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Love and Intrigue

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MILLER (walking quickly up and down the room). Once for all! The affair is becoming serious. My daughter and the baron will soon be the town-talk—my house lose its character—the president will get wind of it, and—the short and long of the matter is, I'll show the younker the door.

MRS MILLER. You did not entice him to your house—did not thrust your daughter upon him!

MILLER. Didn't entice him to my house—didn't thrust the girl upon him! Who'll believe me? I was master of my own house. I ought to have taken more care of my daughter. I should have bundled the major out at once, or have gone straight to his excellency, his papa, and disclosed all. The young baron will get off merely with a snubbing, I know that well enough, and all the blame will fall upon the fiddler.

MRS MILLER (sipping her coffee). Pooh! nonsense! How can it fall upon you? What have people to do with you? You follow your profession, and pick up pupils wherever you can find them.

MILLER. All very fine, but please to tell me what will be the upshot of the whole affair? He can't marry the girl—marriage is out of the question, and to make her his—God help us! "Good-by t'ye!" No, no—when such a sprig of nobility has been nibbling here and there and everywhere, and has glutted himself with the devil knows what all, of course it will be a relish to my young gentleman to get a mouthful of sweet water. Take heed! Take heed! If you were dotted with eyes, and could place a sentinel for every hair of your head, he'll bamboozle her under your very nose; add one to her reckoning, take himself off, and the girl's ruined for life, left in the lurch, or, having once tasted the trade, will carry it on. (Striking his forehead.) Oh, horrible thought!

MRS MILLER. God in his mercy protect us!

MILLER. We shall want his protection. You may well say that. What other object can such a scapegrace have? The girl is handsome—well made—can show a pretty foot. How the upper story is furnished matters little. That's blinked in you women if nature has not played the niggard in other respects. Let this harum-scarum but turn over this chapter—ho! ho! his eyes will glisten like Rodney's when he got scent of a French frigate; then up with all sail and at her, and I don't blame him for it— flesh is flesh. I know that very well.

MRS MILLER. You should only read the beautiful billy-doux which the baron writes to your daughter. Gracious me! Why it's as clear as the sun at noonday that he loves her purely for her virtuous soul.

MILLER. That's the right strain! We beat the sack, but mean the ass's back. He who wishes to pay his respects to the flesh needs only a kind heart for a go-between. What did I myself? When we've once so far cleared the ground that the affections cry ready! slap! the bodies follow their example, the appetites are obedient, and the silver moon kindly plays the pimp.

MRS MILLER. And then only think of the beautiful books that the major has sent us. Your daughter always prays out of them....