The Merry Wives of Windsor - Act 3, scene 3
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Act 3, scene 3
Mistress Ford and Mistress Page begin their revenge against Falstaff. As Falstaff joins Mistress Ford, Mistress Page enters with news that Ford is approaching. Falstaff climbs into a large laundry basket and is hidden under dirty clothes and then carried out by servants instructed to throw the basket’s contents into the river. As Ford searches in vain for Falstaff, the wives plot further revenge against both men.Enter Mistress Ford ⌜and⌝ Mistress Page.
MISTRESS FORD 1471 What, John! What, Robert!
MISTRESS PAGE 1472 Quickly, quickly! Is the buck-basket—
MISTRESS FORD 1473 I warrant.—What, ⌜Robert,⌝ I say!
⌜Enter John and Robert with a large buck-basket.⌝
MISTRESS PAGE 1474 Come, come, come.
MISTRESS FORD 1475 5Here, set it down.
MISTRESS PAGE 1476 Give your men the charge. We must be
MISTRESS FORD 1478 Marry, as I told you before, John and
1479 Robert, be ready here hard by in the brewhouse,
1480 10 and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and
1481 without any pause or staggering take this basket
1482 on your shoulders. That done, trudge with it in all
1483 haste, and carry it among the whitsters in Datchet
1484 Mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch close
1485 15 by the Thames side.
MISTRESS PAGE 1486 You will do it?
MISTRESS FORD 1487 I ha’ told them over and over. They lack
1488 no direction.—Be gone, and come when you are
1489 called.⌜John and Robert exit.⌝
MISTRESS PAGE 1490 20Here comes little Robin.
MISTRESS FORD 1491 How now, my eyas-musket? What news
1492 with you?
ROBIN 1493 My master, Sir John, is come in at your back
1494 door, Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
1496 true to us?
ROBIN 1497 Ay, I’ll be sworn. My master knows not of your
1498 being here and hath threatened to put me into
1499 everlasting liberty if I tell you of it, for he swears
1500 30 he’ll turn me away.
MISTRESS PAGE 1501 Thou ’rt a good boy. This secrecy of
1502 thine shall be a tailor to thee and shall make thee a
1503 new doublet and hose.—I’ll go hide me.
MISTRESS FORD 1504 Do so.—Go tell thy master I am alone.
1505 35 ⌜(Robin exits.)⌝ Mistress Page, remember you your
MISTRESS PAGE 1507 I warrant thee. If I do not act it, hiss
1508 me.⌜She exits.⌝
MISTRESS FORD 1509 Go to, then. We’ll use this unwholesome
1510 40 humidity, this gross-wat’ry pumpion. We’ll
1511 teach him to know turtles from jays.
Enter ⌜Sir John⌝ Falstaff.
FALSTAFF 1512 “Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?”
1513 Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough.
1514 This is the period of my ambition. O, this blessèd
1515 45 hour!
MISTRESS FORD 1516 O, sweet Sir John!
FALSTAFF 1517 Mistress Ford, I cannot cog. I cannot prate,
1518 Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would
1519 thy husband were dead. I’ll speak it before the best
1520 50 lord: I would make thee my lady.
MISTRESS FORD 1521 I your lady, Sir John? Alas, I should be
1522 a pitiful lady.
FALSTAFF 1523 Let the court of France show me such
1524 another. I see how thine eye would emulate the
1525 55 diamond. Thou hast the right arched beauty of the
1526 brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant,
1527 or any tire of Venetian admittance.
MISTRESS FORD 1528 A plain kerchief, Sir John. My brows
1529 become nothing else, nor that well neither.
1531 make an absolute courtier, and the firm fixture of
1532 thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait
1533 in a semicircled farthingale. I see what thou wert,
1534 if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend.
1535 65 Come, thou canst not hide it.
MISTRESS FORD 1536 Believe me, there’s no such thing in
FALSTAFF 1538 What made me love thee? Let that persuade
1539 thee. There’s something extraordinary in thee.
1540 70 Come, I cannot cog and say thou art this and that
1541 like a many of these lisping hawthorn buds that
1542 come like women in men’s apparel and smell like
1543 Bucklersbury in simple time. I cannot. But I love
1544 thee, none but thee; and thou deserv’st it.
