The Merry Wives of Windsor "The Short And The Long Of It"
by William Shakespeare

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"The Short And The Long Of It"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Sometimes heard as "the long and short of it" this saying means "in sum" or "briefly." In the play, Sir John Falstaff, an old, fat lecher, imagines that two merry married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have given him the "leer of invitation," as he says. He sends duplicate love-letters to them. The merry wives compare letters, enjoy a good laugh, and determine to be revenged upon him. They enlist the aid of Mistress Quickly, a professional match-maker and go-between, who conveys from each of them tokens of encouragement to Sir John. Mistress Quickly comes to Falstaff at the Garter Inn, and, after a preliminary chat designed to sharpen Sir John's impatience, she speaks of Mistress Ford.

FALSTAFFWell; Mistress Ford–what of her?MISTRESS QUICKLYWhy, sir; she's a good creature. Lord, lord,your worship's a wanton. Well–heaven forgiveyou, and all of us, I pray–FALSTAFFMistress Ford; come, Mistress Ford.MISTRESS QUICKLYMarry, this is the short and the long of it. . . .