LADY HOWARD TO SIR JOHN BELMONT, BART Howard Grove, May 5.
YOU will, doubtless, be surprised at receiving a letter from one who had for so short a period the honour of your acquaintance, and that at so great a distance of time; but the motive which has induced me to take this liberty is of so delicate a nature, that were I to commence making apologies for my officiousness, I fear my letter would be too long for your patience.
You have, probably, already conjectured the subject upon which I mean to treat. My regard for Mr. Evelyn, and his amiable daughter, was well known to you: nor can I ever cease to be interested in whatever belongs to their memory or family.
I must own myself somewhat distressed in what manner to introduce the purport of my writing; yet as I think that, in affairs of this kind, frankness is the first requisite to a good understanding between the parties concerned, I will neither torment you nor myself with punctilious ceremonies, but proceed instantly and openly to the business which occasions my giving you this trouble.
I presume, Sir, it would be superfluous to tell you, that your child resides still in Dorsetshire, and is still under the protection of the Reverend Mr. Villars, in whose house she was born: for, though no enquiries concerning her have reached his ears, or mine, I can never suppose it possible you have forborne to make them. It only remains, therefore, to tell you, that your daughter is now grown up; that she has been educated with the utmost care, and the utmost success; and that she is now a most deserving, accomplished, and amiable young woman.
Whatever may be your view for her future destination in life, it seems time to declare it. She is greatly admired, and, I doubt not, will be very much sought after: it is proper, therefore, that her future expectations, and your pleasure concerning her, should be made known.
Believe me, Sir, she merits your utmost attention and regard. You could not see and know her, and remain unmoved by those sensations of affection which belong to so near and tender a relationship. She is the lovely resemblance of her lovely mother;-pardon, Sir, the liberty I take in mentioning that unfortunate lady; but I think it behoves me, upon this occasion, to shew the esteem I felt for her: allow me, therefore, to say, and be not offended at my freedom, that the memory of that excellent lady has but too long remained under the aspersions of calumny; surely it is time to vindicate her fame;-and how can that be done in a manner more eligible, more grateful to her friends, or more honourable to yourself, than by openly receiving as your child, the daughter of the late Lady Belmont?
The venerable man who has had the care of her education, deserves your warmest acknowledgments, for the unremitting pains he has taken, and the attention he has shewn in the discharge of his trust. Indeed she has been peculiarly fortunate in meeting with such a friend and guardian; a more worthy man, or one whose character seems nearer to perfection, does not exist.
Permit me to assure you, Sir, she will amply repay whatever regard and favour you may hereafter shew her, by the comfort and happiness you cannot fail to find in her affection and duty. To be owned properly by you is the first wish of her heart; and, I am sure, that to merit your approbation will be the first study of her life.
I fear that you will think this address impertinent; but I must rest upon the goodness of my intention to plead my excuse. I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant, M. HOWARD.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Howard Grove, Kent, May 10.
OUR house has been enlivened to-day by the arrival of a London visitor; and the necessity I have been under of concealing the uneasiness of my mind, has made me exert myself so effectually, that I even think it is really diminished; or, at least, my thoughts are not so totally, so very anxiously, occupied by one subject only as they lately were.
I was strolling this morning with Miss Mirvan, down a lane about a mile from the Grove, when we heard the trampling of horses; and, fearing the narrowness of the passage, we were turning hastily back, but stopped upon hearing a voice call out, "Pray, Ladies, don't be frightened, for I will walk my horse." We turned again, and then saw Sir Clement Willoughby. He dismounted; and approaching us with the reins in his hand, presently recollected us. "Good Heaven," cried he, with his usual quickness, "do I see Miss Anville ?-and you too, Miss Mirvan?"
He immediately ordered his servant to take charge of his horse; and then, advancing to us, took a hand of each, which he pressed to his lips, and said a thousand fine things concerning his good fortune, our improved looks, and the charms of the country, when inhabited by such rural deities. "The town, Ladies, has languished since your absence;-or, at least, I have so much languished myself, as to be absolutely insensible to all it had to offer. One refreshing breeze, such as I now enjoy, awakens me to new vigour, life, and spirit. But I never before had the good luck to see the country in such perfection."
"Has not almost every body left town, Sir?" said Miss Mirvan.
"I am ashamed to answer you, Madam,-but indeed it is as full as ever, and will continue so till after the birth-day. However, you Ladies were so little seen, that there are but few who know what it has lost. For my own part, I felt it too sensibly, to be able to endure the place any longer."
"Is there any body remaining there, that we were acquainted with?" cried I.
"O yes, Ma'am." And then he named two or three persons we have seen when with him; but he did not mention Lord Orville, and I would not ask him, lest he should think me curious. Perhaps, if he stays here some time, he may speak of him by accident.
He was proceeding in this complimentary style, when we were met by the Captain; who no sooner perceived Sir Clement, than he hastened up to him, gave him a hearty shake of the hand, a cordial slap on the back, and some other equally gentle tokens of satisfaction, assuring him of his great joy at his visit, and declaring he was as glad to see him as if he had been a messenger who brought news that a French ship was sunk. Sir Clement, on the other side, expressed himself with equal warmth; and protested he had been so eager to pay his respects to Captain Mirvan, that he had left London in its full lustre, and a thousand engagements unanswered, merely to give himself that pleasure.
"We shall have rare sport," said the Captain; "for, do you know, the old French-woman is among us? 'Fore George, I have scarce made any use of her yet, by reason I have had nobody with me that could enjoy a joke: howsomever, it shall go hard but we'll have some diversion now."
Sir Clement very much approved of the proposal; and we then went into the house, where he had a very grave reception from Mrs. Mirvan, who is by no means pleased with his visit, and a look of much discontent from Madame Duval, who said to me in a low voice, "I'd as soon have seen Old Nick as that man, for he's the most impertinentest person in the world, and isn't never of my side."
The Captain is now actually occupied in contriving some scheme, which, he says, is to pay the old Dowager off; and so eager and delighted is he at the idea, that he can scarcely restrain his raptures sufficiently to conceal his design even from herself. I wish, however, since I do not dare put Madame Duval upon her guard, that he had the delicacy not to acquaint me with his intention.
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION May 13th.
THE Captain's operations are begun,-and, I hope, ended; for, indeed, poor Madame Duval has already but too much reason to regret Sir Clement's visit to Howard Grove.
Yesterday morning, during breakfast, as the Captain was reading the newspaper, Sir Clement suddenly begged to look at it, saying, he wanted to know if there was any account of a transaction, at which he had been present the evening before his journey hither, concerning a poor Frenchman, who had got into a scrape which might cost him his life.
The Captain demanded particulars; and then Sir Clement told a long story of being with a party of country friends at the Tower, and hearing a man call out for mercy in French; and that, when he inquired into the occasion of his distress, he was informed that he had been taken up upon suspicion of treasonable practices against the government. "The poor fellow," continued he, "no sooner found that I spoke French, than he besought me to hear him, protesting that he had no evil designs; that he had been but a short time in England, and only waited the return of a lady from the country to quit it for ever."
Madame Duval changed colour, and listened with the utmost attention.
"Now, though I by no means approve of so many foreigners continually flocking into our country," added he, addressing himself to the Captain, "yet I could not help pitying the poor wretch, because he did not know enough of English to make his defence; however, I found it impossible to assist him; for the mob would not suffer me to interfere. In truth, I am afraid he was but roughly handled."
"Why, did they duck him?" said the Captain.
"Something of that sort," answered he.
"So much the better! so much the better!" cried the Captain, "an impudent French puppy! I'll bet you what you will he was a rascal. I only wish all his countrymen were served the same."
"I wish you had been in his place, with all my soul!" cried Madame Duval, warmly;-"but pray, Sir, did'n't nobody know who this poor gentleman was?"
"Why I did hear his name," answered Sir Clement, "but I cannot recollect it."
"It wasn't-it wasn't-Du Bois?" stammered out Madame Duval.
"The very name!" answered he: "yes, Du Bois, I remember it now."
Madame Duval's cup fell from her hand, as she repeated "Du
Bois! Monsieur Du Bois, did you say?"
"Du Bois! why, that's my friend," cried the Captain, "that's Monseer
Slippery, i'n't it?-Why, he's plaguy fond of sousing work; howsomever,
I'll be sworn they gave him his fill of it."
"And I'll be sworn," cried Madame Duval, "that you're a-but I don't believe nothing about it, so you needn't be so overjoyed, for I dare say it was no more Monsieur Du Bois than I am."
"I thought at the time," said Sir Clement, very gravely, "that I had seen the gentleman before; and now I recollect, I think it was in company with you, Madame."
"With me, Sir?" cried Madame Duval.
