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Fal. What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.

Mr. Ford. There they always use to discharge their birding-pieces; creep into the kill-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 abItract for the remembrance of such places, and 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. 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 muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.

Fal. Good heart, devise something; any extremity rather than mischief.

Mrs. Ford. My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brainford, has a gown above.

Mrs. Page. On my word, it will serve him ; she's as big as he is, and there's her thrumb hat, and her muffler too. Run'up, Sir John.

Mrs. Ford. Go, go, sweet Sir John, mistress Page and I will look some linnen for your head.

Mrs. Page. Quick, quick, we'll come dress you straight; put on the gown the while.

[Exit Falstaff Mrs. Ford. I would my husband would meet him in this shape; he cannot abide the old woman of Brainford; he swears she's a witch, forbad her my house, and hath threaten'd to beat her.

Mrs. Page. Heav'n guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards!

Mrs. Ford. But is my husband coming ?

Mrs. Page. Ay in good sadness is he, and talks of the basket too, however 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. VOL. I, T

Mrs.

Wives may

Mrs. Page. Nay, but he'll be here presently ; let's go dress him like the witch of Brainford.

Mrs. Ford. I'll first direct my men what they shall do with the basket ; go up, I'll bring linnen for him straight.

Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest varlet, we cannot misuse him enough. We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do, be merry, and yet

honest too. We do not act, that often jest and laugh: 'Tis old but true, ftill swine eat all the draugh.

Mrs. 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.

[Exeunt Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford. Enter servants with the basket. i Serv. Come, come, take up. 2 Serv. Pray heav'n it be not full of the Knight again. i Serv. I hope not. I had as lief bear so much lead.

S CE N E IV. Enter Ford, Shallow, Page, Caius and 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! oh, you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a gang, a pack, a conspiracy against me; now shall the devil be Tham'd. What, wife, I fay; come, come forth, behold what honest cloaths you send forth to bleaching.

Page. Why, this passes a, master Ford; you are not to go loose any longer, you must be pinnion’d.

Eva. Why, this is lunaticks; this is mad as a mad dog. Sbal. Indeed, master Ford, this is not well, indeed. Ford. So say I too, Sir.

Enter Mistress Ford. Come hither, mistress Ford, mistress Ford, the honest

woman, (a) See the note, p. 221.

you do, if

a

woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband : I suspect without cause, mistress, do I? Mrs. Ford. Heav'n be my witness

you

fufpect me in any dishonesty.

Ford. Well said, brazen face, hold it out: come forth, Sirrah.

[Pulls the cloaths out of the basket. Page. This passes. Mrs. Ford. Are you not asham'd? let the cloaths alone. Ford. I shall find you anon.

Eva. 'Tis unreasonable; will you take up your wife's cloaths ? come away.

Ford. Empty the basket, I say.
Mrs. Ford. Why, man, why

Ford. Mafter Page, as I am a man, there was one convey'd 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 jealousie is reasonable; pluck me out all the linnen.

Mrs. Ford. If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.

Page. Here's no man.

Sbal. By my fidelity, this is not well, master Ford; this wrongs you.

Eva. 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 no where else but in your brain.

Ford. Help to search my house this one time ; if I find not what I seek, shew no colour for my extremity; let me for ever be your table-sport ; let them say of me, as jealous as Ford, that searched a hollow wall-nut for his wife's leman. Satisfie me once more, once more search with me

Mrs. Ford. What hoa, mistress Page ! come you and the old woman down; my husband will come into the chamber.

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Ford. (a) See the nors, p. 271.

Ford. Old woman! what old woman's that?
Mrs. Ford. Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.

Ford. A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean; have I not forbid her my house? she comes of errands, does The ? 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 th’ figure, and such dawbry as this is, beyond our element; we know nothing. Come down, you witch, you hag you, come down I say.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, good sweet husband; good gentlemen, let him not strike the old woman.

V.

Ş CE N E
Enter Falstaff in women cloaths, and Mrs. Page.
Mrs. Page. Come, mother Prat, come, give me your
hand.

Ford. I'll Prat her. Out of my door, you witch, [Beats him.] you hag, you baggage, you poulcat, you runnion! out, out, out; I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you.

[Exit Fal. Mrs. Page. Are you not asham’d? I think you have kill'd the poor woman.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, he will do it; 'tis a goodly credit for you.
Ford. Hang her, witch.

Eva. By 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 her muffler.

Ford. Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow; see but the issue of my jealousie; if I cry out thus upon no trayle, never trust me when I open again.

Page. Let's obey his humour a little further : come, gentlemen.

[Exeunt. Mrs. Page. Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, by th' mass that he did not; he beat him moft unpitifully, methought.

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

Mrs.

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

Mrs. Page. The spirit of wantonness is sure scar'd 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 scrape the figures out of your husband's brain. 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 publickly sham'd; and methinks there would be no right period to the jest, should he not be publickly Tham’d.

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

[Exeunt.

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Changes to the Garter - Inn.

Enter Hoft and Bardolph. Bard. SR, the German desires to have three of your court, and they are going to meet him.

Hoft. What Duke Should that be comes fo fecretly? I hear not of him in the court: let me speak with the gentle. men; they speak English?

Bard. Sir, I'll call them to you.

Hoft. They shall have my horses, but I'll make them pay, I'll fawce them. They have had my house a week at command; I have turn'd away my other guests; they must } /count off;' I'll fawce them, come. (Exeunt.

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SCENE 3 come off; ...old edit. Warb. emend.

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