The Merry Wives of Windsor


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page


MISTRESS FORD

What, John! What, Robert!


MISTRESS PAGE

Quickly, quickly! Is the buck-basket –
buck-basket (n.) basket for dirty laundry


MISTRESS FORD

I warrant. What, Robert, I say!
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

Enter John and Robert with a great buck-basket


MISTRESS PAGE

Come, come, come.


MISTRESS FORD

Here, set it down.


MISTRESS PAGE

Give your men the charge. We must be
charge (n.) 1 command, order, injunction, instruction

brief.


MISTRESS FORD

Marry, as I told you before, John and

Robert, be ready here hard by in the brew-house. And
brew-house (n.) outhouse used for brewing liquor
hard (adv.) 1 close, near

when I suddenly call you, come forth, and, without any

pause or staggering, take this basket on your shoulders.

That done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it

among the whitsters in Datchet Mead, and there empty
whitster (n.) linen-bleacher, whitener of clothing

it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames side.


MISTRESS PAGE

You will do it?


MISTRESS FORD

I ha' told them over and over – they

lack no direction. – Be gone, and come when you are

called.

Exeunt John and Robert

Enter Robin


MISTRESS PAGE

Here comes little Robin.


MISTRESS FORD

How now, my eyas-musket, what news
eyas-musket (n.) young male sparrow-hawk

with you?


ROBIN

My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door,

Mistress Ford, and requests your company.


MISTRESS PAGE

You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been
Jack-a-Lent (n.) [jocular; male figure used as an Aunt Sally during Lent] puppet, poppet, doll

true to us?


ROBIN

Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your

being here, and hath threatened to put me into everlasting

liberty if I tell you of it; for he swears he'll turn
turn away (v.) send away, dismiss from service

me away.


MISTRESS PAGE

Thou'rt a good boy. This secrecy of

thine shall be a tailor to thee and shall make thee a new

doublet and hose. I'll go hide me.


MISTRESS FORD

Do so. (To Robin) Go tell thy master I

am alone.

Exit Robin

Mistress Page, remember you your cue.


MISTRESS PAGE

I warrant thee. If I do not act it, hiss me.
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS FORD

Go to, then. We'll use this unwholesome
unwholesome (adj.) 1 harmful, damaging, noxious
use (v.) 2 treat, deal with, manage

humidity, this gross watery pumpion. We'll teach him
gross (adj.) 7 coarse, vulgar, unrefined
humidity (n.) 2 bundle of fluids
pumpion (n.) pumpkin

to know turtles from jays.
jay (n.) [bird of bright plumage] showy woman, whore
turtle (n.) turtle-dove, lover

Exit Mistress Page

Enter Falstaff


FALSTAFF

Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? Why,

now let me die, for I have lived long enough. This is

the period of my ambition. O this blessed hour!
period (n.) 2 point of completion, fitting conclusion, consummation


MISTRESS FORD

O sweet Sir John!


FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate,
cog (v.) 1 flatter, fawn, sweet-talk
prate (v.) prattle, chatter, blather See Topics: Frequency count

Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would thy

husband were dead. I'll speak it before the best lord,

I would make thee my lady.


MISTRESS FORD

I your lady, Sir John? Alas, I should be

a pitiful lady.


FALSTAFF

Let the court of France show me such another.

I see how thine eye would emulate the diamond. Thou

hast the right arched beauty of the brow that becomes
become (v.) 4 bear, handle, present

the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
ship-tire (n.) fashionable head-dress shaped like a ship
tire (n.) 1 head-dress, ornament for the head, raiment
tire-valiant (n.) fine head-dress

admittance.
admittance (n.) 1 fashion, acceptance, vogue


MISTRESS FORD

A plain kerchief, Sir John. My brows
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
kerchief (n.) cloth head-covering, scarf

become nothing else, nor that well neither.


FALSTAFF

Thou art a tyrant to say so. Thou wouldst

make an absolute courtier, and the firm fixture of thy
absolute (adj.) 1 perfect, complete, incomparable
fixture (n.) way of placing, setting down

foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait in a
gait (n.) 1 manner of walking, bearing, movement

semi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert if Fortune,
farthingale (n.) long skirt extended at the back by a framework of hoops See Topics: Clothing

thy foe, were – not Nature – thy friend. Come,

thou canst not hide it.


MISTRESS FORD

Believe me, there's no such thing in me.


FALSTAFF

What made me love thee? Let that persuade

thee there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I

cannot cog and say thou art this and that, like a many of
cog (v.) 1 flatter, fawn, sweet-talk

these lisping hawthorn-buds that come like women in
hawthorn-bud (n.) young dandy, budding courtier

men's apparel and smell like Bucklersbury in simple-time.
apparel (n.) clothes, clothing, dress See Topics: Frequency count
simple-time (n.) summer-time [when aromatic herbs used as medicines (simples) were available]

I cannot. But I love thee, none but thee; and thou

deservest it.


