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The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, SIMPLE, and RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

What, John Rugby! I pray thee, go to the casement, and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor Caius, coming. If he do, i' faith, and find any body in the house, here will be an old abusing of God's patience and the king's English.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Hey there, John Rugby! Please, go to the window and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor Caius, coming. If he comes and finds anyone in the house, I'm telling you, you'll hear him getting very angry and speaking very bad English.

RUGBY

I'll go watch.

RUGBY

I'll go keep a lookout for him.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, infaith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Go on. We'll have a nice hot drink later this evening, I promise, when the fire is almost burnt out.

Exit RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

An honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant shall come in house withal, and, I warrant you, no tell-tale nor no breed-bate: his worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way: but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass. Peter Simple, you say your name is?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Rugby is as honest, hard-working, and kind a person as any servant could work alongside, and I bet he won't tell on us or make any trouble. The worst thing about him is that he has a habit of praying. He's a bit foolish like that, but everybody has some flaw—enough about that. Did you say your name was Peter Simple? 

SIMPLE

Ay, for fault of a better.

SIMPLE

Yes, since I don't have a better name.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

And Master Slender's your master?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

And your master is Master Slender?

SIMPLE

Ay, forsooth.

SIMPLE

Yes, that's true.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Does he not wear a great round beard, like aglover's paring-knife?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Doesn't he have a big beard that he trims into a round shape, like the knife a glove-maker uses?

SIMPLE

No, forsooth: he hath but a little wee face, with alittle yellow beard, a Cain-coloured beard.

SIMPLE

No, in fact, he has only a tiny little face, with a little yellow beard, a yellow or reddish beard.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

A softly-sprighted man, is he not?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

He's a timid person, isn't he?

SIMPLE

Ay, forsooth: but he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between this and his head; he hath fought with a warrener.

SIMPLE

Yes, he is, but he's as brave as any other man around here. He had a fight with a gamekeeper.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

How say you? O, I should remember him: does he nothold up his head, as it were, and strut in his gait?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

What was that? Oh, I think I remember him. Doesn't he hold his head up high, so to speak, and strut when he walks?

SIMPLE

Yes, indeed, does he.

SIMPLE

Yes, indeed, he does.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, heaven send Anne Page no worse fortune! Tell Master Parson Evans I will do what I can for your master: Anne is a good girl, and I wish—

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, I hope Anne Page doesn't end up with anybody worse! Tell Master Parson Evans that I'll do what I can for your master. Anne's a good girl, and I wish—

Re-enter RUGBY

RUGBY

Out, alas! here comes my master.

RUGBY

Oh no, get out! Here comes my master.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man;go into this closet: he will not stay long.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

We'll all get in trouble! Run in here, good young man. Get in this closet, he won't stay here long.

Shuts SIMPLE in the closet

MISTRESS QUICKLY

What, John Rugby! John! what, John, I say! Go, John, go inquire for my master; I doubt he be not well, that he comes not home. [Singing] And down, down, adown-a, & c.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Hey there, John Rugby! John! Hey, John! Go, John, go ask about my master. I'm afraid he isn't well, since he hasn't come home.
[Singing]
And down, down, adown-a...

Enter DOCTOR CAIUS

DOCTOR CAIUS

Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you, go and vetch me in my closet un boitier vert, a box, a green-a box: do intend vat I speak? a green-a box.

DOCTOR CAIUS

What are you singing? I don't like these silly songs. Please, go and get me a green box from my closet, a box, a green box. Do you understand what I'm saying? A green box.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Ay, forsooth; I'll fetch it you. [aside] I am glad he went not in himself: if he had found the young man, he would have been horn-mad.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Yes, I do, I'll get it for you.

[To herself] I'm glad he didn't go into his closet himself. If he had found the young man hiding in there, he would have gotten as mad as a bull. 

DOCTOR CAIUS

Fe, fe, fe, fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Jem'en vais a la cour—la grande affaire.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Fe, fe, fe, fe! My gosh, it's very hot. I'm going to court—I have important business there.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Is it this, sir?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Is this the box you wanted, sir?

DOCTOR CAIUS

Oui; mette le au mon pocket: depeche, quickly. Vereis dat knave Rugby?

DOCTOR CAIUS

Yes, put it in my pocket, hurry, quickly. Where is that rascal Rugby?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

What, John Rugby! John!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Hey there, John Rugby! John!

RUGBY

Here, sir!

