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SCENE II

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

Fal.
Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten
up my sufferance. I see you are obsequious in
your love, and I profess requital to a hair's
breadth; not only, Mistress Ford, in the simple
office of love, but in all the accoutrement,
complement and ceremony of it. But are you
sure of your husband now?

Mrs. Ford.
He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.

Mrs. Page.
[Within]
What, ho, gossip (10)
Ford! what, ho!

Mrs. Ford.
Step into the chamber, Sir John.
[Exit Falstaff.
Enter MISTRESS PAGE.

Mrs. Page.
How now, sweetheart! who's at
home besides yourself?

Mrs. Ford.
Why, none but mine own people.

Mrs. Page.
Indeed!

Mrs. Ford.
No, certainly. [Aside to her]
Speak louder.

Mrs. Page.
Truly, I am so glad you have
nobody here. (20)

Mrs. Ford.
Why?

Mrs. Page.
Why, woman, your husband is
in his old lunes again: he so takes on yonder
with my husband; so rails against all married
mankind; so curses all Eve's daughters, of
what complexion soever; and so buffets himself
on the forehead, crying, 'Peer out, peer
out!' that any madness I ever yet beheld
seemed but tameness, civility and patience, to
this his distemper he is in now: I am glad the
fat knight is not here. (30)

Mrs. Ford.
Why, does he talk of him?

Mrs. Page.
Of none but him; and swears
he was carried out, the last time he searched
for him, in a basket; protests to my husband
he is now here, and hath drawn him and the
rest of their company from their sport to
make another experiment of his suspicion: but
I am glad the knight is not here; now he shall
see his own foolery.

Mrs. Ford.
How near is he, Mistress Page?

Mrs. Page.
Hard by; at street end; he will (41)
be here anon.

Mrs. Ford.
I am undone! The knight is here.

Mrs. Page.
Why then you are utterly
shamed, and he's but a dead man. What a
woman are yo!--Away with him, away with
him! better shame than murder.

Mrs. Ford.
Which way should he go? how
should I bestow him? Shall I put him into
the basket again?
Re-enter FALSTAFF.

Fal.
No, I'll come no more i' the basket. (51)

May I not go out ere he come?

Mrs. Page.
Alas, three of Master Ford's
brothers watch the door with pistols, that none
shall issue out; otherwise you might slip away
ere he came. But what make you here?

Fal.
What shall I do? I'll creep up into
the chimney.

Mrs. Ford.
There they always use to discharge
their birding-pieces. Creep into the
kiln-hole. (60)

Fal.
Where is it?

Mrs. Ford.
He will seek there, on my word.
Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault,
but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of
such places, and goes to them by his note:
there is no hiding you in the house.

Fal.
I'll go out then.

Mrs. Page.
If you go out in your own semblance,
you die, Sir John. Unless you go out (69)
disguised--

Mrs. Ford.
How might we disguise him?

Mrs. Page.
Alas the day, I know not!
There is no woman's gown big enough for him;
otherwise he might put on a hat, a muffler and
a kerchief, and so escape.

Fal.
Good hearts, devise something; any
extremity rather than a mischief.

Mrs. Ford.
My maid's aunt, the fat woman
of Brentford, has a gown above.

Mrs. Page.
On my word, it will serve him;
she's as big as he is: and there's her thrummed
hat and her muffler too. Run up, Sir John.

Mrs. Ford.
Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress
Page and I will look some linen for your head.

Mrs. Page.
Quick, quick! we'll come dress (81)
you straight: put on the gown the while.
[Exit Falstaff.

Mrs. Ford.
I would my husband would meet
him in this shape: he cannot abide the old
woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch;
forbade her my house and hath threatened to
beat her.

Mrs. Page.
Heaven guide him to thy husband's
cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel
afterwards!

Mrs. Ford.
But is my husband coming?

Mrs. Page.
Ay, in good sadness, is he; and
talks of the basket too, howsoever he hath had
intelligence.

Mrs. Ford.
We'll try that; for I'll appoint
my men to carry the basket again, to meet him
at the door with it, as they did last time.

Mrs. Page.
Nay, but he'll be here presently:
let's go dress him like the witch of Brentford.

Mrs. Ford.
I'll first direct my men what
they shall do with the basket. Go up; I'll
bring linen for him straight.
[Exit.

Mrs. Page.
Hang him, dishonest varlet! we
cannot misuse him enough.

We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,

Wives may be merry, and yet honest too:

We do not act that often jest and laugh;

'Tis old, but true, Still swine eats all the draff.
[Exit.

Re-enter MISTRESS FORD with two Servants.


Mrs. Ford.
Go, sirs, take the basket again
on your shoulders: your master is hard at
door; if he bid you set it down, obey him:
quickly, dispatch.
[Exit.

First Serv.
Come, come, take it up.

