The Merry Wives of Windsor - Act 3


Scene I. A field near Frogmore .


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?
Sim. Marry, sir, the pittie-ward, the parkward, every way; old Windsor way, and every way but the town way.
Evans. I most fehemently desire you you will also look that way.
Sim. I will, sir.
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!
To shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sings madrigals;
There will we make our peds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies.
To shallow —
Mercy on me! I have a great dispositions to cry,
Melodious birds sing madrigals —
When as I sat in Pabylon —
And a thousand vagram posies.
To shallow, &c.

Re-enter SIMPLE .

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

Enter Page , SHALLOW , and SLENDER .

Shal. How now, master Parson! Good morrow, good Sir Hugh. Keep a gamester from the dice, and a good student from his book, and it is wonderful.
Slen. [ Aside ] Ah, sweet Anne Page!
Page . 'Save you, good Sir Hugh!
Evans. 'Pless you from his mercy sake, all of you!
Shal. What, the sword and the word! do you study them both, master parson?
Page . And youthful still! in your doublet and hose this raw rheumatic day!
Evans. There is reasons and causes for it.
Page . We are come to you to do a good office, master parson.
Evans. Fery well: what is it?
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.
Shal. I have lived fourscore years and upward; I never heard a man of his place, gravity and learning, so wide of his own respect.
Evans. What is he?
Page . I think you know him; Master Doctor Caius, the renowned French physician.
Evans. Got's will, and his passion of my heart! I had as lief you would tell me of a mess of porridge.
Page . Why?
Evans. He has no more knowledge in Hibocrates and Galen, — 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.
Slen. [ Aside ] O sweet Anne Page!
Shal. It appears so by his weapons. Keep them asunder; here comes Doctor Caius.

Enter HOST , CAIUS and RUGBY .

Page . Nay, good master parson, keep in your weapon.
Shal. So do you, good master doctor.
Host. Disarm them, and let them question: let them keep their limbs whole and hack our English.
Caius . I pray you, let-a me speak a word with your ear. Vherefore vill you not meet-a me?
Evans. [ Aside to Caius ] Pray you, use your patience: in good time.
Caius . By gar, you are de coward, de Jack dog, John ape.
Evans. [ Aside to Caius ] Pray you, let us not be laughing-stocks to other men's humours; I desire you in friendship and will one way or other make you amends. [ Aloud ] I will knog your urinals about your knave's cogs-comb for missing your meetings and appointments.
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?
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!
Caius . Ay, dat is very good; excellent.
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 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 whole, and let burnt sack be the issue. Come, lay their swords to pawn. Follow me, lads of peace; follow, follow, follow.
Shal. Trust me, a mad host. Follow, gentlemen, follow.
Slen. [ Aside ] O sweet Anne Page!
Caius . Ha, do I perceive dat? have you make-a de sot of us, ha, ha?
Evans. This is well; he has made us his vlouting-stog. I desire you that we may be friends; and let us knog our prains together to be revenge on this same scall, scurvy, cogging companion, the host of the Garter.
Caius . By gar, with all my heart. He promise to bring me where is Anne Page; by gar, he deceive me too.
Evans. Well, I will smite his noddles. Pray you, follow.

Scene II. A street .

Enter MISTRESS Page and ROBIN .

Mrs 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?
Rob. I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man than follow him like a dwarf.
Mrs 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?
Mrs Page . Truly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?
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.
Mrs Page . Be sure of that, — two other husbands.
Ford . Where had you this pretty weather-cock?
Mrs Page . I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?
Rob. Sir John Falstaff.
Ford . Sir John Falstaff!
Mrs 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.
Mrs Page . By your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.
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 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 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 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 rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is there: I will go.


Shal., Page, &c. Well met, Master Ford.
Ford . Trust me a good knot: I have good cheer at home; and I pray you all go with me.
Shal. I must excuse myself, Master Ford.
Slen. And so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine with Mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for more money than I'll speak of.
Shal. We have lingered about a match between Anne Page and my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
Slen. I hope I have your good will, father Page.
Page . You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you: but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
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 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 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 takes her, let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on 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.
Shal. Well, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooing at Master Page's.
Caius . Go home, John Rugby: I come anon.
Host . Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
Ford . [ Aside ] I think I shall drink in pipe-wine first with him: I 'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
All . Have with you to see this monster.

Scene III. A room in FORD'S house .


Mrs Ford . What, John! What, Robert!
Mrs Page . Quickly, quickly! Is the buck basket —
Mrs Ford . I warrant. What, Robin, I say!

Enter SERVANTS with a basket .

Mrs Page . Come, come, come.
Mrs Ford . Here, set it down.
Mrs Page . Give your men the charge; we must be brief.
Mrs 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 it among the whitsters in Datchet-mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames side.
Mrs Page . You will do it?
Mrs Ford . I ha' told them over and over; they lack no direction. Be gone, and come when you are called.
Mrs Page . Here comes little Robin.

Enter ROBIN .

Mrs Ford . How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?
Rob. My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door, Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
Mrs Page . You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?
Robt. 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 swears he'll turn me away.
Mrs 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.
Mrs Ford . Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone. [ Exit Robin .] Mistress Page, remember you your cue.
Mrs Page . I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.
Mrs Ford . Go to, then: we'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.


