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Well, turn and turn about my wife and I have need of a little rest, that's certain.
Brom. And when one considers the weakness-thethe less I say the better.
Mrs. F. That, sir, is exactly my opinion.
Mrs. B. I am glad, Charles, to find you so weak an advocate in so bad a cause.
Mrs. F. To put an end to a conversation which must be exceedingly embarrassing to a certain person of the party-pray tell me, Mr. Bromley, whether you happen to be acquainted with one Captain Walsingham ?
Brum. (Aside.] The cruel little devil !—Yes, ma'am ; I'm not quite-yes, yes, I knew him--ma'am ; that is ma'am, I knew him formerly.
Mrs. B. (Aside.] I regret that Charles was acquainted with so disreputable a person.
Mrs. F. Do tell me what is his character, Mr. Bromley.
Brom. His character ? Oh, he's a ~a sort of ama perfect man of honour, I
ma'am. Mrs. F. No doubt; he seems, too, to be a devoted slave of the ladies.
Mrs. B. Pray, Charles, present my respects to your Captain Walsingham. Mrs. Fitzallan has related to me a little anecdote concerning him, which places him very high in my esteem.
Brom. What, then, you know-[Aside. Can she have told !
Mrs. F. Do you know, Mr. Bromley, whether he still maintains his influence at the India House ?
Brom. (Pointedly.) No, ma'am ; he's now an ex-director; has abandoned all intentions of further interference in that quarter.-How shall I get out of this? Here, William-a-let's have dinner, d’ye hear ? it's full time.
Enter a SERVANT, R.
Exit, R. Brom. Very well.–Aside.) John deserves a guinea for interrupting the conversation.
Simp. (Gaily.) Come, Bromley, go and order a bottle of champaign in honour of our fair guest ; that will set us all in gond humour; and before the third glass has
gone round, I warrant it, we shall all have come to a right understanding. Ha! ha! ha!
Mrs. B. Oh, let the butler look to the wine; and you, Charles, show Marianne our collection of pictures—I'll follow in a moment.
Brom. (Aside.] How I am to escape, heaven knows ! - Your arm, madam.
(Exeunt Bromley and Mrs. Fitzallan. Simpson of fers his arm to Mrs. Simpson ; she rejects it, and
follows the others. Mrs. B. (To Simpson, as he is going off.) Mr. Simpson, a word. Considering your situation, your boisterous gaiety, to say the best of it—is ill-judged.
Mrs. S. Mr. Simpson, your braving it out in this manner is positively indecent.
[Exit Mrs. Bromley, who also rejects his arm. Simp. Vasily well— let them say what they will, I'ın determined not to open my mouth 'till dinner's ready
(Exit, R. SCENE II.-A Drawing Room with Pictures.
Enter Mrs. FitzALLAN, R. Mrs. F. Poor Mr. Bromley ; he has some modesty, however, and couldn't bear a moment of examination.
Enter Mrs. BROMLEY, R. Mrs. B. What, has Bromley left you already ? how rude!
Mrs. F. Rude !—I think the folks are all rather singu. lar—he saw me to the door, bowed, and left me. Then, really, my dear, Mrs. Simpson's behaviour to me is very extraordinary; she does not only avail herself of my presence to torment her husband, but I am evidently the ob ject of all her sarcasms and inuendos.
Mrs. B. Did you ever happen to see Mr. Simpson ?
Mrs. B. How comes it, then, that he possesses your portrait ?
Mrs. F. My portrait ?
Mrs. B. I assure you, Marianne, he has it; and the resemblance is, in all respects, so perfect, that it cannot be attributed to chance.
Mrs. F. The profligate monster! But to what base end can he have procured it? and by what means ?
Mrs. B. 'Tis difficult to tell. Perhaps, unobserved by you, he may have seen you somewhere or other, and becoming enamoured of you, contrived to procure a copy of your picture at t'ie exhibition.
Mrs. !. Aside.] I rather suspect.—My dear, are you sure, are you quite sure, that Mr. Simpson is the person capable of
Mrs. B. Capable! After the discoveries we have made to-day, I'm convinced he is capable of any thing.
Mrs. F. (Aside.] One partner torments me with letters, the other purloins my portrait-am I fated to turn the heads of the whole firm of Simpson & Co. ?
Mrs. B. Here he comes, expecting, no doubt, to find you alone, and prepared with a formal declaration.
