Page images
PDF
EPUB

same to her lady last night (or rather that morning) while she was undressing; on which account she had been detained in her office above the space of an hour and a half.

The lady, indeed, though generally well enough pleased with the narratives of Mrs. Etoff at those seasons, gave an extraordinary attention to her account of Jones; for Honour had described him as a very handsome fellow; and Mrs. Etoff, in her hurry, added so much to the beauty of his person to her report, that Lady Bellaston began to conceive him to be a kind of miracle in nature.

The curiosity which her woman had inspired was now greatly increased by Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who spoke, as much in favour of the person of Jones, as she had before spoken in dispraise of his birth, cha racter, and fortune.

When Lady Bellaston had heard the whole, she answered gravely, Indeed, madam, this is a matter of great consequence. Nothing can certainly be more commendable than the part you act; and I shall be very glad to have my share in the preservation of a young lady of so much merit, and for whom I have so much esteem.'

Doth not your ladyship think,' says Mrs. Fitzpatrick eagerly, that it would be the best way to write immediately to my uncle, and acquaint him where my cousin is?"

I

The lady pondered a little upon this, and thus answered Why, no, madam; I think not. Di Western hath described her brother to me to be such a brute, that I cannot consent to put any wo. man under his power who hath escaped from it. have heard he behaved like a monster to his own wife; for he is one of those wretches who think they have a right to tyrannize over us; and from such I shall ever esteem it the cause of my sex to rescue any woman who is so unfortunate as to be under their power. The business, dear cousin, will be only to keep Miss Western from seeing this

young fellow, till the good company, which she will have an opportunity of meeting here, give her a properer turn.'

'If he should find her out, madam,' answered the other, your ladyship may be assured he will leave nothing unattempted to come at her.'

But, madam,' replied the lady, it is impossible he should come here;though indeed it is possible he may get some intelligence where she is, and then may lurk about the house--I wish therefore I knew his person.

Is there no way, madam, by which I could have a sight of him? for otherwise you know, cousin, she may contrive to see him here without my knowledge.' Mrs. Fitzpatrick answered, That he had threatened her with another visit that afternoon, and that if her ladyship pleased to do her the ho nour of calling upon her then, she would hardly fail of seeing him between six and seven; and if he came earlier, she would, by some means or other, detain him till her ladyship's arrival.' Lady Bel laston replied, She wonld come the moment she could get from dinner, which she supposed would be by seven at farthest; for that it was absolutely necessary she should be acquainted with his person. Upon my word, madam,' says she, it was very good to take this care of Miss Western; but common humanity, as well as regard to our family, requires it of us both; for it would be a dreadful match indeed.'

Mrs. Fitzpatrick failed not to make a proper return to the compliment which Lady Bellaston had bestowed on her cousin, and, after some little immaterial conversation, withdrew; and getting as fast as she could into her chair, unseen by Sophia or Honour, returned home.

CHAP. IV.

MR. Jones had walked within sight of a certain

door during the whole day, which, though one of the shortest, appeared to him to be one of the longest in the whole year. At length, the clock having struck five, he returned to Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who, though it was a full hour earlier than the decent time of visiting, received him very civilly; but still persisted in her ignorance concerning Sophia.

Jones, in asking for his angel, had dropped the word cousin; upon which Mrs. Fitzpatrick, said, Then, sir, you know we are related; and, as we are, you will permit me the right of inquiring into the particulars of your business with my cousin.' Here Jones hesitated a good while, and at last answered. He had a considerable sum of money of hers in his hands, which he desired to deliver to her. He then produced the pocket-book, and ac. quainted Mrs. Fitzpatrick with the contents, and with the method in which they came into his hands. He had scarce finished his story when a most violent noise shook the whole house. To attempt to describe this noise to those who have heard it, would be in vain; and to aim at giving any idea of it to those who have never heard the like, would be still more vain for it may be truly said,

-Non acuta

Sic geminant Corybantes ara.

The priests of Cybele do not so rattle their sounding brass.

In short, a footman knocked, or rather thundered, at the door. Jones was a little surprised at the sound, having never heard it before: but Mrs. Fitzpatrick very calmly said, that, as some com.

pany were coming, she could not make him any answer now; but if he pleased to stay till they were gone, she intimated she had something to say to him.

The door of the room now flew open, and, after pushing in her hoop sideways before her, entered Lady Bellaston, who, having first made a very low curtesy to Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and as low a one to Mr. Jones, was ushered to the upper end of the

room.

We mention these minute matters for the sake of some country ladies of our acquaintance, who think it contrary to the rules of modesty to bend their knees to a man.

The company were hardly well settled, before the arrival of the peer lately mentioned caused a fresh disturbance, and a repetition of ceremonials.

These being over, the conversation began to be (as the phrase is) extremely brilliant. However, as nothing passed in it which can be thought material to this history, or, indeed, very material in itself, I shall omit the relation; the rather as I have known some very fiue polite conversation grow extremely dull, when transcribed into books, or repeated on the stage. Indeed, this mental repast is a dainty, of which those, who are excluded from polite assemblies, must be contented to remain as ignorant as they must be of the several dainties of French cookery, which are served only at the tables of the great. To say the truth, as neither of these are adapted to every taste, they might both be often thrown away on the vulgar.

Poor Jones was rather a spectator of this elegant scene, than an actor in it; for though, in the short interval before the peer's arrival, Lady Bellaston first, and afterwards Mrs. Fitzpatrick, had addressed some of their discourse to him; yet no sooner was the noble lord entered, than he engrossed the whole attention of the two ladies to himself; and as he took no more notice of Jones than if no such person

had been present, unless by now and then staring at him, the ladies followed his example.

The company had now staid so long, that Mrs. Fitzpatrick plainly perceived they all designed to stay out each other. She therefore resolved to rid herself of Jones, he being the visitant to whom she thought the least ceremony was due. Taking therefore an opportunity of a cessation of chat, she ad dressed herself gravely to him, and said, 'Sir, I shall not possibly be able to give you an answer to night, as to that business; but if you please to leave word where I may send to you to-morrow'

Jones had natural, but not artificial, good-breeding. Instead therefore of communicating the secret of his lodgings to a servant, he acquainted the lady herself with it particularly, and soon after very ceremoniously withdrew.

He was no sooner gone, than the great personages, who had taken no notice of him present, began to take much notice of him in his absence; but if the reader hath already excused us from relating the more brilliant part of this conversation, he will surely be very ready to excuse the repetition of what may be called vulgar abuse; though, perhaps, it may be material to our history to mention an observation of Lady Bellaston, who took her leave in a few minutes after him; and then said to Mrs. Fitzpatrick, at her departure, I am satisfied on the account of my cousin: she can be in no danger from this fellow.'

Our history shall follow the example of Lady Bellaston, and take leave of the present company, which was now reduced to two persons; between whom, as nothing passed, which in the least concerns us or our reader, we shall not suffer ourselves to be diverted by it from matters which must seem of more consequence to all those who are at all interested in the affairs of our hero.

« PreviousContinue »