Chapter 12 Fortune Seems Resolved to Humble the Family of Wakefield —
Mortifications are Often More Painful than Real Calamities.
WHEN we returned home, the night was dedicated to schemes of future conquest.
Deborah exerted much sagacity in conjecturing which of the two girls wa_ikely to have the best place, and most opportunities of seeing good company.
The only obstacle to our preferment was in obtaining the 'Squire'_ecommendation; but he had already shown us too many instances of hi_riendship to doubt of it now. Even in bed my wife kept up the usual theme:
"Well, faith, my dear Charles, between ourselves, I think we have made a_xcellent day's work of it."-"Pretty well," cried I, not knowing what t_ay.-"What, only pretty well!" returned she; "I think it is very well. Suppos_he girls should come to make acquaintances of taste in town! This I a_ssured of, that London is the only place in the world for all manner o_usbands. Besides, my dear, stranger things happen every day: and as ladies o_uality are so taken with my daughters, what will not men of quality be! Entr_ous, I protest I like my Lady Blarney vastly; so very obliging. However, Mis_arolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs has my warm heart. But yet, when they cam_o talk of places in town, you saw at once how I nailed them. Tell me, m_ear, don't you think I did for my children there?"-"Ay," returned I, no_nowing well what to think of the matter; "Heaven grant that they may be bot_he better for it this day three months!" This was one of those observations _sually made to impress my wife with an opinion of my sagacity; for if th_irls succeeded, then it was a pious wish fulfilled; but if any thin_nfortunate ensued, then it might be looked upon as a prophecy. All thi_onversation, however, was only preparatory to another scheme, and indeed _readed as much. This was nothing less than, that as we were now to hold u_ur heads a little higher in the world, it would be proper to sell the colt,
which was grown old, at a neighboring fair, and buy us a horse that woul_arry single or double upon an occasion, and make a pretty appearance a_hurch or upon a visit. This at first I opposed stoutly; but it was as stoutl_efended. However, as I weakened, my antagonist gained strength, till at las_t was resolved to part with him.
As the fair happened on the following day, I had intentions of going myself;
but my wife persuaded me that I had got a cold, and nothing could prevail upo_er to permit me from home. "No, my dear," said she, "our son Moses is _iscreet boy, and can buy and sell to very good advantage; you know all ou_reat bargains are of his purchasing. He always stands out and haggles, an_ctually tires them till he gets a bargain.
As I had some opinion of my son's prudence, I was willing enough to entrus_im with this commission; and the next morning I perceived his sisters might_usy in fitting out Moses for the fair; trimming his hair, brushing hi_uckles, and cocking his hat with pins. The business of the toilet being over,
we had at last the satisfaction of seeing him mounted upon the colt, with _eal box before him to bring home groceries in. He had on a coat made of tha_loth they call thunder-and-lightning, which, though grown too short, was muc_oo good to be thrown away. His waistcoat was of gosling green, and hi_isters had tied his hair with a broad black riband. We all followed hi_everal paces from the door, bawling after him, "Good luck! good luck!" til_e could see him no longer.
He was scarcely gone when Mr. Thornhill's butler came to congratulate us upo_ur good fortune, saying that he overheard his young master mention our name_ith great commendation.
Good fortune seems resolved not to come alone. Another footman from the sam_amily followed, with a card for my two daughters, importing that the tw_adies had received such pleasing accounts from Mr. Thornhill of us all, that,
after a few previous inquiries, they hoped to be perfectly satisfied. "Ay,"
cried my wife, "I now see it is no easy matter to get into the families of th_reat; but when one once gets in, then, as Moses says, one may go to sleep."
To this piece of humor, for she intended it for wit, my daughters assente_ith a loud laugh of pleasure. In short, such was her satisfaction at thi_essage, that she actually put her hand in her pocket, and gave the messenge_evenpence half penny.
This was to be our visiting day. The next that came was Mr. Burchell, who ha_een at the fair. He brought my little ones a pennyworth of gingerbread each,
which my wife undertook to keep for them, and give them by letters at a time.
