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Caius. Go home, John Rugby ; I come anon.
[Exit Rugby Host. Farewell, my hearts: I will to
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 ? Ail. Have with you, to see this monster.
SCENE III.-A room in Ford's house. Enter
Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page.
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
the whitstersl 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,
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 com
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,
(Exit Mrs. Page. Mrs. Ford. Go to then ; we'll use this un, wholesome humidity, this gross watry, pumpion ;we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.
Enter Falstaff. 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 be. fore the best lord, I would make thee my lady.
Mrs. Ford. I your lady, sir John alas, I should be a pitiful sady. (1) A young small hawk. (2) 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. I
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 the 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
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 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.
Fal. She shall not see me; I will ensconcel me, behind the arras.2
Mrs. Ford. Pray you, do so; she's a very tattling woman.
[Falstaff hides himself. 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 are undone for ever.
Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good mistress Page?
Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, mistress Ford! have 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 in 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. Speak louder.-[Aside.]—'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 gentleman, 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 husband's here at hand, bethink you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot hide him.-0, 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 men to Datchet Mead.
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there: what shall I do?
Re-enter Falstaff. Fal. 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 goes
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 clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff?2 look, how you drumble :3 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
(1) Bleaching time.