Evelina, by Fanny Burney

Letter lxxxii.

Evelina in Continuation.

Clifton, Oct. 13th.

THE time approaches now when I hope we shall meet; — yet I cannot sleep; — great joy is a restless as sorrow — and therefore I will continue my journal.

As I had never had an opportunity of seeing Bath, a party was formed last night for showing me that celebrated city; and this morning, after breakfast, we set out in three phaetons. Lady Louisa and Mrs. Beaumont with Lord Merton; Mr. Coverley, Mr. Lovel, and Mrs. Selwyn; and myself with Lord Orville.

We had hardly proceeded half a mile, when a gentleman from the post-chaise which came gallopping after us, called out to the servants, “Holla, my lads! — pray, is one Miss Anville in any of them thing-em-bobs?”

I immediately recollected the voice of Captain Mirvan; and Lord Orville stopped the phaeton. He was out of the chaise, and with us in a moment. “So, Miss Anville,” cried he, “how do you do? So I hear you’re Miss Belmont now; — pray, how does old Madame French do?”

“Madame Duval,” said I, “is, I believe, very well.”

“I hope she is in good case,” said he, winking significantly, “and won’t flinch at seeing service: she has laid by long enough to refit and be made tight. And pray how does poor Monseer Doleful do? Is he as lank-jawed as ever?”

“They are neither of them,” said I, “in Bristol.”

“No!” cried he, with a look of disappointment; “but surely the old dowager intends coming to the wedding! ’twill be a most excellent opportunity to show off her best Lyons silk. Besides, I purpose to dance a new fashioned jig with her. Don’t you know when she’ll come?”

“I have no reason to expect her at all.”

“No! —‘Fore George, this here’s the worst news I’d wish to hear! — why I’ve thought of nothing all the way, but what trick I should serve her.”

“You have been very obliging!” said I, laughing.

“O, I promise you,” cried he, “our Moll would never have wheedled me into this jaunt, if I’d known she was not here; for, to let you into the secret, I fully intended to have treated the old buck with another frolic.”

“Did Miss Mirvan, then, persuade you to this journey?”

“Yes, and we’ve been travelling all night.”

“We!” cried I: “Is Miss Mirvan, then, with you?”

“What, Molly? — yes, she’s in that there chaise.”

“Good God, Sir, why did you not tell me sooner?” cried I; and immediately, with Lord Orville’s assistance, I jumped out of the phaeton, and ran to the dear girl. Lord Orville opened the chaise door; and I am sure I need not tell you what unfeigned joy accompanied our meeting.

We both begged we might not be parted during the ride; and Lord Orville was so good as to invite Captain Mirvan into his phaeton.

I think I was hardly ever more rejoiced than at this so seasonable visit from my dear Maria; who had no sooner heard the situation of my affairs, than with the assistance of Lady Howard, and her kind mother, she besought her father with such earnestness to consent to the journey, that he had not been able to withstand their united intreaties; though she owned that, had he not expected to have met with Madame Duval, she believes he would not so readily have yielded. They arrived at Mrs. Beaumont’s but a few minutes after we were out of sight, and overtook us without much difficulty.

I say nothing of our conversation, because you may so well suppose both the subjects we chose, and our manner of discussing them.

We all stopped at a great hotel, where we were obliged to enquire for a room, as Lady Louisa, fatigued to death, desired to take something before we began our rambles.

As soon as the party was assembled, the Captain, abruptly saluting me, said, “So, Miss Belmont, I wish you joy; so I hear you’ve quarrelled with your new name already?”

“Me! — no, indeed, Sir.”

“Then please for to tell me the reason you’re in such a hurry to change it?”

“Miss Belmont!” cried Mr. Lovel. Looking around him with the utmost astonishment: “I beg pardon; — but, if it is not impertinent — I must beg leave to say I always understood that lady’s name was Anville.”

“‘Fore George,” cried the Captain, “it runs in my head, I’ve seen you somewhere before! And now I think on’t, pray a’n’t you the person I saw at the play one night, and who didn’t know, all the time, whether it was a tragedy or a comedy, or a concert of fiddlers?”

“I believe, Sir,” said Mr. Lovel, stammering, “I, had once — I think — the pleasure of seeing you last spring.”

