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Edw. I think he does! for often, when we are alone, he presses me to his bosom so fondly, you would not suppose. And, when my poor nurse died, she called me to her bed-side, and told me (but pray keep it a secret) she told me I was his grandchild.
Lady E. You are!-you are his grandchild-I seeI feel you are: for I feel that I am your mother. [Embraces him.] Oh! take this evidence back. [Returning the book.] I cannot receive it from thee, my child:no, let us all perish, rather than my boy, my only boy, should do an act to stain his conscience, or to lose his grandfather's love.
Edw. What do you mean?
Lady E. The name of the person with whom you lived in your infancy was Heyland?
Edw. It was.
Lady E. I am your mother, Lord Norland's only child-[EDWARD kneels to her]-who, for one act of disobedience, have been driven to another part of the globe in poverty, and forced to leave you, my life, behind. [She embraces and raises him.] Your father, in his struggles to support us all, has fallen a victim; but Heaven, which has preserved my son, will save my husband, restore his senses, and once more
Edw. [Starting.] I hear my lord's step-he is coming this way. Begone, mother, or we are all undone. Lady E. No, let him come-for though his frown should kill me, yet must I thank him for his care of thee. [She advances to the door to meet him.
Enter LORD NORLAND, R.
You love me: 'tis in vain to say you do not.
love my child and with whatever hardship you have dealt, or still mean to deal by me, I will never cease to think you love me, nor ever cease my gratitude for your goodness.
Lord N. Where are my servants? Who let this woman in ?
[She rises, and retreats from him, alarmed and confused.
Edw. Oh my lord, pity her. Do not let me see her hardly treated. Indeed, I cannot bear it.
Enter HAMMOND, L.
Lord N. [To LADY E.] What was your errand here? If to see your child, take him away with you.
Lady E. I came to see my father. I have a house too full of such as he already.
Lord N. How did she gain admittance ?
Ham. With a petition, which I repeated to your lordship. [Exit, L. Lord N. Her husband, then, it was, who-[TO LADY ELEANOR]-but let him know, for this boy's sake, I will no longer pursue him.
Lady E. For that boy's sake you will not pursue his father; but for whose sake are you so tender of that boy? 'Tis for mine, for my sake; and by that I conjure you [Offers to kneel.
Lord N. Your prayers are vain. [To EDWARD.] Go, take leave of your mother for ever, and instantly follow me; or shake hands with me for the last time, and instantly begone with her.
Edw. [Stands between them in doubt for some little time; looks alternately at each with motions of affection; at last goes to his grandfather, and takes hold of his hand.] Farewell, my lord-it almost breaks my heart to part from you; but if I have my choice, I must go with my mother. [Exit, LORD NORLAND instantly, R.-LADY ELEANOR and her son go off, L.
SCENE II.-Another Apartment at Lord Norland's. Enter Miss WOOBURN and MRS. PLACID, R.
Mrs. P. Well, my dear, farewell. I have stayed a great while longer than I intended. I certainly forgot to tell Mr. Placid to come back after he had spoken with Lady Eleanor, or he would not have taken the liberty not to have come.
Miss W. How often have I lamented the fate of Lord Norland's daughter! But luckily, I have no personal acquaintance with her, or I should probably feel a great deal more on her account than I do at present. She had quitted her father's house before I came to it.
Enter MR. HARMONY, L.
Har. My whole time is passed in endeavouring to make people happy, and yet they won't let me do it. I flattered myself that after I had resigned all pretensions to you, Miss Wooburn, in order to accommodate Sir Robert-that, after I had told both my lord and him, in what high estimation they stood in each other's opinion,
they would of course have been friends, or, at least, not have come to any desperate quarrel. Instead of which, what have they done, but, within this hour, had a duel!-and poor Sir Robert
Miss W. For heaven's sake, tell me of Sir RobertHar. You were the only person he mentioned after he received his wound: and such encomiums as he uttered
Miss W. Good heaven! If he is in danger, it will be vain to endeavour to conceal what I shall suffer
[Retires a few paces to hide her emotions.
Mrs. P. Was my husband there?
Har. He was one of the seconds.
Mrs. P. Then he shall not stir out of his house this month for it.
Har. He is not likely; for he is hurt too.
Mrs. P. A great deal hurt?
Har. Don't alarm yourself.
Mrs. P. I don't.
Har. Nay, if you had heard what he said!
