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fight this evening, that so much good passion mayn't be wasted.
Captain Absolute. But what have I to do with this?
Acres. Why, as I think you know something of this fellow, I want you to find him out for me, and give him this mortal defiance.
Captain Absolute. Well, give it me, and, trust me, he
Acres. Thank you, my dear friend, my dear Jack; but it is giving you a great deal of trouble.
Captain Absolute. Not in the least-I beg you won't mention it. No trouble in the world, I assure you.
Acres. You are very kind. What it is to have a friend ! - you couldn't be my second, could you, Jack?
Captain Absolute. Why no, Bob, not in this affair-it would not be quite so proper.
Acres. Well, then, I must get my friend Sir Lucius. I shall have your good wishes, however, Jack? Captain Absolute.
Whenever he meets you, believe me.
Enter SERVANT. Servant. Sir Anthony Absolute is below, inquiring for the Captain.
Captain Absolute. I'll come instantly.-Well, my little hero, success attend you.
(Going.) Acres. Stay, stay, Jack. If Beverley should ask you what kind of a man your friend Acres is, do tell him I am a devil of a fellow-will you, Jack?
Captain Absolute. To be sure I shall. I'll say you are a determined dog-hey, Bob?
Acres. Ay, do, do—and if that frightens him, 'egad, perhaps he mayn't come. So tell him I generally kill a man a week; will you, Jack?
Captain Absolute. I will, I will; I'll say you are called in the country “ Fighting Bob.”
Acres. Right, right-t is all to prevent mischief; for I don't want to take his life, if I clear my honor.
Captain Absolute. No! that's very kind of you.
Acres. Why, you don't wish me to kill him, do you, Jack?
Captain Absolute. No, upon my soul, I do not. But a devil of a fellow, hey?
Acres. True, true. But stay-stay, Jack; you may add that you never saw me in such a rage before-a most devouring rage.
Captain Absolute. I will, I will.
(Exeunt severally.) King's Mead-fields.-Enter Sir LUCIUS and ACRES, with
pistols. Acres. By my valor! then, Sir Lucius, forty yards is a good distance. Odds levels and aims! I say it is a good distance.
Sir Lucius. It is for muskets or small field-pieces; upon my conscience, Mr. Acres, you must leave these things to
Stay, now; I'll show you. (Measures six paces.) There, now, that is a very pretty distance-a pretty gentleman's distance.
Acres. Zounds! we might as well fight in a sentry-box! I tell you, Sir Lucius, the further he is off, the cooler I shall take my aim.
Sir Lucius. 'Faith, then, I suppose you would aim at him best of all if he was out of sight!
Acres. No, Sir Lucius; but I should think forty, or eight-and-thirty yards
Sir Lucius. Pho, pho! Nonsense! Three or four feet between the mouths of your pistols is as good as a mile.
Acres. Odds bullets, no!—by my valor! there is no merit in killing him so near. Do, my dear Sir Lucius, let me bring him down at a long shot-a long shot, Sir Lucius, if you love me!
Sir Lucius. Well, the gentleman's friend and I must settle that. But tell me now, Mr. Acres, in case of an accident, is there any little will or commission I could execute for you?
Acres. I am much obliged to you, Sir Lucius; but I don't understand
Sir Lucius. Why, you may think there's no being shot at without a little risk—and if an unlucky bullet should carry a quietus with it-I say, it will be no time then to be bothering you about family matters.
Acres. A quietus!
Sir Lucius. For instance, now-if that should be the case would you choose to be pickled and sent home?-or would it be the same to you to lie here in the Abbey?I’m told there is very snug lying in the Abbey.
Acres. Pickled Snug lying in the Abbey !—Odds tremors! Sir Lucius, don't talk so!
Sir Lucius. I suppose, Mr. Acres, you never were engaged in an affair of this kind before?
Acres. No, Sir Lucius, never before, (aside) and never will again, if I get out of this.
Sir Lucius. Ah, that's a pity!there's nothing like being used to a thing.–Pray, now, how would you receive the gentleman's shot?
Acres. Odds files ! I’ve practiced that. There, Sir Lucius, there—(puts himself in an attitude)—a sidefront, hey!—Odd! I'll make myself small enough—I 'll stand edgeways.
Sir Lucius. Now, you 're quite out—for if you stand so when I take my aim—(leveling at him).
Acres. Zounds, Sir Lucius! are you sure it is not cocked?
Sir Lucius. Never fear.
Acres. But-but-you don't know; it may go off of its own head?