“Aye, and if I live an hundred springs,” answered he, “I shall never forget it; by Jingo, it has served me for a most excellent good joke ever since. Well, howsomever, I’m glad to see you still in the land of the living,” (shaking him roughly by the hand.) “Pray, if a body may be so bold, how much a night may you give at present to keep the undertakers aloof?”

“Me, Sir!” said Mr. Lovel, very much discomposed; “I protest I never thought myself in such imminent danger as to — really, Sir, I don’t understand you.”

“O, you don’t! why then I’ll make free for to explain myself. Gentlemen and Ladies, I’ll tell you what; do you know this here gentleman, simple as he sits there, pays five shillings a-night to let his friends know he’s alive!”

“And very cheap too,” said Mrs. Selwyn, “if we consider the value of the intelligence.”

Lady Louisa being now refreshed, we proceeded upon our expedition.

The charming city of Bath answered all my expectations. The Crescent, the prospect from it, and the elegant symmetry of the Circus, delighted me. The Parades, I own, rather disappointed me; one of them is scarce preferable to some of the best paved streets in London; and the other, though it affords a beautiful prospect, a charming view of Prior Park and of the Avon, yet wanted something in itself of more striking elegance than a mere broad pavement, to satisfy the ideas I had formed of it.

At the pump-room, I was amazed at the public exhibition of the ladies in the bath; it is true, their heads are covered with bonnets; but the very idea of being seen, in such a situation, by whoever pleases to look, is indelicate.

“‘Fore George,” said the Captain, looking into the bath, “this would be a most excellent place for old Madame French to dance a fandango in! By Jingo, I wou’dn’t wish for better sport than to swing her round this here pond!”

“She would be very much obliged to you,” said Lord Orville, “for so extraordinary a mark of your favour.”

“Why, to let you know,” answered the Captain, “she hit my fancy mightily; I never took so much to an old tabby before.”

“Really now,” cried Mr. Lovel, looking also into the bath, “I must confess it is, to me, very incomprehensible why the ladies choose that frightful unbecoming dress to bathe in! I have often pondered very seriously upon the subject, but could never hit upon the reason.”

“Well, I declare,” said Lady Louisa, “I should like of all things to set something new a-going; I always hated bathing, because one can get no pretty dress for it! now do, there’s a good creature, try to help me to something.”

“Who, me! — O, dear Ma’am,” said he, simpering, “I can’t pretend to assist a person of your Ladyship’s tastes; besides, I have not the least head for fashions. — I really don’t think I ever invented above three in my life! But I never had the least turn for dress — never any notion of fancy or elegance.”

“O fie, Mr. Lovel! how can you talk so? — don’t we all know that you lead the ton in the beau monde? I declare, I think you dress better than any body.”

“O, dear Ma’am, you confuse me to the last degree! I dress well! — I protest I don’t think I’m ever fit to be seen! I’m often shocked to death to think what a figure I go. If your Ladyship will believe me, I was full half an hour this morning thinking what I should put on!”

“Odds my life,” cried the Captain, “I wish I’d been near you! I warrant I’d have quickened your motions a little; Half an hour thinking what you’d put on; and who the deuce do you think cares the snuff of a candle whether you’ve any thing on or not?”

“O pray, Captain,” cried Mrs. Selwyn, “don’t be angry with the gentleman for thinking, whatever be the cause, for I assure you he makes no common practice of offending in that way.”

“Really, Ma’am, you’re prodigiously kind,” said Mr. Lovel, angrily.

“Pray now,” said the Captain, “did you ever get a ducking in that there place yourself?”

“A ducking, Sir!” repeated Mr. Lovel: “I protest I think that’s rather an odd term! — but if you mean a bathing, it is an honour I have had many times.”

“And pray, if a body may be so bold, what do you do with that frizle-frize top of your own? Why, I’ll lay you what you will, there is fat and grease enough on your crown to buoy you up, if you were to go in head downwards.”

“And I don’t know,” cried Mrs. Selwyn, “but that might be the easiest way; for I’m sure it would be the lightest.”

“For the matter of that there,” said the Captain, “you must make him a soldier, before you can tell which is lightest, head or heels. Howsomever, I’d lay ten pounds to a shilling, I could whisk him so dexterously over into the pool, that he should light plump upon his foretop and turn round like a tetotum.”

