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ditional honour to that Miss Alscrip has done me, to be thought worthy so respectable a protection as yours.
Alscrip. I could furnish you with a better word than respectable. It sounds so distant, and my feelings have so little to do with cold respect—I never had such a desire—to make myself agreeable.
Miss Alton. [Aside] A very strange old man. [To him, more confused.] Sir, you'll pardon me, I believe Miss Alscrip is waiting.
Alscrip. Don't be afraid, my dear, enchanting diffident (zounds, what a flutter am I in !) don't be afraid —my disposition, to be sure, is too susceptible; but then it is likewise so dove-like, so tender, and so innocent. Come, play me that tune, and enchant my ear, as you have done mv eye.
Mitt Alton. Sir, I wish to be excused, indeed it does not deserve your attention.
Alscrip. Not deserve it! I had rather hear you, than all the signoritininies together.—These are the strings to which my senses shall dance. [Sets the harp.
Miss Alton. Sir, it is to avoid the affectation of refusing what is so little worth asking for.
[Takes the harp and plays a few bars of a lively air.
Alscrip. Oh ! the sweet little twiddle-diddles!
Miss Alton. For shame, sir, what do you mean? [alscrip gets hold of both her hands and continues kissing her fingers. .
Miss Alton. [Struggling.] Help!
Enter Miss Alscrip.
Miss Als. I wonder what my papa is doing all this time?
[A short pause—Miss Alscrip surprised—Miss Alton confused.—Alscip puts his hand to his eye. Alscrip. Oh, child! I have got something in my eye, that makes me almost mad.—A little midge—believe.— 'Gad, I caught hold of this young lady's hand in one of my twitches, and her nerves were as much in a flutter as if I had bit her.
Miss Als. [Significantly.] Yes, my dear papa, I perceive you have something in your eye, and I'll do my
best to take it out immediately Miss Alton, will
you do me the favour to walk into the drawing room f
F> iss Alton. I hope, madam, you will permit me, at a proper opportunity, to give my explanation of what has passed? [Retires.
Miss Als. There's no occasion—Let it rest among the catalogue of wonders, like the Glastonbury thorn, that blooms at Christmas.' To be serious, papa, though I carried off your behaviour as well as I could, I am really shocked at it—A man of your years, and of a profession where the opinion of the world is of such consequence »
Alscrip. My dear Molly, have not I quitted the practice of attorney, and turned fine gentleman, to laugh at the world's opinion; or, had I not, do you suppose the kiss of a pretty wench would hurt a lawyer? My dear Molly, if the fraternity had no other reflections to be afraid of!
Miss Als. Oh! hideous; Molly indeed! you ought to have forgot I had a christened name long ago; am not I going to be a countess? If you did not stint my fortune, by squand'ring yours away upon dirty trulls, I might be called your grace.
Alscrip. Spare your lectures, and you shall be called your highness, if you please.
Serv. Madam, Lady Emily Gayville is in her carriage in the street, will your ladyship be at home?
Miss Als. Yes, show her into the drawing room. [Exit Servant.] I entreat, sir, you will keep a little more guard upon your passions; consider the dignity of your bouse, and if you must be cooing, buy a French figurante. [Exit.
Alscrip. Well said, my lady countess! well said, quality morals! What am I the better for burying a jealous wife? To be chicken pecked is a new persecution, more provoking than the old one—Oh Molly! Molly! [Exit.
Scene IT.—The Drawing-room. Miss Alton, alone. Miss Alton. What perplexing scenes I already meet with in this house? I ought, however, to be contented in the security it affords against the attempts of Heartly. I am contented—But, O Clifford! It was hard to be left alone to the choice of distresses.
Enter Chignon, introducing Lady Emily.
Chignon. My Lady Emily Gayville—Madame no here! Mademoiselle, announce, if you please, my lady.
Lady E. [Aside.] Did my ears deceive me? surely I heard the name of Clifford—and it escaped in an accent !—Pray, sir, who is that? [To Chignon.
Chignon. Mademoiselle Alton, confidante of my lady, and next after me in her suite.
. [Examines her head dress impertinently. Miss Alton .with great modesty rises and puts her work together. Lady E. There seems to be considerable difference in the decorum of her attendants. You need not stay, sir.
Chignon. [As he goes out.-] Ma foi, sa t6te est passable —her head may pass.
Lady E. [Aside.] How my heart beats with curiosity! [Miss Alton having disposed her things in her work bag, is retiring with a courtesy.] Miss Alton, I am in no haste. On the contrary, I think the occasion fortunate that allows me to begin an acquaintance with a person of so amiable an appearance. I don't know whether that pert foreigner has led me into an error—but without being too inquisitive, may I ask if you make any part of this family?
Miss Alton. Madam, I am under Miss Alscrip's protection: I imagine I am represented as her dependent: I am not ashamed of humble circumstances, that are not the consequences of indiscretion.
Lady E. That with such claims to respect you should be in any circumstances of humiliation, is a disgrace to the age we live in.
Miss Alton. Madam, my humiliation (if such it be) is just. Perhaps I have been too proud, and my heart required this self-correction. A life of retired industry might have been more pleasing to me; but an orphan —a stranger—ignorant and diffident, I preferred my present situation, as one less exposed to misrepresentation. [Bell rings.] I can no longer detain Miss Alscrip from the honour of receiving your ladyship.
[A respectful courtesy, and exit.
Lady E. There is something strangely mysterious
and affecting in all this what delicacy of sentiment
—what softness of manners! And how well do these qualities accord with that sigh for Clifford! she has been proud—proud of what ?—of Clifford's love. It is too plain. But then to account for her present condition ?—He has betrayed and abandoned her—too plain again, I fear.—She talked too of a self-corrected heart —take example, Emily, and recal thine from an object, which it ought more than ever to renounce. But here come the Alscrip and her friend: lud ! lud! lud! how shall I recover my spirits? I must attempt it, and if I lose my present thoughts in a trial of extravagance, be it of theirs or my own, it will be a happy expedient.
Enter Miss Alcrip and Mrs. Blandish.
[miss Alscrip runs up to Lady Emily, and kisses her forehead. Lady E. I ask your pardon, madam, for being so awkward, but I confess I did not expect so elevated a salute.
Miss Als. Dear Lady Emily, I had no notion of its not being universal. In France, the touch of the lips, just between the eyebrows, has been adopted for years.
Lady E. I perfectly acknowledge the propriety of the custom. It is almost the only spot of the face where the touch would not risk a confusion of complexions.
Miss Als. He ! he! he! what a pretty thought!
Mrs. Bland. How I have longed for this day !—Come, let me put an end to ceremony, and join the hands of the sweetest pair that ever nature and fortune marked for connexion. [Joins their hands.
Miss Als. Thank you, my good Blandish, though I was determined to break the ice, Lady Emily, in the first place I met you. But you were not at Lady Dovecourt's last night.
Lady E. [Affectedly.] No, I went home directly from the opera: projected the revival of a cap: read a page in the Trials of Temper; went to bed and dreamed I was Belinda in the Rape of the Lock.
Mrs. Bland. Elegant creature!
Mw Als. [Aside.] I must have that air, if I die for it. [Imitating.] I too came home early; supped with my old gentleman; made him explain my marriage articles, dower, and heirs entail; read a page in a trial of divorce, and dreamed of a rose-coloured equipage, with emblems of cupids issuing out of coronets.
Mrs. Bland. Oh, you sweet twins of perfection t— what equality in every thing! I have thought of a name for you—The Inseparable Inimitable*.