Sir Lucius. Pho! be easy. Well, now if I hit you in the body, my bullet has a double chance; for if it misses a vital part on your right side,' 't will be very hard if it don't succeed on the left.
Acres. A vital part!
Sir Lucius. But, there—fix yourself so (placing him), let him see the broadside of your full front. (Sir Lucius places him face to face, then turns and goes to the left. Acres has in the interim turned his back in great perturbation.) Oh, bother! do you call that the broadside of your front?
(Acres turns reluctantly.) There—now a ball or two may pass clean through your body, and never do you any harm at all.
Acres. Clean through me! A ball or two clean through me!
Sir Lucius. Ay, may they—and it is much the genteelest attitude into the bargain.
Acres. Look ye! Sir Lucius-I'd just as lieve be shot in an awkward posture as a genteel one-so, by my valor! I will stand edgeways.
Sir Lucius. (Looking at his watch.) Sure they don't mean to disappoint us!
Acres. (Aside.) I hope they do.
Sir Lucius. Hah! no, 'faith-I think I see them coming.
Acres. Hey?—what !-coming!
Sir Lucius. Ay, who are those yonder, getting over the stile?
Acres. There are two of them, indeed! well, let them come hey, Sir Lucius?-we-wewewewon't run (takes his arm).
Sir Lucius. Run!
Acres. Nothing-nothing—my dear friend—my dear Sir Lucius—but 1–1-I don't feel quite so bold, somehow, as I did.
Sir Lucius. O fie! consider your honor.
Acres. Ay, true my honor-do, Sir Lucius, edge in a word or two, every now and then, about my honor.
Sir Lucius. (Looking.) Well, here they're coming.
Acres. Sir Lucius, if I wa’n’t with you, I should almost think I was afraid if my valor should leave me!-valor will come and go.
Sir Lucius. Then pray keep it fast, while you have it.
Acres. Sir Lucius—I doubt it is going—yes, my valor is certainly going! it is sneaking off !—I feel it oozing out, as it were, at the palms of my hands!
Sir Lucius. Your honor, your honor. Here they are.
Acres. O mercy !now—that I was safe at Clod Hall! or could be shot before I was aware!
Enter FAULKLAND and CAPTAIN ABSOLUTE. Sir Lucius. Gentlemen, your most obedient—hah! what, Captain Absolute! So, I suppose, sir, you are come here, just like myself—to do a kind office, first for your friend—then to proceed to business on your own account. Acres. What, Jack! my dear Jack! my dear friend!
(Shakes his hand.) Captain Absolute. Hark ye, Bob, Beverley's at hand.
(Acres retreats to left.)
Sir Lucius. Well, Mr. Acres--I don't blame your saluting the gentleman civilly. (To Faulkland.) So, Mr. Beverley, if you 'll choose your weapons, the Captain and I will measure the ground.
Faulkland. My weapons, sir!
Acres. Odds life! Sir Lucius, I'm not going to fight Mr. Faulkland; these are my particular friends!
(Shakes hands with Faulkland-goes back.) Sir Lucius. What, sir, did you not come here to fight Mr. Acres?
Faulkland. Not I, upon my word, sir.
Sir Lucius. Well now, that's mighty provoking! But I hope, Mr. Faulkland, as there are three of us come on purpose for the game—you won't be so cantankerous as to spoil the party by standing out.
Captain Absolute. Oh pray, Faulkland, fight to oblige Sir Lucius!
Faulkland. Nay, if Mr. Acres is so bent on the matter.
Acres. No, no, Mr. Faulkland—I'll bear my disappointment like a Christian. Look ye, Sir Lucius, there's no occasion at all for me to fight; and if it is the same to you, I'd as lieve let it alone.
Sir Lucius. Observe me, Mr. Acres-I must not be trified with. You have certainly challenged somebody, and you came here to fight him-now, if that gentleman is willing to represent him—I can't see, for my soul, why it isn't just the same thing.
Acres. Why no, Sir Lucius, I tell you 't is one Beverley I've challenged-a fellow, you see, that dare not show his face. If he were here I'd make him give up his pretensions directly.
Captain Absolute. Hold, Bob—let me set you rightthere is no such man as Beverley in the case. The person who assumed that name is before you; and as his pretensions are the same in both characters, he is ready to support them in whatever way you may please.
Sir Lucius. Well, this is lucky. (Slaps him on the back.) Now you have an opportunity.
Acres. What, quarrel with my dear friend Jack Absolute!- not if he were fifty Beverleys! (Shakes his hand warmly.) Zounds! Sir Lucius, you would not have me be so unnatural!