The Merry Wives of Windsor


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


FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my

sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your love, and I
obsequious (adj.) 2 devoted, compliant, ready to please
sufferance (n.) 1 distress, suffering, hardship

profess requital to a hair's breadth, not only, Mistress
hair / hair's breadth, to a in every little detail, in full, exactly
profess (v.) 2 undertake, pledge
requital (n.) recompense, reward, repayment

Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement,
accoutrement (n.) formal embellishment, special trappings
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

complement, and ceremony of it. But are you sure
compliment, complement (n.) 3 show, display, exhibition
sure (adj.) 3 safe, secure, free from danger

of your husband now?


MISTRESS FORD

He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.


MISTRESS PAGE

(within)
gossip (n.) 2 friend, neighbour See Topics: Address forms

What ho, gossip Ford. What ho!


MISTRESS FORD

Step into the chamber, Sir John.

Exit Falstaff

Enter Mistress Page


MISTRESS PAGE

How now, sweetheart; who's at home

besides yourself?


MISTRESS FORD

Why, none but mine own people.
people (n.) household, servants


MISTRESS PAGE

Indeed?


MISTRESS FORD

No, certainly. (Aside to her) Speak

louder.


MISTRESS PAGE

Truly, I am so glad you have nobody

here.


MISTRESS FORD

Why?


MISTRESS PAGE

Why, woman, your husband is in his

old lines again. He so takes on yonder with my husband,
line (n.) 4 conduct, way of behaving, course of action

so rails against all married mankind, so curses all
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever, and so
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring

buffets himself on the forehead, crying ‘ Peer out, peer
peer out (v.) peep out, show oneself

out!’, that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but

tameness, civility, and patience to this his distemper he
civility (n.) civilized conduct, courteous behaviour, good manners
distemper (n.) 3 bad temper, cross mood

is in now. I am glad the fat knight is not here.


MISTRESS FORD

Why, does he talk of him?


MISTRESS PAGE

Of none but him, and swears he was

carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a

basket; protests to my husband he is now here, and hath

drawn him and the rest of their company from their
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion. But
experiment (n.) investigation, inquiry, exploration

I am glad the knight is not here. Now he shall see his

own foolery.


MISTRESS FORD

How near is he, Mistress Page?


MISTRESS PAGE

Hard by, at street end. He will be here
hard (adv.) 1 close, near

anon.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS FORD

I am undone. The knight is here.
undone (adj.) ruined, destroyed, brought down See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS PAGE

Why, then, you are utterly shamed, and

he's but a dead man. What a woman are you! Away
dead (adj.) 6 condemned to death, to be put to death

with him, away with him! Better shame than murder.


MISTRESS FORD

Which way should he go? How should

I bestow him? Shall I put him into the basket again?
bestow (v.) 6 stow away, dispose of

Enter Falstaff


FALSTAFF

No, I'll come no more i'th' basket. May I not

go out ere he come?


MISTRESS PAGE

Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers

watch the door with pistols, that none shall issue out.

Otherwise you might slip away ere he came. But what

make you here?
make (v.) 1 do, have to do


FALSTAFF

What shall I do? I'll creep up into the

chimney.


MISTRESS FORD

There they always use to discharge their
use (v.) 1 be accustomed, make a habit [of]

birding pieces.
birding (n.) hunting small birds
piece (n.) 7 cannon, piece of artillery, fire-arm


MISTRESS PAGE

Creep into the kiln-hole.
kiln-hole (n.) fire-hole of a kiln, oven


FALSTAFF

Where is it?


MISTRESS FORD

He will seek there, on my word. Neither

press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an
press (n.) 2 clothes-press, cupboard, wardrobe

abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes
abstract (n.) 2 list, register, inventory
remembrance (n.) 1 memory, bringing to mind, recollection See Topics: Frequency count

to them by his note. There is no hiding you in the

house.


FALSTAFF

I'll go out, then.


MISTRESS PAGE

If you go out in your own semblance,
semblance (n.) 1 appearance, outward show

you die, Sir John. Unless you go out disguised –


MISTRESS FORD

How might we disguise him?


MISTRESS PAGE

Alas the day, I know not. There is no

woman's gown big enough for him. Otherwise he might

put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.
kerchief (n.) cloth head-covering, scarf


FALSTAFF

Good hearts, devise something. Any extremity
extremity (n.) 5 ridiculous behaviour, embarrassing conduct

rather than a mischief.
mischief (n.) 1 catastrophe, calamity, misfortune


MISTRESS FORD

My maid's aunt, the fat woman of

Brainford, has a gown above.
above (adv.) 1 upstairs


MISTRESS PAGE

On my word, it will serve him. She's as
serve (v.) 2 suffice, be enough, do [for]

big as he is; and there's her thrummed hat and her
thrummed (adj.) fringed with loose threads

muffler too. Run up, Sir John.


