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Stuke. What villains? y Bev. Dawson and the rest—We have been dupes to sharpers. Stuke. How know you this? I have had doubts as well as you; yet still as fortune changed I blushed at my own thoughts-But you have proofs, perhaps? Bev. Ay, damned ones. Repeated losses—Night after night, and no reverse—Chance has no hand in this. Stuke. I think more charitably; yet I am peevish in my nature, and apt to doubt—The world speaks fairly of this Dawson; so it does of the rest. We have watched them closely too. But 'tis a right usurped by losers, to think the winners knaves—We’ll have more manhood in us. Bev. I know not what to think. This night has stung me to the quick—Blasted my reputation too— I have bound my honour to these vipers; played meanly upon credit, till I tired them; and now they shun me, to rifle one another. What's to be done 2 Stuke. Nothing. My counsels have been fatal. Bev. By Heaven I’ll not survive this shame—Traitor!’tis you have brought it on me. [Taking hold of him.] Show me the means to save me, or I’ll commit a murder here, and next upon myself. Stuke. Why, do it then, and rid me of ingratitude. Bev. Pr’ythee forgive this language—I speak I know not what—Rage and despair are in my heart, and hurry me to madness. My home is horror to me—I’ll not return to it. Speak quickly; tell me, if, in this wreck of fortune, one hope remains 2 Name it," and be my oracle. Stuke. To vent your curses on—You have bestowed them liberally. Take your own counsel; and should a desperate hope present itself, 'twill suit your desperate fortune. I’ll not advise you. Bev. What hope 2 By Heaven I'll catch at it, how
ever desperate. I am so sunk in misery, it cannot lay me lower. Stuke. You have an uncle. Bev. Ay, what of him? Stuke. Old men live long by temperance; while their heirs starve on expectation. Bev. What mean you? . Stuke. That the reversion of his estate is yours; and will bring money to pay debts with—Nay, more, it may retrieve what’s past. Bev. Or leave my child a beggar. Stuke. Andwhat’s his father ? Adishonourable one; engaged for sums he cannot pay—That should be thought of. Bev. It is my shame—The poison that inflames me. Where shall we go? To whom I’m impatient till all's lost. Stuke. All may be yours again—Your man is Bates—He has large funds at his command, and will deal justly by you. Bev. I am resolved—Tell them within we’ll meet them presently; and with full purses, too—Come, follow me. Stuke. No. I’ll have no hand in this; nor do I counsel it—Use your discretion, and act from that. You'll find me at my lodgings. Bev. Succeed what will, this night I'll dare the WorSt. 'Tis loss of fear to be completely curst. [Erit. Stuke. Why, lose it then for ever—Fear is the mind's worst evil; and ’tis a friendly office to drive it from the bosom—Thus far has fortune crowned me—Yet Beverley is rich; rich in his wife's best treasure, her honour and affections. I would supplant him there too. But 'tis the curse of thinking minds to raise up difficulties. Fools may conquer women—Fearless of dangers which they see not, they press on boldly, and, by persisting, prosper. Yet may a tale of art do much. Charlotte is sometimes absent. The seeds of jealousy are sown already. If I mistake not, they have taken root too. Now is the time to ripen them, and reap the harvest. The softest of her sex, if wronged in love, or thinking that she’s wronged, becomes a tygress in revenge—I’ll instantly to Beverley's No matter for the danger—When beauty leads us on,
'tis indiscretion to reflect, and cowardice to do [Exit.
Enter MRs BeverLEY and Lucy.
Mrs Bev. Did Charlotte tell you any thing 2 Lucy. No, madam. Mrs Bev. She looked confused, methought; said she had business with her Lewson; which when I pressed to know, tears only were her answer. Lucy. She seemed in haste too—Yet her return may bring you comfort. Mrs Bev. No, my kind girl; I was not born for it —But why do I distress thee Thy sympathizing heart bleeds for the ills of others—What pity that thy mistress can’t reward thee! But there’s a Power above, that sees, and will remember all. [Knocking. Hark! there's some one entering, Lucy. Perhaps 'tis my master, madam. [Exit. Mrs Bev. Let him be well too, and I am satisfied.
[Goes to the Door, and listens.] No, 'tis another's Wolce.
Enter Lucy and STUKELY. Lucy, Mr Stukely, madam, . . . [Erit. Stuke. To meet you thus alone, madam, was what I wished. Unseasonable visits, when friendship warrants them, need no excuse—therefore I make none. Mrs Bev. What mean you, sir? And where is your friend ? Stuke. Men may have secrets, madam, which their best friends are not admitted to. We parted in the morning, not soon to meet again. Mrs Bev. You mean to leave us then—to leave your country too? I am no stranger to your reasons, and pity your misfortunes. Stuke. Your pity has undone you. Could Beverley do this? That letter was a false one; a mean contrivance to rob you of your jewels—I wrote it not. Mrs Bev. Impossible! Whence came it then 2 Stuke. Wronged as I am, madam, I must speak plainly. Mrs Bev. Do so, and ease me.—Your hints have troubled me. Reports, you say, are stirring—Reports of whom 2 You wished me not to credit them. What, sir, are these reports : Stuke. I thought them slander, madam; and cautioned in friendship, lest from officious tongues the tale had reached you with double aggravation. Mrs Bev. Proceed, sir. * Stuke. It is a debt due to my fame; due to an injured wife too.—We are both injured. Mrs Bev. How injured 2 And who has injured us? Stuke. My friend—your husband. Mrs Bev. You would resent for both then ; but know, sir, my injuries are my own, and do not need a champion. Stuke. Be not too hasty, madam. I come not in resentment, but for acquittance. You thought me poor; and to the feigned distresses of a friend gave up your jewels. Mrs Bev. I gave them to a husband. Stuke. Who gave them to a8
Mrs Bev. What? whom did he give them to ? Stuke. A mistress. Mrs Bev. No ; on my life he did not. Stuke. Himself confessed it, with curses on her avarice. Mrs Bev. I’ll not believe it—He has no mistress; or, if he has, why is it told to me? Stuke. To guard you against insults. He told me, that, to move you to compliance, he forged that letter, pretending I was ruined, ruined by him too. The fraud succeeded; and what a trusting wife bestowed in pity was lavished on a wanton. Mrs Bev. Then I am lost indeed! And my af. flictions are too powerful for me. His follies I have borne without upbraiding, and saw the approach of poverty without a tear—My affections, my strong affections, supported me through every trial. Stuke. Be patient, madam. Mrs Bev. Patient The -barbarous, ungrateful man | And does he think that the tenderness of my heart is his best security for wounding it 2 But he shall find that injuries such as these can arm my weakness for vengeance and redress. Stuke. Ha! then I may succeed. [Aside.] Redress is in your power. Mrs Bev. What redress 2 Stuke. Forgive me, madam, if, in my zeal to serve you, I hazard your displeasure. Think of your. wretched state. Already want surrounds you—Is it in patience to bear that? To see your helpless little one robbed of his birthright? A sister too, with unavailing tears, lamenting her lost fortune 2 No comfort left you, but ineffectual pity from the few, outweighed by insults from the many. Mrs Bev. Am I so lost a creature ?—Well, sir, my redress? Stuke. To be resolved is to secure it. The marriage vow, once violated, is, in the sight of Heaven,