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Scene III

A room in Ford's house

Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page

Mistress Ford

What, John! What, Robert!

Mistress Page

Quickly, quickly! is the buck-basket—

Mistress Ford

I warrant. What, Robin, I say!

Enter Servants with a basket

Mistress Page

Come, come, come.

Mistress Ford

Here, set it down.

Mistress Page

Give your men the charge; we must be brief.

Mistress 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.

Mistress Page

You will do it?

Mistress Ford

I ha' told them over and over; they lack no direction. Be gone, and come when you are called.

Exeunt Servants

Mistress Page

Here comes little Robin.

Enter Robin

Mistress Ford

How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?

Robin

My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door, Mistress Ford, and requests your company.

Mistress Page

You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?

Robin

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.

Mistress 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.

Mistress Ford

Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.

Exit Robin

Mistress Page, remember you your cue.

Mistress Page

I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.

Exit

Mistress 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

Falstaff

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!

Mistress Ford

O sweet Sir John!

Falstaff

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.

Mistress Ford

I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady!

Falstaff

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 admittance.

Mistress Ford

A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.

Falstaff

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, thou canst not hide it.

Mistress Ford

Believe me, there is no such thing in me.

Falstaff

What made me love thee? let that persuade thee there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog and say 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 thee; and thou deservest it.

Mistress Ford

Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love Mistress Page.

Falstaff

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.

Mistress Ford

Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one day find it.

Falstaff

Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.

Mistress Ford

Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not be in that mind.

Robin

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.

Falstaff

She shall not see me: I will ensconce me behind the arras.

Mistress Ford

Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman. [Falstaff hides himself]

Re-enter Mistress Page and Robin

What's the matter? how now!

Mistress Page

O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed, you're overthrown, you're undone for ever!

Mistress Ford

What's the matter, good Mistress Page?

Mistress Page

O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest man to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion!

Mistress Ford

What cause of suspicion?

Mistress Page

What cause of suspicion! Out pon you! how am I mistook in you!

Mistress Ford

Why, alas, what's the matter?

Mistress 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 assence: you are undone.

Mistress Ford

'Tis not so, I hope.

Mistress 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.

Mistress 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.

Mistress 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 to Datchet-mead.

Mistress Ford

He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?

Falstaff

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.

Mistress Page

What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?

Falstaff

I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here. I'll never—

Gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen

Mistress Page

Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men, Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!

Mistress 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-meat; quickly, come.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor 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?

Servant

To the laundress, forsooth.

Mistress 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 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.

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

Sir Hugh Evans

This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.

Doctor 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, Doctor Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans

Mistress Page

Is there not a double excellency in this?

Mistress Ford

I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.

Mistress Page

What a taking was he in when your husband asked who was in the basket!

Mistress Ford

I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.

Mistress Page

Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.

Mistress 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.

Mistress 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.

Mistress 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?

Mistress Page

We will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow, eight o'clock, to have amends.

Re-enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans

Ford

I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.

Mistress Page

Aside to Mistress Ford

Heard you that?

Mistress Ford

You use me well, Master Ford, do you?

Ford

Ay, I do so.

Mistress Ford

Heaven make you better than your thoughts!

Ford

Amen!

Mistress Page

You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.

Ford

Ay, ay; I must bear it.

Sir Hugh 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 judgment!

Doctor 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.

Sir Hugh 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.

Doctor Caius

By gar, I see 'tis 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.

Sir Hugh Evans

If there is one, I shall make two in the company.

Doctor Caius

If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.

Ford

Pray you, go, Master Page.

Sir Hugh Evans

I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousy knave, mine host.

Doctor Caius

Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!

Sir Hugh Evans

A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries!

Exeunt

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