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My manly means of vengeance! Anguish gnaws me;
Sir E. Kill you !
Wil. I know not what I say; I know but this, That I would die to serve you!
Enter GREGORY, R. D. F. Gre. Sir, your
Sir E. My brother !
[Exit, R. D. F., followed by Gregory. Wil. Remember!--I shall never, while I live, forget it; nay, I shall never, while I live, forgive myself! My knees knock together still, and the cold drops stand on my forehead, like rain-water on a pent-house.
Enter BARBARA, L. Bar. Oh, dear! what would any of the servants say if they should see me? Wilford !
Wil. Eh! Barbara !-How camest thou here?
Bar. With my father, who waits below to see Sir Edward.
Wil. He-he is busied; he cannot see him now; he is with his brother.
Bar. Troth, I am sorry for it. My poor father's heart is bursting with gratitude, and he would fain ease it, by pouring out his thanks to his benefactor. Oh, Wilford! yours is a happy lot, to have such a master as Sir Ed. ward!
Wil. Happy? Oh, yes--I-I am very happy.
Bar. Nay, I'm sure there's more in this. Bless me! you look pale. I couldn't bear to see you ill or uneasy, Wilford.
Wil. Couldn't you, Barbara ? Well, well, I shall be better presently ; 'tis nothing of import.
Bar. Trust me, I hope not.
Bar. Believe me, I would not question you but to console you, Wilford. I would scorn to pry into any one's grief, much more yours, Wilford, to satisfy a busy curiosity; though I am told there are such in the world who would.
Wil. I-I am afraid there are, Barbara. no more of this ; 'tis a passing cloud on my spirits, and will soon blow over.
Bar. Ah! could I govern your fortunes, foul weather should ne'er harm you.
Wil. Should not it, sweet? Kiss me. (Kissing her.] The lips of a woman are a sovereign cordial for melancholy.
DUETT.--WILFORD and BARBARA.
Sweet little Barbara, my cares you remove.
When little Barbara is met by her love.
Tattle to you, love,
Care, soon or late, my love, is every man's lot.
When we are young and jolly, soon is forgot:
Wil. When we grow old, love, then what will you say?
Tattle to you, love,
And prattle to you, love,
Exeunt Barbara, L., Wilford, R. D. F.
END OF ACT I.
SCENE I.-The New Forest. Enter ARMSTRONG and ORSON, R., from the top through cut
wood. Arm. (c.) Go to !--I tell thee, Orson (as I have told thee more than once), thou art too sanguinary.
Ors. (L.) And I tell you, Captain Armstrong-but always under favour, you being our leader-you are too humane.
Arm. Humanity is scarcely counted a fault; if so, 'tis a fault on the right side.
Ors. Umph!-Perhaps not with us : we are robbers. Arm. And why should robbers lack humanity? They who plunder most respect it as a virtue, and make a show on't to gild their vices. Lawyers, physicians, placemen, all-all plunder and slay, but all pretend to humanity.
Ors. They are regulars, and plunder by license.
Arm. Then let us quacks set the regulars a better example.
Ors. This humanity, captain, is a high horse you are ever bestride upon : some day, mark my word, he'll fling you.
Arm. Cruelty is a more dangerous beast. When the rider is thrown, his brains are kicked out, and no one pities him.
Ors. Like enough; but your tough horseman, who ventures boldly, is never dismounted.
When I am engaged in a desperate chase (as we are, captain), I stick at nothing I hate milk-sops.
Arm. And love mutiny. Take heed, Orson ; I have before cautioned you not to glance at me.
Ors. I say nothing; but if some escape to inform against us, whoin we have robbed, 'tis none of
my fault. Dead men tell no tales.
Arm. Wretch! (Holding a carbine to his head.] Speak that again, and you shall tell none !
Ors. Flash away! I don't fear death.
Ors. I know my trade : I set powder, ball, and defiance.
Arm. Brute ! you mistake headstrong insensibility for courage. Do not mistake
horror of it for cowardice; for I, who shudder at cruelty, will fell your boldness to the earth when I see you practice it. Submit!
Ors. I do. But' my courage was never yet doubted, captain.
Arm. Your nerves, fool! Thou art a mere machine : could I but give it motion, I would take an oak from the forest here, clap a flint into it for a heart, and make as bold a fellow as thou art. Listen to my orders.
Ors. I obey.
Arm. Get thee to our den ; [Orson crosses to r.] put on thy disguise; then hie thee to the market-town, for provision for our company. Here—here is part of the spoil we took yesternight; [Giving money.] see you bring an honest account of what you lay out.
Ors. My honour!
Arm. Well, I do not doubt thee, here. Our profession is singular—its followers do not cheat one another. You will not be back till dusk; see you fall not on any pour straggling peasant as you return.
Ors. I would fain encounter the solitary man, who is sometimes wandering by night about the forest ;-he is rich.
Arm. Not for your life! 'Tis Sir Edward Mortimer, the head keeper. Touch him not~'tis too near home: besides, he is no object for plunder. He is good to the poor, and should walk unmolested by charity's charter. 'Twere pity that he who administers to necessity all day, should be rifled by necessity at night. An' thou shouldst meet him, I charge thee spare him.
Ors. I must, if it be your order. The profession will soon tumble into decay, when thieves grow tender-hearted. When a man drives the trade of a wolf, he should not go to his business like a lamb.
(Exit, R. Arm. This fellow is downright villain, hardened and relentless. I have felt, in my penury, the world trample on me; it has driven me to take that, desperately, which wanting I should starve. Death! my spirit cannot brook to see a sleek knave walk negligently by his fellow in misery, and suffer him to rot. I will wrench that comfort from him which he will not bestow. But nature puls a bar: let him administer to my wants, and pass on; I have done with him !
When the robber his victim has noted,
When the freebooter darts on his prey,
Let Mercy forbid him to slay.
My sword must the traveller daunt;
At my foot when I look on my prey,
Let Mercy forbid me to slay!
SCENE II.-The Hall in Sir Edward Mortimer's Lodge.
Enter FITZHARDING, L.
Enter GREGORY, R., and crosses to L.