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Hard. But if you talk'd to yourself, you did not answer yourself. I am certain I heard two voices, and am resolved—[Raising hit voice.]—to find the other out.
Mrs. Hard. [Running forward from behind.] O lud, he'll murder my poor boy, my darling. Here, good gentleman, whet your rage upon me. Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman, spare my child, if you have any mercy.
Hard. My wife, as I am a christian! From whence can she come, or what does she mean!
Mrs. Hard. [Kneeling.] Take compassion on us, good Mr. Highwayman. Takes our money, our watches, all we have, but spare our lives. We will never bring you to justice, indeed we won't, good Mr. Highwayman.
Hard. I believe the woman's out of her senses. What, Dorothy, don't you know me?
Mrs. Hard. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fear* blinded me. But who, my dear, could have expected to meet you here, in this frightful place, so far from home? What has brought you to follow us?
Hard. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits t So far from home, when you are within forty yards of your own door!—[To Tony.] This is one of your old tricks, you graceless rogue you.—[To Mrs. HardCastle.] Don't you know the gate, and the mulberrytree; and don't you remember the horsepond, my dear?
Mrs. Hard. Yes, I shall remember the horsepond as long as I live; I have caught my death in it.—[To Tony.] And is it to you, you graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll teach you to abuse your mother, I will.
Tony. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, and so you may take the fruits on't.
Mrs. Hard. I'll spoil you, I will.
[Follows him off the stage.'—'Exeunt.
Vol. iv. p
Enter Hastings and Miss Neville.
Hast. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we delay a moment, all is lost for ever. Pluck up a little resolution, and we shall soon be out of the reach of her malignity.
Miss > ev. I find it impossible. My spirits are so sunk with the agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger. Two or three years patience will at last crown us with happiness.
Hast. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy. Let us fly, my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this very moment. Perish fortune. Love and content will increase what we possess beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me. prevail.
Miss "ev. No, Mr. Hastings; no. Prudence once more comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance. I'm resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's compassion and justice for redress.
Hast. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve you.
Miss Nev. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to rely.
Hast. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly obey you. [Exeunt.
Scene HI.—A Room in Hardcastle's House. Enter Sir Charles Marlow and Miss Hardcastle.
Sir C. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter.
Miss Hard. I am proud of your approbation, and to show I merit it, if you will conceal yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
Sir C. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment. [Exit Sir Charles.
Mar. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the separation.
Miss Hard. [In her own natural manner.] I believe these sufferings cannot be very great, sir, which you can so easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by showing the little value of what you now think proper to regret.
Mar. [Aside.] This girl every moment improves upon me. It must not be, madam. I have already trifled too long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion; and nothing can restore me to myself, but this painful effort of resolution.
Miss Hard. Then go, sir. I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fix'd on fortune.
Enter Hardcastle and Sir Charles Marlow, behind.
Mar. By heavens, madam, fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see that without emotion ? But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger expression. What at first seem'd rustic plainness, now appears refin'd simplicity. What seem'd forward assurance, now strikes me as the result of courageous innocence and conscious virtue.—I am now determined to stay, madam, and I have too good an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt hit approbation.
Miss Hard. No, Mr. Marlow; I will not, cannot detain you. Do you think I could suffer a connection, in which there is the smallest room for repentance? Do you think I would take the mean advantage of a transient passion, to load you with confusion? Do yoa think I could ever relish that happiness which was; acquired by lessening yours? Do you think I could ever catch at the confident addresses of a secure ad' mirer?
Mar. [Kneeling.] Does this look like security? Does this look like confidence? No, madam, every moment that shows me your merit, only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion. Here let me continue
Sir C. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting conversation?
Hard. Your cold contempt; your formal interview? What have you to say now?
Mar. That I'm all amazement? What can it mean?
Hard. It means that you can say and unsay things at pleasure. That you can address a lady in private) and deny it in public: that you have one story for us, and another for my daughter.
Mar. Daughter !—this lady your daughter!
Hard. Yes, sir, my only daughter. My Kate, whose else should she be?'
Mar. Oh; the devil!
Miss Hard. Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady yon were pleased' to take me for. [Gourtesyim;.} She that you addressed as the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward, agreeable Rattle of the ladies' club; ha! ha! ha!
Mar. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death.
Miss Hard. In which of your characters, sir, will yon give us leave to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and old Mrs. Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning; ha! ha! ha!
Mar. O, curse on my noisy head! I never attempted to be impudent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone.
Hard. By the hand of my body, but you shall not. I see it was all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, sir, I tell you. I know she'll forgive you. Won't you forgive him, Kate? We'll all forgive you. Take courage, man.
[ They retire, she tormenting him to the back scene.
Enter Mrs. Hardcastle and Tony.
Mrs. Hard. So, so, they're gone off.. Let them go, I care not.
Hard. Who gone?
Mrs. Hard. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr. Hastings, from town. He who came down with our modest visitor here.
Sir C. Who, my honest George Hastings? As worthy a fellow as lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice.
Enter Hastings and Miss Neville.
Mrs. Hard. [Aside.} What, returned so soon? I begin not to like it.
Hast. [7b Hardcastle.] For my late attempt to fly off with your niece, let my present confusion be my