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The Love-Chase by James Sheridan Knowles

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"The Widow Jones" to come from Italy!

[Goes out.]

Wild. Confound the Widow Jones! 'Tis true! The air
Well as the huntsman's triple mort I know,
But knew not then indeed, 'twas so disguised
With shakes and flourishes, outlandish things,
That mar, not grace, an honest English song!
Howe'er, the mischief's done! and as for her,
She is either into hate or madness fallen.
If madness, would she had her wits again,
Or I my heart! If hate, my love's undone;
I'll give her up. I'll e'en to Master Trueworth,
Confess my treason--own my punishment -
Take horse, and back again to Lincolnshire!

[Goes out.]

Con. [Returning.] Not here! I trust I have not gone too far!
If he should quit the house! Go out of town!
Poor neighbour Wildrake! Little does he owe me!
From childhood I've been used to plague him thus.
Why would he fall in love, and spoil it all!
I feel as I could cry! He has no right
To marry any one! What wants he with
A wife? Has he not plague enough in me?
Would he be plagued with anybody else?
Ever since I have lived in town I have felt
The want of neighbour Wildrake! Not a soul
Besides I care to quarrel with; and now
He goes and gives himself to another! What!
Am I in love with neighbour Wildrake? No.
I only would not have him marry--marry?
Sooner I'd have him dead than have him marry!


SCENE I.--A Room in Master Waller's House.

[Enter ALICE, hastily.]

Alice. [Speaking to the outside.] Fly, Stephen, to the door! your
rapier! quick! -
Our master is beset, because of one
Whose part he takes, a maid, whom lawless men
Would lawlessly entreat! In what a world
We live!--How do I shake!--with what address
[Looking out of window.]
He lays about him, and his other arm
Engaged, in charge of her whom he defends!
A damsel worth a broil!--Now, Stephen, now!
Take off the odds, brave lad, and turn the scale!
I would I were a swordsman! How he makes
His rapier fly!--Well done!--O Heaven, there's blood.
But on the side that's wrong!--Well done, good Stephen!
Pray Heaven no life be ta'en!--Lay on, brave lad!
He has marked his man again. Good lad--Well done,
I pray no mischief come!--Press on him, Stephen!
Now gives he ground.--Follow thy advantage up!
Allow no pause for breaths!--Hit him again!
Forbid it end in death!--Lounge home, good Stephen!
How fast he now retreats!--That spring, I'll swear,
Was answer to thy point!--Well fenced!--Well fenced!
Now Heaven forefend it end in death!--He flies!
And from his comrade, the same moment, hath
Our master jerked his sword--The day is ours!
Quick may they get a surgeon for their wounds,
And I, a cordial for my fluttered spirits:
I vow, I'm nigh to swoon!

Wal. [Without.] Hoa! Alice! Hoa!
Open the door! Quick, Alice! Quick!

Alice. Anon!
Young joints take no thought of aged ones,
But ever think them as supple as themselves.

Wal. Alice!

Alice. [Opening the door.] I'm here!--A mercy! -
Is she dead?

[Enter MASTER WALLER, bearing LYDIA, fainting.]

Wal. No, she but faints.--A chair!--Quick, Alice, quick!
Water to bathe her temples.

[ALICE goes out.]

Such a turn
Kind fortune never do me. Shall I kiss
To life these frozen lips?--No!--of her plight
'Twere base to take advantage.

[ALICE returns, &c.]

All is well,
The blood returns.

Alice. How wondrous fair she is!

Wal. Thou think'st her so?--No wonder then should I.
How say you?--Wondrous fair? [Aside.]

Alice. Yes; wondrous fair!
Harm never come to her! So sweet a thing
'Twere pity were abused!

Wal. You think her fair?

Alice. Ay, marry! Half so fair were more than match
For fairest she e'er saw mine eyes before!
And what a form! A foot and instep there!
Vouchers of symmetry! A little foot
And rising instep, from an ankle arching,
A palm, and that a little one, might span.

Wal. Who taught thee thus?

Alice. Why who, but her, taught thee?
Thy mother!--Heaven rest her!--Thy good mother!
She could read men and women by their hands
And feet!--And here's a hand!--A fairy palm!
Fingers that taper to the pinky tips,
With nails of rose, like shells of such a hue,
Berimmed with pearl, you pick up on the shore!
Save these the gloss and tint do wear without.

Wal. Why, how thou talk'st!

Alice. Did I not tell thee thus
Thy mother used to talk? Such hand and foot,
She would say, in man or woman vouched for nature
High tempered!--Still for sentiment refined;
Affection tender; apprehension quick -
Degrees beyond the generality!
There is a marriage finger! Curse the hand
Would balk it of a ring!

