--A room in LADY MILFORD'S house. On the right of the stage stands a sofa, on the left a piano-forte.
LADY MILFORD, in a loose but elegant négligée, is running her hand over the keys of the piano-forte as SOPHY advances from the window.
SOPHY. The parade is over, and the officers are separating-- but I see no signs of the major.
LADY M. (rises and walks up and down the room in visible agitation). I know not what ails me to-day, Sophy! I never felt so before--you say you do not see him! It is evident enough that he is by no means impatient for this meeting--my heart feels oppressed as if by some heavy crime. Go! Sophy, order the most spirited horse in the stable to be saddled for me--I must away into the open air, where I may look on the blue sky, and hear the busy hum of man. I must dispel this gloominess by change and motion.
SOPHY. If you feel out of spirits, my lady, why not invite company!--Let the prince give an entertainment here, or have the ombre table brought to you. If the prince and all his court were at my beck and call, I would let no whim or fancy trouble me! LADY M. (throwing herself on the couch). Pray spare me. I would gladly give a jewel in exchange for every hour's respite from the infliction of such company! I always have my rooms tapestried with these creatures!--Narrow-minded, miserable beings, who are quite shocked if by chance a candid and heart-felt word should escape one's lips!--and stand aghast as though they saw an apparition--Slaves, moved by a single puppet wire, which I can govern as easily as the threads of my embroidery!--What can I have in common with such insipid wretches, whose souls, like their watches, are regulated by machinery? What pleasure can I have in the society of people whose answers to my questions I know beforehand? How can I hold communion with men, who dare not venture on an opinion of their own, lest it should differ from mine! Away with them--I care not to ride a horse that has not spirit enough to champ the bit! (Goes to the window.)
SOPHY. But surely, my lady, you except the prince, the hand somest, the wittiest, and the most gallant man in all his duchy