Act IV - Scene vii
So breaks Aurora through the veil of night,
Thus fly the clouds, divided by her light,
And every eye receives a new-born sight.
[Throwing off his cloak, patch, etc.]
LÆT. Thus strewed with blushes, like—Ah! Heaven defend me! Who’s this? [Discovering him, starts.]
BELL. Your lover.
LÆT. Vainlove’s friend! I know his face, and he has betrayed me to him. [Aside.]
BELL. You are surprised. Did you not expect a lover, madam? Those eyes shone kindly on my first appearance, though now they are o’ercast.
LÆT. I may well be surprised at your person and impudence: they are both new to me. You are not what your first appearance promised: the piety of your habit was welcome, but not the hypocrisy.
BELL. Rather the hypocrisy was welcome, but not the hypocrite.
LÆT. Who are you, sir? You have mistaken the house sure.
BELL. I have directions in my pocket which agree with everything but your unkindness. [Pulls out the letter.]
LÆT. My letter! Base Vainlove! Then ’tis too late to dissemble. [Aside.] ’Tis plain, then, you have mistaken the person. [Going.]
BELL. If we part so I’m mistaken. Hold, hold, madam! I confess I have run into an error. I beg your pardon a thousand times. What an eternal blockhead am I! Can you forgive me the disorder I have put you into? But it is a mistake which anybody might have made.
LÆT. What can this mean? ’Tis impossible he should be mistaken after all this. A handsome fellow if he had not surprised me. Methinks, now I look on him again, I would not have him mistaken. [Aside.] We are all liable to mistakes, sir. If you own it to be so, there needs no farther apology.
BELL. Nay, faith, madam, ’tis a pleasant one, and worth your hearing. Expecting a friend last night, at his lodgings, till ’twas late, my intimacy with him gave me the freedom of his bed. He not coming home all night, a letter was delivered to me by a servant in the morning. Upon the perusal I found the contents so charming that I could think of nothing all day but putting ’em in practice, until just now, the first time I ever looked upon the superscription, I am the most surprised in the world to find it directed to Mr. Vainlove. Gad, madam, I ask you a million of pardons, and will make you any satisfaction.
LÆT. I am discovered. And either Vainlove is not guilty, or he has handsomely excused him. [Aside.]
BELL. You appear concerned, madam.
LÆT. I hope you are a gentleman;—and since you are privy to a weak woman’s failing, won’t turn it to the prejudice of her reputation. You look as if you had more honour—
BELL. And more love, or my face is a false witness and deserves to be pilloried. No, by heaven, I swear—
LÆT. Nay, don’t swear if you’d have me believe you; but promise—
BELL. Well, I promise. A promise is so cold: give me leave to swear, by those eyes, those killing eyes, by those healing lips. Oh! press the soft charm close to mine, and seal ’em up for ever.
LÆT. Upon that condition. [He kisses her.]
BELL. Eternity was in that moment. One more, upon any condition!
LÆT. Nay, now—I never saw anything so agreeably impudent. [Aside.] Won’t you censure me for this, now?—but ’tis to buy your silence. [Kiss.] Oh, but what am I doing!
BELL. Doing! No tongue can express it—not thy own, nor anything, but thy lips. I am faint with the excess of bliss. Oh, for love-sake, lead me anywhither, where I may lie down—quickly, for I’m afraid I shall have a fit.
LÆT. Bless me! What fit?
BELL. Oh, a convulsion—I feel the symptoms.
LÆT. Does it hold you long? I’m afraid to carry you into my chamber.
BELL. Oh, no: let me lie down upon the bed; the fit will be soon over.