Document:  All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Merry Wives of Windsor > Act IV, scene II


FALSTAFF: Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my
	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?

MISTRESS FORD: 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: How now, sweetheart! who's at home besides yourself?

MISTRESS FORD: Why, none but mine own people.


MISTRESS FORD: No, certainly.

	[Aside to her]

	Speak louder.

MISTRESS PAGE: Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.


MISTRESS PAGE: Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again:
	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.

MISTRESS FORD: Why, does he talk of him?

MISTRESS PAGE: Of none but him; and swears he was carried out, the
	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.

MISTRESS FORD: 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 dead
	man. What a woman are you!--Away with him, away
	with him! better shame than murder.

FORD: Which way should be go? how should I bestow him?
	Shall I put him into the basket again?

	[Re-enter FALSTAFF]

FALSTAFF: No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not go
	out ere he come?

MISTRESS PAGE: Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers watch the door
	with pistols, that none shall issue out; otherwise
	you might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?

FALSTAFF: What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.

MISTRESS FORD: There they always use to discharge their
	birding-pieces. Creep into the kiln-hole.

FALSTAFF: Where is it?

MISTRESS FORD: He will seek there, on my word. Neither press,
	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.

FALSTAFF: I'll go out then.

MISTRESS PAGE: If you go out in your own semblance, you die, Sir
	John. Unless you go out disguised--

MISTRESS FORD: How might we disguise him?

MISTRESS PAGE: Alas the day, I know not! There is no woman's gown
	big enough for him otherwise he might put on a hat,
	a muffler and a kerchief, and so escape.

FALSTAFF: Good hearts, devise something: any extremity rather
	than a mischief.

MISTRESS FORD: My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has a
	gown above.

MISTRESS PAGE: On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as he
	is: and there's her thrummed hat and her muffler
	too. Run up, Sir John.

MISTRESS FORD: Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress Page and I will
	look some linen for your head.

MISTRESS PAGE: Quick, quick! we'll come dress you straight: put
	on the gown the while.


MISTRESS FORD: I would my husband would meet him in this shape: he
	cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears
	she's a witch; forbade her my house and hath
	threatened to beat her.

MISTRESS PAGE: Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and the
	devil guide his cudgel afterwards!

MISTRESS FORD: But is my husband coming?

MISTRESS PAGE: Ah, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the basket
	too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.

MISTRESS FORD: We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the
	basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as
	they did last time.

MISTRESS PAGE: Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go dress him
	like the witch of Brentford.

MISTRESS FORD: I'll first direct my men what they shall do with the
	basket. Go up; I'll bring linen for him straight.


MISTRESS PAGE: Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.
	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]

MISTRESS FORD: Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders:
	your master is hard at door; if he bid you set it
	down, obey him: quickly, dispatch.


First Servant: 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: Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any
	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!

PAGE: Why, this passes, Master Ford; you are not to go
	loose any longer; you must be pinioned.

SIR HUGH EVANS: 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.


	Come 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?

MISTRESS FORD: Heaven be my witness you do, if you suspect me in
	any dishonesty.

FORD: Well said, brazen-face! hold it out. Come forth, sirrah!

	[Pulling clothes out of the basket]

PAGE: 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's
	clothes? Come away.

FORD: Empty the basket, I say!

MISTRESS FORD: Why, man, why?

FORD: Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed
	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.

MISTRESS FORD: 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; this
	wrongs you.

SIR HUGH EVANS: Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the
	imaginations of your own heart: this is jealousies.

FORD: 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 find
	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.

MISTRESS FORD: What, ho, Mistress Page! come you and the old woman
	down; my husband will come into the chamber.

FORD: 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 not
	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!

MISTRESS FORD: Nay, good, sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let him
	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.

	[Beating him]

	Out of my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage, you
	polecat, you runyon! out, out! I'll conjure you,
	I'll fortune-tell you.


MISTRESS PAGE: Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed the
	poor woman.

MISTRESS 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 witch
	indeed: I like not when a 'oman has a great peard;
	I spy a great peard under his muffler.

FORD: Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow;
	see but the issue of my jealousy: if I cry out thus
	upon no trail, never trust me when I open again.

PAGE: Let's obey his humour a little further: come,


MISTRESS PAGE: Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.

MISTRESS FORD: Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him most
	unpitifully, methought.

MISTRESS PAGE: I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er the
	altar; it hath done meritorious service.

MISTRESS FORD: What think you? may we, with the warrant of
	womanhood and the witness of a good conscience,
	pursue him with any further revenge?

MISTRESS PAGE: The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scared out of
	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.

MISTRESS FORD: Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?

MISTRESS PAGE: Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the
	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
	the ministers.

MISTRESS FORD: I'll warrant they'll have him publicly shamed: and
	methinks there would be no period to the jest,
	should he not be publicly shamed.

MISTRESS PAGE: Come, to the forge with it then; shape it: I would
	not have things cool.



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