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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act IV, Scene 6

Another room in the Garter Inn.


[Enter FENTON and Host]

  • Host. Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy: I
    will give over all.
  • Fenton. Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my purpose, 2425
    And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee
    A hundred pound in gold more than your loss.
  • Host. I will hear you, Master Fenton; and I will at the
    least keep your counsel.
  • Fenton. From time to time I have acquainted you 2430
    With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page;
    Who mutually hath answer'd my affection,
    So far forth as herself might be her chooser,
    Even to my wish: I have a letter from her
    Of such contents as you will wonder at; 2435
    The mirth whereof so larded with my matter,
    That neither singly can be manifested,
    Without the show of both; fat Falstaff
    Hath a great scene: the image of the jest
    I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine host. 2440
    To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve and one,
    Must my sweet Nan present the Fairy Queen;
    The purpose why, is here: in which disguise,
    While other jests are something rank on foot,
    Her father hath commanded her to slip 2445
    Away with Slender and with him at Eton
    Immediately to marry: she hath consented: Now, sir,
    Her mother, ever strong against that match
    And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed
    That he shall likewise shuffle her away, 2450
    While other sports are tasking of their minds,
    And at the deanery, where a priest attends,
    Straight marry her: to this her mother's plot
    She seemingly obedient likewise hath
    Made promise to the doctor. Now, thus it rests: 2455
    Her father means she shall be all in white,
    And in that habit, when Slender sees his time
    To take her by the hand and bid her go,
    She shall go with him: her mother hath intended,
    The better to denote her to the doctor, 2460
    For they must all be mask'd and vizarded,
    That quaint in green she shall be loose enrobed,
    With ribands pendent, flaring 'bout her head;
    And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe,
    To pinch her by the hand, and, on that token, 2465
    The maid hath given consent to go with him.
  • Host. Which means she to deceive, father or mother?
  • Fenton. Both, my good host, to go along with me:
    And here it rests, that you'll procure the vicar
    To stay for me at church 'twixt twelve and one, 2470
    And, in the lawful name of marrying,
    To give our hearts united ceremony.
  • Host. Well, husband your device; I'll to the vicar:
    Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest.
  • Fenton. So shall I evermore be bound to thee; 2475
    Besides, I'll make a present recompense.