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Luci. No, indeed, ma’am, not a glimpse of him.
Mrs. Mal. You are sure, Lucy, that you never men. tioned
Lucy. Oh, gemini ! I'd sooner cut my tongue out.
Mrs. Mal. So, come to me presently, and I'll give you another letter to Sir Lucius ; but mind, Lucy, if ever you betray what you are entrusted with (unless it be other people's secrets to me), you forfeit my malevolence for ever, and your being a simpleton shall be no excuse for your locality. (Exit.
Lucy. Ha ! ha! ha !So, my dear Simplicity, let me give you a little respite.—[Altering her manner.] Let girls in my station be as fond as they please of appearing expert, and knowing in their trusts ; commend me to a mask of silliness, and a pair of sharp eyes for my own interest under it !-Let me see to what account have I turned my simplicity lately.[Looks at a paper.] For abetting Miss Lydia Languish in a design of running away with an ensign!-in money, sundry times, twelve pound twelve; gowns, five; hats, ruffles, caps, &c., &c., numberless !-- From the said ensign, within this last month, six guineas and a half.- About a quarter's pay !--Item, from Mrs. Malaprop, for betraying the young people to her—when I found matters were likely to be discovered-two guineas, and a black paduasoy.-Item, from Mr. Acres, for carrying divers letters which I never delivered—two guineas, and a pair of buckles.Item, from Sir Lucius OʻTrigger, three crowns, two gold pocketpieces, and a silver snuff-box ! –Well done, Simplicity !—Yet I was forced to make my Hibernian believe that he was corresponding, not with the aunt, but with the niece ; for though not over rich, I found he had too much pride and delicacy to sacrifice the feelings of a gentleman to the necessities of his fortune.
ACT I 1.
CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE and FAG. Fag. Sir, while I was there, Sir Anthony came in: I told him you had sent me to inquire after his health, and to know if he was at leisure to see you.
Abs. And what did he say, on hearing I was at Bath?
Faz. Sir, in my life I never saw an elderly gentleman more astonished! He started back two or three paces, rapped out
a dozen interjectural oaths, and asked what the devil had brought you here.
Abs. Well, sir, and what did you say?
Fag. Oh, I lied, sir--I forget the precise lie ; but you may depend on't, he got no truth from me. Yet, with submission, for fear of blunders in future, I should be glad to fix what has brought us to Bath, in order that we may lie a little consistently Sir Anthony's servants were curious, sir, very curious indeed.
Abs. You have said nothing to them?
Fag. Oh, not a word, sir,--not a word ! Mr. Thomas, indeed, the coachman (whom I take to be the discreetest of whips)
Abs. 'Sdeath !-you rascal ! you have not trusted him !
Fag. Oh, no, sir -no-no-not a syllable, upon my veracity! -He was, indeed, a little inquisitive; but I was sly, sirdevilish sly! My master (said I), honest Thomas, (you know, sir, one says honest to one's inferiors,) is come to Bath to recruit.— Yes, sir, I said to recruit-and whether for men, money, or constitution, you know, sir, is nothing to him, nor any one else.
Abs. Well, recruit will do- let it be so.
Fag. Oh, sir, recruit will do surprisingly-indeed, to give the thing an air, I told Thomas that your honour had already enlisted five disbanded chairmen, seven minority waiters, and thirteen billiard-markers.
Abs. You blockhead, never say more than is necessary.
Fag. I beg pardon, sir-I beg pardon-but, with submission, a lie is nothing unless one supports it. Sir, whenever I draw on my invention for a good current lie, I always forge indorsements as well as the bill.
Abs. Well, take care you don't hurt your credit by offering too much security.-- Is Mr. Faulkland returned ?
Fag. He is above, sir, changing his dress.
Abs. Can you tell whether he has been informed of Sir Anthony and Miss Melville's arrival ?
Fag. I fancy not, sir; he has seen no one since he came in but his gentleman, who was with him at Bristol.— I think, sir, I hear Mr. Faulkland coming down
Abs. Go tell him I am here.
Fag. Yes, sir.-[Going.] I beg pardon, sir, but should Sir Anthony call, you will do me the favour to remember that we are recruiting, if you please.
Abs. Well, well.
Fag. And, in tenderness to my character, if your honour could bring in the chairmen and waiters, I should esteem it as an obligation ; for though I never scruple a lie to serve my master, yet it hurts one's conscience to be found out.
[Exit. Abs. Now for my whimsical friend-if he does not know that his mistress is here, I'll tease him a little before I tell him
Enter FAULKLAND. Faulkland, you're welcome to Bath again ; you are punctual in your return.
Faulk. Yes; I had nothing to detain me when I had finished the business I went on. Well, what news since I left you? how stand matters between you and Lydia ?
Abs. Faith, much as they were ; I have not seen her since our quarrel; however, I expect to be recalled every
hour. Faulk. Why don't you persuade her to go off with you at once ?
Abs. What, and lose two-thirds of her fortune? You forget that, my friend.-No, no, I could have brought her to that long ago.
