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Lusy. What is that, pray, Mr. Record? Rec. The physicians all agree, that notwithstanding the obstinacy of his complaint in his life-time, he certainly died cur'd.
Lucy. Why then, would it not have been better that he had never been cured, and perhaps the poor soul might have lived?
Rec. We are not such good judges as they, most presumptuous! But mind me, I'm now going down to Michael's at the ferry, and don't you let a soul in under any pretence whatever.
Lucy. I won't if I can help it; but indeed 'tis very dismal to be left here so many hours by one's self, while you are at the ferry. I can't think what you are so fond of them for?
Rec. Why, I love Michael, because he would do no wrong to man, woman, or child; and besides, he has seen better days.
Lucy. And what do you love Michael's wife for? Rec. Because she loves Michael, and makes all his friends welcome; and that's a note of admiration in the wife of any man. (A loud knocking without.) There! There! There's a pretty racket at this early hour! Go round by the south gallery, and open the wicket, and then you'll see who it is. Lucy. What, by myself? No; if I must go, I'll go the direct road to the gate, and let them in; for I dare say they have business here, by the loud [Knocking again. Exit Lucy. Rec. Those who have the least business generally make the greatest disturbance every where. Now to my accounts: I begin very much to suspect that Sir Edmund's title here was a little doubtful, and an old parchment I was turning over mentions something of the succession of the old Baron's male issue, if living: I shall keep possession of these till opportunity serves.
Enter LUCY, with SPRUCE.
Lucy. Nobody here, but our Mr. Record, sir: he'll answer any questions
Rec. Nobody here! why the girl's a fool; she means nobody that can give a proper answer but me; she forgot the keepers of the armoury above, and the porters and mastiffs below. (Aside to Lucy.) What, do you mean to have our throats cut?
Lucy. I'm sure he don't look as if he would do anybody harm.
Rec. Your business here, if you please, most impatient! By the knocking at the gate, I should have thought my master had arrived.
Spruce. Not much out, old one, for he'll soon be here.
Rec. Who? my master? I thought they had buried him at Parma.
Spruce. He that was your master lies there: but our present master is just here; I have left him at the ferry, and am come to put every thing in order for him. We shall give the walls a warming, I promise you; take all the mildew out of the tapestry, and put a little flesh upon your bones.
Rec. O, you will, most audacious! Why, then as you are a stranger, I had better shew you the house first. Will you be pleased to walk in and try our old fare, that you may be the better able to make comparison with the new?
[Exeunt Record and Spruce. Lucy. When things come to the worst, they say, we must mend. I think that has been my case a long time, and the blessed proverb seems now about to be fulfilled. He's a very smart fellow indeed, and I dare say won't forget me in the mired alteration of affairs.
For joy will soon await you;
What bosom beats,
No vision now shall cheat you;
Why should Time,
With slow pace, detain me?
When bridal joy
Strives to entertain me?
Time has wings, and soon will flee,
Enter RECORD, with a large key. Lucy. What have you done with the gentleman? Rec. Lock'd him in the refectory, most inquisitive! that nobody may disturb him to give him an opportunity of arranging his plans of improvement here, whilst I go down to Michael to see whether he's an impostor or no. Confine yourself in the chapel till freturn, and don't you open the door, if they knock the very walls down.
Lucy. Shan't I take him a tankard of October first?
Rec. No! Put a little flesh upon my bones, will he, an impudent varlet? My bones have never yet been ashamed of what covers them, and I must take care that the future covering don't blush for
Lucy. 'Ifegs! but I'll have another peep at him. He may like to go to chapel with me, and if he does, I can get him out. What then? the chapel is a very good place; but there will be no parson there. That's no fault of mine; well, we can read the ceremony without him. [Exit.
SCENE IL-Michael's Hut at the Ferry-Mountains
in the back view.
Enter SIR BERTRAND and LE SAGE.
Down the rugged mountain's steep,
Then we'll trust the safer tide.
Enter MICHAEL to them.
Mich. The carriage and horses must wait the next tide; the torrent from that mountain is so rapid, I dare not answer for their safety. We can make you up tolerable accommodation here. Sir Ber. We are not very particular: the country seems most beautiful, and the delay of a day or two will make no difference.
Mich. If you are fond of fishing, we have some rare sport a mile or two up the stream. You do us great honour to put up with our little place. Here, Nell! The best brown bread of our own making, and honey from our own hives. Homely fare, but pro-sweet-Stoop your head, your honour, our huts are but low.
SOENE III.-The Garden of an old Convent.
Enter CLARA and JANNETTE.
Cla. The long absence of Sir Edmund, Jannette, fills my mind with strange apprehensions for his safety.
Jan. The charms of foreign travel, madam, are great.
Cla. Under his protection, Jannette, you know, I have lived here, secluded from the hated passion of Sir Bertrand. Nothing do I dread equal to his death; and then, his precarious state of health when he went to Parma
Jan. Madam, do not give way to such melancholy. You strangely discourage my labours to amuse and please yon. I have just finished the grotto! the further end of it opens secretly to the
Cla. Indeed I am to blame. How beautiful it is! what a heavenly retirement from the vicious pur
Buits of man!~
Jan. From a seat within it, you command the surrounding country, and in the distance, a view of
Cla. O name it not for though living here by favour of Sir Edmund, I can never forget it once belonged to my ancestors; and have great reason to believe it would have returned again to our possession, after a time, had not the cruel ocean deprived me both of a father and infant brother at a stroke.
Mich. Well; they are out now, are they? Nell. Yes: but I can't think what they notice the boy so much for; I wish they were gone,
Mich. Notice him, do they? Where is he now? Nell. At his employment, his pencils and his compasses, and I don't know what, pothering his poor little brains.
Mich. I'm not very easy about that boy; he advances in life apace, and we are very laborious; we have but little leisure-to be sure you teach him to read[miracle. Nell. Read! ay, that I do: and he spells to a Mich. Well, I know he does: but if I could any how give him a little more learning, I'm sure he'd make an excellent scholar.
Nell. A scholar quoth 'a? fine doing to make poor people scholars! and when he has got it, I wonder who's to mind the Ferry.
Mich. Does a man make the worse seaman, think ye, Nell, because he understands his compass? But come, come, sit down, and I'll tell you a secret, and you shall adrise
Nell. Now, Michael, you love me indeed: and will you trust me with a secret?
Mich. I will: you have always thought him a boy of mine; but I am not his father.
Mich. No: but you shall hear. About eight years since, I had been out all night fishing; and, about with a stiff gale, when I heard to windward a signal a league from hence, was hauling close in shore, gun fire of a ship in distress. I could see nothing; but presently heard another, and then, the piercing shrieks of some poor souls in their last extremity. to sea again. The gale increased, and it was my That was enough for me: so I luffed and stood out duty, Nell, you know, and danger was no object,
when I could save the life of a fellow-creature. Nell. I never would have had you, if you could have deserted them.
Mich. Well, the moon every now and then peeped from underneath a pitch black cloud. I crowded sail, and soon made the wreck, just time enough to take out a gentleman and this little boy, with a trunk, and she went to pieces. I was endeavourquite exhausted, told me he was dying, and begged ing to make port again, when the poor gentleman, I would run in upon the beach, as he had something to say. Cheerly, says I, cheerly; a glass of grog will soon right you again: so he tasted it, and I run into the first creek I could see. but it would not do: his spirits were ebbing apace, His distress had made him my commander, you know, and I was not to disobey orders.
Nell. What could you do with him, poor creature?
