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The Merry Wives of Windsor

Act I, Scene 4

A room in DOCTOR CAIUS' house.
 
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, SIMPLE, and RUGBY]
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
What, John Rugby! I pray thee, go to the casement, and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor Caius, coming. If he do, In faith, and find any body in the house, here will be an old abusing of God's patience and the king's English.
 
RUGBY
I'll go watch.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Go; and we'll have a posset for it soon at night, in faith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.
 
[Exit RUGBY]
An honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant shall come in house withal, and, I warrant you, no tell-tale nor no breed-bate: his worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way: but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass. Peter Simple, you say your name is?
 
SIMPLE
Ay, for fault of a better.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
And Master Slender's your master?
 
SIMPLE
Ay, forsooth.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Does he not wear a great round beard, like a glover's paring-knife?
 
SIMPLE
No, forsooth: he hath but a little wee face, with a little yellow beard, a Cain-colored beard.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
A softly-sprighted man, is he not?
 
SIMPLE
Ay, forsooth: but he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between this and his head; he hath fought with a warrener.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
How say you? O, I should remember him: does he not hold up his head, as it were, and strut in his gait?
 
SIMPLE
Yes, indeed, does he.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Well, heaven send Anne Page no worse fortune! Tell Master Parson Evans I will do what I can for your master: Anne is a good girl, and I wish--
 
[Re-enter RUGBY]
 
RUGBY
Out, alas! here comes my master.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man; go into this closet: he will not stay long.
 
[Shuts SIMPLE in the closet]
What, John Rugby! John! what, John, I say! Go, John, go inquire for my master; I doubt he be not well, that he comes not home.
 
[Singing]
And down, down, adown-a, etc.
 
[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS]
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you, go and vetch me in my closet un boitier vert, a box, a green-a box: do intend vat I speak? a green-a box.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Ay, forsooth; I'll fetch it you. [Aside] I am glad he went not in himself: if he had found the young man, he would have been horn-mad.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Fe, fe, fe, fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je m'en vais a la cour--la grande affaire.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Is it this, sir?
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Oui; mette le au mon pocket: depeche, quickly. Vere is dat knave Rugby?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
What, John Rugby! John!
 
RUGBY
Here, sir!
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby. Come, take-a your rapier, and come after my heel to the court.
 
RUGBY
'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
By my trot, I tarry too long. Od's me! Qu'ai-j'oublie! dere is some simples in my closet, dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Ay me, he'll find the young man here, and be mad!
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
O diable, diable! vat is in my closet? Villain! larron! [Pulling SIMPLE out] Rugby, my rapier!
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Good master, be content.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Wherefore shall I be content-a?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
The young man is an honest man.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere is no honest man dat shall come in my closet.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth of it: he came of an errand to me from Parson Hugh.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Vell.
 
SIMPLE
Ay, forsooth; to desire her to--
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Peace, I pray you.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Peace-a your tongue. Speak-a your tale.
 
SIMPLE
To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to speak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for my master in the way of marriage.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
This is all, indeed, la! but I'll nere put my finger in the fire, and need not.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Sir Hugh send-a you? Rugby, baille me some paper. Tarry you a little-a while.
 
[Writes]
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY [Aside to SIMPLE]
I am glad he is so quiet: if he had been thoroughly moved, you should have heard him so loud and so melancholy. But notwithstanding, man, I'll do you your master what good I can: and the very yea and the no is, the French doctor, my master,--I may call him my master, look you, for I keep his house; and I wash, wring, brew, bake, scour, dress meat and drink, make the beds and do all myself,--
 
SIMPLE [Aside to MISTRESS QUICKLY]
'Tis a great charge to come under one body's hand.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY [Aside to SIMPLE]
Are you avised of that? you shall find it a great charge: and to be up early and down late; but notwithstanding,--to tell you in your ear; I would have no words of it,--my master himself is in love with Mistress Anne Page: but notwithstanding that, I know Anne's mind,--that's neither here nor there.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
You jackanape, give-a this letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a shallenge: I will cut his troat in dee park; and I will teach a scurvy jack-a-nape priest to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good you tarry here. By gar, I will cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to throw at his dog:
 
[Exit SIMPLE]
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Alas, he speaks but for his friend.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
It is no matter-a ver dat: do not you tell-a me dat I shall have Anne Page for myself? By gar, I vill kill de Jack priest; and I have appointed mine host of de Jarteer to measure our weapon. By gar, I will myself have Anne Page.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We must give folks leave to prate: what, the good-jer!
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Rugby, come to the court with me. By gar, if I have not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my door. Follow my heels, Rugby.
 
[Exeunt DOCTOR CAIUS and RUGBY]
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
You shall have a fool's-head of your own. No, I know Anne's mind for that: never a woman in Windsor knows more of Anne's mind than I do; nor can do more than I do with her, I thank heaven.
 
FENTON [Within]
Who's within there? ho!
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Who's there, I trow! Come near the house, I pray you.
 
[Enter FENTON]
 
FENTON
How now, good woman? how dost thou?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
The better that it pleases your good worship to ask.
 
FENTON
What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and gentle; and one that is your friend, I can tell you that by the way; I praise heaven for it.
 
FENTON
Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? shall I not lose my suit?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Troth, sir, all is in his hands above: but notwithstanding, Master Fenton, I'll be sworn on a book, she loves you. Have not your worship a wart above your eye?
 
FENTON
Yes, marry, have I; what of that?
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Well, thereby hangs a tale: good faith, it is such another Nan; but, I detest, an honest maid as ever broke bread: we had an hour's talk of that wart. I shall never laugh but in that maid's company! But indeed she is given too much to allicholy and musing: but for you--well, go to.
 
FENTON
Well, I shall see her to-day. Hold, there's money for thee; let me have thy voice in my behalf: if thou seest her before me, commend me.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Will I? in faith, that we will; and I will tell your worship more of the wart the next time we have confidence; and of other wooers.
 
FENTON
Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.
 
MISTRESS QUICKLY
Farewell to your worship. Truly, an honest gentleman: but Anne loves him not; for I know Anne's mind as well as another does. Out upon it! what have I forgot?
 
[Exit]

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