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■Scene II.—Changes to Mrs. Knightly's. House.
"mrs. Knightly, as just coming in, giving her capuchin, Sfc. to her Maid.
Mrs. Knight. Has any one been here since I went out?
'Maid. No, madam.
Mrs. Knight. Nor any letter or message?
Maid. Not that I know of, madam.
Mrs. Knight. Go and send Miss Richly to me. [Exit Maid.] What a mortifying situation am I in! to have made advances to a man, who, instead of stepping
forward to receive them, shrinks back My Lord
Medway, I know, would gladly promote a union between his son and me. The backwardness on his side then, can proceed from no other cause but a pre-engagement of his heart. Yet that may be got over; but if (as I fear) my sister loves him, I must not come to any explanation with her; for whilst I seem ignorant of it, I am not obliged to compliment her at the expense of my own quiet I begin to wish her out of my sight.
Enter Miss Richly.
Have you done the work I left with you, Clara?
Miss Rich. I did not imagine you had given it to me as a task, sister—I have done nothing to it yet.
Mrs. Knight. I cannot conceive what vou have got into that head of yours child; for of late you never do any thing that I desire—I think I never saw so strange an alteration.
Miss Rich. Excuse me, sister, the alteration is in you.
Mrs. Knight. Oh, your servant, ma'am, you have learnt to contradict too—but it would become you, Clara, to remember I am your elder sister; and though there is. no great difference in our years, yet I think the state you are in should teach you a little more respec* to me.
Miss Rich. Indeed, sister, I do not want to be hourly reminded of that; I am sufficiently humbled already.
Mrs. Knight. Upon my word, Clara, I believe you will find humility the most useful virtue you can practise; and that you may have a better opportunity of doing so, I have thought of placing you in a sober retired family in the country; and who knows but you may captivate some rural 'squire, and then you vasty live according to your own taste, you know.
Miss Rich. I'll tell her at once to punish her for her cruelty. [Aside.] Perhaps, sister, I may have it in my power to do so without captivating a rural 'squire——
Mrs. Knight. I am glad to hear it; but we won't talk of your visionary schemes at present. I won't let her explain herself. [Aside.
Miss Rich. There is a gentleman, sister-—
Mrs. Knight. Well, well, keep him to yourself; I-'H hear none of your love secrets.
Enter a Servant, and delivers a note to Mrs. Knjchtl?.
Serv. From my Lord Medway, madam; the servant waits for an answer.
Miss Rich. Lord Medway! what can this mean >
Mrs. Knight. My compliments to his lordship, and shall be glad of the colonel's company. [Exit Servant.] You were going to say something of a gentleman, Clara, ha, ha, pray who is the gentleman? But before you tell me your secret, I'll entitle myself to the favour by making you my confidant. I have made a conquest, you must know, of which this billet informs me.
Miss Rich. A conquest, sister! I thought this note had come from Lord Medway.
Mrs. Knight. Why, so it does, and the conquest is. .though not of Lord Medway, yet of one who, I hope, .will be Lord Medway—I'll read you the note.
Madam,- . .'
'TV* sometimes as great a fault to be loo modest as too bold; my son is charmed with you, yet durst not tell you so. J told him that I would, and even went so far as to promise him a favourable reception. You see, madam, my credit as a man of sagacity is at stake on this occasion, and um sure you have too much goodness to let me forfeit it. Iflatter myself you will allow Colonel Medway the honour of kissing your hand. Hi will wait on you in half an hour, if you do not forbid him.
I am, madam, Ifc.
P. S. I hope you will be alone.
What do you say -to this, -Clara? Is your lov.er as pretty a fellow as Colonel Medway?
Miss Rich. Oh, sister, this is too much! but I give ypu joy.
Mrs. Knight. What's the matter, child ! Why, surely, my dear Clara, thou couldst not have any design upon the colonel! Could you suppose that a man of family, like him, would marry without a fortune to support his rank and title?
Miss Rich. I am satisfied I was mistaken, madam, and shall now be obliged to you if you will send me into the country directly.
Mrs. Knight. You are perfectly right, my dear; I am pleased at this mark .of your discretion—We don't part in anger, Clara; I shall always be your sincere friend, T assure you.
Miss Rich. I hope so, sister—I will just go and give a few .directions to the servant, and then come to take my leave of you.
Mrs. Knight. You will not then be long in giving your orders, for I suppose you would not choose to meet the colonel here. Besides, you find, he desires to see me alone.
Miss Rich. I shall not interrupt you. [Exit.
Mrs. Knight. Poor Clara! I pity you, and am sorry to build my happiness on the ruin of yours; but I'll make you amends. I see she loves, but 'tis plain she is not beloved. Perhaps 'tis really as I said, and he has won her affections by a few compliments, meant only in gaiete de coewr. I hope that may be the case; for, notwithstanding my tenderness for him, I have delicacy enough to be unhappy, if I did not wholly possess his heart.
Enter Maid, and gives Mrs. Knightly a Utter. Why, this is for my sister!
Maid. Madam, you ordered they should all be brought to you. [Exit Maid.
Mrs. Knight. Oh, I had forgot—It is of no great consequence now; but let us see who this is from— George Medway! I am almost afraid to read it, but I will know the worst. [Reads.
Within this hour, my Clara, the faithless despicable man, who called himself your lover, will supplicate your sister for her hand, and with a heart long devoted, and never, never to be recalled from you, offer mean, deceitful vows to her. [Heavens! what's this ?] I know not what I write, for despair dictates to my trembling hand. Hate me, despise me, I conjure, [I wish I could do so too,] yet hear the reasons for this fatal change
Oh, this has given me an ague fit?
Enter Miss Richly. Miss Rich. I am come now, sister, to bid you farewell. [mrs. Knightly rushes out of the room.'] Bless me, what can be the matter with my sister! she seems straDgely agitated—she was reading a letter—it was not that which she just now showed to me—What can it be? but I'll not intrude to ask her; I believe she can dispense with the ceremony of an adieu, and I can depart without one.
As she is going out, Colonel Medway is shown in by a Servant, both stop short, and look at each other.
Col. M. I did not expect this, Clara! I thought you would have spared me the pangs of such a meeting.
Miss Rich. It was not designed, sir, believe me; yet, if you had vouchsafed to have given me but a little notice of this visit, it would have been but kind.
Col. M. I thought my letter, distracted as it was, would at least have prevented an interview.
Miss Rich. What letter?
Col. M. Did not you receive one from me within this half hour? It was the earliest notice I could give you.
Miss Rich. I received none; but now you mention it, I am afraid it has fallen into my sister's hands.
Col. M. If so, then, Clara, what a monster must I appear to you? ignorant as yon are of the motives of my strange conduct, which in that letter I explained at full.
Miss Rich. Indeed I am but ill prepared for such a sudden shock—yet I am willing to believe you must have had strong reasons for what you have done.
Col. M. Can the generosity of your heart admit it as an excuse for my leaving you, that it is to save from utter and immediate ruin, a father that I dearly love?
Miss Rich. It can, sir, and honour you for the motive; for I am sure that nothing else could have brought about such an event; and I should little deserve that esteem which I hope you still retain for me, if I could not give up my feeble claim to your tenderness, for ties of so much more importance.
VOl. IV. Y