. And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you, a word with you.
  • Robert Shallow. She's coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!
  • Slender. I had a father, Mistress Anne; my uncle can tell you 1670
    good jests of him. Pray you, uncle, tell Mistress
    Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of
    a pen, good uncle.
  • Slender. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in 1675
    Gloucestershire.
  • Slender. Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the
    degree of a squire.
  • Robert Shallow. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure. 1680
  • Anne Page. Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
  • Robert Shallow. Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good
    comfort. She calls you, coz: I'll leave you.
  • Slender. Now, good Mistress Anne,— 1685
  • Slender. My will! 'od's heartlings, that's a pretty jest
    indeed! I ne'er made my will yet, I thank heaven; I
    am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.
  • Anne Page. I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me? 1690
  • Slender. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing
    with you. Your father and my uncle hath made
    motions: if it be my luck, so; if not, happy man be
    his dole! They can tell you how things go better
    than I can: you may ask your father; here he comes. 1695

[Enter PAGE and MISTRESS PAGE]

  • Page. Now, Master Slender: love him, daughter Anne.
    Why, how now! what does Master Fenton here?
    You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:
    I told you, sir, my daughter is disposed of. 1700
  • Fenton. Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.
  • Page. She is no match for you.
  • Fenton. Sir, will you hear me?
  • Page. No, good Master Fenton. 1705
    Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender, in.
    Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.

[Exeunt PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER]

  • Fenton. Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter 1710
    In such a righteous fashion as I do,
    Perforce, against all cheques, rebukes and manners,
    I must advance the colours of my love
    And not retire: let me have your good will.
  • Anne Page. Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool. 1715
  • Anne Page. Alas, I had rather be set quick i' the earth
    And bowl'd to death with turnips!
  • Mistress Page. Come, trouble not yourself. Good Master Fenton, 1720
    I will not be your friend nor enemy:
    My daughter will I question how she loves you,
    And as I find her, so am I affected.
    Till then farewell, sir: she must needs go in;
    Her father will be angry. 1725
  • Fenton. Farewell, gentle mistress: farewell, Nan.

[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE and ANNE PAGE]

  • Hostess Quickly. This is my doing, now: 'Nay,' said I, 'will you cast
    away your child on a fool, and a physician? Look on
    Master Fenton:' this is my doing. 1730
  • Fenton. I thank thee; and I pray thee, once to-night
    Give my sweet Nan this ring: there's for thy pains.
  • Hostess Quickly. Now heaven send thee good fortune!
    [Exit FENTON]
    A kind heart he hath: a woman would run through 1735
    fire and water for such a kind heart. But yet I
    would my master had Mistress Anne; or I would
    Master Slender had her; or, in sooth, I would Master
    Fenton had her; I will do what I can for them all
    three; for so I have promised, and I'll be as good 1740
    as my word; but speciously for Master Fenton. Well,
    I must of another errand to Sir John Falstaff from
    my two mistresses: what a beast am I to slack it!

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

A room in the Garter Inn.

       
---

[Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH]

  • Falstaff. Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't.
    [Exit BARDOLPH]
    Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a 1750
    barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown in the
    Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
    I'll have my brains ta'en out and buttered, and give
    them to a dog for a new-year's gift. The rogues
    slighted me into the river with as little remorse as 1755
    they would have drowned a blind bitch's puppies,
    fifteen i' the litter: and you may know by my size
    that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking; if the
    bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had
    been drowned, but that the shore was shelvy and 1760
    shallow,—a death that I abhor; for the water swells
    a man; and what a thing should I have been when I
    had been swelled! I should have been a mountain of mummy.

[Re-enter BARDOLPH with sack]

  • Bardolph. Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you. 1765
  • Falstaff. Let me pour in some sack to the Thames water; for my
    belly's as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs for
    pills to cool the reins. Call her in.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY]

  • Hostess Quickly. By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worship
    good morrow.
  • Falstaff. Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of
    sack finely.
  • Falstaff. Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.
    [Exit BARDOLPH]
    How now!
  • Falstaff. Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown 1780
    into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.
  • Hostess Quickly. Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault:
    she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
  • Falstaff. So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
  • Hostess Quickly. Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn 1785
    your heart to see it. Her husband goes this morning
    a-birding; she desires you once more to come to her
    between eight and nine: I must carry her word
    quickly: she'll make you amends, I warrant you.
  • Falstaff. Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and bid her 1790
    think what a man is: let her consider his frailty,
    and then judge of my merit.
  • Falstaff. Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
  • Falstaff. Well, be gone: I will not miss her.

[Exit]

  • Falstaff. I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word
    to stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes. 1800

[Enter FORD]

  • Ford. Bless you, sir!
  • Falstaff. Now, master Brook, you come to know what hath passed
    between me and Ford's wife?
  • Ford. That, indeed, Sir John, is my business. 1805
  • Falstaff. Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
    house the hour she appointed me.
  • Ford. And sped you, sir?
  • Falstaff. Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.
  • Ford. How so, sir? Did she change her determination? 1810
  • Falstaff. No, Master Brook; but the peaking Cornuto her
    husband, Master Brook, dwelling in a continual
    'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our
    encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested,
    and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; 1815
    and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither
    provoked and instigated by his distemper, and,
    forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
  • Ford. What, while you were there?
  • Ford. And did he search for you, and could not find you?
  • Falstaff. You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes
    in one Mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's
    approach; and, in her invention and Ford's wife's
    distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket. 1825
  • Ford. A buck-basket!
  • Falstaff. By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul
    shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy
    napkins; that, Master Brook, there was the rankest
    compound of villanous smell that ever offended nostril. 1830
  • Ford. And how long lay you there?
  • Falstaff. Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have
    suffered to bring this woman to evil for your good.
    Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's
    knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their 1835
    mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to
    Datchet-lane: they took me on their shoulders; met
    the jealous knave their master in the door, who
    asked them once or twice what they had in their
    basket: I quaked for fear, lest the lunatic knave 1840
    would have searched it; but fate, ordaining he
    should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well: on went he
    for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But
    mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the pangs
    of three several deaths; first, an intolerable 1845
    fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten
    bell-wether; next, to be compassed, like a good
    bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
    point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in,
    like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes 1850
    that fretted in their own grease: think of that,—a
    man of my kidney,—think of that,—that am as subject
    to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution
    and thaw: it was a miracle to scape suffocation.
    And in the height of this bath, when I was more than 1855
    half stewed in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be
    thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing hot,
    in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of
    that,—hissing hot,—think of that, Master Brook.
  • Ford. In good sadness, I am sorry that for my sake you 1860
    have sufferd all this. My suit then is desperate;
    you'll undertake her no more?
  • Falstaff. Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as I have
    been into Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her
    husband is this morning gone a-birding: I have 1865
    received from her another embassy of meeting; 'twixt
    eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook.
  • Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
  • Falstaff. Is it? I will then address me to my appointment.
    Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall 1870
    know how I speed; and the conclusion shall be
    crowned with your enjoying her. Adieu. You shall
    have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall
    cuckold Ford.

[Exit]

  • Ford. Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I
    sleep? Master Ford awake! awake, Master Ford!
    there's a hole made in your best coat, Master Ford.
    This 'tis to be married! this 'tis to have linen
    and buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself 1880
    what I am: I will now take the lecher; he is at my
    house; he cannot 'scape me; 'tis impossible he
    should; he cannot creep into a halfpenny purse,
    nor into a pepper-box: but, lest the devil that
    guides him should aid him, I will search 1885
    impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid,
    yet to be what I would not shall not make me tame:
    if I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go
    with me: I'll be horn-mad.

[Exit]

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