The Clandestine Marriage/Act V< The Clandestine Marriage
ACT V.SCENE I.
Enter Lovewell and Fanny—followed by Betty.
Fanny.WHY did you come ſo ſoon, Mr. Lovewell? the family is not yet in bed, and Betty certainly heard ſomebody liſtening near the chamber-door.
Betty. My miſtreſs is right, Sir! evil ſpirits are abroad; and I am ſure you are both too good, not to expect miſchief from them.
Lovew. But who can be ſo curious, or ſo wicked?
Betty. I think we have wickedneſs, and curioſity enough in this family, Sir, to expect the worſt.
Fanny. I do expect the worſt.—Prithee, Betty, return to the outward door, and liſten if you hear any body in the gallery; and let us know directly.
Betty. I warrant you, Madam—the Lord bleſs you both! [Exit.
Fanny. What did my father want with you this evening?
Lovew. He gave me the key of his cloſet, with orders to bring from London ſome papers relating to Lord Ogleby.
Fanny. And why did not you obey him?
Lovew. Becauſe I am certain that his Lordſhip has open'd his heart to him about you, and thoſe papers are wanted merely on that account—but as we ſhall diſcover all to-morrow, there will be no occaſion for them, and it would be idle in me to go.
Fanny. Hark!—hark! bleſs me, how I tremble!—I feel the terrors of guilt—indeed, Mr. Lovewell, this is too much for me.
Lovew. And for me too, my ſweet Fanny. Your apprehenſions make a coward of me.—But what can alarm you? your aunt and ſiſter are in their chambers, and you have nothing to fear from the reſt of the family.
Fanny. I fear every body, and every thing, and every moment—My mind is in continual agitation and dread;—indeed, Mr. Lovewell, this ſituation may have very unhappy conſequences. [weeps.
Lovew. But it ſhan't—I would rather tell our ſtory this moment to all the houſe, and run the riſque of maintaining you by the hardeſt labour, than ſuffer you to remain in this dangerous perplexity.—What! ſhall I ſacrifice all my beſt hopes and affections, in your dear health and ſafety, for the mean, and in ſuch a caſe, the meaneſt conſideration—of our fortune! Were we to be abandon'd by all our relations, we have that in our hearts and minds, will weigh againſt the moſt affluent circumſtances.—I ſhould not have propos'd the ſecrecy of our marriage, but for your ſake; and with hopes that the moſt generous ſacrifice you have made to love and me, might be leſs injurious to you, by waiting a lucky moment of reconciliation.
Fanny. Huſh! huſh! for heav'n ſake, my dear Lovewell, don't be ſo warm!—your generoſity gets the better of your prudence; you will be heard, and we ſhall be diſcovered.—I am ſatisfied, indeed I am.—Excuſe this weakneſs, this delicacy—this what you will.—My mind's at peace—indeed it is—think no more of it, if you love me!
Lovew. That one word has charm'd me, as it always does, to the moſt implicit obedience; it would be the worſt of ingratitude in me to diſtreſs you a moment. [kiſſes her.
Betty. [in a low voice.] I'm ſorry to diſturb you.
Fanny. Ha! what's the matter?
Lovew. Have you heard any body?
Betty. Yes, yes, I have, and they have heard you too, or I am miſtaken—if they had ſeen you too, we ſhould have been in a fine quandary.
Fanny. Prithee don't prate now, Betty!
Lovew. What did you hear?
Betty. I was preparing myſelf, as uſual, to take me a little nap.
Lovew. A nap!
Betty. Yes, Sir, a nap; for I watch much better ſo than wide awake; and when I had wrap'd this handkerchief round my head, for fear of the ear-ach, from the key-hole I thought I heard a kind of a ſort of a buzzing, which I firſt took for a gnat, and ſhook my head two or three times, and went ſo with my hand—
Fanny. Well—well—and ſo—
Betty. And ſo, Madam, when I heard Mr. Lovewell a little loud, I heard the buzzing louder too—and pulling off my handkerchief ſoftly—I could hear this fort of noiſe—[makes an indiſtinct noiſe like ſpeaking.
