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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 housewife's dress to please you.
Well, remember I insist on the terms of our agreement; and, by the bye, I believe I shall have occasion to try your obedience this very evening.
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.
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.
Depend upon it, child, I never will control 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* I am told he's a man of an excellent understanding.
Miss Hardcastle. I believe I shall like him.
Young and brave.
Miss Hardcastle. I'm sure I shall like him.
Hardcastle. And very handsome.
My dear papa, say no more, (kissing his hands) he's mine, I'll have him.
And, to crown all, Kate, he's one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in all the world.
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.
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.
Vol. II. S
He must have more striking features to 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.
Aye, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
Miss Hardcastle. 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.
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 Hardcastle, (alone.) 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-natur'd; 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'm disposing of the husband, before I have secured the lover.
Enter Miss Neville. Miss Hardcastle. 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 Neville. Perfectly, my dear. Yet now I look again—bless me! sure no accident has happened among the canary birds or the gold fishes. Has your brother or the cat been meddling? or has the last novel been too moving i
Miss Hardcastle. No; nothing of all this. I have been threatened— I can scarce get it out—I have been threatened with a lover.
Miss Neville. And his name
Miss Hardcastle. The son of Sir Charles Marlow.
Miss Neville. 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.
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 Hardcastle. 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 success. But how goes on your own affair, my dear ? has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual?
Miss Neville. I have just come from one of our agreeable tete-a tetes. She has been saying a hundred tender things, and setting off her pretty monster as the very pink of perfection.
Miss Hardcastle. 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 ^Seville. A fortune like mine, which chiefly consists in jewels, is no such mighty temptation. But at any rate, if my dear Hastings be but constant, I make no doubt to be too hard for her at last. However, I let her suppose that I am in love with her son, and she never e.nce dreams that my affections are fixed upon another.
Miss Hardcastle. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so.
Miss Neville. It is a good-natur'd creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to any body but himself. But my aunt's bell rings for our afternoon's walk round the improvements. Allons! Courage is necessary as our affairs are critical.
« Would it were bed time, and all were well."