You ask me, my dear Amanda, to give you the relation of my life. Your request has always the force of a command with me, and I obey you, notwithstanding the affliction the remembrance of my past misfortunes raises in my soul. You know my family is noble. My father added to the advantage of an illustrious extraction a greatness of soul, and regular behavior, which gained him the respect and esteem of all who conversed with him. His father, who was vice-treasurer of Ireland, and commanded a troop of horse in King Charles the IId’s reign, died when he was yet an infant; and his eldest brother, being destined for the church, was, in the reign of King William, made chaplain-general and judge-advocate of the fleet.
My father, whose inclinations led him to the army, purchased a commission in a regiment commanded by a near relation; and, some time after, rising to the command of a company, he married a lady of a considerable family in Ireland, with whom he was so passionately in love as to take her without the consent of her relations; by which means he forfeited all right to her fortune, which, however, was far from being considerable.
Of all the children my mother brought into the world, there remained but four; three daughters and a son. As I shall have frequent occasion to speak of my brother and sisters in the course of my history, permit me to give you a short sketch of their characters. My brother, with a nice sense of honor, and a behavior regulated by the exactest probity, discovered a hastiness and impetuosity which very much affected the ease of all about him: yet his fine sense, and inimitable wit, rendered him, notwithstanding the frequent sallies of his temper, the delight as well as ornament of our family. My eldest sister was thought perfectly handsome: she had a vivacity in her words and actions, which, to those who are captivated by external appearances, had a charm beyond the most exalted understanding. She was obliging, affable, and very often sincere: her temper, indeed, was naturally violent, and impatient of contradiction; but, upon the least submission, would subside into a perfect calm. She knew so well how to disguise her disapprobation of the follies of those she conversed with, and to fall in with their different humors and inclinations, that she was generally beloved. Her vanity was excessive; and the constant indulgence of her taste for dress and gay amusements, contributed to keep it alive; yet she was one of the best economists in the world: the management of the family was committed to her care; and she acquitted herself of this office so well, as to merit, in every one’s opinion, the partial fondness my mother discovered for her. My sister Fanny, who was a year younger than myself, possessed all those qualities of mind and person, which serve to make one of her sex esteemed and admired. We loved each other with the utmost tenderness, and our friendship surprised the whole family, as it was much superior to what the nearness of blood generally inspires. My brother, finding something in me agreeable to his taste, took incessant pains in the improvement of my mind. I was scarce past my infancy, when I applied myself to reading with such an eager solicitude, as amazed every one who was concerned in my education.
My mother, who thought knowledge a useless acquisition for one of her own sex, beheld my attachment to study with concern. I was not so happy in her affection as the rest of her children; and I believe the bent of my inclinations to intellectual improvements, was the ground of the indifference she always expressed for me. I hardly reached my tenth year when I began to be taken some notice of, and my dawning wit filled my brother with the highest transports. Will you not think me vain, my dear Amanda, in giving you this account of myself? But you have commanded me to be sincere, and I must therefore dispense with any little punctilios that would prevent me from obeying you in this particular. And, indeed, that you may be able to comprehend the reality of those adventures I was engaged in, at an age when others of my sex are hardly observed, it is necessary you should know the advantageous opinion that was conceived of me. I had as yet employed my pen in no other way than by writing to a young lady, for whom I had contracted an extravagant friendship. As my notions of this passion were mightily refined and delicate, my letters were filled with an enthusiastic tenderness, which gave birth to the most lively flights of imagination. I wrote in a kind of poetic prose; but I did not attempt a line in verse, though poetry was my favorite study. But the era of my commencement was at hand: I had a heart so formed to receive tender impressions, that it was impossible I could long remain in a state of insensibility. I became in love, my dear Amanda, in love at eleven years old; and to that inspiring passion my muse first owed its existence. Give me leave to relate this adventure, not so much for its importance, as to give you an example of my early proficiency in gallantry, and enable you to account for the future actions of my life. My sister Fanny and myself had obtained permission to see a play, represented by large figures of wax, which was then reckoned a sort of curiosity. The servant who conducted us, withdrew when we were seated; and a great number of the Westminster-scholars coming in, we immediately formed ourselves to the best advantage, in order to be taken notice of. The desire of pleasing is natural to the sex. I was a child, ’tis true; but I had the latent seeds of coquetry in my heart: and, as Pope has it,
“Ev’n infant cheeks a bidden blush can show,
“And little hearts will flutter at a beau.”
I first discovered my propensity to gallantry upon this occasion; for I managed my looks with such art, that I soon had the eyes of some of these young gentlemen upon me. Among the rest a youth about fifteen, dressed in deep mourning, considered me attentively. He was lovely, I may say, to a fault; for his beauty had something too sweet and delicate in it for one of his sex. However, I found a secret pleasure in meeting his glances; and could not forbear inquiring of a young lady, who sat next me, and seemed to know him, who he was. She told me he was called Lord S—— . My heart bounded at the knowledge of his quality, and I felt an increase of transport whenever I surprised him gazing on me, which he did almost every moment. His companions, who, for particular reasons, came only with a design to demolish the little theatre, interrupted the soft intercourse of our eyes, by calling upon him to aid their premeditated mischief. The curtain was no sooner drawn up than they flung stones and all sorts of rubbish on the stage with such violence, that the scenes were torn down, the lights almost all extinguished, and the heroes of wax lay mangled on the ground before their time. My sister and I were extremely frighted at the first onset; but we had more reason, when some of the candles falling near the scenes set them on fire, and the stage seemed all in flames. Every one now was concerned for his life: they press with such eager haste to the door, that some had like to be crushed to death in the crowd. Poor Fanny and I never stirred from our places, rather more terrified at the rude multitude that was pressing to get out, than at the flames, which we expected every moment would approach us. The man, who had been sent with us, came to the doors at the cry of fire, but could not get in to assist us. He called us aloud by our names; but we, drowned in tears, sat motionless, without making the least effort to save ourselves. Lord S— — notwithstanding the noise and confusion, observed us heedfully; and coming up to us, with another of his companions, begged I would allow him to conduct us out of that dangerous place. I took the liberty to reproach him a little for the mischief he had engaged in. He expressed the utmost concern for it; but still insisting upon my putting myself under his protection, I suffered him to take me in his arms, while his companion did the same by my sister; and thus freighted, they made their way through the crowd, and brought us safely out. I thanked my young preserver in the most grateful terms; and was preparing to go home immediately with our servant, whom we found at the door, when his lordship insisted upon accompanying us, that he might know (as he said) where to wait on me the next day. During our little walk he entertained me with a thousand encomiums on my person, assuring me I had made an absolute conquest of his heart, and that he should think it an age till to-morrow, when he proposed to make me a visit, and have the pleasure of describing to me the tenderness I had inspired him with. Methinks I see you smile, Amanda, at this gallantry addressed to a girl of eleven years old: however, it was not quite so ridiculous as you may imagine. I was not only very tall of my age, but I had likewise all the coquette inclinations of fifteen; and not only knew the full value of a smile, a sigh, or a blush, but could practice them all upon occasion. My young lover took his leave at the door of our house; and Fanny being impatient to relate our adventure, without regarding my confusion, repeated all that had passed. My thoughts found sufficient employment most part of the night: I spent the hours in recalling to my mind all the words and actions of my young admirer: I compared my adventure with some of those I had read in novels and romances, and found it full as surprising. In short, I was nothing less than a Clelia or Statira. These reflections had such an effect on my looks and air next day, that it was very visible I thought myself of prodigious importance. When the hour approached that I expected his lordship, I felt all those little flutters and perturbations which might have agitated a much older bosom: I looked every moment in the glass, adjusted my hair and dress, and determined in what manner I should behave to him. I was born a coquette, and what would have been art in others, in me was pure nature. My brother and sister, who were resolved to share the visit, received his lordship with many compliments upon the services Fanny and I had received from him. He answered them with a graceful ease; and, after tea, being left to ourselves, we spent the evening in diversions suitable to our age. As soon as he had taken his leave, I wrote to my female friend, whom I called Sylvia; and, in a truly romantic style, related the whole adventure. But, when I came to describe the person of my lover, an involuntary impulse made me throw my thoughts into verse; and this first attempt in poetry was thought so tender and passionate, that it procured me the name of Sappho, a distinction which agreeably soothed my vanity. From this moment I took so much delight in writing, that my mother was extremely offended at it. My brother, however, took my part; he could not bear to check my genius, by restraining it from an amusement, which, under his regulation, was far from corrupting my mind. It is certain, that he lost no opportunity of improving my morals, as well as my understanding: he instilled an early love for virtue into my soul; and, as I grew older, the strength and beauty of his arguments, fixed that principle so deeply in my heart, that no trials, no distresses, nor all the softening power of love, were ever able to erase it.
But, to my infinite regret, he was now preparing to leave us. A thousand pounds had been left him by an uncle, which, through his partiality, was at his own disposal at fifteen. This introduced him to an early acquaintance with the fashionable excesses of the town, in an indulgence to which he spent most of that money, which was designed to establish him in the world; for my father, through a mistaken tenderness, would not suffer him to purchase a commission in the army, for which he had a great inclination: but, in order to have him near him, placed him with a surgeon. My brother, being now out of his apprenticeship, with the remains of his little fortune, determined to go a trading voyage to Jamaica: and it was in vain, that my father and mother, who loved him with an excess of fondness, opposed this resolution. My ardent affection for this dear brother, made me look upon the moment of his departure, as that which brought the end of my life. I hung upon his arms in a speechless agony of grief, and it was with the greatest difficulty he forced himself from me. It was several days before the violence of my transports were abated; he was continually in my thoughts. My pen was now employed in bewailing his absence, and describing the painful fond emotions, with which my soul was agitated upon his account. My father being soon after preferred to a very considerable post in America, acquainted his family with his design of settling there. My eldest sister heard this resolution with grief; but I, as my lover was now sent upon his travels, and I had nothing in England to leave with regret, saw, with a childish pleasure, the preparations that were making for our departure. A man of war was ordered to transport us thither: and several gentlemen, whose affairs called them to that country, procuring a passage in the same ship, we had very agreeable company to soften the fatigues of the voyage.
As we were accommodated with the best apartments in the ship, and perfectly at ease, my mother, who loved company, permitted the gentlemen to visit us frequently. Their visits, however, I had at first no share in; for being extremely sea-sick, I was confined to my bed; and should have had a very melancholy time of it, but for the company of an agreeable lady, the wife of one of my pappa’s lieutenants.
Mrs. Villars, for that was her name, was very young; and, being deeply read in romances, had her head filled with adventures of gallantry, tender confidences and delicate friendships. She had conceived a very strange affection for me; and though I was then but just entered into my thirteenth year, conversed with me upon equal terms. I was fond of being considered as a woman: she hit my foible; and the conformity between our thoughts and inclinations, produced a very tender friendship between us. This lady, one day, expressing her concern at my not being able to partake of their amusements, told me, with a smile, she had been endeavoring to deprive my sister of an admirer. “He is, continued she, (with a certain eagerness that was natural to her) one of the most lovely youths I ever beheld; and so worthy to be a lover of yours, that, to disengage him from his assiduities to your sister, I gave him a description of you: and, finding he was passionately fond of wit, allowed him to read all the little poetical pieces you gave me in London. You cannot imagine, my dear, (pursued she) what an effect your writings had upon him! He has read them over a thousand times; and longs, with the utmost impatience, to see you.” My sister came in at these words, and guessing by them the subject of our conversation, “Upon my word, (said she to Mrs. Villars) you’ll spoil Harriot, and make her mind run so much upon gallantry, that she’ll think of nothing else.” She spoke this with such apparent chagrin, that I was convinced she was piqued at what Mrs. Villars had done; and I was therefore resolved to finish my conquest next day, by showing myself to my new admirer.
My mother, at my request, had permitted me to come into the stateroom to drink tea. I had dressed myself with more than ordinary care, and was preparing to go, when Mrs. Villars came running to me, “Oh, my dear, said she, (quite out of breath) we have fallen upon a new diversion today: Dumont, the gentleman I mentioned to you, has promised to entertain us, by reading one of Otway’s tragedies; and I have engaged my word, that you shall read the women’s parts.” I would fain have excused myself from this task; but my friend assuring me she had positive orders from my mother to bring me for that purpose, I was obliged to comply. I came into the room covered over with blushes, which though imputed to a bashfulness common to girls of my age, yet was, in reality, the effect of Mrs. Villars’s information. My mother, perceiving my embarrassment, introduced me, with her usual politeness, to the company; which consisted of the captain of the ship, and several other gentlemen, among whom I soon distinguished the lovely Dumont.
I needed not the circumstance of his earnestly gazing on me, to point him out: his whole person was one continued charm. There was such a mixture of sweetness and sensibility in his countenance, such enchanting loveliness in his eyes, so many nameless graces in his mien, that it was impossible to look on him, and not feel something more than bare admiration. My eyes, by an involuntary motion, were often turned upon his face; but, being always met by an earnest and sparkling glance of his, I drew them away with a confusion, which, no doubt, convinced him I observed the pleasure he took in gazing on me. After the task which the company had imposed upon Dumont and me, of reading the Orphan, was over, I received the general thanks of our hearers, for having so exquisitely touched the tender distress of Monimia. Dumont, without regarding the compliments that were paid to him, was wholly employed in lavishing praises on me. “Never, said he, (in a kind of transport) have I heard a voice so harmonious as Miss Harriot’s; yet the graces of her utterance, inimitable as they are, merits our admiration less than her judgment, by which she gave so exactly the true sense and spirit of the poet.” “It must be confessed also, interrupted Mrs. Villars, (who was willing to spare me the confusion of replying to this compliment) that Dumont has succeeded very happily in expressing the passion of Castalio.” “’Tis certain, madam, (said a young gentleman who stood near her) that Dumont has had great advantages under the character of Castalio; since he has been authorized, for a few moments, to think himself beloved by a more lovely Monimia than Otway’s . Had I been in his place, (continued he, with a freedom peculiar to his profession, for he was a lieutenant of a man of war) I should have forgot the personated lover, and told the fair Monimia, in my own character, how much I was charmed with her.” “That, replied I, (with a look that expressed some little resentment) might have turned the tragedy into a farce, and given the company an opportunity to laugh at your expense.” My mother, who thought my tongue run too fast upon a subject she was not willing I should be so soon acquainted with, interrupted us here, by desiring Dumont to sing, and dispel the gloomy ideas the tragedy had raised in her. He immediately complied, with a grace which was inseparable from him; and though the sweetness and harmony of his voice was sufficient to engross all my attention, yet I could not help observing, that he had chose some very passionate lines; and his eyes, while he was singing, were often fixed with a soft languishment on me. When he ended, the whole company was employed in lavishing their praises upon him, which gave me an opportunity to write with a pencil the following lines:
The poets say, when Orpheus wak’d his lyre
The savage beasts wou’d round him list’ning stand,
The tuneful beauties of his voice admire,
And the soft touch of his harmonious hand.
But had they heard a voice so sweet as thine,
Did such soft strains their ravish’d senses bless,
The heavenly music of the sacred Nine,
And the fam’d Orpheus, wou’d have charm’d them less.
I had just finished these verses, when Mrs. Villars, snatching them out of my hand, communicated them to the company. Dumont blushed at hearing them read, and bowing profoundly low to me, “Though I am very far, miss, said he, from thinking I merit your praises in the least degree, yet I am extremely glad I have given you this opportunity of exerting your genius.” Without answering him, I wrote again as follows:
Unconscious of your merit, you refuse
The early tribute of an infant muse;
Or think, perhaps, unequal to your praise,
My verse but lessens what it meant to raise.
So charming was your voice, that while you sung
My list’ning soul on ev’ry accent hung!
To kindred harmony my thoughts aspire
But what I must not praise, I’ll silently admire.
I gave him the paper with a smile; and after reading it two or three times, he tore off the last words, and presented them to me, with a look which I thought very mysterious. Every person present applauded the gallantry of this return to my compliment) but I was apt enough to imagine there was something more than mere gallantry in it.
Mrs. Villars, as soon as she could speak to me apart, congratulated me upon the conquest I had made. “I knew, said she smiling, that Dumont would forsake your sister, when he saw you; for, without flattery, my dear, you are more than equal to her in the charms of your person; and then, the superiority of your understanding gives you such prodigious advantage over her, that, in all probability, she’ll make but few conquests when you are by.” “But, said I, interrupting this flow of compliments, can you inform me who Mr. Dumont is, and what affairs carry him to America?” “Oh! returned she, I am perfectly well acquainted with his whole history. Mr. Maynard, whom you answered so pertly, just now told me some very extraordinary particulars about him. He is the only son of one of the richest merchants in N——. His father, who is a rigid papist, contracted him, while yet an infant, to the daughter of a near relation. This young lady will have an immense fortune; and it is not to be doubted but that Mr. Dumont’s father did all that was possible, to inspire his son with an affection for her. Her picture was sent from England to N—— but her charms made little impression on his heart. If one may believe Mr. Maynard, the ladies of N—— are extremely susceptible of love; and the graceful form of Dumont had captivated a great number of hearts. Yet still he found means to preserve his liberty, against the united attacks of so many languishing beauties; and was never capable of a serious engagement till he saw Mrs. B— — the eldest daughter of the governor. This lady was married when Dumont was a boy of about fifteen years of age. Her husband, being master of a very large estate, carried his young bride to England, where her beauty soon gained her such a number of admirers, that Mr. B— — growing uneasy, insisted upon returning to America. The lady, however, not at all disgusted with the homage that was paid to her charms, and having an extreme fondness for the expensive pleasures of London, absolutely refused to go. Mr. B— — enraged almost to madness at her behavior, left her immediately, and went in the first ship that sailed to America. Mrs. B—— remained near three years after him in London, so intoxicated with gallantry, and the admiration paid to her charms, that she quite forgot what she owed to her husband and her fame; and it is probable would not have thought of returning in a long time, had not the arrival of one of her brothers in England obliged her to come to a resolution. This young gentleman, having obtained what he came to solicit for, which was the command of one of the independent companies in N— — used every argument with his sister, to prevail upon her to return home. The lady, understanding that her husband was retired to his estate in Jamaica, protested that her health would not permit her to live in that country; but offered to return to her father, which her brother consented to with joy. Mrs. B—— accordingly went to N— — so altered in her person, manners, and dress, that she was hardly to be known. As she had conversed much with people of the first rank, she had contracted all the easy assurance of a woman of quality. The ladies of N—— began to copy her manner as well as dress, and listened with an eager attention to her accounts of plays, masquerades, operas, the drawing-room, ridottos, and all the round of polite amusements Mrs. B— — willing to make them comprehend that her intimacies were only with people of the first rank, would frequently speak of the dear duke of — — and the charming marquis of ——. Nay, she carried this kind of affectation so far, as to call her favorite black footman by the stile of one of the first peers in England. This excess of folly did not hinder her from appearing lovely in the eyes of Dumont; yet his respect prevented him from disclosing a passion, which, as she was married, might be an offense to her virtue. But the lady, not quite so scrupulous, having conceived a violent passion for the beautiful youth (as she called him,) let him know his happiness by a very gallant billet and thus secured to herself a heart, which the handsomest ladies in N—— were in vain disputing the possession of. This intrigue was managed with so little caution on both sides, that Dumont was often seen to come out of Mrs. B——’s apartments at break of day. The sentinels were feed when they opened the gates to let him out, yet they communicated their discovery to their companions; by which means the whole city was acquainted with their interviews: the governor alone was ignorant of an affair, that furnished so much scandal and diversion to the town. Mrs. B—— had several sisters, each of whom had felt a tender inclination for Dumont: they had long discovered his nightly visits, but had not courage enough to inform their father of them, as he was extremely fond of Mrs. B—— At last, the youngest of these ladies, having watched Dumont as he went one night into her apartments, flew immediately to her father, and, in few words, related all she knew of the affair. The governor, in a violent rage, demanded to know what proof she had for so scandalous an aspersion; and being answered, that Dumont was now in his daughter’s apartment, he ran down stairs with so much precipitation, that he was at the door of her chamber before her maid, who was in waiting in an outer room, could get in to inform her. Mrs. B— — ready to die with fear, knew not how to dispose of her lover. There was no closet in the room. The governor knocked hastily at the door, and they had not time to consult what excuse to make for Dumont’s being found at that late hour in her bedchamber; when Dumont, taking notice of a carpet that lay carelessly rolled up in one corner of the room, immediately laid himself down upon it; and his mistress, covering him up in a moment, made no scruple to open the door to her father, and, in a submissive tone, asked him, what had procured her a visit from him at that time of night. The governor, without answering her, threw his eyes eagerly round the room; and, not seeing the person he looked for, cast a look full of reproach upon his youngest daughter, who had followed him in. The girl, whose wit was animated by the extreme envy she bore her sister, and this disappointment of its gratification, cast her eyes upon the carpet; and imagining, by its being more bulky than usual, that the lover might be concealed there, pushed it gently with her foot, and was immediately convinced her suspicions were but too just. The governor, having observed this action, and no longer in doubt of his daughter’s indiscretion, went out of her apartment, without explaining the cause of his coming; and, charging the young incendiary to keep the unhappy secret safe, by the most refined policy imaginable, he lavished so many favors upon Dumont and his family, that people were at a loss what to think of the reports they had heard, not being able to imagine the governor could be so fond of a man who had dishonored his daughter. However, he took his measures so effectually with the father of Dumont, that he was sent to England, upon no very agreeable errand; since he was ordered to make his addresses to his cousin. How he has obeyed these commands, I am yet to learn,” said Mrs. Villars, concluding her long tale; “but, if I am not mistaken, he is at liberty still to devote himself to you.” “And I shall take care, returned I, (laughing) to fix this inconstant heart, if I can; for it would give me a very sensible pleasure to have a lover like Dumont, for whom I should be so greatly envied.” “But envy is a very dangerous passion, replied Mrs. Villars; and if it could produce such terrible effects in the heart of a sister, as to make her relate the shocking particulars I have told you, it might have very dangerous consequences for you.” I was beginning to rally Mrs. Villars upon this grave reflection, when Mr. Maynard came up to us; and, notwithstanding my aversion to this gentleman, which commenced from the moment I saw him, I was obliged to suffer a great deal of gallantry from him, which ended, at last, in a very frank declaration of love. If I had consulted my vanity alone, I might possibly have found something to soothe it, in this new proof of the power of my charms. But, prepossessed as I was against his person and manner, which afforded an unpleasing contrast to the too lovely Dumont, I treated him with so much contempt and disdain, that he appeared quite astonished at my behavior. Alas! my dear Amanda, I was then ignorant of the miseries this man was to cause me; but the unreasonable aversion I felt for him, was too sure a presage of them. While Maynard thus seized every opportunity of persecuting me with his addresses, all my attention was fixed upon Dumont, whose behavior threw me into the greatest perplexity imaginable. Though he industriously avoided all occasions of speaking to me alone, yet his eyes were almost constantly fixed upon my face, with looks so tender and passionate, as often embarrassed me extremely. He would eagerly embrace every occasion of serving me; and never pronounced my name without a visible emotion, visible, at least, to an observation so interested as mine. Yet while he still continued to observe a silence, which might as well be imputed to indifference as respect, I remained in an uncertainty that gave me a great deal of pain. It is possible, my dear Amanda, by thus laying open my heart, with all its weaknesses and foibles, I may hazard the loss of your esteem. You have often rallied me upon my extreme fondness for applause; yet, perhaps, you have never observed this inclination in me in its full extent: and when, in the course of my history, you find it introducing me into many inconveniences, I shall not be surprised, if you are more inclined to blame than pity me. Thus then, though I had no other sentiments for Dumont, than what his uncommon merit must necessarily inspire in every one who conversed with him, yet his mysterious behavior gave me a thousand inquietudes; and my anxiety to know if he really loved me, was as great as if the happiness of my life depended upon it. Mr. Maynard, whose apprehension, though naturally slow, was at this time quickened by jealousy, began to take notice of the soft language of Dumont’s eyes; and guessing by what he had discovered, that a great deal more remained to be known, set himself to observe, with the utmost vigilance, all our looks and actions. I don’t doubt but you have found, my dear, that my eyes have a natural faculty of discovering all that passes in my heart; which would have been a bad quality for a coquette, if I had not used them to such a perfect obedience as to make them express whatever I had a mind. It was not difficult for Maynard to find out by these tattlers, that I interested myself very much in every look and word of Dumont’s: but his judgment, infallible as he thought it, deceived him, when it persuaded him I was deeply in love with him. However, he discovered enough to make him rally me very impertinently, and to give continual increase to my aversion for him. “How happy, said he to me one day, (when he observed me looking on Dumont, who was at some distance) will the ladies in N—— think themselves, when their admired Dumont returns to them! If they formerly disputed with so much animosity for his heart, they will have much severer contests now, so improved as he is with the additional graces he has acquired in London.” “I am not ignorant, returned I, of your talent in scandal; and, notwithstanding your malicious representations, I can’t believe the ladies in N—— are very indiscreet.” “I see you are very incredulous, said he; and it would be a difficult matter to persuade you to believe, that Mr. Dumont is not only the most insensible person in the world, but capable of strewing a great deal of contempt for ladies, who load him with undesired favors.” “I shall never, interrupted I, take the trouble to examine into the truth of what you say; but if you mean this as an aspersion on the character of Mr. Dumont, I shall be the less inclined to believe it, as I know you are extremely fond of defamation.” Saying these words, I rose from my seat; and mixing in conversation with Mrs. Villars and Dumont, with as much gaiety as I could possibly assume, had the satisfaction of seeing Maynard ready to die with vexation. Alas, how much reason had I to repent this short triumph! Mr. Maynard, despairing to gain upon my inclinations, without the interposition of parental authority, disclosed his passion to my mother, and met with a very favorable reception. He was, in reality, a very advantageous offer for me; for though my father had held a considerable post in the army, yet his income was much too small to support his family in a manner suitable to their birth and my mother’s little fortune was entirely spent, when he was preferred to this post in America; which, as it was a very lucrative one, gave him hopes of leaving his children tolerably provided for. Mr. Maynard had not only a very genteel fortune, but was lieutenant of a man of war; and, as he had great interest, was in daily expectation of being preferred to the command of a ship. My mother saw too many advantages in such a match to be capable of rejecting it; and assured Mr. Maynard, she would mention his proposal to my father, and endeavor to gain his consent. In the mean time, she permitted him to see me frequently; and I soon found the effects of that fatal permission, for I was perpetually exposed to his detested addresses. My mother had hired a decayed gentlewoman, in the quality of governess to Fanny and me. She was a woman of good sense, and a very amiable temper; and, as she very much regretted the partiality my mother discovered to my prejudice, she endeavored to soften my uneasiness by the most tender and obliging behavior. Mrs. Blandon (for that was her name) appearing one evening more thoughtful than usual, I eagerly inquired the cause. “I must confess, my dear, said she, (with an affectionate look) that I am under some inquietude about you; and I foresee a great many troubles that you must necessarily suffer from the present disposition of your mother’s mind. She just now acquainted me, that Mr. Maynard had desired her permission to make his addresses to you, and commanded me to dispose you to receive him favorably.” “Alas, dear Mrs. Blandon, returned I, what is it you tell me! Has that odious man made my mother approve of his importunities? He has persecuted me incessantly these two days, and I was thinking to complain to her; but I now perceive it will be in vain. What shall I do, cried I? (bursting into tears:) I hate him mortally; and, though my mother was to punish me ever so severely, I shall never be able to use him with common civility.” “I am not ignorant of your aversion to Mr. Maynard, interrupted she; and though I cannot help thinking it a little unreasonable, yet, upon that account, I could wish your mother was less inclined to favor him than she is. However, miss, pursued she, (in a severer tone) I have often condemned that inordinate desire of admiration which I have discovered in you. You see the consequence of indulging that folly. Mr. Maynard has mistaken, perhaps, that complaisance in your behavior, when you aim at inspiring love; and what was the effect of a general thirst of praise, he has attributed to a particular desire of pleasing him: hence he indulged a growing passion for you, out of a belief that you would not reject it.” “But, madam, replied I, (blushing extremely at her reproof) I never gave Mr. Maynard leave to imagine his addresses would please me: on the contrary, I have always expressed the utmost dislike both to his person and behavior.” My mother coming in at this moment, prevented Mrs. Blandon from replying; who rose from her seat, and was going out: “Sit still, Mrs. Blandon, said my mother; I would have you be present at my discourse with Harriot: I suppose you have prepared her for the proposal I am going to make her.” “I have, indeed, madam, answered my governess, mentioned Mr. Maynard to miss, as a person whose addresses you approve of; but I find the poor child so extremely averse to all thoughts of that gentleman, that I despair of making her receive your commands with the obedience you require.” At any other time Mrs. Blandon giving me the epithet of child, would have mortified me extremely; but now I was certain she had a particular reason for doing so; and, therefore, improving the hint, “Sure, mamma, said I, you did but jest when you spoke of Mr. Maynard paying his addresses to me. I am persuaded he can have no serious thoughts of a girl of my age; and if I thought otherwise, ’tis probable you would chide me severely for being so forward.” “Come, come, miss, interrupted my mother, (with a satirical smile) though you are, in reality, much younger than you would be thought, yet you are old enough to give me pain for your behavior. You are certainly extremely vain, Harriot, continued she, (looking steadfastly on me) and take so much pleasure in the ridiculous compliments that are paid you, that, in order to stop your career of coquetry, I am determined to make choice of a husband for you myself. Mr. Maynard is a more advantageous offer than you could possibly expect, and you ought to think yourself extremely happy in the prospect of so genteel an establishment.” “But I hate him, madam, replied I: how, then, can I think myself happy? Alas, I shall be absolutely miserable, if you don’t change your intentions.” “These horrid romances, interrupted my mother, has turned the girl’s brain. The heroines of these books are always disobedient: and I suppose she intends to copy their example. However, Harriot, continued she, (rising and taking my hand) I expect you’ll treat Mr. Maynard with more civility; and look upon him as a man, who, one day, may be your husband.” I made no reply, but suffered my mother to lead me into the room where we were to sup; and, to my infinite mortification, I saw Maynard among the company. There remained some traces of my sorrow upon my countenance, which every person present took notice of with concern; for it was no secret, that my mother would often use me very harshly. When supper was over, I retired to one corner of the room with Mrs. Villars, who was impatient to know the cause of my uneasiness. I could not inform her of my mother’s cruel commands without tears. Dumont, that moment, came up to us; and, observing the disorder I was in, asked me the occasion of it, with so much emotion in his looks and accent, that I was disconcerted; and, not knowing what to answer, Mrs. Villars, who was very indiscreet, told him all; adding a great many invectives against the person and manners of Maynard. I now expected some very soothing compliment from Dumont; but was greatly disappointed to find he made no reply. A silence of three or four minutes ensued: at last, I ventured to lift up my eyes, and, at that instant, encountered a glance of Dumont’s, which expressed so many nameless tender things, that, quite confused, I hastily turned away my face, lest he should imagine I took any notice of the alteration that appeared in his. “You see, miss, said he, (with a sigh he was not able to suppress) that it is sometimes a misfortune to be too lovely; and since Maynard is so unhappy as to be disagreeable to you, I could pity him, if he had not made use of very ungenerous methods to obtain you. A man who seeks the possession of you by the arbitrary commands of a parent, is unworthy so great a blessing; and I find in myself so strong a disposition to hate him upon this account, that I shall with difficulty restrain myself from expressing my indignation.” “I should be sorry, sir, replied I, that your concern for my interests should engage you to show any resentment to a person for whom you seemed to have a friendship; but, if you have any influence over Mr. Maynard, you would extremely oblige me, by persuading him to cease his persecutions, and leave me at liberty.” “Depend upon it, miss, said he, I’ll execute this commission with the utmost fidelity; and you could not have laid a greater obligation on me “ These words were accompanied with a most expressive look, and he immediately took his leave. “Poor Dumont! said Mrs. Villars, (laughing) I dare engage he’ll obey you; but from a motive very different from what he was pleased to own.” “Whatever is his motive, replied I, I shall be glad if he succeeds; but I fear there is no great likelihood his argument should effect, what all the coldness of my behavior has failed to do.” My mother, who by no means approved my long conversation with Mrs. Villars, called me; and, for the remainder of the evening, obliged me to sit near her; with a view, no doubt, of pleasing my lover, for he was then engaged in a conversation with her. For some days I lived thus, in a perpetual restraint; but not all the respect I owed my mother, could hinder me from treating Mr. Maynard with contempt: he grew every moment more odious to me, and indeed his behavior was more calculated to raise aversion than love.
