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Sim. Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of Brentford ?
Fal. Ay, marry, was it, muscle-shell.? What would you with her ?
Sim. My master, sir, my master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go through the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the chain, or no.
Fal. I spake with the old woman about it.
Fal. Marry, she says, that the very same man that beguiled master Slender of his chain, cozened him of it.
Sim. I would I could have spoken with the woman herself; I had other things to have spoken with her too, from him.
Fal. What are they ? let us know.
Sim. Why, sir, they were nothing but about mistress Anne Page; to know if it were my master's fortune to have her, or no.
Fal. 'Tis, 'tis his fortune.
Fal. To have her,—or no: Go; say the woman told me so.
Sim. May I be so bold to say so, sir ?
Sim. I thank your worship: I shall make my master glad with these tidings.
[Exit Simple. Host. Thou art clerkly," thou art clerkly, Sir John : Was there a wise woman with thee?
Fal. Ay, that there was, mine host; one that hath taught me more wit than ever I learned before in my life: and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning
1 He calls poor Simple muscle-shell, because he stands with his mouth open. 2 i. e. Scholar-like. 3 To pay, in Shakspeare's time, signified to beat ; in which sense it is
Host. Where be my horses ? speak well of them, varletto.
Bard. Run away with the cozeners : for so soon as I came beyond Eton, they threw me off, from behind one of thein, in a slough of mire; and set spurs, and away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.
Host. They are gone but to meet the duke, villain : do not say they be fled; Germans are honest men.
Enter SiR HUGH EVANS.
Era. Have a care of your entertainments: there is a friend of mine come to town, tells me, there is three cousin germans, that has cozened all the hosts of Readings, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good-will, look you: you are wise, and full of gibes and vlouting-stogs; and it is not convenient you should be cozened : Fare you well.
. Enter Doctor Caius. Caius. Vere is mine Host de Jarterre?
Host. Here, master doctor, in perplexity, and doubtful dilemma.
Caius. I cannot tell vat is dat: but it is tell-a me, dat you make grand preparation for a duke de Jarmany : by my trot, dere is no duke, dat the court is know to come; I tell you for good vill: Adieu. [Exit.
Host. Hue and cry, villain, go :-assist me, knight; I am undone :-fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone!
[Exeunt Host and BARDOLPH. Fal. I would all the world might be cozened; for I
still not uncommon in familiar language: “Seven of the eleven I paid," says Falstaff, in Henry IV. Part 1.
have been cozened and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transformed, and how my transformation hath been washed and cudgeled, they would melt me out of my fat, drop by drop, and liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits, till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear. I never prospered since I forswore myself at Primero. Well, if my mind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.
Enter Mrs. QUICKLY. Now! whence come you?
Quick. From the two parties, forsooth.
Fal. The devil take one party, and his dam the other, and so they shall be both bestowed ! I have suffered more for their sakes, more than the villanous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.
Quick. And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant, speciously one of them; mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.
Fal. What tell'st thou me of black and blue! I was beaten myself into all the colors of the rainbow, and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of Brentford: but that my admirable dexterity of wit, my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, delivered me, the knave constable had set me i' the stocks, i’ the common stocks, for a witch.
Quick. Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber; you shall hear how things go; and, l warrant, to your content.
Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado here is to bring you together! Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so crossed
Fal. Come up into my chamber. [Exeuni.
1 Primero was tne fashionable game at cards in Shakspeare's time.
SCENE VI. Another Room in the Garter Inn.
Enter FENTON and Host. Host. Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy, I will give over all.
Fent. Yet hear me speak : Assist me in my purpose, And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee A hundred pound in gold, more than your loss.
Host. I will hear you, master Fenton ; and I will, at the least, keep your counsel.
Fent. From time to time I have acquainted you With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page; Who, mutually, hath answered my affection (So far forth as herself might be her chooser) Even to my wish : I have a letter from her Of such contents as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof so larded with my matter, That neither, singly, can be manifested, Without the show of both ;-wherein fat Falstaff Hath a great scene: the image of the jest
[Showing the letter I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine host: To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve and one, Must my sweet Nan present the fairy queen; The purpose why, is here;' in which disguise, While other jests are something rank on foot, Her father hath commanded her to slip Away with Slender, and with him at Eton Immediately to marry: she hath consented. Now, sir, Her mother, even strong against that match, And firm for doctor Caius, hath appointed That he shall likewise shuffle her away, While other sports are tasking of their minds, And at the deanery, where a priest attends, Straight marry her : to this her mother's plot
1 In the letter.
She, seemingly obedient, likewise hath
Host. Well, husband your device; I'll to the vicar : Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest.
Fent. So shall I ever more be bound to thee; Besides, I'll make a present recompense.
SCENE 1. A Room in the Garter Inn.
Enter FALSTAFF and Mrs. QUICKLY. Fal. Pr’ythee, no more prattling ;-go. -I'll hold: 1 This is the third time; I hope, good luck lies in odd numbers. Away, go; they say, there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. -Away.
1 Keep to the time. 30