FERDINAND, the PRESIDENT.
FERDINAND (starting back). Ha! my father.
PRESIDENT. I am glad to meet with you, Ferdinand! I come to bring you some pleasant news—something that will certainly surprise you, my dear son. Shall we be seated?
FERDINAND (after gazing upon him for some time with a vacant stare). My father! (Going to him with emotion, and grasping his hand.) My father! (Kissing it, and falling at his feet.) Oh, father!
PRESIDENT. What is the matter? Rise, my son. Your hand burns and trembles!
FERDINAND (wildly). Forgive my ingratitude, father! I am a lost man! I have misinterpreted your kindness! Your meaning was so truly—truly paternal! Oh! you had a prophetic soul! Now it is too late! Pardon! pardon! Your blessing, my dear father!
PRESIDENT (feigning astonishment). Arise, my son! Recollect that your words to me are riddles!
FERDINAND. This Louisa, dear father! Oh! You understand mankind! Your anger was so just, so noble, so truly the zeal of a father! had not its very earnestness led you to mistake the way. This Louisa!
PRESIDENT. Spare me, dear boy! Curses on my severity! come to entreat your forgiveness——
FERDINAND. Forgiveness from me! Curse me rather. Your disapproval was wisdom! Your severity was heavenly mercy! This Louisa, father——
PRESIDENT. Is a noble, a lovely girl! I recall my too rash suspicions! She has won my entire esteem!
FERDINAND (starting up). What? You, too? Father, even you? And is she not, father, the very personification of innocence? And is it not so natural to love this maiden?
PRESIDENT. Say, rather, 'twere a crime not to love her.
FERDINAND. Incredible! wonderful! And you, too, who can so thoroughly see through the heart! And you, who saw her faults with the eyes of hatred! Oh, unexampled hypocrisy! This Louisa, father!
PRESIDENT. Is worthy to be my daughter! Her virtues supply the want of ancestry, her beauty the want of fortune. My prudential maxims yield to the force of your attachment. Louisa shall be yours!
FERDINAND. Naught but this wanting! Father, farewell! (Rushes out of the apartment.)
PRESIDENT (following him). Stay, my son, stay! Whither do you fly?