Scene II.Elmire, Mariane, Cléante, Dorine.
Dorine (to Cléante). For Heavens sake, Sir, bestir yourself with us for her: she is in mortal grief; and the marriage contract which her father has resolved upon being signed this evening, drives her every moment to despair. Here he comes! Pray, let us unite our efforts, and try, by force or art, to shake this unfortunate design that causes us all this trouble.
Scene III.Orgon, Elmire, Mariane, Cléante, Dorine.
Orgon. Ah! I am glad to see you all assembled. (To Mariane.) There is something in this document to please you, and you know already what it means.
Mariane (at Orgons feet). Father, in the name of Heaven which knows my grief, and by all that can move your heart, relax somewhat of your paternal rights, and absolve me from obedience in this case. Do not compel me, by this harsh command, to reproach Heaven with my duty to you; and alas! do not make wretched the life which you have given me, father. If, contrary to the sweet expectations which I have formed, you forbid me to belong to him whom I have dared to love, kindly save me at least, I implore you on my knees, from the torment of belonging to one whom I abhor; and do not drive me to despair by exerting your full power over me.
Orgon (somewhat moved). Firm, my heart; none of this human weakness!
Mariane. Your tenderness for him causes me no grief; indulge it to its fullest extent, give him your wealth, and if that be not enough, add mine to it; I consent to it with all my heart, and I leave you to dispose of it. But, at least, stop short of my own self; and allow me to end in the austerities of a convent, the sad days which Heaven has allotted to me.
Orgon. Ah, that is it! When a father crosses a girls love-sick inclination, she wishes to become a nun. Get up. The more repugnance you feel in accepting him, the greater will be your merit. Mortify your senses by this marriage, and do not trouble me any longer.
Dorine. But what
Orgon. Hold your tongue. Meddle only with what concerns you. I flatly forbid you to say another word.
Cléante. If you will permit me to answer you, and advise
Orgon. Your advice is the best in the world, brother; it is well argued, and I set great store by it: but you must allow me not to avail myself of it.
Elmire (to her husband). I am at a loss what to say, after all I have seen; and I quite admire your blindness. You must be mightily bewitched and prepossessed in his favour, to deny to us the incidents of this day.
Orgon. I am your servant, and judge by appearances. I know your indulgence for my rascal of a son, and you were afraid of disowning the trick which he wished to play on the poor fellow. But, after all, you took it too quietly to be believed; and you ought to have appeared somewhat more upset.
Elmire. Is our honour to bridle up so strongly at the simple avowal of an amorous transport, and can there be no reply to aught that touches it, without fury in our eyes and invectives in our mouth? As for me, I simply laugh at such talk; and the noise made about it by no means pleases me. I love to show my discreetness quietly, and am not at all like those savage prudes, whose honour is armed with claws and teeth, and who at the least word would scratch peoples faces. Heaven preserve me from such good behaviour! I prefer a virtue that is not diabolical, and believe that a discreet and cold denial is no less effective in repelling a lover.
Orgon. In short, I know the whole affair, and will not be imposed upon.
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