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conceal their lustre [No vanity in saying that, Jack]; my chin wrapped up for the tooth-ach; and my slouched laced hat, giving me, altogether, the appearance of an antiquated beau.
My wife, I resolvedtieforehand, should have a complication of disorders.
The maid came to the door. 'I asked for her mistress. She shewed me into one of the parlours; and I sat down with a gouty Oh!
Enter Goody Moore.
Your servant, madam — But you must excuse me; I cannot well stand — I find by the bill at the door, that you have lodgings to let [mumbling my words as if, like my man Will, I had lost some of my fore-teeth]: be pleased to inform me what they are; for I like your situation — and I will tell you my family — I have a wife, a good old woman — older than myself, by the way, a pretty deal. She is in a bad state of health, and is advised into the Hampstead air. She will have two maid servants and a footman. The coach or chariot (I shall not have them up both together) we can put up any where, and the coachman will be with his horses.
When, sir, shall you want to come in?
I will take them from this very day; and, if convenient, will bring my wife in the afternoon.
Perhaps, sir, you would board, as well as lodge V
That as you please. It will
save me the trouble of bringing my cook, if we do. And I suppose you have servants who know how to dress a couple of dishes. My wife must eat plain food, and I don't love kickshaws.
We have a single lady, who will be gone in two or three days. She has one of the best apartments: that will then be at liberty.
You have one or two good ones mean time, I presume, madam, just to receive my wife; for we have lost time — these damned physicians — excuse me, madam, I am not used to curse; but it is owing to the love I have for my wife — they have kept her in hand till they are ashamed to take more fees, and now advise her to the air. I wish we had sent her hither at first. But we must now make the best of it.
Excuse me, madam [ for she looked hard at me] that I am muffled up in this warm weather. I am but too sensible that I have left my chamber sooner than I ought, and perhaps shall have a return of my gout for it. I came out thus muffled up with a dreadful pain in my jaws; an ague in them, I believe. But my poor dear will not be satisfied with any body's care but mine. And, as I told you, we have lost time.
You shall see what accommodations I have, if you please, sir. But I doubt you are too lame to walk up stairs.
I can make shift to hobble up now I have rested a little. I'll just look upon the apartment my wife is to have. Any thing may do for
the servants: and as you seem to be a good sort of gentlewoman, I shan t stand for a price, and will pay well besides for the trouble I shall give.
She led the way; and I helping myself by the banisters, made shift to get up with less fatigue than I expected from ankles so weak. But oh! Jack, what was Sixtus the Vth's artful depression of his natural powers to mine, when, as the half dead Montalto, he gaped for the pretendedly unsought Pontificate, and the moment he was chosen leaped upon the prancing beast, which it was thought by the amazed conclave he was not able to mount without help of chairs and men? Never was there a more joyous heart and lighter heels than mine, joined together; yet both denied their functions; the one fluttering in secret, ready to burst its bar for relief-ful expression, the others obliged to an hobbling motion; when, unrestrained, they would, in their master's imagination, have mounted him to the lunar world without the help of a ladder.
There were three rooms on a floor: two of them handsome; and the third, she said, still handsomer; but the lady was in it.
I saw, I saw, she was! for as I hobbled up, crying out upon my weak ankles, in the hoarse mumbling voice 1 had assumed, I beheld a little piece of her as she just cast an eye (with the door ajar} as they call it) to observe
who was coming up; and, seeing such an old clumsy fellow, great coated in weather so warm, slouched and muffled up, she withdrew, shutting the door without any emotion. But it was not so with" me; for thou canst not imagine how my heart danced to my mouth, at the very glimpse of her; so that I was afraid the thump, thump, thumping villain, which had so lately thumped as much to no purpose, would have choked me.
I liked the lodging well; and the more as she said the third room was still handsomer. I must sit down, madam [and chose the darkest part of the room]; Won't you take a seat yourself? — No price shall part us — but I will leave the terms to you and my wife, if you please. And also whether for board or not. Only please to take this for earnest, putting a guinea into her hand — and one thing I will say; my poor wife loves money; but is not an ill-natured woman. She was a great fortune to me: but, as the real estate goes away at her death, I would fain preserve her for that reason, as well as for the love I bear her as an honest man. lint if she makes too close a bargain with you, tell vie; and unknown to her, 1 will make it up. This is my constant way: she loves to have her pen'-worths; and I would not have her vexed or made uneasy on any account.
She said, I was a very considerate gentleman; and, upon the condition I had mentioned, she was content to leave the terms to my lady.
But, madam, cannot a body just peep into the other apartment; that 1 may be more particular to my wife in the furniture ofit?
The lady desires to be private. Sir — but — and was going to ask her leave.
I caught hold of her arm — However, stay, stay, madam: It mayn't be proper, if the lady loves to be private. Don't let me intrude upon the lady —
No intrusion, sir, I dare say: the lady is good-humoured. She will be so &ind as to step down into the parlour, I dare say. As she stays so little a while, I am sure she will not wish to stand in my way.
No, madam, that's true, if she be good-humoured, as you say — has she been with you long, madam? She came but yesterday, sir. I believe I just now saw the glimpse of her. She seems to be an elderly lady.
No, sir! you're mistaken. She's a young lady; and one of the handsomest I ever saw.
Cot so, I beg her pardon! Not but that I should have liked her the better, were she to stay longer, if she had been elderly. I have a strange taste, madam, you'll say; but 1 really, for my wife's sake, love every elderly woman. Indeed I ever thought age was to be reverenced , which made me (taking the fortune into the scale
too, thatl own) make my addresses to my present dear.
