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all Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying, Pear-out, peer-out! that any madness, I ever yet beheld, seem'd but tameness, civility, and patience, to this 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 search'd 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 saspicion: 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
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 shall 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. 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 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, Unless you go out disguised,
you die, sir John.
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 Falstaff. Mrs. Ford. I would my husband would meet him in this shape: be cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch; forbade her my house, and hath threaten'd to beat her.
Mrs. Page. Heaven guide him to thy husband's cndgel, 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 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,
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. [Exit.
1 Serv. 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 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
rasca)s! there's a knot, a gang, 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! Master Ford, you are not to go loose any longer; you must be pinion'd.
Era. 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 capse, mistress, do I?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven be my witness, you do, if you suspect me in any dishovesty.
Ford. Well said, brazen-face; hold it out. Come forth, sirrah. [Puils the clothes out of the basket.
Page. This passes !
Eva. 'Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife's clothes? Come away:
Ford. Empty the basket, I say.
Ford. Master Page, as I am a man, there was one convey'd 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: ihis is jealousies. Ford. Well, he's not here I seek for. Page. No, nor nowhere 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 extremity, let me for ever be your table-sport ; let them Bay of me, As jealous as Ford, that search'd a hollow walnut for his wife's leman. Satisfy me once more ; once inore 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 fortunetelling. 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.
Mrs. Page. Come, mother Prat, come, give me your hand.
Ford. I'll prat her:-Out of my door, you witch! [Beats him you rag, yon baggage, yon polecat, yon renyon! out! out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell [Exit 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 you, follow; see but the issue of my jealousy if I cry out thus upon no trail, never trust me when I open again. Page. Let's obey his humour a little further: Come, gentlemen. [Excunt Page, Ford, Shallow, and Evans. Mrs. Page. Trust me, he beat him most pitifully. Mrs. Ford. Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him most unpitifully, methought.
Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallow'd, and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious service.
Mrs. Ford. What think you? May we, with the warrant of woman-hood, and the witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?
Mrs. Page. The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scared out of him; if the devil have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.
Mrs. Ford. Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?
Mrs. Page. Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the figures out of your husband's brains. If they can find in their hearts, the poor unvirtuous fat knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will still be the ministers.
Mrs. Ford. I'll warrant, they'll have him publicly shamed: and, methinks, there would be no period to the jest, should he not be publicly shamed. Mrs. Page. Come, to the forge with it then, shape it: I would not have things cool.
[Exeunt. SCENE III. A Room in the Garter Inn.
Enter HOST and BARDOLPH,
Bard. Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your horses: the duke himself will be to-morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.
Host. What duke should that be, comes so secretly? I hear not of him in the court: Let me speak with the gentlemen; they speak English?
Bard. Ay, sir; I'll call them to you.
Host. They shall have my horses; but I'll make them pay, I'll sauce them: they have had my house a week at command; I have turn'd away my other guests: they must come off: I'll sauce them: Come.
[Exeunt. SCENE IV. A Room in FORD's House. Enter PAGE, FORD, Mrs. PAGE, Mrs. FORD, and Sir HUGH EVANS.
Eva. 'Tis one of the pest discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.
Page. And did he send you both these letters at an instant?
Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
Ford. Pardon me, wife: Henceforth do what thou
I rather will suspect the sun with cold,
Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour
In him that was of late an heretic,
As firm as faith.
Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well; no more. Be not as extreme in submission,
As in offence;
But let our plot go forward: let our wives