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occasion of your quarrel, I shall rely on Mr. Belcour's honour for the justice of it, and willingly stake my life in his defence.
O'Fla. Sir, you are a gentleman of honour, and I shall be glad of being better known to you—But, harkye, Belcour, I had like to have forgot part of my errand; there is the money you gave old Dudley : you may tell it over, 'faith : 'tis a receipt in full. Now the lad can put you to death with a safe conscience; and when he has done that job for you, let it be a warning how you attempt the sister of a man of honour.
Bel. The sister?
O'Fla. Ay, the sister; 'tis English, is it not? Or Irish ; 'tis all one; you understand me, his sister, or Louisa Dudley, that's her name, I think, call her which you will. By St. Patrick, 'tis a foolish piece of business, Belcour, to go about to take away a poor girl's virtue from her, when there are so many to be met with in this town, who have disposed of theirs to your hands.
[Exit. Stock. Why, I am thunderstruck! what is it you have done, and what is the shocking business in which I have engaged? If I understand him right, 'tis the sister of young Dudley you've been attempting: you talked to me of a professed wanton; the girl he speaks of has beauty enough indeed to inflame your desires, but she has honour, innocence, and simplicity, to awe the most licentious passion; if you have done that, Mr. Belcour, I renounce you, I abandon you, I forswear all fellowship or friendship with you for ever.
Bel. Have patience for a moment; we do indeed speak of the same person ; but she is not innocent, she is not young Dudley's sister.
Stock. Astonishing! who told you this?
Bel. The woman where she lodges, the person who put me on the pursuit, and contrived our meetings.
Stock. What woman? What person?
Bel. Fulmer her name is, I warrant you I did not proceed without good grounds. Stock. Fulmer, Fulmer? Who waits?
Enter a Servant. Send Mr. Stukely hither directly; I begin to see my way into this dark transaction. Mr. Belcour, Mr. Belcour, you are no match for the cunning and contrivances of this intriguing town.
Enter StukELY. Prythee, Stukely, what is the name of the woman and her husband, who were stopped upon suspicion of selling stolen diamonds at our next-door neighbour's, the jeweller?
Stuke. They are now in my hand; I was desired to show them to Mr. Stockwell.
Stock. Give them to me what do I see?-as I live, the very diamonds Miss Rusport sent hither, and which I entrusted to you to return.
Bel. Yes, but I betrayed that trust, and gave them Mrs. Fulmer, to present to Miss Dudley.
Stock. With a view, no doubt, to bribe her to compliance?
Bel. I own it.
Stock. For shame, for shame!--and 'twas this woman's intelligence you relied upon for Miss Dudley's character?
Bel. I thought she knew her ;-by heaven, I would have died, sooner than have insulted a woman of virtue, or a man of honour.
Stock. I think you would ; but mark the danger of licentious courses; you are betrayed, robbed, abused, and, but for this providential discovery, in a fair way of being sent out of the world, with all your follies on your head.-Dear Stukely, go to my neighbour, tell him I have an owner for the jewels; and beg him to carry the people under custody to the London Tavern, and wait for me there.—[Exit Stukely.) I see it was a trap laid for you, which you have narrowly escaped : you addressed a woman of honour with all the loose incense of a profane admirer, and you have drawn upon you the resentment of a man of honour, who thinks himself bound to protect her. Well, sir, you must atone for this mistake.
Bel. To the lady, the most penitent submission I can make is justly due; but, in the execution of an act of. justice, it never shall be said, my soul was swayed by the least particle of fear. I have received a challenge from her brother; now, though I would give my fortune, almost my life itself, to purchase her happiness, yet I cannot abate her one scruple of my honour;-I have been branded with the name of villain.
Stock. Ay, sir, you mistook her character, and he mistook yours; error begets error.
Bel. Villain, Mr. Stockwell, is a harsh word.
Stock. Or else, what follows? Why, the sword is drawn; and to heal the wrongs you have done to the reputation of the sister, you make an honourable amends, by murdering the brother.
Stock. 'Tis thus religion writes and speaks the word ; in the vocabulary of modern honour, there is no such term.-But, come, I don't despair of satisfying the one, without alarming the other; that done, I have a discovery to unfold, that you will then, I hope, be fitted to receive,
Scene I.–Stockwell's House. CAPTAIN Dudley, Louisa, and Stukely. Dud. And are those wretches, Fulmer and his wife, in safe custody?
Stuke. They are in good hands; I accompanied them to the tavern, where your son was to be, and then went in search of you. You may be sure, Mr. Stockwell will enforce the law against them as far as it will go.
Dud. What mischief might their cursed machinations have produced, but for this timely discovery!
Lou. Still I am terrified; I tremble with apprehension, lest Mr. Belcour's impetuosity, and Charles's spirit, should not wait for an explanation, but drive them both to extremes, before the mistake can be unravelled.
Stuke. Mr. Stockwell is with them, madam, and you have nothing to fear ; you cannot suppose he would ask you hither, for any other purpose, but to celebrate their reconciliation, and to receive Mr. Belcour's atonement.
Dud. No, no, Louisa, Mr. Stockwell's honour and discretion guard you against all danger or offence. He well knows we will endure no imputation on the honour · of our family, and he certainly has invited us to receive satisfaction on that score in an amicable way.
Lou. 'Would to heaven they were returned !
Stuke. You may expect them every minute ;-and see, madam, agreeably to your wish, they are here.
[Exit. Enter CHARLES ; afterwards STOCKWELL and O'FLAHEBTY.
Lou. O Charles, O brother! how could you serve me 80? how could you tell me you was going to Lady Rusports, and then set out with a design of fighting
a very hart honour. Ou and you, Miss
Mr. Belcour? But where is he; where is your antagonist?
Stock. Captain, I am proud to see you ; and you, Miss Dudley, do me particular honour. We have been adjusting, sir, a very extraordinary and dangerous mistake, which, I take for granted, my friend Stukely has explained to you.
Dud. He has—I have too good an opinion of Mr. Belcour, to believe he could be guilty of a designed affront to an innocent girl; and I am much too well acquainted with your character, to suppose you could abet him in such design; I have no doubt, therefore, all things will be set to rights in a very few words, when we have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Belcour.'
Stock. He has only stepped into the compting-house, and will wait upon you directly. You will not be over strict, madam, in weighing Mr. Belcour's conduct to the minutest scruple ;-his manners, passions, and opinions, are not as yet assimilated to this climate; he comes amongst you a new character, an inhabitant of a new world, and both hospitality, as well as pity, recommend him to our indulgence.
Enter Belcour-bows to Miss Dudley. Bel. I am happy, and ashamed, to see you ;-no man in his senses would offend you; I forfeited mine, and erred against the light of the sun, when I overlooked your vir: ues; but your beauty was predominant, and hid them from my sight;-I now perceive, I was the dupe of a most improbable report, and humbly entreat your pardon.
Lou. Think no more of it; 'twas a mistake.
Bel. My life has been composed of little else; 'twas founded in mystery, and has continued in error :-I was once given to hope, Mr. Stockwell, that you waz to have delivered me from these difficulties; but either I do not deserve your confidence, or I was deceived in my expectations.