Call in the dancers; Sir Rowland, we'll sit, if you please,
and see the entertainment. [Dance.] Now, with your permission, Sir
Rowland, I will peruse my letter. I would open it in your presence,
because I would not make you uneasy. If it should make you uneasy,
I would burn it--speak if it does--but you may see, the
superscription is like a woman's hand.
By heaven! Mrs. Marwood's, I know it,--my heart aches--get
it from her! [To him.]
A woman's hand? No madam, that's no woman's hand: I see
that already. That's somebody whose throat must be cut.
Nay, Sir Rowland, since you give me a proof of your passion
by your jealousy, I promise you I'll make a return by a frank
communication. You shall see it--we'll open it together. Look you
here. [Reads.] MADAM, THOUGH UNKNOWN TO YOU (look you there, 'tis
from nobody that I know.) I HAVE THAT HONOUR FOR YOUR CHARACTER,
THAT I THINK MYSELF OBLIGED TO LET YOU KNOW YOU ARE ABUSED
HE WHO PRETENDS TO BE SIR ROWLAND IS A CHEAT AND A RASCAL
Say 'tis your nephew's hand. Quickly, his plot, swear, swear
it! [To him.]
Here's a villain! Madam, don't you perceive it? Don't you
Too well, too well. I have seen too much.
I told you at first I knew the hand. A woman's hand? The
rascal writes a sort of a large hand: your Roman hand.--I saw there
was a throat to be cut presently. If he were my son, as he is my
nephew, I'd pistol him.
O treachery! But are you sure, Sir Rowland, it is his
Sure? Am I here? Do I live? Do I love this pearl of India?
I have twenty letters in my pocket from him in the same character.
Oh, what luck it is, Sir Rowland, that you were present at
this juncture! This was the business that brought Mr. Mirabell
disguised to Madam Millamant this afternoon. I thought something
was contriving, when he stole by me and would have hid his face.
How, how? I heard the villain was in the house indeed; and
now I remember, my niece went away abruptly when Sir Wilfull was to
have made his addresses.
Then, then, madam, Mr. Mirabell waited for her in her
chamber; but I would not tell your ladyship to discompose you when
you were to receive Sir Rowland.
Law? I care not for law. I can but die, and 'tis in a good
cause. My lady shall be satisfied of my truth and innocence, though
it cost me my life.
No, dear Sir Rowland, don't fight: if you should be killed I
must never show my face; or hanged,--oh, consider my reputation, Sir
Rowland. No, you shan't fight: I'll go in and examine my niece;
I'll make her confess. I conjure you, Sir Rowland, by all your love
not to fight.
I am charmed, madam; I obey. But some proof you must let me
give you: I'll go for a black box, which contains the writings of
my whole estate, and deliver that into your hands.
Ay, dear Sir Rowland, that will be some comfort; bring the
And may I presume to bring a contract to be signed this
night? May I hope so far?
Bring what you will; but come alive, pray come alive. Oh,
this is a happy discovery.
Dead or alive I'll come--and married we will be in spite of
treachery; ay, and get an heir that shall defeat the last remaining
glimpse of hope in my abandoned nephew. Come, my buxom widow:
E'er long you shall substantial proof receive
That I'm an arrant knight -