SCENE II. A public road near Coventry.
Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH
Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a
bottle of sack: our soldiers shall march through;
we’ll to Sutton Co’fil’ tonight.
An if it do, take it for thy labour; and if it make
twenty, take them all; I’ll answer the coinage. Bid
my lieutenant Peto meet me at town’s end.
If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused
gurnet. I have misused the king’s press damnably.
I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty
soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me
none but good house-holders, yeoman’s sons; inquire
me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked
twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves,
as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as
fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck
fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I pressed me none but such
toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no
bigger than pins’ heads, and they have bought out
their services; and now my whole charge consists of
ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of
companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
painted cloth, where the glutton’s dogs licked his
sores; and such as indeed were never soldiers, but
discarded unjust serving-men, younger sons to
younger brothers, revolted tapsters and ostlers
trade-fallen, the cankers of a calm world and a
long peace, ten times more dishonourable ragged than
an old faced ancient: and such have I, to fill up
the rooms of them that have bought out their
services, that you would think that I had a hundred
and fifty tattered prodigals lately come from
swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad
fellow met me on the way and told me I had unloaded
all the gibbets and pressed the dead bodies. No eye
hath seen such scarecrows. I’ll not march through
Coventry with them, that’s flat: nay, and the
villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had
gyves on; for indeed I had the most of them out of
prison. There’s but a shirt and a half in all my
company; and the half shirt is two napkins tacked
together and thrown over the shoulders like an
herald’s coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say
the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban’s, or
the red-nose innkeeper of Daventry. But that’s all
one; they’ll find linen enough on every hedge.
Enter the PRINCE and WESTMORELAND
What, Hal! how now, mad wag! what a devil dost thou
in Warwickshire? My good Lord of Westmoreland, I
cry you mercy: I thought your honour had already been
Faith, Sir John,’tis more than time that I were
there, and you too; but my powers are there already.
The king, I can tell you, looks for us all: we must
away all night.
I think, to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath
already made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose
fellows are these that come after?
Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food
for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better:
tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.
‘Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had
that; and for their bareness, I am sure they never
learned that of me.
No I’ll be sworn; unless you call three fingers on
the ribs bare. But, sirrah, make haste: Percy is
already in the field.