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You’re ashamed, you are overthrown, you are undone forever.
Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good mistress Page ?
Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, mistress Ford! having 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. Puge. 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 forever.
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. Puge. 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 two men to Datchet mead.
Mrs. Ford. Ile's too big to go in there : What shall I do?
1 Bleaching time.
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 up these clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff? look, how you drumble : ? 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 me be your jest; I deserve it.—How now? whither bear you this?
Serv. To the laundress, forsooth.
Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were best meddle with buckwashing.
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. í 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 :-So, now uncape.3
1 A staff used for carrying a cowl, or tub with two handles, to fetch water in.
2 To drumble and drone meant to move sluggishly.
3 Hanmer proposed to read uncouple; but, perhaps, uncape had the same signification. It means, at any rate, to begin the hunt after him, when the holes for escape had been stopped.
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. [Erit.
Era. This is fery fantastical humors, and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 'tis no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France.
Page. Say, follow him, gentlemen ; see the issue of his search. [Exeunt Evans, Page, and Caius.
Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this?
Jirs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.
Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked who was in the basket!
Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.
Mrs. 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.
Mrs. 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.
Mrs. 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 another punishment ?
Mrs. Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for to-morrow eight o'clock to have amends. Re-enter Ford, PAGE, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans.
Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.
Mrs. Page. Heard you that?
1 Ritson thinks we should read what. This emendation is supported by a subsequent passage, where Falstaff says, “the jealous knave asked them once or twice what was in the basket.” It is remarkable that Ford asked no such question.
Mrs. Ford. Ay, ay, peace :—You use me well, master Ford, do you?
Ford. Ay, I do so.
Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts ?
Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, master Ford.
Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
Eva. 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.
Caius. By gar, nor I too; dere is no bodies.
Page. Fie, fie, master Ford! are you not ashamed ? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination ? I would not have your distemper in this kind for the wealth of Windsor Castle.
Ford. 'Tis my fault, master Page: I suffer for it.
Eva. You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is as honest a 'omans as I will desires among five thousand, and five hundred too.
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.
Eva. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
Caius. If there be one or two, I shall make-a de turd.
Eva. I pray you now remembrance to-morrow, on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good ; by gar, vit all my heart.
pray you , master Page
Eva. A lousy knave; to have his gibes, and his mockeries.
A Room in Page's House.
Enter Fenton and MistrESS ANNE PAGE.
Anne. Alas! how then ?
Why, thou must be thyself.
Anne. May be, he tells you true.
Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Gentle master Fenton,
[They converse apart. Enter Shallow, SLENDER, and Mrs. QUICKLY.
Shal. Break their talk, mistress Quickly; my kinsman shall speak for himself.
Slen. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't;' slid, 'tis but venturing.
1 A shaft was a long arrow, and a bolt a thick short one. The proverb probably means, “I'll make something or other of it. I will do it by some means or other.”