Wal. She's quite restored,
Leave us!--Why cast'st thou that uneasy look?
Why linger'st thou? I'm not alone with her.
My honour's with her too. I would not wrong her.

Alice. And if thou wouldst, thou'rt not thy mother's son.

[Goes out.]

Wal. You are better?

Lydia. Much!--much!

Wal. Know you him who durst
Attempt this violence in open day?
It seemed as he would force thee to his coach,
I saw attending.

Lydia. Take this letter, sir,
And send the answer--I must needs be gone.

Wal. [Throwing the letter away.] I read no letter!
Tell me, what of him
I saw offend thee?

Lydia. He hath often met me,
And by design I think, upon the street,
And tried to win mine ear, which ne'er he got
Save only by enforcement. Presents--gifts -
Of jewels and of gold to wild amount,
To win an audience, hath he proffered me;
Until, methought, my silence--for my lips
Disdained reply were question was a wrong -
Had wearied him. Oh, sir, whate'er of life
Remains to me I had foregone, ere proved
The horror of this hour!--and you it is
That have protected me?

Wal. Oh, speak not on't!

Lydia. You that have saved me from mine enemy -

Wal. I pray you to forget it.

Lydia. From a foe
More dire than he that putteth life in peril -

Wal. Sweet Lydia, I beseech you spare me.

Lydia. No!
I will not spare you.--You have brought me to safety,
You whom I fear worse than that baleful foe.

[Rises to go.]

Wal. [Kneeling and snatching her hand.] Lydia!

Lydia. Now, make thy bounty perfect. Drop
My hand. That posture which dishonours thee,
Quit!--for 'tis shame on shame to show respect
Where we do feel disdain. Throw ope thy gate
And let me pass, and never seek with me,
By look, or speech, or aught, communion more!

Wal. Thou saidst thou lovedst me?

Lydia. Yes! when I believed
My tongue did take of thee its last adieu,
And now that I do know it--for be sure
It never bids adieu to thee again -
Again, I tell it thee! Release me, sir!
Rise!--and no hindrance to my will oppose.
That would be free to go.

Wal. I cannot lose thee!

Lydia. Thou canst not have me!

Wal. No!

Lydia. Thou canst not. I
Repeat it.--Yet I'm thine--thine every way,
Except where honour fences!--Honour, sir,
Not property of gentle blood alone;
Of gentle blood not always property!
Thou'lt not obey me. Still enforcest me!
Oh, what a contradiction is a man!
What in another he one moment spurns,
The next--he does himself complacently!

Wal. Wouldst have me lose the hand that holds my life?

Lydia. Hear me and keep it, if thou art a man!
I love thee--for thy benefit would give
The labour of that hand!--wear out my feet
Rack the invention of my mind!--the powers
Of my heart in one volition gather up!
My life expend, and think no more I gave
Than he who wins a priceless gem for thanks!
For such goodwill canst thou return me wrong?

Wal. Yet, for awhile, I cannot let thee go.
Propound for me an oath that I'll not wrong thee!
An oath, which, if I break it, will entail
Forfeit of earth and heaven. I'll take it--so
Thou stay'st one hour with me.

Lydia. No!--Not one moment!
Unhand me, or I shriek!--I know the summons
Will pierce into the street, and set me free!
I stand in peril while I'm near thee! She
Who knows her danger, and delays escape,
Hath but herself to thank, whate'er befalls!
Sir, I may have a woman's weakness, but
I have a woman's resolution, too,
And that's a woman's strength!
One moment more! -

Wal. Lo! Thou art free to go!

[Rises and throws himself distractedly into a chair.]

[LYDIA approaches the door--her pace slackens--she pauses with her
hand upon the lock--turns, and looks earnestly on WALLER.]

Lydia. I have a word
To say to thee; if by thy mother's honour,
Thou swear'st to me thou wilt not quit thy seat.

Wal. I swear as thou propound'st to me.

Lydia. [After a pause, bursting into tears.] Oh, why -
Why have you used me thus? See what you've done!
Essayed to light a guilty passion up,
And kindled in its stead a holy one!
For I do love thee! Know'st thou not the wish
To find desert doth bring it oft to sight
Where yet it is not? so, for substance, passes
What only is a phantasm of our minds!
I feared thy love was guilty--yet my wish
To find it honest, stronger than my fear,
My fear with fatal triumph overthrew!
Now hope and fear give up to certainty,
And I must fly thee--yet must love thee still!

Wal. Lydia! by all -

Lydia. I pray you hear me out!
Was 't right? was 't generous? was 't pitiful?
One way or other I might be undone:
To love with sin--or love without a hope!