Enter SIMPSON, R. Simp. My dear Mrs. S. seems inclined to open a fresh account, but as we have had sufficient dealings in the article of bickering for one day, I leave her to—Ah! Mrs. Fitzallan, your humble—and Mrs. Bromley, too—I hope I am not an interruption.
Mrs. B. On the contrary, sir, this lady and myself desire an opportunity of gently and quietly remonstrating with you. Mr. Simpson, your conduct is most atrocious.
Mrs. F. 'Tis barbarous !—'tis ungentlemanly !--'tis unmanly!
Simp. Madam, if ever I--
Mrs. B. What excuse have you for endangering, as you have done, the reputation of a respectable woman?
Simp. (In anger.) I vow and declare, that since the day I was born
Mrs. F. Will you be so obliging, sir, as to answer distinctly, the questions I shall put to you?
Simp. So! a regular examination! Speak, ladies ; state your charges; I shall not employ counsel, but plead my own cause,
Mrs. F. Then, sir, I must insist on your answering mo seriously, and without equivocation :- Till this day, did you ever see me before ?
Simp. Seriously, and without equivocation, I never did.
Mrs. F. Has any person—any one who may take an interest in me-made you the depository of his secret?
Simp. Madam, I assure you till this day I never had the pleasure either of seeing you or of hearing you spo ken of.
Mrs. F. Enough. Now, sir, as a man of honour, you cannot refuse to relinquish my portrait, your possession of which is, at once, offensive and injurious to me.
Simp. Your portrait ! your portrait, ma'am !-[Aside.) Oh, hang it, I see now they are quizzing me for my wife's jealousy. Mrs. Bromley first began running the joke against me to-day, as a hen-pecked husband; and now she has got Mrs. Fitzallan to join her.
Mrs. B. [To MIrs. Fitzallan. He hesitates.
Simp. (Aside.] 'Gad, I'll have a hoax as well as they, and turn the tables on 'em.-Well, madam, (To Mrs. F.) I confess that I have as truly got your portrait
Mrs. B. At length, then, you confess; that is the first step towards repentance. Your wife is an excellent woman; repent, Mr. Simpson, and I trust she will pardon you.
Enter Mrs. SIMPSON, R. Come, come, my love, let me be peacemaker.-Mr. Simpson has confessed his errors, and promises sincere repentance, and you must forgive him.
Mrs. S. And what have you to say for yourself, Mr. Simpson ?
Simp. What have I to say for myself? I have merely said, that as truly as I have that lady's portrait she has mine, and I will restore her beautiful bust when she gives me my little full length.
Mrs. F. Sir!
Simp. Yes, ny little full length-in a pepper and salt coat, striped waistcoat, and drab-colour small-clothes, and continuations.
Vrs. F. (To Mrs. Bromley.] My dear, the man's mad!
Simp. As to the letters you say have passed between
Mrs. F. (With dignity.) This is too much ; I should be forgetting the respect I owe myself, were I to remain another myment here.
Mrs. B. [Taking her hand.] For my sake, Marianneyet an instant
Enter BROMLEY, L. Simp. Now, Charles, follow my example and confesstis your only hope.
Brom. Alarmed. Confess! What?
Simp. Confession and repentance are the order of the day. Acknowledge, that, but for your example, I never should have gone astray.
Brom. Aside. Am I, too, detected, then!
Simp. Acknowledge that your wicked counsels first perverted my innocent heart; that you are accountable for all my peccadilloes, as you call them.
Brom. Agitated.] Each for himself, sir, if you please.
Mrs. B. Fie on you, Mr. Simpson.-First calumniate my friend, and next accuse my unoffending husband ! Shame, shame, Mr. Simpson.
Mrs. S. Your attempts at evasion will avail you nothing; it is not with Mr. Bromley, but with you, sir
Simp. 'Tis all one-we are partners; and our pleasures and our plagues ought to be in common. [Observing the serious countenances of the others.] Lord help me should they be in earnest, after all !
Enter a Servant, L., who whispers Mrs. Bromley. Mrs. B. Instantly.-[ To Mrs. Fitzallan.) A good opportunity to humiliate Mr. Simpson. I have been sitting for my miniature unknown to Charles; the painter has just sent it ; I'll take this occasion of presenting it to him. Do but wait my return, and this affair shall be explained to your satisfaction. To Simpson.) Ah! Mr. Simpson, 1 never thought you capable of such doings. (Exit, L.
Brom. Was it your intention to insult me, Bon, by your ridiculous accusations ?
Simp. Sir, IMrs. F. Is it your pleasure. Mr. Simpson, to surrender dTysteriously,] the object in question ?