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Fent. Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my
purpose, And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee A hundred pound in gold more than your loss.
Host. I will hear you, Master Fenton; and I will at the least keep your counsel.
Fent. From time to time I have acquainted you With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page; Who mutually hath answer'd my affection. So far forth as herself might be her chooser, Even to my wish : I have a letter from her Of such contents as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof so larded with my matter, That neither singly can be manifested, Without the show of both ; fat Falstaff Hath a great scene: the image of the jest I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine host. To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve and one, Must my sweet Nan present the Fairy Queen; The purpose why, is here : in which disguise, While other jests are something rank on foot, Her father hath commanded her to slip Away with Slender and with him at Eton Immediately to marry: she hath consented : Now, sir, Her mother, ever strong against that match And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed That he shall likewise shuffle her away, While other sports are tasking of their minds, And at the deanery, where a priest attends, Straight marry her: to this her mother's plot She seemingly obedient likewise hath Made promise to the doctor. Now, thus it rests: Her father means she shall be all in white, And in that habit, when Slender sees his time
14. larded, intermingled.
To take her by the hand and bid her go,
vicar: Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest.
Fent. So shall I evermore be bound to thee; Besides, I 'll make a present recompense. [Exeunt.
A room in the Garter Inn.
Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS QUICKLY. Fal. Prithee, no more prattling ; go. I'll hold. This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away! go. They say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. Away!
52. husband, manage.
Quick. I'll provide you a chain ; and I'll do what I can to get you a pair of horns.
Fal. Away, I say ; time wears : hold up your head, and mince.
[Exit Mrs. Quickly.
Enter FORD. How now, Master Brook! Master Brook, the 10 matter will be known to-night, or never. in the Park about midnight, at Herne's oak, and you shall see wonders.
Ford. Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as you told me you had appointed ?
Fal. I went to her, Master Brook, as you see, like a poor old man: but I came from her, Master Brook, like a poor old woman. That same knave Ford, her husband, hath the finest mad devil of jealousy in him, Master Brook, that ever governed 20 frenzy. I will tell you : he beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman; for in the shape of man, Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam; because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in haste; go along with me: I'll tell you all, Master Brook. Since I plucked geese, played truant and whipped top, I knew not what 'twas to be beaten till lately. Follow me: I'll tell you strange things of this knave Ford, on whom to-night I will be revenged, and 30 I will deliver his wife into your hand. Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook ! Follow.
Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER. Page. Come, come: we'll couch i' the castle
9. mince, walk affectedly.
ditch till we see the light of our fairies. Remember, son Slender, my daughter.
Slen. Ay, forsooth; I have spoke with her and we have a nay-word how to know one another: I come to her in white, and cry 'mum ;' she cries 'budget ;' and by that we know one another.
Shal. That's good too: but what needs either your ‘mum' or her 'budget?' the white will so decipher her well enough. It hath struck ten o'clock.
Page. The night is dark; light and spirits will become it well. Heaven prosper our sport ! No man means evil but the devil, and we shall know him by his horns. Let 's away ; follow me.
A street leading to the Park.
Enter MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and
DOCTOR Caius. Mrs. Page. Master doctor, my daughter is in green: when you see your time, take her by the hand, away with her to the deanery, and dispatch it quickly. Go before into the Park: we two must go together.
Caius. I know vat I have to do. Adieu.
Mrs. Page. Fare you well, sir. (Exit Caius.] My husband will not rejoice so much at the abuse of Falstaff as he will chafe at the doctor's marry
5. nay-word, watch-word.
6, 7. 'mum,' 'budget' ; both words were used colloquially in demanding silence, hence would arouse no suspicion when ex
changed by Ann and Slender. • To play mum-budget' was a proverbial phrase for 'to be tongue-tied.'
ing my daughter : but 'tis no matter ; better a little chiding than a great deal of heart-break.
Mrs. Ford. Where is Nan now and her troop of fairies, and the Welsh devil Hugh?
Mrs. Page. They are all couched in a pit hard by Herne's oak, with obscured lights; which, at the very instant of Falstaff's and our meeting, they will at once display to the night.
Mrs. Ford. That cannot choose but amaze him.
Mrs. Page. If he be not amazed, he will be mocked ; if he be amazed, he will every way be mocked.
Mrs. Ford. We'll betray him finely.
Mrs. Ford. The hour draws on. To the oak, to the oak!
Enter Sir Hugh EVANS disguised, with others
as Fairies. Evans. Trib, trib, fairies; come; and remember your parts : be pold, I pray you; follow me into the pit; and when I give the watch-'ords, do as I pid you : come, come; trib, trib. [Exeunt.
SCENE V. Another part of the Park.
Enter FalsTAFF disguised as Herne. Fal. The Windsor bell hath struck twelve ; the minute draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods