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Tob. Oh! this good gentleman will forgive me. Baron S. What do you want?
too, seems fully sensible of his happiness, and is resolved to retain it. He has quitted the service to live here. I am yet afraid he may soon grow weary of Wintersen and retirement.
Mrs. H. I should trust not. They who bear a cheerful and unreproaching conscience into solitude, surely must increase the measure of their own enjoyments. They quit the poor, precarious, the dependent pleasures, which they borrowed from the world, to draw a real bliss from that exhaustless source of true delight, the fountain of a pure, unsullied heart.
Baron S. Has retirement long possessed so lovely an advocate?
Mrs. H. I have lived here three years. Baron S. And never felt a secret wish for the society you left, and must have adorned?
Mrs. H. Never.
Baron S. To feel thus belongs either to a very rough or a very polished soul. The first sight convinced me in which class I am to place you.
Mrs. H. (With a sigh.) There may, perhaps, be a third class.
Baron S. Indeed, madam, I wish not to be thought forward; but women always seemed to me less calculated for retirement than men. We have a thousand employments, a thousand amusements, which you have not.
Mrs. H. Dare I ask what they are?
Baron S. We ride, we hunt, we play, read, write.
Mrs. H. The noble employments of the chase, and the still more noble employment of play, I grant you. Baron S. Nay, but dare I ask what are your employments for a day?
Mrs. H. Oh my lord, you cannot imagine how quickly time passes when a certain uniformity guides the minutes of our life. How often do I ask, "Is Saturday come again so soon?" On a bright cheerful morning, my books and breakfast are carried out upon the grass-plot. Then is the sweet picture of reviving industry and eager innocence always new to me. The birds' notes, so often heard, still awaken new ideas: the herds are led into the fields; the peasant bends his eye upon his plough. Everything lives and moves; and in every creature's mind it seems as it were morning. Towards evening, I begin to roam abroad; from the park into the meadows: and sometimes, returning, pause to look at the village boys and girls as they play. Ten do I bless their innocence, and pray to heaven those laughing, thoughtless hours, could be their lot for ever.
Baron S. This is excellent! But these are summer amusements. The winter, the winter!
Mrs. H. Why for ever picture winter like old age; torpid, tedious, and uncheerful? Winter has its own delights: this is the time to instruct and mend the mind by reading and reflection. At this season, too, I often take my harp, and amuse myself by playing or singing the little favourite airs, that remind me of the past, or solicit hope for the future.
Baron S. Happy, indeed, are they who can thus create and vary their own pleasures and employments!
Peter. Well, well-pray, now-I was ordered-I can keep him back no longer; he will come in. Enter TOBIAS, forcing his way.
Tob. I must, good heaven! I must. Mrs. H. (Confused.) I have no time at present. I -I-You see I am not alone.
Tob. To return thanks. Even charity is a burden if one may not be grateful for it.
Mrs. H. To-morrow, good Tobias; to-morrow. Baron S. Nay, no false delicacy, madam. Allow him to vent the feelings of his heart; and permit me to witness a scene which convinces me, even more powerfully than your conversation, how nobly you employ your time. Speak, old man!
Tob. Oh! lady, that each word which drops from my lips, might call down a blessing on your head! I lay forsaken and dying in my hut; not even bread nor hope remained. Oh! then you came in the form of an angel, brought medicines to me; and your sweet consoling voice did more than those. I am recovered. To-day, for the first time, I have returned thanks in presence of the sun; and now I come to you, noble lady. Let me drop my tears upon your charitable hand. For your sake, heaven has blessed my latter days. The Stranger, too, who lives near me, has given me a purse of gold to buy my son's release. I am on my way to the city: I shall purchase my Robert's release. Then I shall have an honest daughter-in-law. And you, if ever after that you pass our happy cottage, oh! what must you feel when you say to yourself, "This is my work!" Mrs. H. (In a tone of entreaty.) Enough Tobias; enough!
Tob. I beg pardon: I cannot utter what is breathing in my breast. There is one who knows May his blessing and your own heart reward [Exit, Peter following. Mrs. Haller casts her eyes upon the ground, and contends against the confusion of an exalted soul, when surprised in a good action. The Baron stands opposite to her, and from time to time casts a glance at her.
Mrs. H. (Endeavouring to bring about a conversation.) I suppose, my lord, we may expect the Count and Countess every moment now?
Baron S. Not just yet, madam. He travels at his leisure. I am selfish, perhaps, in not being anxious for his speed: the delay has procured me a delight which I shall never forget. Mrs. H. (Smiling.) You satirize mankind, my lord.
Baron S. How so?
Mrs. H. In supposing such scenes to be uncom
Baron S. I confess I was little prepared for such an acquaintance as yourself; I am extremely surprised. When Solomon told me your name and situation, how could I suppose that-Pardon my curiosity; you have been, or are, married?
Mrs. II. (Suddenly sinking from her cheerful raillery into mournful gloom.) I have been married, my lord.
Baron S. (Whose inquiries evince his curiosity, yet are restrained within the bounds of the nicest respect.) A widow, then?
Mrs. H. I beseech you-there are strings in the human heart, which touched, will sometimes utter dreadful discord: I beseech you
Baron S. I understand you. I see you know how to conceal everything except your perfections.
Mrs. H. My perfections, alas! (Rural music without.) But I hear the happy tenantry announce the Count's arrival. Your pardon, my lord; I must attend them.
Baron S. Excellent creature! What is she, and what can be her history? I must seek my sister
instantly. How strong and how sudden is the interest I feel for her! but it is a feeling I ought to check. And yet, why so? Whatever are the emotions she has inspired, I am sure they arise from the perfections of her mind; and never shall they be met with unworthiness in mine. [Exit.
SCENE II.-The Lawn.
SOLOMON and PETER are discovered arranging the Tenantry. Rural music. Enter COUNT and COUNTESS WINTERSEN, (the latter leading her
chid.) BARON STEINFORT, MRS. HALLER, CHARLOTTE, and Servants following.
Sol. Welcome, ten thousand welcomes, your excellencies. Some little preparation made for welcome, too. But that will be seen anon.
Count W. Well, here we are! Heaven bless our advance and retreat! Mrs. Haller, I bring you an invalid, who, in future, will swear to no flag but yours.
Mrs. H. Mine flies for retreat and rural happi
Count W. But not without retreating graces, and retiring cupids too.
Countess (Who has, in the meantime, kindly embraced Mrs. Haller, and by her been welcomed to Wintersen.) My dear Count, you forget that I am present.
Count W. Why, in the name of chivalry how can I do less than your gallant brother, the Baron? who has been so kind as nearly to kill my four greys, in order to be here five minutes before me.
Baron S. Had I known all the charms of this place, you should have said so with justice.
Countess. Don't you think William much grown? Mrs. H. The sweet boy! (Stoops to kiss him, and deep melancholy overshadows her countenance.) Count W. Well, Solomon, you've provided a good dinner.
Sol. As good as haste would allow, please your right honourable excellency.
Peter. Yes as good as-(Count goes aside with Solomon and P.ter.)
Baron S. Tell me, I conjure you, sister, what jewel you have thus buried in the country? Countess. Ha, ha, ha! What, brother, you caught at last?
Baron S. Answer me.
Countess. Well, her name is Mrs. Haller.
Baron S. That i know, but
Counters. But; but I know no more myself. Baron S. Jesting apart, I wish to know. Countess. And, jesting apart, I wish you would not plague me. I have at least a hundred thousand important things to do. Heaven's! the vicar may come to pay his respects to me before I have been at my toilet; of course, I must consult my lookingglass on the occasion. Come, William, will you help to dress me, or stay with your father?
Count W. We'll take care of him.
Enter MRS. HALLER.
Mrs. H. What has thus alarmed and subdued me? My tears flow; my heart bleeds. Already had I apparently overcome my chagrin; already had I at least assumed that easy gaiety once so natural to me, when the sight of this child in an instant overpowered me. When the Countess called him William-oh! she knew not that she plunged a poniard in my heart. I have a William, too, who must be as tall as this, if he be still alive. Ah yes, if he be still alive. Iis little sister, too! Why, fancy, dost thou rack me thus? Why dost thou imagine my poor children, fainting in sickness, and crying to their mother? To the mother who has abandoned them! (Weeps.) What a wretched outcast am I! And that just to-day I should be doomed to feel those horrible emotions! just to-day, when disguise was so necessary. Enter CHARLOTTE.
Char. Very pretty, very pretty, indeed! better send me to the garret at once. Your servant, Mrs Haller. I beg, madam, I may have a room fit for a respectable person.
Mrs. H. The chamber into which you have been shewn is, I think, a very neat one.
Char. A very neat one, is it? Up the back stairs, and over the laundry. I should never be able to close my eyes.
Mrs. II. (Very mildly.) I slept there a whole year. Char. Did you? Then I advise you to remove into it again, and the sooner the better. I'd have you to know, madam, there is a material difference between certain persons and certain persons. Much depends upon the manner in which one has been educated. I think, madam, it would only be proper if you resigned your room to me.
Mrs. H. If the Countess desires it, certainly. Char. The Countess! Very pretty, indeed! Would you have me think of plaguing her ladyship with such trifles? I shall order my trunk to be carried wherever I please.
Mrs. H. Certainly; only not into my chamber. Char. Provoking creature! But how could I expect to find breeding among creatures born of one knows not whom, and coming one knows not whence?
Mrs. H. The remark is very just.
Peter. Oh, lud! oh, lud! oh, lud!
Mrs. H. What's the matter?
Peter. The child has fallen into the river. His
little excellency is drowned.
Mrs. II. Who-what?
Peter. His honour, my young master.
Mrs. H. Drowned?
Mrs. H. Dead?
Peter. No, he's not dead.
Sol. Ah, sirrah!
Char. But, Mr. Solomon, why were you not nimble enough to have saved his young lordship?
Sol. Not in time, my sweet miss. Besides, mercy on us! I should have sunk like a lump of lead; and I happened to have a letter of consequence in my pocket, which would have been made totally ille
Mrs. H. Well, well; then, softly; you will alarm gible; a letter from Constantinople, written by
Enter BARON STEINFORT..
Chevalier-What's-his-name? (Draws a letter from his pocket, and putting it up again directly drops it, Peter takes it up slyly and unobserved.) It contains be astonished when it comes to light; and not a soul will suppose that old Solomon had a finger in the pie.
Baron S. What is the matter? Why all this momentous matter, I assure you. The world will noise?
Peter. Noise! why
Mrs. H. Be not alarmed. my lord. Whatever may have happened, the dear child is now, at least, safe. You said so, I think, master Peter?
Peter. Why, to be sure, his little excellency is not hurt; but he's very wet, though; and the Count is taking him by the garden-door to the house.
Baron S. Right; that the countess may not be alarmed. But tell us. young man, how could it happen.
Peter. From beginning to end?
Char. No, that I believe.
Char. Ay, let us have it.
Mrs. H. Never mind particulars. You attended work for you never no more. Considering as how your the dear child.
Mrs. H. Into the park?
Mrs. II. And then you went to the river? Peter. True. Why, rabbit it! I believe you're a witch.
Mrs. H. Well, and what happened further?
Baron S. And you drew him out again directly?
Ms. H. No; your father did?
Mrs. H. Why, you did not leave him in the water?
Peter. Yes, we did. But we bawled as loud as we could; you might have heard us down to the village.
Mrs. H. Ay; and so the people came immediately
to his assistance?
Peter. No, they didn't; but the Stranger came that lives yonder, close to old Toby, and never speaks a syllable. Odsbodikins! what a devil of a fellow it is! With a single spring, bounces he slap into the torrent; sails and dives about and about like a duck; gets me hold of the little angel's hair, and, heaven bless him! pulls him safe and sound to dry land again. Ha, ha, ha!
Baron S. Is the stranger with them? Peter. Oh, lud! no. He ran away. His excellency wanted to thank him, and all that; but he was off: vanished like a ghost.
