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Fal. But what says she to me? be brief, my good she Mercury.
Quick. Marry, she hath receiv'd your letter; for the which she thanks you a thousand times: and she gives you to notify, that her husband will be absence from his house between ten and eleven.
Fal. Ten and eleven?
Quick. Ay, forsooth; and then you may come and see the picture, she says, that you wot of:-master Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas! the sweet woman leads an ill life with him; he's a very jealousy man; she leads a very frampold life with him, good heart.
Fal. Ten and eleven: Woman, commend me to her; I will not fail her.
Quick. Why you say well: But I have another messenger to your worship: Mistress Page bath her hearty commendations to you too;-and let me tell you in your ear, she's as fartuons a civil modest wife, and one (I tell you) that will not miss you morning nor evening prayer, as any is in Windsor, whoe'er be the other and she bade me tell your worship, that her husband is seldom from home; but, she hopes, there will come a time. I never knew a woman so dote apon a man; surely, I think you have charms, la ; yes, in truth.
Fal. Not I, I assure thee; setting the attraction of my good parts aside, I have no other charms. Quick. Blessing on your heart for't!
Fal. But, I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford's wife, and Page's wife, acquainted each other how they love me?
Quick. That were a jest, indeed!—they have not so little grace, I hope that were a trick, indeed! But mistress Page would desire you to send her your little page, of all loves; her husband has a marvellous infection to the little page: and, truly, inaster Page is an honest man. Never a wife in Windsor leads a better life than she does; do what she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all is as she will; and, truly, she deserves it; for if there be a kind woman in Windsor, she is one. You must send her your page; no remedy. Fal. Why, I will.
Quick. Nay, but do so then: and, look you, he may come and go between you both; and, in any case, have a nay-word, that you may know one another's mind, and the boy never need to understand any
thing; for, 'tis not good that children should know any wickedness: old folks, you know, have discre tion, as they say, and know the world.
Fal. Fare thee well: commend me to them both: there's my purse; I am yet thy debtor.-Boy, go along with this woman.-This news distracts me.
[Exeunt Quickly and Robin. Pist. This punk is one of Cupid's carriers: Clap on more sails; pursue, up with your fights; Give fire; she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all! [Exit Pistol. Fal. Say'st thou so, old Jack? go thy ways; I'll make more of thy old body than I have done. Will they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expense of so much money, be now a gainer? Good body, I thank thee: Let them say, 'tis grossly done; so it be fairly done, no matter.
Bard. Sir John, there's one master Brook below would fain speak with you, and be acquainted with you; and hath sent your worship a morning's draught
Fal. Brook, is his name?
Fal. Call him in; [Exit Bardolph] Such Brooks are
ha! mistress Ford and mistress Page, have I encompass'd
you? go to; via!
Re-enter BARDOLPH, with FORD disguised. Ford. Bless you, sir.
Fal. And you, sir: Would you speak with me? Ford. I make bold, to press with so little prepara. tion upon you.
Fal. You're welcome: What's your will? Give us
[Exit Bardolph. Ford. Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent much;
my name is Brook.
Fal. Good master Brook, I desire more acquaint
ance of you.
Ford. Good sir John, I sue for yours: not to charge you; for I must let you understand, I think myself in better plight for a lender than you are: the which hath something embolden'd me to this unseason'd intrusion; for they say, if money go before, all ways do
Fal. Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on. Ford. Troth, and I have a bag of money here troubles me: if you will help me to bear it, sir John, take all, or half, for easing me of the carriage.
Fal. Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter.
Ford. I will tell you, sir, if you will give me the hearing.
Fal. Speak, good master Brook; I shall be glad to be your servant.
Ford. Sir, I hear you are a scholar,-I will be brief with you and you have been a man long known to me, though I had never so good means, as desire, to make myself acquainted with you. I shall discover a thing to you, wherein I must very much lay open mine own imperfection: but, good sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register of your own; that I may pass with a reproof the easier, sith you yourself know how easy it is to be such an offender. Fal. Very well, sir; proceed.
Ford. There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband's name is Ford.
