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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Mrs. Foresight and Mrs. Frail Come to an Understanding
By William Congreve (1670–1729)
 
From ‘Love for Love’

Scene:—A Room in the Foresight House. Enter Mrs. Foresight and Mrs. Frail.

MRS. FRAIL—What have you to do to watch me? ’Slife, I’ll do what I please.
  1
  Mrs. Foresight—You will?  2
  Mrs. Frail—Yes, marry, will I. A great piece of business, to go to Covent Garden Square in a hackney-coach and take a turn with one’s friend!  3
  Mrs. Foresight—Nay, two or three turns, I’ll take my oath.  4
  Mrs. Frail—Well, what if I took twenty? I warrant if you had been there, it had been only innocent recreation. Lord, where’s the comfort of this life, if we can’t have the happiness of conversing where we like?  5
  Mrs. Foresight—But can’t you converse at home? I own it, I think there’s no happiness like conversing with an agreeable man; I don’t quarrel at that, nor I don’t think but your conversation was very innocent; but the place is public, and to be seen with a man in a hackney-coach is scandalous; what if anybody else should have seen you alight, as I did? How can anybody be happy, while they’re in perpetual fear of being seen and censured? Besides, it would not only reflect upon you, sister, but me.  6
  Mrs. Frail—Pooh, here’s a clutter! Why should it reflect upon you? I don’t doubt but you have thought yourself happy in a hackney-coach before now. If I had gone to Knightsbridge, or to Chelsea, or to Spring Garden, or Barn Elms, with a man alone, something might have been said.  7
  Mrs. Foresight—Why, was I ever in any of those places? what do you mean, sister?  8
  Mrs. Frail—“Was I?” What do you mean?  9
  Mrs. Foresight—You have been at a worse place.  10
  Mrs. Frail—I at a worse place, and with a man!  11
  Mrs. Foresight—I suppose you would not go alone to the World’s-End.  12
  Mrs. Frail—The world’s end! what, do you mean to banter me?  13
  Mrs. Foresight—Poor innocent, you don’t know that there’s a place called the World’s-End. I’ll swear you can keep your countenance purely, you’d make an admirable player.  14
  Mrs. Frail—I’ll swear you have a great deal of confidence, and in my mind too much for the stage.  15
  Mrs. Foresight—Very well; that will appear who has most. You never were at the World’s-End?  16
  Mrs. Frail—No.  17
  Mrs. Foresight—You deny it positively to my face?  18
  Mrs. Frail—Your face! what’s your face?  19
  Mrs. Foresight—No matter for that; it’s as good a face as yours.  20
  Mrs. Frail—Not by a dozen years’ wearing. But I do deny it positively to your face, then.  21
  Mrs. Foresight—I’ll allow you now to find fault with my face, for I’ll swear your impudence has put me out of countenance; but look you here now,—where did you lose this gold bodkin? O sister, sister!  22
  Mrs. Frail—My bodkin?  23
  Mrs. Foresight—Nay, ’tis yours; look at it.  24
  Mrs. Frail—Well, if you go to that, where did you find this bodkin? O sister, sister!—sister every way.  25
  Mrs. Foresight  [aside]—Oh, devil on’t, that I could not discover her without betraying myself!  26
  Mrs. Frail—I have heard gentlemen say, sister, that one should take great care, when one makes a thrust in fencing, not to lay open one’s self.  27
  Mrs. Foresight—It’s very true, sister; well, since all’s out, and as you say, since we are both wounded, let us do what is often done in duels,—take care of one another, and grow better friends than before.  28
  Mrs. Frail—With all my heart: ours are but slight flesh wounds, and if we keep ’em from air, not at all dangerous: well, give me your hand in token of sisterly secrecy and affection.  29
  Mrs. Foresight—Here ’tis, with all my heart.  30
  Mrs. Frail—Well, as an earnest of friendship and confidence, I’ll acquaint you with a design that I have. To tell truth, and speak openly one to another, I’m afraid the world have observed us more than we have observed one another. You have a rich husband and are provided for; I am at a loss, and have no great stock either of fortune or reputation; and therefore must look sharply about me. Sir Sampson has a son that is expected to-night, and by the account I have heard of his education, can be no conjuror; the estate, you know, is to be made over to him:—now if I could wheedle him, sister, ha? you understand me?  31
  Mrs. Foresight—I do, and will help you to the utmost of my power. And I can tell you one thing that falls out luckily enough; my awkward daughter-in-law, who you know is designed to be his wife, is grown fond of Mr. Tattle; now if we can improve that, and make her have an aversion for the booby, it may go a great way towards his liking you. Here they come together; and let us contrive some way or other to leave ’em together.  32
 
 
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