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Chapter VIII.

Which contains some necessary Consequences of the foregoing Mistakes. --A Soliloquy on a Love-Letter.

While Arabella passed her Time in her Closet, in the most disagreeable Reflections, Glanville was racking his Brain to find out the Meaning of those mysterious Words she had uttered at leaving him: He examined them twenty times over, but could not possibly penetrate into their Sense: But, supposing at last, that they really meant nothing at all, or were occasioned by some new Flight of her Imagination, he went to find out his Father, in order to know what had passed between him and Arabella.

Sir Charles, however, was not to be found; he had ordered his Horse to be made ready, under Pretence of taking a little Ride after Dinner; and, passing by Sir George's House, alighted to pay him a Visit.

The young Baronet, being at home, received him with great Politeness: And Sir Charles, whose peculiar Disposition was, to be nicely tenacious of every thing which, he imagined, had any Relation to the Honour of his Family, took the first Opportunity to question him, concerning the Confusion his Whisper had occasioned in Lady Bella; adding, That she had confessed, he had given her Reason to take ill what he had said to her.

Sir George, who was by no means willing to quarrel with the Uncle of Arabella, received the old Gentleman's Remonstrances with a great deal of Calmness; and, finding Arabella had not discovered the Purport of that Whisper which had offended her, he told Sir Charles, That the Confusion he saw in her Countenance, was occasioned by his raillying her upon the Fright she had been in upon Mr. Glanville's Account: He added some Particulars to this Account, that intirely taking away all Inclination in Sir Charles to pursue the Matter any farther, they parted upon very good Terms; Sir George promising, very soon, to return his Visit at the Castle.

Mr. Glanville, upon his Father's Return, being impatient to know what he had said to Arabella, inquired with so much Precipitation, concerning the Conversation they had had together, that Sir Charles, unwilling to tell him the Truth, and not having time to consider of an Answer, evaded his Question in such a manner, that Mr. Glanville could not help making some Observation upon it; and, comparing this Circumstance with what Arabella had said, tho' he could not comprehend the Meaning that seemed to be concealed under their Behaviour, he immediately concluded, there was some Mystery, which it concerned him to find out.

Possessed with this Opinion, he longed for an Opportunity to talk with Arabella alone; but he was not so happy to obtain one; for, tho' that Fair-one presided at the Tea-table, as usual, and also appeared at Supper, yet she so industriously avoided all Occasions of being alone with him, tho' but for a Moment, and appeared so reserved and uneasy, that it was impossible for him to speak to her upon that Subject. As soon as it was time to retire, having resolved to request the Favour of a few Moments Conversation with her, in her own Apartment; and when he had, as was his Custom, handed her up Stairs; instead of wishing her a good Night, at her Chamber-door, he was going to desire Permission to enter it with her; when Lucy, coming to meet her Lady, whispered her in the Ear; upon which, Arabella, turning towards him, gave him an hasty Salute, and hurried into her Apartment.

Glanville, no less vexed at this Disappointment, than perplexed at that Whisper, which had caused such a visible Emotion in Arabella, retired to his own Room, tormented with a thousand uneasy Suspicions, for which he could not exactly assign a Cause; and wishing impatiently for the next Day, in which he hoped to procure some Explanation of what at present greatly perplexed him.

In the mean time, Arabella, who had been informed by Lucy, in that Whisper, who was eager to let her know it, that a Messenger had brought a Letter from Sir George, and, late as it was at Night, waited for an Answer, was debating with herself, whether she should open this Billet or not: She had a strong Inclination to see what it contained; but, fearful of transgressing the Laws of Romance, by indulging a Curiosity not justifiable by Example, she resolved to return this Letter unopened.

Here, said she to Lucy, give this Letter to the Messenger that brought it, and tell him, I was excessively offended with you, for receiving it from his Hands.

Lucy, taking the Letter, was going to obey her Orders; when, recollecting herself, she bid her stay.

Since Sir George, said she to herself, is no declared Lover of mine, I may, without any Offence to Decorum, see what this Letter contains: To refuse receiving it, will be to acknowlege, that his Sentiments are not unknown to me; and, by consequence, to lay myself under a Necessity of banishing him: Nor is it fit, that I should allow him to believe, I am so ready to apprehend the Meaning of every gallant Speech, which is used to me; and to construe such Insinuations, as he took the Liberty to make me, into Declarations of Love.

Allowing, therefore, the Justice of these Reasons, she took the Letter out of Lucy's Hand; and, being upon the Point of opening it, a sudden Thought controuled her Designs: She threw it suddenly upon her Toilet; and, looking very earnestly upon it, Presumptuous Paper! said she, speaking with great Emotion to the Letter: Bold Repository of thy Master's daring Thoughts! Shall I not be blamed by all, who hereafter will hear, or read, my History, if, contrary to the Apprehensions I have, that thou containest a Confession that will displease me, I open thy Seal, and become accessary to thy Writer's Guilt, by deigning to make myself acquainted with it? And thou, too indiscreet and unwary Friend, whose Folds contain the Acknowlegement of his Crime! What will it advantage thee of him, if, torn by my resenting Hand, I make thee suffer, for the Part thou bearest in thy Master's Fault; and teach him, by thy Fate, how little Kindness he has to expect from me! Yet, to spare myself the Trouble of reading what will, questionless, greatly displease me, I will return thee, uninjured, into thy Master's Hands; and, by that Moderation, make him repent the Presumption he has been guilty of!

Chapter VII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter IX.