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SCENE I

Before PAGE'S house.
Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter.

Mrs. Page.
What, have I scaped love-letters
in the holiday-time of my beauty, and am
I now a subject for them? Let me see.
[Reads.

'Ask me no reason why I love you; for
though Love use Reason for his physician, he
admits him not for his counsellor. You are
not young, no more am I; go to then, there's
sympathy: you are merry, so am I; ha, ha!
then there 's more sympathy: you love sack,
and so do I; would you desire better sympathy?
Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page,--at
the least, if the love of soldier can suffice,--
that I love thee. I will not say, pity me; 'tis
not a soldier-like phrase: but I say, love me.
By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might
For thee to fight, JOHN FALSTAFF.'
What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked,
wicked world! One that is well-nigh worn to
pieces with age to show himself a young gallant!
What an unweighed behavior hath this
Flemish drunkard picked--with the devil's
name!--out of my conversation, that he dares
in this manner assay me? Why, he hath not
been thrice in my company! What should I
say to him? I was then frugal of my mirth:
Heaven forgive me! Why, I'll exhibit a bill
in the parliament for the putting down of men.
How shall I be revenged on him? for revenged
I will be, as sure as his guts are made of
puddings.
Enter MISTRESS FORD.

Mrs. Ford.
Mistress Page! trust me, I was
going to your house.

Mrs. Page.
And, trust me, I was coming to
you. You look very ill.

Mrs. Ford.
Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I
have to show to the contrary.

Mrs. Page.
Faith, but you do, in my mind.

Mrs. Ford.
Well, I do then; yet I say I
could show you to the contrary. O Mistress
Page, give me some counsel!

Mrs. Page.
What's the matter, woman?

Mrs. Ford.
O woman, if it were not for
one trifling respect, I could come to such
honor!

Mrs. Page.
Hang the trifle, woman! take
the honor. What is it? dispense with trifles;
what is it?

Mrs. Ford.
If I would but go to hell for an (50)
eternal moment or so, I could be knighted.

Mrs. Page.
What? thou liest! Sir Alice
Ford! These knights will hack; and so thou
shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.

Mrs. Ford.
We burn daylight; here, read,
read; perceive how I might be knighted. I
shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I
have an eye to make difference of men's liking;
and yet he would not swear; praised
women's modesty; and gave such orderly and
well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness, that
I would have sworn his disposition would have
gone to the truth of his words; but they do
no more adhere and keep place together than
the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Green
Sleeves.' What tempest, I trow, threw this
whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly,
ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged
on him? I think the best way were to entertain
him with hope, till the wicked fire of lust
have melted him in his own grease. Did you (70)
ever hear the like?

Mrs. Page.
Letter for letter, but that the
name of Page and Ford differs! To thy great
comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here's
the twin-brother of thy letter: but let thine
inherit first; for, I protest, mine never shall.
I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters,
writ with blank space for different names,--
sure, more,--and these are of the second edition:
he will print them, out of doubt; for
he cares not what he puts into the press, when
he would put us two. I had rather be a giantess,
and lie under Mount Pelion. Well, I will
find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one
chaste man.

Mrs. Ford.
Why, this is the very same;
the very hand, the very words. What doth he
think of us?

Mrs. Page.
Nay, I know not: it makes me
almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty.
I'll entertain myself like one that I am
not acquainted withal; for, sure, unless he
know some strain in me, that I know not myself,
he would never have boarded me in this
fury.

Mrs. Ford.
'Boarding,' call you it? I'll be
sure to keep him above deck.

Mrs. Page.
So will I: if he come under
my hatches, I'll never to sea again. Let's be
revenged on him: let's appoint him a meeting;
give him a show of comfort in his suit and lead
him on with a fine-baited delay, till
he hath pawned his horses to mine host of (100)
the Garter.

Mrs. Ford.
Nay, I will consent to act any
villany against him, that may not sully the
chariness of our honesty. O, that my husband
saw this letter! it would give eternal food to
his jealousy.

Mrs. Page.
Why, look where he comes;
and my good man too: he's as far from jealousy
as I am from giving him cause; and (109)
that I hope is an unmeasurable distance.

Mrs. Ford.
You are the happier woman.

Mrs. Page.
Let's consult together against
this greasy knight. Come hither. [They retire. Enter FORD with PISTOL, and PAGE with NYM.

Ford.
Well, I hope it be not so.

Pist.
Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs:
Sir John affects thy wife.

Ford.
Why, sir, my wife is not young.

Pist.
He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor.

Both young and old, one with another, Ford;

He loves the gallimaufry: Ford, perpend. (120)

Ford.
Love my wife!

Pist.
With liver burning hot. Prevent, or go thou,

Like Sir Actaeon he, with Ringwood at thy heels:

O, odious is the name!

Ford.
What name, sir?

Pist.
The horn, I say. Farewell.

