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Bar. Troth, brother, very sadly. Father has grown desperate-all is fallen to decay; we live by pilfering on the forest, and our poor mother distracted, and unable to look to the house. The rafter which fell in the storm struck so heavy upon her brain, I fear me 'twill never again be settled. The little ones, too, scarce clothedhungry-almost starving! Indeed, we are a very wretched family. A knock at the cottage-door, R. F. Sam. Hark! methought I heard a tread.
[He opens the door, R. E.
Enter RAWBOLD, L.
Raw. (c.) Bar the door; so-softly!
Raw. Good: my limbs ache for❜t. How you stand !— The chair, you gander!
Sam. [To Barbara.] Why, how you stand!—The chair, you gander.
[They bring forward a chair-Rawbold sits, c.
Raw. Here, take my gun-'tis unscrewed. The keepers are abroad; I had scarce time to get it in my pocket. [He pulls the gun from a pocket under his coat, in three pieces, which Samson screws together while they are talking.] Fie! 'tis sharp work! Barbara, you jade! come hither.
Sam. Barbara, you jade! come hither.
Raw. Who bid thee chide her, lout? Kiss thy old father, wench-kiss me, I say!-So.-Why dost tremble? I am rough as a tempest; evil fortune has blown my lowering nature into turbulence; but thou art a blossom that dost bend thy head so sweetly under my gusts of passion, 'tis pity they should ever harm thee.
Bar. (L.) Indeed, father, I am glad to see you safe returned.
Raw. I believe thee. Take the keys; go to the locker in the loft, and bring me a glass to recruit me.
[Exit Barbara, L. U. E.
Sam. Well, father, and so
Raw. Peace !-I ha' shot a buck.
Sam. Oh, rare! Of all the sure aims on the borders of the New Forest here, give me old Gilbert Rawbold; though I, who am his son, say it, that should not say it. Where have you stowed him, father?
Raw. Under the furze, behind the hovel. Come night again, we will draw him in, boy. I have been watched. Sam. Watched!-Oh, the pestilence!-Our trade will be spoiled if the groom-keepers be after us; the law will persecute us, father.
Raw. Dost know Mortimer?
Sam. What, Sir Edward Mortimer? Ay, sure; he is head-keeper of the forest. 'Tis he who has shut himself up in melancholy; sees no rich, and does so much good to the poor.
Raw. He has done me naught but evil. A gun cannot be carried on the border here, but he has scent on't at a league's distance. He is a thorn to me: his scouts this night were after me, all on the watch. I'll be revenged— I'll-So, the brandy.
Re-enter BARBARA, with the liquor, L. U. E.
Raw. [After drinking.] 'Tis right, i'faith! Sam. (R.) That 'tis, I'll be sworn; for I smuggled it myself. We do not live so near the coast for nothing.
Raw. Sir Edward Mortimer, look to it!
Bar. (L.) Sir Edward Mortimer! Oh, dear father, what of him?
Raw. Ay, now thou art all agog! Thou wouldst hear somewhat of that smooth-tongued fellow, his secretaryhis clerk, Wilford, whom thou so often meet'st in the forest. I have news on't. Look how you walk thither again! What, thou wouldst betray me to him, I warrant -conspire against your father!
Sam. Ay, conspire against your father, and your tender loving brother, you viper, you!
Bar. Beshrew me, father, I meant no harm; and, indeed, indeed, Wilford is as handsome a—I mean, as good a youth as ever breathed. If I thought he meant ill by you, I should hate him.
Raw. When didst see him last?-Speak!
Bar. You terrify me so, father, I am scarce able to speak. Yesternoon, by the copse: 'twas but to read with him the book of sonnets he gave me.
Sam. That's the way your sly, grave rogues, work into the hearts of the females. I never knew any good come of a girl's reading sonnets with a learned clerk in a copse.
Raw. Let me hear no more of your meeting. I am content to think you would not plot my undoing.
Bar. I-Oh, father!
Raw. But he may plot yours. Mark me: fortune has thrust me forth to prowl, like the wolf; but the wolf is anxious for its young. I am an outcast, whom hunger has hardened; I violate the law, but feeling is not dead within me; and callous villain as I am accounted, I would tear that greater villain piecemeal, who would violate my child, and rob an old man of the little remains of comfort wretchedness has left him! [A knocking at the door, R. F. A voice. [Without.] Hilliho! ho!