Proud of his success in obtaining my mother’s consent, he took but little care to gain my inclinations; possibly he thought it was in vain to attempt it, and continued to pursue me rather through spite than affection. Dumont, who had been indisposed, and had discontinued his visits for some days, came in one afternoon, just as my ill humor had discharged itself in some very injurious expression to Maynard: the paleness of his looks, and the profound melancholy that appeared in his eyes, immediately drew every one’s attention. My sister, who, as I have observed, was extremely vain, and very often mistook a little unmeaning gallantry for love, while Dumont was receiving the condolence of the company upon the alteration in his looks, observed a profound silence, hardly daring to lift up her eyes, unless it was sometimes to exchange a transient glance with him. Immediately, as if conscious of the mutual intelligence of their looks, she hastily turned away her eyes, blushing at the same time, with such an appearance of confusion, as must have given great surprise to Dumont, if his attention had not been otherways engaged. Maynard, who was talking to me, was the only person in the room who seemed to attract his notice: He kept his eyes constantly fixed upon him, not without betraying in his looks a very extraordinary emotion. That instant the ship giving a violent turn, almost threw me off my chair: I pushed away Maynard with great scorn, who endeavored to support me, and a second shock made me fall into the arms of Dumont, who extended them to hold me up: this action however was not observed by any one in the cabin, who were busy in saving themselves: but as soon as we were resettled, Maynard, casting a look full of rage upon Dumont, went to my mother, with whom he soon entered into a private conversation. This interval Dumont made use of to tell me, that he thought himself very unfortunate, in not being able to serve me better the first time I had favored him with my commands. “Your chains, miss, continued he sighing, are not so easily broken; and I am not surprised that Maynard seems resolved to continue your slave, in spite of all your rigors: however, I have not failed to represent to him the cruelty and baseness of endeavoring, by your mother’s authority, to force your inclinations; and though my arguments did not produce the effect I desired, yet they have made us irreconcilable enemies.” My sister coming up to us, hindered me from replying: by this time she had pretty well recovered the confusion that Dumont’s apparent melancholy had caused in her, and we were beginning to converse pretty freely, when my mother called to me in an angry tone, and bid me get into her cabin, for she wanted to speak with me there. I obeyed her immediately, and had scarce waited three minutes when my sister came in. I expressed some surprise at her leaving Dumont, who had reason to be offended with my mother’s rude manner of calling me away. “The dull creature, said she, with an air of triumph, can’t speak without sighing, I think he seemed to be shocked at my mother’s behavior, and went away immediately. But I came to ask you what he was saying to you, when I interrupted you, I thought I heard him mention my name;” “No, no, replied I, you are quite mistaken: but hush, here’s my mother; how angry she looks! what can be the matter I wonder!” “So Miss, said she entering, I have discovered, at last, the reason of your aversion to Mr. Maynard. What, you are in love with Dumont, are you? My dear, upon my word, if you go on at this rate you’ll make a shining figure in the records of gallantry: you have two or three intrigues upon your hands already: but pray, continued she, throwing herself into a chair and fixing her eyes steadfastly upon me, be pleased to inform me how long you have dared to encourage this papist-?” “Dear mamma, replied I in the utmost surprise, how unjustly do you accuse me! Who has been so cruel to persuade you I am in love with Dumont?” “That such a little forward creature, interrupted my mother, should speak so confidently of love, I have no patience with her.” “Since you have been pleased, madam, answered I, to speak to me of marriage, it is not at all surprising if I should accustom myself to think of love and, in obedience to your commands, I would have loved Mr. Maynard if I could.” “So then you really confess you love Dumont, said my mother?” “No madam, I absolutely deny it, said I.” “Indeed, madam, said my sister, smiling, it would be very ridiculous if Harriot was in love with Dumont, for I am persuaded she has no reason to think he is in love with her.” “You are mistaken, replied my mother; they have, no doubt, a very good intelligence with one another, or else Dumont would not have behaved in the manner he did to Mr. Maynard.” “How, dear mother, interrupted my sister eagerly, how has he behaved to him?” “He has had the insolence, returned she, to forbid Mr. Maynard to continue his addresses to her, and threatens to call him to an account for it when they come on shore, if ever he persecutes her again.” ’Tis impossible to express the effect these words had on my sister; she continued immovable as a statue, with her eyes fixed on the ground; and when she ventured to look up, spite, shame, and disappointment, were so visible in her face, that I could not choose but pity her. But in order to divert my mother’s attention, I confessed that Dumont had heard me complain of Maynard’s importunities; and that I believed he had friendship enough for me to endeavor to persuade him from persisting in a behavior so disgustful to me: but I protested, with the utmost sincerity, that Dumont had never made me any declaration of love. “Well, said my mother, as a proof of the truth of what you say, from this moment, resolve to use Mr. Maynard better; and when your father and I think proper to dispose of you, take care to obey us without murmuring.” “Suffer me, madam, replied I, (bursting into tears) to expostulate with you upon your cruelty, in precipitating me so early into the married state: I cannot resolve to make myself miserable by marrying Maynard: I hate him with the utmost inveteracy, and I can never look upon him as any other than a base incendiary, who endeavors to deprive me of the small part I possess of your affection.” “After this insolent declaration, said my mother, Can you ever hope I should afford you the smallest esteem? nothing shall persuade me, that you have not a correspondence with Dumont; but I’ll take care to prevent your seeing him any more. You must look upon this cabin as your prison, continued she, and never stir out of it without first asking me leave: when I have acquainted your father with my reasons for treating you in this manner, I am persuaded he will approve of it.” My sister offered a word in my favor, but my mother absolutely commanding her to be silent, obliged her to go out of the room with her, repeating her orders to me to stay there till she sent for me. This confinement but ill agreed with one of my sprightly disposition: my mother’s back was scarce turned, when I threw myself on the bed, and with a shower of tears, deplored my unhappy situation. In these moments of reflection, I accused myself for having ever allowed Dumont to speak to me in private, and thought, with infinite regret, upon the commission I had given him, with regard to Maynard. I blushed, when I considered the motive of this imprudence, a silly desire of seeing what effect the certainty of a rival would produce in him: and when I had traced the full extent of my power in his heart, did I find in myself the least inclination to answer his passion? ’Twas impossible to resolve this behavior into any thing but a fantastic desire of giving pain. Sure, thought I, I am justly punished by my mother’s suspicions! These reflections were followed by a resolution of correcting a folly, productive of so many misfortunes. Alas! my repentance was far from being sincere, and I relapsed into all my former indiscretions, the moment I had it in my power to indulge them. I remained alone, ‘till the evening was pretty far advanced: Mrs. Blandon, at last, appeared with my supper, followed by my dear Fanny, who would not allow me to eat alone. My governess informed me that my mother allowed me to take a walk upon the deck, if I desired it, for the benefit of the air; but she had orders not to leave me. I immediately made use of the privilege, and perceiving my father alone, leaning on the rails, I resolved to take that opportunity of clearing myself to him; for I did not doubt but he was greatly prejudiced against me. My father, observing the fear and confusion I was in as I approached him, took hold of my hand, and, with a smile full of sweetness, asked me for what fault my mother had confined me to my room that day? This question convinced me he was yet unacquainted with her view; and I therefore ingenuously related all that had past, protesting my innocence, and imploring his protection against Maynard’s persecutions, for whom I candidly owned, I had an unalterable aversion. My father heard me with the utmost complaisance and attention; and, after a little pause, asked me several questions, with regard to Dumont’s behavior to me. I answered them all very sincerely. “Well, said he, (seeming pleased with my frankness) I am satisfied it was through a childish imprudence, you contributed to Dumont’s indiscretion, and I am willing to pardon it, provided you promise me never to give that young gentle man any encouragement: for know, Harriot, (continued he in a tone that made me tremble) I would rather follow you to a grave than see you married to one of the religion he professes: nothing but misery can attend the union of two persons, whose principles are so different; and the fatal consequence of such a marriage already in my family, has confirmed me in my abhorrence of it. As for Maynard, though I really think him an advantageous offer, yet I shall take care you suffer no more restraint upon his account; for as I expect my children will consult me in the disposal of their affections, I am also determined never to force their inclinations.” Finishing these words, he called Mrs. Blandon, and desired her to let my mother know he wanted to speak with her. “Alas Sir! said I, my mother will imagine I have been complaining of her severity to you.” “Fear not, said he, I’ll make your peace, I warrant you.” Notwithstanding this assurance, I could not help trembling when I saw my mother approach. “Madam, said my dear father, (advancing, and holding me by the hand) you must not refuse to receive Harriot into favor again, at my request; I am persuaded she has no design to offend you, by entertaining any thoughts of Dumont: and I have engaged my word, she shall suffer no violence in favor of Mr. Maynard, to whom I find she has an invincible dislike.” My mother, who seemed to be greatly disconcerted, only replied, that she wished I might not give him occasion to repent his indulgence; and then ordering me to go down stairs, I obeyed, making a very low obeisance, and highly delighted to find myself at liberty; for four hours confinement had sat very uneasily upon me. I still flattered myself, that I should be able to maintain the resolution I had taken, during my short disgrace, of conquering my coquettish inclinations: but an accidental sight of Dumont, (who bowed to me as I passed, giving me, at the same time, a passionate look) immediately roused my sleeping vanity; and, by the lively sensation I felt, convinced me that the desire of pleasing was my predominant passion. However, the exact deference I paid to my father’s commands, made me avoid, with care, all occasions of conversing with Dumont, and preserved my heart from being too sensible of the tender and respectful passion he felt for me, which, notwithstanding his endeavors to conceal it, was but too visible in every look and action. I past my time agreeably enough, during the remainder of our voyage; my mother contenting herself with giving Maynard frequent opportunities of conversing with me, and, by gentle methods, endeavoring to persuade me to entertain some esteem for him. At last, after a tedious voyage of nine weeks, we came in sight of N——. That city making a delightful appearance from the water, I stood some moments contemplating it with great pleasure. When Dumont, observing no one near us, approached me, and beholding me with a languishing air, “how differently, Miss, (said he sighing) are we two affected with the sight of that place! you seem to feel nothing but pleasure at your nearer approach to it, while I suffer the most racking uneasiness.” “That is very surprising indeed, interrupted I, and I think you are much to be blamed, for having so little affection for the place that gave you birth.” “This dear vessel, replied he, contains what I most value in the world; and when I leave it, it is probable, I shall never more have the pleasure of beholding what I shall ever love with the most lasting passion. But may I presume, miss, continued he, to ask if your mother still persecutes you in favor of Maynard? I shall never entertain a moment’s ease, till I am assured you are freed from his solicitations.” “I am much obliged to you, sir, said I, for so generously interesting yourself in my happiness: I believe I have nothing to fear from Maynard’s importunities, as my father seems resolved never to force my inclinations.” I gave him no leisure to reply to these words; for I got away as fast as possible, not without some apprehensions of having been seen talking to him.
Next morning the ship was crowded with gentlemen, who came to receive my father, and conduct us on shore. As soon as we were dressed, we went into the barge that waited for us, and were quickly rowed to land; where we found the governor’s coach, ready to carry us to the lodgings he had appointed for us. It was some days before my mother was sufficiently recovered from the fatigue of so long a voyage, so as to be able to see company; but, as soon as we were settled, all the principal ladies of R—— came to visit us; among whom were the governor’s lady and daughters, and the two lovely sisters of Dumont. I did not fail to examine the whole person of Mrs. B— — with the utmost attention; and found it so infinitely charming, that I could not help reproaching Dumont, in my own thoughts, for being able to like any one after her. The ladies, to whom Dumont had represented me as a miracle of wit, lavished the most endearing caresses upon me; and Mrs. B— — little suspecting her lover’s revolt, was one of the most forward in publishing my praises. Our stay in this city was made so agreeable, by the balls and entertainments that were continually made for us, that it was with great regret we were obliged to leave it. My father had determined to fix his residence at a A— — city near two hundred miles distant from — — where he was to command in chief. The day before we went, I was at the governor’s, with my mother and sisters. Lady Belmein, who was extremely fond of me, told the governor, smiling, “That she could not help being apprehensive for her son’s heart. The captain, continued she, will carry so much beauty into — — that it will be a miracle if poor Belmein continues unhurt; and this little charmer (pressing my hand, which she held between hers) has received so many advantages from nature, that, if he escapes the charms of her eldest sister, he’ll certainly fall into hers.” These instances of gallantry were so common in N— — that I was not at all disconcerted at this extraordinary compliment: but, as I had heard very advantageous accounts of the young gentleman she mentioned, I found something very soothing to my vanity in her prediction. My mother, who had not abandoned her design of marrying me to Maynard, gave him an invitation to visit us at A— — as soon as we were settled. I was present when she granted him this favor; and the alteration that it caused in my countenance, sufficiently betrayed the uneasiness it gave me. A great deal of company attended us to the sloop, which was fitted up in a very elegant manner for our little voyage. Dumont found means to lead me to the water-side, not withstanding Maynard’s endeavors to prevent him: however, he walked close enough to us to prevent any particular discourse; and Dumont could no otherways acquaint me with his concern at this separation, than by his frequent sighs, and the tender melancholy in his eyes, which I could not behold without some sensibility. We had a favorable wind, and reached A—— in two days, infinitely delighted with the prospect of several fine country-seats on each side of the river. My father was received with much respect by the inhabitants of A— — who had impatiently expected us. We were saluted by all the ships in the harbor, who had their flags and streamers out; and the mayor, with the principal persons of the city, waited our landing, and conducted us to the fort, in which was a very fine house, where the commanding officer always resided. I longed impatiently for a sight of captain Belmein; but he was not then in town. The next day, however, he came up to the fort: I happened to be in my mother’s apartment when my father introduced him, and was not a little pleased to find I had fixed his looks immediately. He seemed to be about four and twenty, tall, and finely shaped: his features had a remarkable regularity in them; and such an air of grandeur was diffused over his whole person, as commanded respect from all who beheld him. I could not help examining his person with a particular attention; but observing his eyes constantly fixed on me, with a look more soft and expressive than can be well imagined, I hastily turned away my face, to conceal the confusion I was not able to suppress. My father made him an offer of an apartment in the fort, which he accepted with great pleasure; and, being soon settled in the same house with us, he had frequent opportunities of seeing and conversing with me: for my father would not allow him to keep a separate table. My mother, from the first sight of captain Belmein, had entertained hopes that he would like my sister. She watched his glances continually; and, finding them always directed to me, conceived so much spite and resentment at the disappointment, as made me often suffer severely. Thus, for very inconsiderable faults, I was frequently confined to my room a whole day; and some presence or other was always found out, to prevent my dining at table. I bore this restraint with much impatience; and, entering into my mother’s views, which were only to keep me out of Belmein’s sight, I begged her permission to make a visit to Mrs. Villars, who lived in a village about twenty miles distant from A——. As I foresaw, she readily granted my request; and, ordering Mrs. Blandon to get every thing ready for my journey next day, as soon as I was told the chaise waited for me, I went into my father’s apartment, to take my leave of him, and found captain Belmein there, who, till that moment, had heard nothing of my intended journey. He looked uneasy, when he understood I should not return in less than a month; but, immediately recollecting himself, begged my father’s permission to wait on me to Mrs. Villars’; which, after some apology for the trouble it would give him, was granted. Captain Belmein, who flattered himself he should take the place designed for Mrs. Blandon in the chaise, was greatly mortified to find my mother would not allow me to go without her. He expostulated with her about it; but it was in vain to contest a point, which, for particular reasons, she had already resolved on. He was obliged to mount his horse, which he did with a visible dissatisfaction in his countenance; and, only attended by his servant, and one of my father’s, we took our way towards S—— He rode by the chaise some time without speaking; at last he came close up to us, and, after inquiring how I did, galloped away so fast that we soon lost sight of him. I expressed some surprise at his sudden disappearing; but Mrs. Blandon telling me, she imagined we should meet him at the half-way house, which his servant informed us was near, we continued our journey, without being in any apprehensions about him. In about half an hour we came to the house, and captain Belmein, who was waiting for us at the door, advanced to hand me out of the chaise. He had ordered a very genteel entertainment for us; but appeared so melancholy and indisposed, that Mrs. Blandon asked him the occasion of it. He told her, he had had the misfortune to fall off his horse, and found himself a little uneasy by a blow he had received on his head; but he hoped to be able to attend us again in a little time. Mrs. Blandon, who was extremely good-natured, desired him to accept of her place in the chaise with me; alleging, that it was very improper for him to ride his horse in that condition. He accepted this offer, after much importunity; and she took a place in the caravan, which was just then setting out for the village we were going to. When we had gone a few paces, I inquired after his health: “Never better in my life, he replied.” “How, cried I, is your head-ache gone already?” “What a question that is! said he, (laughing) Gone! why it was only a presence to be near you.” “Oh! mighty well, sir, interrupted I; since you are capable of sitting your horse, I’ll send and let Mrs. Blandon know you are better, that she may take her place again.” As I finished these words, I looked out, as if I intended to call one of the servants; but Belmein, with a countenance quite altered, prevented me. “Is it possible, miss, said he, you can be offended with me, for having, by this innocent stratagem, procured the pleasure of entertaining you alone? I have long languished for an opportunity of telling you, I love you with a sincere and ardent passion. My flame is not more violent than it is respectful: I adored you from the first moment I saw you; and if I make this declaration first to you, it is because I would not use a father’s authority, to gain a blessing I would rather owe to your inclination than his command. I am sensible, he would not think my birth and fortune unworthy of you; but, if I am so unfortunate as to be disagreeable to you, these advantages shall be of no use to me: I would suffer a thousand deaths rather than cause you the least uneasiness.” He paused here, expecting my reply; but my confusion was so great, at this frank declaration from a man, whose rank and fortune entitled him to my respect, and whose agreeable person had already began to make some impression on my heart, that I was unable, for several moments, to return him any answer. “Good God, resumed he, (looking fixedly upon me) what am I to think of this silence! speak, I conjure you, and let me know my fate.” “I know not what to say to you, replied I, (blushing excessively:) I am so little used to such discourse, that I am at a loss to know whether I ought to believe you, or not. My youth, I think, might secure me from this kind of raillery; but, if you are really sincere, I am obliged to you for your good opinion. Yet you ought to consider, I am not at liberty to listen to such professions, much less engage my inclinations, without my father’s consent.” “I am charmed with your discretion, returned he, my little enchanting angel! you are, indeed, a miracle. So much wit, such a depth of thought, in one so young! Suffer me to indulge the dear hope, that I am not disagreeable to you; and that, if your father should authorize my vows, you will not hear me with aversion.”
In this manner he entertained me, during the remainder of our journey; but, though my heart spoke greatly in his favor, I behaved with so much reserve, that it was impossible for him to form either hopes or fears from my replies. When the chaise stopped at the house of my friend, she, who had espied me from a window, flew immediately to the door, and clasped me fast in her arms, in such a transport of joy, that I was convinced absence had rather heightened than diminished her friendship. Mrs. Blandon arrived an hour after us: she seemed quite pleased to find captain Belmein so well recovered, and he made her many compliments for the favor she had allowed him. Belmein had promised to return to A__ the next day; but when Mrs. Blandon set out, he charged her with some compliments of excuse to my father, resolving to stay a few days at Mr. Villars’ house, who was not a little proud of the honor he did him. This time was spent in the most agreeable manner imaginable. We made several little excursions up the country; and went so far as to visit one of the Indian nations, who had a castle, as they called it, near S__y. One of my father’s lieutenants commanded a fort which was erected there to keep the Indians in awe. He took great pleasure in making me acquainted with the manners and customs of this people; who, notwithstanding they were converted to the Christian religion, had an air so savage and frightful, that I could not look on them without trembling. I visited the houses of their chiefs, who paid me a great many honors; and, when we departed, loaded me with presents of toys and trinkets of their own making: for they are extremely ingenious, and fond of learning the European arts.
Captain Belmein had spent a fortnight with us, and, during that time, his tender and respectful behavior had gained so far upon my inclinations, that I could not see him prepare for returning to A—— without pain. However, I had insisted upon his going; and was proof to all the solicitations he made me, to allow him to stay and conduct me home. When he was gone, an unusual disquiet seized me; I was restless and uneasy, sauntered from place to place, without knowing what I sought, and was incapable of mixing in any discourse, if Belmein was not the subject. I sighed involuntarily, was become passionately fond of solitude, and found no other entertainment but what my own thoughts afforded me, which were continually taken up with the idea of this gentleman. Such an alteration in my temper, which used to be all gay and sprightly, drew a great many railleries from Mrs. Villars and her husband, who were not ignorant of captain Belmein’s passion for me. They had some difficulty to persuade me to stay with them the time allotted by my mother. I saw, with transport, the hour approach that was fixed for my return; and was but little moved with the reproaches my friend made me, on my eagerness to leave her. Mr. Villars took the care of conducting me home: but I was seized with some touches of a fever on the road; and Mr. Villars, judging it highly improper I should proceed, endeavored to prevail upon me to return. I insisted upon going forward; and the fatigue of traveling had so increased my disorder, that, when the chaise stopped at the gate, I fainted away in Mr. Villars’ arms, as he was endeavoring to help me out. When I recovered my senses, I found myself in bed, with the room darkened, and my mother and sisters busy in administering remedies to me. “Alas, where am I! said I, (sighing, and looking round me with surprise).” “O heavens! she lives, cried captain Belmein, (advancing in a thoughtless transport to the bedside).” I raised my eyes at these words, and fixing them upon his face, observed it all bathed in tears. This sight caused so strong an emotion in me, that I was very near relapsing into my swoon. My mother, who observed it, desired captain Belmein to withdraw, in so peevish a tone, that he obeyed immediately. The physician that moment entering, after feeling my pulse, pronounced me in a high fever. I was soon after seized with a delirium that held me several days, in which my life was despaired of. My father, who was extremely fond of me, never stirred from my bed-side. My mother and sisters were also much afflicted, particularly Fanny, who wept by me continually. My youth, however, and the strength of my constitution, conquered the disease. In three weeks I was perfectly recovered from the fever; but still so weak, that I was obliged to keep my bed. As captain Belmein was not permitted to make me a visit in that situation, he contented himself with sending, almost every hour, to inquire after my health. One day, observing none but Fanny near me, I ventured to ask her some news of Belmein: she told me, that his grief, during my illness, had been so excessive, that no one in the family was any longer ignorant of his passion for me; that my mother had appeared much chagrined at it, and had endeavored to persuade my father to give him a refusal, in case he discovered his inclinations to him. “Well, but, dear Fanny, interrupted I, (all alarmed) what does my father say to it?” “If I can judge, said she, by his behavior to captain Belmein, he is far from being displeased at his regard for you; and, I am persuaded, he will not refuse his consent when the captain demands it.” This flattering assurance had so great an effect on my countenance, that Fanny, being convinced my affections were really engaged, congratulated me upon my good fortune in being beloved by so fine a gentleman. “My mother, continued she, will be greatly disappointed if captain Belmein marries you; for I am sensible, she has omitted nothing in her power to engage him to love my sister.” In a few days after this conversation, being quite recovered, there was no longer any presence for hindering Belmein to see me. He was so fortunate as to find only my father in the room with me, when he came to pay his first visit. After expressing the pleasure my recovery gave him, with a countenance and accent wholly composed of transport, “Sir, said he, (turning to my father, with a respectful action) you are, no doubt, surprised at my behavior during your daughter’s illness: you cannot be ignorant that I love her; but you know not yet with what violence I do so. I shall be the most miserable man in the world, if you refuse me your consent. Dear, dear sir, continued he, (eagerly pressing his hand) if you do not think my rank and fortune unworthy your alliance, suffer me to hope you will make me your son. If I have no other merit to entitle me to this honor, I have at least this, that I esteem and reverence you equal to my own father.” My father, while my lover was speaking, kept his eyes fixed on the ground. What he had said made a deep impression on him: he was truly sensible of the advantages of such an offer; but, at the same time, foresaw obstacles that would not be easily surmounted. Possessed with this thought, he looked earnestly upon captain Belmein: “Have you considered, sir, said he, the consequence of the proposal you make me? Do you reflect, that this child has no fortune; and though heaven should please to spare my life for some years, yet all that I could save for her would be greatly below what you might expect? Will the governor, think you, approve your choice? She is scarce past a child, and in nothing, but her birth, a proper wife for you.” “Ah sir! replied Belmein, why do you mention the want of fortune! I passionately love your daughter. I have sufficient to maintain her genteelly: more is not necessary to our happiness. I am persuaded my father will not oppose our union, when he knows how deeply my affections are engaged. Do not, then, I conjure you, sir, raise any more objections.” “You may be assured, interrupted my father, that I will do all in my power to promote your happiness. Harriot is yours, provided your father consents to it, and she is not averse; for not, even to have the honor of your alliance, would I, in the least, constrain her inclinations.” My lover, who had no reason to believe I would oppose my father’s commands in this particular, was so transported at his success, that he would have thrown himself at his feet, to thank him for his goodness, if he would have suffered it. As for me, I was in the utmost confusion: I had naturally a respectful awe upon me in my father’s presence. This discourse covered me with blushes; and not being able to meet the looks of either my father or Belmein, I kept my eyes fastened on the ground. “What do you say, Harriot, said my father, are you willing to follow my advice in this affair?” “Sir, replied I, since you are so good to give me the liberty of declaring my sentiments; I will confess, that since Capt. Belmein is your choice, I shall find no difficulty in obeying your commands.”
