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house, and when I fuddenly call on you, come forth, and without any pause or staggering take this bafket on your fhoulders; that done, trudge with it in all hafte, and carry it among the whitfters in Datchet-Mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames fide.

Mrs Page. You will do it?

Mrs Ford. I ha' told them over and over; they lack no direction. Be gone, and come when you are call'd. [Exeunt Servants.

Mrs Page. Here comes little Robin.

Enter Robin.

Mrs Ford. How now, my Eyas-mufket †, what news with you?

Rob. My mafter, Sir John, is come in at your back-door, Mrs Ford, and requests your company. Mrs Page. You little Jack-a-lent, have you been true to us?

Rob. Ay, I'll be fworn; my master knows not of your being here, and hath threatened to put me into everlasting liberty if I tell you of it; for he fwears he'll turn me away.

Mrs Page. Thou'rt a good boy; this fecrecy of thine shall be a tailor to thee, and shall make thee a new doublet and hofe. I'll go hide me.

Mrs Ford. Do fo; go tell thy mafter I am alone; Mistress Page, remember you your cue. [Exit Rob. Mrs Page. I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hifs [Exit Mrs Page. Mrs Ford. Go to then; we'll ufe this unwholfome humidity, this grofs watery pompion—we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.




Enter Falstaff.

Fal. Have I caught thee, my heav'nly jewel? why, now let me die; for I have liv'd long enough: this is the period of my ambition: O this bleffed hour!

† A young sparrow-hawk. Warburton.

Mrs Ford. O fweet Sir John!

Fal. Miftrefs Ford, I cannot cog; I cannot prate,' Miftrefs Ford. Now fhall I fin in my wifh; I would thy husband were dead; I'll speak it before the best lord, I would make thee my lady.

Mrs Ford. I your lady, Sir John ? alas, I fhould be a pitiful lady.

Fal. Let the court of France fhew me fuch another. I fee how thine eye would emulate the diamond: thou haft the right arched bent of the brow, that becomes the fhip-tire, the tire valiant, or any Venetian attire.

Mrs Ford. A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing elfe, nor that well neither.

Fal. Thou art a tyrant to fay fo; thou would'n make an abfolute courtier; and the firm fixure of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gate in a femi-circled farthingale. I fee what thou wert; if fortune thy foe were not, nature is thy friend: come, thou canst not hide it.

Mrs Ford. Believe me, there's no fuch thing in me. Fal. What made me love thee? let that perfuade thee there's fomething extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog, and fay thou art this and that, like a-many of thefe lifping hawthorn-buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and imell like Bucklers-Bury in fimpling time; I cannot but I love thee, none but thee; and thou deservest it.

Mrs Ford. Do not betray me, Sir; I fear you love Mrs Page.

Fal. Thou might'ft as well fay I love to walk by the Counter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.

Mrs Ford. Well, heav'n knows how I love you, and you fhall one day find it.

Fal. Keep in that mind; I'll deferve it.

Mrs Ford. Nay, I must tell you fo you do, or elfe I could not be in that mind.

Rob. within.] Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford, here's Mistress Page at the door, fweating, and blowing, and looking wildly, and would needs fpeak with you prefently.

Fal. She fhall not fee me; I will ensconce me behind the arras.

Mrs Ford. Pray you do fo; fhe's a very tattling [Falstaff hides himself.




Enter Miftrefs Page.

What's the matter? how now?

Mrs Page. O Mistress Ford, what have you done? you're fham'd, y'are overthrown, you are undone for


Mrs Ford. What's the matter, good Mistress Page?

Mrs Page. O well-a-day, Mistress Ford, having an honeft man to your husband, to give him fuch caufe of fufpicion!

Mrs Ford. What cause of fufpicion?

Mrs Page. What caufe of fufpicion?-out upon you!-how am I mistook in you?

Mrs Ford. Why, alas! what's the matter?

Mrs Page. Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the officers in Windfor, to fearch for a gentleman that, he fays, is here now in the house by your confent, to take an ill advantage of his abfence. You are undone.

Mrs Ford. Speak louder [Afide.]-Tis not fo, I hope.

Mrs Page. Pray heav'n it be not fo, that you have fuch a man here; but 'tis moft certain your hufband's coming with half Windfor at his heels, to fearch for fuch a one. I come before to tell you: if you know yourfelf clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be not amaz'd, call all your fenfes to you, defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.

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Mrs Ford. What fhall I do? there is a gentleman, my dear friend; and I fear not mine own fhame, fo much as his peril. I had rather than a thousand pound he were out of the house.

Mrs Page. For fhame, never stand you had rather,

and you had rather; your husband's here at hand; bethink you of fome conveyance, in the house you cannot hide him. Oh, how have you deceiv'd me? look, here is a basket; if he be of any reasonable ftature, he may creep in here, and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or, it is whiting time, fend him by your two men to Datchet-mead.

Mrs Ford. He's too big to go in there: what fhall I do?

Re-enter Falstaff.

Fal. Let me fee't, let me fee't; O let me see't. I'll in, I'll in.-Follow your friend's counfel.I'll in.

Mrs Page. What! Sir John Falstaff? are these your letters, knight?

Fal. I love thee-Help me away; let me creep in here; I'll never

[He goes into the basket; they cover him with foul linen.

Mrs Page. Help to cover your mafter, boy ;-call your men, Mistress Ford.-You diffembling knight!

Mrs Ford. What, John, Robert, John, go take up these cloaths here, quickly. Where's the cowlstaff? Look, how you drumble: carry them to the landrefs in Datched-mead; quickly, come.


Enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Evans.

Ford. Pray you, come near: if I fufpect without caufe, why then make sport at me, then let me be your jeft, deferve it. How now? whither bear you this?

Serv. To the landrefs, forfooth.

Mrs Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were beft meddle with buckwashing.

Ford. Buck? I would I could wash myfelf of the buck. Buck, buck, buck? ay buck: I warrant you, buck, and of the featon too, it fhall appear. [Exeunt Servants with the bafket.] Gentlemen, I have

dream'd to night, I'll tell you my dream. Here here, here be my keys; afcend my chambers, fearch, feek, find out; I'll warrant we'll unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first. So now uncape.

Pige. Good master Ford, be contented; you wrong yourself too much.

Ford. True, Mafter Page. Up, gentlemen, you fhall fee sport anon; follow me, gentlemen.

Eva. This is ferry fantastical humours and jea loufies.

Caius By gar 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not jealous in France

Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen, fee the iffue of his fearch. [Exeunt.



Manent Miftrefs Page and Mistress Ford. Mrs Page. Is there not a double, excellency in this?

Mrs Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceiv'd, or Sir John.

'Mrs Page. What a taking was he in, when your hufband afk'd who was in the basket!

Mrs Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; fo throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.

Mrs Page. Hang him, difhoneft rafcal; I would all of the fame ftrain were in the fame distress.

Mrs Ford. I think my husband hath fome fpecial fufpicion of Falstaff's being here. I never faw him fo grofs in his jealoufy till now.

Mrs Page. I will lay a plot to try that, and we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff; his diffoJute disease will fcarce obey this medicine.

Mrs Ford. Shall we fend that foolish carrion, Miftrefs Quickly, to him, and excufe his throwing into the water, and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment?

Mrs Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for tomorrow by eight o'clock, to have amends.

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