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The Old Manor House:

CHAPTER XIV.

Orlando, on his entering the servants’ hall, found Betty waiting for him as she had promised. Lord, Sir, cried she as soon as he appeared, I thoft as you’d never come! Why it’s almost half past one o’clock, and I be frighted out of my seven senses sitting up so all alone. I beg your pardon, dear Betty! replied he; but I could not get away sooner; I’ll never detain you so long again; and now suffer me to make you what amends I can, by desiring your acceptance of this. He presented her with a crown, which she looked at a moment, and then, archly leering at him, said, Humph! if you give folks a crown for sitting up for you in the kitchen, I suppose they as bides with you in your study have double price.

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Come, come, Betty, said Orlando, impatient to escape from her troublesome enquiries, let me hear no more of such nonsense. I have nobody ever in my study, as you know very well. It is very late—I wish you a good night.

He then, without attending to her farther, as she seemed still disposed to talk, took his candle and went to his own apartment; where, after waiting about a quarter of an hour, till he thought her retired and the whole house quiet, he took his way to the turret.

Monimia had long expected him, and now received him with joy chastised by the fear which she felt on enquiring into the events of the day. Orlando related to her all that he thought would give her pleasure, and endeavoured that she should under­stand the affair of the next day settled, for he would not violate truth by positively asserting it; and Monimia, apprehensive of teasing him by her enquiries, stifled as much as she could the pain she endured from this uncertainty. This she found it better to do, as she observed Orlando to be restless and dissatisfied: he complained of the misery he underwent in his frequent absences, and of the unworthy excuses he was compelled to make. He expressed impatiently the long unhappiness he had in prospect, if he could never see her but thus clandestinely, and risking every moment her fame and her peace. Monimia, however, soothed him, by bidding him remember how lately it was that they both thought themselves too happy to meet upon any terms; and would very fain have inspired him with hopes that they might soon look forward to fairer prospects, hopes which he had often tried to give her. But, alas! she could not communicate what she did not feel; and which ever way they cast their eyes, all was despair as to their 164 ever being united with the consent of those friends on whom they were totally dependent.

Orlando, most solicitous for the peace of Monimia, had never been betrayed before into these murmurings in her presence; forgetting the threatening aspect of the future, while he enjoyed the happiness that was present. But all that had passed during the day, had assisted in making him discontented. His mother’s tears and distress, the tender fears of his sisters, and the less evident, but more heavy anxiety which he saw oppressed his father, all contributed to convince him that, in being of so much consequence to his family, he lost the privilege of pleasing himself; that his duty and his inclination must be for ever at variance; and that, if he could resign the hopes of being settled in affluence by Mrs. Rayland, he still could not marry Monimia without making his family unhappy—unless indeed he had the means of providing for her, of which at present there appeared not the least probability. Mrs. Rayland seemed likely to live for many years; or, if she died, it was very uncertain whether she would give him more than a trifling legacy. When he reflected on his situation, he became ashamed of thus spending his life, of wasting the best of his days in the hope of that which might never happen; while Monimia, almost a prisoner in her little apartment, passed the day in servitude, and divided the night between uneasy expectation, hazardous conference, and fruitless tears.

It was these thoughts that gave to Orlando that air of impatience and anxiety, which even in the presence of Monimia he could not so far conquer but that she observed it, before he broke through the restraint he had hitherto imposed on himself, and indulged those fears which he had so often entreated her to check.

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At length, however, the hope she affected to feel, the charm of finding himself so fondly beloved, and that his Monimia was prepared to meet any destiny with him, restored him to that temper which he was in when he proposed to brave the discovery of their attachment. With difficulty she persuaded him to leave her about three o’clock. He glided softly down stairs; and when he came out of the lower room of the turret, he found the night so very dark that he could not see his hand. He knew the way, however, so well, that he walked slowly but fearlessly on, and had nearly reached the chapel-door when he found his feet suddenly entangled; and before he could either disengage himself or discover what it was that thus impeded his way, somebody ran against him, whom he seized, and loudly demanded to know who it was.

And who are you? replied a deep surly voice: let me go, or it shall be the worst day’s work you. ever did in your life.

