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Part 2 Chapter 9

More Greatness in Wild. A Low Scene Between Mrs. Heartfree and Her Children, and a Scheme of Our Hero Worthy the Highest Admiration, and Even Astonishment.

When first Wild conducted his flame (or rather his dish, to continue our metaphor) from the proprietor, he had projected a design of conveying her to one of those eating-houses in Covent-garden, where female flesh is deliciously drest and served up to the greedy appetites of young gentlemen; but, fearing lest she should not come readily enough into his wishes, and that, by too eager and hasty a pursuit, he should frustrate his future expectations, and luckily at the same time a noble hint suggesting itself to him, by which he might almost inevitably secure his pleasure, together with his profit, he contented himself with waiting on Mrs. Heartfree home, and, after many protestations of friendship and service to her husband, took his leave, and promised to visit her early in the morning, and to conduct her back to Mr. Snap’s.

Wild now retired to a night-cellar, where he found several of his acquaintance, with whom he spent the remaining part of the night in revelling; nor did the least compassion for Heartfree’s misfortunes disturb the pleasure of his cups. So truly great was his soul that it was absolutely composed, save that an apprehension of Miss Tishy’s making some discovery (as she was then in no good temper towards him) a little ruffled and disquieted the perfect serenity he would otherwise have enjoyed. As he had, therefore, no opportunity of seeing her that evening, he wrote her a letter full of ten thousand protestations of honourable love, and (which he more depended on) containing as many promises, in order to bring the young lady into good humour, without acquainting her in the least with his suspicion, or giving her any caution; for it was his constant maxim never to put it into any one’s head to do you a mischief by acquainting him that it is in his power.

We must now return to Mrs. Heartfree, who past a sleepless night in as great agonies and horror for the absence of her husband as a fine well-bred woman would feel at the return of hers from a long voyage or journey. In the morning the children being brought to her, the eldest asked where dear papa was? At which she could not refrain from bursting into tears. The child, perceiving it, said,

“Don’t cry, mamma; I am sure papa would not stay abroad if he could help it.” At these words she caught the child in her arms, and, throwing herself into the chair in an agony of passion, cried out,

“No, my child; nor shall all the malice of hell keep us long asunder.”

These are circumstances which we should not, for the amusement of six or seven readers only, have inserted, had they not served to shew that there are weaknesses in vulgar life to which great minds are so entirely strangers that they have not even an idea of them; and, secondly, by exposing the folly of this low creature, to set off and elevate that greatness of which we endeavour to draw a true portrait in this history.

Wild, entering the room, found the mother with one child in her arms, and the other at her knee. After paying her his compliments,............

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