Sol. Oh! thou careless varlet! I disown you! What an accident might have happened! and how you have terrified his excellency! But I beg par
Sol. Peter, you ninny, stay where you are. Is that chattering girl gone? Didn't I tell you we would have a practice of our dance? they are all ready on the lawn. Mark me; I represent the Count, and you the Baron.
[Exit, with affected dignity. Peter follows, mimicking. SCENE IV.-The Lawn. Seats placed. Rustic music Dancers are discovered as ready to perform. SOLOMON and PETER enter, and seat themselves.
A dance, in which the dancers pay their rever. nce to Solomon and Peter as they pass. At the end, Solomon and Peter strut off before the Dancers.
SCENE I.-The Skirts of the Park and Lodge, &c.,
The STRANGER is discovered on a seat, reading.
Stra. (Angry.) Silence! Dare you flatter me? Fra. As I look to heaven for mercy, I speak from my heart. When I cbserve how you are doing good around you, how you are making every individual's wants your own, and are yet yourself unhappy, alas! my heart bleeds for you.
Stra. I thank you, Francis. I can only thank you. Yet share this consolation with me; my sufferings are unmerited.
Fra. My poor master!
Stra. Have you forgotten what the old man said this morning? There is another and a better world!" Oh! 'twas true. Then let us hope with fervency, and yet endure with patience. What's here?
Enter CHARLOTTE, from the Park-gate. Char. I presume, sir, you are the strange gentleman that drew my young master out of the water? (The Stranger reads.) Or (To Francis) are you he? (Francis makes a wry face.) Are the creatures both dumb? (Looks at them by turns.) Surely, old Solomon has fixed two statues here by way of ornament; for of any use there is no sign. (Approaches Frances.) No, this is alive, and breathes; yes, and moves its eyes. (Bawls in his ear.) Good friend! Fra. I'm not deaf.
that my eyes were green? Let me tell you there have been sonnets made on my eyes before now. Fra. Glad to hear it. What is your
Char. To the point, then, at once. master?
Fra. A man.
Char. I surmised as much. name?
Fra. The same as his father's.
Char. Not unlikely: and his father was
Char. To whom?
Fra. To a woman.
Char. (Enraged.) I'll tell you what who your master is I see I shall not learn, and I don't care; but I know what you are. Fra. Well, what am I? Char. A bear.
Fra. I like to look at green trees better than green eyes.
Char. Green eyes, you monster! Who told you
But what's his
Fra. Thank you! Now to see how habit and example corrupts one's manners! I am naturally the civillest spoken fellow in the world to the pretty prattling rogues; yet, following my master's humour, I've rudely driven this wench away. I must have a peep at her, though. (Looking towards the park-gates.)
Stra. We must be gone, too.
Fra. I'll attend you.
Stra. To any place?
Stra. Heaven grant it-to me, at least. There is peace.
Fra. Peace is everywhere. Let the storm rage without, if the heart be but at rest. Yet, I think we are very well where we are: the situation is inviting; and nature lavish of her beauties, and of her bounties, too.
Stra. But I am not a wild beast, to be stared at, and sent for as a show. Is it fit I should be?
bred class of all, they may have impudence enough to walk into my chamber. Francis, I shall lock the door. [Goes into the lodge, locks the door, and fastens the shutters.
Fra. And I'll be your sentinel.
Fra. Now, should these people be as inquisitive as their maid, I must summon my whole stock of impertinence. But their questions and my answers need little study. They can learn nothing of the Stranger from me; for the best of all possible reasons I know nothing myself.
Enter BARON STEINFORT and COUNTESS WINTERSEN.
Countess. There is a strange face. The servant, probably.
Baron S. Friend, can we speak to your master? Fra. No.
Baron S. Only for a few minutes.
Fra. He has locked himself in his room.
Countess. Tell him a lady waits for him.
Fra. Then he's sure not to come.
Countess. Does he hate our sex?
