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may in some measure induce him to pity you, and it will give me relief in dying."
“ Never, child," replied I; “ never will I be brought to acknowledge my daughter a prostitute ; for though the world may look upon your offence with scorn, let it be mine to regard it as a mark of credulity, not of guilt. My dear, I am no way miserable in this place, however dismal it may seem ; an be assured, that while you continue to bless me by living, he shall never have my consent to make you more wretched by marrying another."
After the departure of my daughter, my fellow prisoner, who was by at this interview, sensibly enough expostulated on my obstinacy in refusing a submission which promised to give me freedom. He observed, that the rest of my family was not to be sacrificed to the peace of one child alone, and she the only one who had offended me. “Besides," added he, “ I don't know if it be just thus to obstruct the union of man and wife, which you do at present, by refusing to consent to a match you cannot hinder, but may render unhappy,"
“Sir," replied I, “ you are unacquainted with the man that oppresses us. I am very sensible that no submission I can make could procure me liberty even for an hour. I am told that even in this very room a debtor of his, no later than last year, died for want. But though my submission and approbation could transfer me from hence to the most beautiful apartment he is possessed of, yet I would grant neither, as something whispers me that it would be giving a sanction to adultery. While my daughter lives, no other marriage of his shall ever be legal in my eye. Were she removed, indeed, I should be the basest of men, from any resentment of my own, to attempt putting asunder those who wish for a union. No, villain as he is, I should then wish him married, to prevent the consequences of his future debaucheries. But now, should I not be the most cruel of all fathers to sign an instrument which must send my child to the grave, merely to avoid a prison myself; and thus, to escape one pang, break my child's heart with a thousand ?”
He acquiesced in the justice of this answer, but could not avoid observing, that he feared my daughter's life was already too much wasted to keep me long a prisoner. “ However," continued he, “ though you refuse to submit to the nephew, I hope you have do objections to laying your case before the uncle, who has the first character in the kingdom for every thing that is just and good. I would advise you to send him a letter by the post, intimating all his nephew's ill usage, and my life for it, that in three days you shall have an answer.” I thanked him for the hint, and instantly set about complying ; but I wanted paper, and unluckily all our money had been laid out that morning in provisions : however, he supplied me.
For the three ensuing days I was in a state of anxiety to know what reception my letter might meet with ; but in the meantime was frequently solicited by my wife to submit to any conditions rather than remain here, and every hour received repeated accounts of the decline of my daughter's health. The third day and the fourth arrived, but I received no answer to my letter : the complaints of a stranger against a favourite nephew were no way likely to succeed ; so that these hopes soon vanished like all my former. My mind, however, still supported itself, though confinement and bad air began to make a visible alteration in my health, and my arm that had suffered in the fire grew worse. My children, however, sat by me, and while I was stretched on my straw, read to me by turns, or listened and wept at my instructions. But my daughter's health declining faster than mine, every message from her contributed to increase my apprehensions and pain. The fifth morning after I had written the letter which was sent to Sir William Thornhill, I was alarmed with an account that she was speechless. Now it was that confinement was truly painful to me; my soul was bursting from its prison to be near the pillow of my child, to comfort, to strengthen her, to receive her last wishes, and teach her soul the way to Heaven ! Another account came : she was expiring, and yet I was debarred the small comfort of weeping by her. My fellow-prisoner, some time after, came with the last account. He bade me be patient : she was dead !- - The next morning he returned, and found me with my two little ones, now my only companions, who were using all their innocent efforts to comfort me. They entreated to read to me, and bade me not to cry, for I was now too old to weep.
“ And is not my sister an angel, now, papa ?” cried the eldest ; " and why, then, are you sorry for her ? I wish I were an angel, out of this frightful place, if my papa were with me.” – “ Yes,” added my youngest darling,
Heaven, where my sister is, is a finer place than this, and there are none but good people there, and the people here are very bad.”
Mr Jenkinson interrupted their harmless prattle by observing, that, now my daughter was no more, I should seriously think of the rest of my family, and attempt to save my own life, which was every day declining for want of necessaries and wholesome air. He added, that it was now incumbent on me to sacrifice any pride or resentment of my own to the welfare of those who depended on me for support ; and that I was now, both by reason and justice, obliged to try to reconcile my landlord.
“ Heaven be praised,” replied I, “ there is no pride left me now : I should detest my own heart if I saw either pride or resentment lurking there. On the contrary, as my oppressor has been once my parishioner, I hope one day to present him up an unpolluted soul at the eternal tribunal. No, sir, I have no resentment now; and though he has taken from me what I held dearer than all his treasures, though he has wrung my heart, --for I am sick almost to fainting, very sick, my fellow-prisoner,— yet that shall never inspire me with vengeance. I am now willing to approve his marriage : - and, if this submission can do him any pleasure, let him know that if I have done him any injury
for it." Mr Jenkinson took pen and ink, and wrote down my submission nearly as I have expressed it, to which I signed my name. My son was employed to carry the letter to Mr Thornhill, who was then at his seat in the country. He went, and, in about six hours, returned with a verbal answer. He had some difficulty, he said, to get a sight of his landlord, as the servants were insolent and suspicious : but he accidentally saw him as he was going out upon business, preparing for his marriage, which was to be in three days. He continued to inform us, that he stept up in the humblest manner, and delivered the letter, which, when Mr Thornhill had read, he said that all submission was now too late and unnecessary ; that he had heard of our application to his uncle, which met with the contempt it deserved ; and, as for the rest, that all future applications should be directed to his attorney, not to him. He observed, however, that as he had a very good opinion of the discretion of the two young ladies, they might have been the most agreeable intercessors.
