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

Act II. Scene II.

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth

The Road by Gadshill.

Enter the PRINCE and POINS.

Poins.Come, shelter, shelter: I have removed Falstaff’s horse, and he frets like a gummed velvet.

Prince.Stand close.


Fal.Poins! Poins, and be hanged! Poins!

Prince.Peace, ye fat-kidneyed rascal! What a brawling dost thou keep!

Fal.Where’s Poins, Hal?

Prince.He is walked up to the top of the hill: I’ll go seek him.[Pretends to seek POINS, and retires.

Fal.I am accursed to rob in that thief’s company; the rascal hath removed my horse and tied him I know not where. If I travel but four foot by the squire further afoot I shall break my wind. Well, I doubt not but to die a fair death for all this, if I ’scape hanging for killing that rogue. I have forsworn his company hourly any time this two-and-twenty years, and yet I am bewitched with the rogue’s company. If the rascal have not given me medicines to make me love him, I’ll be hanged: it could not be else: I have drunk medicines. Poins! Hal! a plague upon you both! Bardolph! Peto! I’ll starve ere I’ll rob a foot further. An ’twere not as good a deed as drink to turn true man and leave these rogues, I am the veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth. Eight yards of uneven ground is threescore and ten miles afoot with me, and the stony-hearted villains know it well enough. A plague upon ’t when thieves cannot be true one to another![They whistle]Whew! A plague upon you all! Give me my horse, you rogues; give me my horse and be hanged.

Prince.[Coming forward.]Peace, ye fatguts! lie down: lay thine ear close to the ground, and list if thou canst hear the tread of travellers.

Fal.Have you any levers to lift me up again, being down? ’Sblood! I’ll not bear mine own flesh so far afoot again for all the coin in thy father’s exchequer. What a plague mean ye to colt me thus?

Prince.Thou liest: thou art not colted; thou art uncolted.

Fal.I prithee, good Prince Hal, help me to my horse, good king’s son.

Prince.Out, you rogue! shall I be your ostler?

Fal.Go, hang thyself in thine own heir apparent garters! If I be ta’en I’ll peach for this. An I have not ballads made on you all, and sung to filthy tunes, let a cup of sack be my poison: when a jest is so forward, and afoot too! I hate it.



Fal.So I do, against my will.

Poins.O! ’tis our setter: I know his voice.


Bard.What news?

Gads.Case ye, case ye; on with your vizards: there’s money of the king’s coming down the hill; ’tis going to the king’s exchequer.

Fal.You lie, you rogue; ’tis going to the king’s tavern.

Gads.There’s enough to make us all.

Fal.To be hanged.

Prince.Sirs, you four shall front them in the narrow lane; Ned Poins and I will walk lower: if they ’scape from your encounter then they light on us.

Peto.How many be there of them?

Gads.Some eight or ten.

Fal.’Zounds! will they not rob us?

Prince.What! a coward, Sir John Paunch?

Fal.Indeed, I am not John of Gaunt, your grandfather; but yet no coward, Hal.

Prince.Well, we leave that to the proof.

Poins.Sirrah Jack, thy horse stands behind the hedge: when thou needst him there thou shalt find him. Farewell, and stand fast.

Fal.Now cannot I strike him if I should be hanged.

Prince.[Aside to POINS.]Ned, where are our disguises?

Poins.Here, hard by; stand close.[Exeunt PRINCE and POINS.

Fal.Now my masters, happy man be his dole, say I: every man to his business.

Enter Travellers.

First Trav.Come, neighbour; the boy shall lead our horses down the hill; we’ll walk afoot awhile, and ease our legs.


Travellers.Jesu bless us!

Fal.Strike; down with them; cut the villains’ throats: ah! whoreson caterpillars! bacon-fed knaves! they hate us youth: down with them; fleece them.

Travellers.O! we are undone, both we and ours for ever.

Fal.Hang ye, gorbellied knaves, are ye undone? No, ye fat chuffs; I would your store were here! On, bacons, on! What! ye knaves, young men must live. You are grand-jurors are ye? We’ll jure ye, i’ faith.[Here they rob and bind them.Exeunt.

Re-enter the PRINCE and POINS.

Prince.The thieves have bound the true men. Now could thou and I rob the thieves and go merrily to London, it would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest for ever.

Poins.Stand close; I hear them coming.

Re-enter Thieves.

Fal.Come, my masters; let us share, and then to horse before day. An the Prince and Poins be not two arrant cowards, there’s no equity stirring: there’s no more valour in that Poins than in a wild duck.

Prince.Your money!

Poins.Villains![As they are sharing, the PRINCE and POINS set upon them.They all run away; and FALSTAFF, after a blow or two, runs away too, leaving the booty behind.

PrinceGot with much ease. Now merrily to horse:

The thieves are scatter’d and possess’d with fear

So strongly that they dare not meet each other;

Each takes his fellow for an officer.

Away, good Ned. Falstaff sweats to death

And lards the lean earth as he walks along:

Were ’t not for laughing I should pity him.

Poins.How the rogue roar’d![Exeunt.