Fal. Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough: this is the period of my ambition: O this blessed hour!
Mrs Ford . O sweet Sir John!
Fal. 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 best lord; I would make thee my lady.
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 beauty of the brow that becomes the shiptire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.
Mrs Ford . A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.
Fal. By the Lord, 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 semi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature 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 Bucklersbury 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 Counter-gate, 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 me behind the arras.
Mrs Ford . Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman.

Re-enter MISTRESS Page and ROBIN .

What's the matter? how now!
Mrs Page . O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed, you're overthrown, you're 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.
Mrs Ford . '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, 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 whiting time — send him by your two men to Datchet-mead.
Mrs Ford . He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?
Fal. [ 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.
Mrs Page . What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
Fal. I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here. I'll never —
Mrs Page . Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men, Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!
Mrs. Ford . What, John! Robert! John!

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-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 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. [ Exeunt Servants with the basket .] Gentlemen, I have dreamed tonight; 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. [ 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.
Evans. This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
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.
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 will 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 . [ Aside to Mrs. Ford ] Heard you that?
Mrs Ford. You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
Ford. Ay, I do so.
Mrs Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts!
Ford. Amen!
Mrs Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.
Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
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 judgement!
Caius. By gar, nor I too: there is no bodies.
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.
Ford. 'Tis my fault, Master Page: I suffer for it.
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.
Caius. By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.
Ford. Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come back 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?
Ford. Any thing.
Evans. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
Caius. If dere be one or two, I shall make- a the turd.
Ford. Pray you, go, Master Page.
Evans. I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!
Evans. A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries!

Scene IV. A room in Page'S house .

Enter FENTON and ANNE Page .

Fent. I see I cannot get thy father's love;
Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.
Anne. Alas, how then?
Fent. Why, thou must be thyself.
He doth object I am too great of birth;
And that, my state being gall'd with my expense,
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.
Anne. May be he tells you true.
Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Albert 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
Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself
That now I aim at.
Anne. Gentle Master Fenton,
Yet seek my father's love; still seek it, sir:
If opportunity and humblest suit
Cannot attain it, why, then, — hark you hither!


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.
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. [ Aside ] This is my father's choice.
O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults
Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a-year!
Quick. And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you, a word with you.
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 gentle-woman.
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. Now, good Mistress Anne, —
Anne. What is your will?
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 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.

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.
Fent. Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.
Mrs Page. Good Master Fenton, come not to my child.
Page. She is no match for you.
Fent. Sir, will you hear me?
Page. No, good Master Fenton.
Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender in.
Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.
Quick. Speak to Mistress Page.
Fent. Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter
In such a righteous fashion as I do,
Perforce, against all checks, rebukes and manners,
I must advance the colours of my love
And not retire: let me have your good will.
Anne. Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool.
Mrs Page. I mean it not; I seek you a better husband.
Quick. That's my master, master doctor.
Anne. Alas, I had rather be set quick i' the earth
And bowl'd to death with turnips!
Mrs Page. Come, trouble not yourself. Good Master Fenton,
I will not be your friend not 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.
Fent. Farewell, gentle mistress; farewell, Nan.
Quick. 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.
Fent. I thank thee; and I pray thee, once to-night
Give my sweet Nan this ring: there's for thy pains.
Quick. Now heaven send thee good fortune! [ Exit Fenton .] A kind heart he hath; a woman would run through 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 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!

Scene V. A room in the Garter Inn .


Fal. Bardolph, I say, —
Bard. Here, sir.
Fal. Go fetch me a quart of sack'; put a toast in't. [ Exit Bard .]. Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a 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 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 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 .

Bard. Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.
Fal. Come, 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.
Bard. Come in, woman!


Quick. By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worship good morrow.
Fal. Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of sack finely.
Bard. With eggs, sir?
Fal. Simple of itself; I 'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage. [ Exit Bardolph .] How now!
Quick. Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.
Fal. Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.
Quick . Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault: she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
Fal. So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
Quick. Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn 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.
Fal. Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and bid her think what a man is: let her consider his frailty, and then judge of my merit.
Quick. I will tell her.
Fal. Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
Quick. Eight and nine, sir.
Fal. Well, be gone: I will not miss her.
Quick. Peace be with you, sir.
Fal. I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word to stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes.

Enter FORD .

Ford. Bless you, sir!
Fal. Now, Master Brook, you come to know what hath passed between me and Ford's wife?
Ford. That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.
Fal. Master Brook, I will not lie to you; I was at her house the hour she appointed me.
Ford. And sped you, sir?
Fal. Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.
Ford. How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
Fal. 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; 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?
Fal. While I was there.
Ford. And did he search for you, and could not find you?
Fal. 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.
Ford. A buck-basket!
Fal. 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.
Ford. And how long lay you there?
Fal. 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 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 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 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 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 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, sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered all this. My suit then is desperate; you'll undertake her no more?
Fal. 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 received from her another embassy of meeting; 'twixt eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook.
Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me to my appointment. Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall 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.
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 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 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.
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