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Enter DIGGORY. Dig. Where's the 'Squire? I have got a letter for your worship. Tony. Give it to my mamma. She reads all my letters first. Dig. I had orders to deliver it into your own bands. Tony. Who does it come from? Dig. Your worship muu ask that o'the letter itself.
Tony. I could wish to know thougb (turning the letter and gazing on it).
Miss Neu. (Aside.) Undone! undone! A letter to him from Hastings. I know the band. If my aunt sees it, we are ruined for ever. I'll keep her employed a little if I can. (To Mrs. Hardcastle) But I have not told you, Madam, of my cousin's smart answer just now to Mr. Marlow. We so laughed. — You must know, Madam This way a little, for he must not bear us. (They confer.)
Tony. (Still gazing.) A damped cramp piece of penmanship, as ever I saw in my life. I can read your priot hand very well. But here there are such handles, and shanks, and dashes, that one can scarce know the head from the tail. “To Anthony Lumpkin, Esquire." It 's very odd, I can read the outside of my letters, where my owo pame is, well enough. But when I come to open it, it 's all buzz. That's hard, very bard; for the inside of the letter is always the cream of the correspondence.
Mrs. Hard. Ha! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so my son was too hard for the philosopher.
Miss Nev. Yes, Madam; but you must hear the rest, Madam. A little more this way, or he may hear us. You 'll hear how be puzzled him again.
Mrs. Hard. He seems strangely puzzled now himseif, methinks.
Tony. (Still gazing.) A damned up and down band, as if it was disguised in liquor. (Reading) Dear, Sir, - ay, that's that. Then there 's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the next be an izzard, or an R, confound me, I cannot tell.
Mrs. Hard. What 's that, my dear? Can I give you any assistauce?
Miss Nev. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp
hand better than I. (Twitching the letter from him.) Do you know who it is from ?
Tony. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger, the feeder.
Miss Nev. Ay, so it is (pretending to read). Dear 'Squire, hoping that you 're in health, as I am at this present. The gentlemen of the Shake-bag club has cut the gentlemen of the Goosegreen quite out of feather. The odds - um -odd battle loog fighting - her here, it 's all about cocks and fighting; it's of no consequence, here, put it up, put it up. (Thrusting the crumpled letter upon him.)
Tony. But I tell you, Miss, it 's of all the consequence ip the world. I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea. Here, mother, do you make it out. Of no consequence! (Giving Mrs. Hardcastle the letter.)
Mrs. Hard. How 's this! (Reads) “Dear 'Squire, I'm now waiting for Miss Neville, with a post-chaise and pair, at the bottom of the garden, but I find my horses yet unable to perform the journey. I expect you 'll assist us with a pair of fresh horses, as you promised. Dispatch is necessary, as the hag (ay, the bag) your mother, will otherwise suspect us. Yours, Hastings." Grant me patience: I shall run distracted! My rage chokes me.
Miss Nev. I hope, Madam, you 'll suspend your resentment for a few moments, and not impute to me any impertinence, or sinister design, that belongs to another.
Mrs. Hard. (Curtesying very low.) Fine spoken Madam, you are most miraculously polite and engaging, and quite the very pink of courtesy and circumspection, Madam. (Changing her tone) And you, you great ill-fashioned oaf, with scarce sense enough to keep your mouth shut: were you, too, joined against me? But I'll defeat all your plots in a moment. As for you, Madam, since you have got a pair of fresh horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint them. So, if you please, instead of running away with your spark, prepare, this very moment, to run off with me. Your old aunt Pedigree will keep you secure, I'll warrant me. You too, Sir, may mount your horse, and guard us upon the way. Here, Thomas, Roger, Diggory! I 'll show you, that I wish you better than you do yourselves,
Miss Nev. So now I'm completely ruined.
Miss Nev. What better could be expected from being connected with such a stupid fool, - and after all the pods and signs I made bim?
Tony. By the laws, Miss, it was your own cleverness, and not my stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice and so busy with your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I thought you could never be making believe.
Enter HASTINGS. Hast. So, Sir, I find by my servant, that you have shown my letter, and betrayed us. Was this well done, young gentleman?
