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Mrs. Ford. I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady.
Fal. Let the court of France show me such another; I see how thine eye would emulate the diamond: Thou hast the right arched bent of the brow, that becomes the ship-tire, the tirevaliant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.*
Mrs. Ford. A plain kerchief, Sir John : my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.
Fal. Thou art a traitor to say so: thou wouldst make an absolute courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait, in a semicircled farthingale. I see what thou wert, if fortune thy foe were not; nature is thy friend : Come, thou canst not hide it. Mrs. Ford. Believe me, there's no such thing in me.
Fal. 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 women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklers-buryt in simple-time; I cannot: but I love thee; none but thee; and thou deservest it.
Mrs. Ford. Do not betray me, Sir; I fear you love mistress Page.
Fal. Thou mightst as well say, I love to walk by the Countergate ;which is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.
Mrs. Ford. Well, heaven knows how I love you ; and you shall one day find it.
Fal. Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not be in that mind.
Rob. [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.
Fal. She shall not see me; I will ensconce ş me behind the arras.ll Mrs. Ford. Pray you, do so; she's a very tattling woman.
[FALSTAFF hides himself. Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN. What's the matter ? how now ?
Mrs. Page. O mistress Ford, what have you done? You are shamed, you are overthrown, you are undone for ever.
Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good mistress Page ?
Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, mistress Ford ! having an honest man to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion ! Mrs. Ford. What cause of suspicion ?
Mrs. Page. What cause of suspicion ?-Out upon you ! how am I mistook in you ?
Mrs. Ford. Why, alas ! what's the matter?
Mrs. Page. Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the 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 absence : You are undone. * Venetian fashions.
+ Formerly chiefly inhabited by druggists.
Mrs. Ford. Speak louder.-[Aside]—'Tis not so, I hope.
Mrs. Page. Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man 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 him, convey him out. Be not amazed; call all your senses to you; defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.
Mrs. 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 out of the house.
Mrs. 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 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 whitingtime, * send him by your two men to Datchet mead. Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there: What shall I do?
Re-enter FALSTAFF. Fal. 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.
Mrs. Page. What! Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
Fal. I love thee, and none but thee; help me away: let me creep in here; I'll never
[He goes into the basket; they cover him with foul linen. Mrs. Page. Help to cover your master, boy : Call your men, mistress Ford :—You dissembling knight.
Mrs. Ford. What, John, Robert, John! [Exit ROBIN; Reenter Servants.] Go, take up these clothes here, quickly; Where's the cowl-staff?t look, how you drumble :I carry them to the laundress in Datchet mead ; quickly, come.
Enter FORD, PAGE, 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 ?
Serv. To the laundress, forsooth.
Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it ? You were best meddle with buckwashing.
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. [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 :-So, now uncape.
† A staff for carrying a large tub or basket.
Unbag the fox.
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.
[Exit. Eva. This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 'tis no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France. Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen, see the issue of his search.
(Exeunt EVANS, PAGE, and Caius. Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this ?
Mrs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.
Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked who* was in the basket!
Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing ; so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal; I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.
Mrs. 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.
Mrs. Page. I will lay a plot to try that : And we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.
Mrs. 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?
Mrs. Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for to-morrow eight o'clock, to have amends.
Re-enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS. Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.
Mrs. Page. Heard you that ?
Eva. 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.
Caius. By gar, nor I too: dere is no bodies.
Page. Fie, fie, master Ford ! are you not ashamed? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination ? I would not have your distemper in this kind, for the wealth of Windsor Castle.
Ford. 'Tis my fault, master Page: I suffer for it. Eva. You suffer for a pad conscience : your wife is as honest a 'omans, as I will desires among five thousand, anů five hundred too.
Caius. By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.
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.
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 ?
Eva. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, vit all my heart.
[Exeunt. SCENE IV.-A Room in Page's House.
Enter FENTON and MISTRESS ANNE PAGE.
Anne, Alas! how then ?
Anne. May be he tells you true.
Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Anne. Gentle master Fenton,
[They converse apart. Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Mrs. QUICKLY. Shal. Break their talk, mistress Quickly; my kinsman shall speak for himself.
Slen. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't:* slid, 'tis but venturing. * A proverb-a shaft was a long arrow, and a bolt, a thick short one.
Shal. Be not dismayed.
Slen. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that,-but that I am afeard.
Quick. Hark ye; master Slender would speak a word with you. Anne. I come to him.
This is my father's choice. 0, what a world of vile, ill-favoured faults Look handsome in three hundred pounds a year! [Aside. Quick. And how does good master Fenton? Pray you, a word Shal. She's coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!
Slen. I had a father, mistress Anne ;-my uncle can tell you good jests of him:-Pray you, uncle, tell mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.
Shal. Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.
Slen. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire. Shal. He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.
Slen. Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail,* under the degree of a squire.
Shal. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure. Anne, Good master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
Shal. Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She calls you, coz: I'll leave you.
Anne. Now, master Slender.
Slen. 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. I mean, master Slender, what would you with me?
Slen. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you: Your father, and my uncle, have 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.
Enter PAGE and MISTRESS PAGE.
Fent. Nay, master Page, be not impatient.
[Exeunt PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER. Quick. Speak to mistress Page. řent. Good mistress Page, for that I love your daughter * Come poor or rich.
+ Lot. VOL. I.