distant, and at this moment are so deterring, 15 that, was it not for the hope that delicacy, and not disgust, inspires this conduct in you, I should sink with shame and apprehension; but time presses; and I must speak; and plainly too -- Was you now in possession of your grandfather's estate, as justly 20 you ought to be, and, was you inclined to seek a companion for life, should you, or should you not, in that case, honor your unworthy Charlotte with your choice?
CHARLES. My unworthy Charlotte! So 25 judge me heaven, there is not a circumstance on earth so valuable as your happiness, so dear to me as your person: but to bring poverty, disgrace, reproach from friends, ridicule from all the world upon a generous benefactress; thievishly to steal into 30 an open, unreserved, ingenuous heart, O Charlotte! dear, unhappy girl, it is not to be done.
CHARLOTTE. Nay, now you rate too highly the poor advantages fortune alone has given me over you: how otherwise could we bring our merits 35 to any balance? Come, my dear Charles, I have enough; make that enough still more by sharing it with me: sole heiress of my father's fortune, a short time will put it in my disposal; in the meanwhile you will be sent to join your regiment; let us prevent 40 a separation, by setting out this very night for that happy country where marriage still is free: carry me this moment to Belcour's lodgings.
CHARLES. Belcour's? -- (Aside.) The name is ominous; there's murder in it: bloody inexora 45 ble honor!
CHARLOTTE. D'ye pause? Put me into his hands, while you provide the means for our escape: he is the most generous, the most honorable of men.
CHARLES. Honorable! most honorable! 50
CHARLOTTE. Can you doubt it? Do you demur? Have you forgot your letter? Why, Belcour 'twas that prompted me to this proposal, that promised to supply the means, that nobly offered his unasked assistance-- 55
O'FLAHERTY. Run, run, for holy St. Antony's sake, to horse and away! The conference is broke up, and the old lady advances upon a full Piedmontese trot, within pistol-shot of your encampment.
CHARLOTTE. Here, here, down the back- 60 stairs! O, Charles, remember me!
CHARLES. Farewell! Now, now I feel myself a coward. Exit.
CHARLOTTE. What does he mean?
O'FLARERTY. Ask no questions, but begone! 65 [Exit CHARLOTTE.] She has cooled the lad's courage, and wonders he feels like a coward. There's a damned deal of mischief brewing between this hyena and her lawyer: egad I'll step behind this screen and listen: a good soldier must sometimes fight in ambush 70 as well as open field. (Retires.)
LADY RUSPORTand VARLAND.
LADY R. Sure I heard somebody. Hark! No; only the servants going down the back-stairs. Well, Mr. Varland, I think then we are agreed; you'll take my money; and your conscience no longer stands in your way. 5
VAR. Your father was my benefactor; his will ought to be sacred; but, if I commit it to the flames, how will he be the wiser? Dudley, 'tis true, has done me no harm; but five thousand pounds will do me much good; so, in short, madam, I take your 10 offer; I will confer with my clerk, who witnessed the will; and to-morrow morning put it into your hands, upon condition you put five thousand good pounds into mine.
LADY R. 'Tis a bargain: I'll be ready for you: 15 farewell. Exit.
VAR. Let me consider -- Five thousand pounds prompt payment for destroying this scrap of paper, not worth five farthings; 'tis a fortune easily earned; yes, and 'tis another man's fortune easily thrown 20 away: 'tis a good round sum to be paid down at once for a bribe, but 'tis a damned rogue's trick in me to take it.
O'FLAHERTY (aside). So, so! this fellow speaks truth to himself, though he lies to other people 25 -- but hush!
VAR. 'Tis breaking the trust of my benefactor: that's a foul crime, but he's dead, and can never reproach me with it: and 'tis robbing young Dudley of his lawful patrimony, that's a hard case, but 30 he's alive and knows nothing of the matter.
O'FLAHERTY (aside). These lawyers are so used to bring off the rogueries of others, that they are never without an excuse for their own.
VAR. Were I assured now that Dudley would 35 give me half the money for producing this will, that Lady Rusport does for concealing it, I would deal with him, and be an honest man at half price; I wish every gentleman of my profession could lay his hand on his heart and say the same thing. 40
O'FLAHERTY. A bargain, old gentleman! Nay, never start, nor stare, you wasn't afraid of your own conscience, never be afraid of me.
VAR. Of you, sir; who are you, pray?
O'FLAHERTY. I'll tell you who I am: you seem 45 to wish to be honest, but want the heart to set about it; now I am the very man in the world to make you so; for if you do not give me up that paper this very instant, by the soul of me, fellow, I will not leave one whole bone in your skin that shan't be 50 broken.