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Oak So--SOS---This hurts me--I'm shocked
[To himself. Mrs. Oak. What, are you confounded with your guilt! Have I caught you at last ?
Oak. O that wicked Charles ! To decoy a young lady from her parents in the country! The profligacy of the young fellows of this age is abominable,
[To himself. Mrs. Oak. [Half aside, and musing ] Charles !- Let me see !- Charles !-No! Impossible. This is all a trick. Cak. He has certainly ruined this poor lady.
[To himself. Mrs. Oak. Art! art! all art! There's a sudden turn now! You have ready wit for an intrigue, I find.
Oak. Such an abandoned action! I wish I had never had the care of him.
[To himself. Mrs. Oak. Mighty fine, Mr. Oakly! Go on, sir, go on ! I see what you mean.- Your assurance provokes me beyond your very falsehood itself. So you imagine, sir, that this affected concern, this flimsy pretence about Charles, is to bring you off. Matchless confidence! But I am armed against every thing--I am prepared for all your dark schemes : I am aware of all your low stratagems.
Oak. See there now! Was ever any thing so provoking? To persevere in your ridiculous For Heaven's sake, my dear, don't distract me. When you see my mind thus agitated and uneasy, that a young fellow, whom his dying father, my own brother, committed to my care, should be guilty of such enormous wick, edness; I say, when you are witness of my distress on this occasion, how can you be weak enough and cruel enough to-· Mrs. Oak. Prodigiously well, sir! You do it rery well. Nay, keep it up, carry it on, there's nothing like going through with it. O you artful creature ! But, sir, I am not to be so easily satisfied. I do not believe a syllable of all this--Give me the letter[Snatching the letter. You shall sorely repent this vile business, for I am resolved that I will know the bottom of it.
[Exit. Oak. This is beyond all patience. Provoking woman! Her absurd suspicions interpret every thing the wrong way. But this uugracious boy! In how many troubles will he involve his own and his lady's family !-MI never imagined that he was of such abandoned principles.
Enter MAJOR Oakly and CHARLES. Charles. Good-morrow, sir! Maj. Good-morrow, brother, good-morrow! -What! you have been at the old work, I find. I heard you-ding! dong! i'faith !-She has rung a noble peal in your ears. But how now? Why sure you've had a remarkable warm bout on't.---You seem more ruffled than usual.
Oak. I am, indeed, brother! Thanks to that young gentleman there. Have a care, Charles ! you may be called to a severe account for this. The honour of a family, sir, is no such light matter,
Charles. Sir! Maj. Hey-day! What, has a curtain lecture produced a lecture of morality? What is all this ! .
Oak. To a profligate mind, perhaps, these things may appear agreeable in the beginning. But don't you tremble at the consequences ?
Charles. I see, sir, that you are displeased with me, but I am quite at a loss to guess at the occasion.
Oak. Tell me, sir!-where is Miss Harriet Russet?
I would sooner die, than do her the least injury
Maj. I believe the young dog has been at her, after all.
Oak. I was in hopes, Charles, you had better principles. But there's a letter just come from her fa. ther
Charles. A letter !- What letter? Dear sir, give it me. Some intelligence of my Harriet, Major!The letter, sir, the letter this moment, for heaven's sake!
Oak. If this warmth, Charles, tends to prove your innocence-
Charles. Dear sir, excuse me I'll prove any thing --Let me but see this letter, and I'll
Oak. Let you see it! I could hardly get a sight of it myself. Mrs. Oakly has it.
Charles. Has she got it? Major, I'll be with you again directly.
[Exit hastily. Maj. Hey-day! The devil's in the boy! What a fiery set of people! By my troth, I think the whole family is made of nothing but combustibles.
Oak. I like this emotion. It looks well. It may serve too to convince my wife of the folly of her sus, picions. Would to heaven I could quiet them for ever!
Maj. Why, pray now, my dear, naughty brother, what heinous offence have you committed this morning? What new cause of suspicion? You have been asking one of the maids to mend your ruffle, I suppose, or have been hanging your head out of window, when a pretty young woman has passed by, or-
Oak. How can you trifle with my distresses, Major? Did not I tell you, it was about a letter?
Maj. A letter!-hum-A suspicious circumstance, to be sure ! What, and the seal a true lover's knot now, hey! or a heart transfixed with darts; or possibly the wax bore the industrious impression of a thimble; or perhaps the folds were lovingly connected by a wafer, pricked with a pin, and the direction written in a vile
scrawl, and not a word spelt as it should be! ha! ha! ha!
Oak. Pooh! brother--Whatever it was, the letter, you find, was for Charles, not for me this outrageous jealousy is the devil.
Maj. Mere matrimonial blessings and domestic comfort, brother! jealousy is a certain sign of love.
Oak. Love! it is this very love that hath made us both so miserable. Her love for me has confined me to my house, like a state prisoner, without the liberty of seeing my friends, or the use of pen, ink, and paper; while my love for her has made such a fool of me, that I have never had the spirit to contradict her.
Maj. Ay, ay, there you've hit it; Mrs. Oakly would make an excellent wife, if you did but know how to manage her.
Oak. You are a rare fellow, indeed, to talk of managing a wife debauched bachelor--a rattlebrained, rioting fellow- who have picked up your common-place notions of women in bagnios, taverns, and the camp; whose most refined commerce with the sex has been in order to delude country girls at your quarters, or to besiege the virtue of abigails, milliners, or mantua-makers' 'prentices.
Maj. So much the better !--so much the better! women are all alike in the main, brother, high or low, married or single, quality or no quality. I have found them so, from a duchess down to a milk-maid ; every woman is a tyrant at the bottom. But they could never make a fool of me.--No, no! no woman should ever domineer over me, let her be mistress or wife. ;
Oak. Single men can be no judges in these cases. They must happen in all families. But when things are driven to extremities—to see a woman in uneasiness
a woman one loves too-one's wife who can withstand it? You neither speak nor think like a man that has loved, and been married, Major!..
Maj. I wish I could hear a married man speak my language. I'm a bachelor, it's true;, but I am no bad judge of your case for all that. I know yours and Mrs. Oakly's disposition to a hair. She is all impetuosity and fire-A very magazine of touchwood and gunpowder. You are hot enough too, upon occasion, but then it's over in an instant. In comes love and conjugal affection, as you call it; that is, mere folly and weakness—and you draw off your forces, just when you should pursue the attack, and follow your advantage. Have at her with spirit, and the day's your own, brother.
Oak. Why, what would you have me do?
Maj. Do as you please for one month, whether she likes it or not: and I'll answer for it she will consent you shall do as you please all her life after. In short, do but show yourself a mạn of spirit, leave off whining about love and tenderness, and nonsense, and the business is done, , brother. . .
Oak. I believe you are in the right, Major! I see you are in the right. I'll do it-I'll certainly do it. -But then it hurts me to the soul, to think what uneasi. ness I shall give her. The first opening of my design will throw her into fits, and the pursuit of it, perhaps, may be fatal. ..
Maj. Fits! ha! ha! ha!—I'll engage to cure her of her fits. Nobody understands hysterical cases better than I do; besides, my sister's symptoms are not very dangerous. Did you ever hear of her falling into a fit when you was not by Was she ever found in convulsions in her closet ? --No, no, these fits, the more care you take of them, the more you will increase the distemper: let them alone, and they will wear themselves out, I warrant you. .
Oak. True, very true--you are certainly in the right. -I'll follow your advice. Where do you dine to-day? -I'll order the coacb, ayd go with you,