Philinte. Not so, Madam, I am speaking my inmost feelings. I only wait the opportune moment to offer myself openly, and am wishing most anxiously to hurry its advent.
Scene II.Alceste, Eliante, Philinte.
Alceste. Ah, Madam! obtain me justice, for an offence which triumphs over all my constancy.
Eliante. What ails you? What disturbs you?
Alceste. This much ails me, that it is death to me to think of it; and the upheaving of all creation would less overwhelm me than this accident. It is all over with me My love I cannot speak.
Eliante. Just endeavour to be composed.
Alceste. Oh, just Heaven; can the odious vices of the basest minds be joined to such beauty?
Eliante. But, once more, what can have
Alceste. Alas! All is ruined! I am! I am betrayed! I am stricken to death! Célimène would you credit it! Célimène deceives me and is faithless.
Eliante. Have you just grounds for believing so?
Philinte. Perhaps it is a suspicion, rashly conceived; and your jealous temper often harbours fancies
Alceste. Ah! Sdeath, please to mind your own business, Sir. (To Eliante). Her treachery is but too certain, for I have in my pocket a letter in her own handwriting. Yes, Madam, a letter, intended for Oronte, has placed before my eyes my disgrace and her shame; Oronte, whose addresses I believed she avoided, and whom, of all my rivals, I feared the least.
Philinte. A letter may deceive by appearances, and is sometimes not so culpable as may be thought.
Alceste. Once more, sir, leave me alone, if you please, and trouble yourself only about your own concerns.
Eliante. You should moderate your passion; and the insult
Alceste. You must be left to do that, Madam; it is to you that my heart has recourse to-day to free itself from this goading pain. Avenge me on an ungrateful and perfidious relative who basely deceives such constant tenderness. Avenge me for an act that ought to fill you with horror.
Eliante. I avenge you? How?
Alceste. By accepting my heart. Take it, Madam, instead of the false one; it is in this way that I can avenge myself upon her; and I shall punish her by the sincere attachment, and the profound love, the respectful cares, the eager devotions, the ceaseless attentions which this heart will henceforth offer up at your shrine.
Eliante. I certainly sympathize with you in your sufferings, and do not despise your proffered heart; but the wrong done may not be so great as you think, and you might wish to forego this desire for revenge. When the injury proceeds from a beloved object, we form many designs which we never execute; we may find as powerful a reason as we like to break off the connection, the guilty charmer is soon again innocent; all the harm we wish her quickly vanishes, and we know what a lovers anger means.
Alceste. No, no, Madam, no. The offence is too cruel; there will be no relenting, and I have done with her. Nothing shall change the resolution I have taken, and I should hate myself for ever loving her again.
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