Stu. Then know, imprudent man, he is within my gripe; and should my friendship for him be slandered once again, the hand that has supplied him, shall fall and crush him.
Lew. Why, now there’s spirit in thee!
This is indeed to be a villain! But I shall reach
thee yet. Fly where thou wilt, my vengeance shall
pursue thee—and Beverley shall yet be saved,
be saved from thee, thou monster; nor owe his rescue
to his wife’s dishonour.
Stu. (Pausing) Then ruin has enclosed me. Curse on my coward heart! I would be bravely villainous; but ’tis my nature to shrink at danger, and he has found me. Yet fear brings caution, and That security. More mischief must be done, to hide the past. Look to yourself, officious Lewson—there may be danger stirring—How now, Bates?
Bates. What is the matter? ’Twas Lewson, and not Beverley, that left you. I heard him loud: you seem alarmed too.
Stu. Ay, and with reason. We are discovered.
Bates. I feared as much, and therefore cautioned you; but You were peremptory.
Stu. Thus fools talk ever; spending their idle breath on what is past; and trembling at the future. We must be active. Beverley, at worst, is but suspicious; but Lewson’s genius, and his hate to Me, will lay all open. Means must be found to stop him.
Bates. What means?
Stu. Dispatch him—Nay, start not—Desperate occasions call for desperate deeds. We live but by his death.
Bates. You cannot mean it?
Stu. I do, by heaven.
Bates. Good night then.
Stu. Stay. I must be heard, then answered. Perhaps the motion was too sudden; and human nature starts at murder, though strong necessity compels it. I have thought long of this; and my first feelings were like yours; a foolish conscience awed me, which soon I conquered. The man that would undo me, nature cries out, undo. Brutes know their foes by instinct; and where superior force is given, they use it for destruction. Shall man do less? Lewson pursues us to our ruin; and shall we, with the means to crush him, fly from our hunter, or turn and tear him? ’Tis folly even to hesitate.
Bates. He has obliged me, and I dare not.
Stu. Why, live to shame then, to beggary and punishment. You would be privy to the deed, yet want the soul to act it. Nay more; had my designs been levelled at his fortune, you had stept in the foremost. And what is life without its comforts? Those you would rob him of; and by a lingering death, add cruelty to murder. Henceforth adieu to half-made villains—there’s danger in them. What you have got is your’s; keep it, and hide with it: I’ll deal my future bounty to those who merit it.