“ Well, sir,” said I to my fellow-prisoner, discover the temper of the man that oppresses me. He can
at once be facetious and cruel: but, let him use me as he will, I shall soon be free, in spite of all his bolts to restrain me. I am now drawing towards an abode that looks brighter as I approach it: this expectation cheers my afflictions, and though I leave an helpless family of orphans behind me, yet they will not be utterly forsaken; some friend, perhaps, will be found to assist them for the sake of their poor father, and some may charitably relieve them for the sake of their heavenly Father."
Just as I spoke, my wife, whom I had not seen that day before, appeared with looks of terror, and making efforts, but unable, to speak. Why, my love," cried I, "why will you thus increase my afflictions by your own? What though no submissions can turn our severe master, though he has doomed me to die in this place of wretchedness, and though we have lost a darling child, yet still you will find comfort in your other children when I shall be no more. -"We have indeed lost," returned she, "a darling child. My Sophia, my dearest is gone; snatched from us, carried off by ruffians!"
"How, madam," cried my fellow prisoner," Miss Sophia carried off by villains! sure it cannot be?”
She could only answer with a fixed look, and a flood of tears. But one of the prisoners' wives who was present, and came in with her, gave us a more distinct account she informed us, that as my wife, my daughter, and herself were taking a walk together on the great road, a little way out of the village, a post-chaise and pair drove up to them, and instantly stopped; upon which a well-dressed man, but not Mr Thornhill, stepping out, clasped my daughter round the waist, and forcing her in, bade the postillion drive on, so that they were out of sight in a moment.
Now," cried I," the sum of my miseries is made up, nor is it in the power of any thing on earth to give me another pang. What! not one left! not to leave me one! - The monster! The child that was next my heart! she had the beauty of an angel, and almost the wisdom of an angel.- But support that woman, nor let her fall. Not to leave me one!" "Alas! my husband," said my wife," you seem to want comfort even more than I. Our distresses are great, but I could bear this and more, if I saw you but easy. They may take away my children, and all the world, if they leave me but you." My son, who was present, endeavoured to moderate our grief; he bade us take comfort, for he hoped that we
“ But are
"might still have reason to be thankful.—“ My child,” cried I, look round the world, and see if there be any happiness left me now. Is not every ray of comfort shut out, while all our bright prospects only lie beyond the grave ?". My dear father,” returned he, “ I hope there is still something that will give you an interval of satisfaction ; for I have a letter from my brother George." " What of him, child ?." interrupted I, “ does he know our misery? I hope my boy is exempt from any part of what his wretched family suffers ?.
“ Yes, sir," returned he," he is perfectly gay, cheerful, and happy. His letter brings nothing but good news ; he is the favourite of his colonel, who promises to procure him the very next lieutenancy that becomes vacant.”
“ And are you sure of all this?” cried my wife ; " Are you sure that nothing ill has befallen my boy?”. -“ Nothing, indeed, madam,” returned my son; you shall see the letter, which will give you the highest pleasure; and, if any thing can procure you comfort, I am sure that will." you sure,” still repeated she, “ that the letter is from himself, and that he is really so happy ?"-"Yes, madam,” replied he, “ it is certainly his, and he will one day be the credit and support of our family.”—“Then, I thank Providence,” cried she, “ that my last letter to him has miscarried. Yes, my dear," continued she, tnrning to me, I will now confess, that though the hand of Heaven is sore upon us in other instances, it has been favourable here. By the last letter I wrote my son, which was in the bitterness of anger, I desired him, upon his mother's blessing, and if he had the heart of a man, to see justice done his father and sister, and avenge our cause. But, thanks be to Him that directs all things, it has miscarried, and I am at rest.”.
-" Woman!” cried I, " thou hast done very ill, and, at another time, my reproaches might have been more severe. Oh! what a tremendous gulf hast thou escaped, that would have buried both thee and him in endless ruin! Providence, indeed, has here been kinder to us than we to ourselves. It has reserved that son to be the father and protector of my children when I shall be away. How unjustly did I complain of being stripped of every comfort, when still I hear that he is happy, and insensible of our afflictions ; still kept in reserve to support his widowed mother, and to protect his brothers and sisters! But what sisters has he left ? He has no sisters now : they are all gone, robbed
om me, and I am indone.” Father,"