A magnificent Saloon in LADY MILFORD'S House.
Enter LADY MILFORD and SOPHIA.
LADY MILFORD. You have seen her then? Will she come?
SOPHIA. Yes, in a moment! She was in dishabille, and only requested time to change her dress.
LADY MILFORD. Speak not of her. Silence! I tremble like a criminal at the prospect of beholding that fortunate woman whose heart sympathizes thus cruelly with my own. And how did she receive my invitation?
SOPHIA. She seemed surprised, became thoughtful, fixed her eyes on me steadfastly, and for a while remained silent. I was already prepared for her excuses, when she returned me this answer with a look that quite astonished me; "Tell your mistress that she commands what I myself intended to request to-morrow."
LADY MILFORD. Leave me, Sophia! Pity me! I must blush if she is but an ordinary woman—despair if she is more!
SOPHIA. But, my lady! it is not in this spirit that a rival should be received! Remember who you are! Summon to your aid your birth, your rank, your power! A prouder soul should heighten the gorgeous splendor of your appearance.
LADY MILFORD (in a fit of absence). What is the simpleton babbling about?
SOPHIA (maliciously). Or, is it, perhaps, by chance that to-day, in particular, you are adorned with your most costly brilliants? by chance that you are to-day arrayed in your most sumptuous robes? that your antechamber is crowded with guards and pages; and that the tradesman's daughter is to be received in the most stately apartment of the palace?
LADY MILFORD (angry and nettled). This is outrageous! Insupportable! Oh that woman should have such argus-eyes for woman's weakness! How low, how irretrievably low must I have fallen when such a creature has power to fathom me!
LADY MILFORD, SOPHIA, a SERVANT.
SERVANT (entering). Ma'mselle Miller waits.
LADY MILFORD (to SOPHIA). Hence with you! Leave the room instantly! (Imperiously, as the latter hesitates.) Must I repeat my orders? (SOPHIA retires—LADY MILFORD takes a few turns hastily.) So; 'tis well that I have been excited! I am in the fitter mood for this meeting. (To the SERVANT.) Let her approach.
[Exit SERVANT. LADY MILFORD throws herself upon the sofa,
and assumes a negligent but studied attitude.