Wal. Yet hear me, Lydia! -

Lydia. Stop! I'm undone!
A maid without a heart--robbed of the soil,
Wherein life's hopes and wishes root and spring,
And thou the foe that did me so much hate,
And vowed me so much love!--but I forgive thee!
Yea, I do bless thee!

[Rushing up and sinking at his feet.]

Recollect thy oath! -
Or in thy heart lodged never germ of honour,
But 'tis a desert all!

[She kisses his hand--presses it to her heart, and kisses it again.]

Farewell then to thee!


Mayst thou be happy. [Going.]

Wal. Wouldst ensure the thing
Thou wishest?

[She moves towards the door with a gesture that prohibits further

Stop! [She continues to move on.]
Oh, sternly resolute! [She still moves.]
I mean thee honour!

[She stops and turns towards him.]

Thou dost meditate -
I know it--flight. Give me some pause for thought,
But to confirm a mind almost made up.
If in an hour thou hearest not from me, then
Think me a friend far better lost than won!
Wilt thou do this?

Lydia. I will.

Wal. An hour decides.

[They go out severalty.]

SCENE II.--A Room in Sir William Fondlove's House.


Wild. You are not angry?

True. No; I knew the service
I sent you on was one of danger.

Wild. Thank you.
Most kind you are--And you believe she loves me:
And your own hopes give up to favour mine.
Was ever known such kindness! Much I fear
'Twill cost you.

True. Never mind! I'll try and bear it.

Wild. That's right. No use in yielding to a thing.
Resolve does wonders! Shun the sight of her -
See other women!--Fifty to be found
As fair as she.

True. I doubt it.

Wild. Doubt it not.
Doubt nothing that gives promise of a care.
Right handsome dames there are in Lancashire,
Whence called their women, witches!--witching things!
I know a dozen families in which
You'd meet a courtesy worthy of a bow.
I'll give you letters to them.

True. Will you?

Wild. Yes.

True. The worth of a disinterested friend!

Wild. O Master Trueworth, deeply I'm your debtor
I own I die for love of neighbour Constance!
And thou to give her up for me! Kind friend!
What won't I do for thee?--Don't pine to death;
I'll find thee fifty ways to cure thy passion,
And make thee heart-whole, if thou'rt so resolved.
Thou shalt be master of my sporting stud,
And go a hunting. If that likes thee not,
Take up thy quarters at my shooting-lodge;
There is a cellar to 't--make free with it.
I'll thank thee if thou emptiest it. The song
Gives out that wine feeds love--It drowns it, man!
If thou wilt neither hunt nor shoot, try games;
Play at loggats, bowls, fives, dominoes, draughts, cribbage,
Backgammon--special recipes for love!
And you believe, for all the hate she shows,
That neighbour Constance loves me?

True. 'Tis my thought.

Wild. How shall I find it out?

True. Affect to love
Another. Say your passion thrives; the day
Is fixed; and pray her undertake the part
Of bridemaid to your bride. 'Twill bring her out.

Wild. You think she'll own her passion?

True. If she loves.

Wild. I thank thee! I will try it! Master Trueworth,
What shall I say to thee, to give her up,
And love her so?

True. Say nothing.

Wild. Noble friend!
Kind friend! Instruct another man the way
To win thy mistress! Thou'lt not break my heart?
Take my advice, thou shalt not be in love
A month! Frequent the playhouse!--walk the Park!
I'll think of fifty ladies that I know,
Yet can't remember now--enchanting ones!
And then there's Lancashire!--and I have friends
In Berkshire and in Wiltshire, that have swarms
Of daughters! Then my shooting-lodge and stud!
I'll cure thee in a fortnight of thy love!
And now to neighbour Constance--yet almost
I fear accosting her--a hundred times
Have I essayed to break my mind to her,
But still she stops my mouth with restless scorn!
Howe'er, thy scheme I'll try, and may it thrive!
For I am sick for love of neighbour Constance.
Farewell, dear Master Trueworth! Take my counsel -
Conquer thy passion! Do so! Be a man!

[Goes out.]

True. Feat easy done that does not tax ourselves!

[Enter Phoebe.]

Phoebe. A letter, sir.

[Goes out.]

True. Good sooth, a roaming one,
And yet slow traveller. This should have reached me
In Lombardy.--The hand! Give way, weak seal,
Thy feeble let too strong for my impatience!
Ha! Wronged!--Let me contain myself!--Compelled
To fly the roof that gave her birth!--My sister!
No partner in her flight but her pure honour!
I am again a brother. Pillow, board,
I know not till I find her.

[Enter WALLER.]

Wal. Master Trueworth!

True. Ha! Master Waller! Welcome, Master Waller.