MISTRESS FORD 1545 75Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love
1546 Mistress Page.
FALSTAFF 1547 Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by
1548 the Counter gate, which is as hateful to me as the
1549 reek of a lime-kiln.
MISTRESS FORD 1550 80Well, heaven knows how I love you,
1551 and you shall one day find it.
FALSTAFF 1552 Keep in that mind. I’ll deserve it.
MISTRESS FORD 1553 Nay, I must tell you, so you do, or else
1554 I could not be in that mind.
ROBIN 1555 85Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! Here’s Mistress
1556 Page at the door, sweating and blowing and looking
1557 wildly, and would needs speak with you
FALSTAFF 1559 She shall not see me. I will ensconce me behind
1560 90 the arras.
MISTRESS FORD 1561 Pray you, do so. She’s a very tattling
1562 woman.⌜Falstaff stands behind the arras.⌝
1563 What’s the matter? How now?
MISTRESS PAGE 1564 O Mistress Ford, what have you done?
1565 95 You’re shamed, you’re overthrown, you’re undone
MISTRESS FORD 1567 What’s the matter, good Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE 1568 O well-a-day, Mistress Ford, having an
1569 honest man to your husband, to give him such
1570 100 cause of suspicion!
MISTRESS FORD 1571 What cause of suspicion?
MISTRESS PAGE 1572 What cause of suspicion? Out upon you!
1573 How am I mistook in you!
MISTRESS FORD 1574 Why, alas, what’s the matter?
MISTRESS PAGE 1575 105Your husband’s coming hither, woman,
1576 with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman
1577 that he says is here now in the house, by
1578 your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence.
1579 You are undone.
MISTRESS FORD 1580 110’Tis not so, I hope.
MISTRESS PAGE 1581 Pray heaven it be not so, that you have
1582 such a man here! But ’tis most certain your husband’s
1583 coming, with half Windsor at his heels, to
1584 search for such a one. I come before to tell you. If
1585 115 you know yourself clear, why, I am glad of it. But if
1586 you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be
1587 not amazed! Call all your senses to you; defend
1588 your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life
MISTRESS FORD 1590 120What shall I do? There is a gentleman,
1591 my dear friend; and I fear not mine own shame so
1592 much as his peril. I had rather than a thousand
1593 pound he were out of the house.
MISTRESS PAGE 1594 For shame! Never stand “you had
1595 125 rather” and “you had rather.” Your husband’s here
1596 at hand. Bethink you of some conveyance. In the
1598 me! Look, here is a basket. If he be of any
1599 reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and
1600 130 throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to
1601 bucking. Or—it is whiting time—send him by your
1602 two men to Datchet Mead.
MISTRESS FORD 1603 He’s too big to go in there. What shall I
1604 do?⌜Falstaff comes forward.⌝
FALSTAFF 1605 135Let me see ’t, let me see ’t! O, let me see ’t! I’ll
1606 in, I’ll in. Follow your friend’s counsel. I’ll in.
MISTRESS PAGE 1607 What, Sir John Falstaff? ⌜(Aside to
him.)⌝ 1608 Are these your letters, knight?
FALSTAFF, ⌜aside to Mistress Page⌝ 1609 I love thee. Help me
1610 140 away. Let me creep in here. I’ll never—
⌜Falstaff goes into the basket; they cover
him with dirty clothes.⌝
MISTRESS PAGE, ⌜to Robin⌝ 1611 Help to cover your master,
1612 boy.—Call your men, Mistress Ford.—You dissembling
1613 knight!⌜Robin exits.⌝
MISTRESS FORD 1614 What, John! Robert! John!
⌜Enter Robert and John.⌝
1615 145 Go, take up these clothes here quickly. Where’s the
1616 cowlstaff? Look how you drumble! Carry them to
1617 the laundress in Datchet Mead. Quickly! Come.
Enter Ford, Page, ⌜Doctor⌝ Caius,
⌜and Sir Hugh⌝ Evans.
FORD 1618 Pray you, come near. If I suspect without cause,
1619 why then make sport at me. Then let me be your
1620 150 jest; I deserve it.—How now? Whither bear you
⌜ROBERT and JOHN⌝ 1622 To the laundress, forsooth.
MISTRESS FORD 1623 Why, what have you to do whither they
1624 bear it? You were best meddle with buck-washing!
1626 Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck! I warrant you, buck,
1627 and of the season too, it shall appear.
