The Merry Wives of Windsor


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Falstaff and Bardolph


FALSTAFF

Bardolph, I say!


BARDOLPH

Here, sir.


FALSTAFF

Go fetch me a quart of sack – put a toast in't.
sack (n.) [type of] white wine
toast (n.) piece of hot toast, sop

Exit Bardolph

Have I lived to be carried in a basket like a barrow of
barrow (n.) barrowful, cartload

butcher's offal? And to be thrown in the Thames? Well,

if I be served such another trick, I'll have my brains

ta'en out and buttered, and give them to a dog for a

new-year's gift. The rogues slighted me into the river with as
slight (v.) throw contemptuously, slide scornfully

little remorse as they would have drowned a blind
remorse (n.) 1 pity, regret, sorrow

bitch's puppies, fifteen i'th' litter. And you may know

by my size that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking. If the

bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had been

drowned but that the shore was shelvy and shallow – a
shelvy (adj.) gently shelving, sloping; or: made of sandbanks
shore (n.) 2 bank, edge

death that I abhor, for the water swells a man, and what

a thing should I have been when I had been swelled!

I should have been a mountain of mummy.
mummy (n.) 1 dead flesh, pulp

Enter Bardolph with sack


BARDOLPH

Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with

you.


FALSTAFF

Come, let me pour in some sack to the Thames

water, for my belly's as cold as if I had swallowed

snowballs for pills to cool the reins. Call her in.
rein (n.) 2 (plural) loins, kidneys


BARDOLPH

Come in, woman.

Enter Mistress Quickly


MISTRESS QUICKLY

By your leave; I cry you mercy.

Give your worship good morrow.
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


FALSTAFF

Take away these chalices. Go, brew me a
chalice (n.) 1 small goblet, tiny tankard

pottle of sack finely.
finely (adv.) nicely, delicately, subtly
pottle, pottle-pot (n.) drinking vessel containing two quarts
sack (n.) [type of] white wine


BARDOLPH

With eggs, sir?


FALSTAFF

Simple of itself. I'll no pullet-sperm in my
pullet-sperm (n.) [contemptuous] poultry-seed, egg
simple (adj.) 4 unmixed, without addition, plain

brewage.
brewage (n.) [drink] brew, concoction, mixture

Exit Bardolph

How now?


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Marry, sir, I come to your worship

from Mistress Ford.


FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford? I have had ford enough. I

was thrown into the ford. I have my belly full of ford.


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Alas the day, good heart, that was

not her fault. She does so take on with her men; they
take on (v.) 1 behave, act; or: rage, rant

mistook their erection.
erection (n.) malapropism for ‘direction’


FALSTAFF

So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's

promise.


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, she laments, sir, for it, that

it would yearn your heart to see it. Her husband goes
yearn (v.) grieve, make mourn, move with pity

this morning a-birding. She desires you once more to
birding (n.) hunting small birds

come to her between eight and nine. I must carry her

word quickly. She'll make you amends, I warrant you.
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count


FALSTAFF

Well, I will visit her. Tell her so, and bid her

think what a man is. Let her consider his frailty, and

then judge of my merit.


MISTRESS QUICKLY

I will tell her.


FALSTAFF

Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Eight and nine, sir.


FALSTAFF

Well, begone. I will not miss her.
miss (v.) 2 fail to meet, let down


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Peace be with you, sir.

Exit


FALSTAFF

I marvel I hear not of Master Brook. He sent

me word to stay within. I like his money well. O, here

he comes.

Enter Ford disguised as Brook


FORD

Bless you, sir.


FALSTAFF

Now, Master Brook, you come to know what

hath passed between me and Ford's wife?


FORD

That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.


FALSTAFF

Master Brook, I will not lie to you. I was at her

house the hour she appointed me.


FORD

And sped you, sir?
speed (v.) 1 meet with success, prosper, flourish See Topics: Politeness


FALSTAFF

Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.
ill-favouredly (adv.) 1 badly, unpleasingly, offensively


FORD

How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
determination (n.) 1 mind, decision, resolution


FALSTAFF

No, Master Brook, but the peaking cornuto
cornuto (n.) beast with horns; cuckold
peaking (adj.) sneaking, skulking, lurking

her husband, Master Brook, dwelling in a continual
dwell (v.) exist, continue, persist

'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 4 alarm, agitation, excited feeling

encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested,
encounter (n.) 4 liaison, intercourse, amorous affair
protest (v.) 4 declare love

and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and

at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither provoked
rabble (n.) 1 crowd, pack, mob

and instigated by his distemper, and, forsooth, to
distemper (n.) 3 bad temper, cross mood

search his house for his wife's love.
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count


FORD

What? While you were there?


