On his return home, Orlando related to his wife his extraordinary meeting with Warwick: and though he expressed great delight in knowing that his sister was living and well, he could not but feel concern for the situation in which he found her. He knew not whether Warwick did not, notwithstanding his apparent gaiety and carelessness, repent him of his precipitate marriage; and he feared, that, by a man of so volatile a temper, the evils of narrow circumstances would not be softened to Isabella.
He hastened to her the next morning, and she 319 received him with blended emotions of joy and distress particularly affecting. It was not till some time after Warwick left them together, that Isabella had courage to ask the circumstances of her father’s death: yet she was consoled by hearing, that her elopement did not appear to have hastened it. Orlando then entreated her to determine on seeing her mother immediately, and she left it to him to manage it as he would. He embraced her two lovely children with affection, and could not behold them, without representing to her how necessary it was to think of some means to reconcile Warwick to General Tracy.
Isabella answered, that they had come to London with that intention; but that Warwick’s pride and his uncle’s having certainly made a will in favour of his brother’s son, had combined to throw difficulties in the way of a reconciliation; and she now despaired of Warwick’s pursuing his hopes of it, or of their being crowned with success if he did.—His change of name, she said, had been made partly to avoid his creditors, who now believed him dead, till he could find means of paying them! and partly that General Tracy might not be informed of his being in London, till he could know whether there was a likelihood of his being forgiven. The vivacity of Isabella seemed subdued, but she was not dejected; and after she had wept over the account of her father’s death, her brother’s misconduct, and the dispersion of her family, she recovered some degree of cheerfulness, and seemed to prepare herself for an interview with her mother with more resolution than, from all that had happened, Orlando thought it possible for her to assume.
This formidable meeting was fixed for the next day; and when Orlando left his sister, he began to 320 consider if he might not, at the same time, acknowledge his own marriage, and put an end, at once, to the state of uneasiness, and consciousness of violated integrity which he now was in.
When he rapped at his own door, he was told by the maid who opened it, that the porter whom he saw in the passage had been waiting for him some time with a letter, which he was directed to deliver into no hands but his own. He opened it with precipitation, and found these words written in a hand hardly legible:
“If my having left you so long ignorant of what is become of me, has not entirely estranged you from me—come to me at the place the bearer will shew you, and perhaps it will be the last trouble you will ever receive from
Orlando, shocked and surprised, inquired of the man, who stood by, where he had left the gentleman who sent him? the man replied, that he had orders not to answer, but to shew him the way:—that the gentleman was ill in bed, and given over by the doctor. Still more alarmed by this account, he bade the man wait a moment while he went up to speak to Monimia, in order to account for his being so much longer absent, and then hastened with his conductor to an obscure street leading from the Strand to Covent Garden; where, in an attic room, very dirty and very ill furnished, Orlando found his unhappy brother, in an illness which seemed to be the last stage of a rapid decline, brought on by debauchery and excess.
It might give too tragical colouring to the conclusion 321 of this narrative, were the scenes of some days to be minutely described—it may therefore suffice to state, that Orlando could not conceal from his mother the situation of her eldest son, who conscious of his approaching end, and conscious too of all his offences towards her, implored her pity and forgiveness. In his repentance, however late, his mother forgot his errors, and as solicitously tried to save him as if he had never offended her.—With difficulty he was removed to her own house, where she constantly attended him, with Orlando, and where there were, for some days, hopes of his recovery. It was in this interval that Orlando, who could not bear to be so constantly separated from Monimia, and whose heart continually reproached him with the deception he was guilty of towards his mother, concerted with Selina the means of declaring both his marriage, and the return of Isabella to London. Mrs. Somerive, on the point of losing one of her children, embraced, with transport, the daughter she had so long believed lost; and though she trembled for the consequence of Orlando’s marriage, when there seemed so little probability of his finding a support for a family, she acknowledged that Monimia, of whom she soon became passionately fond, was an apology for his indiscretion. With the tenderest assiduity, Monimia shared the fatigue of attending on the dying brother of her husband; and in despite of the remonstrances and displeasure of Mr. Woodford, who did all he could to irritate his sister against Orlando, and who mingled the pecuniary favours which she was obliged to owe him, with admonitions and reproaches that destroyed all their value, Mrs. Somerive not only forgave Orlando, but seemed to love him more fondly than ever. That cruel want of money, which too often divides families, and estranges even the child from the parent, 322 served only to unite this family more closely. The pride of Warwick alone kept him at a greater distance than the rest; and unable, under his present circumstances, to appear as he once did, he could not bear to appear at all before those, who had once seen him so differently situated. He avoided therefore going to the house, when he thought there was a probability of his meeting any of the Woodford family; none of them indeed but Woodford himself were very likely to be there; but from him Warwick would have flown with more apprehension than from the rest, not only on account of his coarse jokes, but because of his connection with General Tracy.