Fanny. Well, and what did they ſay?
Betty. Oh! I cou'd not underſtand a word of what was ſaid.
Lovew. The outward door is lock'd?
Betty. Yes; and I bolted it too, for fear of the worſt.
Fanny. Why did you? they muſt have heard you, if they were near.
Betty. And I did it on purpoſe, Madam, and cough'd a little too, that they might not hear Mr. Lovewell's voice—when I was ſilent, they were ſilent, and ſo I came to tell you.
Fanny. What ſhall we do?
Lovew. Fear nothing; we know the worſt; it will only bring on our cataſtrophe a little too ſoon—but Betty might fancy this noiſe—ſhe's in the conſpiracy, and can make a man of a mouſe at any time.
Betty. I can diſtinguiſh a man from a mouſe, as well as my betters—I am ſorry you think ſo ill of me, Sir.
Fanny. He compliments you, don't be a fool!—Now you have ſet her tongue a running, ſhe'll mutter for an hour. [to Lovewell.] I'll go and hearken myſelf.
Betty. I'll turn my back upon no girl, for ſincerity and ſervice. [half aſide, and muttering.
Lovew. Thou art the firſt in the world for both; and I will reward you ſoon, Betty, for one and the other.
Betty. I'm not marcenary neither—I can live on a little, with a good carreter.
Fanny. All ſeems quiet—ſuppoſe, my dear, you go to your own room—I ſhall be much eaſier then—and to-morrow we will be prepared for the diſcovery.
Betty. You may diſcover, if you pleaſe; but, for my part, I ſhall ſtill be ſecret. [half aſide, and muttering.
Lovew. Should I leave you now,—if they ſtill are upon the watch, we ſhall loſe the advantage of our delay.—Beſides, we ſhould conſult upon to-morrow's buſineſs.—Let Betty go to her own room, and lock the outward door after her; we can faſten this; and when ſhe thinks all ſafe, ſhe may return and let me out as uſual.
Betty. Shall I, Madam?
Fanny. Do! let me have my way to-night, and you ſhall command me ever after.—I would not have you ſurprized here for the world.—Pray leave me! I ſhall be quite myſelf again, if you will oblige me.
Lovew. I live only to oblige you, my ſweet Fanny! I'll be gone this moment. [going.
Fanny. Let us liſten firſt at the door, that you may not be intercepted.—Betty ſhall go firſt, and if they lay hold of her——
Betty. They'll have the wrong ſow by the ear, I can tell them that. [going haſtily.
Fanny. Softly—ſoftly—Betty! don't venture out, if you hear a noiſe.—Softly, I beg of you!—See, Mr. Lovewell, the effects of indiſcretion!
Lovew. But love, Fanny, makes amends for all.
[Exeunt all ſoftly.
SCENE changes to a gallery, which leads to ſeveral bed-chambers.
Enter Miſs Sterling, leading Mrs. Heidelberg in a night-cap.
Miſs Sterl. This way, dear Madam, and then I'll tell you all.
Mrs. Heidel. Nay, but Niece—conſider a little—don't drag me out in this figur—let me put on my fly-cap!—if any of my Lord's fammaly, or the counſellors at law, ſhould be ſtirring, I ſhould be perdigus diſconcarted.
Miſs Sterl. But, my dear Madam, a moment is an age, in my ſituation. I am ſure my ſiſter has been plotting my diſgrace and ruin in that chamber—O ſhe's all craft and wickedneſs!
Mrs. Heidel. Well, but ſoftly, Betſey!—you are all in emotion—your mind is too much fluſtrated—you can neither eat nor drink, nor take your natural reſt—compoſe yourſelf, child; for if we are not as waryſome as they are wicked, we ſhall difgrace ourſelves and the whole fammaly.
