inant and hid them from my sight; I now per 5 ceive I was the dupe of a most improbable report, and humbly entreat your pardon.
LOUISA. Think no more of it; 'twas a mistake.
BEL. My life has been composed of little else; 'twas founded in mystery and has continued 10 in error: I was once given to hope, Mr. Stockwell, that you was to have delivered me from these difficulties, but either I do not deserve your confidence, or I was deceived in my expectations.
STOCK. When this lady has confirmed your 15 pardon, I shall hold you deserving of my confidence.
LOUISA. That was granted the moment it was asked.
BEL. To prove my title to his confidence honor me so far with yours as to allow me a few min 20 utes' conversation in private with you.
(She turns to her father.)
DUDLEY. By all means, Louisa; come, Mr. Stockwell, let us go into another room.
CHARLES. And now, Major O'Flaherty, I claim your promise of a sight of the paper that is to 25 unravel this conspiracy of my aunt Rusport's: I think I have waited with great patience.
O'FLAHERTY. I have been endeavoring to call to mind what it was I overheard; I've got the paper and will give you the best account I can of the 30 whole transaction. Exeunt.
BEL. Miss Dudley, I have solicited this audience to repeat to you my penitence and confusion. How shall I atone? What reparation can I make to you and virtue?
LOUISA. To me there's nothing due, nor any 5 thing demanded of you but your more favorable opinion for the future, if you should chance to think of me. Upon the part of virtue I'm not empowered to speak, but if hereafter, as you range through life, you should surprise her in the person of some 10 wretched female, poor as myself and not so well protected, enforce not your advantage, complete not your licentious triumph, but raise her, rescue her from shame and sorrow, and reconcile her to herself again. 15
BEL. I will, I will; by bearing your idea ever present in my thoughts, virtue shall keep an advocate within me; but tell me, loveliest, when you pardon the offence, can you, all perfect as you are, approve of the offender? As I now cease to 20 view you in that false light I lately did, can you, and in the fulness of your bounty will you, cease also to reflect upon the libertine addresses I have paid you, and look upon me as your reformed, your rational admirer? 25
LOUISA. Are sudden reformations apt to last; and how can I be sure the first fair face you meet will not ensnare affections so unsteady, and that I shall not lose you lightly as I gained you?
BEL. Because though you conquered me by 30 surprise, I have no inclination to rebel; because since the first moment that I saw you, every instant has improved you in my eyes, because by principle as well as passion I am unalterably yours, in short there are ten thousand causes for my love to you; 35 would to heaven I could plant one in your soft bosom that might move you to return it!
LOUISA. Nay, Mr. Belcour. --
BEL. I know I am not worthy your regard; I know I'm tainted with a thousand faults, sick of a 40 thousand follies, but there's a healing virtue in your eyes that makes recovery certain; I cannot be a villain in your arms.
LOUISA. That you can never be; whomever you shall honor with your choice, my life upon't, 45 that woman will be happy; it is not from suspicion that I hesitate, it is from honor; 'tis the severity of my condition, it is the world that never will interpret fairly in our case.
BEL. Oh, what am I, and who in this wide 50 world concerns himself for such a nameless, such a friendless thing as I am? I see, Miss Dudley, I've not yet obtained your pardon.
LOUISA. Nay, that you are in full possession of.
BEL. Oh, seal it with your hand then, loveliest 55 of women, confirm it with your heart; make me honorably happy, and crown your penitent not with your pardon only, but your love.
LOUISA. My love! --
BEL. By heaven, my soul is conquered with 60 your virtues more than my eyes are ravished with your beauty. Oh, may this soft, this sensitive alarm be happy, be auspicious! Doubt not, deliberate not, delay not. If happiness be the end of life, why do we slip a moment? 65
O'FLAHERTYenters, and afterwards DUDLEY and CHARLESwith STOCKWELL.
O'FLAHERTY. Joy, joy, joy! sing, dance, leap, laugh for joy! Ha' done making love and fall down on your knees to every saint in the calendar, for they're all on your side and honest St. Patrick at the head of them. 5
CHARLES. O Louisa, such an event! by the luckiest chance in life we have discovered a will of my grandfather's made in his last illness, by which he cuts off my Aunt Rusport with a small annuity, and leaves me heir to his whole estate, with a fortune of 10 fifteen thousand pounds to yourself.
LOUISA. What is it you tell me? (To her father.)