But Isabella, though equally desirous of escaping the unfeeling raillery or cold remonstrance of her uncle, was, without meeting him, constantly with her family, and was, with Monimia and Selina, the support of the unhappy Mrs. Somerive, when, after lingering about a fortnight after his removal, her eldest son expired in the arms of Orlando.
There is a degree of folly, and of vice, which gradually dissolves the tenderest affections, weans the friend from the beloved companion of youth, and renders the ties of blood the most galling and insupportable chains. To this point of irreclaimable misconduct Philip Somerive had long since arrived. He had too plainly evinced, that to his own selfish gratifications he would always sacrifice the welfare, and even the subsistence of his family; yet, in his repentance on the bed of pain and languor, his mother forgot and forgave all she had suffered from him; and when he died, she wept for him as the child of her early affection, whose birth and infancy had once formed her greatest felicity. In shedding tears over an object once so beloved by her husband, she seemed a second time to have 323 him; and the first subject to which she attended was to have his remains deposited with those of his father, in the family vault at West Wolverton.
In this Orlando determined that she should at all events be gratified, whatever inconvenience might, in their present narrow circumstances, arise from the expense; he gave therefore directions accordingly; when he found that Mr. Woodford took upon him to oppose this wish of his mother, in a way so rude and savage, that after very high words had passed between him and his uncle (in which Woodford reproached Orlando with all the pecuniary favours he had bestowed upon his family, and ridiculed his beggarly marriage), Orlando at the last part of his conversation entirely lost his temper, and desired the unfeeling man of consequence to leave the house.
He had then the additional difficulty of concealing this disagreement from his mother, and of finding the means to supply that deficiency which this cruelty of his uncle would create. The little sum left of his commission, after paying some late expenses of his brother’s and for his own lodgings, was reduced within thirty pounds, in which consisted his whole fortune. His uncle, who had till now contributed yearly to the support of his mother and his sisters, now protested that he would do no more. From his eldest sister married in Ireland, who had a family of her own, very trifling assistance only could be expected; and Warwick could not provide for his own family. Thus Orlando saw, that on an income of hardly an hundred a year, his mother and his two unmarried sisters were to live; and that Monimia and her family, whom he could not think of suffering to be any additional burthen to them, could have no other dependence than on his exertions; yet into what way of life to enter, or where to seek the means of providing for them, he knew not.324
Sad were his reflections on the past, on the present, and on the future, when he set out with the melancholy procession that was to convey the remains of his deceased brother to the last abode of the Somerive family; and little was the correspondence between his internal feelings and the beauty of the season, which gave peculiar charms to the country through which he passed. The tears of the family he had left, of which Monimia was during his absence to be a part, seemed to have deprived him of the power of shedding a tear; but with eyes that gloomily surveyed the objects around him, without knowing what he saw, he reached at the close of the second day’s journey West Wolverton; and at a little alehouse, the only one in the village, the funeral stopped that night, while Orlando went out alone to direct what yet remained of the necessary preparations.
