Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 19

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Letter XIX.

EVELINA IN CONTINUATION. Oct. 11th.

 YESTERDAY morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Lord Orville went
 to the
Hot Wells, to wait upon my father with my double petition.

 Mrs. Beaumont then, in general terms, proposed a walk in the
 garden. Mrs.
Selwyn said she had letters to write; but Lady Louisa rose to
accompany Mrs. Beaumont.

I had had some reason to imagine, from the notice with which her Ladyship had honoured me during breakfast, that her brother had acquainted her with my present situation: and her behaviour now confirmed my conjectures: for, when I would have gone up stairs, instead of suffering me, as usual, to pass disregarded, she called after me with an affected surprise, "Miss Anville, don't you walk with us?"

There seemed something so little-minded in this sudden change of conduct, that, from an involuntary motion of contempt, I thanked her with a coldness like her own, and declined her offer. Yet, observing that she blushed extremely at my refusal, and recollecting she was sister to Lord Orville, my indignation subsided; and, upon Mrs. Beaumont repeating the invitation, I accepted it.

Our walk proved extremely dull: Mrs. Beaumont, who never says much, was more silent than usual; Lady Louisa strove in vain to lay aside the restraint and distance she has hitherto preserved; and, as to me, I was too conscious of the circumstances to which I owed their attention, to feel either pride or pleasure from receiving it.

Lord Orville was not long absent: he joined us in the garden with a look of gaiety and good humour that revived us all. "You are just the party," said he, "I wished to see together. Will you, Madam (taking my hand), allow me the honour of introducing you, by your real name, to two of my nearest relations? Mrs. Beaumont, give me leave to present to you the daughter of Sir John Belmont, a young lady who, I am sure, must long since have engaged your esteem and admiration, though you were a stranger to her birth."

"My Lord," said Mrs. Beaumont, graciously salutingw me, "the young lady's rank in life, your Lordship's recommendation, or her own merit, would, any one of them, have been sufficient to have entitled her to my regard; and I hope she has always met with that respect in my house which is so much her due; though, had I been sooner made acquainted with her family, I should doubtless have better known how to have secured it."

"Miss Belmont," said Lord Orville, "can receive no lustre from family, whatever she may give to it. Louisa, you will, I am sure, be happy to make yourself an interest in the friendship of Miss Belmont, whom I hope shortly (kissing my hand, and joining it with her Ladyship's) to have the happiness of presenting to you by yet another name, and by the most endearing of all titles."

I believe it would be difficult to say whose cheeks were, at that moment, of the deepest dye, Lady Louisa's or my own; for the conscious pride with which she has hitherto slighted me, gave to her an embarrassment which equalled the confusion that an introduction so unexpected gave to me. She saluted me, however; and, with a faint smile said, "I shall esteem myself very happy to profit by the honour of Miss Belmont's acquaintance."

 I only courtsied, and we walked on; but it was evident, from the
 little
surprise they expressed, that they had been already informed of the
state of the affair.

We were soon after joined by more company: and Lord Orville then, in a low voice, took an opportunity to tell me the success of his visit. In the first place, Thursday was agreed to; and, in the second, my father, he said, was much concerned to hear of my uneasiness; sent me his blessing; and complied with my request of seeing him, with the same readiness he should agree to any other I could make. Lord Orville, therefore, settled that I should wait upon him in the evening, and, at his particular request, unaccompanied by Mrs. Selwyn.

X [w] saluting

To salute is "To kiss, or greet with a kiss," OED, though here more of an acknowledgement than a greeting.