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The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 3, Scene 3

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Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE

MISTRESS FORD

What, John! What, Robert!

MISTRESS FORD

Hey there, John! Hey there, Robert!

MISTRESS PAGE

Quickly, quickly! is the buck-basket—

MISTRESS PAGE

Quickly, quickly! Is the laundry-basket—

MISTRESS FORD

I warrant. What, Robert, I say!

MISTRESS FORD

I'm sure it is. Hey there, Robert, I'm calling you!

Enter Servants with a basket

MISTRESS PAGE

Come, come, come.

MISTRESS PAGE

Come, come, come.

MISTRESS FORD

Here, set it down.

MISTRESS FORD

Here, put it down.

MISTRESS PAGE

Give your men the charge; we must be brief.

MISTRESS PAGE

Tell the servants what they're supposed to do. We have to act quickly.

MISTRESS FORD

Marry, as I told you before, John and Robert, be ready here hard by in the brew-house: and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and without any pause or staggering take this basket on your shoulders: that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it among the whitsters in Datchet-mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames side.

MISTRESS FORD

[To the servants] Well, like I told you before, John and Robert, be ready right over here in the brew-house, and when I call you, come out right away, and without pausing or tripping, lift this basket up on your shoulders. When you've done that, go as quickly as you can, and carry it to the launderers in Datchet-mead, and when you get there, empty it into the muddy ditch near the bank of the Thames River.

MISTRESS PAGE

You will do it?

MISTRESS PAGE

You'll do that?

MISTRESS FORD

I ha' told them over and over; they lack nodirection. Be gone, and come when you are called.

MISTRESS FORD

I've told them over and over, they know what to do. Get going, and come when you're called.

Exeunt Servants

MISTRESS PAGE

Here comes little Robin.

MISTRESS PAGE

Here comes young Robin.

Enter ROBIN

MISTRESS FORD

How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?

MISTRESS FORD

Hello to our lookout! What's the news?

ROBIN

My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door,Mistress Ford, and requests your company.

ROBIN

My master, Sir John, is at your back door, Mistress Ford, and he wants to see you. 

MISTRESS PAGE

You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?

MISTRESS PAGE

You little puppet, have you been loyal to us?

ROBIN

Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your being here and hath threatened to put me into everlasting liberty if I tell you of it; for he swears he'll turn me away.

ROBIN

Yes, I promise. My master doesn't know that you're here and he threatened to put me out of work forever if I tell you that he's visiting here, because he swears he'll fire me. 

MISTRESS PAGE

Thou'rt a good boy: this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to thee and shall make thee a new doublet and hose. I'll go hide me.

MISTRESS PAGE

You're a good boy. If you keep our secrets, you'll get a new set of clothes. I'll go hide.

MISTRESS FORD

Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.

MISTRESS FORD

Do that.

[To ROBIN]
Go tell your master that I'm alone.

Exit ROBIN

MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page, remember you your cue.

MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page, remember when you're supposed to come in.

MISTRESS PAGE

I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.

MISTRESS PAGE

I promise you. If I don't do it properly, scold me.

Exit

MISTRESS FORD

Go to, then: we'll use this unwholesome humidity,this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to knowturtles from jays.

MISTRESS FORD

Get going. We'll trick this disgusting bag of fluid, this swollen watery pumpkin. We'll teach him that we are faithful wives, not flirts. 

Enter FALSTAFF

FALSTAFF

Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough: this is the period of my ambition: O this blessed hour!

FALSTAFF

Do I finally have you, my divine beauty? Well, let me die now, because I have lived long enough. I couldn't want anything more than this. O what a blessed moment!

MISTRESS FORD

O sweet Sir John!

MISTRESS FORD

Oh, sweet Sir John!

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate, Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would thy husband were dead: I'll speak it before the best lord; I would make thee my lady.

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, I can't lie, I can't talk idly, Mistress Ford. Now I wish something terrible—I wish your husband were dead. I'll say it in front of anyone: I would make you my lady.

MISTRESS FORD

I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady!

MISTRESS FORD

Your lady, Sir John! Oh dear, I would be a pathetic lady.

FALSTAFF

Let the court of France show me such another. I see how thine eye would emulate the diamond: thou hast the right arched beauty of the brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.

FALSTAFF

I bet there wouldn't be another lady in the whole court of France like you. I see how your eyes would look like diamonds. You have beautifully arched eyebrows that would look lovely with any kind of Venetian head dress.

MISTRESS FORD

A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothingelse; nor that well neither.

MISTRESS FORD

A plain handkerchief, Sir John, that's the only thing that would look good with my eyebrows, and it wouldn't even look that good. 

