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Once more, I will put it to you,—Are you determined to brave your father's displeasure ?-are you determined to defy your uncles ?-do you choose to break with us all, rather than encourage Mr. Solmes ?-rather than give me hope ?
Dreadful alternative.-Dear, dear madam, how can I give hope, and not intend to be this man's ?
Ah, girl, never say your heart is free !
Let me tell you, ungrateful girl, and unmovable as ungrateful, let me repeatedly tell you, that nothing but a love unworthy of your prudence can make a creature late so dutiful, now so sturdy. You may guess what your father's first question on his return will be. He must know, that I can do nothing with you. I have done my part. Seek me, if your mind change before he comes back : you have yet a little more time, as he stays supper. I will no more seek you, nor to you.—And away she flung.
What could I do but weep?
My mother hinted to me, that I must seek her, if my mind changed; which is a condition that amounts to a prohibition of attending her : but, as she left me in displeasure, will it not have a very obstinate appearance, and look like a kind of renunciation of her mediation in my favour, if I go not down before my father returns, to supplicate her pity, and her kind report to him ?
I will attend her. I had rather all the world should be angry with me than my mamma!
Meantime, to clear my hands from papers of such a nature, Hannah shall deposit this. If two or three letters reach you together, they will but express, from one period to another, the anxieties and difficulties which the mind of your unhappy but ever affectionate friend labours under.
Saturday Night. I have been down. I have made matters worse instead of better : as I shall now tell you.
I found my mother and sister together in my sister's parlour.
I entered like a dejected criminal; and besought the favour of a private audience.
You have, said my mother (looking at me with a sternness that never sits well on her sweet features) rather a requesting than a conceding countenance, Clarissa Harlowe: if I am mistaken, tell me so; and I will withdraw with you wherever you will.—Yet whether so, or not, you may say what you have to say before your sister. •
I come down, madam, said I, to beg of you to forgive me for anything you may have taken amiss in what passed above respecting your honoured self; and that you will be pleased to use your endeavours to soften my papa's displeasure against me, on his return.
Such aggravating looks; such lifting up of hands and eyes; such a furrowed forehead, in my sister !
My mother was angry enough without all that ; and asked me, to what purpose I came down, if I were still so untractable ?
She had hardly spoken the words, when Shorey came in to tell her, that Mr. Solmes was in the hall, and desired admittance.
I was hurrying away; but my mother commanded me (since I had come down only, as she said, to mock her) not to stir; and at the same time see if I could behave so to Mr. Solmes, as might encourage her to make the favourable report to my father which I had besought her to make.
The man stalked in: and first paid his clumsy respects to my mother; then to my sister; next to me, as if I were already his wife, and therefore to be last in his notice; and sitting down by me, told us in general what weather it was. Very cold he made it; but I was warm enough. Then addressing himself to me; and how do you find it, miss ? was his question; and would have taken my hand.
I withdrew it, I believe with disdain enough. My mother frowned. My sister bit her lip.
I could not contain myself: I never was so bold in my life ; for I went on with my plea, as if Mr. Solmes had not been there.
My mother coloured, and looked at him, at my sister, and at me. My sister's eyes were opener and bigger than ever I saw them before.
The man understood me. He hemmed, and removed from one chair to another.
I went on, supplicating for my mother's favourable report : nothing but invincible dislike, said I
What would the girl be at ? interrupted my mother. Why, Clary! Is this a subject !-Is this !—Is this !—Is this a time—and again she looked upon Mr. Solmes.
I am sorry, on reflection, that I put my mamma into so much confusion—to be sure it was very saucy in me.
I beg pardon, madam, said I. But my papa will soon return. And since I am not permitted to withdraw, it is not necessary, I humbly presume, that Mr. Solmes's presence should deprive me of this opportunity to implore your favourable report ; and at the same time, if he still visit on my account (looking at him) to convince him, that it cannot possibly be to any purpose
Is the girl mad ? said my mother, interrupting me.
My sister, with the affectation of a whisper to my mother—this is—this is spite, madam (very spitefully she spoke the word) because you commanded her to stay.
I only looked at her, and turning to my mother, Permit me, madam, said I, to repeat my request. I have no brother, no sister !—If I lose my mamma's favour, I am lost for ever!
Mr. Solmes removed to his first seat, and fell to gnawing the head of his hazel; a carved head, almost as
ugly as his own I did not think the man was so sensible.
My sister rose, with a face all over scarlet; and stepping to the table, where lay a fan, she took it up, and, although Mr. Solmes had observed that the weather was cold, fanned herself very violently.
My mother came to me, and angrily taking my hand, led me out of that parlour into my own ; which, you know, is next to it—Is not this behaviour very bold, very provoking, think you, Clary?
I beg your pardon, madam, if it has that appearance to you. My mother was about to leave me in high displeasure.
I besought her to stay: one favour, but one favour, dearest madam, said I, give me leave to beg of you
What would the girl ?
I see how everything is working about.--I never, never, can think of Mr. Solmes. My papa will be in tumults when he is told that I cannot. They will judge of the tenderness of your heart to a poor child who seems devoted by everyone else, from the willingness you have already shown to hearken to my prayers. There will be endeavours used to confine me, and keep me out of your presence, and out of the presence of everyone who used to love me (this, my dear Miss Howe, is threatened). If this be effected ; if it be out of my power to plead my own cause, and to appeal to you, and to my uncle Harlowe, of whom only I have hope ; then will every ear be opened against me, and every tale encouraged—it is, therefore, my humble request, that, added to the disgraceful prohibitions I now suffer under, you will not; if you can help it, give way to my being denied your ear.
Your listening Hannah has given you this intelligence, as she does many others.
My Hannah, madam, listens not-my Hannah-
make mischief-Hannah is known-but no more of that bold intermeddler—'tis true, your father threatened to confine you to your chamber. He bid me tell you so, when he went out, if I found you refractory. But I was loth to deliver so harsh a declaration ; being still in hope that you would come down to us in a compliant temper. Hannah has overheard this I suppose ; and has told you of it; as also, that he declared he would break your heart, rather than you should break his. And I now assure you, that you will be confined, and prohibited making teasing appeals to any of us : and we shall see who is to submit, you to us, or everybody to you.
Again I offered to clear Hannah, and to lay the latter part of the intelligence to my sister's echo, Betty Barnes, who had boasted of it to another servant : but I was again bid to be silent on that head. I should soon find, my mother was pleased to say, that others could be as determined as I was obstinate: and, once for all, would add, that since she saw that I built upon her indulgence, and was indifferent about involving her in contentions with my father, she would now assure me, that she was as much determined against Mr. Lovelace, and for Mr. Solmes and the family schemes, as anybody; and would not refuse her consent to any measures that should be thought necessary to reduce a stubborn child to her duty.
I was ready to sink. She was so good as to lend me her arm to support me.
And this, said I, is all I have to hope for from my mamma ?
It is. But, Clary, this further opportunity I give you -go in again to Mr. Solmes, and behave discreetly to him; and let your father find you together, upon civil terms at least.
My feet moved (of themselves, I think) farther from the parlour where he was, and towards the stairs; and there I stopped and paused.