My lover thanked me, with an excess of rapture: but my mother coming in, relieved me from the confusion of a reply, when Capt. Belmein retired; and my father acquainted her with all that had passed. “I think, said she, this match is very precipitately concluded upon: there is no probability that the governor, who has the character of being one of the most avaricious men in the world, will give his consent to it. A refusal must be a very sensible mortification to you, and this affair may probably cause animosities no way favorable to your interest.” My mother would not have reasoned in this manner, if Belmein had addressed my sister; this was the height of her wishes; besides, she had in view her engagements to Maynard: however, my father’s resolution was fixed; and, for this time, broke all her measures. My sister being soon after married to a gentleman of a very considerable estate in that country, my mother remitted some part of her resentment against me; and suffered me, without any appearance of displeasure, to listen to the addresses of Belmein. My lover had wrote to the governor for his consent to our union, which he endeavored to gain, by the most affecting arguments his love could suggest. While we were in expectation of an answer, my father received an account that my brother was come to N— — and preparing for his journey to A——. No words can describe the excess of my transport at this news. I counted the days with an eager impatience; and labored, by displaying the merits of this dear brother, and the obligations I owed him, to inspire my lover with an esteem and friendship for him. At length he arrived, and was welcomed by my father and mother, with the greatest expressions of tenderness the dear, engaging Fanny melted into tears of joy; and as for me, my transports were as unbounded as the affection I had for him. Capt. Belmein, after paying his compliments to my brother, retired to his own apartment, with a young gentleman, who, just then, arrived from N— — and who was charged with some commands from the governor to him. My brother embraced this opportunity, to inquire into my affairs, having heard some slight reports of Belmein’s affection for me. I took an infinite pleasure in relating to him my little adventures, and dwelt with a lover’s fondness upon every particular concerning Belmein. I did not fail to represent, in the most advantageous light, his generous and disinterested passion for me: but I had the mortification to find my brother not near so sensible of his merits as I expected. “I am sorry, Harriot, (said he) to find, by the emotion with which you speak of Belmein, that your heart has received a much deeper impression than is consistent with your future peace. I heard, while I staid at N— — some reports of Capt. Belmein’s affection for you; and the interest I take in every thing that concerns you, made me inquire, very minutely, into his character; which, I found, labored under some imputations that render him unworthy the tenderness you feel.” “Alas! my dear brother, replied I, (trembling) what do you mean?” “You are too much discomposed, said he, (smiling) to hear me now.” “For heaven’s sake, resumed I, don’t trifle with my anxiety: my esteem, for Capt. Belmein was founded upon the delicacy of his sentiments, and the sincere and honorable passion he profess for me. If he has imposed upon my credulity, I know how to despise and hate him, as much as ever I loved him.” “Dear Harriot, said my brother, (embracing me) how this becoming spirit charms me. I am shocked, continued he, at my father’s acting so ¡precipitately in this affair; by which he has drawn upon himself the mortification of meeting with a refusal from the governor. Capt. Belmein has already made his addresses to several young ladies, successively; and his father’s opposition was always a sufficient excuse for his forsaking them. His infidelity is become almost a proverb in N—— and I am concerned you have added one to the number of those, who have been deceived by him.” This discourse was far from producing the effect my brother expected. My uneasiness insensibly vanished. Few women are concerned at the former infidelities of their lovers: we always fancy our own charms a sufficient security for their constancy, and a little self love and vanity came to my aid upon this occasion, and placed my own merits in such advantageous lights, as fully persuaded me I had, absolutely, the heart of Belmein in my possession. My father coming into the room, prevented me from making any reply to my brother, who seemed impatiently to expect it. He was followed by the same young gentleman, whom I observed had withdrawn with Belmein; and who was surgeon to the troops under my father’s command. When I recollected that he had told Belmein he had some commands to deliver to him from the governor, I eagerly examined his countenance, to discover, if possible, whether or not his commission had been favorable to me: his looks, which were often directed to me, had something so reserved and serious in them, that I drew from thence no good omen to my wishes; and not able to conceal the agitation I was in, I left the parlor, and retired to my own room, expecting (with the utmost anxiety) a visit from Belmein. I sat alone near two hours without his appearing, involved in the deepest uneasiness; at last, the dinner bell rung: I went down stairs, fully determined to express some resentment at his neglect; but what was my surprise, when his servant coming into the room, a moment after me, delivered an apology for his master’s not appearing at table. My brother, at this message, cast a satirical smile at me: I blushed, and held down my eyes; my heart beat, as if it would force a passage through my breast: what pain did I suffer, by endeavoring to conceal my uneasiness! the observing doctor was at table, and seemed to watch every motion. Dinner was just over, when Belmein’s servant came in, a second time, and whispered to my father, who immediately left the room. I seized this opportunity, and retired again to my own room, where I gave free vent to my tears. Alas! I had but too much cause for grief. My father (some time after) sent me word to come into his apartment; I found my mother and brother there, and observed in their countenances all the marks of a violent displeasure. My father, who was walking across the room, (with much discomposure) took my hand, when I entered, and related (in a few words) the whole of my misfortune. Capt. Belmein, it seems, had been imprudent enough to show him the letter he had received from the governor, in which, he refused his consent to our marriage, in very disrespectful terms. My father, in whom the pride of birth inspired noble and generous sentiments, could not read the governor’s haughty letter without disdain: he expressed his dissatisfaction at it to my lover, though in very gentle terms; and concluded with telling him, that his father’s refusal having disengaged him from his word, he must not be surprised, if he obliged me to change my behavior: my father condescended to add, that Belmein had thrown himself at his feet, and conjured him, in the most affecting language, to consent to a private marriage between us, which he had positively refused; and that it was to acquaint me with this resolution, that he had sent for me. “Alas! sir, said I, (bursting into tears) pardon me, if I do not receive this cruel news with all the indifference that is expected from me. I cannot teach my heart immediately to forget Capt. Belmein. Give some allowance, I conjure you, to my weakness; and be not offended, if I lament the inevitable bar, which the governor’s avarice, and your (perhaps) too rigid honor has put between us.” “Degenerate girl, (interrupted my brother, in a rage) are you not ashamed to own so much tenderness for a man who has deceived you? by heaven, ’tis all artifice in Belmein, continued he: secure of his father’s opposition whenever he solicited his consent, he has all this time diverted himself with your weakness; and, according to his custom, made you the dupe of a personated passion.” My father, observing this language affected me with the deepest concern, gently reproved my brother; protesting, at the same time, that he believed Capt. Belmein’s professions had always been very sincere. Then turning to me, with a look full of the softest benevolence, he explained to me the reasons, which obliged him to a conduct I seemed to think so severe; and endeavored to make me comprehend the fatal consequences that would follow a marriage with Belmein, while the governor continued so averse; the severe reflections which would be justly made on him if he countenanced a clandestine marriage; and the uneasiness the governor’s inveterate malice, which was well known, might give him, by thwarting him in all his affairs: he represented all this in such strong colors, that though I was sorry to be convinced, yet I found myself so. “Oh! sir, replied I, (all in tears) you are too good, to justify your conduct thus to me; I have not deserved this condescension. I wish I could as easily conquer my weakness, in favor of Belmein, as I can submit to your reasons.” “Poor child, said my father, (moved at my grief) I pity you: your heart is too tender: I did not imagine it had received so deep an impression. However, there is a necessity for your bearing this disappointment with moderation, your reputation requires it: as a friend I give you this advice, and as a father I enforce it, with all the authority I have over you.” My father concluded these words with so stern an accent, that I did not dare to reply. My brother, during his short stay at N— — had contracted an intimacy with Maynard: he acquainted him with his passion for me, and my strange aversion for him. As he was then in very genteel circumstances, and in daily expectation of being preferred to the command of a man of war, my brother looked upon his proposal as very advantageous for me, and promised to mention it to my father: the present situation of my affairs facilitated his proposal. He represented to my father, that he ought to embrace this opportunity of marrying me to Mr. Maynard, and convince the governor he was not ambitious of his alliance. My father (extremely piqued against the governor) listened to this advice. “I wish, (said he to him) your sister could be persuaded to lay aside her unreasonable aversion to this gentleman. Nothing would give me more pleasure, than to see her happily married at this time.” My mother, who l; saw her favorite scheme again on the carpet, renewed her solicitations for Maynard, with so much vehemence, that not able (in the present state of my mind) to listen with any composure, I begged leave to retire. In my way to my apartment, I met Capt. Belmein; who was to leave the fort that night, by the governor’s orders, and resume his former lodgings in the town. He begged, in the most submissive manner, for a moment’s audience; I permitted him to follow me into my room, not without expressing some fears, lest he should be seen. “Alas! my dear angel, said he, (in a moving tone) is it come to this at last? and is it only by stealth then that I am permitted to see you?” “Certainly, sir, replied I, you had prepared your self well for an accident like this; and the governor’s avaricious temper was too well known to you, to suffer you to hope for his consent.” The visible emotion, with which I spoke these words, convinced my lover my heart labored under some suspicions injurious to him: he omitted nothing that the most ardent passion could suggest, to persuade me of his unalterable affection; assuring me his mother, lady Belmein, had promised to solicit the governor in his favor, and endeavor to procure his consent: he then mentioned a distant wish, that I would marry him privately, which I rejected with the utmost disdain; commanding him, if he valued my esteem, never to expect I would do any thing contrary to my duty, and the affection I owed the best of fathers. ’Twas with the utmost difficulty, that I persuaded him to leave me: but after a thousand repeated vows of eternal constancy, he (at last) quitted the room, and the fort soon after. My mother and brother having allowed a few days to the first sallies of my grief for Belmein’s departure, again renewed their remonstrances in favor of Maynard; I was given to understand, that my marriage with him was absolutely resolved on, and that he was expected soon in A——. I had no body in this distress to apply to but my father; I depended upon the promises he had given me, never to force my inclinations: though my tears and sighs seemed greatly to affect him, yet he commanded me to endeavor to vanquish my aversion to Maynard, and think of obeying both him and my mother, who wished nothing more earnestly, than to see me well disposed of, at a time, when I had received so mortifying an affront from the governor. Capt. Belmein continued to come frequently to the fort, but as I was not permitted to receive a particular visit from him, he never saw me but in my mother’s apartment: the gloomy sorrow that appeared in his eyes, convinced me, this restraint very sensibly afflicted him; and he had the satisfaction to find by my looks, that my heart also was far from being at ease. One day, when I was more than ordinarily affected at my unhappy situation, the doctor, who visited in the family, (with the utmost freedom) approached me, as I sat pensively leaning near a window, and (with the greatest caution) slipped a letter into my hand, which (by the first glance) I knew came from Belmein: I hastily concealed it in my pocket, not without feeling an inconceivable surprise at the doctor’s being employed to deliver it, whom I always looked on to be a creature of the governor’s, and directed, by him, to watch the actions of Belmein. “I see you are surprised, Miss, said he, (speaking very low, for fear of being heard) at the commission Capt. Belmein has favored me with: I have been obliged to be guilty of a little treachery to the governor, to gratify the Captain’s desires. There are few things so difficult, continued he, that I would not undertake to serve you; and by thus conveying to you the sentiments of a happy favored lover, I make you no very inconsiderable sacrifice.” I had been too well acquainted with the language of gallantry, not to comprehend the secret meaning of these words; however, I avoided making any other reply than a slight bow with my head, and retired immediately to read my letter.
I will not trouble you, dear Amanda, with a repetition of it; for, though it was very long, it was only filled with tender complaints, and assurances of everlasting fidelity. He added a postscript, which recommended to me an entire confidence in the doctor, conjuring me to return an answer by him; which, however, I did not think it was prudent to comply with, not caring to put in that gentleman’s power so undeniable a proof of my correspondence with Belmein, which, if he had an inclination to deceive us, he might either show to the governor, or my father. My new confidant, taking advantage of the frequent messages he brought from Belmein, seized every opportunity that offered, to entertain me apart. As he was master of an infinite deal of wit and humor, his conversation diverted my melancholy: he perceived it, and often forgetting the part he was to act, of confidant to Belmein, would entertain me with the tender sentiments I had inspired him with. These declarations were made in so delicate a manner, as left me the liberty of disguising my knowledge of them: and I must confess, to my confusion, that, notwithstanding the melancholy that then preyed upon my heart, I was sensible to some degree of pleasure, at this new proof of the power of my charms; and the gratifications my vanity was always sure to receive, spread such an air of complaisance over my countenance, whenever the doctor approached me, as gave him but too much reason for indulging hopes, which, soon after, produced such fatal consequences. While I was thus wearing away my hours, in expectation of some favorable change in my affairs, fortune was preparing new miseries for me.
Captain Belmein had bribed a servant in our family, who acquainted him with every thing that passed which related to me. He understood by her, that my brother was endeavoring to force me to marry Maynard, and that he was shortly expected in A—— for that purpose. This intelligence inflamed him with resentment against my brother. I was wakened one night out of my sleep by a loud shriek of my mother’s; and, at the same time, heard my father calling out of his window to the guard to stop my brother, and not suffer him to go out of the gates. I rose immediately, and, throwing on a loose gown, ran to my father’s apartment. I met him just as I entered; when, with a look full of fury, he pushed me aside, and went hastily down stairs. My mother seemed to lie breathless and without motion in Mrs. Blandon’s arms, surrounded by the other servants, whom her fearful cries had drawn to her apartment. “Tell me, for heaven’s sake, cried I, (staring wildly about the room) what is the meaning of all this disorder?” My mother hearing my voice, opened her eyes, and casting a reproachful look at me, “Oh thou disturber of my family! said she, see the effects of your ungovernable passion! Your beloved Belmein has by this time, no doubt, murdered my son.” The wild despair that seized me at these words, deprived me instantly of my senses: I fell down in a swoon at my mother’s feet; and continued so long in that condition, that they despaired of ever seeing me return to life. The moment I recovered my senses, the terrible words my mother had uttered rushed upon my memory. The image of a brother murdered by the man I loved, wrought so strongly upon my imagination, that I was very near relapsing again into my swoon. “Compose yourself, my dear, said Mrs. Blandon, (who held me in her arms) your brother is safe.” “Is my brother alive? cried I, (in a transport of joy).” “Yes, dear Harriot, said he, (advancing towards me) I am alive; but most sensibly afflicted at the condition I see you in. My mother’s unnecessary fears has caused all this disturbance. I never was in any danger.” “Have you not quarreled with captain Belmein? interrupted I, (in the utmost surprise). Alas! what meant my mother by the terror she expressed, and the cruel words she uttered to me!” “It is certain, said my brother, (taking my hand, which he affectionately pressed) that captain Belmein and I have quarreled: however, the consequence has been far from fatal, though very ridiculous; and I am persuaded it gives him, as well as myself, some reason to be ashamed of it, especially as your mother suffered herself to be so much alarmed. I own, Harriot, continued he, I was most sensibly touched at the sarcastic reflections Belmein threw on my father. He ridiculed his romantic honor (as he called it), in not allowing you to marry him without the governor’s consent, with so much apparent malice, that, losing all patience, I retaliated the affront, by loading the governor with the most satirical reproaches, whose sordid avarice, and unjustifiable pride, had rejected an alliance that would have done him honor. In short, in the heat of our fury, each of us gave and received a challenge. We looked for our swords; but the doctor, who had been present at some part of the dispute, conveyed them unperceived out of the room. I remembered my father had always a brace of pistols loaded in his bedchamber: I desired Belmein to wait for me behind the fort; when, getting unseen into my father’s chamber, I took down the pistols, and got out of the gates before the guards, alarmed by my father’s orders to stop me, could execute their commission. Guess my surprise, dear Harriot, when, delivering one of the pistols to Belmein, after examining it, he told me it was not charged; and, supposing mine was, exclaimed against me for the design I apparently had to take away his life unfairly. By this time I found my own pistol in the same harmless condition, and, struck with the reproaches he made me, obliged him to examine it: he did so, and was convinced I had no dishonorable intention. Certainly, never did two fellows make a more ridiculous figure: we stood, for a minute, divided between rage and a strong inclination to laugh, when the appearance of some soldiers, with a sergeant at their head, obliged us to separate. I followed this officer, who had orders to bring me to the fort; where the first object that I cast my eyes upon was my father’s man, who, when he saw me, jumped about like one distracted. The rogue had a mind to be witty too, upon my disappointment. Thank heaven, sir, said he, and my negligence for once, that you are safe. If I had loaded the pistols, as my master ordered me, when I cleaned them, it might have been fatal to one or the other. Thus was the whole mystery unraveled. However, my father is so offended, that I despair of appeasing him this long time.” In effect, my brother, for some days, was almost as much in disgrace as myself. I was looked upon as an incendiary, who introduced nothing but disorder and confusion into the family. My father was greatly incensed against captain Belmein for this last rashness; and, through my mother’s continual insinuations, was irritated so highly against me, that he was prevailed on to enter into the most violent measures to oblige me to marry Maynard. I had kept my room three or four days, during which time I was never favored with a visit from either of them, who were contented with inquiring slightly after me. At last, when I least expected it, my father entered my chamber, and, in a most determined manner, told me, that Mr. Maynard was within two days journey of A— — and that I must resolve to accept him for a husband immediately; protesting, he would never own me as his child, if I refused. It was in vain that I put him in mind of his promise never to force my inclinations: my mother’s arguments had steeled his heart: he was proof to all my prayers and tears, and left me, repeating his protestations of eternal displeasure, if I did not resolve to obey him. As soon as he was gone, I flung myself on the floor in a transport of grief and rage: the idea of the detested Maynard, to whom I was to be sacrificed, rose to my imagination with such additional aversion, that (almost distracted with despair at my approaching misery) I, all at once, took a resolution of flying with Belmein. Reason, duty, honor, all opposed this wild scheme: but I was capable of listening to nothing but what my dread of being the wife of Maynard inspired me with. Having fixed my resolution, I grew more calm, and wrote a billet to Belmein; in which I told him, in few words, the danger that threatened me, and my purpose of marrying him privately, as he had often requested. When I had finished this, I waited impatiently for the hour of the doctor’s visiting me: for my late indisposition had furnished him with a presence for seeing me twice a day. When he came, I put the billet into his hand, desiring him to convey it immediately to Capt. Belmein. I observed that he seemed greatly surprised at this commission, as I had always refused writing to Belmein before; however he received it with much respect, promising to deliver it directly to my lover. I had appointed him to be at the garden-gate the next evening, from whence I proposed making my escape: my lover had, some time before, received orders from the governor to come immediately to N— — from whence he was to set out with general B— — who was then at — — to enter as a volunteer in the expedition against Carthegena. He had delayed his journey on various presences, in order to gain my consent to engage myself to him, before he went away. This, however, I had constantly refused; and nothing but the cruel persecution I suffered upon Maynard’s account, could have obliged me to take a step so contrary to my duty.
I passed that night in the utmost perturbation of mind; and, though my heart often reproached me, for the fatal resolution I had taken, yet I still continued firm in it: when Mrs. Blandon entering my room, very early, desired me to rise, in a tone and manner so altered from her usual sweetness, that I was greatly surprised. I obeyed her, however, and was scarce dressed, when my brother peeped into the room: “Is she ready, said he, to Mrs. Blandon?” who replied, “I should come to him immediately.” Amazed at this, I eagerly inquired what business my brother had with me so early. Mrs. Blandon (with a mixture of anger and concern) told me, that my father had discovered something in my conduct that had greatly offended him; and that he was going to send me into the country, ‘till Capt. Belmein was gone. “Are you sure, said I, (trembling with the agitation that I was in) that I am not going to meet Maynard? Heaven is my witness, that I will never dispute my father’s commands to abandon Capt. Belmein; but I cannot, without being miserable to the last degree, consent to marry that wretch.” “Alas! my dear, said Mrs. Blandon (touched at the anguish she saw me in) be persuaded I would not be accessory to betraying you into the power of Mr. Maynard. Your father has been informed, that you intended to go away with Capt. Belmein, and ’tis to prevent, from him, any attempts to that purpose, that you are sent away.” These words a little reassured me, and I went down with Mrs. Blandon to the gate, where I found my brother waiting for me; he helped me into the chaise, and came in after me, and, I found, took the road to S——. I struggled to conceal my grief, and, though by suppressing my sighs and tears, I was almost choked; yet I affected a serenity in my looks that surprised him. He talked to me of indifferent things, and I answered him with a suitable composure. This painful disguise continued a long while; at last, charmed with my behavior, and taking my hand, which he tenderly pressed between his, “I always expected, said he, uncommon fruits from that good sense you possess in so eminent a degree. Such an absolute resignation to a design which opposes your wishes, is a convincing proof of it.” I affected not to understand him. “Ah! (resumed he) don’t forfeit your sincerity; I am no stranger to Capt. Belmein’s scheme: what have I done to deserve the little confidence you allow me!” This reproach made me blush, when my brother (without seeming to take any notice of my confusion) went on: “Be assured, my dear Harriot, I would not take so much pains to cross your inclination, was I not certain, that what I do is for your advantage. I do not absolutely condemn either Belmein or you, for the design you have formed: ’tis the effect of an inconsiderate passion, always productive of misfortunes to those who give themselves up to its influence. This fatal love has obscured your understanding, and presented you with only the fair side of things: I, who am not infatuated like you, view them as they really are: and, in your lover’s proposals, I see nothing for you but ruin and dishonor.” I could not help interrupting him here, by an exclamation that testified my surprise. “I advance nothing, continued he, but what is very reasonable: captain Belmein would marry you privately; he is certainly in the right, he secures your heart and person, and is therefore able to support the pain of absence; but he leaves you to stem the torrent of rage, which this action must raise in the governor and your father: and what alteration may not time and absence make in his sentiments! he may grow indifferent; and the governor would not fail to take all possible measures to prevent your ever meeting more. You depend upon his promises of returning to claim you: don’t deceive your self, child: it may not be in his power, suppose he is willing to keep his word: don’t you think it probable, that his father will endeavor to have him detained? ’tis all one whether absence be forced or voluntary; its effects are still the same. Our desires naturally cool towards an object we no longer behold: reflection and remembrance but ill supply the place of a substantial blessing. Experience will convince you of this truth: absence will produce the same effect upon you, and the idea of Belmein will shortly afford you a very inconsiderable uneasiness. I think I need not use many arguments to persuade you, that you was engaging in a very dangerous scheme: you have sense and penetration: you know the governor is capable of any thing that is bad to serve his designs; he may exclaim against the validity of such a clandestine marriage, effected by indirect methods. Consider how deeply this would wound your honor and my father’s: you know his nice regard for his reputation: could he support such an injurious insult with patience? and might not such a shocking affliction even endanger his life?” There was no occasion for this last terrible thought to make the desired impression upon my heart. I was not only persuaded, but convinced, by my brother’s way of reasoning: he had opened my eyes; and I beheld, with shame and grief, the indiscreet lengths my passion, and the dread of Maynard, had hurried me into: a certain elevation of mind, which I always flattered myself I possessed, made me reflect (with a pleasing kind of pride) on the sacrifice I made to duty. “Alas! dear brother, said I, my father’s commands are sufficient to make me abandon all thoughts of Belmein, whom (I solemnly declare) I will never receive for a husband, without his consent. But now I have made this promise, continued I, (weeping) who will secure me from the importunities of the detested Maynard? why was I forced upon the cruel extremity of disobeying my father, to avoid marrying a man I hate? There was no necessity for hurrying me from A—— to prevent my being the wife of Belmein. My heart never swerved from its duty, without the most painful reluctance.” “I dare believe you, dear Harriot, (interrupted my brother) and it was not from any apprehension, that my arguments could not have effected this alteration in A— — that made me bring you from thence: but, in reality, dear sister, I thought there was an indispensable necessity for your leaving it before Belmein: we must have some regard to public censure: had you staid till your lover went away, it would have been difficult to persuade the world you was not abandoned and forsaken by him: how mortifying must such a reflection be to you, who have so quick a sense of honor, and that decorum your sex is obliged to preserve!” Thus well skilled was this dear brother in the art of persuasion. He had alarmed my pride: I found myself sensibly touched by this last reflection; and though my heart felt a violent pang, at the thoughts of never seeing Belmein more, yet I affected the utmost tranquillity in my looks and behavior. I found our journey terminated at Mrs. Villars’s house, who was made acquainted with the occasion of my coming. You may possibly wonder, dear Amanda, that I was committed to the care of Mrs. Villars, who (I have often told you) was greatly in my interests. Is there any thing more frail than female friendships? a conformity of temper, an equal attachment to some darling foible first cements them; a trifle, as invaluable, dissolves the brittle tie: pardon me this observation, ’tis but too just, and will admit of very few exceptions. Mrs. Villars, though married, had conceived a sort of liking for Capt. Belmein; she became my rival, and consequently my enemy. By methods not very favorable to me, during a visit she made us at A— — she had insinuated herself into my mother’s confidence, and was now looked upon as a proper person to watch my conduct upon this occasion. However, my brother never left me; he was continually endeavoring, by the most solid reasons, to fortify my mind against the approaches of a melancholy, which began to spread a settled gloom upon my countenance. The fear of being forced to marry Maynard, and the tender remembrance of Belmein alike tormented me: but alas! these disquiets received a considerable augmentation by the arrival of a messenger from my father, who, without the least precaution, informed us that Capt. Belmein had killed the doctor in a duel, and had made his escape. He brought orders from my father to the lieutenant, who commanded there, to arrest Capt. Belmein, in case he could be found; and told my brother, my father desired he would return with me to A—— the next day. The agony of grief this news threw me into, made me incapable of asking the messenger any questions: my brother (who was impatient to know whatever related to this affair) obliged him to inform us of every circumstance that had come to his knowledge. “Sir, said he, it was the doctor’s own servant who first discovered it; he had overheard Capt. Belmein and his master at very high words, in the evening; and observing that Capt. Belmein went abroad very early the next day, and that his master (who had ordered his horse to be made ready) took the same road, he followed, as fast as he could, on foot, never losing sight of him, ‘till he struck into the woods. He then wandered some time, uncertain what path to take. Chance, at last, brought him to the very place, where his master lay bleeding on the ground, having received several large wounds. The man (who had some little knowledge of his master’s profession) tore off his own linen and made bandages of it, to stop the blood; and, perceiving some small remains of life in him (as he thought) having placed him under the shade of a tree, flew back, with the utmost speed, to town, in order to get some assistance to convey him home: he procured a chair, and took one of the surgeons of the town to the place where he had left his master, but found the body gone, being (as is imagined) stripped by the Indians, and buried to conceal their theft. They all returned in great affliction to A— — and alarming the fort, there was immediate orders issued out for the seizing Captain Belmein, and for strict search to be made for the body of the unfortunate doctor.” My brother dismissed the man, when he had finished his relation, and turning to me (who sat all in tears beside him) “What fatal accidents, said he, has Belmein’s wild passion occasioned! let this, dear Harriot, prevail upon you to marry Maynard; and, by taking away all hopes from Belmein, put an end to his extravagant schemes, which (one way or other) will certainly involve you in misery.” “I know, cried I, (weeping excessively) that whatever happens, I must be the victim; but death, I hope, will shortly free me from the tyranny I groan under. Unhappy doctor! continued I, (in the utmost anguish) wretched Belmein! but far more wretched Harriot!” Here my grief rose almost to madness; I tore my hair, and acted so many extravagances, that my brother (fearing the consequence of such violent agonies) employed every soothing art to calm the frenzy that possessed me. The wretched doctor weltering in blood, Belmein (distracted with remorse) flying from justice, my father menacing me with the most dreadful wrath, were the sad images that rose to my tortured imagination, and never left me a moment’s ease. Next morning, though my violent transports soon abated, yet a gloomy sorrow took possession of my soul, I hardly ever spoke, or listened to any thing that was said to me; and, during our journey home, sighs and tears were all the returns I made to my brother’s obliging efforts to comfort me. When the chaise stopped at the gates, the first objects that presented themselves to my eyes, were my father and the much dreaded Maynard: I hastily turned my eyes from that detested object, not without having first observed he was hastening to help me out; but to avoid his assistance, I jumped down myself with so little caution, that I fell to the ground, and received a sprain in my ankle, which obliged me to be carried, groaning, up stairs to my chamber. I affected indeed to be much worse than I really was, and confined myself to my bed, for two days, to prevent receiving a visit from Maynard, whose presence I dreaded more than death: however, my father and mother (who loaded me with reproaches, for the melancholy accident that had happened) insisted upon my conforming to their intentions of marrying me to Maynard, with the utmost expedition, to prevent any further mischief. I begged them (with tears in my eyes) to grant me a few months delay; promising, to endeavor (in that time) to obey them with less reluctance. My mother (who was extremely obstinate) fearing lest this artifice, as she called it, should incline my father to grant me the favor I asked; possessed him with an opinion, that I was meditating some new stratagem, and possibly had intelligence with Belmein. This so incensed him, that he protested he would give me to Maynard, though he was immediately after to follow me to the grave. I was obliged to suffer his visits, and to listen, with a seeming composure, to his assurances of a passion which had cost me so many tears. “Is it possible, said I to him one day, (when he was most profuse of his protestations of tenderness) that I can look on this passion you profess for me, as any other than a cruel persecution, which has deprived me of what I most value in the world, the affection of my dearest friends. Do you not observe the uneasiness you cause me? Instead of that tenderness and esteem with which I used to be treated, I meet with nothing but anger and reproaches; and am in danger of being for ever abandoned by those who gave me birth. Such is the consequence of your affection! and is it by making me miserable, that you hope to be possessor of my heart?” “How unjustly do you accuse me, miss, said he! am I to be blamed, if, loving you as I do, I take advantage of the consent your father has given me, and press you to be mine, to have it in my power to make you happy?” “Ah! cried I (in a violent emotion) how egregiously do you mistake the means. Would you make me happy, leave me to myself; cease a persecution that only exposes you to my hate; restore me to the good opinion of my dear father; and tell him generously, that you will not be the cause of that force which is put upon my inclinations: do this, and though I can never love you, yet I will not refuse you my esteem.” “Sure, miss, replied he (with a provoking- calmness) you have formed very mistaken notions of that passion you have inspired me with: was I able to conquer it, your scorn and aversion would be the surest arms I could employ against it, and your entreaties would be useless; but I am fated to love you, in spite of all your rigor: and since your father approves of my pretensions, no power on earth shall oblige me to resign them.” “Inhuman wretch! returned I (bursting into tears) do not flatter yourself, that even my father’s authority can force me to be yours. Heaven has not yet abandoned me, and will, I hope, interpose its power against the violence you would do me.” In effect, I had taken a resolution which I will not presume to say was inspired by heaven, since it certainly expressed too much contempt for the authority of my parents. As I saw there was great preparations for my marriage, which my father had his own reasons for making as public as possible, I determined to allow myself to be led to the altar; but when the priest required me to pronounce the irrevocable words which were to bind me for ever to Maynard, I would declare (before all that were present) my aversion to this marriage; and falling at my father’s feet, conjure him not to force me to be the wife of a man my soul detested. As wild and romantic as this scheme may appear, I believe I should have put it in execution: but providence interposed in my favor, and by very extraordinary, and (as I then thought) terrible means, spared me the horror of committing an action, which must necessarily offend my father beyond all possible hopes of pardon. The five Indian nations, with whom we were in alliance, were accustomed to come every third year to A— — and were met by the governor of N—— to renew a treaty of peace with them, which was confirmed by presents to the extent of several hundred pounds, allowed by the government of Britain for that purpose. These savage people were assembled in great numbers, on the large plain behind the fort: they had brought with them their wives and children, and none but the aged and infirm were left behind. We saw, with astonishment, a new sort of city raised in the compass of a few hours: for these people, when they travel, carry with them the materials for building their houses, which consist of the bark of trees, and two or three wooden poles, with some bear-skins to lye on: thus a square of ten feet will serve to contain a very large family; and it being now the middle of summer, their huts were decorated with the boughs of trees on the outside, to keep out the sun, which (on account of their different verdure) formed a very new and beautiful prospect. I constantly spent some hours every evening in the garden, which was at a small distance from the fort, where I took great pleasure in viewing the Indians at a distance; for I was too much terrified at them, to walk out among their huts, as several gentlemen and ladies who were come from N—— did. The governor’s intended interview with the Indians, drew great numbers of people from all parts of the country: my father was preparing to receive him with the usual formalities; but resolving to have me married before his arrival, he told me, in two days he would bestow me on Maynard, and omitted no arguments that could prevail upon me to obey him, without reluctance. I answered only with sighs and tears; and when my father left me, I retired into the garden alone, meditating on the difficult and dangerous part I had to act. My thoughts were so much employed, that I staid later than usual; night stole upon me unawares, and just as I was preparing to return, three or four Indians rushed into the garden; the gate, through the carelessness of the gardener, being left unfastened, they seized me immediately. The terror I was in facilitated their design of carrying me away: I fell into a swoon the moment I perceived them, and, when I recovered my senses, I found myself in a boat, rowing (with the utmost expedition) up the river. I gave a loud shriek the moment I opened my eyes, when one of the company, who supported me in his arms, begged me to compose myself; but, O heavens! what was my surprise, when the first word I heard informed me, it was the well-known voice of Belmein. “May I believe my senses, cried I (trembling with astonishment and joy) is it Captain Belmein that I hear and see? am I not then abandoned entirely to the mercy of these savages?” My first emotions were all joy, but recollecting the violence that had been used to me, I hastily drew away my hand, which Belmein had all this time kept glued to his lips. “But is it possible, resumed I, that Belmein (forgetting the respect he owed me) has acted the part of a brutal ravisher, and snatched me, with violence, from my family.” “Ah! too cruel Harriot, interrupted he, I have indeed taken you away without your consent; but have I not snatched you from a man whom you detested, and whom, notwithstanding, you were upon the point of marrying? Do I merit reproaches for having delivered you from so great a misfortune, at the hazard of my life; and must the excess of my love be imputed to me as a crime?” “If you have hazarded your life, replied I, by this action, you have also hazarded my reputation, which ought to be infinitely dearer to me than either your life or my own. Alas! continued I (melting into tears) what affliction is the family involved in upon my account! I am either lamented as unhappily lost, or reproached and detested for my criminal flight.” “What do I hear, interrupted Belmein (in a transport of rage) is it my adored Harriot that utters these injurious complaints; has she forgot the everlasting tenderness she promised me? Maynard, the once detested Maynard, is the loss you deplore. Perfidious sex, continued he, why did I suffer myself to be deceived into an opinion, that any woman was capable of truth?” “You had my vows, replied I, and I would have been yours, but for the avarice of your father, and the honor of mine. I cannot follow the dictates of my heart, without disobeying a parent, who has ever loved me with the utmost tenderness; and though I saw myself on the point of being forced to marry a man I hated, yet the governor’s insolent behavior, and the fatal accidents in consequence of it, made my father resolve to sacrifice me to the quiet of his family. Ah! Belmein, I only am the victim; my father will never be persuaded that I did not go away voluntarily with you; and however this affair may end, it will be a lasting blot upon my character.” “But, tell me miss, replied my lover, did you not (once in thought) consent to be mine, without your father’s acquiescence? That fatal billet you gave the doctor, which has cost him his life, and me everlasting remorse; did not that bring a command from you, that I should meet and convey you away? Have I done any thing now which your orders have not authorized? why then these reproaches, this unkind behavior?” “’Tis true, I replied, that in the first transports of my soul, when I received my father’s commands to marry Maynard, I did write the billet you mentioned, and gave it to the unhappy doctor; but in my cooler moments I reflected with horror, on the indiscretion I had committed. But, oh! cried I (weeping with more violence than before) did that horrid billet occasion the quarrel between you and the doctor? tell me, I conjure you, how it happened.” “Ah! miss, said Belmein, the doctor was my rival, and concealed his passion for you under the appearance of joining in our common interest, against the arbitrary proceedings of both our fathers. That billet you sent he never gave me; I discovered it by mere accident, having fallen out of his pocket with other papers. I knew your dear characters, and, seizing it immediately, taxed him with his treachery: he then pretended to throw off the mask; talked of his zeal for the governor, and confessed he had betrayed our correspondence to your brother, who (by his advice) had removed you from the fort. Alas! dear miss, you know the rest. Do not, by your cruelty, add to the affliction I feel at his unhappy fate. Let me think of nothing but the transporting pleasure of having rescued you from the unworthy husband you were destined for, and the prospect of having you mine for ever.” “That sir, I answered, depends as much as ever upon the will of my father. You have been pleased to make me your prisoner, ’tis true, but no force can compel me to make you my husband without his consent.” The Indians who rowed us had all this time observed a profound silence, gazing upon us with a fixed attention. The moon was now risen, and discovered to me the whole person of Belmein, so altered by his Indian dress, that it was impossible to know him: he wore the same kind of sandals, an Osnabrig’s vest which reached to his knees, and a mantle of blue cloth trimmed with several rows of worsted lace; his face was painted, and his hair, which he had been obliged to cut short, was combed into their frightful fashion, and sprinkled, in the divisions, with a kind of fine red sand which looks like blood, and which the Indians affect, in order to give them a more tremendous appearance. You may imagine, dear Amanda, that a lover thus disfigured, was no very agreeable object in the eyes of his mistress: however, the fine shape and regular features of Belmein, shone through the savageness of his disguise; and though it would have been difficult to have believed him any other than an Indian, yet it must be confessed he was a very handsome one. Having expressed some apprehensions of the Indians who rowed us, he informed me they were young men of quality in their own nation, the Mohocks, who were all converted to Christianity, and whom he had bound to his interests by large gifts and promises of future reward. These people being most religious observers of their oaths, he had exacted one from each of them, which made him quite secure of their secrecy. When they observed Belmein and I to be upon better terms than we were at first, they made me some compliments in the Dutch language, which most of the Mohock Indians can speak fluently. Capt. Belmein explained what they said to me, and I should have fancied it was him who gave their expressions that gallant turn, had I not heard this nation frequently celebrated for its politeness. The whole night the Indians continued to row with all their strength; and captain Belmein had so well fenced me against the air by several bearskins, which he had disposed advantageously about me, that I was in no danger of taking cold. The summer nights in this country are more pleasant and refreshing than can be well expressed; there is just coolness enough in the air to be agreeable, after the excessive heats of the day. The river we were upon is one of the finest in the world; and the shore, on each side, presented nothing but thick woods to our view; yet there was such a beautiful variety of greens, and so romantic a wildness in the whole prospect, as forcibly attracted my observation, notwithstanding the con- fusion and distress of my mind. It was soon day, and the Indians still continuing their hasty progress up the river, I asked Belmein, in a tone that expressed the utmost resentment, where he intended to carry me. “You know, continued I, my resolution is fixed, I will never be yours without my father’s consent: amidst all the persecutions I suffered, upon Maynard’s account, I still reserved my heart for you; but this unjustifiable action has so entirely effaced that tenderness I once felt for you, that you are now both equally the objects of my aversion.” Belmein, who expected I should have judged more favorably of his attempt, was so disconcerted at the determined manner in which I spoke, that he continued some time without answering, in a posture which expressed the greatest perturbation of mind. At last, raising his eyes, (with a sigh, which seemed to proceed from the very bottom of his heart) “I see plainly, miss, (said he) I never was so happy as to make any impression on your heart; you have, no doubt, reserved that glorious conquest for one more deserving than Belmein: no! I can never believe you felt one tender sentiment for me. That savage virtue you so obstinately profess, is nothing more than a proud insensibility, which triumphs at the torments you make me suffer. Cruel and ungrateful as you are, I will give you back to that Maynard you prefer before me: I will no longer be an obstacle to these detested nuptials: with my own hands I will deliver you to your father, and by resigning myself to justice, expiate my guilt in giving death to an unhappy man, whose treachery was the effect of those enchanting arts, which have been so fatal to my quiet. Come, miss, continued he, if you can bear the fatigue of returning back, you shall have the pleasure of leading your prisoner in triumph to your father.” Alas! the artful Belmein, who knew too well the tender sensibility of my soul, took this way to work upon my passions, and dispose me to submit patiently to his purpose. “Ah! cried I, (bursting into tears) do you bid me lead you to my father? Shall I deliver you up to justice, and load myself with the guilt of your death? Into what a miserable extremity am I driven! I must either dishonorably accompany you to whatever place you are pleased to convey me, or be accessory to your imprisonment, and perhaps death. Good God! cried I, (lifting up my eyes swimming in tears) relieve me from this insupportable affliction, and let thy providence find the means to restore me to my family, without hastening the fate of this unworthy man, who has abused the tenderness I had for him.” I pronounced these words with so strong an emotion, that Belmein, who seemed greatly affected, conjured me in the tenderest and most respectful terms, to compose myself; protesting that he was only taking me to his brother’s farm, which I remembered to hear spoken of frequently, as one of the most beautiful seats in the province. He told me, he would only entreat me to remain there concealed for a few days, till he had fully acquainted me with his designs; and that, if I did not approve of them, he solemnly protested he would have me conducted safe to Fort H— — where a lieutenant of my father’s commended: I could then acquaint him where I was, and have an opportunity of reconciling myself to him by the sacrifice I might make to duty. The artful Belmein concluded these promises by a thousand assurances of an inviolable performance; and I suffered myself to be persuaded to what, indeed, there was scarcely a possibility of avoiding.
