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Hard. Then they had your orders for what they do? I'm satisfied!
Marl. They had, I assure you. You shall hear from one of themselves.
Enter SERVANT, drunk.
Marl. You, Jeremy! Come forward, sirrah! What were my orders? Were you not told to drink freely, and call for what you thought fit, for the good of the house?
Hard. (Aside.) I begin to lose my patience.
Serv. Please your honour, liberty and Fleet-street for ever! Though I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man. I'll drink for no man before supper, Sir, damme! Good liquor will sit upon a good supper, but a good supper will not sit upon hiccup upon my conscience, Sir.
Marl. You see, my old friend, the fellow is as drunk as he can possibly be. I don't know what you'd have more, unless you'd have the poor devil soused in a beer-barrel.
Hard. Zounds! he 'll drive me distracted, if I contain myself any longer. Mr. Marlow - Sir; I have submitted to your insolence for more than four hours, and I see no likelihood of its coming to an end. I'm now resolved to be master here, Sir; and I desire that you and your drunken pack may leave my house directly.
Marl. Leave your house! Sure you jest, my good friend! What? when I'm doing what I can to please you.
Hard. I tell you, Sir, you don't please me; so I desire you'll leave my house.
Marl. Sure you cannot be serious? at this time o'night, and such a night? You only mean to banter me.
Hard. I tell you, Sir, I'm serious! And now that my passions are roused, I say this house is mine, Sir; this house is mine, and I command you to leave it directly.
Marl. Ha! ha! ha! A puddle in a storm. I shan't stir a step, I assure you. (In a serious tone.) This your house, fellow! It's my house. This is my house. Mine, while I choose to stay. What right have you to bid me leave this house, Sir?
I never met with such impudence, curse me; never in my whole life before.
Hard. Nor I, confound me if I ever did. To come to my house, to call for what he likes, to turn me out of my own chair, to insult the family, to order his servants to get drunk, and then to tell me, "This house is mine, Sir." By all that 's impudent it makes me laugh. Ha! ha! ha! Pray, Sir (bantering), as you take the house, what think you of taking the rest of the furniture? There's a pair of silver candlesticks, and there's a firescreen, and there's a pair of brazen-nosed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy to them.
Marl. Bring me your bill, Sir; bring me your bill, and let's make no more words about it.
Hard. There are a set of prints, too. What think you of the Rake's Progress, for your own apartment?
Marl. Bring me your bill, I say; and I'll leave you and your infernal house directly.
Hard. Then there's a mahogany table that you may see your own face in.
Marl. My bill, I say.
Hard. I had forgot the great chair for your own particular slumbers, after a hearty meal.
Marl. Zounds! bring me my bill, I say, and let's hear no more on't.
Hard. Young man, young man, from your father's letter to me, I was taught to expect a well-bred modest man as a visitor here, but now I find him no better than a coxcomb and a bully; but he will be down here presently, and shall hear more of it. [Exit.
Marl. How's this! Sure I have not mistaken the house. Every thing looks like an inn; the servants cry coming; the attendance is awkward; the bar-maid, too, to attend us. But she's here, and will farther inform me. Whither so fast, child? A word with you.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE.
Miss Hard. Let it be short, then. I'm in a hurry. (Aside) I believe he begins to find out his mistake. But it's too soon quite to undeceive him,
Marl. Pray, child, answer me one question. What are you, and what may your business in this house be?
Miss Hard. A relation of the family, Sir.
Marl. What! a poor relation?
Miss Hard. Yes, Sir; a poor relation, appointed to keep the keys, and to see that the guests want nothing in my power to give them.
Marl. That is, you act as bar-maid of this inn.
Miss Hard. Inn! O la what brought that in your head? One of the best families in the country keep an inn · Ha! ha! ha! old Mr.Hardcastle's house an inn!
Marl. Mr. Hardcastle's house! Is this Mr. Hardcastle's house, child?
Miss Hard. Ay, sure! Whose else should it be?
Marl. So then, all's out, and I have been damnably imposed on. O, confound my stupid head, I shall be laughed at over the whole town. I shall be stuck up in caricatura in all the printshops. The Dullissimo-Maccaroni. To mistake this house of all others for an inn, and my father's old friend for an inn-keeper! What a swaggering puppy must he take me for! What a silly puppy do I find myself! There, again, may I be hang'd, my dear, but I mistook you for the bar-maid.
