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Mrs. Hard. And am I to blame? The poor boy was always too sickly to do any good. A school would be his death. When he comes to be a little stronger, who knows what a year or two's Latin may do for him!
Hard, Latin for him-a cat and fiddle! No, no, the alehouse and the stable are the only schools he'll ever go to.
Mrs. Hard. Well, we must not snub the poor boy now, for I believe we shan't have him long among us. Any body that looks in his face may see he's consumptive.
Hard. Ay, if growing too fat be one of the symptoms.
Hard. Anil truly so am I; for he sometimes whoops like a speaking trumpet; [Tony hallooing behind the scenes] 0! there he goes—a very consumptive figure, truly.
Enter Tony, crossing the stage. Mrs. Hard. Tony, where are you going, my charmer? Won't you give papa and I a little of your company, lovee?
Tony. I'm in haste, mother, I cannot stay.
Mrs. Hard. You shan't venture out this raw evening, my dear: you look most shockingly.
Tony. I can't stay, I tell you. The three pigeons expects me down every moment. There's some fun going forward.
Hard. Ay; the alehouse, the old place; I thought so. Mrs. Hard. A low, paltry set of fellows.
Tony. Not so low neither. There's Dick Muggins, the exciseman;
Jack Slang, the horse-doctor; little Aminadab, that grinds the music box; and Tom Twist, that spins the pewter platter.
Mrs. Hard. Pray, my dear, disappoint them for one night at least.
Tony. As for disappointing them I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.
Mrs. Hard. [Detaining him.] You shan't go.
(Exeunt, hauling her out. Hard. (solus.] Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors? There's my pretty darling Kate! the fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as the best of them.
Enter Miss HARDCASTLE. Hard. Blessings on my pretty innocence! dressed out as usual, my Kate. Goodness! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl! I could never teach the fools of this age, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain.
Miss Hard. You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my house'wife's dress to please you.
Hard. Well, remember I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the by, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
Miss Hard. I protest, sir, I don't comprehend your meaning.
Hard. Then to be plain with you, Kate, I expect the
young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband from town this very day. I have his father's letter, in which he informs me his son is set out, and that he intends to follow himself, shortly after.
Miss Hard. Indeed! I wish I had known something of this before. Bless me, how shall I behave? It's a thousand to one I shan't like him; our meeting will be so formal, and so like a thing of business, that I shall find no room for friendship or esteem.
Hard. Depend upon it, child, I never will controul your choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard me talk so often.
The young gentleman has been bred a scholar, and is designed for an employment in the service of his country. 'cold he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss Hard. Is he?
Miss Hard. My dear papa, say no more, [kissing his kands] he's mine, I'll have him.
Hard. And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
Miss Hard. Eh! you have frozen me to death again. That word “reserved,” has undone all the rest of his accomplishments. A reserved lover, it is said, always makes a suspicious husband.
Hard. On the contrary, modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriched with nobler virtues. It was the very feature in his character that first struck me.
Miss Hard. He must have more striking features catch me, I promise you. However, if he be so young, so handsome, and so every thing as you mention, I believe he'll do still. I think I'll have him.
Hard. Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
Miss Hard. My dear papa, why will you mortify one so?- Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer.
Hard. Bravely resolved! In the mean time I'll go prepare the servants for his reception; as we seldom see company, they want as much training as a company of recruits the first day's muster.
Miss Hard. Calone.] Lud, this news of papa's puts me all in a flutter. Young, handsome; these he put last: but I put them foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then, reserved and sheepish; that's much against him. Yet, can't he be cured of his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and can't I -But I vow I'ma disposing of the husband, before I have secured the lover.
Enter Miss NEVILLE. Miss Hard. I'm glad you're come, Neville, my dear. Tell me, Constance, how do I look this evening? Is there any thing whimsical about me? Is it one of my well-looking days, child? Am I in face to-day?
Miss Nev. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look again -bless me! sure no accident has happened among canary birds, or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last new novel been too moving?
Miss Hard. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened-I can scarce get it out--I have been threatened with a lover.
Miss Nev. And his name
Miss Nev. As I live, the most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer. They are never asunder. I believe you must have seen him when we lived in town.
Miss Hard. Never.
Miss Nev. He's a very singular character, I assure you.
Among women of reputation and virtue he is the modestest man alive; but his acquaintance give him a very different character among creatures of another stamp: you understand me. Miss Hard. An odd character indeed.
I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for suc
But how goes on your own affair, my dear? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual?
Miss Nev. I have just come from one of our agreeable tête-a-têtes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
Miss Hard. And her partiality is such, that she actually thinks him so. A fortune like yours is no small temptation. Besides, as she has the sole management of it, I'm not surprised to see her unwilling to let it go out of the family.
Miss Nev. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists