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SCENE III

A room in FORD'S house.
Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.

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 (20)
when you are called.
[Exeunt Servants.

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?

Rob.
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 (41)
it, hiss me.
[Exit.

Mrs. Ford.
Go to, then: we'll use this
unwholesome humidity, this gross watery
pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles
from jays.
Enter FALSTAFF.

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 ship-tire,
the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian (61)
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, (71)
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 cay 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 (81)
thee; and thou deserves 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 (91)
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.
[Falstaff hides himself.
Re-enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN. (100)
What's the matter? how now!

Mrs. Page.
O Mistress Ford, what have
you done? You're shamed, you're over-
thrown, 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 (111)
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 (141)
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 (150)
creep in here. I'll never--
[Gets 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.
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.
[Exit.

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.
[Exeunt Page, Caius and Evans.

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 ipto 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
sour thoughts! (220)

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 (251)
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 to-morrow
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!
[Exeunt.

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