Miſs Sterl. We are diſgrac'd already, Madam—Sir John Melvil has forſaken me; my Lord cares for nobody but himſelf; or, if for any body, it is my ſiſter; my father, for the ſake of a better bargain, would marry me to a 'Change-broker; ſo that if you, Madam, don't continue my friend—if you forſake me—if I am to loſe my beſt hopes and conſolation—in your tenderneſs—and affect–ions—I had better—at once—give up the matter—and let my ſiſter enjoy—the fruits of her treachery—trample with ſcorn upon the rights of her elder ſiſter, the will of the beſt of aunts, and the weakneſs of a too intereſted father.
[ſhe pretends to be burſting into tears all this ſpeech.
Mrs. Heidel. Don't Betſey—keep up yonr ſpurrit—I hate whimpering—I am your friend—depend upon me in every partickler—but be compoſed, and tell me what new miſchief you have diſcover'd.
Miſs Sterl. I had no deſire to ſleep, and would not undreſs myſelf, knowing that my Machiavel ſiſter would not reſt till ſhe had broke my heart:—I was ſo uneaſy that I could not ſtay in my room, but when I thought that all the houſe was quiet, I ſent my maid to diſcover what was going forward; ſhe immediately came back and told me that they were in high conſultation; that ſhe had heard only, for it was in the dark, my ſiſter's maid conduct Sir John Melvil to her miſtreſs, and then lock the door.
Mrs. Heidel. And how did you conduct yourſelf in this dalimma?
Miſs Sterl. I return'd with her, and could hear a man's voice, though nothing that they ſaid diſtinctly; and you may depend upon it, that Sir John is now in that room, that they have ſettled the matter, and will run away together before morning, if we don't prevent them.
Mrs. Heidel. Why the brazen ſlut! has ſhe got her ſiſter's huſband (that is to be) lock'd up in her chamber! at night too?—I tremble at the thoughts!
Miſs Sterl. Huſh, Madam! I hear ſomething.
Mrs. Heidel. You frighten me—let me put on my fly cap—I would not be ſeen in this figur for the world.
Miſs Sterl. 'Tis dark, Madam; you can't be ſeen.
Mrs. Heidel. I proteſt there's a candle coming, and a man too.
Miſs Sterl. Nothing but ſervants; let us retire a moment! [they retire.
Enter Bruſh half drunk, laying hold of the Chamber-maid, who has a candle in her hand.
Ch. Maid. Be quiet Mr. Bruſh; I ſhall drop down with terror!
Bruſh. But my ſweet, and moſt amiable chamber-maid, if you have no love, you may hearken to a little reaſon; that cannot poſſibly do your virtue any harm.
Ch. Maid. But you will do me harm, Mr. Bruſh, and a great deal of harm too—pray let me go—I am ruin'd if they hear you—I tremble like an aſp.
Bruſh. But they ſhan't hear us—and if you have a mind to be ruin'd, it ſhall be the making of your fortune, you little ſlut, you!—therefore I ſay it again, if you have no love—hear a little reaſon!
Ch. Maid. I wonder at your impurence, Mr. Bruſh, to uſe me in this manner; this is not the way to keep me company, I aſſure you.—You are a town rake I ſee, and now you are a little in liquor, you fear nothing.
Bruſh. Nothing, by heav'ns, but your frowns, moſt amiable chamber-maid; I am a little electrified, that's the truth on't; I am not uſed to drink Port, and your maſter's is ſo heady, that a pint of it overſets a claret-drinker.
Ch. Maid. Don't be rude! bleſs me!—I ſhall be ruin'd—what will become of me?
Bruſh. I'll take care of you, by all that's honourable.
Ch. Maid. You are a baſe man to uſe me ſo—I'll cry out, if you don't let me go—that is Miſs Sterling's chamber, that Miſs Fanny's, and that Madam Heidelberg's. [pointing.
Bruſh. And that my Lord Ogleby's, and that my Lady what d'ye call'em: I don't mind ſuch folks when I'm ſober, much leſs when I am whimſical—rather above that too.
Ch. Maid. More ſhame for you, Mr. Bruſh!—you terrify me—you have no modeſty.
