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Hea. Don't get on the old subject, now. We'll wave the schoolmaster, till we have more leisure.
Sol. De toot mong cure :—though 'twas under him I made all my deficiency in the English tongue, before I went to France, and learnt to parly too.
Hea. Well, well, your father has been dead these eleven years.
Sol. Dead as Malbrook. He's more, as the French say; which, in English, means he is no more. So, peace to his remainders !
Hea. Now, tell me of the cottagers.
Sol. Most of 'em ruined, and nothing to turn their hands to.
Hea. Poor fellows !
Sol. Ay; all poor indigenous pheasants. Thanks to industry, I've better luck. I snatch'd the board from over my door, when I was burnt out, and ran off with it, under my arm. Here it is, [Reads.] “ Rats and gentlemen catched and waited on, and all other jobs performed by Solomon Gundy."
[Sets the board down again on the table. Hea. You have still a livelihood, Solomon,
Sol. Edication and travel fit a man for any thing, and make him a jolly garsoon. You'd hardly think it, but, at fourteen years old, I could read.
Hea. You don't say so !
Sul. Fact, upon my patrole ; and any sum in arithmetic that didn't demand addition, subtraction, or multiplication, I looked upon as a petty kick shose,
Hell. Why, you are a perfect prodigy of genius.
Sol. I believe I have pick'd up a little; and the captain of the cutter, on our coast, that traded in brandy, taking me to Dunkirk, for six months, perhaps has given me a jenny see quaw, to which the commonality seldom perspire.
Hea. Who was that captain, Solomon ?
Sol. Quite the gentleman--an ellygong, as the French say; and felt such a sympathy against vulgar custom house officers, he'd have no dealings with 'em ; so he always smuggled.
Hea. But I hope no lives are lost among our neighbours ?
Sul. Not a Christian soul, except the old village bull, and a porker. Their loss is to be implored, though they are but quadlipeds. But a number of accidents.--Jacob
Grull, the hump-back'd taxman, jump'd out of his cockloft. into the water-tub, poor reform'd creature! If we hadn't heard him bawling “ Fire!" he'd have been drown'd. And fat Mrs. Doubletun, scrambling down a ladder, in her husband's short-frock, to the farm-yard, was so peck'd at by the cock-turkey, she won't be able to assayez von, for a fortnight.
Hea. These calamities are not very serious: but a number of buildings are, doubtless, destroy'd.
Sol. All down but the house of deception for travellers, and the contagious brick messages beyond it. We work'd hard to save 'em ; labour'd like gallypot slaves.
Hea. I will do all in my power to be of service, in the general calamity.
Sol. We know that. You are full of amour proper for your neighbours, as we say at Dunkirk; nobody doubts the malevolence of your heart.
Hea. An hour hence I shall be among you in the village.
Sol. An hour! then your amee, who has been over. tarn’d, will be put out of patience.
Hea. A friend of mine overturn'd in the village !
Sol. Plump into the horse-pond-shot from a chaise, out at elbows, with four posters. Don't be frighten'd; he fell too much in the mud to be hurt.
Hea. You're sure he's safe?
Sol. Can't tell. He's at the Spread Eagle. The carriage broke into twenty morso's. I help'd to drag it. No coachmaker by, I offer'd to impair it. The great man was daub'd, and look'd like a bog. No servant with him, I scrap'd him. He read my board as I was rubbing him down. Wanted to send you a billy-nó messenger at hand—I've brought it. Ke gave me a guinea, I call'd him an angel ; he bid me run like a devil; I told him I would; so I have, and there's the contentions.
(Gives a letter.-Goes to table, takes the jug and drinks.
Hea. [Reading the letter.] “ Dear Heartly, I have just “ tumbled into my estate. Let none of the villagers know “ who I am till I get to my house. I hate fuss-Don't say “ I am a rich man. Come to me at the adehouse.
“ JOHN TORRENT.”
He arrives just in time to assist his tenants in distress; but I dread his impteuosity and carelessness of discrimination. Ever in haste to make people happy, he defeats his own purpose. His heart runs away with his head, and he often produces most harm when he shows most benevolence. I'll wait on the gentleman, Solomon, directly.
Sol. That's just what I should like to do myself. Speak a good word for me to him, your honour. Pauvre Solomon Gundy, just burnt out;-kills vermin, and dresses gentlemen. I know he'll attend to your imprecations.
Hea. There's no hurry-he'll stay in the neighbourhood some time.
Sol. Will he? Take a chateau, perhaps. I'm up to every thing about a house.
