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my indiscretion; your being sent to France to bring home a sister; and, instead of a sister, bringing home
Leont. One dearer than a thousand sisters. One that I am convinced will be equally dear to the rest of the family, when she comes to be known.
Oliv. And that, I fear, will shortly be.
Leont. Impossible, 'till we ourselves think proper to make the discovery. My sister, you know, has been with her aunt, at Lyons, since she was a child, and
find every creature in the family takes
for her. Oliv. But mayn't she write, mayn't her aunt write ? Leont. Her aunt scarce ever writes, and all
sister's letters are directed to me.
Oliv. But won't your refusing Miss Richland, for whom you know the old gentleman intends you, create a suspicion ?
Leont. There, there's my master-stroke. I have resolved not to refuse her; nay, an hour hence I have consented to
father to make her an offer of my heart and fortune.
Oliv. Your heart and fortune !
Leont. Don't be alarm'd, my dearest. Can Olivia think so meanly of my honour, or my love, as to suppose I could ever hope for happiness from any but her ? No, my Olivia, neither the force, nor, permit me to add, the delicacy of my passion, leave any room to suspect me. I only offer Miss Richland a heart, I am convinced she will refuse ; as I am confident, that, without knowing it, her affections are fixed upon Mr. Honeywood.
Oliv. Mr. Honeywood! You'll excuse my apprehensions ; but when your merits come to be put in the balance
Leont. You view them with too much partiality. However, by making this offer, I shew a seeming compliance
with my father's command; and perhaps, upon her refusal, I may have his consent to chuse for myself.
Oliv. Well, I submit. And yet, my Leontine, I own, I shall envy her, even your pretended addresses. I consider every look, every expression of your esteem, as due only to me. This is folly perhaps : I allow it : but it is natural to suppose, that merit which has made an impression on one's own heart, may be powerful over that of another.
Leont. Don't, my life's treasure, don't let us make imaginary evils, when you know we have so many real ones to encounter. At worst, you know, if Miss Richland should consent, or my father refuse his pardon, it can but end in a trip to Scotland ; and
Croak. Where have you been, boy? I have been seeking you. My friend Honeywood here, has been saying such comfortable things. Ah! he's an example indeed. Where is he ? I left him here.
Leont. Sir, I believe you may see him, and hear him too in the next room; he's preparing to go out with the ladies.
Croak. Good gracious, can I believe my eyes or my ears! I'm struck dumb with his vivacity, and stunn'd with the loudness of his laugh. Was there ever such a transformation! (a laugh behind the scenes, Croaker mimics it.) Ha! ha! ha! there it goes : a plague take their balderdash; yet I could expect nothing less, when my precious wife was of the party. On my conscience, I believe she could spread an horse-laugh through the pews of a tabernacle.
Leont. Since you find so many objections to a wife, Sir, how can you be so earnest in recommending one to me?
Croak. I have told you, and tell you again, boy, that
I tell you
Miss Richland's fortune must not go out of the family ; one may find comfort in the money, whatever one does in the wife.
Leont. But, Sir, though, in obedience to your desire, I am ready to marry her; it may be possible, she has no inclination to me.
Croak. I'll tell you once for all how it stands. A good part of Miss Richland's large fortune consists in a claim upon government, which my good friend, Mr. Lofty, assures me the treasury will allow. One half of this she is to forfeit, by her father's will, in case she refuses to marry you. So, if she rejects you, we seize half her fortune ; if she accepts you, we seize the whole, and a fine girl into the bargain.
Leont. But, Sir, if you will but listen to reason
Croak. Come, then, produce your reasons. I'm fix'd, determined, so now produce your reasons. When I'm determined, I always listen to reason, because it can then do no harm.
Leont. You have alleged that a mutual choice was the first requisite in matrimonial happiness.
Croak. Well, and you have both of you a mutual choice. She has her choice—to marry you or lose half her fortune; and you have your choice—to marry her, or pack out of doors without any fortune at all.
Leont. An only son, Sir, might expect more indulgence.
Croak. An only father, Sir, might expect more obedience; besides, has not your sister here, that never disobliged me in her life, as good a right as you? He's a sad dog, Livy, my dear, and would take all from you. But he shan't, I tell you he shan't, for you
shall have your share.
Oliv. Dear Sir, I wish you'd be convinced that I can never be happy in any addition to my fortune, which is taken from his.
Croak. Well, well, it's a good child, so say no more; but come with me, and we will see something that will give us a great deal of pleasure, I promise you; old Ruggins, the curry-comb maker, lying in state; I am told he makes a very handsome corpse, and becomes his coffin prodigiously. He was an intimate friend of mine, and these are friendly things we ought to do for each other.
SCENE, CROAKER'S HOUSE.
Miss Richland, Garnet.
Miss Rich. Olivia not his sister ? Olivia not Leontine's sister ? You amaze me !
Garn. No more his sister than I am ; I had it all from his own servant; I can get any thing from that quarter.
Miss Rich. But how ? Tell me again, Garnet.
Garn. Why, Madam, as I told you before, instead of going to Lyons, to bring home his sister, who has been there with her aunt these ten years ; he never went further than Paris ; there he saw and fell in love with this young lady, by the by, of a prodigious family.
Miss Rich. And brought her home to my guardian, as his daughter ?
Garn. Yes, and his daughter she will be. If he don't consent to their marriage, they talk of trying what a Scotch parson can do.
Miss Rich. Well, I own they have deceived me-And so demurely as Olivia carried it too !—Would
too !-Would you believe it Garnet, I told her all my secrets; and yet the sly cheat concealed all this from me ?
Garn. And, upon my word, madam, I don't much blame her : she was loth to trust one with her secrets, that was so very bad at keeping her own.
Miss Rich. But, to add to their deceit, the young gentleman, it seems, pretends to make me serious proposals. My guardian and he are to be here presently, to open the affair in form. You know I am to lose half my fortune if I refuse him.
Garn. Yet, what can you do ? For being, as you are, in love with Mr. Honeywood, madam
Miss Rich. How! ideot : what do you mean? In love with Mr. Honeywood! Is this to provoke me?
Garn. That is, madam, in friendship with him ; I meant nothing more than friendship, as I hope to be married ; nothing more.
Miss Rich. Well, no more of this ! As to my guardian, and his son, they shall find me prepared to receive them ; I'm resolved to accept their proposal with seeming pleasure, to mortify them by compliance, and so throw the refusal at last upon
them. Garn. Delicious! and that will secure your whole fortune to yourself. Well, who could have thought so innocent a face could cover so much 'cuteness !
Miss Rich. Why, girl, I only oppose my prudence to their cunning, and practise a lesson they have taught me against themselves.
Garn. Then you're likely not long to want employment, for here they come, and in close conference.
Enter Croaker, Leontine.
the point of putting to the lady so important a question.
Croak. Lord ! good Sir, moderate your fears; you're so plaguy shy, that one would think you had changed sexes. I tell you we must have the half or the whole.