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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 Don't be afraid.
us? No; it's only a tree.
Mrs. Hard. The fright will certainly kill me.
Tony. Do you see any thing like a black hat moving behind the thicket?
Mrs. Hard. Oh, death!
Tony. No; it's only a cow. Don't be afraid, mamma; don't be afraid.
Mrs. Hard. As I'm alive, Tony, I see a 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 damn'd ill-looking fellow.
Mrs. Hard. Good Heaven defend us! He approaches. Tony. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave me 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.)
Hard. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people in want of help. O, 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. Hard. (From behind.) Ah, death! I find there's danger. Hard. Forty miles in three hours; sure that's too much, my youngster.
Tony. Stout horses and willing minds make short journeys, as they say. Hem.
Mrs. Hard. (From behind.) Sure he 'll do the dear boy no barm.
Hard. But I heard a voice here; I should be glad to know from whence it came.
Tony. It was I, Sir, talking to myself, Sir. I was saying that forty miles in four hours was very good going. Hem. As to
be sure it was. Hem. I have got a sort of cold by being out in the air. We'll go in, if you please. Hem.
Hard. But if you talked to yourself you did not answer yourself. I'm certain I heard two voices, and am resolved (raising his voice) to find the other out.
Mrs. Hard. (From behind.) out. Oh!
Oh! he's coming to find me
if I tell you? Hem. I'll lay
Tony. What need you go, Sir, down my life for the truth - hem - I'll tell you all, Sir. (Detaining him.)
Hard. I tell you I will not be detained. I insist on seeing. It's in vain to expect I'll believe you.
Mrs. Hard. (Running forward from behind.) O lud! he'll murder my poor boy, my darling! Here, good gentleman, whet your rage upon me. Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman; spare my child, if you have any mercy.
Hard. My wife, as I'm a Christian. From whence can she come? or what does she mean?
Mrs. Hard. (Kneeling.) Take compassion on us, good Mr. Highwayman. Take our money, our watches, all we have, but spare our lives. We will never bring you to justice; indeed we won't, good Mr. Highwayman.
Hard. I believe the woman 's out of her senses. What, Dorothy! don't you know me?
Mrs. Hard. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fears blinded me. But who, my dear, could have expected to meet you here, in this frightful place, so far from home? What has brought you to follow us?
Hard. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits? So far from home, when you are within forty yards of your own door! (To him) This is one of your old tricks, you graceless rogue you. (To her) Don't you know the gate and the mulberry-tree; and don't you remember the horse-pond, my dear?
Mrs. Hard. Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as long as I live; I have caught my death in it. - (To Tony) And is it to you, you graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll teach you to abuse your mother, I will.
Tony. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, and so you may take the fruits on 't.
Mrs. Hard. I'll spoil you, I will.
[Follows him off the stage. Exit. Hard. There's morality, however, in his reply.
Enter HASTINGS and Miss Neville.
Hast. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we delay a moment, all is lost for ever. Pluck up a little resolution, and we shall soon be out of the reach of her malignity.
Miss Nev. I find it impossible. My spirits are so sunk with the agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger. Two or three years' patience will at last crown us with happiness.
Hast. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy. Let us fly, my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this very moment. Perish fortune! Love and content will increase what we possess beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me prevail!
Miss Nev. No, Mr. Hastings, no. Prudence once more comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance. I'm resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's compassion and justice for redress.
Hast. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve you.
Miss Nev. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to rely.
Hast. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly obey you.
Enter Sir CHARLES and Miss HARDCASTLE.
Sir Chas. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears. I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter.
Miss Hard. I am proud of your approbation; and to show I merit it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
Sir Chas. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appoint[Exit Sir Charles.
Marl. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the separation.
Miss Hard. (In her own natural manner.) I believe these sufferings cannot be very great, Sir, which you can so easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by showing the little value of what you now think proper to regret.
Marl. (Aside.) This girl every moment improves upon me. (To her.) It must not be, Madam. I have already trifled too long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion. The disparity of education and fortune, the anger of a parent, and the contempt of my equals, begin to lose their weight; and nothing can restore me to myself but this painful effort of resolution.
Miss Hard. Then go, Sir: I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Though my family be as good as her's you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fixed on fortune.
Enter HARDCASTLE and Sir CHARLES, from behind. Sir Chas. Here, behind this screen.
Hard. Ay, ay; make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him with confusion at last.
Marl. By heavens, Madam! fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see that without emotion? But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger expression. What at first seemed rustic plainness, now appears refined simplicity. What seemed forward assurance, now strikes me as the result of courageous innocence and conscious virtue.
Sir Chas, What can it mean? He amazes me!
Hard. I told you how it would be. Hush!
Marl. I am now determined to stay, Madam, and I have too good an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt his approbation.
Miss Hard. No, Mr. Marlow, I will not, cannot detain you. Do you think I could suffer a connexion in which there is the smallest room for repentance? Do you think I would take the mean advantage of a transient passion to load you with confusion? Do you think I could ever relish that happiness which was acquired by lessening yours?
Marl. By all that's good, I can have no happiness but what's in your power to grant me! Nor shall I ever feel repentance but in not having seen your merits before. I will stay even contrary to your wishes; and though you should persist to shun me, I will make my respectful assiduities atone for the levity of my past conduct.
Miss Hard. Sir, I must intreat you 'll desist. As our acquaintance began, so let it end, in indifference. I might have given an hour or two to levity; but seriously, Mr. Marlow, do you think I could ever submit to a connexion where I must appear mercenary, and you imprudent? Do you think I could ever catch at the confident addresses of a secure admirer?
Marl. (Kneeling) Does this look like security? Does this look like confidence? No, Madam, every moment that shows me your merit, only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion. Here let me continue
Sir Chas. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting conversation?
Hard. Your cold contempt; your formal interview! What have you to say now?
Marl. That I'm all amazement! What can it mean?
Hard. It means that you can say and unsay things at pleasure: that you can address a lady in private, and deny it in public: that you have one story for us, and another for my daughter.
Marl. Daughter! This lady your daughter?
Hard. Yes, Sir, my only daughter: my Kate; whose else should she be?