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Miss Alton. Madam, I come!
Miss Als. Madam, pray be seated
Miss Alton. Excuse me, madam,
Miss Als. Madam, I must beg
Mitt Alton. Madam, this letter will inform you how little pretension I have to the honours you are offering. Miss Als. [Reads.]
• Miss Alton, the bearer of this, is the person I recommended as worthy the honour of attending you as a companion. [Eyes her scornfully.] She is born a gentlewoman; I dare say her talents and good qualities wiil speak more in her favour, than any words I could use—J am, Madam, your most obedient—um—um.
Blandish, was there ever such a mistake?
Mrs. Bland. Oh! you dear, giddy, absent creature, what could you be thinking of?
Miss Als. Absent indeed. Chignon, give me the fauteuil; [ Throws herself into it.'] Young woman, where were you educated?
Miss Alton. Chiefly, madam, with my parents.
Miss Als. But finished, I take it for granted, at a country boarding school; for we have, young ladies, you know Blandish, boarded and educated, upon blue boards, in gold letters, in every village; with a strolling player for a dancing master, and a deserter from Dunkirk, to teach the French grammar.
Mrs. Bland. How that genius of yours does paint! nothing escapes you—I dare say you have anticipated this young lady's story.
Miss Alton. It is very true, madam, my life can afford nothing to interest the curiosity of you two ladies; it has been too insignificant to merit your concern, and attended with no circumstances to excite your pleasantry.. .
Miss Als. [Yawning.] I hope, child, it will be attended with such for the future as will add to your own
VOl. III. B
—I cannot bear a mope about me.—I am told you have a talent for music—can you touch that harp—It stands here as a piece of furniture, but I have a notion it is kept in tune, by the man who comes to wind up my clocks.
Miss Alton. Madam, I dare not disobey you. But I have been used to perform before a most partial audience; I am afraid strangers will think my talent too humble to be worthy attention.
For tenderness framed in life's earliest day,
The nightingale plunder'd, the mate-widow'd dove,
Soft embers of passion yet rest in the glow—
A warmth of more pain may this breast never know!
Or if too indulgent the blessing I claim,
Let reason awaken, and govern the flame.
Miss Als. I declare not amiss, Blandish: only a little too plaintive—but I dare say she can play a country dance, when the enlivening is required—So, Miss Alton, you are welcome to my protection; and indeed I wish you to stay from this hour. My toilet being nearly finished, I shall have a horrid vacation till dinner.
Miss Alton. Madam, you do me great honour, and I very readily obey you.
Mrs. Bland. I wish you joy, Miss Alton, of the most enviable situation a young person of elegant talents could be raised to. You and I will vie with each other, to prevent our dear countess ever knowing a melancholy hour. She has but one fault to correct— the giving way to the soft effusions of a too tender heart. . •
£n/er'SERVANT. Sen. Madam, a letter
Mil Als. It's big enough for a state packet—Oh! mercy, a petition—for heaven's sake, Miss Alton, look it over. [Miss Alton reads.] I should as soon read one of Lady Newchapel's methodist sermons—What does it contain?
Miss Alton. Madam, an uncommon series of calamities, which prudence could neither see, nor prevent: the reverse of a whole family from affluence and content to misery and imprisonment; and it adds, that the parties have the honour, remotely, to be allied to you.
Miss Als. Remote relations! ay, they always think one's made of money.
Enter another Servant.
2 Sen. A messenger, madam, from the animal repository, with the only puppy of the Peruvians, and the refusal at twenty guineas.
Miss Als. Twenty guineas! Were he to ask fifty, I must have him.
Mrs. Bland. [Offering to run out.] I vow I'll give him the first kiss.
Miss Als. [Stopping her.] I'll swear you shan't.
Miss Alton. Madam, I was just finishing the petition.
Miss Als. It's throwing money away—But give him a crown.
[Exit with Mrs. Blandish striving which shall be first.
Miss Alton. "The soft effusions of a too tender heart." The proof is excellent. That the covetous should be deaf to the miserable, I can conceive; but I should not have believed, if I had not seen, that a taste for profusion did not find its first indulgence in benevolence. [Exit. • ACT III.
Scene 7.—Miss Alscrip's Dressing-room.
Miss Alton, discovered. Miss Alton. Thanks to Mrs. Blandish's inexhaustible talent for encomium, I shall be relieved from one part of a companion that my nature revolts at. But who comes here? It's well if I shall not be exposed to impertinences I was not aware of.
Chignon. [Aside.] Ma foi, la voila—I will lose no time to pay my addresse—Now for de humble maniere, and de unperplex assurance of my contree [Bowing with a French shrug.—Miss Alton turning over music books.] Mademoiselle, est-il permis} may I presume to offer you my profound homage [Miss Alton not taking notice.] Mademoiselle—if you vill put your head into my hands, I vill give a distinction to your beauty, that shall make you and me de conversation of all de town.
Miss Alton. I request, Mr. Chignon, you will devote your ambition to your own part of the compliment.
Mr. Als. [Without.] Where is my daughter?
Miss Alton. Is that Mr. Alscrip's voice, Mr. Chignon? It's awkward for me to meet him belore I'm introduced.
Chignon. Keep a little behind, mademoiselle; he vill only pashe de room—He' vill not see through me.
'Enter Alscrip. Alscrip. Hah, my daughter gone already, but [.See* Chignon.] there's a new specimen of foreign vermin— A lady's valet de chambre—Taste for ever!—Now if I was to give the charge of my person to a waiting maid, they'd say I was indelicate, [As he crosses tlie stage, Ch Ignon keeps sideling to intercept his sight, and bowing as he looks towards him.] What the devil is mounsecr at? I thought all his agility lay in his fingers: what antics is the monkey practising? He twists and doubles himself as if he had a raree-show at his back.
Chignon. [Aside.] Be gar no raree-show for you, monsieur Alscrip, if I can help.
Alscrip. [Spying Miss Alton.] Ah! ah! What have we got there? Monsieur, who is that?
Chignon. Sir, my lady wish to speak to you in her boudoir. She sent me to conduct you, sir.
Alscrip. [Imitating.] Yes, sir, but I will first conduct myself to this lady—Tell me this minute who she is?
Chignon. Sir, she come to live here, companion to my lady—Mademoiselle study some musique—she must not be disturbed.
Alscrip. Get about your business, monsieur, or I'll disturb every comb in your head—Go tell my daughter to stay till I come to her. I shall give her companion some cautions against saucy Frenchmen, sirrah!
Chignon. [Aside.] Cautions! peste! you are subject a' cautions yourself—I suspecte you to be von old rake, but no ver dangerous rival. [Exit.
Alscrip. [To himself, and looking at her with his glass.] The devil is never tired of throwing baits in my way. [She comes forward modestly.] By all that's delicious! I must be better acquainted with her. [He bows. She courtesies, the music book still in her hand ] But how to begin—My usual way of attacking my daughter's maids will never do.
Miss Alton [Aside.] My situation is very embarrassing.
Alscrip. Beauteous stranger, give me leave to add my welcome to my daughter's. Since Alscrip House was established, she never brought any thing into it to please me before.
Miss Alton. [A little confused.] Sir, it is a great ad