THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR


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Act IV

Scene I A street.

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS QUICKLY, and
WILLIAM PAGE]
MISTRESS PAGE Is he at Master Ford's already, think'st thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Sure he is by this, or will be presently: but,
truly, he is very courageous mad about his throwing
into the water. Mistress Ford desires you to come suddenly.
MISTRESS PAGE I'll be with her by and by; I'll but bring my young
man here to school. Look, where his master comes;
'tis a playing-day, I see.
[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS]
How now, Sir Hugh! no school to-day?
SIR HUGH EVANS No; Master Slender is let the boys leave to play.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Blessing of his heart!
MISTRESS PAGE Sir Hugh, my husband says my son profits nothing in
the world at his book. I pray you, ask him some
questions in his accidence.
SIR HUGH EVANS Come hither, William; hold up your head; come.
MISTRESS PAGE Come on, sirrah; hold up your head; answer your
master, be not afraid.
SIR HUGH EVANS William, how many numbers is in nouns?
WILLIAM PAGE Two.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Truly, I thought there had been one number more,
because they say, ''Od's nouns.'
SIR HUGH EVANS Peace your tattlings! What is 'fair,' William?
WILLIAM PAGE Pulcher.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Polecats! there are fairer things than polecats, sure.
SIR HUGH EVANS You are a very simplicity 'oman: I pray you peace.
What is 'lapis,' William?
WILLIAM PAGE A stone.
SIR HUGH EVANS And what is 'a stone,' William?
WILLIAM PAGE A pebble.
SIR HUGH EVANS No, it is 'lapis:' I pray you, remember in your prain.
WILLIAM PAGE Lapis.
SIR HUGH EVANS That is a good William. What is he, William, that
does lend articles?
WILLIAM PAGE Articles are borrowed of the pronoun, and be thus
declined, Singulariter, nominativo, hic, haec, hoc.
SIR HUGH EVANS Nominativo, hig, hag, hog; pray you, mark:
genitivo, hujus. Well, what is your accusative case?
WILLIAM PAGE Accusativo, hinc.
SIR HUGH EVANS I pray you, have your remembrance, child,
accusative, hung, hang, hog.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 'Hang-hog' is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.
SIR HUGH EVANS Leave your prabbles, 'oman. What is the focative
case, William?
WILLIAM PAGE O,--vocativo, O.
SIR HUGH EVANS Remember, William; focative is caret.
MISTRESS QUICKLY And that's a good root.
SIR HUGH EVANS 'Oman, forbear.
MISTRESS PAGE Peace!
SIR HUGH EVANS What is your genitive case plural, William?
WILLIAM PAGE Genitive case!
SIR HUGH EVANS Ay.
WILLIAM PAGE Genitive,--horum, harum, horum.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Vengeance of Jenny's case! fie on her! never name
her, child, if she be a whore.
SIR HUGH EVANS For shame, 'oman.
MISTRESS QUICKLY You do ill to teach the child such words: he
teaches him to hick and to hack, which they'll do
fast enough of themselves, and to call 'horum:' fie upon you!
SIR HUGH EVANS 'Oman, art thou lunatics? hast thou no
understandings for thy cases and the numbers of the
genders? Thou art as foolish Christian creatures as
I would desires.
MISTRESS PAGE Prithee, hold thy peace.
SIR HUGH EVANS Show me now, William, some declensions of your pronouns.
WILLIAM PAGE Forsooth, I have forgot.
SIR HUGH EVANS It is qui, quae, quod: if you forget your 'quies,'
your 'quaes,' and your 'quods,' you must be
preeches. Go your ways, and play; go.
MISTRESS PAGE He is a better scholar than I thought he was.
SIR HUGH EVANS He is a good sprag memory. Farewell, Mistress Page.
MISTRESS PAGE Adieu, good Sir Hugh.
[Exit SIR HUGH EVANS]
Get you home, boy. Come, we stay too long.
[Exeunt]

