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improve by deploring also the great scarcity of gold; so that, by the time Abraham returned, we had both agreed that money was never so hard to be come at as now.
Abraham returned to inform us, that he had been over the whole fair and could not get change, though he had offered half-a-crown for doing it. This was a very great disappointment to us all ; but the old gentleman having paused a little, asked me if I knew one Solomon Flamborough in my part of the country; upon replying that he was my next door neighbour, “ If that be the case, then," returned he, “I believe we shall deal. You shall have a draft upon him, payable at sight; and let me tell you, he is as warm a man as any within five miles round him. Honest Solomon and I have been acquainted for many years together. I remember I always beat him at three jumps; but he could hop upon one leg farther than I.” A draft upon my neighbour was to me the same as money, for I was sufficiently convinced of his ability : the draft was signed and put into my hands; and Mr. Jenkinson, the old gentleman, his man Abraham, and my horse, old Blackberry, trotted off very well pleased with each other.
After a short interval, being left to reflection, I began to recollect that I had done wrong in taking a draft from a stranger, and so prudently resolved upon following the purchaser, and having back my horse. But this was now too late. I therefore made directly homewards, resolving to get the draft changed into money at my friend's as fast as possible. I found my honest neighbour smoking his pipe at his own door, and informing him that I had a small bill upon him, he read it twice over.
“You can read the name, I suppose,” cried I, “ Ephraim Jenkinson.” “Yes,” returned he, "the name is written plain enough, and I know the gentleman too, the greatest rascal under the canopy of heaven.' This is the very same rogue who sold us the spectacles. Was he not a venerable-looking man, with grey hair, and no flaps to his pocket-holes? and did he not talk a long string of learning about Greek, cosmogony, and the world?” To this I replied with a groan.
Ay,” continued he," he has but that one piece of learning in the world, and he always talks it away whenever he finds a scholar in company : but I know the rogue, and will catch him yet.”
Though I was already sufficiently mortified, my greatest struggle was to come, in facing my wife and daughters. No truant was ever more afraid of returning to school, there to behold the master's visage, than I was of going home. I was determined, however, to anticipate their fury, by first falling into a passion myself.
But, alas ! upon entering, I found the family no way disposed for battle. My wife and girls were all in tears, Mr. Thornhill having been there that day to inform them that their journey to town was entirely
The two ladies, having heard reports of us from some malicious person about us, were that day set out for London. He could neither discover the tendency nor the author of these ; but, whatever they might be, or whoever might have broached them, he continued to assure our family of his friendship and protection. I found, therefore, that they bore my disappointment with great resignation, as it was eclipsed in the greatness of their own. But what perplexed us most, was to think who could be so base as to asperse the character of a family so harmless as ours—too humble to excite envy, and too inoffensive to create disgust.
ALL MR. BURCHELL'S VILLANY AT ONCE DETECTED—THE FOLLY OF BEING OVERWISE.
HAT evening, and part of the following day, was employed in fruitless attempts to discover our enemies: scarcely a family in the neighbourhood but incurred
our suspicions, and each of us had reasons for our opinion best known to ourselves. As we were in this perplexity, one of our little boys, who had been playing
abroad, brought in a letter-case, which he found on the green. It was quickly known to belong to Mr. Burchell, with whom it had been seen; and, upon examination, contained some hints upon different subjects; but what particularly engaged our attention was a sealed note, superscribed, “ The copy of a letter to be sent to the two ladies at Thornhill Castle." It instantly occurred that he was the base informer; and we deliberated whether the note should not be broken open. I was against it; but Sophia, who said she was
. sure that of all men he would be the last to be guilty of so much baseness, insisted upon its being read. In this she was seconded by the rest of the family; and, at their joint solicitation, I read as follows :
The bearer will sufficiently satisfy you as to the person from whom this comes : one at least the friend of innocence, and ready to prevent its being seduced. I am informed for a truth, that you have some intention of bringing two young ladies to town, whom I have some knowledge of, under the character of companions. As I would neither have simplicity imposed upon, nor virtue contaminated, I must offer it as my opinion, that the impropriety of such a step will be attended with dangerous consequences. It has never been my way to treat the infamous or the lewd with severity ; nor should I now have taken this method of explaining myself, or reproving folly, did it not aim at guilt. Take, therefore, the admonition of a friend, and seriously reflect on the consequences of introducing infamy and vice into retreats where peace and innocence have hitherto resided.
Our doubts were now at an end. There seemed, indeed, something applicable to both sides in this letter, and its censures might as well be referred to those to whom it was written as to us; but the malicious meaning was obvious, and we went no farther. My wife had scarcely patience to hear me to the end, but railed at the writer with unrestrained resentment, Olivia was equally severe, and Sophia seemed perfectly amazed at his baseness, As for my part, it appeared to me one of the vilest instances of unprovoked ingratitude I had ever met with. Nor could I account for it in any other manner than by im
. puting it to his desire of detaining my youngest daughter in the country, to have the more frequent opportunities of an interview. In this manner we all sat ruminating upon schemes of vengeance, when our other little boy came running in to tell us that Mr. Burchell was approaching at the other end of the field. It is easier to conceive than describe the complicated sensations which are felt from the pain of a recent injury, and the pleasure of approaching vengeance. Though our intentions were only to upbraid him with his ingratitude, yet it was resolved to do it in a manner that would be perfectly cutting. For this purpose we agreed to meet him with our usual smiles, to chat in the beginning with more than ordinary kindness, to amuse him a little; and then, in the midst of the flattering calm, to burst upon him like an earthquake, and overwhelm him with the sense of his own baseness. This being resolved upon, my wife undertook to manage the business herself, as she really had some talents for such an undertaking. We saw him approach ; he entered, drew a chair, and sat down. “ A fine day, Mr. Burchell,” “A very fine day, Doctor; though I fancy we shall have some rain, by the shooting of my corns.”
“ The shooting of your horns,” cried my wife, in a loud fit of laughter, and then asked
, pardon for being fond of a joke. “Dear madam,” replied he, “I pardon you with all my heart; for I protest I should not have thought