“Done!” cried Lord Merton; “I take your odds.”

“Will you?” returned he; “why, then, ‘fore George, I’d do it as soon as say Jack Robinson.”

“He, he!” faintly laughed Mr. Lovel, as he moved abruptly from the window; “‘pon honour, this is pleasant enough; but I don’t see what right any body has to lay wagers about one without one’s consent.”

“There, Lovel, you are out,” cried Mr. Coverley, “any man may lay what wager about you he will; your consent is nothing to the purpose: he may lay that your nose is a sky-blue, if he pleases.”

“Ay,” said Mrs. Selwyn, “or that your mind is more adorned than your person; — or any absurdity whatsoever.”

“I protest,” said Mr. Lovel, “I think it’s a very disagreeable privilege, and I must beg that nobody may take such a liberty with me.”

“Like enough you may,” cried the Captain;” but what’s that to the purpose? Suppose I’ve a mind to lay that you’ve never a tooth in your head — pray, how will you hinder me?”

“You’ll allow me, at least, Sir, to take the liberty of asking how you’ll prove it?”

“How? — why, by knocking them all down your throat.”

“Knocking them all down my throat, Sir!” repeated Mr. Lovel, with a look of horror; “I protest I never heard any thing so shocking in my life! And I must beg leave to observe, that no wager, in my opinion, could justify such a barbarous action.”

Here Lord Orville interfered, and hurried us to our carriages.

We returned in the same order we came. Mrs. Beaumont invited all the party to dinner, and has been so obliging as to beg Miss Mirvan may continue at her house during her stay. The Captain will lodge at the Wells.

The first half-hour after our return was devoted to hearing Mr. Lovel’s apologies for dining in his riding-dress.

Mrs. Beaumont then, addressing herself to Miss Mirvan and me, inquired how we liked Bath?

“I hope,” said Mr. Lovel, “the ladies do not call this seeing Bath.”

“No! — what should ail ’em?” cried the Captain, “do you suppose they put their eyes in their pockets?”

“No, Sir; but I fancy you will find no person — that is — no person of any condition — call going about a few places in a morning seeing Bath.”

“Mayhap, then,” said the literal Captain, “you think we should see it better by going about at midnight?”

“No, Sir, no,” said Mr. Lovel, with a supercilious smile, “I perceive you don’t understand me; — we should never call it seeing Bath, without going at the right season.”

“Why, what a plague, then,” demanded he, “can you only see at one season of the year?”

Mr. Lovel again smiled; but seemed superior to making any answer.

“The Bath amusements,” said Lord Orville, “have a sameness in them, which, after a short time, renders them rather insipid; but the greatest objection that can be made to the place, is the encouragement it gives to gamesters.”

“Why, I hope, my Lord, you would not think of abolishing gaming,” cried Lord Merton, “’tis the very zest of life! Devil take me if I could live without it.”

“I am sorry for it,” said Lord Orville, gravely, and looking at Lady Louisa.

“Your Lordship is no judge of this subject,” continued the other; “but if once we could get you to a gaming-table, you’d never be happy away from it!”

“I hope, my Lord,” cried Lady Louisa, “that nobody here ever occasions your quitting it.”

“Your Ladyship,” said Lord Merton, recollecting himself, “has power to make me quit any thing.”

“Except herself,” said Mr. Coverley. “Egad, my Lord, I think I’ve helpt you out there!”

“You men of wit, Jack,” answered his Lordship, “are always ready; — for my part, I don’t pretend to any talents that way.”

“Really, my Lord?” asked the sarcastic Mrs. Selwyn; “well, that is wonderful, considering success would be so much in your power.”

“Pray, Ma’am,” said Mr. Lovel to Lady Louisa, “has your Ladyship heard the news?”

“News! — what news?”

“Why, the report circulating at the Wells concerning a certain person.”

“O Lord, no: pray tell me what it is?”

“O no, Ma’am, I beg your La’ship will excuse me; ’tis a profound secret, and I would not have mentioned it, if I had not thought you knew it.”

“Lord, now, how can you be so monstrous? I declare, now, you’re a provoking creature! But come, I know you’ll tell me; — won’t you now?”

