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Come, Mrs. Sinclair, I think your name is, shew us the way—following her, and leading me, I am very thirsty. You have frighted me, my dear, with your strange fears. I must have tea made, if it can be done in a moment. We have further to go, Mrs. Sinclair, and must return to Hampstead this night.
It shall be ready in a moment, cried the wretch. We have water boiling.
Hasten, then—come, my dear, to me, as she led me through the passage to the fatal inner house— lean upon me !—how you tremble—how you falter in your steps!—Dearest niece Lovelace, [the old wretch being in hearing] why these hurries upon your spirits ?—We'll be gone in a minute.
And thus she led the poor sacrifice into the old wretch's too well known parlour.
Never was any body so gentle, so meek, so lowvoiced as the odious woman! drawling out in a puling accent, all the .obliging things she could say: awed, I then thought, by the conscious dignity of a woman of quality; glittering with jewels. The called-for tea was ready presently. There was no Mr. Belton, I believe; for the wretch went not to any body, unless it were while we were parleying in the coach. No such person, however, appeared at the tea-table.
I was made to drink two dishes, with milk, complaisantly urged by the pretended ladies helping me each to one. I was stupid to their hands; and when I took the tea, almost choked with vapours; and could hardly swallow.
I thought, transiently thought, that the tea, the last dish particularly, had an odd taste. They, on my pulating it, observed that the milk was London milk: far short in goodness of what they were accustomed to from their own dairies.
I have no doubt that my two dishes, and perhaps my hartshorn were prepared for me: in which case it was more proper for their purpose, that they should help me, than that I should help myself. HI before, I found myself still more and more disordered in my head: a heavy torpid pain increasing fast upon me. But I imputed it to my terror.
Nevertheless, at the pretended ladies' motion, I went up stairs, attended by Dorcas: who affected to weep for joy, that she once more saw my blessed face; that was the vile creature's word, and immediately I set about taking out some of my clothes, ordering what should be put up, and what sent after me.
While I was thus employed, up came the pretended Lady Betty, in a hurrying way My dear,
you won't be long before you are ready. My nephew is very busy in writing answers to his letters: so I'll just whip away and change my dress, and call upon you in an instant.
0 madam!—I am ready! I am now ready!—You must not leave me here. And down I sunk,
, affrighted, into a chair.
This instant, this instant I will return—before you can be ready—before you can have packed up your things—we would not be late—the robbers we have heard of may be out—don't let us be late.
And away she hurried before I could say another word. Her pretended niece went with her, without taking notice to me of her going.
1 had no suspicion yet, that these women were not indeed the ladies they personated; and I blamed myself for my weak fears.—It cannot be, thought I, that such ladies will abet treachery against a poor creature they are so fond of. They must undoubtedly be the persons they appear to be —what folly to doubt it! The air, the dress, the dignity of women of quality. How unworthy of them, and of my charity, concluded I, is this ungenerous shadow of suspicion!
So recovering my stupified spirits, as well as they could be recovered, (for I was heavier and heavier: and wondered to Dorcas, what ailed me: rubbing my eyes and taking some of her snuff, pinch after pinch, to very little purpose) I pursued my employment: but when that was over, all packed up that I designed to be packed up; and I had nothing to do but to think; and found them tarry so long; I thought I should have gone distracted. I shut myself into the chamber that had been mine; I kneeled, I prayed; yet knew not what I prayed for: then ran out again: it was almost dark night, I said; where, where was Mr. Lovelace?
He came to me, taking no notice at first of my consternation and wildness [what they had given me made me incoherent and wild]: All goes well, said he, my dear!—A line from Capt. Tomlinson!
All indeed did go well for the villanous project of the most cruel and most villanous of men!
I demandedhis aunt!—I demanded his cousin !—The evening, I said, was closing !—My head was very, very bad, I remember I said—and it grew worse and worse—
Terror, however, as yet kept up my spirits; and I insisted upon his going himself to hasten them.
He called his servant. He raved at the sex for their delay: 'twas well that business of consequence seldom depended upon such parading, unpunctual triflers!
His servant came.
He ordered him to fly to his cousin Leeson's, and to let Lady Betty and his cousin know how uneasy we both were at their delay: adding of his own accord, Desire them, if they don't come instantly, to send their coach, and we will go without them. Tell them I wonder they'll serve me so!
I thought this was considerately and Fairly put. But now, indifferent as my head was, I had a little time to consider the man and his behaviour. He terrified me with his looks, and with his violent emotions, as he gazed upon me. Evident joy-suppressed emotions, as I have since recollected. His sentences short, and.pronounced as if his breath were touched. Never saw I his abominable eyes look, as then they looked—triumph in them!— Fierce and wild; and more disagreeable than the women's at the vile house appeared to me when I first saw them: and at times, such a leering, mischief-boding cast!—I would have given the world to have been an hundred miles from him. Yet his behaviour was decent—a decency, however, that 1 might have seen to. be struggled for—for he snatched my hand two or three times, with a vehemence in his grasp that hurt me; speaking words of tenderness through his shut teeth, as it seemed; and let it go with a beggar-voiced humble accent, like the vile woman's just before; half-inward; yet his words and manner carrying the appearance of strong, and almost convulsed passion!—O my dear! what mischief was he not then meditating!
I complained once or twice of thirst. My mouth seemed parched. At the time, I supposed that it was my terror (gasping often as I did for breath) that parched up the roof of my mouth. I called for water: some table-beer was brought me: beer, I suppose, was abetter vehicle (if I were not dosed enough before) for their potions. I told the maid, that she knew I seldom tasted malt-liquor: yet, suspecting nothing of this nature, being extremely thirsty, I drank it, as what came next: and instantly, as it were, found myself much worse than before: as if inebriated, I should fancy: I know not how.
~ His servant was gone twice as long as he needed: and just before his return, came one of the pretended Lady Betty's with a letter for Mr. Lovelace.
He sent it up to me. I read it: and then it was that I thought myself a lost creature: it being to put off her going to Hampstead that night, on account of violent fits which Miss Montague was pretended to be seized with; for then immediately came into my head his vile attempt upon me in this house; the revenge that my flight might too probably inspire him with on that occasion, and because of the difficulty I made to forgive him, and to be reconciled to him: his very looks wild and dreadful to me; and the women of the house such as I had more reason than ever, even from the pretended Lady Betty's hint, to be afraid of: all these crowding together in my apprehensive mind, I fell into a kind of frenzy.
I have not remembrance how I was, for the time it lasted: but I know, that in my first agitations, I pulled off my head-dress and tore my ruffles in twenty tatters, and ran to find him out.
When a little recovered I insisted upon the hint he had given of their coach. But the messenger, he said, had told him, that it was sent to fetch a physician, lest his chariot should be put up, or not ready.
I then insisted upon going directly to Lady Betty's lodgings.
Mrs. Leeson's was now a crowded house, he said, and as my earnestness could be owing to nothing but groundless apprehension, [and O what vows,