Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 14

[+] | [-] | reset
 

"I am quite amazed," said I, "that, with such opinions, you can behave to them all with so much attention and civility."

"Civility! my angel,-why I could worship, could adore them, only to procure myself a moment of your conversation! Have you not seen me pay my court to the gross Captain Mirvan, and the virago Madame Duval? Were it possible that a creature so horrid could be formed, as to partake of the worst qualities of all these characters,-a creature who should have the haughtiness of Mrs. Beaumont, the brutality of Captain Mirvan, the self-conceit of Mrs. Selwyn, the affectation of Lady Louisa, and the vulgarity of Madame Duval,-even to such a monster as that I would pay homage, and pour forth adulation, only to obtain one word, one look from my adored Miss Anville!"

"Sir Clement," said I, "you are greatly mistaken if you suppose this duplicity of character recommends you to my good opinion. But I must take this opportunity of begging you never more to talk to me in this strain."

"Oh, Miss Anville, your reproofs, your coldness, pierce me to the soul! look upon me with less rigour, and make me what you please;-you shall govern and direct all my actions,-you shall new-form, new-model me:-I will not have even a wish but of your suggestion; only deign to look upon me with pity-if not with favour!"

"Suffer me, Sir," said I, very gravely, "to make use of this occasion to put a final conclusion to such expressions. I entreat you never again to address me in a language so flighty and so unwelcome. You have already given me great uneasiness; and I must frankly assure you, that if you do not desire to banish me from wherever you are, you will adopt a very different style and conduct in future."

I then rose, and was going, but he flung himself at my feet to prevent me, exclaiming, in a most passionate manner, "Good God! Miss Anville, what do you say?-is it, can it be possible, that, so unmoved, that, with such petrifying indifference, you can tear from me even the remotest hope!"

"I know not, Sir," said I, endeavouring to disengage myself from him, "what hope you mean, but I am sure that I never intended to give you any."

"You distract me," cried he, "I cannot endure such scorn;-I beseech you to have some moderation in your cruelty, lest you make me desperate:-say, then, that you pity me,-O fairest inexorable! loveliest tyrant!-say, tell me, at least, that you pity me!"

Just then, who should come in sight, as if intending to pass by the arbour, but Lord Orville! Good Heaven, how did I start! and he, the moment he saw me, turned pale, and was hastily retiring;-but I called out "Lord Orville!-Sir Clement, release me,-let go my hand!"

Sir Clement, in some confusion, suddenly rose, but still grasped my hand. Lord Orville, who had turned back, was again walking away; but, still struggling to disengage myself, I called out "Pray, pray, my Lord, don't go!-Sir Clement, I insist upon your releasing me!"

Lord Orville then, hastily approaching us, said, with great spirit,
"Sir Clement, you cannot wish to detain Miss Anville by force!"

"Neither, my Lord," cried Sir Clement, proudly, "do I request the honour of your Lordship's interference."

However, he let go my hand, and I immediately ran into the house.

I was now frightened to death, lest Sir Clement's mortified pride should provoke him to affront Lord Orville: I therefore ran hastily to Mrs. Selwyn, and entreated her, in a manner hardly to be understood, to walk towards the arbour. She asked no questions, for she is quick as lightening in taking a hint, but instantly hastened into the garden.