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Mar. Sir, I shall be always proud of her approba. tion.
Hard. Approbation is but a cold word, Mr. Mar. low; if I am not deceived, you have something more than approbation thereabouts. You take me. Mar. Really, Sir, I have not that happiness.
Hard. Come, boy, I'm an old fellow, and know what's what, as well as you that are younger. I know what has past between you; but mum.
Mar. Sure, Sir, nothing has past between us but the most profound respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on hers. You don't think, Sir, that my impudence has been passed upon all the rest of the family.
Hard. Impudence ! No, I don't say that-Not quite impudence-Though girls like to be play'd with, and rumpled too sometimes. But she has told no tales, I assure you.
Mar. I never gave her the slightest cause.
Hard. Well, well. I like modesty in its place well enough. But this is over acting, young gentleman. You may be open. Your father and I will like you the better for it.
Mar. May I die, Sir, if I ever
Hard. I tell you, she don't dislike you ; and as I'm sure you like her
Mar. Dear Sir, I protest, Sir
Hard. I see no reason why you should not be joined as fast as the parson can tie you.
Mar. But hear me, Sir
Hard. Your father approves the match, I admire it, every moment's delay will be doing mischief, so
Mar. But why won't you hear me ? By all that's just and true, I never gave Miss Hardcastle the slightest mark of my attachment, or even the most distant hint to suspect me of affection. We had but one interview, and that was formal, modest, and uninteresting.
Hard. [Aside] This fellow's formal modest impu. dence is beyond bearing.
Sir Char. And you never grasp'd her hand, or made any protestations ?
Mar. As heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience to your commands. I saw the lady without emotion, and parted without reluctance. I hope you'll exact no further proofs of my duty, nor prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many mortifications.
[Exit. Sir Char. I'm astonish'd at the air of sincerity with which he parted.
Hard. And I'm astonishid at the deliberate intrepi. dity of his assurance.
Sir Char. I dare pledge my life and honour upon his truth.
Hard. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness upon her veracity.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE. Hard. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sin
cerely, and without reserve; has Mr. Marlow made you any professions of love and affection?
Miss Hard. The question is very abrupt, Sir! But since you require unreserved sincerity, I think he
Hard. [To Sir Charles] You see.
Sir Char. And pray, Madam, have you and my son had more than one interview?
Miss Hard. Yes, Sir, several. Hard. [To Sir Charles] You see. Sir Char. But did he profess any attachment ? Miss Hard. A lasting one. Sir Char. Did he talk of love? Miss Hard. Much, Sir. Sir Char. Amazing! And all this formally? Miss Hard. Formally. Hard. Now, my friend, I hope you are satisfied. Sir Char. And how did he behave, Madam ? Miss Hard. As most profest admirers do. Said some civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of mine ; mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended with pretended rapture.
Sir Char, Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know his conversation among women to be modest and submissive. This forward, canting, ranting manner by no means describes him, and I'm confident he never sat for the picture.
Miss Hard. Then what, Sir, if I should convince you to your face of my sincerity? If you and my papa,
in about half an hour, will place yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in person.
Sir Char. Agreed. And if I find him what you de. scribe, all my happiness in him must have an end.
[Exit. Miss Hard. And if you don't find him what I describe-I fear my happiness must never have a beginning.
The Back of the Garden. Enter HASTINGS. Hast. What an idiot am I, to wait here for a fellow, who probably takes a delight in mortifying me. He never intended to be punctual, and I'll wait no longer. What do I see? It is he, and perhaps with news of my Constance.
Enter Tony, booted and spattered. Hast. My honest 'Squire ! I now find you a man of your word. This looks like friendship.
Tony. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have in the world, if you knew but all. This riding
shook me worse than the basket of a stage coach.
Hast. But how? Where did you leave your fellow travellers ? Are they in safety? Are they housed?
Tony. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such bad driving. The poor beasts have smok. ed for it: Rabbet me, but I'd rather ride forty miles after a fox, than ten with such varment.
Hast. Well, but where have you left the ladies ? I die with impatience. :
Tony. Left them? Why where should I leave them, but where I found them?
Hast. This is a riddle.
Tony. Riddle me this then. What's that goes round the house, and round the house, and never touches the house? Hast. I'm still astray.
Tony. Why that's it, mon. I have led them astray. By jingo, there's not a pond or slough within five miles of the place but they can tell the taste of.
Hast. Ha, ha, ha! I understand; you took them in a round, while they supposed themselves going forward. And so you have at last brought them home again.
Tony. You shall hear. I first took them down Feather-bed-lane, where we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the stones of Up-anddown Hill-I then introduc'd them to the gibbet on Heavy-tree Heath, and from that, with a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horsepond at the bottom of the garden.
Hast. But no accident, I hope.
Tony. No, no. Only mother is confoundedly frightened. She thinks herself forty miles dff. She's sick of the journey, and the cattle can scarce crawl. So