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Fanny. Do but keep this secret a little while longer, and then, I hope, you may mention it to any body,Mr. Lovewell will acquaint the family with the nature of our situation as soon as possible.
Betty. The sooner the better, I believe: for if he does not tell it, there's a little tell-tale, I know of, will come and tell it for him. Fanny. Fie, Betty!
[Blushing. Betty. Ah! you may well blush. But you're not so sick, and so pale, and so wan, and so many qualms
Fanny. Have done! I shall be quite angry with you.
Betty. Angry-Bless the dear puppet! I am sure I shall love it as much as if it was my own.-I meant no harm, heavens knows.
Fanny. Well, say no more of this—it makes me uneasy.—All I have to ask of you is, to be faithful and secret, and not to reveal this matter, till we disclose it to the family ourselves.
Betty. Me reveal it!—If I say a word, I wish I may be burned. I would not do you any harm for the world
-and as for Mr. Lovewell, I am sure I have loved the dear gentleman ever since he got a tide-waiter's place for my brother.—But let me tell you both, you must leave off your soft looks to each other, and your whispers, and your glances, and your always sitting next to one another at dinner, and your long walks together in the evening.–For my part, if I had not been in the secret, I should have known you were a pair of lovers at least, if not man and wife, as
Fanny. See there now, again ! Pray be careful. Betty. Well, wel-nobody hears me.-Man and wife -I'll say no more.—What I tell you is very true for all that
Lovewell. [Calling within.] William!
caution I give you I'll be whipped, now, if you are not the first person he sees or speaks to in the family. However, if you choose it, it's nothing at all to memas you sow, so you must reap-as you brew, so you must bake.—I'll e'en slip down the back-stairs and leave you together.
[Exit. Fanny. I see, I see, I shall never have a moment's ease, till our marriage is made public. New distresses crowd in upon me every day. The solicitude of my mind sinks my spirits, preys upon my health, and destroys every comfort of my life. It shall be revealed, let what will be the consequence.
Enter Lovewell. Love. My love !– How's this? - In tears !--Indeed this is too much. You promised me to support your spirits, and to wait the determination of our fortune with patience. For my sake, for your own, be comforted! Why will you study to add to our uneasiness and perplexity? · Fanny. Oh, Mr. Lovewell, the indelicacy of a secret marriage grows every day more and more shocking to me. I walk about the house like a guilty wretch : I imagine myself the object of the suspicion of the whole family; and am under the perpetual terrors of a shame. ful detection.
Love. Indeed, indeed, you are to blame. The amiable delicacy of your temper, and your quick sensibility, only serve to make you unhappy.--To clear up this affair properly to Mr. Sterling, is the continual employment of my thoughts. Every thing now is in a fair train. It begins to grow ripe for a discovery; and I have no doubt of its concluding to the satisfaction of ourselves, of your father, and the whole family.
Fanny. End how it will, I am resolv'd it shall end soon-very soon.' I would not live another week in this agony of mind to be mistress of the universe.
Love. Do not be too violent neither. Do not let nuo disturb the joy of your sister's marriage with the tumult this matter may occasion !- I have brought letters from Lord Ogleby and Sir John Melvil to Mr. Sterling. They will be here this evening--and, I dare say, within this hour.
Fanny. I am sorry for it.
Fanny. No matter-only let us disclose our marriage immediately!
Love. As soon as possible.
Fanny. Indeed you must - I have the most alarming reasons for it.
Love. Alarming, indeed! for they alarm me, even before I am acquainted with them—What are they?
Fanny. I cannot tell you.
Fanny. Not at present. When all is settled, you shall be acquainted with every thing.
Love. Sorry they are coming !-Must be discovered!
What can this mean? Is it possible you can have any reasons that need be concealed from me ?
Fanny. Do not disturb yourself with conjecturesbut rest assurd, that though you are unable to divine the cause, the consequence of a discovery, be it what it will, cannot be attended with half the miseries of the present interval.
Love. You put me upon the rack-I would do any thing to make you easy.—But you know your father's temper-Money (you will excuse my frankness) is the spring of all his actions, which nothing but the idea of
acquiring nobility or magnificence, can ever make him forego—and these he thinks his money will purchase.
You know, too, your aunt's, Mrs. Heidelberg's, notions of the splendour of high life; her contempt for every thing that does not relish of what she calls quality; and that from the vast fortune in her hands, by her late husband, she absolutely governs Mr. Sterling and the whole family. Now if they should come to the knowledge of this affair too abruptly, they might, perhaps, be incensed beyond all hopes of reconciliation.
Fanny. Manage it your own way. I am persuaded. Love. But in the meantime make yourself easy.
Fanny. As easy as I can, I will. We had better not remain together any longer at present.—Think of this business, and let me know how you proceed.
Love. Depend on my care! But, pray, be cheerful.
Enter STERLING, as she is going out.
[Exit. Sterl. · Ah, Lovewell! What! always getting my foolish girl yonder into a corner?-Well-well—let us but once see her eldest sister fast married to Sir John Melvil, we'll soon provide a good husband for Fanny, I warrant you.
Love. Would to heaven, sir, you would provide her one of my recommendation !
Sterl. Yourself! eh, Lovewell?
Love. And I flatter myself, that such a proposal would not be very disagreeable to Miss Fanny.
Sterl. Better and better!
Love. And if I could but obtain your consent, sir
Sterl. What! you marry Fanny ?-no-no—that will never do, Lovewell! You're a good boy, to be sure - I have a great value for you- but can't think of you for a son-in-law.- There's no stuff in the case; no money, Lovewell!
Love. My pretensions to fortune, indeed, are but moderate ; but though not equal to splendour, sufficient to keep us above distress.-Add to which, that I hope by diligence to increase it—and have love, honour
Sterl. But not the stuff, Lovewell!--Add one little round 0 to the sum total of your fortune, and that will be the finest thing you can say to me.—You know I've a regard for you-would do anything to serve youany thing on the footing of friendship- but
Love. If you think me worthy of your friendship, sir, be assured, that there is no instance in which I should rate your friendship so highly.
Sterl. Psha! psha! that's another thing, you know.Where money or interest is concerned, friendship is quite out of the question.
Love. But where the happiness of a daughter is at stake, you would not scruple, sure, to sacrifice a little to her inclinations.
Sterl. Inclinations! why, you would not persuade me, that the girl is in love with you—eh, Lovewell?
Love. I cannot absolutely answer for Miss Fanny, sir; but am sure that the chief happiness or misery of my life depends entirely npou her.
Sterl: Why, indeed, now if your kinsman, Lord Ogleby, would come down handsomely for you-but that's impossible-No, no,~'twill never do—I must hear no more of this—Come, Lovewell, promise me that I shall hear no more of this.
Love. (Hesitating.) I am afraid, sir, I should not be able to keep my word with you, if I did promise you.