The Merry Wives of Windsor By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

ACT II. SCENE 1. Before PAGE'S house

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter.]

MRS. PAGE.
What! have I scaped love-letters in the holiday-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 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,
      Thine own true knight,
      By day or night,
      Or any kind of light,
      With all his might,
      For thee to fight,
                                JOHN FALSTAFF.'

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? for revenged I will be, as sure as
his guts are made of puddings.

[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 me some counsel.

MRS. PAGE.
What's the matter, woman?

MRS. FORD.
O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to
such honour!

MRS. PAGE.
Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour. What is it? — Dispense with
trifles; — what is it?

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 daylight: 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 'Greensleeves.'
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 way were 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 pawned his horses to mine host of the Garter.

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