The balance of all was thirty-five pounds eleven shillings and odd pence; and I went to my escritoir, and took out forty pounds, and down I hasted to my good Mrs. Jervis, and I said to her, “Here, my dear good friend, is your pocket-book; but are thirty-five or thirty-six pounds all you owe, or are bound for in the world?”
“It is, Madam,” said she, “and enough too. It is a great sum; but ’tis in four hands, and they are all in pretty good circumstances, and so convinced of my honesty, that they will never trouble me for it; for I have reduced the debt every year something, since I have been in my master’s service.”
“Nor shall it ever be in any body’s power,” said I, “to trouble you: I’ll tell you how we’ll order it.”
So I sat down, and made her sit by me. “Here, my dear Mrs. Jervis, is forty pounds. It is not so much to me now, as the two guineas were to you, that you would have given me at my going away from this house to my father’s, as I thought. I will not give it you neither, at least at present, as you shall hear: indeed I won’t make you so uneasy as that comes to. But take this, and pay the thirty-five pounds odd money to the utmost farthing; and the remaining four pounds odd will be a little fund in advance towards the children’s schooling. And thus you shall repay it; I always designed, as our dear master added five guineas per annum to your salary, in acknowledgement of the pleasure he took in your services, when I was Pamela Andrews, to add five pounds per annum to it from the time I became Mrs. B. But from that time, for so many years to come, you shall receive no more than you did, till the whole forty pounds be repaid. So, my dear Mrs. Jervis, you won’t have any obligation to me, you know, but for the advance; and that is a poor matter, not to be spoken of: and I will have leave for it, for fear I should die.”
Had your ladyship seen the dear good woman’s behaviour, on this occasion, you would never have forgotten it. She could not speak; tears ran down her cheeks in plentiful currents: her modest hand put gently from her my offering hand, her bosom heav’d, and she sobb’d with the painful tumult that seemed to struggle within her, and which, for some few moments, made her incapable of speaking.
At last, I rising, and putting my arm round her neck, wiping her eyes, and kissing her cheek, she cried, “My excellent lady! ’tis too much! I cannot bear all this.”—She then threw herself at my feet; for I was not strong enough to hinder it; and with uplifted hands—“May God Almighty,” said she—I kneeled by her, and clasping her hands in mine, both uplifted together—“May God Almighty,” said I, drowning her voice with my louder voice, “bless us both together, for many happy years! And bless and reward the dear gentleman, who has thus enabled me to make the widow’s heart to sing for joy!”
And thus, my lady, did I force upon the good woman’s acceptance the forty pounds.