Page images

Mrs. Page. Adieu, good sir Hugh. Hugh.] Get you home, boy.-Come, oo long.

[Exit Sir we stay [Exeunt.

SCENE II-A room in Ford's house. Enter Falstaff and Mrs. Ford.

Fal. Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my sufferance: I see, you are obsequious1 in your love, and I profess requital to a hair's breadth; not only, mistress Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement, complement, and ceremony of it. But are you sure of your husband now? Mrs. Ford. He's a birding, sweet sir John. Mrs. Page. [Within.] What hoa, gossip Ford!

what hoa!

Mrs. Ford. Step into the chamber, sir John. [Exit Falstaff.

Enter Mrs. Page.

Mrs. Page. How now, sweetheart? who's at home beside yourself?

Mrs. Ford. Why, none but mine own people. Mrs. Page. Indeed?

Mrs. Ford. No, certainly;-speak louder. [Aside. Mrs. Page. Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.

Mrs. Ford. Why?/

Mrs. Page. Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes2 again: he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying, peer out, peer out! that any madness ever yet beheld, seemed but tameness, civility,

(2) Mad fits.

(1) Sorrowful. (3) As children call on a snail to push forth his horns.

and patience, 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?

Re-enter Falstaff.

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

(1) 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 semblance, 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:

(1) Seriousness.

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 him straight.

[Exit. Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.

We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do, Wives may be merry, and yet honest too : We do not act, that often jest and laugh; 'Tis old but true, Still swine eat all the draff. [Exit.

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.


1 Serv. Come, come, take it up. 2 Serv. Pray heaven, it be not full of the knight


1 Serv. I hope not; I had as lief bear so much lead.

Enter Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans.

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! -O, you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a ging,1 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 passes;2 Master Ford, you are not to go loose any longer; you must be pinioned.

(1) Gang. (2) Surpasses, to go beyond bounds.

Eva. Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog!

Shal. Indeed, master Ford, this is not well; indeed.

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, mistress, 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.

[ocr errors]

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 wrong's you.

Eva. Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of your own heart: this is jealousies.

Ford. Well, he's not here I seek for.

« PreviousContinue »