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The Hall of Sir JOHN's House. Enter DOUBLEJUGG
and SHACKLEFIGURE. “ Shack. Verily, Madam Betty hath invited every « creature in the parish to-morrow.
“ Doub. And Sir John hath commanded me to “ throw the cellar-doors open, and make the whole
country reel-Here will be brave randing, i'faith; “ all the steeples in the country are to rock---and I “ have summoned together all the bagpipes, tabors, “ drums, trumpets, and the whole fraternity of cats
guts within seven miles round.
“ Shack. One would imagine Madam Betty stood " candidate for the county
“ Doub. And was to drink her way to Wetminster " thro' a sea of October.
« Shack. What are all these uncommon preparaso tions designed for?
“ Doub. Nay, I don't know, I don't inquire into . « state affairs, but I shall know more on't when I am “ drunk; for then I am very peery.
“ Shack. In the mean time mind your affairs; we “ have much business to do. [Exit Doub.] I must “ wait here, to introduce the strange gentleman, “ whom my master is so fond of.”
Enter HEARTWELL and FREEHOLD.
Heart. How could you use a lover so roughly?
Free. A rough lover should be used so: why, he was just going to knock her down-I suppose that is his method.
Heart. And the little girl stood his fire gallantly?
Free. O, most heroically! O' my conscience, I believe she would have fought him in earnest.
Heart. Is he taken ?
Heart. Well, then let his fears pay the price of his sin: I think his punishment very just. But see where old Steady-muscle stands in form to introduce us.
Free. Ay, come on now; you shall see a worthy piece of antiquity, a right bred old English country gentleman; one who keeps open house all the whole year round, and yet never took or paid a penny for a vote in his life.
Shack. Sir, with the greatest submission, if it shall be your worship’s good pleasure, I will wait on the company within, and know if it shall be their pleasure to receive you.
[Exit Shack. Free. Do so, old Stiff-rump, do. This fellow keeps himself as regular as his day-book.
Heart. Company! What company?
Free. A friend or two only, perhaps, that Sir John has invited to a dance, or so.
Heart. A dance---a friend---'Sdeath, you distract me! Excuse me to hiin, I beg you.
Frce. No, no: what, you must bear with a little noise at first--- A bridegroom, and afraid of a fiddle, But see the door opens, and the company are moving towards us.
Opens. FLORA and two Women Servants appear drest
genteelly ; they move down towards HEARTWELL. Heart. What's here? Ladies too! So, I find I must run thro' the impertinence of the night. I would give a little finger now to be in bed, the curtains drawn, and all quiet, with my dear girl by my side. So---it seems I must salute them -Hah!
Flora. Sir, you have stolen a wedding among us here, and we come time enough, I hope, to give you joy of it.
Heart. My love! my dear! I am surprised! Why hast thou changed thyself thus from what thou wert?
Flora. I hope my features are not altered with my dress.
Heart. I swear, my love, thou canst receive no ad. dition by dress, but what will injure the simplicity of thy charms. But, prythee, tell me why you have changed your dress?.“Sure you must be sensible you “ wanted nothing to make you victorious in your " other habit."
Flora. To tell you, Sir, the truth, then; I was obliged to change my dress ; my landlord has obliged ine to it, and you know we country-folk must obey our landlords.
Heart. Well, I am satisfied. -You have obeyed him then. Flora. Yes, Sir; but he is a very obstinate, self
willed man; and I think a little too barbarously insists
Heart. Insists! Upon what?
Flora. Why, he insists upon my performance of the Custom of the Manor; and therefore, in order to make me more pleasing in his eyes, commanded me to dress thus.
Heart. Custom of the Manor-Dress yourself Commanded
you to be pleasing to his eye---What is all this heap of confusion and nonsense?
Free. Why, Sir, I'll tell you, in short; 'tis this The lord of our manor has claimed by prescription, time out of mind, and still does claim, the first night's lodging of every tenant's daughter married here; therefore our maidens, when they marry, go out of this parish, unless they are willing to pay the forfeit in kind.
Heart. What! you are merry; very merry; so, go on : how!
Free. Yet when such an accident as this happened here, he generally used to take an equivalent in mo. ney or goods : but now he is resolved to be paid in kind; he will take no modus; and for that reason has sent for you hither, to let you know his claim.
Heart. Confound his claim curse upon his manor, and his custom too : I'll shoot him through the head for having the insolence to thi on't.
Free. Ay, but that is not the case ; that is not the business, my friend.
Heart. What case ! What business! Confound your impertinence : out with it.
Free. Why, then suppose your wife should
Heart. Should what? I tread upon a razor's edge Should what ?
Free. Should like this landlord.
Free. Ay, love him, love him to distraction, doat upon him; nay, more, be as willing to pay him down this custom in kind as he is to receive it.
Heart. Furies ! damnation! What do you mean ?[To his wife.] Madam, what does all this tend to ?
Free. [ Aside. ] So, so: his blood circulates finely! -Faith, I begin to pity him. What a confounded hurry his spirits are in !
Flora. Why, 'tis even so, husband. This landlord I am obliged to love, obliged to it by all the ties of faith, honour, and gratitude.
Heart. On, very well, very well! (Walks about in disorder.] Tell me, thou evil spirit in an angel's form
-Wherefore was I chosen out to be thus abused, ha?
Free. Because you are a man of fortune, Sir; be. cause she hopes in a little time to break your heart, and enjoy the full third of two thousand pounds a year.
Heart. Pray, Madam, favour me-You see I bear this affair very calmly–Pray, tell me, tho' I suppose 'tis no unreasonable request--what particular obligations you have to this landlord ?