A highway near Gadshill.
(Prince Henry; Peto; Bardolph; Poins; Falstaff; Gadshill; Travelers; Thieves)
The rogues prepare for the robbery. Falstaff is not overly happy at how things are going. The theft goes off, but the Prince and Poins’s plan does as well: they disguise themselves and attack Falstaff and the others when they return with the loot. After a blow or two, Falstaff runs off in terror. (54 lines)
Enter Prince, Peto, and Bardolph, with Poins following just behind.
Come, shelter, shelter! I have remov’d Falstaff’s horse, and he frets like a gumm’d velvet.
Poins! Poins, and be hang’d! Poins!
Peace, ye fat-kidney’d rascal! What a brawling dost thou keep!
Where’s Poins, Hal?
He is walk’d up to the top of the hill, I’ll go seek him.
I am accurs’d to rob in that thieve’s company. The rascal hath remov’d my horse, and tied him I know not where. If I travel but four foot by the squier further afoot, I shall break my wind. Well, I doubt not but to die a fair death for all this, if I scape hanging for killing that rogue. I have forsworn his company hourly any time this two and twenty years, and yet I am bewitch’d with the rogue’s company. If the rascal have not given me medicines to make me love him, I’ll be hang’d. It could not be else, I have drunk medicines. Poins! Hal! A plague upon you both! Bardolph! Peto! I’ll starve ere I’ll rob a foot further. And ’twere not as good a deed as drink to turn true man and to leave these rogues, I am the veriest varlet that ever chew’d with a tooth. Eight yards of uneven ground is threescore and ten miles afoot with me, and the stony-hearted villains know it well enough. A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!
Whew! A plague upon you all! Give me my horse, you rogues, give me my horse, and be hang’d!
Peace, ye fat-guts, lie down. Lay thine ear close to the ground, and list if thou canst hear the tread of travelers.
Have you any levers to lift me up again, being down? ’Sblood, I’ll not bear my own flesh so far afoot again for all the coin in thy father’s exchequer. What a plague mean ye to colt me thus?
Thou liest, thou art not colted, thou art uncolted.
I prithee, good prince—Hal!—help me to my horse, good king’s son.
Out, ye rogue! Shall I be your ostler?
Hang thyself in thine own heir-apparent garters! If I be ta’en, I’ll peach for this. And I have not ballads made on you all and sung to filthy tunes, let a cup of sack be my poison. When a jest is so forward, and afoot too! I hate it.
So I do, against my will.
Coming forward with Bardolph and Peto.
O, ’tis our setter, I know his voice.
Case ye, case ye, on with your vizards. There’s money of the King’s coming down the hill, ’tis going to the King’s exchequer.
You lie, ye rogue, ’tis going to the King’s tavern.
There’s enough to make us all.
To be hang’d.
Sirs, you four shall front them in the narrow lane; Ned Poins and I will walk lower. If they scape from your encounter, then they light on us.
How many be there of them?
Some eight or ten.
’Zounds, will they not rob us?
What, a coward, Sir John Paunch?
Indeed I am not John of Gaunt, your grandfather, but yet no coward, Hal.
Well, we leave that to the proof.
Sirrah Jack, thy horse stands behind the hedge; when thou need’st him, there thou shalt find him. Farewell, and stand fast.
Now cannot I strike him, if I should be hang’d.
Ned, where are our disguises?
Here, hard by. Stand close.
Exeunt Prince and Poins.
Now, my masters, happy man be his dole, say I, every man to his business.
Enter the Travelers.
Come, neighbor, the boy shall lead our horses down the hill. We’ll walk afoot a while, and ease our legs.
Jesus bless us!
Strike! Down with them! Cut the villains’ throats! Ah, whoreson caterpillars! Bacon-fed knaves! They hate us youth. Down with them! Fleece them!
O, we are undone, both we and ours forever!
Hang ye, gorbellied knaves, are ye undone? No, ye fat chuffs, I would your store were here! On, bacons, on! What, ye knaves, young men must live! You are grandjurors, are ye? We’ll jure ye, faith.
Here they rob them and bind them.
Enter the Prince and Poins in buckram.
The thieves have bound the true men. Now could thou and I rob the thieves and go merrily to London, it would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest forever.
Stand close, I hear them coming.
Come, my masters, let us share, and then to horse before day. And the Prince and Poins be not two arrant cowards, there’s no equity stirring.
There’s no more valor in that Poins than in a wild duck.
As they are sharing, the Prince and Poins set upon them; they all run away, and Falstaff, after a blow or two, runs away too, leaving the booty behind them.
Got with much ease. Now merrily to horse.
The thieves are all scattered, and possess’d with fear
So strongly that they dare not meet each other;
Each takes his fellow for an officer.
Away, good Ned. Falstaff sweats to death,
And lards the lean earth as he walks along.
Were’t not for laughing, I should pity him.
How the fat rogue roar’d!