In about an hour’s time we discovered some fine corn-fields and meadows, which Belmein told me belonged to his brother, whose house was near the water-side, to which we soon arrived, and landed immediately. Belmein led me through a most beautiful wood to a back-entrance into the house, which seemed large and magnificent. A young gentleman, whom I had never seen, but whose resemblance to Belmein easily persuaded me he was his brother, received us with the greatest transports of joy; and, supposing I was there by my own consent, made me many compliments on the generous passion I had for his brother. “Had you come half an hour sooner, said he to Belmein, I should have had some apprehensions of your being discovered. A party of soldiers have been here to inquire for this young lady: they set out from A—— soon after she was missing, and have rode all night. There are several other parties dispatched to different places in search of her. However, miss, continued he, don’t be concerned; it is very easy to conceal you in this house, though they should take it in their heads to search it again.” I made very little reply to these words, when Belmein desired his brother to call his housekeeper to attend me to a chamber, where I might take some repose after my fatiguing voyage. The moment this young woman appeared, I conceived no very favorable opinion of her. She had an air of levity and assurance; and the circumstance of her being house keeper to a gay gentleman of two and twenty, prepossessed me a little against her discretion, and made me resolve to treat her with great reserve. She approached me, however, with much respect, and told me she had pre pared a chamber for my reception. I followed her, making a cool courtesy to Belmein and his brother, who waited on me to the door. When I came into the room, which was indeed a very elegant one, Mrs. Saunders (for that I found was the house-keeper’s name) begged me to repose myself on the bed, and she would return immediately with some chocolate. I chose, however, to wait her return in an easy chair, where I had some difficulty to keep from sleeping. The busy house-keeper presently returned, followed by a black woman, who brought the chocolate and several sorts of cakes. The slave retired as soon as she had placed the things on a table; when Mrs. Saunders, seating herself near me, pressed me very officiously to eat, assuring me the cakes were made by herself, and she had been instructed in all sorts of pastry at N— — where she was born and educated. The place of her birth accounted immediately for the insipid lightness of her behavior. There is no place in the world where the women labor so much to attract the eyes of the men. But this extreme fondness for creating love, is accompanied with a very strange disposition to receive it; and if a woman there has half a dozen lovers, one may be assured half of them at least are very much favored. I was greatly alarmed at the loose mien and behavior of this woman, and, as I drank my chocolate, could not help observing her with a fixed attention. “Indeed, miss, said she, (with an affected lisp) I think captain Belmein is extremely happy in having gained your affection. I don’t wonder the men make such a rout about you: I never saw any one so pretty and genteel in my life; and they say you have a world of wit. But, dear miss, how did you contrive to escape? I am sure poor captain Belmein has run a great hazard to get you. For all he is the governor’s son, they say, if they can get him, he’ll be tried, and condemned too, for killing the doctor, though it was in a fair duel.” To all this I made very little answer; but observing she continued to treat me with great familiarity, on the supposition that I had made a voluntary elopement from my family, I thought proper to undeceive her in that point. “I am of opinion, said I, that captain Belmein is far from being safe here, though disguised in his Indian habit. It would have been the safest way to have escaped directly to N— — where his father’s power might have sheltered him, till the most favorable circumstances of his duel with the doctor were known, and his pardon secured: now, if he is taken, the affair may have worse consequences. The rash action he has been guilty of, in forcing me away, will subject him to a great many censures, and possibly be a means of discovering him.” “Bless me, miss, said Mrs. Saunders, (in surprise) has captain Belmein forced you away? I thought you had consented to make your escape with him. Lord! how people may be mistaken!” “No, replied I, (with some emotion) my esteem for captain Belmein should never oblige me to an action so contrary to my duty and honor. When he took me away, he had no time to consult my inclinations, which, it is possible, he thought were favorable to his designs. My fright at being seized by four Indians, made me fall into a swoon; and when I recovered, it was too late to restore me without danger. But I have captain Belmein’s promise to send me to Fort H— — from whence I may return home; and ’tis the dependence I have upon his honor, that makes me support my present situation with patience.” Mrs. Saunders, who did not seem to relish this grave discourse, observing I had breakfasted, made haste to remove the things; and then asked me, if I chose to repose myself on the bed for a few hours, which I refused, telling her I should take a short sleep in the easy chair. She then retired with a sort of dissatisfaction in her looks, that persuaded me the sentiments I discovered were far from exalting me in her opinion. I rose and fastened the door, and seating myself in my chair, notwithstanding the uneasy situation of my mind, I fell into a profound sleep, which lasted some hours, and from which I was waked by a gentle rap at the door. I opened it immediately, and perceiving it was Belmein, I reproached him with having disturbed me. “You are very happy, miss, said he, that can sleep with so much tranquillity, and yet give disquiets that deprive others of all repose. I find by Mrs. Saunders’s discourse, that you have represented your lover as a strange fellow, who has forced you from your friends. Ah! miss Harriot, was that well done? Might you not have depended upon the promise I gave you to send you back, without exposing me in this manner?” “Sure, Sir, I replied, you ought not to be surprised, if I am impatient to clear myself from being accessory to an action, which must inevitably wound my reputation. If my fame was dear to you, the danger you expose it to would touch you sensibly; and, far from blaming me for seeking to just)* myself, you ought to seize every opportunity of declaring my innocence.” Belmein, who was naturally haughty, and vain enough to think very favorably of his accomplish -meets, had never despaired of making me at last approve the method he had taken to secure me to himself. He was amazed at so determined an opposition from a young girl, of whose affections he thought himself absolute master: and his disappointed hopes, joined to the resentment he conceived at my indifference, was possibly the motive for his assuming a behavior very different from what he had always observed. For the present, however, he suppress his chagrin, and desired me to walk down stairs to dinner; telling me, he would afterwards acquaint me with his designs, in which I would find my honor was far from being indifferent to him. I suffered him to lead me to a parlor, where his brother was expecting us; and, dinner being immediately served, my lover told me, if it would be agreeable to me, Mrs. Saunders should sit at table. I accepted this proposal with great pleasure, as I was under an inconceivable confusion at being alone with two young gentlemen. After dinner she retired, and captain Belmein addressing himself to me, “Will you allow me, miss, said he, to make my brother judge of the dispute between us, and suffer me to relate my motives for this attempt on your liberty, as you are pleased to call it?” “I have no objection, sir, replied I, to hearing your brother’s sentiments upon this occasion; but, added I, (smiling) though you have appointed him judge in this important cause, I shall reserve to myself the liberty of dissenting from his judgment, if it is contrary to my interest.” “I am sorry, interrupted captain Belmein, that our interests are divided; and that it is possible for my brother to decide favorably for me, and yet against you. Was there ever any thing, dear Bob, said he, so cruel as this charmer! I hazarded my life to rescue her from being the wife of a man she hated. She even once commanded me to undertake her deliverance, which I have now effected, with infinitely more danger to myself; yet, instead of that tenderness which I expected she would receive me with, she loads me with reproaches; and chooses rather to return, and be the victim of a forced marriage, than trust herself in the hands of an adoring and respectful lover.” “There is certainly, said I, (blushing) some reason in the reproaches you have cast upon me. I confess I once consented you should deliver me from the persecution I suffered: when I took that resolution, Sir, I was almost distracted with the fear of being forced to marry Mr. Maynard; but when I reflected on the consequences that must necessarily follow an action, which expressed so much contempt for the commands of both our fathers, I could not help feeling the bitterest remorse. And as I opposed the will of my father, by refusing the husband he chose for me, my disobedience in marrying a gentleman, whom, for very essential reasons, he had commanded me to think of no more, would have been a double guilt. Though you had not taken me from A— — I would never have been the wife of Maynard: I would have avoided that misfortune without consenting to a flight, which must irreparably wound my reputation.” “But, miss, said Mr. Belmein, my brother entreats you to accept his hand, and, by making him your husband, silence the censures which you apprehend may be cast on your conduct. My sister B—— is preparing to return to her husband in Jamaica: she will receive you with the utmost tenderness, and you may remain there till your fathers are reconciled to your marriage.” “But, Sir, replied I, though I was really inclined to marry Captain Belmein, against the positive commands of my father; yet I must necessarily take a very long voyage with him, before he is at liberty to offer me his hand: and though I have a very great dependence upon your brother’s honor, yet I am not of a temper to hazard my own, or give the world occasion to be justly severe upon my reputation.” Captain Belmein interrupted me here, and seizing my hand, which he forcibly kissed, “No, my lovely angel, said he, your conduct shall never be questioned. Before we leave this house, I will engage my faith to you.” “’Tis true, continued he, (with some hesitation) the person who shall read over the ceremony is not in holy orders; but, notwithstanding, our marriage will be as firm and indissoluble, as if it was celebrated with the usual formalities.” My surprise at this insolent proposal, rendered me mute and immovable for some moments: at last, recovering myself, and observing he waited for my answer, “How have you dared, said I, (with a look that had all the scorn I was capable of assuming) to imagine I would accept such base and dishonorable proposals! I would not give my father a moment’s disquiet, to be yours in the most honorable manner; and have you the vanity to think my affection for you could influence me to so mean a condescension? Perfidious and designing as you are! I now despise and hate you.” Belmein, who had never seen me so enraged before, gave me a look which expressed at once the extremes of love, fear, and indignation. He started up, and walked about the room in a violent emotion, repeating my last words: then suddenly stopping, and fixing his eyes steadfastly upon me, after a pause, which lasted some moments, “You despise me then, miss, said he, (sighing) and the effects of a most tender and violent passion have drawn upon me your hate and indignation.” “I never desire to hear more of your passion, interrupted I. Restore me to my family, I conjure you; and by that action atone, in some measure, for the insults you have offered me.” Belmein, who was master of every tender and ensnaring art, practiced them all to remove the resentment he had raised in me. The softest language that ever love inspired, attended with all the moving rhetoric of sighs and tears, had now, such was the pride of virtue, lost the power of moving me. I persisted in telling him, he had for ever forfeited my tenderness and esteem; and all the favor my heart would now allow him, was to think of him with indifference, without being either moved to hate or pity him. My enraged lover, at these words, snatching up a pen-knife that lay on the table, held it in a menacing posture, and darting a look at me, in which despair was visibly painted, “Know, miss, said he, (in a terrible voice) that I will not live to bear either your hate or indifference.” Terrified to the last degree at this action, I gave a loud shriek, and springing to him, he eagerly seized hold of me, threw away the knife, and pressed me tenderly in his arms. Alas! dear Amanda, this menace, which had so much alarmed me, was only a stratagem of the designing Belmein, to know if I was really capable of that indifference I affected. A moment’s reflection would possibly have convinced me my lover had no intention to execute his threats; but my disposition was naturally tender and compassionate, easily imposed on by appearances, and incapable of dissimulation. I could not suppress the first violent emotions this action caused in my soul. Belmein exulted in this discovery of my tender concern for him; his eyes wandered over me with a triumphant pleasure, as I sat all pale and silent in a chair where he had placed me. His brother, who had left the room some minutes before, came in, and, observing that I was extremely discomposed, asked me, in a most obliging manner, what had given me this new disturbance. My tears, which I had with difficulty restrained, burst forth with violence at this demand: I was not able to speak, and could only cast an upbraiding glance at Belmein, who was beholding me with a fixed attention: “Ah, miss, said he, I understand too well the meaning of those reproachful looks. You think me a villain, and perhaps I have deserved to be thought so: but can you not, continued he, (throwing himself at my feet) pardon an error which excess of love has forced me to commit, when, to expiate it, I will obey your harsh commands; and, though I doom myself to the severest sorrow that ever tortured a faithful heart, part with you to morrow for ever. My brother shall attend you to Fort H——. I will condemn myself to a lasting absence from you; and if you will promise only to think of me without detestation, ’tis all that my presumptuous hopes shall ever aim at.” These words, delivered with all that moving tenderness he so well knew how to assume, were far from producing the effect he designed they should: the artifice was too plain; he wanted to lull my virtue into a full security, in order to take his advantage of that affection my late terror, on his account, convinced him I still felt for him. Was it possible to imagine that a man, who, but some minutes before, had committed the greatest extravagances on a supposition he was not beloved, should now so calmly give up his pretensions, when he had just received a convincing proof that he was? My brother had often told me, that it was very dangerous to trust a lover with the secret of our affection for him: such an acknowledgment destroys their solicitude to please, and creates a habit of offending, because they are sure of a pardon; it being almost a generally received maxim with that sex, That no woman can ever absolutely hate a man she has once passionately loved.
My virtue took the alarm at this sudden change: I saw nothing in his looks that spoke him so calm and moderate. His glances were tender and passionate, he grasped my hand with an eager pressure, and waited for my answer with a trembling impatience; all which spoke too much of the interested, designing lover, to leave me a possibility of doubting that he was meditating some stratagem to ensnare me. Though my heart labored with the blackest suspicions, yet my delicacy suggested a behavior that argued the utmost confidence in his promises. He desired his brother to give orders for the chaise to be got ready early in the morning to carry me to Fort H— — which I found, by their discourse, was not many miles off. While he was gone to give the necessary orders for my journey, my artful lover, under the presence of taking leave of me for ever, pressing me eagerly in his arms, snatched several kisses by force, without my being able to disengage myself. At last I got loose, and complaining, with tears which pride and affronted modesty forced from my eyes, of the unlicensed freedom he took with me, he fell again into his personated indifference; conjured me to pardon the last efforts of a passion he was resolved to suppress; and promised, for the short time he was to have the pleasure of beholding me, to behave with more reserve. Mr. Belmein now returned, and told me, he had given directions to have a chaise ready; and that he would attend me, at what hour I pleased, to Fort H——. I named eight the next morning; and expressing an inclination to retire, Mrs. Saunders was called to attend me to my room. As I found there was a necessity for staying that night, which was now pretty far advanced, I resolved to pass it in reading, being determined not to undress myself and go to bed in that suspected place. I dismissed Mrs. Saunders, who offered to stay with me, not being desirous of having a companion of her stamp. When she was gone I fastened the door with great care, and sat down to meditate on the mysterious behavior of Belmein. When I recollected all the inconsistencies he had been guilty of that day, I was convinced he had no intention of sending me home; and the dishonorable designs he had discovered, inflamed my resentment against him to the last degree. I shuddered with fear when I remembered I was in his power, and that he possibly proposed to send me out of the province, instead of restoring me to my family. If I accept of their proposal, thought I, how can I be sure that I am not precipitating myself into more certain danger; and if I continue here, what persecution may I not expect from Belmein, whose vanity will construe my voluntary stay as a secret approbation of his designs. In this distracting dilemma I fell on my knees, and recommended myself to the protection of heaven, with a fervor that drew tears from my eyes. While I was in this posture, a noise, which I heard on the other side of the room, made me start; and turning my eyes that way, I saw Belmein enter by a door which had escaped my notice. Terror and astonishment seized me! He made but one step from the door to the place where amazement kept me still kneeling. He raised me up, and kissing my hand, which I struggled in vain to draw from him, “Do not, my charming angel, said he, refuse me the liberty of seeing you a few moments, when I have consented to lose that blessing to-morrow for ever. Yes, continued he, (clasping me in his arms) I will part with you, since you desire it: I will part with you, my adorable Harriot; and, though never man loved with that excess of violence that I do, and though by such a step I sacrifice all the quiet of my life, I will give this fatal proof of obedience to your will.” Base and designing Belmein! Was this a proof that he meant me honorably, to invade my chamber at so late an hour, and treat me with such unlicensed freedoms? I struggled to suppress the rage that, for some moments, had wholly engrossed my soul; and knowing that it was to dissimulation alone I could owe my safety, I seemed to be moved at what he said, and asked him, in a faltering accent, if he was sure he could keep his word. His eyes sparkled with pleasure at this discovery of my unsettled resolution to leave him: “Yes, miss, said he, (in a transport he could ill disguise) I can keep my word, and part with you to-morrow; but, possibly, this cruel instance of my perfect submission to your commands, will prove fatal to a life I had wholly devoted to you.” “If you had not determined, interrupted I, (smiling) to send me away in the morning, I would have taken this night and to morrow to have considered of the proposal you made me; but perhaps you have now arrived to such a pitch of indifference, that you’ll hardly condescend to treat with me upon any conditions.” The tone with which I pronounced these words, convinced Belmein that I strove, under the appearance of raillery, to hide the confusion which my weakness, in not being able to keep my resolution, must necessarily cause. He threw himself at my feet in a transport of joy, kissing my hand a thousand times, which I suffered him to hold, without any attempt to withdraw it. “Oh, my adorable Harriot, cried he, how have you raised me, in a moment, from the deepest affliction to the greatest excess of happiness! Will you be mine, then, at last, my lovely angel? And, after all the misery you have made me suffer, will you then consent to make me happy?” “I have told you, replied I, that I will take some time to consider of what you proposed. At present I should be glad to be left alone: a little rest would be agreeable, after the fatigue I have suffered.” Belmein, who now thought himself absolutely sure of my consent, made no scruple to comply instantly with my desires. He again put on the submissive lover, and, kissing my hand respectfully, took his leave. I followed him to the door by which he had entered, and observed it led to a pair of back-stairs. Having fastened it after him as well as I could, I sat down, oppressed with the most violent sorrow my heart had ever experienced. I saw no possibility of avoiding the dangerous snares my lover laid for my virtue, but by escaping from his power. I had learned that Fort H—— was but a few miles distant from the place where I now was; and I determined, as soon as it was day, to make an attempt to steal out of the house, and strike into the first road I saw, which, if it did not lead me to Fort H— — might possibly conduct me to some farm house, where I might be safe. As dangerous as this project might appear, it was infinitely less so than the cruel artifices of a lover; whom, notwithstanding the insults he had offered me, I could not bring myself to hate. But pride and resentment had so well fortified my heart, that, in the resolution I had taken to abandon him for ever, I felt at present no other pain than what the fear of not accomplishing it occasioned. My apprehensions of another visit from Belmein, together with the perplexity of my thoughts on the most probable means of escaping, kept me waking the whole night. I waited impatiently for day, and, when it appeared, stole softly down the back-stairs, which I imagined might lead to some part of the house, that would favor my design of getting out unobserved. Though it was very early, yet, by a noise which I heard in the house, I found some of the family were up. My heart fluttered with fear and anxiety: I trembled lest any one should meet me; and not daring either to go forward or return to my chamber, I stood a moment irresolute what to do. Immediately a servant, passing by at the bottom of the stairs, opened a pair of large folding doors, and went out. I saw the prospect of a large court yard and stables; and stepping to the door, to see if there was a possibility of getting through to the road that way, the man, who was at a little distance, turned at the noise I made in opening the door, which had clapped to, and stood still to observe me. As I was now discovered, I thought it would be in vain to attempt to hide my design, and was thinking of some means to engage this fellow to assist me in getting away, when he approached me. “I suppose, madam, said he, you are waiting for the chaise; but my master did not order me to get it ready till eight o’clock: however, I can put the horses to in a minute, if you intend to go so early.” It is not easy to express the transport I felt at this lucky accident. I found Mr. Belmein had been really deceived in his brother’s intentions; for he had no very strong head, and was not capable of entering into the captain’s deep schemes.
I resolved to take advantage of the fellow’s mistake, and asked him, with some surprise, if Mrs. Saunders had sent no one to call him, for that there was a necessity for setting out immediately. The man who imagined there was another party coming to search the house, and that my being found there would be of the utmost prejudice to captain Belmein, went immediately to the stables, and left me trembling with fear, hope, and impatience. The moment I saw the chaise appear I flew towards it. “Oh! heavens, cried I (in a real terror which increased the man’s apprehension) help me in, a moment’s delay will ruin us.” “Does not my master go with you miss, said he? (getting off the box to help me in).” “No, no, replied I, there will be other business for him: but drive away immediately:” he did as I commanded him, and, in a few minutes, I saw myself in the road to Fort H— — which, at the rate we drove, I could not fail of reaching before it was possible my faithless lover could overtake me. While, in the exultings of my heart, I was offering up my most earnest thanks to that providence, which had so visibly succored me; a stump of a tree, which lay cross the road, but had escaped the view of my precipitate driver, overturned the chaise and threw me to the ground. I was a little stunned with the fall: but what were my agonies, when the fellow informed me that it would be near half an hour before he could repair the damages the chaise had received, and make it fit to pursue our journey! I lifted up my eyes, swimming in tears, and begging heaven to continue its protection to me, sat down at the foot of a tree, recommending it to the man to make all possible dispatch. I waited with the most torturing impatience, and my eyes were constantly turned towards the place I had left; when I discovered, at some distance, a person on horseback, riding very fast: and, concluding I was pursued, I rose with the utmost precipitation, and, striking into a path that led into the woods, ran as fast as my legs would carry me, ‘till I was got to a very considerable distance. I stopped for a moment to take breath, and looking round me, to see if I could discover any signs of a habitation, I observed a countryman at some distance cutting wood. I immediately made towards him, with all the speed that fear could give me: the man, who was wholly engrossed by his employment, never saw me till I was come close to him, when starting and looking on me for a moment without speaking, “Bless me! young lady, said he at last (in a tone that expressed his surprise) what has brought you to this place?” “Do you know me, friend, said I, scarce recovering breath enough to speak?” “Yes, miss, replied he (bowing respectfully) I am one of your father’s soldiers, and have a little plantation hard by.” “Convey me thither instantly, said I; and if you can conceal me a few hours in your house, I promise you my father shall reward you liberally.” The man expressed the utmost willingness to serve me, and observing I was so tired I could scarce stand, offered to carry me to his house, but I refused; and, summoning all my strength, suffered him only to lead me along, and thus got to the house, just when my weariness would hardly permit me to walk one step more. As I was going to enter it, a voice (which methought I was well acquainted with) struck my ears, that uttered in a transported accent, “O! my God, there she is.” I stood a minute in the utmost confusion, when the person who pronounced these words, advanced towards me, and whom I immediately knew, notwithstanding the disguise of a sailor’s habit, and a large patch that hid part of his face, to be the doctor himself. Amazement seized me at this sight; my spirits, too weak to support the strong surprise, failed me in an instant, and I fell breathless into the arms of the good woman of the house, who eagerly ran to support me. When I recovered, I asked (trembling) where the stranger was that I had seen? “Sure, said I, I could not be deceived, it was certainly the doctor himself.” “Mercy on us, replied the woman, madam has seen a spirit, for certain: be comforted, dear young lady, there is no body here now but myself and my husband, and this honest sailor, who is going to the Indian castle to traffic for some of their toys.” “What sailor, said I, looking round the room? When observing him stand fixed in thought, at one corner, Ah cried I, screaming, how dare you impose upon me? I either see the doctor, or his ghost! Is not that he that stands yonder?” The good couple, at these words, gave one another several significant looks, which seemed to say, I was certainly distracted; when the sailor advanced and threw himself on his knees before me. “Ah! miss, said he, you have indeed discovered me: but let me entreat you to be composed. I came here in search of you, and am transported to find (by all that I can collect from what this man told me, during your swoon and your own behavior) that you have not left your father’s house voluntarily. There is no occasion for me to conceal myself any longer, said he, tearing the plaster from off his face: if you will accept of me, miss, in this garb, to conduct you to Fort H— — this man and I will undertake to convey you safe; we shall there find a conveyance to carry you home; and then if captain Belmein has a mind to renew his pretensions, he may do it publicly. I was enough recovered from my surprise, to be able to ask the doctor some questions which might relieve me from the perplexity my thoughts were in about him; when the woman (clapping her hands) cried out, “I protest there’s the young ‘squire! he’s certainly come to seek you, miss: what shall we say?” I rose immediately in the utmost agony, believing it was captain Belmein, and dreading the consequence of his meeting with the doctor, when, to my great satisfaction, I saw only Mr. Belmein, who entered the room with a smiling countenance, and reproached me for having gone away without him. I had not time to answer him: he had cast his eyes upon the doctor’s face, and, starting back with an action that expressed the strongest surprise, remained for some moments immovable as a statue. “Is it possible! said he at last: May I believe my eyes?” “Yes, sir, interrupted the doctor, (bowing) I am still alive; and it was in order to serve the governor more effectually, that I have suffered myself to be thought dead so long.” Mr. Belmein, who was eager to inquire into this mystery, expressed a desire of retiring into a more private apartment. The people of the house, telling him that was the best they had, went out immediately, and left us to ourselves. “I am strangely at a loss, sir, said Mr. Belmein, (the moment they were gone) to understand how your concealing yourself thus long could be of any use to my father. You have, indeed, taken a very ungenerous revenge of my brother, by allowing the world to suppose him guilty of your death, and obliging him to keep himself concealed, lest he should be called to account for it.” “I know not, sir, replied the doctor, whether captain Belmein ever told you, that the governor had given me commission to break off his marriage with this young lady; but ’tis certain I had instructions from him to do every thing in my power to prevent it. Your brother thought proper to quarrel with me, for the opposition I had made to his carrying off miss Harriot; and all the respect I had for the governor, could not hinder me from accepting a challenge which he gave me, accompanied with insults not to be borne by a man of honor. I followed him to the place appointed: we fought, and the event of our combat was very unfavorable for me. When I fell, the great quantity of blood which I had lost threw me into a swoon, which, I suppose, made captain Belmein conclude me dead. When I recovered I found there had been care taken of my wounds; for they were bound up, and the bleeding was stopped. I perceived they were far from being dangerous, being only in the flesh; and I was endeavoring to rise, and try if I could get home, when I saw a gentleman, who was nearly related to me, riding as fast as possible up to me. He expressed an infinite deal of surprise at finding me in so good a condition, when every one believed me almost dead; and told me, that there was assistance coming immediately. I inquired after captain Belmein, and being answered that he was not to be found, and that it was supposed he had made his escape, on a belief that I was dead, I earnestly entreated my friend to conceal me till I was able to go abroad; judging, that if the report of my death was confirmed, captain Belmein would be obliged to keep out of the way, and have no opportunities of renewing his designs upon miss Harriot. You see, sir, the motives of my concealing myself. I easily persuaded my friend to carry me to his country-house, which was at a small distance. He placed me before him on his horse, and took a by-path home. It being almost dark, he led me to a summer-house in the garden, of which he kept the key, and there disposed me, till he had an opportunity of conveying me unseen into the house. As soon as I was conveniently lodged in a chamber, I applied myself to cure my wounds, and in a very little time was perfectly recovered. I resolved not to appear till the governor arrived at A——. My servant, whom I had trusted with my secret, brought me accounts of all that passed in the Fort family. I understood that miss Harriot was carried off; and judging, that if captain Belmein had not left the province with her directly, he would certainly lie concealed at your house, I took the habit you see me in, and came to these people, knowing they rented a little farm of you. I was just arrived, and asking the good woman some questions in the character of a sailor who was going to the Indian-castle, when I saw miss Harriot enter. By what I learned from your tenant who brought her in, the young lady had fled from some place where she was unwillingly detained. I have offered her my service to conduct her to Fort H— — where one of her father’s lieutenants commands, and where she may remain with safety, till the captain sends proper persons to wait on her home.” Mr. Belmein, who had listened attentively to all the doctor said, interrupted him here with a tartness, which showed he was not quite satisfied with the artifice he had used. “I shall not, said he, pretend to determine whether you have acted generously or not by my brother: I leave the governor to decide that; but I reserve to myself the care of conducting this lady to Fort H—— and am concerned her distrust in my honor should occasion her so many inconveniences, as she must have endured by her unnecessary fears. I have left my brother, miss, said he, almost distracted; and, to prevent his following you himself, I was obliged to promise him to bring you back, if I overtook you. I thought him absolutely sincere in the resolution he had taken to let me conduct you to Fort H—— but your precipitate flight, and the transports of grief he discovered when we found you were gone, convinced me I had been deceived in his intentions. I beg you to believe, miss, continued he, that I will never join with my brother in laying any force on your inclinations. Since the doctor is discovered to be alive, he may appear again in public, and renew his pretensions: and if you can venture to put so much confidence in my honor, the chaise is not far off, allow me to conduct you to Fort H——.” There appeared so much good-nature and sincerity in this offer, that I made no scruple to comply with it; telling the doctor, I should be obliged to him if he would accompany us. Mr. Belmein understood this invitation to be the effect of some distrust I still entertained of him: however, he suppressed his resentment, and offered me his hand to lead me to the chaise. I gave the countryman what little money I had in my pocket, for the timely assistance he had afforded me, promising him he should be further rewarded; and taking leave of the good woman, who loaded me with blessings and praises, I walked, attended by my two protectors, to the place where Mr. Belmein had ordered the chaise to wait, not doubting, as he told me, but that he should find me at that house where I had took refuge, the man having informed him I had gone that way. As soon as I was seated in the chaise, Mr. Belmein and the doctor mounted their horses, which the countryman had led after them. We reached Fort H—— in a little time; and the chaise had no sooner stops at the gate than Mr. Belmein approached, and asked me if I had any commands for his brother. I told him I had not; but, in the most grateful manner, expressed my sense of the obligations he had laid upon me, by the generous part he had acted. “But, miss, replied he, consider how deeply this cruel indifference will affect my brother. I left him plunged in the most frightful despair; shall I add to it, by telling him you have resolved to forget him eternally?” “Sir, answered I, the governor is shortly expected in A——: if my father and he consent to my marriage with your brother, I shall then consider whether it will be proper for me to pardon captain Belmein the insults he has presumed to offer me.” Mr. Belmein, who seemed not to approve this haughty answer, took his leave with a very low bow, and, without speaking to the doctor, took the road to his own house. The sentinels having informed their commander I was at the gates, he came out with his daughter to receive me. As soon as we were conducted to an apartment, the doctor discovered himself to Mr. Vere, so was the lieutenant called, and acquainted him with the whole story of his supposed death, suppressing only some circumstances which related to me. When he had an opportunity of speaking to me apart, he did not fail to insinuate, that the passion he felt for me had suggested to him the design of keeping concealed, to prevent captain Belmein’s meeting me; and inquired, though with much caution, into the particulars of my being carried away. As it was not my business to conceal any part of that adventure, I related it without disguise, as well to the lieutenant and his daughter as to him; only my pride made me drop the circumstance of captain Belmein’s insolent proposal. I had the satisfaction to hear my behavior applauded with the highest marks of admiration; and the doctor, taking occasion to compliment me upon the address I discovered in getting out of the house, gave me a look which declared, in a very intelligible manner, how much he was interested in what I had done.
