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Col. M. Oh, Clara, why did I give you up? what have I got to compensate for your loss?
Miss Rich. Your virtue! the consciousness of having acted right—You have broke no oaths, no promises to me; nay, I have often told you, I would never be yours but with your father's consent; for, sunk as I am in fortune, I would not meanly creep into a family that rejected me. And for this reason, I would neither give, nor receive a vow; but left you at full liberty to make a better choice, when your duty or your interest should urge yon.
Col. M. That last word, madam, carries a reproach in it, which I cannot bear from you.
Miss Rich. Do not mistake me, sir; I have not the least suspicion, that interest has the smallest share in this action—I wish it had—for then, perhaps, I should part with you with less reluctance, than now I own I have power to do.—But we must not touch upon this string—my sister loves you, and I hope will make you happy.
Col. M. Happy, do you say ! no, Clara, no, happiness and I have shaken hands; what I have done to-day has made a wretch of me for life.
Miss Rich. Oh, sir, show more indifference, if you would not have me repine too much at my own sad fate.
Col. M. And what is mine then, Clara? Condemned to losing what is dearer to me than life; with the superadded grief of giving up my days to one I cannot love. Your condition is not quite so wretched; you still are free, and time may incline you to bestow your heart upon some happy man.
Miss Rich. Never, never!
Col. M. Do not say so—I had but that hope left to keep me from desperation; if I lose it, I shall forget all obligations, and give my father up to poverty and shame.
Miss Rich. No more, I beseech you, sir—you have made a noble sacrifice of your love—do not lose the merit of your filial goodness, by repenting of an act, that raises you higher even in my esteem.
Col. M. Clara, the tears stand trembling in your eye* while you speak—pray, give them vent, for I am ashamed to weep alone. [He turns from her.
Miss Rich. See, mine are dispersed already.—Collect yourself, I beg of you, you have a noble character to sustain.
Col. M. Oh, Clara, I am unequal to the task !—I have no fortitude left
Miss Rich. Think of your unhappy father, sir!—let that keep up your resolution. I am going to quit her house directly; and this, sir, for my own, for my sister's, and for your sake, is the last time we must ever meet!—Forget me, sir, and try—I conjure you try— to be happy! [Exit.
Col. M. Clara!—stay !—stay! So! all's at an
end! and the hope I had nourished for many years,
is vanished like a dream. This trial was more than I thought I could support; but her noble firmness, I believe, made me ashamed to sink quite under the blow that parted us for ever—I wish I were out of this
fatal house for I am very unfit to act the lover's
Enter Lord Medway.
Lord M. How now, Medway! what's the meaning of this? alone, and with a countenance of despair! I bid you wear a better face. Where's Mrs. Knightly? have not you seen her yet? I thought, by this time, to have found you at her feet, and as I passed by the door, stepped in to help you to make love; for I know your heart is not warm in the business.
Col. M. My lord, I am very glad you are come : you must, indeed, make love for me; for I assure you, I am in no condition to speak for myself.
Lord M. Why, what's the matter, man? I suppose Miss Richly and you have been whining over one another: did not I warn you against that, George, and bid you write to her?
Col. M. So I did, my lord; but, unfortunately, she did not receive my letter; so that, by accident, we met just now, not, I assure you, with the least design on either side.
Lord M. That was unlucky; but how came she to miss of your letter?
Col. M. By a circumstance still more unlucky, for she is afraid her sister got it.
Lord M. What a curst untoward accident, if that be so; yet her love for you will make her overlook all this. 'Twas but a thing of course, mere gallantry.— I'll lead you to her, and turn it off.
Col. M. I beg of you, my lord, to see her first alone; she does not know that I am come; the servant conducted me to this room, supposing she was here; and lucky it was for me that it happened otherwise:—her sister's presence so disconcerted me, that I should have acquitted mvself but very ill towards her.
Lord M. But she expects you by this time; a lover and out-stay his appointment! for shame, George!
Col. M. Lei me beseech your lordship to dispense with my seeing her just now; I'll take a turn or two in the Park, and endeavour to compose myself; and if my passion tor her sister should be mentioned, you, my lord, can, with a better grace than I, give it what turn you please.
Lord M. Well—perhaps it may be better so. I own I had rather she should speak of that to me than to you. —Get vou gone quickly—I'll prepare the way for you —She admits me to her toilet. [Exeunt different ways. ACT V.
Scene I.—Lord Medxuay's House.
Enter Loud Medway. Lord M. By what a strange fatality are all my actions governed !—Nothing that I can devise but what ends in disappointment and vexation.—Yet in this last instance, I ought to be thankful for my disappointment; for had my design been accomplished, into what a horrid gulf should I have plunged my children. It makes my blood run cold to think of it. I was born for destruction, and the ruins I have made myself are now come tumbling on my head. No hope left for avoiding them—no prospect before me but disgrace.
And the life of shame I have to look back on!
To think how I have abused and perverted every gift
bestowed on me for a blessing! How I sicken at
my own reflections!
Enter Colonel Medway.
George! What now, George?
Col. M. My lord, I have been endeavouring to assume such a frame of mind, as will, I hope, enable me to go through with the task in which I have engaged. I am ready now to wait on Mrs. Knightly.
Lord M. I did not expect you back so soon.
Col. M. I thought, my lord, the sooner I returned, it would be the more agreeable to you, as well as respectful to the lady.
Lord M. Can you feel nothing more than respect for that lady, son?
Col. M. My lord, you know I cannot. My heart is given to another. I must be unhappy, yet I hope I shall not make Mrs. Knightly so.
Lord M, Poor woman !—she is already too much so. Cot. M. Have you had any conversation with her, my lord?
Lord M. I have. You cannot be her husband.
Col M. 1 am willing, my lord, if the lady will accept of me.
Lord M. You know not what you say. Oh,
George, G orge!—you will start when I tell you the $tr'mge discovery I have made.
Col. M. What is it, my lord?
Lord M. Mrs. Knightly she to whom I would
Jiave joined you I find is——
lordM. Oh, Medway !—my own daughter. Col. M. You amaze me, my lord—how did you discover it?
Lord M. When I went to solicit for you, I found her in her closet, under great agitation, on account of the letter you had written to her sister.—I pleaded for
you, but found her averse and cold. In a little pause
of discourse, I happened to cast my eyes on the picture of a ladv, which hung just before me, and was struck with the resemblance of a beauty, whom, in my early days, I loved, and cruelly betrayed.
Col. M. I remember, my lord, to have heard you speak of some such thing—a lady, who, when you made your first campaign in Portugal, gave you her love.
Lord M. The same—I thought the injured countenance seemed to frown upon me. Surprised at the sight, I hastily demanded whose the picture was, and was told by Mrs. Knightly 'twas her mother's.
Col. M. That must, indeed, my lord, have shocked you.
Lord M. Oh 'twas nothing to what I suffered after, when further urging her to satisfy my curiosity, she told me her mother's name and family! The apparent