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Hast. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve
you. Miss Nev. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to rely.
Hast. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly obey you.
A Room in HARDCASTLE's House.
Enter Sir CHARLES Marlow and Miss HARD
Sir Char. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter.
Miss Hard. I am proud of your approbation, and to show I merit it, if you will conceal yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
Sir Char. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment.
[Exit Sir CHARLES. Enter Marlow. Mar. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the separation.
Miss Hard. [In her own natural Manner.] I believe these sufferings cannot be very great, sir, which you can so easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by showing the little valuc of what you now think proper to regret.
Mar. [Aside.] This girl every moment improves upon me.
It must not be, madam, I have already
trified too long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion; and nothing can restore me to myself, but this painful effort of resolution.
Miss Hard, Then go, sir. I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fix'd on fortune. Enter. HARDCASTLE and Sir CHARLES Marlow,
behind. Mar. By Heavens, madam, fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see that without emotion? But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger expression, What at first seem'd rustic plainness, now appears refin'd simplicity. What seem'd forward assurance, now strikes me as the result of courageous innocence and conscious virtue. - I am now determined to stay, madam, and I have too good an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt his approbation. Miss Hard. No, Mr. Marlow; I will not, cannot
Do you think I could suffer a connexion, in which there is the smallest room for repentance? Do you think I would take the mean advantage of a transient passion, to load you with confusion? Do you think I could ever relish that happiness, which was acquired by lessening yours? Do you
think I could ever catch at the confident addresses of a secure admirer?
Mar. [Kneeling.] Does this look like security? Does this look like confidence ? No, madam, every
moment that shows me your merit, only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion.
Here let me continue
Sir Char. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting conversation?
Hard. Your cold contempt; your formal interview? What have
say now? Mar. That I'm all amazement? What can it mean? Hard. It means that
unsay things at pleasure. That you can address a lady in private, and deny it in public; that you have one story for us, and another for my daughter.
Mar. Daughter!--this lady your daughter !
Hard. Yes, sir, my only daughter. My Kate, whose else should she he?
Mar. Oh, the devil!
Miss Hard. 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! ha!
Mar. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death.
Miss Hard. 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 Mrs. Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning; ha! ha! ha!
Mar. O, curse on my noisy head! I never attempted to be impudent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone. Hard. By the hand of my body, but you
shall not. I see it was all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, sir, I tell you. I know she'll for
give you. Won't you forgive him, Katę? We'll all forgive you. Take courage, man.
(They retire, she tormenting him to the back
Enter Mrs. HARDCASTLE and TONY.
Let them go, I care not.
Hard. Who gone?
Mrs. Hard. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr. Hastings, from town. He who came down with our modest visitor here.
Sir Char. Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a fellow as lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice.
Enter Hastings and Miss NEVILLE. Mrs. Hard. [Aside.] What, returned so soon? I begin not to like it.
Hast. (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.
Hard. I'm glad they are 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
father. Hard. 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.
Tony. Of age! Am I of age, father?
Tony. 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 Constantia Neville may marry whom she pleases, and Tony Lumpkin is his own man again. Sir Char. O brave 'Squire! Hast. My worthy friend ! Mrs. Hard. My undutiful offspring!
Mar. 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 you would return me the favour.
Hast. [To Miss HARDCASTLE.] Come, madam, you are now driven to the very last scene of all your contrivances. I know you like him, I'm sure he loves
you, and you must and shall have him. Hard. [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, boy, take her; and as you have been mistaken in the mistress, my wish is, ihat you may never be mistaken in the wife. [Exeunt.