It was a beautiful still evening, towards the end of May; but the senses of the unhappy Orlando were shut to all the pleasures external objects could bestow. When he had visited the church, and spoken to the curate, he walked back towards the house once his father’s. The grass was grown in the court, and half the windows were bricked up; the greater part of the shrubs in the garden were cut; and the gates out of repair and broken. All wore an appearance of change and of desolation, even more deplorable, in the opinion of Orlando, than the spruce alterations, and air of new-born prosperity, which, on his former visit, he had remarked as the effect of Mr. Stockton’s purchase.
Pain, and even horrors, were grown familiar to Orlando: and he seemed to have a gloomy satisfaction in the indulgence of his melancholy. He opened, therefore, the half fallen gate, that led from a sort of lawn, that surrounded the house, to the 325 shrubbery and pleasure ground, and entered the walk which he had so often traversed with his father, and where he had taken his last leave of him on his departure for America. The moon, not yet at its full, shed a faint light on every object; he looked along a sort of vista of shrubs, which seemed to have been left merely because they were not yet wanted as firing; and the moon-light, at the end of this dark avenue of cypress and gloomy evergreens, seemed partially to illuminate the walk, only to shew him the spectre of departed happiness. He remembered with what pleasure his father used to watch the growth of these trees, which he had planted himself; and with what satisfaction he was accustomed to consider them, as improving for Philip. Sad reverse! The father, who thus fondly planned future schemes of felicity for his son, long since mouldered in the grave, whither that son himself, after having been but too accessary to the premature death of this fond parent, was now, in the bloom of life, precipitated by his own headlong folly.
A temper so sanguine as that of Orlando, possesses also that sensibility which arms with redoubled poignancy the shafts of affliction and disappointment. He felt, with cruel acuteness, all the calamities which a few short years had brought upon his family: all their hopes blasted—their fortune gone—their name almost forgotten in the country—and strangers possessing their habitations. He now remembered that he used to think, that, were he once blessed with Monimia, every other circumstance of life would be to him indifferent; yet she was now his—she was more beloved, as his wife, than she had ever been as his mistress; and the sweetness of her temper, the excellence of her heart, the clearness of her understanding, and her tender attachment to him rendered her infinitely dearer to 326 him than that beauty which had first attracted his early love. But far from being rendered indifferent to every other circumstance, he felt that much of his present concern arose from the impossibility he found of sheltering his adored creature from the evils of indigence; and that the romantic theory, of sacrificing every consideration to love, produced, in the practice, only the painful consciousness of having injured its object.
It was late before the unhappy wanderer returned to the place where he was to attempt to sleep; but the mournful ceremony of the next day, added to the gloomy thoughts he had been indulging, deprived him of all inclination to repose; and as he saw the sun arise which was to witness the interment of his brother—how different appeared its light now, from what it used to do, when from the same village, in the house of his father, he beheld it over the eastern hills, awakening him to hope and health—to the society of a happy cheerful family—and to the prospect of meeting his little Monimia, then a child, who innocently expressed the delight she felt in seeing him!
But to indulge these painful reflections appeared to him unmanly, while they were likely to disable him from the exercise of the melancholy duties before him. These at length over, he found himself, in despite of all his philosophy, so much depressed, that he could not determine to return that night towards London; but sending away the undertaker’s people, and retaining for himself the horse on which one of them had rode, he resolved to pass the rest of the day in gratifying the strange inclination he had long felt, to wander about Rayland Park, to visit the Hall, and take a last leave of that scene of his early happiness, the turret once inhabited by Monimia.327
This plan would detain him from her another day; but he felt an invincible inclination to make this farewell visit, which he knew Monimia herself would wish him to indulge. Having therefore disengaged himself from the gloomy duties of the day, and sent a few lines to his mother and Monimia, to account for his absence, if the man who carried it should arrive in town before him, he set out towards evening for the Hall, flattering himself that, as he was now known, and made a better appearance than on his former visit, he should without difficulty obtain admittance to the house.—In this, however, he was mistaken: he found many of the windows bricked up, the œconomy of the present possessors not allowing them to pay so heavy a window-tax, the old servants’ hall below was entirely deprived of light; and hardly a vestige remained of inhabitants, in the grass-grown courts and silent deserted offices.
