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Mrs. Ford. I would, my husband would meet him in this shape ; he cannot abide the old woman of Brainford: he swears, she's a witch, forbade her my house, and hath threatened to beat her.
Mrs. Page. Heav'n guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards !
Mrs. Ford. But is my husband coming ?
Mrs. Page. Ay, in good sadness is he; and talks of the basket too, however he hath had intelligence.
Mrs. Ford. We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as they did last tiine.
Mrs. Pags. Nay, but he'll be here presently ; let's. go dress him like the witch of Brainford.
Mrs. Ford. I'll first direct my men, what they shall do with the basket; go up, I'll bring- linnen for him ftraight.
Mrs. Page. Hang him dishonest. varlet, we cannot misuse him enough. We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Mrs. Ford. Go, Sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders; your master is hard at door ; if he bid you set it down, obey him: quickly, dispatch.
[Exeunt Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford. Enter Servants with the basket. I Serv.. Come, come, take up.
2 Serv. Pray heav'n, it be not full of the Knight again. 1 Serv. I hope not. I had as leaf bear so much lead.
Enter Ford, Shallow, Page, Caius and Evans. Ford. Ay, but if it prove true, master Page, have you any way, then to unfool me again ? fet down the basket, villain; somebody call my wife: youth in a basket! ob you panderly rascals, there's a knot, a gang, a pack, a conspiracy, against me; now siall the
devil be sham'd. What! wife, I say; come, come forth, behold what honest cloaths you send forth to bleaching. Page. Why, this paffes, master Ford.
-you are not to go loose any longer, you must be pinnion'd. Eva. Why, this is lunaticks; this is mad as a mad dog.
Enter Mrs. Ford. Shal. Indeed, master Ford, this is not well, indeed.
Ford. So say I too, Sir. Come hither, mistress Ford; mistress Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband! I suspect without cause, mistress do I? Mrs. Ford. Heav'n be
witness you do, if you sufo pect me in any dishonesty.
Ford. Well said, brazen face; hold it out: come forth, firrah.
[Pulls the cloaths out of the basket. Page. This paffes. Mrs. Ford. Are you not alham’d, let the cloaths alone, Ford. I shall find you anon.
Eva. 'Tis unreasonable; will you take up your wife's cloaths ? come away.
Ford. Empty the basket, I say.
Ford. Mafter Page, as I am a man, there was one convey'd out of my house yesterday in this balket; 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 linnen.
Mrs. Ford. If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.
Page. Here's no man.
Shal. By my fidelity this is not well, master Ford; this wrongs you.
Eva. Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of your own heart; this is jealousies.
Ford. Well, he's not here I feek for.
brain. Ford. Help to search my house this one time; if I find not what i knek, Thew 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 wall-nut 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?
Ford. A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean; have I not forbid her my house? she comes of errands, does she? we are fimple men, we do not know what's brought to pass under the profeffion of fortune-telling; She works by charms, by fpells, by th' figure ; and such dawbry 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 ftrike the old woman..
Enter Falstaff in womens clothes, and Mrs. Page. Mrs. Page. Come, mother Prat, come give me your hand.
Ford. I'll Prat her. Out of my door, you witch ! (Beats bim.) you hag, you baggage, you poulcat, you runnion! out, out, out; I'll conjure you, I'll fortune
[Exit. Fal, Mrs. Page. Are you not alham'd ? I think, you have kill'd the poor woman.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, he will do it; 'tis a goodly credit Ford. Hang her, witch.
Eva. By yea and no, I think, the o'man is a witch indeed: I like not, when a o'man has a great peard ; I spy a great peard under her mufiler.
Ford. Will you follow, gentlemen ? I beseech you, follow; see but the issue of my jealousy; (21) if I cry
out (21) If I cry out tbus upon no tryal, never trust me when I open again.] This is a corruption of the modern editions : the consequence
out thus upon no trail, never truft me when I open again.
Page. Let's obey his humour a little further : come, gentlemen.
(Exeunt. Mrs. Page. Trust me, he beat him moft pitifully.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, by th' mass, that he did not; he beat him most unpitifully, methought.
Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallow'd and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious service.
Mrs. Ford. What think you? may we, with the warrant of woman-hood, and the witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?
Mrs. Page. The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scar'd out of him ; if the devil have him not in fee-fimple, 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 brain. 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 sham'd ; and, methinks, there would be no period to the jeft, fhould he not be publicly fham'd.
Mrs. Page. Come to the forge with it, then shape it: I would not have things cool.
[Exeunt. SCENE changes to the Garter-Inn.
Enter Hoft and Bardolph. Bard.
horses; the Duke himself will be to morrow at Court, and they are going to meet him.
Hoft. What Duke should that be, comes fo fecretly? I hear not of him in the Court: let me speak with the gentlemen ; they speak English ? either of indolence, or ignorance. The two first Folios have it rightly, trayle; which is a hunting term, and corresponds with cry wut, and open. Our Author uses the word again twice in his Hamlet.
Or else this brain of mine hunts not the trayle of policy, &c.
Bard. Sir, I'll call them to you.
Hoft. They shall have my horses, but, I'll make them pay, I'll fawce thein. They have had my house a week at command ; I have turn'd away my other guests; (22) they must compt off; I'll fawce them,
SCENE changes to Ford's House. Ender Page, Færd, Miftress Page, Miffress Ford, and
Evans. Eva. IS one of the best discretions of a 'oman,
as ever I did look upon. Page. And did he send you both these letters at an inftant?
Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
I rather will fufpect the fun with cold,
Page: 'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.
Ford. There is no better way than that they spoke of.
Page. How? to send him word they'll meet him in the park at midnight? fy, fy, he'll never come.
Eva. You say he hath been thrown into the river ; and has been grievously peaten, as an old o'man; methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he
(22) -- they must come off.) This can never be our Poet's, or his Hoft's, meaning: to come off, is in other terms, to go fcot-free; but these Germans had taken up the Hoft's house, and he was resolv'd to make them pay for it. We must certainly, therefore, read, ebey must compt off: i. e. they must pay off the accompt, or, as we now say, dozun witb their pence.