Scene II A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS FORD]
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my
sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your love,
and I profess requital to a hair's breadth; 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?
MISTRESS FORD He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE [Within] What, ho, gossip Ford! what, ho!
MISTRESS FORD Step into the chamber, Sir John.
[Exit FALSTAFF]
[Enter MISTRESS PAGE]
MISTRESS PAGE How now, sweetheart! who's at home besides yourself?
MISTRESS FORD Why, none but mine own people.
MISTRESS PAGE Indeed!
MISTRESS FORD No, certainly.
[Aside to her]
Speak louder.
MISTRESS PAGE Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.
MISTRESS FORD Why?
MISTRESS PAGE Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again:
he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails
against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's
daughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffets
himself on the forehead, crying, 'Peer out, peer
out!' that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but
tameness, civility and patience, to this his
distemper he is in now: I am glad the fat knight is not here.
MISTRESS FORD Why, does he talk of him?
MISTRESS PAGE Of none but him; and swears he was carried out, the
last time he searched 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 I am glad
the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.
MISTRESS FORD How near is he, Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE Hard by; at street end; he will be here anon.
MISTRESS FORD I am undone! The knight is here.
MISTRESS PAGE Why then you are utterly shamed, and he's but a dead
man. What a woman are you!--Away with him, away
with him! better shame than murder.
FORD Which way should be go? how should I bestow him?
Shall I put him into the basket again?
[Re-enter FALSTAFF]
FALSTAFF No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not go
out ere he come?
MISTRESS PAGE Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers watch the door
with pistols, that none shall issue out; otherwise
you might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?
FALSTAFF What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.
MISTRESS FORD There they always use to discharge their
birding-pieces. Creep into the kiln-hole.
FALSTAFF Where is it?
MISTRESS 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, and
goes to them by his note: there is no hiding you in the house.
FALSTAFF I'll go out then.
MISTRESS PAGE If you go out in your own semblance, you die, Sir
John. Unless you go out disguised--
MISTRESS FORD How might we disguise him?
MISTRESS 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 muffler and a kerchief, and so escape.
FALSTAFF Good hearts, devise something: any extremity rather
than a mischief.
MISTRESS FORD My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has a
gown above.
MISTRESS PAGE On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as he
is: and there's her thrummed hat and her muffler
too. Run up, Sir John.
MISTRESS FORD Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress Page and I will
look some linen for your head.
MISTRESS PAGE Quick, quick! we'll come dress you straight: put
on the gown the while.
[Exit FALSTAFF]
MISTRESS 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
threatened to beat her.
MISTRESS PAGE Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and the
devil guide his cudgel afterwards!
MISTRESS FORD But is my husband coming?
MISTRESS PAGE Ah, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the basket
too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS PAGE Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go dress him
like the witch of Brentford.
MISTRESS FORD I'll first direct my men what they shall do with the
basket. Go up; I'll bring linen for him straight.
[Exit]
MISTRESS PAGE Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too:
We do not act that often jest and laugh;
'Tis old, but true, Still swine eat all the draff.
[Exit]
[Re-enter MISTRESS FORD with two Servants]
MISTRESS FORD Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders:
your master is hard at door; if he bid you set it
down, obey him: quickly, dispatch.
[Exit]
First Servant Come, come, take it up.
Second Servant Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.
First Servant I hope not; I had as lief bear so much lead.
[Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and
SIR HUGH EVANS]
FORD Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any
way then to unfool me again? Set down the basket,
villain! Somebody call my wife. Youth in a basket!
O you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a ging, a
pack, a conspiracy against me: now shall the devil
be shamed. 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 pinioned.
SIR HUGH EVANS Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog!
SHALLOW Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.
FORD So say I too, sir.
[Re-enter MISTRESS FORD]
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?
MISTRESS 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!
[Pulling clothes out of the basket]
PAGE This passes!
MISTRESS FORD Are you not ashamed? let the clothes alone.
FORD I shall find you anon.
SIR HUGH EVANS 'Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife's
clothes? Come away.
FORD Empty the basket, I say!
MISTRESS FORD Why, man, why?
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.
MISTRESS FORD If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.
PAGE Here's no man.
SHALLOW By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford; this
wrongs you.
SIR HUGH EVANS Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the
imaginations of your own heart: this is jealousies.
FORD Well, he's not here I seek for.
PAGE No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.
FORD Help to search my house this one time. If I find
not what I seek, show no colour for my extremity; let
me for ever be your table-sport; let them say of
me, 'As jealous as Ford, Chat searched a hollow
walnut for his wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more;
once more search with me.
MISTRESS FORD What, ho, Mistress Page! come you and the old woman
down; my husband will come into the chamber.
FORD Old woman! what old woman's that?
MISTRESS FORD Nay, it is my maid's aunt of Brentford.
FORD A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not
forbid her my house? She comes of errands, does
she? We are simple men; we do not know what's
brought to pass under the profession of
fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells,
by the figure, and such daubery as this is, beyond
our element we know nothing. Come down, you witch,
you hag, you; come down, I say!
MISTRESS FORD Nay, good, sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let him
not strike the old woman.
[Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, and
MISTRESS PAGE]
MISTRESS PAGE Come, Mother Prat; come, give me your hand.
FORD I'll prat her.
[Beating him]
Out of my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage, you
polecat, you runyon! out, out! I'll conjure you,
I'll fortune-tell you.
[Exit FALSTAFF]
MISTRESS PAGE Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed the
poor woman.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a goodly credit for you.
FORD Hang her, witch!
SIR HUGH EVANS By the yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch
indeed: I like not when a 'oman has a great peard;
I spy a great peard under his muffler.
FORD Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow;
see but the issue of my jealousy: if I cry out thus
upon no trail, never trust me when I open again.
PAGE Let's obey his humour a little further: come,
gentlemen.
[Exeunt FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and
SIR HUGH EVANS]
MISTRESS PAGE Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him most
unpitifully, methought.
MISTRESS PAGE I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er the
altar; it hath done meritorious service.
MISTRESS FORD What think you? may we, with the warrant of
womanhood and the witness of a good conscience,
pursue him with any further revenge?
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS FORD Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?
MISTRESS PAGE Yes, by all means; if it be but to 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.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS PAGE Come, to the forge with it then; shape it: I would
not have things cool.
[Exeunt]

