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If, proceeded she, you are determined to stand in defiance of us all—then indeed may you go up to your chamber (as you are ready to do)—and God help you !
God help me indeed ! for I cannot give hope of what I cannot intend—but let me have your prayers, my dear mamma !—Those shall have mine, who have brought me into all this distress.
I was moving to go up-
I turned my face to her : My officious tears would needs plead for me: I could not just then speak; and stood still.
Good girl, distress me not thus !— Dear, good girl, do not thus distress me! holding out her hand ; but standing still likewise.
What can I do, madam ?—What can I do?
Go in again, my child-go in again, my dear child !repeated she; and let your father find you together.
What, madam, to give him hope ?—To give hope to Mr: Solmes ?
Then take your own way, and go up !-But stir not down again, I charge you, without leave, or till your father's pleasure be known concerning you.
She flung from me with high indignation : And I went up with a very heavy heart; and feet as slow as my heart was heavy.
My father is come home, and my brother with him. Late as it is, they are all shut up together. Not a door opens; not a soul stirs. Hannah, as she moves up and down, is shunned as a person infected.
The angry assembly is broken up. My two uncles and my Aunt Hervey are sent for, it seems, to be here in the morning to breakfast. I shall then, I suppose, know my doom. 'Tis past eleven, and I am ordered not to go to bed.
This moment the keys of everything are taken from
me. It was proposed to send for me down : but my father said, he could not bear to look upon me.--Strange alteration in a few weeks !-Shorey was the messenger. The tears stood in her eyes when she delivered her message.
Sunday Morning, March 5. Hannah has just brought me, from the private place in the garden wall, a letter from Mr. Lovelace, deposited last night, signed also by Lord M.
He tells me in it, “ That Mr. Solmes makes it his boast, that he is to be married in a few days to one of the shyest women in England: that my brother explains his meaning; this shy creature, he says, is me; and he assures everyone, that his younger sister is very soon to be Mr. Solmes's wife. He tells me of the patterns bespoken which my mother mentioned to me.” Not one thing escapes him that is done or said in this house.
“My sister, he says, reports the same things ; and that with such particular aggravations of insult upon him, that he cannot but be extremely piqued, as well at the manner, as from the occasion; and expresses himself with great violence upon it.
“He knows not, he says, what my relations' inducements can be, to prefer such a man as Solmes to him. If advantageous settlements be the motive, Solmes shall not offer what he will refuse to comply with.
"As to his estate, and family; the first cannot be excepted against : and for the second, he will not disgrace himself by a comparison so odious. He appeals to Lord M. for the regularity of his life and manners ever since he has made his addresses to me, or had hope of my favour.”
I suppose, he would have his lordship's signing to this letter to be taken as a voucher for him.
“He desires my leave (in company with my lord, in a pacific manner) to attend my father or uncles, in order to make proposals that must be accepted, if they will but
see him, and hear what they are : and tells me, that he will submit to any measures that I shall prescribe, in order to bring about a reconciliation.”
He presumes to be very earnest with me,“ to give him a private meeting some night, in my father's garden, attended by whom I please.”
Really, my dear, were you to see his letter, you would think I had given him great encouragement, and that I am in direct treaty with him ; or that he is sure that my friends will drive me into a foreign protection ; for he has the boldness to offer, in my lord's name, an asylum to me, should I be tyrannically treated in Solmes's behalf.
For my own part, I am very uneasy to think how I have been drawn on one hand, and driven on the other, into a clandestine, in short, into a mere lover-like correspondence, which my heart condemns.
It is easy to see, if I do not break it off, that Mr. Lovelace's advantages, by reason of my unhappy situation, will every day increase, and I shall be more and more entangled. Yet if I do put an end to it, without making it a condition of being freed from Mr. Solmes's addressmay I, my dear, is it best to continue it a little longer, in hopes to extricate myself out of the other difficulty, by giving up all thoughts of Mr. Lovelace ?-Whose advice can I now ask but yours?
All my relations are met. They are at breakfast together. Mr. Solmes is expected. I am excessively uneasy. I must lay down my pen.
They are all going to church together. Grievously disordered they appear to be, as Hannah tells me. She believes something is resolved upon.
What a cruel thing is suspense! I will ask leave to go to church this afternoon. I expect to be denied : but if I do not ask, they may allege, that my not going is owing to myself.
I desired to speak with Shorey Shorey came. I
directed her to carry to my mother my request for permission to go to church this afternoon. What think you was the return ? Tell her, that she must direct herself to her brother for any favour she has to ask.—So, my dear, I am to be delivered up to my brother!
I was resolved, however, to ask of him this favour. Accordingly, when they sent me up my solitary dinner, I gave the messenger a billet, in which I made it my humble request through him to my father, to be permitted to go to church this afternoon.
This was the contemptuous answer: “Tell her, that her request will be taken into consideration to-morrow.”—My request to go to church to-day to be taken into consideration to-morrow !
They are resolved to break my heart. My poor Hannah is discharged-disgracefully discharged !—Thus it was.
Within half an hour after I had sent the poor girl down for my breakfast, that bold creature Betty Barnes, my sister's confidant and servant (if a favourite maid and confidant can be deemed a servant) came up.
What, miss, will you please to have for breakfast ?
I was surprised. What will I have for breakfast, Betty !-how !—what !how comes it !—Then I named Hannah. I could not tell what to say.
Don't be surprised, miss :—but you'll see Hannah no more in this house.
God forbid !—Is any harm come to Hannah ?-What ! what is the matter with Hannah ?
Why, miss, the short and the long is this: your papa and mamma think Hannah has staid long enough in the house to do mischief; and so she is ordered to troop (that was the confident creature's word); and I am directed to wait upon you in her stead.
I burst into tears. I have no service for you, Betty Barnes ; none at all. But where is Hannah? Cannot I speak with the poor girl ? I owe her half a year's wages. May I not see the honest creature, and pay her her wages ? I may never see her again perhaps ; for they are resolved to break my heart.
And they think you are resolved to break theirs : so tit for tat, miss.
Impertinent I called her; and asked her, if it were upon such confident terms that her service was to begin.
I was so very earnest to see the poor maid, that (to oblige me, as she said) she went down with my request.
The worthy creature was as earnest to see me; and the favour was granted in presence of Shorey and Betty.
I thanked her, when she came up, for her past service to me.
Her heart was ready to break. And she began to vindicate her fidelity and love; and disclaimed any mischief she had ever made.
I told her, that those who occasioned her being turned out of my service, made no question of her integrity : that her dismission was intended for an indignity to me. That I was very sorry to be obliged to part with her, and hoped she would meet with as good a service.
Never, never, wringing her hands, should she meet with a mistress she loved so well. And the poor creature ran on in my praises, and in professions of love to me.
I gave her a little linen, some laces, and other odd things ; and instead of four pounds which were due to her, ten guineas : and said, if ever I were again allowed to be my own mistress, I would think of her in the first place.
Betty enviously whispered Shorey upon it.
Hannah told me, before their faces, having no other opportunity, that she had been examined about letters to me, and from me : and that she had given her pockets to Miss Harlowe, who looked into them, and put her fingers in her stays, to satisfy herself that she had not any.
She gave me an account of the number of my pheasants and bantams; and I said they should be my own care