If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment or so, I could be
What? thou liest. Sir Alice Ford! These knights will hack; and so
thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.
Mrs. Ford. We burn daylight: here, read, read; perceive how I might be knighted. I shall think the worse of fat men as long as I have an eye to make difference of men’s liking: and yet he would not swear; praised women’s modesty; and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness that I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of ‘Greensleeves.’ What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I think the best way were to entertain him with hope, till the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever hear the like?
Mrs. Page. Letter for letter, but that the name of Page and Ford differs. To thy great comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here’s the twin-brother of thy letter; but let thine inherit first, for, I protest, mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for different names, sure, more, and these are of the second edition. He will print them, out of doubt; for he cares not what he puts into the press, when he would put us two: I had rather be a giantess and lie under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
Why, this is the very same; the very hand, the very words. What doth
he think of us?
Mrs. Page. Nay, I know not; it makes me almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I’ll entertain myself like one that I am not acquainted withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in me that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.
‘Boarding’ call you it? I’ll be sure to keep him above deck.
Mrs. Page. So will I; if he come under my hatches, I’ll never to sea again. Let’s be revenged on him; let’s appoint him a meeting, give him a show of comfort in his suit, and lead him on with a fine-baited delay, till he hath pawned his horses to mine host of the Garter.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him that may not sully the chariness of our honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! It would give eternal food to his jealousy.
Mrs. Page. Why, look where he comes; and my good man too: he’s as far from jealousy as I am from giving him cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
You are the happier woman.