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A room in the Garter Inn.

Bardolph, I say,--

Here, sir.

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.

Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to (21)
speak with you.

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.

Come in, woman!

By your leave; I cry you mercy:
give your worship good morrow.

Take away these chalices. Go brew (30)
me a pottle of sack finely.

With eggs, sir?

Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm
in my brewage. [Exit Bardolph.] How now!

Marry, sir, I come to your worship
from Mistress Ford.

Mistress Ford! I have had ford
enough; I was thrown into the ford; I have
my belly full of ford.

Alas the day! good heart, that
was not her fault: she does so take on with (41)
her men; they mistook their erection.

So did I mine, to build upon a foolish
woman's promise.

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

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.

I will tell her.

Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest

Eight and nine, sir.

Well, be gone: I will not miss her.

Peace be with you, sir.

I marvel I hear not of Master Brook;
he sent me word to stay within: i like his (60)
money well. O, here he comes.
Enter FORD.

Bless you, sir!

Now, Master Brook, you come to
know what hath passed between me and
Ford's wife?

That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.

Master Brook, I will not lie to you;
I was at her house the hour she appointed me.

And sped you, sir?

Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.

How so, sir? Did she change her (70)

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. (80)

What, while you were there?

While I was there.

And did he search for you, and
could not find you?

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. (39)

A buck-basket!

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.

And how long lay you there?

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

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

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.

'Tis past eight already, sir.

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. [Exit.

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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