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Mrs. Page. Be sure of that,-two other bus
Ford. Where had you this pretty weather-cock? Mrs. Page. cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of: What do you call your knight's name, sirrah? Rob. Sir John Falstaff.
Ford. Sir John Falstaff!
Mrs. Page. He, he: I can never hit on's name.
Mrs. Page. By your leave, sir;-I am sick, till I see her. [Exeunt Mrs. Page and Robin. Ford. Has Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them. Why, this boy will carry a letter twenty miles, as easy as a cannon will shoot pointblank twelve score. He pieces-out his wife's inclination; he gives her folly motion, and advan tage: and now she's going to my wife, and Falstaff's boy with her. A man may hear this shower sing in the wind!—and Falstaff's boy with her!--Good plots!-they are laid; and our revolted wives share damnation together. Well; I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming1 mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Acteon; and to these violent proceedings all shall cry aim,2 [Clock strikes.] The clock gives my neighbours me my cue, and my assurance bids me search; there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be rather prais ed for this, than mocked; for it is as positive as the earth is firm, that Falstaff is there: I will go. Enter Page, Shallow, Slender, Host, Sir Hugh Evans, Caius, and Rugby.
Shal. Page, &c. Well met, master Ford. (2) Shall encourage.
Ford. Trust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home; and, I pray you, all go with me. Shal. I must excuse myself, master Ford.
Slen. And so must I, sir; we have appointed to dine with mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for more money than I'll speak of.
Shal. We have linger'd about a match between Anne Page and my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
Slen. I hope, I have your good-will, father Page.
Page. You have, master Slender; I stand wholly for you :--but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
Caius. Ay, by gar; and de maid is love-a me; my nursh-a Quickly tell me so mush.
Host. What say you to young master Fenton? he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he he speaks holiday, 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 having:2 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.
(1) Out of the common style. (2) Not rich.
Caius. Go home, John Rugby; I come anon. [Exit RugbyHost. 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 pipewine first with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
All. Have with you, to see this monster.
SCENE III-A room in Ford's house. Enter Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page.
Mrs. Ford. What, John! what, Robert! Mrs. Page. Quickly, quickly: is the buckbasket
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.
(1) Bleachers of linen.
Mrs. Ford. How now, my eyas-musket?1 what news with you?
Rob. My master, sir John, is come in at your back-door, mistress Ford; and requests your company.
Mrs. Page. You little Jack-a-lent,2 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. [Exit Robin. Mrs. Page. I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me. [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 hour!
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.
(1) A young small hawk.
A puppet thrown at in Lent, like shrove-cocks.
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 admittance.1
Mrs. Ford. A plain kerchief, sir John: my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.
Fal. 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 me.
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 hawthorn buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury2 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 Counter-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.
(1) Venetian fashions.
(2) Formerly chiefly inhabited by druggists. (3) Prison.