Scene III A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter Host and BARDOLPH]
BARDOLPH Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your
horses: the duke himself will be to-morrow at
court, and they are going to meet him.
Host What duke should that be comes so secretly? I hear
not of him in the court. Let me speak with the
gentlemen: they speak English?
BARDOLPH Ay, sir; I'll call them to you.
Host They shall have my horses; but I'll make 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]

Scene IV A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD,
and SIR HUGH EVANS]
SIR HUGH 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?
MISTRESS 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.
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.
SIR HUGH 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.
MISTRESS FORD Devise but how you'll use him when he comes,
And let us two devise to bring him thither.
MISTRESS 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
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak:
But what of this?
MISTRESS 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:
And in this shape when you have brought him thither,
What shall be done with him? what is your plot?
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS FORD And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound
And burn him with their tapers.
MISTRESS 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.
SIR HUGH EVANS I will teach the children their behaviors; 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 and buy them vizards.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS PAGE Fear not you that. Go get us properties
And tricking for our fairies.
SIR HUGH EVANS Let us about it: it is admirable pleasures and fery
honest knaveries.
[Exeunt PAGE, FORD, and SIR HUGH EVANS]
MISTRESS PAGE Go, Mistress Ford,
Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.
[Exit MISTRESS 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]

Scene V A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter Host and SIMPLE]
Host What wouldst thou have, boor? what: thick-skin?
speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.
SIMPLE Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff
from Master Slender.
Host There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his
standing-bed and truckle-bed; 'tis painted about
with the story of the Prodigal, fresh and new. Go
knock and call; hell speak like an Anthropophaginian
unto thee: knock, I say.
SIMPLE There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his
chamber: I'll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come
down; I come to speak with her, indeed.
Host Ha! a fat woman! the knight may be robbed: I'll
call. Bully knight! bully Sir John! speak from
thy lungs military: art thou there? it is thine
host, thine Ephesian, calls.
FALSTAFF [Above] How now, mine host!
Host Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of
thy fat woman. Let her descend, bully, let her
descend; my chambers are honourable: fie! privacy?
fie!
[Enter FALSTAFF]
FALSTAFF There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with
me; but she's gone.
SIMPLE Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of
Brentford?
FALSTAFF Ay, marry, was it, mussel-shell: what would you with her?
SIMPLE My master, sir, Master Slender, sent to her, seeing
her go through the streets, to know, sir, whether
one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the
chain or no.
FALSTAFF I spake with the old woman about it.
SIMPLE And what says she, I pray, sir?
FALSTAFF Marry, she says that the very same man that
beguiled Master Slender of his chain cozened him of
it.
SIMPLE I would I could have spoken with the woman herself;
I had other things to have spoken with her too from
him.
FALSTAFF What are they? let us know.
Host Ay, come; quick.
SIMPLE I may not conceal them, sir.
Host Conceal them, or thou diest.
SIMPLE Why, sir, they were nothing but about Mistress Anne
Page; to know if it were my master's fortune to
have her or no.
FALSTAFF 'Tis, 'tis his fortune.
SIMPLE What, sir?
FALSTAFF To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.
SIMPLE May I be bold to say so, sir?
FALSTAFF Ay, sir; like who more bold.
SIMPLE I thank your worship: I shall make my master glad
with these tidings.
[Exit]
Host Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Was
there a wise woman with thee?
FALSTAFF Ay, that there was, mine host; one that hath taught
me more wit than ever I learned before in my life;
