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Indeed, ladies, said I, [with assurance enough, thou'tt say] this violence is not natural to my beloved's temper — misapprehension. —
Misapprehension, wretch! And want I excuses from thee!
By what a scorn was every lovely feature agitated!
Then turning her face from me, I have no patience, O thou guileful betrayer, to look upon thee. Begone! begone! With a face so unblushing, how darest thou appear in my presence?
I thought then, that the character of a husband obliged me to be angry.
You may one day, madam, repent this treatment: — by my soul you may. You know l have not deserved it of you — you know I have not.
Do I know you have not? — wretch! do I know —
You do, madam — and never did man of my figure and eon sideration [I thought it was proper to throw that in] meet with such treatment —
She lifted up her bands: indignation kept her silent.
But all is of a piece with the charge you bring against me of despoiling you of all succour and help, of making you poor and ioio,and with other unprecedented language. I will only say, before these two gentlewomen, that since it must be so, and since your former esteem for me is turned into so rivetted an aversion, I will soon, very soon, make you entirely easy. I will be gone; — I
will leave you to your own fate, as you call it; and may that be happy! — Only, that I may not appear to be a spoiler, a robber indeed, let me know whither I shall send your apparel, and every thing that belongs to you, and I will send it.
Send it to this place; and assure me, that you will never molest me more; never more come near me; and that is all I ask of you.
I will do so, madam, said I, with a dejected air. But did l ever think I should be so indifferent to you?— However,you mustpermit me to insist on your reading this letter; and on your seeing Capt. Tomlinson, and hearing what he has to say from your uncle. He will be here by-and-by.
Don't trifle with me, said she, in an imperious tone — do as you offer. I will not receive any letter from your hands. If I see Captain Tomlinson, it shall be on his own account; not on yours. You tell me you will send me my apparel: if you would have me believe any thing you say, let this be the test of your sincerity — leave me now, and send my things.
The women stared. They did nothing but stare: and appeared to be more and more at a loss what to make of the matter between us.
I pretended to be going from her in a pet; but when I had got to the door, I turned back; and as if I had recollected myself, One word more, my dearest creature!
— Charming even in your anger!
— O my fond soul! said I, turning
half-round, and pulling out my handkerchief. I believe, Jack, my eyes did
§listen a little. I have no doubt ut they did. The women pitied me. Honest souls! they shewed that they had each of them a handkerchief as well as I. So, hast thou not observed (to give a familiar illustration) every man in a company of a dozen, or more, obligingly pull out his watch, when some one has asked what's o'clock? — As each man of a like number, if one talks of his beard, will fall to stroking his chin with his four fingers and thumb.
One word only, madam, repeated I (as soon as my voice had recovered its tone): I have represented to Captain Tomlinson in the most favourable light the cause of our present misunderstanding. You know what your uncle insists upon; and with which you have acquiesced. The letter in my hand [and again I offered it to her] will acquaint you with what you have to apprehend from your brother's active malice.
She was going to speak in a high accent, putting the letter from her with an open palm — Nay, hear me out, madam — the Captain, you know, has reported our marriage to two different persons. It is come to your brother's ears. My own relations have also heard of it. Letters were brought me from town this morning, from Lady lietty Lawrence and Miss Montague. Here they are fl pulled them out of my pocket, and| offered them to her, with that of
the Captain; but she held back her still open palm, that she might not receive them]. Reflect, madam , I beseech you, reflect, upon the fatal consequences with which this your high resentment may be attended.
Ever since I knew you, said she, I have been in a wilderness of doubt and error. I bless God that I am out of your hands. I will transact for myself what relates to myself. I dismiss all your solicitude for me. Am I not my own mistress! — Have you any title —
The women stared [the devil stare ye, thought I. Can ye do nothing but stare?] It was high time to stop her here.
I raised my voice to drown hers — You used my dearest creature, to have a tender and apprehensive heart — you never had so much reason for such a one as now.
Let me judge for myself, upon what I shall see, not upon what I shall hear — do you think I shall ever —
I dreaded her going on —Imust be heard, madam, raising my voice still higher. You must let me read one paragraph or two of this letter to you, if you will not read it yourself —
Begone from me, man! — Begone from me with thy letters! What pretence hast thou for tormenting me thus — what right — what title —
Dearest creature, what questions you ask! questions that you can as well answer yourself—
I can, I will — and thus I answer them —
Still louder raised I my voice. She was overborne. Sweet soul! it would be hard, thought I, [and yet I was very angry with herj if such a spirit as thine cannot be brought to yield to such a one as mine!
I lowered my voice on her silence. All gentle, all intreative, my accent: my head bowed; one hand held out; the other on my honest heart: — For Heaven's sake, my dearest creature, resolve to see Captain Tomlinson with temper. He would have come along with me: but I was willing to try to soften your mind first on this ratal misapprehension; and this for the sake of your own wishes: for what is it otherwise to me whether your friends are or are not reconciled to us? Do I wont any favour of them? — For your own mind's sake therefore , frustrate not Captain Tomlinson'snegociation. Thatworthy gentleman will be here in the afternoon — Lady Betty will be in town with my cousin Montague, in a day or two. They will be your visitors. I beseech you do not carry this misunderstanding so far, as that Lord M. and Lady Betty and Lady Sarah, may know it. \IIow considerable this made me look to the women] Lady Betty will not let you rest till you consent to accompany her to her own seat — and to that lady you may safely entrust your cause.
