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[They retire and turn round, Modely fires, and Aura
drops as if shot. Free. Oh, he is shot! he is killed ! my poor boy is murdered.
Mode. What have I done? Curse on my steady hand. Free. Help! Murder! Murder! Help!
Enter Countrymen. Mode. Say you so ? Nay, then 'tis time to save one; by your leaye, as fast as my feet or my fears can carry me.
[Exeunt all but Freehold and Aura. Aura. What are they gone? Is the stage clear?
Free. Hah, let me kiss thee, my dear little girl; this was admirably performed. I was afraid you durst not have stood the powder.
Aura. No, no, put in bụt half a charge, and no wadding I had really much ado to provoke him to fight : so, so, we'll shew him a little country-play now; we'll teach him to ravish, I warrant.
Free. Well, I must wait upon his companion, ho. nest Heartwell. He expects me to attend him to Sir John's, according to his wife's request.
Aura. Do so; while I slip the back way through the orchard, into the hall-house, and undress, that I may be with you time enough to finish my part: this is a day of business, i'faith.
The Hall of Sir John's House. Enter • DOUBLEJUGG
and' SHACKLEFIGURE. “ Shack. Verily, Madam Betty hath invited every “ creature in the parish to-morrow.
“ Doub. And Sir John hath commanded me to “ throw the cellar-doors open, and make the whole « country reel-Here will be brave randing, i'faith; “ all the steeples in the country are to rock---and I “ have summoned together all the bagpipes, tabors, “ drums, trumpets, and the whole fraternity of cats“ guts within seven miles round.
“ Shack. One would imagine Madam Betty stood " candidate for the county
" Doub. And was to drink hier way to Wetminster " thro' a sea of O&tober.
“Shack.' What are all these uncommon prepara" tions designed for?
“ Doub. Nay, I don't know; I don't inquire into “ state affairs, but I shall know more on't when I am " drunk; for then I am very peery.
" Shack. In the mean time mind your affairs; we " have much business to do. [Exit Doub.] I must “ wait here, to introduce the strange gentleman, “ whom my master is so fond of.”,
Free. A rough lover should be used so: why, he was just going to knock her down I suppose that is his method.
Heart. And the little girl stood his fire gallantly ?
Free. O, most heroically! O' my conscience, I be. lieve she would have fought him in earnest.
Heart. Is he taken ?
Heart. Well, then let his fears pay the price of his sin : I think his punishment very just. But see where old Steady-muscle stands in form to introduce us.
Free. Ay, come on now ; you shall see a worthy piece of antiquity, a right bred old English country gentleman; one who keeps open house all the whole year round, and yet never took or paid a penny for a vote in his life.
Shack. Sir, with the greatest submission, if it shall be your worship’s good pleasure, I will wait on the company within, and know if it shall be their pleasure to receive you.
[Exit Shack. Free. Do so, old Stiff-rump, do. This fellow keeps himself as regular as his day-book.
Heart. Company! What company?
Free. A friend or two only, perhaps, that Sir John has invited to a dance, or so.
Heart. A dance---a friend-.-'Sdeath, you distract me! Excuse me to him, I beg you.
Free. No, no: what, you must bear with a little noise at first--- A bridegroom, and afraid of a fiddle. But see the door opens, and the company are moving towards us.
Opens. Flora and two Women Servants appear drest
genteelly; they move down towards HEARTWELL. Heart. What's here ? Ladies too! So, I find I must run thro' the impertinence of the night. I would give a little finger now to be in bed, the curtains drawn, and all quiet, with my dear girl by my side. So---it seems I must salute them H ah!
Flora. Sir, you have stolen a wedding among us here, and we come time enough, I hope, to give you joy of it.
Heart. My love! my dear! I am surprised! Why hast thou changed thyself thus from what thou wert?
Flora. I hope my features are not altered with my dress.
dition by dress, but what will injure the simplicity of thy charms. But, pr’ythee, tell me why you have changed your dress? “Sure you must be sensible you “ wanted nothing to make you victorious in your 16 other habit.”
Flora. To tell you, Sir, the truth, then; I was obliged to change my dress ; my landlord has obliged me to it, and you know we country-folk must obey our landlords.
Heart. Well, I am satisfied. You have obeyed him then.
Flora. Yes, Sir; but he is a very obstinate, self
willed man; and I think a little too barbarously in-
Heart. Insists! Upon what?
make me more pleasing in his eyes, commanded me to dress thus.
Heart. Custom of the Manor-Dress yourselfCommanded you to be pleasing to his eye-.-What is all this heap of confusion and nonsense ?
Free. Why, Sir, I'll tell you, in short; 'tis this The lord of our manor has claimed by prescription, time out of mind, and still does claim; the first night's lodging of every tenant's daughter married here; therefore our maidens, when they marry, go out of this parish, unless they are willing to pay the forfeit in kind.
Heart. What! you are merry; very merry; so, go on : how!
Free. Yet when such an accident as this happened here, he generally used to take an equivalent in money or goods : but now he is resolved to be paid in kind; he will take no modus; and for that reason has sent for you hither, to let you know his claim.
Heart. Confound his claim- curse upon his manor, and his custom too : I'll shoot him through the head for having the insolence 'to think on't.
Free. Ay, but that is not the case ; that is not the business, my friend.