You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one Mistress
Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and, in her invention
and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul shirts and
smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy napkins, that, Master Brook,
there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever
And how long lay you there?
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 Datchet-lane;
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!
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.
Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, 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.
'Tis past eight already, sir.
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.
Hum! ha! 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 half-penny purse, nor
into a pepper box; 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