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knows to what purpose) to a friend I have at Reading, to get him to inquire after the character of this Bagenhall. There is such a man, and he is a man of pleasure, as Sir John Allestree informs me.-Accursed villain, this Wilson! He could not bear with his master's constant bad hours, and profligate course of life, as he told our servants, and Mrs Sarah !— Specious impostor!
One o'clock. LADY BETTY'S chairmen have found out, and they brought with them, one of the vile fellows whom that vile Wilson hired. The other was afraid to come. I have secured this fellow: yet he seems to be ingenuous; and I have promised, that if he prove innocent, he shall be rewarded instead of punished; and the two chairmen, on this promise, are gone to try to prevail upon his partner to come, were it but to release the other, as both insisted upon their innocence.
And now will you be impatient to know what account this fellow gives.
O Mr Selby! The dear, dear creature-But before I proceed, I must recover my eyes.
THIS fellow's name is Macpherson. His partner's, M'Dermot. This is Macpherson's account of the matter.
Wilson hired them to carry this young lady to Paddington-To Paddington! A vile dog!
They objected distance and danger; the latter, as Macpherson owns, to heighten the value of the service.
As to the danger, Wilson told him, they would be met by three others of his fellow servants, armed, at the first fields: and, as to the distance, they would be richly rewarded; and he gave them a crown a-piece earnest, and treated them besides with brandy.
To prevent their curiosity, and entirely to remove their difficulties, the villain told them, that this young lady was an heiress, and had agreed to go off from the masquerade with her lover: but that the gentleman would not appear to them till she came to the very house, to which she was conveyed.
She thinks, said the hellish villain, that she is to be carried to May-Fair chapel, and to be married directly: and that the minister (unseasonable as the hour is) will be there in readiness But the gentleman, who is a man of the utmost honour, intends first to try whether he cannot obtain her friends' consent. So, when she finds her way lengthened, proceeded the vile wretch, she will perhaps be frightened, and ask me questions. I would not for the world disoblige her; but here she must be cheated for her own sake; and, when all is over, will value me the more for the innocent imposture. But whatever orders she may give you, observe none but mine, and follow me. You shall be richly rewarded,
repeated the miscreant. Should she even cry out, mind it not: she is full of fears, and hardly holds in one mind for an hour together.
He farther cautioned them not to answer any questions which might possibly be asked of them, by the person who should conduct his young lady to her chair; but refer to himself: and in case any other chairs were to go in company with hers, he bid them fall behind, and follow his flambeaux.
Macpherson says, that she drew the curtains close (because of her dress, no doubt) the moment I had left her, after seeing her in the chair.
The fellows, thus prepossessed and instructed, speeded away, without stopping for our chairs. Yet the dear creature must have heard me give that direction.
They had carried her a great way before she called out: and then she called ree times before they could hear her: at the third time they stopt, and her servant asked her commands. Where am I, William ? said she.-Just at home, madam, answered he.-Surely you have taken a strange round-about way.-Weare come about, said the rascal, on purpose to avoid the crowd of chairs and coaches.
They proceeded onwards, and were joined by three men, as Wilson had told them they would; but they fancied one of them to be a gentleman; for he was muffled up in a cloak, and had a silver-hilted sword in his hand: but he spoke not. He gave no directions: and all three kept aloof, that they might not be seen by her.
At Marybone, she again called out; William, William, said she, with vehemence: the Lord have mercy upon me! Where are you going to carry me? Chairmen, stop! Stop, chairmen ! Set me down!-William-Call my servant, chairmen !——
Dear soul! Her servant! Her devil! The chairmen called him. They lifted up the head. The side curtains were still undrawn, and M'Dermot stood so close, that she could not see far before her. Did you not tell me, said the villain to them, that it was not far about?
See how you have frightened my lady!— Madam, we are now almost at home.
bid them stop. She asked for Grosvenor-street. She was to be carried, she said, to Grosvenorstreet.
She was just there, that fellow said.-It can't be, sir! It can't be !-Don't I see fields all about me?-I am in the midst of fields, sir.
Grosvenor-square, madam, replied that villain; the trees and garden of Grosvenor-square.
What a strange way have you come about! cried her miscreant; and then trod out his flambeaux; while another fellow took the chairmen's lantern from them; and they had only a little glimmering star-light to guide them.
