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as a favour, not as a right, (I should hate myself, were I capable of exerting to the utmost any power that may be devolved upon me,) that you will be so good as to leave the conduct of this affair to me. You will greatly oblige me, if you can give me your cheerful acquies
They answered by tears. They could not speak.
By this time Mrs Oldham returned; and, in an humble manner, offered chocolate to each young lady. They bent their necks, not their bodies, with cold civility, as they owned; each extending her stately hand, as if she knew not whether she should put it out or not.
Methinks I see them. How could such gracious girls be so ungracious, after what Sir Charles had said!
Their brother, they saw, seemed displeased. He took the salver from Mrs Oldham. Pray, madam, sit down, said he, offering her a dish, which she declined; and held the toasted bread to his sisters; who then were ready enough to take each some-and when they had drank their chocolate; Now, Mrs Oldham, said he, I will attend you-Sisters, you will give me your company.
They arose to follow him. The poor woman curtseyed, I warrant, and stood by while they passed. And methinks I see the dear girls bridle, and walk as stately, and as upright, as duchesses may be supposed to do in a coronation procession.
Miss Grandison acknowledged, that she grudged her brother's extraordinary complaisance to Mrs Oldham; and said to her sister, as arm in arm they went out, Politeness is a charming thing, Caroline!
I don't quite understand it, replied the other. They did not intend their brother should hear what they said; but he did; and turned back to them, (Mrs Oldham being at a distance, and, on his speaking low, dropping still farther behind them:) Don't you, my sisters, do too little, and I will not do too much. She is a gentlewoman. She is unhappy from within. Thank God, you are not. And she is not now, nor ever was, your servant.
They reddened, and looked upon each other in some confusion.
He pressed each of their hands, as in love. Don't let me give you concern, said he; only permit me to remind you, while it is yet in time, that you have an opportunity given you to shew yourselves Grandisons.
When they came to the chamber in which Sir Thomas died, and which was his usual apartment, Mrs Oldham turned pale, and begged to be excused attending them in it. She wept. You will find everything there, sir, said she, to be as it ought. I am ready to answer all questions. Permit me to wait in the adjoining drawing
Sir Charles allowed her request.
Poor woman! said he: how unhappily circumstanced is she, that she dares not, in this company, shew the tenderness, which is the glory, not only of the female, but of the human nature!
In one of the cabinets in that chamber they found a beautiful little casket, and a paper wa fered upon the back of it; with these words written in Sir Thomas's hand, My wife's jewels, &c.
The key was tied to one of the silver handles. Had you not my mother's jewels divided between you? asked he.
My father once shewed us this casket at Grandison-Hall, answered Caroline. We thought it was still there.
My dear sisters, let me ask you; did my father forbear presenting these to you, from any declared misapprehension of your want of duty to him?
No, replied Miss Caroline. But he told us, they should be ours when we married. You have heard, I dare say, that he was not fond of seeing us dressed.
It must have been misapprehension only, had it been so. You could not be undutiful to a father.
He would not permit it to be opened before him: but, presenting it to them, Receive your right, my sisters. It is heavy. I hope there is more than jewels in it. I know that my mother used to deposit in it her little hoard. I am sure there can be no dispute between such affectionate sisters, on the partition of the contents of this casket.
While their brother was taking minutes of papers, the ladies retired to open this casket.
They found three purses in it; in one of which was an India bond of 5001. enclosed in a paper, thus inscribed by Lady GrandisonFrom my maiden money. 120 Caroluses were also in this purse in two papers; the one inscribed, From my Aunt Molly; the other, From my Aunt Kitty.
In the second purse were 115 Jacobuses, in a paper, thus inscribed by the same lady: Presents made at different times by my honoured mamma, Lady W- ; three bank notes, and an India bond, to the amount of 3001. The third purse was thus labelled, as Lady L-shewed me by a copy she had of it in her memorandum book:—
"For my beloved son: In acknowledgment of his duty to his father and me from infancy to this hour, Jan. 1, 17--Of his love to his sisters-Of the generosity of his temper; never once having taken advantage of the indulgence shewn him by parents so fond of him, that, as the only son of an ancient family, he might have done what he pleased with them-Of his love of
truth; and of his modesty, courage, benevolence, steadiness of mind, docility, and other great and amiable qualities, by which he gives a moral assurance of making A GOOD MAN-GOD grant it! Amen!"
