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him, with all my heart. There is still, thank Heaven, some fortune left, and your promise will make it something more. Only let my old friend here” (meaning me) “ give me a promise of settling six thousand pounds upon my girl if ever he should come to his fortune, and I am ready, this night, to be the first to join them together.”
As it now remained with me to make the young couple happy, I readily gave a promise of making the settlement he required; which, to one who had such little expectations as I, was no great favour. We had now, therefore, the satisfaction of seeing them fly into each other's arms in a transport. “ After all my misfortunes,” cried my son George, “ to be thus rewarded! Sure this is more than I could ever nave presumed to hope for. To be possessed of all that 's good, and after such an interval of pain! My warmest wishes could never rise so high!” “ Yes, my George," returned his lovely bride,
now let the wretch take my fortune ; since you are happy without it, so am I. Oh, what an exchange have I made, —- from the basest of men to the dearest, best! Let him enjoy our fortune, I now can be happy even in indigence.”. - And I promise you,” cried the Squire, with a malicious grin, “ that I shall be very happy with what you despise.”
-“ Hold, hold, sir," cried Jenkinson, “ there are two words to that bargain. As for that lady's fortune, sir, you shall never touch a single stiver of it. Pray, your honour,” continued he to Sir William,“ can the Squire have this lady's fortune if he be married to another ?”. -“ How can you make such a simple demand ?” replied the Baronet : “ undoubtedly he cannot.” -“I am sorry for that,” cried Jenkinson ; " for as this gentleman and I have been old fellow-sporters, I have a friendship for him. But I must declare, well as I love him, that this contract is not worth a tobacco-stopper, for he is married already.”. “ You lie, like a rascal,” returned the Squire, who seemed roused by this insult; “ I never was legally married to any woman.'
“ Indeed, begging your honour's pardon," replied the other, “ you were : and I hope you will shew a proper return of friendship to your own honest Jenkinson, who brings you a wife ; and if the company restrain their curiosity a few minutes, they shall see her. So saying, he went off, with his usual celerity, and left us all unable to form any probable conjecture as to his design.
him go," cried the Squire ; "whatever else I may have done, I defy him there. I am too old now to be frightened with squibs."
“ I am surprised,” said the Baronet, “ what the fellow can intend by this. Some low piece of humour, I suppose.” * Perhaps, sir,” replied I, “ he may have a more serious meaning. For when we reflect on the various schemes this gentleman has laid to seduce innocence, perhaps some one, more artful than the rest, has been found able to deceive him. When we consider what numbers he has ruined, how many parents now feel, with anguish, the infamy and the contamination which he has brought into their families, it would not surprise me if some one of them. Amazement! Do I see my lost daughter? do I hold her ? It is, it is my life, my happiness! thought thee lost, my Olivia, yet still I hold thee and still thou shalt live to bless me. The warmest transports of the fondest lover were not greater than mine, when I saw him introduce my child, and held my daughter in my arms, whose silence only spoke her raptures.
“And art thou returned to me, my darling," cried I, “ to be my comfort in age!"-" That she is,” cried Jenkinson ; “ and make much of her, for she is your own honourable child, and as honest a woman as any in the whole room, let the other be who she will. And as for you, Squire, as sure as you stand there, this young lady is your lawful wedded wife : and to convince you that I speak nothing but the truth, here is the licence by which you were married together.” So saying, he put the licence into the Baronet's hands, who read it, and found it perfect in every respect. gentlemen,” continued he, “ I find you are surprised at all this; but a few words will explain the difficulty. That there Squire of renown, for whom I have a great friendship, (but that's between ourselves,) has often employed me in doing odd little things for him. Among the rest, he commissioned me to proeure him a false licence and a false priest, in order to deceive this young lady. But as I was very much his friend, what did I do, but went and got a true licence and a true priest, and married them both as fast as the cloth could make them. Perhaps you 'll think it was generosity that made me do all this : but no : to my shame I confess it, my only design was to keep the licence, and let the Squire know that I could prove it upon him whenever I thought proper, and so make him come down whenever I wanted money." A burst of pleasure now seemed to fill the whole apartment our joy reached even to the common room, where the prisoners themselves sympathized,
6 And now,
And shook their chains
In transport and rude harmony. Happiness was expanded upon every face, and even Olivia's cheek seemed flushed with pleasure. To be thus restored to reputation, to friends, and fortune at once, was a rapture sufficient to stop the progress of decay, and restore former health and vivacity. But, perhaps, among all, there was not one who felt sincerer pleasure than I. Still holding the dear loved child in my arms, I asked my heart, if these transports were not a delusion. “ How could you,” cried I, turning to Mr Jenkinson, “how could you add to my miseries by the story of her death? But it matters not; my pleasure at finding her again is more than a recompense for the pain.”
