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What has she, in my absence, undergone?
Isa. I have obey'd your pleasure;
Bir. I can want nothing here; possessing thee,
Isa. Shall I attend you ?
Bir. By no means; I’ve been so long a slave to others pride, To learn, at least, to wait upon myself; You'll make haste after [Goes in.
Isa. I’ll but say my prayers, and follow you— My prayers! no, I must never pray again. Prayers have their blessings to reward our hopes, But I have nothing left to hope for more. What Heav'n cou’d give, I have enjoy'd ; but now The baneful planet rises on my fate, And what’s to come, is a long line of wo, Yet I may shorten it I promis'd him to follow—him Is he without a name Biron, my husband, To follow him to bed my husband l hał What then is Villeroy But yesterday That very bed receiv'd him for its lord,
“Yet a warm witness of my broken vows.” Oh, Biron, hadst thou come but one day sooner, I would have follow'd thee through beggary, Through all the chances of this weary life: Wander'd the many ways of wretchedness With thee, to find a hospitable grave; For that's the only bed that's left me now. [Weeping. What's to be done—for something must be done. Two husbands! yet not one! By both enjoy'd, And yet a wife to neither! Hold my brain— “This is to live in common 1 Very beasts, “That welcome all they meet, make just such wives. , “My reputation 1 Oh, 'twas all was left me ! “The virtuous pride of an uncensur’d life; “Which the dividing tongues of Biron's wrongs, “And Villeroy's resentments, tear asunder, “To gorge the throats of the blaspheming rabble. “This is the best of what can come to-morrow, “Besides old Baldwin's triumph in my ruin: “I cannot bear it “Therefore no morrow :” Hall a lucky thought Works the right way to rid me of 'em all ; All the reproaches, infamies, and scorns, That every tongue and finger will find for me. Let the just horror of my apprehensions But keep me warm—no matter what can come. *Tis but a blow—yet I will see him first— Have a last look to heighten my despair, And then to rest for ever.—
BIRon meets her.
Bir. Despair and rest for ever! Isabella! These words are far from thy condition And be they ever so. I heard thy voice, And could not bear thy absence: come, my love 1 You have staid long, there's nothing, nothing sure Now to despair of in succeeding fate. Isa. I am contented to be miserable, But not this way: I’ve been too long abus'd, And can believe no more. Let me sleep on to be deceiv'd no more. Bir. Look up, my love, I never did deceive thee, Nor never can ; believe thyself, thy eyes That first inflam’d, and lit me to my love, Those stars, that still must guide me to my joys— Isa. And me to my undoing : I look round And find no path, but leading to the grave. Bir. I cannot understand thee. “Isa. My good friends above, * “I thank 'em, have at last found out a way “To make my fortune perfect; having you “I need no more; my fate is finish’d here.” “Bir. Both our ill-fates, I hope.” “Isa, Hope is a lying, fawning Hatterer, “That shews the fair side only of our fortunes, “To cheat us easier into our fall ; “A trusted friend, who only can betray you; “Never believe him more.”—If marriages F
Are made in heav'n, they should be happier:
Isa. You'll tell no body— [Distraffedly. Bir. Thou art not well. w Isa. Indeed I am not ; I knew that before; * But where's the remedy? - Bir. Rest will relieve thy cares: come, come, no more;
I’il banish sorrow from thee,
Isa. The fatal innocent cause of all my woes. Bir. Is this my welcome home * This the reward Of all my miseries, long labours, pains, And pining wants of wretched slavery, Which I’ve out-liv'd, only in hopes of thee : Am I thus paid at last for deathless love, And call'd the cause of thy misfortunes now Isa. Enquire no more; 'twill be explain'd too soon. - [She's going off. Bir. What! Canst thou leave me too [He stays her, Isa. Pray let me go: For both our sakes, permit me— Bir. Rack me not with imaginations Of things impossible—Thou canst not mean What thou hast said—Yet something she must mean. —’Twas madness all—Compose thyself, my love The fit is past; all may be well again: Let us to bed. Isa. To bed! You've rais’d the storm Will sever us for ever. Oh, Biron I “While I have life, still I must call you mine: “I know I am, and always was, unworthy “To be the happy partner of your love; “And now must never, never share it more. “But oh l if ever I was dear to you, ; “As sometimes you have thought me,” on my knees, (The last time I shall care to be believ'd) I beg you, beg to think me innocent, Clear-of all crimes, that thus can banish me From this world's comforts, in my losing you.