and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for
my learning.
[Enter BARDOLPH]
BARDOLPH Out, alas, sir! cozenage, mere cozenage!
Host Where be my horses? speak well of them, varletto.
BARDOLPH Run away with the cozeners; for so soon as I came
beyond Eton, they threw me off from behind one of
them, in a slough of mire; and set spurs and away,
like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.
Host They are gone but to meet the duke, villain: do not
say they be fled; Germans are honest men.
[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS]
SIR HUGH EVANS Where is mine host?
Host What is the matter, sir?
SIR HUGH EVANS Have a care of your entertainments: there is a
friend of mine come to town tells me there is three
cozen-germans that has cozened all the hosts of
Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and
money. I tell you for good will, look you: you
are wise and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks, and
'tis not convenient you should be cozened. Fare you well.
[Exit]
[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS]
DOCTOR CAIUS Vere is mine host de Jarteer?
Host Here, master doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.
DOCTOR CAIUS I cannot tell vat is dat: but it is tell-a me dat
you make grand preparation for a duke de Jamany: by
my trot, dere is no duke dat the court is know to
come. I tell you for good vill: adieu.
[Exit]
Host Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight. I am
undone! Fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone!
[Exeunt Host and BARDOLPH]
FALSTAFF I would all the world might be cozened; for I have
been cozened and beaten too. If it should come to
the ear of the court, how I have been transformed
and how my transformation hath been washed and
cudgelled, they would melt me out of my fat drop by
drop and liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant
they would whip me with their fine wits till I were
as crest-fallen as a dried pear. I never prospered
since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my
wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY]
Now, whence come you?
MISTRESS QUICKLY From the two parties, forsooth.
FALSTAFF The devil take one party and his dam the other! and
so they shall be both bestowed. I have suffered more
for their sakes, more than the villanous inconstancy
of man's disposition is able to bear.
MISTRESS QUICKLY And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant;
speciously one of them; Mistress Ford, good heart,
is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a
white spot about her.
FALSTAFF What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was
beaten myself into all the colours of the rainbow;
and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of
Brentford: but that my admirable dexterity of wit,
my counterfeiting the action of an old woman,
delivered me, the knave constable had set me i' the
stocks, i' the common stocks, for a witch.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber: you
shall hear how things go; and, I warrant, to your
content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good
hearts, what ado here is to bring you together!
Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that
you are so crossed.
FALSTAFF Come up into my chamber.
[Exeunt]

Scene VI Another room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FENTON and Host]
Host Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy: I
will give over all.
FENTON 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.
FENTON 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
To take her by the hand and bid her go,
She shall go with him: her mother hath intended,
The better to denote her to the doctor,
For they must all be mask'd and vizarded,
That quaint in green she shall be loose enrobed,
With ribands pendent, flaring 'bout her head;
And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe,
To pinch her by the hand, and, on that token,
The maid hath given consent to go with him.
Host Which means she to deceive, father or mother?
FENTON Both, my good host, to go along with me:
And here it rests, that you'll procure the vicar
To stay for me at church 'twixt twelve and one,
And, in the lawful name of marrying,
To give our hearts united ceremony.
Host Well, husband your device; I'll to the vicar:
Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest.
FENTON So shall I evermore be bound to thee;
Besides, I'll make a present recompense.
[Exeunt]

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