LADY R. Alack-a-day, poor man! Well, Mr. Varland, you find me here overwhelmed with 15 trouble and fatigue; torn to pieces with a multiplicity of affairs; a great fortune poured upon me unsought for and unexpected: 'twas my good father's will and pleasure it should be so, and I must submit.
VAR. Your ladyship inherits under a will 20 made in the year Forty-five, immediately after Captain Dudley's marriage with your sister.
LADY R. I do so, Mr. Varland; I do so.
VAR. I well remember it; I engrossed every syllable; but I am surprised to find your lady 25 ship set so little store by this vast accession.
LADY R. Why you know, Mr. Varland, I am a moderate woman; I had enough before; a small matter satisfies me; and Sir Stephen Rusport (heaven be his portion!) took care I shouldn't 30 want that.
VAR. Very true; very true, he did so; and I am overjoyed at finding your ladyship in this disposition; for, truth to say, I was not without apprehension the news I have to communicate would 35 have been of some prejudice to your ladyship's tranquility.
LADY R. News, sir! What news have you for me?
VAR. Nay, nothing to alarm you; a trifle, in your present way of thinking: I have a will of Sir 40 Oliver's you have never seen.
LADY R. A will! Impossible! How came you by it, pray?
VAR. I drew it up, at his command, in his last illness: it will save you a world of trouble: it 45 gives his whole estate from you to his grandson, Charles Dudley.
LADY R. To Dudley? His estate to Charles Dudley? I can't support it! I shall faint! You've killed me, you vile man! I never shall survive it! 50
VAR. Look'ee there now: I protest, I thought you would have rejoiced at being clear of the incumbrance.
LADY R. 'Tis false; 'tis all a forgery, concerted between you and Dudley; why else did I never 55 hear of it before?
VAR. Have patience, my lady, and I'll tell you. By Sir Oliver's direction, I was to deliver this will into no hands but his grandson Dudley's: the young gentleman happened to be then in Scotland; 60 I was dispatched thither in search of him; the hurry and fatigue of my journey brought on a fever by the way, which confined me in extreme danger for several days; upon my recovery, I pursued my journey, found young Dudley had left Scotland65 in the interim, and am now directed hither; where, as soon as I can find him, doubtless, I shall discharge my conscience, and fulfil my commission.
LADY R. Dudley then, as yet, knows nothing of this will? 70
VAR. Nothing; that secret rests with me.
LADY R. (aside). A thought occurs: by this fellow's talking of his conscience, I should guess it was upon sale. -- (Aloud.] Come, Mr. Varland, if 'tis as you say, I must submit. I was somewhat 75 flurried at first, and forgot myself; I ask your pardon: this is no place to talk of business; step with me into my room; we will there compare the will, and resolve accordingly. -- [Aside.] Oh! would your fever had you, and I had your paper. 80
Miss RUSPORT, CHARLES, and O'FLAHERTY.
CHARLOTTE. So, so! My lady and her lawyer have retired to close confabulation: now, Major, if you are the generous man I take you for, grant me one favor.
O'FLAHERTY. Faith will I, and not think much 5 of my generosity neither; for, though it may not be in my power to do the favor you ask, look you, it can never be in my heart to refuse it.
CHARLES (aside). Could this man's tongue do justice to his thoughts, how eloquent would he 10 be!
CHARLOTTE. Plant yourself then in that room: keep guard, for a few moments, upon the enemy's motions, in the chamber beyond; and, if they should attempt a sally, stop their march a moment, till 15 your friend here can make good his retreat down the back-stairs.
O'FLAHERTY. A word to the wise! I'm an old campaigner; make the best use of your time; and trust me for tying the old cat up to the picket. 20
CHARLOTTE. Hush! hush! not so loud.
CHARLES. 'Tis the office of a sentinel, Major, you have undertaken, rather than that of a field-officer.
O'FLAHERTY. 'Tis the office of a friend, my dear boy; and, therefore, no disgrace to a general. Exit. 25
CHARLES and CHARLOTTE.
CHARLOTTE. Well, Charles, will you commit yourself to me for a few minutes?
CHARLES. Most readily; and let me, before one goes by, tender you the only payment I can ever make for your abundant generosity. 5
CHARLOTTE. Hold, hold! so vile a thing as money must not come between us. What shall I say! O Charles! O Dudley! What difficulties have you thrown upon me! Familiarly as we have lived, I shrink at what I'm doing; and, anxiously as I 10 have sought this opportunity, my fears almost persuade me to abandon it.
CHARLES. You alarm me!
CHARLOTTE. Your looks and actions have been so