Char. I will—But you alarm me.
Lew. I am too grave, perhaps; but be assured of this, I have no news that troubles Me, and therefore should not You.
Char. I am easy then. Propose your question.
Lew. ’Tis now a tedious twelve-month, since with an open and kind heart, you said you loved me.
Char. So tedious, did you say?
Lew. And when in consequence of such sweet words, I pressed for marriage, you gave a voluntary promise, that you would live for Me.
Char. You think me changed then?
Lew. I did not say so. A thousand times I have pressed for the performance of this promise; but private cares, a brother’s and a sister’s ruin, were reasons for delaying it.
Char. I had no other reasons—Where will this end?
Lew. It shall end presently.
Char. Go on, Sir.
Lew. A promise, such as this, given freely, not extorted, the world thinks binding; but I think otherwise.
Char. And would release me from it?
Lew. You are too impatient, madam.
Char. Cool, Sir—quite cool—Pray go on.
Lew. Time, and a near acquaintance with my faults, may have brought change: if it be so; or, for a moment, if you have wished this promise were unmade, here I acquit you of it. This is my question then; and with such plainness as I ask it, I shall entreat an answer. Have you repented of this promise?
Char. Stay, Sir. The man that can suspect me, shall find me changed. Why am I doubted?
Lew. My doubts are of myself. I have my faults, and You have observation. If from my temper, my words or actions, you have conceived a thought against me, or even a wish for separation, all that has passed is nothing.
Char. You startle me—But tell me—I must be answered first. Is it from honour you speak this? or do you wish me changed?
Lew. Heaven knows I do not. Life and my Charlotte are so connected, that to lose one, were loss of both. Yet for a promise, though given in love, and meant for binding; if time, or accident, or reason should change opinion, with Me that promise has no force.
Char. Why, now I’ll answer you. Your doubts are prophecies—I am really changed.
Char. I could torment You now, as You have Me; but ’tis not in my nature. That I am changed I own; for what at first was inclination, is now grown reason in me; and from that reason, had I the world—nay, were I poorer than the poorest, and You too wanting bread; with but a hovel to invite me to—I would be yours, and happy.
Lew. My kindest Charlotte! (Seizing her hand) Thanks are too poor for this, and words too weak! But if we love so, why should our union be delayed?