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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 every thing 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 him ; 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 l my last note.
[Aside Mrs. Mal. Ay, here it is. Abs. Ay, my note indeed, 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 my 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 l-me-he means me 1-Therewhat do you think now ?—but go on a little farther.
Abs. Impudent scoundrel [Reads.) it shall go hard but I will elude her vigilance, as I am 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 lan 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 I 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 admiration-an 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 interview.—Was ever such assurance !
Mrs. Mal. Did you ever hear any thing like it ?-he'll elude my vigilance, will hem-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 I she won't mind me-only tell her Beverley
Mrs. Mal. Sir !
[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-hal hal hal,
Mrs. Mal. 'Twould be a trick she well deserves ; besides, you know the fellow tells her he'll get my consent to
see her—ha! ha! Let him if he can, I say again. Lydia, come down here 1-(Calling.)-He'll make me a go-between in their interviews |-ha! ha! ha! Come down, I say, Lydia / I 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, ma'am.
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. Hal hal hal 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
Lyd. What a scene am I now to go through 1. 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 toolbut 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 1—I'll speak first-Mr. Absolute. Abs. Ma'am.
[Turns round Lyd, Ọ heavens! Beverley ! Abs. Hush hush, my life! softly! be not surprised !
Lyd. I am so astonished ! and so, terrified ! and so overjoyed 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. Oh, charming and she really takes you for young Absolute ?
Abs. Oh, she's convinced of it.
Lyd. Hal 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 now 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 him!
[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 me 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.
Re-enter MRS. MALAPROP, listening
Mrs. Mal. I am impatient to know how the little hussy deports herself.
[Aside Abs. So pensive, Lydia l-is, then, your warmth abated ?
Mrs. Mal. Warmth abated so 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 face this is to his face !
[Aside Abs. Thus then let me enforce my suit. [Kneeling
Mrs. Mal. [Aside.] Ay, poor young man kdown on his knees entreating for pity K-I can contain no longer.(Coming forward.] Why, thou vixen 1-I have overheard you. Abs. Oh, confound her vigilance !
[Aside Mrs. Mal. Captain Absolute, I know not how to apologise for her shocking rudeness.
Abs. (Aside.) So all's safe, I find.-- [Aloud.] I have hopes, madam, that time will bring the young lady,
Mrs. Mal. Oh, there's nothing to be hoped for from her I she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.
Lyd. Nay, madam, what do you charge me with now?
Mrs. Mal. Why, thou unblushing rebel-didn't you tell this gentleman to his face that you loved another better? -didn't you say you never would be his ? Lyd. No, madam-I did not.
Mrs. Mal. Good Heavens ! what assurance ! -Lydia, Lydia, you ought to know that lying don't become a young woman TDidn't you boast that Beverley, that stroller Beverley, possessed your heart ?—Tell me that,
Lyd. 'Tis true, ma'am, and none but Beverley
Mrs. Mal. Hold 1-hold, Assurance —you shall not be so rude.
Abs. Nay, pray, Mrs. Malaprop, don't stop the young lady's speech: she's very welcome to talk thus-it does, not hurt me in the least, I assure you.
Mrs. Mal. You are too good, captain-too amiably patient—but come with me, miss.—Let us see you again soon, captain-remember what we have fixed.
Abs. I shall, ma'am.
Lyd. May every blessing wait on my Beverley, my loved Bev
Mrs. Mal. Hussy! I'll choke the word in your throat ! -come along—come along. [Exeunt severally ; CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE kissing his hand
to LYDIA-MRS. MALAPROP stopping her from speaking