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villains had broke into her room, with an intent upon her honour, if not upon her life; and both, she said, were equally dear to her.'
The landlady now began to roar as loudly as the poor woman in bed had done before. She cried she was undone, and that the reputation of her house, which was never blown upon before, was utterly destroy. ed.' Then turning to the men, she cried, What, in the devil's name, is the reason of all this disturbance in the lady's room?' Fitzpatrick, hanging down his head, repeated, That he had committed a mistake, for which he heartily asked pardon,' and then retired with his countryman. Jones, who was too ingenious to have missed the hint given him by his fair one, boldly asserted, That he had run to her assistance upon hearing the door broke open; with what design he could not conceive, unless of robbing the lady; which, if they intended, he said he had the good fortune to prevent.' I never had a robbery committed in my house since I have kept it,' cries the landlady: 'I would have you to know, sir, I harbour no highwaymen here; I scorn the word, thof I say it. None but honest, good gentlefolks, are welcome to my house; and, I thank good luck, I have always had enow of such customers; indeed as many as I could entertain. Here hath been my Lord -----,' and then she repeated over a catalogue of names and titles, many of which we might, perhaps, be guilty of a breach of privilege by inserting.
Jones, after much patience, at length interrupted her, by making an apology to Mrs. Waters, for having appeared before her in his shirt, assuring her,
That nothing but a concern for her safety could have prevailed on him to do it.' The reader may inform himself of her answer, and, indeed, of her whole behaviour to the end of the scene, by considering the situation which she affected, it being that of a modest lady, who was awakened out of her sleep by three strange men in her chamber.'
This was the part which she undertook to perform ; a, indeed, she executed it so well, that none of our theatrical actresses could exceed her, in any of their performances, either on or off the stage.
And hence, I think, we may very fairly draw an argument, to prove how extremely natural virtue is to the fair sex: for though there is not, perhaps, one in ten thousand who is capable of making a good actress; and even among these we rarely see two who are equally able to personate the same character; yet this of virtue they can all admirably well put on; and as well those individuals who have it not, as those who possess it, can all act it to the utmost degree of perfection.
When the men were all departed, Mrs. Waters, recovering from her fear, recovered likewise from her anger, and spoke in much gentler accents to the landlady, who did not so readily quit her concern for the reputation of the house, in favour of which she began again to number the many great persons who had slept under her roof; but the lady stopped her short, and having absolutely ac quitted her of having had any share in the past dis turbance, begged to be left to her repose, which, she said, she hoped to enjoy unmolested during the remainder of the night. Upon which the landlady, after much civility, and many curtsies, took her leave.
THE landlady, remembering that Susan had been the only person out of bed when the door was burst open, resorted presently to her, to inquire into the first occasion of the disturbance, as well as who the strange gentleman was, and when and how he arrived.
Susan related the whole story, which the reader know already, varying the truth only in some cir cumstances, as she saw convenient, and totally con
cealing the money which she had received. But whereas her mistress had, in the preface to her inquiry, spoken much in compassion for the fright which the lady had been in, concerning any intended depredations on her virtue, Susan could not help endeavouring to quiet the concern which her mistress seemed to be under on that account, by swearing heartily she saw Jones leap out from her bed.
The landlady fell into a violent rage at these words. A likely story, truly,' cried she, that a woman should cry out, and endeavour to expose herself, if that was the case! I desire to know what better proof any lady can give of her virtue, than her crying out, which, I believe, twenty people can witness for her she did? I beg, madam, you would spread no such scandal of any of my guests; for it will not only reflect on them, but upon the house; and I am sure no vagabonds, nor wicked beggarly people, come here.'
Well,' says Susan, then I must not believe my own eyes. No, indeed, must you not always,' answered her mistress; I would not have believed my own eyes against such good gentlefolks. I have not had a better supper ordered this half-year than they ordered last ght; and so easy and good-humoured were they, that they found no fault with my Worcestershire perry, which I sold them for champagne; and to be sure it is as well tasted, and as wholesome, as the best champagne in the kingdom, otherwise I would scorn to give it 'em ; and they drank me two bottles. No, no, I will never believe any harm of such sober good sort of people.'
Susan being thus silenced, her mistress proceeded to other matters. And so you tell me,' continued she, 'that the strange gentleman came post, and there is a footman without with the horses; why, then, he is certainly some of your great gentlefolks too. Why did not you ask him whether he'd have any
supper? I think he is in the other gentleman's room; go up, and ask whether he called. Perhaps he'll order something, when be finds any body stiring in the house to dress it. Now don't commit any of your usual blunders, by telling him the fire's out, and the fowls alive. And if he should order mutton, don't blab out that we have none. The butcher, I know, killed a sheep just before I went to bed, and he never refuses to cut it up warm when I desire it. Go, remember there's all sorts of mutton and fowls; go, open the door with
Gentlemen, d'ye call? aud if they say nothing, ask what his honour will be pleased to have for supper? Don't forget his honour. Go; if you don't mind all these matters better, you'll never come to any thing.'
Susan departed, and soon returned with an account, that the two gentlemen were got both into the same bed. Two gentlemen,' says the landlady, in the same bed! that's impossible; they are two arrant scrubs, I warrant them; and, I believe, young Squire Allworthy guessed right, that the fel low intended to rob her ladyship; for if he had broke open the lady's door with any of the wicked designs of a gentleman, he would never have sneak. ed away to another room, to save the expense of a supper and a bed to himself. They are certainly thieves, and their searching after a wife is nothing but a pretence.'
In these censures, my landlady did Mr. Fitapatrick great injustice; for he was really born a gentleman, though not worth a groat; and though, perhaps, he had some few blemishes in his heart as well as in his head, yet being a sneaking or a nig gardly fellow was not one of them. In reality, he was so generous a man, that, whereas he had received a very handsome fortune with his wife, he had now spent every penny of it, except some little pittance which was settled upon her; and, in order to possess himself of this, he had used her
with such cruelty, that, together with his jealousy, which was of the bitterest kind, it had forced the poor woman to run away from him.
This gentleman then being well tired with his long journey from Chester in one day, with which, and some good dry blows he had received in the scuffle, his bones were so sore, that, added to the soreness of his mind, it had quite deprived him of any appetite for eating. And being now so violently disappointed in the woman, whom, at the maid's instance, he had mistaken for his wife, it never once entered into his head, that she might nevertheless be in the house, though he had erred in the first person he had attacked. He therefore yielded to the dissuasions of his friend, from searching any farther after her that night, and accepted the kind offer of part of his bed.
The footman and post-boy were in a different disposition. They were more ready to order than the landlady was to provide; however, after being pretty well satisfied by them of the real truth of the case, and that Mr. Fitzpatrick was no thief, she was at length prevailed on to set some cold meat before them, which they were devouring with great greediness, when Partridge came into the kitchen. had been first awaked by the hurry which we have before seen; and while he was endeavouring to compose himself again on his pillow, a screech-owl had given him such a serenade at his window that he leaped in a most horrible affright from his bed, and, huddling on his clothes with great expedition, ran down to the protection of the company, whom he heard talking below in the kitchen.
His arrival detained my landlady from returning to her rest; for she was just about to leave the other two guests to the care of Susan; but the friend of young Squire Allworthy was not to be so neglected, especially as he called for a pint of wine to be mulled. She immediately obeyed, by putting