Though my impatience to return home was a little checked by the remembrance of Maynard, yet my heart, exulting with pride at the proof I had given of the exactest obedience to my father’s will, longed to receive the praises I thought I had so justly merited. I was, with some difficulty, persuaded to inform my friends where I was, and wait till they sent for me. At last I consented, and wrote to my brother an exact detail of all that had happened to me, entreating him to procure me a favorable reception, unmixed with any persecutions on Maynard’s account. Mr. Vere dispatched away a messenger with this letter immediately, and four days after I had the pleasure of seeing my dear brother, who embraced me with inexpressible joy, and presenting me with a billet from my father, left me at liberty to read it, while he congratulated the doctor on his return to the world, as he called it. I opened my father’s letter with a mixture of hope and fear, and read as follows:
It is not enough to tell you, my dear child, that I approve your conduct: I shall love and esteem you the better for it as long as I live. You may depend upon the promise I now give you, that you shall suffer no more uneasiness upon Mr. Maynard’s account. I could wish, indeed, that gentleman was less disagreeable to you; but since you know so well how to maintain the honor of your family, I will wave the consideration of your interest, to leave your inclinations absolutely free.
When I had read this letter, I kissed the dear name at the bottom with the utmost reverence and affection; and running to my brother, embraced him a second time, for being the messenger of such good news. “It must be confessed, my dear Harriot, said he, (drawing me to a window) that you have acted with uncommon prudence, against the insolent attempts of your lover; and if you could be capable of refusing him, though offered by the governor himself for your husband, I should be almost ready to worship that noble pride in you, that would exalt you so far above the rest of your sex.” “I am afraid, replied I, (laughing) the governor will never put it in my power to merit the adoration you offer me; but, however that may be, I can assure you my heart is at present entirely easy with respect to captain Belmein.” My brother, to whom this assurance was infinitely agreeable, told me we should set out for A—— early in the morning, having left orders for a chaise and pair to follow him to Fort H——. Accordingly, as soon as it was light, we rose, and, having breakfasted with the obliging miss Vere and her father, we prepared for our journey. My brother offered the doctor, who was going with us, a place in the chaise, on account of his late illness; but he very slightly refusing it, I made a sign to my brother not to press it any farther, and by that means had the pleasure of having him to myself the whole way. My brother having brought two servants with him, which, with the doctor and himself, made up a number sufficient to guard me, in case captain Belmein was mad enough to make any new attempt, I suffered no apprehensions upon that account. We arrived at A—— late at night. My father was in bed; but hearing I was come, he gave orders for me to come immediately into his chamber. I threw myself on my knees at his bed-side: he raised me up, and embracing me tenderly, gave the highest encomiums to my behavior, which he said had endeared me to him in a very particular manner. My mother also condescended to kiss me, and assured me she was quite satisfied with my conduct. I was going to acquaint them with some particulars that had not come to their knowledge, but my father insisted upon my retiring immediately to my own chamber, being apprehensive that I was greatly fatigued. I obeyed instantly, and got to my room time enough to prevent my dear Fanny from rising to meet me, who was just told that I was come: she hung upon my neck in a transport of joy, and bathed my face with her tears. My governess, who tenderly loved me, drew me out of my sister’s arms to embrace me in her turn. As she was a woman of extreme good sense, she placed the merit of my behavior to my lover in so new a light, as quite charmed me; and, tired as I was, I could readily have listened to her all night upon so interesting a subject as my own praise. At last, however, I went to bed; and was scarce dressed next morning, when a servant came to tell me my mother expected me to breakfast. I inquired if there was any company with her, and being told Mr. Maynard and the doctor were there, I promised to attend her immediately. I did not fail, however, to consult the glass first several times, and was not displeased to find my charms had suffered no diminution from the fatigues I had gone through. How despicable, dear Amanda, have I since thought this vice, for which coquetry is too soft a name, that could make me take pleasure in appearing lovely to the eyes of a man whom I detested! Nothing but my strict regard to truth could induce me to confess how absolutely this folly engrossed me.
I went to my mother’s apartment, full of that ill-natured pleasure which the consciousness of being able to give pain inspired. Mr. Maynard, the moment I appeared, turned pale; but recovering himself immediately, congratulated me on my safe return. I received his compliments with an indifference, which occasioned several significant frowns from my mother: however, she engaged the doctor in a conversation that left Maynard the liberty of entertaining me; and I was obliged to listen to several set-speeches, which I suppose had been studied the night before, that expressed the extreme joy he felt in seeing me again. When I was relieved from this uneasy situation I retired to my own chamber, not a little chagrined to find my mother absolutely bent to favor Mr. Maynard, in opposition to the generous promise my father had given me.
There was now great preparations making in A— — for the reception of the governor. My father, whatever cause he had to be dissatisfied with him, took care he should be received with all possible respect. Every one was solicitous to see the manner of his reception, but myself: pride and resentment kept me at home; and though I might have seen part of the pageantry from my window, yet I never once offered to look out. It was evening before the governor could disengage himself from the great number of gentlemen that came to compliment him upon his arrival, and because he would not be outdone by my father in politeness, he resolved to make him a visit before he went to bed. Accordingly he came up to the Fort, attended by several gentlemen who came with him from N——. My father, who was extremely surprised at this unexpected visit, had but just time to order the guard to draw out to receive him when he entered the gate. The moment the governor came into the hall I was passing through it, to retire into my own apartment, intending to avoid the sight of a person whom I could not choose but hate, for the mortifications he had occasioned me; but the old gallant, who had been a widower scarce two months, no sooner saw me hastily running by him than he crossed in my way, and, making a false step, his head fell directly on my neck. I blushed excessively at this accident; but he recovering himself, looked earnestly at me for a moment, and then took occasion to say some smart things upon the happy position in which he fell. My confusion had been so great, that I had all this time continued silent; when the governor taking my hand to lead me into a parlor, I accidentally turned my eyes upon some of the gentlemen who accompanied him, and, to my great amazement, saw Dumont among them, whose eyes were riveted upon my face; and when he had fixed my attention, gave me one of those expressive looks, which of all men in the world he had the greatest command of. The sight of this lovely youth gave me an emotion, which, I believe, was very visible in my countenance; for my vanity immediately considered myself as the cause of that tender melancholy I observed in his looks. I took the first opportunity of retiring from the company; and, when I was at liberty to reflect, could not help admiring the fantastical effects of my destiny, which had no sooner deprived me of one lover than it gave me another to repair the loss. However, I had not levity enough to triumph greatly at this adventure: Dumont was too dangerously lovely to make it safe to trifle with his affection; and the inevitable bar, his religion, and his engagement to another lady, put between us, prevented my indulging any thoughts of a serious inclination for him. All this time I heard nothing of Belmein; and though I earnestly wished to know upon what terms he stood with his father, my pride would not stoop to ask the doctor any questions about him, notwithstanding his interest with the governor assured me he could satisfy my curiosity. However, he relieved my anxiety by introducing a conversation one day about captain Belmein; and took occasion to say carelessly, that he had been in N—— some days, from whence he was to go to Jamaica with General B—— and make his first campaign in the quality of a volunteer. Though I had pretty well conquered my affection for Belmein, I could not hear that he was shortly to leave the province, with absolute indifference. The alteration this news made in my countenance did not escape the penetration of the doctor, who seemed to read my very soul. He was malicious enough to dwell upon the ungrateful subject, and I was obliged to quit him abruptly, in order to hide my concern. My brother met me as I was hastening to my own room, and seeing some tears steal down my cheeks, which I endeavored in vain to conceal, he asked me tenderly the cause; adding, that he supposed I had heard some news of Belmein. As nothing but the strongest necessity could ever force me to tell a falsehood, I immediately acknowledged my present uneasiness was owing to something the doctor had told me concerning captain Belmein. “Well, dear Harriot, said he, can you think this weakness you discover, for a man who has so unworthily forsaken you, pardonable?” “He is, indeed, gone to N— — replied I, (a little vexed at my brother’s insinuation;) but there is no certainty that he has, or can be able to forsake me, as you call it.” “What, answered my brother, has not the doctor told you that the governor showed him a letter from Belmein, in which he solemnly renounced all pretensions to you?” “Oh heavens! cried I, (lifting up my eyes) can there be so much perfidy in man!” “Alas, dear Harriot, said my brother, (smiling) there is nothing surprising in all this: these violent passions prey upon themselves. Your lover’s flame burnt too fiercely to last; and, but for the opposition it met with, would have died of itself.” My brother knew enough of my temper to be assured the certainty of my lover’s infidelity would, by a natural effect of my pride, entirely erase him from my heart.
The governor, however, satisfied with having prevented his son’s marriage, took all opportunities of expressing the highest admiration of me. My father having invited him, together with the gentlemen who came from N— — to dinner, he complained, in very gallant terms, of the disappointment it was to him that I did not appear at table; and being told by my mother, that I expected his excellency at the tea-table, as soon as dinner was over, he begged leave to wait on me, in my apartment. As I had too much reason to imagine he hated me in his heart, I was horribly vexed at his affectation of distinguishing me so particularly; and though I did not seem displeased with his seating himself near me, and endeavoring to engage me in a particular conversation, yet I could not avoid letting several satirical touches escape me: but this did not offend him. On the contrary, he seemed charmed with my wit; and, when he left me, told a gentleman who was near him, that I was certainly one of the finest girls in the world.
Dumont, who had watched for an opportunity of speaking to me, took the governor’s place the moment he had left it. “I see, said he, (smiling) there is nothing impossible to a person of your merit; and the governor’s advanced age will hardly defend him against the force of your attractions.” “Would it were possible, returned I, (without minding his compliment) to make a conquest of that inexorable heart of his! I should take an infinite deal of pleasure in using him ill.” “Ah, there is no one doubts it, interrupted Dumont: I am but too sensible of your abuse of power.” According to the rules I had prescribed myself in my behavior to this gentleman, there was a necessity for seeming displeased at this insinuation. I frowned in so intelligible a manner, that he did not dare to explain it any other way than by some very deep sighs, a sort of eloquence in love which I very well understood, and was always pleased with, as it gave me an opportunity of triumphing in a passion I was at liberty to dissemble the knowledge of.
Mr. Maynard, whose love was less delicate, and who aimed more at the possession of my person than my heart, had never ceased employing all the influence he had with my mother and father to force me to be his wife. My father, however, positively declared against violent measures; and my brother contented himself with only representing to me, mildly, the advantages I lost by refusing Maynard. He had now received letters from England, which informed him he was appointed commander of a man of war. This news made him redouble his solicitations; and my father, at his and my mother’s repeated instances, again press me to receive him for a husband. I assumed courage enough to tell my father, that I would rather die than consent to be the wife of Maynard; and, throwing myself all in tears at his feet, put him in mind of the promise he had given me never to lay any constraint upon my inclinations. He raised me with much tenderness, and assuring me he meant to keep his word, went to Mr. Maynard, who waited the result of our conversation in another room with my mother, and, relating the unalterable aversion I had to an union with him, declared he could resolve to press me no farther. My mother broke into the most violent expressions of rage against me; and Maynard, after complaining bitterly of my obstinacy, took his leave, and set out immediately for N, from whence he designed to embark for England. His absence, for some days, brought me very little relief. Though I was no longer seized with his importunities, yet my mother’s ill-humor, which showed itself upon all occasions, left me but very little quiet. My father also seemed displeased with me; and my brother behaved with a reserve, that expressed his dissatisfaction at my conduct. The uneasiness this general resentment gave me, made me take no pleasure in the diversions that A—— was full of, during the governor’s stay. I avoided going into company, where I was sure of meeting with severe looks, and distant reproaches, from my mother; and I kept my chamber so constantly, that Dumont had never any opportunity of seeing me. But as he attended the governor when he came to the Fort to pay his last visit, I could make no excuse for refusing to be present. The governor, keeping up the spirit of his admiration of me to the last, expressed himself in very respectful terms as he took his leave of me; but as I carefully avoided any discourse with Dumont, I could only understand by his looks how much my indifference affected him.
My whole care was now bent towards pleasing my father, and removing all traces of the resentment he might have conceived at my refusal of Maynard. I was so happy as to succeed in my endeavors, and he redoubled his fondness for me. But, alas, this felicity did not continue long! A short illness deprived me of the best of fathers, and the world of the best of men. He died universally lamented; but he left his family in a very unhappy situation. His death opened the door to those cruel adventures in which I have been since engaged, and from this fatal period my numberless misfortunes took their rise. Though my father’s allowance from the government had been very large, yet as his affairs were pretty much involved when he left England, and he had enjoyed his post in America but a short time, he had not been able to save much for our support. My mother, upon examining his accounts, found there was about four hundred pounds in the agent’s hands, which was a very trifling addition to her pension, and not sufficient to support any remains of that affluence we had always been used to. She did not fail to remind me frequently of my folly and disobedience, in refusing a husband in Mr. Maynard’s genteel circumstances; but her reproaches were not confined to him. The doctor, who had long indulged a passion for me, made no scruple, upon my father’s death, to address me openly; and my mother, who once would have thought it great insolence in him to pretend to me, was now offended in the highest degree at my absolutely refusing to give him any encouragement.
Having discharged most part of her servants, she set out for N—— with my sister Fanny and me. My brother, though determined to return to Jamaica, could not think of leaving my mother, in the deep affliction in which she was involved. He accompanied us to N— — where we were received with all that politeness and humanity, which that place is distinguished for towards strangers. As there was no family in that city with whom we were so intimate as Dumont’s, I saw myself exposed every day to his assiduities; but they were attended with such an unwearied tenderness, such a distant respect, as was amazing in a person who had been always the object of general admiration. He was so much the darling of the ladies in N— — that it seemed as if all their endeavors to charm were for him; and happy was she, who could boast of having made the slightest impression on his heart. ’Tis no wonder if, blest with every advantage that nature and fortune could bestow on him, his numberless successes with the fair should raise in him a conscious sense of his superior merit: but it was, indeed, surprising that this gay triumpher should so far forget his former pride, as to bear with the most servile patience all the froward, insolent humours of a girl, who possessed no visible advantage over many that secretly sighed for him. But Dumont had a native delicacy of soul, which made those easy conquests disgustful to him; and that haughty indifference I discovered, as it had all the charms of novelty, contributed more than any thing to increase the passion he felt for me. Though my father’s death had given my mind a melancholy turn, yet I was not insensible to the pleasure of being admired. My little poetical productions gained me an applause I was far from thinking I deserved: but my youth and sex stamped a kind of unquestionable merit on my writings, and procured me the addresses of all the wits; an incident that did not fail to increase my vanity. N—— was the seat of love and gallantry; the whole business of the ladies was to please, as that of the men to persuade them they did so. Though it is possible I had as much the principle of coquetry in me as any of them, I could not approve the gay liberties they indulged themselves in. While I aimed at inspiring a delicate and respectful passion, they gloried in giving birth to the most boundless wishes. To correct this false taste I wrote several little pieces, which, though they missed the effect intended by them, produced a severe copy of verses on myself; and that you may have some notion of their satire, I’ll insert them.
Pr’ythee, poetic prude, give o’er
Thy vestal airs; they’ll cheat no more.
Thy heart in each disguise we know;
Thou’rt woman, and a frail one too.
Thy eyes are honest, and reveal
The native warmth thy arts conceal;
And their fond languish what inspires
But those internal hidden fires,
Which the soft breath of love can raise
Into a fierce and boundless blaze!
There is much more ill-nature than wit in these verses; but I had the satisfaction to find my friends eager to answer them in kind, and I was as amply revenged as I could desire. But I dwell too long upon these trifling incidents; and, indeed, I should not have mentioned them at all, were it not to give you some idea of the gallantry practiced at N— — and of that spirit of emulation and envy which prevails among the ladies there.
We had been some months in this place, when my mother, uncertain whether to settle here or return to England, received a letter from a sister of hers, who was the widow of a baronet, and in very genteel circumstances. This lady had been my god-mother, and had conceived a very strong affection for me: she earnestly entreated my mother to send me over to England, promising to provide for me as her own child. My mother, who was extremely glad of this opportunity to lessen the expense of her family, by parting with one whom, of all her children, she least regarded, consented to send me over in the Spring, it being then the beginning of Winter. This delay at any other time would have been very mortifying to one of my precipitate temper; but it was now rendered agreeable, as I was no longer in a situation to make my leaving N—— indifferent to me. You may possibly wonder, my dear Amanda, that my heart, after being touched with a sincere tenderness for captain Belmein, should easily admit of another inclination. If this was levity, I must take shame to myself, and own I began to lose insensibly my indifference with regard to Dumont. I could not behold, without a secret pleasure, the silent passion which consumed him, and of which I knew myself the cause. I blushed when I met his tender glances; my eyes insensibly fixed themselves on his lovely face; I sighed by sympathy whenever he did, and yet was ignorant that I did so: He never approached me but my heart felt an involuntary transport, and a tender languor seized upon my spirits the moment he went away. I had often pretended to some judgment in matters of love, yet so blindly confident was I of myself, that these certain symptoms escaped my observation; and I suffered the encroaching passion to steal upon me by imperceptible degrees, and yet triumphed in the indifference with which I thought I repaid the passion of the most beautiful and deserving youth in the world. Had I in the least suspected I could have fallen again into a weakness, by which I had suffered so many disquiets, I would have summoned all my reason to oppose the growing flame; but, in the false security I then lived, I attributed all the emotions with which my heart was agitated, to a principle of self-love and vanity, which made me take a more than ordinary pleasure in the adorations of such an accomplished lover as Dumont. However, an accidental discovery of my sentiments to myself, drew me out of this dangerous security. One day when I was sitting with one of Dumont’s sisters, with whom I had a particular friendship, a letter drops out of her pocket, which I taking up and offering to give her, “Read it, said she, ’tis from miss Lucy Belmein.” I read it accordingly, and found nothing in it which affected me till I came to the bottom, and saw it signed EMILIA. As this was the name Dumont gave me in several copies of verses he addressed to me, I could not choose but be surprised to find it assumed by another. At that instant an universal trembling seized me, my heart beat as if it would leave my breast, and, with a faltering accent, I inquired how long miss Belmein had bore that name: “Oh, a long time, she replied; it was given to her by a person who has endeavored to render it famous. I’ll show you, continued she, some lines that he has addressed to her, on her hiding her face with her fan at the last assembly.” Immediately she gave me a paper of verses in Dumont’s hand-writing, and obliged me to read them aloud: a task, though I found myself very unfit for, I was obliged to comply with.
By Phoebus scorch’d on Lybia’s sands
Lies poor expiring man,
‘Till pitying Jove the clouds commands
To interpose their rain:
So to the bright Emilia’s eyes,
Unskreen’d, the gazers yield;
But Pallas to this fan’s disguise
Transforms her guardian shield;
In kind compassion spreads the shade
Before that angel face;
Too bright thy beauty, heavenly maid,
In one unclouded blaze!
While I was reading these lines I could scarce command my concern. Involuntary sighs rushed from my bosom, my eyes were filled with tears, I felt a painful anguish at my heart, and was surprised at it. Could it be possible for disappointed pride to work such an effect! I dreaded looking into my own thoughts, lest I should discover the progress Dumont had made in my affection. Unwilling as I was to acknowledge my weakness to myself, yet I was but too sensible that I loved him. I was amazed how I could be so long ignorant of a passion, that was capable of giving me such torturing jealousy. I was convinced miss Belmein was the person he really loved, and his professions to me served only to conceal the real object of his affection. My behavior to him now took a different turn: that laughing indifference I formerly assumed, was now changed to a settled, serious scorn. I never looked on him but with frowns; and when I was under a necessity of speaking to him, it was with such a constrained civility as seemed to cover a strong aversion. This treatment affected him with the deepest concern; but I was too prejudiced to perceive it. I was continually making discoveries, as I imagined, of his attachment to miss Belmein; and it is certain, there seemed to be a regular correspondence between them. What uneasy pangs have I suffered when I observed them talk apart, as they often did! How have I interpreted every look and motion, as my disordered fancy suggested! I envied her the possession of his heart; and yet, when I coolly examined my own thoughts, I found I was not so lost to reason as to promise myself any happiness from his love to me. The difference of our religion, and his engagement with another lady, upon which his whole fortune depended, made an honorable union impracticable: and could I think of encouraging a criminal passion? I trembled when I reflected on the dangers to which this fatal inclination exposed me. Alas! in spite of these reasonable reflections, I was still in love, and still unhappy. N—— became odious to me: I could not look upon Dumont without pain; I feared he would discover my weakness; and, to avoid seeing him, I accepted the invitation of a lady of my acquaintance to pass some days with her, at a house she had a few miles from town. The agreeable solitude I went to, seemed to nourish my flame. I passed whole hours alone, recalling the idea of Dumont. But as my passion increased, so did my apprehensions. The more he was beloved, the more dangerous he appeared; yet I could not help wishing he had continued to love me. How would it soothe my grief, thought I, to see him suffer the same disquiets with myself, and sacrifice a tender inclination to a principle of duty, as I do to a sense of honor and virtue.
I was lost in this kind of reflections one day, when I saw him advancing towards me. My heart felt an involuntary transport; as it was not unlikely but this visit to Mrs. Harvey, the lady with whom I was, might be only an excuse to see me; at least, I was willing to believe so. However, I received him with the same cool civility as formerly, and asked him, what had procured us the favor of this unexpected visit. “’Tis no difficult matter, answered he, to guess the motive.” “Perhaps not, interrupted I; but I am the worst guesser in the world, and it is a thousand to one that I mistake.” “Well, then, I’ll tell you, replied he, with a bewitching tenderness in his voice and eyes.” “No, no, said I, dreading as much as I liked this discourse, I hate to be burthened with people’s confidences; for I am sure you designed it should be a secret.” “I would have it a secret, replied he, to every one but you.”
As he spoke these words, we perceived Mrs. Harvey, my rival, and miss Dumont, walking towards us. My jealous suspicions returned at this sight: the mystery of his visit was now explained. “Ah! cried I, (forcing a laugh) it is not so difficult as I imagined, to guess the motive of your coming here. I have found it out this moment.” Dumont stared at me, as if he wished an explanation of these words; but the ladies were so near that he could not ask it. Miss Belmein, as soon as the first compliments at meeting were over, engaged him in a particular conversation: I blushed and turned pale alternately at this sight. Miss Dumont, who watched my looks, seemed to smile maliciously at the alteration which was visible in my countenance. As I knew not how to account for this seeming ill-nature, in one whom I had always regarded as a friend, I felt my uneasiness redoubled. The conversation beginning to languish, Mrs. Harvey, to divert us, led us to a small ascent in the garden, from whence we could behold the sea dashing its waves against the small rocks at the extremity of the shore. The other side afforded a delightful prospect of corn fields and meadows, thick woods and winding valleys, with blue hills at a distance, which seemed to hide their heads in the clouds. “What a fine poetic landscape is here!” said Dumont, (turning to me). “One would think, said Mrs. Harvey, you two, who are favorites of the Muses, might feel some inspiration from this charming place. Come, continued she, (pulling Dumont) sing us some extempore lines this moment.” “Yes, do, added I, and borrow your ideas from that gay bank of flowers there.” “A good hint, miss, replied he, I’ll obey you immediately.” And then sung the following lines:
See how that rose contracts her sweets,
And shyly turns her beauteous head!
So my coy Fair my passion meets,
And vainly lets my sorrows plead.
“Now, miss, said Dumont, pray exert your Muse.” “O, with all my heart, I replied; I’ll contribute to your triumph.” Upon which I sung these words:
See how the roving bee incessant flies
From flow’r to flow’r, and each new fragrance tries!
Fantastic emblem of the lover’s mind!
To change, and dear variety, inclin’d.
I cast an upbraiding glance at Dumont, as I ended these words. “Come, now for the application,” said miss Dumont. “Mine, said I, is to the whole lordly sex in general.” “And yours,” resumed she to her brother. “Let the fair one make it to herself, replied he; since she must certainly know her own picture.” “Ah, then, interrupted Mrs. Harvey, ’tis to one in this company it seems,” (looking on me with a smile). “Nay, madam, replied I, (blushing) ’tis unkind to tempt his discretion thus. Pray let us correct our curiosity, and consider, that few people are in love enough to own it.” Dumont made no other reply to these words than by a look, which methought spoke a great deal.
When the ladies took their leave, he walked at a distance with miss Belmein; and I observed, with some pain, that he was engaged in a very serious conversation with her. After he had handed them into the coach, I expected he would have gone with them; but I was deceived: he made some excuse for staying longer. My resentment at his behavior to miss Belmein was so great, that I hardly deigned to speak to him as we followed Mrs. Harvey to the house. “Dear miss Harriot, said he, (after breathing three or four sighs) will you not tell me what fault I have committed, that has drawn upon me your aversion? Though I have not dared to speak to you of the passion which consumes me, yet I am persuaded you are not ignorant of it. But is excess of love my fault? Tell me, I conjure you, do you hate me because I cannot help adoring you?” “Sure, interrupted I, you think ’tis miss Belmein you are talking to.” “Miss Belmein! said he, (surprised) I don’t understand you! For heaven’s sake explain yourself!” “Nay, answered I, since you have a mind to be so very discreet, and make a secret of your affection for her, I have no intention to oblige you to confess it. But your behavior to that young lady is so very particular, that it is no difficult matter to discover your sentiments.” In spite of my endeavors to the contrary, I could not pronounce these words without a visible emotion. I saw joy sparkle in his eyes. He guessed the cause of my concern. “Oh! cried he, (seizing my hand) how unjustly do you suspect me! I must clear myself, though I betray the trust that is reposed in me. You know captain D— — continued he: he has long loved miss Belmein, and has the happiness of being agreeable to her. When he left N—— he entrusted me with the secret of his passion. I convey all his letters to her, and this confidence creates an intimacy between us, which has given rise to your suspicions. Read this letter, said he, (taking one out of his pocket) ’tis from him, and you will be convinced I tell you nothing but truth.” I took the letter without hesitation, and found it just as he had said. My anger vanished in a moment: I saw immediately through miss Dumont’s artifice, and was convinced she had made use of miss Belmein’s name to discover my sentiments with regard to her brother. That terrible jealousy which had taken possession of my heart, vanished in a moment: my first emotions were all joy. Dumont observed the unguarded transport: he watched my eyes, and read in them every motion of my soul. Emboldened by this discovery, he kissed my hand a thousand times, with an ardor that drew me out of the sweet reverie I was in. I hastily snatched my hand from his: “Oh forgive me, said he, (in the tenderest accent) if I have indulged a hope that you are not displeased to find me faithful.” These words filled me with the utmost confusion: I trembled at the dangerous discovery I had made; and, resolving, if possible, to draw myself out of this perplexity, “If I had vanity enough, said I, (looking on him with a careless smile) to imagine you really loved me, I should certainly envy the prodigious happiness you enjoy this moment, at this imaginary discovery you have made of my sentiments. But, dear Dumont, pursued I, (laughing) confess that I have fairly outwitted you; and, for the future, don’t let a little personated jealousy prevail upon you to give up the secrets of your friends.” I saw he was quite disconcerted at this raillery, and I pursued it with so much art, that he took his leave of me in a disorder, which convinced me my behavior had greatly perplexed him.
You may imagine, my dear friend, that I did not offer so great a violence to my inclinations without feeling a sensible pain. I loved the engaging Dumont, and was convinced I was beloved by him: yet I was under a sad necessity of flying from this dear object of my tenderness; and, to conceal my weakness, I forced myself to treat him with the utmost scorn and indifference, when every look, every tender word, sunk deep into my soul, and gave me agonies impossible to describe.
Such was the state of my mind when I was obliged to return to town. My brother being resolved to go back to Jamaica, where his affairs called him, entreated me to give him my company at home the few days he had to stay. I was struck with horror at the thoughts of parting with this dear brother, who had always discovered for me more than parental affection. My grief produced the most violent effects: I wept continually: and though he employed every soothing art he was master of, to calm my uneasiness; yet I could not behold the day approach, when he was to leave us, without almost sinking under the load of anguish that oppress me. “I must leave you, my dear Harriot, said he, (drawing me aside;) heaven only knows with what regret! But, before I part with you, suffer me to conjure you to persist in the just and becoming resolution you have taken, to avoid Dumont as much as possible. I see you are surprised, continued he; but I am not ignorant that he pretends to love you. Your whole behavior hitherto, has been such as I cannot choose but approve. I am charmed with that diffidence you have showed of yourself, in flying the dangerous addresses of a man so formed to please. True virtue is never without a just distrust of itself. However specious his pretensions may seem, yet ’tis impossible he can have honorable views; and though I will not suppose he has dared to disclose his designs to you, yet as he endeavors, by all the appearances of a respectful passion, to make himself master of your affections, ’tis only by shunning him as you do, that you can promise yourself any security from his artifices.” The confusion I was in, while my brother was speaking, might easily have convinced him how deeply I was interested in what he had said; but without taking notice of it, he pressed me tenderly in his arms. “My dearest sister, continued he, forgive my fears: I own my heart is perpetually alarmed upon your account. A girl of wit and spirit, like you, is exposed to numberless dangers; and were you going to live with a person less prudent than your aunt, Lady L— — I should tremble for the dangerous charms you possess, lest they should expose you to trials, to which all your prudence would be hardly equal.” “Ah, my dear brother, interrupted I, (melting into tears) I hope my conduct shall never give you cause to blush that I am your sister. Whatever may be my situation in -life, the instructions you have given me shall be the rule of my actions.” My brother made no other answer to this than a most affectionate embrace, and then bade me farewell, with eyes swimming in tears. I was not able to speak: oppress with insupportable affliction, I fainted away in his arms; too sad presage of my misfortune! Alas! I never saw this dear, this worthy brother more.
