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morning, after we have breakfasted with her, at your lodgings. But, whether she be, or not, I will do myself the pleasure to attend your lady to Hampstead; and will be with you for that purpose about nine in the morning. With due compliments to your most worthily beloved, I am Yours affectionately,
Faith and troth, Jack, I know not what to do with myself: for here, just now, having sent in the above note by Dorcas, out came my beloved with it in her hand: in a fit of phrensy!—True, by my soul!
She had indeed complained of her head all the evening.
Dorcas ran to me, out of breath, to tell me, that her lady was coming in some strange way: but she followed her so quick, that the frighted wench had not time to say in what way.
It seems, when she read the billet—Now indeed, said she, am I a lost creature! O the poor Clarissa Harlowe!
She tore off her head-cloths; inquired where I was: and in she came, her shining tresses flowing about her neck; her ruffles torn, and hanging in tatters about her snowy hands; with her arms spread out; her eyes wildly turned, as if starting from their orbits—down sunk she at my feet, as soon as she approached me; her charming bosom heaving to her uplifted face; and clasping her arms about my knees, Dear Lovelace, said she, if ever—if ever —if ever—and, unable to speak another word, quitting her clasping hold, down prostrate on the floor sunk she, neither in a fit nor out of one.
I was quite astonished.—All my purposes suspended for a few moments, I knew neither what to say, nor what to do. But, recollecting myself, am I again, thought I, in a way to be overcome, and made a fool of!—If I now recede, I am gone for ever.
I raised her: but down she sunk, as if quite disjointed; her limbs failing her—yet not in a fit neither. I never heard of or saw such a dear unaccountable: almost lifeless, and speechless too for a few moments—what must her apprehensions be at that moment! And for what ?—an high-notioned dear soul!—pretty ignorance! thought I.
Never having met with so sincere, so unquestionable a repugnance, I was staggered—I was confounded—yet how should I know that it would be so till I tried ?—And how, having proceeded thus far, could I stop, were I not to have had the women to goad me on, and to make light of circumstances, which they pretended to be better judges of than I?
I lifted her, however, into a chair; and in words of disordered passion, told her, all her fears were needless: wondered at them: begged of her to be pacified: besought her reliance on my faith and honour: and rcvowed all my old vows, and poured forth new ones.
At last, with an heart-breaking sob, I sec, I see, Mr. Lovelace, in broken sentences she spoke—I see, I see, —that at last—at last—I am ruined !—ruined, if your pity—let me implore your pity !—and down on her bosom, like a half-broken-stalked lily, top-heavy with the overcharging dews of the morning, sunk her head, with a sigh that went to my heart.
All I could think of to re-assure her, when a little recovered, I said.
Why did I not send for their coach, as I had intimated? It might return in the morning for the ladies.
I had actually done so, I told her, on seeing her strange uneasiness. But it was then gone to fetch a doctor for Miss Montague, lest his chariot should not be so ready.
Ah! Lovelace! said she, with a doubting face; anguish in her imploring eye.
Lady Betty would think it very strange, I told her, if she were to know it was so disagreeable to her to stay one
night for her company in a house where she had passed so many!
She called me names upon this.—She had called me names before.—I was patient.
Let her go to Lady Betty's lodgings, then; directly go; if the person I called Lady Betty was really Lady Betty.
If, my dear! good heaven! what a villain does that if shew you believe me to be!
I cannot help it—I beseech you once more, let me go to Mrs. Leeson's* if that if ought not to be said.
Dreading what might happen as to her intellects, and being very apprehensive, that she might possibly go through a great deal before morning (though more violent she could not well be with the worst she dreaded), I humoured her, and ordered Will to endeavour to get a coach directly, to carry us to Hampstead; I cared not at what price.
Robbers, with whom I would have terrified her, she feared not—I was all her fear, I found; and this house her terror: for I saw plainly, that she now believed, that Lady Betty and Miss Montague were both impostors.
But her mistrust is a little of the latest to do her service!
And, O Jack, the rage of love, the rage of revenge, is upon me! by turns they tear me !—the progress already made—the women's instigations—the power I shall have to try her to the utmost, and still to marry her, if she be not to be brought to cohabitation—let me perish, Belford, if she escape me now!
Will is not yet come back. Near eleven.— Will is this moment returned.—No coach to be got, either for love or money.
Once more, she urges—to Mrs. Leeson's let me go, Lovelace! Good Lovelace, let me go to Mrs. Leeson's! What is Miss Montague's illness to my terror ?—for the Almighty's sake, Mr. Lovelace!—her hands clasped—
* Where Lady Betty was supposed to lodge.
O my angel—what a wildness this is!—do you know, do you see, my dearest life, what appearance your causeless apprehensions have given you ?—do you know it is past eleven o'clock?
Twelve, one, two, three, four,—any hour—I care not— if you mean me honourably, let me go out of this hated house?
Thou'lt observe, Belford, that though this was written afterwards, yet (as in other places) I write it as it was spoken and happened, as if I had retired to put down every sentence as spoken. I know thou likest this lively present-tense manner, as it is one of my peculiars.
Just as she had repeated the last words, if you mean me honourable, let me go out of this hated house, in came Mrs. Sinclair, in a great ferment.—And what, pray Madam, has this house done to you?—Mr. Lovelace, you have known me some time; and, if I have not the niceness of this lady, I hope I do not deserve to be treated thus!
She set her huge arms akembo: Hoh! Madam, let me tell you, I am amazed at your freedoms with my character! and, Mr. Lovelace (holding up, and violently shaking, her head) if you are a gentleman and a man of honour—
Having never before seen anything but obsequiousness in this woman, little as she liked her, she was frighted at her masculine air, and fierce look—God help me! cried she—what will become of me now! Then, turning her head hither and thither, in a wild kind of amaze, whom have I for a protector! what will become of me now!
I will be your protector, my dearest love !—but indeed you are uncharitably severe upon poor Mrs. Sinclair! indeed you are!—she is a gentlewoman born, and the relict of a man of honour; and though left in such circumstances as oblige her to let lodgings, yet would she scorn to be guilty of a wilful baseness.
I hope so—it may be so—I may be mistaken—but— but there is no crime, I presume, no treason, to say I don't like her house.
The old dragon straddled up to her, with her arms kemboed again—her eye-brows erect, like the bristles upon a hog's back, and, scouling over her shortened nose, more than half-hid her ferret eyes.
With two Hoh-madams she accosted the frighted fair one; who, terrified, caught hold of my sleeve.
I feared she would fall into fits; and with a look of indignation, told Mrs. Sinclair, that these apartments were mine; and I could not imagine what she meant, either by listening to what passed between me and my spouse, or to come in uninvited; and still more I wondered, at her giving herself these strange liberties.
I may be to blame, Jack, for suffering this wretch to give herself these airs; but her coming in was without my orders.
The old Beldam, throwing herself into a chair, fell a blubbering and exclaiming. And the pacifying of her, and endeavouring to reconcile the lady to her, took up till near one o'clock.
And thus, between terror, and the late hour, and what followed, she was diverted from the thoughts of getting out of the house to Mrs. Leeson's, or anywhere else.
ME. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Tuesday Morning, June 13. ND now, Belford, I can go no farther. The affair is over. Clarissa lives. And I am
Your humble Servant,