"Say you so?" said the Captain; "why then it must be he, as sure as you're alive!-Well, but, my good friend, what will they do with poor Monseer?"
"It is difficult to say," answered Sir Clement, very thoughtfully; "but I should suppose, that if he has not good friends to appear for him, he will be in a very unpleasant situation; for these are serious sorts of affairs."
"Why, do you think they'll hang him?" demanded the Captain.
Sir Clement shook his head, but made no answer.
Madame Duval could no longer contain her agitation; she started from her chair, repeating, with a voice half-choked, "Hang him!-they can't,-they sha'n't-let them at their peril!-However, it's all false, and I won't believe a word of it;-but I'll go to town this very moment, and see M. Du Bois myself;-I won't wait for nothing."
Mrs. Mirvan begged her not to be alarmed; but she flew out of the room, and up stairs into her own apartment. Lady Howard blamed both the gentlemen for having been so abrupt, and followed her. I would have accompanied her, but the Captain stopped me; and, having first laughed very heartily, said he was going to read his commission to his ship's company.
"Now, do you see," said he, "as to Lady Howard, I sha'n't pretend for to enlist her into my service, and so I shall e'en leave her to make it out as well as she can; but as to all you, I expect obedience and submission to orders; I am now upon a hazardous expedition, having undertaken to convoy a crazy vessel to the shore of Mortification; so, d'ye see, if any of you have anything to propose that will forward the enterprise,-why speak and welcome; but if any of you, that are of my chosen crew, capitulate, or enter into any treaty with the enemy,-I shall look upon you as mutinying, and turn you adrift."
Having finished this harangue, which was interlarded with many expressions, and sea-phrases, that I cannot recollect, he gave Sir Clement a wink of intelligence, and left us to ourselves.
Indeed, notwithstanding the attempts I so frequently make of writing some of the Captain's conversation, I can only give you a faint idea of his language; for almost every other word he utters is accompanied by an oath, which, I am sure, would be as unpleasant for you to read, as for me to write: and, besides, he makes use of a thousand sea-terms, which are to me quite unintelligible.
Poor Madame Duval sent to inquire at all probable places, whether she could be conveyed to town in any stage-coach: but the Captain's servant brought her for answer, that no London stage would pass near Howard Grove till to-day. She then sent to order a chaise; but was soon assured, that no horses could be procured. She was so much inflamed by these disappointments, that she threatened to set out for town on foot; and it was with difficulty that Lady Howard dissuaded her from this mad scheme.
The whole morning was filled up with these inquiries. But when we were all assembled to dinner, she endeavoured to appear perfectly unconcerned, and repeatedly protested that she gave not any credit to the report, as far as it regarded M. Du Bois, being very certain that he was not the person in question.
The Captain used the most provoking efforts to convince her that she deceived herself; while Sir Clement, with more art, though not less malice, affected to be of her opinion; but, at the same time that he pretended to relieve her uneasiness, by saying that he doubted not having mistaken the name, he took care to enlarge upon the danger to which the unknown gentleman was exposed, and expressed great concern at his perilous situation.
Dinner was hardly removed, when a letter was delivered to Madam Duval. The moment she had read it, she hastily demanded from whom it came.
"A country boy brought it," answered the servant," but he would not wait."
"Run after him this instant!" cried she, "and be sure you bring him back. Mon Dieu! quelle aventure! que feraije?"
"What's the matter? what's the matter?" said the Captain.
"Why nothing-nothing's the matter. O mon Dieu!"
And she rose, and walked about the room.
"Why, what,-has Monseer sent to you?" continued the Captain: "is that there letter from him?"
"No,-it i'n't;-besides, if it is, it's nothing to you."
"O then, I'm sure it is! Pray now, Madam, don't be so close; come tell us all about it-what does he say? how did he relish the horse-pond?-which did he find best, sousing single or double? 'Fore George, 'twas plaguy unlucky you was not with him!"
"It's no such a thing, Sir," cried she, very angrily; "and if you're so very fond of a horse-pond, I wish you'd put yourself into one, and not be always a thinking about other people's being served so."
The man then came in to acquaint her they could not overtake the boy. She scolded violently, and was in such perturbation, that Lady Howard interfered, and begged to know the cause of her uneasiness, and whether she could assist her.
Madame Duval cast her eyes upon the Captain and Sir Clement, and said she should be glad to speak to her Ladyship without so many witnesses.
"Well, then, Miss Anville," said the Captain, turning to me, "do you and Molly go into another room, and stay there till Mrs. Duval has opened her mind to us."
"So you may think, Sir," cried she, "but who's fool then? no, no, you needn't trouble yourself to make a ninny of me neither, for I'm not so easily taken in, I'll assure you."
Lady Howard then invited her into the dressing-room, and I was desired to attend her.
As soon as we had shut the door, "O my Lady," exclaimed Madam Duval, "here's the most cruelest thing in the world has happened!-but that Captain is such a beast, I can't say nothing before him,-but it's all true! poor M. Du Bois is tooked up!"
Lady Howard begged her to be comforted, saying that, as M. Du Bois was certainly innocent, there could be no doubt of his ability to clear himself.
"To be sure, my Lady," answered she, "I know he is innocent; and to be sure they'll never be so wicked as to hang him for nothing?"
"Certainly not," replied Lady Howard; "you have no reason to be uneasy. This is not a country where punishment is inflicted without proof."
"Very true, my Lady: but the worst thing is this; I cannot bear that that fellow the Captain should know about it; for if he does, I sha'n't never hear the last of it;-no more won't poor M. Du Bois."
"Well, well," said Lady Howard, "shew me the letter, and I will endeavour to advise you."
The letter was then produced. It was signed by the clerk of a country justice; who acquainted her, that a prisoner, then upon trial for suspicion of treasonable practices against the government, was just upon the point of being committed to jail; but having declared that he was known to her, this clerk had been prevailed upon to write, in order to enquire if she really could speak to the character and family of a Frenchman who called himself Pierre Du Bois.
When I heard the letter, I was quite amazed at its success. So improbable did it seem, that a foreigner should be taken before a country justice of peace, for a crime of so dangerous a nature, that I cannot imagine how Madame Duval could be alarmed, even for a moment. But, with all her violence of temper, I see that she is easily frightened, and in fact, more cowardly than many who have not half her spirit; and so little does she reflect upon circumstances, or probability, that she is continually the dupe of her own-I ought not to say ignorance, but yet I can think of no other word.
I believe that Lady Howard, from the beginning of the transaction, suspected some contrivance of the Captain; and this letter, I am sure, must confirm her suspicion: however, though she is not at all pleased with his frolic, yet she would not hazard the consequence of discovering his designs: her looks, her manner, and her character, made me draw this conclusion from her apparent perplexity; for not a word did she say that implied any doubt of the authenticity of the letter. Indeed there seems to be a sort of tacit agreement between her and the Captain, that she should not appear to be acquainted with his schemes; by which means she at once avoids quarrels, and supports her dignity.
While she was considering what to propose, Madame Duval begged to have the use of her Ladyship's chariot, that she might go immediately to the assistance of her friend. Lady Howard politely assured her, that it should be extremely at her service; and then Madame Duval besought her not to own to the Captain what had happened, protesting that she could not endure he should know poor M. Du Bois had met with so unfortunate an accident. Lady Howard could not help smiling, though she readily promised not to inform the Captain of the affair. As to me, she desired my attendance; which I was by no means rejoiced at, as I was certain that she was going upon a fruitless errand.
I was then commissioned to order the chariot.
At the foot of the stairs I met the Captain, who was most impatiently waiting the result of the conference. In an instant we were joined by Sir Clement. A thousand inquiries were then made concerning Madame Duval's opinion of the letter, and her intentions upon it: and when I would have left them, Sir Clement, pretending equal eagerness with the Captain, caught my hand, and repeatedly detained me, to ask some frivolous question, to the answer of which he must be totally indifferent. At length, however, I broke from them; they retired into the parlour, and I executed my commission.
The carriage was soon ready; and Madame Duval, having begged Lady Howard to say she was not well, stole softly down stairs, desiring me to follow her. The chariot was ordered at the garden-door; and, when we were seated, she told the man, according to the clerk's directions, to drive to Mr. Justice Tyrell's, asking at the same time, how many miles off he lived?
I expected he would have answered, that he knew of no such person; but, to my great surprise, he said, "Why, 'Squire Tyrell lives about nine miles beyond the park."
"Drive fast, then," cried she, "and you sha'n't be no worse for it."
During our ride, which was extremely tedious, she tormented herself with a thousand fears for M. Du Bois's safety; and piqued herself very much upon having escaped unseen by the Captain, not only that she avoided his triumph, but because she knew him to be so much M. Du Bois's enemy, that she was sure he would prejudice the justice against him, and endeavour to take away his life. For my part, I was quite ashamed of being engaged in so ridiculous an affair, and could only think of the absurd appearance we should make upon our arrival at Mr. Tyrell's.
