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heavens! can it be possible ? is vision true to me? Er. nestine ! and here !
Enter MADAME GERTRUDE, R. door-she starts. Ger. and Omnes. Ernestine ! Dame M. Nonsense-Ernestine is safe enough in the mill.
Col. [Going up to and looking at her.) But it is her, though-and in a gentleman's bed-room-Oh, it won't bear thinking of.
[Crosses back, L. Edm. Demons of guilt and woe! wbat means all this? Ernestine false! I've built my hopes of happiness on sand. -Oh, fool! fool Awake, abandoned one! arouse, thou traitress!
Ern. (Awaking and rising.] Dear Edmund! Ah, i have overslept myself. You wait, you come for me I will be ready soon-all is prepared, dear love ! one moment, and
Edm. Never, specious Jezebel! -But I am fooled no longer-away, seductress.
Ern. What do I hear? [Rubs her eyes.] What frightful dream is this? What means this riddle ?
Ger. (R.) It means that some people are no better than they should be; and that, though the mask of youthful innocence may be a very good bait to cozen fools with, it is not infallible.
Dame M. (L.c.) Heaven defend me! how my poor old head turns round.—Ah, Ernestine, Ernestine, was it for this that I preserved and reared thee!- Never did I think thou could'st have disgraced me thus, child !
Ern. 'Tis all a mist, one wild confusion! Let me collect myself! (Looking round.] What place is this? ha! the stranger's apartment ! [Screams.] Gertrude! neighbours ! [Appealing to each, they turn from her.] Mother, dost thou, too, condemn me? where shall I turn for refuge? Ab, Edmund! dear Edmund, thou wilt not desert me—thou wilt not reproach me!
[Going to Edmund. Edm. Away, traitress! Darest thou ask succour from him thou hast made the victim of thy arts ? Away, away ! ere virtuous indignation, ere outraged faith, insulted honour, crush thee! (Pushes her from him, L.
Ern. Gracious heavens! What frightful phantasy is this ? Edmund, dear Edmund, here on my knees(Going to him, and fulling on her knees.] thus lowly in the
dust I beg-I entreat, implore-Ernestine, thy Ernestine! thy love ! thy bride ! she, who never yet asked aught in vain, now humbly sues--spurn me-scorn medash me to the earth- but hear me answer me-what have I done-how have I merited this treatment ?
Edm. What dost thou in this chamber? speak to that!
Ern. Alas,' I know not! I must have come here in my sleep!
Edm. No more! I'm proof to all your arts-sorceress! enchantress! [Takes out the contract.] Thus I destroy the hated contract. (Tears it.] I renounce my vows, I withdraw my troth, I love you no longer-I hate you, I abandon you. [Crosses, R., and goes a little up.] But, where is the author of this deadly ruin? Give him to my vengeance! Ah, iled! the coward had not courage to brave the desolation he has made !
Col. (L.) Oh, dear me, I'm glad now I'm not going to be married ! If Madame Gertrude had served me in this manner-Oh, it won't bear thinking of !
Ger. Leave her to her fate; nobody, that has any regard for themselves, can pity, or pay any attention to her now.
Dame M. Then the more reason that somebody should do s0.-Ernestine, child! guilty or not guilty, thy old dame never will forsake thee!
Ern. My more than mother! [Embraces her.] Ed. mund! Edmund! I am innocent; on my soul I am! let my tears, my anguish, plead my truth!
Edm. Never ! my woes be on thy head! my curseay, my curse, he on thy heart! [Rushes out at R. door.
Erni. Ah, it has struck home! I feel it here! Oh! [Ernestine fulls into the Baillie's arnis-Dame Michuud
sees Modame Gertrude's shawl on the bed, which she takes up and surveys with astonishment-Colin and Madame Gertrude confer-tableau-curtain falls.
END OF ACT 1.
SCENE I.-A beautiful Landscape-In the background
the Mill of Dame Michaud, the wheel of the Mill turned by a rapid stream, which serpentines across the Stage:Ån Attic Window at the top of the Mill-House, looking out on a shelving gutter of tiles, from which a plank
onnects across the Wheel of the Mill, to a half-ruined Wall, which supports the spindle of the Wheel. A
ustic Bridge is thrown across the stream, 1.-A temporary Orchestra prepared for the musicians on the R.- -Garlands of flowers hang from tree to tree, with the letter E and other emblematical devices, prepared for the nuptials of Edmund and Ernestine.-Music as the curtain rises.---Groups of Village Lads and Lasses in holyday dresses, are discovered finishing the preparations.
Vil. Come, neighbours, we must bestir ourselves. Hang the garlands near the bride's door-posts; Edmund's are already decorated; we shall do nothing, if we forget that.
