Scene XI.




[To them] TATTLE.

TATTLE
Valentine, good morrow; Scandal, I am yours: --that is, when you speak well of me.

SCANDAL
That is, when I am yours; for while I am my own, or anybody's else, that will never happen.

TATTLE
How inhuman!

VALENTINE
Why Tattle, you need not be much concerned at anything that he says: for to converse with Scandal, is to play at losing loadum; you must lose a good name to him before you can win it for yourself.

TATTLE
But how barbarous that is, and how unfortunate for him, that the world shall think the better of any person for his calumniation! I thank heaven, it has always been a part of my character to handle the reputations of others very tenderly indeed.

SCANDAL
Ay, such rotten reputations as you have to deal with are to be handled tenderly indeed.

TATTLE
Nay, but why rotten? Why should you say rotten, when you know not the persons of whom you speak? How cruel that is!

SCANDAL
Not know 'em? Why, thou never had'st to do with anybody that did not stink to all the town.

TATTLE
Ha, ha, ha; nay, now you make a jest of it indeed. For there is nothing more known than that nobody knows anything of that nature of me. As I hope to be saved, Valentine, I never exposed a woman, since I knew what woman was.

VALENTINE
And yet you have conversed with several.

TATTLE
To be free with you, I have. I don't care if I own that. Nay more (I'm going to say a bold word now) I never could meddle with a woman that had to do with anybody else.

SCANDAL
How?

VALENTINE
Nay faith, I'm apt to believe him. Except her husband, Tattle.

TATTLE
Oh, that -

SCANDAL
What think you of that noble commoner, Mrs Drab?

TATTLE
Pooh, I know Madam Drab has made her brags in three or four places, that I said this and that, and writ to her, and did I know not what--but, upon my reputation, she did me wrong--well, well, that was malice--but I know the bottom of it. She was bribed to that by one we all know--a man too. Only to bring me into disgrace with a certain woman of quality -

SCANDAL
Whom we all know.

TATTLE
No matter for that. Yes, yes, everybody knows. No doubt on't, everybody knows my secrets. But I soon satisfied the lady of my innocence; for I told her: Madam, says I, there are some persons who make it their business to tell stories, and say this and that of one and t'other, and everything in the world; and, says I, if your grace -

SCANDAL
Grace!

TATTLE
O Lord, what have I said? My unlucky tongue!

VALENTINE
Ha, ha, ha.

SCANDAL
Why, Tattle, thou hast more impudence than one can in reason expect: I shall have an esteem for thee, well, and, ha, ha, ha, well, go on, and what did you say to her grace?

VALENTINE
I confess this is something extraordinary.

TATTLE
Not a word, as I hope to be saved; an errant lapsus linguae. Come, let's talk of something else.

VALENTINE
Well, but how did you acquit yourself?

TATTLE
Pooh, pooh, nothing at all; I only rallied with you--a woman of ordinary rank was a little jealous of me, and I told her something or other, faith I know not what.--Come, let's talk of something else. [Hums a song.]

SCANDAL
Hang him, let him alone, he has a mind we should enquire.

TATTLE
Valentine, I supped last night with your mistress, and her uncle, old Foresight: I think your father lies at Foresight's.

VALENTINE
Yes.

TATTLE
Upon my soul, Angelica's a fine woman. And so is Mrs Foresight, and her sister, Mrs Frail.

SCANDAL
Yes, Mrs Frail is a very fine woman, we all know her.

TATTLE
Oh, that is not fair.

SCANDAL
What?

TATTLE
To tell.

SCANDAL
To tell what? Why, what do you know of Mrs Frail?

TATTLE
Who, I? Upon honour I don't know whether she be man or woman, but by the smoothness of her chin and roundness of her hips.

SCANDAL
No?

TATTLE
No.

SCANDAL
She says otherwise.

TATTLE
Impossible!

SCANDAL
Yes, faith. Ask Valentine else.

TATTLE
Why then, as I hope to be saved, I believe a woman only obliges a man to secrecy that she may have the pleasure of telling herself.

SCANDAL
No doubt on't. Well, but has she done you wrong, or no? You have had her? Ha?

TATTLE
Though I have more honour than to tell first, I have more manners than to contradict what a lady has declared.

SCANDAL
Well, you own it?

TATTLE
I am strangely surprised! Yes, yes, I can't deny't if she taxes me with it.

SCANDAL
She'll be here by and by, she sees Valentine every morning.

TATTLE
How?

VALENTINE
She does me the favour, I mean, of a visit sometimes. I did not think she had granted more to anybody.

SCANDAL
Nor I, faith. But Tattle does not use to bely a lady; it is contrary to his character. How one may be deceived in a woman, Valentine?

TATTLE
Nay, what do you mean, gentlemen?

SCANDAL
I'm resolved I'll ask her.

TATTLE
O barbarous! Why did you not tell me?

SCANDAL
No; you told us.

TATTLE
And bid me ask Valentine?

VALENTINE
What did I say? I hope you won't bring me to confess an answer when you never asked me the question?

TATTLE
But, gentlemen, this is the most inhuman proceeding -

VALENTINE
Nay, if you have known Scandal thus long, and cannot avoid such a palpable decoy as this was, the ladies have a fine time whose reputations are in your keeping.



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