She then, poor dear soul! screamed so dismally, that Macpherson said, it went to his heart to hear her. But they following Wilson, who told them they were just landed, that was his word, he led them up a long garden walk, by a backway. One of the three men having got before, opened the garden door, and held it in his hand; and by the time they got to the house to which the garden seemed to belong, the dear creature ceased screaming.
They too well saw the cause, when they stopt with her. She was in a fit.
Two women, by the assistance of the person in the cloak, helped her out, with great seeming tenderness. They said something in praise of her beauty, and expressed themselves concerned for her, as they were afraid she was past recovery: which apparently startled the man in the cloak.
Wilson entered the house with those who carried in the dear creature; but soon came out to the chairmen. They saw the man in the cloak (who hung about the villain, and hugged him as in joy) give the rascal money; who then put a guinea into each of their hands; and conveyed them through the garden again, to the door at which they entered; but refused them light, even so much as that of their own candle and lantern. However, he sent another man with them, who led them over rough and dirty byways into a path that pointed Londonward; but plainly so much about, with design to make it difficult for them to find out the place again.
THE other fellow is brought hither: he tells exactly the same story.
I asked of both what sort of a man he in the cloak was: but he so carefully muffled himself up, and so little appeared to them, either walking after them, or at the house, that I could gain no light from their description.
On their promise to be forth-coming, I have suffered them to go with Lady Betty's chairmen to try if they can trace out their own footsteps, and find the place.
How many hopeless things must a man do, in an exigence, who knows not what is right to be done!
I HAVE inquired of Lady Betty, who it was that told her Mr Greville was not gone out of town, but intended to lie perdu? and she named her informant. I asked, how the discourse came in? She owned a little awkwardly. I asked, whether that lady knew Mr Greville? She could not say whether she did or not.
I went to that lady: Mrs Preston, in New Bond-street. She had her intelligence, she told me, from Sir Hargrave Pollexfen: who had hinted to her, that he should take such notice of Mr Greville, as might be attended with consequences; and she was the readier to intimate this to Lady Betty, in order to prevent mischief.
Now, Mr Selby, as the intimation, that the dark-lantern figure at the masquerade was Mr Greville, came from Sir Hargrave, and nobody else; and we saw nothing of him ourselves; how do we know-And yet Mr Greville intended that we should believe him to be out of town. Yet even that intimation came from Sir Har
grave-And farthermore, was it not likely that he would take as much care to conceal himself from Sir Hargrave, as from us?—I will go instantly to Sir Hargrave's house. He was to dine at home, and with company. If I cannot see him; if he should be absent-But no more till I return.
O MR SELBY! I believe I have wronged Mr Greville. The dear soul, I am afraid, is fallen into even worse hands than his.
I went to Sir Hargrave's house. He was not at home. He was at home. He had company with him. He was not to be spoken with. These were the different answers given me by his porter, with as much confusion as I had impatience; and yet it was evident to me that he had his lesson given him. In short, I have reason to think, that Sir Hargrave came not home all night. The man in the cloak, I doubt, was he. Now does all that Sir John Allestree said of the malicious wickedness of this devilish man, and his arrogant behaviour to our dear Miss Byron, on her rejecting him, come fresh into my memory. And is she, can she be, fallen into the power of such a man?-Rather, much rather, may my first surmises prove true. Greville is surely (exceptionable as he is) a better man, at least a better-natured man, than this; and he can have no thoughts less honourable than marriage: but this villain, if he be the villain-I cannot, I dare not, pursue the thought.
THE four chairmen are just returned. They think they have found the place; but, having gained some intelligence, (intelligence which distracts me!) they hurried back for directions.
They had asked a neighbouring ale-housekeeper, if there were not a long garden (belonging to the house they suspected) and a backdoor out of it to a dirty lane and fields. He answered in the affirmative. The front of this house faces the road.
They called for some hot liquors; and asked the landlord after the owners. He knew nothing of harm of them, he said. They had lived there near a twelvemonth in reputation. The family consisted of a widow, whose name is Awberry, her son, and two daughters. The son (a man of about thirty years of age) has a place in the custom-house, and only came down on a Saturday, and went up on Monday. But an odd circumstance, he said, had alarmed him that very morning.