Miss Hard. Dear me! dear me! I'm sure there's nothing in my behaviour to put me upon a level with one of that stamp.
Marl. Nothing, my dear, nothing. But I was in for a list of blunders, and could not help making you a subscriber. My stupidity saw every thing the wrong way. I mistook your assiduity for assurance, and your simplicity for allurement. But it's overThis house I no more show my face in.
Miss Hard. I hope, Sir, I have done nothing to disoblige you. I'm sure I should be sorry to affront any gentleman who has been so polite, and said so many civil things to me. I'm sure I should be sorry (pretending to cry) if he left the family upon my account. I'm sure I should be sorry people said any thing amiss, since I have no fortune but my character.
Marl. (Aside.) By Heaven! she weeps. This is the first mark of tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it
touches me. (To her) Excuse me, my lovely girl; you are the only part of the family I leave with reluctance. But to be plain with you, the difference of our birth, fortune, and education, makes an honourable connexion impossible; and I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that trusted in my honour, of bringing ruin upon one, whose only fault was being too lovely. Miss Hard. (Aside.) Generous man! I now begin to admire him- (To him) But I am sure my family is as good as Miss Hardcastle's; and though I'm poor, that 's no great misfortune to a contented mind; and until this moment, I never thought that it was bad to want fortune.
Marl. And why now, my pretty simplicity?
Miss Hard. Because it puts me at a distance from one, that, if I had a thousand pounds, I would give it all to,
Marl. (Aside.) This simplicity bewitches me, so that if I stay, I'm undone. I must make one bold effort, and leave her. (To her) Your partiality in my favour, my dear, touches me most sensibly: and were I to live for myself alone, I could easily fix my choice. But I owe too much to the opinion of the world, too much to the authority of a father; so that I can scarcely speak it — it affects me. Farewell. [Exit.
Miss Hard. I never knew half his merit till now. He shall not go, if I have power or art to detain him. I'll still preserve the character in which I stooped to conquer, but will undeceive my papa, who, perhaps, may laugh him out of his resolution. [Exit.
Enter TONY, Miss NEVILLE.
Tony. Ay, you may steal for yourselves the next time. I have done my duty. She has got the jewels again, that's a sure thing; but she believes it was all a mistake of the servants.
Miss Nev. But, my dear cousin, sure you won't forsake us in this distress? If she in the least suspects that I am going off, I shall certainly be locked up, or sent to my aunt Pedigree's, which is ten times worse.
Tony. To be sure, aunts of all kinds are damned bad things. But what can I do? I have got you a pair of horses that will fly like Whistle-jacket; and I'm sure you can't say but I have courted
you nicely before her face. Here she comes, we must court a bit or two more, for fear she should suspect us. (They retire, and seem to fondle.)
Enter Mrs. HARD CASTLE.
Mrs. Hard. Well, I was greatly fluttered, to be sure. my son tells me it was all a mistake of the servants. I shan't be easy, however, till they are fairly married, and then let her keep her own fortune. But what do I see? fondling together, as I'm alive. I never saw Tony so sprightly before. Ah! have I caught you, my pretty doves? What, billing, exchanging stolen glances and broken murmurs? Ah!
Tony. As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a little now and then to be sure. But there's no love lost between us.
Mrs. Hard. A mere sprinkling, Tony, upon the flame, only to make it burn brighter.
Miss Nev. pany at home.
Cousin Tony promises to give us more of his comIndeed, he shan't leave us any more. It won't leave us, cousin Tony, will it?
Tony. O! it's a pretty creature. No, I'd sooner leave my horse in a pound, than leave you when you smile upon one so. Your laugh makes you so becoming.
Miss Nev. Agreeable cousin! Who can help admiring that natural humour, that pleasant, broad, red, thoughtless - (patting his cheek) ah! it's a bold face.
Mrs. Hard. Pretty innocence!
Tony. I'm sure I always loved cousin Con's hazel eyes, and her pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that over the haspicolls, like a parcel of bobbins.
Mrs. Hard. Ah, he would charm the bird from the tree. I was never so happy before. My boy takes after his father, poor Mr. Lumpkin, exactly. The jewels, my dear Con, shall be yours incontinently. You shall have them. Isn't he a sweet boy, my dear? You shall be married to-morrow, and we 'll put off the rest of his education, like Dr. Drowsy's sermons, to a fitter opportunity.