A room in Dr. Caius’s house.
(Mistress Quickly; Simple; John Rugby; Doctor Caius; Fenton)
Simple delivers the letter to Mistress Quickly, who interrogates him to try and work out who exactly Slender is. Dr. Caius returns all of a sudden, and Mistress Quickly, knowing that the doctor will be enraged if he finds some stranger in his house, hides Simple in the closet. Alas, the doctor needs to find some herbs in the closet, and discovers Simple there, who blurts out his errand. As Dr. Caius fancies himself in love with Anne Page himself, he writes out a challenge to Hugh Evans, believing that the parson was wooing on his own behalf. Mistress Quickly reassures the doctor that he will obtain Anne’s hand, though she knows perfectly well this is unlikely. Fenton comes in to ask Mistress Quickly how his own suit to Anne is going. She assures him it goes well, and he pays her, though she does not believe Anne actually loves him. (69 lines)
Enter Mistress Quickly, Simple.
What, John Rugby!
Enter 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.
I’ll go watch.
Go, and we’ll have a posset for’t soon at night, in faith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.
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?
Ay, for fault of a better.
And Master Slender’s your master?
Does he not wear a great round beard, like a glover’s paring-knife?
No, forsooth; he hath but a little whey-face, with a little yellow beard, a Cain-color’d beard.
A softly-sprighted man, is he not?
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.
How say you? O, I should remember him. Does he not hold up his head (as it were) and strut in his gait?
Yes indeed does he.
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—
Out alas! Here comes my master.
We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man; go into this closet. He will not stay long.
Shuts Simple in the closet.
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.
And down, down, adown-a, etc.
Enter Doctor Caius.
Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you go and vetch me in my closet une boÎte en verd, a box, a green-a box. Do intend vat I speak? A green-a box.
Ay, forsooth, I’ll fetch it you.
I am glad he went not in himself; if he had found the young man, he would have been horn-mad.
Fe, fe, fe, fe! Ma foi, il fait fort chaud. O, je m’en vois à la cour—la grande affaire.
Is it this, sir?
Oui, mette le au mon pocket; dépêche, quickly. Vere is dat knave Rugby?
What, John Rugby! John!
You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby. Come, take-a your rapier, and come after my heel to the court.
’Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.
By my trot, I tarry too long. ’Od’s me! Qu’ai-je oublié? Dere is some simples in my closet, dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.
Ay me, he’ll find the young man there, and be mad!
O diable, diable! Vat is in my closet? Villainy! Laroon!
Pulling Simple out.
Rugby, my rapier!
Good master, be content.
Wherefore shall I be content-a?
The young man is an honest man.
What shall de honest man do in my closet? Dere is no honest man dat shall come in my closet.
I beseech you be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth of it: he came of an errand to me from Parson Hugh.
Ay, forsooth; to desire her to—
Peace, I pray you.
Peace-a your tongue.—Speak-a your tale.
To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to speak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for my master in the way of marriage.
This is all indeed la! But I’ll ne’er put my finger in the fire, and need not.
Sir Hugh send-a you? Rugby, baillez me some paper. Tarry you a little-a while.
Aside to Simple
I am glad he is so quiet. If he had been throughly mov’d, 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)—
Aside to Quickly
’Tis a great charge to come under one body’s hand.
Aside to Simple
Are you avis’d 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.
You jack’nape, give-a this letter to Sir Hugh. By gar, it is a shallenge. I will cut his troat in de 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.
Alas! He speaks but for his friend.
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.
Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We must give folks leave to prate; what the good-jer!
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.
Exeunt Caius and Rugby.
You shall have Anne—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.
Who’s within there, ho?
Who’s there, I trow? Come near the house, I pray you.
How now, good woman, how dost thou?
The better that it pleases your good worship to ask.
What news? How does pretty Mistress Anne?
In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and gentle, and one that is your friend; I can tell you that by the way, I praise heaven for it.
Shall I do any good, think’st thou? Shall I not lose my suit?
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?
Yes, marry, have I, what of that?
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.
Well; I shall see her today. Hold, there’s money for thee. Let me have thy voice in my behalf. If thou seest her before me, commend me.
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.
Well, farewell, I am in great haste now.
Farewell to your worship.
Truly, an honest gentleman; but Anne loves him not; for I know Anne’s mind as well as another does. Out upon’t! What have I forgot?