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CHAP. XVIII.

The pursuit of a father to reclaim a loft

child to virtue.

THO

HO' the child could not describe the

gentleman's person who handed his sister into the post chaise, yet my suspicions fell entirely upon our young landlord, whose character for such intrigues was but too well known. I therefore directed my steps towards Thornhill caitle, resolving to upbraid him, and, if possible, to bring back my daughter: but before I had reached his feat, I was met by one of parishioners, who said he saw a young lady resembling my daughter in a post chaise with a gentleman, whom, by the description, I could only guess to be Mr. Burchell, and that they drove very fast. This information, however, did by no means satisfy me. I therefore went to the young

Squire's,

my

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Squire's, and though it was yet early, infifted upon seeing him immediately : he foon appeared with the most

open

familiar air, and seemed perfectly amazed at my daughter's elopement, protesting upon his honour that he was quite a stranger to it. I now therefore condemned my former sufpicions, and could turn them only on Mr. Burchell, who I recollected had of late several private conferences with her: but the appearance of another witness left me no room to doubt of his villainy, who averred, that he and my daughter were actually gone towards the Wells, about thirty miles off, where there was a great deal of company. Being driven to that state of mind in which we are more ready to act precipitately than to reason right, I never debated with myself, whether these accounts might not have been given by perfons purposely placed in my way, to nislead me, but resolved to pursue my daughter and her fancied deluder thither. I walked along with earnestness, and enquired of several by the way ; but received

* no

no accounts, till entering the town, I was met by a person on horseback, whom I remembered to have seen at the 'Squire's, and he assured me, that if I followed them to the races, which were but thirty miles farther, I might depend upon overtaking them; for he had seen them dance there the night before, and the whole assembly seemed charmed with my daughter's performance. Early the next day I walked forward to the races, and about four in the afternoon I came upon the course. The company made a very brilliant appearance, all earnestly employed in one pursuit, that of pleasure; how different from mine, that of reclaiming a lost child to virtue! I thought I perceived Mr. Burchell at some distance from me: but, as if he dreaded an interview, upon my approaching hin, he mixed among a crowd, and I saw him no more. I now reflected that it would be to no purpose to continue my pursuit farther, and resolved to return home to an innocent family, who wanted my altistance. But the agitations of my mind, and the fatigues I had undergone, threw me into a I 3

fever, fever, the fymptoms of which I perceived before I came off the course. This was another unexpected stroke, as I was more than seventy miles distant from home: however, I retired to a little ale-house by the road-lide, and in this place, the usual retreat of indigence and frugality, I laid me down patiently to wait the issue of my disorder. I languished here for near three weeks ; but at last my conftitution prevailed, though I was unprovided with noney to defray the expences of my entertainment. It is possible the anxiety from this last circumstance alone might have brought on a relapfe, had I not been sup: plied by a traveller, who stopt to take a cursory refreshment. This person was no other than the philanthropic bookseller in St. Paul's Church-yard, who has written so many little books for children: he called himself their friend; but he was the friend of all mankind. He was no sooner alighted, but he was in haste to be gone ; for he was ever on business of the utmost importance, and was at that time actually

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