Oh! my Amanda, scarce can I recall the remembrance of that fatal day, without feeling a renewal of all the pangs I suffered. But let me not tire you with a faint imperfect representation of my sorrows, of my wild despair, at parting with the best of friends and brothers. His absence gave me a reasonable excuse for the solitude and grief to which I devoted myself: but the dear, dangerous idea of Dumont intruded itself amidst my complainings for my brother, and claimed, in spite of me, part of the tears I shed. I persisted, however, in so severe a behavior to him, that he never durst entertain me with discourses of his passion, though my intimacy with his sisters gave him frequent opportunities.
The time now approached when I was to leave N— — and not all my resolution could enable me any longer to support an appearance of indifference to Dumont. The deep despair that was visible in his eyes, filled my whole soul with unutterable grief. I could no longer assume my haughty airs when he approached me. Spite of myself, my looks wore a sympathizing sorrow. He took advantage from this alteration in my behavior to him; and having found me one day alone, when he came to make me a visit, he threw himself suddenly on his knees before me, and, in the tenderest and most affecting language, begged me not to leave him in that absolute despair, to which my cruelties had reduced him. “Alas, Dumont, said I, (obliging him to quit that posture) what is it you expect from me? If it be really true that you love me as much as you would have me believe, my situation and yours leave me only the power of pitying you.” “I know, replied he, (eagerly) all the objections you can make against admitting my addresses: you may urge my engagement to my cousin, and the difference of our religion; but these obstacles are slight, in comparison of your insensibility. Oh! pursued he, (grasping my hand) little do you know with what excess of tenderness I love you. I became a captive to your almost infant-beauties; and, while we continued on board the same vessel, what torments did I not endure in my endeavors to vanquish my fatal passion! When the happy Belmein was upon the point of becoming your husband, the impossibility there appeared of ever making you mine, and the thousand arts I used to forget you, though they could not cure me, yet abated the violence of my anguish. But when I saw you again, cried he, (looking on me with eyes sparkling with tenderness) when I beheld you more lovely than ever, and heard you the universal object of every one’s esteem and admiration, my smothered passion blazed with more violence than ever. I have adored you ever since; and if it had been possible for any thing to have conquered my affection for you, your uncommon severity would have done it.” “Oh Dumont! interrupted I, (struggling to suppress my tears) leave me, I beg you: I cannot bear to hear your complaints. To what purpose do you endeavor to melt me thus? I have, indeed, as you say, treated you harshly; but my duty, my honor, obliged me to it.” Dumont, who, from the moment I began to speak, had gazed on me with a fixed attention, observing the disorder I was in, which would scarce allow me to utter a word without stopping to take breath; “Is it possible, said he, that I could be mistaken in the cause of your ill-usage of me! Have you not hated me, then?” “Alas, replied I, (no longer able to restrain my tears) reproach me no more! Did you know what my soul feels this moment, you’d pity me.” “Good God! said Dumont, (starting from his seat) what means this! You weep, my lovely, my adorable Harriot! I dare not suppose I can be the cause of this affliction.” “Yet spare me, I conjure you, interrupted I, (half dead with shame and grief) spare me the confusion of telling you what I could wish you knew. Can you not give a name to this distress? But why do I trifle! I shall never see you more: I have given to virtue all that it can demand of me. I am going to leave you for ever: but shall I leave you in the cruel belief of my ingratitude? Yes, dear Dumont, cried I, (with precipitation) I love you. Oh, would to heaven I could say my passion was as justifiable as ’tis sincere.” “Sure, said my transported lover, I do but dream! love me, do you say? But why do I doubt it! cried he, (clasping me eagerly in his arms) those dear enchanting eyes confess it. Never did I behold such softness in them before. My dear, lovely torment, continued he, (pressing me closer to his bosom) my bliss, my pain, why have you thus long persecuted me with an appearance of hatred?” “Oh Dumont! cried I, (breaking from his arms, and blushing at the liberty he had taken) how well does your behavior reproach me for the confidence I repose in you!” “Ah, for heaven’s sake, resumed he, forgive the transport of a man whom your rigors had reduced to the deepest despair; and now, made wild with joy, know not what he does or says.” “Yet hear me calmly, I replied: ’tis true I love you, I will not blush to own it, since, in the resolution I have taken, I have nothing to reproach myself with. I acknowledge myself obliged to you for that excess of tenderness with which you have regarded me; nor could I defend my heart from feeling for you all that affection you could have wished to inspire me with. Fate has put a bar between us; but, inevitable as it is, it has not hindered me from loving you: and that I have concealed my sentiments with so much care, you must impute to my fixed resolution of conquering a passion I could never hope to indulge with innocence. Heaven knows, my heart did not suffer less than yours by the cruel constraint I put on myself; but my virtue demanded this sacrifice of me. Do not condemn me then, dear Dumont. Pity my distress, and the sad necessity which obliges me to fly you for ever.” “Ah Harriot! returned he, (sighing) where have you learned this refined reasoning, and how long have you been governed by those false principles of honor and virtue, which teach you ’tis a less crime to precipitate a wretch, who adores you, into the extremes” misery, than to grant the smallest concession to ascertain his happiness?” “What is it you say? interrupted I, (with some emotion) What concession can I possibly make you, without endangering my honor and reputation? Ah, know me better, Dumont! and do not imagine my tenderness for you can ever influence me to an action unworthy of my birth and sentiments.” “By heaven you wrong me! said my lover. Your honor shall ever be sacred with me: I would lose my dearest blood in its defense. But oh, my lovely Harriot, is there not something due to love! Shall our mutual affection serve only to increase our misery! I will not suppose my charming angel can ever be influenced by views of interest; and though, by refusing the lady to whom my infant-vows were engaged, I sacrifice all my expectations of a splendid fortune, and reduce myself to the small competency I hold independent of my father; yet sure my excess of love will, in some measure, compensate for my want of fortune. Suffer me then, my dearest Harriot, to hope you will consent to our union when we arrive in England. I will take a passage in the same ship with you: my father will readily consent to my going, if I tell him ’tis with an intention to visit my cousin. See, my dearest creature, how every thing favors us! But, alas, you frown, you seem displeased. Can it be possible, that, after having been happy enough to gain your heart, I should have any more obstacles to surmount.” “Ah Dumont! returned I, do you think I am so little capable of governing an unhappy passion, as to consent to indulge it at the expense of your ruin and my own quiet? Shall I allow you to expose yourself to the resentment of all your relations, forsake a lady to whom you are solemnly contracted, and reduce yourself from a state of affluence, to one unworthy of your merit, for an unhappy girl, who can bring you nothing but herself? But, were I weak enough to consent you should involve yourself in this misery, know there is another powerful bar to our union. I never disobeyed my father while he lived: dying, he left me an absolute command never to marry any one of your religion, however advantageous it might be to my interests. Alas! continued I, (my eyes streaming with tears at the mention of that honored name) I would suffer a thousand deaths rather than break the solemn vow I made, never to disobey him in so important a point. See, dear Dumont, the insurmountable obstacles which fate has put between us! Call it not cruelty then, if I resolve to see you no more: if you do not desire to have me miserable, conquer this fatal passion, and do not interrupt my endeavors to restore myself to that tranquillity which you have deprived me of.”
Dumont, who, all the time I had been speaking, had sat leaning his head upon one of his hands, looked up when I had finished, and showed me his face all bathed in tears. “Oh heavens! cried he, you have indeed raised an insurmountable bar to my happiness. Am I then doomed to lose you, because my principles in religion differ from yours? Alas, my lovely Harriot! said he, it is decreed that I must be miserable for ever. Though I look upon the possession of you to be the sublimes” happiness that any man can arrive at in this world, yet I cannot consent to purchase it by changing my religion. The man who could basely forsake the principles he was bred in, from any other motive than a conviction that they are false, must render himself unworthy the blessing of being yours.” “Do not imagine, interrupted I, that I could be capable of approving your change, if you only made a sacrifice of your religion to love. No, whenever that happens, may it be the effect of reason and conviction. But, believe me, dear Dumont, though you really profess the same principles with myself, I would never consent to your breaking through your engagement with your cousin, and sacrificing your fortune for me. Submit then patiently, I conjure you, to that cruel destiny which divides us. Conquer your passion, if you are able: but be assured, neither time or absence shall ever force me to forget you.”
I was going on when I observed a mortal paleness overspread his face: he fixed his eyes on me with a look so full of sweet unutterable sorrow, that, quite melted with the sight, and fearing lest my resolution should fail me, I rose from my seat; “Farewell, dear Dumont, cried I, (bursting into tears) I cannot, dare not stay any longer: I am not able to support my own affliction, and the sight of yours.” As I said these words I moved towards the door, when Dumont hastily following me, “At least, cried he, (spreading his arms) give me the comfort of a last embrace.” I made no answer, but gently reclining my head upon his shoulder, suffered him to clasp me in his arms, while my tears and sighs left me not the power of uttering a word. “Oh heavens! said my lover, (pressing me to his bosom with inconceivable transport) shall this dear embrace be the last I must ever receive?” “Alas! interrupted I, (struggling to get loose) forget me, dear Dumont. All that we have both to do now is, to banish all hope of ever meeting again.”
My mother calling me that instant, Dumont threw himself suddenly at my feet, “If you do not wish, said he, (eagerly) to see me breathe out my life the moment you prepare to leave me, grant me one favor, I conjure you.” “Well, answered I, (with a voice interrupted with sighs) all that I can grant with honor, I will.” “Promise me, pursued he, for one year to remain unmarried, and do not in that time endeavor to forget me.” “Without inquiring into your reasons for making this request, replied I, I promise you, upon my honor, to comply with it.” Dumont at these words rose up immediately, and was making an effort to fold me once more in his arms, when my sister Fanny opened the door. I immediately took notice that her eyes were red, as if she had been weeping; and hastily asking the cause, “My mother answered she, has just been informed that the ship, in which you are to go, sails in two days. Judge, continued she, (the tears streaming down her sweet face) if I can hear this news with indifference!”
Dumont that instant, making a hasty bow, rushed out of the room, and left us at liberty to indulge our mutual grief, for a parting which the excess of tenderness we had for each other made almost insupportable.
My mother having sent for me up to her chamber, after discoursing to me a long time, with her usual distance and reserve, upon the subject of my affairs, and the methods I should use to gain the favor of my aunt, who was in a condition to make me a very genteel fortune; told me, that she expected I should show the utmost respect and obedience to my governess, under whose care I was to continue, ‘till she delivered me up to my aunt. I promised her, with great readiness, to obey her most punctually in this particular; for, indeed, Mrs. Blandon had not only rendered herself dear to me, by the uncommon tenderness she discovered for me, but I reverenced and esteemed her good sense, and the many amiable qualities she possessed. I spent that night and the following day in endeavors to comfort my dear Fanny, who was almost inconsolable at the thoughts of parting; but my mother having promised to let her make a visit to my eldest sister, who lived in Philadelphia, she was a little composed.
Dumont, who had often begged for another interview, which I constantly refused, at last wrote to me; and, in the most tender and moving terms imaginable, conjured me to give him a confirmation, under my hand, of the promise I had made him when we parted. I had scarce finished my answer to this billet, in which I made no scruple to comply with his request, when a servant came to tell me, the captain of the ship had sent to desire we would come on board immediately. My dearest Fanny threw herself, half dead, into my arms at these words. My own affliction was so great, that I was not able to comfort her. We continued weeping in this posture so long, that Mrs. Blandon came up to hasten me. “Alas, my dear children, said she, (excessively moved at the condition she found us in) why do you afflict yourselves in this manner for a short absence! Your mother will soon come to England herself, and then you’ll meet again. Come, continued she, (embracing my sister) don’t afflict miss Harriot too much with the sight of your grief. Consider, the weight of this parting falls heaviest upon her. You have your mother and eldest sister with you, but she, poor child! has only me to comfort her.” Fanny, whose temper was truly generous, was so struck with Mrs. Blandon’s remonstrance, that she composed herself immediately; and, after embracing me two or three times with an excess of tenderness, we followed Mrs. Blandon down stairs. I had just time, before I went into my mother’s room, to give Fanny my billet to Dumont, conjuring her to deliver it with the utmost secrecy, which she faithfully promised. I then went in to take leave of my mother, with whom I found some company, who were come to go with me to the water-side. I kneeled to my mother to receive her blessing, kissing at the same time her hands, which I bathed with my tears. She blessed and kissed me several times, but with a composure that greatly astonished me. I left her at last, strongly affected with the indifference she discovered; and, with my sister Fanny, and the rest of the company, walked to the water side, where a boat waited to carry us to the ship, which lay at some distance. My heart died within me, when the man held out his hand to help me in. I turned to take another embrace of my dear sister, who, remembering Mrs. Blandon’s words, suppressed her tears, and recommended to me to be cheerful and composed. The rest of the company saluted me with much tenderness, and I steps into the boat, followed by Mrs. Blandon; who, the moment we put off from shore, employed her utmost endeavors to comfort me. I kept my eyes constantly fixed on my dearest sister as long as I could see her; and being at last come close to the ship, I was helped up and received by the captain with much respect.
The extreme melancholy which wholly engrossed me, made me choose to retire immediately to the cabin allotted for my governess and me, which was the best in the ship. The first days of our voyage I spent in continual grief; but by degrees my temper returned to its natural sprightliness, and I began to reflect with pleasure on the agreeable and splendid life I was going to lead with my aunt. We had been about ten days at sea, when the sailors, discovering a sail, threw us into the most dreadful apprehensions, by declaring, some time after, that it was a Spanish privateer. As the captain acknowledged he was incapable of making any defense, we saw no possibility of escaping the danger which threatened us. I will not pretend to describe the horrors with which I was seized: I fell on my knees, and, leaning my head on my governess’ lap, implored the protection of heaven, and resolved in that posture to expect my fate. Mrs. Blandon endeavored to calm my fears, by all the arguments her reason could suggest. But while she was thus employed, a horrid noise we heard upon deck so alarmed me, that, giving a loud shriek, I fainted away in the arms of my governess; and, when I recovered, found the cabin full of men, who by their appearance, and speaking a language I did not understand, made me immediately conclude we were now in the power of the Spaniards.
At this dreadful sight I closed my eyes again, and, clinging round Mrs. Blandon’s neck, expressed the terror of my soul by my cries and exclamations. The commander of the privateer, moved at the condition I was in, came up to my governess, and desired her, in bad French, to tell the young lady not to fear any thing. The tone of this man’s voice had something so gentle and soft, that I ventured to raise my head and look upon him; while my governess, in the most moving language, begged him to protect us from any ill usage. But the moment the Spanish captain beheld me, he started back; and, with an action that expressed some surprise, stood gazing on me attentively for two or three moments. I drew a good omen from the complaisance which appeared in his looks; and, as I spoke French pretty fluently, added my entreaties to those of my governess, that he would be pleased to treat us as favorably as our circumstances would permit. The captain, with a true Spanish politeness, after making me some romantic compliments on my youth and charms, which he said would render me absolute where-ever I was, gave me the most solemn assurances, that we should be treated with the greatest respect; and, ordering his men to leave every thing that belonged to us untouched, gave me his hand to lead me into his own ship. My tears, which his civility had suspended for a moment, flowed afresh at the mention of leaving the ship: however, I did not dare to refuse, but allowed him to help me into the privateer, which there was no great difficulty in doing, as we only passed over planks that were laid on each vessel. Every thing here had so dreadful an appearance, that I felt all my terrors renewed. The captain led my governess and me into a little place, which he called a cabin, as dismal as the lumber of war could make it: he caused it to be cleared a little, and told us, that all that was necessary for our lodging, &c. should be brought from our own ship; and that he would resign that little apartment entirely to us. I took courage to ask him where he intended to carry us; upon which he replied, that he would make directly for St. Sebastian, which he hoped reach in two or three days. I would fain have asked him, how he intended to dispose of us when we arrived there; but he was obliged to leave us immediately, only begging us, with a respectful bow, not to be under any uneasy apprehensions. When he was gone, Mrs. Blandon, fastening the door, took me in her arms, and embracing me tenderly, Do not afflict yourself, my dear child, said she: your virtue, I hope, is he care of heaven. This Spaniard’s generous behavior is a happy earnest of the interposition of providence in our favor. We are made prisoners, ’tis true; but without any of those hardships which usually accompany such a misfortune. Your youth and merit will procure us a favorable treatment at St. Sebastian; and ’tis probable we shall not long languish under captivity.” My governess touched but slightly on he subject of my fears, that I might not be too much alarmed. The angers to which my honor was exposed, amidst a crew of unlicensed retches, to whom I was a prisoner, filled my whole soul with the most violent disquiets. We passed some hours in a very melancholy situation, he tumultuous noise upon deck keeping our fears constantly awake. All of a sudden it increased in such a manner, that we were under the most terrible consternation. The sailors seemed to run to and fro with the utmost precipitation, hallowing at the same time with so frightful a noise, that, concluding we were in some imminent danger, we cast ourselves upon our knees, imploring, with the utmost fervor, the assistance of heaven. That instant the door of our cabin was burst open; he captain appeared, and hastily raising us from the ground, “This is no place for you now, ladies, said he; I must conduct you to one where you will be less in danger.” “Ah, cried I, whither do you mean to take Is? I will not stir from this place, without you tell me your designs.” ‘Alas, replied the captain, you must not stay here to be exposed to the fire of the enemy. We shall be attacked immediately by a man of war of your own nation. Come, miss, continued he, (taking me up in his arms) whatever is the event of our engagement, you will be safe.” Saying this, e carried me through a dismal dark place into a little cabin, where there were some candles lighted, and two men, who were busy in preparing plasters and bandages. He then opened a little door, which led to another of these miserable dwellings, and seating me upon a great chest, told Mrs. Blandon, who had followed us, that we were in no danger there from the firing; and, begging me to be composed, went away immediately.
He had not been gone many minutes, when, by the horrid noise of the guns, we found they were engaged. The agonies I was indeprived me of my senses: I fell into a swoon, which lasted so long that Mrs. Blandon thought me dead. When I recovered, I found the firing had ceased. My governess hearing me sigh, broke out in an exclamation of joy: “Be comforted, my dear, said she, we shall be freed from the power of these Spaniards: the ship is taken by the English.” The sudden joy which rushed into my soul at this news, was very near depriving me again of life. Immediately the place was filled with the English sailors, who pressed in in the most tumultuous manner. As soon as they spied us, they gave a shout: “Here’s a prize, cries one, (looking at me) well worth fighting for, i’faith.” Mrs. Blandon, immediately rising, demanded, in an assured accent, to be led to their commander, telling them we were English, and made prisoners to the Spaniards but that morning. At these words, a gentleman, who seemed to have some authority over these fellows, advanced towards us: “I suppose, madam, said he to my governess, you were taken in that merchantman we have now recovered from the Spaniards. How fortunately has providence brought us to your relief, to prevent you and that charming young lady from suffering any longer the hardships of captivity! Permit me, ladies, continued he, to lead you out of this dismal place. My uncle, who commands the ship which has rescued you, will, I am persuaded, offer you all the service in his power.” Saying this, he presented me his hand, and, begging Mrs. Blandon to follow us, led me upon deck, which was crowded with the officers and men belonging to the man of war, the Spaniards being all made prisoners, and removed to close quarters.
As soon as the lieutenant (for so we found he was) appeared, leading me by the hand, followed by my governess, the eyes of every one were turned upon us. He presented us to a gentleman, whom we presently knew to be the commander; and, relating what he had heard of our circumstances, begged him to receive us into his protection. The captain listened very attentively to his nephew’s discourse, keeping, at the same time, his eyes constantly fixed on me. When the young gentleman had done speaking, he bowed to us very complaisantly, assuring us we might depend upon his doing every thing in his power to serve us. He then inquired of Mrs. Blandon, if I was her daughter; and, being told by her who I was, he renewed his offers of service, with more politeness than before; and ordered the young lieutenant, his nephew, to convey us to his ship. He seemed to accept of this commission with great pleasure; and, as soon as we got on board the man of war, led us into a magnificent apartment, entreating us to repose ourselves, after the fatigue and uneasiness we had suffered.
My governess, who was anxious to know what had become of our ship, inquired of this gentleman whether the captain was safe, and if he would not be at liberty to prosecute his voyage. “Madam, replied he, we came up with the privateer just as they had manned their prize, which it seems was the ship in which you were, with some of their own men, and were preparing to set sail. The captain and some of his crew were prisoners on board the privateer; but by this time, I imagine, he is restored to the command of his own ship; for the Spaniards on board surrendered it immediately. However, madam, continued he, we are returning to England ourselves, having been sent to convoy some ships to Jamaica; and, I hope, you will consent to finish your voyage with us, where you will be much safer than on board the ship from which you were taken.” Mrs. Blandon replied to this no otherways than by a respectful bow with her head, and the young officer withdrew, leaving us at liberty to reflect on the offer he had made us.
As soon as we were alone, my governess, observing I was greatly indisposed, obliged me to lay myself down upon a couch that was in the room. She then told me, she had resolved to return to our own ship, alleging, that, as we might sail in company with the man of war, which would serve for a convoy to us, we should be as safe as if we continued on board. Though I did not see into Mrs. Blandon’s reasons for taking this resolution, yet I would not pretend to oppose it. However, my illness increased every moment: the continual terrors I had suffered that whole day, worked so forcibly upon my constitution, that I had no longer any strength or spirits left. I was seized with faintings, which returned so frequently upon me, that they almost despaired of my life. The captain, in my intervals of sense, expressed the most obliging concern for my indisposition, and gave orders for his own chamber to be made ready for me. The surgeon having bled me before I was put to bed, and ordered me some proper medicines, I fell into a profound sleep; from which I did not awake till the next morning. I was so well recovered, that my governess was transported with joy: she assisted me to rise; and the doctor, coming in to make me a visit, was infinitely pleased to find his prescriptions had produced so advantageous a change in my health.
I was still too weak to venture out of my chamber; and Mrs. Blandon, upon that account, begged the captain, who had sent several times, to dispense with seeing me that day. Observing our trunks were placed in the room, I asked my governess if she had resolved to stay in this ship. She replied, that my illness had made it impossible to move me into our own; that as soon as the captain had settled every thing relating to the merchant-ship and the privateer, he had given orders to sail immediately: “So that, added she, we must be contented to let him carry us to England.” “There is no great mortification in that, madam, interrupted I, (smiling): methinks we are much better situated here than in our own little paltry ship.” “However, answered my governess, (gravely) I had much rather be there. We are under a necessity of seeing and conversing with a great many gentlemen here; and, as there is no other woman in the ship, besides ourselves, it must necessarily be very disagreeable.” This thought, which had escaped me before, did not fail to make some impression on me now. But though I could have been very well satisfied to have had some of my own sex to converse with; yet the want of that satisfaction did not give me half so much pain, as the respect and assiduity, with which I was treated, gave me pleasure.
The captain, who sent almost every hour to inquire after my health, had ordered the greatest delicacies the ship afforded to be brought to our table. I reflected, with pleasure, on the agreeable manner in which I was like to finish my voyage: and the next day, being perfectly recovered, my governess informed me it would be proper to give the captain my company at table; a favor he had earnestly requested. I readily consented; and Mrs. Blandon, at my desire, went to entertain the captain, till I was ready to make my appearance. Though I was always solicitous enough about my dress, yet today I was at more than ordinary pains in adorning myself; pleased with the thoughts of extending my conquests, and indulging my vanity, by an anticipation of the triumphs I expected to enjoy. Unhappy error! which I cannot enough lament. Fatal source of all my misfortunes! how little did I foresee that the admiration I was so fond of gaining, would be productive of the most cruel events! When I had finished dressing, I took a full survey of myself in the glass; and, after indulging a few moments contemplation, remained perfectly satisfied with my figure.
In the midst of these pleasing sensations, my governess tapped at the door: “Bless me, said she, (when I had opened it) you are extremely fine, miss Harriot! But why this exact care in your dress? Do you think there is a necessity for being so particularly nice, because you are to be seen by two or three gentlemen? Upon this occasion, pursued she, you ought to have diligently avoided extremes, which may possibly subject you to very unfavorable censures.” As Mrs. Blandon did not insist upon my altering my dress, I listened with much good humor to a long lecture she gave me on prudence and reserve; declaring, that although she was absolutely convinced my virtue was proof to any temptation, yet my gay temper, and immoderate desire of pleasing, would insensibly lead me into errors. I was not, however, of my governess’ opinion in this point: I had confidence enough in my wit, to believe it would defend me against all the impertinence of gallantry, without being obliged to suppress the natural sprightliness of my disposition.
When we came into the dining-room, we found two or three gentlemen, besides the captain and his nephew. As I was a good deal used to company, I was not disconcerted at the compliments I received from them all, upon the recovery of my health; but took my place at table with an easy gaiety, which seemed to please them infinitely. After dinner, I took a full survey of the captain’s person, which I had not much considered before. He seemed to be between forty and fifty, his complexion was dark, and his thick black eye-brows hung in a formidable manner over his eye-lids: his eyes had a certain wanton fierceness in them, more apt to create terror than love; however, he seemed to correct their natural ferocity, and softened them into a look most odiously languishing, which would not have failed of exciting my mirth, had I not been restrained by a certain timidity, for which I could not account, as well as by respect. The rest of his face was answerable to what I have already described; and as we are too often ready to receive impressions from external appearances, I found in myself a much stronger inclination to hate than esteem this gentleman.
The captain seemed so perfectly pleased with my company, that he never quitted me the whole day, making me many compliments on the happy chance, as he called it, that had procured him the pleasure of meeting me. I made slight but complaisant answers to all he said; not without observing, that though his agreeable nephew scarce mixed in the conversation, yet his eyes spoke a great deal, and seemed to tell me, in very intelligible language, he sympathized with his uncle in the satisfaction my presence gave him.
The authority Mrs. Blandon assumed over my conduct, seemed to engage the attention of both the uncle and nephew. As they looked upon her as a person to whom I was entrusted, they treated her accordingly with the greatest complaisance. When evening approached, Mrs. Blandon insisted upon my returning to my chamber; alleging, that my late indisposition required that I should retire early to rest. The captain, after having, in vain, opposed our leaving him, led me to my apartment, with a profusion of compliments on my wit and charms. He took his leave at the door, with a most respectful bow; and a little time after sent his servant with several kinds of sweetmeats and preserved fruits. My governess, when we entered the room, had thrown herself into a chair in a pensive posture, when breaking at last a silence which she had kept for some minutes, “I could wish, said she, (with an air of perplexity) that we were treated with less respect and ceremony than I find we are: it would argue a more disinterested kindness.” “Is it possible, madam, interrupted I, (surprised at the mysterious manner in which she spoke) that the civilities we receive, can give you any apprehensions?” “It is certain, my dear, replied she, that I am not quite satisfied with the captain’s extreme assiduities. I think he takes too much notice of you, for a person wholly indifferent; and, since our situation gives him so many opportunities of conversing with you, I wish he may always behave with the respect and distance he ought.” “I cannot agree with you, madam, replied I, in believing the captain has any particular esteem for me: but sure, if it was so, that esteem would only influence him to continue this respectful treatment of me.” “I know not, said my governess, why you have given the name of esteem to those sentiments, which I suspect the captain entertains for you. In generous minds, love often produces the most noble effects; but, in brutal dispositions, it is to be feared that passion is often mistaken for one infinitely worse.”
Mrs. Blandon’s way of reasoning had thrown me into a train of thought, which engrossed me entirely the remainder of the evening. I went to bed, however, a lime dissatisfied with my governess unreasonable apprehensions, and not at all disposed to repent of the effects which I found my charms had produced, in the hearts of both the uncle and nephew. The rolling of the ship in the night had discomposed me so much, that Mrs. Blandon made that an excuse for not allowing me to leave my chamber, till the afternoon. Upon my going into the diningroom, I found only my governess and Mr. Campbel (so was the captain’s nephew called): he came hastily up to me, and, with an obliging concern, inquired after my health. “Mrs. Blandon, miss, pursued he, informed us, that you rested extremely ill last night; but one would not imagine it, from the bloom which sits on your cheeks this moment.” “Nay, this is flattery, indeed, answered I, (smiling, and casting my eyes at the same time on the glass) I never looked so ill in my life.” “And yet you are but too lovely still, resumed Mr. Campbel, (with a sigh); at least, all those who have the misfortune of seeing you today, will say so.” “You certainly design this as a compliment, returned I; but you have succeeded so ill in this your second attempt to flatter, that for the future I would have you confine yourself to plain simple truth.” “Will you allow me then, miss, interrupted he, (hastily) to tell you a plain truth?” “Yes, replied I, (adjusting my hair) provided you will not be tedious.” “But what a careless air you put on! resumed he, (smiling, and taking my hand) is it possible you can be this dear indifferent creature you seem.” “I have met with no one yet to make me otherwise, resumed I, (snatching my hand from him) and ’tis probable my indifference will not be easily surmounted.” “It is but too probable, indeed, said he, (sighing); and though I foresee I shall be unhappy, yet I cannot hinder myself from adoring you.” “I did not expect these free declarations, interrupted I, (with some warmth); and the advantage you take of my present situation, gives me but an indifferent opinion of your generosity.” With these words I turned scornfully from him. His uncle entering that moment, prevented his making me any reply; though, by the extreme concern that appeared in his eyes, it was easy to see my behavior had deeply affected him.
I took this opportunity to inquire after the captain of the Spanish privateer, acknowledging myself much obliged to him for his generous treatment of us, the short time we were his prisoners. The captain very gallantly replied, that, upon that consideration, he should always think himself also greatly obliged to him; and would take care the civilities I d received from him should be amply returned. Then, changing the scourge, he made me observe the extreme melancholy which appeared too plainly upon Mr. Campbel’s countenance. “Certainly, continued he, (smiling) ’tis not difficult to guess the cause of this alteration in my nephew’s looks and temper. You have merit enough, miss, to produce ranger effects than transforming a gay sprightly young gentleman into melancholy sighing lover.” “Miss Harriot, interrupted my governess, I too young and inexperienced to be sensible of these alterations, or know herself the cause.” “She cannot be ignorant of her own charms, id the captain; and though she was so, yet the number of her votaries would make her but too sensible of the extent of her power.” “I am confident, replied I, (smiling maliciously) were power in my hands, I should take an infinite delight in the abuse of it; and, knowing my own temper so well, I am very glad I have never found an object to exercise my severity upon.” The captain continued to rally me upon my ill-natured principles, till it was time to retire: he would kiss my hand at parting; and, giving me a very intelligent look, declared he was interested in a particular manner in the cruel sentiments I had avowed. Mrs. Blandon insisting upon knowing what he had said to me softly, I repeated his words. “The aversion I have to this man, said she, is possibly very unjustifiable; yet I am not able to conquer it, or to think, without uneasiness, on the inclination he discovers for you.” “Nay, madam, answered I, (smiling) he has certainly most reason to be uneasy; since, whatever inclinations he may have for me, I feel nothing for him but indifference or dislike.”
