Elise. Ah! Valère, do not stir from this, I beseech you; and think only how to ingratiate yourself with my father.
Valère. You see how I go about it, and the artful wheedling which I have been obliged to make use of to enter his service; beneath what mask of sympathy and affinity of sentiments I disguise myself, in order to please him; and what part I daily play with him, that I may gain his affection. I am making admirable progress in it; and experience teaches me that to find favour with men, there is no better method than to invest ourselves in their eyes with their hobbies; than to act according to their maxims, to flatter their faults and to applaud their doings. One needs not fear to overdo this complaisance; the way in which one fools them may be as palpable as possible; even the sharpest are the greatest dupes when flattery is in the question; and there is nothing too impertinent or too ridiculous for them to swallow, if it be only seasoned with praises. Sincerity suffers somewhat by the trade which I follow; but, when we have need of people, we must suit ourselves to their tastes; and since they are to be gained over only in that way, it is not the fault of those who flatter, but of those who wish to be flattered.
Elise. But why do you not try to gain the support of my brother, in case the servant should take it into her head to reveal our secret?
Valère. There is no managing them both at once; and the disposition of the father and that of the son are so opposed to each other, that it becomes difficult to arrange a confidence with both. But you, on your part, act upon your brother, and make use of the affection between you two, to bring him over to our interests. He is just coming. I go. Take this opportunity of speaking to him, and reveal our business to him, only when you judge the fit time come.
Elise. I do not know whether I shall have the courage to entrust this confidence to him.
Scene II.Cléante, Elise.
Cléante. I am very glad to find you alone, sister; I was dying to speak to you, to unburden myself to you of a secret.
Elise. You find me quite ready to listen, brother. What have you to tell me?
Cléante. Many things, sister, all contained in one word. I am in love.
Elise. You are in love?
Cléante. Yes, I am in love. But before going farther, I know that I am dependent on my father, and that the name of son subjects me to his will; that we ought not to pledge our affection without the consent of those to whom we owe our life; that Heaven has made them the masters of our affection, and that we are enjoined not to dispose of it but by their direction; that, not being biassed by any foolish passion, they are less likely to deceive themselves than we are, and to see much better what is proper for us; that we ought rather to be guided by the light of their prudence than by the blindness of our passion; and that the ardour of our youth often drags us to dangerous precipices. I tell you all this, sister, that you may save yourself the trouble of telling it to me; for, frankly, my love will not listen to anything, and I pray you not to make any remonstrances.
Elise. Have you pledged yourself, brother, with her whom you love?
Cléante. No; but I am determined to do so, and I implore you, once more, not to advance any reasons to dissuade me from it.
Elise. Am I then so strange a person, brother?
Cléante. No, sister; but you are not in love; you are ignorant of the sweet empire which a tender passion exercises over our hearts; and I dread your wisdom.
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