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much slighted. And now, best of women! receive my hand a second time; and with it an assurance, which I could never make before, that you possess my heart entire. [They embrace.
Lady M. Oh, my dear, I was never truly happy till this instant.
Lord M. You'll find my conduct as perfectly reformed as your heart can wish; assure yourself you will.
Lady M. Pray, my dear, no more—You are now every thing that I would have you to be. I have but one wish left, which, could it be accomplished, would render me completely happy Poor Louisa!
Lord M. I understand you, my dear—I hear young Branville is returned.
Lady M. He is, my lord; he arrived last night—I do not presume to mention him; but indeed she cannot be happy with Sir Anthony.
Lord M. I would willingly gratify you in every thing; but how can I acquit myself with honour to Sir Anthony? You know he has my promise.
Lady M. I know it, my dear; yet I am sure he is still so much in Mrs. Kniglitly's power, that with her assistance, I make no doubt but you could be easily disengaged from it.
Lord M. If that could be done
Lady M. We shall certainly have a visit from him presently; suppose, my lord, Mrs. Knightly were to try her influence on him when they meet, it will be a good opportunity
Lord M. Well, my dear,——you shall take your own way.
Enter Colonel Medway, Mrs. Knightly, Miss Richly, and Louisa; while Lord Medway and the Colonel talk apart. Mrs. Knightly presents Iter sister to Lady Medway.
Mrs. Knight. Madam, receive a sister from my hands.
Miss Rich. Oh, sister, my obligations to you
Mrs. Knight. No more, sister; I have but acquitted myself of a duty
Lady M. Louisa, I have been petitioning for you once more; my lord has yielded, if he can with honour get oft' from his word with Sir Anthony. Dear Mrs. Knightly, with a little of your help, I am sure it could easily be done.
Mrs. Knight. Madam, you may command me in any thing.
Louisa. Oh, madam! a word from you, nay, a kind look, would, I am sure, recal your fugitive lover.
Mr*. Knight. I have not the vanity to think so; but since it will be agreeable to you, I'll try if I have still any interest in him.
Lady M. This is about his time of visiting us. What if you were to try the experiment here?
Mrs. Knight. To oblige you, ladies—thus much I must tell you, I never mean to marry again; but I know it will content Sir Anthony, barely to be restored to my good graces.
Enter a Servant.
Serv. Sir Anthony Branville is below, my lord?
Lady M. Dear my lord, suffer him to be conducted in here.
Mrs. Knight. My lord, I have a design of stealing him from Miss Medway, I assure you.
Lord M. Oh, I see you have been plotting.—Desire Sir Anthony to walk up. Louisa, on this joyful day
Vol. iv. %
I must not suffer you to wear a look of discontent—
Enter Sir Anthony, bows low to Lord and Lady MedWay, then looks round with surprise.
Sir A. Eran. My lord, I thought my eyes would have been blessed with the sight of my fair mistress.
Mrs. Knight. Then I find it is all over. [Half aside.] —What, Sir Anthony, not a look! Have you quite forgot me?
Sir A. Bran. Ah, madam, that inquiry comes a little of the latest, I do assure you.
Mrs. Knight. I am sorry for it, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Eran. My lord, I hope your lordship is of opinion that I do not deviate from that fidelity which I owe your excellent daughter, in entering into conference with this lady.
Lord M. By no means, sir.
Sir A. Bran. I flatter myself I am indulged with your ladyship's favourable construction on the same occasion?
Lady M. Without doubt, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. Colonel, I would intreat the favour of being uncensured by you likewise.
Col. M. Oh, Sir Anthony, the laws of good-breeding are not to be dispensed with.
Mrs. Knight. Sir Anthony, I am glad of the opportunity of asking your pardon, in presence of this worthy family, for any part of my behaviour which you may have taken amiss.
Sir A. Bran. Madam, I am not worthy of so great a concession; would to heaven there had never been anv occasion given for it!
Mrs. Knight. I wish so too, Sir Anthony; but I fiud my repentance comes too late.
Sir A. Eran. Repentance! heavens, madam, do you condescend to feel any compunction on the occasion?
Mrs. Knight. I do indeed, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. Then, madam, I apprehend it will not be so advisable for me to abide within the reach of your influence; I think I cannot do a wiser thing than to stop my ears against your allurements.
Mrs. Knight. Not till you have first heard me, dear Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. Dear Sir Anthony! [Aside.]—I had best depart, Lady Medway.
Lady M. No, pray stay, good Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. There is a great peril in it, I assure your ladyship.
Col. M. I thought your love for my sister, Sir Anthony, would be a sufficient guard against your relapsing.
Sir A. Bran. Her charms, colonel, I am ready to acknowledge, should be an armour of proof; but give me leave to tell you, if there be a vulnerable part about me, this sorceress (craving her pardon for the expression) will certainly find it out.
Mrs. Knight. Sir Anthony, I confess I have been to blame in trifling with a man of your worth; yet I own I did not think you would have taken my little capricious coyness for an absolute refusal of your addresses.
Sir A. Bran. Madam, madam, take care; I am but a man; though I hope not without fortitude to sustain those trials of my virtue and my patience.
Mrs. Knight. Tis I, Sir Anthony, who have most need of fortitude—but go, ungrateful as you are.
Sir A. Fran. Do you hear that, my lord? Before heaven, there never was such an enchantress since the days of Armida.
Lord M. I am surprised, I confess, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. Well you may, my lord—she is hung
round with spells I do aver it to you I am rooted
here; I have not power to stir, my lord.
Col. M. Bless me, Sir Anthony, that's very strange.
Sir A. Bran. [Walks about.] I use the word but metaphorically, colonel; I have not absolutely lost the use of my limbs, thank heaven.
Lord M. Then, Sir Anthony, you had better retire, before it be too late.
Mrs. Knight. Ay do, and carry that love, which was my right, to Miss Medway; but let me tell you, sir, as a punishment for your inconstancy, that her heart is already given away to another.
Sir A. Bran. 'Tis unlawful in you, madam, to slander an innocent lady's reputation.
Mrs. Knight. I speak nothing but the truth, Sir An-, thony; and what is more, I know your nephew Branville is the man, and that she is equally beloved by him.
Sir A. Bran. My nephew Branville! Oh, heavens, madam, what do you tell me! My lord! my Lady Medway! may I believe what this incomprehensible fair one says?
Lady M. Sir Anthony, I must own that I believe there is an affection between your nephew and my daughter.
Sir A. Bran. I am thunderstruck petrified converted into stone!
Lady M. I think, Sir Anthony, there is nothing so extraordinary in the circumstance.
Sir A. Bran. Madam, there is such a degree of impurity, in the bare imagination of a nuptial so circumstanced, as has, I assure you, totally subverted my whole system.
Col. M. I am sorry, Sir Anthony, you were not informed of this sooner.
Sir A. Bran. Sir, 'tis not too late to prevent my honour from being stained.
Lord M. You must judge for yourself in this case, Sir Anthony.
Sir A. Bran. My lord, passionately as I admire the