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Mrs. Hard. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good, A school would be his death, When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may do for him?
Hard. Latin for him! a cat and a fiddle. No, no, the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.
Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among
Any body who looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
Mrs. Hard. He coughs sometimes.
Hard. And truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking trumpet- [Tony hallooing behind the Scenes.]— there he goes--A very consumptive figure, truly !
Enter Tony, crossing the Stage. Mrs. Hard. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't you give papa and I a little of your com
Tony. I'm in haste, mother, I cannot stay. Mrs. Hard. You shan't venture out this raw evening, my dear: You look most shockingly.
Tony. I can't stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
Hard. Ay; the alehouse, the old place: I thought
Mrs. Hard. A low, paltry set of fellows.
Tony, Not so low neither. There's Dick Muggins the exciseman, Jack Slang the horse doctor, Little
Aminadab that grinds the music box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter.
Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
Tony. As for disappointing them, I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
Mrs. Hard. (Detaining him.] You shan't go.
[Exit, hauling her out. Hard. Ay, there goes a pair, that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate; the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze, and French frippery, as the best of them.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE. -Blessings on my pretty innocence! Drest oat. as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
Miss Hard. You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening, I put on my housewife's dress to please you.
Hard. Well, remember I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the bye, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I dont comprehend your meaning.
Hard. Then, to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be
husband from town this very day. I have his father's
letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself shortly after.
Miss Hard. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
Hard. Depend upon it, child, I'll never control your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss Hard. Is he?
Miss Hard. My dear papa say no more, (Kissing his Hand.) he's mine, I'll have him.
Hard. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
Miss Hard. Eh! you have frozen me to death again. That word, reserved, has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
Hard. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It
feature in his character that first struck
Miss Hard. He must have more striking features to catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so every thing, as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
Hard. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
Miss Hard. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so ?-Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery; set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
Hard. Bravely resolved! In the mean time I'll go prepare the servants for his reception; as we seldom sce company, they want as much training as a company of recruits, the first day's muster. [Exit.
Miss Hard. Lud, this news of papa's, puts me all in a flutter. Young, handsome; these he put last; but I put them foremost. Sensible, goodnatured ; I like all that. But then reserved, and sheepish, that's much against him. Yet can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't But I vow I'm disposing of the husband, before I have secured the lover.
Enter Miss NEVILLE. Miss Hard. I'm glad you're come, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there any thing whimsical about me? Is it one of my well looking days, child ? Am I in face to day?
Miss Nev. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look again-bless me!-sure no accident has happened among
birds or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat been méddling? Or has the last novel been too moving ?
Miss Hard. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened-I can scarce get it out -I have been threatened with a lover.
Miss Nev. And his name-
Mr, Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him, when we lived in town.
Miss Hard. Never.
Miss Nev. He's a very singular character, I assure you. Among women of reputation and virtue he is the modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of an. other stamp: you understand me.
Miss Hard. An odd character, indeed. I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear, has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual ?
Miss Nev. I have just come from one of our agreeable tete-a-tetes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
Miss Hard. And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of the family.
Miss Nev. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son, and she never once dreams that my affections are fixed
Miss Hard. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so.
Miss Nev. It is a goodnatured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to any body but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons. Courage is necessary as our affairs are critical.