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ments being strengthened by my just resentments on the discoveries I had made, I was resolved to take some liberties, and, as they were received, to take still greater, and lay all the fault upon her tyranny. In this humour I went up, and never had paralytic so little command of his joints, as I had, while I walked about the dining-room, attending her motions.
With an erect mien she entered, her face averted, her lovely bosom swelling, and the more charmingly protuberant for the erectness of her mien. O Jack! that sullenness and reserve should add to the charms of this haughty maid! But in every attitude, in every humour, in every gesture, is Beauty beautiful. By her averted face, and indignant aspect, I saw the dear insolent was disposed to be angry—but by the fierceness of mine, as my trembling hands seized hers, I soon made fear her predominant passion. And yet the moment I beheld her, my heart was dastardised; and my reverence for the virgin purity so visible in her whole deportment, again took place. Surely, Belford, this is an angel. And yet, had she not been known to be a female, they would not from babyhood have dressed her as such, nor would she, but upon that conviction, have continued the dress.
Let me ask you, madam, I beseech you tell me, what I have done to deserve this distant treatment 1
Pray, Mr. Lovelace, do not grasp my hands so hard (endeavouring to withdraw them). Pray let me go.
You hate me, madam.
I hate nobody, sir.
You hate me, madam, repeated I.
She struggled to disengage herself. Pray, Mr. Lovelace, let me withdraw. I know not why this is. I know not what I have done to offend you. I see you are come with a design to quarrel with me. If you would not terrify me by the ill-humour you are in, permit me to withdraw. I will hear all you have to say another time—to-morrow
morning, as I sent you word—but indeed you frighten me, I beseech you, if you have any value for me, permit me to withdraw.
Night, midnight, is necessary, Belford. Surprise, terror, must be necessary to the ultimate trial of this charming creature, say the women below what they will. I could not hold my purposes. This was not the first time that I had intended to try if she could forgive.
I kissed her hand with a fervour, as if I would have left my lips upon it. Withdraw then, dearest and ever dear creature. Indeed I entered in a very ill-humour. I cannot bear the distance at which you so causelessly keep me. Withdraw, madam, since it is your will to withdraw; and judge me generously; judge me but as I deserve to be j udged; and let me hope to meet you to-morrow morning early, in such a temper as becomes our present situation and my future hopes.
And so saying, I conducted her to the door, and left her there. But instead of going down to the women, I went into my own chamber, and locked myself in ; ashamed of being awed by her majestic loveliness, and apprehensive virtue, into so great a change of purpose, notwithstanding I had such just provocations from the letters of her saucy friend, founded on her own representations of facts and situations between herself and me.
MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE TO MISS HOWE.
The lady (dating Sunday night) thus describes her terrors, and Mr. Lovelace's behaviour, on the occasion.
WAS so disgusted with him, as well as frighted by him, that, on my return to my chamber, in a fit of passionate despair, I tore almost in two, the answer I had written to his proposals.
I will see him in the morning, because I promised I
would. But I will go out, and that without him, or any attendant. If he account not tolerably for his sudden change of behaviour, and a proper opportunity offer of a private lodging in some creditable house, I will not any more return to this. At present I think so. And there will I either attend the perfecting of your scheme; or, by your epistolary mediation, make my own terms with the wretch; since it is your opinion, that I must be his, and cannot help myself: or, perhaps, take a resolution to throw myself at once into Lady Betty's protection; and this will binder him from making his insolently-threatened visit to Harlowe-Place.
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Monday Morning, May 22. 0 generosity in this lady. None at all. Wouldst thou not have thought, that after I had permitted her to withdraw, primed for mischief as I was, she would meet me next morning early; and that with a smile; making me one of her best courtesies?
I was in the dining-room before six, expecting her. She opened not her door. I went upstairs and down; and hemmed; and called Will; called Dorcas ; threw the doors hard to; but still she opened not her door. Thus till half an hour after eight, fooled I away my time; and then (breakfast ready) I sent Dorcas to request her company.
But I was astonished, when (following the wench, as she did at the first invitation) I saw her enter dressed, all but her gloves, and those and her fan in her hand; in the same moment bidding Dorcas direct Will to get her a chair to the door.
Cruel creature, thought I, to expose me thus to the derision of the women below! Going abroad, madam? I am, sir.
I looked cursed silly, I am sure. You will breakfast first, I hope, madam; in a very humble strain; yet with an hundred tenter-hooks in my heart.
Had she given me more notice of her intention, I had perhaps wrought myself up to the frame I was in the day before, and begun my vengeance. And immediately came into my head all the virulence that had been transcribed for me from Miss Howe's letters, and in that letter which I had transcribed myself.
Yes, she would drink one dish ; and then laid her gloves and fan in the window just by.
I was perfectly disconcerted. I hemmed, and was going to speak several times; but knew not in what key. Who's modest now, thought I! Who's insolent now! How a tyrant of a woman confounds a bashful man! She was acting Miss Howe, I thought; and I the spiritless Hickman
At last, I will begin, thought I.
She a dish—I a dish.
Sip, her eyes her own, she; like a haughty and imperious sovereign, conscious of dignity, every look a favour.
Sip, like her vassal, I; lips and hands trembling, and not knowing that I sipped or tasted.
I was—I was—I sipped—(drawing in my breath and the liquor together, though I scalded my mouth with it)—I was in hopes, madam
Dorcas came in just then. Dorcas, said she, is a chair gone for?
Damned impertinence, thought I, thus to put me out in my speech! And I was forced to wait for the servant's answer to the insolent mistress's question.
William is gone for one, madam.
This cost me a minute's silence' before I could begin again. And then it was with my hopes, and my hopes, and my hopes, that I should have been early admitted to
What weather is it, Dorcas? said she, as regardless of me as if I had not been present.
A little lowering, madam—the sun is gone in—it was very fine half an hour ago.
I had no patience. Up I rose. Down went the teacup, saucer and all. Confound the weather, the sunshine, and the wench! Begone for a devil, when I am speaking to your lady, and have so little opportunity given me.
Up rose the saucy-face, half-frighted; and snatched from the window her gloves and fan.
You must not go, madam !—seizing her hand—by my soul you must not.
Must not, sir? But I must. You can curse your maid in my absence, as well as if I were present—except— except—you intend for me, what you direct to her.
Do not make me desperate, madam. Permit me to say, that you shall not leave me in this humour. Wherever you go, I will attend you. Had Miss Howe been my friend, I had not been thus treated. It is but too plain to whom my difficulties are owing. I have long observed, that every letter you receive from her, makes an alteration in your behaviour to me. She would have you treat me, as she treats Mr. Hickman, I suppose: but neither does that treatment become your admirable temper to offer, nor me to receive.
This startled her. She did not care to have me think hardly of Miss Howe.
But recollecting herself, Miss Howe, said she, is a friend to virtue, and to good men. If she like not you, it is because you are not one of those.
Yes, madam; and therefore to speak of Mr. Hickman and myself, as you both, I suppose, think of each, she treats him as she would not treat a Lovelace. I challenge you, madam, to show me but one of the many letters you have received from her, where I am mentioned.
Miss Howe is just; Miss Howe is good, replied she.