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door is fastened !- Julia !-my soul-but for one moment !-I hear her sobbing !—'Sdeath! what a brute am I to use her thus! Yet stay !-Ay—she is coming now :-how little resolution there is in woman !-how a few soft words can turn them !-No, faith !-she is not coming either. Why, Juliamy love-say but that you forgive me—come but to tell me that-now this is being too resentful. Stay! she is coming too-I thought she would-no steadiness in anything: her going away must have been a mere trick then she sha'n't see that I was hurt by it.—I'll affect indifference-[Hums a tune : then listens.) No-zounds ! she's not coming—nor don't intend it, I suppose.—This is not steadiness, but obstinacy! Yet I deserve it.—What, after so long an absence to quarrel with her tenderness !—'twas barbarous and unmanly !--I should be ashamed to see her now.—I'll wait till her just resentment is abated-and when I distress her so again, may I lose her for ever! and be linked instead to some antique virago, whose gnawing passions, and long hoarded spleen, shall make me curse my folly half the day and all the night.
(Exit. SCENE MRS. MALAPROP's Lodgings. MRS. MALAPROP, with a letter in her hand, and CAPTAIN
ABSOLUTE. Mrs. Mal. Your being Sir Anthony's son, captain, would its clf be a sufficient accommodation; but froni the ingenuity of your appearance, I am convinced you deserve the character here given of you.
Abs. Permit me to say, madam, that as I never yet have had the pleasure of seeing Miss Languish, my principal inducement in this affair at present is the honour of being allied to Mrs. Malaprop; of whose intellectual accomplishments, elegant manners, and unaffected learning, no tongue is silent.
Mrs. Mal. Sir, you do me infinite honour! I beg, captain, you'll be seated.—[They sit.] Ah ! few gentleinen, now-a-days, know how to value the ineffectual qualities in a woman l-iew think how a little knowledge becomes a gentlewoman.-Men have no sense now but for the worthless flower of beauty !
Abs. It is but too true, indeed, ma'am ;--yet I fear our ladies should share the blame-they think our admiration of beauty so great, that knowledge in them would be superfluous. Thus, like garden-trees, they seldom show fruit, till time has robbed them of the more specious blossom.- Few, like Mrs. Malaprop and the orange-tree, are rich in both at once I
Mrs. Mal. Sir, you overpower me with good-breeding. He is the very pine-apple of politeness !—You are not ignorant, captain, that this giddy girl has somehow contrived to fix her affections on a beggarly, strolling, eaves.dropping ensign, whom none of us have seen, and nobody knows anything of.
Abs. Oh, I have heard the silly affair before.—I'm not at all prejudiced against her on that account.
Mrs. Mal. You are very good and very considerate, captain. I am sure I have done everything in my power since I exploded the affair ; long ago I laid my positive conjunctions on her, never to think on the fellow again ;-I have since laid Sir Anthony's preposition before her ; but, I am sorry to say, she seems resolved to decline every particle that I enjoin her.
Abs. It must be very distressing, indeed, ma'am.
Mrs. Mal. Oh! it gives me the hydrostatics to such a degree. -I thought she had persisted from corresponding with hiin; but, behold, this very day, I have interceded another letter from the fellow ; I believe I have it in my pocket. Abs. Oh, the devil! my last note.
[Aside. Mrs. Mal. Ay, here it is. Abs. Ay, my note indeed ! O the little traitress Lucy.
[ Aside Mrs. Mal. There, perhaps you may know the writing.
[Gives him the letter. Abs. I think I have seen the hand before—yes, I certainly must have seen this hand before
Mrs. Mal. Nay, but read it, captain.
Abs. (Reads.] My soul's idol, my adored Lydia !—Very tender, indeed ! Mrs. Mal. Tender! ay, and profane too, o' my
conscience. Abs. [Reads.] I am excessively alarmed at the intelligence you send me, the more so as iny new rival
Mrs. Mal. That's you, sir.
Abs. [Reads.] Has universally the character of being an accomplished gentleman and a man of honour.-Well, that's handsome enough.
Mrs. Mal. Oh, the fellow has some design in writing so.
Abs. [Reads.] As for the old weather-beaten she-dragon who guards you— Who can he mean by that?
Mrs. Mal. Me, sir !-me !-he means me.There-wiat do
you think now ?—but go on a little further. Abs. Impudent scoundrel - [Reads.] it shall go hard but I will elude her vizilance, as I ain told that the same ridiculous
vanity, which makes her dress up her coarse features, and deck her dull chat with hard words which she don't understand
Mrs. Mal. There, sir, an attack upon my language ! what do you think of that ?-an aspersion upon my parts of speech ! was ever such a brute ! Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs !
Abs. He deserves to be hanged and quartered ! let me see. - [Reads.] same ridiculous vanity
Mrs. Mal. You need not read it again, sir.
Abs. I beg pardon, ma'am.—[Reads.] does also lay her open to the grossest deceptions from flattery and pretended admirationan impudent coxcomb so that I have a scheme to see you shortly with the old harridan's consent, and even to make her a go-between in our inter view.—Was ever such assurance !
Mrs. Mal. Did you ever hear anything like it?—he'll elude my vigilance, will he-yes, yes ! ha! ha! he's very likely to enter these doors ;-we'll try who can plot best !