Mich. I struck a light, and seated him in a small cavity of the cliff upon the best jacket I had got; made a small fire to leeward, of as many sticks as I could scramble together, a d sat down beside him, with the little boy upon my knee. "You seem an honest fellow," says he, "and I will trust you:" "My commander often has," says I, "and I think you may: but take another sup of grog:" he tried again, but could not; then shivering all over, he said, "I must be brief." I wrapped some old sailcloth round him, put some more sticks upon the fire, and wiped the tears from the little boy's cheek, which seemed to grow to my bosom. "Take care of my boy," says he, "and don't desert him." "I'll be d- if I do," says I; though to speak nearly choaked me. "Do not lose the trunk, perhaps it may one day reward you."-"I am rewarded already, says I;" for at that moment I felt something at my heart, that was quite enough!
Nell. But where is the trunk, Michael?
Mich. "Promise me one thing," added he; "his life is sought secretly: keep him as your own, and when you shall hear of the death of Sir Edmund of Milford Castle, then open the trunk. The poor soul reached out his hand, which the boy kissed as he dropped. The day-break gave me light enough to sink a grave for him in the sand. He went peacefully home; the salt tear of a sailor seemed to satisfy him of his boy's safety; and the trust was more binding than if all the lawyers in the universe had been by; for the seal is here. (Laying his hand upon his heart.-They retire.)
Enter Boy, SONG.
At evening, when my work is done,
Toward the abbey wall I steer,
(After the song, they meet him.) Boy. Here, father, these good gentlemen have given me-O! see here! it will buy for me plenty of pencils and colours for drawing, when you can spare me: 'tis a great deal of money though, and I won't keep it if you don't like it. Mich. They are returned then. See, Nell, they want nothing. [Exit Nell.] What, give you gold! impossible! Come, come, tell me fairly where you got this, and I won't be angry. Tell me the truth. [I scorn it. Boy. When did I ever tell you a lie? You know Mich. That's true, that's true; I am too hasty: Gold! for what? My heart misgives me. did they say to you?
Boy. O! they asked me if I should like to go with them, and said that they would give me a horse to ride upon; but I told them no, I would not, I was very happy: and so I am too; for you know I could not leave mother and you.
Mich. No, no, to be sure you could not. This is very strange! (Aside.)
Boy. They asked me who gave me this rosary, and they took a great deal of notice of it; they are very kind gentlemen, indeed; but you would not part with me, would you?
Mich. Part with you! no; never till death slips the cable. (Aside.) That rosary was his father's; given to him on the sand just before he died; it has, I fear, betrayed him. Stay by me, and don't
run about so much by yourself. (Aside.) O! they're coming, I must not seem surprised. (Speaking loud to the boy.) We must down to the boat, boy, more passengers are waiting to cross, and the tide is making in apace. Take the flask aboard. (Boy brings the flask.) Stay! there is but little in it. Well, well, if we can't bring our means up to our wishes, we can keep our wishes down to our means, and that comes to the same point-content. Enter SIR BERTRAND and LE SAGE, in conversation, on the opposite side.
Sir Ber. There cannot be a doubt of it: here are the very features, line for line. (Looking at a miniature.) We must get possession of him by courtesy, if possible, and that will hoodwink suspicion. The disposal of him we'll settle after.
Mich. (Aside.) They are very intent upon the boy. Le Sage. Had you not better speak to the man? Sir Ber. That seems to be a clever lad of yours, ferryman.
Mich. Yes, sir, I believe the boy's well enough. Sir Ber. He passes for your son, I believe? Mich. Why, whose should he pass for? Sir Ber. Come, come, be explicit. Do you mean to tell me that you are his father?
Mich. Why, as to that, few fathers, I believe, could take upon them to say: 'tis useless to fathom beyond the depth of the line: 'tis sufficient for me that he is cast under this roof to lay claim to my protection.
Sir Ber. Will you part with him? He can have no great instruction here; I'll see his genius attended to; what can he learn of you?
Mich. Nature's independence-honesty! Labour to procure his meal of content, and gratitude to Him that sends it! He may see, perhaps, an example to resent injury or insult. What would you teach him more?
