ePub 版

in the country, but when she visits or receives company.

Miss Hard. And are you sure he does not remember my face or person? Maid. Certain of it.

Miss Hard. I vow I thought so; for though we spoke for some time together, yet his fears were such, that he never once looked up during the interview.

Maid. But what do you hope from keeping him in his mistake.

Miss Hard. In the first place, I shall be seen, and that is no small advantage to a girl who brings her face to market. Then I shall perhaps make an acquaintance, and that's no small victory gained over one, who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex. But my chief aim is to take my gentleman off his guard,' and, like an invisible champion of romance, examine the giant's force before I offer to combat.

Maid. But are you sure you can act your part, and disguise your voice, so that he may mistake that, as he has already mistaken your person?

Miss Hard. Never fear me. I think I have got the true bar cant—Did your honour call?—Attend the Lion there—Pipes and tobacco for the Angel—The Lamb has been outrageous this half hour.

Maid. It will do, 'madam. But he's here.

[Exit Maid.

Enter Marlow.

Mar. What a bawling in every part of the house! I have scarce a moment's repose. If I go to the best room, there I find my host and his story. If I fly to the gallery, there we have my hostess with her courtesy down to the ground. I have at last got a moment to myself, and now for recollection. [Walks and muses.

Miss Hard. Did you call, sir; did your honour call?

Mar. [Musing.] As for Miss Hardcastle, she's too grave and sentimental for me.

Miss Hard. Did your honour call?' [She still places herself before him, he turning axuay.

Mar. No, child. [Musing.] Besides, from the glimpse 1 had of her, I think she squints.

Miss Hard. I'm sure, sir, I heard the bell ring.

Mar. No, no. [Musing.] I have pleased my father, however, by coming down, and I'll to-morrow please myself by returning.

[ Taking out his tablets, and perusing.

Miss Hard. Perhaps the other gentleman called, sir.

Mar. No, no, I tell you. [Looks full in her face.]

Yes, child, I think I did call. I wanted 1 wanted

I vow, child, you are vastly handsome. '.

Miss Hard. O la, sir, you'll make one asham'd.

Mar. Never saw a more sprightly malicious eye.— Yes, yes, my dear, I did call. Have you got any of your a what d'ye call it, in the house?

Miss Hard. No, sir, we have been out of that these ten days.

Mar. One may call in this house, I find, to very little purpose. Suppose I should call for a taste, just by way of trial, of the nectar of your lips; perhaps I might be disappointed in that too.

Miss Hard. Nectar! nectar! that's a liquor there's no call for in these parts. French, I suppose. We keep no French wines here, sir.

Mar. Of true English growth, I assure you.

Miss Hard. Then it's odd I should not know it. We brew all sorts of wines in this house, and I have lived here these eighteen years.

Mar. Eighteen years! Why one would think, child, you kept the bar before you were born. How old are you?

Miss Hard. O, sir, I must not tell my age. They say women and music should never be dated.

VOl. IT. N

Mar. To gurss at this distance, you can't be much above forty. [Approaching.] Yet nearer, I don't think so much. [Approaching.] By coming close to some women, they look younger still; but when we come very close indeed [Attempting to kiss her.

Miss Hard. Pray, sir, keep your distance. One would think you wanted to know one's age as they do horses, by mark of mouth.

Mar. I protest, child, you use me extremely ill. If you keep me at this distance, how is it possible you and I can be ever acquainted?

Miss Hard. And who wants to be acquainted with you? I want no such acquaintance, not I. I'm sure you did not treat Miss Hardcastle in this obstropalous manner. I'll warrant me, before her you look'd dash'H, and kept bowing to the ground, and talk'd, for all the world, as if you was before a justice of the peace.

Mar. [Aside.] Egad! she has hit it, sure enough.— [To Miss Hardcastle.] In awe of her, child? Ha! ha! ha! A mere awkward, squinting thing; no, no, I find you don't know me. I laugh'd, and rallied her a little; but I was unwilling to be too severe. No, I could not be too severe, curse me!

Miss Hard. Oh! then, sir, you are a favourite, I find, among the ladies?

.Tar. Yes, my dear, a great favourite; and yet, hang me, I don't see what they find in me to follow. At the ladies' club in town, I'm call'd their agreeable Rattle. Rattle, child, is not my real name, but one I'm known by. My name is Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, my dear, at your service. [Offering to salute her.

Miss Hard. Hold, sir; you were introducing me to your club, not to yourself. And you're so great a favourite there, you say?

Mar. Yes, my dear. There's Mrs. Mantrap, Lady Betty Blackleg, the Countess of Cog, Mrs. Longhorns, old Miss Biddy Buckskin, and your humble servant, keep up the spirit of the place.

Miss Hard. Then it's a very merry place, I suppose.

Mar. Yes, as merry as cards, suppers, wine, and old women, can make us.

Miss Hard. And their agreeable Rattle, h»! ha! ha!

Mar. [Aside.] Egad! I don't quite like this chit. She looks knowing, methinks —You laugh, child!

Miss Hard. I can't but laugh, to think what time they all have for minding their work, or their family.

Mar. [Aside.] All's well; she don't laugh at me.— [To Miss Hardcastle.] Do you ever work, child?

Miss Hard. Ay, sure. There's not a screen or a quilt in the whole house but what can bear witness to that. .

Mar. Odso! Then you must show me your embroidery. I embroider and draw patterns myself a little. If you want a judge of your work, you must apply to me. [Seizing her hand.

Miss Hard. Ay, but the colours don't look well by candle-light. You shall see all in the morning.


Mar. And why not now, my angel? Pshaw! the

landlord here! My old luck! [Exit Marlow.

Enter Hardcastle, who stands in surprise.

Hard. So, madam! So I find this is your modest lover. This is your humble admirer, that kept his eyes fixed on the ground, and only ador'd at humble distance. Kate, Kate, art thou not asham'd to deceive your father so?

Miss Hard. Never trust me, dear papa, but he's still the modest man I first took him for; you'll be convinced of it as well as I.

Hard. By the hand of my body, I believe his impudence is infectious! Didn't I see him seize your hand? Didn't I see him haul you about like a milkmaid?— And now you talk of his respect and his modesty, forsooth!

Miss Hard. But if I shortly convince you of his modesty; that he has only the faults that will pass off with time, and the virtues that will improve with age, I hope you'll forgive him.

Hard. I tell you I'll not be convinced. I am convinced. He has scarcely been three hours in the house, and he has already encroached on all my prerogatives.

Miss Hard. Sir, I ask but this night to convince you.

Hard. You shall not have half the time, for I have thoughts of turning him out this very hour.

Miss Hard. Give me that hour, then, and I hope to satisfy you.

Hard. Well, an hour let it be, then. But I'll have no trifling with your father. All fair and open, do you mind me f

Miss Hard. I hope, sir, you have ever found, that I considered your commands as my pride; for your kindness is such, that my duty as yet has been inclination.



Scene I.

Enter Hastings and Miss Neville. Hast. You surprise me! Sir Charles Marlow expected here this night? Where have you had your information?

Miss Nev. You may depend upon it. I just saw his letter to Mr. Hardcastle, in which he tells him he intends setting out a few hours after his son.

Hast. Then, my Constance, all must be completed before he arrives. He knows me; and should he find

« 上一頁繼續 »