FALSTAFF

By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou wouldst make an absolute courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend. Come, thou canst not hide it.

FALSTAFF

By God, you're very unfair to yourself to say that. You would make a perfect courtier, and the steady way you place your feet means you would walk very well in a hoop-skirt. I see what you would look like if you hadn't had bad luck, given your natural beauty. Come on, you can't deny it.

MISTRESS FORD

Believe me, there is no such thing in me.

MISTRESS FORD

Believe me, I don't have any qualities like that. 

FALSTAFF

What made me love thee? let that persuade thee there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog and say thou art this and that, like a many of these lisping hawthorn-buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury in simple time; I cannot: but I love thee; none but thee; and thou deservest it.

FALSTAFF

What made me love you? My love should convince you that you have some extraordinary qualities. Come on, I can't lie and say you are this and that, like so many of these tongue-tied perfumed young men that look like women in men's clothing, and smell like the flower shops of London in the summer. I can't, but I love you. No one but you, and you deserve it. 

MISTRESS FORD

Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love Mistress Page.

MISTRESS FORD

Don't lie to me, sir. I'm afraid that you love Mistress Page.

FALSTAFF

Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by theCounter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reekof a lime-kiln.

FALSTAFF

You might as well say that I love walking by the gate of the debtors' prison, which smells as terrible as the smoke from a lime-furnace.

MISTRESS FORD

Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall oneday find it.

MISTRESS FORD

Well, God knows how much I love you, and one day you'll find out. 

FALSTAFF

Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.

FALSTAFF

Remember that. I'll deserve it. 

MISTRESS FORD

Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could notbe in that mind.

MISTRESS FORD

No, I tell you, you do deserve it, or else I couldn't feel the way I do. 

ROBIN

[Within] Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! here'sMistress Page at the door, sweating and blowing andlooking wildly, and would needs speak with you presently.

ROBIN

[Offstage] Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! Mistress Page is at the door, sweating and puffing and looking alarmed, and she wants to speak with you right away.

FALSTAFF

She shall not see me: I will ensconce me behind the arras.

FALSTAFF

She won't see me. I'll hide behind the curtain.

MISTRESS FORD

Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman.

MISTRESS FORD

Please, do that. She's very likely to gossip.

FALSTAFF hides himself

Re-enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN

MISTRESS FORD

What's the matter? how now!

MISTRESS FORD

What's the matter? What's going on?

MISTRESS PAGE

O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed,you're overthrown, you're undone for ever!

MISTRESS PAGE

Oh, Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're disgraced, you're defeated, you're ruined forever! 

MISTRESS FORD

What's the matter, good Mistress Page?

MISTRESS FORD

What's the matter, good Mistress Page? 

MISTRESS PAGE

O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest manto your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion!

MISTRESS PAGE

It's awful, Mistress Ford! That you have an honest man for a husband and give him reason to distrust you!

MISTRESS FORD

What cause of suspicion?

MISTRESS FORD

What reason to distrust me?

MISTRESS PAGE

What cause of suspicion! Out pon you! how am Imistook in you!

MISTRESS PAGE

What reason to distrust you? Shame on you! I was so wrong about you! 

MISTRESS FORD

Why, alas, what's the matter?

MISTRESS FORD

Why, oh dear, what's the matter? 

MISTRESS PAGE

Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman that he says is here now in the house by your consent, to take an ill advantage of his assence: you are undone.

MISTRESS PAGE

Your husband's coming here, woman, with all the officers in Windsor, to look for a man that he says you let into the house so you could take advantage of your husband's absence. You're ruined.

MISTRESS FORD

'Tis not so, I hope.

MISTRESS FORD

I hope that isn't true.

MISTRESS PAGE

Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man here! but 'tis most certain your husband's coming, with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a one. I come before to tell you. If you know yourself clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you have a friend here convey, convey him out. Be not amazed; call all your senses to you; defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.

MISTRESS PAGE

I hope it isn't true that you do actually have a man here! But it's definitely true that your husband is coming to look for a man here, and he has half the town following him. I came ahead to warn you. If you know that you're innocent, well, that's good, but if you have a lover here, get him out, get him out. Don't be bewildered. Pull yourself together, defend your reputation, or you'll never be respectable again. 

MISTRESS FORD

What shall I do? There is a gentleman my dear friend; and I fear not mine own shame so much as his peril: I had rather than a thousand pound he were out of the house.

MISTRESS FORD

What will I do? There is a man here, my lover, and I'm not so much afraid of being disgraced myself as I'm afraid that he'll be in danger. I would give a thousand pounds to get him out of the house.

