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Dav. Under favour, the suręst way of not disgracing them, is to keep as long as you can out of their company. Look’ee now, master, to go to them in such haste--with an ounce of lead in your brains I should think might as well be let alone. Our ancestors are very good kind of folks ; but they are the last people I should choose to have a visiting acquaintance with.
Acres. But, David, now you don't think there is such very, very, very great danger, hey ?-Odds life ! people often fight without any mischief done!
Dav. By the mass, I think 'tis ten to one against you ! -Oons ! here to meet some lion-headed fellow, I warrant, with his damned double-barrelled swords, and cut-andthrust pistols I-Lord bless us! it makes me tremble to think o'tl-Those be such desperate bloody-minded weapons! Well, I never could abide 'em-from a child I never could fancy 'em -I suppose there an't been so merciless a beast in the world as your loaded pistol !
Acres. Zounds! I won't be afraid 1-Odds fire and fury! you shan't make me afraid.—Here is the challenge, and I have sent for my dear friend Jack Absolute to carry it for me.
Dav. Ay, i' the name of mischief, let him be the messenger.–For my part, I wouldn't lend a hand to it for the best horse in your stable. By the mass ! it don't look like another letter ! It is, as I may say, a designing and malicious-looking letter ; and I warrant smells of gunpowder like a soldier's pouch -Oons ! I wouldn't swear it mayn't
Acres. Out, you poltroon! you han't the valour of a w grasshopper.
Dav. Well, I say no more- -'twill be sad news, to be sure, at Clod-Hall ! but I ha' done.-How Phillis will howl when she hears of it -Ay, poor bitch, she little thinks what shooting her master's going after ! And I' warrant old Crop, who has carried your honour, field and road, these ten years, will curse the hour he was born.
[Whimpering Acres. It won't do, David-I am determined to fight so get along, you coward, while I'm in the mind.
Ser. Captain Absolute, sir.
Acres. Oh! show him up.
[Exit SERVANT Dav. Well, Heaven send we be all alive this time tomorrow.
Acres. What's that ?—Don't provoke me, David !
[Whimpering Acres. Get along, you cowardly, dastardly, croaking raven !
Enter CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE
Abs. What's the matter, Bob ?
Acres. A vile, sheep-hearted blockhead! If I hadn't the valour of St. George and the dragon to boot
Abs. But what did you want with me, Bob ?
[Gives him the challenge Abs. (Aside.) To Ensign Beverley. So, what's going on now l-[Aloud.) Well, what's this ?
Acres. A challenge !
Abs. IndeedT Why, you won't fight him ; will you, Bob ?
Acres. Egad, but I will, Jack. Sir Lucius has wrought me to it. He has left me full of rage—and I'll fight this evening, that so much good passion mayn't be wasted.
Abs. But what have I to do with this ?
Acres. Why, as I think you know something of this fellow, I want you to find him out for me, and give him this mortal defiance.
Abs. Well, give it to me, and trust me he gets it.
Acres. Thank you, my dear friend, my dear Jack; but it is giving you a great deal of trouble.
Abs. Not in the least-I beg you won't mention it.No trouble in the world, I assure you.
Acres. You are very kind.—What it is to have a friend I -You couldn't be my second, could you, Jack ?
Abs. Why, no, Bob—not in this affair—it would not be quite so proper.
Acres. Well, then, I must get my friend Sir Lucius. I shall have your good wishes, however, Jack ?
Abs. Whenever he meets you, believe me.
Ser. Sir Anthony Absolute is below, inquiring for the captain.
Abs. I'll come instantly.- [Exit SERVANT.]
Well, my little hero, success attend you.
[Going Acres. Stay-stay, Jack.-If Beverley should ask you what kind of a man your friend Acres is, do tell him I am a devil of a fellow-Will you, Jack ?
Abs. To be sure I shall. I'll say you are a determined dog—hey, Bob !
Acres. Ay, do, do—and if that frightens him, egad, perhaps he mayn't come. So tell him I generally kill a man a week; will you, Jack ?
Abs. I will, I will ; I'll say you are called in the country Fighting Bob.
Acres. Right-right—'tis all to prevent mischief; for I don't want to take his life if I clear my honour.
Abs. No 1-that's very kind of you.
Acres. Why, you don't wish me to kill him—do you, Jack ?
Abs. No, upon my soul, I do not. But a devil of a fellow, hey ?
[Going Acres. True, true—but stay-stay, Jack-you may add, that you never saw me in such a rage beforema most devouring rage !
Abs. I will, I will.
