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Well, well, says she, you must do what you will, because you pretend to be master : but if I had my will, I would send them where they ought to be sent. I would send them from whence they came.
Then the poor woman put in, and said, But, madam, that is sending them to starve, indeed, for the parish has no obligation to take care of 'em, and so they will lie and perish in the street.
Or be sent back again, says the husband, to our parish in a cripple-cart, by the justice's warrant, and so expose us and all the relations to the last degree among our neighbours, and among those who know the good old gentleman their grandfather, who lived and flourished in this parish so many years, and was so well beloved among all people, and deserved it so well.
I don't value that one farthing, not I, says the wife; I'll keep none of them.
Well, my dear, says her husband, but I value it, for I won't have such a blot lie upon the family, and upon your children; he was a worthy, ancient, and good man, and his name is respected among all his neighbours; it will be a reproach to you, that are his daughter, and to our children, that are his grandchildren, that we should let your brother's children perish, or come to be a charge to the public, in the very place where your family once flourished.
Come, say no more: I will see what can be done.
Upon this, he sends and gathers all the relations together at a tavern hard by, and sent for the four little children, that they might see them; and they all, at first word, agreed to have them taken care of; and, because his wife was so furious. that she would not suffer one of them to be kept at home, they agreed to keep them all together for awhile ; so they committed them to the poor woman that had managed the affair for them, and entered into obligations to one another to supply the needful sums for their maintenance; and, not to have one separated from the rest, they sent for the youngest from the parish where it was taken in, and had them all brought up together.
It would take up too long a part of this story to give a particular account with what a charitable tenderness this good person, who was but an uncle-in-law to them, managed that attuir; how careful he was of them ; went constantly to see
AMABLE DISPOSITION OF THE UNCLE.
them, and to see that they were well provided for, clothed, put to school, and, at last, put out in the world for their ad.. vantage; but 'tis enough to say he acted more like a father to them than an uncle-in-law, though all along much against his wife's consent, who was of a disposition not so tender and compassionate as her husband.
You may believe I heard this with the same pleasure whicła I now feel at the relating it again ; for I was terribly affrighted at the apprehensions of my children being brought to misery and distress, as those must be who have no friends, but are left to parish benevolence.
I was now, however, entering on a new scene of life. I had a great house upon my hands, and some furniture left in it, but I was no more able to maintain myselt and my
maid Amy in it, than I was my five children; nor had I anything to subsist with but what I might get by working, and that was not a town where much work was to be had.
My landlord had been very kind indeed, after he came to know my circumstances, though, before he was acquainted with that part, he had gone so far as to seize my goods, and to carry some of them off too.
But I had lived three quarters of a year in his house after that, and had paid him no rent, and which was worse, I was in no condition to pay him any. However, I observed he came oftener to see me, looked kinder upon me, and spoke more friendly to me than he used to do; particularly the last two or three times he had been there, he observed, he said, how poorly I lived, how low I was reduced, and the like; told me it grieved him for my sake; and the last time of all he was kinder still, told me he came to dine with me, and that I should give him leave to treat me: so he called my
maid Amy, and sent her out to buy a joint of meat; he told her what she should buy; but naming two or three things, either of which she might take, the maid, a cunning wench, and faithful to me as the skin to my back, did not buy anything outright, but brought the butcher along with her, with both the things that she had chosen, for him to please himself. The one was a large, very good leg of veal; the other a piece of the fore-ribs of roasting beef. He looked at them, but bade me chaffer with the butcher for him, and I did so, and came back to him and told him what the butcher had demanded for either of them, and what each of them came to. So he
pulls out eleven shillings and threepence, which they came to together, and bade me take them both; the rest, he said, would serve another time.
I was surprised, you may be sure, at the bounty of a man that had but a little while ago been my terror, and had torn the goods out of my house like a fury: but I considered that my distresses had mollified his temper, and that he had afterwards been so compassionate as to give me leave to live rent free in the house a whole year
But now he put on the face, not of a man of compassion only, but of a man of friendship and kindness, and this was so unexpected that it was surprising. We chatted together, and were, as I may call it, cheerful, which was more than I could say I had been for three years before; he sent for wine and beer too, for I had none; poor Amy and I had drank nothing but water for many weeks, and indeed, I have often wondered at the ithful temper of the poor girl, for which I but ill requited her at last.
When Amy was come with the wine, he made her fill a glass to him, and with the glass in his hand, he came to me and kissed me, which I was, I confess, a little surprised at, but more at what followed; for he told me, that as the sad condition which I was reduced to had made him pity me, so my conduct in it, and the courage I bore it with, had given him a more than ordinary respect for me, and made him very thoughtful for my good; that he was resolved for the present to do something to relieve me, and to employ his thoughts in the mean time, to see if he could, for the future, put me into a way to support myself.