FALSTAFF

While I was there.


FORD

And did he search for you, and could not find you?


FALSTAFF

You shall hear. As good luck would have it,

comes in one Mistress Page, gives intelligence of Ford's
intelligence (n.) 1 information, news, communication

approach, and, in her invention and Ford's wife's
distraction (n.) 1 perturbation, agitation, frenzied state
invention (n.) 1 inventiveness, imagination, creative faculty

distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
buck-basket (n.) basket for dirty laundry


FORD

A buck-basket?


FALSTAFF

By the Lord, a buck-basket! Rammed me in

with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings,
smock (n.) woman's undergarment, shift, slip, chemise

greasy napkins, that, Master Brook, there was the

rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended
rank (adj.) 2 foul-smelling, stinking

nostril.


FORD

And how long lay you there?


FALSTAFF

Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I

have suffered to bring this woman to evil for your good.

Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's

knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their mistress to
hind (n.) 2 servant, domestic, worker
knave (n.) 2 servant, menial, lackey

carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchet Lane.

They took me on their shoulders, met the jealous knave
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

their master in the door, who asked them once or twice

what they had in their basket. I quaked for fear lest the

lunatic knave would have searched it; but Fate,

ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well, on
cuckold (n.) [mocking name] man with an unfaithful wife See Topics: Frequency count

went he for a search, and away went I for foul clothes.

But mark the sequel, Master Brook. I suffered the
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

pangs of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

to be detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether;
bell-wether (n.) leading sheep of a flock [wearing a bell]; cuckold [of a ram, because horned]
rotten (adj.) 2 diseased, infected, liver-rotten

next, to be compassed like a good bilbo in the circumference
bilbo (n.) sword [from Bilbao, noted for its flexibility] See Topics: Weapons
compass (v.) 8 bend into a circle, make to curve round

of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then, to
peck (n.) 2 circular vessel capable of holding a peck [quarter bushel] of goods

be stopped in, like a strong distillation, with stinking
stop (v.) 3 stopper, fasten, shut

clothes that fretted in their own grease. Think of that, a
fret (v.) 2 decay, fester, ferment

man of my kidney – think of that – that am as subject to
kidney (n.) constitution, nature, type

heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution and thaw.
dissolution (n.) 1 melting, liquefaction, dissolving

It was a miracle to 'scape suffocation. And in the height
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

of this bath, when I was more than half stewed in

grease, like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames,

and cooled, glowing hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe.

Think of that – hissing hot – think of that, Master

Brook!


FORD

In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for my sake
sadness, in / in good in earnest, seriously

you have suffered all this. My suit, then, is desperate?
desperate (adj.) 1 despairing, hopeless, without hope
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

You'll undertake her no more?
undertake (v.) 4 approach, make overtures to, commit to deal with


FALSTAFF

Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as

I have been into Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her

husband is this morning gone a-birding. I have received

from her another embassy of meeting. 'Twixt eight
embassy (n.) 1 message [especially via an ambassador]

and nine is the hour, Master Brook.


FORD

'Tis past eight already, sir.


FALSTAFF

Is it? I will then address me to my appointment.
address (v.) 3 direct, apply, turn

Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you

shall know how I speed; and the conclusion shall be
speed (v.) 1 meet with success, prosper, flourish See Topics: Politeness

crowned with your enjoying her. Adieu. You shall have

her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall cuckold
cuckold (v.) [mocking name] dishonour a man by making his wife unfaithful

Ford.

Exit


FORD

Hum! Ha! Is this a vision? Is this a dream? Do I

sleep? Master Ford, awake; awake, Master Ford!

There's a hole made in your best coat, Master Ford. This

'tis to be married; this 'tis to have linen and
buck-basket (n.) basket for dirty laundry

buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself what I am. I will

now take the lecher. He is at my house. He cannot

'scape me. 'Tis impossible he should. He cannot creep
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

into a halfpenny purse, nor into a pepperbox. But, lest

the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search

impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid,

yet to be what I would not shall not make me tame. If I

have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with

me – I'll be horn-mad.
horn-mad (adj.) [as of horned beasts] furious, enraged, raving mad

Exit

 
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