MISTRESS FORD

Go, go, sweet Sir John. Mistress Page

and I will look some linen for your head.
look (v.) 2 find, seek, look for


MISTRESS PAGE

Quick, quick! We'll come dress you

straight. Put on the gown the while.
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Exit Falstaff


MISTRESS FORD

I would my husband would meet him

in this shape. He cannot abide the old woman of

Brainford. He swears she's a witch, forbade her my

house, and hath threatened to beat her.


MISTRESS PAGE

Heaven guide him to thy husband's

cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards!


MISTRESS FORD

But is my husband coming?


MISTRESS PAGE

Ay, in good sadness, is he, and talks of
sadness, in / in good in earnest, seriously

the basket too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.


MISTRESS FORD

We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men
appoint (v.) 7 direct, order, instruct
try (v.) 2 put to the test, test the goodness [of]

to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with

it, as they did last time.


MISTRESS PAGE

Nay, but he'll be here presently. Let's
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long

go dress him like the witch of Brainford.


MISTRESS FORD

I'll first direct my men what they shall

do with the basket. Go up. I'll bring linen for him

straight.
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS PAGE

Hang him, dishonest varlet! We cannot
dishonest (adj.) 3 indecent, unchaste, immodest, lewd
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

misuse him enough.
misuse (v.) 1 disgrace, deride, abuse

We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,

Wives may be merry, and yet honest too.
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous

We do not act that often jest and laugh;
act (v.) 3 commit adultery, be promiscuous

'Tis old but true: ‘ Still swine eats all the draff. ’
draff (n.) pig-swill, refuse, garbage
still (adj.) 2 quiet, calm, subdued

Exit

Enter John and Robert


MISTRESS FORD

Go, sirs, take the basket again on your

shoulders. Your master is hard at door. If he bid you
hard (adv.) 1 close, near

set it down, obey him. Quickly, dispatch.
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly

Exit


JOHN

Come, come, take it up.


ROBERT

Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.


JOHN

I hope not. I had as lief bear so much lead.
lief, had as should like just as much See Topics: Frequency count

Enter Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Evans


FORD

Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any

way then to unfool me again? Set down the basket,
unfool (v.) make less of a fool, remove the name of fool from

villains. Somebody call my wife. Youth in a basket! O

you panderly rascals! There's a knot, a ging, a pack, a
gin (n.) snare, trap
ging (n.) gang, company, whole household
knot (n.) 1 company, band, assembly
pack (n.) 1 gang, group, circle, confederacy
panderly (adj.) pimping, procuring, go-between

conspiracy against me. Now shall the devil be shamed.

What, wife, I say! Come, come forth! Behold what

honest clothes you send forth to bleaching!


PAGE

Why, this passes, Master Ford. You are not to go
pass (v.) 1 surpass, go beyond, outdo

loose any longer. You must be pinioned.
pinioned (adj.) 1 bound, tied up, secured


EVANS

Why, this is lunatics. This is mad as a mad dog.


SHALLOW

Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.


FORD

So say I too, sir.

Enter Mistress Ford

Come hither, Mistress Ford. Mistress Ford, the honest

woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that

hath the jealous fool to her husband! I suspect without

cause, mistress, do I?


MISTRESS FORD

Heaven be my witness, you do, if you

suspect me in any dishonesty.
dishonesty (n.) 2 unchasteness, lewdness, immorality


FORD

Well said, brazen-face. Hold it out. – Come forth,
hold it out keep it up

sirrah!

He pulls clothes out of the basket


PAGE

This passes!


MISTRESS FORD

Are you not ashamed? Let the clothes

alone.


FORD

I shall find you anon.
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count


EVANS

'Tis unreasonable. Will you take up your wife's

clothes? Come away.


FORD

Empty the basket, I say.


MISTRESS FORD

Why, man, why?


FORD

Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed

out of my house yesterday in this basket. Why

may not he be there again? In my house I am sure he is.

My intelligence is true. My jealousy is reasonable.
intelligence (n.) 1 information, news, communication

Pluck me out all the linen.


MISTRESS FORD

If you find a man there, he shall die a

flea's death.


PAGE

Here's no man.