Faulk. Nay, then, you trifle too long—if you are sure of her, propose to the aunt in your own character, and write to Sir Anthony for his consent.
Abs. Softly, softly; for though I am convinced my little Lydia would elope with me as Ensign Beverley, yet am I by no means certain that she would take me with the impediment of our friends' consent, a regular humdrum wedding, and the reversion of a good fortune on my side : no, no; I must pre. pare her gradually for the discovery, and make myself necessary to her, before I risk it.--Well, but Faulkland, you'll dine with us to-day at the hotel ?
Faulk. Indeed, I cannot; I am not in spirits to be of such a party.
Abs. By heavens ! I shall forswear your company. You are the most teasing, captious, incorrigible lover I-Do love like a man.
Faulk. I own I am unfit for company.
Abs. Am not I a lover; ay, and a romantic one too? Yet do I carry everywhere with me such a confounded farrago of doubts, fears, hopes, wishes, and all the flimsy furniture of a country miss's brairi!
Faulk. Ah ! Jack, your heart and soul are not, like mine, fixed immutably on one only object. You throw for a large
stake, but losing, you could stake and throw again :-but I have set my sum of happiness on this cast, and not to succeed were to be stripped of all.
Abs. But, for heaven's sake! what grounds for apprehension can your whimsical brain conjure up at present ?
Faulk. What grounds for apprehension, did you say? Heavens ! are there not a thousand! I fear for her spiritsher health-her life !-My absence may fret her; her anxiety for my return, her fears for me may oppress her gentle temper: and for her health, does not every hour bring me cause to be alarmed ? If it rains, some shower may even then have chilled her delicate frame! If the wind be keen, some rude blast may have affected her! The heat of noon, the dews of the evening, may endanger the life of her for whom only I value mine. (Jack ! when delicate and feeling souls are separated, there is not a feature in the sky, not a movement of the elements, not an aspiration of the breeze, but hints some cause for a lover's apprehension !
Abs. Ay, but we may choose whether we will take the hint or not.—So, then, Faulkland, if you were convinced that Julia were well and in spirits, you would be entirely content ?
Faulk. I should be happy beyond measure-I am anxious only for that.
Abs. Then to cure your anxiety at once-Miss Melville is in perfect health, and is at this moment in Bath.
Faulk. Nay, Jack-don't trifle with me.
Abs. She is arrived here with my father within this hour.
Faulk. Can you be serious ?
Abs. I thought you knew Sir Anthony better than to be surprised at a sudden whim of this kind.--Seriously, then, it is as I tell you—upon my honour.
Faulk. My dear friend !-Hollo, Du-Peigne ! my hat.—My dear Jack-now nothing on earth can give me a moment's uneasiness.
Abs. Stay, Faulkland, this Acres lives within a mile of Sir Anthony, and he shall tell you how your mistress has been ever since you left her.— Fag, show the gentleman up.
[Exit Fag. Faulk. What, is he much acquainted in the family?
Abs. Oh, very intimate : I insist on your not going : besides, his character will divert you.
fauik. Well, I should like to ask him a few questions.
Abs. He is likewise a rival of mine—that is, of my other celf's, for he does not think his friend Captain Absolute ever saw the lady in question ; and it is ridiculous enough to hear him complain to me of one Beverley, a concealed skulking rival, who Faulk. Hush !-he's here.
Enter ACRES. Acres. Ha ! my dear friend, noble captain, and honest Jack, how do'st thou ? just arrived, faith, as you see.-Sir, your humble servant.-Warm work on the roads, Jack !-Odds whips and wheels! I've travelled like a comet, with a tail of dust all the way as long as the Mall.
Abs. Ah! Bob, you are indeed an eccentric planet, but we know your attraction hither.-Give me leave to introduce Mr. Faulkland to you ; Mr. Faulkland, Mr. Acres.
Acres. Sir, I am most heartily glad to see you : sir, I solicit your connections.-Hey, Jack-what, this is Mr. Faulkland, who
Abs. Ay, Bob, Miss Melville's Mr. Faulkland.
Acres. Odso ! she and your father can be but just arrived before me :-I suppose you have seen then.. Ah! Mr. Faulkland, you are indeed a happy man.
Faulk. I have not seen Miss Melville yet, sir ;-I hope she enjoyed full health and spirits in Devonshire ?
Acres. Never knew her better in my life, sir,-never better. Odds blushes and blooms ! she has been as healthy as the German Spa.
Faulk. Indeed !-I did hear that she had been a little indisposed.
Acres. False, false, sir-only said to vex you : quite the reverse, I assure you.
Faulk. There, Jack, you see she has the advantage of me; 1 had almost fretted myself ill.
Abs. Now are you angry with your mistress for not having been sick ?
Faulk. No, no, you misunderstand me: yet surely a little trifling indisposition is not an unnatural consequence of absence from those we love.-Now confess-isn't there something unkind in this violent, robust, unfeeling health?
Abs. Ch, it was very unkind of her to be well in your absence, to be sure !
Acres. Good apartments, Jack.