SCENE II.-MRS. MALAPROP's Lodgings
MRS. MALAPROP and LYDIA
Mrs. Mal. Why, thou perverse one tell me what you can object to him ? Isn't he a handsome man ?tell me that. A genteel man? a pretty figure of a man ?
Lyd. [Aside.] She little thinks whom she is praising ! -[Aloud.) So is Beverley, ma'am.
Mrs. Mal. No caparisons, miss, if you please. Caparisons don't become'a young woman. No ! Captain Absolute is indeed a fine gentleman !
Lyd. Ay, the Captain Absolute you have seen. [Aside
Mrs. Mal. Then he's so well bred-so full of alacrity, and adulation and has so much to say for himself :-in such good language too! His physiognomy so grammatical!
Then his presence is so noble ! I protest, when I saw him,
“Hesperian curls-the front of Job himself l-
A station, like Harry Mercury, new-" Something about kissing-on a hill-however, the similitude struck me directly.
Lyd. How enraged she'll be presently, when she discovers her mistake!
Ser. Sir Anthony and Captain Absolute are below, ma'am.
Mrs. Mal. Show them up here.-[Exit SERVANT.] Now, Lydia, I insist on your behaving as becomes a young woman. Show your good breeding, at least, though you have forgot your duty.
Lyd. Madam, I have told you my resolution |--I shall not only give him no encouragement, but I won't even speak to, or look at him.
[Flings herself into a chair, with her face from the door
Enter 'SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE
Sir Anth. Here we are, Mrs. Malaprop ; come to mitigate the frowns of unrelenting beauty,—and difficulty enough I had to bring this fellow.—I don't know what's the matter ; but if I had not held him by force, he'd have given me the slip.
Mrs. Mal. You have infinite trouble, Sir Anthony, in the affair. I am ashamed for the cause 1-[Aside to Lydia.] Lydia, Lydia, rise, I beseech you l-pay your respects!
Sir Anth. I hope, madam, that Miss Languish has reflected on the worth of this gentleman, and the regard due to her aunt's choice, and my alliance.-[Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.) Now, Jack, speak to her.
Abs. (Aside.) What the devil shall I do l-[Aside to SIR ANTHONY.] You see, sir, she won't even look at me
whilst you are here. I knew she wouldn't! I told you so. Let me entreat you, sir, to leave us together!
[Seems to expostulate with his father Lyd. (Aside.] I wonder I ha'n't heard my aunt exclaim yet 1 sure she can't have looked at him l-perhaps their regimentals are alike, and she is something blind.
Sir Anth. I say, sir, I won't stir a foot yet !
Mrs. Mal. I am sorry to say, Sir Anthony, that my affluence over my niece is very small.-[Aside to LYDIA.] Turn round, Lydia : I blush for you!
Sir Anth. May I not flatter myself, that Miss Languish will assign what cause of dislike she can have to my son l[Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.) Why don't you begin, Jack 2-Speak, you puppy-speak !
Mrs. Mal. It is impossible, Sir Anthony, she can have any. She will not say she has.– [Aside to LYDIA.] Answer, hussy! why don't you answer ?
Sir Anth. Then, madam, I trust that a childish and hasty predilection will be no bar to Jack's happiness.(Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.)--Zounds! sirrah! why don't you speak ?
Lyd. (Aside.] I think my lover seems as little inclined to conversation as myself.-How strangely blind my aunt must be !
Abs. Hem ! hem! madam-hem |--[Attempts to speak, then returns to SIR ANTHONY.] Faith! sir, I am so confounded l-and-50-50---confused |- I told you I should be so, sir-I knew it.-r-The-the-tremor' of my passion entirely takes away my presence of mind.
Sir Anth. But it don't take away your voice, fool, does it ?-Go up, and speak to her directly !
[CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE makes signs to MRS. MALAPROP
to leave them together. Mrs. Mal. Sir Anthony, shall we leave them together ? --[Aside to LYDIA.) Ah! you stubborn little vixen !
Sir Anth. Not yet, ma'am, not yet l-[Aside to CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE.) What the devil are you at ? unlock your jaws, sirrah, or
Abs. (Aside.] Now Heaven send she may be too sullen to look round II must disguise my voice.-[Draws near LYDIA, and speaks in a low hoarse tone.] Will not Miss Languish lend an ear to the mild accents of true love ? Will not
Sir Anth. What the devil ails the fellow? Why don't you speak out ?not stand croaking like a frog in a quinsy!
Abs. The--the--excess of my awe, and my--mymy modesty quite choke me!
Sir Anth. Ah! your modesty again I'll tell you what,