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messenger to your worship: Mistress Page hath her hearty commendations to you too;-and let me tell you in your ear, she's as fartuous a civil modest wife, and one (I tell you) that will pot miss your morning nor evening prayer, as any is in Windsor, whoe'er be the other: and she bade me tell your worship, that her husband is seldom from home; but, she hopes, there will come a time. I never knew a woman so dote upon a man: surely, I think you have charms, la; yes, in truth.
Fal. Not I, I assure thee; setting the attraction of
my good parts aside, I have no other charms. Quick. Blessing on your heart for't!
Fal. But, I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford's wife, and Page's wife, acquainted each other how they love me?
Quick. That were a jest, indeed !--they have not so little grace, I hope :-that were a trick, indeed! But mistress Page would desire you to send her your little page, of all loves* ; her husband has a marvellous infection to the little page: and, truly, master Page is an honest man. Never a wife in Windsor leads a better life than she does; do what she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all is as she will; and truly she deserves it: for if there be a kind wo. man in Windsor, 'she is one. You must send her your page; no remedy.
Fal. Why, I will.
Quick. Nay, but do so then: and, look you, he may come and go between you both; and, in any case, have a pay-wordt, that you may know one another's mind, and the boy never need to understand any thing; for 'tis not good that children should know any wickedness: old folks, you know, have discretion, as they say, and know the world.
Fal. Fare thee well : commend me to them both :
* By all means.
+ A watch-word,
there's my purse: I am yet thy debtor.-Boy, go along with this woman.—This news distracts me!
[Ereunt Quickly and Robin. Pist. This punk is one of Cupid's carriers :Clap on more sails; pursue, up with your fights; Give fire; she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!
[Erit Pistol. Fal. Say'st thou so, old Jack ? go thy ways ; I'll make more of thy old body than I have done. Will they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expence of so much money, be now a gainer? Good body, I thank thee: Let them say, 'tis grossly done; so it be fairly done, no matter.
Enter Bardolph. Bard. Sir John, there's one master Brook below would fain speak with you, and be acquainted with you; and hath sept your worship a morning's draught of sack. Fal. Brook, is his name? Bard. Ay, sir.
Fal. Call him in; (Erit Bardolph.] Such Brooks are welcome to me, that o'erflow such liquor. Ah! ha! mistress Ford and mistress Page, have I encom. passed you? go to; via!*
Re-enter Bardolph, with Ford disguised.
Ford. Bless you, sir.
Ford. I make bold, to press with so little preparation upon you.
Ful. You're welcome; What's your will? Give us leave, drawer.
[Erit Bardolph. Ford. Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent inuch; my name is Brook.
• A cant phrase of exultation.
Ful. Good master Brook, I desire more acquaintance of
you. Ford. Good sir Jolin, I sue for yours: not to charge you; for I must let you understand, I think myself in better plight for a leuder than you are: the which bath something enbolden'd me to this unseasoned intrusion; for they say, if money go before, all ways do lie open.
Fal. Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.
Ford. Troth, and I have a bag of money here trou. bles me; if you will help me to bear it, sir John, take all, or half, for easing me of the carriage.
Ful. Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter:
Ford. I will tell you, sir, if you will give me the hearing.
Fal. Speak, good master Brook : I shall be glad to be your servant.
Ford. Sir, I hear you are a scholar, I will be brief with you;- and you have been a man long known to me, though I had never so good means, as desire, to make myself acquainted with you. I shall discover a thing to you, wherein I must very much lay open mine own imperfectiou: but, good sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register of your own; that I may pass with a repr the easier, sith* you yourself know, how easy it is to be such an offender.
Fal. Very well, sir; proceed.
Ford. There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband's name is Ford.
Fal. Well, sir.
Ford. I have long loved lier, and, I protest to you, bestowed much on her; followed her with a doting observance; engrossed opportunities to meet her; fee'd every slight occasion, that could but nig. gardly give me sight of her: not only bought many presents to give her, but have given largely to many,
to know what she would have given : briefly, I have pursued her, as love hath pursued me; which hath been, on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind, or in my means, meed*, I am sure, I have received none; unless experience be a jewel: that I have purchased at an infinite rate; and that hath taught me to say this:
Love like a shadow flies, when substance love pur
sues; Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.
Fal. Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?
Fal. Have you importuned her to such a purpose?
Ford Like a fair louse, built upon another man's ground; so that I have lost my edifice, by mistaking the place where I erected it.
Fal. To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?
Ford. When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some say, that, though she appear honest to me, yet, in other places, she enlargeth her mirth so far, that there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, sir John, here is the heart of my purpose: You are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admir. able discourse, of great admittancet, authentic in your place and person, generally allowedt for your many warlike, court-like, and learned preparations.
Fal. O, sir!
Ford. Believe it, for you know it:There is money; spend it, spend it; spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in ex. change of it, as to lay an amiable siege to the ho.
+ In the greatest companies.
nesty of this Ford's wife: use your art of wooing, win her to consent to you; if any man may, you may as soon as any.
Fal. Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I should win what you would enjoy? Methinks, you prescribe to yourself very preposterously.
Ford. O, understand my drift! she dwells so se. curely on the excellency of her honour, that the solly of my soul dares not present itself, she is too bright to be looked against. Now, could I come to her with any detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument to commend themselves; I could drive her then from the ward* of her purity, ber reputation, her marriage-vow, and a thousand other her defences, which now are too strongly embattled against me; What say you to't, sir John ?
Fal. Master Brook, I will first make bold with your money; next, give me your hand; and last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if you will, enjoy Ford's wife.
Ford. O good sir!
Ford. Want no money, sir Johu, you shall want pone.
Fat. Want no mistress Ford, master Brook, you shall want none. I shall be with her (I may tell you,) by her own appointment; even as you came in to me, ber assistavt, or go-between, parted from me: I say, I shall be with her betweeu ten and eleven; for at that time the jealous rascally knave, her husband, will be forth. Come you to me at night; you shall know how I speed.
Ford. I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?
Fal. Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know him not:- yet I wrong him, to call him poor; they