Girl. No, no; happy Ernestine-her lot is fixed in peace and joy.
[Hungs up garlunds. Vil. Now, then, hang up those ciphers, and tben
Enter COLIN, L. Col. Hang up yourselves, for there's no occasion for any ciphers at all ; so you may walk off as soon as you like.
Vil. Why, what's the matter?
Col. The matter is, there'll be no marriage ; sò I shan't be the only person that's been disappointed in wedlock, the more's the pity. Oh, dear!
Vil. marriage ! Col. No; therefore you may just all of you undo what you've been doing as fast as you can-havn't you heard ?
Vil. No, what?
Col. Lord bless me!-But I forgot, you were asleep at the time. What ignorant people you are. However, since you are so very curious, the business is this. Last night-wbat a delicate subject to touch upon-the intended bride, Ernestine-Oh, dear !-was found-it won't bear thinking of—but, to come to the point at once -the seducer (our young lord, I'm sorry to say) escaped just in time to prevent murder. Ernestine was discovered and disgraced-Edmund has gone mad-Madame Gertrude has ordered the pavilion to be pulled down; there's to be no marriage, and you're all had your trouble for nothing.
Vil. What a shocking disappointment!
Col. Ah, it is, indeed; it won't bear thinking of. Dear me! dear me! Oh, lord, what a pretty confusion there will be, when it comes to be generally known: the people that are invited, the turkeys that are on the spit-how they'll all be disappointed. Dear me, here Madame Gertrude comes, I declare! She quite brings my heart in my mouth.
Enter Madame Gertrude, L. Ger. Eh! bless me, neighbours—why, what are you all doing ?
Col. Nothing; we're undoing.
Col. Nobody's; we don't want any orders: as there's to be no marriage, of course, there's no occasion for any garlands.
Ger. And how do you know there's to be no marriage ?
Col. What, have Ernestine and Edmund made up matters, then? Well, I'm glad of that, with all my heart and soul. It shows that Edmund has as good a head as he has a heart, and that Ernestine is, what we always took her to be, a good girl.
Ger. You still take her part, then. I've no patience with such a little coquette entrapping the whole vil. lage; there is no such thing as keeping a sweetheart for her, any how. I thought she'd be found out at last; but you are mistaken, Mr. De Trop: it is not Ernestine Edmund is about to marry-though there is to be a wedding, she is not going to be the bride! No, no ; Edmund has chosen another-he is wise. The best way to be revenged on one faithless fair one is always to marry another.
Col. Another faithless fair one! have two! Why, that will be out of the frying-pan into the fire. It won't bear thinking of.
Ger. There's no fear of Edmund's choice proving unfaithful, I can answer for her.
Col. You know her, then ?
Ger. I do; but I am bound to keep her secret,-I shall not deprive you of the pleasure the surprise will occasion you. But, this change occurring so suddenly, the new bride is not exactly provided with every thing necessary for the nuptials. She wants a few purchases made, and has commissioned me to procure her a messenger to Tarascón; she wishes for the articles specified in this paper, [Gives a paper to Colin.) the bridal garter, the bouquet, the veil, and gloves. Now, knowing your predilection, Mr. Dé Trop, for every thing connected with wedlock, if you would but
Col. Lord bless me! I buy a bride's garter! Oh, it won't bear thinking of. Give me the paper, I'll go directly-what a way it does put me in. I can't help being sorry, though, for this poor Ernestine, poor young creature,-every thing so near being settled, and then to be disappointed,- it's very tantalizing.
Ger. What have we to do with it? You go and execute your commission.
Col. I'll go directly-only one word more: I beg pardon, Madame Gertrude, but-but
Ger. Execute your commission faithfully, and I promise you, on your return, that you shall be put out of your misery.
Col. She never said so much to me before. I'm wanted, too ; I'm not in the way now, and that's another comfort; the wedding can't take place without me—there's a thing to think of what a way it does put me in. I'll go directly.
Ger. Ay, ay; let us all be off, for I see Ernestine coming.
Col. [Blubbering.) Poor young thing, I declare it quite makes me weep to think of it. In fact, it won't bear thinking of. I'm going—poor young thing. Oh, oh, oh, what a way it has put me in!
[Exit, R. Ger. Poor dolt! he little thinks—now comes my hour of triumph. Let me away. Come, friends.
[Exeunt Gertrude and Villagers, l. Enter Dame MICHAUD and Ernestine from the Mill.
ERNESTiNE seems plunged in the deepest anguish-her hair dishevelled, and her whole appearance disordered. Dame M. (R.) Nay, nay, take not on thus, child! Bear