Now, Master Brook, you come to know what hath pass’d between me and Ford’s wife?
Master Brook, I will not lie to you. I was at her house the hour she appointed me, but the peaking cornuto her husband, Master Brook, dwelling in a continual ’larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our encounter, after we had embrac’d, kiss’d, protested, and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither provok’d and instigated by his distemper, and, forsooth, to search his house for his wive’s love. As good luck would have it, comes in one Mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford’s approach; and in her invention, and Ford’s wive’s distraction, they convey’d me into a buck-basket. By the Lord, a buck-basket! Ramm’d me in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy napkins, that, Master Brook, there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril. You shall hear, Master Brook, what I have suffer’d to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being thus cramm’d in the basket, a couple of Ford’s knaves, his hinds, were call’d forth by their mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchet-lane. They took me on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their master in the door, who ask’d them once or twice what they had in their basket. I quak’d for fear, lest the lunatic knave would have search’d it; but fate (ordaining he should be a cuckold) held his hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But mark the sequel, Master Brook. I suffer’d the pangs of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected with a jealious rotten bell-wether; next, to be compass’d like a good bilbo in the circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and then to be stopp’d in like a strong distillation with stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease. Think of that—a man of my kidney. Think of that—that am as subject to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution and thaw. It was a miracle to scape suffocation. And in the height of this bath (when I was more than half stew’d in grease, like a Dutch dish) to be thrown into the Thames, and cool’d, glowing-hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of that—hissing-hot—think of that, Master Brook.