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Don Fernando. All could be learn'd was this: that

my rival,

Whom I thought dead, was likely to recover,

And that he was a stranger lately come

Up to the court, to follow some pretensions ;
His name he either learn'd not perfectly,

Or did not well retain. As for Elvira,

That none knew where she was; and that Don Pedro Had set a stop to prosecution

In any public way, with what reserves

Was not yet known.

Don Julio. More and more intricate.

Don Fernando. I must now come to that you least

look for.

I had but few days past in my concealment
(Resent and revenge still boiling in me)
When late one evening, as I buried was
In deepest thought, I suddenly was rous'd
By a surprising apparition, Julio :-
Elvira in my chamber, speaking to me
With rare assurance thus--Don Fernando,
I come not here to justify myself,
That were below Elvira, towards one
Whose action in deserting me hath shown,
So disobligingly, his rash judgment of me.
I come to mind you of honour, not of love:
Mine can protection seek from none but your's.
I've hitherto been shelter'd from the fury
Of my enrag'd father by my cousin Camilla ;
But that's no place, you easily may judge,
For longer stay: I do expect from you
To be convey'd, where, free from violence,
And from new hazards of my wounded fame,
I may attend my righting from the gods.

Don Julio. Can guilt maintain such confidence in a

maid?

Yet how to think her innocent, I know not.

Don Fernando. 'T were loss of time to dwell on cir

cumstances,

Either of my wonder, or reply: in short,

What I found honour dictated, I did.
Within two hours, I put her in a coach,
And, favour'd by the night, convey'd her safe
Out of Madrid to Ocana, and thence
In three days hither to Valencia,

The only place where, by your generous aid,
I could have hopes to settle and secure
Her person and her honour. That once done,
Farewell to Spain: I'll to the wars of Milan,
And there soon put a noble end to cares.

Don Julio. Let us first think how to dispose of her, Since here you say she is; that done, which presses, You will have time to weigh all other things.

Don Fernando. My thoughts can pitch upon no other way

Decent or safe for her, but in a convent,

If

you have any abbess here to friend.

Don Julio. I have an aunt, ruling the Ursulins,
With whom I have full power, and she is wise,
In case that course were to be fix'd upon;

But that's not my opinion.

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Don Fernando. What can your reason be?
Don Julio. Last remedies, in my judgment,
Are not to be used till easier have been tried.
Had this strange accident been thoroughly
Examin'd in all its circumstances,

And that from thence she were convicted guilty,
Nought else were to be thought on but a cloister;
But, as things stand imperfectly discover'd,
Although appearances condemn her strongly,
I cannot yet conclude a person guilty
Of what throughout so contradictory seems
To the whole tenor of her former life,
As well as to her quality and wit;
And therefore let's avoid precipitation,
Let my house be her shelter for a while;
You know my sister Blanca is discreet,
And may be trusted; she shall there be serv'd
By her and me, with care and secrecy.

Don Fernando. The offer 's kind, but no wise prac

ticable,

And might prove hazardous to Blanca's honour,
When it should once break out (as needs it must)
From servants seeing such a guest so treated.

Don Julio. That, I confess, I know not how to

answer:

But, could Elvira's mind submit unto it,

I could propose a course without objection.

Don Fernando. That she can soon resolve; what is it, Julio?

Don Julio. A gentlewoman who waited on my sister Hath newly left her service for a husband,

And it is known she means to take another:

I have a ready way to recommend one,
By Violante, of whose love and mine
You are not ignorant, since that ere this

We had been married, had not kindred forc'd us
To wait a dispensation for 't from Rome.

Blanca I'm sure will readily embrace

Any occasion of obliging her.

Don Fernando. That were a right expedient indeed, Could but Elvira's spirit brook it.

Enter ELVIRA as from the closet.

Elvira. You have ill measures of Elvira's spirit,
Mistaken Don Fernando. Till Heaven's justice
Shall her entirely to herself restore,

The lowlier shape her fate shall hide her under,
The more't will fit her humour.

[Don Julio starts back as it were amazed. Don Julio. [Aside.] O heavens! can guilt with such perfection dwell,

And put on such assurance? It cannot be.

[Don Julio addressing himself to her, and beginning. She holding out her hand and interrupting him. Madam.

Elvira. Spare compliments, and let your actions speak:

Those may oblige both him and me; your words

Cannot comply with both.

Don Julio. [Aside.]-Did ever yet Such majesty with misery combine, But in this woman?

[To her.]Madam, I obey,

And, since you're pleas'd t' approve what I propos'd, No moment shall be lost in th' execution.

[Exit Julio, Fernando accompanying him, and Fabio.
Eivira. O how unkindly have the heavens dealt
With womankind, above all other creatures!
Our pleasure, and our glory, to have placed
All on the brink of precipices, such

As every breath can blow the least light of us
Headlong into, past all hopes of redemption:
Nor can our wit, or virtue, give exemption.
'Tis true, I lov'd; but, justified therein

By spotless thoughts, and by the object's merit,
I deem'd myself above the reach of malice;
When in an instant, by another's folly,
I am more lost than any by her* own.
Accurs'd Don Zancho, what occasion
E'er gave Elvira to thy mad intrusion?
Unless disdain and scorn incentives are
To make men's passions more irregular.
Ah, matchless rigour of the Powers above!
Not only to submit our honour's fate
Unto the vanity of those we love,

But to the rashness even of those we hate. [Exit. Enter DONNA BLANCA at one door, reading a paper with great marks of passion and disturbance; and her waiting-woman FRANCISCA at another, observing her. Blanca. Ah, the traitor!

Francisca. What can this mean ?

[Aside.

Blanca. Was this thy sweet pretension at Madrid, Drawn out in length, and hind'ring thy return? Thy fair pretence, thou should'st have said, false man. Francisca. For love's sake, madam, what can move you thus?

* The substitution of my for her, in opposition to the authority of the old copy, till now made this passage unintelligible. C.

Blanca. For hate's sake, say, and for revenge, Fran

cisca,

And so thou may'st persuade me to discover

My shame unto thee. Read, read, that letter; 'Tis from your favourite, Chichon.

[Francisca takes the letter and reads it.

Madam, to make good my engagements of concealing nothing from you during this absence of my master, I am bound to tell you, that some ten days since, late at night, he was left for dead, run through the body by another unknown gallant, in the chamber of a famed beauty of the court. Whilst the danger continued, I thought it not fit to let you know either the accident, or the occasion; which, now he is recovered, and thinking of his return to Valencia, I must no longer forbear. I hope you will have a care not to undo me for being more faithful to you, than to the master you gave me.

'Your creature Chichon."

Blanca. Have I not a worthy gallant, think you?
Francisca. Madam, this comes of being over-curious,
And gaining servants to betray their masters.
How quiet might you have slept, and never felt
What pass'd with your Don Zancho at Madrid!
His pale and dismal looks at his return,

Though caus'd by loss of blood in the hot service
Of other dames, might fairly have been thought
Effects of care, and want of sleep for you,
And, taken so, have pass'd for new endearments.
Who ever pry'd into another's letter,

Or slyly hearken'd to another's whisper,

But saw or heard somewhat that did not please him? 'Twas Eve's curiosity undid us all.

Blanca. Away with thy moralities,* dull creature!
I'll make thee see, and false Don Zancho feel,

That Blanca's not, a dame to be so treated.
But who are those I hear without; whoe'er

• In former editions misprinted,

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Away with thy formalities, dull creature!" which destroys all the spirit of the exclamation. C.

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