Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 7

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Again therefore they set off, and hobbled along, nearly even with each other, for some time; yet frequently, to the inexpressible diversion of the company, they stumbled and tottered; and the confused hallooing of "Now, Coverley!" "Now, Merton!" run from side to side during the whole affair.

Not long after, a foot of one of the poor women slipt, and with great force she came again to the ground. Involuntarily, I sprung forward to assist her; but Lord Merton, to whom she did not belong, stopped me, calling out, "No foul play! No foul play!"

Mr. Coverley then, repeating the same words, went himself to help her, and insisted that the other should stop. A debate ensued; but the poor creature was too much hurt to move, and declared her utter inability to make another attempt. Mr. Coverley was quite brutal: he swore at her with unmanly rage, and seemed scarce able to refrain even from striking her.

Lord Merton then, in great rapture, said it was a hollow thing; but Mr. Coverley contended, that the fall was accidental, and time should be allowed for the woman to recover. However, all the company being against him, he was pronounced the loser.

We then went to the drawing-room, to tea. After which, the evening being remarkably warm, we all walked in the garden. Lord Merton was quite riotous, and Lady Louisa in high spirits; but Mr. Coverley endeavoured, in vain, to conceal his chagrin.

As Lord Orville was thoughtful, and walked by himself, I expected that, as usual, I should pass unnoticed, and be left to my own meditations: but this was not the case; for Lord Merton, entirely off his guard, giddy equally from wine and success, was very troublesome to me; and, regardless of the presence of Lady Louisa, which hitherto has restrained him even from common civility, he attached himself to me, during the walk, with a freedom of gallantry that put me extremely out of countenance. He paid me the most high-flown compliments; and frequently and forcibly seized my hand, though I repeatedly, and with undissembled anger, drew it back. Lord Orville, I saw, watched us with earnestness; and Lady Louisa's smiles were converted into looks of disdain.

I could not bear to be thus situated; and complaining I was tired,
I quickened my pace, with intention to return to the house; but
Lord Merton, hastily following, caught my hand, and saying the day
was his own, vowed he would not let me go.

"You must, my Lord," cried I, extremely flurried.

"You are the most charming girl in the world," said he, "and never looked better than at this moment."

"My Lord," cried Mrs. Selwyn, advancing to us, "you don't consider, that the better Miss Anville looks the more striking is the contrast with your Lordship; therefore, for your own sake, I would advise you not to hold her."

"Egad, my Lord," cried Mr. Coverley, "I don't see what right you have to the best old, and the best young woman too, in the same day."

"Best young woman!" repeated Mr. Lovel; "'pon honour, Jack, you have made a most unfortunate speech; however, if Lady Louisa can pardon you,-and her Ladyship is all goodness,-I am sure nobody else can; for you have committed an outrageous solecismw in good manners."

"And pray, Sir," said Mrs. Selwyn, "under what denomination may your own speech pass?"

Mr. Lovel, turning another way, affected not to hear her: and Mr. Coverley, bowing to Lady Louisa, said, "Her Ladyship is well acquainted with my devotion;-but, egad, I don't know how it is,-I had always an unlucky turn at an epigram, and never could resist a smart play upon words in my life."

"Pray, my Lord," cried I, "let go my hand! Pray, Mrs. Selwyn, speak for me."

"My Lord," said Mrs. Selwyn, "in detaining Miss Anville any longer you only lose time; for we are already as well convinced of your valour and your strength, as if you were to hold her an age."

X [w] solecism

Manners & Morals

"A breach or violation of good manners or etiquette; a blunder or impropriety in manners." OED