Sec. Serv.
Pray heaven it be not full of
knight again.

First Serv.
I hope not; I had as lief bear
so much lead.
Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS.


Ford.
Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page,
have you any way then to unfool me again?
Set down the basket, villain! Somebody call
my wife. Youth in a basket! O you pandarly
rascals! there's a knot, a ging, a pack, a conspiracy
against me: now shall the devil be
shamed. What, wife, I say! Come, come
forth! Behold what honest clothes you send
forth to bleaching!

Page.
Why, this passes, Master Ford; you
are not to go loose any longer; you must be
pinioned.

Evans.
Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as (131)
a mad dog.

Shal.
Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well,
indeed.

Ford.
So say I too, sir.
Re-enter MISTRESS FORD.
Come hither, Mistress Ford; Mistress Ford, the
honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous
creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband!
I suspect without cause, mistress, do I?

Mrs. Ford.
Heaven be my witness you do, (140)
if you suspect me in any dishonesty.

Ford.
Well said, brazen-face! hold it out.

Come forth, sirrah!
[Pulling clothes out of the basket.


Page.
This passes!

Mrs. Ford.
Are you not ashamed? let the
clothes alone.

Ford.
I shall find you anon.

Evans.
'Tis unreasonable! Will you take
up your wife's clothes? Come away.

Ford.
Empty the basket, I say! (150)

Mrs. Ford.
Why, man, why?

Ford.
Master Page, as I am a man, there was
one conveyed out of my house yesterday in
this basket: why may not he be there again?
in my house I am sure he is: my intelligence
is true; my jealousy is reasonable. Pluck me
out all the linen.

Mrs. Ford.
If you find a man there, he shall
die a flea's death.

Page.
Here's no man.

Shal.
By my fidelity, this is not well, Master (161)
Ford; this wrongs you.

Evans.
Master Ford, you must pray, and
not follow the imaginations of your own heart:
this is jealousies.

Page.
No, nor nowhere else but in your
brain.

Ford.
Help to search my house this one
time. If I find not what I seek show no colour
for my extremity; let me for ever be your table-sport;
let them say of me, 'As jealous as

Ford, that searched a hollow walnut for his
wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more; once
more search with me.

Mrs. Ford.
What, ho, Mistress Page! come
you and the old woman down; my husband
will come into the chamber.

Ford.
Old woman! what old woman's that?

Mrs. Ford.
Why, it is my maid's aunt of (179)
Brentford.

Ford.
A witch, a quean, an old cozening
quean! Have I not forbid her my house? She
comes of errands, does she? We are simple
men; we do not know what's brought to pass
under the profession of fortune-telling. She
works by charms, by spells, by the figure, and
such daubery as this is, beyond our element:
we know nothing. Come down, you witch,
you hag, you; come down, I say!

Mrs. Ford.
Nay, good, sweet husband! Good
gentlemen, let him not strike the old woman.
Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, and MISTRESS PAGE.

Mrs. Page.
Come, Mother Prat; come, give
me your hand.

Ford.
I'll prat her. [Beating him] Out of
my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage,
you polecat, you ronyon! out, out! I'll conjure
you, I'll fortune-tell you.
[Exit Falstaff.

Mrs. Page.
Are you not ashamed? I think
you have killed the poor woman.

Mrs. Ford.
Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a (200)
goodly credit for you

Ford.
Hang her, witch!

Evans.
By yea and no, I think the 'oman is
a witch indeed: I like not when a 'oman has
a great peard; I spy a great peard under his
muffler.

Ford.
Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech
you, follow; see but the issue of my
jealousy: if I cry out thus upon no trail, never
trust me when I open again.

Page.
Let's obey his humour a little further: (211)
come, gentlemen.
[Exeunt Ford, Page, Shal., Caius, and Evans.

Mrs. Page.
Trust me, he beat him most
pitifully.

Mrs. Ford.
Nay, by the mass, that he did
not; he beat him most unpitifully, methought.

Mrs. Page.
I'll have the cudgel hallowed
and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious
service.

Mrs. Ford.
What think you? may we, with
the warrant of womanhood and the witness of
a good conscience, pursue him with any
further revenge?

Mrs. Page.
The spirit of wantonness is,
sure, scared out of him: if the devil have him
not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he
will never, I think, in the way of waste, attempt
us again.

Mrs. Ford.
Shall we tell our husbands how (229)
we have served him?

Mrs. Page.
Yes, by all means; if it be but
to scrape the figures out of your husband's
brains. If they can find in their hearts the
poor unvirtuous fat knight shall be any
further afflicted, we two will still be the
ministers.

Mrs. Ford.
I'll warrant they'll have him
publicly shamed: and methinks there would be
no period to the jest, should he not be publicly
shamed.

Mrs. Page.
Come, to the forge with it then;
shape it: I would not have things cool.
[Exeunt.

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