“Your La’ship knows I am but too happy to obey you; but, ‘pon honour, I can’t speak a word, if you won’t all promise me the most inviolable secrecy.”

“I wish you’d wait for that from me,” said the Captain, “and I’ll give you my word you’d be dumb for one while. Secrecy, quoth-a! —‘Fore George, I wonder you an’t ashamed to mention such a word, when you talk of telling it to a woman. Though, for the matter of that, I’d as lieve blab it to the whole sex at once, as to go for to tell it to such a thing as you.”

“Such a thing as me, Sir!” said Mr. Lovel, letting fall his knife and fork, and looking very important; “I really have not the honour to understand your expression.”

“It’s all one for that,” said the Captain; “you may have it explained whenever you like it.”

“‘Pon honour, Sir,” returned Mr. Lovel, “I must take the liberty to tell you, that I should be extremely offended, but that I suppose it to be some sea-phrase; and therefore I’ll let it pass without further notice.”

Lord Orville, then, to change the discourse, asked Miss Mirvan if she should spend the ensuing winter in London?

“No, to be sure,” said the Captain, “what should she for? She saw all that was to be seen before.”

“Is London, then,” said Mr. Lovel, smiling at Lady Louisa, “only to be regarded as a sight?”

“Why, pray, Mr. Wiseacre, how are you pleased for to regard it yourself? — Answer me to that.”

“O Sir, my opinion, I fancy, you would hardly find intelligible. I don’t understand sea-phrases enough to define it to your comprehension. Does not your La’ship think the task would be rather difficult?”

“O Lard, yes,” cried Lady Louisa; “I declare I’d as soon teach my parrot to talk Welsh.”

“Ha! ha! ha! Admirable; —‘Pon honour, your La’ship’s quite in luck today; but that, indeed, your La’ship is every day. Though, to be sure, it is but candid to acknowledge, that the gentlemen of the ocean have a set of ideas, as well as a dialect, so opposite to our’s, that it is by no means surprising they should regard London as a mere show, that may be seen by being looked at. Ha! ha! ha!”

“Ha! ha!” echoed Lady Louisa; “Well, I declare you are the drollest creature.”

“He! he! ‘Pon honour, I can’t help laughing at the conceit of seeing London in a few weeks!”

“And what a plague should hinder you?” cried the Captain; “do you want to spend a day in every street?”

Here again Lady Louisa and Mr. Lovel interchanged smiles.

“Why, I warrant you, if I had the showing it, I’d haul you from St. James’s to Wapping the very first morning.”

The smiles were now, with added contempt, repeated; which the Captain observing, looked very fiercely at Mr. Lovel, and said, “Hark’ee my spark, none of your grinning! —’tis a lingo I don’t understand; and if you give me any more of it, I shall go near to lend you a box o’ the ear.”

“I protest, Sir,” said Mr. Lovel, turning extremely pale, “I think it’s taking a very particular liberty with a person, to talk to one in such a style as this!”

“It’s like you may,” returned the Captain: “but give a good gulp, and I’ll warrant you’ll swallow it.” Then, calling for a glass of ale, with a very provoking and significant nod, he drank to his easy digestion.

Mr. Lovel made no answer, but looked extremely sullen; and, soon after, we left the gentlemen to themselves.

I had then two letters delivered to me; one from Lady Howard and Mrs. Mirvan, which contained the kindest congratulations; and the other from Madame Duval; — but not a word from you — to my no small surprise and concern.

Madame Duval seems greatly rejoiced at my late intelligence: a violent cold, she says, prevents her coming to Bristol. The Branghtons, she tells me, are all well; Miss Polly is soon to be married to Mr. Brown; but Mr. Smith has changed his lodgings, “which,” she adds, “has made the house extremely dull. However, that’s not the worst news; pardi, I wish it was! but I’ve been used like nobody — for Monsieur Du Bois has had the baseness to go back to France without me.” In conclusion, she assures me, as you prognosticated she would, that I shall be sole heiress of all she is worth, when Lady Orville.

At tea-time, we were joined by all the gentlemen but Captain Mirvan, who went to the hotel where he was to sleep, and made his daughter accompany him, to separate her trumpery, as he called it, from his clothes.

