Page images
PDF
EPUB

money must all go to enrich one who had no for he is married already."-"You lie like a fortune of his own. He could bear his being a rascal!" returned the Squire, who seemed roused rascal, but to want an equivalent to his daugh- by this insult ;“ I never was legally married to ter's fortune was wormwood. He sat, therefore, any woman.”—“ Indeed, begging your honour's for some minutes, employed in the most morti- pardon,” replied the other,

you were: and I fying speculations, till Sir William attempted hope you will shew a proper return of friendto lessen his anxiety. I must confess, sir," ship to your own honest Jenkinson, who brings cried he, “ that your present disappointment you a wife ; and if the company restrain their does not entirely displease me. Your immode curiosity a few minutes, they shall see her.” rate passion for wealth is now justly punished. So saying, he went off with his usual celerity, But though the young lady cannot be rich, she and left us all unable to form any probable conhas still a competence

sufficient to give content. jecture as to his design. Ay, let him go," Here you see an honest young soldier, who is cried the Squire ; " whatever else I may

have willing to take her without fortune ; they have done, I defy him there. I am too old now to be long loved each other; and, for the friendship I frightened with squibs.”. bear his father, my interest shall not be want- “I am surprised," said the Baronet, " what ing in his

promotion. Leave, then, that ambi- the fellow can intend by this. Some low piece tion which disappoints you, and for once admit of humour, I suppose. -“ Perhaps, sir," rethat happiness which courts your acceptance.” plied I,“ he may have a more serious meaning.

“ Sir William,” replied the old gentleman, For when we reflect on the various schemes this “ be assured I never yet forced her inclinations, gentleman has laid to seduce innocence, perhaps nor will I now. If she still continues to love some one, more artful than the rest, has been this

young gentleman, let her have him with all found able to deceive him. When we consider my heart. There is still, thank Heaven, some what numbers he has ruined—how many pafortune left, and your promise will make it some- rents now feel with anguish the infamy and the thing more. Only let my old friend here,” contamination which he has brought into their (meaning me) “ give me a promise of settling families—it would not surprise me if some one of six thousand pounds upon my girl, if ever he them—Amazement ! Do I see my lost daughter? should come to his fortune, and I am ready this Do I hold her? It is, it is my life, my happinight to be the first to join them together.” ness! I thought thee lost, my Olivia ; yet still

As it now remained with me to make the I hold thee ; and still thou shalt live to bless young couple happy, I readily gave a promise me!" The warmest transports of the fondest of making the settlement he required; which, lover were not greater than mine, when I saw to one who had such little expectations as I, was him introduce my child, and held my daughter no great favour. We had now therefore the satis- in my arms, whose silence only spoke her rapfaction of seeing them fly into each other's arms tures.-“And art thou returned to me, my darin a transport. “ After all my misfortunes,” ling,” cried I,“ to be my comfort in age ?”– cried my son George, “ to be thus rewarded! That she is,” cried Jenkinson," and make Sure this is more than I could ever have presu- much of her; for she is your own honourable med to hope for.--To be possessed of all that's child, and as honest a woman as any in the whole good, and after such an interval of pain! My room, let the other be who she will.- And as for warmest wishes could never rise so high !"- you, Squire, as sure as you stand there, this “Yes, my George," returned his lovely bride, young lady is your lawful wedded wife: and to

now let the wretch take my fortune ; since convince you that I speak nothing but the truth, you are happy without it, so am I. ( what an here is the licence by which you were married exchange have I made, from the basest of men together." So saying, he put the licence into to the dearest, best! Let him enjoy our fortune, the Baronet's hands, who read it, and found it I now can be happy even in indigence.”—“And perfect in every respect." And now, gentleI promise you," cried the Squire, with a mali- men,” continued he, “ I find you are surprised cious grin, “ that I shall be very happy with at all this; but a very few words will explain what you despise.”—“ Hold, hold, sir, cried the difficulty. That there Squire of renown, for Jenkinson, “ there are two words to that bar, whom I have a great friendship, but that's begain. As for that lady's fortune, sir, you shall tween ourselves, has often employed me in donever touch a single stiver of it.—Pray, your ho- ing odd little things for him. Among the rest, nour," continued he to Sir William, ** can the he commissioned me to procure him

a false liSquire have this lady's fortune if he be married cense, and a false priest, in order to deceive this to another?”—“How can you make such a sim- young lady. But as I was very muclı his friend, ple demand?" replied the Baronet ; "undoubt. what did I do but went and got a true license edly he cannot. -"I am sorry for that,” cried and a true priest, and married them both as fast Jenkinson ; “ for as this gentleman and I have as the cloth could make them. Perhaps you'll been old fellow-sporters, I have a friendship for think it was generosity that made ine do all this. him. But I must declare, well as I love him, But, no. To my shame I confess it: my only that his contract is not worth a tobacco-stopper, design was to keep the license, and let the Squire know that I could prove it upon him, whenever As soon as he left ús, Sir William very poI thought proper, and so make him come down litely stepped up to his new niece with a smile, whenever I wanted money.” A burst of plea- and wished her joy. His example was followed sure now seemed to fill the whole apartment; by Miss Wilmot and her father ; my wife, too, our joy reached even to the common room, where kissed her daughter with much affection, as, to the prisoners themselves sympathised,

use her own expression, she was now made an

honest woman of. Sophia and Moses followed And shook their chains

in turn, and even our benefactor Jenkinson deIn transport and rude harmony.

