SCENE III. __BEVERLEY’S_ lodgings.
Enter Mrs. BEVERLEY, and CHARLOTTE._
Char. ’Twas all a scheme, a mean one; unworthy of my brother.
Mrs. Bev. No, I am sure it was not. Stukely is honest too; I know he is. This madness has undone them both.
Char. My brother irrecoverably. You are too spiritless a wife—A mournful tale, mixt with a few kind words, will steal away your soul. The world’s too subtle for such goodness. Had I been by, he should have asked your life sooner than those jewels.
Mrs. Bev. He should have had it then. (Warmly) I live but to oblige him. She who can love, and is beloved like Me, will do as much. Men have done more for mistresses, and women for a base deluder. And shall a wife do less? Your chidings hurt me, Charlotte.
Char. And come too late; they might have saved you else. How could he use you so?
Mrs. Bev. ’Twas friendship did it. His heart was breaking for a friend.
Char. The friend that has betrayed him.
Mrs. Bev. Prithee don’t think so.
Char. To-morrow he accounts with Me.
Mrs. Bev. And fairly: I will not doubt it.
Char. Unless a friend has wanted—I have no patience—Sister! sister! we are bound to curse this friend.
Mrs. Bev. My Beverley speaks nobly of him.
Char. And Lewson truly—But I displease you with this talk—To-morrow will instruct us.
Mrs. Bev. Stay till it comes then. I would not think so hardly.
Char. Nor I, but from conviction. Yet we have hope of better days. My uncle is infirm, and of an age that threatens hourly. Or if he lives, You never have offended him; and for distresses so unmerited, he will have pity.
Mrs. Bev. I know it, and am chearful. We have no more to lose; and for what’s gone, if it brings prudence home, the purchase is well made.
Char. My Lewson will be kind too. While he and I have life and means, You shall divide with us—And see, he’s here.
We were just speaking of you.
Lew. ’Tis best to interrupt you then.
Few characters will bear a scrutiny; and where the
bad out-weighs the good, he’s safest that’s
least talked of. What say you, madam?
Char. That I hate scandal, though a woman; therefore talk seldom of you.
Mrs. Bev. Or, with more truth, that, though
a woman, she loves to praise; therefore talks always
of you. I’ll leave you to decide it.
Lew. How good and amiable! I came to talk in private with you; of matters that concern you.
Char. What matters?
Lew. First answer me sincerely to what I ask.