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Chapter 31

The two young Gentlemen display their talents for Gallantry, in the course of which they are involved in a ludicrous circumstance of Distress, and afterwards take Vengeance on the Author of their Mishap.

Meanwhile our hero and his new friend, together with honest Jack Hatchway, made daily excursions into the country, visited the gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and frequently accompanied them to the chase; all three being exceedingly caressed on account of their talents, which could accommodate themselves with great facility to the tempers and turns of their entertainers. The lieutenant was a droll in his way, Peregrine possessed a great fund of sprightliness and good-humour, and Godfrey, among his other qualifications already recited, sang a most excellent song; so that the company of this triumvirate was courted in all parties, whether male or female: and if the hearts of our young gentlemen had not been pre-engaged, they would have met with opportunities in abundance of displaying their address in the art of love: not but that they gave loose to their gallantry without much interesting their affections, and amused themselves with little intrigues, which, in the opinion of a man of pleasure, do not affect his fidelity to the acknowledged sovereign of his soul.

In the midst of these amusements, our hero received an intimation from his sister, that she should be overjoyed to meet him next day, at five o’clock in the afternoon, at the house of her nurse, who lived in a cottage hard by her father’s habitation, she being debarred from all opportunity of seeing him in any other place by the severity of her mother, who suspected her inclination. He accordingly obeyed the summons, and went at the time appointed to the place of rendezvous, where be met this affectionate young lady, who when he entered the room, ran towards him with all the eagerness of transport, flung her arms about his neck, and shed a flood of tears in his bosom before she could utter one word, except a repetition of My dear, dear brother! He embraced her with all the piety of fraternal tenderness, wept over her in his turn, assured her that this was one of the happiest moments of his life, and kindly thanked her for having resisted the example, and disobeyed. the injunctions, of his mother’s unnatural aversion.

He was ravished to find, by her conversation, that she possessed a great share of sensibility and prudent reflection; for she lamented the infatuation of her parents with the most filial regret, and expressed such abhorrence and concern at the villainous disposition of her younger brother as a humane sister may be supposed to have entertained. He made her acquainted with all the circumstances of his own fortune; and, as he supposed she spent her time very disagreeably at home, among characters which must be shockingly interesting, professed a desire of removing her into some other sphere, where she could live with more tranquility and satisfaction.

She objected to this proposal as an expedient that would infallibly subject her to the implacable resentment of her mother, whose favour and affection she at present enjoyed but in a very inconsiderable degree; and they had canvassed divers schemes of corresponding for the future, when the voice of Mrs. Pickle was heard at the door. Miss Julia (that was the young lady’s name), finding herself betrayed, was seized with a violent agitation of fear; and Peregrine scarce had time to encourage her with a promise of protection, before the door of the apartment being flung open, this irreconcilable parent rushed in, and, with a furious aspect, flew directly at her trembling daughter, when, the son interposing, received the first discharge of her fury.

Her eyes gleamed with all the rage of indignation, which choked up her utterance, and seemed to convulse her whole frame: she twisted her left hand in his hair, and with the other buffeted him about the face till the blood gushed from his nostrils and mouth; while he defended his sister from the cruelty of Gam, who assaulted her from another quarter, seeing his brother engaged. This attack lasted several minutes with great violence, till at length Peregrine, finding himself in danger of being overpowered if he should remain any longer on the defensive, laid his brother on his back; then he disentangled his mother’s hand from his own hair, and, having pushed her gently out of the room, bolted the door on the inside; finally, turning to Gam, he threw him out at the window, among a parcel of hogs that fed under it. By this time Julia was almost quite distracted with terror: she knew she bad offended beyond all hope of forgiveness, and from that moment considered herself as an exile from her father’s house: in vain did her brother strive to console her with fresh protestations of love and protection; she counted herself extremely miserable in being obliged to endure the eternal resentment of a parent with whom she had hitherto lived; and dreaded the censure of the world, which, from her mother’s misrepresentation, she was sensible would condemn her unheard. That she might not, however, neglect any means in her power of averting this storm, she resolved to appease, if possible, her mother’s wrath with humiliation, and even appeal to the influence of her father, weak as it was, before she would despair of being forgiven. But the good lady spared her this unnecessary application, by telling her, through the keyhole, that she must never expect to come within her father’s door again; for, from that hour, she renounced her as unworthy of her affection and regard. Julia, weeping bitterly, endeavoured to soften the rigour of this sentence by the most submi............

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