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That, neighbourhood and breeding will allow;
So much the laws divine and human both,
"Twixt brother and a sister, will approve :
Heaven then forbid, that they should limit us
Wish well to one another.

Wife. If they should not,
We might proclaim they were not charitable,
Which were a deadly sin but to conceive.
Y. Ger. Will

ye

resolve me one thing ?
Wife. As to one,
That in my bosom hath a second place,
Next to my dear husband.

Y. Ger. That's the thing I crave,
And only that; to have a place next him.

Wife. Presume on that already; but perhaps,
You mean to stretch it further.

Y. Ger. Only thus far:
Your husband's old, to whom my soul doth wish
A Nestor's age; so much he merits from me :
Yet if (as proof and nature daily teach,
Men cannot always live, especially
Such as are old and crazed) he be call'd hence,
Fairly, in full maturity of time,
And we two be reserv'd to after-life,
Will
you
confer
your

widowhood on me?
Wife. You ask the thing I was about to beg;
Your tongue hath spoke mine own thoughts.

Y. Ger. Vow to that.
Wife. As I hope mercy.

Y. Ger. 'Tis enough ; that word
Alone instates me happy; now, so please you,
We will divide; you to your private chamber,
I to find out my friend.

Wife. Nay, Master Geraldine,
One ceremony rests yet unperform'd ;
My vow is pass'd, your oath must next proceed ;
And as you covet to be sure of me,
Of you I would be certain.

Y. Ger. Make ye doubt?

Wife. No doubt ; but love's still jealous, and in that To be excus'd; you then shall swear by heaven, And as in all future acts, you hope To thrive and prosper ; as the day may yield Comfort, or the night rest; as you would keep

Entire the honour of

your

father's house,
And free your name from scandal and reproach ;
By all the goodness that you hope to enjoy,
Or ill to shun-

Y. Ger. You charge me deeply, lady.

Wife. Till that day come, you shall reserve yourself
A single man; converse nor company
With any woman contract nor combine
With maid, or widow; which expected hour,
As I do wish not haste, so when it happens,
It shall not come unwelcome ; you hear all;
Vow this.

Y. Ger. By all that you have said, I swear,
And by this kiss confirm.

Wife. You're now my brother : But then my second husband.”

[Kisses her.

Geraldine introduces his friend Delavel ; Delavel conceives a passion for the wife, and proves a villain ; he insinuates into the mind of Geraldine's father, that his son's visits to Wincot were neither consistent with his own honour, nor the lady's reputation. Old Geraldine takes the alarm, and prevails upon his son to promise that he will cease his visits to Wincot. The latter, surprised at his unusual absence, and ignorant of the cause, urges him to renew the intercourse, or, at least, satisfy him as to the cause of his staying away for so long a time, and proposes a private meeting for that purpose. An appointment is accordingly made at Wincot's house, at a time when the family have retired to rest. They meet, and Geraldine proceeds to explain the cause of his absence.

“ Y. Ger. Then I proceed, with due acknowledgment Of all your more than many

courtesies ;
You've been my second father; and your wife,
My noble and chaste mistress; all your servants
At my command ; and this, your bounteous table,
As free and common as my father's house ;
Neither ’gainst any, or the least of these,
Can I commence just quarrel.

Winc. What might then be
The cause of this constraint, in thus absenting
Yourself from such as love you?

Y. Ger. Out of many,
I will propose some few; the care I have
Of your (as yet unblemished) renown;

The untouch'd honour of your virtuous wife ;
And (which I value least, yet dearly too)
My own fair reputation.

Winc. How can these
In any way be questioned?

Y. Ger. Oh, dear sir,
Bad tongues have been too busy with us all;
Of which I never yet had time to think,
But with sad thoughts and griefs unspeakable ;
It hath been whispered by some wicked ones,
But loudly thunder'd in my father's ears,
By some that have malign'd our happiness,
(Heaven, if it can brook slander, pardon them!)
That this my customary coming hither,
Hath been to base and sordid purposes ;
To wrong your bed; injure her chastity;
And be mine own undoer: which how false

Winc. As heaven is true, I know it.

