Scene I.Cléante, Mariane, Elise, Frosine.
Cléante. Let us go in here; we shall be much better. There is no suspicious person near us now, and we can converse freely.
Elise. Yes, Madam, my brother has confided to me the affection which he feels for you. I am aware of the grief and unpleasantness which such obstacles are capable of causing; and it is, I assure you, with the utmost tenderness that I interest myself in your adventure.
Mariane. It is a sweet consolation to see some one like you in ones interest; and I implore you, Madam, always to reserve for me this generous friendship, so capable of alleviating the cruelties of fortune.
Frosine. You are, upon my word, both unlucky people, in not having warned me before this of your affair. I would, no doubt, have warded off this uneasiness from you, and not have carried matters so far as they now are.
Cléante. Whose fault is it? It is my evil destiny that has willed it so. But fair Mariane, what have you resolved to do?
Mariane. Alas! am I able to make any resolutions? And, in the dependent position in which you see me, can I form aught else than wishes?
Cléante. No other support in your heart for me than mere wishes? No strenuous pity? No helping kindness? No energetic affection?
Mariane. What can I say to you? Put yourself in my place, and see what I can do. Advise, command yourself: I leave the matter to you; and I think you too reasonable to wish to exact from me aught but what may be consistent with honour and decency.
Cléante. Alas! to what straits do you reduce me by driving me back to what the annoying dictates of a rigorous honour and a scrupulous decency only will permit?
Mariane. But what would you have me to do? Even if I could forego the many scruples to which my sex compels me, I have some consideration for my mother. She has always brought me up with the utmost tenderness, and I could not make up my mind to cause her any displeasure. Treat, transact with her; use all your means to gain her mind. You may say and do whatever you like, I give you full power; and if nothing is wanting but to declare myself in your favour, I am willing, myself, to make to her the avowal of all that I feel for you.
Cléante. Frosine, dear Frosine, will you try to serve us?
Frosine. Upon my word, need you ask? I should like it with all my heart. You know that, naturally, I am kind-hearted enough. Heaven has not given me a heart of iron, and I have only too much inclination for rendering little services when I see people who love each other in all decency and honour. What can we do in this matter?
Cléante. Pray consider a little.
Mariane. Give us some advice.
Elise. Invent some means of undoing what you have done.
Frosine. That is difficult enough. (To Mariane). As for your mother, she is not altogether unreasonable, and we might perhaps prevail upon her and induce her to transfer to the son the gift which she wished to make to the father. (To Cléante). But the mischief in it is, that your father is your father.
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