Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 2, Ch. 23

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Letter XXIII.


O SIR, how much uneasiness must I suffer, to counterbalance one short morning of happiness!

Yesterday the Branghtons proposed a party to Kensington Gardens; and, as usual, Madame Duval insisted upon my attendance.

We went in a hackney-coach to Piccadilly, and then had a walk through Hyde Park; which in any other company would have been delightful. I was much pleased with Kensington Gardens, and think them infinitely preferable to those of Vauxhall.

Young Branghton was extremely troublesome; he insisted upon walking by my side, and talked with me almost by compulsion; however, my reserve and coldness prevented his entering upon the hateful subject which Madame Duval had prepared me to apprehend. Once, indeed, when I was accidentally a few yards before the rest, he said, "I suppose, Miss, aunt has told you about-you know what?-ha'n't she, Miss?"-But I turned from him without making any answer. Neither Mr. Smith nor Mr. Brown were of the party; and poor M. Du Bois, when he found that I avoided him, looked so melancholy, that I was really sorry for him.

While we were strolling round the garden, I perceived, walking with a party of ladies at some distance, Lord Orville! I instantly retreated behind Miss Branghton, and kept out of sight till we had passed him; for I dreaded being seen by him again in a public walk with a party of which I was ashamed.

Happily I succeeded in my design, and saw no more of him; for a sudden and violent shower of rain made us all hasten out of the gardens. We ran till we came to a small green-shopw, where we begged shelter. Here we found ourselves in company with two footmen, whom the rain had driven into the shop. Their liveryw I thought I had before seen; and, upon looking from the window, I perceived the same upon a coachman belonging to a carriage, which I immediately recollected to be Lord Orville's.

Fearing to be know, I whispered Miss Branghton not to speak my name. Had I considered but a moment, I should have been sensible of the inutility of such a caution, since not one of the party call me by any other appellation than that of Cousin or of Miss; but I am perpetually involved in some distress or dilemma from my own heedlessness.

This request excited very strongly her curiosity: and she attacked me with such eagerness and bluntness of enquiry, that I could not avoid telling her the reason of my making it, and, consequently, that I was known to Lord Orville: an acknowledgment which proved the most unfortunate in the world; for she would not rest till she had drawn from me the circumstances attending my first making the acquaintance. Then, calling to her sister, she said, "Lord, Polly, only think! Miss has danced with a Lord!"

"Well," cried Polly, "that's a thing I should never have thought of! And pray, Miss, what did he say to you?"

This question was much sooner asked than answered; and they both became so very inquisitive and earnest, that they soon drew the attention of Madame Duval and the rest of the party; to whom, in a very short time, they repeated all they had gathered from me.

"Goodness, then," cried young Branghton, "if I was Miss, if I would not make free with his Lordship's coach, to take me to town."

"Why, ay," said the father, "there would be some sense in that; that would be making some use of a Lord's acquaintance, for it would save us coach-hire."

"Lord, Miss," cried Polly, "I wish you would; for I should like of all things to ride in a coronet-coach."

"I promise you," said Madame Duval, "I'm glad you've thought of it, for I don't see no objection;-so let's have the coachman called."

"Not for the world," cried I, very much alarmed: "indeed it is utterly impossible."

"Why so?" demanded Mr. Branghton: "pray, where's the good of your knowing a Lord, if your never the better for him?"

X [w] green-shop


Where vegetables and greens would be sold.

X [w] livery

Distinctive clothing or a uniform whose colors, style, or markings identify a servant with a household.