Orlando, after waiting for some time at the door, before he could make any one hear, saw at length the same sturdy clown he had before spoken to, who asked him in a surly tone his business.—Orlando replied, that he desired to be allowed to see the house. The man answered, that he had positive orders from Dr. Hollybourn to shew the house to nobody; and he shut the door in his face.
Thus repulsed, Orlando only felt a more determined resolution to gratify himself by a visit to the library, the chapel, and the turret; and he went round the house with an intention to enter without permission by the door that opened near the former out of the summer parlour—Here, however, he was again disappointed: this door, as well as the windows in the same line with it, was nailed up, and boarded on the inside; and while Orlando, thus baffled, was examining the other wing of the house, 328 to see if he could not there obtain entrance, the man who guarded it looked from a window above, and told him, that if any body was seen about the house he should fire at them, for that nobody had no business there.
From the savage brutality of his manner, Orlando had little doubt but that he would act as he said; yet, far from fearing his fire-arms, he told him that he would see the house at all events, and that opposition would only serve to give more trouble, but not deter him from his purpose. He then attempted to this guardian of the property of the church, and offered him a handful of silver: but his answer was, that he should fetch his blunderbuss.
Orlando now thought that it would be better to return to West Wolverton, and to write to a lawyer in the neighbourhood, employed by Dr. Hollybourn in the management of the estate, requesting leave to see the house; though he foresaw that it would be difficult to make such a man comprehend the sort of sensations that urged him to this request—and that it was possible he might impute his desire of visiting the Hall to motives that might make him refuse his permission.—Resolved however to try, he returned slowly and disconsolate through the park; and observed, as he reached the side of it next the lake, that in the copse that clothed the hill many of the large trees were felled, and some others marked for the axe.—His heart became more heavy than before; and when he reached the seat near the boat-house in the fir-wood, which was now indeed broken down, he rested a moment against the old tree it had once surrounded, to recover from the almost insupportable despondence which oppressed him.
Absorbed in the most melancholy thoughts, every object served to increase their bitterness—He listened 329 to sounds once so pleasing with anguish of heart bordering upon despair, and almost wished that he had been drowned in this water when a boy, by the accident of falling from a boat as he was fishing on the lake, from whence his father’s servant had with difficulty saved him.
In such contemplations he remained for some time, with his eyes fixed on the water, when he saw reflected in its surface the image of some object moving along its bank.—The figure, from the gentle waving of the water as it approached the shore, was not distinct; and its motions so slow and singular, that the curiosity of Orlando was somewhat awaked. As it came nearer to him, therefore, he stepped forward, and saw advancing with difficulty on his crutches the old beggar whom he had met in a barn in Hampshire four months since, when he waited for communication with Mrs. Roker.
However surprised Orlando was at the appearance of this person, the man himself seemed to have expected to meet him; for, advancing towards him as speedily as his mutilated frame would allow, he exclaimed, Ah, my dear master! well met: I have found you at last.
Have you been looking for me then, my old friend?
Aye, marry have I—and many a weary mile have my leg and my crutches hopped after your honour—Why, mun, I’ve been up at London after you; and there, at the house where you give me a direction to, I met a Neger man, who would not believe, like a smutty-faced son of a b——h as he is, that such a poor cripple as I could have to do to speak with you—and so all I could get of him was telling me that you were come down here—I knows this country well enough; and so I e’en set off, and partly one way, and partly another, I got down and have found you out.330
Orlando, not guessing why this wandering veteran had taken so much trouble—was about, however, to ask what he could do for him, when the old man putting on an arch look, and feeling in the patched pocket of what had once been a coat, said—
And so now, master, since we be met, I hopes with all my heart I brings you good news—There—There’s a letter for you from Madam Roker—A power of trouble, and many a cold night’s waiting I had to get it: but let an old soldier alone—Egad, when once I had got it, I was bent upon putting it into no hands but yours, for fear of more tricks upon travellers.
