The Merry Wives of Windsor By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 3

ACT III SCENE 3. A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. FORD.
What, John! what, Robert!

MRS. PAGE.
Quickly, quickly: — Is the buck-basket —

MRS. FORD.
I warrant. What, Robin, I say!

[Enter SERVANTS with a basket.]

MRS. PAGE.
Come, come, come.

MRS. FORD.
Here, set it down.

MRS. PAGE.
Give your men the charge; we must be brief.

MRS. FORD.
Marry, as I told you before, John and Robert, be ready here hard by
in the brew-house; and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and,
without any pause or staggering, take this basket on your shoulders:
that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it among the
whitsters in Datchet-Mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch
close by the Thames side.

MRS. PAGE.
You will do it?

MRS. FORD.
I have told them over and over; they lack no direction. Be gone, and
come when you are called.

[Exeunt SERVANTS.]

MRS. PAGE.
Here comes little Robin.

[Enter ROBIN.]

MRS. FORD.
How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?

ROBIN.
My Master Sir John is come in at your back-door, Mistress Ford,
and requests your company.

MRS. PAGE.
You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?

ROBIN.
Ay, I'll be sworn. 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 swears he'll turn me away.

MRS. PAGE.
Thou 'rt a good boy; this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to
thee, and shall make thee a new doublet and hose. I'll go hide me.

MRS. FORD.
Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.

[Exit ROBIN.]

Mistress Page, remember you your cue.

MRS. PAGE.
I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.

[Exit.]

MRS. FORD.
Go to, then; we'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watery
pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.

[Enter FALSTAFF.]

FALSTAFF.
'Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?' Why, now let me die, for
I have lived long enough: this is the period of my ambition:
O this blessed hour!

MRS. FORD.
O, sweet Sir John!

FALSTAFF.
Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate, Mistress Ford. Now
shall I sin in my wish; 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 should be a pitiful
lady.

FALSTAFF.
Let the court of France show me such another. I see how thine eye
would emulate the diamond; thou hast the right arched beauty of
the brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire
of Venetian admittance.

MRS. FORD.
A plain kerchief, Sir John; my brows become nothing else; nor that
well neither.

FALSTAFF.
By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou wouldst make an
absolute courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an
excellent motion to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see
what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend.
Come, thou canst not hide it.

MRS. FORD.
Believe me, there's no such thing in me.

FALSTAFF.
What made me love thee? Let that persuade thee there's something
extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog and say thou art this
and that, like a many of these lisping hawthorn-buds that come
like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury in
simple-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 Mistress Page.

FALSTAFF.
Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by the Counter-gate, which
is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.

MRS. FORD.
Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one day find it.

FALSTAFF.
Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.

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