BEL. Say you so, madam! then let me perish if I don't love and reverence you above all woman 135 kind; and if such is your generous resolution, never wait till you're of age; life is too short, pleasure too fugitive; the soul grows narrower every hour; I'll equip you for your escape; I'll convoy you to the man of your heart, and away with you then to 140 the first hospitable parson that will take you in.
CHARLOTTE. O blessed be the torrid zone forever, whose rapid vegetation quickens nature into such benignity! These latitudes are made for politics and philosophy; friendship has no root in 145 this soil. But had I spirit to accept your offer, which is not improbable, wouldn't it be a mortifying thing, for a fond girl to find herself mistaken, and sent back to her home, like a vagrant; and such, for what I know, might be my case. 150
BEL. Then he ought to be proscribed the society of mankind forever -- Ay, ay, 'tis the sham sister makes him thus indifferent; 'twill be a meritorious office to take that girl out of the way.
SERV. Miss Dudley to wait on you, madam.
SERV. Miss Dudley.
CHARLOTTE. What's the matter, Mr. Belcour? Are you frighted at the name of a pretty girl? 5 'Tis the sister of him we were speaking of -- pray admit her.
BEL. The sister! -- So, so; he has imposed upon her too -- this is an extraordinary visit, truly. Upon my soul, the assurance of some folks is not to be 10 accounted for.
CHARLOTTE. I insist upon your not running away; you'll be charmed with Louisa Dudley.
BEL. Oh, yes, I am charmed with her.
CHARLOTTE. You've seen her then, have you? 15
BEL. Yes, yes, I've seen her.
CHARLOTTE. Well, isn't she a delightful girl?
BEL. Very delightful.
CHARLOTTE. Why, you answer as if you was in a court of justice. O'my conscience! I be 20 lieve you are caught; I've a notion she has tricked you out of your heart.
BEL. I believe she has, and you out of your jewels; for, to tell you the truth, she's the very person I gave 'em to. 25
CHARLOTTE. You gave her my jewels! Louisa Dudley my jewels? admirable! inimitable! Oh, the sly little jade! but hush, here she comes; I don't know how I shall keep my countenance.
My dear, I'm rejoiced to see you; how d'ye do? 30 I beg leave to introduce Mr. Belcour, a very worthy friend of mine; I believe, Louisa, you have seen him before.
LOUISA. I have met the gentleman.
CHARLOTTE. You have met the gentleman; 35 well, sir, and you have met the lady; in short, you have met each other; why then don't you speak to each other? How you both stand! tongue-tied, and fixed as statues -- Ha, ha, ha! Why you'll fall asleep by and by. 40
LOUISA. Fie upon you; fie upon you; is this fair? BEL. (aside). Upon my soul, I never looked so like a fool in my life; the assurance of that girl puts me quite down.
CHARLOTTE. Sir -- Mr. Belcour -- Was it 45 your pleasure to advance anything? Not a syllable. Come, Louisa, women's wit, they say, is never at a loss -- Nor you neither? Speechless both -- Why you was merry enough before this lady came in.
LOUISA. I am sorry I have been any inter 50 ruption to your happiness, sir.
CHARLOTTE. Madam! Is that all you can say? But come, my dear girl, I won't tease you. Apropos! I must show you what a present this dumb 55 gentleman has made me; are not these handsome diamonds?
LOUISA. Yes, indeed, they seem very fine; but I am no judge of these things.
CHARLOTTE. Oh, you wicked little hypocrite, 60 you are no judge of these things, Louisa; you have no diamonds, not you.
LOUISA. You know I haven't, Miss Rusport: you know those things are infinitely above my reach.
CHARLOTTE. Ha! ha! ha! 65
BEL. [aside]. She does tell a lie with an admirable countenance, that's true enough.
LOUISA. What ails you, Charlotte. What impertinence have I been guilty of that you should find it necessary to humble me at such a rate? If you 70 are happy, long may you be so; but, surely, it can be no addition to it to make me miserable.
CHARLOTTE. So serious! there must be some mystery in this -- Mr. Belcour will you leave us together? You see I treat you with all the fa 75 miliarity of an old acquaintance already.
BEL. Oh, by all means; pray command me. Miss Rusport, I'm your most obedient! By your condescension in accepting those poor trifles, I am under eternal obligations to you. -- To you, 80 Miss Dudley, I shall not offer a word on that subject: you despise finery; you have a soul above it; I adore your spirit; I was rather unprepared for meeting____________________