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Mrs. Ford. What cause of suspicion?
Mrs. Page. What cause of suspicion! Out upon 110 you! how am I mistook in you!
Mrs. Ford. Why, alas, what's the matter?
Mrs. 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 absence: you are undone.
Mrs. Ford. '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 120 husband's coming, with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a one.
to tell you.
I come before 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.
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 130 than a thousand pound he were out of the house.
Mrs. 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— 140 send him by your two men to Datchet-mead.
127. good life, life as a respectable member of society.
135. conveyance, mode of privately conveying him away.
140. bucking, washing. A 'buck' was a batch of foul linen washed at one time. Hence buck-washing' (v. 165).
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?
Fal. [Coming forward] Let me see 't, let me see 't, O, let me see 't! I'll in, I'll in.
your friend's counsel.
Mrs. Page. What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
Fal. I love thee. Help me away.
creep in here.
[Gets 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!
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,
Enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH
Ford. Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause, why then make sport at me; then 160 let me be your jest; I deserve it.
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.
156. cowl-staff, a pole on two ends. which a basket or bucket was slung, the bearers carrying the
156. drumble, dawdle.
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.] 170 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
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.
[Exit. Evans. This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
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, Caius, and Evans. Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this?
Mrs. 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! would all of the same strain were in the same distress.
167. Buck, etc. Ford quibbles
on the word as the name of a horned animal.
Mrs. Ford. I think my husband hath some special suspicion of Falstaff's being here; for I 200 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 will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow, eight o'clock, to have amends.
Re-enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH
Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.
Mrs. Page. [Aside to Mrs. Ford] Heard you that?
Mrs. Ford. 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.
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 judgement !
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 230
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.
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.
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; 240 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.
Evans. If there is one, I shall make two in 250 the company.
Caius. If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.
Ford. Pray you, go, Master Page.
Evans. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!
247. a fine hawk for the bush. This would be one of the shortwinged species, distinguished from the long-winged falcon used for the open country.
255. I pray you now, etc. Of this arrangement we hear no more. Mr. Daniel suggests that we have here an indication
of another underplot projected, and perhaps actually interwoven with it. . In Act iv. 5., after the Host has lost his horses, they are curiously officious in cautioning him against the thieves. Their threatened vengeance and the Host's loss were doubtless connected' (Introduction Quarto, 1602, p. ix.).