Document:  All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Merry Wives of Windsor > Act III, scene V


FALSTAFF: Bardolph, I say,--

BARDOLPH: Here, sir.

FALSTAFF: Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't.


	Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a
	barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown in the
	Thames? 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 sack]

BARDOLPH: Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.

FALSTAFF: 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.

BARDOLPH: Come in, woman!


MISTRESS QUICKLY: By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worship
	good morrow.

FALSTAFF: Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of
	sack finely.

BARDOLPH: With eggs, sir?

FALSTAFF: Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.

	How now!

MISTRESS QUICKLY: Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.

FALSTAFF: Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown
	into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.

MISTRESS QUICKLY: Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault:
	she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.

FALSTAFF: So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.

MISTRESS QUICKLY: 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.

FALSTAFF: Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and bid her
	think what a man is: let her consider his frailty,
	and then judge of my merit.

MISTRESS QUICKLY: I will tell her.

FALSTAFF: Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?

MISTRESS QUICKLY: Eight and nine, sir.

FALSTAFF: Well, be gone: I will not miss her.

MISTRESS QUICKLY: Peace be with you, sir.


FALSTAFF: 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!

FALSTAFF: Now, master Brook, you come to know what hath passed
	between me and Ford's wife?

FORD: That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.

FALSTAFF: Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
	house the hour she appointed me.

FORD: And sped you, sir?

FALSTAFF: Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.

FORD: How so, sir? Did she change her determination?

FALSTAFF: 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?

FALSTAFF: While I was there.

FORD: And did he search for you, and could not find you?

FALSTAFF: You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes
	in one Mistress Page; gives intelligence 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!

FALSTAFF: 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?

FALSTAFF: 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 intolerable
	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, I am sorry that for my sake you
	have sufferd all this. My suit then is desperate;
	you'll undertake her no more?

FALSTAFF: 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.

FALSTAFF: Is it? I will then address me to my appointment.
	Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall
	know how I speed; and the conclusion shall be
	crowned with your enjoying her. Adieu. You shall
	have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall
	cuckold Ford.


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 halfpenny 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 one mad, let the proverb go
	with me: I'll be horn-mad.



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