Shows P

minute, Rodney is looking deeply into Melinda's eyes and swearing that the necklace shall be recovered in time for it to be handed to her the following week on the occasion of her twenty-first birthday. The two discover a strange feeling of recognition, of destiny in their meeting and Rodney finds himself in a dilemma. If he does• not hold to his wager and seduce the girl with whom he is falling in love, he must forfeit five thousand guineas which he does not have. There is only one way in which he can get the money to pay the sworn forfeit—he must don the disguise of Frenchy once more, in spite of the presence of the Bow Street runners in the area, and rob the first available coach. It is a week later, the night before Melinda's birthday. In the hall of Huntersmoon the tenor Mazelli entertains and the assembled company join in the quintet Melinda describes in song the day of her presentation to the Prince Regent and Ernestine takes an altogether more lusty approach in singing of 'Highwayman Love'. Tonight Rodney will ride in search of gold and Lydia, although she knows that she has lost forever her place in his heart, will keep his secret. There is no such loyalty to be found in Sir Amya.s who covets both Lydia and whatever reward he can win from the sour William for his aid in unmasking Rodney. The two would-be thief catchers sit up together through the night to await their host's return, hoping to catch him red-handed with the proceeds of his robbery, but Rodney has drugged their wine and soon they are asleep. Meanwhile, Rodney:visits Melinda in her room. He returns the necklace and tells her that he must ride just once more as a highwayman to settle a wager. She understands the nature of the wager and why he must go, but she also knows that she loves him as he loves her and that her heart will not rest still until he returns from his last ride. The following night, at Melinda's party, the guests are entertained by the ballet 'The Triumphs of Spring' until the news comes that the mail coach has been robbed and a Bow Street runner mortally wounded. An officer of the law arrives to search the house: the assailant, too, was wounded and the trail of his blood has led his pursuers here to Huntersmoon. As they begin their search, Rodney appears. He is clearly hurt and he cannot long dissemble before William's denunciation. Melinda tries to defend the man she loves. He cannot have been on the road last night for he was with her...all the night. But Rodney will not allow her to save his name at the price of her own and, telling Sir Amyas that he is proud to lose their wager, he bids Melinda look for him in another life where their love may have a better fortune, and dies in her arms. ACT 2 Rodney's death left Huntersmoon to fall into William's hands. It gave him no joy but, in 1843, the house is still in the hands of Lady Charlotte's branch of the family and the old lady lives there with the deceased William's son, Valentine. The atmosphere of the house is now vastly changed, for Valentine is a musician and choral master and, at the opening of the second act, his ladies' choir can be heard practising his composition 'Autumn Lullaby' in the distance. A new postulant for a place in the choir is the lovely Veronica Lonsdale, but Charlotte is quick to dismiss the `Lonsdale', for Veronica is the image of her mother, Lydia Lyddington, and clearly the love child of Graham Rodney. Veronica has just returned from school in Paris where amongst her schoolmates was another member of the Rodney family, Melanie, Graham's niece. Introduced to Valentine, Veronica is soon winning his heart to the strains of his own song 'A Woman's Heart' and in the parlour duet 'We'll Gather Lilacs' performed with the now stout and respectable Ernestine. Before long, the two young people are wed. Three years later, into the childless but happy hall of Huntersmoon, Veronica joyfully welcomes her dear schoolfiiend, Melanie. Melanie is a total contrast to the lovely, gentle. Veronica. She is ebullient and risque and has clearly taken in more of Paris the city than of its finishing school during her stay. In the hall after dinner, she entertains the girls with a naughty song and dance about love. Respectability returns when Ernestine and the Vicar join in a parlour duet about The Elopement' but, when Melanie reprises her Parisian song and its shocking little dance before the adults, she is considered out of line, even though the very subject is very much the same as the more staid duet given by the older pair. Veronica calms the situation until Valentine enters, and Melanie is introduced to her friend's husband. By the time three weeks have passed, Melanie has her heart set on and her hooks loosely into Valentine. Aunt Charlotte is sharply aware of the situation and she warns the girl grimly that she will make sure the moment