He brought my daughters also a couple of boxes, in which they might kee_afers, snuff, patches, or even money, when they got it. My wife was unusuall_ond of a weasel-skin purse, as being the most lucky; but this by the by. W_ad still a regard for Mr. Burchell, though his late rude behavior was in som_easure displeasing; nor could we now avoid communicating our happiness t_im, and asking his advice; although we seldom followed advice, we were al_eady enough to ask it. When he read the note f rom the two ladies, he shoo_is head, and observed that an affair of this sort demanded the utmos_ircumspection. This air of diffidence highly displeased my wife. "I neve_oubted, sir," cried she, "your readiness to be against my daughters and me.
You have more circumspection than is wanted. However, I fancy when we come t_sk advice, we shall apply to those who seem to have made use of i_hemselves."-"Whatever my own conduct may have been, madam," replied he, "i_ot the present question; though as I have made no use of advice myself, _hould in conscience give it to those that will." As I was apprehensive thi_nswer might draw on a repartee, making up by abuse what it wanted in wit, _hanged the subject, by seeming to wonder what could keep our son so long a_he fair, as it was now almost nightfall. "Never mind our son," cried my wife;
"depend upon it he knows what he is about. I'll warrant we'll never see hi_ell his hen on a rainy day. I have seen him buy such bargains as would amaz_ne. I'll tell you a good story about that that will make you split your side_ith laughing. But as I live, yonder comes Moses, without a horse, and the bo_t his back."
As she spoke, Moses came slowly on foot, and sweating under the deal box whic_e had strapped round his shoulders like a peddler. "Welcome, welcome, Moses;
well, my boy, what have you brought us from the fair ?"-"I have brought yo_yself," cried Moses, with a sly look, and resting the box on the dresser."Ay,
Moses," cried my wife, "that we know, but where is the horse?"-"I have sol_im," cried Moses, "for three pounds five shillings and twopence."-"Well done,
my good boy," returned she, "I knew you would touch them off. Betwee_urselves, three pounds five shillings and twopence is no bad day's work.
Come, let us have it, then."-"I have brought back no money," cried Mose_gain. "I have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is," pulling out _undle f rom his breast; "here they are, a gross of green spectacles, wit_ilver rims and shagreen cases."-"A gross of green spectacles!" repeated m_ife in a faint voice. "And you have parted with the colt, and brought us bac_othing but a gross of green paltry spectacles!"-"Dear mother," cried the boy,
"why won't you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargain, or I should no_ave bought them. The silver rims alone will sell for double the money."-"_ig for the silver rims!" cried my wife, in a passion; "I dare swear the_on't sell for above half the money at the rate of broken silver, fiv_hillings an ounce."-"You need be under no uneasiness," cried I, "abou_elling the rims, for they are not worth sixpence, for I perceive they ar_nly copper varnished over."-"What!" cried my wife, "not silver, the rims no_ilver!"-"No," cried I, "no more silver than your saucepan."-"And so,"
returned she, "we have parted with the colt, and have only got a gross o_reen spectacles with copper rims and shagreen cases! A murrain take suc_rumpery! The blockhead has been imposed upon, and should have known hi_ompany better."-"There, my dear," cried I, "you are wrong, he should not hav_nown them at all.""Marry, hang the idiot!" returned she, "to bring me suc_tuff; if I had them I would throw them into the fire!"-"There again you ar_rong, my dear," cried I, "for though they be copper, we will keep them by us,
as copper spectacles, you know, are better than nothing. "
By this time the unfortunate Moses was undeceived. He now saw that he ha_ndeed been imposed upon by a prowling sharper, who, observing his figure, ha_arked him for an easy prey. I therefore asked the circumstances of hi_eception. He sold the horse, it seems, and walked the fair in search o_nother. A reverend-looking man brought him to a tent, under pretence o_aving one to sell. "Here," continued Moses, "we met another man, very wel_ressed, who desired to borrow twenty pounds upon these, saying that he wante_oney, and would dispose of them for a third of the value. The firs_entleman, who pretended to be my friend, whispered to me, to buy them, an_autioned me not to let so good an offer pass. I sent for Mr. Flamborough, an_hey talked him up as finely as they did me, and so at last we were persuade_o buy the two gross between us."