Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 18

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Letter XVIII


I HAD just finished my letter to you this morning, when a violent rapping at the door made me run down stairs; and who should I see in the drawing room, but-Lord Orville!

He was quite alone, for the family had not assembled to breakfast. He inquired first of mine, then of the health of Mrs. and Miss Mirvan, with a degree of concern that rather surprised me, till he said he had just been informed of the accident we had met with at Ranelagh. He expressed his sorrow upon the occasion with utmost politeness, and lamented that he had not been so fortunate as to hear of it in time to offer his services. "But I think," he added, "Sir Clement Willoughby had the honour of assisting you?"

"He was with Captain Mirvan, my Lord."

"I had heard of his being of your party."

I hope that flighty man has not been telling Lord Orville he only assisted me! however, he did not pursue the subject: but said, "This accident though extremely unfortunate, will not, I hope, be the means of frightening you from gracing Ranelagh with your presence in future?"

"Our time, my Lord, for London, is almost expired already."

"Indeed! do you leave town so very soon?"

"O yes, my Lord, our stay has already exceeded our intentions."

"Are you, then, so particularly partial to the country?"

"We merely came to town, my Lord, to meet Captain Mirvan."

"And does Miss Anville feel no concern at the idea of the many mourners her absence will occasion?"

"O, my Lord,-I'm sure you don't think-" I stopt there; for, indeed, I hardly knew what I was going to say. My foolish embarrassment, I suppose, was the cause of what followed; for he came to me, and took my hand saying, "I do think, that whoever has once seen Miss Anville, must receive an impression never to be forgotten."

This compliment,-from Lord Orville,-so surprised me, that I could not speak; but felt myself change colour, and stood for some moments silent, and looking down: however, the instant I recollected my situation, I withdrew my hand, and told him that I would see if Mrs. Mirvan was not dressed. He did not oppose me-so away I went.

I met them all on the stairs, and returned with them to breakfast.