Abs. So we will, ma'am so we will! Ha! ha! ha! a conceited puppy, ha ! ha! ha !-Well, but, Mrs. Malaprop, as the girl seems so infatuated by this fellow, suppose you were to wink at her corresponding with him for a little time—let her even plot an elopement with him—then do you connive at her escape--while I, just in the nick, will have the fellow laid by the heels, and fairly contrive to carry her off in his stead.
Mrs. Mal. I am delighted with the scheme ; never was anything better perpetrated !
Abs. But, pray, could not I see the lady for a few minutes now ?-I should like to try her temper a little.
Mrs. Mal. Why, I don't know-I doubt she is not prepared for a visit of this kind. There is a decorum in these matters.
Abs. O Lord ! she won't mind me-only tell her BeverleyMrs. Mal. Sir! Abs. Gently, good tongue.
[Aside. Mrs. Mal. What did you say of Beverley?
Abs. Oh, I was going to propose that you should tell her, by way of jest, that it was Beverley who was below; she'd come down fast enough then-ha! ha! ha!
Mrs. Mal. "Twould be a trick she well deserves ; besides, , you know the fellow tells her he'll get my consent to see herha! ha! Let him if he can, I say again. Lydia, come down. here !—[Cailing.] He'll make me a go-between in their inter views !-ha! ha! ha! Come down, I say, Lydia ! ī don't
wonder at your laughing, ha! ha! ha! his impudence is truly ridiculous.
Abs. 'Tis very ridiculous, upon my soul, ma'am, ha ! ha ! ha!
Mrs. Mal. The little hussy won't hear. Well, I'll go and tell her at once who it is-she shall know that Captain Absolute is come to wait on her. And I'll make her behave as becomes a young woman.
Abs. As you please, madam.
Mrs. Mal. For the present, captain, your servant. Ah! you've not done laughing yet, I see-elude my vigilance; yes, yes; ha! ha! ha!
[Exit. Abs, Ha! ha! ha! one would think now that I might throw off all disguise at once, and seize my prize with security; but such is Lydia's caprice, that to undeceive were probably to lose her. I'll see whether she knows me. (Walks aside, and seems engaged in looking at the pictures.
Enter LYDIA. Lyd. What a scene am I now to go through ! surely nothing can be more dreadful than to be obliged to listen to the loathsome addresses of a stranger to one's heart. I have heard of girls persecuted as I am, who have appealed in behalf of their favoured lover to the generosity of his rival ; suppose I were to try it—there stands the hated rival—an officer too ;—but oh, how unlike my Beverley! I wonder he don't begin-truly he seems a very negligent wooer !-quite at his ease, upon my word !—I'll speak first-Mr. Absolute. Abs. Ma'am.
[Turns round. Lyd. O heavens! Beverley ! Abs. Hush ;-hush, my life ! softly! be not surprised !
Lyd. I am so astonished ! and so terrified ! and so overjoyed 1—for Heaven's sake! how came you here?
Abs. Briefly, I have deceived your aunt—I was informed that my new rival was to visit here this evening, and contriving to have him kept away, have passed myself on her for Captain Absolute.
Lyd. O charming! And she really takes you for young Absolute ?
Abs. Oh, she's convinced of it.
Lyd. Ha ! ha! ha! I can't forbear laughing to think how her sagacity is overreached !
Abs. But we trifle with our precious moments-such another opportunity may not occur; then let me conjure my kind, my
condescending angel, to fix the time when I may rescue her from undeserving persecution, and with a licensed warmth plead for my reward.
Lyd. Will you then, Beverley, consent to forfeit that portion of my paltry wealth ?—that burden on the wings of love?
Abs. Oh, come to me-rich only thus—in loveliness! Bring no portion to me but thy love—'twill be generous in you, Lydia --for well you know it is the only dower your poor Beverley can repay.
Lyd. How persuasive are his words !-how charming will poverty be with hin !
[Aside. Abs. Ah! my soul, what a life will we then live ! Love shall be our idol and support! we will worship him with a monastic strictness; abjuring all worldly toys, to centre every thought and action there. Proud of calamity, we will enjoy the wreck of wealth; while the surrounding gloom of adversity shall make the flame of our pure love show doubly bright. By Heavens ! I would fling all goods of fortune from me with a prodigal hand, to enjoy the scene where I might clasp my Lydia to my bosom, and say, the world affords no smile to mo but here-Embracing her. If she holds out now, the devil is in it!
Aside Lyd. Now could I fly with him to the antipodes ! but my persecution is not yet come to a crisis.
(Aside. Re-enter MRS. MALAPROP, listening. Mrs. Mal. I am impatient to know how the little hussy deports herself.
[Aside. Abs. So pensive, Lydia !-is then your warmth abated?
Mrs. Mal. Warmth abated 1-0 !-she has been in a passion, I suppose.
[Aside. Lyd. No-nor ever can while I have life.
Mrs. Mal. An ill-tempered little devil! She'll be in a passion all her life—will she ?
[Aside. Lyd. Think not the idle threats of my ridiculous aunt can ever have any weight with me. Mrs. Mal. Very dutiful, upon my word !
[Aside. Lyd. Let her choice be Captain Absolute, but Beverley is mine.
Mrs. Mal. I am astonished at her assurance !-to his facethis is to his face !
[Aside. Abs. Thus then let me enforce my
[Kneeling Mrs. Mal. [Aside.] Ay, poor young man !-down on his knees entreating for pity !—I can contain no longer.—[Coming for. ward.] Why, thou vixen I-I have overheard you.