Imatges de pàgina

petence 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 him, by bidding him not to'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, never.”—“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 the 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. “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 woman, who, a stranger to my fortune, could think I had merit as a man. After having tried in vain, even among 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



hath 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 as her sister had done before. In the mean time, 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 sus tained 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.



my doubts.

The next morning as soon as I awaked I found my eldest son sitting at my bedside, who came to increase my joy with another turn of fortune in my favour. First, having released me from the settlement that I had made the day before in his favour, he let me know that my merchant, who had failed in town, was arrested at Antwerp, and there had given up effects to a much greater amount than what was due to his creditors. My boy's generosity pleased me almost as much as this unlooked-for good fortune. But I had some doubts whether I ought in justice to accept this offer. While I was pondering upon this Sir William entered the room, to whom I communicated

His opinion was, that as my son was already possessed of a very affluent fortune by his marriage, I might accept his offer without any hesitation. His business, however, was to inform me that as he had the night before sent for the licences, and expected them every hour, he hoped that I would not refuse my assistance in making all the company happy that morning. A footman entered while we were speaking, to tell us that the messenger was returned, and as I was by this time ready I went down, where I found the whole company as merry as afflu-. ence and innocence could make them. However, as they were now preparing for a very solemn ceremony, their laughter entirely displeased me. I told them of the grave, becoming, and sublime deportment they should assume upon this mystical occasion, and read

them two homilies and a thesis of my own composing in order to prepare them. Yet they still seemed perfectly refractory and ungovernable. Even as we were going along to church, to which I led the way, all gravity had quite forsaken them, and I was often tempted to turn back in indignation. In church a new dilemma arose, which promised no easy solution. This was which couple should be married first;.my son's bride warmly insisted that Lady Thornhill (that was to be) should take the lead; but this the other refused with equal ardour, protesting she would not be guilty of such rudeness for the world. The argument was supported for some time between both with equal obstinacy and good breeding. But as I stood all this time with my book ready, I was at last quite tired of the contest, and shutting it, “ I perceive,cried I, “ that none of you have a mind to be married, and I think we had as good go back again ; for I suppose there will be no business done here to-day.” This at once reduced them to reason. The baronet and his lady were first married, and then my son and his lovely partner.

I had previously that morning given orders that a coach should be sent for my honest neighbour Flamborough and his family, by which means, upon our return to the inn, we had the pleasure of finding the two Miss Flamboroughs alighted before us. Mr. Jenkinson gave his hand to the eldest, and my son Moses led up the other (and I have since found that he has taken a real liking to the girl, and my consent and bounty he shall have whenever he thinks proper to demand them). We were no sooner returned to the inn but numbers of my parishioners, hearing of.

« AnteriorContinua »