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Mrs. Ford. Do not betray me, sir. I fear, you love mistress Page.
Fal. Thou might'st 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 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
[FALSTAFF hides himself. Enter Mistress PAGE and ROBIN. What's the matter? how now !
Mrs. Page. O mistress Ford! what have you done ? You ’re shamed, you are overthrown, 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 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 't is 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“ rather," and "
you had rather:" your husband's here at hand ; bethink you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot hide him.-0, 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 to Datchet mead.
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there. What shall
Mrs. Page. What! sir John Falstaff? Are these your letters, knight?
Fal. I love thee: help me away; let me creep in here; I'll never
[He gets into the basket, and falls over :'
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?a look, how you drumbles: 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
2 A stick for two to carry a basket with two handles bý. 3 Drone, loiter.
1 Not in f. e.
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 to-night: 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 :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.
Eva. This is fery fantastical humours, and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 't is no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France.
Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen : see the issue of his search.
[Exeunt Page, Evans, and Caius. 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 into the water; and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment ?
Mrs. Page. We'll 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. Heard you that ?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts! Ford. Amen.
[Ford. Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, master Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
Eva. 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 judgment.
Caius. By gar, nor I too: dere is no bodies. Page. Fie, fie, master Ford! are you not ashamed ? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not have your distemper in this kind for the wealth of Windsor Castle.
Ford. 'T is my fault, master Page: I suffer for it.
Evu. 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 't is an honest woman.
Ford. Well; I promised you a dinner.—Come, come, walk 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.
Eva. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine Host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, vit all my heart.
Eva. A lousy knave! to have his gibes, and his mockeries.
[Exeunt. SCENE IV.-A Room in Page's House.
Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE.
Anne. Alas! how then ?
Why, thou must be thyself. He doth object, I am too great of birth,
And that my state being gall’d with my expense,
Anne. May be, he tells you true.
Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Gentle master Fenton,
[They talk apart. Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Mrs. QuickLY.
Shal. Break their talk, mistress Quickly, my kinsman shall speak for himself.
Slen. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't. 'Slid, 't is but venturing.
Shal. Be not dismay'd.
Slen. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that,-but that I am afeard.
Quick. Hark ye; master Slender would speak a word
Anne. I come to him.—This is my father's choice. 0, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!
Quick. And how does good master Fenton ? Pray you, a word with you.
Shal. She's coming; to her, coz. O boy! thou hadst a father.
Slen. I had a father, mistress Anne: my uncle can tell you good jests of him.-Pray you, uncle, tell mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.
Shal. Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.
Slen. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire.
Shal. He will maintain you like a gentlewoman