Wal. Good Master Trueworth, thank you. Finding you
From home, I e'en made bold to follow you,
For I esteem you as a man, and fain
Would benefit by your kind offices.
But let me tell you first, to your reproof,
I am indebted more than e'er I was
To praise of any other! I am come, sir,
To give you evidence I am not one
Who owns advice is right, and acts not on't.

True. Pray you explain.

Wal. Will you the bearer be
Of this to one has cause to thank you, too,
Though I the larger debtor?--Read it, sir.

True. [Reading the letter.] "At morn to-morrow I will make you
Will you accept from me the name of wife -
The name of husband give me in exchange?"

Wal. How say you, sir?

True. 'Tis boldly--nobly done!

Wal. If she consents--which affectation 'twere
To say I doubt--bid her prepare for church,
And you shall act the father, sir, to her
You did the brother by.

True. Right willingly,
Though matter of high moment I defer,
Mind, heart, and soul, are all enlisted in!

Wal. May I implore you, haste! A time is set! -
How light an act of duty makes the heart!

[They go out together.]

SCENE III.--Another Chamber in Sir William's house.

[CONSTANCE discovered.]

Con. I'll pine to death for no man! Wise it were,
Indeed, to die for neighbour Wildrake--No! -
I know the duty of a woman, better -
What fits a maid of spirit! I am out
Of patience with myself, to cast a thought
Away upon him. Hang him! Lovers cost
Nought but the pains of luring. I'll get fifty,
And break the heart of every one of them!
I will! I'll be the champion of my sex,
And take revenge on shallow, fickle man,
Who gives his heart to fools, and slights the worth
Of proper women! I suppose she's handsome!
My face 'gainst hers, at hazard of mine eyes!
A maid of mind! I'll talk her to a stand,
Or tie my tongue for life! A maid of soul!
An artful, managing, dissembling one!
Or she had never caught. Him!--he's no man
To fall in love himself, or long ago
I warrant he had fall'n in love with me!
I hate the fool--I do! Ha, here he comes.
What brings him hither? Let me dry my eyes;
He must not see I have been crying. Hang him,
I have much to do, indeed, to cry for him!


Wild. Your servant, neighbour Constance.

Con. Servant, sir!
Now what, I wonder, comes the fool to say,
Makes him look so important?

Wild. Neighbour Constance,
I am a happy man.

Con. What makes you so?

Wild. A thriving suit.

Con. In Chancery?

Wild. Oh, no!
In love.

Con. Oh, true! You are in love! Go on!

Wild. Well, as I said, my suit's a thriving one.

Con. You mean you are beloved again!--I don't
Believe it.

Wild. I can give you proof.

Con. What proof?
Love letters? She's a shameless maid
To write them! Can she spell? Ay, I suppose
With prompting of a dictionary!

Wild. Nay
Without one.

Con. I will lay you ten to one
She cannot spell! How know you she can spell?
You cannot spell yourself! You write command
With a single M-C-O-M-A-N-D:
Yours to Co-mand.

Wild. I did not say she wrote
Love letters to me.

Con. Then she suffers you to press
Her hand, perhaps?

Wild. She does.

Con. Does she press yours?

Wild. She does.--It goes on swimmingly! [Aside.]

Con. She does!
She is no modest woman! I'll be bound,
Your arm the madam suffers round her waist?

Wild. She does!

Con. She does! Outrageous forwardness!
Does she let you kiss her?

Wild. Yes.

Con. She should be -

Wild. What?

Con. What you got thrice your share of when at school,
And yet not half your due! A brazen face!
More could not grant a maid about to wed.

Wild. She is so.

Con. What?

Wild. How swimmingly it goes! [Aside.]

Con. [With suppressed impatience.] Are you about to marry,
neighbour Wildrake?
Are you about to marry?

Wild. Excellent. [Aside.]

Con. [Breaking out.] Why don't you answer me?

Wild. I am.

Con. You are -
I tell you what, sir--You're a fool!

Wild. For what?

Con. You are not fit to marry. Do not know
Enough of the world, sir! Have no more experience,
Thought, judgment, than a schoolboy! Have no mind
Of your own!--your wife will make a fool of you,
Will jilt you, break your heart! I wish she may
I do! You have no more business with a wife;
Than I have! Do you mean to say, indeed,
You are about to marry?

Wild. Yes, indeed.

Con. And when?

Wild. I'll say to-morrow! [Aside.]

Con. When, I say?

Wild. To-morrow.

Con. Thank you: much beholden to you!
You've told me on't in time! I'm very much
Beholden to you, neighbour Wildrake!
And, I pray you, at what hour?

Wild. That we have left
For you to name.

Con. For me!

Wild. For you.