Raw. How now?
Sam. There, an they be not after us already! I'llWe have talked, too, till 'tis broad daylight.
Wilford. [Without, R. D. F.] Open, good Master Rawbold; I would speak to you suddenly.
Bar. Oh, Heaven! 'tis the voice of Wilford himself! Raw. Wilford!—I'm glad on't! Now he shall-I'm glad on't! Open the door-quickly, I say! He shall smart for it!
Sam. Are you mad, father? Let in the keeper's head man! shot, you know, is hard at hand.
'Tis we shall smart for it. The buck you have just
Raw. Open, I say!
Sam. lord! I defy any secretary's nose not to smell stolen venison now, the moment 'tis thrust near our hovel! [Opens the door, R. F.
Enter WILFORD, R. D. F.
Wil. (R. c.) Save you, good people. You are Gilbert Rawbold, as I take it.
Raw. (c.) I am. Your message here, young man, bodes me no good; but I am Gilbert Rawbold, and here's my daughter dost know her?
Wil. Ah, Barbara! good wench, how fares it with you? Raw. Look on her well, then consult your own conscience: 'tis difficult, haply, for a secretary to find one. You are a villain!
Wil. You lie! Hold! I crave pardon. You are her father; she is innocent, and you are unhappy. I respect virtue and misfortune too much to shock the one, or insult the other,
Raw. 'Sdeath! why meet my daughter in the forest? Wil. Because I love her.
Raw. And would ruin her.
Wil. That's a strange way of showing one's love, methinks. I have a simple notion, Gilbert, that the thought of having taken a base advantage of a poor girl's affection might go nigh to break a man's sleep, and give him unquiet dreams; now, I love my night's rest, and shall do nothing to disturb it.
Raw. Wouldst not poison her mind?
Wil. 'Tis not my method, friend, of dosing a patient. Look ye, Gilbert; her mind is a fair flower, stuck in the rude soil here of surrounding ignorance, and smiling in the chill of poverty. I would fain cheer it with the little sunshine I possess of comfort and information. My parents were poor, like her's: should occasion serve, I might haply, were all parties agreed, make her my wife. To make her aught else would affect her, you, and myself: and I have no talent at making three people uneasy at the same time.
Raw. Your hand: on your own account, we are friends. Bar. (L. c.) Oh, dear father!
Raw. Be silent. Now to your errand: 'tis from Mortimer.
Wil. I come from Sir Edward.
Raw. I know his malice: he would oppress me with his power-he would starve me and my family. Search my house.
Sam. (L.) No, father, no!-[Aside.] You forget the buck under the furze.
Raw. Let him do his worst, but let him beware-a tyrant! a villain! [Samson gets round to R. corner. Wil. Hark ye: he is my master; I owe him my gra titude-every thing; and had you been any but the father of my Barbara, and spoken so much against him, indignation had worked into my knuckles, and crammed the words down your rusty throat!
Sam. [Aside.-R. c.] I do begin to perceive how this will end father will knock down the secretary as flat as a buck!
Raw. Why am I singled out? Is there no mark for the vengeance of office to shoot its shaft at but me ?— This morning, as he dogged me in the forest
Wil. Hush, Rawbold! keep your counsel. Should you make it public, he must notice it.
Raw. Did he not notice it?
Wil. No matter; but he has sent me thus early, Gilbert, with this relief to your distresses, which he has heard of. Here are twenty marks for you and your family.
Raw. From Sir Edward Mortimer ?
Wil. 'Tis his way; but he would not have it mentioned. He is one of those judges who, in their office, will never warp the law to save offenders; but his private charity bids him assist the needy, before their necessities drive them to crimes, which his public duty must punish. Raw. Did Mortimer do this? did he ?-Heaven bless him! Oh, young man, if you knew half the misery-my wife-my children! Shame on't! I have stood many a tug, but the drops now fall, in spite of me! I am not ungrateful, but I cannot stand it! We will talk of Barbara when I have more man about me.
[Exit up the staircase, L. Wil. Farewell! I must home to the lodge quickly; Ere this, I warrant, I am looked for.
Wil. The sun has tipped the hills with red,
Sam. And Samson, too, good sir, in smoke and smother;
Boy. [To Samson.] Brother, look; the sun aloof