My governess having brought it into a sort of custom not to dine out of our own chamber, I never saw the captain but in the afternoon, when we could not refuse making tea for him, at his earnest request. Mr. Campbel had been so much awed by the scorn with which I received this first declaration of love, that, for several days, he hardly dared to approach me. My heart triumphed with conscious pride at the respectful passion I saw painted in his eyes; nor could I deny myself the ill-natured pleasure of increasing his confusion, by all the little perplexing arts I was mistress of. Tired, at last, with indulging my triumph, I desired him to reach me a book from his uncle’s book-case, that stood in the room. Having left the choice of it entirely to him, he took down a volume of Prior’s works, and, opening it at the poem of Henry and Emma, presented it to me, slipping at the same time a letter, very dexterously, between the leaves. I observed this action; but, if I had really an inclination to return it, he prevented me, by leaving me so suddenly, that I was obliged to take the first opportunity of concealing it in my pocket.
When Mrs. Blandon and I retired, I immediately acquainted her with what had happened, and asked her permission to read my letter. “I wish, said she, you could have avoided taking it; but, since it is so, let us see what it contains. Mr. Campbel has a modesty and sweetness in his behavior, that makes it impossible for me to think he would say any thing in it to offend you.” I obeyed her instantly, and, breaking the seal, found it as follows:
“You have commanded me to be silent on the subject of my love, and I am determined to obey you, notwithstanding the torments which this painful restraint occasions me: but do not, I beg you, wound me with the cruel thought, that, in the declaration I made you, I took advantage of your present situation. Ah, madam! how ill are you acquainted with the purity of my sentiments! and how little are you sensible of your own power! Forgive me for this last insinuation I will no more offend you on a theme so disagreeable. But not all your rigor can hinder me from soothing my soul, with the hope of one day convincing you of the sincerity and ardor of my passion; though at the expense of that life which I have devoted to you.
I am, with the truest respect,
Your faithfully devoted
“If there be any truth in man, said Mrs. Blandon, this gentleman certainly loves you. But though, for many reasons, I would not have you give him any encouragement while we are here; yet it will be necessary to treat him with respect, in case his pretensions are honorable.” A sigh, which the remembrance of Dumont that moment forced from me, prevented me from answering for some time; when, recovering myself, “I shall not, madam, returned I, (with my usual vivacity) give myself the trouble to consider his pretensions: I never design to know what they are. I neither love him, nor hate him; but I cannot help owning, I feel a strange kind of pleasure in exercising a little tyranny over him.” “What do you mean, child?” resumed she. “Why, madam, I replied, I think Mr. Campbel just cut out for a lover. He seems to possess a thousand old-fashioned amiable qualities, which would give a mistress such a charming advantage over him! How I could like to sport with the honest sincerity of his heart! Make him feel fear and hope, joy and grief, in such a swift vicissitude, that after loving, hating, soothing, and railing, by turns, fall into a languishing reverie for half a minute, gaze with a silent conviction of my power, and cry out in a rapture,
If to her share some female errors fall,
Look on her face, and you’ll forget them all.”
“Very fine, said Mrs. Blandon, (endeavoring to stifle a laugh) a pretty picture of a coquette, this! But you are very young, miss, to have so much judgment in these matters; and a very bad opinion of my prudence, to think I would indulge you in such an unjustifiable conduct.” “But sure, madam, returned I, you cannot blame me, if, filled with resentment for the injuries many of my sex have received from men, I embrace any opportunity that is offered me, to revenge their wrongs, and retaliate the pain they have given.” “Ah! interrupted my governess, you cannot impose upon me by these excuses. Was revenge your only motive, you would never make choice of the best and sincerest of the sex to practice your cruelties upon. But, pray, do you mean to take any notice of Mr. Campbel’s letter? If you can write a few lines, without being tainted with the spirit of coquetry, I think it will not be amiss to answer it. Though I am afraid, continued she, (after a little pause) that writing will be giving him rather too much encouragement.” “Not as I’ll manage it, madam,” replied I. And, taking a pen, I wrote the following answer:
Though I would be far from allowing a correspondence of this nature, yet, for once, I will break through the rule I prescribe myself, to acquaint you with my sentiments. To be plain, then, I cannot help considering the free declaration of love, which you made me at a time when it was not in my power to avoid such liberties, as an insult offered both to my person and understanding; and this being my opinion, the resentment I discovered ought neither to be a matter of surprise or complaint to you. I never desire to receive any proofs of your passion, occasioned either by your danger or my own: and, while you continue to treat me with the respect which is due to my sex and years, you may always depend upon the esteem of
Mrs. Blandon, to whom I gave this billet as soon as I had finished it, conn’d over the word esteem. Then humming it over a second time to herself, paused for a minute, and at last declared it would do. Satisfied with her approbation, I sealed it; and, being told by her I might give it myself, I resolved to do so the first opportunity . You must not imagine, my dear Amanda, that I was so intoxicated with the gallantry and homage I received, as to banish the dear idea of Dumont from my heart. Though absence was not capable to sink me into melancholy and despair, yet I still loved him with the same unabated tenderness, and made him the subject of all my little poetical pieces. I had reason, however, to repent the employing my pen so much on the subject of love: my style was rather too warm and passionate for one of my years; and the following poem was, perhaps, the first cause of one of the most cruel adventures of my life.
Hail, daughter of immortal Jove,
Celestial Venus, queen of love!
Soft source of ev’ry pleasing woe,
From whom our choicest blessings flow!
Sweet troubler of the human heart!
Each age, each sex, receives thy dart;
Feels all thy fierce consuming fires,
And melts in new unnam’d desires.
Thee, goddess! thee, all hearts adore,
And heav’n itself reveres thy pow’r.
The awful fire of gods and men
Submits to thy enchanting pain;
And, tho’ his thunders shake the world,
Is by thy mightier sway controul’d.
Touch’d by thy secret pow’rful charm,
The frozen breast of age grows warm;
The sweet intoxicating pain
Glides swiftly through each icy vein;
While love, and joy, and youth renew’d,
With pleasing raptures fire the blood.
Thou steal’st into the virgin-breast,
A painful, soft, unusual guest!
Hence the soft languish fills the eye,
The glowing blush, the heaving sigh,
The wish, by bashful fear restrain’d,
The pleasing hope by love maintain’d,
The thrilling pain, the lambent fire,
The sweetly new, yet check’d desire.
Thou in the hero’s bosom glows,
And velour first from love arose;
Love, the reward and cause of strife!
Gave ev’ry kindred passion life;
Ambition’s fever first inspires,
And anger’s fierce destructive fires
Bids the warm heart with friendship glow,
Or melt in pity’s softer flow;
In chains our boasted reason bind,
And rule at will th’impassion’d mind.
I had finished this piece two or three days before, and the blotted copy was loose in my pocket; when, finding an opportunity to give Mr. Campbel my letter, I hastily drew it out, and with it my little manuscript, which drops unperceived upon the floor. Mr. Campbel was standing with me at a window, making me observe the beautiful variety of colors which glittered on the backs of the Dolphins, that were sporting upon the surface of the sea. I kept the letter a minute or two in my hand, at a loss in what manner to deliver it: at last I vanquished my confusion, and, slipping it into his hand, went to the other end of the room, where Mrs. Blandon and the captain were sitting. I was so taken up with observing the restless anxiety of Mr. Campbel, who, impatient to read my letter, had quitted the room a few minutes after I had left him, that I did not take notice of the captain, who was busily employed in reading the paper I had drops. At last I turned my eyes that way, and perceiving the little poem, I mentioned, in his hand, I asked him hastily how he came by it, and insisted upon his returning it to me immediately. “No, miss, said he, (folding it up and putting it in his pocket) I cannot consent to restore this proof of the excellence of your genius, till I have taken a copy of it, that I may have the pleasure of frequently contemplating the wonders of your wit. Who would believe, continued he, (giving me a most penetrating look) that, under that coldness and reserve in your behavior, there should lurk so much fire and strength of imagination! How happy, pursued he, (with eyes still more expressive) will that man be, who shall be able to transfer all that stock of soft bewitching tenderness to himself! A heart so capable of feeling all the force of love, must be a conquest worthy the most ardent pursuits.” “You are greatly deceived, sir, replied I, (blushing) if you imagine I have described the effects of love from its influence on my own heart: no, I glory in that insensibility which preserves my freedom; and, I believe, I shall not be easily induced to part with it.” “Ah, miss, resumed the captain, you shall never persuade me you are so insensible as you would be thought; and you have too admirably described your own heart-felt sentiments, to leave a doubt of their being genuine.” I was so mortified at the captain’s application of my poem, that I could hardly hide my ill humor; and, making some excuse for retiring sooner than usual, he followed me to the door, pressing my hand in such a manner, as seemed a frightful earnest of his future addresses.
I made no secret of my apprehensions to my governess. “I shall think myself very unhappy, said I, if the captain assumes the liberty of talking to me in the strain his nephew has done, as I am persuaded he will not bear, with the same moderation, a reply so full of resentment.” Mrs. Blandon heard me with some concern, and only answered, she wished we were well out of his ship.
Next day, finding myself a little indisposed, I resolved to keep my room; and begged Mrs. Blandon to make my excuses to the captain. She complied; and, leaving me to myself, I indulged the growing melancholy my soul was full of, by reading the letter I had received from Dumont the day I left N——. Dear, painful, sweet employment! How did my throbbing heart melt into sympathizing grief at every soft complaint! how glow with tender ecstasy at each dear assurance of eternal love! I kissed the mournful lines a thousand times, and almost obliterated them with my tears; when, hearing Mrs. Blandon’s step, I hastily wiped my eyes, and, hiding the letter I had been reading, assumed as much composure in my looks as I was able, in the present situation of my mind.
My governess, after asking me how I did, threw herself into a chair, with so many marks of uneasiness on her countenance, that I was alarmed; and, recollecting the plaintive accent in which she spoke, asked her why she appeared so reserved and melancholy. “Really, my dear, said she, (with a tone of concern) had I thought it probable so many disagreeable accidents would have happened to us, I would not have consented to accept the charge of you in this voyage, having much reason to wish you was under a more powerful protection than mine. To be plain, miss Harriot, the captain loves you.” “Well, madam, replied I, (a little recovered from the fright her first words had thrown me into) and has he declared himself in an impertinent manner to you?” “I ought not, indeed, resumed she, to give the name of love to the base designs he has upon your honor.” “How, madam! interrupted I, (glowing with shame and resentment) has he dared to entertain any injurious hopes of me?” “Never sure, said my governess, (lifting up her eyes) was there a man possessed of such consummate assurance! You must know then, my dear, when I went into the great room, I found the captain alone: seeing me come without you, he asked me abruptly how you did; when, I informing him you was a little sea-sick, he smiled, and said that would soon be over. And then, obliging me to sit down, and drawing his chair near mine, ‘Mrs. Blandon, said he, (in a graver tone) I have something to communicate to you, which my mind has long labored with. You are surprised, I see, continued he; but suspend your answer till I have fully acquainted you with my sentiments: know then, I love miss Stuart; nay more, I love her with so much violence, that I will leave no methods untried to obtain her. I am sensible she follows your advice implicitly, and you would do well to give her such as may ascertain my happiness and her own interest. I will be plain with you, Mrs. Blandon; it is not in my power to marry her, being already a husband, though without the smallest inclination for the woman to whom I am tied; but the riches I possess, will enable me to support the charmer of my soul in so splendid a manner, that she shall have no reason to repent the concessions she makes me. Provided she will be mine, let her make her own conditions: there is none so extravagant with which I would not comply’.” “Oh heavens! cried I, (no longer able to help interrupting my governess) how did he dare to treat you in this manner, and think so meanly of me! What is there so indiscreet either in my words or actions, that could authorize suspicions so injurious to my virtue! But tell me, dear madam, what did you say to all this?” “For some moments, said she, my astonishment and rage deprived me of the power of speaking; but my looks, I believe, anticipated my answer. At last I told him, he was the most unworthy man in the world, to take advantage of our helpless situation, and load us with affronts, not to be endured by persons who-had any pretensions to modesty and virtue. I bid him carry his licentious proposals some where else, when he had an opportunity; as there might possibly be found some persons in the world, who would fall in with his infamous views; and not dare to attempt the ruin of a young lady, who, for her birth and qualities, merited a better fate than to become the prey of a wretch like him. These words, which a just indignation forced from me, did not at all discompose the captain. He only smiled with a scornful air: ‘And is this all the assistance I am to expect from you? said he. Well, madam, cherish your romantic notions, and forfeit a real advantage for chimerical principles of honor and virtue, and such like trash. If you could have entered justly into my views, and forwarded my designs upon miss Harriot, there was nothing you might not have expected from my gratitude and generosity: but ’tis no matter. I am not to be repulsed by your senseless anger. ’Tis to be hoped the young lady will not be blind to her own interest, and refuse the offers of a man, both disposed and able to make her happy.Don’t, replied I, continued Mrs. Blandon, (bursting into tears) don’t wound the ears of that unhappy young creature, with offers so repugnant to her principles. How wretchedly blind has a licentious passion made you! Do you imagine you are likely to make any impression on a heart, which has been taught to relish the beauty of virtue, by such loose and infamous proposals? Conceal your odious designs, if you would not be hated by her; and remember, it is not the part of a base ensnarer you are to act, in order to be esteemed by her you love. I confess, my dear, pursued my governess, these words were not altogether disobliging: for, I am of opinion, we ought not to irritate him while we are in his power. All I aimed at, was to preserve you from being obliged to listen to discourses so capable of wounding your modesty. My stratagem had its desired effect: the captain asked pardon for declaring himself in so free a manner, ascribing it to the natural sincerity of his temper, which never suggested to him the least disguise; promised to be entirely governed by me, if I would only consent to favor his passion, which, he assured me, should be confined within the bounds I should prescribe. Having brought him to the point I desired, I assured him, nothing but respect and distance, while you was so inevitably exposed to his solicitations, could have any effect on a heart like yours. I insinuated, that you was apt to be touched with any instance of respect and submission; and, if he observes this hint, as, from the alteration it immediately caused in him, I think he will, you have nothing to do but pretend an absolute ignorance of what I have told you, to hinder him from offending you with any impertinent declarations, as he is convinced that that is not the most likely way to succeed.”
I easily comprehended Mrs. Blandon’s views; and though it was an odious task to dissemble my aversion to the wretch, yet I looked upon it as the only means by which I could avoid his detested importunities. Though my governess gave me hopes that he would observe a respectful behavior to me, while I continued on board; yet, reflecting how absolutely I was in his power, I thought I had great room for uneasiness. My mind was disturbed with a train of gloomy ideas; and not being able to endure the sight of the captain, without a visible disturbance, I continued to keep my chamber, on presence that my indisposition increased. This excuse, however, did not avail me long: ’twas impossible to refuse a visit from him, on his repeated importunities. He came attended by his nephew, which seemed a favorable omen; and though I blushed excessively at the sight of him, yet I soon recovered myself well enough to be able to return, with some complaisance, the obliging concern they expressed for my illness. Indeed, I had no reason to doubt the truth of Mr. Campbel’s professions: the extreme melancholy which appeared in his eyes, seemed to convince me of the share he took in every thing that related to me. After a short visit, they both withdrew, leaving me very well satisfied with the captain’s moderation. Mrs. Blandon was highly pleased with his respectful behavior; and, to prevent my receiving any more visits from him in my chamber, she advised me to go into the great room as usual.
For several days he maintained a distant behavior, which was extremely obliging to me; yet my heart was far from being tranquil upon his account. I trembled, lest he had some latent designs concealed under this masque of respect. His assiduities, however polite and insinuating, carried in them something terrible to me. He never spoke to me but I was alarmed: every thing he said, or did, administered to my fears: and the agitations of my mind were but too visible in my behavior. ’Tis certain, that, in some circumstances, dissimulation is but too necessary. This, however, was never a part of my character, except in little matters of coquetry, which my gay temper led me into. I had naturally an artless simplicity, which too often laid me open to the designs of my enemies. In my present situation, a little disguise had been pardonable. Why did I, by indiscreetly strewing my aversion, irritate a brutal lover, in whose power I then was?
He observed the emotions that shook my soul, whenever he approached me: it was impossible to impute them to love; that tender passion never shows itself in actions so disobliging. “You hate me, miss, said he, (one day, after having carefully observed my behavior;) and a heart so obstinately proud as yours, is not to be moved, I see, with a respectful passion.” “This is strange language, sir, replied I, (looking on him with a disdainful air;) and being ignorant, till this moment, of your sentiments, methinks you have not declared them in a very respectful manner.” “Come, this is too much, miss, interrupted he, (reddening with anger;) you only affect to be ignorant of my passion, to have an opportunity of indulging that little tyranny your sex is fond of. You have known for some time, that I have loved you; nor are you unacquainted with my offers to Mrs. Blandon. Why then, continued he, (softening his voice) why, my lovely angel, do you persist in a behavior so unbecoming the native sweetness of your disposition? Will you not give me hope I shall be one day happy? My fortune is yours, give me but yourself. Say but you will be mine, and the best part of it shall be yours. Why are you silent? Ought these offers to displease you? Is it possible a girl of your years can be insensible to the delights an affluent fortune brings with it? Riches, the idol of your sex! are you capable of rejecting them?” “Yes, insolent as you are, replied I, (bursting into tears) I despise riches, if they are to be the price of my honor. And you, who have dared to affront me in this manner, who are you, for heaven’s sake, that I should listen to such proposals? Were you a king, such is the pride of virtue, I should look upon myself as injured by offers of this nature: and shall I bear with patience such an insult from you, mean and contemptible as you are in my opinion?” I was interrupted in this sally of rage by Mr. Campbel’s coming into the room; upon which I hastily turned my face to the window, and took up a book. The captain walking away in a pet, he came up to me; and observing the tears stealing down my, cheeks, “Oh heavens! cried he, (in a tender accent) what do I see! What is it that occasions these tears? Speak, miss, I beg you, and relieve me from the torturing perplexity I am in!” “If there be any truth in the professions of friendship you have made me, answered I, (with a voice; interrupted with sobs) protect me from the insolence of your uncle!” Saying this, I went hastily out of the room, making a sign for Mrs. Blandon to follow me.
As she had been at too great a distance to hear what the captain had said to me, I repeated every word; and, giving way to the violence of my grief, I burst into a flood of tears, deploring my unhappy fate, which had subjected me to such cruel and mortifying affronts. My governess was not in a condition to comfort me: her apprehensions were possibly greater than mine. She recommended it to me to trust in the protection of heaven; and, by frequently casting up her eyes in a most ardent manner, she seemed to implore it for me.
In the evening, the boy, as usual, coming to attend us at supper, my governess begged me to appear as composed as possible, that the captain might not hear his behavior had been able to fill me with any terrors. I took her advice, and, when supper was over, we dismissed the boy; and I was going to resume my conversation with her about the captain, when, observing her eyes had an unusual heaviness in them, I eagerly asked her if she was indisposed. “Let us go to bed immediately, said she: I am seized with such a strange drowsiness, that I cannot sit up a moment longer.” Saying this, she began to undress: but, before she could unpin her gown, she fell back in her chair, and, though I called to her several times, she made no answer; but seemed so profoundly asleep, that at last I went to her, and, pulling her gently, begged her to go to bed. I was so surprised at her continuing to sleep in this posture, that I repeated my efforts, not without some violence, to wake her; but finding they were in vain, I screamed out, and should have believed her absolutely dead, had not her breathing very loud convinced me she was alive.
I had no time to make any reflections on this accident; for, hearing the door burst open with some force, I turned quickly about, and saw the dreadful captain appear; who, seizing me immediately in his arms, endeavored to hinder me from crying out, by stopping my mouth with kisses. “Monster, said I, (struggling to get loose) what do you mean by this unheard-of insolence?” The wretch, without replying, carried me by force into the great room, and fastening the door, “Now, miss, said he, be wise; and, e’re I proceed to force, to give your fantastic virtue an excuse for yielding, consent to make me happy on your own terms.” How shall I, my dear Amanda, make you comprehend the mingled shame and terror, the wild despair, that filled my soul at these inhuman words! I made no other reply than a loud shriek, by which I seemed to call for some assistance; when he, clasping me a second time in his arms, was bearing me into his chamber, swearing he would possess me or die. “Die then! cried I, (suddenly drawing his hanger from his side, and thrusting it with all my force into his body) die, villain! by her hands whom you have sworn to ruin.” Then springing out of his arms, which had no longer strength to hold me, he reeled towards a chair; but, e’re he could reach it, he fell on the floor, with a groan that freezed all the blood in my veins.
I had stood all this time with the hanger still in my hand, immovable as a statue, with looks all pale and wild fixed on my intended ravisher; when, seeing him fall, and his blood run in streams upon the floor, I drops the hanger: “Oh my God! cried I, (lifting up my eyes swimming in tears) what have I done! what will become of me!” Then, running to the door, I unbolted it, with an intention to call for help to assist the bleeding captain, when Mr. Campbel met me, just as I was stepping out. At sight of him I turned back again into the room; “See, said I, (pointing to his uncle) what, in defense of my honor, I have dared to do.” “My uncle murdered! cried he, (staring wildly at the body, and then fixing his mournful looks on me) and you, miss Harriot, have you done this?” Then running to him, he kneeled down by his side; and, after a moment, rising with precipitation, “He breathes! cried he, he is not dead! I must call for help. Retire, unhappy fair one, and leave me to manage this dreadful business.” But observing I did not attempt to go, he took my hand, and was hurrying me out, when the room was filled with the officers and sailors, who pressed in in numbers, alarmed by the captain’s boy, who was passing by when Mr. Campbel entered, and had beheld the dreadful scene.
Mr. Campbel started back when he saw them, and fearing that moment only for me, all the marks of horror and confusion were painted on his face. The room, in an instant, resounded with cries and exclamations of surprise: “My God, cried an officer, (pressing near the bleeding captain) who has done this?” “Ask no questions, said Mr. Campbel, my uncle is not dead: let the surgeon dress his wound immediately.” “What do you say, sir! said this lieutenant, (in a menacing tone) shall we find our captain wounded, perhaps mortally, and be forbid to inquire into the manner of his receiving it? Gentlemen, pursued he, (turning to the crowd about him) I charge Mr. Campbel with being accessory to this murder: let him be seized, till he can prove his innocence.”
Shocked to the soul at this unjust accusation, I pressed between Mr. Campbel and the furious lieutenant, who was advancing to take hold of him, “Forbear, cried I, (raising my voice as high as I was able) and do not condemn the innocent: I only am guilty of the captain’s death, if he be dead. He dragged me out of my chamber, with an intention to force me to be the victim of his brutal passion; but I delivered myself from his violence by a blow with his own hanger, which I drew from his side. My governess lies yonder in a stupid lethargy, caused, no doubt, by a dose he procured to be given her, in order to prosecute his impious designs on me. If your commander dies by the wound I have given him, I killed him in the attempt of a crime, for which our laws would have doomed him to death. ’Tis me then, that you must seize: I am willing to appear before a court of justice, when we arrive at England, and to remain your prisoner till then: but let me be treated with the respect and decency due to my sex and years.”
As often as I reflect on this terrible circumstance of my life, I cannot but wonder at the prodigious fortitude with which I was inspired! The resolution and courage of my speech, held them for some moments in amazement: but at last, some of the sailors exclaimed in a tumultuous manner, “What, our captain murdered by a girl, for such a paltry trifle as a rape, and not committed neither! Hang law, and a court of justice, as she talks of: deliver her up to us, noble lieutenant; let us punish her our own way.” The loud clamor that followed this impious proposal, distracted my soul with such an excess of anguish, that, listening only to the sudden dictates of my despair, I sprung in an instant to a window, and, throwing it up, was going to precipitate myself into the sea, when I felt myself pulled back by a force I was not able to resist; and turning to see who it was that did me that ill office, “Ah, Mr. Campbel! said I, is it you who prevents me from escaping, by death, the more terrible evils that await me!” He made me no answer; but, turning to oppose the unruly crowd that was pressing on, he hastily snatched up the hanger I had thrown on the ground, and presenting the point of it, “By heaven, cried he, (in a thundering voice) whoever approaches this young lady, runs upon his death: not you, villains, but the law must judge her action. I will plunge this weapon into the breast of the first man that offers to touch her. Mr. Benson, pursued he, (addressing himself to a gentleman who stood near him) you are the first lieutenant: by this accident the command of the ship devolves upon you. Do your duty then, and quell this mutiny; and, as you are brave and generous, take this unfortunate young lady into your protection.”
The consternation which seized the late clamorous crowd at the determined manner in which my generous protector spoke, had occasioned so universal a silence, that, finding myself a little re-assured, I moved towards the gentleman to whom Mr. Campbel had directed his words, and, throwing myself at his feet, “Oh, sir, said I, (melting into a flood of tears) have pity on my youth and distress, and do not abandon me to the power of those men. I fear death less than dishonor. Take my life, if you please, to expiate the guilt of your captain’s murder; but suffer me not to fall a victim to brutal passion.” I had the satisfaction to hear a soft murmur of pity run through the whole room when I had finished these words, and to observe the tears standing in the eyes of the officer to whom I addressed them; but as he reached out his hand to help me up, the surgeon came out of the captain’s chamber, where he had been carried to have his wound dressed, and declared that it was not mortal; and that he had recovered from his swoon, which was occasioned by loss of blood: he, therefore, desired that the apartments might be cleared, that he might be kept as free from disturbance as possible.
Guess, if you can, my dear Amanda, the joy I felt at this news! The lieutenant, in an authoritative tone, ordered every man to withdraw, which they immediately did. Mr. Campbel, the surgeon, and this officer, only remaining in the room, I thanked them with tears of gratitude, for the share they had had in my preservation; while Mr. Benson and the surgeon expressed, though with some reserve, their admiration of my courage. By a glance which I threw at Mr. Campbel, I saw his eyes bathed in tears; when, hastily wiping them with his handkerchief, he asked the doctor if he might be permitted to see his uncle. Being told that it would not be proper to disturb him that night, he consented to defer his visit till the morning, telling me, with a tender accent, that I was now at liberty to return to my chamber, where I might depend upon being safe from any future alarms.
The condition in which I had left my governess, made me entreat the doctor to see her; and, he complying, we all went into the room, where we found her still asleep in the easy chair, happy in a state of insensibility, which had prevented her from bearing any part in the horrid incidents of the night. The doctor having observed her a little, and inquired how long she had slept, told us he would bring something that would help revive her; and, after leaving us a few minutes, returned with some medicines, which he applied to her temples and her nose, till she sneezed several times, and at last opened her eyes, though she presently closed them again, like a person who was oppressed with sleep. At last he forced a cordial down her throat, upon which she soon after opened her eyes entirely; and, in a few minutes, she began to recollect her situation, and asked me softly, as I stood by her chair, how I came to have so much company in my chamber. As I did not think proper to acquaint her yet with what had happened, I made some slight answer; and the gentlemen taking their leave immediately, left us to our repose. I spent some hours, before I went to bed, in revolving the dreadful scenes I had so lately passed through; and, filled with the most lively gratitude to that gracious power whose providence had so visibly protected me, I cast myself on my knees, and poured out my whole soul in the most fervent prayer.
Notwithstanding the pious glow of heart-felt sentiments, which seemed for some moments to lift me above myself; yet I was no sooner laid in bed than, the darkness aiding my disordered fancy, the image of the captain, weltering in his blood, rose every moment to my mind, and filled me with the most terrible apprehensions. The morning, how ever, soon appeared; and my uneasy fears lessening, in proportion as the room grew lighter, I fell at last into a sleep, from which I did not awake till the day was pretty far advanced. Finding my governess was not with me, I drew back the curtain with so much precipitation, that she started hastily from her chair, and, running to me, gave me an affectionate embrace; telling me, she was transported to find I had slept so tranquilly, after the cruel incidents of the preceding night. “Who has informed you of them, madam?” replied I, (with precipitation). “Mr. Campbel, returned she, has related them to me, and with such extravagant praises on your courage and virtue, that I shall love him while I live, for the generous sentiments he expressed. The doctor has declared the captain is out of all danger from his wound; and his nephew paints him so tortured with remorse for his base attempt, that, could I believe his conversion sincere, I should be willing to pardon him the misery he has caused you. He has given repeated orders, that we should be treated with the greatest respect; and, as I am informed we are within a very few days sail of England, I hope we have nothing more to fear upon his account.”
The assurance my governess gave me, that the captain was out of danger, filled me with a most sensible joy: I rose immediately, and, being now quite composed in my mind, I spent most part of the day in conversing with her on my surprising escape from so many dangers, which, the more I reflected on them, the greater and more alarming I thought them. In the evening Mr. Campbel sent for leave to wait on me, which, with Mrs. Blandon’s allowance, I granted; and a few minutes after he came into the room. I could not look on him at first without some confusion, when I reflected on his uncle’s shocking attempt; but the soft timidity and respectful passion that appeared in his eyes, insensibly took off my restraint, and I made him all the acknowledgments his generous defense of me deserved. “Alas, miss, said he, (in a tender fearful accent) ought I not to fear my near relation to one, who has dared to offend you, will sink me in your esteem? And shall I not be involved in that resentment which my uncle has so justly merited?” “You ought rather, replied I, (smiling) to fear I should be offended with you for this unjust suspicion. Do you think me incapable of judging between innocence and guilt; or so ungrateful as to refuse my utmost esteem to one who has so justly a title to it?” “Ah, miss, returned he, (with eyes sparkling with joy) how much does your esteem over-pay my trifling service! And how superlatively happy should I think myself, if my most ardent ——” Here he paused, and, casting his eyes on the ground, seemed at a loss in what manner to proceed, fearing he had said too much. My governess, observing his confusion, turned the discourse; and we talked of indifferent things during the remainder of his visit. When he took his leave, she launched into the most extravagant praises on the sweetness and modesty of his behavior. “Confess, my dear, said she to me, that Mr. Campbel’s merit, and the respectful passion he discovers for you, has taken away some part of that ill-natured pleasure you find in giving pain. For my own part, I wish sincerely that your heart may be disposed to favor him; for, in my opinion, he is worthy of you, agreeable and engaging as you are.” “Ah, madam, said I, (smiling) I am young enough yet to think of establishing myself in the world; and I promise myself so much pleasure in living with my aunt, that I shall not be easily induced to quit that prospect for the sake of becoming a wife.” My governess dropping this subject at present, I took care to divert her from returning to it, by asking her if she did not intend to leave the ship, as soon as we could possibly land, whatever part of England we first came to. Mrs. Blandon, who as eagerly desired to be out of this hated vessel as myself, assured me we should quit it the first opportunity. It was near a week after this, before they discovered land. Mr. Campbel, who never failed to visit us once a day, brought me the welcome news. My transports were so great, that I did not observe the extreme concern which was spread over his countenance; ‘till, after venting some sighs, he began to deplore his misfortune, in being so soon to be deprived of the pleasure of seeing me. “I am too much obliged to you, sir, said I, (a little moved at the affecting manner in which he spoke) to be capable of refusing you any alleviation of this terrible misfortune, as you call it; and will venture to assure you, that my aunt, to whom I am going, will be glad in person to return you thanks for the services I have received from you. You are then at liberty to make me a visit in London as soon as you think proper, if it suits with your conveniency to come there.” Mr. Campbel thanked me with an excess of transport for this permission, assuring me he should not fail to make use of it; and I could observe, by Mrs. Blandon’s looks, that she was not displeased at this instance of my complaisance. It would be certainly paying my good-nature too great a compliment, to impute this condescension in Mr. Campbel’s favor, entirely to its influence: my vanity found a very sensible gratification in the sighs of so respectful an adorer; and I could not resist the pleasure of indulging it, without considering the inconveniences it might produce.
