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 V.

Scene V.—A Room in the Garter Inn.

Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH.

Fal. Bardolph, I say,—
Bard. Here, sir.
Fal. Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a
toast in't. [Exit BARD.] Have I lived to be
carried in a basket, and to be thrown in the
Thames like a barrow of butcher's offal? Well,
if I be served such another trick, I'll have my
brains ta'en out, and buttered, and give them to;
a dog for a new year's gift. The rogues slighted
me into the river with as little remorse as they
would have drowned a blind bitch's puppies,
fifteen i' the litter; and you may know by my
size that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking: if
the bottom were as deep as hell, I should down.
I had been drowned but that the shore was!
shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor, for;
the water swells a man, and what a thing should
I have been when I had been swelled! I should
have been a mountain of mummy.

Re-enter BARDOLPH, with the sack.
Bard. Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak
with you.
Fal. Come, let me pour in some sack to the
Thames water, for my belly's as cold as if I had
swallowed snowballs for pills to cool the reins.
Call her in.
Bard. Come in, woman.

Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.
Quick. By your leave. I cry you mercy: give
your worship good morrow.
Fal. Take away these chalices. Go brew me
a pottle of sack finely.
Bard. With eggs, sir?
Fal. Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in;
my brewage. [Exit BARDOLPH.]—How now!
Quick. Marry, sir, I come to your worship
from Mistress Ford.
Fal. Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough;
I was thrown into the ford; I have my belly full
of ford.
Quick. Alas the day! good heart, that was
not her fault: she does so. take on with her
men; they mistook their erection.
Fal. So did I mine, to build upon a foolish
woman's promise.
Quick. Well she laments, sir, for it, that it
would yearn your heart to see it. Her husband
goes this morning a-birding: she desires you
once more to come to her between eight and
nine. I must carry her word quickly: she'll
make you amends, I warrant you.
Fal. Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and
bid her think what a man is: let her consider
bis frailty, and then judge of my merit.
Quick. I will tell her.
Fal. Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
Quick. Eight and nine, sir.
Fal. Well, be gone: I will not miss her.
Quick. Peace be with you, sir. [Exit.
Fal. I marvel I hear not of Master Brook;
he sent me word to stay within. I like his
money well. O! here he comes.

Enter FORD.
Ford. Bless you, sir!
Fal. Now, Master Brook, you come to know
what hath passed between me and Ford's
wife?
Ford. That, indeed. Sir John, is my busi-
ness.
Fal. Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I
was at her house the hour she appointed me.
Ford. And how sped you, sir?
Fal. Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.
Ford. How so, sir? did she change her de-
termination?
Fal. No, Master Brook; but the peaking
cornuto her husband. Master Brook, dwelling in
a continual 'larum of jealousy, comes me in the
instant of our encounter, after we had embraced,
kissed, protested, and, as it were, spoke the
prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a
rabble of his companions, thither provoked and
instigated by his distemper, and, forsooth, to
search his house for his wife's love.
Ford. What! while you were there?
Fal. While I was there.
Ford. And did he search for you, and could
not find you?
Fal. You shall hear. As good luck would
have it, comes in one Mistress Page; gives in-
telligence of Ford's approach; and in her
invention, and Ford's wife's distraction, they
conveyed me into a buck-basket,
Ford. A buck-basket!
Fal. By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed
me in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul
stockings, greasy napkins; that, Master Brook,
there was the rankest compound of villanous
smell that ever offended nostril.
Ford. And how long lay you there?
Fal. Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what
I have suffered to bring this woman to evil for
your good. Being thus crammed in the basket,
a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were called
forth by their mistress to carry me in the name
of foul clothes to Datchet-lane: they took me
on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their
master in the door, who asked them once or
twice what they had in their basket. I quaked
for fear lest the lunatic knave would have
searched it; but Fate, ordaining he should be a
cuckold, held his hand. Well; on went he for a
search, and away went I for foul clothes. But
mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the
pangs of three several deaths: first, an intoler-
able fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten
bell-wether; next, to be compassed, like a good
bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in,
like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes
that fretted in their own grease: think of that,
a man of my kidney, think of that, that am as
subject to heat as butter; a man of continual
dissolution and thaw: it was a miracle to 'scape
suffocation. And in the height of this bath,
when I was more than half stewed in grease,
like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames,
and cooled, glowing hot, in that surge, like a
horse-shoe; think of that, hissing hot, think of
that. Master Brook!
Ford. In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for
my sake you have suffered all this. My suit then
is desperate; you'll undertake her no more?
Fal. Master Brook, I will be thrown into
Etna, as I have been into Thames, ere I will
leave her thus. Her husband is this morning
gone a-birding: I have received from her another
embassy of meeting; 'twixt eight and nine is
the hour. Master Brook.
Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me to my ap-
pointment. Come to me at your convenient
leisure, and you shall know how I speed, and
the conclusion shall be crowned with your en-
joying her: adieu. You shall have her. Master
Brook; Master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.
[Exit.
Ford. Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a
dream? do I sleep? Master Ford, awake! awake,
Master Ford! there's a hole made in your best
coat. Master Ford. This'tis to be married: this
'tis to have linen and buck-baskets! Well, I
will proclaim myself what I am: I will now take
the lecher; he is at my house; he cannot 'scape
me; 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep
into a half-penny purse, nor into a pepper-box;
but, lest the devil that guides him should aid
him, I will search impossible places. Though
what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would
not, shall not make me tame: if I have horns to
make me mad, let the proverb go with me; I'll be
horn-mad. [Exit.
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