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The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield - 31 - Oliver Goldsmith - Web Novel


Former benevolence now repaid with unexpected interest


Mr Thornhill made his entrance with a smile, which he seldom wanted, and was going to embrace his uncle, which the other repulsed with an air of disdain. ‘No fawning, Sir, at present,’ cried the Baronet, with a look of severity, ‘the only way to my heart is by the road of honour; but here I only see complicated instances of falsehood, cowardice, and oppression. How is it, Sir, that this poor man, for whom I know you professed a friendship, is used thus hardly? His daughter vilely seduced, as a recompence for his hospitality, and he himself thrown into a prison perhaps but for resenting the insult? His son too, whom you feared to face as a man—’


‘Is it possible, Sir,’ interrupted his nephew, ‘that my uncle could object that as a crime which his repeated instructions alone have persuaded me to avoid.’


‘Your rebuke,’ cried Sir William, ‘is just; you have acted in this instance prudently and well, though not quite as your father would have done: my brother indeed was the soul of honour; but thou—yes you have acted in this instance perfectly right, and it has my warmest approbation.’


‘And I hope,’ said his nephew, ‘that the rest of my conduct will not be found to deserve censure. I appeared, Sir, with this gentleman’s daughter at some places of public amusement; thus what was levity, scandal called by a harsher name, and it was reported that I had debauched her. I waited on her father in person, willing to clear the thing to his satisfaction, and he received me only with insult and abuse. As for the rest, with regard to his being here, my attorney and steward can best inform you, as I commit the management of business entirely to them. If he has contracted debts and is unwilling or even unable to pay them, it is their business to proceed in this manner, and I see no hardship or injustice in pursuing the most legal means of redress.’


‘If this,’ cried Sir William, ‘be as you have stated it, there is nothing unpardonable in your offence, and though your conduct might have been more generous in not suffering this

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