In which the Adventure goes on after the accustomed Manner.
Arabella, in the mean time, was wholly taken up with the Adventure, as she called it, at Church: The Person and Dress of the Gentleman who had so particularly gazed on her there, was so different from what she had been accustomed to see, that she immediately concluded, he was of some distinguished Rank. It was past a Doubt, she thought, that he was excessively in Love with her; and as she soon expected to have some very extraordinary Proofs of his Passion, her Thoughts were wholly employed on the Manner in which she should receive them.
As soon as she came home, and had paid her Duty to the Marquis, she hurried to her Chamber, to be at Liberty to indulge her agreeable Reflections; and, after the Example of her Heroines, when any thing extraordinary happened to them, called her favourite Woman; or, to use her own Language, her, "in whom she confided her most secret Thoughts." Well, Lucy, said she, did you observe that Stranger who ey'd us so heedfully To-day at Church? This Girl, notwithstanding her Country-Simplicity, knew a Compliment was expected from her on this Occasion; and therefore replied, "That she did not wonder at the Gentleman's staring at her; for she was sure he had never seen any body so handsome as her Ladyship before." I have not all the Beauty you attribute to me, said Arabella, smiling a little: And, with a very moderate Share of it, I might well fix the Attention of a Person who seemed to be not overmuch pleased with the Objects about him: However, pursued she, assuming a more serious Air, if this Stranger be weak enough to entertain any Sentiments more than indifferent for me; I charge you, upon Pain of my Displeasure, do not be accessary to the Conveying his presumptuous Thoughts to me either by Letters or Messages; nor suffer him to corrupt your Fidelity with the Presents he will very probably offer you.
Lucy, to whom this Speech first gave a Hint of what she ought to expect from her Lady's Lovers, finding herself of more Importance than she imagined, was so pleased at the Prospect which opened to her, that it was with some Hesitation she promised to obey her Orders.
Arabella, however, was satisfied with her Assurances of observing her Directions; and dismissed her from her Presence, not without an Apprehension of being too well obey.
A whole Week being elapsed without meeting with the Importunities she expected, she could hardly conceal hear Surprize at so mortifying a Disappointment; and frequently interrogated Lucy, concerning any Attempts the Stranger had made on her Fidelity; but the Answers she received, only increased her Discontent, as they convinced her, her Charms had not had the Effect she imagined.
Mr. Hervey, however, had been all this time employed in thinking of some Means to get acquainted with the Marquis; for, being possessed with an extraordinary Opinion of his Wit, and personal Accomplishments, he did not fear making some Impression on the Heart of the young Lady; provided he could have an Opportunity of conversing with her.
His Cousin's Advice was continually in his Mind, and flattered his Vanity with the most agreeable Hopes: But the Marquis's Fondness for Solitude, and that Haughtiness which was natural to him, rendered him so difficult of Access, that Hervey, from the Intelligence he received of his Humour, despaired of being able to prosecute his Scheme; when, meeting with a young Farmer in one of his Evening-Walks, and entering into Conversation with him upon several Country Subjects, the Discourse at last turned upon the Marquis of -- whose fine House and Gardens were within their View; upon which the young Fellow informed him, he was Brother to a young Woman that attended the Lady Arabella; and, being fond of lengthening out the Conversation with so fine a Gentleman, gave him, without being desired, the domestic History of the whole Family, as he had received it from Lucy, who was the Sister he mentioned.
Hervey, excessively delighted at this accidental Meeting with a Person so capable of serving his Design, affected a great Desire of being better acquainted with him; and, under Pretence of acquiring some Knowlege in rural Affairs, accustomed himself to call so often at William's Farm, that at last he met with the Person whom the Hopes of seeing had so often carried him thither.
Lucy, the Moment she saw him enter, knowing him again, blushed at the Remembrance of the Discourse which had passed between her Lady and herself concerning him; and was not at all surprised at the Endeavours he used to speak to her apart: But, as soon as he began a Conversation concerning Arabella, she interrupted him by saying, I know, Sir, that you are distractedly in Love with my Lady; but she has forbid me to receive any Letters or Messages from you; and therefore I beg you will not offer to bribe me; for I dare not disobey her.
Mr. Hervey was at first so astonished at her Speech, that he knew not what to think of it; but, after a little Reflection, attributing to an Excess of aukward Cunning what, in Reality, was an Effect of her Simplicity, he resolved to make use of the Hint she had given him; and, presenting her with a Couple of Guineas, intreated her to venture displeasing her Lady, by bearing a Letter from him; promising to reward her better, if she succeeded.
Lucy made some Difficulty to comply; but, not being able absolutely to refuse the first Bribe that ever was offered to her, she, after some Intreaties, consented to take the Letter; and, receiving the Money he presented her, left him at Liberty to write, after she had got her Brother to furnish him with Materials for that Purpose.