SHALLOW

By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford.
fidelity, by my upon my word of honour

This wrongs you.
wrong (v.) 1 discredit, dishonour, injure, disgrace


EVANS

Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the

imaginations of your own heart. This is jealousies.


FORD

Well, he's not here I seek for.


PAGE

No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.


FORD

Help to search my house this one time. If I find

not what I seek, show no colour for my extremity. Let
colour (n.) 2 good ground, convincing reason, excuse
extremity (n.) 5 ridiculous behaviour, embarrassing conduct

me for ever be your table sport. Let them say of me, ‘ As
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count
table (n.) 4 dinner table, dinner party

jealous as Ford, that searched a hollow walnut for his

wife's leman.’ Satisfy me once more. Once more search
leman (n.) lover, paramour, sweetheart

with me.

Exeunt John and Robert with the basket


MISTRESS FORD

What ho, Mistress Page, come you and

the old woman down. My husband will come into the

chamber.


FORD

Old woman? What old woman's that?


MISTRESS FORD

Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.


FORD

A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not
cozening (adj.) cheating, deceiving, fraudulent
quean (n.) bawd, jade, hussy

forbid her my house? She comes of errands, does she?

We are simple men; we do not know what's brought to

pass under the profession of fortune-telling. She works

by charms, by spells, by th' figure; and such daubery as
daubery, daubry (n.) trickery, pretence, deceitful show
element (n.) 8 sphere of knowledge, proper comprehension
figure (n.) 9 astrological diagram, horoscope

this is beyond our element – we know nothing. Come

down, you witch, you hag, you. Come down, I say!


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, good sweet husband! – Good

gentlemen, let him not strike the old woman.

Enter Falstaff in woman's clothes, and Mistress

Page


MISTRESS PAGE

Come, Mother Prat, come, give me your

hand.


FORD

I'll prat her.

He beats Falstaff
rag (n.) 1 worthless wretch, good-for-nothing creature, beggar

Out of my door, you witch, you rag, you baggage, you

polecat, you ronyon! Out, out! I'll conjure you, I'll
conjure (v.) 5 put a spell on, charm, bewitch
polecat (n.) [slang] prostitute, courtesan, whore
ronyon (n.) [term of abuse for a woman] mangy creature

fortune-tell you.

Exit Falstaff


MISTRESS PAGE

Are you not ashamed? I think you have

killed the poor woman.


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, he will do it. – 'Tis a goodly credit

for you.


FORD

Hang her, witch!


EVANS

By yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch indeed.

I like not when a 'oman has a great peard. I spy a great

peard under his muffler.


FORD

Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow.

See but the issue of my jealousy. If I cry out thus upon
cry out (v.) 1 [hunting] call like a hound
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count

no trail, never trust me when I open again.
open (v.) 3 [hunting] bark at finding a scent
trail (n.) [hunting] scent, track


PAGE

Let's obey his humour a little further. Come,
humour (n.) 2 fancy, whim, inclination, caprice

gentlemen.

Exeunt Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Evans


MISTRESS PAGE

Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
trust me believe me See Topics: Discourse markers


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, by th'mass, that he did not. He

beat him most unpitifully, methought.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS PAGE

I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung

o'er the altar. It hath done meritorious service.


MISTRESS FORD

What think you? May we, with the

warrant of womanhood and the witness of a good
warrant (n.) 2 licence, sanction, authorization

conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?


MISTRESS PAGE

The spirit of wantonness is sure scared
wantonness (n.) 3 lust, lasciviousness, promiscuity

out of him. If the devil have him not in fee simple, with
fee simple, in in complete possession

fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of
fine (n.) 6 [legal] agreement to transfer land possession
recovery (n.) 2 [legal] procedure for transferring property into full ownership

waste, attempt us again.
attempt (v.) 3 tempt, persuade, win over
waste (n.) 4 [legal] damage to property by a tenant


MISTRESS FORD

Shall we tell our husbands how we have

served him?


MISTRESS PAGE

Yes, by all means, if it be but to scrape

the figures out of your husband's brains. If they can
figure (n.) 8 fancy, imagining, phantasm

find in their hearts the poor unvirtuous fat knight shall

be any further afflicted, we two will still be the ministers.
minister (n.) messenger, agent, servant


MISTRESS FORD

I'll warrant they'll have him publicly
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

shamed, and methinks there would be no period to the
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count
period (n.) 2 point of completion, fitting conclusion, consummation

jest, should he not be publicly shamed.


MISTRESS PAGE

Come, to the forge with it, then. Shape

it. I would not have things cool.

Exeunt

 
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