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Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious service.

Mrs. Ford. What think you? may we, with the warrant of womanhood and the witness of a 220 good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?

Mrs. 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.

Mrs. Ford. Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him ?

Mrs. Page. Yes, by all means; if it be but to 230 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.

Mrs. 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.

Mrs. Page. Come, to the forge with it then; shape it : I would not have things cool. [Exeunt. 240

SCENE III.

A room in the Garter Inn.

Enter Host and BARDOLPH. Bard. Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your horses : the duke himself will be to

225. in fee-simple, with fine tenure of land into ownership. and recovery, as his absolute 231. figures, fancies, whimsies. property. · Fine and recovery' 1. the Germans desire, etc. were part of the legal mechan- This doubtless refers to the visit ism for converting a conditional of Count Frederick of Mömpel

morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.

Host. What duke should that becomes so secretly? I hear not of him in the court. Let me speak with the gentlemen: they speak English?

Bard. Ay, sir ; I'll call them to you.

Host. They shall have my horses; but I'll make 10 them pay; I'll sauce them : they have had my house a week at command; I have turned away my other guests: they must come off; I'll sauce them. Come.

(Exeunt.

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SCENE IV.

A room in FORD's house,

Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS

Ford, and SIR HUGH EVANS. Evans. 'Tis one of the best discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.

Page. And did he send you both these letters at an instant ?

Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
Ford. Pardon me, wife. Henceforth do what

thou wilt:
I rather will suspect the sun with cold
Than thee with wantonness : now doth thy honour

stand,
In him that was of late an heretic,
As firm as faith.
Page.

'Tis well, 'tis well ; no more : Be not as extreme in submission As in offence. gard to Windsor in 1592 ; he it to the discontent of English received the privilege of travel- innkeepers. Cf. iv. 5. 79. ling free by post, and exercised

IO

But let our plot go forward : let our wives
Yet once again, to make us public sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him and disgrace him for it.
Ford. There is no better way than that they

spoke of. Page. How? to send him word they'll meet him in the park at midnight? Fie, fie! he'll

never come.

20

Evans. You say he has been thrown in the rivers and has been grievously peaten as an old 'oman : methinks there should be terrors in him that he should not come; methinks his flesh is punished, he shall have no desires.

Page. So think I too.
Mrs. Ford. Devise but how you 'll use him when

he comes, And let us two devise to bring him thither. Mrs. Page. There is an old tale goes that Herne

the hunter, Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest, Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight, Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns; And there he blasts the tree and takes the cattle And makes milch-kine yield blood and shakes a

chain In a most hideous and dreadful manner : You have heard of such a spirit, and well you

know The superstitious idle-headed eld Received and did deliver to our age This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

Page. Why, yet there want not many that do fear

30 40

28. Herne the Hunter. The 32. takes, strikes with disease. present passage is the source of practically all that is known of 36. eld, old age (collectively this legend.

for aged persons).

In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak:
But what of this ?

Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device;
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us.

Page. Well, let it not be doubted but he 'll

come :

50

And in this shape when you have brought him

thither,
What shall be done with him ? what is your plot ?
Mrs. Page. That likewise have we thought upon,

and thus :
Nan Page my daughter and my little son
And three or four more of their growth we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands : upon a sudden,
As Falstaff, she and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a sawpit rush at once
With some diffused song: upon their sight,
We two in great amazedness will fly :
Then let them all encircle him about
And fairy-like to-pinch the unclean knight,
And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel,
In their so sacred paths he dares to tread
In shape profane.

Mrs. Ford. And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound
And burn him with their tapers.
Mrs. Page.

The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves, dis-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.
Ford.

The children must
Be practised well to this, or they'll ne'er do 't.

Evans. I will teach the children their behaviours;

60 70

49. ouphes, goblins.

herent. 54. diffused, strange, inco- 57. to-pinch, pinch soundly.

and I will be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber.

Ford. That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards. Mrs. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of all

the fairies, Finely attired in a robe of white. Page. That silk will I go buy. [Aside] And in

that time
Shall Master Slender steal

my
Nan

away And marry her at Eton. Go send to Falstaff

straight. Ford. Nay, I 'll to him again in name of Brook: He'll tell me all his purpose: sure, he'll come. Mrs. Page. Fear not you that. Go get us

properties, And tricking for our fairies.

Evans. Let us about it: it is admirable plea- 80 sures and fery honest knaveries.

[Exeunt Page, Ford, and Evans.
Mrs. Page. Go, Mistress Ford,
Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.

[Exit Mrs. Ford.
I'll to the doctor : he hath my good will,
And none but he, to marry with Nan Page.
That Slender, though well landed, is an idiot;
And he my husband best of all affects.
The doctor is well money'd, and his friends
Potent at court : he, none but he, shall have her,
Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave
her.

[Exit. go

78. properties, stage requisites apart from scenery and dresses, here especially the torches.

79. tricking, dresses. Pyrrhus, in Ham. ii. 2. 479, is said to be horridly trick'd with blood of fathers, mothers,' etc.

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