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because we were at law together, was prevailed on to comply.
In a long avenue of lofty elms, terminated at one end by a large iron gate, at the top of which the family-arms are worked, and at the other, by the mansion-house, a large old-fashioned building, with a moat and turrets, we overtook the Knight himself returning from a ride. He seemed to be about sixty, but retained a robust make and florid complexion. He was seated on a superb saddle with holsters, and a housing of fur: he rode a long-tailed horse, which had once been gray, but had now become white with age: and was attended, at a due distance, by a sedate elderly-looking servant, in an ample livery surtout, mounted on a black dock-tailed coachnag. No sooner had he perceived us, than he pushed on at a gallop, that he might be ready to present himself
upon the platform of a large outer stone stair, to pay his compliments upon our arrival. I was introduced to him as his new neighbour, Mr. Softly; but the moment the name reached his ears, the blood rushed into his face, and eyeing me with a look of indignation, he turned upon his heel, and left me. At this I was a good deal nettled, for I do not want spirit, and wished to retire: but, perceiving that my horse had been led into the stable, and that I must pass through a crowd of servants who were laughing at my reception, I thought it might be just as good to go on, and so followed them into the great hall. This was a large room, wainscoted with oak, and decorated with some portraits, a map of the estate, a tree of the family-descent, beside a spear and a cross-bow, which had been borne, I suppose, by some of the knight's progenitors. Here we were received by Miss Primrose Holdencourt, his sister, a maiden lady of fifty-five, who, ever since the death of his wife, has done the honours of his table. To
her I made a profound bow, of which she took no notice, unless by bridling up her head, and tossing a look of disdain at me.
Our present company, besides the persons already mentioned, consisted of the Knight's agent or attorney, and the parson of the parish. The two latter, who, for some reason or other, had all along kept standing together by one of the windows near the door, were banished, upon the appearance of dinner, to a bye-table in a corner of the room, where I likewise, finding no place unoccupied at the other table, was obliged to take my seat. But, for this disgrace, I was soon comforted by the good-humour and facetiousness of the attorney, who seemed to take a liking for me, as well as by some excellent ale, in which we both, along with the parson, participated pretty liberally. We had no communication with the other table, unless by an overture of mine towards a reconciliation with Miss Primrose, by drink. ing her health, which met with a very ungracious reception. We had, however, no great cause to envy their conversation, as it consisted chiefly of some annotations by her upon the table-linen, in which the heads of the twelve apostles, and some worthies of the family, were woven ; besides a history from the Knight, of some exploits performed by the latter. Dinner being removed, and the ladies retiring along with it, the other table was naturally compelled to an union with ours; which, however, did not take place without strong marks of repug. nance on the part of the Knight. These became still more and more manifest, as the liquor elevated his pride: he pushed the bottle past me, neglected to require my toast, and every now and then eyed me over his shoulder, with a look of the utmost jealousy and aversion. I did not value the looks of him or any other man a farthing ; so I kept my seat manfully. In a short time, my friend Mr. B. having, for some purpose or other, left the rooin, the attorney, with an appearance of great candourand cordiality, inquired of me, whether that unhappy contest relative to the farm of Oxentown were drawing to an issue ? Nothing that depends on my will for that purpose shall be wanting,' answered I. · You allow then,' immediately interposed the Knight, that the lands of Harrow-field make part of my Barony of Acredale : you are at last become sensible of the justice of my claims. - I am glad of it, heartily glad of it,' rejoined the attorney ; ' but indeed it is impossible to doubt of it for and here he began a long dissertation, so full of law-terms and bad Latin, that I did not understand a word on't, which he finished with,— From all which, it is luce clariùs, that the lands belong to Sir Ralph.'— Most assu. redly,' echoed the parson. . And when, my dear Sir, do you mean to renounce your claim ?' resumed the attorney. All this, Mr.MIRROR, passed with so much rapidity, that I had no time for recollection or reply. Nothing could be further from my intention, than totally to surrender my claim ; an amicable accommodation was all that I meant to hint at. But what could I do, Mr. MIRROR? My friend, who might have supported me, had left the room : I had no answer ready to the attorney's argument; the whole company concurred in regarding my claims as groundless ; my meaning had been misunderstood, and an explanation, besides exposing me to their resentment, but that I did not value a straw, would have subjected me to the suspicion of insincerity and loose dealing. Still, however, I was loth thus to play away so considerable a part of my inheritance. After hesitating a little while, awkward and embarrassed between these opposite motives, I did at last
resolve to undeceive them, and had actually begun to meditate an address for that purpose, which, I do believe, I should have delivered, when the attorney, slapping me on the shoulder with one hand, and stretching out the other to me, with an air of the greatest cordiality, cut me short,— What say you, Mr. Softly ? fast bind, fast find; what say you to finishing the matter immediately?' This proposal being quite unexpected, utterly disconcerted me. Between surprise, embarrassment, and the desire of relieving myself by a decision one way or other, seeing them, at the same time, full of expectation, I hastily, almost without knowing what I did, took him by the hand, and answered, Sir, with all my heart.' In short, Mr. Mirror, paper, pen, and ink were called for, and a deed drawn out, which I instantly executed. The Knight, immediately after, coming up to me, shook me by the hand, and commanding a bumper to my health, desired and insisted to see me often at Castle-Holdencourt.
“ Being naturally of an easy temper, and seeing that the matter could not be mended, touched at the same time with the satisfaction it had diffused, I soon, in some degree, regained my good-humour. More wine was called for repeatedly ; and next morning I found myself at my friend Mr. B.'s house, without knowing how or when I had been transported to it.
Upon serious deliberation, however, and after some conversation upon the subject with am really vexed and dispirited with this affair. In making application to you, I have three views; the first, merely to disburden my mind by telling the story, I fear it is a dull and tedious one ; the second, to learn from
readers who is at
any the bar, whether my facility be a ground for reducing my consent? the third, to warn persons of
my wife, I
a similar disposition from going into company with their adversaries in a law-suit,
“ I am, Sir, yours, &c.
As I sincerely sympathize with Mr. Softly in his distress, I have published this letter for the first purpose mentioned in its conclusion, to disburden his mind of the story. As to the second, I am afraid I can be of little use to him, as a law-opinion, delivered through the channel of the MIRROR, would be destitute of some of the pre-requisites, without which it would be dangerous to rely on it as the ground of legal proceeding. The third, which is a very disinterested motive, is, I believe, more charitable in him, than it will be useful to his readers. There is, I fancy, very little occasion for warning people against going into the company of those with whom they are at law, lest they should be surprised into improper concessions ; I have generally observed, that being in company with an adversary in a law-suit, has a greater tendency to make a man tenacious of his rights, than to dispose him to relinquish them.