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Ford. Bless you, sir!
Fal. Now, master Brook; you come to know what hath passed between me and Ford's wife? Ford. That, indeed, sir John, is my business. Fal. Master Brook, I will not lie to you; I was at her house the hour she appointed me.
Ford. And how speed you, sir?
Fal. Very ill-favouredly, master Brook. Ford. How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
Fal. 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.
Ford. What, while you were there?
Fal. While I was there.
Ford. And did he search for you, and could not find you?
Fal. You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and, by her invention, and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
Ford. A buck-basket!
Fal. By the Lord, a buck-basket: rammed me in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, and greasy napkins; that, master Brook, there was the rankest compound of villanous smell, that ever offended nostril.
Ford. And how long lay you there?
Fal. 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 VOL. I.
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 Brook.
Ford. In gcod sadness,2 sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered all this. My suit then is desperate; you'll undertake her no more.
Fal. Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as I have been into the 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.
Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me3 to my appoint.
(1) Bilboa, where the best blades are made. Seriousness. (3) Make myself ready.
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.
Ford. 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 half-penny 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.
SCENE I.-The Street. Enter Mrs. Page, Mrs. Quickly, and William.
Mrs. Page. Is he at master Ford's already, think'st thou ?
Quick. Sure he is by this; or will be presently: but truly, he is very courageous1 mad, about his throwing into the water. Mistress Ford desires you to come suddenly.
Mrs. Page. I'll be with her by and by; I'll but bring my young man here to school: look, where his master comes; 'tis a playing-day, I see.
Enter Sir Hugh Evans.
How now, sir Hugh? no school to-day? Eva. No; master Slender is let the boys leave to play.
Quick. Blessing of his heart!
Mrs. Page. Sir Hugh, my husband says, my son profits nothing in the world at his book; I pray you, ask him some questions in his accidence." Eva. Come hither, William; hold up your head; come.
Mrs. Page. Come on, sirrah; hold up your head; answer your master, be not afraid.
Eva. William, how many numbers is in nouns ? Will. Two.
Quick. Truly, I thought there had been one number more; because they say, od's nouns.
Eva. Peace your tattlings. What is fair, William?
Quick. Poulcats! there are fairer things than poulcats, sure.
Eva. You are a very simplicity 'oman; I pray you, peace. What is lapis, William?
Will. A stone.
Eva. And what is a stone, William?
Eva. No, it is lapis; I pray you, remember in your prain.
Eva. That is good William. What is he, William, that does lend articles?
Will. Articles are borrowed of the pronoun; and be thus declined, Singulariter, nominativo, hic, hæc, hoc.
Eva. Nominativo, hig, hag, hog; pray you, mark: genitivo, hujus: Well, what is your accusative case?
Will. Accusativo, hinc.
Eva. I pray you, have your remembrance, child; Accusativo, hing, hang, hog.
Quick. Hang hog is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.
Eva. Leave your prabbles, 'oman. What is the focative case, William?
Will. O-Vocativo, O.
Eva. Remember, William; focative is, caret.
Mrs. Page. Peace.
Eva. What is your genitive case plural, William?
Will. Genitive case?
Will. Genitive,―horum, harum, horum. Quick. 'Vengeance of Jenny's case! fie on her!-never name her, child, if she be a whore.
Eva. For shame, 'oman.
Quick. You do ill to teach the child such words: he teaches him to hick and to hack, which they'll do fast enough of themselves; and to call horum:fie upon you!
Eva. Oman, art thou lunatics? hast thou no understandings for thy cases, and the numbers of the genders? Thou art as foolish Christian creatures as I would desires.
Mrs. Page. Pr'ythee, hold thy peace.
Eva. Show me now, William, some declensions of your pronouns.
Will. Forsooth, I have forgot.
Eva. It is ki, kæ, cod; if you forget your kies, your kes, and your cods, you must be preeches.i Go your ways, and play, go.
Mrs. Page. He is a better scholar, than I thought he was.
Eva. He is a good sprag2 memory. Farewell,
(1) Breeched, i. e. flogged. (2) Apt to learn.