THE ladies immediately carried this purse, thus labelled, to their brother. He took it; read the label, turning his face from his sisters, as he read :-Excellent woman! said he, when he had read it, being dead, she speaks. May her pious prayer be answered! looking up. Then opening the purse, he found five coronation medals of different princes in it, and several others of value; a gold snuff-box, in which, wrapt in cotton, were three diamond rings; one signified to be his grandfather's; the two others, an uncle's and brother's of Lady Grandison; but what was more valuable to him than all the rest, the ladies said, was a miniature picture of his mother, set in gold; an admirable likeness, they told me; and they would get their brother to let me see it.
Neglecting all the rest, he eagerly took it out of the shagreen case; gazed at it in silence; kissed it; a tear falling from his eye. He then put it to his heart; withdrew for a few moments; and returned with a cheerful aspect.
The ladies told him what was in the other two purses. They said they made no scruple of accepting the jewels; but the bonds, the notes, and the money, they offered to him.
He asked, if there were no particular direction upon either? They answered, No.
He took them; and emptying them upon the table, mingled the contents of both together; There may be a difference in the value of each; thus mingled, you, my sisters, will equally divide them between you. This picture (putting his hand on his bosom, where it yet was) is of infinitely more value than all the three purses contained besides.
You will excuse these particularities, my dear friends; but if you do not, I can't help it. We are all apt, I believe, to pursue the subjects that most delight us. Don't grudge me my pleasure! Perhaps I shall pay for it. I admire this man more than I can express.
Saturday night-and no Sir Charles Grandi-
WHEN Sir Charles and his sisters looked over every other place in his father's apartment, they followed Mrs Oldham to hers.
A very handsome apartment, upon my word! How could Miss Grandison-she knew the
situation the unhappy woman had been in; mistress of that house.
Her brother looked at her.
Mrs Oldham shewed them which of the furniture and pictures (some of the latter valuable ones) she had brought into the house, saved, as she said, from the wreck of her husband's fortune-but, said she, with the consent of creditors. I, for my part, did not wrong anybody.
In that closet, sir, continued she, pointing to it, is all that I account myself worth in the world. Mr Grandison was pleased to put his seal upon the door. I besought him to let me take 501. out of it, having but very little money about me, but he would not; his refusal, besides the disgrace, has put me to some shifts. But, weeping, I throw myself upon your mercy, sir.
The sisters frankly owned, that they hardened each other by fault finding. They whispered, that she expected no mercy from them, it was plain. O what a glory belongs to goodness, as well in its influences, as in itself! Not even these two amiable sisters, as Miss Charlotte once acknowledged, were so noble in themselves before their brother's arrival, as they are
Assure yourself of justice, madam, said Sir Charles. Mr Grandison is hasty; but he would have done you justice, I dare say. He thought he was acting for a trust.-You may have letters, you may have things, here in this closet, that we have no business with.-Then, breaking the seal; I leave it to you, to shew us anything proper for us to take account of. The rest I wish not to see.
My ladies, sir-they will be pleased to——
YES, Mrs Oldham, said Caroline; and was putting herself before her brother, and so was her sister, while Sir Charles was withdrawing from the closet; but he took each by her hand, interrupting Caroline
NO, Mrs Oldham-Do you lay out things as you please; we will step into the next apart
He accordingly led them both out.
You are very generous, sir, said Miss Grandison.
I would be so, Charlotte. Ought not the private drawers of women to be sacred?
But such a creature, sir!—said Miss Caroline
Every creature is entitled to justice-Can ladies forget decorum? You see she was surprised by Mr Grandison. She has suffered disgrace; has been put to difficulties.
Well, sir, if she will do justice
Remember (with looks of meaning) whose housekeeper she was.
They owned they were daunted, and so, dear ladies, you ought to have been, but not convinced at that instant. It is generous to own
this, ladies; because the behaviour makes not for your honour.
