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Tor. An advertisement in the newspaper.
Hea. I see "To the affluent, who can feel."
Tor. Pshaw! damn it, now you are sneering at me. If you had read it, it would have broken your heart! I've never seen her, but my agent in town tells me she's a good girl, and as handsome as an angel.
Hea. I wish you joy. A handsome housekeeper of eighteen will give you eclat in the county.
Tor. Pooh! nonsense! How can you be such a blockhead! You know I'm too old for-Pshaw! and as to my character, I don't care a button for the rural backbiters.-Come, let's go up to the house to dinner. Hea. Why didn't you go there first?
[Crosses to L. Tor. To avoid the cursed parade of an entrance upon an estate. I hate to be huzza'd like a returned member, or the man in armour at the lord mayor's show. Walk with me up the hill, and let me slink into my splendour. But, first, we'll call Solomon Gundy. Solomon !
Enter SOLOMON GUNDY, R., with his signboard. Solomon Gundy, can you keep a secret till you get to the top of a hill?
Sol. (R.) A secret is a sacred deposition, and I never revulge.
Tor. Then I'm going to live on the hill, that overlooks the village.
Sol. The manor-house!
Tor. Yes: 'tis mine, and you shall be my servant. Sol. Shall I? Then, damn my board, when I've got such a lodging!
[Throws the board away, R., and crosses to L. Tor. Go out, just three paces before me. You shan't talk to Amy. I know you love her; and I'll never trust a man with a secret, out of my sight, when there's a woman in the case. The moment you get to the house, you shall have a horse, to ride for a doctor, to visit the sick Spread Eagle; then, if your cursed jabber should raise a clamour, by calling the neighbourhood about my ears, dam'me if I won't order my cook to baste you.Come along, Heartly. [Exeunt, L.
END OF ACP 1.
SCENE I.-A Cross-Road.
Enter OLDSKIRT and FANNY, with a bundle, L.
Old. (R. C.) Well, I hadn't been out of the bills of mortality since I set up shop; and now we're in Yorkshire, a hundred and seventy miles from Whitechapel. This cross lane is as boggy as Tothill Fields, and as rough as Cranbourne Alley pulled up for new paving. Fan. (c.) We cannot be far from Mr. Torrent's now. Old. Far! We've waddled a good three miles of bad way, since we left the stage, at the corner of the high road. Miss Fanny, ar'n't you monstratiously tired? Fan. Not in the least.
Old. I'd carry the bundle for you myself; only, ten to one, I shall tumble and daub it.
Fan. Indeed, I want no assistance; and the ploughman we just met says it is but half a mile further to the manor-house.
Old. At any rate, I'm glad we're out of the coach.Six inside-two squalling children in lap, and a pointer dog, as big as a hog. At every jolt, the sleepy quack doctor plump'd his fat head smack in the pit of my stomach; and, when I popp'd my mouth out o' window to fetch breath, the long-legged Scotchman on the roof gave me a kick in the jaws with his heels.
Fan. But, my dear sir, I—I have a favour to ask.
Fan. Consider, I am going to Mr. Torrent's in a humble situation.
Old. Ay-as housekeeper. You ought to have a palace of your own. If fortune isn't quite blind, I wish,
for your sake, she'd send for some eye-water.
Fan. As it is, let me persuade you not to appear with me at the house.
Fan. I only mean, not immediately.
Old. Oh, ho! I smell a rat! What, then, Miss Fanny, you're beginning to feel ashamed of Jonathan Oldskirt, the little remnant-seller from the back of St. Clement's?
Fan. How can you fancy so?
Old. Why, you are a gentlewoman born; and I suppose I am but a stiffrumped jockey, to go to a grand house the members of our club called me Old Deadwig; and last week, when business took me a trot up Bond Street, a pert puppy, in pantaloons, asked me after my uncle Noah, and hoped all my relations were well in the ark. But I didn't think Miss Fanny would have turned up her nose at me, neither.
Fan. Can you think me capable of-sir, you have been my preserver.
Old. I can see-'tis the way of the world-shake hands with a shoeblack, when your boots are dirty, and kick him as soon as they're shined.
Fan. How can you wrong me so?
Old. Pooh! What could have made me leave shop at sixes and sevens, but to see you well placed? I've been bumped and bruised in the stage, into as many colours as a tailor's book of patterns.-And, now we're within half a mile of the house, you are for shuffling me off in the middle of the mud.
Fan. Hear me, sir.-Recollect what I have already suffered, and do not add to my sorrows. In an obscure corner of Jamaica, after fifteen years of penury and afflic tion, it was my lot to receive the last breath of a wretched mother, who expired, heart-broken, in my arms.
Old. I wish you'd hold your tongue, Miss Fanny. I'm a soft old fool, and that plaguy Jamaica story is, somehow, as bad for my eyes as all the pepper and spice of the island.