Bruſh. O but I have, my ſweet ſpider-bruſher!—for inſtance, I reverence Miſs Fanny—ſhe's a moſt delicious morſel and fit for a prince—with all my horrors of matrimony, I could marry her myſelf—but for her ſiſter—
Miſs Sterl. There, there, Madam, all in a ſtory!
Ch. Maid. Bleſs me, Mr. Bruſh!—I heard ſomething!
Bruſh. Rats, I ſuppoſe, that are gnawing the old timbers of this execrable old dungeon—If it was mine, I would pull it down, and fill your fine canal up with the rubbiſh; and then I ſhould get rid of two damn'd things at once.
Ch. Maid. Law! law! how you blaſpheme!—we ſhall have the houſe upon our heads for it.
Bruſh. No, no, it will laſt our time—but as I was ſaying, the eldeſt ſiſter—Miſs Jezabel—
Ch. Maid. Is a fine young lady for all your evil tongue.
Bruſh. No—we have ſmoak'd her already; and unleſs ſhe marries our old Swiſs, ſhe can have none of us—no, no, ſhe wont do—we are a little too nice.
Ch. Maid. You're a monſtrous rake, Mr. Bruſh, and don't care what you ſay.
Bruſh. Why, for that matter, my dear, I am a little inclined to miſchief; and if you won't have pity upon me, I will break open that door and raviſh Mrs. Heidelberg.
Mrs. Heidel. [coming forward.] There's no bearing this—you profligate monſter!
Ch. Maid. Ha! I am undone!
Bruſh. Zounds! here ſhe is, by all that's monſtrous. [runs off.
Miſs Sterl. A fine diſcourſe you have had with that fellow!
Mrs. Heidel. And a fine time of night it is to be here with that drunken monſter.
Miſs Sterl. What have you, to ſay for yourſelf?
Ch. Maid. I can ſay nothing.—I am ſo frighten'd, and ſo aſham'd—but indeed I am vartuous—I am vartuous indeed.
Mrs. Heidel. Well, well—don't tremble ſo; but tell us what you know of this horrable plot here.
Miſs Sterl. We'll forgive you, if you'll diſcover all.
Ch. Maid. Why, Madam—don't let me betray my fellow ſervants—I ſhan't ſleep in my bed, if I do.
Mrs. Heidel. Then you ſhall ſleep ſomewhere elſe to-morrow night.
Ch. Maid. O dear!—what ſhall I do?
Mrs. Heidel. Tell us this moment,—or I'll turn you out of doors directly.
Ch. Maid. Why our butler has been treating us below in his pantry—Mr. Bruſh forc'd us to make a kind of a holiday night of it.
Miſs Sterl. Holiday! for what?
Ch. Maid. Nay I only made one.
Miſs Sterl. Well, well; but upon what account?
Ch. Maid. Becauſe, as how, Madam, there was a change in the family they ſaid,—that his honour, Sir John—was to marry Miſs Fanny inſtead of your Ladyſhip.
Miſs Sterl. And ſo you made a holiday for that.—Very fine!
Ch. Maid. I did not make it, Ma'am.
Mrs. Heidel. But do you know nothing of Sir John's being to run away with Miſs Fanny to-night?
Ch. Maid. No, indeed, Ma'am!
Miſs Sterl. Nor of his being now locked up in my ſiſter's chamber?
Ch. Maid. No, as I hope for marcy, Ma'am.
Mrs. Heidel. Well, I'll put an end to all this directly—do you run to my brother Sterling—
Ch. Maid. Now, Ma'am!—'Tis ſo very late, Ma'am—
Mrs. Heidel. I don't care how late it is. Tell him there are thieves in the houſe—that the houſe is o'fire—tell him to come here immediately—go, I ſay!
Ch. Maid. I will, I will, though I'm frighten'd out of my wits. [Exit.
Mrs. Heidel. Do you watch here, my dear; and I'll put myſelf in order, to face them. We'll plot 'em, and counter-plot 'em too. [Exit into her chamber.
