L. FOP. Od so! Ladies, the court's coming home, I see; shall not we make our bows?
L. BET. Oh, by all means!
L. EA. Lady Betty, I must leave you, for I'm obliged to write letters, and I know you won't 95 give me time after supper.
L. BET. Well, my dear, I'll make a short visit and be with you.
Exit LADY EASY.
Pray, what's become of my Lady Graveairs!
L. MO. Oh, I believe she's gone home, 100 madam; she seemed not to be very well.
L. FOP. And where's Sir Charles, my lord?
L. MO. I left him at his own lodgings.
L. BET. He's upon some ramble, I'm afraid.
L. FOP. Nay, as for that matter, a man may 105 ramble at home sometimes. But here come the chaises; we must make a little more haste, madam.
The scene changes to SIR CHARLES'S lodgings.
Enter LADY EASYand a Servant.
L. EA. Is your master come home?
SERV. Yes, madam.
L. EA. Where is he?
SERV. I believe, madam, he's laid down to sleep.
L. EA. Where's Edging? Bid her get me some 5 wax and paper -- stay! I! it's no matter, now I think on't -- there's some above upon my toilet.
The scene opens, and discovers SIR CHARLES without his periwig, and EDGING by him, both asleep in two easy chairs.
Then enter LADY EASY, Who starts and trembles some time, unable to speak.
L. EA. Ha!
Protect me, virtue, patience, reason!
Teach me to bear this killing sight, or let
Me think my dreaming senses are deceived!
For sure a sight like this might raise the arm 5 Of duty, even to the breast of love. At least I'll throw this vizor of my patience off,
Now wake him in his guilt,
And barefaced front him with my wrongs.
I'll talk to him till he blushes, nay till he ----- 10 Frowns on me, perhaps -- and then I'm lost again. The ease of a few tears
Is all that's left to me -----
And duty, too, forbids me to insult,
Where I have vowed obedience. Perhaps 15 The fault's in me, and nature has not formed Me with the thousand little requisites
That warm the heart to love.
Somewhere there is a fault:
But heav'n best knows what both of us deserve. 20 Ha! bareheaded, and in so sound a sleep! Who knows, while thus exposed to th' unwholesome air,
But heav'n, offended, may o'ertake his crime,
And, in some languishing distemper, leave him
A severe example of its violated laws. 25 Forbid it mercy, and forbid it love! This may prevent it.
(Takes a steinkirk1 off her neck, and lays it gently on his head.)
And if he should wake offended at my too busy care, let my heart-breaking patience, duty, and my fond affection plead my pardon. Exit. 30 (After she has been out some time, a bell rings; EDGING wakes, and stirs SIR CHARLES.)
SIR CHA. How now I what's the matter?
EDG. Oh, bless my soul! my lady's come home.
SIR CHA. Go! go then! (Bell rings.)
EDG. O lud! My head's in such a condition, 35 too. [Runs to the glass.] I am coming, madam -- Oh lud! here's no powder neither -- here, madam! Exit.
SIR CHA. How now! (Feeling the steinkirk upon his head). What's this? How came it here? (Puts on his wig.) Did not I see my wife wear this today? 40 ----- Death! she can't have been here, sure! It could not be jealousy that brought her home -- for my coming was accidental -- so too, I fear, might hers. How careless have I been! -- not to secure the door neither! -- 'twas foolish. It must be 45 so: she certainly has seen me here sleeping with her woman. If so, how low an hypocrite to her must that sight have proved me! -- the thought has made me despicable ev'n to myself. How mean a vice is lying! and how often have these empty pleasures 50 lulled my honor and my conscience to a lethargy, while I grossly have abused her, poorly skulking behind a thousand falsehoods! Now I reflect, this has not been the first of her discoveries. How contemptible a figure must I have made to her! A crowd 55 of recollected circumstances confirm me now, she has been long acquainted with my follies, and yet with what amazing prudence has she borne the secret pangs of injured love, and wore an everlasting smile____________________