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that of a decline in their circumstances, owing to repeated losses in trade. After the ineffectual struggle of a few years, they were obliged to retire to a small house in a neighbouring village, where consumed by grief, with health and spirits broken , they brought up their family in indigence and obscurity.
One advantage, however, accrued to Mr. Hastings from his misfortunes. His temper was gradually softened; his passions subsided; he attempted to alleviate by kindness the sufferings of his partners in affliction, and behaved with the greatest tenderness and regard to his wife, of whose amiable qualities he became every day more sensible.
Charles , in the mean time, was passing through a variety of fortune. His first setting out was very unfavourable. The captain to whom he had greatly recommended himself by his assiduities, died on the passage ; and he was set on shore at Madras , without a patron, or a friend.
He was almost ready to perish for want, when an'opulent merchant of the factory took compassion on him, and carried him to his house. Asier experiencing his diligence and fidelity for some time in a very low station, the gentleman advanced him to his counting-house, and initiated him in the commercial business of the settlement.
During a short probation in this office, the youth exibited such tokens of capacity, that he was thought a proper person to be sent to a distance up the country , to a trading post of some consequence. He here managed some difficult and important concerns with so much address, and acted on some critical emergencies with such propriety and resolution, that he acquired the confidence of the whole factory. He was soon promoted to a lucrative and honourable station, and began to make a fortune with the rapidity peculiar to that country.
The impression of injury with which he had left his father's house, and the subsequent hardships he underwent, for a long time stifled every emotion of filial affection. He never thought of home but as the scene of severe and unmerited chastisement, and resolved never to return to it without a full acknowledgment of the injustice of his expulsion. By degrees, however, as better prospects opened upon him, his heart began to relent. He melted at the recollection of the uniform kindness of his mother, and the playful endearments of his brothers and sisters. He even formed excuses for his father's severity, and condemned his own obstinacy as, at least , equally blamable. He grew so uneasy under these impressions, that not all the flattering prospects before him could induce him to delay any longer an interview which he so ardently desired. He collected all his property : and took his passage for England, where he arrived safe, after an absence of nine years.
On his landing he met with a townsman, who informed him of the melancholy change in his father's situation. With a heart agitated by every tender emotion, he instantly set off for the place of their abode.
It was towards the approach of evening, when the unhappy couple, in melancholy despondency, sat by their gloomy fire. A letter which Mr. Hastings had that day received from the landlord of his little habitation, to whom he was somewhat in arrear,
threw more than usual dejection over the family. Holding the letter in his hand, « What shall we do? said he he » threatens to turn us out of doors. Un► feeling man! But how can I expect more
a stranger than I shewed » to my own son? » The ceflection was too much for Mrs. Hastings to bear-she wrung her hands - sobbed and wept bitterly. Not a thought of their present situation dwelt on her mind — she only felt for her long lost son.
The eldest daughter, whose elegance of form was ill concealed by the meanness of her dress , went up to her mother, and while the sympathetic tears trickled down her cheeks, locked a hand in her's, and with the other supported her head. The father sighed from the bottom of his heart: and two youths , his eldest remaining sons, hung over the mournful scene with look of settled melancholy.
Some of the younger children, as yet unconscious of sorrow, were seated round the door. They ran in with the news that a chaise had stopt before the house, and a fine gentleman was getting out of it. He entered a moment after, when , on viewing the group before him, he had just strength to stagger to a chair, and fainted.
The family crowded round him, and the mother, looking eagerly in his face, cried » My son = my son ! » and sunk down be
side him. The father stood a while, with his hands clasped, in stupid astonishment - then dropt on his knee, and exclaimed « Heaven, I thank thee! He then flew to his son , took him in his arms, and by his tender embraces recalled him to life. His recollection no sooner returned, than he threw himself at his father's feet, and asked forgiveness. « Forgive thee, Charles ! said » the father-it is I, my child, who ought » to entreat forgiveness for the cruel injury » I did thee. » He then raised him, and again clasped him in his arms, bedewing his face with many tears.
The mother, in the mean time, lay senseless in the arms of her daughter. The rest of the family, confused and affrighted , knew not what to think of the scene , and the little ones began to cry aloud for their mother, who, indeed, was to all appear*ance dead. It was long before the assiduities of her son and husband produced any signs of returning life ; and when her eyes opened on the object they had so long desired to see, the impression proved again too strong, and violent fits succeeded to fainting. She was carried to bed , where by den grees she recovered serenity enough to be