MISS CLARISSA HARLOWE, TO MISS HOWE MONDAY MORNING, MARCH 6.
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,)
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
God forbid!--Is any harm come to Hannah?--What! What is the matter
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.
We are all apt, you know, my dear, to praise our benefactors, because
they are our benefactors; as if every body did right or wrong, as they
obliged or disobliged us. But this good creature deserved to be
kindly treated; so I could have no merit in favouring one whom it
would have been ungrateful not to distinguish.
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 twice or thrice a day.
We wept over each other at parting. The girl prayed for all the
To have so good a servant so disgracefully dismissed, is very cruel:
and I could not help saying that these methods might break my heart,
but not any other way answer the end of the authors of my disgraces.
Betty, with a very saucy fleer, said to Shorey, There would be a trial
of skill about that she fancied. But I took no notice of it. If this
wench thinks that I have robbed her young mistress of a lover, as you
say she has given out, she may believe that it is some degree of merit
in herself to be impertinent to me.
Thus have I been forced to part with my faithful Hannah. If you can
command the good creature to a place worthy of her, pray do for my