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.between them to take up so much time, their distance in degree considered: for arduous as the case was, and precious as the time, Dorcas was gone above half an hour! Yet the chariot was said to be ready at a grocer's not many doors off!
'Indeed some elderly ladies are talkative: and there are, no doubt, some good people in the world—
• But that it should chance to be a widow lady, who could do what she pleased! That Dorcas should know her to be so by the lozenge! Persons in her station not usually so knowing, I believe, in heraldry.
'Yet some may! for servants are fond of deriving collateral honours and distinctions, as I may call them, from the quality or rank of people whom they serve. But his sly servant not gone with him. Then this letter of Tomlinson!
'Although I am resolved never to have this wretch, yet, may I not throw myself into my uncle's protection at Kentish Town or Highgate, if I cannot escape before: and so get clear of him? May not the evil I know, be less than what I may fall into, if I can avoid further villany? Further villany he has not yet threatened; freely and justly as I have treated him!—I will not go, I think. At least, unless I can send this fellow out of the way*.
'The fellow a villain! The wench, I doubt, a vile wench. At last concerned for her own safety. Plays off and on about a coach,
'All my hopes of getting off, at present over !— Unhappy creature! to what further evils art thou
• She tried to do this; but was prevented by the fellow's pretending to put his ancle out, by a slip down stairs.—A trick, says his contriving master, in his omitted relation, / had taught him, on a like occasion, at Amiens.
reserved! O how my heart rises, at the necessity I must still be under to see and converse with so very vile a man!'
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Wednesday afternoon. Disappointed in her meditated escape; obliged, against her will, to meet me in the dining-room; and perhaps apprehensive of being upbraided for Jier art in feigning herself ill; I expected that the dear perverse would begin with me with spirit and indignation. But I was in hopes, from the gentleness of her natural disposition; from the consideration which I expected from her on her situation; from the contents of the letter of Captain Tomlinson, which Dorcas told me she had seen; and from the time she had had to cool and reflect since she last admitted me to her presence, that she would not have carried it so strongly through as she did.
As I entered the dining-room, I congratulated her and myself upon her sudden recovery. And would have taken her hand, with an air of respectful tenderness; but she was resolved to begin where she left off.
She turned from me, drawing in her hand, with a repulsing.and indignant aspect—I meet you once more, said she, because I cannot help it. What have you to say to me? Why am I to be thus detained against my will?
With the utmost solemnity of speech and behaviour, I urged the ceremony. I saw I had nothing else for it. I had a letter in my pocket, I said, [feeling for it, although I had not taken it from the table where I left it in the same room] the contents of which, if attended to, would make us both happy. I had been loth to shew it to her before, because I hoped to prevail upon her to be mine sooner than the day mentioned in it.
I felt for it in all my pockets, watching her eye meantime, which I saw glance towards the table where it lay.
I was uneasy that I could not find it—at last, directed again by her sly eye, I spied it on the table at the further end of the room.
With joy I fetched it. Be pleased to read that letter, madam; with an air of satisfied assurance.
She took it, and cast her eye over it, in sucli a careless way, as made it evident, that she had read it before: and then unthankfully tossed it into the window-seat before her.
I urged her to bless me to-morrow, or Friday morning: at least, that she would not render vain her uncle's journey, and kind endeavours to bring about a reconciliation among us all.
Among us all! repeated she, with an air equally disdainful and incredulous. O Lovelace, thou art surely nearly allied to the grand deceiver, in thy endeavour to suit temptations to inclinations!—But what honour, what faith, what veracity, were it possible that I could enter into a parley with thee on this subject, (which it is not) may I expect from such a man as thou hast shewn thyself to be?
I was touched to the quick. A lady of your perfect character, madam, who has feigned herself sick, on purpose to avoid seeing the man who adored her, should not—
I know what thou wouldst say, interrupted she —twenty and twenty low things, that my soul would have been above being guilty of, and which I have despised myself for, have I been brought into by the infection of thy company, and by the necessity thou hast laid me under, of appearing mean. But I thank God, destitute as I am, that I am not, however, sunk so low, as to wish to be thine.
I, madam, as the injurer, ought to have patience. It is for the injured to reproach. But your uncle is not in a plot against you, it is to be hoped. There are circumstances in the letter you have cast your eyes over—
Again she interrupted me, Why, once more I ask you, am I detained in this house ?—Do not I see myself surrounded by wretches, who, though they wear the habit of my sex, may yet, as far as I know, lie in wait for my perdition?
She would toe very loth, I said, that Mrs. Sinclair and her nieces should be called up to vindicate themselves, and their house.
Would but they kill me, let them come, and welcome. I will bless the hand that will strike the blow! Indeed I will.
'Tis idle, very idle to talk of dying. Mere young lady talk, when controlled by those they hate. But let me beseech you, dearest creature
Beseech me nothing. Let me not be detained thus against my will!—Unhappy creature that I am, said she, in a kind of phrensy, wringing her hands at the same time, and turning from me, her eyes lifted up !' Thy Curse, O my cruel father, seems to be now in the height of its operation !— My weakened mind is full of forebodings, that I am in the way of being a lost creature as to both worlds! Blessed, blessed God, said she, falling on her knees, save me, O save me, from myself and from this man!'
I sunk down on my knees by her, excessively affected—O that I could recal yesterday! Forgive me, my dearest creature, forgive what is past, as it cannot now but by one way be retrieved. Forgive me only on this condition—that my future faith and honour—
She interrupted me, rising—If you mean to beg of me never to seek to avenge myself by law, or by an appeal to my relations, to my cousin Morden in particular, when he comes to England
D—n the law, rising also, [she started] and all those to whom you talk of appealing!—I defy both the one and the other—all I beg, is Your forgiveness; and that you will, on my unfeigned contrition, re-establish me in your favour.
O no, no, no! lifting up her clasped hands, I never, never will, never, never can forgive you !— And it is a punishment worse than death to me, that 1 am obliged to meet you, or to see you.
This is the last time, my dearest life, that you will ever see me in this posture, on this occasion: and again I kneeled to her. Let me hope, that you will be mine next Thursday, your uncle's birthday, if not before. Would to heaven I had never been a villain! Your indignation is not, cannot be greater, than my remorse—and I took hold of her gown, for she was going from me.
Be remorse thy portion!—For thine own sake, be remorse thy portion !—I never, never will forgive thee !—I never, never will be thine !—Let me retire !—Why kneelest thou to the wretch whom thou hast so vilely humbled?
Say but, dearest creature, you will consider—say but you will take time to reflect upon what the honour of both our families requires of you. I will not rise. I will not permit you to withdraw [still holding her gown] till you tell me you will consider.—Take this letter. Weigh well your situation,