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Hard. And yet he might have seen something in me above a common inn-keeper, too.

Sir Chas. Yes, Dick, but he mistook you for an uncommon inn-keeper; ha! ha! ha!

Hard. Well, I'm in too good spirits to think of any thing but joy. Yes, my dear friend, this union of our families will make our personal friendships hereditary, and though my daughter's fortune is but small

Sir Chas. 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 Chas. 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.

Marl. 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.

Marl. Sir, I shall be always 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?

Marl. 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 past between you; but mum.

Marl. Sure, Sir, nothing has past between us but the most profound respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on her's. You don't think, Sir, that my impudence has been past upon all the rest of the family?

Hard. Impudence! No, I don't say that—not quite impudence --though girls like to be played with, and rumpled a little, too, sometimes. But she has told no tales, I assure you.

Marl. I never gave her the slightest cause.

Hard. Well, well, I like modesty in its place well enough. But this is over-acting, young gentleman. You may be open. Your father and I will like you the better for it.

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Hard. I tell you, she don't dislike you; and as I'm sure you like her

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Hard. I see no reason why you should not be joined as fast as the parson can tie you.

Marl. But hear me, Sir

Hard. Your father approves the match, I admire it; every moment's delay will be doing mischief, so

Marl. 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 Chas. And you never grasped her hand or made any protestations?

Marl. 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 farther proofs of my duty, nor prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many mortifications.

[Exit.

Sir Chas. I'm astonished at the air of sincerity with which be parted.

Hard. And I'm astonished at the deliberate intrepidity of his

assurance.

Sir Chas. I dare pledge my life and honour upon his truth. Hard. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness upon her veracity.

Enter Miss HARDCASTLE.

Hard. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely and without reserve: has Mr. Marlow made you any professions of love and affection?

Miss Hard.

The question is very abrupt, Sir! But since you

require unreserved sincerity, I think he has.

Hard. (To Sir Charles.) You see.

Sir Chas. And pray, Madam, have you and my son had more than one interview?

Miss Hard. Yes, Sir, several.

Hard. (To Sir Charles.) You see.
Sir Chas. But did he profess any

Miss Hard. A lasting one.

Sir Chas.

Miss Hard.

Did he talk of love?

Much, Sir.

attachment?

Sir Chas. Amazing! And all this formally?

Miss Hard. Formally.

Hard. Now, my friend, I hope you are satisfied.

Sir Chas. And how did he behave, Madam?

Miss Hard. As most profest 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 Chas. 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 am confident, he never sat for the picture.

Miss Hard. 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 place yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in person.

Sir Chas. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all

my happiness in him must have an end.

[Exit.

Miss Hard. And if you don't find him what I describe fear my happiness must never have a beginning.

- I

[Exeunt:

Scene changes to the back of the Garden.

Enter HASTINGS.

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.

Hast. 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 bye, is cursedly tiresome. It has shook me worse than the basket of a stage-coach.

Hast. But how? where did you leave your fellow-travellers? Are they in safety? Are they housed?

Tony. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such bad driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: Rabbit me, but I'd rather ride forty miles after a fox than ten with such varment.

Hast. Well, but where have you left the ladies? I die with impatience.

Tony. Left them! Why where should I leave them but where 1 found them?

Hast. This is a riddle.

Tony. Riddle me this then. house, and round the house, and Hast. I'm still astray.

What's that goes round the never touches the house?

I have led them astray. By

Tony. Why, that 's it, mon. jingo, there's not a pond or a 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 FeatherbedLane, 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 Heavy-tree Heath; 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 a foot 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 guts. 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 guts, then I should be dead, and you might go and 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.

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.

Mrs. Hard. Oh, Tony, I'm killed! Shook! Battered to death. I shall never survive it. That last jolt, that laid us again the quickset hedge, 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 Hard. 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 come upon Crackskull Common, about forty miles from home.

Mrs. Hard. O lud! O lud! The most notorious spot in all the country. We only want a robbery to make a complete night on 't, Goldsmith.

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