Chapter 6


“Sure, friend,” said the good man, “you are the strangest of all human beings. Not only to have suffered as you have formerly, for obstinately persisting in a falshood, but to persist in it thus to the last, and to pass thus upon the world for a servant of your own son! What interest can you have in all this? What can be your motive?”

“I see, sir,” said Partridge, falling down upon his knees, “that your honour is prepossessed against me, and resolved not to believe anything I say, and, therefore, what signifies my protestations? but yet there is one above who knows that I am not the father of this young man.”

“How!” said Allworthy, “will you yet deny what you was formerly convicted of upon such unanswerable, such manifest evidence? Nay, what a confirmation is your being now found with this very man, of all which twenty years ago appeared against you! I thought you had left the country! nay, I thought you had been long since dead.—In what manner did you know anything of this young man? Where did you meet with him, unless you had kept some correspondence together? Do not deny this; for I promise you it will greatly raise your son in my opinion, to find that he hath such a sense of filial duty as privately to support his father for so many years.”

“If your honour will have patience to hear me,” said Partridge, “I will tell you all.”—Being bid go on, he proceeded thus: “When your honour conceived that displeasure against me, it ended in my ruin soon after; for I lost my little school; and the minister, thinking, I suppose, it would be agreeable to your honour, turned me out from the office of clerk; so that I had nothing to trust to but the barber’s shop, which, in a country place like that, is a poor livelihood; and when my wife died (for till that time I received a pension of £12 a year from an unknown hand, which indeed I believe was your honour’s own, for nobody that ever I heard of doth these things besides)—but, as I was saying, when she died, this pension forsook me; so that now, as I owed two or three small debts, which began to be troublesome to me, particularly one1

which an attorney brought up by law-charges from 15s. to near £30, and as I found all my usual means of living had forsook me, I packed up my little all as well as I could, and went off.

“The first place I came to was Salisbury, where I got into the service of a gentleman belonging to the law, and one of the best gentlemen that ever I knew, for he was not only good to me, but I know a thousand good and charitable acts which he did while I staid with him; and I have known him often refuse business because it was paultry and oppressive.” “You need not be so particular,” said Allworthy; “I know this gentleman, and a very worthy man he is, and an honour to his profession.”— “Well, sir,” continued Partridge, “from hence I removed to Lymington, where I was above three years in the service of another lawyer, who was likewise a very good sort of a man, and to be sure one of the merriest gentlemen in England. Well, sir, at the end of the three years I set up a little school, and was likely to do well again, had it not been for a most unlucky accident. Here I kept a pig; and one day, as ill fortune would have it, this pig broke out, and did a trespass, I think they call it, in a garden belonging to one of my neighbours, who was a proud, revengeful man, and employed a lawyer, one—one—I can’t think of his name; but he sent for a writ against me, and had me to size. When I came there, Lord have mercy upon me—to hear what the counsellors said! There was one that told my lord a parcel of the confoundedest lies about me; he said that I used to drive my hogs into other folk’s gardens, and a great deal more; and at last he said, he hoped I had at last brought my hogs to a fair market. To be sure, one would have thought that, instead of being owner only of one poor little pig, I had been the greatest hog-merchant in England. Well—” “Pray,” said Allworthy, “do not be so particular, I have heard nothing of your son yet.” “O it was a great many years,” answered Partridge, “before I saw my son, as you are pleased to call him.—I went over to Ireland after this, and taught school at Cork (for that one suit ruined me again, and I lay seven years in Winchester jail).”—“Well,” said Allworthy, “pass that over till your return to England.”—“Then, sir,” said he, “it was about half a year ago that I landed at Bristol, where I staid some time, and not finding it do there, and hearing of a place between that and Gloucester where the barber was just dead, I went thither, and there I had been about two months when Mr. Jones came thither.” He then gave Allworthy a very particular account of their first meeting, and of everything, as well as he could remember, which had

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