Take heed, have open eyes, for thieves do foot by night:

Take heed, ere summer comes or cuckoo-birds do sing.

Away, Sir Corporal Nym!

Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. [Exit.


Ford.
[Aside]
I will be patient; I will find (131)
out this.

Nym.
[To Page]
And this is true; I like
not the humor of lying. He hath wronged me
in some humors: I should have borne the humored
letter to her; but I have a sword and
it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your
wife; there's the short and the long. My name
is Corporal Nym; I speak and I avouch; 'tis
true: my name is Nym and Falstaff loves your
wife. Adieu. I love not the humor of bread
and cheese, and there's the humor of it. (141)
Adieu. [Exit.

Page.
'The humor of it,' quoth a'! here's
a fellow frights English out of his wits.

Ford.
I will seek out Falstaff.

Page.
I never heard such a drawling, affecting
rogue.

Ford.
If I do find it; well.

Page.
I will not believe such a Cataian,
though the priest o' the town commended him (150)
for a true man.

Ford.
'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.

Page.
How now, Meg!
[Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford come forward.


Mrs. Page.
Whither go you, George?
Hark you.

Mrs. Ford.
How now, sweet Frank! why
art thou melancholy?

Ford.
I melancholy! I am not melancholy.
Get you home, go.

Mrs. Page.
Faith, thou has some crotchets
in thy head. Now, will you go, Mistress Page?

Mrs. Page.
Have with you, You'll come to
dinner, George. [Aside to Mrs. Ford] Look
who comes yonder; she shall be our messenger
to this paltry knight.

Mrs. Page.
[Aside to Mrs. Page] Trust me,
I thought on her: she'll fit it.
Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.

Mrs. Page.
You are come to see my
daughter Anne?

Quick.
Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does (170)
good Mistress Anne?

Mrs. Page.
Go in with us and see: we
have an hour's talk with you.
[Exeunt Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Quickly.

Page.
How now, Master Ford!

Ford.
You heard what this knave told me,
did you not?

Page.
Yes: and you heard what the other
told me?

Ford.
Do you think there is truth in them?

Page.
Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the
knight would offer it: but these that accuse
him in his intent towards our wives are a yoke
of his discarded men; very rogues, now they
be out of service.

Ford.
Were they his men?

Page.
Marry, were they.

Ford.
I like it never the better for that.
Does he lie at the Garter?

Page.
Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend
this voyage towards my wife, I would
turn her loose to him; and what he gets more
of her than sharp words, let it lie on my head.

Ford.
I do not misdoubt my wife; but I
would be loath to turn them together. A man
may be too confident: I would have nothing
lie on my head: I cannot be thus satisfied.

Page.
Look where my ranting host of the
Garter comes: there is either liquor in his
pate or money in his purse when he looks so
merrily.
Enter HOST.
How now, mine host!

Host.
How now, bully-rook! thou'rt a gentleman. (201)
Cavaleiro-justice, I say!
Enter SHALLOW.

Shal.
I follow, mine host, I follow. Good
even and twenty, good Master Page! Master
Page, will you go with us? we have sport in
hand.

Host.
Tell him, cavaleiro-justice; tell him,
bully-rook.

Shal.
Sir, there is a fray to be fought between
Sir Hugh the Welsh priest and Caius the (210)
French doctor.

Ford.
Good mine host o' the Garter, a
word with you. [Drawing him aside.

Host.
What sayest thou, my bully-rook?

Shal.
[To Page] Will you go with us to behold
it? My merry host hath had the measuring
of their weapons; and, I think, hath appointed
them contrary places; for, believe me,
I hear the parson is no jester. Hark, I will tell
you what our sport shall be.
[They converse apart.

Host.
Hast thou no suit against my knight, (221)
my guest-cavaleire?

Ford.
None, I protest: but I'll give you a
pottle of burnt sack to give me recourse to
him and tell him my name is Brook; only
for a jest.

Host.
My hand, bully; thou shalt have
egress and regress;--said I well?--and thy
name shall be Brook. It is a merry knight.
Will you go, An-heires?

Shal.
Have with you, mine host.

Page.
I have heard the Frenchman hath (231)
good skill in his rapier.

Shal.
Tut, sir, I could have told you more.
In these times you stand on distance, your
passes, stoccadoes. and I know not what:
'tis the heart, Master Page; 'tis here, 'tis here.
I have seen the time, with my long sword
I would have made you four tall fellows skip
like rats.

Host.
Here, boys, here, here shall we wag?

Page.
Have with you. I had rather hear
them scold than fight.
[Exeunt Host, Shal., and Page.

Ford.
Though Page be a secure fool, an
stands so firmly on his wife's frailty, yet I
cannot put off my opinion so easily: she was
in his company at Page's house; and what
they made there, I know not. Well, I will look
further into't; and I have a disguise to sound
Falstaff. If I find her honest, I lose not my
labor; if she be otherwise, 'tis labour well
bestowed. [Exit.

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