BOOK I. CONTAINING AS MUCH OF THE BIRTH OF THE FOUNDLING AS IS NECESSARY OR PROPER TO ACQUAINT THE READER WITH IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS HISTORY.
4. Chapter iv. The reader's neck brought into danger...
It was now the middle of May, and the morning was remarkably serene,
when Mr Allworthy walked forth on the terrace, where the dawn opened
every minute that lovely prospect we have before described to his eye;
and now having sent forth streams of light, which ascended the blue
firmament before him, as harbingers preceding his pomp, in the full
blaze of his majesty rose the sun, than which one object alone in this
lower creation could be more glorious, and that Mr Allworthy himself
presented--a human being replete with benevolence, meditating in what
manner he might render himself most acceptable to his Creator, by
doing most good to his creatures.
Reader, take care. I have unadvisedly led thee to the top of as high a
hill as Mr Allworthy's, and how to get thee down without breaking thy
neck, I do not well know. However, let us e'en venture to slide down
together; for Miss Bridget rings her bell, and Mr Allworthy is
summoned to breakfast, where I must attend, and, if you please, shall
be glad of your company.
The usual compliments having past between Mr Allworthy and Miss
Bridget, and the tea being poured out, he summoned Mrs Wilkins, and
told his sister he had a present for her, for which she thanked
him--imagining, I suppose, it had been a gown, or some ornament for
her person. Indeed, he very often made her such presents; and she, in
complacence to him, spent much time in adorning herself. I say in
complacence to him, because she always exprest the greatest contempt
for dress, and for those ladies who made it their study.
But if such was her expectation, how was she disappointed when Mrs
Wilkins, according to the order she had received from her master,
produced the little infant? Great surprizes, as hath been observed,
are apt to be silent; and so was Miss Bridget, till her brother began,
and told her the whole story, which, as the reader knows it already,
we shall not repeat.
Miss Bridget had always exprest so great a regard for what the ladies
are pleased to call virtue, and had herself maintained such a severity
of character, that it was expected, especially by Wilkins, that she
would have vented much bitterness on this occasion, and would have
voted for sending the child, as a kind of noxious animal, immediately
out of the house; but, on the contrary, she rather took the
good-natured side of the question, intimated some compassion for the
helpless little creature, and commended her brother's charity in what
he had done.