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tily he despises me. My aunt knows it too, and has undertaken to court me for him, and actually begins to think she has made a conquest.
Hast. You must know, my Constance, I have just seized this happy opportunity of my friend's visit here to get admittance into the family. The horses that carried us down are now fatigued with the journey, but they'll soon be refreshed ; and then, if my dearest girl will trust in her faithful Hastings we shall soon be out of their power.
Miss Nev. I have often told you, that, though ready to obey you, I yet should leave my little fortune behind with reluctance. The greatest part of it was left me. by my uncle, the India Director, and chiefly consists in jewels. I have been for some time persuading my aunt to let me wear them. I fancy I'm very near succeeding. The instant they are put into my possession you shall find me ready to make them and myself, yours.
Hast. Perish the baubles! Your person is all I desire. In the mean time, my friend Marlow must not be let into his mistake. I know the strange reserve of his temper is such, that if abruptly informed of it, he would instantly quit the house before our plan was ripe for execution.
Miss Nev. But how shall we keep him in the decep. tion? Miss Hardcastle is just returned from walking; what if we persuade him she is come to this house as to an inn ? This way.
Enter MARLOW. Mar. The assiduities of these good people tease me beyond bearing. My host seems to think it ill manners, to leave me alone, and so he claps not only himself but his old-fashioned wife on my back. They talk of coming to sup with us too; and then, I suppose, we are to run the gauntlet thro' all the rest of the family -What have we got here!
Hast. My dear Charles ! Let me congratulate you
--The most fortunate accident !- Who do
think is just alighted ? Mar. Cannot guess.
Hast. Our mistresses, boy, Miss Hardcastle and Miss Neville. Give me leave to introduce Miss Constance Neville to your acquaintance. Happening to dine in the neighbourhood, they called on their return to take fresh horses here. Miss Hardcastle has just stept into the next room, and will be back in an instant. Wasn't it lucky, eh?
Mar, [Aside.] I have just been mortified enough of all conscience, and here comes something to complete my embarrasment.
Hast. Well, but wasn't it the most fortunate thing in the world?
Mar. O, yes, very fortunate-a most joyful encounter! -But our dresses,George, you know, are in disorder- -What if we should postpone the happiness till to-morrow ?--To-morrow at her own house---It will be every bit as convenient--And rather more respectful
-To-morrow let it be.
[Offering to go Miss Nev. By no means, sir. Your ceremony will displease her. The disorder of your dress will show the ardour of your impatience. Besides, she knows you are in the house, and will permit you to see her.
Mar. O, the devil! how shall I support it? Hem ! hem! Hastings, you must not go. You are to assist me, you know. I shall be confoundedly ridiculous.
Hast. Pshaw, man! it's but the first plunge, and all's over. She's but a woman, you
know. Mar. And of all women, she that I dread most to encounter ! Enter Miss HARDCASTLE as returning from walking,
a Bonnet, 8c. Hast. [Introducing them.] Miss Hardcastle, Mr. Marlow. "I'm proud of bringing two persons of such
merit together, that only want to know, to esteem, each other.
Miss Hard. (Aside.] Now for meeting my modest gentleman. After a Pause, in which he appears very uneasy and disconcerted.] I'm glad of your safe arrival, sir-I'm told
had some accidents by the way. Mar. Only a few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, madam, a good many accidents, but should be sorry -madam-or rather glad of
accidents-that are so agreeably concluded. Hem !
Hast. [TO MARLOW.] You never spoke better in your whole life. Keep it up, and I'll insure you the victory.
Miss Hard. I'm afraid you flatter, sir. You that have seen so much of the finest company can find little entertainment in an obscure corner of the country.
Mar. (Gathering Courage.] I have lived, indeed, in the world madam ; but I have kept very little company. I have been but an observer upon life, madam, while others were enjoying it.
Hast. [To Marlow.] Cicero never spoke better. Once
are confirm'd in assurance for
Mar. [To HASTINGS.] Hem ! Stand by me then, and when I'm down, throw in a word or two to set me up again.
Miss Hard. An observer, like you, upon life, were, I fear, disagreeably employed, since you must have had much more to censure than to approve.
Mar. Pardon me, madam, I was always willing to be amused. The folly of most people is rather an object of mirth than uneasiness.
Hast. (TO MARLOW.] Bravo, Bravo! never spoke so well in your whole life. Well, Miss Hardcastle, L see, that you and Mr. Marlow are going to be very good company, I believe our being here will but embarrass the interview.
Mar. Not in the least, Mr. Hastings. We like your company of all things. [To Hastings.] Zounds! George, sure you won't go ! How can you leave us ?
Hast. Our presence will but spoil conversation; so we'll retire to the next room. [To Marlow.) You don't consider, man, that we are to manage a little tete-a-tete of our own,
[Exeunt. Mar. What the devil shall I do? will you please to be seated, madam ? I say,
ma'am Miss Hard. Sir !
Mar. I am afraid, ma'am, I am not so happy as to make myself agreeable to the ladies
Miss Hard. The ladies, I should hope, have employed some part of your addresses.
Mar. (Relapsing into Timidity.] Pardon me, madam, I-I-I-as yet have studied--only-to-deserve them. Miss Hard. And that, some say,
worst way to obtain them.
Mar. Perhaps so, madam. But I love to converse only with the more grave and sensible part of the sex
-But I'm afraid I grow tiresome. Miss Hard. Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave conversation myself ; I could hear
Indeed I have often been surprised how a man of sentiment could ever admire those light airy pleasures, where nothing reaches the heart.
Mar, It's -a disease-of the mind, madam. In the variety of tastes there must be some who, wanting a relish--for-mum-a-um.
Miss Hard. I understand you, sir. There must be some who wanting a relish for refined pleasures, pretend to despise what they are incapable of tasting,
Mar. My meaning, madam ; but infinitely better expressed. And I can't help observing-----
Miss Hard. [Aside.] Who could ever suppose this gentleman impudent upon some ocasions ! [TO MARLow.) You were going to observe, sir
it for ever.
Mar. I was observing, madam— I protest, madam, I forget what I was going to observe.
Miss Hard. [Aside.] I vow and so do I. [To Mar. You were observing, sir, that in this age of hypocrisy-something about hypocrisy, sir.
Mar. Yes, madam. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who upon strict inquiry do not-a-a-a
Miss Hard. I understand you perfectly, sir.
Mar. [Aside.] Egad ! and that's more than I do my self.
Miss Hard. You mean, that in this hypocritical age there are few that do not condemn in public what they practise in private, and think they pay every debt to virtue when they praise it.
Mar. True, madam ; those who have most virtue in their mouths, have least of it in their bosoms. But I'm sure I tire you madam.
Miss Hurd. Not in the least, sir; there's something so agreeable and spirited in your manner, such life and force-Pray, sir, go on.
Mar. Yes, madam, I was saying—But I see Miss Neville expecting usin the next room. I would not intrude for the world.
Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I never was more agreeably entertained in all my life.
Mar. But she beckons us to join her. Madam, shall I do myself the honour to attend you.
Miss Hard. Well then, I'll follow. [Exit MARLow.] -Ha ! ha! ha! Was there ever such a sober sentimental interview? I'm certain he scarce look'd in my face the whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his unaccountable bashfulness, is pretty well too. He has good sense, but then so buried in his fears, that it fatigues one more than ignorance. If I could teach him a little confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a piece of service. But who is that somebody?—that, faith, is a question !
gan scarce answer.