Con. Indeed.
You're very bountiful! I should not wonder
Meant you I should be bridemaid to the lady?

Wild. 'Tis just the thing I mean!

Con. [Furiously.] The thing you mean!
Now pray you, neighbour, tell me that again,
And think before you speak; for much I doubt
You know what you are saying. Do you mean
To ask me to be bridemaid?

Wild. Even so.

Con. Bridemaid?

Wild. Ay, bridemaid!--It is coming fast
Unto a head. [Aside.]

Con. And 'tis for me you wait
To fix the day? It shall be doomsday, then!

Wild. Be doomsday?

Con. Doomsday!

Wild. Wherefore doomsday?

Con. Wherefore!--[Boxes him.]
Go ask your bride, and give her that from me.
Look, neighbour Wildrake! you may think this strange,
But don't misconstrue it! For you are vain, sir!
And may put down for love what comes from hate.
I should not wonder, thought you I was jealous;
But I'm not jealous, sir!--would scorn to be so
Where it was worth my while--I pray henceforth
We may be strangers, sir--you will oblige me
By going out of town. I should not like
To meet you on the street, sir. Marry, sir!
Marry to-day! The sooner, sir, the better!
And may you find you have made a bargain, sir.
As for the lady!--much I wish her joy.
I pray you send me no bridecake, sir!
Nor gloves--If you do, I'll give them to my maid!
Or throw them into the kennel--or the fire.
I am your most obedient servant, sir!

[Goes out.]

Wild. She is a riddle, solve her he who can!

[Goes out.]


SCENE I.--A Room in Sir William Fondlove's.

[SIR WILLIAM seated with two Lawyers.]

Sir Wil. How many words you take to tell few things
Again, again say over what, said once,
Methinks were told enough!

First Lawyer. It is the law,
Which labours at precision.

Sir Wil. Yes; and thrives
Upon uncertainty--and makes it, too,
With all its pains to shun it. I could bind
Myself, methinks, with but the twentieth part
Of all this cordage, sirs.--But every man,
As they say, to his own business. You think
The settlement is handsome?

First Lawyer. Very, sir.

Sir Wil. Then now, sirs, we have done, and take my thanks,
Which, with your charges, I will render you
Again to-morrow.

First Lawyer. Happy nuptials, sir.

[Lawyers go out.]

Sir Wil. Who passes there? Hoa! send my daughter to me,
And Master Wildrake too! I wait for them.
Bold work!--Without her leave to wait upon her,
And ask her go to church!--'Tis taking her
By storm! What else could move her yesterday
But jealousy? What causeth jealousy
But love? She's mine the moment she receives
Conclusive proof, like this, that heart and soul,
And mind and person, I am all her own!
Heigh ho! These soft alarms are very sweet,
And yet tormenting too! Ha! Master Wildrake,


I am glad you're ready, for I'm all in arms
To bear the widow off. Come! Don't be sad;
All must go merrily, you know, to-day! -
She still doth bear him hard, I see! The girl
Affects him not, and Trueworth is at fault,
Though clear it is that he doth die for her. [Aside.]
Well, daughter?--So I see you're ready too.


Why, what's amiss with thee?

Phoebe. [Entering.] The coach is here.

Sir Wil. Come, Wildrake, offer her your arm.

Con. [To WILDRAKE.] I thank you!
I am not an invalid!--can use my limbs!
He knows not how to make an arm, befits
A lady lean upon.

Sir Wil. Why, teach him, then.

Con. Teach him! Teach Master Wildrake! Teach, indeed!
I taught my dog to beg, because I knew
That he could learn it.

Sir Wil. Peace, thou little shrew!
I'll have no wrangling on my wedding-day!
Here, take my arm.

Con. I'll not!--I'll walk alone!
Live, die alone! I do abominate
The fool and all his sex!

Sir Wil. Again!

Con. I have done.
When do you marry, Master Wildrake? She
Will want a husband goes to church with thee!

[They go out.]

SCENE II.--Widow Green's Dressing-room.

[WIDOW GREEN discovered at her Toilet, attended by AMELIA, WALLER'S
Letter to LYDIA in her hand.]

