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Chapter VII.

In which the Mistakes are not yet cleared up.

The Baronet, who had been put into a bad Humour by Arabella's Insinuations, that Sir George had affronted her, appeared reserved and uneasy; and, being resolved to question her about it, was willing first to know exactly what it was his Niece had been offended at: But as he feared, if it came to his Son's Knowlege, it would produce a Quarrel between the young Gentlemen, that might have dangerous Consequences, he was desirous of speaking to her alone; and, as soon as Dinner was over, asked her to take a Walk with him upon the Terrace, telling her he had something to say to her in private. Arabella, whose Fears had been considerably increased by the Pensiveness which appeared in her Uncle's Looks during Dinner, and supposing he wanted a private Conversation, only to explain himself more clearly to her, than he had yet done, was excessively alarmed at this Request; and, casting her Eyes down to the Ground, blushed in such a manner as betrayed her Confusion; and made Miss Glanville and her Brother believe, that she suspected her Uncle had a Design to press her soon to give her Hand to Mr. Glanville, which occasioned her apparent Disorder.

Sir Charles, however, who had not so heedfully observed her Behaviour, repeated his Request; adding, with a Smile, upon her giving him no Answer, Sure, Lady Bella, you are not afraid to be alone with your Uncle.

No, Sir, replied Arabella, giving him a piercing Look; I am not afraid of being alone with my Uncle; and, as long as he pretends to be no more than my Uncle, I shall not scruple to hear what he has to say to me.

Sir Charles, a little vexed at an Answer which insinuated, as he thought, a Complaint of his having pretended to more Authority over her than he ought, told her, he hoped she had no Cause to believe he would displease her, by any improper Exertion of that Power over her, with which her Father had intrusted him: For I assure you, added he, I would rather you should follow my Advice as an Uncle, than obey me as a Guardian; and, since my Affection for you is, perhaps, greater than what many People have for a Niece, my Solicitude ought to be imputed to that Motive.

I have all the Sense I ought to have of that Affection you honour me with, replied Arabella; and since I hope it will be always what it should be, without wishing for its Increase, I am contented with those Testimonies I have already received of it; and do not desire any other.

Sir Charles, a little puzzled to understand the Meaning of these Words, which the grave Looks of Arabella made yet more mysterious, rose from his Seat with an Air of Discontent: I should have been glad to have spoken a Word in private to you, Niece, said she; but, since you think proper to make so much Ceremony in such a Trifle, I'll defer it till you are in a better Humour. Miss Glanville, seeing her Father going out of the Room, stepped before him: Nay, Papa, said she, if you want to speak with my Cousin, my Brother and I will go out, and leave you to yourselves.

You will do me a very great Displeasure, said Arabella; for, I am sure, my Uncle has not any thing of Consequence to say to me: Howexer, added she, seeing Miss Glanville go away, I am resolved, I will not be left alone; and therefore, Mr. Glanville, since I can pretend to some Power over you, I command you to stay.

You may remember, Madam, said Mr. Glanville, with a Smile, you refused to gratify my Curiosity, with regard to something you hinted to me some time ago; and, to punish you, added he, going out of the Room, I am resolved you shall listen to what my Father has to say to you; for, by your Unwillingness to hear it, I imagine you suspect already what it is.

Arabella, finding she had no way to avoid hearing what she dreaded so much, and observing her Uncle had resumed his Chair, prepared to give him Audience; but, in order to deprive him of all Hope, that she would receive his Discourse favourably, she assumed the severest Look she was capable of; and, casting her Eyes on the Ground, with a Mixture of Anger and Shame, waited with a kind of Fear and Impatience for what he had to say.

I see, Madam, said the Baronet, observing her Confusion, that you apprehend what I am going to say to you; but, I beseech you, do not fear I have any Intentions, but such as you'll approve.

You are certainly in the right, Sir, said Arabella, in the Interpretation you have put on my Looks: I am really in Pain about the Purport of your Discourse: And you would particularly oblige me, if you would dispense with me from hearing it.

I see, replied Sir Charles, that, out of a mistaken Fear, you are unwilling to hear me, in order to avoid coming to the Explanation I desire: But I tell you, once again, you have nothing to apprehend.