When we had been out near two hours, and expected every moment to stop at the place of our destination, I observed that Lady Howard's servant, who attended us on horseback, rode on forward till he was out of sight: and soon after returning, came up to the chariot window, and delivering a note to Madame Duval, said he had met a boy who was just coming with it to Howard Grove from the clerk of Mr. Tyrell.
While she was reading it, he rode round to the other window, and making a sign for secrecy, put into my hand a slip of paper, on which was written, "Whatever happens, be not alarmed-for you are safe-though you endanger all mankind!"
I readily imagined that Sir Clement must be the author of this note, which prepared me to expect some disagreeable adventure: but I had no time to ponder upon it; for Madame Duval had no sooner read her own letter, than, in an angry tone of voice, she exclaimed, "Why, now, what a thing is this! here we're come all this way for nothing!"
She gave me the note; which informed her, that she need not trouble herself to go to Mr. Tyrell's, as the prisoner had had the address to escape. I congratulated her upon this fortunate incident; but she was so much concerned at having rode so far in vain, that she seemed to be less pleased than provoked. However, she ordered the man to make what haste he could home, as she hoped, at least, to return before the Captain should suspect what had passed.
The carriage turned about; and we journeyed so quietly for near an
I began to flatter myself we should be suffered to proceed to Howard
Grove without any molestation, when suddenly, the footman called out,
"John, are we going right?"
"Why, I a'n't sure," said the coachman, "But I'm afraid we turned
"What do you mean by that, sirrah?" said Madame Duval; "why, if you
way, we shall all be in the dark."
"I think we should turn to the left," said the footman.
"To the left!" answered the other; "No, no, I'm partly sure we should
"You had better make some enquiry," said I.
"Ma foi!" cried Madame Duval, "we're in a fine hole here!-they
them know no more than the post. However, I'll tell my Lady as sure
as you're born, you'd better find the way."
"Let's try this lane," said the footman.
"No," said the coachman, "that's the road to Canterbury; we had best go straight on."
"Why, that's the direct London road," returned the footman, "and
will lead us
twenty miles about."
"Pardi," cried Madame Duval, "why, they won't go one way nor t'other! and now we're come all this jaunt for nothing, I suppose we shan't get home to-night!"
"Let's go back to the public-house," said the footman, "and ask for a
"No, no," said the other, "if we stay here a few minutes, somebody
will pass by; and the horses are almost knocked up already."
"Well, I protest," cried Madame Duval, "I'd give a guinea to see
both horse-whipped! As sure as I'm alive they're drunk! Ten to one
but they'll overturn us next."
After much debating, they at length agreed to go on till we came to
or met with a passenger who could direct us. We soon arrived at a
farm-house, and the footman alighted, and went into it.
In a few minutes he returned, and told us we might proceed, for that he had procured a direction: "But," added he, "it seems there are some thieves hereabouts; and so the best way will be for you to leave your watches and your purses with the farmer, whom I know very well, and who is an honest man, and a tenant of my Lady's."
"Thieves!" cried Madame Duval, looking aghast; "the Lord help
doubt but we shall be all murdered!"
The farmer came up to us, and we gave him all we were worth, and the servants followed our example. We then proceeded; and Madame Duval's anger so entirely subsided, that, in the mildest manner imaginable, she intreated them to make haste, and promised to tell their Lady how diligent and obliging they had been. She perpetually stopped them, to ask if they apprehended any danger; and was at length so much overpowered by her fears, that she made the footman fasten his horse to the back of the carriage, and then come and seat himself within it. My endeavours to encourage her were fruitless: she sat in the middle, held the man by the arm, and protested that if he did but save her life, she would make his fortune. Her uneasiness gave me much concern, and it was with the utmost difficulty I forbore to acquaint her that she was imposed upon; but the mutual fear of the Captain's resentment to me, and of her own to him, neither of which would have any moderation, deterred me. As to the footman, he was evidently in torture from restraining his laughter; and I observed that he was frequently obliged to make most horrid grimaces, from pretended fear, in order to conceal his risibility.
Very soon after, "The robbers are coming!" cried the coachman.
The footman opened the door, and jumped out of the chariot.
Madame Duval gave a loud scream.
I could no longer preserve my silence. "For Heaven's sake, my dear Madame," said I, "don't be alarmed,-you are in no danger,-you are quite safe,-there is nothing but-"
Here the chariot was stopped by two men in masks; who at each side put in their hands as if for our purses. Madame Duval sunk to the bottom of the chariot, and implored their mercy. I shrieked involuntarily, although prepared for the attack: one of them held me fast, while the other tore poor Madame Duval out of the carriage, in spite of her cries, threats, and resistance.
I was really frightened, and trembled exceedingly. "My angel!" cried the man who held me, "you cannot surely be alarmed,-do you not know me?-I shall hold myself in eternal abhorrence, if I have really terrified you."
"Indeed, Sir Clement, you have," cried I:-"but, for Heaven's sake, where is Madame Duval?-why is she forced away?"
"She is perfectly safe; the Captain has her in charge: but suffer
me now, my
adored Miss Anville, to take the only opportunity that is allowed me,
to speak upon another, a much dearer, much sweeter subject."
And then he hastily came into the chariot, and seated himself next to me. I would fain have disengaged myself from him, but he would not let me: "Deny me not, most charming of women," cried he, "deny me not this only moment that is lent me, to pour forth my soul into your gentle ears,-to tell you how much I suffer from your absence,-how much I dread your displeasure,-and how cruelly I am affected by your coldness!"
"O, Sir, this is no time for such language;-pray leave me, pray go
relief of Madame Duval,-I cannot bear that she should be treated with
"And will you,-can you command my absence?-When may I speak to you, if not now?-Does the Captain suffer me to breathe a moment out of his sight?-and are not a thousand impertinent people for ever at your elbow?"
"Indeed, Sir Clement, you must change your style, or I will not hear
impertinent people you mean are among my best friends; and you would
not, if you really wished me well, speak of them so disrespectfully."
"Wish you well!-O, Miss Anville, point but out to me how, in what manner, I may convince you of the fervour of my passion;-tell me but what services you will accept from me,-and you shall find my life, my fortune, my whole soul at your devotion."
"I want nothing, Sir, that you can offer;-I beg you not to talk to me so-so strangely. Pray leave me; and pray assure yourself you cannot take any method so successless to show any regard for me, as entering into schemes so frightful to Madame Duval, and so disagreeable to myself."
"The scheme was the Captain's: I even opposed it: though, I own, I could not refuse myself the so-long-wished-for happiness of speaking to you once more, without so many of-your friends to watch me. And I had flattered myself, that the note I charged the footman to give you, would have prevented the alarm you have received."
"Well Sir, you have now, I hope, said enough; and, if you will not go yourself to see for Madame Duval, at least suffer me to inquire what is become of her."
"And when may I speak to you again?"
"No matter when,-I don't know,-perhaps-"
"Perhaps what, my angel?"
"Perhaps never, Sir,-if you torment me thus."
"Never! O, Miss Anville, how cruel, how piercing to my soul is
word!-Indeed I cannot endure such displeasure."
"Then, Sir, you must not provoke it. Pray leave me directly."
"I will Madam: but let me, at least, make a merit of my
to hope that you will, in future, be less averse to trusting yourself
for a few moments alone with me"
I was surprised at the freedom of this request: but, while I hesitated how to answer it, the other mask came up to the chariot-door, and, in a voice almost stifled with laughter said, "I've done for her!-the old buck is safe;-but we must sheer off directly, or we shall be all ground."
Sir Clement instantly left me, mounted his horse, and rode off. The
having given some directions to the servants, followed him.
I was both uneasy and impatient to know the fate of Madame Duval, and immediately got out of the chariot to seek her. I desired the footman to show me which way she was gone; he pointed with his finger by way of answer, and I saw that he dared not trust his voice to make any other. I walked on at a very quick pace, and soon, to my great consternation, perceived the poor lady seated upright in a ditch. I flew to her with unfeigned concern at her situation. She was sobbing, nay, almost roaring, and in the utmost agony of rage and terror. As soon as she saw me, she redoubled her cries; but her voice was so broken, I could not understand a word she said. I was so much shocked, that it was with difficulty I forebore exclaiming against the cruelty of the Captain for thus wantonly ill-treating her; and I could not forgive myself for having passively suffered the deception. I used my utmost endeavours to comfort her, assuring her of our present safety, and begging her to rise and return to the chariot.
Almost bursting with passion, she pointed to her feet, and with
violence she actually tore the ground with her hands.