W. Green. Oh, bond of destiny!--Fair bond, that seal'st
My fate in happiness! I'll read thee yet
Again--although thou'rt written on my heart.
But here his hand, indicting thee, did lie!
And this the tracing of his fingers! So
I read thee that could rhyme thee, as my prayers!
"At morn to-morrow I will make you mine.
Will you accept from me the name of wife -
The name of husband give me in exchange?"
The traitress! to break ope my billet-doux,
And take the envelope!--But I forgive her,
Since she did leave the rich contents behind.
Amelia, give this feather more a slope,
That it sit droopingly. I would look all
Dissolvement, nought about me to bespeak
Boldness! I would appear a timid bride,
Trembling upon the verge of wifehood, as
I ne'er before had stood there! That will do.
Oh dear!--How I am agitated--don't
I look so? I have found a secret out, -
Nothing in woman strikes a man so much
As to look interesting! Hang this cheek
Of mine! It is too saucy; what a pity
To have a colour of one's own!--Amelia!
Could you contrive, dear girl, to bleach my cheek,
How I would thank you! I could give it then
What tint I chose, and that should be the hectic
Bespeaks a heart in delicate commotion.
I am much too florid! Stick a rose in my hair,
The brightest you can find, 'twill help, my girl,
Subdue my rebel colour--Nay, the rose
Doth lose complexion, not my cheek! Exchange it
For a carnation. That's the flower, Amelia!
You see how it doth triumph o'er my cheek.
Are you content with me?

Amelia. I am, my lady.

W. Green. And whither think you has the hussy gone,
Whose place you fill so well?--Into the country?
Or fancy you she stops in town?

Amelia. I can't

W. Green. Shame upon her!--Leave her place
Without a moment's warning!--with a man, too!
Seemed he a gentleman that took her hence?

Amelia. He did.

W. Green. You never saw him hero before?

Amelia. Never.

W. Green. Not lounging on the other side
Of the street, and reconnoitring the windows?

Amelia. Never.

W. Green. 'Twas planned by letter. Notes, you know,
Have often come to her--But I forgive her,
Since this advice she chanced to leave behind
Of gentle Master Waller's wishes, which
I bless myself in blessing!--Gods, a knock!
'Tis he! Show in those ladies are so kind
To act my bridemaids for me on this brief
And agitating notice.

[AMELIA goes out.]

Yes, I look
A bride sufficiently! And this the hand
That gives away my liberty again.
Upon my life it is a pretty hand,
A delicate and sentimental hand!
No lotion equals gloves; no woman knows
The use of them that does not sleep in them!
My neck hath kept its colour wondrously!
Well; after all it is no miracle
That I should win the heart of a young man.
My bridemaids come!--Oh dear!

[Enter two Ladies.]

First Lady. How do you, love? A good morning to you--Poor dear,
How much you are affected! Why we thought
You ne'er would summon us.

W. Green. One takes, you know,
When one is flurried, twice the time to dress.
My dears, has either of you salts? I thank you!
They are excellent; the virtue's gone from mine,
Nor thought I of renewing them--Indeed,
I'm unprovided, quite, for this affair.

First Lady. I think the bridegroom's come!

W. Green. Don't say so! How
You've made my heart jump!

First Lady. As you sent for us,
A new-launched carriage drove up to the door;
The servants all in favours.

W. Green. 'Pon my life,
I never shall get through it; lend me your hand.

[Half rises, and throws herself back on her chair again.]

I must sit down again! There came just now
A feeling like to swooning over me.
I am sure before 'tis over I shall make
A fool of myself! I vow I thought not half
So much of my first wedding-day! I'll make
An effort. Let me lean upon your arm,
And give me yours, my dear. Amelia, mind
Keep near me with the smelling-bottle.

Servant. [Entering.] Madam,
The bridegroom's come.

[Goes out.]

W. Green. The brute has knocked me down!
To bolt it out so! I had started less
If he had fired a cannon at my ear.
How shall I ever manage to hold up
Till all is done! I'm tremor head to foot.
You can excuse me, can't you?--Pity me!
One may feel queer upon one's wedding-day.

[They go out.]

SCENE THE LAST.--A Drawing-room.

[Enter Servants, showing in SIR WILLIAM FONDLOVE, CONSTANCE, and
MASTER WILDRAKE--Servants go out again.]

Sir Wil. [Aside to WILDRAKE.] Good Master Wildrake, look more
You do not honour to my wedding-day.
How brisk am I! My body moves on springs!
My stature gives no inch I throw away;
My supple joints play free and sportfully;
I'm every atom what a man should be.

Wild. I pray you pardon me, Sir William!

Sir Wil. Smile, then,
And talk and rally me! I did expect,
Ere half an hour had passed, you would have put me
A dozen times to the blush. Without such things,
A bridegroom knows not his own wedding-day.
I see! Her looks are glossary to thine,
She flouts thee still, I marvel not at thee;
There's thunder in that cloud! I would to-day
It would disperse, and gather in the morning.
I fear me much thou know'st not how to woo.
I'll give thee a lesson. Ever there's a way,
But knows one how to take it? Twenty men
Have courted Widow Green. Who has her now?
I sent to advertise her that to-day
I meant to marry her. She wouldn't open
My note. And gave I up? I took the way
To make her love me! I did send, again
To pray her leave my daughter should be bridemaid.
That letter too came back? Did I give up?
I took the way to make her love me! Yet,
Again I sent to ask what church she chose
To marry at; my note came back again;
And did I yet give up? I took the way
To make her love me! All the while I found
She was preparing for the wedding. Take
A hint from me! She comes! My fluttering heart
Gives note the empress of its realms is near.
Now, Master Wildrake, mark and learn from me
How it behoves a bridegroom play his part.