Le Sage. A purse, Sir Bertraud, may alter this tone.
Sir Ber. Come, come, I have a fancy to see him educated; there's earnest of what more I intend for you. (Offering a purse.)
Mich. I'll starve first! (Throwing it away.)
Le Sage. Do you know whom you are insulting by this behaviour?
Mich. What, because I won't sell my boy? I don't know who his honour may be; but if he is in great power, he ought to know that it was given
him to protect, and not to oppress those below him.
Enter NELL and RECORD.
Nell. These are the gentlemen, Mr. Record. Mich. (Aside.) Record here, and knows them! then I'm ruin'd.
ful servant bow before you; you are coming to Rec. Most high and mighty! you see your faithMilford Castle, I suppose; you bring credentials with you. I am the old steward of the place, and must render proper accounts: I keep all under lock and key, most accurate! and am very particular whom I let in during my master's absence. Sir Ber. Did not my servant arrive before you left the castle?
Rec. He did.
Rec. For the same reason that I have locked you as I must render account to those who come after; out, right worshipful! to guard against impostors, therefere, sir, I hope to see your credentials, the certificate of my master's death and burial, and your right of succession.
Mich. (Aside to Nell.) Sir Edmund dead!
Sir Ber. Le Sage, give him the papers; his formalities must he indulged. (Le Sage gives him papers.) In that parcel you will see every thing you want. I shall not visit the castle till evening. (To Michael in parting.) Think of what I've said to you, and give me an answer.
[Exeunt Sir Bertrand and Le Sage. Mich. I hope I shall have an answer for you. Rec. What a sudden alteration of affairs! Come, Michael, give me a draught of your ale; I'll sit down and chat with you a little.
Mich. I thank you, I thank you.-And so, Sir Edmund is certainly dead, is he? Poor man!-I am very heartily glad to see you.-How the devil shall I get him out of the house? (Aside.) Nell, go and draw a mug of ale, child; take the boy with you. Nell. Well, I'm going. (Aside to Michael.) But, Michael, can't you give me the key of the trunk, you know? [Exit Nell.
Mich. Silence! And so these people are come to live here, are they? Upon my soul, I'm heartily glad to see you: but won't you be wanted at home? You are sure you won't now, because, make no
ceremony with me-Quite sure! Good God! what a taking I'm in! (Aside.)
Rec. O! no! not in the least, not in the least:Yes! he's dead and-but where's the ale?
Enter NELL, with ale.
Nell. Here it is.
Rec. There's a fine head to it. Our last brewing did not turn out quite so well; what's your proportion? I shall mend our receipt. Ay! it should be deeper coloured than this. (Drinks.) Delicious, in good truth! Did I never tell you of Sir Edmund's pedigree?
Mich. My impatience almost chokes me! (Aside.) Here's to you! here's to you! (Drinks.)
Rec. Why, you are in a d- hurry. What's the matter with you? I came to gossip half an hour
Nell. He has a number of things to do; Mr. Record, good morning! good morning! (Drinks.) Rec. Good morning! What the devil are you drinking me out of the house?
Mich. I've a great mind to tell him, but-(Aside.) Well, good bye, we shall meet in the evening, as I see you're in such a hurry now; I'm sure you must be wanted.
Rec. Well, I'm going! I'm going! Lackaday! this is the strangest kind of hospitality, to turn your old friend out of doors. Some family secret, I sup-been a pretty business if I had let him go.
Enter NELL in haste.
Mich. Well, now, do go; make haste, will you?
Mich. You don't know how much I'm obliged to you. [Exit Record.
Nell. Well, now for it.
Mich. Now for what, Nell?
