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Bill, you chubby rogue,” cried he,“ do
you remember your old friend Burchell ? and Dick, too, my honest veteran, are you here ? you shall find I have not forgot you.” So saying, he gave each a large piece of gingerbread, which the poor fellows eat very heartily, as they had got that morning but a very scanty breakfast.
We now sat down to dinner, which was almost cold; but previously, my arm still continuing painful, Sir William wrote a prescription, for he had made the study of physic bis amusement, and was more than moderately skilled in the profession: this being sent to an apothecary who lived in the place, my arm was dressed, and I found almost instantaneous relief. We were waited upon at dinner by the gaoler himself, who was willing to do our guest all the honour in his power. But before we had well dined, another message was brought from his nephew, desiring permission to appear, in order to vindicate his innocence and honour, with which request the baronet complied, and desired Mr. Thornhill to be introduced.
FORMER BENEVOLENCE NOW REPAID WITH UNEXPECTED INTEREST. MR. THORNHILL made his appearance with a smile which he seldom wanted, and was going to embrace his uncle, which the other repulsed with an air of disdain. “ No fawning, sir, at present,” cried the baronet, with a look of severity, “ the only way to my heart is by the road of honour; but here I only see complicated instances of falsehood, cowardice, and oppression. How is it, sir, that this poor man, for whom I know you professed a friendship, is used thus hardly ? His daughter vilely seduced as a recompence for his hospitality, and he himself thrown into a prison perhaps but for resenting the insult? His son too, whom you feared to face as man
“ Is it possible, sir," interrupted his nephew, " that my uncle could object that as a crime which his repeated instructions alone have persuaded me to avoid ?"
“ Your rebuke,” cried Sir William,“ is just; you have acted in this instance prudently and well, though not quite as your father would have done: my brother indeed was the soul of honour; but thou-yes, you have acted in this instance perfectly right, and it has my warmest approbation.”
“And I hope,” said his nephew,“ that the rest of my conduct will not be found to deserve censure. I appeared, sir, with this gentleman's daughter at some places of public amusement: thus what was levity, scandal called by a harsher name, and it was reported that I had debauched her. I waited on her father in person, willing to clear the thing to his satisfaction, and he received me only with insult and abuse. As for the rest, with regard to his being here, my attorney and steward can best inform you, as I commit the management of business entirely to them. If he has contracted debts, and is unwilling or even unable to pay them, it is their business to proceed in this manner; and I see no hardship or injustice in pursuing the most legal means of redress.”
If this,” cried Sir William,“ be as you have stated it, there is nothing unpardonable in your offence;
and though your conduct might have been more generous
in not suffering this gentleman to be oppressed by subordinate tyranny, yet it has been at least equitable.”
“ He cannot contradict a single particular,” replied the squire; “I defy him to do so, and several of my servants are ready to attest what I say. Thus, sir,” continued he, finding that I was silent, for in fact I could not contradict him,“thus, sir, my own innocence is vindicated; but though at your entreaty I am ready to forgive this gentleman every other offence, yet his attempts to lessen me in your esteem excite a resentment that I cannot govern. And this too at a time when his son was actually preparing to take away my life; this I say was such guilt that I am determined to let the law take its course. I have here the challenge that was sent me, and two witnesses to prove it; one of my servants has been wounded dangerously; and even though my uncle himself should dissuade me, which I know he will not, yet I will see public justice done, and he shall suffer for it.”
“Thou monster,” cried my wife, “hast thou not had vengeance enough already, but must my poor boy feel thy cruelty? I hope that good Sir William will protect us, for my son is as innocent as a child; I am sure he is, and never did harm to man.”
“ Madam," replied the good man, for his safety are not greater than mine; but I am sorry to find his guilt too plain ; and if my nephew persists —" But the appearance of Jenkinson and the gaoler's two servants now called off our attention, who entered hawling in a tall man, very genteelly dressed, and answering the description already given of the ruffian who had carried off my daughter. “Here,” cried Jenkinson, pulling him in, “ here we have him; and if ever there was a candidate for Tyburn, this is one."
The moment Mr. Thornhill perceived the prisoner and Jenkinson, who had him in custody, he seemed to shrink back with terror. His face became pale with conscious guilt, and he would have withdrawn; but Jenkinson, who perceived his design, stopped him. “What, squire,” cried he, “are you ashamed of your two old acquaintances, Jenkinson and Baxter? But this is the way that all great men forget their friends, though I am resolved we will not forget you. Our prisoner, please your honour,” continued he, turning to Sir William, “has already confessed all. This is the gentleman reported to be so dangerously wounded : he declares that it was Mr. Thornhill who first put him upon this affair; that he gave him the clothes he now wears, to appear like a gentleman, and furnished him with the postchaise. The plan was laid between them, that he should carry off the young lady to a place of safety, and that there he should threaten and terrify her; but Mr. Thornhill was to come in, in the mean time, as if by accident, to her rescue, and that they should fight awhile, and then he was to run off; by which Mr. Thornhill would have the better opportunity of gaining her affections himself under the character of her defender.”
Sir William remembered the coat to have been worn by his nephew, and all the rest the prisoner himself confirmed by a more circumstantial account ; concluding that Mr. Thornhill had often declared to him that he was in love with both sisters at the same time.
“ Heavens !” cried Sir William, “ what a viper have I been fostering in my bosom! And so fond of public justice too as he seemed to be! But he shall have it; secure him, Mr. Gaoler,-yet hold, I fear there is not legal evidence to detain him.”
Upon this, Mr. Thornhill with the utmost humility entreated that two such abandoned wretches might not be admitted as evidences against him, but that his servants should be examined. “Your servants !" replied Sir William, wretch, call them yours no longer; but come, let us bear what those fellows have to say, let his butler be called.”
When the butler was introduced, he soon perceived by his former master's looks, that all his power was
“Tell me,” cried Sir William sternly, “ have you ever seen your master, and that fellow dressed up in his clothes, in company together?”“ Yes, please your honour,” cried the butler, “a thousand times : he was the man that always brought him his ladies.”
.”—“How,” interrupted young Mr. Thornhill, “ this to my face !”-“Yes,” replied the butler, “or to any man's face. To tell you a truth, master Thornhill, I never either loved or liked you, and I don't care if I tell you now a piece of my mind.”— “Now then," cried Jenkinson, “ tell his honour whether you know any thing of me.”—“I can't say,” replied the hutler, “ that I know much good of you. The night that gentleman's daughter was deluded to our house you were one of them.”—“So then,” cried Sir William, “I find you have brought a very fine witness to prove your innocence: thou stain to humanity? to associate with such wretches ! But,” (continuing his examination) “ you tell me, Mr. But