HARD. My wife, as I'm a Christian! From whence can she come, or what does she mean?
MRS. HARD. (kneeling). Take compassion on 145 us, good Mr. Highwayman. Take our money, our watches, all we have, but spare our lives. We will never bring you to justice, indeed we won't, good Mr. Highwayman.
HARD. I believe the woman's out of her 150 senses. What, Dorothy, don't you know me?
MRS. HARD. Mr. Hardcastle, as I'm alive! My fears blinded me. But who, my dear, could have expected to meet you here, in this frightful place, so far from home? What has brought you to fol 155 low us?
HARD. Sure, Dorothy, you have not lost your wits? So far from home, when you are within forty yards of your own door! (To him.) This is one of your old tricks, you graceless rogue, you! (To160her.) Don't you know the gate, and the mulberry tree; and don't you remember the horse-pond, my dear?
MRS. HARD. Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as long as I live; I have caught my death in it. 165 (To TONY.) And is it to you, you graceless varlet, I owe all this? I'll teach you to abuse your mother, I will.
TONY. Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, so you may take the fruits on't. 170
MRS. HARD. I'll spoil you, I will.
Follows him off the stage. Ex[eunt.]
HARD. There's morality, however, in his reply.
Enter HASTINGS and MISS NEVILLE.
HAST. My dear Constance, why will you deliberate thus? If we delay a moment, all is lost forever. Pluck up a little resolution, and we shall soon 175 be out of the reach of her malignity.
MISS NEV. I find it impossible. My spirits are so sunk with the agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger. Two or three years' patience will at last crown us with happiness, 180
HAST. Such a tedious delay is worse than inconstancy. Let us fly, my charmer. Let us date our happiness from this very moment. Perish fortune. Love and content will increase what we possess beyond a monarch's revenue. Let me prevail, 185
MISS NEV. No, Mr. Hastings, no. Prudence once more comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance. I'm resolved to apply to Mr. Hardcastle's compassion 190 and justice for redress.
HAST. But though he had the will, he has not the power to relieve you.
MISS NEV. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to rely. 195
HAST. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly obey you. Exeunt.
Scene changes. [The house.]
Enter SIR CHARLES and MISS HARDCASTLE.
SIR CHAS. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter.
MISS HARD. I am proud of your approbation, 5 and to show I merit it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
SIR CHAS. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment. Exit SIR CHARLES. 10
MARL. Though prepared for setting out, I come once more to take leave, nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the separation.
MISS HARD. (in her own natural manner). I believe these sufferings cannot be very great, sir, which 15 you can so easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by showing the little value of what you now think proper to regret.
MARL. (aside). This girl every moment improves upon me. (To her.) It must not be, madam. I 20 have already trifled too long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion. The disparity of education and fortune, the anger of a parent, and the contempt of my equals begin to lose their weight; and nothing can restore me to 25 myself but this painful effort of resolution.
MISS HARD. Then go, sir; I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages 30 without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fixed on fortune.
Enter HARDCASTLEand SIR CHARLES from behind.
SIR CHAS. Here, behind this screen. 35
HARD. Ay, ay, make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him with confusion at last.
MARL. By heavens, madam, fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see that without 40 emotion? But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture,____________________