« 이전계속 »
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 ?
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
ad 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 ac
, quaintances, 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.
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!
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 against him; but that his servants should be examined. a
" Your servants !” replied Sir William ; "wretch! call them yours no longer ; but come, let us hear what those fellows have to say; let his butler be called."
When the butler was introduced, he soon perceived by his former master's looks that all his power was now over. "Tell me," cried Sir William, sternly, “have you ever seen your master and that fellow dressed up in his clothes in company together?”
. Yes, please your honour,” cried the butler, “a thousand times : he was the man that always brought him his ladies.” . “How!” interrupted young Mr. Thornhill,
this to my face ?” “Yes,” replied the butler; "or to any man's face. To tell you a truth, Master Thornhill, I never either loved you or liked you, and I don't care if I tell you now a piece of my mind.” “Now then,” cried Jenkinson, “tell his honour whether you know anything of me.” “I can't say,” replied the butler, “that I know much good of you. The night that gentleman's daughter was deluded to our house, you were one of them.” “So, then,” cried Sir William, “ I find you have brought a very fine witness to prove your innocence; thou stain to humanity! to associate with such wretches ! But,” continuing his examination, “you tell me, Mr. Butler, that this was the person who brought him this old gentleman's daughter.”
“ No, please your honour,” replied the butler, “he did not bring her, for the squire himself undertook that business : but he brought the priest that pretended to marry them.”
“ It is but too true,” cried Jenkinson ; “ I cannot deny it; that was the employment assigned to me; and I confess it to my confusion.”
“Good Heavens !” exclaimed the worthy baronet,“ how every new discovery of his villany alarms me! All his guilt is now too plain, and I find his present prosecution was dictated by tyranny, cowardice, and revenge: at my request, Mr. Gaoler, set this young officer, now your prisoner, free, and trust to me for the consequences. I'll make it my business to set the affair in a proper light to my friend the magistrate who has committed him. But where is the unfortunate young lady herself? Let her appear, to confront this wretch ; I long to know by what arts he has seduced her. Entreat her to come in. Where is she?”
“ Ah! sir,” said I, “that question stings me to the heart; I was once indeed happy in a daughter, but her miseries—_” Another
interruption here prevented me; for who should make her
appearance but Miss Arabella Wilmot, who was the next day to have been married to Mr. Thornhill. Nothing could equal her surprise at seeing Sir William and his nephew here before her; for her arrival was quite accidental. It happened that she and the old gentleman, her father, were passing through the town, on their way to her aunt's, who had insisted that her nuptials with Mr. Thornhill should be consummated at her house : but, stopping for refreshment, they put up at an inn at the other end of the town. It was there, from the window, that the young lady happened to observe one of my little boys playing in the street, and, instantly sending a footman to bring the child to her, she learnt from him some account of our misfortunes, but was still kept ignorant of young Mr. Thornhill's being the cause. Though her father made several remonstrances on the impropriety of her going to a prison to visit us, yet they were ineffectual; she desired the child to conduct her, which he did : and it was thus she surprised us at a juncture so unexpected.
Nor can I go on without a reflection on those accidental meetings, which, though they happen every day, seldom excite our surprise but upon some extraordinary occasion. To what a fortuitous concurrence do we not owe every pleasure and convenience of our lives! How many seeming accidents must unite before we can be clothed or fed! The peasant must be disposed to labour, the shower must fall, the wind fill the merchant's sail ; or numbers must want the usual supply.
We all continued silent for some moments, while my charming pupil, which was the name I generally gave this young lady, united in her looks compassion and astonishment, which gave new finishing to her beauty. “Indeed, my dear Mr. Thornhill,” cried she to the squire, who she supposed was come here to succour and not to oppress us, “I take it a little unkindly that you should come here without me, or never inform me of the situation of a family so dear to us both; you know I should take as much pleasure in contributing to the relief of my reverend old master here, whom I shall ever esteem, as you can. But I find that, like your uncle, you take a pleasure in doing good in secret.' "
“He find pleasure in doing good !” cried Sir William, interrupting her : “no, my dear, his pleasures are as base as he is. You see in him, madam, as complete a villain as ever disgraced humanity. A wretch who, after having deluded this poor man's daughter, after plotting against the innocence of her sister, has thrown the father into