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Hardcastle. — Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
Mrs. Hardcastle. — He coughs sometimes.
Hardcastle. — And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking-trumpet - [Tony hallooing behind the scenes.] -Oh, there he goes — a very consumptive figure, truly!
[Enter Tony, crossing the Stage.] Mrs. Hardcastle. – Tony, where are you going, my charmer? ? Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovey ?
Tony. - I'm in haste, mother, I cannot stay.
Mrs. Hardcastle. You sha'n't venture out this raw evening, my dear: you look most shockingly.
Tony. — I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
Hardcastle. — Ay, the alehouse, the old place; I thought so.
Tony. – Not so low, neither. There's Dick Muggins, the exciseman, Jack Slang, the horse-doctor, little Aminadab, that grinds the music-box, and Tom Twist, that spins the pewter platter.
Mrs. Hardcastle. — Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
Tony. - As for disappointing them, I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
Mrs. Hardcastle [Detaining him]. — You sha’n’t go.
[Exit, hauling her out. Hardcastle [Alone]. - Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling, Kate; the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
[Enter Miss HARDCASTLE.] Hardcastle. — Blessings on my pretty innocence! Drest out as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
Miss Hardcastle. - You know our agreement, Sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife's dress to please you.
Hardcastle. Well, remember I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by-the-bye, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
Miss Hardcastle. - 1 protest, Sir, I don't comprehend your meaning
Hardcastle. - Then, to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself shortly after.
Miss Hardcastle. — Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I sha’n’t like him. Our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
Hardcastle. — Depend upon it, child, I'll never control your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss Hardcastle. Is he?
Miss Hardcastle. — My dear papa, say no more [kissing his hand], he's mine — I'll have him.
Hardcastle. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
Miss Hardcastle. — Eh! You have frozen me to death again. That word reserved has undone all the rest of his accomplish
A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
Hardcastle. - On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very feature in his character that first struck me.
Miss Hardcastle. — He must have more striking features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so everything, as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
Hardcastle. - Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager
not have you. Miss Hardcastle. - My dear papa, why will you mortify one so?- Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
Hardcastle. - Bravely resolved! In the meantime, I'll go prepare the servants for his reception: as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster.
[Exit. Miss Hardcastle [Alone]. — Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a flutter. Young, handsome; these he put last, but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then, reserved and sheepish; that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes; and can't I - But I vow I'm disposing of the husband, before I have secured the lover.
[Enter Miss NEVILLE.]
Miss Hardcastle. — I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there anything whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face to-day?
Miss Neville. — Perfectly, my dear. Yet, now I look again - bless me! - sure no accident has happened among the canary birds or the goldfishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last novel been too moving ?
Miss Hardcastle. — No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened — I can scarce get it out — I have been threatened with a lover.
Miss Neville. And his name
Miss Neville. - As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen 'him when we lived in town.
Miss Hardcastle. - Never.
Miss Neville. — He's a very singular character, I assure you. Among women of reputation and virtue, he is the modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of another stamp — you understand me.
Miss Hardcastle. An odd character, indeed. I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw ! think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear ? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual ?
Miss Neville. - I have just come from one of our agreeable tête-à-têtes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
Miss Hardcastle. — And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of the family.
Miss Neville. — A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son, and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed upon another.
Miss Hardcastle. — My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so.
Miss Neville. — It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons ! Courage is necessary, as our affairs are critical. Miss Hardcastle. “Would it were bed-time, and all were
[Enter Miss HARDCASTLE and MAID.) Miss Hardcastle. What an unaccountable creature is that brother of mine, to send them to the house as an inn, ha! ha! I don't wonder at his impudence.
Maid. — But what is more, Madam, the young gentleman, as you passed by in your present dress, asked me if you were the bar-maid? He mistook you for the bar-maid, Madam!
Miss Hardcastle. — Did he? Then, as I live, I'm resolved to keep up the delusion. Tell me, Pimple, how do you like my present dress? Don't you think I look something like Cherry in the Beaux' Stratagem?
Maid. - It's the dress, Madam, that every lady wears in the country, but when she visits or receives company.
Miss Hardcastle. And are you sure he does not remember my face or person?
Maid. · Certain of it.
Miss Hardcastle. — I vow I thought so; for though we spoke for some time together, yet his fears were such that he never once looked up during the interview. Indeed, if he had, my bonnet would have kept him from seeing me.
Maid.—But what do you hope from keeping him in his mistake?
Miss Hardcastle. - In the first place, I shall be seen, and that is no small advantage to a girl who brings her face to market. Then I shall perhaps make an acquaintance, and that's no small victory gained over one who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex. But my chief aim is to take my gentleman off his guard, and, like an invisible champion of romance, examine the giant's force before I offer to combat.
Maid. — But are you sure you can act your part, and disguise your voice so that he may mistake that, as he has already mistaken your person?
Miss Hardcastle.- Never fear me. I think I have got the true bar cant-Did your honor call ?- Attend the Lion there. - Pipes and tobacco for the Angel. — The Lamb has been outrageous this half hour.
Maid.- It will do, Madam. But he's here. [Exit Maid.
Marlow. – What a bawling in every part of the house! I have scarce a moment's repose. If I go to the best room, there I find my host and his story; if I fly to the gallery, there we have my hostess with her courtesy down to the ground. I have at last got a moment to myself, and now for recollection.
[Walks and muses. Miss Hardcastle.- Did you call, Sir? Did your honor call ?