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SCENE I-Before Page's house. Enter Mistress Page, with a letter.
Mrs. Page. What! have I 'scaped love-letters in the holy-day time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them? Let me see:
Ask me no reason why I love you; for though love use reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor: You are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, so am I; ha! ha! then there's more sympathy: you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, mistress Page (at the least, if the love of a soldier can suffice,) that I love thee. I will not say, pity me, 'tis not a soldier-like phrase; but I say, love
me. By me,
What a Herod of Jewry is this!-O wicked, wicked world!-one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to show himself a young gallant! What an unweighed behaviour hath this Flemish drunkard picked (with the devil's name) out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner assay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company!-What should I say to him?-I was then frugal of my mirth :-heaven forgive me!-Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men. How shall I be revenged on him?
(1) Most probably Shakspeare wrote Physician.
for revenged I will be, as sure as his guts are made
Enter Mistress Ford.
Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.
Mrs. Page. And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show to the contrary.
Mrs. Page. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind. Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then; yet, I say, I could show you to the contrary: O, mistress Page, give
Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or so, I could be knighted.
Mrs. Page. What?-thou liest!-Sir Alice Ford!- -These knights will hack; and so thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.
Mrs. Ford. We burn day-light-here, read, read;-perceive how I might be knighted.-I shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I have an eye to make difference of men's liking: and yet he would not swear; praised women's modesty: and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness, that I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words: but they do no more adhere and keep place together, than the hundredth psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves. What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I think the best ere to entertain him with hope, till the wicked
fire of lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever hear the like?
Mrs. Page. Letter for letter; but that the name of Page and Ford differs!-To thy great comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here's the twin brother of thy letter: but let thine inherit first; for, I protest, mine never shall. I warrant, he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for different names (sure more,) and these are of the second edition: he will print them out of doubt: for he cares not what he puts into the press, when he would put us two. I had rather be a giantess, and lie under mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty lascivious turtles, ere one chaste man.
Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very same; the very hand, the very words: what doth he think of us? Mrs. Page. Nay, I know not: it makes me almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I'll entertain myself like one that I am not acquainted withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in me, that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.
Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.
Mrs. Page. So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'll never to sea again. Let's be revenged on him: let's appoint him a meeting; give him a show of comfort in his suit; and lead him on with a fine-baited delay, till he hath pawn'd his horses to mine host of the Garter.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any villany against him, that may not sully the chariness! of our honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! it would give eternal food to his jealousy.
Mrs. Page. Why, look, where he comes; and my good man too: he's as far from jealousy, as I am from giving him cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman. Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greasy knight: come hither. [They retire.
Enter Ford, Pistol, Page, and Nym.
Ford. Well, I hope, it be not so.
Pist. Hope is a curtail1 dog in some affairs:
Ford. Why, sir, my wife is not "young.
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
Pist. With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou, Like sir Acteon he, with Ring-wood at thy heels: O, odious is the name!
Ford. What name, sir?
Pist. The horn, I say: farewell.
Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo-birds do sing.
Away, sir corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. [Exit Pistol. Ford. I will be patient; will find out this.
Nym. And this is true. [To Page.] I like not the humour of lying. He hath wrong'd me in some humours; I should have borne the humoured letter to her but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; there's the short and the long. My name is corporal Nym; I speak, and I avouch. "Tis true :-my name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your wife.-Adieu! I love not the humour of bread and cheese; and there's the humour of it. Adieu. [Exit Nym.
Page. The humour of it, quoth 'a! here's a fellow frights humour out of his wits.
(1) A dog that misses his game. (2) A medley. (3) Consider.
Ford. I will seek out Falstaff.
Page. I never heard such a drawling, affecting
Ford. If I do find it, well.
Page. I will not believe such a Cataian, though the priest o' the town commended him for a true
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow: Well.
Mrs. Page. Whither go you, George?-Hark
Mrs. Ford. How now, sweet Frank? why art thou melancholy?
Ford. I melancholy! I am not melancholy.— Get you home, go.
Mrs. Ford. Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now.-Will you go, mistress Page?
Mrs. Page. Have with you.-You'll come to dinner, George?-Look, who comes yonder: she shall be our messenger to this paltry knight. [Aside to Mrs. Ford.
Enter Mistress Quickly.
Mrs. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it.
Mrs. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne?
Quick. Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good mistress Anne?
Mrs. Page. Go in with us, and see; we have an hour's talk with you.
[Exe. Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Quick. Page. How now, master Ford?
Ford. You heard what this knave told me; did you not?
Page. Yes; and you heard what the other told
Ford. Do you think there is truth in them? (1) A lying sharper.