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Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallowed, and hang 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.

SCENE III. A Room in the Garter Inn.

Enter Host and BARDOLPH. Bard. Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your horses: the duke himself will be to-morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.

Host. What duke should that be comes so secretly? I hear not of him in the court: Let me speak with the gentlemen; they speak English?

Bard. Ay, sir : I'll call them to you.

Host. They shall have my horses; but I'll make them pay, I'll sauce them: they have had my house a week at command; I have turned away my other guests: they must come off;? I'll sauce them : Come.

[Exeunt. 1 To come off is to pay, to come down (as we now say), with a sum of money. It is a phrase of frequent occurrence in old plays.

SCENE IV. d Room in Ford's House.

1

Enter Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, Mrs. FORD, and Sir

Hugh EVANS. Eva. 'Tis one of the pest discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.

Page. And did he send you both these letters at an instant?

Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
Ford. Pardon me, wife: Henceforth do what thou

wilt; I rather will suspect the sun with cold, Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honor

stand,
In him that was of late an heretic,
As firm as faith.
Page.

'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.
Be not as extreme in submission
As in offence;
But let our plot go forward : let our wives
Yet once again, to make us public sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him, and disgrace him for it.

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! fie, fie; he'll never come.

Eva. You say, he has been thrown into the rivers ; and has been grievously peaten, as an old ’oman; methinks there should be terrors in him, that he should not come; methinks his flesh is punished, he shall have no desires.

Page. So think I too.
Mrs. Ford. Devise but how you'll use him when

he comes,

And let us two devise to bring him thither.

1 The reading in the text was Mr. Rowe's. The old copies read, “ rather will suspect the sun with gold."

29

VOL. I.

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Mrs. Page. There is an old tale goes, that Herue

the hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
Doth all the winter time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns ;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle;
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a

chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:
You have heard of such a spirit; and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld?
Received, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

Page. Why, yet there want not many, that do fear
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak ;3
But what of this?

Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device;
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us,
Disguised like Herne, with huge horns on his head.

Page. Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come,
And in this shape: When you have brought him

thither,
What shall be done with him ? what is your plot ?
Mrs. Puge. That likewise have we thought upon,

and thus :
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes," and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands: upon a sudden,
As Falstaff, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a saw-pit rush at once
With some diffused 5 song: upon their sight,
We two in great amazedness will fly:
Then let them all encircle him about,

2 Old age.

i To take signifies to seize or strike with a disease, to blast.

3 The tree which was by tradition shown as Herne's oak, being totally decayed, was cut down by his late majesty's order in 1795.

4 Elf, hobgoblin.
5 Some diffused song appears to mean some obscure, strange song.

[graphic]

And, fairy-like, to-pinch? the unclean knight;
And ask him, why, that hour of fairy revel,
In their so sacred paths he dares to tread,
In shape profane.

Mrs. Ford. And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound,
And burn him with their tapers.
Mrs. Page.

The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves; dis-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.
Ford.

The children must Be practised well to this, or they'll ne'er do't.

Eva. I will teach the children their behaviors; and I will be like a Jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber.

Ford. That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards. Mrs. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of all the

fairies, Finely attired in a robe of white.

Page. That silk will I go buy ;—and in that time Shall master Slender steal my Nan away, And marry her at Eton. [Aside.] Go, send to Fal

staff straight. Ford. Nay, I'll to him again in name of Brook : He'll tell me all his purpose : Sure, he'll come. Mrs. Page. Fear not you that: Go, get us prop

erties, And tricking for our fairies.

Eva. Let us about it: It is admirable pleasures, and fery honest knaveries.

[Exeunt Page, FORD, and Evans. Mrs. Page. Go, mistress Ford, Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.

[Exit Mrs. Ford.

1 To-pinch: to has here an augmentative sense, as be has since had: all was generally prefixed; Spenser has all to-torn, all to-rent, &c., and Milton in Comus all to-ruffled.

2 Properties are little incidental necessaries to a theatre: tricking is dress or ornament.

I'll to the doctor; he hath my good will,
And none but he, to marry with Nan Page.
That Slender, though well landed, is an idiot;
And he my husband best of all affects :
The doctor is well moneyed, and his friends
Potent at court: he, none but he, shall have her,
Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.

[Exit.

SCENE V. A Room in the Garter Inn.

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Enter Host and SIMPLE. Host. What would'st thou have, boor? what, thickskin ? speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.

Sim. Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff from master Slender.

Host. There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-bed, and truckle-bed; 'tis painted about with the story of the prodigal, fresh and new: Go, knock and call; he'll speak like an Anthropophaginian' unto thee: Knock, I say.

Sim. There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his chamber; I'll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come down: I come to speak with her, indeed.

Host. Ha! a fat woman! the knight may be robbed: I'll call.—Bully knight! Bully Sir John! speak from thy lungs military : Art thou there? it is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls.

Fal. [ Above.] How now, mine host ?

Host. Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman: Let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honorable : Fie? privacy ? fie!

Enter FALSTAFF. Fal. There was, mine host, an ld fat woman even now with me; but she's gone.

1 i. e.

e. a cannibal: mine host uses these fustian words to astonish Simple

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