The Merry Wives of Windsor By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

ACT II. SCENE 2. A room in the Garter Inn.


I will not lend thee a penny.

Why then, the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
I will retort the sum in equipage.

Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you should lay my countenance
to pawn; I have grated upon my good friends for three reprieves for
you and your coach-fellow, Nym; or else you had looked through the
grate, like a geminy of baboons. I am damned in hell for swearing
to gentlemen my friends you were good soldiers and tall fellows; and
when Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her fan, I took 't upon
mine honour thou hadst it not.

Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen pence?

Reason, you rogue, reason. Thinkest thou I'll endanger my soul
gratis? At a word, hang no more about me, I am no gibbet for you:
go: a short knife and a throng! — to your manor of Picht-hatch! go.
You'll not bear a letter for me, you rogue! — you stand upon your
honour! — Why, thou unconfinable baseness, it is as much as I can do
to keep the terms of my honour precise. I, I, I myself sometimes,
leaving the fear of God on the left hand, and hiding mine honour in
my necessity, am fain to shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch; and yet
you, rogue, will ensconce your rags, your cat-a-mountain looks,
your red-lattice phrases, and your bold-beating oaths, under the
shelter of your honour! You will not do it, you!

I do relent; what wouldst thou more of man?

[Enter ROBIN.]

Sir, here's a woman would speak with you.

Let her approach.


Give your worship good morrow.

Good morrow, good wife.

Not so, an't please your worship.

Good maid, then.

I'll be sworn; As my mother was, the first hour I was born.

I do believe the swearer. What with me?

Shall I vouchsafe your worship a word or two?

Two thousand, fair woman; and I'll vouchsafe thee the hearing.

There is one Mistress Ford, sir, — I pray, come a little nearer this
ways: — I myself dwell with Master Doctor Caius.

Well, on: Mistress Ford, you say, —

Your worship says very true; — I pray your worship come a little
nearer this ways.

I warrant thee nobody hears — mine own people, mine own people.

Are they so? God bless them, and make them His servants!

Well: Mistress Ford, what of her?

Why, sir, she's a good creature. Lord, Lord! your worship's a wanton!
Well, heaven forgive you, and all of us, I pray.

Mistress Ford; come, Mistress Ford —

Marry, this is the short and the long of it. You have brought her
into such a canaries as 'tis wonderful: the best courtier of them
all, when the court lay at Windsor, could never have brought her to
such a canary; yet there has been knights, and lords, and gentlemen,
with their coaches; I warrant you, coach after coach, letter after
letter, gift after gift; smelling so sweetly, — all musk, and so
rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold; and in such alligant
terms; and in such wine and sugar of the best and the fairest, that
would have won any woman's heart; and I warrant you, they could
never get an eye-wink of her. I had myself twenty angels given me
this morning; but I defy all angels, in any such sort, as they say,
but in the way of honesty: and, I warrant you, they could never get
her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of them all; and yet
there has been earls, nay, which is more, pensioners; but, I warrant
you, all is one with her.

But what says she to me? be brief, my good she-Mercury.

Marry, she hath received your letter; for the which she thanks you
a thousand times; and she gives you to notify that her husband will
be absence from his house between ten and eleven.

Ten and eleven?

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