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Ford. In good sadness, sir, I am sorry, that for my sake you have suffer'd all this. My suit is then desperate ; you'll undertake her no more?
Fal. Master Brook, I will be thrown into Ætna, as I have been into the Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her husband is this morning gone a-birding: I have receiv'd from her another embassy of meeting: 'twist eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook. Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me to my appointment. Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall know how I speed ; and the conclusion shall be crown'd as I told you: Adieu.-You shall have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.
[Exit, L. - Ford. Ham! ha! is this a vision ? Is this a dream? do I sleep? Master Ford, awake; awake, Master Ford; there's a hole made in your best coat, Master Ford. This 'tis to be married ! this 'tis to havelinen, and buckbaskets !-Well, I will proclaim myself what I am: I will now take the lecher; he's at my house ; he cannot 'scape me ; 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep into a halfpenny purse, nor into a pepper-box: but, lest the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid ; yet, to be what I would not, shall not make me-tame: if I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb ́go with me, I'll be horn mad.
END OF ACT III.
SCENE I.--The Garter Inn.
Enter Fenton and Host, R. Host. Master Fenton, talk not to me. Fent. Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my purpose;
And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee
Host. I will hear you, Master Fenton.
Fent. From time io time I have acquainted you
Host. Well, I'll to the vicar :
Fent. So shall I evermore be bound to thee.
[Exit, L. Fent. Pray heaven he fail not! yet ere I thus to stratagem resort, I'll make one more appeal.
A lover's eyes will strike an eagle blind,
SCENE II.- Ford's House.-The Buck-basket in the
centre of the Room.-Doors on R. and L.
Enter FALSTAFF and Mrs. FORD, R. Fal. Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath ea ten up my sufferance : I see, you are obsequious in your love, and I profess requital to a hair's breath ; not only, Mistress Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement, complement, and ceremony of it. But are you sure of your husband now?
Mrs. Ford. He's a-birding, sweet Sir John. Mrs. Page. [Within, L.] What hoa, gossip Ford ! what hoa! Mrs. Ford. Step into the chamber, Sir John.
[Exit FALSTAFF, R.
Enter Mrs. Page, L. Mrs. Page. How now, sweetheart! Who's at home besides yourself?
Mrs. Ford. Why, none but mine own people.
Mrs. Page. Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here
Mrs. Ford. Why?
Mrs. Puge. Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again : he so takes on yonder with my husband ; so rails against all married mankind; I am glad the fat knight is not here.
Mrs. Ford. Why, does he talk of him?
Mrs. Page. Of none but him: and swears, he was carried out, the last time he search'd for him, in a basket: protests to my husband, he is now here; and hath drawn him and the rest of their company from their sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion ; but Tam glad the knight is not here : now he shall see his own foolery.
Mrs. Ford. I am undone !--the knight is here.
Mrs. Page. Why, then thou art utterly sham'd, and he's but a dead man. What a woman are you! Away with him, away with him; better shame than murder.
Mrs. Ford. Which way should he go ? How should I bestow him? Shall I put him into the basket again?
Fal. [Without, at a.d.] No, I'll come no more i’the basket: May I not go out, ere he come?
Mrs. Page. (L. c.) Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers watch the door with pistols, that none should issue out; otherwise you might slip away ere he came.
Enter FALSTAFF, R. D. But what make you here?
Fal. (c.) What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.
Mrs. Ford. (R.c.) There they always use to discharge their birding-pieces : creep into the kiln-hole.
Fal. Where is it?
Mrs. Ford. He will seek there, on my word. Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such places, apd
goes to them by his note: There is no hiding you in the house.
Fal. I'll go out then.
Mrs. Ford. If you go out in your own semblance, you die, Sir John. Unless you go out disguis'd-Mrs. Page, how might we disguise him?
Mrs. Page. Alas the day, I know not. There is no woman's gown big enough for him; otherwise he might put on a hat, a mufier, and a kerchief, and so escape.
Fal. Good hearts, devise something; any extremity rather than a mischief.
Mrs. Ford. My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has a gown above.
Mrs. Paye. On my word it will serve him: she's as big as he is : and there's her thrum hat, and her muffler too : Run up, Sir John.
Mrs. Ford. Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress Page and I will look some linen for your head.
Mrs. Page. Quick, quick; we'll come dress you straight; put on the gown the while.
Fal. On! if all this should come to the ears of the court, they would melt my fat drop by drop, and liquor fishermen's boots with me. Follow.- quick.
[Exit, R. D. Mrs. Ford. I would my husband would meet him in this shape : he cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch; forbade her my house, and hath threaten’d to beat her. But is my husband coming ?
Mrs. Page. Ay, in good sadness is he; and talks of the basket too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
Mrs. Ford. We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as they did last time.
Mrs. Page. Nay, but he'll be here presently, let's go dress him like the witch of Brentford.
Mrs. Ford. I'll first direct my inen what they shall do with the basket.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest varlet ! we cannot misuse him enough.
Enter John and ROBERT, R. Mrs. Ford. Go, sirs, take this basket again on your shoulders ; your master is hard at door: if he bid you set it down, obey him : quickly dispatch. Now then to see Falstaff dress'd.
Mrs. Page. Aye, well dress'd; both by ourselves and our husbands.
[Exeunt, R. (The Men take up the Basket, and are preparing
to go off, L. 8. E.
Enter Caius, FORD, Page, and Evans, L. Ford. Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any way then to unfool me again ?-Set down the basket, villains :-Somebody call my wife.-[Exit Men, R.] You, youth in a basket !-0, you panderly rascals ! There's a knot, a gang, a pack, a conspiracy, against me: Now shall the devil be sham'd.- What: wife, I say ! come, come forth: behold what honest clothes you send forth to bleaching.
Page. Why this passes ! Master Ford, you are not to go loose any longer; you must be pinion'd.
Eva. Why this is lunaticks! This is mad as a mad dog!
Caius. Ma foi, Master Ford, dis is not vell; ma foi.
Enter Mrs. FORD, R. Ford. So I say too, sir.-Why, wife, wife ; come hither Mistress Ford ; Mistress Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband !-I suspect without cause, mistress, do I?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven be my witness, you do, if you suspect me in any dishonesty.
Ford. Well said, brazen-face; hold it out.-Come forth, sirrah. [Pulls the Clothes out of the Basket.
Page. This passes ! Mrs. Ford. Are you not asham’d? Let the clothos alone.
Ford. I shall find you anon.
Eva. 'Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife's clothes? Come away:
Ford. Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house yesterday in this basket :Why may not he be there again? In my house I am sure he is, my intelligence is true: my jealousy is reasonable. Pluck me out all the linen.
Mrs. Ford. If you find a man there he shall die a flea's death.
Ford. Well, he's pot here I seek for.