Orlando, in greater emotion than a letter from such a lady was likely to produce, took it, and unfolding two or three dirty papers in which it was wrapped, he broke the seal, and read these words:
“I am sorry to acquaint you that Mr. Roker is by no means so grateful to me as I had reason to expect from the good fortune I brought him, and indeed from his assurances when I married him of his great regard and affection for me. I cannot but say that I am cruelly treated at present. As to Mr. Roker, he passes all his time in London, and I have too much cause to fear that very wicked persons are enjoying too much of the money which is mine—a thing so wicked, that, if it was only for his soul’s sake I cannot but think it my duty to prevent: but, to add to my misfortune herein, his relations give out that I am non compos mentis; which to be sure I might be reckoned when I bestowed my fortune on such an undeserving family, and made such sacrifices for Mr. Roker, as I am now heartily sorry for.—Sir, I have read in Scripture, that it is never too late to repent; and I am sure, if I have done you a great injury, I do repent it from the 331 bottom of my soul, and will make you all the reparation in my power: and you may believe I am in earnest in my concern, when I hereby trust you with a secret, whereon perhaps my life may depend: for, besides that I don’t know how far I might be likely to be punished by law for the unjust thing Mr. Roker persuaded me to consent to—against my conscience I am sure—I know that he would rather have me dead than to speak the truth; and ’tis for that reason, for fear I should be examined about the will of my late friend, Mrs. Rayland, that he insists upon it I am at this time a lunatic, and keeps me under close confinement as such.
“Oh! Mr. Orlando, there is a later will than that which was proved, and which gave away from you all the Rayland estate—and with shame and grief I say, that when my lady died I read that copy of it she gave to me; and finding that I had only half as much as in a former will, I was over-persuaded by Mr. Roker, who had too much power over me, to produce only the other, and to destroy in his presence that copy which my lady had given to me to keep, charging me to send it, if any thing happened to her, to your family.—I did not then know the contents, which she had always kept from me: and I am sure I should never have thought of doing as I did but for Mr. Roker—I hope the Lord will forgive me!—and that you, dear Sir, will do so likewise, since I have not only been sincerely repentant of the same, but have luckily for us both, kept it in my power to make you, I hope, reparation.
“After the decease of my late dear lady, Mr. Roker had the other will proved; and Dr. Hollybourn and he agreed together in all things. Mr. Roker, to whom I was married, was very eager after every box of papers, and almost every scrap 332 belonging to Mrs. Rayland; but I thought him, even in those early days, a little too much in a hurry to take possession of all the jewels, and rings, and effects, of which I had the care; and did not see why, as they were mostly mine, I should give them entirely up to him; seeing that I had already given him my fortune—and that such things belong to a woman, and in no case to her husband.—This being the case, I own, I did not put into his hands some of these things, nor a small rose-wood box of my lady’s, in which she always kept some lockets, and miniature pictures, and medals, and other such curiosities, and some family papers. Mr. Roker never saw this box, nor did I ever have the keys of it, for there are two belonging to it with a very particular lock; my late lady always kept them in her purse; and it was only after her decease that they came into my possession; and thereupon opening the box, which Mr. Roker knew nothing of, I found a paper sealed up and dated in my lady’s own hand, and indorsed—“Duplicate of my last Will and Testament, to be delivered to Orlando Somerive, or his —I assure you that I had repented me before of the thing I had done in destroying the will, and now resolved to keep it in my power always to make you amends, by taking care of this; which I, knowing I could not do so if I had it in my own possession, put therefore into this box again, with the medals and family papers, and some jewels of no great value, but which I thought would be no harm to make sure of—because, as the proverb observes, things are in this world uncertain at best; and we all know where we eat our first bread, but none can tell where they shall eat their last. Mr. Roker was at that time a fond and affectionate husband; but men are but fickle, even the very best, and none can tell what may befal: by bad people 333 especially, who are so wicked to meddle and interfere between man and wife, to destroy all matrimonial comfort, as is too often the case.
