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THE GAMBLER'S SON.
M. de F. The more I look at you, the more am I astonished. Are you in your senses, George? This paleness—these convulsive movements - What has happened to you?
George. I am very wretched!
M. de F. Are you suffering?
M. de F. You alarm me! What profound despair! Speak, George!
George. I shall never be able
M. de F. It is I who beseech you- I, your father.
M. de F. You repel me, my son.
George. O, misery!
M. de F. Have I ever failed in a father's love and care? From your youth upwards have you not found me your best friend?
George. Ah, yes! I have not forgotten the days of my childhood. Often do I remember me of the lessons you used to instill when we dwelt in our humble hut. Every principle of honor and of virtue-it is from you that I have received it; and nothing is forgotten.
M. de F. You know it; you were the object of my tenderness; all my hopes reposed on you.
George. Yes! You would say to me in those days, "My son, whatever may be your fate, remember that he is never without consolation who keeps his conscience pure!" You said it, my father, and I remember it well.
M. de F. George, that state of destitution and wretchedness, to which I had reduced you and your mother, - how did I reproach myself with it! That horrible poverty-that absolute want-what torture! And what regrets did I experience because of you, whose heritage I had so foolishly dissipated!
George. Did I ever utter a complaint? Did I ever reproach you with our misfortunes-our poverty? Have I not always cherished, respected, served you?
M. de F. Yes, George is a good son; he is no ingrate; he will not heedlessly wound a father's heart.
George. No, no! Only one boon.
M. de F. Speak, my son.
George. That money of Dubourg's
M. de F. (Angrily.) Again you recur to it!
George. Do you not remember those words which you added your lessons?" All that now remains to us, my son, is honor! M. de F. Doubtless. But how wretched, George, had you been without this change of fortune which time has brought!
George. This fortune - its source? Tell me whence you — M. de F. (Interrupting him.) Never could you have presumed to marry her you love; never would a career have been opened to you; you would have had no means of exercising your talents, no resources! You do not realize the humiliation which poverty brings with it in an age like ours, where favor and consideration are measured according to the amount of gold one has; where the virtues are repulsed, merit disdained, talent ignored, unless intrigue or fortune open the way. With gold one has every thing-without it, nothing.
George. (Aside.) All is now explained. (Aloud.) Ah, well! my choice is made: indigence and probity.
M. de F. Indigence the return of all those sufferings you once experienced? Can aught be worse?
M. de F. (Aside.) I tremble. (Aloud.) What would you say?
George. That there is no wretchedness equal to mine, sir! M. de F. 66 Sir?" (He gives his hand to his son, who takes it with a disordered air.)
George. Hear me. Can you imagine all which that man suffers who sees in a single day the overthrow of all that he believed in the destruction of what he had regarded, up to that moment, as the summit of his hopes and affections; who sees the past rendered hateful, the future desperate, since he can trust no longer in all that he had adored and respected? Love, honor, ye sole blessings which make life precious, ye are gone-gone for ever!
M. de F. George!
George. Do you comprehend, sir, this misfortune without consolation? A son who cherished, who revered his father, who bore with pride an honorable name-ah, well! this son-he must now blush for evermore, and repulse that man whom he had learned to venerate and love.
M. de F. Gracious powers!
George. Ay, sir; for he knows all.
M. de F. What knows he?
George. He knows that yonder, at that table, an old friend was ruined by him.
M. de F. And if hazard did it all?
George. No, sir, no; that old friend was deceived – was swindled.
M. de F. Swindled? George! You believe it?
George. Ah! 'tis that belief is the burthen of my woe!
THE GAMBLER'S SON.
M. de F. And if it were not true?
George. (Producing a pack of cards.) That pack of cards M. de F. What of them?
George. They are they are- O, shame! I can not say it!
George. I know what honor is, and I will not permit―
George. Shall I let you dishonor me? O, I have no longer a father! The name he gave me, here I give him back. I am but an orphan, without a home, without means; but still -- still, sir, I have a conscience left, and what that dictates I will obey to the death! Farewell!
