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HASTINGS, folus. So I find this fellow's civilities begin to grow troublesome. But who can be angry at those afliduities which are meant to please him? Ha! what do I fee! Mifs Neville, by all that's happy!
Enter Mifs Neville.
Miss NEVILLE. My dear Hastings ! To what unexpected good fortune ? to what accident, am I to ascribe this happy meeting?
HASTINGS. Rather let me ask the fame question, as I could never have hoped to meet my dearest Constance at
Miss NEVILLE. An inn! sure you mistake! my aunt, my guardian, lives here. What could induce you to think this house an inn?
HASTINGS. My friend, Mr. Marlow, with whom I came down, and I, have been sent here as to an inn, I affure you.
A young fellow whom we accidentally met at a house hard by directed us hither.
Mifs NEVILLE. Certainly it muft be one of my hopeful cousin's tricks, of whom you have heard me talk so often, ha! ha! ha!
Hastings. He whom your aunt intends for you? he of whom I have such just apprehenfions ?
Miss Neville. You have nothing to fear from him, I affare you. You'd adore him if you knew how heartily he despises me. My aunt knows it too, and has undertaken to court me for him, and actually begins to think the has made a conqueft.
HASTINGS. Thou dear diffembler!
You must know, my Constance, I have juft 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 their journey, but they'll foon be refreshed ; and then, if my dearest girl will truft in her faithful Hastings, we shall foon be landed in France, where even among slaves the laws off marriage are refpected.
Miss NEVILLE. 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 confifts in jewels. I have been for some time perfuading 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.
HASTINGS, 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 NEVILLE. But how shall we keep him in the deception? Miss Hardcastle is just returned from walking; what if we still continue to deceive him? —This, this way
MARLOW. The affiduities of these good people teize 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 through all the rest of the family.-- What have we got here!
HASTINGS. My dear Charles ! Let me congratulate you!The most fortunate accident ! -Who do you think is just alighted ?
MARLow. Cannot guess.
HASTINGS. Our miftreffes, boy, Mifs 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 inftant. Wasn't it lucky? eh !
MARLOW. (Afide) I have been mortified enough of all conscience, and here comes something to complete my embarrassment.
HASTINGS. Well! but was'nt it the most fortunate thing in the world ?
Marlow. Oh! yes. Very fortunate-a moft joyful encounter_But our dresses, George, you know are in disorder-What if we should poftpone the happiness 'till to-morrow - To-morrow at her own houseIt will be every bit as convenient-and rather more respectful-To-morrow let it be.
[Offering to go. Miss NEVILLE. By no means, Sir. Your ceremony will displease her. The disorder of your dress will shew the ardour of your impatience. Besides, the knows you are in the house, and will permit you to see her.
MARLOW. O! the devil! how shall I support it! hem! hem ! Hastings, you must not go. You are to affist me, you know. I shall be confoundedly ridiculous. Yet, hang it! I'll take courage. Hem!
HASTINGS. Pshaw, man! it's but the first plunge, and all's She's but a woman, you know.
Marlow. And of all women, she that I dread moft to encounter!
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE, as returned from
walking, a bonnet, &c.
Hastings, 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 HARDCASTLE. (Afde) Now, for meeting my modeft gentleman with a demure face, and quite in his own manner. (After a pause, in which he appears very uneasy and disconcerted.) I'm glad of your fafe arrival, SirI'm told you had some accidents by the way.
MARLOW. Only a few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, madam, a good many accidents, but should be forry ---madam-or rather glad of any accidents-that are so agreeably concluded. Hem !