British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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has got a letter for you from his master, upon very urgent business.

MEL. Sir William Gayless! What can this 250
mean? where is the man?

KITTY. In the little parlor, madam.

MEL. I'll go to him--my heart flutters strangely.

Exit MELISSA.

KITTY. O woman, woman, foolish woman! she'll

certainly have this Gayless: nay, were she as 255
well convinced of his poverty as I am, she'd have him. A strong dose of love is worse than one of ratafia;1 when it once gets into our heads, it trips up our heels, and then good night to discretion. Here is
she going to throw away fifteen thousand 260
pounds; upon what? faith, little better than nothing -- he's a man, and that's all -- and heaven knows mere man is but small consolation.

Be this advice pursued by each fond maid,

Ne'er slight the substance for an empty shade: 265
Rich, weighty sparks alone should please and charm ye:
For should spouse cool, his gold will always warm ye.


ACT II

[SCENE I]

[ GAYLESS' lodgings.]

Enter GAYLESS and SHARP.

GAY. Prithee be serious, Sharp. Hast thou really succeeded?

SHARP. To our wishes, sir. In short, I have managed the business with such skill and dexterity, that

neither your circumstances nor my veracity are 5
suspected.

GAY. But how hast thou excused me from the ball and entertainment?

SHARP. Beyond expectation, sir. But in that

particular I was obliged to have recourse to 10
truth, and declare the real situation of your affairs. I told her we had so long disused ourselves to dressing either dinners or suppers, that I was afraid we should be but awkward in our preparations. In
short, sir, -- at that instant a cursed gnawing 15
seized my stomach, that I could not help telling her that both you and myself seldom make a good meal now-a-days once in a quarter of a year.

GAY. Hell and confusion, have you betrayed me,

villain? Did you not tell me this moment, she 20
did not in the least suspect my circumstances?

SHARP. No more she did, sir, till I told her.

GAY. Very well; and was this your skill and dexterity?

SHARP. I was going to tell you; but you won't 25
hear reason; my melancholy face and piteous narration had such an effect upon her generous bowels, that she freely forgives all that's past.

GAY. Does she, Sharp?

SHARP. Yes; and desires never to see your 30
face again; and, as a farther consideration for so doing, she has sent you half a guinea.

(Shows the money.)

GAY. What do you mean?

SHARP. To spend it, spend it, sir; and regale.

GAY. Villain, you have undone me! 35

SHARP. What, by bringing you money, when you are not worth a farthing in the whole world? Well, well, then to make you happy again, I'll keep it myself; and wish somebody would take it in their

head to load me with such misfortunes. 40

(Puts up the money.)

GAY. Do you laugh at me, rascal!

SHARP. Who deserves more to be laughed at! ha, ha, ha! Never for the future, sir, dispute the success of my negotiations, when even you, who know

me so well, can't help swallowing my hook. 45
Why, sir, I could have played with you backwards and forwards at the end of my line, till I had put your senses into such a fermentation, that you should not have known in an hour's time, whether
you was a fish or a man. 50

GAY. Why, what is all this you have been telling me?

SHARP. A downright lie from beginning to end.

GAY. And have you really excused me to her?

SHARP. No, sir; but I have got this half 55
guinea to make her excuses to you; and, instead of a confederacy between you and me to deceive her, she thinks she has brought me over to put the deceit upon you.

GAY. Thou excellent fellow! 60

SHARP. Don't lose time, but slip out of the house immediately; the back way, I believe, will be the safest for you, and to her as fast as you can; pretend vast surprise and concern, that her indisposition has

debarred you the pleasure of her company here 65
tonight: you need know no more, away!

GAY. But what shall we do, Sharp? here's her maid again.

SHARP. The devil she is -- I wish I could poison

her; for I'm sure, while she lives, I can never 70
prosper.

Enter KITTY.

KITTY. Your door was open, so I did not stand upon ceremony.

GAY. I am sorry to hear your mistress is taken so

suddenly. 75

KITTY. Vapors, vapors only, sir, a few matri

____________________
248] W1 om. for you.
18] W1 once a quarter.
46] W1 om. with.
56] O6D8 you? And.
1
Brandy.

-638-

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