Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 15

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"I must run up stairs," cried I, greatly confused, "and ask what she has done with them."

"You are going, then," cried he, taking my hand, "and you give me not the smallest hope of your return!-will you not, then, my too lovely friend!-will you not, at least, teach me, with fortitude like your own, to support your absence?"

"My Lord," cried I, endeavouring to disengage my hand, "pray let me go!"

"I will," cried he, to my inexpressible confusion, dropping on one knee, "if you wish to leave me!"

"O, my Lord," exclaimed I, "rise, I beseech you, rise!-such a posture to me!-surely your Lordship is not so cruel as to mock me!"

"Mock you!" repeated he earnestly, "no I revere you! I esteem and I admire you above all human beings! you are the friend to whom my soul is attached as to its better half! you are the most amiable, the most perfect of women! and you are dearer to me than language has the power of telling."

I attempt not to describe my sensations at that moment; I scarce breathed; I doubted if I existed,-the blood forsook my cheeks, and my feet refused to sustain me: Lord Orville, hastily rising, supported me to a chair, upon which I sunk, almost lifeless.

For a few minutes, we neither of us spoke; and then, seeing me recover, Lord Orville, though in terms hardly articulate, intreated my pardon for his abruptness. The moment my strength returned, I attempted to rise, but he would not permit me.

I cannot write the scene that followed, though every word is engraven on my heart; but his protestations, his expressions, were too flattering for repetition: nor would he, in spite of my repeated efforts to leave him, suffer me to escape:-in short, my dear Sir, I was not proof against his solicitations-and he drew from me the most sacred secret of my heart!

I know not how long we were together; but Lord Orville was upon his knees, when the door was opened by Mrs. Selwyn!-To tell you, Sir, the shame with which I overwhelmed, would be impossible;-I snatched my hand from Lord Orville,-he, too, started and rose, and Mrs. Selwyn, for some instants, stood facing us both in silence.

At last, "My Lord" said she, sarcastically, "have you been so good as to help Miss Anville to look for my books?"

"Yes, Madam," answered he, attempting to rally, "and I hope we shall soon be able to find them."

"Your Lordship is extremely kind," said she, drily, "but I can by no means consent to take up any more of your time." Then looking on the window-seat, she presently found the books, and added, "Come, here are just three, and so like the servants in the Drummerh, this important affair may give employment to us all." She then presented one of them to Lord Orville, another to me, and taking a third herself, with a most provoking look, she left the room.

I would instantly have followed her; but Lord Orville, who could not help laughing, begged me to stay a minute, as he had many important matters to discuss.

"No, indeed, my Lord, I cannot,-perhaps I have already stayed too long."

"Does Miss Anville so soon repent her goodness?"

"I scarce know what I do, my Lord,-I am quite bewildered!"

"One hour's conversation," cried he, "will, I hope, compose your spirits, and confirm my happiness. When, then, may I hope to see you alone?-shall you walk in the garden to-morrow before breakfast?"

X [h] Drummer

Writing & Reading

An allusion to Act V of Joseph Addison's comedy, The Drummer, or the Haunted House, (1716) in which three servants escape the "haunt" by going off to employ themselves looking for paper, pen, and inkstand.