Sha'n't we open it? Mich. We open it? I've divulg'd the secret to you, Nell, and of course we are embarked; but, do you know the danger of two commanders in one bottom? If we mean to come safe to shore, we must have only one pilot; and as I'm best acquainted with the coast, you must trust the helm to me: so as there may be some difficulty in the steerage, I'll go first and reconnoitre, and thenNell. What, then, you shut_me out from the secrets of your heart! Have deserved this, Michael?
Mich. Be satisfied: I'll keep nothing from you; but when I open that trunk, I shall think I'm in company with my shipwreck'd friend, and that his spirit will witness for me. My curiosity is excited more for the happiness of his boy, than for any paltry recompense I may expect, for the discharge of the first duty of the human heart-kindness to the unfortunate.
SCENE L-The Inside of Michael's house continued Enter MICHAEL, with a trunk, sealed up.
Mich. I have closed the hatchways, and the decks are all clear. I feel just now for all the world like a commander going into an engagement, determined to do his duty, eager for victory, yet not without remembering that a battle may be lost as well as won. (Breaks the seal.) This is the key -what's here? (Opens the trunk, and takes out a "The child with whom this paper then reads.) trunk is found has lawful claim to the whole estate
of Milford Castle, at the death of Sir Edmund. The writings within will explain the rest, and guide to the only copy of the Baron's will, now in the Whoever finds this, and chapel of the Castle. faithfully executes the trust, will meet with his reward, if needy, in the silken purse within, besides an annuity of fifty pounds when he shall be in possession of his estate." Nell must not know this yet it will turn her brain. She will be like a sudden squall, a hurricane, that whisks at once round every I should like to see the point of the compass. purse though; a little ready cash will be useful. Let's see; how shall I break it to him? I must make a friend of Record, to examine the papers. Lucky, little dog! De, I've done my duty by him, that's one comfort though. It would have
Nell. We're ruin'd, Michael! we are ruin'd! Mich. (Hiding the trunk.) Don't be in such a hurry. No! we a'n't ruin'd-not ruin'd, Nell.
Nell. I tell you, they have stolen the poor boy away, and are dragging him I can't tell where: I saw him struggling till his last strength was gone: they have taken him quite out of sight.
Mich. Which way? Who have got him?· Nell. Over the-O, two such ill-looking fellows.' Mich. De but I'll be up with them: give me down my pistols. Don't look into that trunk; I'll tell you all; shut the papers in close. Poor little soul!-take care of the trunk!-I shall never make press of sail enough after him. Don't look into the trunk, Nell. O, the villains! [Exit. Nell. Yes, I'll take care of it; but, for fear of interruption, I'll go with it up stairs, and there have knew dreaming of those huge precipices boded no an opportunity of satisfying my curiosity, Ah! I good.
If woman is curious, sure nature's to blame,
SCENE II.-Outside of Milford Castle. Enter SIR BEETRAND and LE SAGE. Sir Ber. Is the boy safe?
Le Sage. All manag'd to a charm: they have got him away without suspicion of us, and I have just written to remove him again from St. Nicholas, where he will be quite out of their recovery.
Sir Ber. That's well; then soon the lovely Clara shall be the fair mistress of these extensive possessions. While Sir Edmund lived, I dared not oblige her, but now she knows not of our arrival,
Le Sage. Not a syllable: she occupies part of the old convent where I have lodged the boy, but knows not of your arrival, nor of Edmund's death. Sir Ber. Thus far, then, we glide on smoothly. Enter RECORD.
Rec. The way for your reverend steps is round these ramparts to the great gate. I have all the keys, and will give an account of every thing as we go on. Will you be pleased to follow, most res[Exit. pectful? Sir Ber. We'll follow. Your man is trusty, or, Le Sage, our plans will but involve us deeper. Le Sage. Both secret and determined. You may now take possession with confidence and cheerful
Sir Ber. No, Le Sage; who takes what he knows to be another's right, must have confidence, indeed; but a merry heart will not be among his possessions.
Le Sage. Mere vapours! a glass or two of the old convent wine will alter your opinion.