Very good of you, sir, to respect age: we all hope to live to be old.
Right, madam. — But you say the lady is beautiful. Now you must know, that though I choose to converse with the elderly, yet I love to see a beautiful young woman, just as I love to see fine flowers in a garden. There's no casting an eye upon her, is there? without her notice? For in this dress, and thus muffled up about my jaws, I should not care to be seen any more than she, let her love privacy as much as she will.
I will go ask if I may shew a gentleman the apartment, sir; and, as you are a married gentleman, and not over young, she'll perhaps make the less scruple.
Then, like me, she loves elderly folks best perhaps. But it may be she has suffered Dy young ones!
I fancy she has, sir, or is afraid she shall. She desired to be very private; and if by description enquired after, to be denied.
Thou art true woman, Goody Moore, thought I.
Good lack — good lack? — What may be her story then, I pray?
Sue is pretty reserved in her story; but, to tell you my thoughts, I believe love is in the case: she is always in tears, and does not much care for company.
Nay, madam, it becomes not me to dive into ladies' secrets; I want not to pry into other people's affairs. But, pray, how does she employ herself? — Yet she came but yesterday, so you can't tell.
Writing continually, sir.
These women, Jack, when you ask them questions by way of information, don't care to be ignorant of any thing.
Nay, excuse me, madam, I am very far from being an inquisitive man. But if her case be difficult, and not merely love, as she is a friend of yours, I would give her my advice.
Then you are a lawyer, sir —
Why, indeed, madam, I was some time at the bar; but I have long left practice; yet am much consulted by my friends in difficult points. In a pauper case I frequently give money; but never take any from the richest.
You are a very good gentleman, then, sir.
Ay , madam , we cannot live always here; and we ought to do what good we can — But I hate to appear officious. If the lady stay any time, and think fit, upon better acquaintance, to let me into her case, it may be a happy day for her, if I find it a just one; for you must know, that when I was at the bar, I never was such a sad fellow as to undertake, for the sake of a paltry fee, to make white black, and black white; for what would that have been, but to endeavour to establish iniquity by quirks, while I robbed the innocent?
You are an excellent gentleman, sir: I wish [and then she sighed] I had had the happiness to know
there was such a lawyer in the world; and to have been acquainted with him.
Come , come , Mrs. Moore , I think your name is, it may not be too late — when you and I are better acquainted, I may help you, perhaps. — But mention nothing of this to the lady; for, as I said, I hate to appear officious.
This prohibition I knew, if Goody Moore answered the specimen she had given of her womanhood, would make her take the first opportunity to tell, were it to be necessary to my purpose that she should.
I appeared, upon the whole, so indifferent about seeing the room, or the lady, that the good woman was the more eager I should see both. And the rather, as I, to . stimulate her, declared, that there was more required in my eye to merit the character of a handsome woman, than most people thought necessary; and that I had never seen six truly lovely women in my life.
To be brief she went in; and after a little while came out again. The lady, sir, is retired to her closet. So you may go in and look at the room.
Then how my heart began again to play its pug s tricks!
I hobbled in, and stumped about, and liked it very much; and was sure my wife would. I begged excuse for sitting down, and asked, Who was the minister of the place? If he were a good preacher? Who preached at the chapel? And if he were a good preacher, and good liver too, madam — I must inquire after that: for I love, I must needs say, that the clergy should practise what they preach.
Very right, sir; but that is not Bo often the case, as were to be wished.
More's the pity, madam. But I have a great veneration for the clergy in general. It is more a satire upon human nature, than upon the cloth, if we suppose those who have the best opportunities to be good , less perfect than other people. For my part, 1 don't love professional any more than national reflections. — But I keep the lady in her closet. My gout makes me rude.
Then up from my seat stumped I — What do you call these window-curtains, madam? Stuff-damask, sir. It looks mighty well, truly. I like it better than silk. It is warmer to be sure, and much fitter for lodging in the country; especially for people in years. The bed is in a pretty taste.
It is neat and clean, sir: that's all we pretend to.
Ay, mighty well — very well — a silk camblet, I think — very well, truly! — I am sure my wife will like it. But we would not turn the lady out of her lodgingsforthe world. The other two apartments will do for us at the present.
Then stumping towards the closet, over the door of which hung a picture — What picture is that —Oh! I see: a St. Cecilia!
A common print, sir!
Pretty well, pretty well! It is after an Italian master. — I would not for the world turn the lady out of her apartment. We can make shift with the other two, repeated I, louder still: but yet mumblingly hoarse; forlhad as great a regard to uniformity in accent, as to my words.
O Belford! to be so near my angel, think what a painful constraint I was under.
1 was resolved to fetch her out, if possible: and pretending to be going — You can't agree as to any time, Mrs. Moore, when we can have this third room, can you? — Not that [whispered I, loud enough to be heard in the next room; not that] I would incommode the lady: but I would tell my wife when abouts — and women, you know, Mrs.. Moore, love to have every thing before them of this nature.
Mrs. Moore, said my charmer, [and never did her voice sound so harmonious to me: O how my heart bounded again! It even talked to me, in a manner; for I thought I heard, as well as felt, its unruly flutters; and every vein about me seemed a pulse; Mrs. Moore] you may acquaint the gentleman, that I shall stay here only for two or three days at most, till I receive an answer to a letter I have written into the country; and rather than be your hinderauce, I will take up with any apartment a pair of stairs higher.
Not for the world! — Not for