Upon his coming up to them, for they were all still together, 'Sit down, Robin,' says the
old lady, 'I must have some talk with you.' 'With all my heart, madam,' says Robin,
looking very merry. 'I hope it is about a good wife, for I am at a great loss in that affair.'
'How can that be?' says his mother; 'did not you say you resolved to have Mrs. Betty?'
'Ay, madam,' says Robin, 'but there is one has forbid the banns.' 'Forbid, the banns!'
says his mother; 'who can that be?' 'Even Mrs. Betty herself,' says Robin. 'How so?'
says his mother. 'Have you asked her the question, then?' 'Yes, indeed, madam,' says
Robin. 'I have attacked her in form five times since she was sick, and am beaten off; the
jade is so stout she won't capitulate nor yield upon any terms, except such as I cannot
effectually grant.' 'Explain yourself,' says the mother, 'for I am surprised; I do not
understand you. I hope you are not in earnest.'
'Why, madam,' says he, 'the case is plain enough upon me, it explains itself; she won't
have me, she says; is not that plain enough? I think 'tis plain, and pretty rough too.'
'Well, but,' says the mother, 'you talk of conditions that you cannot grant; what does she
want--a settlement? Her jointure ought to be according to her portion; but what fortune
does she bring you?' 'Nay, as to fortune,' says Robin, 'she is rich enough; I am satisfied
in that point; but 'tis I that am not able to come up to her terms, and she is positive she
will not have me without.'
Here the sisters put in. 'Madam,' says the second sister, ''tis impossible to be serious
with him; he will never give a direct answer to anything; you had better let him alone,
and talk no more of it to him; you know how to dispose of her out of his way if you
thought there was anything in it.' Robin was a little warmed with his sister's rudeness,
but he was even with her, and yet with good manners too. 'There are two sorts of
people, madam,' says he, turning to his mother, 'that there is no contending with; that is,
a wise body and a fool; 'tis a little hard I should engage with both of them together.'
The younger sister then put in. 'We must be fools indeed,' says she, 'in my brother's
opinion, that he should think we can believe he has seriously asked Mrs. Betty to marry
him, and that she has refused him.'
'Answer, and answer not, say Solomon,' replied her brother. 'When your brother had
said to your mother that he had asked her no less than five times, and that it was so,
that she positively denied him, methinks a younger sister need not question the truth of
it when her mother did not.' 'My mother, you see, did not understand it,' says the second
sister. 'There's some difference,' says Robin, 'between desiring me to explain it, and
telling me she did not believe it.'
'Well, but, son,' says the old lady, 'if you are disposed to let us into the mystery of it,
what were these hard conditions?' 'Yes, madam,' says Robin, 'I had done it before now,
if the teasers here had not worried my by way of interruption. The conditions are, that I