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like mad to meet her!—'Gad! I begin to feel that I don't like it at all. Why can't he keep to his fine ladies, and let the others alone? I don't go and make love to Mamzelle Ernestine, do J.? What business has he to talk a pack of stuff to Gertrude, and turn the poor girl's head ? He'd better mind what he's about, though–I can tell him that! If he makes her unhappy, I wouldn't be in his shoes for something, for I should break every bone in my own skin!
Enter Delve, R. Del. What's the matter, Master Peter ? you don't look pleased.
Pet. Well, I have been pleased better.
Pet. This note ?-10. This is the note you brought from Van Nickem's. There's that young rogue, Sneek, wants to marry Gertrude.
Del. To marry Gertrude! well, now, do you know, I think he might do worse.
Pet. Might do worse ?- I believe he might, too!
Del. Well-yes—I think she is,-and very good-tempered.
Pet. The best humoured soul in the world.
Del. Do you know, Master Peter, if I thought there was any chance of our living comfortably together, I shouldn't mind making up to Gertrude myself.
Pet. You !—you be hanged !
Del. Hanged! what for, I should like to know? I question, now, if I couldn't afford to marry as well as young Sneek-he doesn't get much out of Van Nickem's pocket, I'll swear.
Pet. Well, you needn't trouble your head about it, because you shan't have her.
Del. Why, Farmer Spyk, what have you to do with it? -suppose I choose, and she chooses, you're neither her father nor her mother. If you put my blood
go and ask her at once.
Pet. And if you do, you'll put my blood up-and then I shall knock
Del. Knock me down ! Donner and blitzen !
Pet. Don't provoke me! I'm getting desperate-I mean to marry Gertrude myself, if she'll have me, and I'll fight anybody for her, with fists, knives, pistols—anything !
Enter ERNESTINE, R. Ern. Heyday! heyday! what is all this noise aboutand threat of fighting?
Del. It's Farmer Spyk here, and please you, Mamzelle, he threatens to knock me down if I go a-courting to Gertrude—and all in an honest way, too. I'll be damned if I don't
[Exit, L. Ern. To Gertrude !—why, how long have you taken this fancy into your
head ? Pet. Why, not five minutes, Mamzelle, and he has the impudence to set himself up against me, who have been in love with her--more than half an hour !
Ern. And where is the fair object of your contention ? —what does she say to these sudden passions ?
Pet. I'm waiting to know what she'll, say to mine-but she's a plaguy long time with the Captain. He's the only rival I'm afraid of; she seems deuced fond of him-and he raves about her.
Ern. (Alarmed. He does ! [Recovering herself.) But, of course-I desired him.
Pet. You desired him, Mamzelle ?
Pet. Well, he won't be broke for disobedience, thenthat's all I can say—for he does make love to her most furiously. I caught them myself with his arm round her waist, this morning; and I dare say it's round it now, if the truth was known; but I can't see, for that beastly holly-bush.
Ern. Why, where are they, then?
Pet. She was to meet him at the sun-dial, and I saw him slinking through the trees yonder; and just now I'm almost certain I caught a glimpse of them at the end of that walk.
Ern. [Aside.] I don't like this account: I'm afraid I've acted very silly. I repented of the freak almost as soon as I left them; but my pride would not suffer me to return. The girl's pretty-very pretty; and if Amersfort, enraged at my indifference, should, out of mere spite
such things have happened-oh, dear! I do not like it at all.
Pet. There she goes! there she goes!
Pet. No, by herself—and there's Delve after her as hard as he can scamper! I'll follow-l'll—no, I can't I can't move -I-I feel very ill-my head spins round like a top. Here comes the Captain.
Ern. Amersfort! I am ready to sink !
Enter AMERSFORT, L. Amer. (Aside.] She is here—now for the trial.-Mademoiselle Ernestine, I came to seek you.
Ern. Indeed, sir: and for what purpose? I thought I had desired you to pay your attentions in another quarter for the present.
Amer. It is in perfect accordance with that desire, that I have sought this interview. I am anxious to express my gratitude for the blessing which you have so unexpectedly bestowed on me.
Ern. What do you mean, sir?
Amer. I mean, Mademoiselle Rosendaal, that the heart you treated with so much indifference has been accepted by one of the most lovely and amiable of your sex; and that, in the affection of Gertrude, it has found a balm for all the wounds you had so wantonly inflicted on it.
Pet. There ! there! I told you so !
Ern. Upon my word, sir! and you have the assurance to make this confession to me ?
Amer. Why not, Mademoiselle? We are not masters of our own affections, and therefore I will not reproach you. But can you be surprised that I should
of loving one who did not love me? or that, stung to the quick by your contempt, I should be more sensible to the kindness and sympathy of another? Gertrude is lovely!
Pet. She is ! she is!
Amer. The sweetest tempered—the most frank and affectionate of beings!
Pet. Too true! too true!
Amer. The possession of her heart is a blessing monarchs might envy me.
Pet. I shall
mad! Amer. And monarchs have matched with maidens as lowly born, and far less deserving.
Ern. "Enough!-enough, sir !
Pet. No, it's not enough! he can't say too much about her. She hasn't her equal upon earth.
Amer. You are right, farmer; and I thank you for the honest warmth with which you justify my choice.
Pet. Your choice! Don't touch me.
Amer. My sweet bride,-my affianced wife,-Madame Amersfort will thank
person. Pet. His wife! Madame Amersfort! Cruel, faithless Gertrude !
Amer. Faithless! why, did you ever propose to her ? Amer. No: but I meant to do so.-Oh, dear!
Ern. Your wife! your wife! And you really intend to marry this orphan girl ?
Amer. I have desired my lawyer to prepare her marriage contract, which shall be signed this evening.
Pet. Oh !
Ern. Not in this house, sir ! I will not be insulted to that extent. I
go this moment to inform my father. Amer. The Baron Van Rosendaal is already informed, and
approves intentions. Ern. Approves! We shall see, sir-we shall see !
AIR.-(From “ The Challenge.")
[Exit, R. Amer. (Aside.] Yes, yes, my fair tyrant, your father is in the plot! I think we have you now.- Aloud.] Well, my good friend, I must say I pity you extremely :-you have lost a model of a wife.
Pet. Don't! don't !
Amer. But where is she ?—where is my adored Gertrude ? Enter GERTRUDE, L. S. E., dressed as a bride. Amersfort
makes signs to her not to speak, and points at Peter, who stands in an attitude of comic despair, with his back to
wurds them. I must hasten to find her. I cannot bear to be an instant from her sight. Ob, Peter! Peter! what a treasure has escaped you! (Exit, R., exchanging signs with Gertrude.
Pet. (Soliloquising.] Escaped me!-as if I was a mad dog, and it was an escape for Gertrude! An escape ! and I have let her escape! Well, well, she wont be Madame Swyzel, nor Madame Sneek ; and that rascal Delve hasn't got her—that's one comfort. Comfort! I talk of comfort ? I shall never know comfort again! Oh, Gertrude ! Gertrude!
Ger. (Advancing, R.) Did you call me, Peter ?
Pet. Ha! what do I see ? There's a dress—a wedding dress ! It is ! it is!
Ger. It is—it is a beautiful dress, as you say, and I don't wonder you start to see me in such a dress; but as the bride of a Captain, you know
Pet. (L.) It is true, then, you are going-going to marry Captain Amersfort ?
Ger. Ah, he has told you, then? Well, I was in hopes of giving you an agreeable surprise.
Pet. An agreeable surprise !
Ger. Why, are you not delighted, Peter, at my good fortune ?