I then saw that her feet were tied together with a strong rope, which was fastened to the upper branch of a tree, even with a hedge which ran along the ditch where she sat. I endeavoured to untie the knot; but soon found it was infinitely beyond my strength. I was, therefore, obliged to apply to the footman; but, being very unwilling to add to his mirth by the sight of Madame Duval's situation. I desired him to lend me a knife: I returned with it, and cut the rope. Her feet were soon disentangled; and then, though with great difficulty, I assisted her to rise. But what was my astonishment, when, the moment she was up, she hit me a violent slap on the face! I retreated from her with precipitation and dread: and she then loaded me with reproaches, which, though almost unintelligible, convinced me that she imagined I had voluntarily deserted her; but she seemed not to have the slightest suspicion that she had not been attacked by real robbers.
I was so much surprised and confounded at the blow, that, for some time, I suffered her to rave without making any answer; but her extreme agitation, and real suffering, soon dispelled my anger, which all turned into compassion. I then told her, that I had been forcibly detained from following her, and assured her of my real sorrow of her ill-usage.
She began to be somewhat appeased; and I again intreated her to return to the carriage, or give me leave to order that it should draw up to the place where we stood. She made no answer, till I told her, that the longer we remained still, the greater would be the danger of our ride home. Struck with this hint, she suddenly, and with hasty steps, moved forward.
Her dress was in such disorder, that I was quite sorry to have
exposed to the servants, who all of them, in imitation of her master,
hold her in derision: however the disgrace was unavoidable.
The ditch, happily, was almost quite dry, or she must have suffered still more seriously; yet so forlorn, so miserable a figure, I never before saw her. Her head-dress had fallen off, her linen was torn, her negligee had not a pin left in it, her petticoats she was obliged to hold on, and her shoes were perpetually slipping off. She was covered with dirt, weeds, and filth, and her face was really horrible; for the pomatum and powder from her head, and the dust from the road, were quite pasted on her skin by her tears, which, with her rouge, made so frightful a mixture, that she hardly looked human.
The servants were ready to die with laughter the moment they saw her; but not all my remonstrances could prevail upon her to get into the carriage, till she had most vehemently reproached them both for not rescuing her. The footman, fixing his eyes on the ground, as if fearful of again trusting himself to look at her, protested that the robbers had vowed they would shoot him if he moved an inch, and that one of them had stayed to watch the chariot, while the other carried her off, adding, that the reason of their behaving so barbarously, was to revenge our having secured our purses. Notwithstanding, her anger, she gave immediate credit to what he said; and really imagined that her want of money had irritated the pretended robbers to treat her with such cruelty. I determined, therefore, to be carefully upon my guard not to betray the imposition, which could now answer no other purpose, then occasioning an irreparable breach between her and the Captain.
Just as we were seated in the chariot, she discovered the loss which
had sustained, and called out, "My God! what is become of my hair?-why,
the villain has stole all my curls!"
She then ordered the man to run and see if he could find any of them in the ditch. He went, and presently returning, produced a great quantity of hair, in such nasty condition, that I was amazed she would take it; and the man, as he delivered it to her, found it impossible to keep his countenance; which she no sooner observed, than all her stormy passions were again raised. She flung the battered curls in his face, saying, "Sirrah, what do you grin for? I wish you'd been served so yourself, and you wouldn't have found it no such joke; you are the impudentest fellow ever I see; and if I find you dare grin at me any more, I shall make no ceremony of boxing your ears."
Satisfied with the threat, the man hastily retired, and we drove on.
Her anger now subsiding into grief, she began most sorrowfully to lament her case. "I believe," she cried, "never nobody was so unlucky as I am! and so here, because I ha'n't had misfortunes enough already, that puppy has made me lose my curls!-Why, I can't see nobody without them:-only look at me,-I was never so bad off in my life before. Pardi, if I'd know'd as much, I'd have brought two or three sets with me: but I'd never a thought of such a thing as this."
Finding her now somewhat pacified, I ventured to ask an account of her adventure, which I will endeavour to write in her own words.
"Why, child, all this misfortune comes of that puppy's making us leave our money behind us; for, as soon as the robber see I did put nothing in his hands, he lugged me out of the chariot by main force, and I verily thought he'd have murdered me. He was as strong as a lion; I was no more in his hands than a child. But I believe never nobody was so abused before; for he dragged me down the road, pulling and hauling me all the way, as if'd no more feeling than a horse. I'm sure I wish I could see that man cut up and quartered alive! however, he'll come to the gallows, that's one good thing. So soon as we'd got out of sight of the chariot, though he needn't have been afraid, for if he'd beat me to a mummy, those cowardly fellows wouldn't have said nothing to it-so, when I was got there, what does he do, but all of a sudden he takes me by both the shoulders, and he gives me such a shake!-Mon Dieu I shall never forget it, if I live to be an hundred. I'm sure I dare say I'm out of joint all over. And though I made as much noise as I ever could, he took no more notice of it than nothing at all; there he stood, shaking me in that manner, as if he was doing it for a wager. I'm determined, if it costs me all my fortune, I'll see that villain hanged. He shall be found out, if there's e'er a justice in England. So when he had shook me till he was tired, and I felt all over like a jelly, without saying never a word, he takes and pops me into the ditch! I'm sure, I thought he'd have murdered me, as much as ever I thought any thing in my life; for he kept bumping me about, as if he thought nothing too bad for me. However, I'm resolved I'll never leave my purse behind me again, the longest day I have to live. So when he couldn't stand over me no longer, he holds out his hands again for my money; but he was as cunning as could be, for he wouldn't speak a word, because I shouldn't swear to his voice; however, that sha'n't save him, for I'll swear to him any day in the year, if I can but catch him. So, when I told him I had no money, he fell to jerking me again, just as if he had but that moment begun! And, after that, he got me close by a tree, and out of his pocket he pulls a great cord!-It's a wonder I did not swoon away: for as sure as you're alive, he was going to hang to me that tree. I screamed like any thing mad, and told him if he would but spare my life, I'd never prosecute him, nor tell anybody what he'd done to me: so he stood some time quite in a brown study, a-thinking what he should do. And so, after that, he forced me to sit down in the ditch, and he tied my feet together, just as you see them: and then, as if he had not done enough, he twitched off my cap, and without saying nothing, got on his horse and left me in that condition; thinking, I suppose, that I might lie there and perish."
Though this narrative almost compelled me to laugh, yet I was really irritated with the Captain, for carrying his love of tormenting,-sport, he calls it,-to such barbarous and unjustifiable extremes. I consoled and soothed her, as well as I was able: and told her, that since M. Du Bois had escaped, I hoped, when she recovered from her fright, all would end well.
"Fright, child!" repeated she,-"why that's not half:-I promise you, I wish it was: but here I'm bruised from top to toe and it's well if ever I have the right use of my limbs again. However, I'm glad the villain got nothing but his trouble for his pains. But here the worst is to come, for I can't go out, because I've got no curls, and so he'll be escaped before I can get to the justice to stop him. I'm resolved I'll tell Lady Howard how her man served me; for if he hadn't made me fling 'em away, I dare say I would have pinned them up well enough for the country."
"Perhaps Lady Howard may be able to lend you a cap that will wear
"Lady Howard, indeed! why, do you think I'd wear one of her dowdies? No, I'll promise you, I sha'n't put on no such disguisement. It's the unluckiest thing in the world that I did not make the man pick up the curls again; but he put me in such a passion, I could not think of nothing. I know I can't get none at Howard Grove for love nor money: for of all the stupid places ever I see, that Howard Grove is the worst; there's never no getting nothing one wants."
This sort of conversation lasted till we arrived at our journey's end; and then a new distress occurred: Madame Duval was eager to speak to Lady Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan, and to relate her misfortunes: but she could not endure that Sir Clement or the Captain should see her in such disorder; so she said they were so ill-natured, that instead of pitying her, they would only make a jest of her disasters. She therefore sent me first into the house, to wait for an opportunity of their being out of the way, that she might steal up stairs unobserved. In this I succeeded, as the gentlemen thought it most prudent not to seem watching for her; though they both contrived to divert themselves with peeping at her as she passed.
She went immediately to bed, where she had her supper. Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan both of them very kindly sat with her, and listened to her tale with compassionate attention: while Miss Mirvan and I retired to our own room, where I was very glad to end the troubles of the day in a comfortable conversation.
The Captain's raptures, during supper, at the success of his plan, were boundless. I spoke afterwards to Mrs. Mirvan with the openness which her kindness encourages, and begged her to remonstrate with him upon the cruelty of tormenting Madame Duval so causelessly. She promised to take the first opportunity of starting up the subject: but said he was at present so much elated, that he would not listen to her with any patience. However, should he make any new efforts to molest her, I can by no means consent to be passive. Had I imagined he would have been so violent, I would have risked his anger in her defense much sooner.
