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Act III. Host. What say you to young master Fenton? he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holyday*, he smells April and May: he will carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his buttons; he will carry't.
Page. Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is of no havingt: he kept company with the wild Prince and Poins; he is of too high a region, he knows too much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes with the finger of my substance: if he take her, let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on my consent, and my consent goes not that way.
Ford. I beseech you, heartily, some of you go home with me to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor, you shall go ;-so shall you, master Page; and you, sir Hugh.
Shal. Well, fare you well:-we shall have the freer wooing at master Page's.
[Exeunt Shallow and Slender. Caius. Go home, John Rugby; I come anon.
Host. Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
[Exit Host. Ford. [Aside.] I think, I shall drink in pipe-wine first with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
All. Have with you, to see this monster.
* Out of the common style. † Not rich.
A room in Ford's house.
Enter Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page.
Mrs. Ford. What, John! what, Robert! Mrs. Page. Quickly, quickly: is the buck-basket
Mrs. Ford. I warrant:-what, Robin, I say.
Enter Servants with a basket.
Mrs. Page. Come, come, come.
Mrs. Page. Give your men the charge; we must be brief.
Mrs. Ford. Marry, as I told you before, John, and Robert, be ready here hard by in the brewhouse; 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.
Mrs. Page. You will do it?
Mrs. Ford. I have told them over and over; they lack no direction: be gone, and come when you are called. [Exeunt Servants. Mrs. Page. Here comes little Robin.
Mrs. Ford. How now, my eyas-muskett? what news with you?
Rob. My master, sir John, is come in at your
Bleachers of linen. + A young small hawk.
back-door, mistress Ford; and requests your company.
Mrs. Page. You little Jack-a-lent*, have you been true to us?
Rob. 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.
Mrs. 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.
Mrs. Ford. Do so:-Go tell thy master, I am alone. Mrs. Page, remember you your cue.
[Erit Robin. Mrs. Page. I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss [Exit Mrs. Page. Mrs. Ford. Go to then; we'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watry pumpion;-we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.
Fal. 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
Mrs. Ford. O sweet sir John!
Fal. 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.
Mrs. Ford. I your lady, sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady.
Fal. Let the court of France show me such another; I see how thine eyes would emulate the diamond: thou hast the right arched bent of the brow, that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittancet.
A puppet thrown at in Lent, like shrove-cocks, † Venetian fashions.
Mrs. Ford. A plain kerchief, sir John: my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.
Ful. Thou art a traitor to say so: thou would'st 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 is thy friend: come, thou canst not hide it.
Mrs. Ford. Believe me, there's no such thing in
Fal. 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 haw-thorn 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..
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 Countert-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.
* Formerly chiefly inhabited by druggists.
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 are 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. Speak louder.-Aside.]-Tis not so, I hope.
Mrs. 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
Mrs. Ford. What shall I do?-There is a gentle. man, 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 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 de