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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act I, Scene 4

A room in DOCTOR CAIUS’ house.



  • Hostess Quickly. What, John Rugby! I pray thee, go to the casement, 405
    and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor
    Caius, coming. If he do, i' faith, and find any
    body in the house, here will be an old abusing of
    God's patience and the king's English.
  • Rugby. I'll go watch. 410
  • Hostess Quickly. Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, in
    faith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.
    [Exit RUGBY]
    An honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant
    shall come in house withal, and, I warrant you, no 415
    tell-tale nor no breed-bate: his worst fault is,
    that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish
    that way: but nobody but has his fault; but let
    that pass. Peter Simple, you say your name is?
  • Simple. Ay, for fault of a better. 420
  • Hostess Quickly. Does he not wear a great round beard, like a
    glover's paring-knife?
  • Simple. No, forsooth: he hath but a little wee face, with a 425
    little yellow beard, a Cain-coloured beard.
  • Simple. Ay, forsooth: but he is as tall a man of his hands
    as any is between this and his head; he hath fought
    with a warrener. 430
  • Hostess Quickly. How say you? O, I should remember him: does he not
    hold up his head, as it were, and strut in his gait?
  • Simple. Yes, indeed, does he.
  • Hostess Quickly. Well, heaven send Anne Page no worse fortune! Tell
    Master Parson Evans I will do what I can for your 435
    master: Anne is a good girl, and I wish—

[Re-enter RUGBY]

  • Rugby. Out, alas! here comes my master.
  • Hostess Quickly. We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man;
    go into this closet: he will not stay long. 440
    [Shuts SIMPLE in the closet]
    What, John Rugby! John! what, John, I say!
    Go, John, go inquire for my master; I doubt
    he be not well, that he comes not home.
    [Singing] 445
    And down, down, adown-a, &c.


  • Doctor Caius. Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you,
    go and vetch me in my closet un boitier vert, a box,
    a green-a box: do intend vat I speak? a green-a box. 450
  • Hostess Quickly. Ay, forsooth; I'll fetch it you.
    I am glad he went not in himself: if he had found
    the young man, he would have been horn-mad.
  • Doctor Caius. Fe, fe, fe, fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je 455
    m'en vais a la cour—la grande affaire.
  • Doctor Caius. Oui; mette le au mon pocket: depeche, quickly. Vere
    is dat knave Rugby?
  • Doctor Caius. You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby. Come,
    take-a your rapier, and come after my heel to the court.
  • Rugby. 'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.
  • Doctor Caius. By my trot, I tarry too long. Od's me! 465
    Qu'ai-j'oublie! dere is some simples in my closet,
    dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.
  • Doctor Caius. O diable, diable! vat is in my closet? Villain! larron!
    [Pulling SIMPLE out] 470
    Rugby, my rapier!
  • Doctor Caius. What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere is 475
    no honest man dat shall come in my closet.
  • Hostess Quickly. I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth
    of it: he came of an errand to me from Parson Hugh.
  • Simple. Ay, forsooth; to desire her to— 480
  • Simple. To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to
    speak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for my
    master in the way of marriage. 485
  • Hostess Quickly. This is all, indeed, la! but I'll ne'er put my
    finger in the fire, and need not.
  • Doctor Caius. Sir Hugh send-a you? Rugby, baille me some paper.
    Tarry you a little-a while.


  • Hostess Quickly. [Aside to SIMPLE] I am glad he is so quiet: if he
    had been thoroughly moved, you should have heard him
    so loud and so melancholy. But notwithstanding,
    man, I'll do you your master what good I can: and
    the very yea and the no is, the French doctor, my 495
    master,—I may call him my master, look you, for I
    keep his house; and I wash, wring, brew, bake,
    scour, dress meat and drink, make the beds and do
    all myself,—
  • Simple. [Aside to MISTRESS QUICKLY] 'Tis a great charge to 500
    come under one body's hand.
  • Hostess Quickly. [Aside to SIMPLE] Are you avised o' that? you
    shall find it a great charge: and to be up early
    and down late; but notwithstanding,—to tell you in
    your ear; I would have no words of it,—my master 505
    himself is in love with Mistress Anne Page: but
    notwithstanding that, I know Anne's mind,—that's
    neither here nor there.
  • Doctor Caius. You jack'nape, give-a this letter to Sir Hugh; by
    gar, it is a shallenge: I will cut his troat in dee 510
    park; and I will teach a scurvy jack-a-nape priest
    to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good
    you tarry here. By gar, I will cut all his two
    stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to throw
    at his dog: 515


  • Doctor Caius. It is no matter-a ver dat: do not you tell-a me
    dat I shall have Anne Page for myself? By gar, I
    vill kill de Jack priest; and I have appointed mine 520
    host of de Jarteer to measure our weapon. By gar, I
    will myself have Anne Page.
  • Hostess Quickly. Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We
    must give folks leave to prate: what, the good-jer!
  • Doctor Caius. Rugby, come to the court with me. By gar, if I have 525
    not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my
    door. Follow my heels, Rugby.


  • Hostess Quickly. You shall have An fool's-head of your own. No, I
    know Anne's mind for that: never a woman in Windsor 530
    knows more of Anne's mind than I do; nor can do more
    than I do with her, I thank heaven.
  • Fenton. [Within] Who's within there? ho!

[Enter FENTON]

  • Fenton. How now, good woman? how dost thou?
  • Fenton. What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?
  • Hostess Quickly. In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and
    gentle; and one that is your friend, I can tell you 540
    that by the way; I praise heaven for it.
  • Fenton. Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? shall I not lose my suit?
  • Hostess Quickly. Troth, sir, all is in his hands above: but
    notwithstanding, Master Fenton, I'll be sworn on a
    book, she loves you. Have not your worship a wart 545
    above your eye?
  • Fenton. Yes, marry, have I; what of that?
  • Hostess Quickly. Well, thereby hangs a tale: good faith, it is such
    another Nan; but, I detest, an honest maid as ever
    broke bread: we had an hour's talk of that wart. I 550
    shall never laugh but in that maid's company! But
    indeed she is given too much to allicholy and
    musing: but for you—well, go to.
  • Fenton. Well, I shall see her to-day. Hold, there's money
    for thee; let me have thy voice in my behalf: if 555
    thou seest her before me, commend me.
  • Hostess Quickly. Will I? i'faith, that we will; and I will tell your
    worship more of the wart the next time we have
    confidence; and of other wooers.
  • Fenton. Well, farewell; I am in great haste now. 560
  • Hostess Quickly. Farewell to your worship.
    [Exit FENTON]
    Truly, an honest gentleman: but Anne loves him not;
    for I know Anne's mind as well as another does. Out
    upon't! what have I forgot? 565