Chapter 3


Mrs. Miller had not long left the room when Mr. Western entered; but not before a small wrangling bout had passed between him and his chairmen; for the fellows, who had taken up their burden at the Hercules Pillars, had conceived no hopes of having any future good customer in the squire; and they were moreover farther encouraged by his generosity (for he had given them of his own accord sixpence more than their fare); they therefore very boldly demanded another shilling, which so provoked the squire, that he not only bestowed many hearty curses on them at the door, but retained his anger after he came into the room; swearing that all the Londoners were like the court, and thought of nothing but plundering country gentlemen. “D—n me,” says he, “if I won’t walk in the rain rather than get into one of their hand-barrows again. They have jolted me more in a mile than Brown Bess would in a long fox-chase.”

When his wrath on this occasion was a little appeased, he resumed the same passionate tone on another. “There,” says he, “there is fine business forwards now. The hounds have changed at last; and when we imagined we had a fox to deal with, od-rat it, it turns out to be a badger at last!”

“Pray, my good neighbour,” said Allworthy, “drop your metaphors, and speak a little plainer.” “Why, then,” says the squire, “to tell you plainly, we have been all this time afraid of a son of a whore of a bastard of somebody’s, I don’t know whose, not I. And now here’s a confounded son of a whore of a lord, who may be a bastard too for what I know or care, for he shall never have a daughter of mine by my consent. They have beggared the nation, but they shall never beggar me. My land shall never be sent over to Hanover.”

“You surprize me much, my good friend,” said Allworthy. “Why, zounds! I am surprized myself,” answered the squire. “I went to zee sister Western last night, according to her own appointment, and there I was had into a whole room full of women. There was my lady cousin Bellaston, and my Lady Betty, and my Lady Catherine, and my lady I don’t know who; d—n me, if ever you catch me among such a kennel of hoop-petticoat b—s! D—n me, I’d rather be run by my own dogs, as one Acton was, that the story- book says was turned into a hare, and his own dogs killed un and eat un. Od-rabbit it, no mortal was ever run in such a manner; if I dodged one way, one had me; if I offered to clap back, another snapped me. ‘O! certainly one of the greatest matches in England,’ says one cousin (here he attempted to mimic them); ‘A very advantageous offer indeed,’ cries another cousin (for you must know they be all my cousins, thof I never zeed half o’ um before). ‘Surely,’ says that fat a—se b—, my Lady Bellaston, ‘cousin, you must be out of your wits to think of refusing such an offer.”’

“Now I begin to understand,” says Allworthy; “some person hath made proposals to Miss Western, which the ladies of the family approve, but is not to your liking.”

“My liking!” said Western, “how the devil should it? I tell you it is a lord, and those are always volks whom you know I always resolved to have nothing to do with. Did unt I refuse a matter of vorty years’ purchase now for a bit of land, which one o’ um had a mind to put into a park, only because I would have no dealings with lords, and dost think I would marry my daughter zu? Besides, ben’t I engaged to you, and did I ever go off any bargain when I had promised?”

“As to that point, neighbour,” said Allworthy, “I entirely release you from any engagement. No contract can be binding between parties who have not a full power to make it at the time, nor ever afterwards acquire the power of fulfilling it.”

“Slud! then,” answered Western, “I tell you I have power, and I will fulfil it. Come along with me directly to Doctors’ Commons, I will get a licence; and I will go to sister and take away the wench by force, and she shall ha un, or I will lock her up, and keep her upon bread and water as long as she lives.”

“Mr. Western,” said Allworthy, “shall I beg you will hear my full sentiments on this matter?”—“Hear thee; ay, to be sure I will,” answered he. “Why, then, sir,” cries Allworthy, “I can truly say, without a compliment either to you or the young lady, that when this match was proposed, I embraced it very readily and heartily,

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