As soon as they were gone, Mr. Lovel, who still appeared extremely sulky, said, “I protest, I never saw such a vulgar, abusive fellow in my life, as that Captain: ‘pon honour, I believe he came here for no purpose in the world but to pick a quarrel; however, for my part, I vow I wo’n’t humour him.”

“I declare,” cried Lady Louisa, “he put me in a monstrous fright; — I never heard any body talk so shocking in my life!”

“I think,” said Mrs. Selwyn, with great solemnity, “he threatened to box your ears, Mr. Lovel; — did not he?”

“Really, Ma’am,” said Mr. Lovel, colouring, “if one was to mind every thing those low kind of people say, one should never be at rest for one impertinence or other; so I think the best way is to be above taking any notice of them.”

“What,” said Mrs. Selwyn, with the same gravity, “and so receive the blow in silence!”

During this discourse, I heard the Captain’s chaise stop at the door, and ran downstairs to meet Maria. She was alone, and told me that her father, who, she was sure, had some scheme in agitation against Mr. Lovel, had sent her on before him. We continued in the parlour till his return, and were joined by Lord Orville, who begged me not to insist on a patience so unnatural, as submitting to be excluded our society. And let me, my dear Sir, with a grateful heart let me own, I never before passed half an hour in such perfect felicity.

I believe we were all sorry when the Captain returned; yet his inward satisfaction, from however different a cause, did not seem inferior to what our’s had been. He chucked Maria under the chin, rubbed his hands, and was scarce able to contain the fullness of his glee. We all attended him to the drawing room; where, having composed his countenance, without any previous attention to Mrs. Beaumont, he marched up to Mr. Lovel, and abruptly said, “Pray, have you e’er a brother in these here parts?”

“Me, Sir? — no, thank Heaven, I’m free from all encumbrances of that sort.”

“Well,” cried the Captain, “I met a person just now so like you, I could have sworn he had been your twin brother.”

“It would have been a most singular pleasure to me,” said Mr. Lovel, “if I also could have seen him; for, really, I have not the least notion what sort of a person I am, and I have a prodigious curiosity to know.”

Just then the Captain’s servant, opening the door, said, “A little gentleman below desires to see one Mr. Lovel.”

“Beg him to walk up stairs,” said Mrs. Beaumont. “But, pray what is the reason William is out of the way?”

The man shut the door without any answer.

“I can’t imagine who it is,” said Mr. Lovel: “I recollect no little gentleman of my acquaintance now at Bristol — except, indeed the Marquis of Charlton; — but I don’t much fancy it can be him. Let me see, who else is there so very little?”

A confused noise among the servants now drew all eyes towards the door: the impatient Captain hastened to open it; and then, clapping his hands, called out, “‘Fore George, ’tis the same person I took for your relation!”

And then, to the utter astonishment of every body but himself, he hauled into the room a monkey, full-dressed, and extravagantly — a la mode!

The dismay of the company was almost general. Poor Mr. Lovel seemed thunderstruck with indignation and surprise: Lady Louisa began a scream, which for some time was incessant; Miss Mirvan and I jumped involuntarily upon the seats of our chairs; Mrs. Beaumont herself followed our example; Lord Orville placed himself before me as a guard; and Mrs. Selwyn, Lord Merton, and Mr. Coverley, burst into a loud, immoderate, ungovernable fit of laughter, in which they were joined by the Captain, till, unable to support himself, he rolled on the floor.

The first voice which made its way through this general noise was that of Lady Louisa, which her fright and screaming rendered extremely shrill. “Take it away!” cried she, “take the monster away; — I shall faint, I shall faint if you don’t!”

Mr. Lovel, irritated beyond endurance, angrily demanded of the Captain what he meant?

“Mean?” cried the Captain, as soon as he was able to speak; “why only to shew you in your proper colours.” Then rising, and pointing to the monkey, “Why now, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be judged by you all! — Did you ever see any thing more like? — Odds my life, if it wasn’t for this here tail, you wouldn’t know one from t’other.”

“Sir,” cried Mr. Lovel, stamping, “I shall take a time to make you feel my wrath.”

“Come now,” continued the regardless Captain, “just for the fun’s sake, doff your coat and waistcoat, and swop with Monseer Grinagain here; and I’ll warrant you’ll not know yourself which is which.”

