The Adventures of Roderick Random, by Tobias Smollett

Chapter LXIX

My father intends to revisit the Place of his Nativity — we propose to accompany him — my Uncle renews his will in my favour, determining to go to sea again — we set out for Scotland — arrive at Edinburgh — purchase our paternal Estate — proceed to it — halt at the Town where I was educated — take up my bond to Crab — the Behaviour of Potion and his Wife, and one of our Female Cousins — our Reception at the Estate — Strap marries Miss Williams, and is settled by my Father to his own satisfaction — I am more and more happy.

My father intending to revisit his native country, and pay the tribute of a few tears at my mother’s grave, Narcissa and I resolved to accompany him in the execution of his pious office, and accordingly prepared for the journey, in which, however, my uncle would not engage, being resolved to try his fortune once more at sea. In the meantime he renewed his will in favour of my wife and me, and deposited it in the hands of his brother-in-law: while I (that I might not be wanting to my own interest) summoned the squire to produce his father’s will at Doctors’ Commons, and employed a proctor to manage the affair in my absence.

Everything being thus settled, we took leave of all our friends in London, and set out for Scotland, Don Rodrigo, Narcissa, Miss Williams, and I, in the coach, and Strap, with two men in livery, on horseback; as we made easy stages, my charmer held it out very well, till we arrived at Edinburgh, where we proposed to rest ourselves some weeks.

Here Don Rodrigo having intelligence that the foxhunter had spoilt his estate, which was to be exposed to sale by public auction, he determined to make a purchase of the spot where he was born, and actually bought all the land that belonged to his father.

In a few days after this bargain was made, we left Edinburgh, in order to go and take possession; and by the way halted one night in that town where I was educated. Upon inquiry, I found that Mr. Crab was dead; whereupon I sent for his executor, paid the sum I owed with interest, and took up my bond. Mr. Potion and his wife, hearing of my arrival, had the assurance to come to the inn. where we lodged, and send up their names, with the desire of being permitted to pay their respects to my father and me: but their sordid behaviour towards me, when I was an orphan, had made too deep an impression on my mind to be effaced by this mean mercenary piece of condescension: I therefore rejected their message with disdain, and bade Strap tell them, that my father and I desired to have no communication with such low-minded wretches as they were.

They had not been gone half-an-hour, when a woman, without any ceremony, opened the door of the room where we sat, and, making towards my father, accosted him with, “Uncle, your servant — I am glad to see you.” This was no other than one of my female cousins, mentioned in the first part of my memoirs, to whom Don Rodrigo replied, “Pray, who are you, madam?” “Oh!” cried she, “my cousin Rory there knows me very well. Don’t you remember me, Rory?” “Yes, madam,” said I; “for my own part, I shall never forget you. Sir, this is one of the young ladies, who (as I have formerly told you) treated me so humanely in my childhood!” When I pronounced these words, my father’s resentment glowed in his visage, and he ordered her to be gone, with such a commanding aspect, that she retired in a fright, muttering curses as she went downstairs. We afterwards learned that she was married to an ensign, who had already spent all her fortune; and that her sister had borne a child to her mother’s footman, who is now her husband, and keeps a petty alehouse in the country.

The fame of our flourishing condition having arrived at this place before us, we got notice that the magistrates intended next day to compliment us with the freedom of their town; upon which my father, considering their complaisance in the right point of view, ordered the horses to the coach early in the morning.

We proceeded to our estate, which lay about twenty miles from this place; and, when we came within half-a-league of the house, were met by a prodigious number of poor tenants, men, women, and children, who testified their joy by loud acclamations, and accompanied our coach to the gate. As there is no part of the world in which the peasants are more attached to their lords than in Scotland, we were almost devoured by their affections. My father had always been their favourite, and now that he appeared their master, after having been thought dead so long, their joy broke out into a thousand extravagances. When we entered the court yard, we were surrounded by a vast number, who crowded together so closely to see us that several were in danger of being squeezed to death; those who were near Don Rodrigo fell upon their knees, and kissed his hand, or the hem of his garment, praying aloud for long life and prosperity to him; others approached Narcissa and me in the same manner; while the rest clapped their hands at a distance, and invoked heaven to shower its choicest blessings on our heads! In short, the whole scene, though rude, was so affecting, that the gentle partner of my heart wept over it, and my father himself could not refrain from a dropping a tear.

Having welcomed his daughter and me to his house, he ordered some bullocks to be killed, and some hogsheads of ale to be brought from the neighbouring village, to regale these honest people, who had not enjoyed such a holiday for many years before.

Next day we were visited by the gentlemen in the neighbourhood, most of them our relations, one of whom brought along my cousin, the foxhunter, who had stayed at his house since he was obliged to leave his own! My father was generous enough to receive him kindly, and even promised to purchase for him a commission in the army, for which he expressed great thankfulness and joy.

My charming Narcissa was universally admired and loved for her beauty, affability, and good sense; and so well pleased with the situation of the place, and the company round, that she has not as yet discovered the least desire of changing her habitation.

We had not been many days settled, when I prevailed upon my father to pay a visit to the village where I had been at school. Here we were received by the principal inhabitants, who entertained us in the church, where Mr. Syntax the schoolmaster (my tyrant being dead) pronounced a Latin oration in honour of our family. And none exerted themselves more than Strap’s father and relations, who looked upon the honest valet as the first gentleman of their race, and honoured his benefactors accordingly. Having received the homage of this place, we retired, leaving forty pounds for the benefit of the poor of the parish; and that very night, Strap being a little elevated with the regard that had been shown to him, and to me on his account, ventured to tell me, that he had a sneaking kindness for Miss Williams, and that, if his lady and I would use our interest in his behalf, he did not doubt that she would listen to his addresses. Surprised at this proposal, I asked if he knew the story of that unfortunate young gentlewoman; upon which he replied, “Yes, yes, I know what you mean — she has been unhappy, I grant you — but what of that? I am convinced of her reformation; or else you and my good lady would not treat her with such respect. As for the censure of the world, I value it not a fig’s end — besides, the world knows nothing of the matter.” I commended his philosophy, and interested Narcissa in his cause; who interceded so effectually, that in a little time Miss Williams yielded her consent, and they were marred at the approbation of Don Rodrigo, who gave him five hundred pounds to stock a farm, and made him overseer of his estate. My generous bedfellow gave her maid the same sum; so that they live in great peace and plenty within half-a-mile of us, and daily put up prayers for our preservation.

If there be such a thing as true happiness on earth, I enjoy it. The impetuous transports of my passion are now settled and mellowed into endearing fondness and tranquillity of love, rooted by that intimate connection and interchange of hearts which nought but virtuous wedlock can produce. Fortune seems determined to make ample amends for her former cruelty, for my proctor writes that, notwithstanding the clause in my father-in-law’s will, on which the squire founds his claim, I shall certainly recover my wife’s fortune, in consequence of a codicil annexed, which explains that clause, and limits her restriction to the age of nineteen, after which she was at her own disposal. I would have set out for London immediately after receiving this piece of intelligence, but my dear angel has been qualmish of late, and begins to grow remarkably round in the waist; so that I cannot leave her in such an interesting situation, which I hope will produce something to crown my felicity.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30