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· Tony. To be sure, aunts of all kinds are damn'd bad things. But what can I do? I have got you a pair of horses that will fly like Whistlejacket, 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. HARDCASTLE. Mrs. Hard. Well, I was greatly Auttered, to be sure. But 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.
Tony. As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a lit. tle 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 Neu. Cousin Tony promises to give us, more of his company at home. Indeed 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 be
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 lov'd cousin Con's hazel eyes, and her pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that, over the haspicholls, 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. Drowsey's sermons, to a fitter opportunity.
Enter DigGORY. Digg. Where's the 'Squire? I have got a letter for your worship
Tony. Give it to my mamma. She reads all my letters first.
Digg. I had orders to deliver it into your own hands. • Tony. Who does it come from?
Digg. Your worship mun ask that o'the letter itself.
Tony. I could wish to know, tho' (turning the letter and gazing on it.]
Miss Nev. [ Aside] Undone, undone. A letter to. him from Hastings. I know the hand. If my aunt sees it, we are ruined for ever. I'll keep her employ'd a little if I can. [To Mrs. Hardcastle] But I have not told you, Madam, of my cousin's smart answer just now to Mr. Marlow. We so laugh’dYou must know, Madam—this way a little, for he must not hear us.
[They confer. Tony. [Still gazing] A damn'd cramp piece of penmanship, as ever I saw in my life. I can read your print-hand very well. But here there are such han. dles, and shanks, and dashes, that one can scarce tell the head from the tail. To Anthony Lumpkin, Esq. It's very odd, I can read the outside of my let. ters, where my own name is, well enough. But when I come to open it, it is all-buzz. That's hard, very hard : for the inside of the letter is always
Mrs. Hard. Ha! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so my son was too hard for the philosopher.
Miss Nev. Yes, Madam ; but you must hear the rest, Madam. A little more this way, or he may hear us. You'll hear how he puzzled him again.
Mrs. Hard. He seems strangely puzzled now him. self, methinks.
Tony. [Still gazing] A damn'd up and down hand, as if it was disguised in liquor. [Reading] Dear Sir. Ay, that's that. Then there's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the next be an "izzard or an R, confound me, I cannot tell.
Mrs. Hard. What's that, my dear. Can I give you any assistance ?
Miss Nev. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp hand better than I (twitching the letter from her.] Do you know who it is from ?
Tony. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger the feeder.
Miss Nev. Ay, so it is, [pretending to read] Dear 'Squire, Hoping that you're in health, as I am at this present. The gentlemen of the Shake-bag club has cut the gentlemen of the goose-green quite out of feather. The odds-um-odd battle- um-long fighting—um-here, here, it's all about cocks, and fighting; it's of no consequence, here, put it up, put it up. [thrusting the crumpled letter upon him.]
Tony. But I tell you, Miss, it's of all the consequence in the world. I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea. Here, mother, do you make it out. Of no consequence? [Giving Mrs. Hardcastle the letter.
Mrs. Hard. How's this ! [reads) “ Dear'Squire, I'm now waiting for Miss Neville, with a post chaise and pair, at the bottom of the garden, but I find my horses yet unable to perform the journey. I'expect you'll assist us with a pair of fresh horses, as you promised. Dispatch is necessary, as the hag (ay the hag) your mother, will otherwise suspect us. Your's, Hastings.” Grant me patience. I shall run distracted. My rage chokes me.
Miss Nev. I hope, Madam, you'll suspend your re. sentment for a few moments, and not impute to me
any impertinence, or sinister design that belongs to
Mrs. Hard. [Curtesying very low] Fine spoken, Madam, you are most miraculously polite and engaging, and quite the very pink of courtesy and circumspection.
adam. [Changing her tone] And you, you great ill. fashioned oaf, with scarce sense enough to keep your mouth shut. Were you too join'd against me? But I'll defeat all your plots in a moment. As for you, Madam, since you have got a pair of fresh horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint them. So, if you please, instead of running away with your spark, prepare, this very moment, to run off with me. Your old aunt Pedigree will keep you secure, I'll warrant me. You too, Sir, may mount your horse, and guard
us upon the way. Here, Thomas, Roger, Diggory; - I'll shew you, that I wish you better than you do yourselves.
[Exit. Miss Nev. So now I'm completely ruined. Le Tony. Ay, that's a sure thing. the Miss Nev. What better could be expected from be- ing connected with such a stupid fool, and after all the nods and signs I made him.
Tony. By the laws, Miss, it was your own cleverness, and not my stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice and so busy with your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I thought you could never be making believe.