“Not know myself from a monkey! — I assure you, Sir, I’m not to be used in this manner, and I won’t bear it — curse me if I will!”

“Why, hey-day!” cried the Captain, “what, is master in a passion? — well, don’t be angry:— come, he shan’t hurt you; — here, shake a paw with him:— why, he’ll do you no harm, man! — come, kiss and be friends!”

“Who, I?” cried Mr. Lovel, almost mad with vexation; “as I’m a living creature, I would not touch him for a thousand worlds!”

“Send him a challenge,” cried Mr. Coverley, “and I’ll be your second.”

“Ay, do,” said the Captain; “and I’ll be second to my friend, Monseer Clapperclaw here. Come to it at once! — tooth and nail!”

“God forbid!” cried Mr. Lovel, retreating, “I would sooner trust my person with a mad bull!”

“I don’t like the look of him myself,” said Lord Merton, “for he grins most horribly.”

“Oh, I’m frightened out of my senses!” cried Lady Louisa, “take him away, or I shall die!”

“Captain,” said Lord Orville, “the ladies are alarmed; and I must beg you would send the monkey away.”

“Why, where can be the mighty harm of one monkey more than another?” answered the Captain: “howsomever, if its agreeable to the ladies, suppose we turn them out together?”

“What do you mean by that, Sir?” cried Mr. Lovel, lifting up his cane.

“What do you mean?” cried the Captain, fiercely, “be so good as to down with your cane.”

Poor Mr. Lovel, too much intimidated to stand his ground, yet too much enraged to submit, turned hastily round, and, forgetful of consequences, vented his passion by giving a furious blow to the monkey.

The creature darting forwards, sprung instantly upon him; and, clinging round his neck, fastened his teeth to one of his ears.

I was really sorry for the poor man; who, though an egregious fop, had committed no offence that merited such chastisement.

It was impossible now to distinguish whose screams were loudest, those of Mr. Lovel, or of the terrified Lady Louisa, who I believe, thought her own turn was approaching: but the unrelenting Captain roared with joy.

Not so Lord Orville: ever humane, generous, and benevolent he quitted his charge, who he saw was wholly out of danger, and seizing the monkey by the collar, made him loosen the ear; and then with a sudden swing, flung him out of the room, and shut the door.

Poor Mr. Lovel, almost fainting with terror, sunk upon the floor, crying out, “Oh, I shall die, I shall die! — Oh, I’m bit to death!”

“Captain Mirvan,” said Mrs. Beaumont, with no little indignation, “I must own I don’t perceive the wit of this action; and I am sorry to have such cruelty practised in my house.”

“Why Lord, Ma’am,” said the Captain, when his rapture abated sufficiently for speech, “how could I tell they’d fall out so? — By jingo, I brought him to be a messmate for t’other.”

“Egad,” said Mr. Coverley, “I would not have been served so for a thousand pounds.”

“Why, then, there’s the odds of it,” said the Captain; “for you see he is served so for nothing. But come,” turning to Mr. Lovel, “be of good heart, all may end well yet, and you and Monseer Longtail be as good friends as ever.”

“I’m surprised, Mrs. Beaumont,” cried Mr. Lovel, starting up, “that you can suffer a person under your roof to be treated so inhumanly.”

“What argufies so many words?” said the unfeeling Captain; “it is but a slit of the ear; it only looks as if you had been in the pillory.”

“Very true,” added Mrs. Selwyn; “and who knows but it may acquire you the credit of being an anti-ministerial writer?”

“I protest,” cried Mr. Lovel, looking ruefully at his dress, “my new riding suit’s all over blood!”

“Ha, ha, ha,” cried the Captain, “see what comes of studying for an hour what you shall put on!”

Mr. Lovel then walked to the glass; and, looking at the place, exclaimed, “Oh heaven, what a monstrous wound! my ear will never be fit to be seen again!”

“Why then,” said the Captain, “you must hide it; —’tis but wearing a wig.”

“A wig!” repeated the affrighted Mr. Lovel; “I wear a wig? — no, not if you would give me a thousand pounds an hour!”

“I declare,” said Lady Louisa, “I never heard such a shocking proposal in my life!”

