tect her. Well, sir, you must atone for this 185 mistake.
BEL. To the lady the most penitent submission I can make is justly due, but in the execution of an act of justice it never shall be said my soul was swayed by the least particle of fear: I have re 100 ceived a challenge from her brother; now though I would give my fortune, almost my life itself, to purchase her happiness, yet I cannot abate her one scruple of my honor; I have been branded with the name of villain. 195
STOCK. Ay, sir, you mistook her character and he mistook yours; error begets error.
BEL. Villain, Mr. Stockwell, is a harsh word.
STOCK. It is a harsh word, and should be unsaid.
BEL. Come, come, it shall be unsaid. 200
STOCK. Or else what follows? why the sword is drawn and to heal the wrongs you have done to the reputation of the sister, you make an honorable amends by murdering the brother.
BEL. Murdering! 205
STOCK. 'Tis thus religion writes and speaks the word; in the vocabulary of modern honor there is no such term -- But come, I don't despair of satisfying the one without alarming the other; that done, I have a discovery to unfold that you will then, 210 I hope, be fitted to receive.
The London Tavern.
O'FLAHERTY, STOCKWELL, CHARLES, and BELCOUR.
O'FLAHERTY. Gentlemen, well met! you understand each other's minds, and as I see you have brought nothing but your swords, you may set to without any further ceremony.
STOCK. You will not find us backward in any 5 worthy cause; but before we proceed any further, I would ask this young gentleman, whether he has any explanation to require of Mr. Belcour.
CHARLES. Of Mr. Belcour none; his actions speak for themselves: but to you, sir, I would fain pro 10 pose one question.
STOCK. Name it.
CHARLES. How is it, Mr. Stockwell, that I meet a man of your character on this ground?
STOCK. I will answer you directly, and my 15 answer shall not displease you. I come hither in defence of the reputation of Miss Dudley, to redress the injuries of an innocent young lady.
O'FLAHERTY. By my soul the man knows he's to fight, only he mistakes which side he's to be of. 20
STOCK. You are about to draw your sword to refute a charge against your sister's honor; you would do well, if there were no better means within reach; but the proofs of her innocence are lodged in our bosoms, and if we fall, you destroy the evi 25 dence that most effectually can clear her fame.
CHARLES. How's that, sir?
STOCK. This gentleman could best explain it to you, but you have given him an undeserved name that seals his lips against you: I am not under 30 the same inhibition, and if your anger can keep cool for a few minutes, I desire I may call in two witnesses, who will solve all difficulties at once. Here, waiter! bring those people in that are without.
O'FLAHERTY. Out upon it, what need is there 35 for so much talking about the matter; can't you settle your differences first, and dispute about 'em afterwards?
FULMER and MRS. FULMERbrought in.
CHARLES. Fulmer and his wife in custody?
STOCK. Yes, Sir, these are your honest land 40 lord and landlady, now in custody for defrauding this gentleman of certain diamonds intended to have been presented to your sister. Be so good, Mrs. Fulmer, to inform the company why you so grossly scandalized the reputation of an innocent 45 lady, by persuading Mr. Belcour that Miss Dudley was not the sister, but the mistress, of this gentleman.
MRS. F. Sir, I don't know what right you have to question me, and I shall not answer till I see occasion. 50
STOCK. Had you been as silent heretofore, madam, it would have saved you some trouble; but we don't want your confession. This letter, which you wrote to Mr. Belcour, will explain your design; and these diamonds, which of right belong to Miss Rus 55 port, will confirm your guilt: the law, Mrs. Fulmer, will make you speak, though I can't. Constable, take charge of your prisoners.
FULMER. Hold a moment: Mr. Stockwell, you are a gentleman that knows the world, and a 60 member of parliament; we shall not attempt to impose upon you; we know we are open to the law, and we know the utmost it can do against us. Mr. Belcour has been ill used to be sure, and so has Miss Dudley; and, for my own part, I always 65 condemned the plot as a very foolish plot, but it was a child of Mrs. Fulmer's brain, and she would not be put out of conceit with it.
MRS. F. You are a very foolish man, Mr. Fulmer, so prithee hold your tongue. 70
FULMER. Therefore, as I was saying, if you send her to Bridewell, it won't be amiss; and if you give her a little wholesome discipline, she may be the better for that too: but for me, Mr. Stockwell, who am a man of letters, I must beseech you, sir, 75 not to bring any disgrace upon my profession.
STOCK. 'Tis you, Mr. Fulmer, not I, that disgrace your profession, therefore begone, nor expect that