Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 5

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The gravity and coldness with which he asked this question very much abashed me. But Lord Orville is the most delicate of men! and, presently recollecting himself, he added, "I mean not to speak with indifference of any friend of yours,-far from it; any such will always command my good wishes: yet I own I am rather disappointed; and though I doubt not the justice of your reason, to which I implicitly submit, you must not wonder, that, when upon the point of being honoured with your confidence, I should feel the greatest regret at finding it withdrawn."

Do you think, my dear sir, I did not, at that moment, require all my resolution to guard me from frankly telling him whatever he wished to hear? yet I rejoice that I did not; for, added to the actual wrong I should have done, Lord Orville himself, when he had heard, would, I am sure, have blamed me. Fortunately, this thought occurred to me; an I said, "Your Lordship shall yourself be my judge; the promise I made, though voluntary, was rash and inconsiderate; yet, had it concerned myself, I would not have hesitated in fulfilling it; but the gentleman, whose affairs I should be obliged to relate-"

"Pardon me," cried he, "for interrupting you; yet allow me to assure you, I have not the slightest desire to be acquainted with his affairs, further than what belongs to the motives which induced you yesterday morning-" He stopped; but there was no occasion to say more.

"That, my Lord," cried I, "I will tell you honestly. Mr. Macartney had some particular business with me, and I could not take the liberty to ask him hither."

"And why not?-Mr. Beaumont, I am sure-"

"I could not, my Lord, think of intruding upon Mrs. Beaumont's complaisance; and so, with the same hasty folly I promised your Lordship, I much more rashly promised to meet him."

"And did you?"

"No, my Lord," said I, colouring, "I returned before he came."

Again, for some time, we were both silent; yet, unwilling to leave him to reflections which could not but be to my disadvantage, I summoned sufficient courage to say, "There is no young creature, my Lord, who so greatly wants, or so earnestly wishes for, the advice and assistance of her friends, as I do: I am new to the world, and unused to acting for myself;-my intentions are never willfully blameable, yet I err perpetually!-I have hitherto been blessed with the most affectionate of friends, and, indeed, the ablest of men, to guide and instruct me upon every occasion:-but he is too distant, now, to be applied to at the moment I want his aid:-and here,-there is not a human being whose counsel I can ask."

"Would to Heaven," cried he, with a countenance from which all coldness and gravity were banished, and succeeded by the mildest benevolence, "that I were worthy,-and capable,-of supplying the place of such a friend to Miss Anville!"

"You do me but too much honour," said I, "yet I hope your Lordship's candour,-perhaps I ought to say indulgence,-will make some allowance, on account of my inexperience, for behaviour so inconsiderate:-May I, my Lord, hope that you will?"

 "May I," cried he, "hope that you will pardon the ill-grace with
 which I have
submitted to my disappointment? And that you will permit me (kissing
my hand) thus to seal my peace?"

"Our peace, my Lord!" said I, with revived spirits.

"This, then," said he, again pressing it to his lips, "for our peace: and now,-are we not friends?"

Just then the door opened, and I had only time to withdraw my hand, before the ladies came in to breakfast.

I have been, all day, the happiest of human beings!-to be thus reconciled to Lord Orville, and yet to adhere to my resolution,-what could I wish for more?-he too has been very cheerful, and more attentive, more obliging to me than ever. Yet Heaven forbid I should again be in a similar situation, for I cannot express how much uneasiness I have suffered from the fear of incurring his ill opinion.

But what will poor Mr. Macartney think of me? Happy as I am, I much regret the necessity I have been under of disappointing him.

Adieu, my dearest Sir.