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SCENE I. _Antonio’s_ House.

Enter _Ismena_ and _Isabella_.

_Isab._ Madam, turn your back to that side, For there _Antonio_ is hid; he must not see your Face: now raise your Voice, that he may hear what ’tis you say.

_Ism._ I’ll warrant you, _Isabella_: Was ever wretched Woman’s Fate like mine, Forc’d to obey the rigid Laws of Parents, And marry with a Man I did not love?

_Ant._ Oh, there’s my cause of Fear. [_Ant._ peeps.

_Ism._ Though since I had him, thou know’st I have endeavour’d To make his Will my Law, Till by degrees and Custom, which makes things natural, I found this Heart, which ne’er had been engag’d To any other, grow more soft to him; And still the more he lov’d, the more I was oblig’d, And made returns still kinder; till I became Not only to allow, but to repay his Tenderness.

_Isab._ She counterfeits rarely. [Aside.

Madam, indeed I have observ’d this truth.

_Ism._ See who ’tis knocks. [One knocks.

_Ant._ What will this come to? [Aside.

_Isab._ Madam, ’tis _Alberto_.

Enter _Alberto_. Bows.

_Ism._ My Lord, you’ve often told me that you lov’d me, Which I with Womens usual Pride believ’d; And now, encourag’d by my hopeful Promises, You look for some Returns: Sir, is it so?

_Alb._ What means she?

Pray Heaven I answer right. [Aside.

–Madam, if I have err’d in that belief, To know I do so, is sufficient punishment.

–Lovers, Madam, though they have no returns, Like sinking Men, still catch at all they meet with; And whilst they live, though in the midst of Storms, Because they wish, they also hope for Calms.

_Ism._ And did you, Sir, consider who I was?

_Alb._ Yes, Madam, Wife unto my Friend _Antonio_, The only Man that has an Interest here: –But, Madam, that must still submit to Love.

_Ism._ Canst thou at once be true to him and me?

_Alb._ Madam, I know not that; But since I must lose one, My Friendship I can better lay aside.

_Ism._ Hast thou forgot how dear thou art to him?

_Alb._ No, I do believe I am, and that his Life Were but a worthless trifle, if I needed it.

Yet, Madam, you are dearer to him still Than his _Alberto_; and ’tis so with me: –Him I esteem, but you I do adore; And he whose Soul’s insensible of Love, Can never grateful to his Friendship prove.

_Ism._ By your example, Sir, I’ll still retain My Love for him; and what I had for you, Which was but Friendship, I’ll abandon too.

_Ant._ Happy _Antonio_.– [Aside.

_Ism._ Pray what have you _Antonio_ cannot own?

Has he not equal Beauty, if not exceeding thine?

Has he not equal Vigour, Wit, and Valour?

And all that even raises Men to G.o.ds, Wert not for poor Mortality?

–Vain Man, couldst thou believe That I would quit my Duty to this Husband, And sacrifice his Right to thee?

–Couldst thou believe me yesterday?

When from thy Importunity and Impudence, To send thee from me, I promised thee to love thee.

–Nay, rather, treacherous Man, Couldst thou believe I did not hate thee then, Who basely would betray thy Friend and me?

_Alb._ Sure this is earnest. [Aside.

_Ant._ Oh brave _Clarina_! [Aside.

_Ism._ Speak, Traitor to my Fame and Honour; Was there no Woman, but _Antonio’s_ Wife, With whom thou couldst commit so foul a Crime?

And none but he to bring to publick Shame?

A Man who trusted thee, and lov’d thee too?

–Speak–and if yet thou hast a sense of Virtue, Call to the Saints for pardon, or thou dy’st.

[She draws a Poniard, and runs at him; he steps back to avoid it.

_Alb._ Hold, _Clarina_!–I am amaz’d.

_Ism._ But stay.

Thou say’st my Beauty forc’d thee to this Wickedness, And that’s the cause you have abus’d _Antonio_.

–Nor is it all the Power I have with him, Can make him credit what I tell him of thee; And should I live, I still must be pursu’d by thee, And unbeliev’d by him: –_Alberto_, thou shalt ne’er be guilty more, Whilst this–and this may meet.

[Offering to wound her self, is stay’d by _Alb._ and _Isab._ They set _Ism._ in a Chair; _Alb._ kneels weeping.

_Alb._ Hold, my divine _Clarina_.–

_Ant._ Shall I discover my self, or steal away? [Aside.

And all asham’d of Life after this Action, Go where the Sun or Day may never find me?

Oh! what Virtue I’ve abus’d– Curse on my little Faith; And all the Curses Madness can invent, Light on my groundless Jealousy. [Ex. _Antonio_.

_Alb._ _Clarina_, why so cruel to my Heart?

‘Tis true, I love you, but with as chaste an Ardour, As Souls departing pay the Deities, When with incessant Sighs they haste away, And leave Humanity behind. Oh! so did I Abandon all the lesser Joys of Life, For that of being permitted but t’adore ye.

Alas, if ’twere displeasing to you, Why did your self encourage it?

I might have languish’d, as I did before, And hid those Crimes which make you hate me now.

–Oh, I am lost? _Antonio_, thou’st undone me; [He rises in Rage.

–Hear me, Ungrate; I swear by all that’s good, I’ll wash away my Mischief with thy Blood.

_Isab._ _Antonio_ hears you not, Sir, for he’s departed.

_Ism._ Is _Antonio_ gone?

[She looks pertly up, who before lay half dead.

_Alb._ How’s this, has she but feign’d?

_Ism._ Know it was but feign’d; I hope this proof Of what I’ve promis’d you, does not displease you.

_Alb._ Am I thus fortunate, thus strangely happy?

_Ism._ Time will confirm it to you–go, do not Now thank me for’t, but seek _Antonio_ out; Perhaps he may have too great a Sense of the Mischiefs his Jealousies had like to have caus’d: But conjure him to take no notice of what’s past to me; This easy slight of mine secures our Fears, And serves to make _Antonio_ confident, Who now will unbelieve his Eyes and Ears; And since before, when I was innocent, He could suspect my Love and Duty too, I’ll try what my dissembling it will do.

–Go haste.–

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