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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."