Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 16

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Letter XVI.


YOU will see, my dear Sir, that I was mistaken in supposing I should write no more from this place, where my residence now seems more uncertain than ever.

This morning, during breakfast, Lord Orville took an opportunity to beg me, in a low voice, to allow him a moment's conversation before I left Clifton; "May I hope," added he, "that you will stroll into the garden after breakfast?"

I made no answer, but I believe my looks gave no denial; for, indeed, I much wished to be satisfied concerning the letter. The moment, therefore, that I could quit the parlour, I ran up stairs for my calashw; but, before I reached my room, Mrs. Selwyn called after me, "If you are going to walk, Miss Anville, be so good as to bid Jenny bring down my hat, and I'll accompany you."

Very much disconcerted, I turned into the drawing-room, without making any answer, and there I hoped to wait unseen, till she had otherwise disposed of herself. But, in a few minutes, the door opened, and Sir Clement Willoughby entered.

Starting at the sight of him, in rising hastily, I let drop the letter which I had brought for Lord Orville's inspection, and, before I could recover it, Sir Clement, springing forward, had it in his hand. He was just presenting it to me, and, at the same time, enquiring after my health, when the signature caught his eye, and he read aloud, "Orville."

I endeavoured, eagerly, to snatch it from him, but he would not permit me; and, holding it fast, in a passionate manner exclaimed, "Good God, Miss Anville, is it possible you can value such a letter as this?"

The question surprised and confounded me, and I was too much ashamed to answer him; but, finding he made an attempt to secure it, I prevented him, and vehemently demanded him to return it.

"Tell me first," said he, holding it above my reach, "tell me if you have since received any more letters from the same person?"

"No, indeed," cried I, "never!"

"And will you also, sweetest of women, promise that you never will receive any more? Say that, and you will make me the happiest of men."

"Sir Clement," cried I, greatly confused, "pray give me the letter."

"And will you not first satisfy my doubts?-will you not relieve me from the torture of the most distracting suspense?-tell me but that the detested Orville has written to you no more!"

"Sir Clement," cried I, angrily, "you have no right to make any conditions,-so pray give me the letter directly."

"Why such solicitude about this hateful letter? can it possibly deserve your eagerness? tell me, with truth, with sincerity tell me, does it really merit the least anxiety?"

"No matter, Sir," cried I, in great perplexity, "the letter is mine, and therefore-"

"I must conclude, then," said he, "that the letter deserves your utmost contempt,-but that the name of Orville is sufficient to make you prize it."

"Sir Clement," cried I, colouring, "you are quite-you are very much-the letter is not-"

"O, Miss Anville," cried he, "you blush!-you stammer!-Great Heaven! it is then all as I feared!"

X [w] calash

"A woman's hood made of silk, supported with whalebone or cane hoops, and projecting beyond the face." OED