The Merry Wives of Windsor By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scenes 2-4

FORD.
Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house
yesterday in this basket: why may not he be there again? In my
house I am sure he is; my intelligence is true; my jealousy is
reasonable. Pluck me out all the linen.

MRS. FORD.
If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.

PAGE.
Here's no man.

SHALLOW.
By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford; this wrongs you.

EVANS.
Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of
your own heart; this is jealousies.

FORD.
Well, he's not here I seek for.

PAGE.
No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.

[Servants carry away the basket.]

FORD.
Help to search my house this one time. If I find not what I
seek, show no colour for my extremity; let me for ever be your
table-sport; let them say of me 'As jealous as Ford, that searched
a hollow walnut for his wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more; once
more search with me.

MRS. FORD.
What, hoa, Mistress Page! Come you and the old woman down; my
husband will come into the chamber.

FORD.
Old woman? what old woman's that?

MRS. FORD.
Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.

FORD.
A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not forbid her
my house? She comes of errands, does she? We are simple men;
we do not know what's brought to pass under the profession of
fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells, by the figure,
and such daubery as this is, beyond our element. We know nothing.
Come down, you witch, you hag you; come down, I say!

MRS. FORD.
Nay, good sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let him not strike the
old woman.

[Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, led by MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. PAGE.
Come, Mother Prat; come, give me your hand.

FORD.
I'll prat her. — [Beats him.] Out of my door, you witch, you rag,
you baggage, you polecat, you ronyon! Out, out! I'll conjure you,
I'll fortune-tell you.

[Exit FALSTAFF.]

MRS. PAGE.
Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed the poor woman.

MRS. FORD.
Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a goodly credit for you.

FORD.
Hang her, witch!

EVANS.
By yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch indeed; I like not when
a 'oman has a great peard; I spy a great peard under her muffler.

FORD.
Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you follow; see but the issue
of my jealousy; if I cry out thus upon no trail, never trust me
when I open again.

PAGE.
Let's obey his humour a little further. Come, gentlemen.

[Exeunt FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, CAIUS, and EVANS.]

MRS. PAGE.
Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.

MRS. FORD.
Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him most unpitifully
methought.

MRS. PAGE.
I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er the altar; it hath
done meritorious service.

MRS. FORD.
What think you? May we, with the warrant of womanhood and the
witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?

MRS. PAGE.
The spirit of wantonness is sure scared out of him; if the devil
have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never,
I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.

MRS. FORD.
Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?

MRS. PAGE.
Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the figures out of
your husband's brains. If they can find in their hearts the poor
unvirtuous fat knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will
still be the ministers.

MRS. FORD.
I'll warrant they'll have him publicly shamed; and methinks there
would be no period to the jest, should he not be publicly shamed.

MRS. PAGE.
Come, to the forge with it then; shape it. I would not have things
cool.

[Exeunt.]

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