She had kept her bed all day, and declares she is almost bruised to death.
Adieu, my dear Sir. What a long letter have I written! I could almost fancy I sent it to you from London!
EVELINA IN CONTINUATION
Howard Grove, May 15.
THIS insatiable Captain, if left to himself, would not, I believe, rest, till he had tormented Madame Duval into a fever. He seems to have no delight but in terrifying or provoking her; and all his thoughts apparently turn upon inventing such methods as may do it most effectually.
She had her breakfast again in bed yesterday morning: but during ours, the Captain, with a very significant look at Sir Clement, gave us to understand, that he thought she had now rested long enough to bear the hardships of a fresh campaign.
His meaning was obvious: and, therefore, I resolved to endeavour immediately to put a stop to his intended exploits. When breakfast was over, I followed Mrs. Mirvan out of the parlour, and begged her to lose no time in pleading the cause of Madame Duval with the Captain. "My love," answered she, "I have already expostulated with him; but all I can say is fruitless, while his favourite, Sir Clement, contrives to urge him on."
"Then I will go and speak to Sir Clement," said I, "for I know he will desist if I request him."
"Have I care, my dear!" said she, smiling: "it is sometimes dangerous to make requests to men who are too desirous of receiving them."
"Well, then, my dear Madam, will you give me leave to speak myself to the Captain?"
"Willingly: nay, I will accompany you to him."
I thanked her, and we went to seek him. He was walking in the garden with Sir Clement. Mrs. Mirvan most obligingly made an opening for my purpose, by saying, "Mr. Mirvan, I have brought a petitioner with me."
"Why, what's the matter now?" cried he.
I was fearful of making him angry, and stammered very much, when I told him, I hoped he had no new plan for alarming Madame Duval.
"New plan!" cried he; "why, you don't suppose the old one would do again, do you? Not but what it was a very good one, only I doubt she wouldn't bite."
"Indeed, Sir," said I, "she had already suffered too much; and I hope you will pardon me, if I take the liberty of telling you, that I think it my my duty to do all in my power to prevent her being again so much terrified."
A sullen gloominess instantly clouded his face, and, turning short from me, he said, I might do as I pleased, but that I should much sooner repent than repair my officiousness.
I was too much disconcerted at this rebuff to attempt making any answer: and finding that Sir Clement warmly espoused my cause, I walked away, and left them to discuss the point together.
Mrs. Mirvan, who never speaks to the Captain when he is out of humour, was glad to follow me, and with her usual sweetness made a thousand apologies for her husband's ill-manners.
When I left her, I went to Madame Duval, who was just risen, and employed in examining the clothes she had on the day of her ill usage.
"Here's a sight!" she cried. "Come, here child,-only look-Pardi, so long as I've lived, I never see so much before! Why, all my things are spoilt; and what's worse, my sacque was as good as new. Here's the second negligee I've used in this manner! - I'm sure I was a fool to put it on in such a lonesome place as this; however if I stay here these ten years, I'll never put on another good gown, that I'm resolved."
"Will you let the maid try if she can iron it out, or clean it, Ma'am?"
"No, she'll only make bad worse.-But look here, now, here's a cloak! Mon Dieu! why it looks like a dish-clout! Of all the unluckiness that ever I met, this is the worst! for, do you know, I bought it but the day before I left Paris!-Besides, into the bargain, my cap's quite gone: where the villain twitched it, I don't know; but I never see no more of it from that time to this. Now you must know that this was the becomingest cap I had in the world, for I've never another with pink ribbon in it; and, to tell you the truth, if I hadn't thought to have seen M. Du Bois, I'd no more have put it on than I'd have flown; for as to what one wears in such a stupid place as this, it signifies no more than nothing at all."
She then told me, that she had been thinking all night of a contrivance to hinder the Captain from finding out her loss of curls; which was having a large gauge handkerchief pinned over her head as a hood, and saying she had the tooth-ache.
"To tell you the truth," added she, "I believe that Captain is one of the worst men in the world; he's always making a joke of me; and as to his being a gentleman, he has no more manners than a bear, for he's always upon the grin when one's in distress; and, I declare I'd rather be done anything to than laughed at, for, to my mind, it's one or other the disagreeablest thing in the world."
Mrs. Mirvan, I found, had been endeavouring to dissuade her from the design she had formed of having recourse to the law, in order to find out the supposed robbers; for she dreads a discovery of the Captain, during Madam Duval's stay at Howard Grove, as it could not fail being productive of infinite commotion. She has, therefore, taken great pains to show the inutility of applying to justice, unless she were more able to describe the offenders against whom she would appear; and has assured her, that as she neither heard their voices, nor saw their faces, she cannot possibly swear to their persons, or obtain any redress.
Madame Duval, in telling me this, extremely lamented her hard fate, that she was thus prevented from revenging her injuries; which, however, she vowed she would not be persuaded to pocket tamely: "because," added she, "if such villains as these are let to have their own way, and nobody takes no notice of their impudence, they'll make no more ado than nothing at all of tying people in ditches, and such things as that: however, I shall consult with M. Du Bois, as soon as I can ferret out where he's hid himself. I'm sure I've a right to his advice, for it's all along of his gaping about at the Tower that I've met with these misfortunes."
"M. Du Bois," said I, "will, I am sure, be very sorry when he hears what has happened."
"And what good will that do now?-that won't unspoil all my clothes; I can tell him, I a'n't much obliged to him, though it's no fault of his;-yet it i'n't the less provokinger for that. I'm sure, if he had been there, to have seen me served in that manner, and put neck and heels into a ditch, he'd no more have thought it was me than the Pope of Rome. I'll promise you, whatever you may think of it, I sha'n't have no rest, night nor day, till I find out that rogue."
"I have no doubt, Madam, but you will soon discover him."
"Pardi, if I do, I'll hang him, as sure as fate!-but what's the oddest, is, that he should take such a special spite against me above all the rest! it was as much for nothing as could be; for I don't know what I had done, so particular bad, to be used in that manner: I'm sure, I hadn't given no offence, as I know of, for I never see his face all the time: and as to screaming a little, I think it's very hard if one mustn't do such a thing as that, when one's put in fear of one's life."
During this conversation, she endeavoured to adjust her headdress, but could not at all please herself. Indeed, had I not been present, I should have thought it impossible for a woman, at her time of life, to be so very difficult in regard to dress. What she may have in view, I cannot imagine, but the labour of the toilette seems the chief business of her life.
When I left her, in my way down stairs, I met Sir Clement; who with great earnestness, said he must not be denied the honour of a moment's conversation with me; and then, without waiting for an answer, he led me to the garden; at the door of which, however, I absolutely insisted upon stopping.
He seemed very serious, and said, in a grave tone of voice, "At length, Miss Anville, I flatter myself I have hit upon an expedient that will oblige you; and therefore, though it is death to myself, I will put in practice."
I begged him to explain himself.
"I saw your desire of saving Madame Duval, and scarce could I refrain giving the brutal Captain my real opinion of his savage conduct; but I am unwilling to quarrel with him, lest I should be denied entrance into a house which you inhabit; I have been endeavouring to prevail with him to give up his absurd new scheme, but I find him impenetrable:-I have therefore determined to make a pretense for suddenly leaving this place, dear as it is to me, and containing all I most admire and adore;-and I will stay in town till the violence of this boobyish humour is abated."
He stopped; but I was silent, for I knew not what I ought to say. He took my hand, which he pressed to his lips, saying, "And must I then, Miss Anville, must I quit you-sacrifice voluntarily my greatest felicity:-and yet not be honoured with one word, one look of approbation?"
I withdrew my hand, and said with half a laugh, "You know so well, Sir Clement, the value of the favours you confer, that it would be superfluous for me to point it out."
"Charming, charming girl! how does your wit, your understanding, rise upon me daily: and must I, can I part with you?-will no other method-"
"O, Sir, do you so soon repent the good office you had planned for
"For Madame Duval!-cruel creature, and will you not even suffer me to place to your account the sacrifice I am about to make?"
"You must place it, Sir, to what account you please; but I am too much in haste now to stay here any longer."
And then I would have left him; but he held me, and rather impatiently said, "If, then, I cannot be so happy as to oblige you, Miss Anville, you must not be surprised should I seek to oblige myself. If my scheme is not honoured with your approbation, for which alone it was formed, why should I, to my own infinite dissatisfaction, pursue it?"