While he found me change colour, and look surprised at his discourse, for so I did to be sure, he turns to my maid Amy, and looking at her, he says to me, I say all this madam, before your maid, because both she and you shall know that I have no ill design, and that I have, in mere kindness, rosolved to do something for you, if I can; and as I have been a witness of the uncommon honesty and fidelity of Mrs. Amy, here to you in all your distresses, I know she may be trusted with so honest a design as mine is; for I assure you, I bear a proportioned regard to your maid too, for her affection to you.
Amy made him a curtsy, and the poor girl looked so conzuuuāed with joy, that she could not speak, but her colour came and went, and every now and then she blushed as red
GENEROSITY OF MY LANDLORD.
as scarlet, and the next minute looked as pale as death. Well, having said this, he sat down, made me sit down, and then drank to me, and made me drink two glasses of wine together ; For, says he, you have need of it; and so indeed I had. When he had done so, Come Amy, says he, with your mistress's leave, you shall have a glass too. So he made her drink two glasses also; and then rising up, And now, Amy, says he, go and get dinner; and you, madam, says he to me, go up and dress you, and come down and smile, and be merry; adding, I'll make you easy, if I can; and in the mean time, he said, he would walk in the garden.
When he was gone, Amy changed her countenance, indeed, and looked as merry as ever she did in her life. Dear madam, says she, what does this gentleman mean? Nay, Amy, said I, he means to do us good, you see, don't he? I know no other meaning he can have, for he can get nothing by me. I warrant you, madam, says she, he'll ask you a favour by and by. No, no, you are mistaken, Amy, I dare say, said I; you have heard what he said, did'nt you? Ay, says Amy, it's no matter for that, you shall see what he will do after dinner. Well, well, Amy, says I, you have hard thoughts of him: I cannot be of your opinion: I don't see anything in him yet that looks like it. As to that, madam, says Amy, I don't see anything of it yet neither; but what should move a gentleman to take pity of us, as he does ? Nay, says I, that's a hard thing too, that we should judge a man to be wicked because he's charitable; and vicious because he's kind. O madam, says Amy, there's abundance of charity begins in that vice; and he is not so unacquainted with things as not to know that poverty is the strongest incentive; a temptation against which no virtue is powerful enough to stand out; he knows your condition as well as you do. Well, and what then? Why then he knows too that you are young and handsome, and he has the surest bait in the world to take you
with. Well, Amy, said I, but he may find himself mistaken, too, in such a thing as that. Why, madam, says Amy, I hope you won't deny him if he should offer it.
What d’ye mean by that, hussy? said I; no, I'd starve first.
I hope not, madam, I hope you would be wiser ; I'm sure if he will set you up, as he talks of, you ought to deny him
nothing; and you will starve if you do not consent, that's certain.
What, consent to lie with him for bread? Amy, said I, how can you talk so !
Nay, madam, says Amy, I don't think you would for any. thing else ; it would not be lawful for anything else, but for bread, madam ; why nobody can starve, there's no bearing that, I'm sure.
Ay, says I, but if he would give me an estate to live on, he should not lie with me, I assure you.
Why, look you, madam; if he would but give you enough to live easy upon, he should lie with me for it with all my heart.
That's a token, Amy, of inimitable kindness to me, said I, and I know how to value it: but there's more friendship than honesty in it, Amy.
O madam, says Amy, I'd do anything to get you out of this sad condition ; as to honesty, I think honesty is out of the question when starving is the case : are not we almost starved to death ?
I am indeed, said I, and thou art for my sake; but to be a whore, Amy! and there I stopped.
Dear madam, says Amy, if I will starve for your sake, I will be a whore, or anything, for your sake: why, I would die for
were put to it. Why that's an excess of affection, Amy, said I, I never met with before; I wish I may be ever in condition to make you some returns suitable. But however, Amy, you shall not be a whore to him, to oblige him to be kind to me; no, Amy, nor I won't be a whore to him, if he would give me much more than he is able to give me, or do for me.
Why madam, says Amy, I don't say I will go and ask him; but I say, if he should promise to do so and so for you, and the condition was such that he would not serve you unless I would let him lie with me, he should lie with me as often as he would, rather than you should not have his assistance. But this is but talk, madam; I don't see any need of such discourse, and you are of opinion that there will be no need of it.
Indeed so I am, Amy; but, said I, if there was, I tell you again, I'd die before I would consent, or before you should consent for