MISTRESS FORD

Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love

Mistress Page.


FALSTAFF

Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by the

Counter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reek of a
reek (n.) foggy vapour, steam, fume, smoke

lime-kiln.


MISTRESS FORD

Well, heaven knows how I love you, and

you shall one day find it.


FALSTAFF

Keep in that mind – I'll deserve it.


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, I must tell you, so you do, or else

I could not be in that mind.

Enter Robin


ROBIN

Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! Here's Mistress

Page at the door, sweating and blowing and looking

wildly, and would needs speak with you presently.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count


FALSTAFF

She shall not see me. I will ensconce me behind
ensconce, insconce (v.) 1 protect, conceal, shelter

the arras.
arras (n.) tapestry hanging


MISTRESS FORD

Pray you, do so. She's a very tattling
tattling (adj.) gossiping, tale-telling, rumour-mongering

woman.

Falstaff hides himself

Enter Mistress Page

What's the matter? How now?


MISTRESS PAGE

O Mistress Ford, what have you done?

You're shamed, you're overthrown, you're undone for
overthrown (adj.) ruined, disgraced, brought into disrepute
undone (adj.) ruined, destroyed, brought down See Topics: Frequency count

ever.


MISTRESS FORD

What's the matter, good Mistress Page?


MISTRESS PAGE

O well-a-day, Mistress Ford, having an

honest man to your husband, to give him such cause of

suspicion!


MISTRESS FORD

What cause of suspicion?


MISTRESS PAGE

What cause of suspicion? Out upon

you! How am I mistook in you!


MISTRESS FORD

Why, alas, what's the matter?


MISTRESS PAGE

Your husband's coming hither, woman,

with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman

that he says is here now in the house, by your consent,

to take an ill advantage of his absence. You are undone.
advantage (n.) 3 benefit, gain, advancement, profit
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral


MISTRESS FORD

'Tis not so, I hope.


MISTRESS PAGE

Pray heaven it be not so that you have

such a man here! But 'tis most certain your husband's

coming, with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such

a one. I come before to tell you. If you know yourself

clear, why, I am glad of it. But if you have a friend here,
clear (adj.) 2 innocent, blameless, free from fault, not guilty
friend (n.) 1 lover, sweetheart, suitor

convey, convey him out. Be not amazed, call all your
amazed (adj.) dumbfounded, stunned, thunderstruck, overwhelmed
convey (v.) 3 conceal, hide, secrete

senses to you, defend your reputation, or bid farewell to

your good life for ever.
good life comfortable position, respectable way of life


MISTRESS FORD

What shall I do? There is a gentleman,

my dear friend; and I fear not mine own shame so much

as his peril. I had rather than a thousand pound he were

out of the house.


MISTRESS PAGE

For shame, never stand ‘ you had rather ’
stand (v.) 7 dwell on, waste time with, rely upon

and ‘ you had rather ’! Your husband's here at hand.

Bethink you of some conveyance. In the house you
bethink (v.), past form bethought 4 devise, plan, think up

cannot hide him. – O, how have you deceived me! – Look,

here is a basket. If he be of any reasonable stature, he

may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if
foul (adj.) 4 dirty, miry, muddy

it were going to bucking. Or – it is whiting-time – send
bucking (n.) washing, laundry
whiting-time (n.) whitening time, time for clothes-bleaching

him by your two men to Datchet Mead.


MISTRESS FORD

He's too big to go in there. What shall I

do?

Falstaff rushes out of hiding


FALSTAFF

Let me see't, let me see't. O, let me see't! I'll

in, I'll in. Follow your friend's counsel. I'll in.


MISTRESS PAGE

What, Sir John Falstaff? (Aside to him)

Are these your letters, knight?


FALSTAFF

(aside to Mistress Page)

I love thee, and none

but thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here. I'll

never –

He gets into the basket; they cover him with foul

linen


MISTRESS PAGE

(to Robin)

Help to cover your master,

boy. Call your men, Mistress Ford. (Aside to Falstaff)

You dissembling knight!
dissembling (adj.) deceitful, hypocritical, false

Exit Robin


MISTRESS FORD

What, John! Robert! John!

Enter John and Robert

Go, take up these clothes here. Quickly! Where's the

cowl-staff? Look how you drumble! Carry them to the
cowl-staff (n.) thick shoulder-pole used for carrying a heavy container
drumble (v.) dawdle, loiter, move sluggishly

laundress in Datchet Mead. Quickly! Come.

Enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Evans
come near (v.) 1 enter, come in/into


FORD

(to his companions)

Pray you, come near. If I suspect

without cause, why then make sport at me; then let me
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

be your jest; I deserve it. (To John and Robert) How now?

Whither bear you this?


