Bev. ’Tis thus you would compound then! First do a wrong beyond forgiveness; and to redress it, load me with kindness unsolicited. I’ll not receive it. Your zeal is troublesbme.
Lew. No matter. It shall be useful.
Bev. It will not be accepted.
Lew. It must. You know me not.
Bev. Yes; for the slanderer of my fame: who under shew of friendship, arraigns me of injustice; buzzing in every ear foul breach of trust, and family dishonour.
Lew. Have I done this? Who told you so?
Bev. The world. ’Tis talked of everywhere. It pleased you to add threats too: you were to call me to account —Why, do it now then; I shall be proud of such an arbiter.
Lew. Put up your sword, and know me better. I never injured you. The base suggestion comes from Stukely: I see him and his aims.
Bev. What aims? I’ll not conceal it; ’twas Stukely that accused you.
Lew. To rid him of an enemy: perhaps of two. He fears discovery, and frames a tale of falsehood, to ground revenge and murder on.
Bev. I must have proof of this.
Lew. Wait till to-morrow then.
Bev. I will.
Lew. Good night. I go to serve you.
Forget what’s past, as I do; and chear your
family with smiles. To-morrow may confirm them,
and make all happy.
Bev. (Pausing) How vile, and how absurd
is man! His boasted honour is but another name
for pride; which easier bears the consciousness of
guilt, than the world’s just reproofs. But
’tis the fashion of the times; and in defence
of falsehood and false honour, men die martyrs.
I knew not that my nature was so bad.
Enter BATES, and JARVIS.
Jar. This way the noise was—and yonder’s my poor master.
Bates. I heard him at high words with Lewson. The cause I know not.
Jar. I heard him too. Misfortunes vex him.
Bates. Go to him, and lead him home—But
he comes this way—I’ll not be seen
Bev. (Starting.) What fellow’s that? (Seeing Jarvis). Art thou a murderer, friend? Come, lead the way; I have a hand as mischievous as thine; a heart as desperate too—Jarvis!—To bed, old man, the cold will chill thee.
Jar. Why are you wandering at this late hour?—Your sword drawn too!—For heav’n’s sake sheath it, Sir; the sight distracts Me.
Bev. Whose voice was that?
Jar. ’Twas mine, Sir. Let me intreat you to give the sword to me.
Bev. Ay, take it; quickly take it—Perhaps I am not so curst, but heav’n may have sent thee at this moment to snatch me from perdition.