Orlando, now convinced that he had taken the fellow who had so insolently intruded upon him, and so cruelly alarmed Monimia, felt himself provoked to punish him for his past insolence, and deter him from repeating it: he therefore firmly grasped his prisoner, who seemed a very stout fellow, and who struggled violently for his release—so violently indeed that Orlando, exerting all his strength, threw him down; but, in doing so, the rope which he had at first trod upon being in the way, he fell also: still however he held his antagonist fast, and, kneeling upon him, said resolutely, Whoever you are, I will detain you here till day-light, unless you instantly tell me your name and business.

Curse your strength! replied the fallen foe: if 166 I was not a little boozy, I’d be d—d before you should have the better of me.

Who are you? again repeated Orlando.

Why, who the plague should I be, cried the man, but Jonas Wilkins;—Ah! Master Orlando, I knows you too now well enough—Come, Sir, let a body go: I know you’d scorn to do a poor man no harm.

Jonas Wilkins! exclaimed Orlando, who knew that to be the name of an outlawed smuggler, famous for his resolution, and the fears in which he was held by the custom-house officers—Jonas Wilkins! And pray, enquired Orlando releasing him, what may have brought you here, Mr. Jonas Wilkins?

Why, I’ll tell you, replied the fellow, for I knows you to be a kind-hearted gentleman, and won’t hurt me. The truth of the matter then is—The butler of this here house, Master Pattenson, is engaged a little matter in our business! and when we gets a cargo, he stows it in Madam’s cellars, which lays along-side the house, and he have the means to open that door there in the wall, under that there old fig-tree, which nobody knows nothing about. So here we brings our goods until such time as we can carry it safely up the country, and we comes on dark nights to take it away.

And you were here on Monday night, were you not? and came into my room through the chapel?

Yes, that I did sure enough. Aha! Master Orlando! I think we’ve cotch’d one another.

If that be the case, replied Orlando, it would have been well if we had kept one another’s secrets. Why did you speak of having seen one in my room?

Egod, old Pattenson was down in the cellar himself, for we were helping up some heavy goods that night: I don’t know what a devil ail’d me, but I 167 thought I’d just give a look into your room, where, you must know, before you corned to live, we used now and then to put a few kegs or so upon a pinch—and, d—n it! there was you with a pretty girl. Ah, Master Orlando! who’d think you was such a sly one?

Well, but, said Orlando, what occasion was there, Jonas, for your telling Pattenson?

To tease the old son of a b—, answered Jonas. Why don’t you know that he’s after Betty Richards, and as jealous as poison? So I made him believe ’twas she.

You made him believe!

Aye, for it might be she or another—Curse me if I saw who it was? for you blow’d out the candle, whisk! in a minute.

Orlando, heartily glad to hear this, pursued his enquiry farther. Pray, resumed he, tell me why some person a little while after cried out, Now! now!

Why, we thought that all was quiet; and as I and a comrade of mine was waiting for the goods, we were going to heave them up, and that was the signal—but you were plaguy quick-eared, and began to holla after us! so we were forced to let the job alone till to-night, and Pattenson let us out through the t’other part of the house. We’ve done the business now, and my comrades they be all off with the goods—I only staid to gather up our tools, because I be going another way.

Orlando, now finding himself thus unexpectedly relieved from the difficulty of accounting for the circumstance of the night of alarm, was far from resenting the resistance his new acquaintance had made, or heeding the pain he felt from some bruises which he had received in the struggle; but being rather pleased at this rencontre, and wishing to 168 know how far the trade of the worshipful Mr. Pattenson was likely to impede his future meetings with Monimia, he invited Jonas into his room, and told him he could give him, late as it was, a glass of wine.

Jonas accepted his invitation, but desired he might stay to coil up his ropes, which he deposited in the porch, and then followed Orlando, who had taken his hanger from the chimney where it usually hung, and put his pistols, which were both loaded, by him. These precautions were not meant against his guest, whom he did not suspect of any immediate intention to injure him, but to let him see that he was prepared against intrusion, from whatever motive it might be made, at any other time.

When the man made his appearance, Orlando, prepared as he was for the sight of a ruffian, felt something like horror. His dark countenance, shaded by two immense black eyebrows, his shaggy hair and the fierce and wild expression of his eyes, gave a complete idea of one of Shakespeare’s well-painted assassins; while in contemplating his athletic form, Orlando wondered how he had been able a moment to detain him. He wore a dirty round frock stained with ochre, which looked like blood, and over it one of those thick great coats which the vulgar call rascal-wrappers. Orlando poured him out a tumbler of wine, and bade him sit down. The fellow obeyed, drank off his wine; and then, after surveying the room, said, turning with a sly look to Orlando, What, master, she ben’t here then to-night?