Miſs Sterl. I have as much pleaſure in this revenge, as in being made a counteſs!—Ha! they are unlocking the door.—Now for it! [retires.
Fanny's door is unlock'd—and Betty comes out with a candle.
Miſs Sterling approaches her.
Betty. [calling within.] Sir, Sir!—now's your time—all's clear. [ſeeing Miſs Sterl.] Stay, ſtay—not yet—we are watch'd.
Miſs Sterl. And ſo you are, Madam Betty! [Miſs Sterling lays hold of her, while Betty locks the door, and puts the key in her pocket.
Betty. [turning round.] What's the matter, Madam?
Miſs Sterl. Nay, that you ſhall tell my father and aunt, Madam.
Betty. I am no tell-tale, Madam, and no thief; they'll get nothing from me.
Miſs Sterl. You have a great deal of courage, Betty; and conſidering the ſecrets you have to keep, you have occaſion for it.
Betty. My miſtreſs ſhall never repent her good opinion of me, Ma'am.
Sterl. What is all this? what's the matter? why am I diſturbed in this manner?
Miſs Sterl. This creature, and my diſtreſſes, Sir, will explain the matter.
Re-enter Mrs. Heidelberg, with another head-dreſs.
Mrs. Heidel. Now I'm prepar'd for the rancounter—well, brother, have you heard of this ſcene of wickedneſs?
Sterl. Not I—but what is it?—Speak!—I was got into my little cloſet—all the lawyers were in bed, and I had almoſt loſt my ſenſes in the confuſion of Lord Ogleby's mortgages, when I was alarm'd with a fooliſh girl, who could hardly ſpeak; and whether it's fire, or thieves, or murder, or a rape, I am quite in the dark.
Mrs. Heidel. No, no, there's no rape, brother!—all parties are willing, I believe.
Miſs Sterl. Who's in that chamber?
[detaining Betty, who ſeemed to be ſtealing away.
Betty. My miſtreſs.
Miſs Sterl. And who is with your miſtreſs?
Betty. Why, who ſhould there be?
Miſs Sterl. Open the door then, and let us ſee!
Betty. The door is open, Madam. [Miſs Sterling goes to the door.] I'll ſooner die than peach!
Miſs Sterl. The door's lock'd; and ſhe has got the key in her pocket.
Mrs. Heidel. There's impudence, brother! piping hot from your daughter Fanny's ſchool!
Sterl. But, zounds! what is all this about? You tell me of a ſum total, and you don't produce the particulars.
Mrs. Heidel. Sir John Melvil is lock'd up in your daughter's bed-chamber.—There is the particular!
Sterl. The devil he is?—That's bad!
Miſs Sterl. And he has been there ſome time too.
Mrs. Heidel. Ditto! worſe and worſe, I ſay. I'll raiſe the houſe, and expoſe him to my Lord, and the whole family.
Sterl. By no means! we ſhall expoſe ourſelves, ſiſter!—the beſt way is to inſure privately—let me alone!—I'll make him marry her to-morrow morning.
Miſs Sterl. Make him marry her! this is beyond all patience!—You have thrown away all your affection; and I ſhall do as much by my obedience: unnatural fathers, make unnatural children.—My revenge is in my own power, and I'll indulge it.—Had they made their eſcape, I ſhould have been expoſed to the deriſion of the world:—but the deriders ſhall be derided; and ſo—help! help, there! thieves! thieves!
Mrs. Heidel. Tit-for-tat, Betſey!—you are right, my girl.
Sterl. Zounds! you'll ſpoil all—you'll raiſe the whole family,—the devil's in the girl.
Mrs. Heidel. No, no; the devil's in you, brother. I am aſham'd of your principles.—What! would you connive at your daughter's being lock'd up with her ſiſter's huſband? Help! thieves! thieves! I ſay.
Sterl. Siſter, I beg you!—daughter, I command you.—If you have no regard for me, conſider yourſelves!—we ſhall loſe this opportunity of ennobling our blood, and getting above twenty per cent. for our money.