MISTRESS PAGE

For shame! never stand 'you had rather' and 'you had rather:' your husband's here at hand, bethink you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot hide him. O, how have you deceived me! Look, here is a basket: if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or—it is whiting-time —send him by your two men to Datchet-mead.

MISTRESS PAGE

Shame on you! Don't waste time thinking about what "you would give." Your husband's close by, think of some way to get your lover out of the house. You can't hide him in the house. Oh, how you have lied to me! Look, here's a basket. If he's not too big, your lover can hide in there, and you can throw dirty clothes on him, as if the basket were going out to the laundry. Or—since it's bleaching time—have two of your servants take the basket to Datchet-mead.

MISTRESS FORD

He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?

MISTRESS FORD

He's too big to fit in there. What will I do? 

FALSTAFF

[Coming forward] Let me see't, let me see't, O, letme see't! I'll in, I'll in. Follow your friend'scounsel. I'll in.

FALSTAFF

[Coming out from behind the curtain] Let me see it, let me see it, O, let me see it! I'll get in, I'll get in. Take your friend's advice. I'll get in. 

MISTRESS PAGE

What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?

MISTRESS PAGE

What, Sir John Falstaff? Did you send me those love letters, knight? 

FALSTAFF

I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here.I'll never—

FALSTAFF

[To MISTRESS PAGE so that only she can hear] I love you. Help me get away. Let me get in the basket. I'll never—

Gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen

MISTRESS PAGE

Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men,Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!

MISTRESS PAGE

[To ROBIN] Help to cover up your master, boy.

[To MISTRESS FORD]
Call your servants, Mistress Ford. You lying knight! 

MISTRESS FORD

What, John! Robert! John!

MISTRESS FORD

Hey, John! Robert! John!

Exit ROBIN

Re-enter Servants

MISTRESS FORD

Go take up these clothes here quickly. Where's the cowl-staff? look, how you drumble! Carry them to the laundress in Datchet-meat; quickly, come.

MISTRESS FORD

Take these clothes out of here quickly. Where's the basket pole? Look how you're dawdling! Carry these clothes to the launderers in Datchet-mead, quickly, go.

Enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR 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?

FORD

Please, come with me. If it turns out that I have no reason to suspect my wife of infidelity, then you can make fun of me, then you can make a joke out of me—I'll deserve it. What's going on? Where are you taking this basket? 

SERVANT

To the laundress, forsooth.

SERVANT

To the launderers. 

MISTRESS FORD

Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? Youwere best meddle with buck-washing.

MISTRESS FORD

Why, what do you care where they're taking it? Yes, I bet you're really concerned about the buck-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.

FORD

Buck! I wish I could wash away the suspicion that I am a buck! Buck, buck, buck! Yes, buck, I bet, buck, and I bet there are bucks present right now, as you'll see.

Exeunt Servants with the basket

FORD

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.

FORD

Gentleman, I had a dream last night. I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here are my keys. Go up the stairs to my rooms, search, look. I bet we'll find something hiding there. Let me lock this door first. 

Locking the door

FORD

So, now uncape.

FORD

So, get him out of his hiding place now. 

PAGE

Good Master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself too much.

PAGE

Good Master Ford, restrain yourself. You're making yourself look ridiculous. 

FORD

True, Master Page. Up, gentlemen: you shall seesport anon: follow me, gentlemen.

FORD

True, Master Page. Go upstairs, gentlemen. You'll something entertaining soon. Follow me, gentlemen.

Exit

SIR HUGH EVANS

This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.

SIR HUGH EVANS

He's full of wild fantasies and jealousy. 

DOCTOR CAIUS

By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is notjealous in France.

DOCTOR CAIUS

By God, this isn't how things are done in France. People don't get jealous like this in France. 

PAGE

Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search.

PAGE

No, follow him, gentlemen. Let's see how this search turns out. 

Exeunt PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS

MISTRESS PAGE

Is there not a double excellency in this?

MISTRESS PAGE

Hasn't our plot gotten two excellent results? 

MISTRESS FORD

I know not which pleases me better, that my husbandis deceived, or Sir John.

MISTRESS FORD

I don't know what makes me happier, tricking my husband or tricking Sir John.

MISTRESS PAGE

What a taking was he in when your husband asked whowas in the basket!

MISTRESS PAGE

He was in such a panic when your husband asked who was in the basket! 

MISTRESS FORD

I am half afraid he will have need of washing; sothrowing him into the water will do him a benefit.

MISTRESS FORD

I'm half afraid he might need a wash, so throwing him into the water will do him some good.

