Some curious Instructions for relating an History.
Arabella, as soon as she left them, went up to her Apartment; and, calling Lucy into her Closet, told her that she had made Choice of her, since she was best acquainted with her Thoughts, to relate her History to her Cousins, and a Person of Quality who was with them.
Sure your Ladyship jests with me, said Lucy: How can I make a History about your Ladyship? There is no Occasion, replied Arabella, for you to make a History: There are Accidents enough in my Life to afford Matter for a long one: All you have to do is to relate them as exactly as possible. You have lived with me from my Childhood, and are instructed in all my Adventures; so that you must be certainly very capable of executing the Task I have honoured you with.
Indeed, said Lucy, I must beg your Ladyship will excuse me: I never could tell how to repeat a Story when I have read it; and I know it is not such simple Girls as I can tell Histories: It is only fit for Clerks, and such Sort of People, that are very learned.
You are learned enough for that Purpose, said Arabella; and, if you make so much Difficulty in performing this Part of your Duty, pray how came you to imagine you were fit for my Service, and the Distinction I have favoured you with? Did you ever hear of any Woman that refused to relate her Lady's Story, when desired? Therefore, if you hope to possess my Favour and Confidence any longer, acquit yourself handsomely of this Task, to which I have preferred you.
Lucy, terrified at the Displeasure she saw in her Lady's Countenance, begged her to tell her what she must say.
Well! exclaimed Arabella: I am certainly the most unfortunate Woman in the World! Every thing happens to me in a contrary manner from any other Person! Here, instead of my desiring you to soften those Parts of my History where you have greatest room to flatter; and to conceal, if possible, some of those Disorders my Beauty has occasioned; you ask me to tell you what you must say; as if it was not necessary you should know as well as myself, and be able, not only to recount all my Words and Actions, even the smallest and most inconsiderable, but also all my Thoughts, however instantaneous; relate exactly every Change of my Countenance; number all my Smiles, Halfsmiles, Blushes, Turnings pale, Glances, Pauses, Full-stops, Interruptions; the Rise and Falling of my Voice; every Motion of my Eyes; and every Gesture which I have used for these Ten Years past; nor omit the smallest Circumstance that relates to me.
Lord bless me! Madam, said Lucy, excessively astonished, I never, till this Moment, it seems, knew the hundredth thousandth Part of what was expected from me: I am sure, if I had, I would never have gone to Service; for I might well know I was not fit for such Slavery.
There is no such great Slavery in doing all I have mentioned to you, interrupted Arabella: It requires, indeed, a good Memory, in which I never thought you deficient; for you are punctual to the greatest Degree of Exactness in recounting every thing one desires to hear from you.
Lucy, whom this Praise soothed into good Humour, and flattered with a Belief, that she was able, with a little Instruction, to perform what her Lady required, told her, if she pleased only to put her in a Way how to tell her History, she would engage, after doing it once, to tell it again whenever she was desired.
Arabella, being obliged to comply with the odd Request, for which there was no Precedent in all the Romances her Library was stuffed with, began to inform her in this manner: First, said she, you must relate my Birth, which you know is very illustrious; and, because I am willing to spare you the Trouble of repeating Things, that are not absolutely necessary, you must apologize to your Hearers for flipping over what passed in my Infancy, and the first Eight or Ten Years of my Life; not failing, however, to remark, that, from some sprightly Sallies of Imagination, at those early Years, those about me conceived marvellous Hopes of my future Understanding: From thence you must proceed to an accurate Description of my Person.
What! Madam, interrupted Lucy, must I tell what Sort of Person you have, to People who have seen you but a Moment ago? Questionless you must, replied Arabella; and herein you follow the Examples of all the 'Squires and Maids who relate their Masters and Ladies Histories: For, though it be to a Brother, or near Relation, who has seen them a thousand times, yet they never omit an exact Account of their Persons.
Very well, Madam, said Lucy: I shall be sure not to forget that Part of my Story. I wish I was as perfect in all the rest.
Then, Lucy, you must repeat all the Conversations I have ever held with you upon the Subjects of Love and Gallantry, that your Audience may be so well acquainted with my Humour, as to know exactly, before they are told, how I shall behave, in whatever Adventures befal me. --After that, you may proceed to tell them, how a noble Unknown saw me at Church; how prodigiously he was struck with my Appearance; the tumultuous Thoughts that this first View of me occasioned in his Mind.-- Indeed, Madam, interrupted Lucy again, I can't pretend to tell his Thoughts: For how should I know what they were? None but himself can tell that. However that may be, said Arabella, I expect you should decypher all his Thoughts, as plainly as he himself could do; otherwise my History will be very imperfect: Well, I suppose you are at no loss about that whole Adventure, in which you yourself bore so great a Share; so need not give you any further Instructions concerning it: Only you must be sure, as I said before, not to omit the least Circumstance in my Behaviour, but relate every thing I did, said, and thought, upon that Occasion. The disguised Gardener must appear next in your Story: Here you will of necessity be a little deficient, since you are not able to acquaint your Hearers with his true Name and Quality; which, questionless, is very illustrious. However, above all, I must charge you not to mention that egregious Mistake about the Carp; for, you know how-- Here Miss Glanville's Entrance put a Stop to the Instructions Lucy was receiving: For she told Arabella, that Sir George was gone.
How! returned she, is he gone? Truly I am not much obliged to him for the Indifference he has shewed to hear my Story.
Why, really, Madam, said Miss Glanville, neither of us expected you would be as good as your Word, you were so long in sending your Woman down: And my Brother persuaded Sir George you were only in Jest; and Sir George has carried him home to Dinner.
And is it at Sir George's, replied Arabella, that your Brother hopes to meet with an Occasion of clearing himself? He is either very insensible of my Anger, or very conscious of his own Innocence.
Miss Glanville, having nothing to say in Answer to an Accusation she did not understand, changed the Discourse: And the two Ladies passed the rest of the Day together, with tolerable Good-humour on Miss Glanville's Side; who was in great hopes of making a Conquest of the Baronet, before whom Arabella had made herself ridiculous enough: But that Lady was far from being at Ease; she had laid herself under a Necessity of banishing Mr. Glanville, if he did not give some convincing Proof of his Innocence; which, as Matters stood, she thought would be very hard for him to procure; and, as she could not absolutely believe him guilty, she was concerned she had gone so far.