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then frugal of my mirth. Heaven forgive me!-Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the Parliament for the putting down of fat men. How shall I be reveng'd on him? for reveng'd I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter MISTRESS FORD.
MRS. FORD. Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.
MRS. PAGE. And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.
MRS. FORD. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that: I have to shew
to the contrary.
MRS. PAGE. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind.
MRS. FORD. Well, I do then; yet, I say, I could shew you to the contrary. O, Mistress Page, give me some counsel !
MRS. PAGE. What's the matter, woman?
MRS. FORD. O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to such honour!
MRS. PAGE. Hang the trifle, woman: take the honour.
MRS. FORD. If I would but go to Hell for an eternal
MRS. PAGE. What? Thou liest! Sir Alice Ford?
These Knights will hack; and so thou should'st not alter the article of thy gentry.
MRS. FORD. We burn day-light.1 Here, read, read: perceive how I might be knighted! I shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I have an eye to make difference of men's liking. And yet he would not swear; prais'd women's modesty; and gave such orderly and well-behav'd reproof to all uncomeliness, that I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words: but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundred Psalms to the tune of Green Sleeves. What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be reveng'd on him? I think, the best way were to entertain him
1 we waste time.
with hope, till the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever hear the like? MRS. PAGE. Letter for letter; but that the name of Page and Ford differs!-To thy great comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here's the twin-brother of thy letter. But let thine inherit first; for, I protest, mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for different names (sure more), and these are of the second edition. He will print them out of doubt: for he cares not what he puts into the press, when he would put us two. I had rather be a giantess, and lie under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
MRS. FORD. Why, this is the very same: the very hand,
the very words. What doth he think of us?
MRS. PAGE. Nay, I know not: it makes me almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I'll entertain myself like one that I am not acquainted withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in me that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.
MRS. FORD. Boarding, call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.
MRS. PAGE. So will I. If he come under my hatches, I'll never to sea again. Let's be reveng'd on him: let's appoint him a meeting; give him a show of comfort in his suit; and lead him on with a fine-baited delay, till he hath pawn'd his horses to mine Host of the Garter. MRS. FORD. Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him, that may not sully the chariness1 of our honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! It would give eternal food to his jealousy.
MRS. PAGE. Why, look, where he comes; and my good man too. He's as far from jealousy as I am from giving him cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
MRS. FORD. You are the happier woman.
MRS. PAGE. Let's consult together against this greasy
Enter FORD, PISTOL, PAGE, and NYM.
FORD. Well, I hope it be not so.
PIST. Hope is a curtall1 dog in some affairs:
Sir John affects thy wife.
FORD. Why, Sir, my wife is not young.
PIST. He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor,
Both young and old, one with another, Ford: He loves the gally-mawfry. Ford, perpend! FORD. Love my wife?
Prevent, or go thou,
PIST. With liver burning hot.
FORD. What name, Sir?
PIST. The horn, I say. Farewell.
Take heed; have open eye; for thieves do foot by night : Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo-birds do sing.— Away, Sir Corporal Nym! Believe it, Page; he speaks [Exit PISTOL. FORD. [aside.] I will be patient; I will find out this. 117 NYM. And this is true. [to PAGE.] I like not the humour of lying. He hath wrong'd me in some humours; I should have borne the humour'd letter to her but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife: there's the short and the long. My name is Corporal Nym; I speak, and I avouch; 'tis true: my name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your wife. Adieu! I love not the humour of bread and cheese; and there's the humour of it. Adieu. [Exit NYM. PAGE. The humour of it quoth 'a! here's a fellow frights English out of his wits.
FORD. [aside.] I will seek out Falstaff.
PAGE. I never heard such a drawling, affecting rogue.
PAGE. I will not believe such a Cataian though the
priest o' th' town commended him for a true man. FORD. [aside.] 'Twas a good sensible fellow. Well[MRS. FORD and MRS. PAGE come forward. PAGE. How now, Meg?
1 scentless and paceless.
2 the sex at large. 3 (slang) 'Heathen Chinee.'
MRS. PAGE. Whither go you, George? Hark you.
FORD. I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you
MRS. FORD. 'Faith thou hast some crotchets in thy head now. Will you go, Mistress Page?
MRS. PAGE. Have with you. You'll come to dinner, George?-Look, who comes yonder: she shall be our messenger to this paltry Knight. [aside to MRS. FORD.
Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.
MRS. FORD. Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it.
MRS. PAGE. Go in with us, and see: we have an hour's talk with you.
[Exeunt MRS. PAGE, MRS. FORD, and MRS. QUICKLY. PAGE. How now, Master Ford?
FORD. You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
PAGE. Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the Knight
FORD. Were they his men?
PAGE. Marry, were they.
FORD. I like it never the better for that.-Does he lie at the Garter?
PAGE. Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this
FORD. I do not misdoubt my wife; but I would be loth
on comes: there is either liquor in his pate, or money in
HOST. How now, bully-rook? thou 'rt a gentleman :
SHAL. I follow, mine Host, I follow.-Good even, and
HOST. Tell him, Cavaliero-Justice; tell him, bully-rook.
the Welsh priest and Caius the French doctor.
FORD. Good mine Host o' the Garter, a word with you.
HOST. Hast thou no suit against my Knight, my Guest-
FORD. None, I protest: but I'll give you a pottle of
HOST. My hand, bully: thou shalt have egress and
SHAL. Tut, Sir, I could have told you more. In these
times you stand on distance, your passes, stoccados,
HOST. Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?2
1 twenty good-e'ens.
2 (slang) slide.