Tony. Here's another. Ask miss, there, who betrayed you? Ecod, it was her doing, not mine.
Enter MARLOW. Marl. So I have been finely used here among you. Rendered contemptible, driven into ill-manners, despised, insulted, laughed at.
l'ony. Here's another. We shall have old Bedlam broke loose presently.
Miss Nev. And there, Sir, is the gentleman to whom we all owe every obligation.
Marl. What can I say to him? a mere boy, an idiot, whose ignorance and age are a protection.
Hast. A poor contemptible booby, that would but disgrace correction.
Miss Nev. Yet with cunning and malice enough to make himself merry with all our embarrassments.
Hast. An insensible cub.
Tony. Baw! dam'me, but I 'll fight you both, one after the other -- with baskets.
Marl. As for him, he's below resentment. But your conduct, Mr. Hastings, requires an explanation. You knew of my mistakes, yet would not undeceive me.
Hast. Tortured as I am with my own disappointments, is this a time for explanations? It is not friendly, Mr. Marlow.
Marl. But, Sir
Miss Nev. Mr. Marlow, we never kept on your mistake, til it was too late to undeceive you.
Enter SERVANT. Serv. My mistress desires you 'll get ready immediately, Madam. The horses are putting to. Your bat and things are in the next room. We are to go thirty miles before morning.
(Exit Servant. Miss Nev. Well, well: I'll come presently.
Marl. (To Hastings.) Was it well done, Sir, to assist in rendering me ridiculous ? To hang me out for the scorn of all my acquaintance ? Depend upon it, Sir, I shall expect an explanation.
Hast. Was it well done, Sir, if you 're upon that subject, to deliver what I entrusted to yourself, to the care of another, Sir?
Miss Nev. Mr. Hastings ! Mr. Marlow! Why will you increase my distress by this groundless dispute? I implore, I entreat you
[Exit Servant. Miss Nev. I come. Pray be pacified. If I leave you thus, I sball die with apprehension.
Enter SERVANT. Serv. Your fan, muff, and gloves, Madam. The horses are waiting.
Miss Nev. 0, Mr. Marlow, if you knew what a scene of constraint and ill-pature lies before me, I am sure it would convert your resentment into pily.
Marl. I'm so distracted with a variety of passions, that I don't know what I do. Forgive me, Madam. George, forgive me. You koow my hasty temper, and should not exasperate it.
Hast. The torture of my situation is my only excuso.
Miss Nev. Well, my dear Hastings, if you have that esteem for me that I think, – that I am sure you have, your constancy for three years will but increase the happiness of our future connexion. If
Mrs. Hard. Within.) Miss Neville. Constance, why Copstance, I say.
Miss Nev. I'm coming. Well, constancy, remember, constancy is the word.
[Exit. Hast. My heart! how can I support this ? To be so near happiDess, and such happiness!
Marl. (To Tony.) You see now, young gentleman, the effects of your folly. What might be amusement to you, is here disappointment, and even distress.
Tony (From a reverie.) Ecod, I have hit it: it's here. Your bands. Yours and yours, my poor Sulky. – My boots there, bo!
- Meet me two hours bence at the bottom of the garden; and it you don't find Tony Lumpkin a more good-patured fellow than you thought for, I 'll give you leave to take my best horse, and Bet Bouncer into the bargain. Come along. My bouts, bo! [Exeunt.
Enter Hastings and SERVANT. Hast. You saw the old lady and Miss Neville drive off, you say?
Serv. Yes, your honour. They went off io a post-coach, and the young 'Squire went on horseback. They 're thirty miles off by this time.
Hast. Then all my hopes are over.
Serv. Yes, Sir. Old Sir Charles is arrived. He and the old gentleman of the house bave been laughing at Mr. Marlow's mistake this half hour. They are coming this way.
Hast. Then I must not be seen. So now to my fruitless appointment at the bottom of the garden. This is about the time.
Enter Sir CHARLES and HARDCASTLE. Hard. Ha! bal ha! The peremptory tone in which he sent forth his sublime commands!
Sir Chas. And the reserve with which I suppose he treated all your advances.