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ACT I

Dialogue

SIR GEORGE. What ails thee, Doll? This little head might hold the cares of empire. Smile on me — smile! To-day, of all days, I would have thee merry. What will our cousin Rupert think of thee?

DOROTHY. I care not what our cousin Rupert thinks.

LADY VERNON. Methought he liked not merriment?

SIR GEORGE. True, Rupert hath espoused the Roundhead cause; but if I judge aright, short commons and long prayers will like not him! Be not deceived, our cousin's head is rather long than round. He serves the parliament —

LADY VERNON. And serves the times.

DOROTHY. In brief, he is not honest.

SIR GEORGE. Honest, as times go. If, when he is thy husband, he is true to thee, heed not his politics.

DOROTHY. I heed them not, nor his truth either, for he will never be husband of mine.

SIR GEORGE. Hearken, Doll. I do not care to plague thy pretty head with musty documents and lawyers' quirks; enough to say that there are some who hold our cousin's title to this fair estate stronger than ours. This marriage puts an end to doubts and questions that have troubled me, and would be grateful to the parliament, which loves me none too well.

LADY VERNON. Then, must Doll wed to please the parliament?

SIR GEORGE. And me!

DOROTHY. From childhood I have striven to please thee, father.

SIR GEORGE. And thou hast pleased me well!

DOROTHY. And I will strive to please thee still in everything save this. Do with me as thou wilt, but spare my heart. I cannot give what is not mine own.

SIR GEORGE. Hast thou not yet forgot this youth - whose very name my lips refuse to speak?

LADY VERNON. Manners — John Manners.

SIR GEORGE. Rutland's younger son! Shame on thee— shame! He is beneath thee, Doll. Remember who thou art. Remember that with thee pass all the lands of Haddon and this ancient hall, which smiles there as it smiled even before the Conquest.

DOROTHY. I know well who I am. I know from whom I am descended; nor do I forget their ancient watchword, "Drede God, and honour the King!" God I have ever dreaded; and the king I honour, by loving one whose sword hath served his cause.

SIR GEORGE. If he would sheath that sword— if he would only pay decent respect to parliament.

DOROTHY. He were a traitor, and not worth my love! Oh, father dear, turn not from me in anger! Is it sin to love?

SIR GEORGE. Did I speak harshly? Then forgive me, Doll! Ever since my son — my only son - died, fighting for his country, on the sea — thou art my all in all. It breaks my heart to ruffle thee. Go, tell thy lover— if he sheath his sword — if he acknowledge parliament — which otherwise might forfeit my estate — I will confer with Rupert. I can say no more.

DOROTHY. 'Twere vain to ask him. It were worse than vain.

SIR GEORGE. It is not much I beg of thee.

DOROTHY. My lips could not affront the one I love.

SIR GEORGE. They can affront thy father!

DOROTHY. Nay!

SIR GEORGE. So be it! Go thy way and I go mine. Remember only that my word is given, and that a Vernon doth not break his pledge.

DOROTHY. I am a Vernon, too, and shall I not keep mine?

SIR GEORGE. Bandy not words with me. No longer do I beg thee — I command.


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