sired to be admitted to that honour. Our sa

tisfaction seemed scarce capable of increase. Sir Happiness was expanded over every face, William, whose greatest pleasure was in doing and even Olivia's cheeks seemed flushed with good, now looked round, with a countenance pleasure. To be thus restored to reputation, to open as the sun, and saw nothing but joy in the friends and fortune at once, was a rapture suf- looks of all except that of my daughter Sophia, ficient to stop the progress of decay, and restore who, for some reasons we could not compreformer health and vivacity. But perhaps, among hend, did not seem perfectly satisfied.

“ I all, there was not one who felt sincerer pleasure think now,” cried he with a smile,

“ that all than I. Still holding the dear loved child in the company, except one or two, seem perfectly my arms, I asked my heart if these transports happy. There only remains an act of justice were not delusive. “ How could you,” cried for me to do.--You are sensible, sir," continued I, turning to Jenkinson, “ how could you add he, turning to me,“ of the obligations we both to my miseries by the story of her death? But owe to Mr Jenkinson ; and it is but just we it matters not; my pleasure at finding her again should both reward him for it. Miss Sophia is more than a recompence for the pain.” will, I am sure, make him very happy, and he

"As to your question,” replied Jenkinson, shall have from me five hundred pounds as her “ that is easily answered. I thought the only fortune ; and upon this I am sure they can live probable means of freeing you from prison, was very comfortably together. Come, Miss Sophia, by submitting to the Squire, and consenting to what say you to this match of my making ? his marriage with the other young lady. But will you have him?”—My poor girl seemed althese you had vowed never to grant while your most sinking into her mother's arms at the hidaughter was living; there was, therefore, no deous proposal. “ Have him, sir !" cried she other method to bring things to bear, but by faintly; - no, sir, never !"-"What!” cried he persuading you that she was dead. I prevailed again,“not have Mr Jenkinson, your benefactor; on your wife to join in the deceit, and we have a handsome young fellow, with five hundred not had a fit opportunity of undeceiving you till pounds, and good expectations !"-"I beg, sir, now.”

returned she, scarce able to speak, “ that you'll In the whole assembly there now appeared desist, and not make me so very wretched.”— only two faces that did not glow with transport. “ Was ever such obstinacy known?” cried he Mr Thornhill's assurance had entirely forsaken again, “ to refuse a man whom the family him; he now saw the gulph of infamy and want has such infinite obligations to, who has prebefore him, and trembled to take the plunge. served your sister, and who has five hundred He therefore fell on his knees before his uncle, pounds ? What, not have him !"-"No, sir, and in a voice of piercing misery implored com- never,” replied she, angrily; " I'd sooner die passion. Sir William was going to spurn him first !""'If that be the case then,” cried he, away, but at my request he raised him, and “if you will not have him-I think I must after pausing a few moments, “ Thy vices, have you myself.” And so saying, he caught crimes, and ingratitude,” cried he, « deserve her to his breast with ardour.“ My loveliest, no tenderness ; yet thou shalt not be entirely my most sensible of girls,” cried he, “how forsaken ; a bare competence shall be supplied could you ever think your own Burchell could to support the wants of life, but not its follies. deceive you, or that Sir William Thornhill could This young lady, thy wife, shall be put in pos- ever cease to admire a mistress that loved him session of a third part of that fortune which for himself alone? I have for some years once was thine ; and from her tenderness alone sought for a woman, who, a stranger to my forthou art to expect any extraordinary supplies tune, could think I had merit as a man. After for the future." He was going to express his having tried in vain, even among the pert and gratitude for such kindness in a set speech ; but the ugly, how great at last must be my rapture, the Baronet prevented him, by bidding him not to have made a conquest over such sense and aggravate his meanness, which was already but such heavenly beauty !” Then turning to Jentoo apparent. He ordered him at the same kinson, “ As I cannot, sir, part with this young time to be gone, and from all his former do- lady myself, for she hath taken a fancy to the mestics to choose one, and such as he should cut of my face, all the recompence I can make think proper, which was all that should be grant- is, to give you her fortune, and you may call ed to attend him.