RUGBY

Here I am, sir!

DOCTOR CAIUS

You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby. Come,take-a your rapier, and come after my heel to the court.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Your name is John Rugby, and you are also a brave man. Come on, get your sword, and follow me to court.

RUGBY

'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.

RUGBY

It's ready to go, sir, out here in the hall.

DOCTOR CAIUS

By my trot, I tarry too long. Od's me! Qu'ai-j'oublie! dere is some simples in my closet, dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Honestly, I'm lingering here for too long. Oh my God! I forgot! There are some medicines in my closet that I really don't want to leave behind.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Ay me, he'll find the young man here, and be mad!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[To herself] Oh no, he'll find the young man in the closet and get really mad!

DOCTOR CAIUS

O diable, diable! vat is in my closet? Villain! larron!

DOCTOR CAIUS

Oh, you devil, you devil! Who is in my closet? Villain! Thief! 

Pulling SIMPLE out

DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, my rapier!

DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, get me my sword!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Good master, be content.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Good master, stay calm.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Wherefore shall I be content-a?

DOCTOR CAIUS

Why should I stay calm?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

The young man is an honest man.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

The young man is an honest person.

DOCTOR CAIUS

What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere isno honest man dat shall come in my closet.

DOCTOR CAIUS

What would an honest person be doing in my closet? No honest person would come into my closet. 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truthof it: he came of an errand to me from Parson Hugh.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I'm asking you, don't get so dull. Let me tell you what really happened. He came here to deliver a message to me from Parson Hugh.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Vell.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Well.

SIMPLE

Ay, forsooth; to desire her to—

SIMPLE

Yes, really, to ask her to—

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Peace, I pray you.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Be quiet, please.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Peace-a your tongue. Speak-a your tale.

DOCTOR CAIUS

[To MISTRESS QUICKLY] Stop talking.

 [To SIMPLE] Tell me what happened.

SIMPLE

To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, tospeak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for mymaster in the way of marriage.

SIMPLE

I came to ask this good woman, your maid, to recommend my master to Anne Page as a potential husband. 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

This is all, indeed, la! but I'll ne'er put myfinger in the fire, and need not.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

That's all, really! But I won't ever risk getting into trouble again by getting involved in things if I don't have to. 

DOCTOR CAIUS

Sir Hugh send-a you? Rugby, baille me some paper.Tarry you a little-a while.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Sir Hugh sent you here? Rugby, bring me some paper. Wait here for a minute. 

Writes

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[Aside to SIMPLE] I am glad he is so quiet: if he had been thoroughly moved, you should have heard him so loud and so melancholy. But notwithstanding, man, I'll do you your master what good I can: and the very yea and the no is, the French doctor, my master,—I may call him my master, look you, for I keep his house; and I wash, wring, brew, bake, scour, dress meat and drink, make the beds and do all myself,—

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[To SIMPLE so that only he can hear] I'm glad he's so calm. If he had gotten really angry, you would have heard him be a lot louder and a lot more upset. But in any case, young man, I'll help your master as much as I can: and the upshot is, the French doctor, my master—I can call him my master, you see, because I take care of his house, and I wash the clothes, brew beer, bake, clean the house, prepare the food and drink, make the beds and do it all by myself—

SIMPLE

[Aside to MISTRESS QUICKLY] 'Tis a great charge tocome under one body's hand.

SIMPLE

[To MISTRESS QUICKLY so that only she can hear] That's a lot of work for one person to do.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[Aside to SIMPLE] Are you avised o' that? you shall find it a great charge: and to be up early and down late; but notwithstanding, —to tell you in your ear; I would have no words of it,—my master himself is in love with Mistress Anne Page: but notwithstanding that, I know Anne's mind,—that's neither here nor there.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[To SIMPLE so that only he can hear] You're telling me that? You would find it to be a lot of work too: and you have to get up early and go to bed late, but anyway[Motioning him closer] I'm telling you this as a secret, I don't want you telling other people about this—my master is in love with Mistress Anne Page himself. But in any case, I know how Anne feels—but that doesn't matter.

DOCTOR CAIUS

You jack'nape, give-a this letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a shallenge: I will cut his troat in dee park; and I will teach a scurvy jack-a-nape priest to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good you tarry here. By gar, I will cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to throw at his dog:

DOCTOR CAIUS

You fool, give this letter to Sir Hugh—by God, it's a challenge to a duel. I will cut his throat in the park, and I'll teach that good-for-nothing fool of a priest to go interfering in my business. You can get going, you shouldn't hang around here. By God, I'll cut off his testicles. By God, he won't have any left when I'm through with him.