M. de F. What would you, unhappy boy? Is it not enough that I am humbled thus? that you see me blush and tremble before you before my son? What would you more? Go! I fear you not! (He produces a pistol.) I fear nothing! George. (Placing himself before him.) I, too, sir, am without fear; and to me life is hateful.
M. de F. What sayest thou? Be mine alone the-
George. (Rushing to his arms.) Yes, yes! You are my father still.
M. de F. O, anguish insupportable!
George. All may be repaired. Go where you will, your son will follow. This city we must quit it. This money-it must be restored - must be restored, I say. Happiness shall yet be ours. Do not hesitate, my father!
M. de F. Think you I have never anticipated a situation like this? But fate has driven me on.
George. What would you say?
M. de F. In our old house, beneath that humble roof where I suffered so much, my passion for play, that deadly passion which had devoured my substance, was not quite extinct. sought in secret to satisfy it; often, to find the opportunity, I' had to have recourse to men of the lowest grade, to vagabonds and ignoble gamblers. Yes, George, yes, the Count de Ferrières I, your father, played with such! They taught me terrible secrets. And yet I did not think to make use of them. But I returned one day to Paris, and there tried my fortune. It proved favorable. Considerable sums successively came to reänimate my hopes. I still was guiltless. But no, no! my heart was no longer so. The greed of gold had filled it wholly. Ambition, vanity, the need of luxury, all contributed to my infatua
tion. One day-hear me one day I lost. Your mother had just come to occupy this hotel which I had prepared for her; already the story, adroitly spread, had given our neighbors the idea that I was rich. Well, I lost. Must I, then, always be the fool of fortune? I had felt the pangs of poverty; I had seen her suffer whom I loved; I had seen two children, thy brothers, pushed by misery into the tomb; friends, society, rank, all had then disappeared. And must there now be a repetition of all these woes? No, no! cried I; it must not be. It is too much. I can no longer be a loser; and a loser I was no longer! George. Ah! the fatal, fatal step! But, come! We must retrace it. You will make restitution of all you have won unfairly; you will do it, my father?
M. de F. Ay, call me father, and do with me what you will. George. It is bravely said. Come on! Know'st thou where I shall guide thee? Back, back to poverty and honor, my father!
M. de F. Lead on!
VII. SIR EDWARD MORTIMER AND WILFORD.
Enter first SIR E., Left; then WILFORD, Right.
Sir Edward. Wilford, is no one in the picture-gallery? Wilford. No- not a soul, sir—not a human soul; None within hearing, if I were to bawl...
Ever so loud.
Sir E. Wilford, approach me. What am I to say
Despise me for it?
Wil. I-O, sir.
Sir E. You must;
For I am singled from the herd of men,
A vile, heart-broken wretch!
Wil. Indeed, indeed, sir,
You deeply wrong yourself. Your equal's love,
The poor man's prayer, the orphan's tear of gratitude,
I am most bound to bless you!
Sir E. Mark me, Wilford.
I know the value of the orphan's tear,
The poor man's prayer, respect from the respected;
I feel to merit these, and to obtain them,
SIR EDWARD MORTIMER AND WILFORD. 205
Is to taste here below that thrilling cordial,
To pour on blessed souls that enter heaven.
I have resolved it: fearful struggles tear me;
Sir E. You must swear.
Wil. Swear, sir! Will nothing but an oath, then
Wil. (After a pause.) I swear, by all the ties that bind a man,
Sir E. Remember, you have sought this secret,
Wil. Dearest sir,
Collect yourself; this shakes you horribly.
Sir E. There it is. Her uncle
Sir E. Him-she knows it not,
none know it:
You are the first ordained to hear me say,
I am his murderer!
Wil. O, heaven!
Sir E. His assassin !
Wil. What! You that- -mur
Sir E. Honor
the murder. I am choked! thou blood-stained god! at whose red altar
Sit war and homicide, O! to what madness
Will insult drive thy votaries! Heaven bear witness!