upon my steward to-morrow for five hundred

pounds." Thus we had all our compliments to becoming, and sublime deportment they should repeat, and Lady Thornhill underwent the same assume upon this mystical occasion, and read round of ceremony that her sister had done be- them two homilies, and a thesis of my own comfore. In the mean time, Sir William's gentle- posing, in order to prepare them. Yet they man appeared, to tell us that the equipages were still seemed perfectly refractory and ungovernready to carry us to the inn, where every thing able. Even as we were going along to church, was prepared for our reception. My wife and I to which I led the way, all gravity had quite led the van, and left those gloomy mansions of forsaken them, and I was often tempted to turn sorrow. The generous Baronet ordered forty back in indignation. In church a new dilemma pounds to be distributed ainong the prisoners, arose, which promised no easy solution. This and Mr Wilmot, induced by his example, gave was, which couple should be married first; my half that sum. We were received below by the son's bride warmly insisted that Lady Thornhill shouts of the villagers, and I saw and shook by (that was to be) should take the lead ; but this the hand two or three of my honest parishioners, the other refused with equal ardour, protesting who were among the number. They attended she would not be guilty of such rudeness for the us to our inn, where a sumptuous entertain- world. The argument was supported for some ment was provided, and coarser provisions dis- time between both with equal obstinacy and tributed in great quantities among the popu- good breeding. But as I stood all this time lace.

with my book ready, I was at last quite tired After supper, as my spirits were exhausted of the contest, and shutting it, “ I perceive,” by the alternation of pleasure and pain which cried I, “ that none of you have a mind to be they had sustained during the day, I asked per- married, and I think we had as good go back mission to withdraw: and leaving the com- again; for I suppose there will be no business pany in the midst of their mirth, as soon as I done here to-day.” This at once reduced them found myself alone, I poured out my heart in to reason. The Baronet and his lady were first gratitude to the Giver of joy as well as sorrow, married, and then my son and his lovely partand they slept undisturbed till morning. ner.

I had previously that morning given orders

that a coach should be sent for my honest neighCHAP. XXXII.

bour Flamborough and his family, by which

means, upon our return to the inn, we had the The Conclusion.

pleasure of finding the two Miss Flamboroughs

alighted before us. Mr Jenkinson gave his hand The next morning, as soon as I awaked, I to the eldest, and my son Moses led up the found my eldest son sitting by my bed-side, who other; and I have since found, that he has came to increase my joy with another turn of taken a real liking to the girl, and my consent fortune in my favour. First having released me and bounty he shall have whenever he thinks from the settlement that I had made the day proper to demand them. We were no sooner before in his favour, he let me know that my returned to the inn, but numbers of my pamerchant, who had failed in town, was arrested rishioners, hearing of my success, came to conat Antwerp, and there had given up effects to a gratulate me; but among the rest were those much greater amount than what was due to his who rose to rescue me, and whom I formerly creditors. My boy's generosity pleased me al- rebuked with such sharpness. I told the story most as much as this unlooked-for good fortune. to Sir William, my son-in-law, who went out But I had some doubts whether I ought in jus- and reproved them with great severity ; but tice to accept his offer. While I was pondering finding them quite disheartened by his harsh upon this, Sir William entered theroom, to whom reproof, he gave them half-a-guinea a-piece to I communicated my doubts. His opinion was, drink his health, and raise their dejected spirits. that as my son was already possessed of a very Soon after this we were called to a very genaffluent fortune by his marriage, I might accept teel entertainment, which was dressed by Mr his offer without any hesitation. His business, Thornhill's cook. And it may not be improper however, was to inform me, that as he had the to observe, with respect to that gentleman, that night before sent for the licences, and expected he now resides in quality of companion at a rethem every hour, he hoped that I would not lation's house, being very well liked, and seldom refuse my assistance in making all the company sitting at the side-table except when there is no happy that morning. A footman entered while room at the other, for they make no stranger of we were speaking, to tell us that the messenger him. His time is pretty much taken up in was returned ; and as I was by this time ready, keeping his relation, who is a little melancholy, I went down, where I found the whole company in spirits, and in learning to blow the Frenchas merry as affluence and innocence could make horn. My eldest daughter, however, still rethem. However, as they were now preparing members him with regret; and she has even for a very solemn ceremony, their laughter en- told me, though I make a great secret of it, that tirely displeased me. I told them of the grave, when he reforms she may be brought to relent.

But to return, for I am not apt to digress thus: I particularly remember: old Mr Wilmot drinkwhen we were to sit down to dinner, our cere- ing to Moses, whose head was turned another monies were going to be renewed. The question way, my son replied, “ Madam, I thank you." was, whether my eldest daughter, as being a Upon which the old gentleman, winking upon matron, should not sit above, the two young the rest of the company, observed that he was brides ; but the debate was cut short by my son thinking of his mistress. At which jest I thought George, who proposed that the company should the two Miss Flamboroughs would have died sit indiscriminately, every gentleman by his with laughing. As soon as dinner was over, aclady. This was received with great approba- cording to my old custom, I requested that the tion by all, excepting my wife, who I could per- table might be taken away, to have the pleasure ceive was not perfectly satisfied, as she expected of seeing all my family assembled once more by to have had the pleasure of sitting at the head a cheerful fire-side. My two little ones sat of the table, and carving the meat for all the upon each knee, the rest of the company by their company. But notwithstanding this, it is im- partners. I had nothing now on this side of the possible to describe our good-humour. I can't grave to wish for-all my cares were over, my say whether we had more wit amongst us now pleasure was unspeakable. It now only remainthan usual, but I am certain we had more laugh- ed that my gratitude in good fortune should ing, which answered the end as well. One jest exceed my former submission in adversity.

END OF THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.

« PreviousContinue »