SIR OLIV. Ha! ha! Egad, Sir Peter, I should like to have seen your face when the screen was 275 thrown down: ha! ha!
SIR PET. Yes, yes, my face when the screen was thrown down: ha! ha! Oh, I must never show my head again!
SIR OLIV. But come, come, it isn't fair to 280 laugh at you neither, my old friend -- though, upon my soul, I can't help it.
SIR PET. Oh, pray don't restrain your mirth on my account -- it does not hurt me at all! I laugh at the whole affair myself. Yes, yes, I think being a 285 standing jest for all one's acquaintances a very happy situation. O yes, and then of a morning to read the paragraphs about Mr. S -----, Lady T-----, and Sir P-----, will be so entertaining!
ROW. Without affectation, Sir Peter, you 290 may despise the ridicule of fools. But I see Lady Teazle going towards the next room; I am sure you must desire a reconciliation as earnestly as she does.
SIR OLIV. Perhaps my being here prevents her coming to you. Well, I'll leave honest Rowley 295 to mediate between you; but he must bring you all presently to Mr. Surface's, where I am now returning, if not to reclaim a libertine, at least to expose hypocrisy.
SIR PET. Ah! I'll be present at your discov 300 ering yourself there with all my heart -- though 'tis a vile unlucky place for discoveries!
ROW. We'll follow. [Exit SIR OLIVER SURFACE.]
SIR PET. She is not coming here, you see, Rowley.
ROW. No, but she has left the door of that 305 room open, you perceive. See, she is in tears!
SIR PET. Certainly a little mortification appears very becoming in a wife! Don't you think it will do her good to let her pine a little?
ROW. Oh, this is ungenerous in you! 310
SIR PET. Well, I know not what to think. You remember, Rowley, the letter I found of hers, evidently intended for Charles!
ROW. A men forgery, Sir Peter! laid in your way on purpose. This is one of the points which I 315 intend Snake shall give you conviction on.
SIR PET. I wish I were once satisfied of that. She looks this way. What a remarkably elegant turn of the head she has! Rowley, I'll go to her.
ROW. Certainly. 320
SIR PET. Though, when it is known that we are reconciled, people will laugh at me ten times more!
ROW. Let them laugh, and retort their malice only by showing them you are happy in spite of it.
SIR PET. I'faith, so I will! and, if I'm not 325 mistaken, we may yet be the happiest couple in the country.
ROW. Nay, Sir Peter -- he who once lays aside suspicion -----
SIR PET. Hold, my dear Rowley! if you have 330 any regard for me, never let me hear you utter anything like a sentiment -- I have had enough of them to serve me the rest of my life. Exeunt.
The library [in JOSEPH SURFACE'S house].
JOSEPH SURFACEand LADY SNEERWELL.
LADY SNEER. Impossible! Will not Sir Peter immediately be reconciled to Charles, and of consequence no longer oppose his union with Maria? The thought is distraction to me!
JOS. SURF. Can passion furnish a remedy? 5
LADY SNEER. No, nor cunning either. Oh, I was a fool, an idiot, to league with such a blunderer!
JOS. SURF. Sure, Lady Sneerwell, I am the greatest sufferer; yet you see I bear the accident with calmness. 10
LADY SNEER. Because the disappointment doesn't reach your heart; your interest only attached you to Maria. Had you felt for her what I have for that ungrateful libertine, neither your temper nor hypocrisy could prevent your showing the sharp 15 ness of your vexation.
JOS. SURF. But why should your reproaches fall on me for this disappointment?
LADY SNEER. Are you not the cause of it? What had you to do to bate in your pursuit of Maria 20 to pervert Lady Teazle by the way? Had you not a sufficient field for your roguery in blinding Sir Peter, and supplanting your brother? I hate such an avarice of crimes; 'tis an unfair monopoly, and never prospers. 25
JOS. SURF. Well, I admit I have been to blame. I confess I deviated from the direct road of wrong, but I don't think we're so totally defeated neither.
LADY SNEER. No!
JOS. SURF. You tell me you have made a 30 trial of Snake since we met, and that you still believe him faithful to us --
LADY SNEER. I do believe so.
JOS. SURF. And that he has undertaken, should it be necessary, to swear and prove that Charles 35 is at this time contracted by vows and honor to your ladyship -- which some of his former letters to you will serve to support?
LADY SNEER. This, indeed, might have assisted.
JOS. SURF. Come, come; it is not too late 40 yet. -- [Knocking as the door.] But hark! this is probably my uncle, Sir Oliver: retire to that room; we'll consult farther when he's gone.____________________