Har. How tenderly he spoke of you to all his friends-
Har. He said you had imperfections.
Mrs. P. Then he told a falsehood.
Har. But he acknowledged they were such as only evinced a superior understanding to the rest of your sex; and that your heart
Mrs. P. [Bursting into tears.] I am sure I am very sorry that any misfortune has happened to him, poor, silly man! But I don't suppose-[Drying up her tears at once]-he'll die?
Har. If you will behave kindly to him, I should suppose not.
Mrs. P. Mr. Harmony, if Mr. Placid is either dying or dead, I shall behave with very great tenderness; but if I find him alive, and likely to live, I will lead him such a life as he has not led a long time.
Har. Then you mean to be kind?-But, my dear Miss Wooburn-[Going to her]-why this seeming grief? Sir Robert is still living; and should he die of his wounds, you may at least console yourself, that it was not your cruelty which killed him.
Miss W. Rather than have such a weight on my conscience, I would comply with the most extravagant of his desires, and suffer his cruelty to be the death of me.
Har. If those are your sentiments, it is my advice that you pay him a visit in his affliction.
Miss W. Oh no, Mr. Harmony, I would not for the universe. Mrs. Placid, do you think it would be proper?
Mrs. P. No, I think it would not.-Consider, my dear, you are no longer a wife, but a single woman, and would you run into the clutches of a man?
Har. He has no clutches, madam; he is ill in bed, and totally helpless. But, upon recollection, it would, perhaps, be needless to go; for he may be too ill to admit you.
Miss W. If that is the case, all respect to my situation, my character, sinks before the strong desire of seeing him once more. Oh! were I married to another, I feel, that, in spite of all my private declarations, or public vows, I should fly from him to pay my duty where it was first plighted.
Har. My coach is at the door; shall I take you to his house? Come, Mrs. Placid, waive all ceremonious motives on the present melancholy occasion, and go along with Miss Wooburn and me.
Miss W. But, Mrs. Placid, perhaps poor Mr. Placid is in want of your attendance at home.
Har. No, they were both carried in the same carriage to Sir Robert's.
Miss W. [Advancing with HARMONY to the door.] Oh! how I long to see my dear husband, that I may console him!
Mrs. P. Oh! how I long to see my dear husband, that I may quarrel with him! [Exeunt, L.
SCENE III.-The Hall at Sir Robert Ramble's.The Porter discovered asleep.
Enter WILLIAM, R
Will. Porter, porter, how can you sleep at this time of the day? It is only eight o'clock?
Porter. What did you want, Mr. William?
Will. To tell you my master must not be disturbed, and so you must not let in a single creature.
Porter. Mr. William, this is no less than the third time I have received those orders within this half hour; first from the butler, then from the valet, and now from the footman. Do you all suppose I am stupid?
Will. I was bid to tell you.
I have only done what
I was desired; and mind you do the same. [Exit, R. Porter. I'll do my duty, I warrant you. I'll do my duty.-[A loud rapping at the door, L.]-And there's a summons to put my duty to the trial.
[Opens the door.
Enter HARMONY, MISS WOOBURN, and MRS.
Har. These ladies come on a visit to Sir Robert.Desire one of the servants to conduct them to him instantly.
Porter. Indeed, sir, that is impossible.-My master is not
Har. We know he is at home, and therefore we can take no denial.
Porter. I own he is at home, sir; but, indeed, he is not in a situation
Miss W. We know his situation.
Porter. Then, madam, you must suppose he is not to be disturbed. I have strict orders not to let in a single soul.
Har. This lady, you must be certain, is an exception. Porter. No lady can be an exception in my master's present state; for I believe, sir, but-perhaps, I should not speak of it-I believe my master is nearly gone. Miss W. Oh! support me, heaven!
Mrs. P. But has he his senses?
Porter. Not very clearly, I believe.
Miss W. Oh! Mr. Harmony, let me see him, before they are quite lost.
Porter. It is as much as my place is worth, to let a creature farther than this hall; for my master is but in the next room.
Mrs. P. That is a dining-room. Is not he in bed? Har. [Aside to the Ladies.] In cases of wounds, the patient is oftentimes propped up in his chair.
Miss W. Does he talk at all?
Porter. Yes, madam, I heard him just now very loud.
Mrs. P. The physicians in consultation, I apprehend. Has he taken any thing?
Porter. A great deal, I believe, madam.