In the low winding vale that s refresh'd by the stream,
The vineyard invites the sun's ripening beam,
How the monks, in their day,
Must have swigg'd it away,
O, they let not a cluster escape;
Were as purple and plump as the grape.
The mould ring walls are conceal'd by the fruit,
How the monks in their day, &c.
SCENE III-The armoury in the Castle.
Lucy. This is the best of our curiosities, sir; we have been all round the castle now, and I hope you like our situation.
Spruce. Vastly, vastly, dear.
Lucy. I hope you don't believe I had any hand in locking you up; it was all Mr. Record's own doing, I can assure you sir.
Spruce. Not at all, my love, not at all; I shall settle the old boy in a twinkling, when I am a little to rights.
Lucy. And you won't forget me: I should be sorry to lose my place now such fine people are coming.
Spruce. Lose your place! you shall not, by this, and this. Depend upon it I'll settle you too. Kissing her.)
Lucy. Thank you, sir! Lord, this will be something like living.-(A door shuts within with a hollow sound.) Mercy on me! they are all coming in with Record's key, and will be up the winding staircase
in a moment. We must not be found here; I shall be ruin'd; we have no way out but that by which they come.
Spruce. Never fear, put me in anywhere, only make haste.
Lucy. Well, well; here! you can creep behind that black armour; don't breathe for your life; they'll only pass on, and we can slip back when they are gone through. (Spruce places himself behind the armour.)
Spruce. Perhaps I am not the first coward that has trembled behind this suit of armour.
Lucy. I'll get into this case where Record keeps his best armour; I see he has left the key and believes it locked.-(Goes in to the case.) Enter SIR BERTRAND, LE SAGE, and RECORD. Rec. You see, right noble, I've done my duty; every thing is in the completest orderSir Ber. I'm satisfied, and shall reward you accordingly.
Le Sage. For what are these piles of arms preserved?
Rec. To arm your tenants and followers, most victorious! in cases of civil commotions; they were of great import to Sir Edmund's grandsire; and my father followed him, when a younker, in that helmet and coat of mail, in his troublesome days.
Sir Ber. He was at Palestine, in the holy wars; was he not?
Rec. He was, right reverend: and I can shew you the armour which he prized upon those occa sions-(Approaching the case where Lucy is concealed.) It often preserved his life in great perils. He never went to the holy wars without it, and slept with it every night in his tent.-I myself have now the care of it, and indeed I value it as much as the old warrior did: but I only regard it now as a curiosity, and am obliged to be very tender with it. (Opens the case and discovers Lucy.)
Le Sage, Heav'ns! a woman!
Sir Ber. An excellent companion for the holy wars!
Rec. I'm dumb, most terrific! Did I not order you to stay in the chapel till my return? and how the devil got you in here? speak! (An arm from the black armour falls.) What's that? why here's witchcraft, in very truth.
Le Sage. That ar mour moves, Sir Bertrand. Sir Ber. Which? Which? Le Sage,-what's the meaning of all this? do you know?
Le Sage. I'll have it down if the devil's there. (Drawing his sword. Lucy screams.)
Spruce. (Coming out.) "Tis only I, sir; I hope no offence: but this young woman was shewing me all her-no, your curiosities, sir, and hearing you approach, we fear'd you might be angry, so we concealed ourselves till you were gone by.
Lucy. Indeed, that's all; as he was just come to his new place, I thought I would shew him the na ture of it
Rec. Go down, hussy: wait below till I come, most impudent! I shall pay you off directiy.
Sir Ber. Don't be so hasty. As to you, sir, I shall desire Record to put you to some employmentRec. I will, most dignified! Come with me. So, putting a little flesh upon my bones did not seem to be all your intention here, eh?
[Exeunt Record and Spruce. Sir Ber. Now, Le Sage, we are satisfied there is no copy left of the original will destroyed, we may with greater security proceed. Send the boy beyond sea, and there let him be despatched.