[Enter WIDOW GREEN, supported by her Bridemaids, and followed by

W. Green. I cannot raise my eyes--they cannot bear
The beams of his, which, like the sun's, I feel
Are on me, though I see them not enlightening
The heaven of his young face; nor dare I scan
The brightness of his form, which symmetry
And youth and beauty in enriching vie.
He kneels to me! Now grows my breathing thick,
As though I did await a seraph's voice,
Too rich for mortal ear.

Sir Wil. My gentle bride!

W. Green. Who's that! who speaks to me?

Sir Wil. These transports check.
Lo, an example to mankind I set
Of amorous emprise; and who should thrive
In love, if not Love's soldier, who doth press
The doubtful siege, and will not own repulse.
Lo, here I tender thee my fealty,
To live thy duteous slave. My queen thou art,
In frowns or smiles, to give me life or death.
Oh, deign look down upon me! In thy face
Alone I look on day; it is my sun
Most bright; the which denied, no sun doth rise.
Shine out upon me, my divinity!
My gentle Widow Green! My wife to be;
My love, my life, my drooping, blushing bride!

W. Green. Sir William Fondlove, you're a fool!

Sir Wil. A fool!

W. Green. Why come you hither, sir, in trim like this?
Or rather why at all?

Sir Wil. Why come I hither?
To marry thee!

W. Green. The man will drive me mad!
Sir William Fondlove, I'm but forty, sir,
And you are sixty, seventy, if a day;
At least you look it, sir. I marry you!
When did a woman wed her grandfather?

Sir Wil. Her brain is turned!

W. Green. You're in your dotage, sir,
And yet a boy in vanity! But know
Yourself from me; you are old and ugly, sir.

Sir Wil. Do you deny you are in love with me?

W. Green. In love with thee!

Sir Wil. That you are jealous of me?

W. Green. Jealous!

Sir Wil. To very lunacy.

W. Green. To hear him!

Sir Wil. Do you forget what happened yesterday?

W. Green. Sir William Fondlove! -

Sir Wil. Widow Green, fair play! -
Are you not laughing? Is it not a jest?
Do you believe me seventy to a day?
Do I look it? Am I old and ugly? Why,
Why do I see those favours in the hall,
These ladies dressed as bridemaids, thee as bride,
Unless to marry me?


W. Green. He is coming, sir,
Shall answer you for me!

[Enter WALLER, with Gentlemen as Bridemen.]

Wal. Where is she? What!
All that bespeaks the day, except the fair
That's queen of it? Most kind of you to grace
My nuptials so! But that I render you
My thanks in full, make full my happiness,
And tell me where's my bride?

W. Green. She's here.

Wal. Where?

W. Green. Here,
Fair Master Waller!

Wal. Lady, do not mock me.

W. Green. Mock thee! My heart is stranger to such mood,
'Tis serious tenderness and duty all.
I pray you mock not me, for I do strive
With fears and soft emotions that require
Support. Take not away my little strength,
And leave me at the mercy of a feather.
I am thy bride! If 'tis thy happiness
To think me so, believe it, and be rich
To thy most boundless wishes! Master Waller,
I am thy waiting bride, the Widow Green!

Wal. Lady, no widow is the bride I seek,
But one the church has never given yet
The nuptial blessing to!

W. Green. What mean you, sir?
Why come a bridegroom here, if not to me
You sued to be your bride? Is this your hand, sir? [Showing

Wal. It is, addressed to your fair waiting-maid.

W. Green. My waiting-maid! The laugh is passing round,
And now the turn is yours, sir. She is gone!
Eloped! run off! and with the gentleman
That brought your billet-doux.

Wal. Is Trueworth false?
He must be false. What madness tempted me
To trust him with such audience as I knew
Must sense, and mind, and soul of man entrance,
And leave him but the power to feel its spell!
Of his own lesson he would profit take,
And plead at once an honourable love,
Supplanting mine, less pure, reformed too late!
And if he did, what merit I, except
To lose the maid I would have wrongly won;
And, had I rightly prized her, now had worn!
I get but my deservings!

[Enter TRUEWORTH, leading in LYDIA, richly dressed, and veiled front
head to foot.]

