페이지 이미지

you had

were strangers. The poor Mr. Burchell was in reality a man of large fortune and great interest, to whom senates listened with applause, and whom party heard with conviction ; who was the friend of his country, but loyal to his king. My poor wife, recollecting her former familiarity, seemed to shrink with apprehension; but Sophia, who a few moments before thought him her own, now perceiving the immense distance to which he was removed by fortune, was unable to conceal her tears.

Ah, sir !” cried my wife, with a piteous aspect, “how is it possible that I can ever have your forgiveness ? the slights you received from me the last time I had the honour of seeing you at our house, and the jokes which I so audaciously threw out—these, sir, I fear, can never be forgiven.” My dear good lady,” returned he, with a smile, “ if

your joke, I had my answer. I'll leave it to all the company if mine were not as good as yours. To say 'the truth, I know nobody whom I am disposed to be angry with at present but the fellow who so frightened my little girl here. I had not even time to examine the rascal's

person so as to describe him in an advertisement. Can you tell me, Sophia, my dear, whether you should know him again ? ”

Indeed, sir,” replied she, “I cannot be positive; yet, now I recollect, he had a large mark over one of his eyebrows.” “I ask pardon, madam,” interrupted Jenkinson, who was by, “but be so good as to inform me if the fellow wore his own red hair." "Yes, I think so,” cried Sophia. “And did your honour,” continued he, turning to Sir William, “observe the length of his legs?” "I can't be sure of their length,” cried the baronet ; " but I am convinced of their swiftness; for he outran me, which is what I thought few men in the kingdom could have done." “ Please your honour,” cried Jenkinson, “I know the man ; it is certainly the same; the best runner in England; he has beaten Pinwire, of Newcastle ; Timothy Baxter is his name :

, I know him perfectly, and the very place of his retreat this moment. If your honour will bid Mr. Gaoler let two of his men go with me, I'll engage to produce him to you in an hour at farthest.” Upon this the gaoler was called, who instantly appearing, Sir William demanded if he knew him. " Yes, please your honour,” replied the gaoler, “I know Sir William Thornhill well; and everybody that knows anything of him will desire to know more of him.” · Well, then," said the baronet, “my request is, that you will permit this man and two of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

your servants to go upon a message by my authority, and as I am in the commission of the peace, I undertake to secure you.” “Your promise is sufficient,” replied the other; "and you may, at a minute's warning, send them over England whenever your honour thinks fit."

In pursuance of the gaoler's compliance, Jenkinson was dispatched in pursuit of Timothy Baxter, while we were amused with the assiduity of our youngest boy, Bill, who had just come in and climbed up to Sir William's neck in order to kiss him. His mother was immediately going to chastise his familiarity, but the worthy man prevented her; and taking the child, all ragged as he was, upon his knee, “What, 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 ate 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 his 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.

[ocr errors]



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 thouyes, 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 offences; 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

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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, "your wishes 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 hauling 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 backward 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 post-chaise. 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 meantime, 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 frequently 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 no 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

« 이전계속 »