Mrs Oldham, with tears in her eyes, came curtseying to the ladies and their brother, offering to conduct them into her closet. They found, that she had spread on her table in it, and in the two windows, and in the chairs, letters, papers, laces, fine linen, &c.
These papers, sir, said she, belong to you. I was bid to keep them safe. [Poor woman! she knew not how to say, by whom bid.]. You will see, sir, the seals are whole.
Perhaps a will, said he.
No, sir, I believe not. I was told they belonged to the Irish estate. Alas! and she wiped her eyes, I have reason to think there was not time for a will
I suppose, Mrs Oldham, you urged for a will -said Miss Charlotte.
Indeed, ladies, I often did; I own it. I don't doubt it, said Miss Caroline. And very prudently, said Sir Charles. I myself have always had a will by me. I should think it a kind of presumption to be a week with
In this drawer, sir, are the money, and notes, and securities that I have been getting together; I do assure you, sir, very honestly-pulling out a drawer in the cabinet.
To what amount, Mrs Oldham, if I may be 80 bold? asked Caroline.
No matter, sister Caroline, to what amount, said Sir Charles. You hear Mrs Oldham say, they are honestly got together. I dare say, that my father's bounty enabled even his meanest servants to save money. I would not keep one, that I thought did not. I make no comparisons, Mrs Oldham; you are a gentlewoman.
The two ladies only whispered to each other, as they owned, so we think!-Were there ever such perverse girls? I am afraid my uncle will think himself justified by them on this occasion, when he asserts, that it is one of the most difficult things in the world to put a woman right, when she sets out wrong. If it be generally so with us, I am sure we ought to be very careful of prepossession.-And has he not said, Lucy, that the best women, when wrong, are most tenacious? It may be so; but then, I hope, he will allow, that at the time they think themselves right.
I believe there is near 12007. said Mrs Oldham, and looked, the ladies observed, as if she was afraid of their censures.
Near 1200l., Mrs Oldham! said Miss Charlotte.-Lord, sister, how glad would we have been sometimes of as many shillings between us!
And what, Caroline, what Charlotte, young ladies as you were, only growing up into women, and in your father's house, would you have done with more than current money? Now you
have a claim to independency, I hope that 12007. will not be the sum of either of your stores.
They curtseyed, they said; but yet thought 1200l. a great saving.-Dear ladies! how could you forget, and what a pain would it have been for your brother to have reminded you, that Mrs Oldham had two children; to say nothing of a third!
Trembling, as they owned, Here, said she, in this private drawer, are some presents-I disclaim them. If you believe me, ladies, I never wished for them. I never was seen in them but once. I never shall wear them-offering to pull out the drawer.
Forbear, Mrs Oldham. Presents are yours. The money in that drawer is yours. Never will I either disparage or diminish my father's bounty. He had a right to do as he pleased. Have not we, to do as we please? Had he made a will, would they not have been yours?—If you, Mrs Oldham, if you, my sisters, can tell me of anything he but intended or inclined to do by any one of his people, that intention will I execute with as much exactness, as if he had made a will, and it was part of it. Shall we do nothing but legal justice?-The law was not made for a man of conscience.
Lord bless me, my Lucy! what shall I do about this man?
HERE (would you believe it?) I laid down my pen; pondered, and wept for joy; I think, it was for joy, that there is such a young man in the world; for what else could it be?-And now, with a watery eye, twinkle, twinkle, do I resume it.
His sisters owned, they were confounded; but that still the time was to come when they were to approve, from their hearts, of what he said and did.
Mrs Oldham wept at his goodness. She wept, I make no doubt also, as a penitent.—If my ladies, said she, will be pleased to-and seemed to be about making an offer to them-of the jewels, as I suppose.
My sisters, Mrs Oldham, said Sir Charles, interrupting her, are Grandisons. Pray, madam -holding in her hand, which was extended to the drawer
She took out of another drawer, 401. and some silver. This, sir, is money that belongs to you. I received it in Sir Thomas's illness. I have some other monies; and my accounts wanted but a few hours of being perfected, when I was dismissed. They shall be completed, and laid before you.
