Miller's House. MILLER meeting LOUISA and MRS. MILLER.
MILLER. Ay! ay! I told you how it would be!
LOUISA (hastening to him with anxiety). What, father? What?
MILLER (running up and down the room). My cloak, there. Quick, quick! I must be beforehand with him. My cloak, I say! Yes, yes! this was just what I expected!
LOUISA. For God's sake, father! tell me?
MRS. MILLER. What is the matter, Miller? What alarms you?
MILLER (throwing down his wig). Let that go to the friezer. What is the matter, indeed? And my beard, too, is nearly half an inch long. What's the matter? What do you think, you old carrion. The devil has broke loose, and you may look out for squalls.
MRS. MILLER. There, now, that's just the way! When anything goes wrong it is always my fault.
MILLER. Your fault? Yes, you brimstone fagot! and whose else should it be? This very morning when you were holding forth about that confounded major, did I not say then what would be the consequence? That knave, Worm, has blabbed.
MRS. MILLER. Gracious heavens! But how do you know?
MILLER. How do I know? Look yonder! a messenger of the minister is already at the door inquiring for the fiddler.
LOUISA (turning pale, and sitting down). Oh! God! I am in agony!
MILLER. And you, too, with that languishing air? (laughs bitterly). But, right! Right! There is an old saying that where the devil keeps a breeding-cage he is sure to hatch a handsome daughter.
MRS. MILLER. But how do you know that Louisa is in question? You may have been recommended to the duke; he may want you in his orchestra.
MILLER (jumping up, and seizing his fiddlestick). May the sulphurous rain of hell consume thee! Orchestra, indeed! Ay, where you, you old procuress, shall howl the treble whilst my smarting back groans the base (Throwing himself upon a chair.) Oh! God in heaven!
LOUISA (sinks on the sofa, pale as death). Father! Mother! Oh! my heart sinks within me.
MILLER (starting up with anger). But let me only lay hands on that infernal quill-driver! I'll make him skip—be it in this world or the next; if I don't pound him to a jelly, body and soul; if I don't write all the Ten Commandments, the seven Penitential Psalms, the five books of Moses, and the whole of the Prophets upon his rascally hide so distinctly that the blue hieroglyphics shall be legible at the day of judgment—if I don't, may I——
MRS. MILLER. Yes, yes, curse and swear your hardest! That's the way to frighten the devil! Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, gracious heavens! What shall we do? Who can advise us? Speak, Miller, speak; this silence distracts me! (She runs screaming up and down the room.)
MILLER. I will instantly to the minister! I will open my mouth boldly, and tell him all from beginning to end. You knew it before me, and ought to have given me a hint of what was going on! The girl might yet have been advised. It might still have been time to save her! But, no! There was something for your meddling and making, and you must needs add fuel to the fire. Now you have made your bed you may lie on it. As you have brewed so you may drink; I shall take my daughter under my arm and be off with her over the borders.