We were then, for a few minutes, both silent; I was really unwilling he should give up a plan which would so effectually break into the Captain's designs, and, at the same time, save me the pain of disobliging him; and I should instantly and thankfully have accepted his offered civility, had not Mrs. Mirvan's caution made me fearful. However, when he pressed me to speak, I said, in an ironical voice, "I had thought, Sir, that the very strong sense you have yourself of the favour you propose to me, would sufficiently have repaid you; but, as I was mistaken, I must thank you myself. And now," making a low courtesy, "I hope, Sir, you are satisfied."
"Loveliest of thy sex-" he began; but I forced myself from him and ran upstairs.
Soon after Miss Mirvan told me that Sir Clement had just received a letter, which obliged him instantly to leave the Grove, and that he had actually ordered a chaise. I then acquainted her with the real state of the affair. Indeed, I conceal nothing from her; she is so gentle and sweet-tempered, that it gives me great pleasure to place an entire confidence in her.
At dinner, I must own, we all missed him; for though the flightiness of his behaviour to me, when we are by ourselves is very distressing; yet, in large companies, and general conversation, he is extremely entertaining and agreeable. As to the Captain, he has been so much chagrined at his departure, that he has scarce spoken a word since he went: but Madame Duval, who made her first public appearance since her accident, was quite in raptures that she escaped seeing him.
The money which we left at the farm-house has been returned to us. What pains the Captain must have taken to arrange and manage the adventures which he chose we should meet with! Yet he must certainly be discovered; for Madame Duval is already very much perplexed, at having received a letter this morning from M. Du Bois, in which he makes no mention of his imprisonment. However, she has so little suspicion, that she imputes his silence upon the subject to his fears that the letter might be intercepted.
Not one opportunity could I meet with, while Sir Clement was here, to enquire after his friend Lord Orville: but I think it was strange he should never mention him unasked. Indeed, I rather wonder that Mrs. Mirvan herself did not introduce the subject, for she always seemed particularly attentive to him.
And now, once more, all my thoughts involuntarily turn upon the letter I so soon expect from Paris. This visit of Sir Clement has, however, somewhat diverted my fears; and, therefore, I am very glad he made it at this time. Adieu, my dear Sir.
SIR JOHN BELMONT TO LADY HOWARD Paris, May 11.
I HAVE this moment the honour of your Ladyship's Letter, and I will not wait another, before I return an answer.
It seldom happens that a man, though extolled as a saint, is really without blemish; or that another, though reviled as a devil, is really without humanity. Perhaps the time is not very distant, when I may have the honour to convince your Ladyship of this truth, in regard to Mr. Villars and myself.
As to the young lady, whom Mr. Villars so obligingly proposes presenting to me, I wish her all the happiness to which, by your ladyship's account, she seems entitled; and, if she has a third part of the merit of her to whom you compare her, I doubt not but Mr. Villars will be more successful in every other application he may make for her advantage, that he can ever be in any with which he may be pleased to favour me. I have the honour to be Madam, Your Ladyship's most humble, and most obedient servant, JOHN BELMONT.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Howard Grove, May 18.
WELL, my dear Sir, all is now over! the letter so anxiously expected is at length arrived, and my doom is fixed. The various feelings which oppress me, I have not language to describe; nor need I-you know my heart, you have yourself formed it-and its sensations upon this occasion you may but too readily imagine.
Outcast as I am, and rejected for ever by him to whom I of right belong-shall I now implore your continued protection?-No, no;-I will not offend your generous heart, which, open to distress, has no wish but to relieve it, with an application that would seem to imply a doubt. I am more secure than ever of your kindness, since you now know upon that is my sole dependence.
I endeavour to bear this stroke with composure, and in such a manner as if I had already received your counsel and consolation. Yet, at times, my emotions are almost too much for me. O, Sir, what a letter for a parent to write! Must I not myself be deaf to the voice of nature, if I could endure to be thus absolutely abandoned without regret? I dare not even to you, nor would I, could I help it, to myself, acknowledge all that I might think; for, indeed, I have sometimes sentiments upon this rejection, which my strongest sense of duty can scarcely correct. Yet, suffer me to ask-might not this answer have been softened?-was it not enough to disclaim me for ever, without treating me with contempt, and wounding me with derision?
But while I am thus thinking of myself, I forget how much more he is the object of sorrow than I am! Alas! what amends can he make himself for the anguish he is hoarding up for time to come! My heart bleeds for him, whenever this reflection occurs to me.
What is said of you, my protector, my friend, my benefactor! I dare
myself to comment upon. Gracious Heaven! what a return for goodness
I would fain endeavour to divert my thoughts from this subject; but even that is not in my power; for, afflicting as this letter is to me, I find that it will not be allowed to conclude the affair, though it does all my expectations; for Madame Duval has determined not to let it rest here. She heard the letter in great wrath, and protested she would not be so easily answered; she regretted her facility in having been prevailed upon to yield the direction of this affair to those who knew not how to manage it, and vowed she would herself undertake and conduct it in future.
It is in vain that I have pleaded against her resolution, and besought her to forbear an attack where she has nothing to expect but resentment: especially as there seems to be a hint, that Lady Howard will one day be more openly dealt with. She will not hear me: she is furiously bent upon a project which is terrible to think of;-for she means to go herself to Paris, take me with her, and there, face to face, demand justice!
How to appease or to persuade her, I know not; but for the universe would I not be dragged, in such a manner, to an interview so awful, with a parent I have never yet beheld!
Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan are both of them infinitely shocked at the present state of affairs, and they seem to be even more kind to me than ever; and my dear Maria, who is the friend of my heart, uses her utmost efforts to console me; and, when she fails in her design, with still greater kindness she sympathises in my sorrow.
I very much rejoice, however, that Sir Clement Willoughby had left us before this letter arrived. I am sure the general confusion of the house would otherwise have betrayed to him the whole of a tale which I now, more than ever, wish to have buried in oblivion.
Lady Howard thinks I ought not to disoblige Madame Duval, yet she acknowledges the impropriety of my accompanying her abroad on such an enterprise. Indeed, I would rather die than force myself into his presence. But so vehement is Madame Duval, that she would instantly have compelled me to attend her to town, in her way to Paris, had not Lady Howard so far exerted herself, as to declare she could by no means consent to my quitting her house, till she gave me up to you, by whose permission I had entered it.
She was extremely angry at this denial; and the Captain, by his sneers and raillery, so much increased her rage, that she has positively declared, should your next letter dispute her authority to guide me by her own pleasure, she will, without hesitation, make a journey to Berry Hill, and teach you to know who she is.
Should she put this threat in execution, nothing could give me greater uneasiness: for her violence and volubility would almost distract you.
Unable as I am to act for myself, or to judge what conduct I ought to pursue, how grateful do I feel myself, that I have such a guide and director to counsel and instruct me as yourself!
Adieu, my dearest Sir! Heaven, I trust, will never let me live to be repulsed, and derided by you, to whom I may now sign myself, wholly your EVELINA.
MR. VILLARS TO EVELINA Berry Hill, May 21.
LET not my Evelina be depressed by a stroke of fortune for which she is not responsible. No breach of duty on your part has incurred the unkindness which has been shown you; nor have you, by any act of imprudence, provoked either censure or reproach. Let me intreat you, therefore, my dearest child, to support yourself with that courage which your innocency ought to inspire: and let all the affliction you allow yourself be for him only who, not having that support, must one day be but too severely sensible how much he wants it.
The hint thrown out concerning myself is wholly unintelligible to me: my heart, I dare own, fully acquits me of vice; but without blemish, I have never ventured to pronounce myself. However, it seems his intention to be hereafter more explicit; and then,-should anything appear, that has on my part contributed to those misfortunes we lament, let me at least say, that the most partial of my friends cannot be so much astonished as I shall myself be at such a discovery.
The mention, also, of any future applications I may make, is equally beyond my comprehension. But I will not dwell upon a subject, which almost compels from me reflections that cannot but be wounding to a heart so formed for filial tenderness as my Evelina's. There is an air of mystery throughout the letter, the explanation of which I will await in silence.
The scheme of Madame Duval is such as might be reasonably expected from a woman so little inured to disappointment, and so totally incapable of considering the delicacy of your situation. Your averseness to her plan gives me pleasure, for it exactly corresponds with my own. Why will she not make the journey she projects by herself? She would not have even the wish of an opposition to encounter. And then, once more, might my child and myself be left to the quiet enjoyment of that peaceful happiness, which she alone has interrupted. As to her coming hither, I could, indeed, dispense with such a visit; but, if she will not be satisfied with my refusal by letter, I must submit to the task of giving it her in person.
My impatience for your return is increased by your account of Sir Clement Willoughby's visit to Howard Grove. I am but little surprised at the perseverance of his assiduities to interest you in his favour; but I am very much hurt that you should be exposed to addresses, which, by their privacy, have an air that shocks me. You cannot, my love, be too circumspect; the slightest carelessness on your part will be taken advantage of by a man of his disposition. It is not sufficient for you to be reserved: his conduct even calls for your resentment; and should he again, as will doubtless be his endeavour, contrive to solicit your favour in private, let your disdain and displeasure be so marked, as to constrain a change in his behaviour. Though, indeed, should his visit be repeated while you remain at the Grove, Lady Howard must pardon me if I shorten yours.
