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The Merry Wives of Windsor

Act III, Scene 2

A street.
 
[Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]
 
MISTRESS PAGE
Nay, 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?
 
ROBIN
I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man than follow him like a dwarf.
 
MISTRESS PAGE
O, you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.
 
[Enter FORD]
 
FORD
Well met, Mistress Page. Whither go you?
 
MISTRESS PAGE
Truly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?
 
FORD
Ay; and as idle as she may hang together, for want of company. I think, if your husbands were dead, you two would marry.
 
MISTRESS PAGE
Be sure of that,--two other husbands.
 
FORD
Where had you this pretty weather-cock?
 
MISTRESS PAGE
I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?
 
ROBIN
Sir John Falstaff.
 
FORD
Sir John Falstaff!
 
MISTRESS PAGE
He, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a league between my good man and he! Is your wife at home indeed?
 
FORD
Indeed she is.
 
MISTRESS PAGE
By your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.
 
[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN]
 
FORD
Has Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them. 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. A 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 seeming Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all my neighbours shall cry aim. The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance bids me search: there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is there: I will go.
 
[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, SLENDER, Host, SIR HUGH EVANS, DOCTOR CAIUS, and RUGBY]
 
SHALLOW, PAGE, ETC
Well met, Master Ford.
 
FORD
Trust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home; and I pray you all go with me.
 
SHALLOW
I must excuse myself, Master Ford.
 
SLENDER
And so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine with Mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for more money than I'll speak of.
 
SHALLOW
We have lingered about a match between Anne Page and my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
 
SLENDER
I hope I have your good will, father Page.
 
PAGE
You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you: but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Ay, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-a Quickly tell me so mush.
 
HOST
What say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May: he will carry it, he will carry it; 'tis in his buttons; he will carry it.
 
PAGE
Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is of no having: he kept company with the wild prince 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.
 
FORD
I 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.
 
SHALLOW
Well, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooing at Master Page's.
 
[Exeunt SHALLOW and SLENDER]
 
DOCTOR CAIUS
Go home, John Rugby; I come anon.
 
[Exit RUGBY]
 
HOST
Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
 
[Exit]
 
FORD [Aside]
I think I shall drink in pipe wine first with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
 
ALL
Have with you to see this monster.
 
[Exeunt]

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