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In this manner I would attempt to amuse my daughter; but she listened with divided attention ; for her own misfortunes engrossed all the pity she once had for those of another, and nothing gave her ease. In company she dreaded contempt; and in solitude she only found anxiety. Such was the colour of her wretchedness, when we received certain information that Mr. Thornhill was going to be married to Miss Wilmot; for whom I always suspected he had a real passion, though he took every opportunity before me to express his contempt both of her person and fortune: This news served only to increase poor Olivia's affliction ; for such a flagrant breach of fidelity was more than her courage could support. I was resolved, however, to get more certain information; and to defeat, if possible, the completion of his designs, by sending my son to old Mr. Wilmot's, with instructions to know the truth of the report, and to deliver Miss Wilmot a letter intimating Mr. Thornhill's conduct in my family. My son went, in pursuance
directions, and in three days returned, assuring us of the truth of the account; but that he had found it impossible to deliver the letter, which he was therefore obliged to leave, as Mr. Thornhill and Miss Wilmot were visiting round the country. They were to be married, he said, in a few days, having appeared together at church, the Sunday before he was there, in great splendour, the bride attended by six young ladies, and he by as many gentlemen. Their approaching nuptials filled the whole country with rejoicing, and they usually rode out together in the grandest equipage that had been seen in the country for many years. All the friends of both families, he said, were there, particularly the squire's uncle, Sir William Thornhill, who bore so good a character. He added, that nothing but mirth and feasting were going forward ; that all the country praised the young
bride's beauty and the bridegroom's fine person, and that they were immensely fond of each other ; concluding that he could not help thinking Mr. Thornhill one of the most happy men in the world.
• Why, let him if he can,” returned I: “but, my son, observe this bed of straw and unsheltering roof; those mouldering walls and humid floor; my wretched body thus disabled by fire, and my children weeping round me for bread : you have come home, my child, to all this; yet here, even here, you see a man that would not for a thousand worlds exchange situations. Oh, my children, if you could but learn to commune with your own hearts, and know what noble company you can make them, you would little regard the elegance and splendour of the worthless. Almost all men have been taught to call life a passage, and themselves the travellers. The similitude still may be improved, when we observe that the good are joyful and serene, like travellers that are going towards home : the wicked but by intervals happy, like travellers that are going into exile."
My compassion for my poor daughter, overpowered by this new disaster, interrupted what I had farther to observe. I bade her mother support her, and after a short time she recovered. She appeared from that time more calm, and I imagined had gained a new degree of resolution ; but appearances deceived me; for her tranquillity was the languor of overwrought resentment. A supply of provisions, charitably sent us by my kind parishioners, seemed to diffuse new cheerfulness among the rest of my family, nor was I displeased at seeing them once more sprightly and at ease. It would have been unjust to damp their satisfactions, merely to condole with resolute melancholy, or to burden them with a sadness they did not feel. Thus, once more, the tale went round, and a song was demanded, and cheerfulness condescended to hover round our little habitation.
HE next morning the sun arose with peculiar warmth
for the season, so that we agreed to breakfast together on the honeysuckle bank, where, while we
sat, my youngest daughter, at my request, joined her voice to the concert on the trees about us. It was in
this place my poor Olivia first met her seducer, and every object served to recall her sadness. But that melancholy which is excited by objects of pleasure, or inspired by sounds of harmony, soothes the heart instead of corroding it. Her mother, too, upon this occasion, felt a pleasing distress, and wept; and loved her daughter as before. " Do, my pretty Olivia,” cried she, “let us have that little melancholy air your papa was so fond of; your sister Sophy has already obliged us. Do, child, it will please your
old father." moved me.
She complied in a manner so exquisitely pathetic as
When lovely woman stoops to follys
And finds too late that men betray,
What art can wash her guilt away?
To hide her shame from every eye ;
And wring his bosom, is—to die.
As she was concluding the last stanza, to which an interruption in her voice, from sorrow, gave peculiar softness, the appearance of Mr. Thornhill's equipage at a distance alarmed us all, but particularly increased the uneasiness of my eldest daughter, who, desirous of shunning her betrayer, returned to the house with her sister. few minutes he was alighted from his chariot, and, making up to the place where I was still sitting, inquired after my health with his usual air of familiarity. “Sir,” replied I, “your present assurance only serves to aggravate the baseness of your character; and there was a time when I would have chastised your insolence, for presuming thus to appear before me. But now you are safe ; for
has cooled my passions, and my calling restrains them.”
“ I vow, my dear sir,” returned he, “I am amazed at all this; nor can I understand what it means ! I hope you do not think your daughter's late excursion with me had anything criminal in it.”
Go,” cried I, “thou art a wretch, a poor pitiful wretch, and every way a liar; but your meanness secures you from my anger. Yet, sir, I am descended from a family that would not have borne this! And so, thou vile thing ! to gratify a momentary passion, thou hast made one poor creature wretched for life, and polluted a family that had nothing but honour for their portion."
“ If she, or you,” returned he, “are resolved to be miserable, I cannot help it. But you may still be happy; and whatever opinion you may have formed of me, you shall ever find me ready to contribute to it. We can marry her to another in a short time; and, what is more, she may keep her lover beside ; for I protest I shall ever continue to have a true regard for her.”
I found all my passions alarmed at this new degrading proposal ; for though the mind may often be calm under great injuries, little villany can at any time get within the soul, and sting it into rage,
“ Avoid my sight, thou reptile,” cried I, “nor continue to insult me with thy presence. Were my brave son at home, he would not suffer this ; but I am old and disabled, and every way undone.'
” “I find,” cried he, "you are bent upon obliging me to talk in a harsher manner than I intended. But, as I have shown' you what may be hoped from my friendship, it may not be improper to represent what may be the consequences of my resentment. My attorney, to whom your late bond has been transferred, threatens hard ; nor do I know how to prevent the course of justice, except by paying the money myself; which, as I have been at some expenses lately, previous to my intended marriage, is not so easy to be done. And then my steward talks of driving for the rent: it is certain he knows his duty; for I never trouble myself with affairs of that nature. Yet still I could wish to serve you, and even to have you and your daughter present at my marriage, which is shortly to be solemnised with Miss Wilmot; it is even the request of my charming Arabella herself, whom I hope you will not refuse."
"Mr. Thornhill,” replied I, “hear me once for all : as to your