Hea. Well, well-follow me, and we'll see what can be done for you.
Sol. Thank your honour. I'm very graceful. If I am but burnt into a good place, after all, this fire will turn out as fine a few de joy of misfortune to me, as could possibly happen. I follow your bonour. (Eseunt, . SCENE II.-A Room in the Village Inn.- A table and
chairs, R. C., near flat and a table and chairs, L. C., near flat.-TORRENT discovered sitting at the table, R.C.Amy is attending him.
Tor. And so your name is Amy, and you are daughter to the Spread Eagle?
Amy. Yes, your honour. We are in a sad pickle, to be sure.
Tor. Ay, ay: all owing to the fire, as you say.
Amy. Yes, your honour. It broke out unawares; but we hope you'll excuse it.
(Courtesying. Tor. It carries its own apology. Whereabouts did it begin?
Amy. It began about ten o'clock, your honour.
Amy. Oh! at the corner of the-but you're a stranger --it was as you go by the--but, perhaps, your honour knows the horsepond.
Tor. Very well :-I've just come out of it.
Amy. There's a power of mischief done ; and all in a moment, as one may say. Lord knows, when I was
& stepping into bed, last night, I little thought that ruination was just a-coming !
Tor. Like enough. Ruination, my dear, often comes when giddy girls, like you, least think about it.
Amy. But what a thing if it had happened to our house, pow my poor father's bed-ridden !
Tor. What! bed-ridden !—Poor fellow! Is he a good Er father to you?
Amy. The best in Christendom. He's the kindest
neighbour, and the kindest parent. But we have had a jí power of misfortune, and he's nigh broken down in the world.
[Weeps. Tor. I'm glad of that. Amy. Glad ?- Dear!
Tor. Here's an honest man, up to his ears in misfor. tune, and I'm his landlord! Come, that's charming! I have something to begin with. You take in the weekly paper, you said ?
Amy. Yes, your honour.
Tor. Fetch it me. [Amy is going.] And, hark yeyour father is very poor, and very sick, you say?
Amy. Very, indeed!
Amy. Do for my father! bless us !
Tor. This fire is delightful! it has destroyed twothirds of my poor tenants' houses. Huzza! I shall have the pleasure of building them up again. They shall be as merry as the day is long. Their dirty village shall rise in splendour, like a phoenix out of a crow's nest. [Sits at table.] The hod and trowel shall catch their tears ; and I'll block up all their grief with brick and mortar.
Re-enter Amy, with a paper, L.
Tor. Damo it! how slow he is ! 01 Amy. Slow! There's not a cuterer young man in the
village than Solomon Gundy.
Tor. How the devil do you-o ho! I smoke-a sweetheart of yours, I perceive.
Amy. He, he! Yes, your bonour;-but, don't you tell; for, till he gets twenty pounds, to set us a-going, 'tis a secret to every body but father, and the rest of our village.
[Exit, L. Tor. (Rises and comes forward, c.] Twenty pounds! He shall bave-no, damn it, I won't marry people rashly neither; for they may hate me for it, afterwards, as long as they live. I was apprehensive, when I left London, that I had acquired an overgrown fortune there to little purpose ; for I see no good in getting an overgrown one, but to make those around us happy. It would have been an irksome thing to me, now I bave left the bustle of business, to have found every body's happiness ready made to my hands ;-but, thank heaven, my tenants are as miserable as their best well-wisher can desire ! [He sits down at table, R. C., to read the newspaper, with
his back turned to the door, C. F., through which en. ters BARFORD, without observing Torrent, and throus
a small bundle on the table, L. C. Bar. Rest there, my whole property!-the remains of many a wreck, rest there!
Tor. [Sees Barford.] Eb! zounds! wreck! He looks like a gentleman. Pray, sir, how came the wreck of all your property to be tied up in such a cursed small pockethandkerchief?
Bar. By what right, sir, do you inquire ?
Tor. By the right that sugged me out of the horse. pond—the right of running to any man's assistance who seems to be stuck in the mud.
Bar. [Turning from him.] Pshaw! sir, you are obtrusive.
Tor. Why, it was rather rude to be reading the newspaper in my own room, when you chose to walk in, and interrupt me.
Bar. This is the parlour of a village inn, sir; where 'tis the custom to huddle people together indiscriminately, 'Tis an emblem of the world : men mingle in it from necessity, as we do now, till they part in dislike, as we may do presently.
[They rise and come forward. Tor. (R. c.) We seem to bid fair for it: for I detest misanthropy.
Bar. (c.) 'Tis the opium to our affections; an antidote