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in perfection!—Such bravoes as thou and I should never have been able to support ourselves under half the persecutions, the disappointments, and contumelies, that she has met with; but, like cowards, should have slid out of the world, basely, by some back-door; that is to say, by a sword, by a pistol, by a halter, or knife ;—but here is a fineprincipled woman, who, by dint of this noble consideration, as I imagine [what else can support her ?]—That she has not deserved the evils she contends with; and that this world is designed but as a transitory state of probation; and that she is travelling to another and better; puts up with all the hardships of the journey; and is not to be diverted from her course by the attacks of thieves and robbers, or any other terrors and difficulties; being assured of an ample reward at the end of it.
If thou thickest this reflection uncharacteristic from a companion and friend of thine, imaginest thou, that I profited nothing by my long attendance on my uncle in his dying state; and from the pious reflections of the good clergyman, who day by day, at the poor man's own request, visited and prayed by him?—And could I have another such instance as this, to bring all these reflections home to me?
Then who can write of good persons, and of good subjects, and be capable of admiring them, and not be made serious for the time? And hence may we gather what a benefit to the morals of men the keeping of good company must be; while those who keep only bad, must necessarily more and more harden, and be hardened.
* * *
'Tis twelve of the clock, Sunday night—I can think of nothing but of this excellent creature. Her distresses fill my head and heart. I was. drowsy for a quarter of an hour; but the fit is gone off. And I will continue the melancholy subject from the information of these wretches. Enough, I dare say, will arise in the visit I shall make, if admitted to-morrow, to send by thy servant, as to the way I am likely to find her in.
After the women had left her, she complained of her head and her heart; and seemed terrified with apprehensions of being carried once more to .Sinclair's.
Refusing any thing for breakfast, Mrs. Rowland came up to her, and told her (as these wretches owned they had ordered her, for fear she should starve herself) that she must and should have tea, and bread and butter: and that, as she had friends who could support her, if she wrote to them, it was a wrong thing, both for herself and them, to starve herself thus.
If it be for your own sokes, said she, that is another thing: let coffee, or tea, or chocolate, or what you will, be got: and put down a chicken to my aceount every day, if you please, and eat it yourselves. I will taste it, if I can. I would do nothing to hinder you. I have friends will pay you liberally, when they know I am gone.
They wondered, they told her, at her strange composure in such distresses.
They were nothing, she said, towhat she had suffered already from the vilest of all men. The disgrace of seizing her in the street; multitudes of people about her; shocking imputations wounding her ears; had indeed been very affecting to her. But that was over.—Every thing soon would i—' And she should be still more composed, were it not for the apprehensions of seeing one man, and one woman; and being tricked or forced back to the vilest house in the world.
Then were it not better to give way to the two gentlewomen's offer to bail her?—They could tell her, it was a very kind proffer; and what was not to be met with every day.
She believed so.
The ladies might, possibly, dispense with her going back to the house to which she had such an antipathy. Then the compassionate gentleman, who was inclined to make it up with her creditors, on her own bond—it was strange to them she hearkened not to so generous a proposal.
Did the two ladies tell you who the gentleman was ?—Or did they say any more on that subject?
Yes, they did! and hinted to me, said the woman, that you had nothing to do, but to receive a visit from the gentleman, and the money, they believed, would be laid down on your own bond or note.
She was startled.
I charge you, said she, as you will answer it one day to my friends, that you bring no gentleman into my company. I charge you don't. If you do, you know not what may be the consequence.
They apprehended no bad consequence, they said, in doing their duty: and if she knew not her own good, her friends would thank them for taking any innocent steps to serve her, though against her will.
Don't push me upon extremities, man!—Don't make me desperate, woman!—I have no small difficulty, notwithstanding the seeming composure you just now took notice of, to bear, as I ought to bear, the evils I suffer. But if you bring a man or men to me, be the pretence what it will—
She stopt there, and looked so earnestly, and so wildly, they said, that they did not know but she would do some harm to herself, if they disobeyed her; and that would be a sad thing in their house; and might be their ruin. They therefore promised, that no man should be brought to her but by her own consent.
Mrs. Rowland prevailed on her to drink a dish of tea, and taste some bread and butter, about eleven on Saturday morning: which she probably did, to have an excuse not to dine with the women when they returned.
But she would not quit her prison-room, as she called it, to go into their parlour.
"Unbarred windows, and a lightsomer apartment, she said, had too cheerful an appearance for her mind."
A shower falling, as she spoke, "What," said she looking up, "do the elements weep for me?"
At another time, "the light of the sun was irksome to her. The sun seemed to shine in to mock her woes."
"Methought," added she, "the sun darting in, and gilding these iron bars, plays upon me like the two women, who came to insult my haggard looks by the word beauty; and my dejected heart, by the word haughty-airs!"
Sally came again at dinner-time, to see horn she fared, as she told her; and that she did not starve herself: and, as she wanted to have some talk with her, if she gave her leave, she would dine with her.
I cannot eat.
You must try, Miss Harlowe.
And, dinner being ready just then, she offered her hand, and desired her to walk down.
No; she would not stir out of her prison-room.
These sullen airs won't do, Miss Harlovoe: in> . deed they won't.
She was silent.
Vol. vi. e c
You will have harder usage than any you hare ever yet known, I can tell you, if you come not into some humour to make matters up.
She was still silent.
Come, miss, walk down to dinner. Let me entreat you, do. Miss Horton is below: She was once your favourite.
She waited for an answer: but received none.
We came to make some proposals to you, for your good; though you affronted us so lately. And we would not let Mrs. Sinclair come in person, because we thought to oblige you.
This is indeed obliging.
Come, give me your hand, Mtii Harlowe: you are obliged to me, I can tell you that: and let us go down to Miss Horton.
Excuse me: I will not stir out of this room. Would you have me and Miss Horton dine in
It is not a bed-room to me. I have not been in bed; nor will, while I am here.
And yet, you care not, as I see, to leave thehouse. —And so you won't go down, Miss Harlowe f I won't, except I am forced to it. Well, well, let it alone. I sha'n't ask Miss Horton to dine in this room, I assure you. I will send up a plate.
And away the little saucy toad fluttered down.
When they had dined, up they came together.
Well, miss, you would not eat any tiling, it seems ?—Very pretty sullen airs these!—No wonder the honest gentleman had such a hand with you.
She only held up her hands and eyes; the tears trickling down her cheeks.
Insolent devils.'—how muck more cruel and insulting are bad women, even than bad men!