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families will make our personal friendships hereditary; and though my daughter's fortune is but small
Sir C. Why, Dick, will you talk of fortune to me? My son is possessed of more than a competence already, and can want nothing but a good and virtuous girl to share his happiness and increase it. If they like each other, as you say they do
Hard. If, man! I tell you, they do like each other. My daughter as good as told me so.
Sir C. But girls are apt to flatter themselves, you know.
Hard. I saw him grasp her hand in the warmest manner myself; and here he comes to put you out of your ifs, I warrant him.
Enter Marlow, L. Mar. I come, sir, once more, to ask pardon for my strange conduct. I can scarce reflect on my insolence without confusion.
Hard. Tut, boy, a trifle. You take it too gravely. An hour or two's laughing with my daughter, will set all to rights again. She'll never like you the worse for it.
Mar. Sir, I shall always be proud of her approbation.
Hard. Approbation is but a cold word, Mr. Marlow; if I am not deceived, you have something more than approbation thereabouts. You take me ? Mır. Really, sir, I have not that happiness.
Hard. Come, boy, I'm an old fellow, and know what's what, as well as you that are younger. I know what has passed between you ; but mum.
Mar. Sure, sir, nothing has passed between us but the most profound respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on hers. You don't think, sir, that my impudence has been passed upon all the rest of the family?
Hard. İmpudence! No, I don't say that—not quite impudence. Though girls like to be played with, and rumpled, too, sometimes. But she has told no tales, I assure you.
Mar. May I die, sir, if I ever
Hard. I tell you, she don't dislike you ; and as I'm sure you like her
Mar. But why won't you hear me? By all that's just and true, I never gave Miss Hardcastle the slightest mark
of my attachment, or even the most distant hint to suspect me of affection. We had but one interview, and that was formal, modest, and uninteresting.
Hard. [Aside.] This fellow's formal, modest impudence is beyond bearing.
Sir C. And you never grasped her hand, or made any protestations ?
Mar. As Heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience to your commands. I saw the lady without emotion, and parted without reluctance. I hope you'll exact no further proofs of my duty, nor prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many mortifications.
(Exit, L. Sir C. I'm astonished at the air of sincerity with which he parted.
Hard. And I'm astonished at the deliberate intrepidity of his assurance.
Sir C. I dare pledge my life and honor upon his truth.
Hard. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness upon her veracity.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE, R. Hard. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely, and without reserve; has Mr. Marlow made you any professions of love and affection?
Miss H. The question is very abrupt, sir! But since you require unreserved sincerity, I think he has.
Hard. [To Sir Charles.) You see.
Sir C. And pray, madam, have you and my son had more than one interview ?
Miss H. Yes, sir, several.
Miss H. As most professed admirers do. Said some civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit,
and the greatness of mine ; mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended with pretended rapture.
Sir C. Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know his conversation among women to be modest and submissive. This forward, canting, ranting manner by no means describes him, and I'm confident he never sat for the picture.
Miss H. Then what, sir, if I should convince you to your face of my sincerity? If you and my papa, in about half an hour, will follow my directions, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in person,
Sir C. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all my happiness in him must have an end.
(Exeunt Sir Charles and Hardcastle, R. Miss H. And if you don't find him what I describeI fear my happiness must never have a beginning.
Scene II.- The back of the Garden.
Enter HASTINGS, L. Hast. What an idiot am I to wait here for a fellow who probably takes a delight in mortifying me. He never intended to be punctual, and I'll wait no longer. What do I see? It is he, and perhaps with news of my Constance !
Enter Tony, booted and spattered, R. My honest Squire ! I now find you a man of your word. This looks like friendship.
Tony. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have in the world, if you knew but all. This riding by night, by-the-by, is cursedly tiresome. It has shook me worse than the basket of a stage-coach.
Hast. Well, but where have you left the ladies? I die with impatience.
Tony. Left them? Why, where should I leave them, but where I found them?
Hast. This is a riddle.
Tony. Riddle me this then. What's that goes round the house, and round the house, and never touches the house ?
Hard. I'm still astray.
I have led the. astray. By jingo, there's not a pound or slough within five miles of the place but they can tell the taste of.
Hast. Ha! ha! ha! I understand; you took them in a round, while they supposed themselves going forward. And so you have at last brought them home again.
Tony. You shall hear. I first took them down Featherbed-lane, where we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the stones of Up-and-down-hill-I then introduced them to the gibbet on Crackskull Commun, and from that with a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden.
Hast. But no accident, I hope ?
Tony. No, no, only mother is confoundedly frightened. She thinks herself forty miles off. She's sick of the journey, and the cattle can scarce crawl. So if your own horses be ready, you may whip off with cousin, and I'll be bound that no soul here can budge an inch to follow you.
Hast. My dear friend how can I be grateful?
Tony. Ay, now it's dear friend, noble Squire. Just now, it was all idiot, cub, and run me through the gizzard. Damn your way of fighting, I say. After we take a knock in this part of the country, we kiss and be friends. But if you had run me through the gizzard, then I should be dead, and you might go kiss the hangman.
Hast. The rebuke is just. But I must hasten to relieve Miss Neville; if you keep the old lady employed, I promise to take care of the young one,
Exit Hastings, R. Tony. Never fear me. Here she comes.
Vanish. She's got from the pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid.
Enter Mrs. HardcaSTLE, L. Mrs. H. Oh, Tony, I'm killed. Shook, battered to death. I shall never survive it. That last jolt has done my business.
Tony. Alack, mamma, it was all your own fault. You would be for running away by night, without knowing one inch of the way.
Mrs. H. I wish we were at home again. I never met so many accidents in so short a journey. Drenched in the mud, overturned in a ditch, stuck fast in a slough, jolted to a jelly, and at last to lose our way! Whereabouts do you think we are, Tony?
Tony. By my guess we should be upon Heavytree Heath, about forty miles from home.
Mrs. H. Oh, lud! Oh, lud! the most notorious spot in all the county.
We only want a robbery to make a complete night on't.
Tony. Don't be afraid, mamma, don't be afraid. Two of the five that kept here are hanged, and the other three may not find us.
Don't be afraid. Is that a man that's galloping behind us? No; it's only a tree. Don't be afraid. Mrs. H. The fright will certainly kill me.
Tony. Do you see anything like a black hat moving behind the thicket?
Mrs. H. Oh, death !
Tony. No, it's only a cow. Don't be afraid, mother; don't be afraid.
Mrs. H. As I'm alive, Tony, I see man coming towards us. Ah! I'm sure on't. If he perceives us, we are undone.
Tony. (Aside. Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky, come to take one of his night walks! [To her.] Ah, it's a highwayman, with pistols as long as my arm. A damned ill-looking fellow.
Mrs. H. Good Heaven defend us ! He approaches.
Tony. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave mé to manage him. If there be any danger, I'll cough and cry hem. When I cough be sure to keep close. [Mrs. Hardcastle hides behind a tree in the back scene.
Enter HARDCASTLE, R. Hard. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people in want of help. Oh, Tony, is that you ? I did not expect you so soon back. Are your mother and her charge in safety ?
Tony. Very safe, sir, at my aunt Pedigree's. Hem.
Mrs. H. [From behind. Ah, death! I find there's danger.
Hard. Forty miles in three hours ! sure that's too much, my youngster.