Miſs Sterl. What, by my diſgrace and my ſiſter's triumph! I have a ſpirit above ſuch mean conſiderations; and to ſhew you that it is not a low-bred, vulgar 'Change-Alley ſpirit—help! help! thieves! thieves! thieves! I ſay.
Sterl. Ay, ay, you may ſave your lungs—the houſe is in an uproar;—women at beſt have no diſcretion; but in a paſſion they'll fire a houſe, or burn themſelves in it, rather than not be revenged.
Enter Canton, in a night-gown and ſlippers.
Cant. Eh, diable! vat is de raiſon of dis great noiſe, this tintamarre?
Sterl. Aſk thoſe ladies, Sir; 'tis of their making.
Lord Ogleby [calls within.]
Bruſh! Bruſh!—Canton! where are you?—What's the matter? [rings a bell.] Where are you?
Sterl. 'Tis my Lord calls, Mr. Canton.
Cant. I com, mi Lor!—[Exit Canton.]—[Lord Ogleby ſtill rings.
Serjeant Flower [calls within.]
A light! a light here!—where are the ſervants? Bring a light for me, and my brothers.
Sterl. Lights here! lights for the gentlemen! [Exit Sterling.
Mrs. Heidel. My brother feels, I ſee—your ſiſter's turn will come next.
Miſs Sterl. Ay, ay, let it go round, Madam! it is the only comfort I have left.
Re-enter Sterling, with lights, before Serjeant Flower (with one boot and ſlipper) and Traverſe.
Sterl. This way, Sir! this way, gentlemen!
Serjeant Flower. Well, but, Mr. Sterling, no danger I hope.—Have they made a burglarious entry?—Are you prepar'd to repulſe them?—I am very much alarm'd about thieves at circuit-time.—They would be particularly ſevere with us gentlemen of the bar.
Traverſe. No danger, Mr. Sterling?—No treſpaſs, I hope?
Sterl. None, gentlemen, but of thoſe ladies making.
Mrs. Heidel. You'll be aſham'd to know, gentlemen, that all your labours and ſtudies about this young lady are thrown away—Sir John Melvil is at this moment lock'd up with this lady's younger ſiſter.
Serjeant Flower. The thing is a little extraordinary, to be ſure—but, why were we to be frighten'd out of our beds for this? Could not we have try'd this cauſe to-morrow morning?
Miſs Sterl. But, Sir, by to-morrow morning, perhaps, even your aſſiſtance would not have been of any ſervice—the birds now in that cage would have flown away.
Enter Lord Ogleby. [in his robe de chambre, night cap &c.—leaning on Canton.]
Lord Ogle. I had rather loſe a limb than my night's reſt—what's the matter with you all?
Sterl. Ay, ay, 'tis all over!—Here's my Lord too.
Lord Ogle. What is all this ſhrieking and ſcreaming?—Where's my angelick Fanny. She's ſafe, I hope!
Mrs. Heidel. Your angelick Fanny, my Lord, is lock'd up with your angelick nephew in that chamber.
Lord Ogle. My nephew! then will I be excommunicated.
Mrs. Heidel. Your nephew, my Lord, has been plotting to run away with the younger ſiſter; and the younger ſiſter has been plotting to run away with your nephew: and if we had not watch'd them and call'd up the fammaly, they had been upon the ſcamper to Scotland by this time.
Lord Ogle. Look'ee, ladies!—I know that Sir John has conceiv'd a violent paſſion for Miſs Fanny; and I know too that Miſs Fanny has conceiv'd a violent paſſion for another perſon; and I am ſo well convinc'd of the rectitude of her affections, that I will ſupport them with my fortune, my honour, and my life.—Eh, ſhant I, Mr. Sterling? [ſmiling] what ſay you?—
Sterl. [ſulkily.] To be ſure, my Lord.—Theſe bawling women have been the ruin of every thing. [afide.