Fal. Well, sir.
Ford. I have long loved her, and, I protest to you, bestowed much on her; followed her with a doting observance; engross'd opportunities to meet her; fee'd every slight occasion, that could but niggardly give me sight of her; not only bought many presents to give her, but have given largely to many, to know what she would have given: briefly, I have pursued her, as love hath pursued me; which hath been, on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind, or in my means, meed, I am sure, I have received none; unless experience be a jewel that I have purchased at an infinite rate; and that hath taught me to say this:
Love like a shadow flies, when substance love pursues; Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.
Fal. Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?
Fal. Have you importuned her to such a purpose? Ford. Never.
Fal. Of what quality was your love then?
Ford. Like a fair house, built upon another man's ground; so that I have lost my edifice, by mistaking the place where I erected it.
Fal. To what purpose have you unfolded this to me!
Ford. When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some say, that, though she appear honest to me, yet, in other places, she enlargeth her mirth so far, ihat there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, sir John, here is the heart of my purpose : You are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance, authentic in your place and person, generally allowed for your many war-like, court-like, and learned preparations.
Fal, 0, sir!
Ford. Believe it, for you know it :-There is money; spend it, spend it; spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in exchange of it, as to lay an amiable siege to the honesty of this Ford's wife ; use your art of wooing, win her to consent to you;
any man may, yon may as soon as any. Fal. Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I should win what you would enjoy! Methinks,you prescribe to yourselfvery preposterously.
Ford. O, nnderstand my drift! she dwells so, se. curely on the excellency of her honour, that the folly of my soul dares not present itself; she is too bright to be look'd against. Now, could I come to her with any detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument to commend themselves ; I could drive her then from the ward of her purity, her reputation, her marriage vow, and a thousand other her defences, which now are too strongly embattled against me : What say yon to't, sir John?
Fal. Master Brook, I will first inake bold with your money; next, give me your hand; and, last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if you will, enjoy Ford's wife.
Ford. O good sir !
John, you shall want none. Fal. Want no mistress Ford, master Brook, you shall want none. I shall be with her (I may tell you, by her own appointment; even as you came in to me, her assistant, or go-between, parted from me: I say, I shall be with her between ten and eleven; for at that time the jealous rascally koave, her husband, will be forth. Come you to me at night; you shall know how I speed.
Ford. I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?
Fal. Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know him not:-yet I wrong him, to call him poor; they say, the
jealous wittolly knave hath masses of money; for the which his wife seems to me well-favour'd. I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly rogue's coffer; and there's my harvest-home.
Ford. I would you knew Ford, sir; that you might avoid him, if you saw him.
Fal. Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I will stare him out of his wits; I will awe bim with my cudgel: it shall hang like a meteor o'er the cuckold's horns: master Brook, thou shalt know, I will predominate over the peasant, and thou shalt lie with his wife.-Come to me soon at night:-Ford's a knave, and I will aggravate his stile; thou, master Brook, shalt know him for a knave and cuckold:-come to me soon at night.[Exit. Ford. What a damn'd Epicurean rascal is this!-My heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent to bim, the hour is fixed, the match is made. Would any man have thought this?-See the hell of having a false woman! my bed shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at; and I shall not only receive this villanous wrong, but stand under the adoption of abominable terms, and by him that does me this wrong. Terms! names! Amaimon sounds well; Lucifer, well; Barbason, well; yet they are devil's additions, the names of fiends: but cuckold! wittol-cuckold! the devil himself hath not such a name. Page is an ass, a secure ass; he will trust his wife, he will not be jealous I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, parson Hugh the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitæ bottle, or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself; then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises: and what they think in their hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts but they will effect. Heaven be praised for my jealousy!-Eleven o'clock the hour;I will prevent this, detect my wife, be revenged on Falstaff, and laugh at Page. I will about it; better three hours too soon, than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! cuckold! cuckold! cuckold! [Exit.
Enter CAIUS and RUGBY.
Caius. Jack Rugby!
Caius. Vat is de clock, Jack?
Rug. 'Tis past the hour, sir, that sir Hugh promised