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to this his distemper he is in now: I am glad the fat knight is not here.
Mrs Ford. Why, does he talk of him?
Mrs. Page. Of none but him; and swears, he was carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a basket: protests to my husband, he is now here; and hath drawn him and the rest of their company from their sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion: but I am glad the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.
Mrs. Ford. How near is he, mistress Page?
Mrs. Page. Hard by; at street end; he will be here anon.
Mrs. Ford. I am undone!-the knight is here.
Mrs. Page. Why, then you are utterly shamed, and he's but a dead man. What a woman are you! -Away with him, away with him; better shame than murder.
Mrs. Ford. Which way should he go? how should I bestow him? Shall I put him into the basket again?
Fal. No, I'll come no more i' the basket: may I not go out, ere he come?
Mrs. Page. Alas, three of master Ford's brothers watch the door with pistols, that none should issue out; otherwise you might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?
Fal. What shall I do?-I'll creep up into the chimney.
Mrs. Ford. There they always use to discharge their birding-pieces: creep into the kiln-hole. Fal. Where is it?
Mrs. Ford. He will seek there on my word. Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such
Short note of,
places, and goes to them by his note: there is no hiding you in the house.
Fal. I'll go out then.
Mrs. Page. If you go out in your own semblanee, you die, sir John. Unless you go out disguised,Mrs. Ford. How might we disguise him?
Mrs. Page. Alas the day, I know not. There is no woman's gown big enough for him; otherwise, he might put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.
Fal. Good hearts, devise something: any extremity, rather than a mischief.
Mrs. Ford. My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has a gown above.
Mrs. Page. On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as he is: and there's her thrum'd hat, and her muffler too: run up, sir John.
Mrs. Ford. Go, go, sweet sir John: mistress Page and I will look some linen for your head.
Mrs. Page. Quick, quick; we'll come dress you straight: put on the gown the while. [Exit Fal.
Mrs. Ford. I would my husband would meet him in this shape he cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears, she's a witch; forbade her my house, and hath threatened to beat her.
Mrs. Page. Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel; and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards! Mrs. Ford. But is my husband coming?
Mrs. Page. Ay, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the basket too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
Mrs. Ford. We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as they did last time.
Mrs. Page. Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go dress him like the witch of Brentford.
Mrs. Ford. I'll first direct my men, what they
shall do with the basket. Go up, I'll bring linen for
[Exit. Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Re-enter Mrs. Ford, with two Servants. Mrs. Ford. Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders; your master is hard at door; if he bid you set it down, obey him: quickly, despatch. [Exit.
1 Sere. Come, come, take it up.
2 Serv. Pray heaven, it be not full of the knight again.
1 Serv. I hope not; I had as lief bear so much
Enter Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Sir Hugh'
Ford. Ay, but if it prove true, master Page, have you any way then to unfool me again?-Set down the basket, villain:- Somebody call my wife:You, youth in a basket, come out here!-0, you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a ging, a pack, a conspiracy against me: now shall the devil be shamed. What! wife, I say! come, come forth; behold what honest clothes you send forth to bleaching.
Page. Why, this passest; Master Ford, you are not to go loose any longer; you must be pinioned. Eva. Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog!
Shal. Indeed, master Ford, this is not well; in
• Gang. + Surpasses, to go beyond bounds.
Enter Mrs. Ford.
Ford. So say I too, sir.-Come hither, mistress Ford; mistress Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband!-I suspect without cause, mis-tress, do I?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven be my witness, you do, if you suspect me in any dishonesty.
Ford. Well said, brazen-face; hold it out.Come forth, sirrah.
[Pulls the clothes out of the basket.
Page. This passes!
Mrs. Ford. Are you not ashamed? let the clothes alone.
Ford. I shall find you anon.
Eva. "Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife's clothes? Come away.
Ford. Empty the basket, I say.
Mrs. Ford. Why, man, why,
Ford. Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house yesterday in this basket: Why may not he be there again? In my house I am sure he is my intelligence is true; my jealousy is reasonable: Pluck me out all the linen.
Mrs. Ford. If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.
Page. Here's no man.
Shal. By my fidelity, this is not well, master Ford; this wrongs you.
Eva. Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of your own heart: this is jealou
Ford. Well, he's not here I seek for.
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 extre. mity, let me for ever be your table sport: let them VOL. I.
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 herOut of my door, you witch! [beats him.] you rag, you baggage, you polecat, you ronyont! out! out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you. [Erit 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