HARD. (aside). This fellow's formal, modest 85 impudence is beyond bearing.
SIR CHAS. And you never grasped her hand, or made any protestations!
MARL. As heaven is my witness, I came down in obedience to your commands. I saw the lady 90 without emotion, and parted without reluctance. I hope you'll exact no further proofs of my duty, nor prevent me from leaving a house in which I suffer so many mortifications. Exit.
SIR CHAS. I'm astonished at the air of sincer 95 ity with which he parted.
HARD. And I'm astonished at the deliberate intrepidity of his assurance.
SIR CHAS. I dare pledge my life and honor upon his truth. 100
HARD. Here comes my daughter, and I would stake my happiness upon her veracity.
Enter MISS HARDCASTLE.
HARD. Kate, come hither, child. Answer us sincerely, and without reserve; has Mr. Marlow made you any professions of love and affection? 105
MISS HARD. The question is very abrupt, sir. But since you require unreserved sincerity, I think he has.
HARD. (to SIR CHARLES). You see.
SIR CHAS. And pray, madam, have you and 110 my son had more than one interview?
MISS HARD. Yes, sir, several.
HARD. (to SIR CHARLES). You see.
SIR CHAS. But did he profess any attachment?
MISS HARD. A lasting one. 115
SIR CHAS. Did he talk of love?
MISS HARD. Much, sir.
SIR CHAS. Amazing! And all this formally?
MISS HARD. Formally.
HARD. Now, my friend, I hope you are satis 120 fied.
SIR CHAS. And how did he behave, madam?
MISS HARD. As most professed admirers do -- said some civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of mine; men 125 tioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended with pretended rapture.
SIR CHAS. Now I'm perfectly convinced, indeed. I know his conversation among women to be modest and submissive. This forward, canting, rant 130 ing manner by no means describes him, and I am confident he never sat for the picture.
MISS HARD. Then what, sir, if I should convince you to your face of my sincerity? If you and my papa, in about half an hour, will place your 135 selves behind that screen, you shall hear him declare his passion to me in person.
SIR CHAS. Agreed. And if I find him what you describe, all my happiness in him must have an end.
MISS HARD. And if you don't find him what 140 I describe -- I fear my happiness must never have a beginning. Exeunt.
Scene changes to the back of the garden.
HAST. 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. 5
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. 10 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 15 and a half is no such bad driving. The poor beasts have smoked for it: rabbit1 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. 20
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 25 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 30 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. 35
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-and- down Hill. I then introduced them to the gibbet on Heavy-tree Heath; and from that, with a cir 40 cumbendibus, I fairly lodged them in the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden.____________________