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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene III.

The Life of King Henry the Fifth

London.Before a Tavern in Eastcheap.

Enter PISTOL, Hostess, NYM, BARDOLPH, and Boy.

Host.Prithee, honey-sweet husband, let me bring thee to Staines.

Pist.No; for my manly heart doth yearn.

Bardolph, be blithe; Nym, rouse thy vaunting veins;

Boy, bristle thy courage up; for Falstaff he is dead,

And we must yearn therefore.

Bard.Would I were with him, wheresome’er he is, either in heaven or in hell!

Host.Nay, sure, he’s not in hell: he’s in Arthur’s bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bosom. A’ made a finer end and went away an it had been any christom child; a’ parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o’ the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with flowers and smile upon his fingers’ ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a’ babbled of green fields. ‘How now, Sir John!’ quoth I: ‘what man! be of good cheer.’ So a’ cried out ‘God, God, God!’ three or four times: now I, to comfort him, bid him a’ should not think of God, I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet. So a’ bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my hand into the bed and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone; then I felt to his knees, and so upward, and upward, and all was as cold as any stone.

Nym.They say he cried out of sack.

Host.Ay, that a’ did.

Bard.And of women.

Host.Nay, that a’ did not.

Boy.Yes, that a’ did; and said they were devils incarnate.

Host.A’ could never abide carnation; ’twas a colour he never liked.

Boy.A’ said once, the devil would have him about women.

Host.A’ did in some sort, indeed, handle women; but then he was rheumatic, and talked of the whore of Babylon.

Boy.Do you not remember a’ saw a flea stick upon Bardolph’s nose, and a’ said it was a black soul burning in hell-fire?

Bard.Well, the fuel is gone that maintained that fire: that’s all the riches I got in his service.

Nym.Shall we shog? the king will be gone from Southampton.

Pist.Come, let’s away. My love, give me thy lips.

Look to my chattels and my moveables:

Let senses rule, the word is, ‘Pitch and pay;’

Trust none;

For oaths are straws, men’s faiths are wafercakes,

And hold-fast is the only dog, my duck:

Therefore, caveto be thy counsellor.

Go, clear thy crystals. Yoke-fellows in arms,

Let us to France; like horse-leeches, my boys,

To suck, to suck, the very blood to suck!

Boy.And that’s but unwholesome food, they say.

Pist.Touch her soft mouth, and march.

Bard.Farewell, hostess.[Kissing her.

Nym.I cannot kiss, that is the humour of it; but, adieu.

Pist.Let housewifery appear: keep close, I thee command.

Host.Farewell; adieu.[Exeunt.