Pooh, pooh! cried Orlando, let’s forget that, good Jonas!—your eyes deceived you, there was nobody here: and I assure you it was well you disappeared as you did, or you would have paid for your peeping, shewing one of his pistols.

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Aye, aye, answered Jonas, you’ve got a pair of bull-dogs, I see!—and I, added he, pulling a pocket-pistol from under his frock, I’ve a terrier or two about me; and ’twas ten to one, Mr. Orlando, if I had not a given a pretty good guess who it was, that I had not taken you for an officer, and treated you with more sugar plums than would have sat easy upon your stomach.

We are good friends now, however, said Orlando; so drink, Jonas, to our better acquaintance.

He then gave him another full tumbler of wine, and began to question him on his exploits. He found him one of those daring and desperate men, who, knowing they are to expect no mercy, disclaim all hope, and resolutely prey upon the society which has shaken them off. He had been drinking before Orlando met him; and now the wine with which Orlando plied him, and the voice of kindness with which he spoke to him, contributed to open his heart. Jonas disclosed to Orlando all their manœuvres; and it was not without astonishment that he found both Snelcraft the coachman and Pattenson so deeply engaged among the smugglers, and deriving very considerable sums from the shelter they afforded them, and the participation of their illicit gains. Orlando found, that during the whole winter, in weather when no other vessels kept the sea, these adventurous men pursued their voyages, and carried their cargoes through the country in weather when “one’s enemy’s dog” would hardly be turned from the door.

Orlando, after some consideration on the means of escaping that interruption which this combination among the servants in the house seemed to threaten, told the man, as if in confidence, that under the restraint he was in, in Mrs. Rayland’s house, he sometimes found it convenient to go out after the 170 family were in bed, to meet at a neighbouring town some friends whom Mrs. Rayland disliked he should see: and therefore, said he, I wish, Jonas, that, as I should not wish to interrupt you, you would give me some signal on those nights when you are at work in the cellar.

This the smuggler readily promised, and they agreed upon the sign which should signify the importation or exportation of the merchandise of Mr. Pattenson from the cellars of his mistress.

Orlando, possessing this secret, flattered himself that his very extraordinary acquaintance would keep his word, and that the communication between the study and the apartment of Monimia might once more be open, without making her liable to those terrors from which she had suffered so much.

The man, whom Orlando continued to behold with a mixture of horror and pity, was now nearly overcome with the wine he had drank, and began to tell long prosing stories of his escapes and his exploits, in which he related instances of dauntless courage, tarnished however by brutish ferocity. At length Orlando reminded him that day was soon approaching, and saw him out of the chapel-door, repeating his assurances that nothing of what he had himself that night discovered should transpire. Orlando then fastened the chapel and the other doors, and betook himself to his repose—thinking less about the meeting that was to take place, as he believed, on the morrow, than on the recent discovery he had made, which nearly quieted his terrors in regard to Monimia’s having been seen; and he impatiently longed for an opportunity to communicate to her the satisfaction which he hoped she would derive from this assurance.

The late hour at which he had gone to bed, and the fatigue of mind he had experienced the preceding 171 day, occasioned it to be later than usual when Orlando awoke. He started up; and recollecting that he had some writing to finish for Mrs. Rayland, and that he was to meet Sir John Belgrave at twelve o’clock, he hastened to dress himself, and had hardly done so before he received a summons to attend his father, who waited for him as usual in the stable-yard.

He found Mr. Somerive again on horseback, and easily understood that his purpose was to keep him from his appointment, to which however he was positively determined to go. While his father, in a peculiar strain of dejection and concern, was yet talking to him as he leaned on the horse, Mrs. Lennard saw them from one of the windows; and having acquainted her lady, she, contrary to her usual reserved treatment of Mr. Somerive, sent down a very civil message requesting his company with Orlando to breakfast.