JOHN and ROBERT

To the laundress, forsooth.
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS FORD

Why, what have you to do whither they

bear it? You were best meddle with buck-washing.
buck-washing (n.) process of washing very dirty clothing in an alkaline mix [buck]


FORD

Buck? I would I could wash myself of the buck!
buck (n.) laundry, quantity of soiled clothes

Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck! I warrant you, buck – and
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

of the season too, it shall appear.
season, of the [of male deer] in the rutting season, on heat

Exeunt John and Robert with the basket

Gentlemen, I have dreamed tonight. I'll tell you my
tonight (adv.) last night, this past night

dream. Here, here, here be my keys. Ascend my chambers.

Search, seek, find out. I'll warrant we'll unkennel
unkennel (v.) reveal, bring to light, expose

the fox. Let me stop this way first.

He locks the door

So; now escape.


PAGE

Good master Ford, be contented. You wrong yourself
contented (adj.) 3 calm, easy in mind, restrained
wrong (v.) 2 put in the wrong, do injustice to, injure

too much.


FORD

True, Master Page. Up, gentlemen, you shall see

sport anon. Follow me, gentlemen.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Exit


EVANS

This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
humour (n.) 2 fancy, whim, inclination, caprice


CAIUS

By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France. It is not

jealous in France.


PAGE

Nay, follow him, gentlemen. See the issue of his
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count

search.

Exeunt Page, Caius, and Evans


MISTRESS PAGE

Is there not a double excellency in this?


MISTRESS FORD

I know not which pleases me better –

that my husband is deceived, or Sir John.


MISTRESS PAGE

What a taking was he in when your
taking (n.) 1 state, fright, agitation

husband asked who was in the basket!


MISTRESS FORD

I am half afraid he will have need of

washing; so throwing him into the water will do him a

benefit.


MISTRESS PAGE

Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all
dishonest (adj.) 3 indecent, unchaste, immodest, lewd

of the same strain were in the same distress.
strain (n.) 1 quality, character, disposition


MISTRESS FORD

I think my husband hath some special

suspicion of Falstaff's being here, for I never saw him

so gross in his jealousy till now.
gross (adj.) 1 plain, striking, evident, obvious


MISTRESS PAGE

I will lay a plot to try that, and we will
lay (v.) 4 set up, arrange, devise

yet have more tricks with Falstaff. His dissolute disease

will scarce obey this medicine.
obey (v.) respond to, be affected by


MISTRESS FORD

Shall we send that foolish carrion
carrion (n.) 1 carcass, wretch, worthless beast

Mistress Quickly to him, and excuse his throwing into

the water, and give him another hope to betray him to
betray (v.) 3 give up, expose, lay open [especially: to punishment]
hope (n.) 1 likelihood, possibility

another punishment?


MISTRESS PAGE

We will do it. Let him be sent for

tomorrow eight o'clock, to have amends.

Enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Evans


FORD

I cannot find him. Maybe the knave bragged of that

he could not compass.
compass (v.) 1 accomplish, fulfil, achieve, bring about
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS PAGE

(aside to Mistress Ford)

Heard you that?


MISTRESS FORD

You use me well, Master Ford! Do you?


FORD

Ay, I do so.


MISTRESS FORD

Heaven make you better than your

thoughts.


FORD

Amen.


MISTRESS PAGE

You do yourself mighty wrong, Master
wrong (n.) 1 dishonour, discredit, harm

Ford.


FORD

Ay, ay, I must bear it.


EVANS

If there be anypody in the house, and in the

chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses, heaven
press (n.) 2 clothes-press, cupboard, wardrobe

forgive my sins at the day of judgement.


CAIUS

By gar, nor I too. There is nobodies.


PAGE

Fie, fie, Master Ford, are you not ashamed? What

spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not
imagination (n.) 1 delusion, fancy, imagining
suggest (v.) 1 tempt, prompt, incite

ha' your distemper in this kind for the wealth of Windsor
distemper (n.) 3 bad temper, cross mood

Castle.


FORD

'Tis my fault, Master Page. I suffer for it.
fault (n.) 3 failing, weakness


EVANS

You suffer for a pad conscience. Your wife is as

honest a 'omans as I will desires among five thousand,

and five hundred too.


CAIUS

By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.


FORD

Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come, walk

in the Park. I pray you pardon me. I will hereafter make

known to you why I have done this. Come, wife, come,

Mistress Page, I pray you pardon me. Pray heartily

pardon me.


PAGE

Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we'll mock

him. I do invite you tomorrow morning to my house to

breakfast. After, we'll a-birding together. I have a fine
birding (n.) hunting small birds

hawk for the bush. Shall it be so?


FORD

Anything.


EVANS

If there is one, I shall make two in the company.


CAIUS

If there be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.


FORD

Pray you go, Master Page.

Exeunt all but Evans and Caius


EVANS

I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the
remembrance (v.) mistake for ‘remember’

lousy knave, mine host.
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


CAIUS

Dat is good. By gar, with all my heart.


EVANS

A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries.
gibe (n.) scoff, taunt, jeer

Exeunt

 
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