In the morning we were informed by the servant who attended us, that, if we would walk into the gallery, we might see the white cliffs of Dover. I did not stay a moment after this, but flew to the place he mentioned, eager to satisfy my longing eyes with a view of my dear native country. While I stood for some time wrapped up in pleasing contemplation, my governess and Mr. Campbel came to me: “I have taken upon myself, said Mrs. Blandon to me, to deliver a commission, with which Mr. Campbel was charged, as he is under some apprehensions of disobliging you by it. The captain, it seems, penetrated with the deepest contrition for what is past, begs you will give him an opportunity to ask your pardon, before you leave his ship.” At the mention of this hated name, my whole face was covered with a deep blush: “What, madam, said I, (glowing with resentment and shame) is the captain so insensible of the greatness of the insult he offered me, as to imagine I can endure to behold him after it! How has he dared to expect I can be guilty of such a meanness! What! make him a visit in his chamber, to hear him whine out a dissembled tale of penitence and sorrow! No: be it my pride to scorn and detest him still; and the more for this insolent attempt to impose upon my understanding. Was his penitence sincere, he would not make a request, which, to grant, I must descend so greatly beneath myself.” “But, my dear, interrupted Mrs. Blandon, it’s very possible the captain’s concern is as great as he expresses it; and, it must be confessed, you have taken a very severe vengeance on him, though no more than he deserved: but you ought to remember, that while he was in the greatest danger, by the wound you gave him; yet he never spoke of you but in the most respectful terms, and acknowledged the justice of your revenge.” “Is it your opinion then, madam, replied I, (with some emotion) that I ought to see the captain?” “By no means, returned she, I shall never consent to your making him a visit; but I would have you act consistent with yourself: and since you have discovered so much courage in the defense of your honor, assert the same greatness of mind in generously forgiving the injury that was intended you.” “Well, madam, replied I, Mr. Campbel may let his uncle know, that I am satisfied with the assurances he has given, that he repents of having offered me so daring an insult; and that I shall carry away no farther resentment against him, than what will only incline me most heartily to pray, that I may never behold him again.” “Ah, said my governess, (smiling) you are not so generous as I thought you. However, added she, (leaving me, to speak to Mr. Campbel who was at some distance) I shall take care not to recede from the severity of your answer.”
Having signified our desire to be set on shore at Dover, Mr. Campbel, some time after, brought us word, that the captain had ordered the pinnace to carry us to land. When it was time to depart, my obliging lover led me upon deck, where I could not appear without an excess of confusion; the eyes of all being fastened upon me, which renewed the remembrance of my late terrible adventure: but I was no sooner in the boat than I was perfectly at ease, and I thanked heaven, with an ardent ejaculation, for my deliverance from that detested ship. Mr. Campbel, who was resolved to accompany us to land, seated himself near me; and, in the most melting tone of voice, asked me, if he was now at liberty to speak to me of the passion I had inspired him with. “Your delicacy, added he, has surely been satisfied with the cruel restraint you laid on me aboard; and you have no longer any reason to offer against my acquainting you with the tender sentiments of my heart.” “You certainly, said I, (smiling) attribute too great a degree of complaisance to me, when you imagine I shall trouble myself to search for reasons to support my request. No, if you are determined to wear my chains, you must expect I shall be a most arbitrary monarch, and always take my own will for the reason of every thing I do.” “Well, miss, replied he, (adopting the gaiety of my humor) from this moment I acknowledge you the absolute mistress of my fate, and promise you an everlasting fidelity; but if you are cruel enough to make my slavery harder than I can bear, you must expect I shall take the liberty to complain.” “Oh, returned I, (laughing) I’ll give you freedom the moment you demand it.” “Will you? said he, (taking my hand, which he respectfully kissed;) alas, I shall never be in a condition to make such a request; and, if my bondage is to continue ‘till I wish for freedom, I am likely to be your slave for ever.”
This sort of conversation lasted till we got to shore. Mr. Campbel begged my governess would allow him to attend us to the inn, where we intended to stay till the stage-coach set out. She made no difficulty to grant his request, and left the choice of the house to him, as best acquainted with the place. As soon as we were settled in a chamber, he inquired when the stage set out for London, and brought us word it was to go in two days. This respite was extremely agreeable to us, as we had need of some little rest, after a voyage of five weeks.
My lover, preparing to take his leave, begged me to acquaint him at what place in London he might wait on me: upon which I gave him a direction to my aunt’s house in Grosvenor-street. He then departed, leaving me, if not absolutely concerned for his absence, yet a good deal moved with the unaffected sorrow that he expressed both in his looks and words.
We immediately took places in the coach, and at the time appointed set out for London, with inexpressible satisfaction; having the good fortune to find very agreeable company in the coach. As soon as it stops at the house where we were to dine, a gentleman, who seemed to be waiting for its coming, ran from the window where he was sitting, and, as soon as the coach-door was opened, offered his hand to help the ladies out. I thought, when I looked at him at a distance, that he greatly resembled Mr. Campbel; but, to my infinite surprise, I found it was really he: and, far from being displeased at this meeting, I told him, smiling, as he led me into the house, that I hoped he was going to London, and would be our convoy on the road. “I have no other business, miss, said he, (whispering) than to attend you there. I had my uncle’s permission to leave the ship for that purpose; but I would not acquaint you with it, lest, with your usual cruelty, you should deny me the pleasure of accompanying you.” Mrs. Blandon, who was equally surprised at seeing Mr. Campbel, did not fail to acknowledge the favor he did us, in very respectful terms.
I will not trouble you, dear Amanda, with an exact relation of this journey, in which nothing happened worth recording. It will be sufficient to tell you, that it was a very agreeable one to a person of my temper, who could not but be pleased with the officious assiduities of a lover, whose whole care was to oblige me.
We came into London about five in the afternoon; and, leaving our trunks at the inn where we put up, ordered a hackney coach to be called to carry us to L—-’s Mr. Campbel insisting upon seeing me safe at my aunt’s, my governess consented to his going with us. As I had an exact direction in my pocket book, even to the very house, I could not help being surprised to find, when the coach-man stops, that the windows were all close shut; and, not being able to imagine my aunt was gone so soon into the country, I bid him inquire of some of the chair-men, who stood near, if that was not Lady L——’s house. The fellow, immediately drawing near the window of the coach, informed us that Lady L—— had not been in town the whole winter, and that the house was to be let. I was amazed my aunt had taken no measures to inform me she was in the country, as well as to hear she had entirely quitted her house, knowing that she never before had spent a whole winter out of town. Mrs. Blandon, finding it would be necessary to stay some time in London, ordered the coach man to drive to a house a few doors off, where there was a bill for lodgings, and hired a genteel apartment, which was immediately put in order for our reception that night; and, while it was getting ready, the landlady entreated us to favor her with our company.
Mr. Campbel, after asking leave to wait on us the next day, went away; and our talkative landlady, having observed the house our coach had first stops at, asked us who we were inquiring after there. My governess immediately told her, that we expected to find Lady L—— in town, and that was the house to which we had a direction. “It must needs be, said the landlady, that you are quite strangers in town, otherwise you would have known that that lady has not been here this great while; and they say that she has lost her senses, and is confined at M—— Hall, under the care of her brother-in-law, Sir Edward L——.” “Oh my God! cried I, is my aunt mad? Alas, dear Mrs. Blandon, was there ever so cruel a misfortune!” “Hush, my dear, interrupted my governess, (observing my astonishment had deprived me of all caution) perhaps the gentlewoman may be mistaken: you must not suffer yourself to be too much alarmed.” “What, madam, resumed she, is the young lady niece to Lady L——? I am sorry, indeed, that I should be the first to acquaint her with this ill news; but, if she is inclined to inquire farther of this affair, there is a lady lodges in my house, who was very intimate with Lady L——. I am persuaded she can inform her of every thing that relates to her misfortune.” “Dear madam, replied I, (trembling with anxiety) introduce me immediately to that lady, if she is at home. I cannot rest ‘till I know whether my dear aunt be really in that unhappy condition.” “Compose yourself, miss, said she, I’ll send up one of the lady’s servants to know if she can be spoke with.” Saying this, she went out, and returned in a few minutes, telling me, that Mrs. Dormer (for that it seems was the lodger’s name) desired I would do her the favor to walk up to her apartment. I made no scruple to comply instantly with this invitation, notwithstanding I was still in my riding-habit, and was showed into a very grand drawing-room, where there was a large company assembled.
The unexpected sight of so many gentlemen and ladies, a little disconcerted me; and I told Mrs. Dormer, (blushing) that had I known she had been so much engaged, I would have suspended, for some time longer, my eager desire to inquire after my aunt. “I should have been sorry, miss, said the lady, (saluting me, and leading me to a chair) that any thing should have prevented me from the pleasure of seeing you. I had so great a regard for Lady L— — that I cannot choose but be extremely glad of an opportunity to be acquainted with a young lady, who stands in so near a relation to her. I have often heard her ladyship speak with uncommon tenderness of a niece she had abroad; and, if I am not mistaken, her name was Stuart. You answer so exactly to the description she gave of her, that I am persuaded you are the same young lady, of whom, from your aunt’s character, I have conceived so high an idea.” “Ah, madam, replied I, (being able to return her compliment no otherwise than by a bow) how extremely unhappy has the news I have lately heard of this dear aunt made me! I would fain flatter myself the report of her indisposition is without foundation, and yet I dread to know the truth.” Spite of my endeavors to the contrary, a starting tear trembled in my eyes as I spoke these words, which considerably increased the confusion I felt at seeing myself the object of the whole company’s attention.
Mrs. Dormer, affecting not to hear me, turned to a lady that sat next her; “Did you ever see, said she, a stronger resemblance than that between this young lady and her aunt! The same lovely eyes and complex ion! her elegance of shape! nay, the very tone of her voice!” The lady, observing I blushed excessively at these commendations, put an end to them, by asking me, how long I had been informed of the unhappy disorder into which my aunt had fallen. I told her in what manner I came to hear of it. “Was your aunt’s indisposition a secret, miss, said Mrs. Dormer, I would not mention it with so much freedom as I do. It is publicly known, and I can ascribe your being unacquainted with it to nothing but your being just arrived in England; for I remember to have heard Lady L—— say she expected you. Your aunt, miss, pursued she, lost her only son about eight months ago, who died of a malignant fever. She was seized with it herself; and her excessive grief, together with the effects of that fatal distemper, deprived her of her senses. I am told too, that she has quite lost the use of her limbs, and is wheeled about her apartment in a chair. When I was in Essex, I would fain have paid her a visit; but her husband’s relations allow no one to see her, but her own servants.” Mrs. Dormer broke off abruptly here, observing, no doubt, the extreme concern that was visible in my countenance. Unable any longer to bear the painful restraint, which the presence of so many strangers laid on my grief, I rose up, and, begging Mrs. Dormer’s permission to retire, I took leave of the company, who seemed greatly affected, and went down stairs.
Mrs. Blandon, hearing me, came out of the parlor, and led me to my own apartment. I was no sooner entered than, eagerly seizing her hands, and leaning my head on her bosom, I gave way to the gush of tears, which I had with difficulty restrained. All the misfortunes my aunt’s unhappy situation would bring upon me, rose in an instant to my thoughts. I viewed my disappointment in its most aggravating colors; and my despair was considerably heightened by a tender reflection on her deplorable condition. Mrs. Blandon allowed some moments to the first violence of my grief; and then, obliging me to sit down, she placed herself near me, and endeavored to reconcile me to this melancholy accident, by all the arguments her reason could suggest. When I grew calmer, she represented to me, that if Sir Edward L—— had any sentiments of honor and humanity, though my aunt was incapable of disposing of her fortune by will; yet he would consider how she would have disposed of it: and, since my mother and her children were the only relations she had, it was probable he would do them the same justice she had designed them. “You must, added she, go down to Essex, as soon as you have a little recovered yourself from the fatigue you have suffered. I am determined not to leave you, till I see your affairs happily settled; and, if there should be a necessity for your returning to your mother, I will bear you company in that voyage. For, my dear child, pursued she, (tenderly embracing me) my affection for you has been so confirmed by the surprising merit I have discovered in you, that my own interest is less dear to me than yours.” “Ah, madam, answered I, (returning the affectionate embrace she gave me) how well has your tender care repaid the confidence my mother reposed in you! How happy ought I to think myself, in the midst of my cruel disappointments, that providence has given me a friend like you! But oh, Mrs. Blandon, cried I, (melting into tears) can you blame my too just grief on this melancholy occasion? My dear aunt, on whom my happiness depended, is not only incapable of affording me any, but languishes away her own days in a state of misery. I shall perhaps be obliged to return to my mother, loaded with disappointments and misfortunes; and, never being treated with any great degree of tenderness, shall I not see myself the perpetual object of her anger and reproaches!” “If you apprehend that, said Mrs. Blandon, (after a little pause) what hinders you from accepting Mr. Campbel for a husband? He has given you very convincing proofs of the purity of that passion he professes for you. His person and manners are unexceptionable, and his condition in life capable of making you happy. Listen then, my dear, to the dictates of your reason upon this occasion, and do not refuse the advantages that providence throws in your way. If your heart has not yet been sensible to the merit of Mr. Campbel, suffer it to make some impression on you now, when your situation renders such an offer of the greatest importance to you.”
My affection for the dear Dumont was the only secret I preserved from Mrs. Blandon’s knowledge; and though I foresaw I should be often pressed in Mr. Campbel’s favor, yet I could not resolve to trust her with my weakness; knowing the severity of her virtue too well, to think she would not oppose, with the utmost warmth, a tenderness warranted by the weak hope of his changing his religion; and only to be indulged at the expense of breaking through his other engagement. I could no otherwise evade coming to some explanation, on this perplexing subject, than by entreating her to wave it for the present; which she immediately complied with, and changed the discourse to my journey to Essex, which was resolved on, in a few days.
You may well imagine, my dear Amanda, this night was far from being tranquilly spent. A thousand disagreeable reflections kept me waking till near morning. I did not rise till it was very late; and Mrs. Dormer had sent a message to inquire after my health, before I was in a condition to make any return to her compliment. My mother, having expected I should find my aunt in town, and that I should not be at any great expense, had only furnished me with a bill upon the agent for twenty pounds.
Mrs. Blandon was going to present this bill, and get payment for it, when Mr. Campbel came in. My mind had retained so much of the melancholy my first disappointment had inspired, as to produce the following little ode; which, upon seeing my lover, I would have concealed, had he not prevented me, by taking it up, and reading it aloud to Mrs. Blandon, who did not always take notice of my little scrawls, it being so often my custom to employ myself in writing.
Oppress’d with ev’ry anxious woe
A mortal can sustain,
While with the day my sorrows grow,
And life wears out in pain;
Where shall I ease, or comfort find,
Oh! how relieve my care?
What can preserve my tortur’d mind
From sinking in despair?
Thou canst, religion! whose bright beams
O’er my benighted soul
A smiling ray of comfort gleams,
And all my fears controul.
From earth my boundless wishes soar,
And thy bright tract pursue;
The world’s false joys can please no more,
When heav’nly are in view.
The frowns of partial fortune here
The virtuous may despise;
They’re only happy who can fear,
Not poverty, but vice.
When he had finished reading, he cast a tender glance at me; and, looking over the last verse again, “I hope, miss, said he, you will have no reason to make this affecting complaint. Fortune can never be so unjust as to make you feel any of her rigors.” “Ah, how much are you deceived, sir, interrupted I, fortune has always been my enemy; and I have experienced the most cruel effects of her hate, almost from the very moment of my birth.”
Mrs. Blandon, taking up the discourse, told him of the disagreeable news I had heard of my aunt’s illness, and the loss of all my expectations. He listened attentively to her relation, with a countenance that expressed a generous sympathy in my afflictions: then, all of a sudden, brightening into a smile of pleasure, he fixed his eyes, sparkling with redoubled tenderness, upon me, “Pardon me, miss, said he, if I cannot enter so deeply into this misfortune as becomes a man to whom your happiness is dearer than his own. My passion draws a favorable omen from an event, which appears so unfortunate for you. I can now have an opportunity of laying my fortune at your feet, without being suspected of any sordid views; and can have the pleasure of convincing you, ’tis your lovely self alone that I seek the possession of, and in which all my desires are bounded.”
As generous as this declaration was, I could not hear it without some uneasiness, as it seemed to lay me under a sort of necessity of declaring myself immediately. I found the passion Mr. Campbel had for me, was too ardent to allow me the ridiculous pleasure of trifling with his addresses; and, to avoid the imputation of a base deceiver, I ought either to accept his offers, or give him at once an absolute refusal. This, however, I could not yet resolve to do; and, for the present, I contented myself with acknowledging, though with some reserve, the generosity and disinterestedness of his offers, assuring him, that I was extremely sensible of it. but added, my affliction was yet too recent to leave room for any thoughts of that nature, and begged he would press me no farther upon the subject at present. Then, assuming a more disengaged manner, I told him of my intention to go into Essex, in order to procure a sight of my aunt.
He was beginning to offer some reasons against this journey, when Mrs. Blandon happening to mention the affair she was going about, he told her, if she had no other business with the agent than to receive payment of a bill from him, he would transact that for her with great pleasure. She accepted his offer, and, giving him the order, he promised to go to him that afternoon, and wait on us again in the evening with the money. He took his leave soon after this; and, when dinner was over, our trunks being now come from the inn, I drest myself, in order to wait upon Mrs. Dormer, who had sent to entreat I would drink tea with her.
When I entered her apartment, I found no other company with her than an elderly clergyman) who, saluting me with an air of familiarity, told me, he had waited with impatience for the pleasure of seeing a young lady, of whose accomplishments Mrs. Dormer had given him the most delightful idea. After returning that lady my thanks, for the advantageous opinion she endeavored to inspire of me, we began to enter into a more general conversation, when we were joined by two ladies, and a colonel in the army, remarkable for his wit and the excessive politeness of his manners, and the only man who joined the extremes of foppery to an elevated understanding, and whose very foibles were capable of pleasing.
My youth, and the peculiar sprightliness of my air, struck him immediately. He directed most of his conversation to me; and, beginning to understand some particulars of my family and affairs, offered me his services and interest in my applications at court for a pension, which, he said, my father’s birth and long services gave me a title to expect.
Mrs. Dormer, who seemed to have conceived a real friendship for me, was delighted with this prospect of retrieving my fortune: and telling me she had some relations at court, whose interest might be of use to me, promised to influence them in my favor, and persuaded me to defer my journey to Essex; adding, that a brother of Sir Edward L—— had a post in the war-office, and might be of great use to me; and, as she had some acquaintance with him, she would take it upon herself to send for him, and introduce me to him: for I had before informed her, that I was a perfect stranger to my uncle L——’s relations.
When the hour approached that I expected Mr. Campbel, I took leave of the company, extremely well pleased with the acquisition I had made of two acquaintance, who were likely to be of so much service to me. The colonel would wait on me to the door of my own apartment, and, taking leave of me with a thousand compliments, went up stairs the moment it was opened; yet Mr. Campbel, who was there with Mrs. Blandon, had a glimpse of him, as he advanced towards the door to receive me. “Is not that colonel F— — miss, said he, that parted from you just now?” Upon which I answered in the affirmative, asking him, at the same time, if he knew him: “I am not personally acquainted with him, replied he; but there are few people in London who have not heard of colonel F——. He has made a figure in the gay world a great many years; and his wit and gallantry have distinguished him in most of the polite courts in Europe. I dare say, miss, pursued my lover, (smiling) that you would find it difficult to believe that colonel F—— is married; and that heart, which he offers to almost every lady he sees, either is, or ought to be, wholly in the possession of his wife.” “I am glad, interrupted I, to hear the colonel is married, since I can accept, with more decency, the services he offers me.” I then related what had past, concerning my petitioning the government for a pension, which was frequently granted to the daughters of officers of note. Mrs. Blandon highly approved the design, as I was likely to have such good interest; for Mrs. Dormer was of one of the best families in England, and was very capable of recommending me to powerful friends.
Mr. Campbel did not seem to relish this new scheme, and was now rather inclined to favor my journey to Essex; but when I told him, that I expected to see a brother-in-law of my aunt’s, he agreed that it would be better to defer going till I had consulted him. When my lover with drew, Mrs. Blandon, after discussing once more the affair of my applying for a pension, declared herself very well satisfied with the probability of its succeeding; but concluding with an ardent wish, that I would rather dispose my heart to return Mr. Campbel’s generous affection, I put an end to such a perplexing discourse, by amusing myself with my pen till was time to go to bed.
I ought to have informed you, dear Amanda, that Mrs. Dormer having heard my aunt L—— mention my little talent in poetry, she had obliged me to put my small manuscripts into her hands, which she had not fled to show to both the colonel and the clergyman; who was, as he afterwards told me himself, a great critic in these matters. Upon my going into Mrs. Dormer’s apartment the next evening, for we lived now a perfect intimacy together, she told me, (smiling) that the colonel and Mr. E—— (so was the clergyman called) had read my poems, and pressed great admiration of them. “See, pursued she, (giving me a paper) the colonel is no great poet, yet he made shift to write these lines extempore, upon reading your poems.
As tender lambkins in the morn
Of life, presage the future horn;
So in Florella’s early strains,
Amaz’d, we read the lover’s pains:
Her heart too young by passion to be fir’d,
Proves plainly that her poetry’s inspir’d.
I had scarce time to express my approbation of this compliment, when Mr. E—— came in. He had brought me a present of a very neat edition of Dryden’s Virgil, being resolved to make me acquainted with his favorite poet; and took occasion to display his learning and criticism for a full hour, in expatiating on the beauties of Virgil, who was, he said, in his opinion, a much greater poet than Homer.
As Mr. E— — very often in the midst of his elaborate harangue, acknowledged himself, with great modesty, a very accurate critic; neither Mrs. Dormer or I thought proper to dissent from his judgment in matters he understood so well: and, therefore, concluding his argument, for want of opposition, he descended to talk of things of less importance; and told me, that Mrs. Dormer having favored him with my manuscript-poems, he had put them into the hands of a lady of great distinction about court, remarkable for the brilliancy of her wit, and her taste for the Belles-Lettres. “She is so pleased with them, added he, that she obliged me to promise I would bring her acquainted with you; and therefore, miss, I’ll introduce you to her ladyship whatever day you please.” “I fancy, said Mrs. Dormer, (smiling) it is Lady Cecilia you intend to introduce miss Stuart to. That lady, pursued she, (addressing herself to me) is very capable of doing you great service: she holds one of the first employments at court; and her generosity is so diffusive, that she is said to seek out persons, to whom her interest may be useful. I have heard of a number of people, who have had an entire dependence upon her.” I did not, at that time, take any notice of the sarcastic turn of these words; but acknowledging myself obliged to Mr. E— — for the favor he intended me, he said he would wait upon Lady Cecilia that evening, and her ladyship should fix the day herself for my visit to her. When we had settled this point, I returned to my own apartment; and, finding Mrs. Blandon a little indisposed, I would not leave her the remainder of the day.
Next morning Mrs. Dormer sent to let me know, that Mr. L—— was with her, and desired I would come to her immediately. I found she had had some conversation with that gentleman concerning me; for, the moment I entered the room, he rose, and saluted me with much respect, declaring himself sensibly touched at the unfortunate disappointment I had met with. After relating to me the rise and progress of my aunt’s fatal distemper, he added, that he would not have me think of going to Essex, as a sight of her in that melancholy condition would necessarily cause me a deep affliction; assuring me, at the same time, he would write to his brother, and acquaint him with the occasion of my coming to England. I thought I understood the meaning of these words, and was going to make him some reply, when, colonel F—— coming into the room, Mr. L—— immediately took his leave, telling me he would very soon wait on me again.
When he was gone, the colonel delivered an apology to me from Mr. E— — who was obliged to go out of town upon some very urgent occasion, and could not have the pleasure of attending me next morning to Lady Cecilia’s: “And therefore, miss, added he, (bowing) I am to have the honor of introducing you. Her ladyship, pursued he, (laughing, and turning to Mrs. Dormer) has sent me a sort of challenge, which my profession, as a soldier, obliges me to comply with. She told Mr. E— — that she had often seen me in the drawing room, and, if I was not more afraid of her in her own apartment than at court, she would be glad to confirm our acquaintance there.” “These ladies that are distinguished for their wit, replied Mrs. Dormer, may say and do any thing. Methinks there is something very new and agreeable in this gallant way of breaking through the little rules, that custom and decency have imposed on our sex.” “Upon my word, said the colonel, (with an easy gaiety) you have so much of the prude in you, Mrs. Dormer, that I begin to hate you excessively. What a censorious speech have you made!” To say the truth, I did not know how to account for the strange manner in which Mrs. Dormer spoke of this lady; but time unraveled the mystery.
Mrs. Blandon’s indisposition increasing every hour, she was obliged at last to take to her bed. The unfeigned grief which this accident occasioned me, received a most cruel addition when she told me, she was afraid her distemper was the small-pox. One of the landlady’s children was then ill of it, and my dear governess caught the infection by accidentally going into the sick child’s chamber. Mrs. Dormer, who came that afternoon to visit me, sent one of her servants for her own physician, who confirmed the truth of her apprehensions, by declaring she was seized with that dangerous disease. I past the greater part of that night by her bed-side, filled with the most painful anxiety; and could scarce prevail upon myself to leave her, to take a few hours rest, at her most earnest entreaties.
I found her so much worse in the morning, that I would, if possible, have avoided waiting on Lady Cecilia that day; but I knew my governess illness would not be taken as a sufficient excuse for disappointing her ladyship, and I therefore was drest at the hour the colonel was to call on me. He took occasion to remark, as he handed me into his chariot, that I was now beginning the work of dependence on a court, which possibly might not sit easy on a mind so exalted as mine: “But I flatter myself, miss, said he, that you will soon be settled in a condition suitable to your birth and merit. Lady Cecilia’s interest is sufficient to procure you a very genteel establishment at court; and, from the accounts she has received of you, she is so greatly prepossessed in your favor, that she has assured Mr. E—— she will make use of all her power to serve you.” These agreeable assurances contributed a little to raise my spirits, from the damp Mrs. Blandon’s illness had given them.
When we came to Lady Cecilia’s, we found her ladyship was not yet returned from chapel; but a servant ushered us into an elegant drawing-room, telling us that his lady would return in a few minutes. The colonel, like a man who had been used to that sort of dependence he had mentioned to me, told me, with a very significant look, and a peculiar gravity in his voice, that it was better to expect her ladyship a little, than make her wait for us; and was beginning to give me some account of her family and fortune, when a loud and continued rap at the door, informed us that her ladyship was coming. I thought however, a moment afterwards, that we had been mistaken; for the door was no sooner opened than the whole house echoed with the shrillness of a voice, that was uttering some very passionate exclamations, and chiding the chair men for some fault they had committed, in a language so extremely coarse, that I should never have suspected it was the lady herself, had not the door of the room been instantly flung open, and Lady Cecilia appeared at the entrance. The colonel and I immediately rose up, when her ladyship, speaking in the same loud key, which made me imagine it was the fashion at court, thanked the colonel for bringing her acquainted with such an ingenious young lady; and then saluting me, led us into her library, with which I was really prodigiously struck. The great number of books of which it was composed, gave me a very advantageous idea of a lady, who could be at such an expense to furnish herself with intellectual entertainments.
As soon as we were seated, Lady Cecilia throwing herself into a great chair, on one side of which was a large reading-desk, and before her a table covered with books, papers, and other materials for writing, took a full survey of my whole person, as I sat directly opposite to her. I could not help discovering some little confusion at her scrutinizing looks, which was so far from producing the effect I desired, that she gazed at me still with greater eagerness. At last, turning to the colonel, she entered into a conversation with him on the subject of my affairs; which being ended, she cast an obliging look at me, assuring me it should not be long before I should have no reason to regret the disappointment I had met with. “I take upon myself, miss, said she, the care of making your fortune; and you may depend upon the absolute promise I now give you, to procure you a genteel place about the princess.” The colonel, upon this, told her, that he had resolved not to leave London till I was provided for; but, since her ladyship had taken me into her protection, there would be no occasion for his trifling interest.
There appeared something so singularly kind in this lady’s generous offers, that, my heart glowing with the warmest gratitude, I expressed my acknowledgments in very ardent terms. When I took leave, she begged me to favor her often with my company; adding, with a smile, that I was now her charge, and she intended to assume the privilege of insisting upon my being often with her for the future. The colonel was just going to lead me to the door, when her ladyship recollecting that she had something to say to him, desired me to walk into her dressingroom for a moment, and he should wait on me immediately. Accordingly I complied; but, I believe, I waited near half an hour before the colonel came; and could not help being surprised at this intimacy, contracted so suddenly, and improved already to such a height.
I conceived so much resentment at being left alone so long, which I thought was an insupportable slight, that, when the colonel came, I was scarce able to hide my chagrin. As soon as we were seated in the chariot, he told me, her ladyship had expressed herself in very warm terms. “Of whom, sir?” interrupted I, (smiling). “Why, of you to be sure, miss, said he. We were talking of you all the while; and she is so charmed with you, that I am persuaded it will not be long before she convinces you, how greatly she interests herself in your happiness.” The colonel added a great deal more to the same purpose; but I was by no means satisfied with the freedom that had been used with me. And I should have indulged the satirical humor I was in at her ladyship’s expense, had I not been restrained by the remembrance of some part of her behavior to me, which had been in a particular manner obliging. When we got home, the colonel, having led me to my own apartment, went to pay a visit to Mrs. Dormer; and I flew into Mrs. Blandon’s chamber, who, as ill as she was, listened with great pleasure to the account I gave her of Lady Cecilia’s reception of me.
Her distemper coming to a height in a few days, the physician declared her in great danger. No words can express the affliction I felt: I hardly ever left her; and shared with the person who attended her, in the fatigue of watching by her almost every night, till my health was greatly impaired.
Mrs. Dormer, and the still adoring Campbel, used every method to draw me from her bed-side, where I sat continually weeping; and my dear governess herself, often entreated me to leave her. But, alas, my extreme anxiety never gave me a moment’s rest, when I was absent from her! And still, rather hoping than expecting some favorable alteration, I past the melancholy hours in continually offering up my ardent petitions to heaven for her recovery. I had but just left her one night, and retired to my own chamber, when her sister, who was the only relation she had, and who had been with her for some days past, rapped at my door; which I no sooner opened than she told me, with a face covered with tears, that my governess was just expiring, and begged to see me once more. Though I had expected this fatal news for some time, yet I could not receive it now without the most terrible agonies.
Mrs. Dormer met me as I came out of my chamber, and, apprehensive that I should be greatly affected, had hastened to me, in order, by her presence, to calm the first transports of my grief: “Oh, madam, said I, (pressing her hand, and my eyes streaming with tears) how shall I support this loss!” She had no time to reply, I ran with such an eager haste into my governess’ room. They had called up the physician; but, alas, his art was no longer of any use! I approached her bed-side in a speechless agony of grief! “My dear child, said she, (in a weak voice) farewell! I only wanted to see you once more, to tell you, I feel no other regret in dying, than the leaving you in this unsettled condition. What comfort would it give me, had I any hopes that you would marry Mr. Campbel! But heaven, I hope, will direct your choice, and protect your innocence and virtue. Once more, farewell, my dear! said she, (grasping my hand with a faint pressure). Let not my death afflict you: we shall meet again in a better world.” Here her strength failing her, she desired to be left alone with the clergyman, who had attended her during her illness. Mrs. Dormer herself assisted in carrying me into my own room; and, half an hour afterwards, word was brought that she was dead. Though I had summoned all my strength of reason and reflection, to help me to support this cruel affliction; yet I no sooner heard that I had lost her for eves, her who had loved me with a parent’s fondness, and who had taken such unwearied pains to form my mind to piety and virtue, than I resigned myself up to the most violent despair. “Ah, how wretched am I now! cried I, (raising my eyes all drowned in tears:) Exposed, at these early years, to the caprice of a world, into which I am cast helpless, and abandoned to all the injuries it may load me with! Who now shall direct my inexperienced youth! Whom shall I fly to, when dangers or disappointments threaten me! Alas, I am in the fullest sense an orphan! Not without parents alone, but have now neither friend or protector left!”
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52