“Mr. Roker thought then of residing at the Hall as steward for the Bishop, &c.; but Dr. Hollybourn not being agreeable thereto, it was settled otherwise: only Mr. Roker and I were to go once a year to the Court holding for Manors, and to overlook the premises till they were disposed of, according to the will of my Lady which was proved, which the worthy Divines seemed not to be in a great hurry to do—Whereupon, as I did not choose for many reasons to carry this small box about with me, I put it into a place of safety in the house.
“If you have not forgot old times, Mr. Orlando, you know very well that Rayland Hall, which belonged to such famous cavaliers in the great rebellion, has a great many secret stair-cases, and odd passages, and hiding-places in it; where, in those melancholy times, some of my late Lady’s ancestors, who had been in arms for the blessed Martyr and King Charles, were hid by others of the family after the fight at Edgehill, &c.—which I have heard my Lady oftentimes recount: but, nevertheless, I do not know that she herself knew all those places.
“By the side of my bed, in that chamber hung partly with scarlet and gold printed leather, and partly with painting in pannels, where there is a brown mohair bed lined with yellow silk, you may remember a great picture of the Lady Alithea, second wife of the first Sir Hildebrand Rayland with her two sons and a dog—She was an Earl’s daughter, and a celebrated beauty, and great great grandmother to my late Lady. The picture is only a copy from that in the great gallery, and done, as I have heard my Lady say, by some painter of that 334 time when he was a young man—so that, as there was another, this was not hung in the gallery. Close under that picture there seems to be a hanging of gilt leather: but this is only fastened with small hooks: and under it is a sliding oak board, which gives into a closet where there is no light—but a very narrow stair-case goes from it through the wall, quite round to the other side of the house, and into other hiding-places, where one or two persons might be hid for years, and nobody the wiser.
“Now, Sir, in a sort of hollow place about three feet wide, made like an arch under the thick wall in this closet, is a tin box with a padlock—and in that box this inlaid rose-wood box or casket. There you will find the real will of my Lady, and I hope all you wish and expect in it; and what I desire of you in return is, that you will take means to convince the world that I am not to blame; that I am not a lunatic; and you have so much honour, that I rely upon your promises not to injure me if it should be in your power; but to make me amends for what I thus lose for your sake and the sake of justice—as in your letter you faithfully promise.
“For that poor unfortunate young woman, the daughter of my deceased kinswoman, I do assure you that, if I knew what was become of her, I would give you notice. But she has never been heard of that I know of for a great many months—and I am afraid, from her flippant ways with my Mr. Roker before I was forced to send her away, has taken to courses very disgraceful, and which have made her unworthy of your farther thoughts. God forgive me if I judge amiss herein!—We must be charitable one towards another, as the Scripture says, poor sinful mortals, who have so much to answer for ourselves, as to be sure all of us have!335
“And now, dear Sir, I take my leave, having been four days writing this long letter by fits and snatches, when Mr. Roker’s sister, who even sleeps in my room, has been out of the way; for she watches me like a jailor, and I am quite a prisoner; and have not pen and ink but by stealth. If I were to attempt to send this to the post, all would be lost: so I have trusted it to old Hugh March the beggar, by means of the servant girl, and I have given the old man the three keys. Heartily wishing you health and happiness I recommend myself to your prayers, as mine are for your success, and remain, dear Sir,
Your affectionate humble servant,
“P. S. Pray let me hear speedily by the bearer.”