I have every thing to apprehend, Sir, resumed Arabella, tartly, while you persist in your Design of disobliging me; and you cannot give me a greater Proof of the Badness of your Intentions, than by thus forcing me to listen to Discourses I ought to avoid.

Since my Word has no Weight with you, replied Sir Charles, I'll condescend to assure you, by the most sacred Oath, That I do not mean to come to any Extremities with Sir George, concerning what you already told me: All I desire to know is, If you think you had any Reason to be offended with him for any thing he said? And, in that Case, I cannot dispense with myself from expostulating with him about it.

You would do me a Favour, Sir, resumed Arabella, if you would interest yourself a little less in what Sir George said to me: The Offence was committed against me only; and none but myself has any Right to resent it. 'Tis enough, Niece, said Sir Charles, rising: You acknowlege sufficient to make me resolve to oblige him to ask Pardon for the Affront you have received: However, I beg you may make yourself easy; no ill Consequences will happen from this Affair, provided my Son does not know it: And I know you have too much Discretion to acquaint him with it.

Saying this, he went out of the Room, leaving Arabella in great Confusion at what he had said; which, in her Opinion, had amounted almost to a plain Declaration of his Passion; and his Design of putting an End to Sir George's Pretensions, whom, it was probable, he looked upon as a more dangerous Rival than his Son, confirmed her in the Opinion of his Resolution to persecute her.

Full of the Reflections this Accident had occasioned, she went to walk in the Garden, where Mr. Glanville, his Sister having just left him, joined her.

As he imagined, his Father's Design, in speaking to her alone, was to prevail upon her to consent to marry him before she left the Country, which was what he most earnestly wished, he drew a bad Omen from the Discontent which appeared in her Eyes.

Is it with me, Cousin, said he, or with what my Father has been saying to you, that you are angry? With both, replied Arabella, hastily; for if you had staid in the Room, as I commanded you, I should not have been exposed to the Pain of hearing Things so disagreeable.

Since I knew what would be the Purport of my Father's Discourse, said Mr. Glanville, you ought not to be surprised I could not resolve to give any Interruption to it, by my Presence: And, being so much interested in the Success of his Solicitations, I could not choose but give him an Opportunity of speaking to you alone, as he desired.

It seems then, resumed Arabella, you know what was the Subject of his Conversation.

I believe I can guess, interrupted Mr. Glanville, smiling.

Is it possible, cried Arabella, starting back in great Surprize, that, knowing, as you say you do, your Father's Intentions, you would resolve to furnish him with an Opportunity of disclosing them? Can you blame me, said Mr. Glanville, for suffering him to undertake what I durst not myself? I know your Delicacy, or rather your Severity, so well, that I am sensible, if I had taken the Liberty to say what my Father has said, you would have been extremely offended; and punished me, as you have often done, with a Banishment from your Presence: Nay, pursued he, seeing Astonishment and Anger in her Countenance, I perceive you are, at this Moment, going to pronounce some terrible Sentence against me. You are deceived, said Arabella, with a forced Calmness; I am so far from being offended with you, that I am ready to acknowlege, you merit very extraordinary Praises for the perfect Resignation you shew to the Will, and, for your Credit, I will suppose, the Commands, of your Father: But I would advise you to be contented with the Reputation of being a dutiful Son; and, for the future, never aspire to that of being a faithful Lover.

Speaking these Words, which were wholly unintelligible to her amazed Admirer, she left him, and went to her own Apartment, strangely surprised at the Indifference of Mr. Glanville; who, as she understood what he had said, was not only willing to resign her to his Father, but also took upon him to mediate in his behalf.

As she was unwilling to acknowlege, even to herself, that the Grief she felt at this Discovery, proceeded from any Affection for her Cousin, she imputed it to the Shame of seeing herself so basely forsaken and neglected; and, not being able to find a Precedent for such an Indignity offered to the Charms of any Lady in her Romances, the Singularity of her Fate, in this respect, seemed to demand all her Uneasiness.

Chapter VI. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VIII.