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.
MILLER (whistles). Prays! You've hit the mark. The plain, simple food of nature is much too raw and indigestible for this maccaroni gentleman's stomach. It must be cooked for him artificially in the infernal pestilential pitcher of your novel-writers. Into the fire with the rubbish! I shall have the girl taking up with—God knows what all—about heavenly fooleries that will get into her blood, like Spanish flies, and scatter to the winds the handful of Christianity that cost her father so much trouble to keep together. Into the fire with them I say! The girl will take the devil's own nonsense into her head; amidst the dreams of her fool's paradise she'll not know her own home, but forget and feel ashamed of her father, the music-master; and, lastly, I shall lose a worthy, honest son-in-law who might have nestled himself so snugly into my connections. No! damn it! (Jumps up in a passion.) I'll break the neck of it at once, and the major—yes, yes, the major! shall be shown where the carpenter made the door. (Going.)
MRS MILLER. Be civil, Miller! How many a bright shilling have his presents——
MILLER (comes back, and goes up to her). The blood money of my daughter? To Beelzebub with thee, thou infamous bawd! Sooner will I vagabondize with my violin and fiddle for a bit of bread—sooner will I break to pieces my instrument and carry dung on the sounding-board than taste a mouthful earned by my only child at the price of her soul and future happiness. Give up your cursed coffee and snuff-taking, and there will be no need to carry your daughter's face to market. I have always had my bellyful and a good shirt to my back before this confounded scamp put his nose into my crib.
MRS MILLER. Now don't be so ready to pitch the house out of window. How you flare up all of a sudden. I only meant to say that we shouldn't offend the major, because he is the son of the president.
MILLER. There lies the root of the mischief. For that reason—for that very reason the thing must be put a stop to this very day! The president, if he is a just and upright father, will give me his thanks. You must brush up my red plush, and I will go straight to his excellency. I shall say to him,—"Your excellency's son has an eye to my daughter; my daughter is not good enough to be your excellency's son's wife, but too good to be your excellency's son's strumpet, and there's an end of the matter. My name is Miller."