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Page. No, nor no where 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 search'd a hollow walnut for his wife's leman. Satisfy me once more; once more search with me.
Mrs. Ford. What hoa, 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 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.
Enter Falstaff in women's clothes, led by Mrs. Page.
Mrs. Page. Come, mother Pratt, come, give me your hand.
Ford. I'll prat her:Out of my door, you witch! [beats him.] you rag, you baggage, you polecat, you ronyon 2 out! out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you. [Exit Falstaff. Mrs. Page. Are you not ashamed? I think, you have kill'd the poor woman.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, he will do it :-'Tis a goodly credit for you.
Ford. Hang her, witch!
Eva. 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 her 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,1 never trust me when I open2 again.
Page. Let's obey his humour a little further; Come, gentlemen. [Ex. Page, Ford, Shal. and Eva.
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 feesimple, 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 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
Mrs. Page. Come, to the forge with it then, shape it: I would not have things cool. [Exeunt.
SCENE III-A Room in the Garter Inn. Enter Host and Bardolph.
Bard. Sir, the Germans desire to have three of
your horses: the duke himself will be to-morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.
Host. What duke should that be, comes so secretly? I hear not of him in the court: Let me speak with the gentlemen; they speak English?
Bard. Ay, sir; I'll call them to you.
Host. They shall have my horses; but I'll make them pay, I'll sauce them; they have had my house a week at command; I have turned away my other guests: they must come off; I'll sauce them: Come. [Exeunt.
SCENE IV-A Room in Ford's House. Enter Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Sir Hugh Evans.
Eva. 'Tis one of the pest discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.
Page. And did he send you both these letters at an instant?
Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour. Ford. Pardon me, wife: Henceforth do what thou wilt;
I rather will suspect the sun with cold, Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour stand,
In him that was of late a heretic,
As firm as faith.
'Tis well, 'tis well; no more. Be not as éxtreme in submission, As in offence;
But let our plot go forward: let our wives
Page. How to send him word they'll meet him in the park at midnight! fie, fie; he'll never come. Eva. You say he has been thrown in the rivers;
and has been grievously peaten, as an old 'oman: methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he should not come; methinks his flesh is punished, he shall have no desires.
Page. So think I too.
Mrs. Ford. Devise but how you'll use him when he comes,
And let us two devise to bring him thither.
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit; and well you know,
The superstitions idle-headed eld2
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.
Page. Why, yet there want not many, that do fear.
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak:
Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device; That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us, Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head.
Page. Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come, And in this shape: When you have brought him thither,
What shall be done with him? what is your plot? Mrs. Page. That likewise have we thought upon, and thus:
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
(1) Strikes. (2) Old age. (3) Elfs, hobgoblins.
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
The children must Be practised well to this, or they'll ne'er do't. Eva. I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber.
Ford. That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards.
Mrs. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of all the fairies,
Finely attired in a robe of white.
Page. That silk will I go buy;-and in that time
Shall master Slender steal my Nan away, [Aside. And marry her at Eton.Go, send to Falstaff straight.
Ford. Nay, I'll to him again in name of Brook : He'll tell me all his purpose: sure he'll come. Mrs. Page. Fear not you that: Go, get us properties,3 And tricking for our fairies.
(1) Wild, discordant. Necessaries.