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Enter Mrs. QUICKLY. Quick. By your leave.—I cry you mercy: give your worship good-morrow.
Fal. Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of sack finely.
Bard. With eggs, sir?
Fal. Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.-[Exit BARDOLPH.]-How now!
Quick. Marry, sir, I come to your worship from mistress Ford.
Fal. Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough: I was thrown into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.
Quick. Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault: she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
Fal. So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
Quick. Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn your heart to see it. Her husband goes this morning a birding: she desires you once more to come to her between eight and nine. I must carry her word quickly: she'll make you amends, I warrant you.
Fal. Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and bid her think, what a man is : let her consider his frailty, and then judge of my merit.
Quick. I will tell her.
[Exit. Fal. I marvel, I hear not of master Brook: he sent me word to stay within. I like his money well. O! here he comes.
Enter FORD. Ford. Bless you, sir.
Fal. Now, master Brook; you come to know what hath passed between me and Ford's wife?
Ford. That, indeed, sir John, is my business.
Fal. Master Brook, I will not lie to you. I was at her house the hour she appointed me.
Ford. And sped you, sir?
Ford. How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
Fal. No, master Brook; but the peaking cornuto her husband, master Brook, dwelling in a continual larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested, and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither provoked and instigated by his distemper, and, forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
Ford. What! while you were there?
Fal. You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and by her invention?, and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
Ford. A buck-basket!
Fal. By the Lord, a buck-basket: rammed me in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, and greasy napkins; that, master Brook, there was the rankest compound of villainous smell, that ever offended nostril.
7 — and by her invention] So the quarto, 1602; the folio has in for "by," and the use of prepositions of old was sometimes peculiar: here the most ancient authority concurs with the more modern custom, although “ in her invention” would not be wrong. Monck Mason would read direction for “ distraction,” but surely without any improvement: Falstaff thought it " distraction," and so it stands in every old copy.
8 By the LORD, a buck-basket :) The folio omitted the exclamation in consequence of the statute: the quarto reading was, no doubt, what the poet originally wrote, as he was under no such restraint until after 1605. In the third scene of this Act we also inserted “ By the Lord,” for the same reason,
Ford. And how long lay you there?
Fal. Nay, you shall hear, master Brook, what I have suffered, to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their mistress, to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchetlane: they took me on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their master in the door, who asked them once or twice what they had in their basket. I quaked for fear, lest the lunatic knave would have searched it; but fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well; on went he for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But mark the sequel, master Brook: I suffered the pangs of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether: next, to be compassed, like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head: and then, to be stopped in, like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease: think of that,—a man of my kidney,—think of that; that am as subject to heat, as butter; a man of continual dissolution and thaw: it was a miracle, to 'scape suffocation. And in the height of this bath, when I was more than half stewed in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing hot, in that surge, like a horse shoe; think of that,-hissing hot,—think of that, master Brook.
Ford. In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered all this. My suit, then, is desperate; you'll undertake her no more?
Fal. Master Brook, I will be thrown into Ætna, as I have been into Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her husband is this morning gone a birding: I have received from her another embassy of meeting; 'twixt eight and nine is the hour, master Brook.
IV. Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me to my appointment. Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall know how I speed, and the conclusion shall be crowned with your enjoying her: adieu. You shall have her, master Brook; master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.
[Erit. Ford. Hum: ba! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I sleep? Master Ford, awake! awake, master Ford! there's a hole made in your best coat, master Ford. This ’tis to be married : this 'tis to have linen, and buck-baskets.—Well, I will proclaim myself what I am: I will now take the lecher; he is at my house: he cannot ’scape me; 'tis impossible he should : he cannot creep into a halfpenny purse, nor into a pepperbox; but, lest the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not, shall not make me tame: if I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me, I'll be horn mad. [Erit.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Enter Mrs. PAGE, Mrs. QUICKLY, and WILLIAM. Mrs. Page. Is he at master Ford's already, think'st thou?
Quick. 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
Mrs. 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?
Eva. No; master Slender is let the boys leave to play.
Quick. Blessing of his heart! Mrs. 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.
Eva. Come hither, William : hold up your head; come.
Mrs. Page. Come on, sirrah: hold up your head; answer your master, be not afraid.
Eva. William, how many numbers is in nouns?
Quick. Truly, I thought there had been one number more, because they say, od's nouns.
Eva. Peace your tattlings!—What is fair, William ? Will. Pulcher.
Quick. Pole-cats! there are fairer things than polecats, sure.
Eva. You are a very simplicity 'oman: I pray you, peace.—What is lapis, William ?
Will. A stone.
Eva. No, it is lapis: I pray you remember in your prain.
Eva. That is good, William. What is he, William, that does lend articles ?
Will. Articles are borrowed of the pronoun; and be thus declined, Singulariter, nominativo, hic, hæc, hoc.