Again, upon my pausing a moment, she was going to break out. I liked not the turn of her countenance, nor the tone of her Toice — "And thinkest thou, base
wretch—" were the words she did utter. I again raised my voice and drowned hers—Base wretch, madam ? — You know that I have not deserved the violent names you have called me. Words so opprobrious! from a mind so gentle! — But this treatment is from you, madam! — from you, whom I love more than my own soul! — by that soul I swear that I do — [the women looked upon each other. They seemed pleased with my ardour. Women, whether wives, maids, or widows, love ardours. Even Miss Howe, thou knowest, speaks up for ardours*]. Nevertheless, I must say, that you have carried matters too far for the occasion. I see you hate me —
She was just going to speak —■ If we are to separate for ever, in a strong and solemn voice, proceeded I, this island shall not long be troubled with me. Meantime, only be pleased to give these letters a perusal, and consider what is to be said to your uncle's friend, and what he is to say to your uncle — any thing will I come into (renounce me if you will) that shall make for your peace, and for the reconciliation your heart was so lately set upon. But I humbly conceive, that it is necessary, that you should come into better temper with me, were it but to give a favourable appearance to what has passed, and weight to any future application to your friends, in whatever
• See Vol.11, p. 279, 301.
way you shall think proper to make it.
I then put the letters into her lap, and retired into the next apartment with a low bow, and a very solemn air.
I was soon followed by the two women. Mrs. Moore withdrew to give the fair perverse time to read them: Miss Rawlins for the same reason; and because she was sent for home.
The widow besought her speedy return. I joined in the same request; and she was ready enough to promise to oblige us.
l excused myself to Mrs. Moore for the disguise I had appeared in at first, and for the story I had invented. I told her that I held myself obliged to satisfy her for the whole floor we were upon; and for an upper room for my servant; and that for a month certain.
She made many scruples, and begged she might not be urged on this head, till she had consulted Miss Rawlins.
I consented; but told her, that she had taken my earnest, and I hoped there was no room for dispute.
Just then Miss Rawlins returned with an air of eager curiosity; and having been told what had passed between Mrs. Moore and me, she gave herself airs of office immediately: which 1 humoured, plainly perceiving, that if I had her with me, I had the other.
She wished, if there was time for it, and if it were not quite impertinent in her to desire it, that
I would give Mrs. Moore and her a brief history of an affair, which, as she said, bore the face of novelty, mystery, and surprise: for sometimes it looked to her as if we were married; at other times, that point appeared doubtful; and yet the lady did not absolutely deny it; but, upon the whole, thought herself highly injured.
I said, that ours was a very particular case: that were I to acquaint them with it, some part of it would hardly appear credible. But, however, as they seemed to be persons of discretion, I would give them a brief account of the whole; and this in so plain and sincere a manner, that it should clear up to their satisfaction every thing that had passed, or might hereafter pass between us.
They sat down by me, and threw every feature of their faces into attention. I was resolved to go as near the truth as possible, lest any thing should drop from my Clarissa to impeach my veracity; and yet keep in view what passed at the Flask.
It is necessary, although thou knowest my whole story, and a good deal of my views, that thou shouldst be apprized of the substance of what I told them.
"I gave them, in as concise a manner as I was able, the history of our families, fortunes, alliances, antipathies; her brother's and mine particularly. I averred the truth of our private marriage." The Captain's letter, which I will enclose, will give thee my reasons for that. And besides, the women might have proposed a parson to me by way of compromise. "I told them the conditions my wife had made me swear to; and to which she held me, in order, I said, to induce me the sooner to be reconciled to her relations."
"I owned, that this restraint made me sometimes ready to fly out." And Mrs. Moore was so good as to declare, that she did not much wonder at it.
Thou art a very good sort of a woman, Mrs. Moore, thought I.
As Miss Howe has actually detected our mother; and might possibly find some way still to acquaint her friend with her discoveries; I thought it proper to prepossess them in favour of Mrs. Sinclair and her two nieces.
I said, "they were gentlewomen born; that they had not bad hearts; that indeed Mrs. Lovelace did not love them; they having once jointly taken the liberty to blame her for her over-niceness with regard to me. People, I said, even good people who knew themselves to be guilty of a fault they had no inclination to mend, were too often least patient, when told of it; as they could less bear than others, to be thought indifferently of."
Too often the case, they owned.
"Mrs. Sinclair's house was a very handsome house, and fit to receive the first quality [true enough, Jack!]. Mrs. Sinclair was a woman very easy in her circumstances: a widow-gentlewoman — as you, Mrs. Moore, are. Let lodgings — as you, Mrs. Moore
do. Once had better prospecte— as yon, Mrs. Moore, may have had: the relict of Colonel Sinclair; you, Mrs. Moore, might know Colonel Sinclair — he had lodgings at Hampstead."
She had heard of the name.
"O, he was related to the best families in Scotland: and his widow is not to be reflected upon, because she lets lodgings, you know, Mrs. Moore — you know, you know, Miss Rawlins."
Very true, and very true: and they must needs say, it did not look quite so pretty in such a lady to be so censorious.
A foundation here, thought I, to procure these women's help to get back the fugitive, or their connivance at least at my doing so; as well as for anticipating any future information from Miss Howe.
I gave them the character of that virago: and intimated, "that for a head to contrive mischief, and a heart to execute it, she had hardly her equal in her sex."
To this Miss Howe it was, Mrs. Moore said, she supposed, that the lady was so desirous to dispatch a man and horse, by daydawn, with a letter she wrote before she went to bed last night: proposing to stay no longer than till she had received an answer to it.
The very same, said I. I knew she would have immediate recourse to her. I should have been but too happy, could I have prevented such a letter from passing, or so to have managed, as to have