Lord Ogle. But come, I'll end this buſineſs in a trice—if you, ladies, will compoſe yourſelves, and Mr. Sterling will inſure Miſs Fanny from violence, I will engage to draw her from her pillow with a whiſper thro' the keyhole.
Mrs. Heidel. The horrid creatures!—I ſay, my Lord, break the door open.
Lord Ogle. Let me beg of your delicacy not to be too precipitate!—Now to our experiment!
[advancing towards the door.
Miſs Sterl. Now, what will they do?—my heart will beat thro' my boſom.
Enter Betty, with the key.
Betty. There's no occaſion for breaking open doors, my Lord; we have done nothing that we ought to be aſham'd of, and my miſtreſs ſhall face her enemies.—
[going to unlock the door.
Mrs. Heidel. There's impudence.
Lord Ogle. The myſtery thickens. Lady of the bed-chamber! [to Betty] open the door, and intreat Sir John Melvil (for theſe ladies will have it that he is there,) to appear and anſwer to high crimes and miſdemeanors.—Call Sir John Melvil into the court!
Enter Sir John Melvil, on the other ſide.
Sir John. I am here, my Lord.
Mrs. Heidel. Heyday!
Miſs Sterl. Aſtoniſhment!
Sir John. What is all this alarm and confuſion? there is nothing but hurry in the houſe; what is the reaſon of it?
Lord Ogle. Becauſe you have been in that chamber; have been! nay you are there at this moment, as theſe ladies have proteſted, ſo don't deny it—
Traverſe. This is the cleareſt Alibi I ever knew, Mr. Serjeant.
Flower. Luce clarius.
Lord Ogle. Upon my word, ladies, if you have often theſe frolicks, it would be really entertaining to paſs a whole ſummer with you. But come, [to Betty] open the door, and intreat your amiable miſtreſs to come forth, and diſpel all our doubts with her ſmiles.
Betty. [opening the door.] Madam, you are wanted in this room. [pertly.
Enter Fanny, in great confuſion.
Miſs Sterl. You ſee ſhe's ready drefs'd—and what confuſion ſhe's in!
Mrs. Heidel. Ready to pack off, bag and baggage!—her guilt confounds her!—
Flowers. Silence in the court, ladies!
Fanny. I am confounded, indeed, Madam!
Lord Ogle. Don't droop, my beauteous lilly! but with your own peculiar modeſty declare your ſtate of mind.—Pour conviction into their ears, and raptures into mine. [ſmiling.
Fanny. I am at this moment the moſt unhappy—moſt diſtreſt—the tumult is too much for my heart—and I want the power to reveal a ſecret, which to conceal has been the misfortune and miſery of my—my— [faints away.
|Lord Ogle. She faints; help, help! for the faireſt, and beſt of women!||ſpeaking all at once.|
|Betty. [running to her.] O my dear miſtreſs!—help, help, there!—|
|Sir John. Ha! let me fly to her aſſiſtance.|
Lovewell ruſhes out from the chamber.
Lovew. My Fanny in danger! I can contain no longer.—Prudence were now a crime; all other cares are loſt in this!—ſpeak, ſpeak, to me, my deareſt Fanny! let me but hear thy voice, open your eyes, and bleſs me with the ſmalleſt ſign of life!
[during this ſpeech they are all in amazement.
Miſs Sterl. Lovewell!—I am eaſy.—
Mrs. Heidel. I am thunderſtuck!
Lord Ogle. I am petrify'd!
Sir John. And I undone!
Fanny. [recovering.] O Lovewell!—even ſupported by thee, I dare not look my father nor his Lordſhip in the face.
Sterl. What now! did not I ſend you to London, Sir?
Lord Ogle. Eh!—What!—How's this?—by what right and title have you been half the night in that lady's bed-chamber?
Lovew. By that right that makes me the happieſt of men; and by a title which I would not forego, for any the beſt of kings could give me.
Betty. I could cry my eyes out to hear his magnimity.
Lord Ogle. I am annihilated!
