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confusion this threw me into, roused her in her turn to ask me some questions, which brought about this amazing explanation.
Col. M. She could not know you by name, my lord, as it was since my birth you assumed that with the title of Medway.
Lord M. True.—She had heard of me by my own family name, and asked me, with a faltering voice, whether I had not formerly been at Lisbon, and borne the name of Selby. My acknowledging that I had, threw her into agonies, from which I, with difficulty, recovered her.
Col. M. Did you never know, my lord, that you had a daughter by that lady?
Lord M. Oh, no, no! I was recalled to England early in my amour with her. I married soon after my return, and, thoughtless and young as I then was, never inquired after her more.
Col. M. How then, my lord, can you be certain of this fact?
Lord M. Oh, Medway! by too sure an evidence— the penitence and deep remorse of a dying woman! The unhappy lady confessed the secret, with all its circumstances, to this her daughter, when she was on her death-bed.
Col. M. Mrs. Knightly, then, had passed for Mr. Richly's daughter?
Lord M. She had; the match between him and her mother was hastily concluded by her friends, immediately after my departure. At the time of this lady'* birth, Mr. Richly was absent on his affairs in the Indies; and though she came into the world in less than seven months after the marriage, yet (this circumstance being carefully concealed from him) he never doubted of her being his own.
Col. M. Poor Clara! she then has been doubly wronged, in being deprived of her birthright, as well as in losing the unequal portion which her father left her.
Lord M. That was the cause which wrung the secret from her dying mother's breast. Her deceased husband had, through a partial fondness for his supposed eldest daughter, left her such a disproportionate share of his wealth; and the mother, in divulging the secret, charged Mrs. Knightly, with her last breath, to do justice to her sister. This she herself, in the hurry of her shame, surprise, and grief, acknowledged to me.
Col. M. I long to know, my lord, what resulted from this extraordinary interview.
Lord M. Mrs. Knightly's agitations are not to be described. She wept and wrung her hands. I mixed my tears with her's; and while she fell on her knees before me, I involuntarily dropped on one of mine, and begged of her to accept of a blessing from her repentant father. She strained me to her bosom; then rising with a noble air, she made a sorrowful and silent motion with her hand that I should leave her. I did so; and hastened home, to brood over my own reflections Oh, such reflections, such reflections,
Col. M. My lord, there is something so extraordinary in this event, that it looks as if Providence itself had interposed.
Lord M. Oh, Medway, 'tis for your sake then; I do not deserve the care of heaven!
Col. M. I beg, my lord, you will not entertain such desponding thoughts, but hope the best.
Lord M. George! there's no foundation here for hope; I want that within which should support me. It is not the flashiness of wit, or vanity of superior talents that can avail me in an hour like this. I'd give them all, nay, the whole world, were I master of it, to be possessed of such a virtuous self-acquitted heart as yours.
Col. M. Your thinking thus, my lord, makes you almost the very man you wish to be.
Lord M. Oh, George, George! words cannot describe the anguish which I feel. I should be resigned to it, did it concern myself only, as the just punishment of a life of folly and vice; but when I think of you and of your mother, I am distracted.
Enter Lady Medway.
Lady M. My dear! [lord Medway turns from tier.'] Medway, why do you let your father sink thus under his apprehensions?
Col. M. Do you speak to him, madam, he wants your tenderness to soothe the troubles of his mind.
Lady M. My dear, you have no cause to be thus affected; I come a happy messenger of joyful news to you.
Lord M. Joyful, do you say! that would indeed surprise me.
Lady M. Mrs. Knightly is in my chamber, my lord. We have had a long conversation. She has told me the strange event which this day has unfolded, and begs to speak with you—shall I bring her in?
Lord M. Ay, pray do, my dear.
[Exit Lady Medway.
Col. M. Reassume your spirits, my lord; I dare promise you a happy issue to this affair.
Lord M. I own this unexpected visit from Mrs. Knightly has a little revived me; and the generous frankness with which she has communicated the secret to my wife, shows she has a noble and enlarged mind.
Enter Lady Medway and Mrs. Knightly. Mrs. Knight. My lord, I thought to have found you alone. I cannot, without confusion, look up to Colonel Medway.
Lord M. You, madam, have no cause; but, if my son's_ presence creates in you any uneasiness, he shall withdraw.
Mrs. Knight. He need not, my lord; for as he is materially concerned in what I have to say, it is fit he should be present at my explanation. I presume, sir, you are by this time no stranger to my story.
Col. M. I think myself happy, madam, in finding I have so near and tender a claim to your regard.
Mrs. Knight. I hope to give you one still nearer, sir. I will not now apologize for the means by which I came at the knowledge of that mutual love which I find there is between my sister and you.
Lady M. It needs no excuse, madam; it was a happy event, as it gave my lord the opportunity of making a discovery so fortunate for us all.
Mrs. Knight. My lord, I owe my sister a large amends for the distress I have occasioned her on more accounts than one; and you, in your turn, I think, should recompense your son for the sacrifice he was willing to make to you. Has he your permission to make Clara his bride?
Col. M. Oh, madam, you are too, too good.
Mrs. Knight. You have but little reason, sir, to say so yet. My lord, the colonel's love for my sister ensures his happiness, and, to render her acceptable to vou, I am ready to share half my fortune with her.
Lord M. Oh, Medway, what an exalted mind is here!
Lady M. My dear, do not keep your son suspended; he seems to check the transports that I see rising in hif heart, till he has his father's sanction to his love.
Lord M. Take, take your Clara from this excellent creature's hand, and may you both be blessed!
Mrs. Knight. No thanks, colonel—[The Colonel advances to Mrs. Knightly.]—restrain your raptures till you see my sister. I have sent to desire her company here And now, my lord, I hope I have, bv this one act of justice (for it is no more) made happy the nearest and dearest relations I have on earth.
Lord M. Son! Lady Medvvay '. help me to praise and to acknowledge, as I ought, such unexampled goodness!
Lady M. Oh, my dear, I want words Medway's
gratitude, you see, has stopp'd his utterance.
Enter a Servant.
Sera. Miss Richly, madam, is below.
Mrs. Knight. My lord, and Lady Medway, will you let me have the pleasure of presenting the colonel to my sister without any other witness?
Lord and Lady M. By all means.
Col. M. You, madam, have the best right to dispose of me.
Mrs. Knight. Come, sir.
[She gives him her hand, and he leads her out.
Lord M. Oh, Lady Medway, I have not merited the benefits which are thus showered down upon me.' But it is your goodness, your's and my children's virtue, have been the care of Providence, and I am blessed but for your sakes. Yet, my dear, I have the satisfaction to assure you, that what has passed this morning, joined to some other late incidents, has so thoroughly awakened reflection in me, that from this day forward you will find me a new man.
Lady M. My lord, if you are sensible of any thing in your conduct that you would wish to rectify, I rejoice that you have taken your resolutions from the feelings of your own heart; for it would grieve me if I thought I had even by a look reproached you.
Lord M. You never did, madam; I acknowledge you have been the best of wives; 'tis time now that I should in my turn study to deserve that constant and tender regard for you, which I have hitherto but too