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to take no denial for her giving a satisfactory return to your messenger: but, upon my entering Mrs. Sinclair's house, I found all in the greatest consternation.
You must not, sir, be surprised. It is a trouble to me to be the relater of the bad news: but so it is —the lady is gone off. She was missed but half an hour before I came.
Her waiting-maid is run away, or hitherto is not to be found: so that they conclude it was by her connivance.
They had sent, before I came, to my honoured masters Mr. Belton, Mr. Mowbray, and Mr. Belford. Mr. Tourville is out of town.
High words are passing between Madam Sinclair, and Madam Horton, and Madam Martin; as also with'Dorcas. And your servant William threatens to hang or drown himself.
They have sent to know if they can hear of Mabell, the waiting maid, at her mother's, who it seems lives in Chick Lane, West Smithfield; and to an uncle of hers also who keeps an ale-house at Cow Cross, hard by, and with whom she lived last.
Your messenger having just changed his horse, is come back; so I will not detain him longer than to add, that I am, with great concern for this misfortune, and thanks for your seasonable favour and kind intentions towards me—[I am sure this was not my fault.]
MR. MOWBRAY TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESO.
Dear Lovel\ce, Wednesday, 12 o'clock.
I Have plaguy news to acquaint thee with. Miss Harlowe is gone off!—Quite gone, by my soul—I have not time for particulars, your servant being going off. But if I had, we are not yet come to the bottom of the matter. The ladies here are all blubbering like devils, accusing one another most confoundedly: whilst Belton and I d—n them altogether in thy name.
If thou shouldst hear that thy fellow Will is taken dead out of some horse-pond, and Dorcas cut down from her bed's teaster, from dangling in her own garters, be not surprised. Here's the devil to pay. Nobody serene but Jack Belford, who is taking minutes of examinations, accusations and confessions, with the significant air of a Middlesex justice; and intends to write at large all particulars, I suppose.
I heartily condole with thee; so does Belton. But it may turn out for the best: for she is gone away with thy marks, I understand. A foolish little devil! Where will she mend herself? For nobody will look upon her. And they tell me that thou wouldst certainly have married her, had she staid. But I know thee better.
Dear Bobby, adieu. If Lord M. will die now, to comfort thee for this loss, what a seasonable exit would he make! Let's have a letter from thee. Pr'ythee do. Thou canst write devil-like to Belford, who shews us nothing at all.
VOL. Vi. K
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday, June 29.
Thou hast heard from M'Donald and Mowbray the news. Bad or good, I know not which thou'lt deem it. I only wish I could have given thee joy upon the same account, before the unhappy lady was seduced from Hampstead; for then of what an ungrateful villany hadst thou been spared the perpetration, which now thou hast to answer for!
I came to town purely to serve thee with her, expecting that thy next would satisfy me that I might endeavour it without dishonour. And at first when I found her gone, I half pitied thee; for now wilt thou be inevitably blown up: and in what an execrable light wilt thou appear to all the world —Poor Lovelace! Caught in thy own snares! Thy punishment is but beginning!
But to my narrative; for I suppose thou expectest all particulars from me, since Mowbray has informed thee that I have been collecting them.
'The noble exertion of spirit she had made on Friday night, had, it seems, greatly disordered her; insomuch that she was not visible till Saturday evening; when Mabell saw her; and she seemed to be very ill: but on Sunday morning, having dressed herself, as if designing to go to church, she ordered Mabell to get her a coach to the door.
'The wench told her, she was to obey her in every thing but the calling of a coach, or chair, or in relation to letters.
'She sent for Will, and gave him the same command.
'He pleaded his master's orders to the contrary, and desired to be excused.
'Upon this, down she went, herself, and would have gone out without observation: but finding the street-door double locked, and the key not in the lock, she stept in to the street parlour, and would have thrown up the sash to call out to the people passing by, as they doubted not: but that since her last attempt of the same nature, had been fastened down.
'Hereupon she resolutely stepped into Mrs. Sinclair's parlour in the back-house; where were the old devil and her two partners: and demanded the key of the street door, or to have it opened for her.
'They were all surprised! but desired to be excused, and pleaded your orders.
'She asserted that you had no authority over her; and never should have any: that their present refusal was their own act and deed: she saw the intent of their back house, and the reason of putting her there: she pleaded her condition and fortune; and said, they had no way to avoid utter ruin, but by opening their doors to her, or by murdering her, and burying her in their garden or cellar too deep for detection: that already what had been done to her was punishable by death: and bid them at their peril detain her.'
What a noble, what a right spirit has this charming creature, in cases that will justify an exertion of spirit!—
'They answered, that Mr. Lovelace could prove his marriage, and would indemnify them. And they all would have vindicated their behaviour on Friday night, and the reputation of their house; but refusing to hear them on that topic, she flung from them threatening.
'She then went up half a dozen stairs in her way to her own apartment: but, as if she had bethought herself, down she stept again, and proceeded towards the street parlour, saying, as she passed by the infamous Dorcas, I'll make myself protectors though the windows suffer: but that wench, of her own head, on the lady's going out of that parlour to Mrs. Sinclair's, had locked the door, and taken out the key: so that finding herself disappointed, she burst into tears, and went sobbing and menacing up stairs again.
'She made no other attempt till the effectual one, your letters and messages, they suppose, coming so fast upon one another, (though she would not answer one of them) gave her some amusement, and an assurance to them, that she would at last forgive you; and that then all would end as you wished.
'The women, in pursuance of your orders, offered not to obtrude themselves upon her; and Dorcas also kept out of her sight all the rest of Sunday; also Monday and Tuesday. But by the lady's condescension (even to familiarity) to Mabell, they imagined that she must be working in her mind all that time to get away: they therefore redoubled their cautions to the wench; who told them so faithfully all that passed between her lady and her, that they had no doubt of her fidelity to her wicked trust.
''Tis probable she might have been contriving something all this time; but saw no room for perfecting any scheme; the contrivance by which she effected her escape seems to me not to have been fallen upon till the very day; since it depended partly upon the weather, as it proved. But it is evident she hoped something from Mabell's simplicity, or gratitude, or compassion, by cultivating all the time her civility to her.