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and if she had been brought to that, to induce her, for her uncle's satisfaction, to write him a letter of gratitude; which of course must have been signed Clarissa Lovelace. I was loth, therefore, thou may'st believe, to attend her sudden commands.
Enter Dorcas again, out of breath.
Sir, the gentleman will step up to you—[My lady is impatient. She wonders at your honour's delay.—Aside.]
Excuse me, Captain, for one moment.
I have stayed my full time, Mr. Lovelace. What may result from my question and your answer, whatever it shall be, may take us up time. And you are engaged. Will you permit me to attend you in the morning, before I set out on my return 1
You will then breakfast with me, Captain?
And so, with the highest civilities on both sides, we parted. But for the private satisfaction of so good a man, I left him out of doubt, that we were man and wife, though I did not directly aver it.
After I had attended the Captain down to the very passage, I returned to the dining-room, and put on a joyful air, on my beloved's entrance into it—O my dearest creature, said I, let me congratulate you on a prospect so agreeable to your wishes! And I snatched her hand, and smothered it with kisses.
I was going on; when, interrupting me, You see, Mr. Lovelace, said she, how you have embarrassed yourself, by your obliquities! You see, that you have not been able to return a direct answer to a plain and honest question, though upon it depends all the happiness on the prospect of which you congratulate me.
You know, my best love, what my prudent, and I will say, my kind motives were, for giving out, that we were married. You see, that I have taken no advantage of it; and that no inconvenience has followed it. You see that
your uncle wants only to be assured from ourselves, that it is so—
Not another word on this subject, Mr. Lovelace. I will not only risk, but I will forfeit, the reconciliation so near my heart, rather than I will go on to countenance a story so untrue!
Don't you see, madam, that your uncle wishes to find that we are married? May not the ceremony be privately over, before his mediation can take place?
Urge this point no farther, Mr. Lovelace. If you will not tell the truth, I will to-morrow morning (if I see Captain Tomlinson) tell it myself. Indeed I will.
I saw there was no help. I saw that the inflexible Harlowe spirit was all up in her.—A little witch!—A little —Forgive me, Love, for calling her names! And so I said, with an air, we have had too many misunderstandings, madam, for me to wish for new ones: I will obey you without reserve. Had I not thought I should have obliged you by the other method (especially as the ceremony might have been over, before anything could have operated from your uncle's intentions, and of consequence no untruth persisted in) I would not have proposed it. But think not, my beloved creature, that you shall enjoy, without condition, this triumph over my judgment.
And then, clasping my arms about her, I gave her averted cheek (tier charming lip designed) a fervent kiss. —And your forgiveness of this sweet freedom (bowing) is that condition.
She was not mortally offended. And now must I make out the rest as well as I can. But this I will tell thee, that although her triumph has not diminished my love for her; yet has it stimulated me more than ever to revenge, as thou wilt be apt to call it. But victory or conquest is the more proper word.
Tis late, or rather early; for the day begins to dawn upon me. I am plaguy heavy. Perhaps I need not to have told thee that. But will only indulge a doze in my chair, for an hour; then shako myself, wash and refresh. At my time of life, with such a constitution as I am blessed with, that's all that's wanted.
Good night to me !—It cannot be broad day till I am awake.—Aw-w-w-w-haugh—Pox of this yawning!
Is not thy uncle dead yet?
What's come to mine, that he writes not to my last ?— Hunting after more wisdom of nations, I suppose !—YawYaw-Yawn-ing again !—pen, begone.
Monday, May 29th.
Now have I established myself for ever in my charmer's heart.
The Captain came at seven, as promised, and ready equipped for his journey. My beloved chose not to give us her company till our first conversation was over— ashamed, I suppose, to be present at that part of it, which was to restore her to her virgin state by my confession, after her wifehood had been reported to her uncle. But she took her cue nevertheless, and listened to all that passed.
The modestest women, Jack, must think, and think deeply sometimes. I wonder whether they ever blush at those things by themselves, at which they have so charming a knack of blushing in company. If not; and if blushing be a sign of grace or modesty; have not the sex as great a command over their blushes, as they are said to have over their tears? This reflection would lead me a great way into female minds, were I disposed to pursue it.
I told the Captain, that I would prevent his question; and accordingly (after I had enjoined the strictest secrecy, that no advantage might be given to James Harlowe; and which he answered for as well on Mr. Harlowe's part as his own) I acknowledged nakedly and fairly the whole truth—to wit, that we were not yet married. I gave him hints of the causes of procrastination. Some of them owing to unhappy misunderstandings: but chiefly to the lady's desire of previous reconciliation with her friends, and to a delicacy that had no example.
Less nice ladies than this, Jack, love to have delays, wilful and studied delays, imputed to them in these cases —yet are indelicate in their affected delicacy; for do they not thereby tacitly confess, that they expect to be the greatest gainers in wedlock; and that there is self-denial in the pride they take in delaying?
I told him the reason of our passing to the people below as married—yet as under a vow of restriction, as to consummation, which had kept us. both to the height, one of forbearing, the other of vigilant punctilio; even to the denial of those innocent freedoms, which betrothed lovers never scruple to allow and to take.
I then communicated to him a copy of my proposals of settlement; the substance of her written answer; the contents of my letter of invitation to Lord M. to be her nuptial-father; and of my lord's generous reply. But said, that having apprehensions of delay from his infirmities, and my beloved choosing by all means (and that from principles of unrequited duty) a private solemnisation, I had written to excuse his lordship's presence; and expected an answer every hour.
The Captain was highly delighted with all I said: yet owned, that as his dear friend Mr. Harlowe had expressed himself greatly pleased to hear that we were actually married, he could have wished it had been so. But, nevertheless, he doubted not that all would be well.
He was proceeding, when breakfast being ready, in came the empress of my heart, irradiating all around her, as with a glory—a benignity and graciousness in her aspect, that, though natural to it, had been long banished from it.
Next to prostration lowly bowed the Captain. O how the sweet creature smiled her approbation of him! Reverence from one, begets reverence from another. Men are more of monkeys in imitation, than they think themselves—involuntarily, in a manner, I bent my knee —my dearest life— and made a very fine speech on presenting the Captain to her. No title, myself, to her lip or cheek, 'tis well he attempted not either. He was indeed ready to worship her;—could only touch her charming hand.
I have told the Captain, my dear creature—and then I briefly repeated (as if I had supposed she had not heard it) all I had told him.
He was astonished, that anybody could be displeased one moment with such an angel. He undertook her cause as the highest degree of merit to himself.
Never, I must needs say, did the angel so much look the angel. All placid, serene, smiling, self-assured: a more lovely flush than usual heightening her natural graces, and adding charms, even to radiance, to her charming complexion.
After we had seated ourselves, the agreeable subject was renewed, as we took our chocolate. How happy should she be in her uncle's restored favour!
The Captain engaged for it—no more delays, he hoped, on her part! Let the happy day be but once over, all would then be right. But was it improper to ask for copies of my proposals, and of her answer, in order to show them to his dear friend her uncle?
As Mr. Lovelace pleased—O that the dear creature would always say so!
It must be in strict confidence then, I said. But would it not be better to show her uncle the draft of the settlements when drawn?
And will you be so good, as to allow of this, Mr. Lovelace?