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Sol. Secret! Heaven forbid! Mercy on us! No! I should have had letters on the subject if there had been a secret.
Bar. Well then, since it was no secret, I presume I may know your conversation.
Sol. You do us great honour, my lord. Why then, at first, we were making a few common-place observations. Miss Charlotte remarked that we had all our faults. I said - Yes.” Soon after I remarked that the best persons in the world were not without their weakness. She said,
66 Yes." Bar. If you referred to Mrs Haller's faults and weaknesses, I am desirous to hear more.
Sol. Sure enough, sir, Mrs Haller is an excellent woman! but she's not an angel for all that. I am an old faithful servant to his Excellency the Count, and therefore it is my duty to speak, when any thing is done disadvantageous to his interest.
Bar. Well !
Sol. For instance, now; his Excellency may think he has at least some score of dozens of the old sixand-twenty hock. Mercy on us! there are not ten dozen bottles left; and not a drop has gone throat, I'll swear.
Bar. [Smiling.) Mrs Haller has not drank it, I supe
Sol. Not she herself, for she never drinks wine. But if any body be ill in the village, any poor woman lying in, away goes a bottle of the six-and-twenty! Innumerable are the times that I've reproved her; but she always answers me snappishly, that she will be responsible for it.
Bar. So will I, Mr Solomon.
Sol. Oh! with all my heart, your Honourable Lordship. It makes no difference to me. I had the care of the cellar twenty years, and can safely take my oath, that I never gave the poor a single drop in the whole course of my trust.
Bar. How extraordi ry is this woman!
Sol. Extraordinary! One can make nothing of her. To-day the vicar's wife is not good enough for her. To-morrow you may see her sitting with all tlie women of the village. To be sure, she and I agree pretty well; for, between me and your Honourable Lordship, she lias cast an eye upon my son Peter.
Bar. Has she?
Sol. Yes-Peter's no fool, I assure you. The schoolmaster is teaching him to write. Would your Honourable Lordship please to see a specimen ? I'll go for his copy-book. He makes his pot-hooks capitally.
Bar, Another time, another time. Good bye for the present, Mr Solomon. (SOLOMON bors without attempting to go.] Good day, Mr Solomon.
Sol. [Not understanding the hint.] Your Honourable Lord hip’s most obedient servant.
Bar. Mr Solomon, I wish to be alone.
Sol. As your Lordship commands. If the time should seem long in my absence, and your Lordship wishes to hear the newest news from the seat of war, Fou need only send for old Solomon. I have letters from Leghorn, Cape-horn, and every known part of the habitable globe.
[Exit. Bar. Tediouz old fool! yet hold. Did he not speak in praise of Mrs Haller? Pardoned be his rage for news and politics.
Enter COUNTESS. Well, sister, have you spoken to her?
Countess. I have: and if you do not steer for another haven, you will be doomed to drive upon the ocean for ever. Bar. Is she marricd? Countess. I don't know.
Bar. Is she of a good family?
Bar. I thank you for your sisterly affection, and the explicitness of your communications. Luckily, I placed little reliance on either; and have found a friend who will save your ladyship all further trouble.
Countess. A friend !
Bar. Yes. The Stranger, who saved your son's life this morning, proves to be my intimate friend.
Countess. What's his name?
Bar. You can't object to the Da Capo of your own composition.
Enter Count and Mrs HALLER. Count. Zounds ! do you think I am Xenocrates; or like the poor sultan with marble legs? There you leave me tête-à-tête with Mrs Haller, as if my
heart were a mere flint. So you prevailed, brother. The Stranger will come then it seems. Bar. I expect him every
minute. Count. I am glad to hear it. One companion more, however. In the country we never can have too many. Bar. This gentleman will not exactly be an addition to your circle, for he leaves this place to-mor
Count. But he won't, I think. Now, Lady Wintersen, summon all your charms. There is no art in conquering us poor devils ; but this strange man, w
who does not care a doit for you altogether, is worth your efforts. Try your skill. I sha'n't be jealous.
Countess. I allow the conquest to be worth the trouble. But what Mrs Haller has not been able to effect in three months, ought not to be attempted by me.
Mrs H. [Jocosely.). Oh, yes, madam. He has
given me no opportunity of trying the force of my charms, for I have never once happened to see him.
Count. Then he's a blockhead, and you an idler. Sol. (Without.] This way, sir! This way!
Enter SOLOMON. Sol. The Stranger begs leave to have the honourCount. Welcome! Welcome! [Exit SOLOMON. [Turns to meet the STRANGER, whom he conducts iia ·
by the Hand.] My dear sir-Lady Wintersen-Mrs Haller(MRs HALLER, as soon as she sees the STRANGER,
shrieks, and swoons in the arms of the BARON. The STRANGER casts a look at her, and, struck with astonishment and horror, rushes out of the Room. The BARON and COUNTESS bear MRS HALLER off ; Count following in great stra prise.]
ACT THE FIFTH.
Enter BARON. Bar. Oh! deceitful hope ! Thou phantom of future happiness! To thee have I stretched out my arms, and thou hast vanished into air! Wretched Steinfort! The mystery is solved. She is the wife of my friend ! I cannot myself be happy; but I may, perhaps, be able to reunite two lovely souls, whom cruel fate has severed. Ha! they are here. I must propose it iastantly.
Enter COUNTESS and MRS HALLER, Countess. Into the garden, my dear friend! Into the air!
Mrs H. I am quite well. Do not alarm yourselves on my account.
Bar. Madam, pardon my intrusion; but to lose a moment may be fatal. He means to quit the country to-niorrow. We must devise means to reconcile you to-the Stranger.
Mrs H. How, my lord! You seem acquainted with my history? Bar. I am. Waldbourg has been my
friend since we were boys. We served together from the rank of cadet. We have been separated seven years. Chance brought us this day together, and his heart was open to me. Mrs H. Now do I feel what it is to be in the
presence of an honest man, when I dare not meet his cye.
[Hides her Face. Bar. If sincere repentance, if years without reproach, do not give us a title to man's forgiveness, what must we expect hereafter?
No, lovely penitent! your contrition is complete. Error for a moment wrested from slumbering virtue the dominion of your heart: but she awoke, and with a look, banished her enemy for ever. I know my friend. He has the firmness of a man; but, with it, the gentlest feelings of your sex. I hasten to him. With the fire of pure disa interested friendship will I enter on this work; that, when I look back upon my past life, I may
derive from this good action consolation in disappointment, and even resignation in despair.
[Going. Mrs H. Oh, stay! What would you do? No! never! My husband's honour is sacred to me. I love him unutterably; but never, never can I be his wife again; even if he were generous enough to pardon me.