Captain RISBY to the Honourable GEORGE MOLESWORTH,
What is the sight of thousands slain in the field of battle, compar’d with the scene I am just escap’d from!—How can I be circumstantial!—where am I to begin!—whose distress shall I paint first!—can there be precedence in sorrow!
What a weight will human nature support before it sinks!—The distress’d inhabitants of this house are still alive; it is proclaim’d from every room by dreadful groans.—You sent me on a raven’s message:—like that ill-boding bird I flew from house to house, afraid to croak my direful tidings.
By your directions I went to the steward’s;—at the gate stood my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Powis, arm in arm.—I thought I should have sunk;—I thought I should have died instantly.—I was turning my horse to go back, and leave my black errand to be executed by another.
They were instantly at my side;—a hand was seiz’d by each,—and the words Risby!—captain Risby!—ecchoed in my ears.—What with their joyous welcomes,—and transported countenances, I felt as if a flash of lightning had just darted on my head.—Mrs. Powis first perceiv’d the alteration and ask’d if I was well;—if any thing had happen’d to give me concern?
Certainly there has, said Mr. Powis, or you are not the same man you was, Risby.—It is true, Sir, return’d I;—it is true, I am not so happy as when I last saw you;—my mind is disagreeably situated;—could I receive joy, it would be in knowing this amiable woman to be Mrs. Powis.
You both surprise and affect us, replied he.
Indeed you do, join’d in his Lady; but we will try to remove your uneasiness:—pray let us conduct you to the Abbey; you are come to the best house in the world to heal grievances.—Ah, Risby! said my friend, all there is happiness.—Dick, I have the sweetest daughter: but Lord Darcey, I suppose, has told you every thing; we desir’d he would; and that we might see you immediately.—Can you tell us if his Lordship is gone on to Dover?
He is, returned I.—I did not wait his coming down, wanting to discover to you the reason of my perplexities.
What excuse after saying this, could I make, for going into the steward’s?—For my soul, I could not think of any.—Fortunately it enter’d my head to say, that I had been wrong directed;—that a foolish boy had told me this was the strait road to the Abbey.
Mr. and Mrs. Powis importun’d me to let the servant lead my horse, that I might walk home with them.—This would never do.—I could not longer trust myself in their company, ’till I had reconnoitred the family;—’till I had examin’d who there was best fitted to bear the first onset of sorrow.—I brought myself off by saying, one of my legs was hurt with a tight boot.