Sterl. I have been choaked with rage and wonder; but now I can ſpeak.—Zounds, what have you to ſay to me?—Lovewell, you are a villain.—You have broke your word with me.
Fanny. Indeed, Sir, he has not—You forbad him to think of me, when it was out of his power to obey you; we have been married theſe four months.
Sterl. And he ſhan't ſtay in my houſe four hours. What baſeneſs and treachery! As for you, you ſhall repent this ſtep as long as you live, Madam.
Fanny. Indeed, Sir, it is impoſſible to conceive the tortures I have already endured in conſequence of my diſobedience. My heart has continually upbraided me for it; and though I was too weak to ſtruggle with affection, I feel that I muſt be miſerable for ever without your forgiveneſs.
Sterl. Lovewell, you ſhall leave my houſe directly;—and you ſhall follow him, Madam. [to Fanny.
Lord Ogle. And if they do, I will receive them into mine. Look ye, Mr. Sterling, there have been ſome miſtakes, which we had all better forget for our own ſakes; and the beſt way to forget them is to forgive the cauſe of them; which I do from my ſoul.—Poor girl! I ſwore to ſupport her affection with my life and fortune;—'tis a debt of honour, and muſt be paid—you ſwore as much too, Mr. Sterling; but your laws in the city will excuſe you, I ſuppoſe, for you never ſtrike a ballance without errors excepted.
Sterl. I am a father, my Lord; but for the ſake of all other fathers, I think I ought not to forgive her, for fear of encouraging other ſilly girls like herſelf to throw themſelves away without the conſent of their parents.
Lovew. I hope there will be no danger of that, Sir. Young ladies with minds, like my Fanny's, would ſtartle at the very ſhadow of vice; and when they know to what uneaſineſs only an indiſcretion has expoſed her, her example, inſtead, of encouraging, will rather ſerve to deter them.
Mrs. Heidel. Indiſcretion, quoth a! a mighty pretty delicat word to expreſs diſobedience!
Lord Ogle. For my part, I indulge my own paſſions too much to tyrannize over thoſe of other people. Poor ſouls, I pity them. And you muſt forgive them too. Come, come, melt a little of your flint, Mr. Sterling!
Sterl. Why, why—as to that, my Lord—to be ſure he is a relation of yours my Lord—what ſay you, ſiſter Heidelberg?
Mrs. Heidel. The girl's ruined, and I forgive her.
Sterl. Well—ſo do I then.—Nay, no thanks—[to Lovewell and Fanny, who ſeem preparing to ſpeak] there's an end of the matter.
Lord Ogle. But, Lovewell, what makes you dumb all this while?
Lovew. Your kindneſs, my Lord—I can ſcarce believe my own ſenſes—they are all in a tumult of fear, joy, love, expectation, and gratitude; I ever was, and am now more bound in duty to your Lordſhip; for you, Mr. Sterling, if every moment of my life, ſpent gratefully in your ſervice, will in ſome meaſure compenſate the want of fortune, you perhaps will not repent your goodneſs to me. And you, ladies, I flatter myſelf, will not for the future ſuſpect me of artifice and intrigue—I ſhall be happy to oblige, and ſerve you.—As for you, Sir John—
Sir John. No apologies to me, Lovewell, I do not deſerve any. All I have to offer in excuſe for what has happened, is my total ignorance of your ſituation. Had you dealt a little more openly with me, you would have ſaved me, and yourſelf, and that lady, (who I hope will pardon my behaviour) a great deal of uneaſineſs. Give me leave, however, to aſſure you, that light and capricious as I may have appeared, now my infatuation is over, I have ſenſibility enough to be aſhamed of the part I have acted, and honour enough to rejoice at your happineſs.
Lovew. And now, my deareſt Fanny, though we are ſeemingly the happieſt of beings, yet all our joys will be dampt, if his Lordſhip's generoſity and Mr. Sterling's forgiveneſs ſhould not be ſucceededindulgence, approbation, and conſent of theſe our beſt benefactors.
[To the audience.