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MARLOW.

Daughter! This lady your daughter?

HARDCASTLE.

Yes, sir, my only daughter: my Kate; whose else should she be?

Oh, the devil!

MARLOW.

MISS HARDCASTLE.

Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you were pleased to take me for; [courtesying] she that you addressed as the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward, agreeable Rattle of the ladies' club. ha! ha!

MARLOW.

Ha!

Zounds, there's no bearing this; 's worse than death!

MISS HARDCASTLE.

In which of your characters, sir, will you give us leave to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs Mantrap, and old Miss Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning?-Ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW.

O, curse on my noisy head! I never attempted to be impudent yet that I was not taken down! gone.

HARDCASTLE.

I must be

I see it was You shall not,

By the hand of my body, but you shall not. all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. sir, I tell you. I know she'll forgive you. We'll all forgive you. Take courage, [They retire, she tormenting him to the back scene.

forgive him, Kate?

man.

Won't you

3

Enter MRS HARDCASTLE, TONY.

MRS HARDCASTLE.

So, so, they're gone off. Let them go, I care not.

Who gone?

HARDCASTLE.

MRS HARDCASTLE.

My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr Hastings, from town. He who came down with our modest visitor here.

SIR CHARLES.

Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a fellow as lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice.

HARDCASTLE.

Then, by the hand of my body, I'm proud of the con

nexion.

MRS HARDCASTLE.

Well, if he has taken away the lady, he has not taken her fortune; that remains in this family to console us for her loss.

HARDCASTLE.

Sure, Dorothy, you would not be so mercenary?

MRS HARDCASTLE.

Ay, that's my affair, not yours.

HARDCASTLE.

But you know if your son, when of age, refuses to marry his cousin, her whole fortune is then at her own disposal.

MRS HARDCASTLE.

Ay, but he's not of age, and she has not thought proper to wait for his refusal.

Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.

MRS HARDCASTLE [aside].

What, returned so soon! I begin not to like it.

HASTINGS [to HARDCASTLE].

For my late attempt to fly off with your niece, let my present confusion be my punishment. We are now come back, to appeal from your justice to your humanity. By her father's consent I first paid her my addresses, and our passions were first founded in duty.

MISS NEVILLE.

Since his death, I have been obliged to stoop to dissimulation to avoid oppression. In an hour of levity, I was ready even to give up my fortune to secure my choice: but I'm now recovered from the delusion, and hope from your tenderness what is denied me from a nearer connexion.

MRS HARDCASTLE.

Pshaw, pshaw; this is all but the whining end of a modern novel.

HARDCASTLE.

Be it what it will, I'm glad they're come back to reclaim their due. Come hither, Tony, boy. Do you refuse this lady's hand whom I now offer you.

TONY.

What signifies my refusing? You know I can't refuse her till I'm of age, father.

HARDCASTLE.

While I thought concealing your age, boy, was likely to conduce to your improvement, I concurred with your mother's desire to keep it secret. But since I find she

turns it to a wrong use, I must now declare you have been of age these three months.

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Then you'll see the first use I'll make of my liberty. [ Taking MISS NEVILLE'S hand. ] Witness all men by these presents, that I, Anthony Lumpkin, esquire, of BLANK place, refuse you, Constantia Neville, spinster, of no place at all, for my true and lawful wife. So Constance Neville may marry whom she pleases, and Tony Lumpkin is his own man again.

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Joy, my dear George, I give you joy sincerely. And could I prevail upon my little tyrant here to be less arbitrary, I should be the happiest man alive, if would return me the favour.

you

HASTINGS [to MISS HARDCASTLE ]. Come, madam, you are now driven to the very last scene of all your contrivances. I know I know you like him, I'm sure

he loves you, and you must and shall have him.

HARDCASTLE [joining their hands ].

And I say so too. And, Mr Marlow, if she makes as

good a wife as she has a daughter, I don't believe you'll

ever repent your bargain. So now to supper. To-morrow we shall gather all the poor of the parish about us, and the mistakes of the night shall be crowned with a merry morning: so, boy, take her; and as you have been mistaken in the mistress, my wish is, that you may never be mistaken in the wife.

[Exeunt omnes.

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