MISTRESS PAGE

Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the samestrain were in the same distress.

MISTRESS PAGE

To hell with him, dishonest scoundrel! I wish all men like him had the same trick played on them. 

MISTRESS FORD

I think my husband hath some special suspicion ofFalstaff's being here; for I never saw him so grossin his jealousy till now.

MISTRESS FORD

I think my husband had some particular reason for suspecting that Falstaff was here, because I've never seen him get so wildly jealous before.

MISTRESS 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.

MISTRESS PAGE

I'll come up with a plan to find that out, and we'll play more tricks on Falstaff. He is so depraved that this one trick won't cure him. 

MISTRESS 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?

MISTRESS FORD

How about we send that foolish rotten woman, Mistress Quickly, to him, to give him an excuse for throwing him into the water, and then lead him on by setting up another meeting, so we can betray him with another punishment? 

MISTRESS PAGE

We will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow,eight o'clock, to have amends.

MISTRESS PAGE

Let's do it. Let's tell him that we want him to come over tomorrow at eight o'clock so we can make things up to him. 

Re-enter FORD, PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS

FORD

I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of thathe could not compass.

FORD

I can't find him. Maybe that scoundrel bragged about doing something he couldn't actually accomplish. 

MISTRESS PAGE

[Aside to MISTRESS FORD] Heard you that?

MISTRESS PAGE

[To MISTRESS FORD so that only she can hear] Did you hear that?

MISTRESS FORD

You use me well, Master Ford, do you?

MISTRESS FORD

You treat me well, Master Ford, do you?

FORD

Ay, I do so.

FORD

Yes, I do.

MISTRESS FORD

Heaven make you better than your thoughts!

MISTRESS FORD

I hope your behavior to me will be better than your suspicious thoughts about me!

FORD

Amen!

FORD

Yes! 

MISTRESS PAGE

You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.

MISTRESS PAGE

You're tormenting yourself needlessly, Master Ford.

FORD

Ay, ay; I must bear it.

FORD

Yes, yes, I have to deal with it. 

SIR HUGH EVANS

If there be any pody in the house, and in thechambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses,heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment!

SIR HUGH EVANS

If there's anyone in the house, or the rooms, or the strong boxes, or the cupboards, God forgive my sins on Judgment Day! 

DOCTOR CAIUS

By gar, nor I too: there is no bodies.

DOCTOR CAIUS

By God, I don't think there is. There's nobody there. 

PAGE

Fie, fie, Master Ford! are you not ashamed? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not ha' your distemper in this kind for the wealth of Windsor Castle.

PAGE

Come, come, Master Ford! Aren't you ashamed? What impulse, what devil created this fantasy in your mind? I wouldn't have your deranged temper for all the money in Windsor Castle.

FORD

'Tis my fault, Master Page: I suffer for it.

FORD

It's my own fault, Master Page. I suffer because of it. 

SIR HUGH EVANS

You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is ashonest a 'omans as I will desires among fivethousand, and five hundred too.

SIR HUGH EVANS

You suffer from a sense of guilt. Your wife is as honest as any woman you could find among five thousand women, and even five hundred.

DOCTOR CAIUS

By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.

DOCTOR CAIUS

By God, I see she's 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.

FORD

Well, I promised to give you dinner. Come, come, walk in the Park. Please, pardon my behavior. I'll tell you later why I did this. Come on, wife, come on, Mistress Page. Please, pardon me. I'm pleading with you, 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?

PAGE

Let's go inside, gentlemen. 

[T
o DOCTOR CAIUS and SIR HUGH EVANS] But, trust me, we'll make fun of him. 

[To everyone] I invite you to my house tomorrow morning for breakfast: afterwards, we'll hunt birds together; I have a fine hawk for driving birds into the bush. Shall we do that?

FORD

Any thing.

FORD

Whatever you want.

SIR HUGH EVANS

If there is one, I shall make two in the company.

SIR HUGH EVANS

If one person's going, I'll go too.

DOCTOR CAIUS

If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.

DOCTOR CAIUS

If one or two people are going, I'll be the third.

FORD

Pray you, go, Master Page.

FORD

Please, let's go, Master Page.

SIR HUGH EVANS

I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousyknave, mine host.

SIR HUGH EVANS

[To DOCTOR CAIUS] Please, remember our plan tomorrow to deal with that lousy scoundrel, the host of the Garter Inn.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!

DOCTOR CAIUS

That's a good idea, by God, with all my heart! 

SIR HUGH EVANS

A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries!

SIR HUGH EVANS

That lousy scoundrel, to turn us into jokes and mock us! 

Exeunt

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.