I do not know who Mrs. Haller is, as I have already told you; but what I do know of her, shall not be concealed from you. It may now be three years ago, when, one evening, about twilight, a lady was announced, who wished to speak to me in private. Mrs. Haller appeared with all that grace and modesty which have enchanted you. Her features, at that moment, bore keener marks of the sorrow and confusion which have since settled into gentle melanchely. She threw herself at my feet; and besought me to save a wretch who was on the brink of despair. She told me she had heard much of my benevolence, and offered herself as a servant to attend me. I endeavoured to dive into the cause of her sufferings, but in vain. She concealed her secret; yet opening to me more and more each day a heart, chosen by virtue as her temple, and an understanding improved by the most refined attainments, she no longer remained my servant, but became my friend; and, by her own desire, has ever since resided here. (Courtesying.) Brother, I have done.
Baron S. Too little to satisfy my curiosity; yet
Fra. He hates the whole human race, but enough to make me realize my project. Sister, lend woman particularly.
Countess. And why?
Fra. He may, perhaps, have been deceived.
Fra. My master is not over courteous; but when he sees a chance of saving a fellow-creature's life, he'll attempt it at the hazard of his own,
Baron S. You are right. Now hear the reason of our visit. The wife and brother-in-law of the man whose child your master has saved, wish to acknowledge their obligations to him.
Fra. That he dislikes. He only wishes to live unnoticed.
Countess. He appears to be unfortunate.
Countess. An affair of honour, perhaps, or some unhappy attachment may have
Fra. They may.
me your aid-I would marry her.
Baron S. I.
Countess. Baron Steinfort ?
Baron S. For shame! if I understand you.
Countess. Not so harsh, and not so hasty! Those great sentiments of contempt of inequality in rank are very fine in a romance; but we happen, not to be inhabitants of an ideal world. How could you introduce her to the circle we live in? You surely would not attempt to present her to
Baron S. Object as you will, my answer is—I love. Sister, you see a man before you, whoCountess. Who wants a wife.
Baron S. No: who has deliberately poised advantage against disadvantage; domestic ease and comfort against the false gaieties of fashion. I can withdraw into the country. I need no honours to
Countess. Be this as it may, I wish to know who make my tenants happy: and my heart will teach he is.
Fra. So do I.
Countess. What, don't you know him yourself?
Fra. Oh! I know him well enough. I mean his real self; his heart, his soul, his worth, his honour. Perhaps, you think one knows a man, when one is acquainted with his name and person.
Countess. 'Tis well said, friend, you please me much. And now I should like to know you. Who are you?
Fra. Your humble servant. [Exit. Countess. This is affectation! A desire to appear singular. Every one wishes to make himself distinguished. One sails round the world, another creeps into a hovel.
Baron S. And the man apes his master! Countess. Come, brother, let us seek the Count. He and Mrs. Haller turned into the lawn.
(Going.) Baron S. Stay! First a word or two, sister. I am in love.
Countess. For the hundredth time.
Baron S. For the first time in my life.
Baron S. Till now you have evaded my inquiries. Who is she? I beseech you, sister, be serious. There is a time for all things.
Countess. Bless us! Why, you look as if you were going to raise a spirit. Don't fix your eyes so earnestly. Well if I am to be serious. I obey.
me to make their happiness my own. With such a wife as this, children who resemble her, and fortune enough to spread comfort around me, what would the soul of man have more?
Countess. This is all vastly fine! I admire your plan; only, you seem to have forgotten one trifling circumstance.
Baron S. And that is
Countess. Whether Mrs. Haller would have you or not.
Baron S. There, sister, I just want your assistance. (Seizing her hand.) Good Henrietta!
Countess. Well, here's my hand. I'll do all I can for you. Hist! We had nearly been overheard. They are coming. Be patient and obedient. Enter COUNT WINTERSEN, and MRS. HALLER, leaning on his arm.
Count W. Upon my word, Mrs. Haller, you are a nimble walker: I should be sorry to run a race with you.
Mrs. H. Custom, my lord. You need only take the same walk every day for a month.
Count W. Yes; if I wanted to resemble my greyhounds. But what said the Stranger?
Countess. He gave Charlotte a flat refusal; and you see his door, and even his shutters, are closed against us.
Count W. What an unaccountable being! But it won't do. I must shew my gratitude one way or other. Steinfort, we will take the ladies home, and