He was at first a little shy of telling what it He loved, he said, to mind his own business; what other people did was nothing to him; but, at last, he told them, that about six o'clock in the morning he was waked by the trampling of horses; and, looking out of his window, saw a chariot and six, and three or four men on horseback, at the widow Awberry's door. He got up. The footmen and coachmen were very hush, not calling for a drop of liquor, though his doors were open: A rare instance, he said, where there were so many men-servants together, and a coachman one of them. This, he said, could not but give a greater edge to his curiosity.
About seven o'clock, one of the widow's daughters came to the door, with a lighted candle in her hand, and directed the chariot to drive up close to the house. The ale-house-keeper then slipt into an arbour-like porch, next door to the widow's; where he had not been three minutes before he saw two persons come to the door; the one a tall gentleman in laced clothes, who had his arms about the other, a person of middling stature, wrapt up in a scarlet cloak; and resisting, as one in great distress, the other's violence, and begging not to be put into the chariot, in a voice and accent that evidently shewed it was a woman.
The gentleman made vehement protestations of honour; but lifted the lady into the chariot. She struggled, and seemed to be in agonies of grief; and, on being lifted in, and the gentleman going in after her, she screamed out for help; and he observed in the struggling, that she had on, under her cloak, a silver-laced habit: the masquerade habit, no doubt! her screaming grew fainter and fainter, and her voice sounded to him as if her mouth were stopped; and the gentleman seemed to speak high, as if he threatened her.
Away drove the chariot. The servants rode
In about half an hour, a coach and four came to the widow's door; the widow and her two daughters went into it, and took the same road.
I have ordered as many men and horses as two of my friends can furnish me with, to be added to two of my own, (we shall be nine in all,) to get ready with all speed. I will pursue the villain to the world's end, but I will find him.
Our first course shall be to his house at Windsor. If we find him not there, we will proceed to that Bagenhall's, near Reading.
It would be but losing time were I to go now to Paddington. And when the vile widow and her daughters are gone from home, and only an ignorant wench left, what can we learn of her more than is already told to us?
I have, however, accepted Lady Betty's offer of her steward's going with the two chairmen, to get what farther intelligence he can from Paddington, against my return.
I shall take what I have written with me, to form from it a letter less hurrying, less alarming, for your perusal, than this that I have written at such snatches of time, and under such dreadful uncertainties, would be to you, were I to send it; that is to say, if I have time, and if I am able to write with any certainty-O that dreaded certainty !
At four in the morning the six men I borrow, and myself, and two of my servants, well armed, are to rendezvous at Hyde Park Corner. It is grievous that another night must pass. But so many people cannot be got together as two or three might. My poor wife has made me promise to take the assistance of peace-officers, wherever I find either the villain, or the suffering angel.
Where the road parts, we shall divide, and inquire at every turnpike; and shall agree upon our places of meeting.
I am harassed to death; but my mind is the greatest sufferer.
I shall set out before day, on horseback. My servant shall carry with him a portmanteau of things, ordered by my wife. My cousin must have made a strange appearance, in her masquerade dress, to her deliverer.
The honest man who brought the letter, [he looks remarkably so; but had he a less agreeable countenance, he would have been received by us as an angel, for his happy tidings, was but just returned from Windsor, whither he had been sent early in the morning, to transact some business, when he was dispatched away to us with the welcome letter. He could not, therefore, be so particular as we wished him. What he gathered was from the housekeeper; the men-servants, who were in the fray, [a fray there was, being gone to town with their master. But what we learnt from him, is, briefly, as follows:
His master is Sir Charles Grandison; a gentleman who has not been long in England. I have often heard mention of his father, Sir Thomas, VOL. VIII.
who died not long ago. This honest man knew not when to stop in his master's praise. He gives his young lady also an excellent character.
Sir Charles was going to town in his chariotand-six when he met (most happily met!) our distressed cousin.
Sir Hargrave is the villain.
I am heartily sorry for suspecting Mr Greville.
Sir Charles had earnest business in town; and he proceeded thither, after he had rescued the dear creature, and committed her to the care of his sister.-God for ever bless him!
The vile Sir Hargrave, as the servant understood, was wounded. Sir Charles, it seems, was also hurt. Thank God it was so slightly, as not to hinder him from pursuing his journey to town after the glorious act.
