« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Your air, Sir, seems not to be that of a penitent. But the place may as properly excuse this subject, as what you call my severity.
But, dearest Madam, permit me to say, that I hope for your interest with your charming daughter (was his sycophant word) to have it put in my power to convince all the world that there never was a truer penitent. And why, why this anger, dear Madam, (for she struggled to get her hand out of his,) these violent airs-so maidenly! [impudent fellow !]-May I not ask, if Miss Howe be here?
She would not have been here, replied my mother, had she known whom she had been to see.
And is she here, then?-Thank Heaven!--he disengaged her hand, and stept forward into company.
Dear Miss Lloyd, said he, with an air, (taking her hand as he quitted my mother's) tell me, tell me, is Miss Arabella Harlowe here? Or will she be here? I was informed she would-and this, and the opportunity of paying my compliments to your friend Miss Howe, were great inducements with me to attend the Colonel.
Superlative assurance! was it not, my dear?
Miss Arabella Harlowe, excuse me, Sir, said Miss Lloyd, would be very little inclined to meet you here, or any where else.
Perhaps so, my dear Miss Lloyd: but, perhaps, for that very reason, I am more desirous to see her.
Miss Harlowe, Sir, said Miss Biddulph, with a threatening air, will hardly be here without her brother. I ima. gine, if one comes, both will come.
Heaven grant they both may! said the wretch. Nothing, Miss Biddulph, shall begin from me to disturb this assembly, I assure you, if they do. One calm half-hour's
conversation with that brother and sister, would be a most fortunate opportunity to me, in presence of the Colonel and his lady, or whom else they should choose.
Then turning round, as if desirous to find out the one or the other, or both, he 'spied me, and with a very low bow, approached mc.
I was all in a flutter, you may suppose. He would have taken my hand. I refused it, all glowing with indignation : every body's eyes upon us.
I went from him to the other end of the room, and sat down, as I thought, out of his hated sight; but presently I heard his odious voice, whispering, behind my chair, (he leaning upon the back of it, with impudent unconcern,) Charming Miss Howe! looking over my shoulder: one request-[I started up from my seat; but could hardly stand neither, for very indignation]-O this sweet, but becoming disdain! whispered on the insufferable creatureI am sorry to give you all this emotion: but either here, or at your own house, let me entreat from you one quarter of an hour's audience.-I beseech you, Madam, but one quarter of an hour, in any of the adjoining apartments. knew not
Not for a kingdom, fluttering my fan. what I did. But I could have killed him.
We are so much observed―else on my knees, my dear Miss Howe, would I beg your interest with your charming friend.
She'll have nothing to say to you.
(I had not then your letters, my dear.)
Killing words!—But indeed I have deserved them, and a dagger in my heart besides. I am so conscious of my demerits, that I have no hope, but in your interposition -could I owe that favour to Miss Howe's mediation, which I cannot hope for on any other account
My mediation, vilest of men !-My mediation !-I abhor you! From my soul, I abhor you, vilest of men!-Three or four times I repeated these words, stammering too.I was excessively fluttered.
You can tell me nothing, Madam, so bad as I will call myself. I have been, indeed, the vilest of men ; but now I am not so. Permit me-every body's eyes are upon us! -but one moment's audience-to exchange but ten words with you, dearest Miss Howe-in whose presence you please for your dear friend's sake-but ten words with you in the next apartment.
It is an insult upon me to presume that I would exchange one with you, if I could help it !-Out of my way! Out of my sight-fellow !
And away I would have flung: but he took my hand. I was excessively disordered-every body's eyes more and more intent upon us.
Mr. Hickman, whom my mother had drawn on one side, to enjoin him a patience, which perhaps needed not to have been enforced, came up just then, with my mother who had him by his leading-strings-by his sleeve I should say.
Mr. Hickman, said the bold wretch, be my advocate but for ten words in the next apartment with Miss Howe, in your presence; and in your's, Madam, to my mother.
Hear, Nancy, what he has to say to you. To get rid of him, hear his ten words.
Excuse me, Madam! his very breath-Unhand me, Sir! He sighed and looked-O how the practised villain sighed and looked! He then let go my hand, with such a reve rence in his manner, as brought blame upon me from some that I would not hear him.-And this incensed me the more. O my dear, this man is a devil! This man is in
deed a devil!-So much patience when he pleases! So much gentleness!-Yet so resolute, so persisting, so audacious!
I was going out of the assembly in great disorder. He was at the door as soon as I.
How kind this is, said the wretch; and, ready to follow me, opened the door for me.
I turned back upon this: and, not knowing what I did, snapped my fan just in his face, as he turned short upon me; and the powder flew from his hair.
Every body seemed as much pleased as I was vexed. He turned to Mr. Hickman, nettled at the powder flying, and at the smiles of the company upon him; Mr. Hickman, you will be one of the happiest men in the world, because you are a good man, and will do nothing to provoke this passionate lady; and because she has too much good sense to be provoked without reason: but else the Lord have mercy upon you!
This man, this Mr. Hickman, my dear, is too meek for a man. Indeed he is. But my patient mother twits me, that her passionate daughter ought to like him the better for that. But meek men abroad are not always meek men at home. I have observed that in more instances than one and if they were, I should not, I verily think, like them the better for being so.
He then turned to my mother, resolved to be even with her too: Where, good Madam, could Miss Howe get all this spirit?
The company around smiled; for I need not tell you that my mother's high spiritedness is pretty well known; and she, sadly vexed, said, Sir, you treat me, as you do the rest of the world-but
I beg pardon, Madam, interrupted he: I might have
spared my question-and instantly (I retiring to the other end of the hall) he turned to Miss Playford; What would I give, Madam, to hear you sing that song you obliged us with at Lord M.'s!
He then, as if nothing had happened, fell into a conver sation with her and Miss D'Ollyffe, upon music; and whisperingly sung to Miss Playford; holding her two hands, with such airs of genteel unconcern, that it vexed me not a little to look round, and see how pleased half the giddy fools of our sex were with him, notwithstanding his notorious wicked character. To this it is that such vile fellows owe much of their vileness: whereas, if they found themselves shunned, and despised, and treated as beasts of prey, as they are, they would run to their caverns; there howl by themselves; and none but such as sad accident, or unpitiable presumption, threw in their way, would suffer by them.
He afterwards talked very seriously, at times, to Mr. Hickman: at times, I say; for it was with such breaks and starts of gaiety, turning to this lady, and to that, and then to Mr. Hickman again, resuming a serious or a gay air at pleasure, that he took every body's eye, the women's especially; who were full of their whispering admirations of him, qualified with if's, and but's, and what pity's, and such sort of stuff, that showed in their very dispraises too much liking.
Well may our sex be the sport and ridicule of such libertines! Unthinking eye-governed creatures !---Would not a little reflection teach us, that a man of merit must be a man of modesty, because a diffident one? and that such a wretch as this must have taken his degrees in wickedness, and gone through a course of vileness, before he could arrive at this impenetrable effrontery? an effrontery