Let this money, Mrs Oldham, be a part of those accounts; declining, then, to take it.
There are letters, sir, said she. I would withhold nothing from you. I know not if, among
some things, that I wish not anybody to see, there are not concerns, that you ought to be made acquainted with, relating to persons and things, particularly to Mr Bever and Mr Filmer, and their accounts. I hope they are good men.-You must see these letters, I believe.
Let me desire you, Mrs Oldham, to make such extracts from those letters, or any others, as you think will concern me; and as soon as you can; for those gentlemen have written to me to sign their accounts; which, they hint, had my father's approbation.
She then told Sir Charles (as I have already related) how earnest Mr Bever was to get to the speech of Sir Thomas; and how mortified Mr Filmer was to find him incapable of writing his name: which both said was all that was wanted.
An honest man, said Sir Charles, fears not inspection. They shall want no favour from me. I hope nothing but justice from them.
She then shewed him some other papers; and, while he was turning them over, the ladies and she withdrew to another apartment, in which, in two mahogany chests, was her wardrobe. They owned they were curious to inspect it, as she had always made a great figure. She was intending to oblige them; and had actually opened one of the chests, and, though reluctantly, taken out a gown, when Sir Charles entered.
He seemed displeased; and taking his sisters aside, Tell me, said he, can what this poor WOman seems to be about, proceed from her own motion? I beg of you to say, you put her upon it. I would not have reason to imagine, that any woman, in such circumstances, could make a display of her apparel.
Why, the motion is partly mine, I must needs say, answered Charlotte.
Wholly, I hope; and the compliance owing to the poor woman's mortified situation. You are young women. You may not have considered this matter. Do you imagine, that your curiosity will yield you pleasure? Don't you know what to expect from the magnificent and bountiful spirit of him, to whose memory you owe duty?
They recollected themselves, blushed, and desired Mrs Oldham to lock up the chest. She did; and seemed pleased to be excused from the mortifying task.
Ah, my Lucy! one thing I am afraid of; and that is, that Sir Charles Grandison, politely as he behaves to us all, thinks us women in general very contemptible creatures. I wish I knew that he did; and that for two reasons; that I might have something to think him blameable for; and to have the pride of assuring myself, that he would be convinced of that fault, were he to be acquainted with my grandmamma, and
But, do you wonder, that the sisters, whose minds were thus opened and enlarged by the example of such a brother, blazing upon them all at once, as I may say, in manly goodness, on his return from abroad, whither he set out a stripling, should, on all occasions, break out into raptures, whenever they mention THEIR brother?-Well may Miss Grandison despise her lovers, when she thinks of him and of them at the same time.
Sunday. Sir Charles is in town, we hear; came thither but last night—Nay, for that matter, his sisters are more vexed at him than I am. But what pretence have I to be disturbed? But I say of him as I do of Lady Dhe is so good, that one would be willing to stand well with him.-Then is he my brother, you know.
AFTER Sir Charles had inspected into everything in this house, and taken minutes of papers, letters, writings, &c. and locked up the plate, and other valuables, in one room, he ordered his servants to carry into Mrs Oldham's apartment all that belonged to her; and gave her the key of that; and directed the housekeeper to be assisting to her in the removal of them, at her own time and pleasure, and to suffer her to come and go, at all times, with freedom and civility, as if she had never left the house, were his words.
How the poor woman curtseyed and wept ! The dear girls, I am afraid, then envied herand perhaps expressed a grudging spirit; for they said, this was their brother's address to them at the time :
You may look upon the justice I aim at doing to persons who can claim only justice from me, as an earnest, that I will do more than justice to my beloved sisters; and you should have been the first to have found the fruits of the love I bear you, had I not been afraid, that prudence would have narrowed my intentions. The moment I know what I can do, I will do it; and I request you to hope largely; if I have ability, I will exceed your hopes.
My dear sisters, continued he, and took one hand of each, I am sorry, for your spirits' sake, that you are left in my power. The best of women was always afraid it would be so. But the moment I can, I will give you an absolute independence on your brother, that your actions and conduct may be all your own.