This invitation, so flattering because so unusual, was of course accepted. Somerive knew that Mrs. Rayland was acquainted with the affair which hung over him with an aspect so threatening, and hoped that she would unite with him in persuading Orlando to those concessions which might yet afford the means of evading it, if the General’s interposition should fail: instead of which, he found her elated with the idea of punishing the audacity of Sir John, fearless of any danger which in the attempt might happen to Orlando, and piquing herself on the supposition that in him had revived a spark of that martial and dauntless spirit which she had been taught to believe characterised the men of her family. She seemed surprised, and somewhat offended, at the alarm Mr. Somerive expressed; and hinted, in no very equivocal terms, that this timidity was the effect of that mixture of 172 plebeian blood, from the alloy of which only Orlando, of all the family, seemed exempt; while Mr. Somerive, in his turn, beheld, with a degree of horror and disgust, a woman who, to gratify her pride or revenge her quarrel, on so trifling a subject, was ready to promote perhaps the death of one for whom she had appeared to feel some degree of affection.

With views and opinions so different, their conference was not likely to be either very long or very satisfactory. Mr. Somerive knew, that when Mrs. Rayland had once taken up an opinion, argument against it offended, but never convinced her; and that in proportion as her reasoning was feeble, her resolution was firm. Thus baffled in his hopes of her effectual interposition, and seeing that Orlando was bent upon keeping his appointment, of which the hour was now at hand, Mr. Somerive sat awhile silent, mortified and wretched—hoping, yet fearing, for the success of the General’s interposition, and considering what he should do if it failed.

He had just determined to obtain a warrant immediately, and to put both parties under arrest, when a servant brought to him the following letter:

MY DEAR SIR,

I am now with Sir John Belgrave; and as I know the very natural and tender solicitude which you and your amiable family are under, I lose not a moment in doing myself the pleasure to assure you, that Sir John consents to give the matter up, and that without any concessions from your son that may be derogatory to his honour. If Sir John allows me to say that he is sorry for what has passed, it can surely not be too much for Mr. Orlando to make to him the same concession. I have great satisfaction in communicating to you the 173 success of my sincere endeavours to be serviceable, and have the honour to be,

My dear Sir,

Your most devoted servant,

CHARLES FERDINAND TRACY.

Mr. Somerive read this billet with a beating heart, apprehensive that the interposition of Mrs. Rayland would prevent Orlando from making even the slight apology which General Tracy dictated; and seeing him restless, and meditating how to escape, he hastily bade Mrs. Rayland good morning; and ordering, in a more peremptory voice than he generally assumed, Orlando to follow him, he left the room; and, as soon as he was alone with his son, put into his hands the letter he had received, at the same time telling him that he must be obeyed in the command he laid upon him, to make immediately the concession required.

Orlando, convinced that he ought to do so, after the appeal he had himself consented to make to the General, assured his father of his obedience. They found, on enquiry, that General Tracy’s servant had been sent first to West Wolverton; from whence Mrs. Somerive had, in the most terrifying state of suspense, hastened him to Rayland Hall, where he now waited. Orlando therefore attended his father into his own room; where being furnished with pen and ink, Mr. Somerive wrote to the General in those terms that appeared requisite, and to which Orlando did not object. The letter was then instantly dispatched by the servant: and thus ended an affair which had so much disturbed the peace of the Somerive family, and threatened consequences still more painful. Somerive now ordered his son to return to Mrs. Rayland, shew her the General’s letter, and inform her that the business 174 was ended as much to his honour, as her highest notions of what was due to a descendant of Sir Hildebrand (whose blood was less alloyed than that of the rest of his family) could exact. Somerive said this with some degree of asperity; for, though pleased with the partiality of Mrs. Rayland for Orlando, he could not but feel the contempt she expressed towards himself. He told Orlando he expected him to dinner, and then returned home; his mind relieved from an intolerable load, and his heart swelling with gratitude towards his excellent friend General Tracy.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XIV

Orlando, on his entering the servants’ hall,
missing comma after “hall,” supplied from 2nd edition

Why, who the plague should I be, cried the man, but Jonas Wilkins
[Tonight on Britain’s Dumbest Crooks . . .]

The truth of the matter then is
[Orlando, like Mrs. Lennard, would not dream of trying to get the butler into trouble, no matter how questionable his behavior. But how does Jonas know that Orlando won’t blab?]

through the t’other part of the house
text unchanged
[We’ll be charitable and call it Double Markedness. The 2nd edition has the same.]

had taken his hanger from the chimney where it usually hung
[Hence the name “hanger”. (Not really. It’s called a “hanger” because it typically hangs at your side, like a sword, instead of being tucked away somewhere, like a pocket knife.)]


On the following morning Orlando received an early summons from his father


Every one of the party who met at dinner were ready to worship the General

The Old Manor House:
Introduction and Contents

 

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.