Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 2, Ch. 29

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I knew not what to say; but I sighed involuntarily from the bottom of my heart. He rose, and approaching me, said, with emotion, "My child, I can no longer be a silent witness of thy sorrow,-is not thy sorrow my sorrow?-and ought I to be a stranger to the cause, when I so deeply sympathize in the effect?"

"Cause, Sir!" cried I, greatly alarmed, "what cause?-I don't know,-I can't tell-I-"

"Fear not," said he, kindly, "to unbosom thyself to me, my dearest Evelina; open to me thy whole heart,-it can have no feelings for which I will not make allowance. Tell me, therefore, what it is that thus afflicts us both; and who knows but I may suggest some means of relief?"

"You are too, too good," cried I, greatly embarrassed; "but indeed
I know not what you mean."

"I see," said he, "it is painful to you to speak: suppose, then,
I endeavour to save you by guessing?"

"Impossible! impossible!" cried I, eagerly; "no one living could ever guess, ever suppose-" I stopped abruptly; for I then recollected I was acknowledging something was to be guessed: however, he noticed not my mistake.

"At least let me try," answered he, mildly; "perhaps I may be a better diviner than you imagine: if I guess every thing that is probable, surely I must approach near the real reason. Be honest, then, my love, and speak without reserve;-does not the country, after so much gaiety, so much variety, does it not appear insipid and tiresome?"

"No, indeed! I love it more than ever, and more than ever do I wish
I had never, never quitted it!"

"Oh, my child! that I had not permitted the journey! My judgment always opposed it, but my resolution was not proof against persuasion."

"I blush, indeed," cried I, "to recollect my earnestness;-but I have been my own punisher!"

"It is too late now," answered he, "to reflect upon this subject; let us endeavour to avoid repentance for the time to come, and we shall not have erred without reaping some instruction." Then, seating himself, and making me sit by him, he continued, "I must now guess again: perhaps you regret the loss of those friends you knew in town;-perhaps you miss their society, and fear you may see them no more?-perhaps Lord Orville-"

I could not keep my seat; but, rising hastily, said, "Dear Sir, ask me nothing more!-for I have nothing to own,-nothing to say;-my gravity has been merely accidental, and I can give no reason for it at all.-Shall I fetch you another book?-or will you have this again?"

For some minutes he was totally silent, and I pretended to employ myself in looking for a book. At last, with a deep sigh, "I see," said he, "I see but too plainly, that though Evelina is returned,-I have lost my child!"

"No, Sir, no," cried I, inexpressibly shocked, "she is more your's than ever! Without you, the world would be a desert to her, and life a burthen:-forgive her, then, and,-if you can,-condescend to be, once more, the confidant of all her thoughts."

"How highly I value, how greatly I wish for her confidence," returned he, "she cannot but know;-yet to extort, to tear it from her,-my justice, my affection both revolt at the idea. I am sorry that I was so earnest with you;-leave me, my dear, leave me, and compose yourself; we will meet again at tea."

"Do you then refuse to hear me?"