This was not however the case at present. The same report was brought from the garden as before had been brought from the chamber, that Madam Sophia was not to be found.

The squire himself now sallied forth, and began to roar forth the name of Sophia as loudly, and in as hoarse a voice, as whilome did Hercules that of Hylas; and, as the poet tells us that the whole shore echoed back the name of that beautiful youth, so did the house, the garden, and all the neighbouring fields resound nothing but the name of Sophia, in the hoarse voices of the men, and in the shrill pipes of the women; while echo seemed so pleased to repeat the beloved sound, that, if there is really such a person, I believe Ovid hath belied her sex.

Nothing reigned for a long time but confusion; till at last the squire, having sufficiently spent his breath, returned to the parlour, where he found Mrs. Western and Mr. Blifil, and threw himself, with the utmost dejection in his countenance, into a great chair.

Here Mrs. Western began to apply the following consolation: “Brother, I am sorry for what hath happened; and that my niece should have behaved herself in a manner so unbecoming her family; but it is all your own doings, and you have nobody to thank but yourself. You know she hath been educated always in a manner directly contrary to my advice, and now you see the consequence. Have I not a thousand times argued with you about giving my niece her own will? But you know I never could prevail upon you; and when I had taken so much pains to eradicate her headstrong opinions, and to rectify your errors in policy, you know she was taken out of my hands; so that I have nothing to answer for. Had I been trusted entirely with the care of her education, no such accident as this had ever befallen you; so that you must comfort yourself by thinking it was all your own doing; and, indeed, what else could be expected from such indulgence?”—

“Zounds! sister,” answered he, “you are enough to make one mad. Have I indulged her? Have I given her her will?— It was no longer ago than last night that I threatened, if she disobeyed me, to confine her to her chamber upon bread and water as long as she lived.—You would provoke the patience of Job.”

“Did ever mortal hear the like?” replied she. “Brother, if I had not the patience of fifty Jobs, you would make me forget all decency and decorum. Why would you interfere? Did I not beg you, did I not intreat you, to leave the whole conduct to me? You have defeated all the operations of the campaign by one false step. Would any man in his senses have provoked a daughter by such threats as these? How often have I told you that English women are not to be treated like Ciracessian1

slaves? We have the protection of the world; we are to be won by gentle means only, and not to be hectored, and bullied, and beat into compliance. I thank Heaven no Salique law governs here. Brother, you have a roughness in your manner which no woman but myself would bear. I do not wonder my niece was frightened and terrified into taking this measure; and, to speak honestly, I think my niece will be justified to the world for what she hath done. I repeat it to you again, brother, you must comfort yourself by rememb’ring that it is all your own fault. How often have I advised—” Here Western rose hastily from his chair, and, venting two or three horrid imprecations, ran out of the room.

When he was departed, his sister expressed more bitterness (if possible) against him than she had done while he was present; for the truth of which she appealed to Mr. Blifil, who, with great complacence, acquiesced entirely in all she said; but excused all the faults of Mr. Western, “as they must be considered,” he said, “to have proceeded from the too inordinate fondness of a father, which must be allowed the name of an amiable weakness.” “So much the more inexcuseable,” answered the lady; “for whom doth he ruin by his fondness but his own child?” To which Blifil immediately agreed.

Mrs. Western then began to express great confusion on the account of Mr. Blifil, and of the usage which he had received from a family to which he intended so much honour. On this subject she treated the folly of her niece with great severity; but concluded with throwing the whole on her brother, who, she said, was inexcuseable to have proceeded so far without better assurances of his daughter’s consent: “But

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.