Exit SIMPLE

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Alas, he speaks but for his friend.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Oh dear, he was only speaking on behalf of his friend.

DOCTOR CAIUS

It is no matter-a ver dat: do not you tell-a me dat I shall have Anne Page for myself? By gar, I vill kill de Jack priest; and I have appointed mine host of de Jarteer to measure our weapon. By gar, I will myself have Anne Page.

DOCTOR CAIUS

That doesn't matter. Didn't you tell me that I would have Anne Page for myself? By God, I'll kill that scoundrel of a priest, and I've asked the host of the Garter to be the referee for our fight. By God, I'm going to have Anne Page myself.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. Wemust give folks leave to prate: what, the goodyear!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Sir, the woman loves you, and everything will turn out fine. We have to let people say foolish things. What the devil!

DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, come to the court with me. By gar, if I have not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my door. Follow my heels, Rugby.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, come to the court with me. By God, if I don't get Anne Page, I will fire you. Follow me, Rugby.

Exeunt DOCTOR CAIUS and RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

You shall have An fool's-head of your own. No, I know Anne's mind for that: never a woman in Windsor knows more of Anne's mind than I do; nor can do more than I do with her, I thank heaven.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

You'll only make a fool out of yourself. No, I know how Anne feels, in spite of what Doctor Caius says. No woman in Windsor knows Anne better than I do, and no one is more able to persuade her than I am, thank goodness. 

FENTON

[Within] Who's within there? ho!

FENTON

[Offstage] Who's in there? Hey!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Who's there, I trow! Come near the house, I pray you.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Who's there, I wonder! Come near the house, please.

Enter FENTON

FENTON

How now, good woman? how dost thou?

FENTON

How are you, good woman? How are you doing? 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

The better that it pleases your good worship to ask.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I'm doing better since you asked me how I'm doing, you good gentleman! 

FENTON

What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?

FENTON

What's the news? How is pretty Mistress Anne doing? 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, andgentle; and one that is your friend, I can tell youthat by the way; I praise heaven for it.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

To tell you the truth, sir, she is pretty, and faithful, and has good manners, and she likes you, I can tell you that, by the way. I thank God for that.

FENTON

Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? shall I not lose mysuit?

FENTON

Do you think I'll make any progress in persuading her to marry me? Will she reject me? 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Troth, sir, all is in his hands above: but notwithstanding, Master Fenton, I'll be sworn on a book, she loves you. Have not your worship a wart above your eye?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

To tell you the truth, sir, everything is in God's control. But if we put that aside, Master Fenton, I'd swear on the Bible that she loves you. Don't you have a wart above your eye? 

FENTON

Yes, marry, have I; what of that?

FENTON

Yes, in fact, I do—what about it?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, thereby hangs a tale: good faith, it is such another Nan; but, I detest, an honest maid as ever broke bread: we had an hour's talk of that wart. I shall never laugh but in that maid's company! But indeed she is given too much to allicholy and musing: but for you—well, go to.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, that's that, then: Anne is such an extraordinary person. But, I detest, she's the most faithful woman that ever lived. We talked for an hour about your wart. I never laugh except when I'm with that girl! But to tell you the truth, she's a little too much in habit of being sad and brooding about things, but when it comes to you—well, get going now. 

FENTON

Well, I shall see her to-day. Hold, there's money for thee; let me have thy voice in my behalf: if thou seest her before me, commend me.

FENTON

Well, I'll see her today. Hang on, here's some money for you. Please take my side and say good things about me to her. If you see her before I do, say something nice about me.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Will I? i'faith, that we will; and I will tell your worship more of the wart the next time we have confidence; and of other wooers.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Will I? Yes, I will, and I'll tell you more about the wart the next time we meet in private, and also about the other men who want to marry her.

FENTON

Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.

FENTON

Well, goodbye. I'm really in a rush now.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Farewell to your worship.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Goodbye, good gentleman.

Exit FENTON

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Truly, an honest gentleman: but Anne loves him not;for I know Anne's mind as well as another does. Outupon't! what have I forgot?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

He really is a good man, but Anne doesn't love him. I know how Anne feels as well as anyone else does. Oh dear! what did I forget?

Exit

The merry wives of windsor
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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.