Adieu, my child. You will always make my respects to the hospitable family to which we are so much obliged.
MR. VILLARS TO LADY HOWARD Berry Hill, May 27.
I BELIEVE your Ladyship will not be surprised at hearing I have had a visit from Madame Duval, as I doubt not her having made known her intention before she left Howard Grove. I would gladly have excused myself this meeting, could I have avoided it decently; but, after so long a journey, it was not possible to refuse her admittance.
She told me, that she came to Berry Hill, in consequence of a letter I had sent to her grand-daughter, in which I forbid her going to Paris. Very roughly she then called me to account for the authority which I had assumed; and, had I been disposed to have argued with her, she would very angrily have disputed the right by which I used it. But I declined all debating. I therefore listened very quietly, till she had so much fatigued herself with talking, that she was glad, in her turn, to be silent. And then, I begged to know the purport of her visit.
She answered, that she came to make me relinquish the power I had usurped over her grand-daughter; and assured me she would not quit the place till she succeeded.
But I will not trouble your Ladyship with the particulars of this disagreeable conversation; nor should I, but on account of the result, have chosen so unpleasant a subject for your perusal. However, I will be as concise as I possibly can, that the better occupations of your Ladyship's time may be less impeded.
When she found me inexorable in refusing Evelina's attending her to Paris, she peremptorily insisted that she should at least live with her in London till Sir John Belmont's return. I remonstrated against this scheme with all the energy in my power; but the contest was vain; she lost her patience, and I my time. She declared, that if I was resolute in opposing her, she would instantly make a will, in which she would leave all her fortune to strangers, though, otherwise, she intended her grand-daughter for her sole heiress.
To me, I own, this threat seemed of little consequence; I have long accustomed myself to think, that, with a competency, of which she is sure, my child might be as happy as in the possession of millions; but the incertitude of her future fate deters me from following implicitly the dictates of my present judgement. The connections she may hereafter form, the style of life for which she may be destined, and the future family to which she may belong, are considerations which give but too much weight to the menaces of Madame Duval. In short, Madam, after a discourse infinitely tedious, I was obliged, though very reluctantly, to compromise with this ungovernable woman, by consenting that Evelina should pass one month with her.
I never made a concession with so bad a grace, or so much regret. The violence and vulgarity of this woman, her total ignorance of propriety, the family to which she is related, and the company she is likely to keep, are objections so forcible to her having the charge of this dear child, that nothing less than my diffidence of the right I have of depriving her of so large a fortune, would have induced me to listen to her proposal. Indeed we parted, at last, equally discontented; she at what I had refused, I at what I had granted.
It now only remains for me to return your Ladyship my humble acknowledgments for the kindness which you have so liberally shown to my ward; and to beg you would have the goodness to part with her when Madame Duval thinks proper to claim the promise which she has extorted from me. I am, Dear Madam, &c. ARTHUR VILLARS.
MR. VILLARS TO EVELINA Berry Hill, May 28.
WITH a reluctance which occasions me inexpressible uneasiness, I have been almost compelled to consent that my Evelina should quit the protection of the hospitable and respectable Lady Howard, and accompany Madame Duval to a city which I had hoped she would never again have entered. But alas, my dear child, we are the slaves of custom, the dupes of prejudice, and dare not stem the torrent of an opposing world, even though our judgements condemn our compliance! However, since the die is cast, we must endeavor to make the best of it.
You will have the occasion, in the course of the month you are to pass with Madame Duval, for all the circumspection and prudence you can call to your aid. She will not, I know, propose any thing to you which she thinks wrong herself; but you must learn not only to judge but to act for yourself; if any schemes are started, any engagements made, which your understanding represents to you as improper, exert yourself resolutely in avoiding them; and do not, by a too passive facility, risk the censure of the world, or your own future regret.
You cannot too assiduously attend to Madame Duval herself; but I would wish you to mix as little as possible with her associates, who are not likely to be among those whose acquaintance would reflect credit upon you. Remember, my dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things.
Adieu, my beloved child; I shall be but ill at ease till this month is elapsed. A.V.
EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS London, June 6.
ONCE more, my dearest Sir, I write to you from this great city. Yesterday morning, with the truest concern, I quitted the dear inhabitants of Howard Grove, and most impatiently shall I count the days till I see them again. Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan took leave of me with the most flattering kindness; but indeed I knew not how to part with Maria, whose own apparent sorrow redoubled mine. She made me promise to send her a letter every post: and I shall write to her with the same freedom, and almost the same confidence, you allow me to make use of to yourself.
The Captain was very civil to me: but he wrangled with poor Madame Duval to the last moment; and, taking me aside, just before we got into the chaise, he said, "Hark'ee, Miss Anville, I've a favour for to ask of you, which is this; that you will write us word how the old gentlewoman finds herself, when she sees it was all a trick; and what the French lubber says to it, and all about it."
I answered that I would obey him, though I was very little pleased with the commission, which, to me, was highly improper; but he will either treat me as an informer, or make me a party in his frolic.
As soon as we drove away, Madame Duval, with much satisfaction, exclaimed, "Dieu merci, we've got off at last! I'm sure I never desire to see that place again. It's a wonder I've got away alive; for I believe I've had the worst luck ever was known, from the time I set my foot upon the threshold. I know I wish I'd never a gone. Besides, into the bargain, it's the most dullest place in all Christendom: there's never no diversions, nor nothing at all."
Then she bewailed M. Du Bois; concerning whose adventures she continued to make various conjectures during the rest of our journey.
When I asked her what part of London she should reside in, she told me that Mr. Branghton was to meet us at an inn, and would conduct us to a lodging. Accordingly, we proceeded to a house in Bishopsgate Street, and were led by a waiter into a room where we found Mr. Branghton.
He received us very civilly; but seemed rather surprised at seeing me, saying, "Why, I didn't think of your bringing Miss; however, she's very welcome."
"I'll tell you how it was," said Madame Duval: "you must know I've a mind to take the girl to Paris, that she may see something of the world, and improve herself a little; besides, I've another reason, that you and I will talk more about. But, do you know, that meddling old parson, as I told you of, would not let her go: however, I'm resolved I'll be even with him; for I shall take her on with me, without saying never a word more to nobody."
I started at this intimation, which very much surprised me. But, I am very glad she has discovered her intention, as I shall be carefully upon my guard not to venture from town with her.
Mr. Branghton then hoped we had passed our time agreeably in the country.
"O Lord, cousin," cried she, "I've been the miserablest creature in the world! I'm sure all the horses in London sha'n't drag me into the country again of one while: why, how do you think I've been served?-only guess."
"Indeed, cousin, I can't pretend to do that."
"Why then I'll tell you. Do you know I've been robbed!-that is, the villain would have robbed me if he could, only I'd secured all my money."
"Why, then cousin, I think your loss can't have been very great."
"O Lord, you don't know what you're a saying; you're talking in the unthinkingest manner in the world: why, it was all along of not having no money that I met with that misfortune."
"How's that, cousin? I don't see what great misfortune you can have met with, if you'd secured all your money."
"That's because you don't know nothing of the matter: for there the villain came to the chaise; and, because we hadn't got nothing to give him, though he'd no more right to our money than the man in the moon, yet, do you know, he fell into the greatest passion ever you see, and abused me in such a manner, and put me in a ditch, and got a rope o'purpose to hang me;-and I'm sure, if that wasn't misfortune enough, why I don't know what is."
"This is a hard case, indeed, cousin. But why don't you go to Justice
"O as to that, I'm a going to him directly; but only I want first to see M. Du Bois; for the oddest thing of all is, that he has wrote to me, and never said nothing of where he is, nor what's become of him, nor nothing else."
"M. Du Bois! why, he's at my house at this very time."
"M. Du Bois at your house! well, I declare this is the surprisingest part of all: However, I assure you, I think he might have comed for me, as well as you, considering what I have gone through on his account; for, to tell you the truth, it was all along of him that I met with that accident; so I don't take it very kind of him, I promise you."
"Well, but cousin, tell me some of the particulars of this affair."
"As to the particulars, I'm sure they'd make your hair stand on end to hear them; however, the beginning of it all was through the fault of M. Du Bois: but, I'll assure you, he may take care of himself in future, since he don't so much as come to see if I'm dead or alive.-But, there, I went for him to a justice of peace, and rode all out of the way, and did every thing in the world, and was used worser than a dog, and all for the sake of serving of him; and now, you see, he don't so much-well, I was a fool for my pains.-However, he may get somebody else to be treated so another time; for, if he's taken up every day in the week, I'll never go after him no more."
