John. Pray pardon me some fears.
You have now the pledge of a dear father’s life.
I am a son—would fain be thought a loving one;
You may allow me some fears: do not despise me,
If, in a posture foreign to my spirit,
And by our well-knit friendship, I conjure you,
Touch not Sir Walter’s life. [Kneels.
You see these tears. My father’s an old man.
Pray let him live.
Lovel. I must be bold to tell you, these new freedoms Show most unhandsome in you.
John (rising). Ha! do you say
Sure, you are not grown proud upon my secret!
Ah! now I see it plain. He would be babbling.
No doubt a garrulous and hard-faced traitor—
But I’ll not give you leave. [Draws.
Lovel. What does this madman mean?
John. Come, sir; here is no subterfuge; You must kill me, or I kill you.
Lovel (drawing). Then self-defence plead my excuse. Have at you, sir. [They fight.
John. Stay, sir.
I hope you have made your will.
If not,’tis no great matter.
A broken cavalier has seldom much
He can bequeath; an old worn peruke,
A snuffbox with a picture of Prince Rupert,
A rusty sword he’ll swear was used at Naseby,
Though it ne’er came within ten miles of the place;
And if he’s very rich,
A cheap edition of the Icon Basilike,
Is mostly all the wealth he dies possest of.
You say few prayers, I fancy;—
So to it again. [They fight again. LOVEL is disarmed.
Lovel. You had best now take my life. I guess you mean it.
John (musing). No:—Men
will say I fear’d him,
if I kill’d him.
Live still, and be a traitor in thy wish,
But never act thy thought, being a coward.
That vengeance, which thy soul shall nightly thirst for,
And this disgrace I’ve done you cry aloud for,
Still have the will without the power to execute.
So now I leave you,
Feeling a sweet security. No doubt
My secret shall remain a virgin for you!
[Goes out, smiling in scorn.
Lovel (rising). For once you are
mistaken in your man.
The deed you wot of shall forthwith be done,
A bird let loose, a secret out of hand,
Returns not back. Why, then ’tis baby policy
To menace him who hath it in his keeping.
I will go look for Gray;
Then, northward ho! such tricks as we shall play
Have not been seen, I think, in merry Sherwood,
Since the days of Robin Hood, that archer good.
SCENE.—An Apartment in Woodvil Hall.
JOHN WOODVIL. (Alone.)