Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 2

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Letter II.

EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Bristol Hotwells, Sept. 16th.

OH, Sir, Lord Orville is still himself! still what, from the moment I beheld, I believed him to be-all that is amiable in man! and your happy Evelina, restored at once to spirits and tranquillity, is no longer sunk in her own opinion, nor discontented with the world;-no longer, with dejected eyes, sees the prospect of passing her future days in sadness, doubt, and suspicion!-with revived courage she now looks forward, and expects to meet with goodness, even among mankind:-though still she feels, as strongly as ever, the folly of hoping, in any second instance, to meet with perfection.

Your conjecture was certainly right; Lord Orville, when he wrote that letter, could not be in his senses. Oh that intemperance should have power to degrade so low, a man so noble!

This morning I accompanied Mrs. Selwyn to Clifton Hill, where, beautifully situated, is the house of Mrs. Beaumont. Most uncomfortable were my feelings during our walk, which was very slow; for the agitation of my mind made me more than usually sensible how weak I still continue. As we entered the house, I summoned all my resolution to my aid, determined rather to die than give Lord Orville reason to attribute my weakness to a wrong cause. I was happily relieved from my perturbation, when I saw Mrs. Beaumont was alone. We sat with her for, I believe, an hour without interruption; and then we saw a phaetonw drive up to the gate, and a lady and gentleman alight from it.

They entered the parlour with the ease of people who were at home. The gentleman, I soon saw, was Lord Merton: he came shuffling into the room with his boots on, and his whip in his hand; and having made something like a bow to Mrs. Beaumont, he turned towards me. His surprise was very evident; but he took no manner of notice of me. He waited, I believe, to discover, first, what chance had brought me to that house, where he did not look much rejoiced at meeting me. He seated himself very quietly at the window, without speaking to any body.

Mean time the lady, who seemed very young, hobblingw rather than walking into the room, made a passing courtsy to Mrs. Beaumont, saying, "How are you, Ma'am?" and then, without noticing any body else, with an air of languor she flung herself upon a sofa, protesting, in a most affected voice, and speaking so softly she could hardly be heard, that she was fatigued to death. "Really, Ma'am, the roads are so monstrous dusty,-you can't imagine how troublesome the dust is to one's eyes!-and the sun, too, is monstrous disagreeable!-I dare say I shall be so tanned: I shan't be fit to be seen this age. Indeed, my Lord, I won't go out with you any more, for you don't care where you take one."

"Upon my honour," said Lord Merton, "I took you the pleasantest ride in England, the fault was in the sun, not me."

"Your Lordship is in the right," said Mrs. Selwyn, "to transfer the fault to the sun, because it has so many excellencies to counterbalance partial inconveniences that a little blame will not injure that in our estimation."

Lord Merton looked by no means delighted at this attack; which I believe she would not so readily have made, but to revenge his neglect of us.

"Did you meet your brother, Lady Louisa?" said Mrs. Beaumont.

"No, Ma'am. Is he rode out this morning?"

I then found, what I had before suspected, that this lady was Lord Orville's sister: how strange, that such near relations should be so different to each other! There is, indeed, some resemblance in their features; but, in their manners, not the least.

"Yes," answered Mrs. Beaumont, "and I believe he wished to see you."

"My Lord drove so monstrous fast," said Lady Louisa, "that perhaps we passed him. He frightened me out of my senses; I declare my head is quite giddy. Do you know, Ma'am, we have done nothing but quarrel all the morning?-You can't think how I've scolded; have not I, my Lord?" and she smiled expressively at Lord Merton.

"You have been, as you always are," said he, twisting his whip with his fingers, "all sweetness."

X [w] phaeton

Transportation

"A type of light-four wheeled carriage, usually drawn by a pair of horses, and having one or two seats facing forward." OED  A speedy carriage, phaeton derives from the Greek mythological figure whose name became synonymous with reckless driving.  The phaeton appears to be the vehicle of choice for young gentlemen. 

X [w] hobbling

Moving as if restrained or hobbled, but likely in this case an affected, mincing walk.