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* shall not prevail with me, whatever distresses you may drive me to. Here my lord fetched a deep
.' sigh, and then said, -' Is it then, Madam, that I am so unhappy to be the object of your dislike and scorn; or will you pardon me if I suspect there is some other? - Here he hesitated, and Sophia answered with some spirit, My lord, I shall
not be accountable to you for the reasons of my * conduct. I am obliged to your lordship for the generous offer
you have made; I own it is be'yond either my deserts or expectations; yet I • hope, my lord, you will not insist on my reasons, ' when I declare I cannot accept it.' Lord Fellamar returned much to this, which we do not perfectly understand, and perhaps it could not all be strictly reconciled either to sense or grammar; but he concluded his ranting speech with saying, “That • if she had pre-engaged herself to any gentleman,
however unhappy it would make him, he should 'think himself bound in honour to desist.' Perhaps my lord laid too much emphasis on the word gentleman; for we cannot else well account for the indignation with which he inspired Sophia, who, in her answer, seemed greatly to resent some affront he had given her.
While she was speaking, with her voice more raised than usual, Mrs. Western cameinto the room, the fire glaring in her cheeks, and the flames bursting from her eyes, 'I am ashamed,' says she, 'my * lord, of the reception which you have met with. 'I assure your lordship we are all sensible of the 'honour done us; and I must tell you, Miss Wes' tern, the family expects a different behaviour from
you.' Here my lord interfered on behalf of the young lady, but to no purpose; the aunt proceeded till Sophia pulled out her handkerchief, threw herself into a chair, and burst into a violent fit of tears.
The remainder of the conversation between Mrs. Western and his lordship, till the latter withdrew, consisted of bitter lamentations on his side, and on
hers of the strongest assurances that her niece should and would consent to all he wished. In
deed, my lord,' says she, the girl hath had a ' foolish education, neither adapted to her fortune * nor her family. Her father, I am sorry to say it, • is to blame for every thing. The girl hath silly
country notions of bashfulness. Nothing else, my 'lord, upon my honour; I am convinced she hath a good understanding at the bottom, and will be brought to reason.'
This last speech was made in the absence of Sophia; for she had some time before left the room, with more appearance of passion than she had ever shewn on any occasion; and now his lordship, after many expressions of thanks to Mrs. N'estern, many ardent professions of passion which nothing could conquer, and many assurances of perseverance, which Mrs. Western highly encouraged, took his leave for this time.
Before we relate what now passed between Mrs, Western and Sophia, it may be proper to mention an unfortunate accident which had happened, and which had occasioned the return of Mrs. Western with so much fury, as we have seen.
The reader then must know, that the maid who at present attended on Sophia, was recommended by lady Bellaston, with whom she had lived for some time in the capacity of a comb-brush ; she was a very sensible girl, and had received the strictest instructions to watch her young lady very carefully. These instructions, we are sorry to say, were communicated to her by Mrs. Ilonour, into whose favour lady Bellaston had now so ingratiated herself, that the violent affection which the good waiting-woman bad formerly borne to Sophia, was entirely obliterated by that great attachment which she had to her new mistress.
Now when Mrs. Miller was departed, Betty (for that was the name of the girl), returning to her young lady, found her very attentively engaged in reading a long letter, and the visible emotions which she betrayed on that occasion might have well accounted for some suspicions which the girl entertained; but indeed they had yet a stronger foundation, for she had overheard the whole scene which passed between Sophia and Mrs. Miller.
Mrs. Western was acquainted with all this matter by Betty, who, after receiving many commendations, and some rewards for her fidelity, was ordered, that if the woman who brought the letter came again, she should introduce her to Mrs. Western herself.
Unluckily, Mrs. Miller returned at the very time when Sophia was engaged with his lordship. Betty, according to order, sent her directly to the aunt; who being mistress of so many circumstances relating to what had passed the day before, easily imposed upon the poor woman to believe that Sophia had communicated the whole affair; and so pumped every thing out of her which she knew, relating to the letter, and relating to Jones.
