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Fal. She shall not see me; I will ensconce1 me behind the arras.2
Mrs. Ford. Pray you, do so; she's a very tattling woman.[Falstaff hides himself.
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, conhim out. Be not amazed; call all your senses vey to you; defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.
Mrs. Ford. What shall I do?-There is a gentleman, 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" deceived me!-Look, here is a basket; if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or, it is whiting-time, send him by your men to Datchet Mead.
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there: what shall I do?
Fal. Let me see't, let me see't! O let me see't! I'll in, I'll in ;-follow your friend's counsel;-I'll
Mrs. Page. What! sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
Fal. I love thee, and none but thee; help me away: let me creep in here; I'll never
[He goes into the basket; they cover him with foul linen.]
Mrs. Page. Help to cover your master, boy: call your men, mistress Ford:-You dissembling knight! Mrs. Ford. What, John, Robert, John! [Exit Robin; re-enter Servants.] Go take up these clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff?2 look, how you drumble :3 carry them to the laundress in Datchet Mead; quickly, come.
Enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans.
Ford. Pray you, come near: if I suspect with out cause, why then make sport at me, then let
(1) Bleaching time.
(2) A staff for carrying a large tub or basket. (3) Drone.
me be your jest; I deserve it.-How now? whither bear you this?
Serv. To the laundress, forsooth.
Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? you were best meddle with buckwashing.
Ford. Buck? I would I could wash myself of the buck! Buck, buck, buck? ay, buck; I warrant you, buck; and of the season too, it shall appear. [Exeunt Servants with the basket.] Gentle. men, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my chambers, search, seek, find out: I'll warrant, we'll unkennel the fox-Let me stop this way first :-So, now, uncape.1
Page. Good master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself too much.
Ford. True, master Page.-Up, gentlemen; you shall see sport anon: follow me, gentlemen.
[Exit. Eva. This is fery fantastical humours, and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 'tis no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France.
Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search. [Exeunt Evans, Page, and Caius. Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in
Mrs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or sir John.
Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked who2 was in the basket!
Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would, all of the same strain were in the same dis tress.
(1) Unbag the fox.
Mrs. Ford. I think, my husband hath some special suspicion of Falstaff's being here; for I never saw him so gross in his jealousy till now.
Mrs. Page. I will lay a plot to try that: And we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.
Mrs. Ford. Shall we send that foolish carrion, mistress Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the water; and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment?
Mrs. Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for tomorrow eight o'clock, to have amends.
Re-enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans. Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knavebragged of that he could not compass. Mrs. Page. Heard you that? Mrs. Ford. Ay, ay, peace:master Ford, do you? Ford. Ay, I do so.
-You use me well,
Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts!
Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, master Ford.
Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
Eva. If there be any pody in the house, and in the chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses, neaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment! Caius. By gar, nor I too; dere is no bodies.
Page. Fie, fie, master Ford! are you not ashamed? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not have your distemper in this kind, for the wealth of Windsor Castle."
Ford. 'Tis my fault, master Page: I suffer for it. Eva. You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife rs as honest a 'omans, as I will desires among five thousand, and five hundred too. Caius. By gar, I see
'tis an honest woman.
Ford. Well I promised you a dinner :-Come, come, walk in the park: I pray you, pardon me; I will hereafter make known to you, why I have done this.-Come, wife;-come, mistress Page; I pray you pardon me; pray heartily, pardon me.
Page. Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me,
we'll mock him. I do invite you to-morrow morning to my house to breakfast; after, we'll a birding together; I have a fine hawk for the bush: shall it be so? Ford. Any thing.
Eva. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
Caius. If there be one or two, I shall make-a de tird.
Eva. In your teeth: for shame.
Ford, Pray you go, master Page. Eva. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, vit all my heart. Eva. A lousy knave; to have his gibes and his
SCENE IV-A room in Page's house. Enter Fenton, and Mistress Anne Page.
Fent. I see, I cannot get thy father's love; Therefore, no more turn me to him, sweet Nan. Anne. Alas! how then?
Why, thou must be thyself.
Besides these, other bars he lays before me,-
Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to
come! VOL. I.