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

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"My Lord," said Mrs. Beaumont, "I must beg leave to interfere: I know not if Lady Louisa can pardon you; but as this young lady is at my house, I do not choose to have her made uneasy."

"I pardon him!" cried Lady Louisa; "I declare I am monstrous glad to get rid of him."

"Egad, my Lord," cried Mr. Coverley, "while you are grasping at a shadow, you'll lose a substance; you'd best make your peace while you can."

"Pray, Mr. Coverley, be quiet," said Lady Louisa, peevishly; "for I declare I won't speak to him. Brother," taking hold of Lord Orville's arm, "will you walk in with me?"

"Would to Heaven," cried I, frightened to see how much Lord Merton was in liquor, "that I too had a brother!-and then I should not be exposed to such treatment."

Lord Orville, instantly quitting Lady Louisa, said, "Will Miss Anville allow me the honour of taking that title?" and then, without waiting for any answer, he disengaged me from Lord Merton; and, handing me to Lady Louisa, "Let me," added he, "take equal care of both my sisters;" and then, desiring her, to take hold of one arm, and begging me to make use of the other, we reached the house in a moment. Lord Merton, disordered as he was, attempted not to stop us.

As soon as we entered the house, I withdrew my arm, and courtsied my thanks, for my heart was too full for speech. Lady Louisa, evidently hurt at her brother's condescension, and piqued extremely by Lord Merton's behaviour, silently drew away hers; and biting her lips, with a look of infinite vexation, walked sullenly up the hall.

Lord Orville asked her if she would not go into the parlour?

"No," answered she, haughtily, "I leave you and your new sister together:" and then she walked up stairs.

I was quite confounded at the pride and rudeness of this speech. Lord Orville himself seemed thunderstruck: I turned from him, and went into the parlour: he followed me, saying, "Must I now apologize to Miss Anville for the liberty of my interference?-or ought I to apologize, that I did not, as I wished, interfere sooner?"

"O, my Lord," cried I, with an emotion I could not repress, "it is from you alone I meet with any respect;-all others treat me with impertinence, or contempt!"

I am sorry I had not more command of myself, as he had reason just then to suppose I particularly meant his sister; which, I am sure, must very much hurt him.

"Good Heaven," cried he, "that so much sweetness and merit can fail to excite the love and admiration so justly their due! I cannot,-I dare not express to you half the indignation I feel at this moment!"

"I am sorry, my Lord," said I, more calmly, "to have raised it; but yet,-in a situation that calls for protection, to meet only with mortifications,-indeed, but I am ill formed to bear them!"

"My dear Miss Anville," cried he, warmly, "allow me to be your friend; think of me as if I were indeed your brother; and let me intreat you to accept my best services, if there is any thing in which I can be so happy as to show my regard,-my respect for you!"

Before I had time to speak, the rest of the party entered the parlour; and, as I did not wish to see anything more of Lord Merton, at least before he had slept, I determined to leave it. Lord Orville, seeing my design, said, as I passed him, "Will you go?" "Had not I best, my Lord?" said I. "I am afraid," said he, smiling, "since I must now speak as your brother, I am afraid you had; -you see you may trust me, since I can advise against my own interest."

I then left the room, and have been writing ever since. And, methinks, I can never lament the rudeness of Lord Merton, as it has more than ever confirmed to me the esteem of Lord Orville.