Imágenes de páginas

ont of his wits, to run down and hire him horses. at any rate; and a very few minutes afterwards, having shuffled on his clothes, he hastened down stairs to execute the orders himself, which he had just before given.

But before we proceed to what passed on his arrival in the kitchen, it will be necessary to recur to what had there happened since Partridge had first left it on his master's summons.

The serjeant was just marched off with his party, when the two Irish gentlemen arose, and came down stairs; both complaining, that they had been so often waked by the noises in the inn, that they had never once been able to close their eyes all night.

The coach which had brought the young lady and her maid, and which, perhaps, the reader may have hitherto concluded was her own, was indeed a returned coach belonging to Mr. King of Bath, one of the worthiest and honestest men that ever dealt in horse-flesh, and whose coaches we heartily recommend to all our readers who travel that road. By which means they may, perhaps, have the plea. sure of riding in the very coach, and being driven by the very coachman, that is recorded in this history.

The coachman having but two passengers, and hearing Mr. Macklachlan was going to Bath, offered to carry him thither at a very moderate price. He was induced to this by the report of the hostler, who said, that the horse, which Mr. Macklachlan had hired from Worcester, would be much more pleased with returning to his friends there, than to prosecute a long journey; for that the said horse was rather a two-legged than a four-legged animal.

Mr. Macklachlan immediately closed with the proposal of the coachman, and, at the same time, persuaded his friend Fitzpatrick to accept of the fourth place in the coach. This conveyance the

soreness of his bones made more agreeable to him' than a horse; and being well assured of meeting with his wife at Bath, he thought a little delay would be of no consequence.

Macklachlan, who was much the sharper man of the two, no sooner heard that this lady came from Chester, with the other circumstances which he learned from the hostler, than it came into his head that she might possibly be his friend's wife; and presently acquainted him with this suspicion, which had never once occurred to Fitzpatrick him self. To say the truth, he was one of those compo sitions which nature makes up in too great a hurry, and forgets to put any brains into their head.

Now it happens to this sort of men, as to bad hounds, who never hit off a fault themselves; but no sooner doth a dog of sagacity open his mouth, than they immediately do the same, and, without the guidance of any scent, run directly forwards as fast as they are able. In the same manner, the very moment Mr. Macklachlan had mentioned his apprehension, Mr. Fitzpatrick instantly concurred, and flew directly up stairs, to surprise his wife, before he knew where she was, and unluckily (as Fortune loves to play tricks with those gentlemen who put themselves entirely under her conduct) ran his head against several doors and posts to no purpose. Much kinder was she to me, when she suggested that simile of the hounds, just before inserted; since the poor wife may, on these occasions, be so justly compared to a hunted hare. Like that little wretched animal, she pricks up her ears to listen after the voice of her pursuer; like her, flies away trembling when she hears it; and, like her, is gener ally overtaken and destroyed in the end.

This was not however the case at present; for," after a long and fruitless search, Mr. Fitzpatrick returned to the kitchen, where, as if this had been a real chace, entered a gentleman hallooing as hunters do when the hounds are at a fault. He was

just alighted from his horse, and had many attendants at his heels.

Here, reader, it may be necessary to acquaint thee with some matters, which, if thou dost know already, thou art wiser than I take thee to be. And this information thou shalt receive in the next chapter.


IN the first place, then, this gentleman just arrived was no other person than Squire Western himself, who was come hither in pursuit of his daughter; and had he fortunately been two hours earlier, he had not only found her, but his niece into the bargain; for such was the wife of Mr. Fitzpatrick, who had run away with her five years before, out of the custody of that sage lady, Madam Western.

Now this lady had departed from the inn much about the same time with Sophia; for having been waked by the voice of her husband, she had sent up for the landlady, and being by her apprised of the matter, had bribed the good woman, at an extrava gant price, to furnish her with horses for her escape. Such prevalence. had money in this family; and: though the mistress would have turned away her maid for a corrupt hussy, if she had known as much as the reader, yet she was no more proof against corruption herself than poor Susan had been.

Mr. Western and his nephew were not known to one another; nor indeed would the former have taken any notice of the latter, if he had known him; for this being a stolen match, and consequently an unnatural one in the opinion of the good squire, he had, from the time of her com mitting it, abandoned the poor young creature, who was then no more than eighteen, as a monster, and

had never since suffered her to be named in his presence.

The kitchen was now a scene of universal confusion. Western inquiring after his daughter, and Fitzpatrick as eagerly after his wife, when Jones entered the room, unfortunately having Sophia's muff in his hand.

As soon as Western saw Jones, he set up the same holla as is used by sportsmen when their game is in view. He then immediately run up, and laid hold of Jones, crying, We have got the dog-fox, I

warrant the bitch is not far off.' The jargon which followed for some minutes, where many spoke dif ferent things at the same time, as it would be very difficult to describe, so it would be no less unpleasant to read.

Jones having, at length, shaken Mr. Western off, and same of the company having interfered between them, our hero protested his innocence as to knowing any thing of the lady; when Parson Supple stepped up, and said, 'It is folly to deny it; for why, the marks of guilt are in thy hands. I will myself asseverate, and bind it by an oath, that the muff thou bearest in thy hand belongeth unto Madam Sophia; for I have frequently observed her, of later days, to bear it about her. My daughter's muff!' cries the squire in a rage. Hath he got my daughter's muff! bear witness, the goods are found upon him. I'll have him before a justice of peace this instant. Where is my daughter, villain?

Sir,' said Jones, I beg you would be pacified. The muff, I acknowledge, is the young lady's; but, upon my honour, I have never seen her.' At these words Western lost all patience, and grew inarticu. late with rage.

Some of the servants had acquainted Fitzpatrick who Mr. Western was. The good Irishman, therefore, thinking he had now an opportunity to do an act of service to his uncle, and by that means might possibly obtain his favour, stepped up to Jones, and

cried out, Upon my conscience, sir, you may be ashamed of denying your having seen the gentleman's daughter before my face, when you know I found you there upon the bed together.' Then turning to Western, he offered to conduct him immediately to the room where his daughter was; which offer being accepted, he, the squire, the parson, and some others, ascended directly to Mrs. Waters's chamber, which they entered with no less violence than Mr. Fitzpatrick had done before.

The poor lady started from her sleep with as much amazement as terror, and beheld at her bedside a figure which might very well be supposed to have escaped out of Bedlam. Such wildness and confusion were in the looks of Mr. Western; who no sooner saw the lady, than he started back, showing sufficiently by his manner, before he spoke, that this was not the person sought after.

So much more tenderly do women value their reputation than their persons, that though the latter seemed now in more danger than before; yet as the former was secure, the lady screamed not with such violence as she had done on the other occasion. However, she no sooner found herself alone, than she abandoned all thoughts of further repose; and as she had sufficient reason to be dissatisfied with her present lodging, she dressed herself with all possible expedition.

Mr. Western now proceeded to search the whole house, but to as little purpose as he had disturbed poor Mrs. Waters. He then returned disconsolate into the kitchen, where he found Jones in the custody of his servants.

This violent uproar had raised all the people in the house, though it was yet scarcely day-light. Among these was a grave gentleman, who had the honour to be in the commission of the peace for the county of Worcester. Of which Mr. Western was no sooner informed, than he offered to lay his com

« AnteriorContinuar »