Master Trueworth,
Though for thy treachery thou hast excuse,
Thou must account for it; so much I lose!
Sir, you have wronged me to amount beyond
Acres, and gold, and life, which makes them rich.
And compensation I demand of you,
Such as a man expects, and none but one
That's less than man refuses! Where's the maid
You falsely did abstract?

True. I took her hence,
But not by guile, nor yet enforcement, sir;
But of her free will, knowing what she did.
That, as I found, I cannot give her back,
I own her state is changed, but in her place
This maid I offer you, her image far
As feature, form, complexion, nature go!
Resemblance halting, only there, where thou
Thyself didst pause, condition, for this maid
Is gently born and generously bred.
Lo! for your fair loss, fair equivalent!

Wal. Show me another sun, another earth
I can inherit, as this Sun and Earth;
As thou didst take the maid, the maid herself
Give back! herself, her sole equivalent!

True. Her sole equivalent I offer you!
My sister, sir, long counted lost, now found,
Who fled her home unwelcome bands to 'scape,
Which a half-father would have forced upon her,
Taking advantage of her brother's absence
Away on travel in a distant land!
Returned, I missed her; of the cause received
Invention, coward, false and criminating!
And gave her up for lost; but happily
Did find her yesterday--Behold her, sir!

[Removes veil.]

Wal. Lydia!

W. Green. My waiting-maid!

Wal. Thy sister, Trueworth!
Art thou fit brother to this virtuous maid?

True. [Giving LYDIA to WALLER.] Let this assure thee.

Lydia. [To WIDOW GREEN.] Madam, pardon me
My double character, for honesty,
No other end assumed--and my concealment
Of Master Waller's love. In all things else
I trust I may believe you hold me blameless;
At least, I'll say for you, I should be so,
For it was pastime, madam, not a task,
To wait upon you! Little you exacted,
And ever made the most of what I did
In mere obedience to you!

W. Green. Give me your hand,
No love without a little roguery.
If you do play the mistress well as maid,
You will hear off the bell! There never was
A better girl!--I have made myself a fool.
I am undone, if goes the news abroad.
My wedding dress I donned for no effect
Except to put it off! I must be married.
I'm a lost woman, if another day
I go without a husband!--What a sight
He looks by Master Waller!--Yet he is physic
I die without, so needs must gulp it down.
I'll swallow him with what good grace I can,
Sir William Fondlove!

Sir Wil. Widow Green!

W. Green. I own
I have been rude to you. Thou dost not look
So old by thirty, forty, years as I
Did say. Thou'rt far from ugly--very far!
And as I said, Sir William, once before,
Thou art a kind and right good-humoured man:
I was but angry with you! Why, I'll tell you
At more convenient season--and you know
An angry woman heeds not what she says,
And will say anything!

Sir Wil. I were unworthy
The name of man, if an apology
So gracious came off profitless, and from
A lady! Will you take me, Widow Green?

W. Green. Hem! [Curtsies.]

True. [To WILDRAKE.] Master Wildrake dressed to go to church!
She has acknowledged, then, she loves thee?--No?
Give me thy hand, I'll lead thee up to her.

Wild. 'Sdeath! what are you about? You know her not.
She'll brain thee!

True. Fear not: come along with me.
Fair Mistress Constance!

Con. Well, sir!

Wild. [To TRUEWORTH.] Mind!

True. Don't fear.
Love you not neighbour Wildrake?

Con. Love, sir?

True. Yes,
You do.

Con. He loves another, sir, he does!
I hate him. We were children, sir, together
For fifteen years and more; there never came
The day we did not quarrel, make it up,
Quarrel again, and make it up again:
Were never neighbours more like neighbours, sir.
Since he became a man, and I a woman,
It still has been the same; nor eared I ever
To give a frown to any other, sir.
And now to come and tell me he's in love,
And ask me to be bridemaid to his bride!
How durst he do it, sir!--To fall in love!
Methinks at least he might have asked my leave,
Nor had I wondered had he asked myself, sir!

Wild. Then give thyself to me!

Con. How! what!

Wild. Be mine,
Thou art the only maid thy neighbour loves.

Con. Art serious, neighbour Wildrake?

Wild. In the church
I'll answer thee, if thou wilt take me; though
I neither dress, nor walk, nor dance, nor know
"The Widow Jones" from an Italian, French,
Or German air.

Con. No more of that.--My hand.

Wild. Givest it as free as thou didst yesterday?

Con. [Affecting to strike him.] Nay!

Wild. I will thank it, give it how thou wilt.

W. Green. A triple wedding! May the Widow Green
Obtain brief hearing e'er she quits the scene,
The Love-Chase to your kindness to commend
In favour of an old, now absent, friend!

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