William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in the complete original text.
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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act III. Scene III.

Scene III.—A Room in FORD'S House.

Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.

Mrs. Ford. What, John! what, Robert!
Mrs. Page. Quickly, quickly:—Is the buck-
basket—
Mrs. Ford. I warrant. What, Robin, I say!

Enter Servants with a Basket.
Mrs. Page. Come, come, come.
Mrs. Ford. Here, set it down.
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 brew-
house; 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.

Enter ROBIN.
Mrs. Ford. How now, my eyas-musket! 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, 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. [Exit ROBIN.] Mistress Page, remember
you your cue.
Mrs. Page. I warrant thee; if I do not act it,
hiss me. [Exit.
Mrs. Ford. Go to, then: we'll use this
unwholesome humidity, this gross watery
pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles
from jays.

Enter FALSTAFF.
Fal. 'Have I caught 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.
Fal. Let the court of France show me such
another. I see how thine eye would emulate
the diamond: thou hast the right arched beauty
of the brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-
valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.
Mrs. Ford. A plain kerchief, Sir John: my
brows become nothing else; nor that well
neither.
Fal. By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say
so: thou wouldst 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 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 per-
suade 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 Bucklersbury 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 mightst 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 I
here's Mistress Page at the door, sweating and
blowing and looking wildly, and would needs,
speak with you presently.
Fal. She shall not see me: I will ensconce
me behind the arras.
Mrs. Ford. Pray you, do so: she's a very
tatthng woman. [FALSTAFF hides himself.

Re-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're undone for ever!
Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good Mistress
Page?
Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! hav-
ing 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 of 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. [Aside.] Speak louder.—'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,
convey him out. Be not amazed; call all your
senses to you: defend your reputation, or bid
farewell to your good life for ever.
Mrs. Ford. What shall I do?—There is a gen-
tleman, 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 hus-
band'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 two men to
Datchet-mead.
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there. What
shall I do?
Fal. [Coming forward.] 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 in.
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 gets 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? look, how you drumble! 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
without cause, why then make sport at me;
then let me be your jest; I deserve it. How
now! what goes here? 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 buck-
washing.
Ford. Buck! I would I could wash myself of
the buck! Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck; I war-
rant you, buck; and of the season too, it shall
appear. [Exeunt Servants with the basket.]
Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-aight; 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. [Locking the door.] So, now uncape.
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 PAGE, CAIUS, and EVANS.
Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency
in this?
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 who 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
distress.
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 throw-
ing into the water; and give him another hope,
to betray him to another punishment?
Mrs. Page. We will do it: let him be sent for
to-morrow, eight o'clock, to have amends.

Re-enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH
EVANS.
Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave
bragged of that he could not compass.
Mrs. Page. [Aside to MRS. FORD.] Heard you
that?
Mrs. Ford. [Aside to MRS. PAGE.] Ay, ay,
peace.—You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
Ford. Ay, I do so.
Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than
your thoughts!
Ford. Amen!
Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong,
Master Ford.
Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
Eva. If there pe any pody in the house, and
in the chambers, and in the coffers, and in the
presses, heaven 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 ha' 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 is 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 dere be one or two, I shall make-a
de turd.
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 mockeries! [Exeunt.
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