« VorigeDoorgaan »
know your honour, sir; but I heard him say, as how he should not be an unwelcome visitor to you for all that.
Do you know such a man as Captain Tomlinson, my dearest life (aside) your uncle's friend?
No; but my uncle may have acquaintance, no doubt, that I don't know.—But I hope (trembling) this is not a trick.
Well, friend, if your master has anything to say to Mr. Lovelace, you may tell him, that Mr. Lovelace is here; and will see him whenever he pleases.
The dear creature looked as if afraid that my engagement was too prompt for my own safety; and away went the fellow—I wondering, that she might not wonder, that this Captain Tomlinson, whoever he were, came not himself, or sent not a letter the second time, when he had reason to suppose that I might be here.
Meantime, for fear that this should be a contrivance of James Harlowe, who, I said, loved plotting, though he had not a head turned for it, I gave some precautionary directions to the servants, and the women, whom, for the greater parade, I assembled before us: and my beloved was resolved not to stir abroad till she saw the issue of this odd affair.
Sunday, May 28.
This story of Captain Tomlinson employed us not only for the time we were together last night, but all the while we sat at breakfast this morning. She would still have it, that it was the prelude to some mischief from Singleton. I insisted that it might much more probably be a method taken by Colonel Morden to alarm her, previous to a personal visit.
She had had so many disagreeable things befal her of late, that her fears were too often stronger than her hopes.
And this, madam, makes me apprehensive, that you
will get into so low-spirited a way, that you will not be able to enjoy the happiness that seems to await us.
Her duty and her gratitude, she gravely said, to the Dispenser of all good, would secure her, she hoped, against iinthankfulness. And a thankful spirit was the same as a joyful one.
So, Belford, for all her future joys she depends entirely upon the Invisible good. She is certainly right; since those who fix least upon second causes are the least likely to be disappointed — and is not this gravity for her gravity?
- She had hardly done speaking, when Dorcas came running up in a hurry—she set even my heart into a palpitation—thump, thump, thump, like a precipitated pendulum in a clock-case—flutter, flutter, flutter, my charmer's, as by her sweet bosom rising to her chin I saw.
Captain Tomlinson, sir!
Captain Devilson, what care I!—Do you see how you have disordered your lady?
Good Mr. Lovelace, said my charmer, trembling (see, Jack, when she has an end to serve, I am good Mr. Lovelace) if—if my brother,—if Captain Singleton should appear—pray now—I beseech you—let me beg of you—to govern your temper—my brother is my brother—Captain Singleton is but an agent.
My dearest life, folding my arms about her (when she asks favours, thought I, the devil's in it, if she will not allow of such innocent freedoms as this, from good Mr. Lovelace too) you shall be witness of all that passes between us.—Dorcas, desire the gentleman to walk up.
Let me retire to my chamber first!—Let me not be known to be in the house!
She withdrew to listen—and though this incident has not turned out to answer all I wished from it, yet is it necessary, if I would acquaint thee with my whole circulation, to be very particular in what passed between Captain Tomlinson and me.
Enter Captain Tomlinson in a riding-dress, whip in hand.
Your servant, sir—Mr. Lovelace, I presume?
My name is Lovelace, sir.
Excuse the day, sir—be pleased to excuse my garb. I am obliged to go out of town directly, that I may return at night.
The day is a good day. Your garb needs no apology.
My charmer owned afterwards her concern on my being so short. Whatever I shall mingle of her emotions, thou wilt easily guess I had afterwards.
Sir, I hope no offence. I intend none.
None—none at all, sir.
May I ask you, sir, without offence, whether you wish to be reconciled, and to co-operate upon honourable terms, with one gentleman of the name of Harlowe; preparative, as it may be hoped, to a general reconciliation?
O how my heart fluttered! cried my charmer.
1 can't tell, sir—(and then it fluttered still more, no doubt); the whole family have used me extremely ill. They have taken greater liberties with my character than are justifiable; and with my family too; which I can less forgive.
Sir, sir, I have done. I beg pardon for this intrusion.
My beloved was then ready to sink, and thought very hardly of me.
But pray, sir, to the immediate purpose of your present commission; since a commission it seems to be?
Sir, I will tell you, as briefly as I can, the whole of what I have to say; but you'll excuse me also a previous question, for which curiosity is not my motive; but it is necessary to be"tanswered before I can proceed; as you will judge when you hear it.
Lovel. What, pray, sir, is your question?
Capt. Briefly, whether you are actually, and bond fide, married to Miss Clarissa Harlowe?
I started, and, in a haughty tone, Is this, sir, a question that must be answered before you can proceed in the business you have undertaken?
I mean no offence, Mr. Lovelace. Mr. Harlowe sought to me to undertake this office. I have daughters and nieces of my own. I thought it a good office, or I, who have many considerable affairs upon my hands, had not accepted of it. I know the world; and will take the liberty to say, that if that young lady—
Captain Tomlinson, I think you are called?
Why then, Captain Tomlinson, no liberty, as you call it, will be taken well, that is not extremely delicate, when that lady is mentioned.
When you had heard me out, Mr. Lovelace, and had found, I had so behaved, as to make the caution necessary, it would have been just to have given it. Allow me to say, I know what is due to the character of a woman of virtue, as well as any man alive.
Captain Tomlinson, said I, you answer well, I love a man of spirit. Have you not been in the army?
I have, sir; but have turned my sword into a ploughshare, as the Scripture hath it (there was a clever fellow, Jack !—He was a good man with somebody, I warrant!
O what a fine coat and cloak for an hypocrite will a text of Scripture, properly applied, make at any time in the eye of the pious!) And all my delight, added he, for some years past, has been in cultivating my paternal estate. I love a brave man, Mr. Lovelace, as well as ever
1 did in my life. But let me tell you, sir, that when you come to my time of life, you will be of opinion, that there is not so much true bravery in youthful choler, as you may now think there is.
Well, Captain, that is reproof for reproof. So we are upon a foot. And now give me the pleasure of hearing the import of your commission.
Sir, you must first allow me to repeat my question: are you really, and bond fide, married to Miss Clarissa Harlowe? Or are you not yet married?
Bluntly put, Captain. But if I answer that I am, what then?
Why then, sir, I shall say, that you are a man of honour.
That I-hope I am, whether you say it or not, Captain Tomlinson.
Sir, I -will be very frank in all I have to say on this subject—Mr. John Harlowe has lately found out, that you and his niece are both in the same lodgings; that you have been long so; and he hopes, that you are actually married. He has indeed heard that you are; but as he knows your enterprising temper, and that you have declared, that you disdain a relation to their family, he is willing by me to have your marriage confirmed from your own mouth, before he take the steps he is inclined to take in his niece's favour.
Enter Dorcas, in a hurry. A gentleman, this minute, sir, desires to speak with your honour—[My lady, sir!—Aside.]
Could the dear creature put Dorcas upon telling this fib, yet want to save me one ?—
Desire the gentleman to walk into one of the parlours. I will wait on him presently.
The dear creature, I doubted not, wanted to instruct me how to answer the Captain's home put. I knew how I intended to answer it—plumb, thou may'st be sure— but Dorcas's message staggered me. And yet I was upon one of my master strokes—which was, to take advantage of the Captain's inquiries, and to make her own her marriage before him, as she had done to the people below;