The gentleman who now arrived was no other than Mr Western. He no
sooner saw Allworthy, than, without considering in the least the
presence of Mrs Waters, he began to vociferate in the following
manner: "Fine doings at my house! A rare kettle of fish I have
discovered at last! who the devil would be plagued with a daughter?"
"What's the matter, neighbour?" said Allworthy. "Matter enough,"
answered Western: "when I thought she was just a coming to; nay, when
she had in a manner promised me to do as I would ha her, and when I
was a hoped to have had nothing more to do than to have sent for the
lawyer, and finished all; what do you think I have found out? that the
little b-- hath bin playing tricks with me all the while, and carrying
on a correspondence with that bastard of yours. Sister Western, whom I
have quarrelled with upon her account, sent me word o't, and I ordered
her pockets to be searched when she was asleep, and here I have got un
signed with the son of a whore's own name. I have not had patience to
read half o't, for 'tis longer than one of parson Supple's sermons;
but I find plainly it is all about love; and indeed what should it be
else? I have packed her up in chamber again, and to-morrow morning
down she goes into the country, unless she consents to be married
directly, and there she shall live in a garret upon bread and water
all her days; and the sooner such a b-- breaks her heart the better,
though, d--n her, that I believe is too tough. She will live long
enough to plague me." "Mr Western," answered Allworthy, "you know I
have always protested against force, and you yourself consented that
none should be used." "Ay," cries he, "that was only upon condition
that she would consent without. What the devil and doctor Faustus!
shan't I do what I will with my own daughter, especially when I desire
nothing but her own good?" "Well, neighbour," answered Allworthy, "if
you will give me leave, I will undertake once to argue with the young
lady." "Will you?" said Western; "why that is kind now, and
neighbourly, and mayhap you will do more than I have been able to do
with her; for I promise you she hath a very good opinion of you."
"Well, sir," said Allworthy, "if you will go home, and release the
young lady from her captivity, I will wait upon her within this
half-hour." "But suppose," said Western, "she should run away with un
in the meantime? For lawyer Dowling tells me there is no hopes of
hanging the fellow at last; for that the man is alive, and like to do
well, and that he thinks Jones will be out of prison again presently."
"How!" said Allworthy; "what, did you employ him then to enquire or to
do anything in that matter?" "Not I," answered Western, "he mentioned
it to me just now of his own accord." "Just now!" cries Allworthy,
"why, where did you see him then? I want much to see Mr Dowling."
"Why, you may see un an you will presently at my lodgings; for there
is to be a meeting of lawyers there this morning about a mortgage.
'Icod! I shall lose two or dree thousand pounds, I believe, by that
honest gentleman, Mr Nightingale." "Well, sir," said Allworthy, "I
will be with you within the half-hour." "And do for once," cries the
squire, "take a fool's advice; never think of dealing with her by
gentle methods, take my word for it those will never do. I have tried
'um long enough. She must be frightened into it, there is no other
way. Tell her I'm her father; and of the horrid sin of disobedience,
and of the dreadful punishment of it in t'other world, and then tell
her about being locked up all her life in a garret in this, and being
kept only on bread and water." "I will do all I can," said Allworthy;
"for I promise you there is nothing I wish for more than an alliance
with this amiable creature." "Nay, the girl is well enough for matter
o' that," cries the squire; "a man may go farther and meet with worse
meat; that I may declare o'her, thof she be my own daughter. And if
she will but be obedient to me, there is narrow a father within a
hundred miles o' the place, that loves a daughter better than I do;
but I see you are busy with the lady here, so I will go huome and
expect you; and so your humble servant."