This occasioned an explanation; in the course of which Madame Duval, to her utter amazement, heard that M. Du Bois had never left London during her absence! nor did Mr. Branghton believe that he had ever been to the Tower, or met with any kind of accident.
Almost instantly the whole truth of the transaction seemed to rush upon her mind, and her wrath was inconceivably violent. She asked me a thousand questions in a breath; but, fortunately, was too vehement to attend to my embarrassment, which must otherwise have betrayed my knowledge of the deceit. Revenge was her first wish; and she vowed she would go the next morning to Justice Fielding, and inquire what punishment she might lawfully inflict upon the Captain for his assault.
I believe we were an hour at Bishopsgate Street before poor Madame Duval could allow any thing to be mentioned but her own story; at any length, however, Mr. Branghton told her, that M. Du Bois, and all his own family, were waiting for her at his house. A hackney-coach was then called, and we proceeded to Snow Hill.
Mr. Branghton's house is small and inconvenient; though his shop, which takes in all the ground floor, is large and commodious. I believe I told you before, that he is a silver-smith.
We were conducted up two pairs of stairs: for the dining-room, Mr. Branghton told us, was let. His two daughters, their brother, M. Du Bois, and a young man, were at tea. They had waited some time for Madame Duval, but I found they had not any expectation that I should accompany her; and the young ladies, I believe, were rather more surprised than pleased when I made my appearance; for they seemed hurt that I should see their apartment. Indeed, I would willingly have saved them that pain, had it been in my power.
The first person who saw me was M. Du Bois, "Ah, mon Dieu!" exclaimed he, "voila Mademoiselle!"
"Goodness," cried young Branghton, "if there isn't Miss!"
"Lord, so there is!" said Miss Polly; "well, I'm sure I should never have dreamed of Miss's coming."
"Nor I neither, I'm sure," cried Miss Branghton, "or else I would not have been in this room to see her: I'm quite ashamed about it;-only not thinking of seeing any body but my aunt-however, Tom, it's all your fault; for, you know very well I wanted to borrow Mr. Smith's room, only you were so grumpy you would not let me."
"Lord, what signifies?" said her brother; "I dare be sworn Miss has been up two pair of stairs before now;-ha'n't you, Miss?"
I begged that I might not give them the least disturbance; and assured them that I had not any choice in regard to what room we sat in.
"Well," said Miss Polly, "when you come next, Miss, we'll have Mr. Smith's room: and it's a very pretty one, and only up one pair of stairs, and nicely furnished, and every thing."
"To say the truth," said Miss Branghton, "I thought that my cousin would not, upon any account, have come to town in the summer-time; for it's not at all the fashion ;-so, to be sure, thinks I, she'll stay till September, when the play-houses open."
This was my reception, which I believe you will not call a very cordial one. Madame Duval, who, after having severely reprimanded M. Du Bois for his negligence, was just entering upon the story of her misfortunes, now wholly engaged the company.
M. Du Bois listened to her with a look of the utmost horror, repeatedly lifting up his eyes and hands, and exclaiming, "O ciel! quel barbare!" The young ladies gave her the most earnest attention; but their brother, and the young man, kept a broad grin upon their faces during the whole recital. She was, however, too much engaged to observe them; but, when she mentioned having been tied in a ditch, young Branghton, no longer able to contain himself, burst into a loud laugh, declaring that he had never heard any thing so funny in his life! His laugh was heartily re-echoed by his friend; the Miss Branghtons could not resist the example; and poor Madame Duval, to her extreme amazement, was absolutely overpowered and stopped by the violence of their mirth.
For some minutes the room seemed quite in an uproar; the rage of Madame Duval, the astonishment of M. Du Bois, and the angry interrogatories of Mr. Branghton, on one side; the convulsive tittering of the sisters, and the loud laughs of the young men, on the other, occasioned such noise, passion and confusion, that had any one stopped an instant on the stairs, he must have concluded himself in Bedlam. At length, however, the father brought them to order; and, half-laughing, half-frightened, they made Madame Duval some very awkward apologies. But she would not be prevailed upon to continue her narrative, till they had protested they were laughing at the Captain, and not at her. Appeased by this, she resumed her story; which by the help of stuffing handkerchiefs into their mouths, the young people heard with tolerable decency.
Every body agreed, that the ill-usage the Captain had given her was actionable; and Mr. Branghton said, he was sure she might recover what damages she pleased, since she had been put in fear of her life.
She then, with great delight, declared, that she would lose no time in satisfying her revenge, and vowed she would not be contented with less than half his fortune: "For though," she said, "I don't put no value upon the money, because, Dieu merci, I ha'n't no want of it, yet I don't wish for nothing so much as to punish that fellow; for I'm sure, whatever's the cause of it, he owes me a great grudge, and I know no more what it's for than you do; but he's always been doing me one spite or another ever since I knew him."
Soon after tea, Miss Branghton took an opportunity to tell me, in a whisper, that the young man I saw was a lover of her sister's, that his name was Brown, and that he was a haberdasher: with many other particulars of his circumstances and family; and then she declared her utter aversion to the thoughts of such a match; but added, that her sister had no manner of spirit or ambition, though, for her part, she would ten times rather die an old maid, than marry any person but a gentleman. "And, for that matter," added she, "I believe Polly herself don't care much for him, only she's in such a hurry, because, I suppose, she's a mind to be married before me; however, she's very welcome; for, I'm sure, I don't care a pin's point whether I ever marry at all;-it's all one to me."
Some time after this, Miss Polly contrived to tell her story. She assured me, with much tittering, that her sister was in a great fright lest she should be married first. "So I make her believe that I will," continued she; "for I dearly love to plague her a little; though, I declare, I don't intend to have Mr. Brown in reality;-I'm sure I don't like him half well enough,-do you, Miss?"
"It is not possible for me to judge of his merits," said I, "as I am entirely a stranger to him."
"But what do you think of him, Miss?"
"Why, really, I-I don't know."
"But do you think him handsome? Some people reckon him to have a good pretty person;-but I'm sure, for my part, I think he's monstrous ugly:-don't you, Miss?"
"I am no judge,-but I think his person is very-very well."
"Very well! -Why, pray Miss," in a tone of vexation, "what fault can you find with it?"
"O, none at all!"
"I'm sure you must be very ill-natured if you could. Now there's Biddy says she thinks nothing of him,-but I know it's all out of spite. You must know, Miss, it makes her as mad as can be that I should have a lover before her; but she's so proud that nobody will court her, and I often tell her she'll die an old maid. But the thing is, she has taken it into her head to have a liking for Mr. Smith, as lodges on the first floor; but, Lord, he'll never have her, for he's quite a fine gentleman; and besides, Mr. Brown heard him say one day, that he'd never marry as long as he lived, for he'd no opinion of matrimony."
"And did you tell your sister this?"
"O, to be sure, I told her directly; but she did not mind me; however, if she will be a fool she must."
This extreme want of affection and good-nature increased the distaste I already felt for these unamiable sisters; and a confidence so entirely unsolicited and unnecessary, manifested equally their folly and their want of decency.
I was very glad when the time for our departing arrived. Mr. Branghton said our lodgings were in Holborn, that we might be near his house, and neighbourly. He accompanied us to them himself.
Our rooms are large, and not inconvenient; our landlord is an hosier. I am sure I have a thousand reasons to rejoice that I am so little known: for my present situation is, in every respect, very unenviable; and I would not, for the world, be seen by any acquaintance of Mrs. Mirvan.
This morning, Madame Duval, attended by all the Branghtons, actually went to a Justice in the neighborhood, to report the Captain's ill usage of her. I had great difficulty in excusing myself from being of the party, which would have given me very serious concern. Indeed, I was extremely anxious, though at home, till I heard the result of the application, for I dread to think of the uneasiness which such an affair would occasion the amiable Mrs. Mirvan. But, fortunately, Madame Duval has received very little encouragement to proceed in her design; for she has been informed, that, as she neither heard the voice, nor saw the face of the person suspected, she will find difficulty to cast him upon conjecture, and will have but little probability of gaining her cause, unless she can procure witnesses of the transaction. Mr. Branghton, therefore, who has considered all the circumstances of the affair, is of the opinion; the lawsuit will not only be expensive, but tedious and hazardous, and has advised against it. Madame Duval, though very unwillingly, has acquiesced in his decision; but vows, that if she ever is so affronted again, she will be revenged, even if she ruins herself. I am extremely glad that this ridiculous adventure seems now likely to end without more serious consequences.
Adieu, my dearest Sir. My direction is at Mr. Dawkin's, a hosier in