Cléante. Of course.
Frosine. I mean that he will bear malice if he finds that he is refused, and that he will not be of a mind afterwards to give his consent to your marriage. To do well, the refusal ought to come from himself, and she ought to try, by some means, to inspire him with a disgust towards her.
Cléante. You are right.
Frosine. Yes, I am right; I know that well enough. That is what is wanted, but how the deuce can we find the means? Stop! Suppose we had some woman a little advanced in age who had my talent, and acted sufficiently well to counterfeit a lady of quality, by the help of a retinue made up in haste, and with an eccentric name of a marchioness or a viscountess, whom we will suppose to come from Lower Brittany, I would have skill enough to make your father believe that she was a person possessed of a hundred thousand crowns in ready money, besides her houses; that she was distractedly enamoured of him, and had so set her mind upon being his wife, that she would make all her property over to him by marriage-contract. I do not doubt that he would lend an ear to this proposal. For, after all, he loves you much, I know it, but he loves money a little more; and when, dazzled with this bait, he had once given his consent in what concerns you, it would matter very little if he were afterwards disabused, when he wished to see more clearly into the property of our marchioness.
Cléante. All this is very well conceived.
Frosine. Let me manage. I just recollect one of my friends who will suit us.
Cléante. Be assured of my gratitude, Frosine, if you carry out this matter. But, charming Mariane, let us begin, I pray you, by gaining over your mother; it is doing much, at any rate, to break off this match. Make every possible effort on your part, I entreat you. Employ all the power which her tenderness for you gives you over her. Show her unreserved, the eloquent graces, the all-powerful charms, with which Heaven has endowed your eyes and your lips; and please do not overlook any of these tender words, of these sweet prayers, and of these winning caresses to which, I am persuaded, nothing can be refused.
Mariane. I will do my best, and forget nothing.
Scene II.Harpagon, Cléante, Mariane, Elise, Frosine.
Harpagon (aside, without being seen). Hey day! my son kisses the hand of his intended stepmother; and his intended stepmother does not seem to take it much amiss! Can there be any mystery underneath this?
Elise. Here is my father.
Harpagon. The carriage is quite ready; you can start as soon as you like.
Cléante. Since you are not going, father, permit me to escort them.
Harpagon. No: remain here. They will do well enough by themselves, and I want you.
Scene III.Harpagon, Cléante.
Harpagon. Now, tell me, apart from becoming your stepmother, what think you of this lady.
Cléante. What do I think of her.
Harpagon. Yes, of her air, of her figure, of her beauty, of her mind?
Cléante. So, so.
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