I would have given the honest man a handsome gratuity; but he so earnestly besought me to excuse him, declaring that he was under an obligation to the most generous of masters to decline all gifts, that I was obliged to withdraw my hand.
I will speed this away by Richard Fennell. I will soon send you farther particulars by the post; not unhappy ones, I hope.
Excuse, meantime, all that is amiss in a letter, the greatest part of which was written in such a dreadful uncertainty, and believe, that I will be
do very well; but she must be kept quiet. She has had a happy deliverance-She
O, madam! interrupted I, your generous, your noble brother
Is the best of men, Mr Reeves; his delight is in doing good.—And, as to this adventure, it has made him, I am sure, a very happy
But is my cousin, madam, so ill, that I cannot be allowed to see her for one moment?
She is but just come out of a fit. She fell into it in the relation she would have made of her story, on mentioning the villain's name by whom she has suffered. She could give only broken and imperfect accounts of herself all day yesterday, or you had heard from me sooner. When you see her, you must be very cautious of what you say to her. We have a skilful physician, by whose advice we proceed.
God for ever bless you, madam!
He has not long left her. He advises quiet. She has had a very bad night. Could she compose herself, could she get a little natural rest, the cure is performed. Have you breakfasted, sir?
Breakfasted, madam! My impatience to see my cousin allowed me not to think of breakfast.
You must breakfast with me, sir. And when that is over, if she is tolerable, we will acquaint her with your arrival, and go up together. I read your impatience, sir; we will make but a very short breakfasting. I was just going to breakfast.
She rang. It was brought in.
I longed, I said, as we sat at tea, to be acquainted with the particulars of the happy deliverance.
We avoid asking any questions that may affect her. I know very little of the particulars myself. My brother was in haste to get to town. The servants that were with him at the time, hardly dismounted; he doubted not but the lady (to whom he referred me for the gratifying my curiosity) would be able to tell me everything. But she fell into fits, and, as I told you, was so ill, on the recollection of what she had suffered
Good God said I, what must the dear creature have suffered!
-That we thought fit to restrain our curiosity, and so must you, till we see Sir Charles. I expect him before noon.
I am told, madam, that there was a skirmish. I hope Sir Charles
I hope so, too, Mr Reeves, interrupted she. I long to see my brother as much as you can do to see your cousin-But, on my apprehensions, he assured me, upon his honour, that he was but very slightly hurt. Sir Charles is no qualifier, sir, when he stakes his honour, be the occasion either light or serious.
I said, I doubted not but she was very much
I was too much surprised at my brother's unexpected return, and too much affected with the lady's visible grief and terror, to attend to her dress, when I first went down. She was sitting, dreadfully trembling, and Sir Charles next her, in a very tender manner, assuring her of his and of his sister's kindest protection. I saluted her, continued the lady; welcome, welcome! thrice welcome, to this house, and to me!
She threw herself on one knee to me. Distress had too much humbled her. Sir Charles and I raised her to her seat. You see before you, madam, said she, a strange creature, and looked at her dress; but I hope you will believe I am an innocent one. This vile appearance was not my choice. Fie upon me! I must be thus dressed out for a masquerade; hated diversion! I never had a notion of it. Think not hardly, sir, turning to Sir Charles, her hands clasped and held up, of her whom you have so generously delivered. Think not hardly of me, madam, turning to me; I am not a bad creature. That vile, vile man!-She could say no more.
Charlotte, said my brother, you will make it your first care to raise the spirits of this injured beauty; your next, to take her directions, and inform her friends of her safety. Such an admirable young lady as this, cannot be missed an hour, without exciting the fears of all her friends for her. I repeat, madam, that you are in honourable hands. My sister will have pleasure in obliging you.
She wished to be conveyed to town; but looking at her dress, I offered her clothes of mine; and my brother said, if she were very earnest, and thought herself able to go, he would take horse, and leave the chariot, and he was sure that I would attend her thither.
But before she could declare her acceptance of this offer, as she seemed joyfully ready to do, her spirits failed her, and she sunk down at my
Sir Charles just staid to see her come to herself; and then-Sister, said he, the lady cannot be removed. Let Dr Holmes be sent for instantly. I know you will give her your best attendance. I will be with you before noon tomorrow. The lady is too low, and too weak, to be troubled with questions now. Johnson will be back from Windsor. Let him take her com