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What a disgrace is it to me to remember thy name! or to know thy face to-morrow! or to take note how many pair of silk stockings thou hast, viz. these, and those that were thy peach-coloured ones! or to bear the inventory of thy shirts, as, one for superfluity, and another for use! But that the tennis-court-keeper knows better than I; for it is a low ebb of linen with thee when thou keepest not racket there; as thou hast not done a great while, because the rest of thy low countries have made a shift to eat up thy holland: and God knows, whether those that bawl out the ruins of thy linen shall inherit his kingdom: but the midwives say the children are not in the fault; whereupon the world increases, and kindreds are mightily strengthened.
Poins. How ill it follows, after you have laboured so hard, you should talk so idly ! Tell me, how many good young princes would do so, their fathers being so sick as yours at this time is ?
PRINCE. Shall I tell thee one thing, Poins ?
Poins. Yes, faith ; and let it be an excellent good thing.
Prince. It shall serve among wits of no higher breeding than thine.
Poins. Go to; I stand the push of your one thing that you will tell.
PRINCE. Marry, I tell thee, it is not meet that I should be sad, now my father is sick: albeit I could tell to thee, as to one it pleases me, for fault of a better, to call my friend, I could be sad, and sad indeed too.
Poins. Very hardly upon such a subject.
PRINCE. By this hand, thou thinkest me as far in the devil's book as thou and Falstaff for obduracy and persistency: let the end try the
But I tell thee, my heart bleeds inwardly that
my father is so sick : and keeping such vile company as thou art hath in reason taken from me all ostentation of sorrow.
Poins. The reason ?
PRINCE. What wouldst thou think of me, if I should weep?
Poins. I would think theea most princely hypocrite.
PRINCE. It would be every man's thought; and thou art a blessed fellow to think as every man thinks : : never a man's thought in the world keeps the road-way better than thine: every man would think me an hypocrite indeed. And what accites your most worshipful thought to think so ?
Poins. Why, because you have been so lewd and so much engraffed to Falstaff.
PRINCE. And to thee.
Poins. By this light, I am well spoke on; I hear it with mine own ears: the worst that the
of me is that I am a second brother and that I am a proper fellow of my hands; and those two things, I confess, I cannot help. By the mass, here comes Bardolph.
Enter BARDOLPH and Page. PRINCE. And the boy that I gave
Falstaff : a' had him from me Christian ; and look, if the fat villain have not transformed him ape.
Bard. God save your grace !
BARD. Come, you virtuous ass, you bashful fool, must you be blushing ? wherefore blush you now? What a maidenly man-at-arms are you become ! Is't such a matter to get a pottle-pot's maidenhead ?
Page. A' calls me e'en now, my lord, through a red lattice, and I could discern no part of his face from the window : at last I spied his eyes, and methought he had made two holes in the alewife's new petticoat and so peeped through.
PRINCE. Has not the boy profited ?
Page. Marry, my lord, Althæa dreamed she was delivered of a fire-brand; and therefore I call him her dream.
PRINCE. A crown's worth of good interpretation: there 'tis, boy.
Poins. O, that this good blossom could be kept from cankers! Well, there is sixpence to preserve thee. Bard. An
do not make him hanged among you, the gallows shall have wrong.
PRINCE. And how doth thy master, Bardolph?
Bard. Well, my lord. He heard of your grace's coming to town; there's a letter for you.
Poins. Delivered with good respect. And how doth the martlemas,
master? BARD. In bodily health, sir.
Poins. Marry, the immortal part needs a physician; but that moves not him : though that be sick, it dies not.
PRINCE. I do allow this wen to be as familiar with me as my dog; and he holds his place; for look you
how he writes. Poins. [Reads] John Falstaff, knight,--every man must know that, as oft as he has occasion to name himself: even like those that are kin to the king; for they never prick their finger but they say, There's some of the king's blood spilt. How comes that ? says he, that takes upon him not to conceive. The answer is as ready as a borrower's cap, I am the king's poor cousin, sir.
Prince. Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will fetch it from Japhet. But to the letter:
Poins. [Reads] Sir John Falstaff, knight, to the son of the king, nearest his father, Harry Prince of Wales, greeting. Why, this is a certificate.
Poins. [Reads] I will imitate the honourable Romans in brevity : he sure means brevity in breath, shortwinded. I commend me to thee, I commend thee, and I leave thee. Be not too familiar with Poins ; for he misuses thy favours so much, that he swears thou art to marry his sister Nello Repent at idle times as thou mayest; aud so, farewell.
Thine, by yea and no, which is as much as
to say, as thou usest him, Jack Falstaff with my familiars, John with my brothers
and sisters, and Sir John with all Europe. My lord, I'll steep this letter in sack and make him eat it.
PRINCE. That's to make him eat twenty of his words. But do you use me thus, Ned? must I marry your sister ?
Poins. God send the wench no worse fortune! But I never said so.
PRINCE. Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us. Is
master here in London ? Bard. Yea, my lord.
PRINCE. Where sups he? doth the old boar feed in the old frank?
Bard. At the old place, my lord, in Eastcheap.
Page. None, my lord, but old Mistress Quickly and Mistress Doll Tearsheet.
Prince. What pagan may that be?
PAGE. A proper gentlewoman, sir, and a kinswoman of
master's. Prince. Even such kin as the parish heifers are to the town bull. Shall we steal upon them, Ned, at supper?
Poins. I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow you.