Act I

Scene I.—Valère, Elise.

Valère. Eh, what! charming Elise, you are growing melancholy, after the kind assurances which you were good enough to give me of your love! Alas! I see you sighing in the midst of my joy! Tell me, is it with regret at having made me happy? And do you repent of that engagement to which my affection has induced you?

Elise. No, Valère, I cannot repent of anything that I do for you. I feel myself attracted to it by too sweet a power, and I have not even the will to wish that things were otherwise. But, to tell you the truth, our success causes me uneasiness; and I am very much afraid of loving you a little more than I ought.

Valère. Eh! what is there to fear, Elise, in the affection you have for me?

Elise. Alas! a hundred things at once: the anger of a father, the reproaches of my family, the censure of the world; but more than all, Valère, the change of your heart, and that criminal coolness with which those of your sex most frequently repay the too ardent proofs of an innocent love.

Valère. Ah! do not wrong me thus, to judge of me by others! Suspect me of anything, Elise, rather than of failing in my duty to you. I love you too well for that: and my affection for you will last as long as my life.

Elise. Ah, Valère, every one talks in the same strain! All men are alike in their words; their actions only show them to be different.

Valère. Since actions only can show what we are, wait then, at least, to judge of my heart by them; and do not search for crimes because you unjustly fear, and wrongly anticipate. Pray do not kill me with the poignant blows of an outrageous suspicion; and give me time to convince you, by many thousand proofs, of the sincerity of my affection.

Elise. Alas, how easily we are persuaded by those we love! Yes, Valère, I hold your heart incapable of deceiving me. I believe that you truly love me, and that you will be constant. I will no longer doubt of it, and I will confine my grief to the apprehensions of the blame which people may utter against me.

Valère. But why this uneasiness?

Elise. I should have nothing to fear, if every one could see you with the eyes with which I look upon you; and in your own person I see sufficient to justify me in what I do for you. For its defence, my heart pleads all your merits, supported by the help of a gratitude with which Heaven has bound me to you. At every moment I call to mind that supreme danger which first made us acquainted with each other; that wonderful generosity which made you risk your life in order to snatch mine from the fury of the waves; those most tender attentions which you lavished upon me, after having dragged me out of the water, and the assiduous homage of that ardent affection, which neither time nor obstacles have been able to discourage, and which, causing you to neglect relatives and country, detains you in this spot, and keeps your position unrecognized all on my account, and has reduced you to assume the functions of servant to my father, in order to see me. All this produces, no doubt, a marvellous effect on me, and quite sufficient to justify, in my own eyes, the engagement to which I have consented; but it is not perhaps enough to justify it in that of others, and I am not certain that the world will enter into my sentiments.

Valère. Of all that you have mentioned, it is only by my love that I pretended to deserve anything from you; and as for the scruples which you have; your father himself takes but too good care to justify you before the world; and the excess of his avarice, and the austere way in which he treats his children, might authorize stranger things still. Pardon me, charming Elise, for speaking thus before you. You know that, on that subject, no good can be said. But in short, if I can, as I hope I shall, find my relatives again, we shall have very little difficulty in rendering them favourable to us. I am impatient to receive some tidings of them; and should they be delayed much longer, I will myself go in search of them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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