ACT IV
Scene 4
 

FORD'S house

Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and SIR HUGH
EVANS

EVANS
'Tis one of the best discretions of a oman as ever
did look upon.

PAGE
And did he send you both these letters at an instant?

MRS. PAGE
Within a quarter of an hour.

FORD
Pardon me, wife. Henceforth, do what thou wilt;
I rather will suspect the sun with cold
Than thee with wantonness. Now doth thy honour stand,
In him that was of late an heretic,
As firm as faith.

PAGE
'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.
Be not as extreme in submission as in offence;
But let our plot go forward. Let our wives
Yet once again, to make us public sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him and disgrace him for it.

FORD
There is no better way than that they spoke of.

PAGE
How? To send him word they'll meet him in the Park
at midnight? Fie, fie! he'll never come!

EVANS
You say he has been thrown in the rivers; and has
been grievously peaten as an old oman; methinks there
should be terrors in him, that he should not come;
methinks his flesh is punish'd; he shall have no desires.

PAGE
So think I too.

MRS. FORD
Devise but how you'll use him when he comes,
And let us two devise to bring him thither.

MRS. PAGE
There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.

PAGE
Why yet there want not many that do fear
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak.
But what of this?

MRS. FORD
Marry, this is our device-
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us,
Disguis'd, like Herme, with huge horns on his head.

PAGE
Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come,
And in this shape. When you have brought him thither,
What shall be done with him? What is your plot?

MRS. PAGE
That likewise have we thought upon, and thus:
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes, and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands; upon a sudden,
As Falstaff, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a sawpit rush at once
With some diffused song; upon their sight
We two in great amazedness will fly.
Then let them all encircle him about,
And fairy-like, to pinch the unclean knight;
And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel,
In their so sacred paths he dares to tread
In shape profane.

MRS. FORD
And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound,
And burn him with their tapers.

MRS. PAGE
The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves; dis-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.

FORD
The children must
Be practis'd well to this or they'll nev'r do 't.

EVANS
I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will
be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my
taber.

FORD
That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards.

MRS. PAGE
My Nan shall be the Queen of all the Fairies,
Finely attired in a robe of white.

PAGE
That silk will I go buy. [Aside] And in that time
Shall Master Slender steal my Nan away,
And marry her at Eton.-Go, send to Falstaff straight.

FORD
Nay, I'll to him again, in name of Brook;
He'll tell me all his purpose. Sure, he'll come.

MRS. PAGE
Fear not you that. Go get us properties
And tricking for our fairies.

EVANS
Let us about it. It is admirable pleasures, and fery
honest knaveries.

Exeunt PAGE, FORD, and EVANS

MRS. PAGE
Go, Mistress Ford.
Send Quickly to Sir John to know his mind.

Exit MRS. FORD

I'll to the Doctor; he hath my good will,
And none but he, to marry with Nan Page.
That Slender, though well landed, is an idiot;
And he my husband best of all affects.
The Doctor is well money'd, and his friends
Potent at court; he, none but he, shall have her,
Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.

Exit