This poor creature might, indeed, be called simplicity itseif. She was one of that order of mortals, who are apt to believe every thing which is said to them; to whom nature hath neither indulged the offensive nor defensive weapons of deceit, and who are consequently liable to be imposed upon by any one, who will only be at the expense of a little falsehood for that purpose. Mrs. Western having drained Mrs. Miller of all she knew, which, indeed, was but little, but which was sufficient to make the aunt suspect a great deal, dismissed her with assurances that Sophia would not see her, that she would send no answer to the letter, nor ever receive another; nor did she suffer hier to depart without a bandsome lecture on the merits of an ottice, to which she could afford no better name than that of procuress. -------This discovery had greatly discomposed her temper, when coming into the apartmeut next to that in which the lovers were, she overheard Sophia very warmly protesting against his lordship's addresses. At which the rage already kindled, burst forth, and she rushed in upon her niece in a most furious manner, as we have already described, together with what past at that time till his lordship’s departure.
No sooner was lord Fellamar gone, than Mrs. Western returned to Sophia, whom she upbraided in the most bitter terms, for the ill use she had made of the confidence reposed in her; and for her treachery in conversing with a man with whom she had offered but the day before to bind herself in the most solemn oath, never more to have any conversation. Sophia protested she had maintained no such conversation. How, how! Miss Western,' said the aunt; ' will you deny your receiving a • letter from him yesterday?' 'A letter, Madam!' answered Sophia, somewhat surprised. “It is not
very well bred, Miss,' replies the aunt, "to repeat my words. I say a letter, and I insist upon your shewing it me immediately.' 'I scorn a lie, Madam,' said Sophia, “I did receive a letter, but it was without my desire, and, indeed, I may say against my consent.' · Indeed, indeed, Miss,' cries the aunt, “you ought to be ashamed of own'ing you had received it at all; but where is the letter; for I will see it.'
To this peremptory demand, Sophia paused some time before she returned an answer; and at last only excused herself by declaring she had not the letter in her pocket, which was, indeerd
, true; upon which her aunt, losing all manner of patience, asked her niece this short question, whether she would resolve to marry lord Fellamar, or no? to which she received the strongest negative. Mrs. Western then replied with an oath, or something very like one, that she would early the next morning deliver her back into her father's hand.
Sophia then began to reason with her aunt in the following manner: 'Why, Madam, must I of
necessity be forced to marry at all? Consider how * cruel you would have thought it in your own 'case, and how much kinder your parents were in
leaving you to your liberty.' What have I done * to forfeit this liberty? I will never marry contrary to my father's consent, nor without asking yours
And when I ask the consent of either improperly, it will be then time enough to force some other marriage upon me.' 'Can I bear to
hear this,' cries Mrs. Western, from a girl wlio ' hath now a letter from a murderer in her pocket?'
I have no such letter, I promise you,' answered Sophia;' and if he be a murderer, he will soon be • in no condition to give you any farther disturbance.' How, Miss Western,' said the aunt, have you the assurance to speak of him in this manner; to own your affection for such a villain to iny face ! Sure, Madam,' said Sophia, “you put a very strange construction on my words.' In' deed, Miss Western,' cries the lady, I shall not * bear this usage; you have learnt of your father 'this manner of treating me; he hath taught you ' to give me the lie. He hath totally ruined you by his false system of education; and, please heaven, he shall have the comfort of its fruits; for once more I declare to you, that to-morrow ' morning I will carry you back. I will withdraw 'all my forces from the field, and remain hence'forth, like the wise king of Prussia, in a state of
perfect neutrality. You are both too wise to be * regulated by my measures; so prepare yourself,
for to-morrow morning you shall evacuate this · house.'
Sophia remonstrated all she could; but her aunt was deaf to all she said. In this resolution therefore we must at present leave her, as there seem to be no hopes of bringing her to change it.