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eousin Leeson !—Her cousin Leeson was not unworthy of my acquaintance! And would take it for the greatest favour in the world.
I objected my dress. But the objection was not admitted. She bespoke a supper of Mrs. Moora to be ready at nine.
Mr. Lovelace, vile hypocrite, and wicked deceiver! seeing, as he said, my dislike to go, desired her ladyship not to insist upon it.
Fondness of my company was pleaded. She begged me to oblige her: made a motion to help me to my fan herself; and, in short, was so very urgent, that my feet complied against my speech, and my mind: and being in a manner led to the coach by her, and made to step in first, she followed me: and her pretended niece and the wretch followed her! and away it drove.
Nothing but the height of affectionate complaisance passed all the way: over and over, what a joy would this unexpected visit give her cousin Leeson! What a pleasure must it be to such a mind as mine, to be able to give so much joy to every body I came near!
The cruel, the savage seducer (as I have since recollected) was in rapture all the way; but yet such a sort of rapture, as he took visible pains to check.
Hateful villain! How I abhor him !—What mischief must then be in his plotting heart!—What a devoted victim must I then be in all their eyes.
Though not pleased, I was nevertheless just then thoughtless of danger; they endeavouring thus to lift me up above all apprehensions of that, and above myself too.
But think, my dear, what a dreadful turn all had upon me, when, through several streets and ways I knew nothing of, the coach slackening its pace,
VOL. VI. R
came within sight of the dreadful house of the dreadfullest woman in the world; as she proved to me.
Lord be good unto me! cried the poor fool, looking out of the coach—Mr. Lovelace!—Madam !— turning to the pretended Lady Betty !—Madam! turning to the niece, my hands and eyes lifted up— Lord be good unto me!
What! What! What! my dear!
He pulled the string—what need to have come diis way? said he—but since we are, I will but ask a question—my dearest life, why this apprehension?
The coachman stopped: his servant, who, with one of hers was behind, alighted—Ask, said he, if I have any letters? Who knows, my dearest creature, turning to me, but we may already have one from the captain? We will not go out of the coach!—Fear nothing—why so apprehensive?— Oh! these fine spirits !—cried the execrable insulter.
Dreadfully did my heart then misgive me: I was ready to faint. Why this terror, my life? You shall not stir out of the coach—but one question, now the fellow has drove us this way.
Your lady will faint, cried the execrable Lady Betty, turning to him—my dearest niece! (niece I will call you, taking my hand) we must alight, if you are so ill.—Let us alight—only for a glass of water and hartshorn—indeed we must alight.
No, no, no—I am well—quite well—won't the man drive on!—I am well—quite well—indeed I am.—Man, drive on, putting my head out of the coach—Man, drive on !—though my voice was too low to be heard.
The coach stopt at the door. How I trembled!
Dorcas came to the door, on its stopping.
'My dearest creature, said the vile man, gasping, as it were for breath, you shall not alight—any letters for me, Dorcas?
There are two, sir. And here is a gentleman, Mr. Belton, sir, waits for your honour; and has done so above an hour.
I'll just speak to him. Open the door—you shan't step out, my dear—a letter perhaps from the captain already!—You shan't step out, my dear.
I sighed, as if my heart would burst.
But we must step out, nephew: your lady will faint. Maid, a glass of hartshorn and water !—My dear, you must step out—you will faint, child—we must cut your laces.—[I believe my complexion was all manner of colours by turns]—indeed, you must step out, my dear.
He knew, he said, I should be well, the moment the coach drove from the door. I should not alight, by his soul, I should not.
Lord, lord, nephew, lord, lord, cousin, both women in a breath, what ado you make about nothing! You persuade your lady to be afraid of alighting—See you not, that she is just fainting?
Indeed, madam, said the vile seducer, my dearest love must not be moved in this point against her will. I beg it may not be insisted upon.
Fiddle-faddle, foolish man—what a pother is here! I guess how it is: you are ashamed to let us see what sort of people you carried your lady among—but do you go out, and speak to your friend, and take your letters.
He stept out; but shut the coach door after him, to oblige me.
The coach may go on, madam, said I.
The coach shall go on, my dear life, said he— but he gave not, nor intended to give, orders that it should.
Let the coach go on ! said I.—Mr.' Lovelace may come after us.
Indeed, my dear, you are ill!—Indeed you must alight—alight but for one quarter of an hour.— Alight but to give orders yourself about your things. Whom can you be afraid of in my company, and my niece's':' These people must have behaved shockingly to you! Please the Lord, I'll inquire into it!—I'll see what sort of people they ace!
Immediately came the old creature to the door. A thousand pardons, dear madam, stepping to the coach-side, if we have any way offended you—.be, pleased, ladies, [to the other two] to alight.
Well, my dear, whispered the Lady Betty, I now find that an hideous description of a person we never saw, is an advantage to them. I thought the woman was a monster—but, really, she seems tolerable.
I was afraid I should have fallen into fits: but still refused to go out—Man !—Man !—Man !— cried I, gaspingly, my head out of the coach and in, by turns, half a dozen times running, drive onj —Let us go!
My heart misgave me beyond the power of my own accounting for it; for still I did not suspect these women. But the antipathy I had taken to the vile house, and to find myself so near it, when I expected no such matter, with the sight of the old creature, all together made me behave like a distracted person.
The hartshorn and water was brought. The pretended Lady Betty made me drink it. Heaven knows if there were any thing else in it!
Besides, said she, whisperingly, I must see what sort of creatures the nieces are. Want of delicacy cannot be hid from me. You could not surely, my dear, have this aversion to re-enter a house, for a few minutes, in our company, in which you lodged and boarded several weeks, unless these women could be so presumptuously vile, as my nephew ought not to know.
Out stept the pretended lady; the servant, at her command, having opened the door.
Dearest madam, said the other to me, let me follow you, [for I was next the door.] Fear nothing; I will not stir from your presence.
Come, my dear, said the pretended lady: give me your hand; holding out hers. Oblige me this once.
I will bless your footsteps, said the old creature, if once more you honour my house with your presence.
A crowd by this time was gathered about us; but I was too much affected to mind that.
Again the pretended Miss Montague urged me; standing up as ready to go out if I would give her room. Lord, my dear, said she, who can bear this crowd ?—What will people think?
The pretended lady again pressed me, with both her hands held out—Only, my dear, to give orders about your things.
And thus pressed, and gazed at, (for then I looked about me) the women so richly dressed, people whispering; in an evil moment, out stepped I, trembling, forced to lean with both my hands (frighted too much for ceremony) on the pretended Lady Betty's arm—O that I had dropped down dead upon the guilty threshold!
We shall stay but a few minutes, my dear!—but a few minutes! said the same specious jilt—out of breath with her joy, as I have since thought, that they had thus triumphed over the unhappy victim!