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Mrs. Cro. Poor dear man; no accident I hope.
Lof. Undone, madam, that's all. His creditors have taken him into custody. A prisoner in his own house.
Mrs. Cro. A prisoner in his own house! How! At this very time! I'm quite unhappy for him.
Lof. Why so am I. The man, to be sure, was immensely good-natured. But then I could never find that he had any thing in him.
Mrs. Cro. His manner, to be sure, was excessive harmless; some, indeed, thought it a little dull. For my part, I always concealed my opinion.
Lof. It can't be concealed, madamı; the man was dull, dull as the last new comedy! a poor impracticable creature! I tried once or twice to know if he was fit for business; but he had scarce talents to be groom-porter to an orange barrow.
Mrs. Cro. How differently does Miss Richland think of him!
For, I believe, with all his faults, she loves him.
Lof. Loves him! Does she? You should cure her of that by all means. Let me see; what if she were sent to him this instant, in his present doleful situation? My life for it, that works her cure. Distress is a perfect antidote to love. Suppose we join her in the next room? Miss Richland is a fine girl, has a fine fortune, and must not be thrown away. Upon my honour, madam, I have a regard for Miss Richland; and rather than she should be thrown away, I should think it no indignity to marry
[Exeunt. Enter OLIVIA and LEONTINE. Leon. And yet, trust me, Olivia, I had every reason to expect Miss Richland's refusal, as I did every thing
in my power to deserve it. Her indelicacy surprises me!
Oliv. Sure, Leontine, there's nothing so indelicate in being sensible of your merit. If so, I fear, I shall be the most guilty thing alive.
Leon. But you mistake, my dear. The same attention I used to advance my merit with you, I practised to lessen it with her. What more could I do?
Oliv. Let us now rather consider what is to be done. We have both dissembled too long-I have always been ashamed-I am now quite weary of it. Sure I could never have undergone so much for any but you.
Leon. And you shall find my gratitude equal to your kindest compliance. Though our friends should totally forsake us, Olivia, we can draw upon content for the deficiencies of fortune.
Oliv. 'Then why should we defer our scheme of humble happiness, when it is now in our power? I may be the favourite of your father, it is true; but can it ever be thought, that his present kindness to a supposed child, will continue to a known deceiver?
Leon. I have many reasons to believe it will. As his attachments are but few, they are lasting. His own marriage was a private one, as ours may be. Besides, I have sounded him already at a distance, and find all his answers exactly to our wish. Nay, by an expression or two that dropped from him, I am induced to think he knows of this affair.
Oliv. Indeed! But that would be a happiness too great to be expected. Leon. However it be, I'm certain you have power over
and am persuaded, if you informed him of our situation, that he would be disposed to pardon it.
Oliv. You had equal expectations, Leontine, from your last scheme with Miss Richland, which yoų find has succeeded most wretchedly.
Leon. And that's the best reason for trying another.
Leon. As we could wish, he comes this way. Now, my dearest Olivia, be resolute. I'll just retire within hearing, to come in at a proper time, either to share your
danger, or confirm your victory.
[Erit. Enter CROAKER. Cro. Yes, I must forgive her; and yet not too easily, neither. It will be proper to keep up the decorums of resentment a little, if it be only to impress her with an idea of my authority.
Oliv. How I tremble to approach him! --Might I presume, sir-If I interrupt you
Cro. No child: where I have an affection, it is not a little thing that can interrupt me. Affection gets over little things.
Oliv. Sír, you're too kind. I'm sensible how ill I deserve this partiality. Yet, Heaven knows, there is nothing I would not do to to gain it.
Cro. And you have but too well succeeded, you little hussy, you. With those endearing ways of yours, on my conscience, I could be brought to forgive any thing, unless it were a very great offence indeed.
Oliv. But mine is such an offence when you know my guilt-yes, you shall know it, though I feel the greatest pain in the confession.
Cro. Why, then, if it be so very great a pain, you may spare yourself the trouble; for I know every syllable of the matter before you begin.
Oliv. Indeed! Then I'm undone.
Cro. Ay, miss, you wanted to steal a match, without letting me know it, did you? But I'm not worth being consulted, I suppose, when there's to be a marriage in my own family No, I'm to have no hand in the disposal of my own children. No, I'm nobody. I'm to be a mere article of family lumber; a piece of cracked china to be stuck up in a corner.
Oliv. Dear sir, nothing but the dread of your authority could induce us to conceal it from you.
Cro. No, no, my consequence is no more; I'm as little minded as a dead Russian in winter, just stuck up with a pipe in its mouth till there comes a thaw. It goes to my heart to vex her.
[Aside. Oliv. I was prepared, sir, for your anger, and despaired of pardon, even while I presumed to ask it. But your severity shall never abate my affection, as my punishment is but justice.
Cro. And yet you should not despair neither, Livy. We ought to hope for the best.
Oliv. And do you permit me to hope, sir? Can I ever expect to be forgiven? But hope has too long deceived
Cro. Why then, child, it shan't deceive you now, for I forgive you this very moment. I forgive you all; and now you are indeed my daughter.
Oliv. O transport! this kindness overpowers me.
Cro. I was always against severity to our children. We have been young and giddy ourselves, and we can't expect boys and girls to be old before their time.
Oliv. What generosity! but can you forget the many falsehoods, the dissimulation
Cro. You did indeed dissemble, you urehin you; but where's the girl that won't dissemble for a husband? My
wife and I had never been married, if we had not dissembled a little beforehand.
Oliv. It shall be my future care never to put such generosity to a second trial. And as for the partner of my offence and folly, from his native honour, and the just sense he has of his duty, I can answer for him that
Enter LEONTINE. Leon. Permit him thus to answer for himself [kneeling.] Thus, sir, let me speak my grutitude for this unmerited forgiveness. Yes, sir, this even exceeds all your former tenderness. I now can boast the most indulgent of fathers. The life he gave, compared to this, was but a trifling blessing.
Cro. And, good sir, who sent for you, with that fine tragedy face, and flourishing manner? I don't know what we have to do with your gratitude upon this occasion.
Leon. How, sir! Is it possible to be silent, when so much obliged! Would you refuse me the pleasure of being grateful! of adding my thanks to my Olivia's! of sharing in the transports that you have thus occasioned!
Cro. Lord, sir, we can be happy enough without your coming in to make up the party. I don't know what's the matter with the boy all this day; he has got into such a rhodomontade manner all this morning!
Leon. But, sir, I that have so large a part in the beneBt, is it not my duty to show my joy? is the being admitted to your favour so slight an obligation? is the happiness of marrying my Olivia so small a blessing?
Cro. Marrying Olivia! marrying Olivia! marrying his own sister! Sure the boy is out of his senses.
His own sister!