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Enter Mrs. HARDCASTLE.
Well, I was greatly fluttered, to be sure. But my son tells me it was all a mistake of the servants. I shan't be easy, however, till they are fairly married, and then let her keep her own fortune. But what do I see! fondling together, as I'm alive. I never saw Tony so sprightly before. Ah! have I caught you, my pretty doves! What, billing, exchanging stolen glances and broken murmurs. Ah!
As for murmurs, mother, we grumble a little now and then, to be sure. But there's no love lost between us.
A mere sprinkling, Tony, upon the flame, only to make it burn brighter.
Cousin Tony promises to give us more of his company at home. Indeed, he shan't leave us any more. It won't leave us, cousin Tony, will it ?
0! it's a pretty creature. No, I'd sooner leave my horse in a pound, than leave you
you smile upon one so. Your laugh makes you so becoming.
Agreeable cousin! Who can help admiring that natural humour, that pleasant, broad, red, thoughtless, (patting his cheek) ah! it's a bold face.
Tony. I'm sure I always lov'd cousin Con's hazle eyes, and her pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that, over the haspicolls, like a parcel of bobbins.
Mrs. HARDCASTLE. Ah, he would charm the bird from the tree. I was never so happy before. My boy takes after his father, poor Mr. Lumpkin, exactly. The jewels, my dear Con, shall be yours incontinently. You shall have them. Isn't he a sweet boy, my dear ? You shall be married to-morrow, and we'll put off the rest of his education, like Dr. Drowsy's sermons, to a fitter opportunity.
Where's the 'squire ? I have got a letter for your worship
TONY, Give it to my mamma.
She reads all my letters first.
I had orders to deliver it into your own hands
Who does it come from?
Your worship mun ask that o'the letter itself.
I could wish to know, though (turning the letter, and gazing on it.)
Miss NEVILLE. (Aside) Undone ! undone! A letter to him from Hastings. I know the hand. If my aunt sees it
we are ruined for ever. I'll keep her employ'd a little if I can. (To Mrs. Hardcastle) But I have not told you, madam, of my cousin's smart answer just now to Mr. Marlow. We so laugh'd-You must know, madam.--This way a little, for be must not hear us.
(Still gazing.) A damn'd cramp piece of penmanship, as ever I saw in my life. I can read
your print hand very well. But here there are such handles, and shanks, and dashes that one can scarce tell the head from the tail. - 'To Anthony Lump“kin, esquire.” It's very odd, I can read the outside of my letters, where my own name is, well enough. But when I come to open it, it's all-buzz. That's hard, very hard ; for the inside of the letter is always the cream of the correspondence.
Ha ! ha! ha! Very well, very well. And so my son was too hard for the philosopher,
Yes, madam; but you must hear the rest, madam. A little more this way, or he
You'll hear how he puzzled him again.
Mrs. HARDCASTLE. He seems strangely puzzled now himself, methinks.
(Still gazing.) A damn’d up and down hand, as if it was disguised in liquor. (Reading) Dear Sir, Aye, that's that. Then there's an M, and a T, and an S, but whether the next be an izzard, or an R, confound me, I cannot tell.
What's that, my dear. Can I give you any assistance ?
Pray, aunt, let me read it. Nobody reads a cramp
hand better than I. (twitching the letter from him) Do you know who it is from ?
TONY. Can't tell, except from Dick Ginger the feeder.
Miss NEVILLE. Aye, 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 has cut the gentlemen of the goose-green quite out of feather. The odds--- um-odd battle-mum-long fight