Surely, sir, said Caroline, (and they both wept,) we must think it the highest felicity,
that we are in the power of such a brother. As to our spirits, sir
She would have said more; but could not; and Charlotte took it up where her sister left off. Best of brothers! said she-our spirits shall, as much as possible, (I can answer for both,) be guided hereafter by yours. Forgive what you have seen amiss in us-But we desire to depend upon our good behaviour. We cannot, we will not, be independent of you.
We will talk of these matters, replied he, when we can do more than talk. I will ask you, Caroline, after your inclinations; and you, Charlotte, after yours, in the same hour that I know what I can do for you both, in the way of promoting them. Enter, meantime, upon your measures; reckon upon my best assistance; banish suspense. One of my first pleasures will be, to see you both happily married.
They did not say, when they related this to me, that they threw themselves at his feet, as to their better father, as well as brother: but I fancy they did.
He afterwards, at parting with Mrs Oldham, said, I would be glad to know, madam, how you dispose of yourself: every unhappy person has a right to the good offices of those who are less embarrassed. When you are settled, pray let me know the manner : and if you acquaint me with the state of your affairs, and what you propose to do for and with those who are entitled to your first care, your confidence in me will not be misplaced.
And pray, and pray, asked I of the ladies, what said Mrs Oldham? How did she behave upon this?
Our Harriet is strangely taken with Mrs Oldham's story, said Miss Grandison-Why, she wept plentifully, you may be sure. She clasped her hands, and kneeled to pray to God to bless him, and all that-She could not do otherwise.
See, Lucy!-But am I, my grandmamma, am I, my aunt, to blame? Is it inconsistent with the strictest virtue to be charmed with such a story?-May not virtue itself pity the lapsed? -O yes, it may! I am sure, you, and Sir Charles Grandison, will say it may. A while ago, I thought myself a poor creature, compared to these two ladies; but now I believe I am as good as they in some things.-But they had not such a grandmamma and aunt as I am blessed with: they lost their excellent mother, while they were young; and their brother is but lately come over and his superior excellence, like sunshine, breaking out on a sudden, finds out, and brings to sight, those spots and freckles, that were hardly before discoverable.
Sir Charles desired Mrs Oldham would give in writing what she proposed to do for herself, and for those who were under her care. She did, at her first opportunity. It was, that she purposed going to London, for the sake of the young
people's education: of turning into money what jewels, clothes, and plate, she should think above her then situation in life: of living retired in a little genteel house: and she gave in an estimate of her worth; to what amount the ladies knew not but this they know, that their brother allows her an annuity, for the sake of her sons by his father and they doubt not but he will be still kinder to them, when they are old enough to be put into the world.
This the ladies think an encouragement to a guilty life. I will not dare to pronounce upon it, because I may be thought partial to the generous man; but should be glad of my uncle's opinion. This, however, may be said, that Sir Charles Grandison has no vices of his own to cover by the extensiveness of his charity and beneficence; and if it be not goodness in him to do thus, it is greatness; and this, if it be not praiseworthy, is the first instance that I have known goodness and greatness of soul separable.
The brother and sisters went down, after this, to Grandison-Hall; and Sir Charles had reason to be pleased with the good order in which he found everything there.
THE next thing the ladies mentioned was, Sir Charles's management with the two stewards.
I will not aim at being very particular in this part of the family history.
When Sir Charles found that his father had left the inspection of each steward's account to the other, he entered into the examination of the whole himself; and though he allowed them several disputable and unproved charges, he brought them to acknowledge a much greater balance in his favour, than they had made themselves debtors for. This was the use he made of detecting them, to his sisters.-You see, sisters, that my father was not so profuse as some people thought him. He had partners in his estate; and I have reason to think that he often paid interest for his own money.
On his settling with Filmer, the treaty with Miss Obrien came out. Mr Filmer had, by surprise, brought that beautiful girl into Sir Charles's presence; and he owned to his sisters, that she was a very lovely creature.
But when the mother and aunt found, that he only admired her as a man would a fine picture, they insisted that Sir Thomas had promised to marry Miss Obrien privately; and produced two of his letters to her, that seemed to give ground for such an expectation. Sir Charles was grieved, for the sake of his father's memory, at this trans