|The Merry Wives of Windsor|
| Merry Wives of Windsor
| Act 4, Scene 2
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Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS FORDFALSTAFF
Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up myMISTRESS FORD
sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your love,
and I profess requital to a hair's breadth; not
only, Mistress Ford, in the simple
office of love, but in all the accoutrement,
complement and ceremony of it. But are you
sure of your husband now?
He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.MISTRESS PAGE
[Within] What, ho, gossip Ford! what, ho!MISTRESS FORD
Step into the chamber, Sir John.MISTRESS PAGE
Enter MISTRESS PAGE
How now, sweetheart! who's at home besides yourself?MISTRESS FORD
Why, none but mine own people.MISTRESS PAGE
No, certainly.MISTRESS PAGE
Aside to herSpeak louder.
Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.MISTRESS FORD
Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again:MISTRESS FORD
he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails
against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's
daughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffets
himself on the forehead, crying, 'Peer out, peer
out!' that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but
tameness, civility and patience, to this his
distemper he is in now: I am glad the fat knight is not here.
Why, does he talk of him?MISTRESS PAGE
Of none but him; and swears he was carried out, theMISTRESS FORD
last time he searched 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 suspicion: but I am glad
the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.
How near is he, Mistress Page?MISTRESS PAGE
Hard by; at street end; he will be here anon.MISTRESS FORD
I am undone! The knight is here.MISTRESS PAGE
Why then you are utterly shamed, and he's but a deadFORD
man. What a woman are you!--Away with him, away
with him! better shame than murder.
Which way should be go? how should I bestow him?FALSTAFF
Shall I put him into the basket again?
No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not goMISTRESS PAGE
out ere he come?
Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers watch the doorFALSTAFF
with pistols, that none shall issue out; otherwise
you might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?
What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.MISTRESS FORD
There they always use to discharge theirFALSTAFF
birding-pieces. Creep into the kiln-hole.
Where is it?MISTRESS FORD
He will seek there, on my word. Neither press,FALSTAFF
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.
I'll go out then.MISTRESS PAGE
If you go out in your own semblance, you die, SirMISTRESS FORD
John. Unless you go out disguised--
How might we disguise him?MISTRESS PAGE
Alas the day, I know not! There is no woman's gownFALSTAFF
big enough for him otherwise he might put on a hat,
a muffler and a kerchief, and so escape.
Good hearts, devise something: any extremity ratherMISTRESS FORD
than a mischief.
My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has aMISTRESS PAGE
On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as heMISTRESS FORD
is: and there's her thrummed hat and her muffler
too. Run up, Sir John.
Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress Page and I willMISTRESS PAGE
look some linen for your head.
Quick, quick! we'll come dress you straight: putMISTRESS FORD
on the gown the while.
I would my husband would meet him in this shape: heMISTRESS PAGE
cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears
she's a witch; forbade her my house and hath
threatened to beat her.
Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and theMISTRESS FORD
devil guide his cudgel afterwards!
But is my husband coming?MISTRESS PAGE
Ah, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the basketMISTRESS FORD
too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry theMISTRESS PAGE
basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as
they did last time.
Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go dress himMISTRESS FORD
like the witch of Brentford.
I'll first direct my men what they shall do with theMISTRESS PAGE
basket. Go up; I'll bring linen for him straight.
Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.MISTRESS FORD
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too:
We do not act that often jest and laugh;
'Tis old, but true, Still swine eat all the draff.
Re-enter MISTRESS FORD with two Servants
Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders:First Servant
your master is hard at door; if he bid you set it
down, obey him: quickly, dispatch.
Come, come, take it up.Second Servant
Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.First Servant
I hope not; I had as lief bear so much lead.FORD
Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS
Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you anyPAGE
way then to unfool me again? Set down the basket,
villain! Somebody call my wife. Youth in a basket!
O you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a ging, 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!
Why, this passes, Master Ford; you are not to goSIR HUGH EVANS
loose any longer; you must be pinioned.
Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog!SHALLOW
Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.FORD
So say I too, sir.MISTRESS FORD
Re-enter MISTRESS FORDCome 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 cause, mistress, do I?
Heaven be my witness you do, if you suspect me inFORD
Well said, brazen-face! hold it out. Come forth, sirrah!PAGE
Pulling clothes out of the basket
This passes!MISTRESS FORD
Are you not ashamed? let the clothes alone.FORD
I shall find you anon.SIR HUGH EVANS
'Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife'sFORD
clothes? Come away.
Empty the basket, I say!MISTRESS FORD
Why, man, why?FORD
Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyedMISTRESS FORD
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.
If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.PAGE
Here's no man.SHALLOW
By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford; thisSIR HUGH EVANS
Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow theFORD
imaginations of your own heart: this is jealousies.
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 findMISTRESS FORD
not what I seek, show no colour for my extremity; let
me for ever be your table-sport; let them say of
me, 'As jealous as Ford, Chat searched a hollow
walnut for his wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more;
once more search with me.
What, ho, Mistress Page! come you and the old womanFORD
down; my husband will come into the chamber.
Old woman! what old woman's that?MISTRESS FORD
Nay, it is my maid's aunt of Brentford.FORD
A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I notMISTRESS FORD
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
fortune-telling. 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!
Nay, good, sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let himMISTRESS PAGE
not strike the old woman.
Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, and MISTRESS PAGE
Come, Mother Prat; come, give me your hand.FORD
I'll prat her.MISTRESS PAGE
Beating himOut of my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage, you
polecat, you runyon! out, out! I'll conjure you,
I'll fortune-tell you.
Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed theMISTRESS FORD
Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a goodly credit for you.FORD
Hang her, witch!SIR HUGH EVANS
By the yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witchFORD
indeed: I like not when a 'oman has a great peard;
I spy a great peard under his muffler.
Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow;PAGE
see but the issue of my jealousy: if I cry out thus
upon no trail, never trust me when I open again.
Let's obey his humour a little further: come,MISTRESS PAGE
Exeunt FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS
Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.MISTRESS FORD
Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him mostMISTRESS PAGE
I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er theMISTRESS FORD
altar; it hath done meritorious service.
What think you? may we, with the warrant ofMISTRESS PAGE
womanhood and the witness of a good conscience,
pursue him with any further revenge?
The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scared out ofMISTRESS FORD
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.
Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?MISTRESS PAGE
Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape theMISTRESS FORD
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
I'll warrant they'll have him publicly shamed: andMISTRESS PAGE
methinks there would be no period to the jest,
should he not be publicly shamed.
Come, to the forge with it then; shape it: I would
not have things cool.
| Merry Wives of Windsor
| Act 4, Scene 2
Previous scene | Next scene