Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Merry Wives of Windsor > Act III, scene III
[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE]
MISTRESS FORD: What, John! What, Robert!
MISTRESS PAGE: Quickly, quickly! is the buck-basket--
MISTRESS FORD: I warrant. What, Robin, I say!
[Enter Servants with a basket]
MISTRESS PAGE: Come, come, come.
MISTRESS FORD: Here, set it down.
MISTRESS PAGE: Give your men the charge; we must be brief.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS PAGE: You will do it?
MISTRESS FORD: I ha' told them over and over; they lack no
direction. Be gone, and come when you are called.
MISTRESS PAGE: Here comes little Robin.
MISTRESS FORD: How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?
ROBIN: My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door,
Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
MISTRESS PAGE: You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?
ROBIN: 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.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS FORD: Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.
Mistress Page, remember you your cue.
MISTRESS PAGE: I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.
MISTRESS FORD: Go to, then: we'll use this unwholesome humidity,
this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to know
turtles from jays.
FALSTAFF: 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!
MISTRESS FORD: O sweet Sir John!
FALSTAFF: 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.
MISTRESS FORD: I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady!
FALSTAFF: 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
MISTRESS FORD: A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing
else; nor that well neither.
FALSTAFF: 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.
MISTRESS FORD: Believe me, there is no such thing in me.
FALSTAFF: 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 Bucklersbury
in simple time; I cannot: but I love thee; none
but thee; and thou deservest it.
MISTRESS FORD: Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love Mistress Page.
FALSTAFF: 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.
MISTRESS FORD: Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one
day find it.
FALSTAFF: Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.
MISTRESS FORD: Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not
be in that mind.
ROBIN: [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.
FALSTAFF: She shall not see me: I will ensconce me behind the arras.
MISTRESS FORD: Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman.
[FALSTAFF hides himself]
[Re-enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]
What's the matter? how now!
MISTRESS PAGE: O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed,
you're overthrown, you're undone for ever!
MISTRESS FORD: What's the matter, good Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE: O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest man
to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion!
MISTRESS FORD: What cause of suspicion?
MISTRESS PAGE: What cause of suspicion! Out pon you! how am I
mistook in you!
MISTRESS FORD: Why, alas, what's the matter?
MISTRESS 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 assence: you are undone.
MISTRESS FORD: 'Tis not so, I hope.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS 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. 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.
MISTRESS FORD: He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?
FALSTAFF: [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.
MISTRESS PAGE: What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
FALSTAFF: I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here.
[Gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen]
MISTRESS PAGE: Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men,
Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!
MISTRESS FORD: What, John! Robert! John!
Go take up these clothes here quickly. Where's the
cowl-staff? look, how you drumble! Carry them to
the laundress in Datchet-meat; quickly, come.
[Enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR 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! whither bear you this?
Servant: To the laundress, forsooth.
MISTRESS 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 warrant you, buck;
and of the season too, it shall appear.
[Exeunt Servants with the basket]
Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; 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.
SIR HUGH EVANS: This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
DOCTOR CAIUS: By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not
jealous in France.
PAGE: Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search.
[Exeunt PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS]
MISTRESS PAGE: Is there not a double excellency in this?
MISTRESS FORD: I know not which pleases me better, that my husband
is deceived, or Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE: What a taking was he in when your husband asked who
was in the basket!
MISTRESS FORD: I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so
throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
MISTRESS PAGE: Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same
strain were in the same distress.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS FORD: Shall we send that foolish carrion, Mistress
Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the
water; and give him another hope, to betray him to
MISTRESS PAGE: We will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow,
eight o'clock, to have amends.
[Re-enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and
SIR HUGH EVANS]
FORD: I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that
he could not compass.
MISTRESS PAGE: [Aside to MISTRESS FORD] Heard you that?
MISTRESS FORD: You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
FORD: Ay, I do so.
MISTRESS FORD: Heaven make you better than your thoughts!
MISTRESS PAGE: You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.
FORD: Ay, ay; I must bear it.
SIR HUGH EVANS: If there be 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!
DOCTOR CAIUS: By gar, nor I too: there 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.
SIR HUGH EVANS: You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is as
honest a 'omans as I will desires among five
thousand, and five hundred too.
DOCTOR 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.
SIR HUGH EVANS: If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
DOCTOR CAIUS: If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.
FORD: Pray you, go, Master Page.
SIR HUGH EVANS: I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousy
knave, mine host.
DOCTOR CAIUS: Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!
SIR HUGH EVANS: A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries!
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR