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Mrs. Page. Help to cover your master, boy: Call your men, mistress Ford :-You dissembling knight!
Mrs. Ford. What John, Robert, John ! [Exit Robin. Re-enter Servants.] Go take up these clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff?a look, how you drumble; carry them to the laundress in Datchet mead; quickly, come. Enter FORD, PAGE, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans. Ford. Pray you, come
near: if I suspect without cause, why then make sport at me, then let me be your jest; I deserve it.-How now? whither bear you this ?
Serv. To the laundress, forsooth.
Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were best meddle with huck-washing.
Ford. Buck? I would I could wash myself of the buck! Buck, buck, buck? Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck; and of the season too, it shall appear. [Exeunt Servants with the basket.] Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my chambers, search, seek, find out: I 'll warrant we 'll unkennel the fox:-Let me stop this way first :-so, now uncape.
Page. Good master Ford, be contented : you wrong yourself too much.
Ford. True, master Page.-Up, gentlemen ; you shall see sport anon: follow me, gentlemen.
[Erit. Eva. This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 't is no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France.
Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen ; see the issue of his search. [Exeunt Evans, Page, and Caius.
Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this?
Mrs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or sir John.
a A cowl-staff is explained to be a staff used for carrying a basket with two handles.
Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked who was in the basket!
Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into the water will do bim a benefit.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.
Mrs. 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.
Mrs. Page. I will lay a plot to try that: And we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.
Mrs. Ford. Shall we send that foolish carrion, mistress Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the water; and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment ?
Mrs. Page. We will do it; let him be sent for tomorrow eight o'clock, to have amends. Re-enter FORD, Page, Caius, and Sir Hugh Evans.
Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.
Mrs. Page. Heard you that?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts!
Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, master Ford.
Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.
Eva. If there be any pody in the house, and in the chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses, Heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment!
Caius. By gar, nor I too; dere is no bodies.
What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not have your distemper in this kind, for the wealth of Windsor Castle.
Ford. 'T is my fault, master Page : I suffer for it.
Eva. 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 't is 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 to-morrow morning to my house to breakfast: after, we 'll a-birding together; I have a fine hawk for the bush : Shall it be so ?
Eva. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
Caius. If there be one or two, I shall make-a de tird.
Eva. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.
Caius. Dat is good; by gar, vit all my heart.
Eva. A lousy knave; to have his gibes and his mockeries.
SCENE IV.-A Room in Page's House.
Enter FENTON and MISTRESS ANNE PAGE.
Anne. Alas! how then ?
Why, thou must be thyself.
I seek to heal it only by his wealth :
Anne. May be, he tells you true.
Fent. No, Heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Gentle master Fenton,
[They converse apart. Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Mrs. QUICKLY.
Shal. Break their talk, mistress Quickly; my kinsman shall speak for himself.
Slen. I 'll make a shaft or a bolt on 't: slid, 't is but venturing.
Shal. Be not dismayed.
Slen. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that-but that I am afeard.
Quick. Hark ye; master Slender would speak a
word with you.
Anne. I come to him. This is my father's choice. 0, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a-year!
Aside. Quick. And how does good master Fenton ? Pray you, a word with you,
Shal. She 's coming ; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!
Slen. I had a father, mistress Anne;—my uncle can tell you good jests of him :- Pray you, uncle, tell mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.
Shal. Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.
Slen. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Glostershire.
Shal. He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.
Slen. Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail,a under the degree of a 'squire.
Shal. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.
Anne. Good master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
Shal. Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She calls you, coz: I 'll leave you.
Anne. Now, master Slender.
Slen. My will ?" 'od's heartlings, that 's a pretty jest, indeed! I ne'er made my will yet, I thank Heaven; I am not such a sickly creature, I give Heaven praise.
Anne. I mean, master Slender, what would you with
Slen. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you: Your father, and my uncle, have made motions : if it be my luck, so; if not, happy man be his dole! They can tell you how things go better than I can : You may ask your father; here he comes.
Enter Page and MISTRESS PAGE.
& Come cut and long-tail appears to mean, come people of all degrees-long-tail as opposed to bob-tail, a member of the worshipful firm of Tag, Rag, and Co.