A room in the Garter Inn.
(Host; Simple; Falstaff; Bardolph; Evans; Caius; Mistress Quickly)
Simple comes to speak to Falstaff about a chain that Nym cheated Slender of. The Host doesn’t think Falstaff is there, since he only saw an old fat woman go up, but Falstaff emerges from his room to answer Simple’s questions. Bardolph arrives to warn the Host that the Germans have stolen the horses. The Host doesn’t want to believe him until Evans arrives to warn him about a gang of German conmen, and Caius shows up to tell him that there is no German Duke at the court. The Host rushes out to try and track the thieves down. Mistress Quickly brings Falstaff the letter asking him to go to the park that night. (47 lines)
Enter Host, Simple.
What wouldst thou have, boor? What, thick-skin? Speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.
Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff from Master Slender.
There’s his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-bed and truckle-bed; ’tis painted about with the story of the Prodigal, fresh and new. Go, knock and call; he’ll speak like an Anthropophaginian unto thee. Knock, I say.
There’s an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his chamber. I’ll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come down. I come to speak with her indeed.
Ha? A fat woman? The knight may be robb’d. I’ll call. Bully-knight! Bully Sir John! Speak from thy lungs military. Art thou there? It is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls.
How now, mine host?
Here’s a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman. Let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honorable. Fie, privacy? Fie!
There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with me, but she’s gone.
Pray you, sir, was’t not the wise woman of Brainford?
Ay, marry, was it, mussel-shell, what would you with her?
My master, sir, my Master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go thorough the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that beguil’d him of a chain, had the chain or no.
I spake with the old woman about it.
And what says she, I pray, sir?
Marry, she says that the very same man that beguil’d Master Slender of his chain cozen’d him of it.
I would I could have spoken with the woman herself. I had other things to have spoken with her too from him.
What are they? Let us know.
Ay; come; quick.
I may not conceal them, sir.
Conceal them, or thou diest.
Why, sir, they were nothing but about Mistress Anne Page, to know if it were my master’s fortune to have her or no.
’Tis, ’tis his fortune.
To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.
May I be bold to say so, sir?
Ay, sir; like who more bold?
I thank your worship. I shall make my master glad with these tidings.
Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Was there a wise woman with thee?
Ay, that there was, mine host, one that hath taught me more wit than ever I learn’d before in my life; and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning.
Out alas, sir, cozenage! Mere cozenage.
Where be my horses? Speak well of them, varletto.
Run away with the cozeners; for so soon as I came beyond Eton, they threw me off from behind one of them, in a slough of mire; and set spurs and away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.
They are gone but to meet the Duke, villain, do not say they be fled. Germans are honest men.
Where is mine host?
What is the matter, sir?
Have a care of your entertainments. There is a friend of mine come to town, tells me there is three cozen-germans that has cozen’d all the hosts of Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good will, look you. You are wise and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks, and ’tis not convenient you should be cozen’d. Fare you well.
Vere is mine host de Jarteer?
Here, Master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.
I cannot tell vat is dat; but it is tell-a me dat you make grand preparation for a duke de Jamany. By my trot, dere is no duke that the court is know to come. I tell you for good will; adieu.
Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight, I am undone! Fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone!
Exeunt Host and Bardolph.
I would all the world might be cozen’d, for I have been cozen’d and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transform’d, and how my transformation hath been wash’d and cudgell’d, they would melt me out of my fat drop by drop, and liquor fishermen’s boots with me. I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crestfall’n as a dried pear. I never prosper’d since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.
Enter Mistress Quickly.
Now? Whence come you?
From the two parties, forsooth.
The devil take one party and his dam the other! And so they shall be both bestow’d. I have suffer’d more for their sakes—more than the villainous inconstancy of man’s disposition is able to bear.
And have not they suffer’d? Yes, I warrant; speciously one of them. Mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.
What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into all the colors of the rainbow; and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of Brainford. But that my admirable dexterity of wit, my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, deliver’d me, the knave constable had set me i’ th’ stocks, i’ th’ common stocks, for a witch.
Sir—let me speak with you in your chamber. You shall hear how things go, and, I warrant, to your content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado here is to bring you together! Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so cross’d.
Come up into my chamber.