Lord Orville, then, seeing no prospect that the altercation would cease, proposed to the Captain to walk. He assented; and having given Mr. Lovel a nod of exultation, accompanied his Lordship down stairs.

“‘Pon honour,” said Mr. Lovel, the moment the door was shut, “that fellow is the greatest brute in nature! he ought not to be admitted into a civilized society.”

“Lovel,” said Mr. Coverley, affecting to whisper, “you must certainly pink him: you must not put up with such an affront.”

“Sir,” said Mr. Lovel, “with any common person I should not deliberate an instant; but really with a fellow who has done nothing but fight all his life, ‘pon honour, Sir, I can’t think of it!”

“Lovel,” said Lord Merton, in the same voice, “you must call him to account.”

“Every man,” said he, pettishly, “is the best judge of his own affairs; and I don’t ask the honour of any person’s advice.”

“Egad, Lovel,” said Mr. Coverley, “you’re in for it! — you can’t possibly be off!”

“Sir,” cried he, very impatiently, “upon any proper occasion I should be as ready to show my courage as any body; but as to fighting for such a trifle as this — I protest I should blush to think of it!”

“A trifle!” cried Mrs. Selwyn, “good Heaven! and have you made this astonishing riot about a trifle?”

“Ma’am,” answered the poor wretch, in great confusion, “I did not know at first but that my cheek might have been bit; but as ’tis no worse, why, it does not a great deal signify. Mrs. Beaumont, I have the honour to wish you a good evening; I’m sure my carriage must be waiting.” And then, very abruptly, he left the room.

What a commotion has this mischief-loving Captain raised! Were I to remain here long, even the society of my dear Maria could scarce compensate for the disturbances which he excites.

When he returned, and heard of the quiet exit of Mr. Lovel, his triumph was intolerable. “I think, I think,” he cried, “I have peppered him well! I’ll warrant he won’t give an hour tomorrow morning to settling what he shall put on; why, his coat,” turning to me, “would be a most excellent match for old Madame Furbelow’s best Lyons silk! ‘Fore George, I’d desire no better sport than to have that there old cat here to go her snacks!”

All the company the, Lord Orville, Miss Mirvan, and myself excepted, played at cards; and we — oh, how much better did we pass our time!

While we were engaged in a most delightful conversation, a servant brought me a letter, which he told me had by some accident been mislaid. Judge of my feelings when I saw, my dearest Sir, your revered hand-writing! My emotions soon betrayed to Lord Orville whom the letter was from; the importance of the contents he well knew; and, assuring me I should not be seen by the card-players, he besought me to open it without delay.

Open it, indeed, I did — but read it I could not; — the willing, yet awful consent you have granted — the tenderness of your expressions — the certainty that no obstacle remained to my eternal union with the loved owner of my heart, gave me sensations too various, and, though joyful, too little placid for observation. Finding myself unable to proceed, and blinded by the tears of gratitude and delight, which started into my eyes, I gave over the attempt of reading till I retired to my own room; and, having no voice to answer the enquiries of Lord Orville, I put the letter into his hands, and left it to speak both for me and itself.

Lord Orville was himself affected by your kindness: he kissed the letter as he returned it; and, pressing my hand affectionately to his heart, “Your are now,” said he, in a low voice, “all my own! Oh, my Evelina, how will my soul find room for its happiness? — it seems already bursting!” I could make no reply, indeed I hardly spoke another word the rest of the evening; so little talkative is the fulness of contentment.

O, my dearest Sir, the thankfulness of my heart I must pour forth at our meeting, when, at your feet, my happiness receives its confirmation from your blessing; and when my noble-minded, my beloved Lord Orville, presents to you the highly-honoured, and thrice-happy Evelina.

A few lines I will endeavour to write on Thursday, which shall be sent off express, to give you, should nothing intervene, yet more certain assurance of our meeting.

Now then, therefore, for the first — and probably the last time I shall ever own the name, permit me to sign myself, Most dear Sir, your gratefully affectionate,

EVELINA BELMONT.

Lady Louisa, at her own particular desire, will be present at the ceremony, as well as Miss Mirvan and Mrs. Selwyn: Mr. Macartney will, the same morning, be united to my foster-sister; and my father himself will give us both away.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burney/fanny/evelina/letter82.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:32