Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Let me ask you, madam, what meant you, when' you said, • that were it not a sin, you would die before you gave me that assurance?'

She was indignantly silent.

You thought, madam, you had given me room to hope your pardon by it?

When I think I ought to answer you with patience, I will speak.

Do you think yourself in my power, madam?

If I were not—and there she stopt—

Dearest creature, speak out—1 beseech you, dearest creature, speak out—

She was silent; her charming face all in a glow.

Have you, madam, any reliance upon my honour?

Still silent.

You hate me, madam! You despise me more than you do the most odious of God's creatures!

You ought to despise me, if I did not.

You say, madam, you are in a bad house. You have no reliance upon my honour—you believe you cannot avoid me—

She arose. I beseech you, let me withdraw.

I snatched her hand, rising, and pressed it first to my lips, and then to my heart in wild disorder. She might have felt the bounding mischief ready to burst its bars—You shall go—to your own apartment, if you please—but by the great God of heaven, I will accompany you thither.

She trembled—Pray, pray, Mr. Lovelace, don't terrify me so!

Be seated, madam! I beseech you, be seated !—

I will sit down—

Do then—all my soul in my eyes, and my heart's blood throbbing at my finger's ends.

I will—I will—you hurt me—pray Mr. Lovelace, don't—don't frighten me so—and down she sat trembling; my hand still grasping her's.

I hung over her throbbing bosom, and putting my other arm round her waist—And you say, you hate me, madam—and you say, you despise me— and you say, you promised me nothing

Yes, yes, I did promise you—let me not be held down thus—you see I sat down when you bid me —why [struggling] need you hold me down thus? —I did promise to endeavour to be easy till Thursday vsas over! But you won't let me !—How can I be easy? Pray, let me not be thus terrified.

And what, madam, meant you by your promise? Did you mean any thing in my favour ?—You designed that I should, at the time, think you did. Did you mean any thing in my favour, madam ?—' Did you intend, that I should think you did?

Let go my hand, sir—take away your arm from about me [struggling, yet trembling]—Why do you gaze upon me so?

Answer me, madam, did you mean any thing in my favour by your promise?

Let me not be thus constrained to answer.

Then pausing; and gaining more spirit, Let me go, said she: I am but a woman—but a weak woman—but my life is in my own power, though my person is not—I will not be thus constrained.

You shall not, madam, quitting her hand, bowing; but my heart at my mouth, and hoping further provocation.

She arose, and was hurrying away.

I pursue you not, madam—I will try your generosity. Stop—return—this moment stop, return, if, madam, you would not make me desperate.

She stopt at the door; burst into tears—O Lovelace !—How, how have I deserved—

Be pleased, dearest angel, to return.

She came back—but with declared reluctance; and imputing her compliance to terror.

Terror, Jack, as I have heretofore found out, though I have so little benefitted by the discovery, must be my resort, if she make it necessary—nothing else will do with the inflexible charmer.

She seated herself over against me; extremely discomposed. But indignation had a visible predominance in her features.

I was going towards her with a countenance intendedly changed to love and softness: sweetest, dearest angel, were my words, in the tenderest accent: but, rising up, she insisted upon my being seated at a distance from her.

I obeyed, and begged her hand over the table, to my extended hand; to see, as I said, if in any thing she would oblige me. But nothing gentle, soft, or affectionate, would do. She refused me her hand!—Was she wise, Jack, to confirm to me, that nothing but terror would do?

Let me only know, madam, if your promise to endeavour to wait with patience the event of next Thursday, meant me favour?

Do you expect any voluntary favour from one to whom you give not a free choice?

Do you intend, madam, to honour me with your hand, in your uncle's presence, or do you not?

My heart and my hand shall never be separated. Why, think you, did I stand in opposition to the will of my best, my natural friends?

I know what you mean, madam—am I then as hateful to you as the vile Solmes?

Ask me not such a question, Mr. Lovelace.

I must be answered. Am I as hateful to you as the vile Solmes?

Why do you call Mr. Solmes vile?

Don't you think him so, madam?

Why should I? Did Mr. Solmes ever do vilely by me?

Dearest creature! don't distract me by hateful comparisons! And perhaps by a more hateful preference.

Don't you, sir, put questions to me, that you know I will answer truly, though my answer were ever so much to enrage you.

My heart, madam, my soul is all yours at present. But you must give me hope, that your promise, in your own construction, binds you, no new cause to the contrary, to be mine on Thursday. How else can I leave you?

Let me go to Hampstead; and trust to my favour.

May I trust to it?—Say, only may I trust to it?

How will you trust to it, if you extort an answer to this question?

Say only, dearest creature, say only, may I trust to your favour, if you go to Hampstead?

How dare you, sir, if I must speak out, expect a promise of favour from me?—What a mean creature must you think me, after your ungrateful baseness to me, were I to give you such a promise?

Then standing up, Thou hast made me, O vilest of men! [her hands clasped, and her face crimsoned over with indignation] an inmate of the vilest of houses—nevertheless, while I am in it, I shall have a heart incapable of any thing but abhorrence of that and of thee.

And round her looked the angel, and upon me, with fear in her sweet aspect of the consequence of her free declaration—But what a devil must I have been, I who love bravery in a man, had I not been more struck with admiration of her fortitude at the instant, than stimulated by revenge?

Noblest of creatures!—And do you think I can leave you and my interest in such an excellence,

Vol. vi. r

precarious? No promise!—no hope!—If you make me not desperate, may lightning blast me, if I do you not all the justice 'tis in my power to do you!

If you have any intention to oblige me, leave me at my own liberty, and let me not be detained in this abominable house. To be constrained as I have been constrained! To be stopt by your vile agents! To be brought up by force and be bruised in my own defence against such illegal violence !—I dare to die, Lovelace—and she who fears not death, is not to be intimidated into a meanness unworthy of her heart and principles!

Wonderful creature! But why, madam, did you lead me to hope for something favourable for next Thursday?—Once more, make me not desperate— with all your magnanimity, glorious creature! [I was more than half frantic, Belford] You may, you may—but do not, do not make me brutally threaten you—do not, do not, make me desperate!

My aspect, I believe, threatened still more than my words. I was rising—she arose—Mr. Lovelace, be pacified—you are even more dreadful than the Lovelace I have long dreaded—let me retire— I ask your leave to retire—you really frighten me —yet I give you no hope—from my heart I ab—

Say not, madam, you abhor me. You must, for your own sake, conceal your hatred—at least not avow it. I seized her hand.

Let me retire—let me retire, said she—in a manner out of breath.

I will only say, madam, that I refer myself to your generosity. My heart is not to be trusted at this instant. As a mark of my submission to your will, yo shall, if you please, withdraw—but I will not go to M. Hall—live or die, my Lord M. I will not go to M. Hall—but will attend the effect of your promise. Remember, madam, you have pro

« VorigeDoorgaan »