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Robert Browning (1812–1889). A Blot in the ’Scutcheon.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Act IV Scene IV

Bring up this table, and get under it.


One essential is to hide you well.

Why under there?

Oh, dear! Do as I say;

I know what I’m about, as you shall see.

Get under, now, I tell you; and once there

Be careful no one either sees or hears you.

I’m going a long way to humour you,

I must say; but I’ll see you through your scheme.

And then you’ll have, I think, no more to say.

(To her husband, who is now under the table.)
But mind, I’m going to meddle with strange matters;

Prepare yourself to be in no wise shocked.

Whatever I may say must pass, because

’Tis only to convince you, as I promised.

By wheedling speeches, since I’m forced to do it,

I’ll make this hypocrite put off his mask,

Flatter the longings of his shameless passion,

And give free play to all his impudence.

But, since ’tis for your sake, to prove to you

His guilt, that I shall feign to share his love,

I can leave off as soon as you’re convinced,

And things shall go no farther than you choose.

So, when you think they’ve gone quite far enough,

It is for you to stop his mad pursuit,

To spare your wife, and not expose me farther

Than you shall need, yourself, to undeceive you.

It is your own affair, and you must end it

When… Here he comes. Keep still, don’t show yourself.