Orlando read this strange confession, this avowal of iniquity so black, mingled with appeals to Heaven, and sentences of religion, with such a palpitating heart, that, when he had finished it, he looked around him to discover whether he was alive—The objects about him seemed real—He saw the old man before him, who, after a long search in his other pocket, produced the three keys; and then pulling off the relics of an hat from his grey head, bowed with an air of much humility, and cried, Well, and what says my young master?—Does his lame messenger bring him bad news or good?—Ah, your honour is a noble gentleman, and will reward your old soldier!
That I will, my honest fellow! to the utmost of your wishes, as soon as I have discovered whether all this is real; but it seems to me at present that I am in a dream.
Wide awake, depend upon it, answered the beggar;—so come, dear young gentleman! will you go 336 back to yon ale-house, and let us see what the good news will do for us?—I do not very well know, indeed, what it is; but I know that I was promised that you could do me a power of good, if I delivered the letter and the keys safe.—You know I had promised afore to serve you by night and by day, and so I have.—Serve me a little longer, my brave old man! said Orlando; by preserving in the place we are going to the secrecy I desire of you, without which all may yet be lost.—Here, I will share my purse with you—Go back to the ale-house, order whatever you like, and shew them that you have money to pay for it.—Do not make use of my name, nor say a word about Mrs. Roker till I return.—I must go to the next town, to consult a friend I have there on the best steps to be taken; in which, if I succeed, I will make thee the very prince of old soldiers.
Orlando then put some guineas into his hand, and saw him take the way to the ale-house, less rejoiced at his future hopes of reward, than at the power of immediate gratification. He somewhat doubted his discretion, but thought that a very few hours would put it out of the power of any indiscretion to mar the happy effects of Mrs. Roker’s repentance:—and to set about securing this advantage, he hastened to his friend, Dawson, as he saw that too many precautions could not be taken in an affair so unusual and so important.
he began to consider if he might not, at the same time, acknowledge his own marriage
[Reminder: Orlando has by this time been married for three months, during all which time he has been lying to his mother—as has his sister Selina.]
an obscure street leading from the Strand to Covent Garden
[First rich uncle Woodford and now poor brother Philip. One could be forgiven for thinking that the city of London is wholly composed of obscure streets leading off the Strand.]
she seemed a second time to have lost him
“l” in “lost” invisible
All wore an appearance of change and of desolation, even more deplorable, in the opinion of Orlando, than the spruce alterations, and air of new-born prosperity, which, on his former visit, he had remarked as the effect of Mr. Stockton’s purchase.
[Since Orlando’s “former visit” cannot have been more than six months ago, we are forced to conclude that Mr. Stockton’s workmen cut every possible corner.]
The moon, not yet at its full, shed a faint light on every object
[In 1779 the moon was full on 30 April and again on 30 May—though I don’t suppose the author consulted a calendar.]
[Monimia] was more beloved, as his wife, than she had ever been as his mistress
[Considering how very many times this novel has used the word “mistress” in the, er, physical sense, I do wish the author had used a different word here.]
the œconomy of the present possessors not allowing them to pay so heavy a window-tax
[The window tax, which holds a solid place on the list of Worst Ideas Ever, was not repealed until 1851.]
He then attempted to bribe this guardian of the property
text has bride
such things belong to a woman, and in no case to her husband
[Morally, perhaps, but I tend to doubt it was legally true.]
indorsed—“Duplicate of my last Will and Testament, to be delivered to Orlando Somerive, or his Representative.”
[Close quote supplied from 2nd edition. It may not agree with the editor’s punctuation policy, but it’s definitely less confusing.]
bad people especially, who are so wicked to meddle and interfere between man and wife, to destroy all matrimonial comfort
[When she says things like this, you have to wonder if Mrs. Roker, née Lennard, really is non compos mentis.]
Orlando then put some guineas into his hand
[At last report, Orlando’s remaining assets were reduced to “within thirty pounds”—and yet he always has guineas to give away. If this were a modern-day historical novel, I would suspect that the author simply didn’t understand what pounds and guineas have to do with each other.]
Nearly six weeks more now passed
The young man to whom Orlando now applied
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.