⌜Robert and John exit with the buck-basket.⌝
1628 Gentlemen, I have dreamed tonight; I’ll tell you my
1629 dream. Here, here, here be my keys. Ascend my
1630 160 chambers. Search, seek, find out. I’ll warrant we’ll
1631 unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first. ⌜(He
locks the door.)⌝ 1632 So, now uncape.
PAGE 1633 Good Master Ford, be contented. You wrong
1634 yourself too much.
FORD 1635 165True, Master Page.—Up, gentlemen. You shall
1636 see sport anon. Follow me, gentlemen.⌜He exits.⌝
SIR HUGH 1637 This is fery fantastical humors and
DOCTOR CAIUS 1639 By gar, ’tis no the fashion of France. It is
1640 170 not jealous in France.
PAGE 1641 Nay, follow him, gentlemen. See the issue of his
1642 search.⌜Page, Sir Hugh, and Caius exit.⌝
MISTRESS PAGE 1643 Is there not a double excellency in this?
MISTRESS FORD 1644 I know not which pleases me better—
1645 175 that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE 1646 What a taking was he in when your
1647 husband asked who was in the basket!
MISTRESS FORD 1648 I am half afraid he will have need of
1649 washing, so throwing him into the water will do
1650 180 him a benefit.
MISTRESS PAGE 1651 Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all
1652 of the same strain were in the same distress.
MISTRESS FORD 1653 I think my husband hath some special
1654 suspicion of Falstaff’s being here, for I never saw
1655 185 him so gross in his jealousy till now.
MISTRESS PAGE 1656 I will lay a plot to try that, and we will
1657 yet have more tricks with Falstaff. His dissolute
1658 disease will scarce obey this medicine.
MISTRESS FORD 1659 Shall we send that foolish carrion Mistress
1661 the water, and give him another hope, to betray
1662 him to another punishment?
MISTRESS PAGE 1663 We will do it. Let him be sent for tomorrow
1664 eight o’clock to have amends.
⌜Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius, and Sir Hugh.⌝
FORD 1665 195I cannot find him. Maybe the knave bragged of
1666 that he could not compass.
MISTRESS PAGE, ⌜aside to Mistress Ford⌝ 1667 Heard you
MISTRESS FORD 1669 You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
FORD 1670 200Ay, I do so.
MISTRESS FORD 1671 Heaven make you better than your
FORD 1673 Amen!
MISTRESS PAGE 1674 You do yourself mighty wrong, Master
1675 205 Ford.
FORD 1676 Ay, ay. I must bear it.
SIR HUGH 1677 If there be anypody in the house, and in the
1678 chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses,
1679 heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment!
DOCTOR CAIUS 1680 210Be gar, nor I too. There is nobodies.
PAGE 1681 Fie, fie, Master Ford, are you not ashamed?
1682 What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination?
1683 I would not ha’ your distemper in this kind for the
1684 wealth of Windsor Castle.
FORD 1685 215’Tis my fault, Master Page. I suffer for it.
SIR HUGH 1686 You suffer for a pad conscience. Your wife is
1687 as honest a ’omans as I will desires among five
1688 thousand, and five hundred too.
DOCTOR CAIUS 1689 By gar, I see ’tis an honest woman.
FORD 1690 220Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come,
1691 walk in the park. I pray you, pardon me. I will
1692 hereafter make known to you why I have done
1694 you, pardon me. Pray, heartily, pardon me.
⌜Mistress Page and Mistress Ford exit.⌝
PAGE, ⌜to Caius and Sir Hugh⌝ 1695 225Let’s go in, gentlemen.
1696 But, trust me, we’ll mock him. ⌜(To Ford, Caius,
and Sir Hugh.)⌝ 1697 I do invite you tomorrow morning
1698 to my house to breakfast. After, we’ll a-birding together;
1699 I have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be
1700 230 so?
FORD 1701 Anything.
SIR HUGH 1702 If there is one, I shall make two in the
DOCTOR CAIUS 1704 If there be one or two, I shall make-a the
1705 235 turd.
FORD 1706 Pray you, go, Master Page.
⌜Ford and Page exit.⌝
SIR HUGH 1707 I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on
1708 the lousy knave mine Host.
DOCTOR CAIUS 1709 Dat is good, by gar, with all my heart.
SIR HUGH 1710 240A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his