The Adventures of Roderick Random HTML version

Chapter 19
The character of Mr. Lavement, his wife and daughter--some anecdotes of the family--
the mother and daughter rivals--I am guilty of a mistake that gives me present
satisfaction, but is attended with troublesome consequences
Next day. while I was at work in the shop, a bouncing damsel well dressed came on
pretence of finding a vial for some use or other; and taking an opportunity, when she
thought I did not mind her, of observing me narrowly, went away with a silent look of
disdain. I easily guessed her sentiments, and my pride took the resolution of
entertaining the same indifference and neglect towards her. At dinner the maids, with
whom I dined in the kitchen, gave me to understand that this was my master's only
daughter, who would have a very handsome fortune, on account of which, and her
beauty, a great many young gentlemen made their addresses to her--that she had been
twice on the brink of marriage, but disappointed by the stinginess of her father, who
refused to part with a shilling to promote the match; for which reason the young lady did
not behave to her father with all the filial veneration that might be expected. In particular
she harboured the most perfect hatred for his countrymen; in which disposition she
resembled her mother, who was an English-woman; and, by the hints they dropped, I
learned the gray mare was the better horse--that she was a matron of a high spirit,
which was often manifested at the expense of her dependents; that she loved
diversions, and looked upon miss as her rival in all parties--which was indeed the true
cause of her disappointments; for had the mother been hearty in her interest, the father
would not have ventured to refuse her demands. Over and above this intelligence, I, of
myself, soon made more discoveries. Mr. Lavement's significant grins at his wife, while
she looked another way, convinced me that he was not at all content with his lot; and
his behaviour in presence of the captain made me believe his chief torment was
jealousy. As for my own part, I was considered in no other light than that of a menial
servant, and had been already six days in the house without being honoured with one
word from either mother or daughter; the latter (as I understood from the maids) having
at table one day expressed some surprise that her papa should entertain such an
awkward mean-looking journeyman. I was nettled at this piece of information, and next
Sunday (it being my turn to take my diversion) dressed myself in my new clothes to the
greatest advantage, and, vanity apart, made no contemptible figure.
After having spent most part of the day in company with Strap and some of his
acquaintance, I came home in the afternoon, and was let in by miss, who not knowing
me, dropped a low curtsey as I advanced, which I returned with a profound bow, and
shut the door. By the time I had turned about, she had perceived her mistake, and
changed colour, but did not withdraw. The passage being narrow, I could not get away
without jolting her; so I was forced to remain where I was with my eyes fixed to the
ground, and my face glowing with blushes. At length, her vanity coming to her
assistance, she went away tittering, and I could hear her pronounce the word 'creature!'
From this day forward, she came into the shop fifty times, every day upon various