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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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MISTRESS PAGENay, keep your way, little gallant; you were wont to
be a follower, but now you are a leader. Whether
had you rather lead mine eyes, or eye your master's heels?
ROBINI had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man
than follow him like a dwarf.5
MISTRESS PAGEO, you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.
[Enter FORD]
FORDWell met, Mistress Page. Whither go you?
MISTRESS PAGETruly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?
FORDAy; and as idle as she may hang together, for want
of company. I think, if your husbands were dead,10
you two would marry.
MISTRESS PAGEBe sure of that,--two other husbands.
FORDWhere had you this pretty weather-cock?
MISTRESS PAGEI cannot tell what the dickens his name is my
husband had him of. What do you call your knight's15
name, sirrah?
ROBINSir John Falstaff.
FORDSir John Falstaff!
MISTRESS PAGEHe, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a
league between my good man and he! Is your wife at20
home indeed?
FORDIndeed she is.
MISTRESS PAGEBy your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.
FORDHas Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any
thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them.25
Why, this boy will carry a letter twenty mile, as
easy as a cannon will shoot point-blank twelve
score. He pieces out his wife's inclination; he
gives her folly motion and advantage: and now she's
going to my wife, and Falstaff's boy with her. A30
man may hear this shower sing in the wind. And
Falstaff's boy with her! Good plots, they are laid;
and our revolted wives share damnation together.
Well; I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck
the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming35
Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and
wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all
my neighbours shall cry aim.
[Clock heard]
The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance bids me
search: there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be40
rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as
positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is
there: I will go.
PAGEWell met, Master Ford.
FORDTrust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home;
and I pray you all go with me.
SHALLOWI must excuse myself, Master Ford.
SLENDERAnd so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine with
Mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for50
more money than I'll speak of.
SHALLOWWe have lingered about a match between Anne Page and
my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
SLENDERI hope I have your good will, father Page.
PAGEYou have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you:55
but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
DOCTOR CAIUSAy, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-a
Quickly tell me so mush.
HostWhat say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he
dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he60
speaks holiday, he smells April and May: he will
carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his buttons; he
will carry't.
PAGENot by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is
of no having: he kept company with the wild prince65
and Poins; he is of too high a region; he knows too
much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes
with the finger of my substance: if he take her,
let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on
my consent, and my consent goes not that way.70
FORDI beseech you heartily, some of you go home with me
to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have
sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor,
you shall go; so shall you, Master Page; and you, Sir Hugh.
SHALLOWWell, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooing75
at Master Page's.
DOCTOR CAIUSGo home, John Rugby; I come anon.
[Exit RUGBY]
HostFarewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight
Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
FORD[Aside] I think I shall drink in pipe wine first 80
with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
AllHave with you to see this monster.

Next: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 3


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