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to do him a service, must argue such weakness of mind, such ignorance of the world, and such an artless, simple, undesigning heart, as must render the person possessed of it the lowest creature, and the properest object of contempt imaginable, in the eyes of every man of understanding and discernment.
Wild remembered that his friend Heartfree's faults were rather in his heart than in his head; that though he was so mean a fellow that he was never capable of laying a design to injure any human creature, yet was he by no means a fool, nor liable to any gross imposition, unless where his heart betrayed him. He therefore instructed the Count to take only one of his jewels at the first interview, and to reject the rest as not fine enough, and order him to provide some richer. He said, this management would prevent Heartfree from expecting ready-money for the jewel he brought with him, which the Count was presently to dispose of, and by means of that money, and his great abilities at cards and dice, to get together as large a sum as possible, which he was to pay down to Heartfree, at the delivery of the set of jewels, who would be thus void of all manner of suspicion, and would not fail to give him credit for the residue.
By this contrivance it will appear in the sequel that Wild did not only propose to make the imposition on Heartfree, who was (hitherto) void of all suspicion, more certain; but to rob the Count himself of this sum. This double method of cheating the very tools who are our instruments to cheat others, is the superlative degree of greatness, and is probably, as far as any spirit crusted over with clay can carry it, falling very little short of Diabolism itself.
This method was immediately put in execution, and the Count, the first day, took only a single brilliant, worth about three hundred pounds, and ordered a necklace, earrings, and solitaire, of the value of three thousand more, to be prepared by that day sevennight.
This interval was employed by Wild in prosecuting his scheme of raising a gang, in which he met with such success, that within a few days he had levied several bold and resolute fellows, fit for any enterprise, how dangerous or great soever.
We have before remarked, that the truest mark of Greatness is insatiability. Wild had covenanted with the Count to receive three-fourths of the booty, and had, at the same time, covenanted with himself to secure the other fourth part likewise, for which he had formed a very great and noble design; but he now saw with concern, that sum which was to be received in hand by Heartfree, in danger of being absolutely lost. In order therefore to possess himself of that likewise, he contrived that the jewels should be brought in the afternoon, and that Heartfree should be detained before the Count could see him; so that the night should overtake him in his return, when two of his gang were ordered to attack and plunder him.
Containing scenes of softness, love, and honour, all in the
The Count had disposed of his jewel for its full value, and this he had, by dexterity, raised to a thousand pounds; this sum therefore he paid down to Heartfree, promising him the rest within a month. His house, his equipage, his appearance, but, above all, a certain plausibility in his voice and behaviour would have deceived any, but one whose great and wise heart had dictated to him something within, which would have secured him from any danger of imposition from without. .Heartfree therefore did not in the least scraple giving him credit • but as he had in reality procured those jewels of another, his own little stock not being able to furnish any thing Bo valuable, he begged the Count would be so kind to give his note for the money, payable at the time he mentioned; which that gentleman did not in the least scruple: so he paid him the thousand pounds in specie, and gave his note for two thousand eight hundred pounds more to Heartfree, who burnt with gratitude to Wild for the noble customer he had recommended to him.
As soon as Heartfree was departed, Wild, who waited in another room, came in, and received the casket from the Count; it having been agreed between them, that this should be deposited in his hands, as he was the original contriver of the scheme, and was to have the largest share. Wild having received the casket, offered to meet the Count late that evening to come to a division; but such was the latter's confidence in the honour of our hero, that, he said, if it was any inconvenience to him, the next morning would do altogether as well. This was more agreeable to Wild, and accordingly an appointment being made for that purpose, he set out in haste to pursue Heartfree to the place where the two gentlemen were ordered to meet and attack him.—Those gentlemen, with noble resolution, executed their purpose; they attacked and spoiled the enemy of the whole sum he had received from the Count.
As soon as the engagement was over, and Heartfree left sprawling on the ground, our hero, who wisely declined trusting the booty in his friends' hands, though he had good experience of their honour, made off after the conquerors: at length they being all at a place of safety, Wild, according to a previous agreement, received nine-tenths of the booty; the subordinate heroes did indeed profess some little unwillingness (perhaps more than was strictly consistent with honour) to perform their contract; but Wild, partly by argument, but more by oaths and threatnings, prevailed with them to fulfil their promise.
Our hero having thus, with wonderful address, brought this great and glorious action to a happy conclusion, resolved to relax his mind after his fatigue, in the conversation of the fair. He therefore set forwards to his lovely Laetitia; but, in his way, accidentally met with a young lady of his acquaintance, Miss Molly Straddle, who was taking the air in Bridge'sstreet. Miss Molly seeing Mr. Wild, stopped him, and with a familiarity peculiar to a genteel town education, tapped or rather slapped him on the back, and asked him to treat her with a pint of wine, at a neighbouring tavern. The hero, though he loved the chaste Lsetitia with excessive tenderness, was not of that low sniveling breed of mortals, who, as it is generally expressed, tie themselves to a woman s apron strings; in a word, who are tainted with that mean, base, low vice or virtue as it is called, of constancy; therefore he immediately consented and attended her to a tavern famous for excellent wine, known by the name of the Rummer and Horseshoe, where they retired to a room by themselves. Wild was very vehement in his addresses, but to no purpose; the young lady declared she would grant no favour till he had made her a present; this was immediately complied with, and the lover made as happy as he could desire.
The immoderate fondness which Wild entertained for his dear Laetitia, would not suffer him to waste any considerable time with Miss Straddle. Notwithstanding, therefore, all the endearments and caresses of that young lady, he soon made an excuse to go down stairs, and thence immediately set forward to Laetitia, without taking any formal leave of Miss Straddle, or indeed of the drawer, with whom the lady was afterwards obliged to come to an account for the reckoning.
Mr. Wild, on his arrival at Mr. Snap's, found only Miss Doshy at home; that young lady being employed alone, in imitation of Penelope, with her thread or worsted; only with this difference, that whereas Penelope unravelled by night what she had knit or wove, or spun by day, so what our young heroine unravelled by day, she knit again by night. In short; she was mending a pair of blue stockings with red clocks; a circumstance which, perhaps, we might have omitted, had it not served to shew that there are still some ladies of this age, who imitate the simplicity of the ancients.
Wild immediately asked for his beloved, and was informed that she was not at home. He then enquired where she was to be found, and declared, he would not depart till he had seen her; nay, not till he had married her; for, indeed, his passion for her was truly honourable; in other words, he had so ungovernable a desire for her person, that he would go any length to satisfy it. He then pulled out the casket, which he swore was full of the finest jewels, and that he would give them all to her, with other promises; which so prevailed on Miss Doshy, who had not the common failure of sisters in envying, and often endeavouring to disappoint each other's happiness, that she desired Mr. Wild to sit down a few minutes, whilst she endeavoured to find her sister, and to bring her to him. The lover thanked