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Dialogue following No. 16
Enter Sergeant Meryll.
Fairfax. Well, Sergeant Meryll, and how fares thy pretty charge, Elsie Maynard?
Meryll. Well enough, sir. She is quite strong again, and leaves us to-night.
Fairfax. Thanks to Dame Carruthers' kind nursing, eh?
Meryll. Aye, deuce take the old witch! Ah, 'twas but a sorry trick you played me, sir, to bring the fainting girl to me. It gave the old lady an excuse for taking up her quarters in my house, and for the last two years I've shunned her like the plague. Another day of it and she would have married me! (Enter Dame Carruthers and Kate.) Good Lord, here she is again! I'll e'en go. (Going.)
Dame Carruthers. Nay, Sergeant Meryll, don't go. I have something of grave import to say to thee.
Meryll. (aside) It's coming.
Fairfax. (laughing) I'faith, I think I', not wanted here. (Going.)
Dame Carruthers. Nay, Master Leonard, I've naught to say to thy father that his son may not hear.
Fairfax. (aside) True. I'm one of the family; I had forgotten!
Dame Carruthers. 'Tis about this Elsie Maynard. A pretty girl, Master Leonard.
Fairfax. Aye, fair as a peach blossom — what then?
Dame Carruthers. She hath a liking for thee, or I mistake not.
Fairfax. With all my heart. She's as dainty a little maid as you'll find in a midsummer day's march.
Dame Carruthers. Then be warned in time, and give not thy heart to her. Oh, I know what it is to give my heart to one who will have none of it!
Meryll. (aside) Aye, she knows all about that. (aloud) And why is my boy to take heed of her? She's a good girl, Dame Carruthers.
Dame Carruthers. Good enough, for aught I know. But she's no girl. She's a married woman.
Meryll. A married woman! Tush, old lady — she's promised to Jack Point, the Lieutenant's new jester.
Dame Carruthers. Tush in thy teeth, old man! As my niece Kate sat by her bedside to-day, this Elsie slept, and as she slept she moaned and groaned, and turned this way and that way — and, "How shall I marry one I have never seen?" quoth she — then, "An hundred crowns!" quoth she— then, "Is it certain he will die in an hour?" quoth she — then, "I love him not, and yet I am his wife," quoth she! Is it not so, Kate?
Kate. Aye, aunt, 'tis even so.
Fairfax. Art thou sure of all this?
Kate. Aye, sir, for I wrote it all down on my tablets.
Dame Carruthers. Now, mark my words: it was of this Fairfax she spake, and he is her husband, or I'll swallow my kirtle!
Meryll. (aside) Is it true, sir?
Fairfax. (aside to Meryll.) True? Why, the girl was raving! (aloud) Why should she marry a man who had but an hour to live?
Dame Carruthers. Marry? There be those who would marry but for a minute, rather than die old maids.
Meryll. (aside) Aye, I know one of them!
Page Created 17 January, 2006