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while Moses, on the contrary, gave him a question or two from the ancients, for which he had the satisfaction of being laughed at; my little ones were no less busy, and fondly stuck close to the stranger. All my endeavours could scarcely keep their dirty fingers from handling and tarnishing the lace on his clothes, and lifting up the flaps of his pocket-holes, to see what was there. At the approach of evening he took leave; but not till he had requested permission to renew his visit, which, as he was our landlord, we most readily agreed to.
As soon as he was gone, my wife called a council on the conduct of the day. She was of opinion, that it was a most fortunate hit; for that she had known even stranger things than that brought to bear. She hoped again to see the day in which we might hold up our heads with the best of them; and concluded, she protested she could see no reason why the two Miss Wrinklers should marry great fortunes, and her children get none. As this last argument was directed to me, I protested I could see no reason for it neither; nor why Mr. Simkins got the ten thousand pound prize in the lottery, and we sate down with a blank. "I protest, Charles,” cried my wife, “ this is the way you always damp my girls and me when we are in spirits. Tell me, Sophy, my dear, what do you think of our new visitor ? Don't you think he seemed to be good-natured ?"_" Immensely so, indeed, mamma,' replied she; “ I think he has a great deal to say upon everything, and is never at a loss; and the more trilling the subject, the more he has to say.”—“ Yes,” cried Olivia, “he is well enough for a man; but, for my part, I don't much like him, he is so extremely impudent and familiar ; but on the guitar he is shocking.” These two last speeches I interpreted by contraries. I found by this, that Sophia internally despised, as much as Olivia secretly admired him.
“ Whatever may be your opinions of him, my children,” cried I, “ to confess the truth, he has not prepossessed me in his favour. Disproportioned friendships ever terminate in disgust; and I thought, notwithstanding all his ease, that he seemed perfectly sensible of the distance between us. Let us keep to companions of our own rank. There is no character more contemptible than a man that is a fortune-hunter; and I can see no reason why fortune-hunting women should not be contemptible too. Thus, at best, we shall be contemptible if his views are honourable ; but if they be otherwise !—I should shudder but to think of that! It is true, I have no apprehensions from the conduct of my children, but I
, I think there are some from his character.” I would have proceeded,
but for the interruption of a servant from the Squire, who, with his compliments, sent us a side of venison, and a promise to dine with us some days after. This well-timed present pleaded more powerfully in his favour than anything I had to say could obviate. I therefore continued silent, satisfied with just having pointed out danger, and leaving it to their own discretion to avoid it. That virtue which requires to be ever guarded is scarcely worth the sentinel.
THE HAPPINESS OF A COUNTRY FIRE-SIDE.
S we carried on the former dispute with some degree
of warmth, in order to accommodate matters, it was universally agreed, that we should have a part of the venison for supper, and the girls undertook the task
with alacrity. “I am sorry,” cried I, “that we have no neighbour or stranger to take a part in this good cheer :
feasts of this kind acquire a double relish from hospitality.” Bless me!” cried my wife, “here comes our good friend Mr. Burchell, that saved our Sophia, and that run you down fairly in the argument.”—“ Confute me in argument, child !” cried I. “You mistake there, my dear; I believe there are but few that can do that : I never dispute your abilities at making a goose-pie, and I beg you'll leave argument to me.” As I spoke, poor Mr. Burchell entered the house, and was welcomed by the family, who shook him heartily by the hand, while little Dick officiously reached him a chair.
I was pleased with the poor man's friendship for two reasons : because I knew that he wanted mine, and I knew him to be friendly as far as he was able. He was known in our neighbourhood by the character of the poor Gentleman that would do no good when he was young, though he was not yet thirty. He would at intervals talk with great good sense ; but in general he was fondest of the company of children, whom he used to call harmless little men. famous, I found, for singing them ballads, and telling them stories ; and seldom went out without something in his pockets for them-a piece of gingerbread, or an halfpenny whistle. He generally came for
He was songs, and
“ will give
a few days into our neighbourhood once a year, and lived upon the neighbours' hospitality. He sate down to supper among us, and my wife was not sparing of her gooseberry wine. The tale went round; he sung us old
the children the story of the Buck of Beverland, with the History of Patient Grissel, the Adventures of Catskin, and then Fair Rosamond's Bower. Our cock, which always crew at eleven, now told us it was time for repose; but an unforeseen difficuity started about lodging the stranger : all our beds were already taken
and it was too late to send him to the next ale-house. In this dilemma, little Dick offered him his part of the bed, if his brother Moses would let him lie with him. “And I,” cried Bill, Mr. Burchell my part, if my sisters will take me to theirs.”—“ Well done, my good children,” cried I, “ hospitality is one of the first Christian duties. The beast retires to its shelter, and the bird flies to its nest; but helpless man can only find refuge from his fellowcreature. The greatest stranger in this world was he that came to save it. He never had a house, as if willing to see what hospitality was left remaining among us.—Deborah, my dear,” cried I to my wife,
give those boys a lump of sugar each ; and let Dick's be the largest, because he spoke first.
In the morning early, I called out my whole family to help at saving an after-growth of hay, and our guest offering his assistance he was accepted among the number. Our labours went on lightly; we turned the swath to the wind; I went foremost, and the rest followed in due succession. I could not avoid, however, observing the assiduity of Mr. Burchell in assisting my daughter Sophia in her part of the task. When he had finished his own, he would join in hers, and enter into a close conversation : but I had too good an opinion of Sophia's understanding, and was too well convinced of her ambition, to be under any uneasiness from a man of broken fortune. When we were finished
a for the day, Mr. Burchell was invited as on the night before, but he refused, as he was to lie that night at a neighbour's, to whose child he was carrying a whistle. When gone, our conversation at supper turned upon our late unfortunate guest. What a strong instance,” said I, “is that poor man of the miseries attending a youth of levity and extravagance! He by no means wants sense, which only serves to aggravate his former folly. Poor forlorn creature ! where are now the revellers, the flatterers, that he could once inspire and command ? Gone, perhaps, to attend the bagnio pander, grown rich by his ex