Fan. You have roused me, sir, to recapitulate, and I will proceed. Her dying hand placed mine in Henry's. Plunged in poverty, like myself, he promised to be my protector, and future husband. He sailed with me for England, where he had friends to solicit, and we cherished expectation. On the day of our arrival in England, he was snatched from me, (heaven knows how!) and left me destitute, even of hope.
Old. He was crimped, I'll lay a penny-I always said Poor dear soul! you've gone through a great deal. Fan. I have now endured the worst, sir; for you-you have upbraided me. Sir, without your humanity, I must have perished.
Old. Then, why won't you let me go with you to the place? You know, I've set my heart upon seeing you done justice by. Don't be cast down-I look on you,
Miss Fanny, as my own child. I shall never forget how you came to me first, as my lodger.
Fan. Penny less.
Old. Why, at the end of a week, when I asked you for rent, you told me so, and fell a crying. Now that, Miss Fanny, was the first thing that made me take a liking to you. When a tradesman is never to be paid, you can't think how much more satisfactory your way is to him, than being told, month after month, by a great man's porter, that the fellow must call again. Come, let us go on to the house.
Fan. Pray, oblige me! pray, be patient with me! To present myself, in my new office, with a person determined, as you are, to fix there for some days, would be thought presuming.
Old. But what the plague am I to do? Stick here, in the dirt, like a skewer in a marrowbone?
Fan. [Looking out.] There appears to be a village to the left, yonder, scarcely a quarter of a mile distant. Old. I see a few chimneys, and a deuced deal of smoke.
Fan. No doubt, you will find an inn in the place. Wait there till evening, then come to me. I shall then have spoken to Mr. Torrent, concerning your care and kindness for me.-Twill be better so on both our accounts-indeed it will.
Old. Ah! bless you, Miss Fanny! [Shaking hands.] You can persuade me to any thing. But how will you get safe? We're so far from town, it must be monstrous dangerous.
Fan. Oh! I have no apprehensions.
Old. Well, I see you are resolved and desperate.Heaven bless you! This is a wild country for a Londoner! and, somehow, my mind misgives me, I shall never see you again. [Shaking hands.
Fan. [Smiling.]There is no danger,believe me [Going,R. Old. Farewell! [Going, L., returns.] Miss Fanny, my will's in the left-hand pigeon-hole of my bureau, in the back room, up two pair of stairs. I've neither chick nor child ;-so I've made you sole executrix and legatee. Jonathan Oldskirt may cut up richer than some people think. Heaven knows the depth of these mud lanes! I measure but five foot three; and, if I happen to be missing, it will be but respectful to send somebody to dig for me. [Exeunt Oldskirt, L. s. E., Fanny, R. s. E.
SCENE II-A spacious Hall in a Country House.ANDREW BANG discovered asleep in an arm-chair, at the back of Stage, R. C.-A violent ringing of gate-bell is heard.
Sir L. [Without, R.] Hollo! If there's nobody within hearing, cannot you say so?
Enter SIR LARRY M'MURRAGH, R.
Sir L. (R.) As I am an Irishman, I believe every living creature in this house is dead; for I've pulled the bell for them this half-hour, like a sexton. [Sees Andrew.] By my finger and thumb, I see a nose! I'll pull that, and, perhaps, I'll get an answer.
[Goes up to Andrew, and pulls his nose. And. [Bawling and starting up] Awgh! awgh! Sir L. [Bowing.] Sir, my compliments of the sleeping season. There's the handle of the gate bell. [Throws it to him.] Hang up the handle of your own ugly mug in the room of it, and plenty of visitors and runaway rings to you!
And. (c.) Bless us, zur!-Seeing you be a stranger, how did you get in?
Sir L. (R. C.) Like a Tom cat.-I walked in at the outside gate, over the wall. Where's my lord's steward? And. Mr. Carrydot be taking a morning's ride, zur. Sir L. Upon business?
And. Na; upon Dobbin.-Can't ye wait a bit, zur? Sir L. I'll wait a little; but, if he hasn't done airing in six weeks or two months, the chance is, I'll be gone from the premises.
And. Two months?
Sir L. I will;-my estate to nothing.-So, 'tis an even bet, you see.
And. Be you come to stay at my lord's so long, zur? Sir L. Don't be asking questions-I'm your master's -Lord Alamode's friend;-I'm here incog.;-and if you are after blabbing it to a soul here, in Yorkshire, that I'm Sir Larry M'Murragh of Ballygrennanclonfergus, by the honour of an Irish baronet, I'll crop your ears as short as St. Thomas's Day. Never you tell secrets.
And. I never do, zur, but when I'm fuddled. Sir L. I must bribe this sot. Don't you go to the alehouse, and there's something for you to drink. [Gives money.