when you see my generous Charlotte, tell her -- but have a care, there is a selfishness even in gratitude, when it is too profuse; to be overthankful for any 5 one favor, is in effect to lay out for another; the best return I could make my benefactress would be never to see her more.
LOUISA. I understand you.
CHARLES. We that are poor, Louisa, should 10 be cautious; for this reason, I would guard you against Belcour; at least till I can unravel the mystery of Miss Rusport's diamonds; I was disappointed of finding him at Mr. Stockwell's, and am now going in search of him again: he may in 15 tend honorably, but I confess to you I am staggered; think no more of him, therefore, for the present: of this be sure, while I have life, and you have honor, I will protect you, or perish in your defence.
LOUISA. Think of him no more! Well, I'll 20 obey; but if a wand'ring uninvited thought should creep by chance into my bosom, must I not give the harmless wretch a shelter? Oh! yes; the great artificer of the human heart knows every thread he wove into its fabric, nor puts his work to harder 25 uses than it was made to bear: my wishes then, my guiltless ones, I mean, are free. How fast they spring within me at that sentence! Down, down, ye busy creatures! Whither would you carry me? Ah! there is one amongst you, a forward, new in 30 truder, that, in the likeness of an offending, generous man, grows into favor with my heart. Fie, fie upon it! Belcour pursues, insults me: yet such is the fatality of my condition, that what should rouse resentment, only calls up love, 35
BELCOUR enters to her.
BEL. Alone, by all that's happy!
BEL. Oh! shriek not, start not, stir not, loveliest creature! but let me kneel, and gaze upon your beauties. 5
LOUISA. Sir, Mr. Belcour, rise! What is it you do?
BEL. See, I obey you; mould me as you will, behold your ready servant! New to your country, ignorant of your manners, habits, and desires, I put myself into your hands for instruction; make 10 me only such as you can like yourself, and I shall be happy.
LOUISA. I must not hear this, Mr. Belcour; go; should he that parted from me but this minute now return, I tremble for the consequence. 15
BEL. Fear nothing; let him come: I love you, madam; he'll find it hard to make me unsay that.
LOUISA. You terrify me; your impetuous temper frightens me; you know my situation; it is not generous to pursue me thus. 20
BEL. True; I do know your situation, your real one, Miss Dudley, and am resolved to snatch you from it; 'twill be a meritorious act; the old Captain shall rejoice; Miss Rusport shall be made happy; and even he, even your beloved brother, with 25 whose resentment you threaten me, shall in the end applaud and thank me. Come, thou'rt a dear enchanting girl, and I'm determined not to live a minute longer without thee.
LOUISA. Hold, are you mad? I see you are 30 a bold, assuming man, and know not where to stop.
BEL. Who that beholds such beauty can? By heaven, you put my blood into a flame. Provoking girl! is it within the stretch of my fortune to content you? What is it you can further ask that I 35 am not ready to grant?
LOUISA. Yes, with the same facility that you bestowed upon me Miss Rusport's diamonds. For shame! for shame! was that a manly story?
BEL. So! so! these devilish diamonds meet me 40 everywhere -- Let me perish if I meant you any harm. Oh! I could tear my tongue out for saying a word about the matter.
LOUISA. Go to her then, and contradict it; till that is done, my reputation is at stake. 45
BEL. [aside]. Her reputation! Now she has got upon that, she'll go on forever. -- What is there I will not do for your sake? I will go to Miss Rusport.
LOUISA. Do so; restore her own jewels to her, which I suppose you kept back for the purpose of 50 presenting others to her of a greater value; but for the future, Mr. Belcour, when you would do a gallant action to that lady, don't let it be at my expense.
BEL. I see where she points: she is willing 55 enough to give up Miss Rusport's diamonds, now she finds she shall be a gainer by the exchange. Be it so! 'tis what I wished -- Well, madam, I will return Miss Rusport her own jewels, and you shall have others of tenfold their value. 60
LOUISA. No, sir, you err most widely; it is my good opinion, not my vanity, which you must bribe.
BEL. [aside]. Why, what the devil would she have now? -- Miss Dudley, it is my wish to obey and please you, but I have some apprehension that 65 we mistake each other.
LOUISA. I think we do: tell me, then, in few words, what it is you aim at.
BEL. In few words, then, and in plain honesty, I, must tell you, so entirely am I captivated with 70 you, that had you but been such as it would have become me to have called my wife, I had been happy in knowing you by that name; as it is, you are welcome to partake my fortune, give me in return____________________