Y. Ger. Now this calumny Arriving first unto my father's ears, His easy nature was induc'd to think, That these strange things might, perhaps, be possible : I answered him, as I would do to heaven, And clear'd myself in his suspicious thoughts, As truly as the high all knowing judge Shall of these stains acquit me, which are merely Aspersions and untruths: the good old man (Possess'd with my sincerity, and yet careful Of your renown, her honour, and my fame) To stop the worst that scandal could inflict, And to prevent false rumours, charges me, The cause remov'd to take away the effect; Which only could be, to forbear your house, And this upon his blessing: you hear all.

Winc. And I of all acquit you. This, your absence, (With which

my love most cavil'd) orators In your behalf. Had such things past betwixt you, Not threats nor chidings could have driven you

hence. It pleads in your behalf, and speaks in hers; And arms me with a double confidence, Both of your friendship, and her loyalty: I am happy in you both, and only doubtful Which of you two doth most impart my love. You shall not hence to night.

[exit.

Y. Ger. Pray pardon, sir.
Winc. You are in your lodging.
Y. Ger. But my father's charge.

Winc. My conjuration shall dispense with that ;
You may be up as early as you please,
But hence to night you shall not.

Y. Ger. You are powerful.

Winc. This night, of purpose, I have parted beds,
Feigning myself not well, to give you meeting ;
Nor can be ought suspected by my wife,
I have kept all so private: now 'tis late,
I'll steal up to my rest. But, howsoever,
Let's not be strange in writing; that way daily
We may confer without the least suspect,
In spite of all such base calumnious tongues ;
So now good night, sweet friend.

Y. Ger. May, he that made you
So just and good, still guard you ! Not to bed,
So I, perhaps, might oversleep myself,
And then my tardy waking might betray me
To the more early household ; thus as I am,
I'll rest me on this pallet; but in vain,
I find no sleep can fasten on mine eyes,
There are in this disturbed brain of mine
So
many

mutinous fancies. This, to me,
Will be a tedious night; how shall I spend it?
No book that I can spy? no company?
A little let me recollect myself:
Oh, what more wish'd company can I find,
Suiting the apt occasion, time and place,
Than the sweet contemplation of her beauty;
And the fruition too, time may produce,
Of what is yet lent out? 'Tis a sweet lady,
And every way accomplish'd : hath mere accident
Brought me thus near, and I not visit her;
Should it arrive her ear; perhaps might breed
Our lasting separation; for 'twixt lovers,
No quarrel's to unkindness: sweet opportunity
Offers prevention, and invites me to't:
The house is known to me, the stairs and rooms;
The way unto her chamber frequently
Trodden by me at midnight, and all hours :
How joyful to her would a meeting be,
So strange and unexpected; shadowed too

Beneath the veil of night: I am resolved
To give her visitation, in that place
Where we have past deep vows, her bed-chamber.”

The attempt puts him in possession of fatal information -he hears the wife and Delavel converse in a manner which leaves no room to doubt the nature of their connection. He determines to travel once more; but before he quits the country, he cannot refuse to pay a parting visit to his friend Wincot, who prepares a little feast for him. Geraldine studiously avoids both his mistress and his false friend. The former. however, seeks for, and succeeds in gaining, an occasion of speaking to him in private. The result is disclosed in the following extract :

“ Wife. You are sad, sir.
Y. Ger. I know no cause.

Wife. Then can I show you some:
Who would be otherwise, to leave a father
So careful, and each way so provident?
To leave so many, and such worthy friends?
To abandon your own country? These are some :
Nor do I think you can be much the merrier
For my sake.

Y. Ger. Now your tongue speaks oracles ;
For all the rest are nothing: 'tis for you,
Only for you I cannot.

Wife. So I thought:
Why then have you been all this while so strange?
Why will you travel? suing a divorce
Betwixt us, of a love inseparable;
For here shall I be left as desolate
Unto a frozen, almost widowed bed;
Warm'd only in that future, stor’d in you ;
For who can in your absence comfort me?

Y. Ger. (A side.) Shall my oppressed sufferance yet break forth Into impatience, or endure her more ?

Wife. But since by no persuasion, no entreats,
Your settled obstinacy can be sway'd;
Though you seem desperate of your own dear life,
Have care of mine, for it exists in you.
Oh, sir, should you miscarry I were lost,
Lost and forsaken; then by our past vows,
And by this hand once given me, by these tears,
Which are but springs begetting greater flood,

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