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Part 3 Chapter 1

The Low and Pitiful Behaviour of Heartfree; and the Foolish Conduct of His Apprentice.

His misfortunes did not entirely prevent Heartfree from closing his eyes. On the contrary, he slept several hours the first night of his confinement. However, he perhaps paid too severely dear both for his repose and for a sweet dream which accompanied it, and represented his little family in one of those tender scenes which had frequently passed in the days of his happiness and prosperity, when the provision they were making for the future fortunes of their children used to be one of the most agreeable topics of discourse with which he and his wife entertained themselves. The pleasantness of this vision, therefore, served only, on his awaking, to set forth his present misery with additional horror, and to heighten the dreadful ideas which now crowded on his mind.

He had spent a considerable time after his first rising from the bed on which he had, without undressing, thrown himself, and now began to wonder at Mrs. Heartfree’s long absence; but as the mind is desirous (and perhaps wisely too) to comfort itself with drawing the most flattering conclusions from all events, so he hoped the longer her stay was the more certain was his deliverance. At length his impatience prevailed, and he was just going to despatch a messenger to his own house when his apprentice came to pay him a visit, and on his enquiry informed him that his wife had departed in company with Mr. Wild many hours before, and had carried all his most valuable effects with her; adding at the same time that she had herself positively acquainted him she had her husband’s express orders for so doing, and that she was gone to Holland.

It is the observation of many wise men, who have studied the anatomy of the human soul with more attention than our young physicians generally bestow on that of the body, that great and violent surprize hath a different effect from that which is wrought in a good housewife by perceiving any disorders in her kitchen; who, on such occasions, commonly spreads the disorder, not only over her whole family, but over the whole neighbourhood. — Now, these great calamities, especially when sudden, tend to stifle and deaden all the faculties, instead of rousing them; and accordingly Herodotus tells us a story of Croesus king of Lydia, who, on beholding his servants and courtiers led captive, wept bitterly, but, when he saw his wife and children in that condition, stood stupid and motionless; so stood poor Heartfree on this relation of his apprentice, nothing moving but his colour, which entirely forsook his countenance.

The apprentice, who had not in the least doubted the veracity of his mistress, perceiving the surprize which too visibly appeared in his master, became speechless likewise, and both remained silent some mi............

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