The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 324 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 4.
      Of replication, such as the meek dove
      Makes, when the kite has clutch’d her.  The high Widow
      Was loud and stormy.  I distinctly heard
      One threat pronounced—­“Your husband shall know all.” 
      I am no listener, sister; and I hold
      A secret, got by such unmanly shift,
      The pitiful’st of thefts; but what mine ear,
      I not intending it, receives perforce,
      I count my lawful prize.  Some subtle meaning
      Lurks in this fiend’s behaviour; which, by force,
      Or fraud, I must make mine.

      LUCY
      The gentlest means
      Are still the wisest.  What, if you should press
      Your wife to a disclosure?

      SELBY
      I have tried
      All gentler means; thrown out low hints, which, though
      Merely suggestions still, have never fail’d
      To blanch her cheek with fears.  Roughlier to insist,
      Would be to kill, where I but meant to heal.

      LUCY
      Your own description gave that Widow out
      As one not much precise, nor over coy,
      And nice to listen to a suit of love. 
      What if you feign’d a courtship, putting on,
      (To work the secret from her easy faith,)
      For honest ends, a most dishonest seeming?

      SELBY
      I see your drift, and partly meet your counsel. 
      But must it not in me appear prodigious,
      To say the least, unnatural, and suspicious,
      To move hot love, where I have shewn cool scorn,
      And undissembled looks of blank aversion?

      LUCY
      Vain woman is the dupe of her own charms,
      And easily credits the resistless power,
      That in besieging Beauty lies, to cast down
      The slight-built fortress of a casual hate.

      SELBY
      I am resolved—­

      LUCY
      Success attend your wooing!

      SELBY
      And I’ll about it roundly, my wise sister. [Exeunt.]

SCENE.—­The Library.

MR. SELBY.  MRS. FRAMPTON.

      SELBY
      A fortunate encounter, Mistress Frampton. 
      My purpose was, if you could spare so much
      From your sweet leisure, a few words in private.

      MRS. FRAMPTON
      What mean his alter’d tones?  These looks to me,
      Whose glances yet he has repell’d with coolness? 
      Is the wind changed?  I’ll veer about with it,
      And meet him in all fashions. [Aside.]
      All my leisure,
      Feebly bestow’d upon my kind friends here,
      Would not express a tithe of the obligements
      I every hour incur.

      SELBY
      No more of that.—­
      I know not why, my wife hath lost of late
      Much of her cheerful spirits.

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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