ACT IV
Scene II.
 

A public road near Coventry.

Enter Falstaff and Bardolph.

FALSTAFF
Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a bottle of
sack. Our soldiers shall march through. We'll to Sutton Co'fil'
to-night.

BARDOLPH
Will you give me money, Captain?

FALSTAFF
Lay out, lay out.

BARDOLPH
This bottle makes an angel.

FALSTAFF
An if it do, take it for thy labour; an if it make twenty,
take them all; I'll answer the coinage. Bid my lieutenant Peto
meet me at town's end.

BARDOLPH
I Will, Captain. Farewell.

Exit.

FALSTAFF
If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a sous'd gurnet. I
have misused the King's press damnably. I have got in exchange of
a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I
press me none but good householders, yeomen's sons; inquire me
out contracted bachelors, such as had been ask'd twice on the
banes- such a commodity of warm slaves as had as lieve hear the
devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than
a struck fowl or a hurt wild duck. I press'd me none but such
toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than
pins' heads, and they have bought out their services; and now my
whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants,
gentlemen of companies- slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
painted cloth, where the glutton's dogs licked his sores; and
such as indeed were never soldiers, but discarded unjust
serving-men, younger sons to Younger brothers, revolted tapsters,
and ostlers trade-fall'n; the cankers of a calm world and a long
peace; ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old fac'd
ancient; and such have I to fill up the rooms of them that have
bought out their services that you would think that I had a
hundred and fifty tattered Prodigals lately come from
swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me
on the way, and told me I had unloaded all the gibbets and
press'd the dead bodies. No eye hath seen such scarecrows. I'll
not march through Coventry with them, that's flat. Nay, and the
villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had gyves on;
for indeed I had the most of them out of prison. There's but a
shirt and a half in all my company; and the half-shirt is two
napkins tack'd together and thrown over the shoulders like a
herald's coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say the truth,
stol'n from my host at Saint Alban's, or the red-nose innkeeper
of Daventry. But that's all one; they'll find linen enough on
every hedge.

Enter the Prince and the Lord of Westmoreland.

PRINCE
How now, blown Jack? How now, quilt?

FALSTAFF
What, Hal? How now, mad wag? What a devil dost thou in
Warwickshire? My good Lord of Westmoreland, I cry you mercy. I
thought your honour had already been at Shrewsbury.

WESTMORELAND
Faith, Sir John, 'tis more than time that I were there, and
you too; but my powers are there already. The King, I can tell
you, looks for us all. We must away all, to-night.

FALSTAFF
Tut, never fear me. I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream.

PRINCE
I think, to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath already
made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose fellows are these that
come after?

FALSTAFF
Mine, Hal, mine.

PRINCE
I did never see such pitiful rascals.

FALSTAFF
Tut, tut! good enough to toss; food for powder, food for
powder. They'll fill a pit as well as better. Tush, man, mortal
men, mortal men.

WESTMORELAND
Ay, but, Sir John, methinks they are exceeding poor and bare-
too beggarly.

FALSTAFF
Faith, for their poverty, I know, not where they had that; and
for their bareness, I am surd they never learn'd that of me.

PRINCE
No, I'll be sworn, unless you call three fingers on the
ribs bare. But, sirrah, make haste. Percy 's already in the
field.

Exit.

FALSTAFF
What, is the King encamp'd?

WESTMORELAND
He is, Sir John. I fear we shall stay too long.

[Exit.]

FALSTAFF
Well,
To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast
Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.

Exit.