“ As to your question," replied Jenkinson, “ that is easily answered. I thought the only probable means of freeing you from prison, was by submitting to the Squire, and consenting to his marriage with the other young lady. But these you had vowed never to grant while your daughter was living ; there was therefore no other method to bring things to bear, but by persuading you that she was dead. I prevailed on your wife to join in the deceit, and we have not had a fit opportunity of undeceiving you till now.”
În the whole assembly there now appeared only two faces that did not glow with transport. Mr Thornhill's assurance had entirely forsaken him : he now saw the gulf of infamy and want before him, and trembled to take the plunge. He therefore fell on his knees, before his uncle, and in a voice of piercing misery implored compassion. Sir William was going to spurn him away, but at my request he raised him, and, after pausing a few moments, “ Thy vices, crimes, and ingratitude,” cried he“ deserve no tenderness ; yet thou shalt not be entirely forsaken,- -a bare competence shall be supplied to support the wants of life, but not its follies. This young lady, thy wife, shall be put in possession of a third part of that fortune which once was thine, and from her tenderness alone thou art to expect any extraordinary supplies for the future.” He was going to express his gratitude for such kindness in a set speech; but the Baronet prevented
m, by bidding him not aggravate his meanness, which was
already but too apparent. He ordered him at the same time to be gone, and from all his former domestics to choose one, such as he should think proper, which was all that should be granted to attend him.
As soon as he left us, Sir William very politely stepped up to his new niece with a smile, and wished her joy. His example was followed by Miss Wilmot and her father. My wife, too, kissed her daughter with much affection; as, to use her own expression, she was now made an honest woman of. Sophia and Moses followed in turn; and even our benefactor Jenkinson desired to be admitted to that honour. Our satisfaction seemed scarcely capable of increase. Sir William, whose greatest pleasure was in doing good, now looked round with a countenance open as the sun, and saw nothing but joy in the looks of all except that of my daughter Sophia, who, for some reasons we could not comprehend, did not seem perfectly satisfied. I think now," cried he, with a smile, "that all the company except one or two seem perfectly happy. There only remains an act of justice for me to do. You are sensible, sir," continued he, turning to me," of the obligations we both owe to Mr Jenkinson; and it is but just we should both reward him for it. Miss Sophia will, I am sure, make him very happy, and he shall have from me five hundred pounds as her fortune; and upon this I am sure they can live very comfortably together. Come, Miss Sophia, what say you to this match of my making? Will you have him?" My poor girl seemed almost sinking into her mother's arms at the hideous proposal. "Have him, sir!" cried she faintly: "No, sir, "What!" cried he again," not have Mr Jenkinson, your benefactor, a handsome young fellow, with five hundred pounds, and good expectations?" I beg, sir," returned she, scarcely able to speak, "that you'll desist, and not make me so very wretched.". "Was ever such obstinacy known ?" cried he again, " to refuse a man whom the family has such infinite obligations to, who has preserved your sister, and who has five hundred pounds! What! not have him!". "No, sir, never,' replied she, angrily; "I'd sooner die first.". "If that be the case, then," cried he, "if you will not have him-I think I must have you myself." And so saying, he caught her to his breast with ardour. 66 My loveliest, my most sensible of girls," cried he, "how could you ever think your own Burchell could
deceive you, or that Sir William Thornhill could ever cease to admire a mistress that loved him for himself alone? I have for some years sought for a woman, who, a stranger to my fortune, could think that I had merit as a man, After having tried in vain, even amongst the pert and the ugly, how great at last must be my rapture to have
made a conquest over such sense and such heavenly beauty.”. Then turning to Jenkinson ; “ As I cannot, sir, part with this young lady myself, for she has taken a fancy to the cut of my face, all the recompense I can make is to give you her fortune ; and you may call upon my steward to-morrow for five hundred pounds." Thus we had all our compliments to repeat, and Lady Thornhill underwent the same round of ceremony that her sister had done before. In the meantime, Sir William's gentleman appeared to tell us that the equipages were ready to carry us to the inn, where every thing was prepared for our reception. My wife and I led the van, and left those gloomy mansions of sorrow. The generous Baronet ordered forty pounds to be distributed among the prisoners, and Mr Wilmot, induced by his example, gave half that sum. We were received below by the shouts of the villagers, and I saw and shook by the hand two or three of my honest parishioners, who were among the number. They attended us to our inn, where a sumptuous entertainment was provided, and coarser provisions were distributed in great quantities among the populace.
After supper, as my spirits were exhausted by the alternation of pleasure and pain which they had sustained during the day, I asked permission to withdraw; and, leaving the company in the midst of their mirth, as soon as I found myself alone, I poured out my heart in gratitude to the Giver of joy as well as of sorrow, and then slept undisturbed till morning.