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Mrs. Hard. What's that, my dear. Can I give you any assistance ?
Miss Neu. Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp hand better than I (twitching the letter from her.] Do you know who it is from ?
Tony. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger the feeder.
Miss Nev. Ay, so it is, (pretending to read] Dear 'Squire, Hoping that you're in health, as I am at this present. The gentlemen of the Shake-bag club ha: cut the gentlemen of the goose-green quite out of feather. The odds-um--odd battle
um-long fighting-um-here, here, it's all about cocks, and fighting; it's of no consequence, here, put it up, put it up. [thrusting the crumpled letter upon him.]
Tony. But I tell you, Miss, it's of all the consequence in the world. I would not lose the rest of it for a guinea. Here, mother, do you make it out. Of no consequence? [Giving Mrs. Hardcastle the letter.
Mrs. Hard. How's this ! [reads] “ Dear'Squire, l'in now waiting for Miss Neville, with a post chaise and pair, at the bottom of the garden, but I find my horses yet unable to perform the journey. I expect you'll assist us with a pair of fresh horses, as you promised. Dispatch is necessary, as the hag (ay the hag) your mother, will otherwise suspect us. Hastings.” Grant me patience. I shall run distracted. My rage chokes me.
Miss Nev. I hope, Madam, you'll suspend your resentment for a few moments, and not impute to me
As for you,
any impertinence, or sinister design that belongs to another.
Mrs. Hard. [Curtesying very low] Fine spoken, Madam, you are most miraculously polite and engaging, and quite the very pink of courtesy and circumspection. Madam. [Changing her tone] And you, you great ill. fashioned oaf, with scarce sense enough to keep your mouth shut. Were you too join'd against me. But I'll defeat all your plots in a moment. Madam, since you have got a pair of fresh horses ready, it would be cruel to disappoint then. So, if you please, instead of running away with your spark, prepare, this very moment, to run off with me. Your old aunt Pedigree will keep you secure, I'll warrant me. You too, Sir, may mount your horse, and guard us upon the way. Here, Thomas, Roger, Diggory, I'll shew you, that I wish you better than you do yourselves.
[Exit: Miss Nev. So now I'm completely ruined. Tony. Ay, that's a sure thing.
Miss Nev. What better could be expected from be. ing connected with such a stupid fool, and after all the nods and signs I made him.
Tony. By the laws, Miss, it was your own cleverness, and not my stupidity, that did your business. You were so nice and so busy with your Shake-bags and Goose-greens, that I thought you could never be making believe.
Enter HASTINGS. Hast. So, Sir, I find by my servant, that you have shewn my letter, and betray'd us. Was this well done, young gentleman.
Tony. Here's another. Ask Miss there who betray'd you. Ecod, it was her doing, not mine.
Mar. So I have been finely used here among you. Rendered contemptible, driven into ill-manners, despised, insulted, laugh'd at.
Tony. Here's another. We shall have old Bedlam broke loose presently.
Miss Nev. And there, Sir, is the gentleman to whom we all owe every obligation.
Mar. What can I say to him, a mere booby, an idiot, whose ignorance and age are a protection.
Hast. A poor contemptible booby, that would but disgrace correction.
Miss Nev. Yet with cunning and malice enough to make himself merry with all our embarrassments,
Hast. An insensible cub.
Tony. Baw! damme, but I'll fight you both one af. ter the other with baskets.
Mar. As for him, he's below resentment. But your conduct, Mr. Hastings, requires an explanation. You knew of my mistakes, yet would not undeceive
Hast. Tortured as I am with my own disappointments, is this a time for explanations? It is not friendly, Mr. Marlow.
Mar. But, Sir
Miss Nev. Mr. Marlow, we never kept on your mistake, till it was too late to undeceive you. Be pacified.
Serv. My mistress desires you'll get ready immedi. ately, Madam. The horses are putting to. Your hat and things are in the next room. We are to go thirty miles before morning.
[Exit servant. Miss Nev, Well, well; I'll come presently.
Mar. [To Hastings] Was it well done, Sir, to assist in rendering me ridiculous. To hang me out for the scorn of all my acquaintance. Depend upon it, Sir, I shall expect an explanation.
Hast. Was it well done, Sir, if you're upon that subject, to deliver what I entrusted to yourself to the care of another, Sir?
Miss Nev. Mr. Hastings. Mr. Marlow. Why will you increase my distress by this groundless dispute. I implore, I entreat you
Seru. Your cloak, Madam. My mistress is impatient.
Miss Nev. I come. Pray be pacified. If I leave you thus, I shall die with apprehension.
Enter Servant. Serv. Your fan, muff, and gloves, Madam. The horses are waiting.
Miss Nev. O, Mr. Marlow! if you knew what a scene of constraint and ill-nature lies before me, I'm sure it would convert your resentment into pity.
Mar. I'm so distracted with a variety of passions, that I don't know what I do. Forgive me, Madam. George, forgive me. You know my hasty temper, and should not exasperate it.
Hast. The torture of my situation is my only excuse.
Miss Nev. Well, my dear Hastings, if you have that esteem for me that I think, that I am sure you have, your constancy for three years will but increase the happiness of our future connection. If
Mrs Hard. [Within] Miss Neville. Constance, why Constance, I say.
Miss Neu. I'm coming. Well, constancy. Remember, constancy is the word.
[Exit. Hast. My heart, how can I support this?
To be so near happiness, and such happiness!
Mar. [To Tony] You see now, young gentleman, the effects of your folly. What might be amusement to you, is here disappointment, and even distress.
Tony. [From a reverie] Ecod, I have hit it. Its here. Your hands. Yours and yours, my poor Sulky. My boots there, ho. Meet me two hours hence at the bottom of the garden ; 'and if you don't find Tony Lumpkin a more good-natur'd fellow than you