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in about half an hour, will place yourselves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in person.
Sir Char. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all my happiness in him must have an end.
[Exit. Miss Hard. And if you don't find him what I describe-I fear my happiness must never have a beginning.
The Back of the Garden. Enter HASTINGS. Hlast. What an idiot am I, to wait here for a fellow, who probably takes a delight in mortifying me. He never intended to be punctual, and I'll wait no longer. What do I see? It is he, and perhaps with news of my Constance.
Enter Tony, booted and spattered. Hast. My honest 'Squire! I now find you a man of your word. This looks like friendship.
Tony. Ay, I'm your friend, and the best friend you have in the world, if you knew but all. This riding by night, by the bye, is cursedly tiresome. It has shook me worse than the basket of a stage coach.
Hast. But how? Where did you leave your fellow travellers ? Are they in safety? Are they housed ?
Tony. Five and twenty miles in two hours and a half
is no such bad driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: Rabbet me, but I'd rather ride forty miles after a fox, than ten with such varment.
Hast. Well, but where have you left the ladies ? I die with impatience.
Tony. Left them? Why where should I leave them, but where I found them?
Hast. This is a riddle.
Tony. Riddle me this then. What's that goes round the house, and round the house, and never touches the house?
Hast. I'm still astray.
Tony. Why that's it, mon. I have led them astray. By jingo, there's not a pond or slough within five miles of the place but they can tell the taste of.
Hast. Ha, ha, ha! I understand ; you took them in a round, while they supposed themselves going forward. And so you have at last brought them home again.
Tony. You shall hear. I first took them down Feather-bed-lane, where we stuck fast in the mud. I then rattled them crack over the stones of Up-anddown Hill-I then introduc'd them to the gibbet on Heavy-tree Heath, and from that, with a circumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horsepond at the bottom of the garden.
Hast. But no accident, I hope.
Tony. No, no. Only mother is confoundedly fright. ened. She thinks herself forty miles off. She's sick of the journey, and the cattle can scarce crawl. So
if your own horses be ready, you may whip off with cousin, and I'll be bound that no soul here can budge a foot to follow you.
Hast. My dear friend, how can I be grateful ?
Tony. Ay, now its dear friend, noble 'Squire. Just now, it was all idiot, cub, and run me through the guts. Damn your way of fighting, I say. After we take a knock in this part of the country, we kiss and be friends. But if you had run me through the guts, then I should be dead, and you might go kiss the hangman.
Hast. The rebuke is just. But I must hasten to relieve Miss Neville ; if you keep the old lady employed, I promise to take care of the young one.
[Exit Hastings. Tony. Never fear me. Here she comes. Vanish. She's got from the pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid.
Enter Mrs. HARDCASTLE.
Mrs. Hard. Oh, Tony, I'm killed. Shook. Bat. 'tered to death. I shall never survive it. That last jolt that laid us against the quickset hedge has done
Tony. Alack, mamma, it was all your own fault. You would be for running away by night, without knowing one inch of the way.
Mrs. Hard. I wish we were at home again. I never met so many accidents in so short a journey. Drench'd in the mud, overturn’d in a ditch, stuck :
fast in a slough, jolted to a jelly, and at last to lose
Whereabouts do you think we are, Tony? Tony. By my guess we should be upon Crackskull common, about forty miles from home.
Mrs. Hard. Olud ! O lud ! the most notorious spot in all the country. We only want a robbery to make a complete night on't.
Tony. Don't be afraid, mamma, don't be afraid. Two of the five that kept here are hanged, and the other three may not find us. Don't be afraid. Is that a man that's galloping behind us? No; it's only
Don't be afraid.
Tony. Do you see any thing like a black hat moy. ing behind the thicket?
Mrs. Hard. O death!
Tony. No, it's only a cow. Don't be afraid, mamma; don't be afraid.
Mrs. Hard. As I'm alive, Tony, I see a man com. ing towards us. Ah! I'm sure on't. If he perceives us, we are i'ndone.
Tony. [ Aside] Father in law, by all that's unlucky, come to take one of his night walks. [To her] Ah, it's a highwayman with pistols as long as my arm. А damn'd ill-looking fellow.
Mrs. Hard. Good heaven defend us! He approaches.
Tony. Do you hide yourself in that thicket, and leave me to manage him. If there be any danger l'll
cough and cry hem. When I cough be sure to keep close.
[Mrs. Hardcastle hides behind a tree in the back scene.
Hard. I'm mistaken, or I heard voices of people want of help. Oh, Tony, is that you. I did r expect you so soon back. Are your mother and he charge in safety?
Tony. Very safe, Sir, at my aunt Pedigree's. Hem
Mrs. Hard. [From behind] Ah death! I find there danger.
Hard. Forty miles in three hours; sure, that's to much, my youngster.
Tony, Stout horses and willing minds make sho journies, as they say. Hem.
Mrs. Hard. [From behind] Sure he'll do the dear bo
Hard. But I heard a voice here; I should be glad ti know from whence it came?
Tony. It was I, Sir, talking to myself, Sir. saying that forty miles in three hours was very good going. Hem.
As to be sure it was. Hem. I have got a sort of cold by being out in the air. We'll go in, if you please. Hem.
Hard. But if you talk'd to yourself, you did not answer yourself. I am certain I heard two voices, and am resolved [raising his voice] to find the other out. Mrs. Hard. [From behind] Oh! he's coming to find