In which our Heroine reconciles herself to a mortifying Incident, by recollecting an Adventure in a Romance, similar to her own.
As soon as the Ladies were come to their Lodgings, Arabella went up to her own Apartment to meditate upon what had pass'd, and Miss Glanville retir'd to dress for Dinner; while the two Gentlemen, who thought they had great Reason to be dissatisfy'd with each other on Account of Lady Bella's Behaviour, went to a Coffee-house, in order to come to some Explanation about it, Well, Sir, said the Beau, with a sarcastick Air, I am greatly oblig'd to you for the Endeavours you have us'd to ruin me in Lady Bella's Opinion. Rat me, if it is not the greatest Misfortune in the World, to give occasion for Envy.
Envy, Sir, interrupted Mr. Selvin; I protest I do really admire your great Skill in Stratagems, but I do not envy you the Possession of it. You have, indeed, very wittily contriv'd to put your own Sentiments of that Lady, which you deliver'd so freely the other Night, into my Mouth. 'T was a Master-piece of Cunning, indeed; and, as I said before, I admire your Skill prodigiously.
I don't know what you mean, reply'd Tinsel, you talk in Riddles. Did you not yourself acquaint Lady Bella with the Preference I gave Miss Glanville to her? What would you propose by such a Piece of Treachery? You have ruin'd all my Hopes by it: The Lady resents it excessively, and it's no Wonder, 'faith, it must certainly mortify her. Upon my Soul, I can never forgive thee for so mal a propos a Discovery.
Forgive me, Sir, replied Selvin, in a Rage, I don't want your Forgiveness. I have done nothing unbecoming a Man of Honour. The Lady was so prejudiced by your Insinuations, that she would not give me Leave to speak; otherwise, I would have fully inform'd her of her Mistake, that she might have known how much she was oblig'd to you.
So she would not hear thee, interrupted Tinsel laughing, dear Soul, how very kind was that? 'Faith, I don't know how it is, but I am very lucky, without deserving to be so. Thou art a Witness for me, Frank, I took no great Pains to gain this fine Creature's Heart; but it was damn'd malicious tho', to attempt to make Discoveries. I see she is a little piqu'd, but I'll set all to rights again with a Billet-doux. I've an excellent Hand, tho' I say it, at a Billet-doux. I never knew one of mine fail in my Life.
Harky, Sir, said Selvin whispering, any more Attempts to shift your Sentiments upon me, and you shall hear of it. In the mean Time, be assur'd, I'll clear myself, and put the Saddle upon the right Horse.
Demme, if thou art not a queer Fellow, said Tinsel, endeavouring to hide his Discomposure at this Threat under a forc'd Laugh. Selvin, without making any Reply, retir'd to write to Arabella; which Tinsel suspecting, resolv'd to be before hand with him; and without leaving the Coffee-house, call'd for Paper, and wrote a Billet to her, which he dispatch'd away immediately.
The Messenger had just got Admittance to Lucy, when another arriv'd from Selvin.
They both presented their Letters, but Lucy refus'd them, saying, her Lady would turn her away, if she receiv'd such Sort of Letters.
Such Sort of Letters, return'd Tinsel's Man! Why, do you know what they contain, then? To be sure, I do, reply'd Lucy; they are Love-Letters; and my Lady has charg'd me never to receive any more.
Well, reply'd Selvin's Servant, you may take my Letter; for my Master desir'd me to tell you, it was about Business of Consequence, which your Lady must be acquainted with.
Since you assure me it is not a Love-Letter, I'll take it, said Lucy.
And, pray take mine too, said Tinsel's Mercury; for I assure you, it is not a Love-Letter neither; it's only a Billet-doux.
Are you sure of that, reply'd Lucy; because I may venture to take it, I fancy, if its what you say.
I'll swear it, said the Man delivering it to her. Well, said she, receiving it, I'll take them both up. But what did you call this, pursu'd she? I must not forget it, or else my Lady will think it a Love-Letter.
A Billet-doux, said the Man.
Lucy, for fear she should forget it, repeated the Words Billet-doux several Times as she went up Stairs; but entering her Lady's Apartment, she perceiving the Letters in her Hand, ask'd her so sternly, how she durst presume to bring them into her Presence, that the poor Girl, in her Fright, forgot the Lesson she had been conning; and endeavouring to recal it into her Memory, took no Notice of her Lady's Question, which she repeated several times, but to no Purpose.
Arabella, surpriz'd at her in-attention, reiterated her Commands, in a Tone somewhat louder than usual; asking her at the same Time, why she did not obey her immediately? Indeed, Madam, reply'd Lucy, your Ladyship would not order me to take back the Letters, if you knew what they were: They are not Love-Letters; I was resolv'd to be sure of that before I took them. This, Madam, is a Letter about Business of Consequence; and the other--Oh dear! I can't think what the Man call'd it! But it is not a Love-Letter, indeed, Madam. You are a simple Wench, said Arabella smiling: You may depend upon it, all Letters directed to me, must contain Matters of Love and Gallantry; and those I am not permitted to receive. Take them away then immediately. But stay, pursued she, seeing she was about to obey her, one of them, you say, was deliver'd to you as a Letter of Consequence; perhaps it is so: Indeed it may contain an Advertisement of some Design to carry me away. How do I know, but Mr. Selvin, incited by his Love and Despair, may intend to make such an Attempt. Give me that Letter, Lucy, I am resolved to open it. As for the other--yet who knows but the other may also bring me Warning of the same Danger from another Quarter. The Pains Mr. Tinsel took to conceal his Passion, nay, almost as I think, to deny it, amounts to a Proof that he is meditating some Way to make sure of me.
'Tis certainly so: Give me that Letter, Lucy; I should be accessary to their intended Violence, if I neglected this timely Discovery.
Well, cried she, taking one of the Letters, this is exactly like what happen'd to the beautiful Princess of Cappadocia; who, like me, in one and the same Day, receiv'd Advice that two of her Lovers intended to carry her off.
As she pronounc'd these Words Miss Glanville enter'd the Room, to whom Arabella immediately recounted the Adventure of the Letters; telling her, she did not doubt, but they contain'd a Discovery of some Conspiracy to carry her away.
And whom does your Ladyship suspect of such a strange Design, pray, said Miss Glanville smiling? At present, reply'd Arabella, the two Cavaliers who walk'd with us to Day, are the Persons who seem the most likely to attempt that Violence.
I dare answer for Mr. Tinsel, replied Miss Glanville, he thinks of no such Thing.
Well, said Arabella, to convince you of your Mistake, I must inform you, that Mr. Selvin, having the Presumption to begin a Declaration of Love to me on the Parade this Morning, I reprov'd him severely for his Want of Respect, and threatned him with my Displeasure; in the Rage of his Jealousy, at seeing me treat Mr. Tinsel well, he discover'd to me, that he also was as criminal as himself, in order to oblige me to a severer Usage of him.
So he told you Mr. Tinsel was in Love with you, interrupted Miss Glanville? He told it me in other Words, reply'd Arabella; for he said, Mr. Tinsel was guilty of that Offence, which I resented so severely to him.
Miss Glanville beginning to comprehend the Mystery, with great Difficulty forbore laughing at her Cousin's Mistake; for she well knew the Offence Mr. Selvin hinted at, and desirous of knowing what those Letters contain'd, she begg'd her to delay opening them no longer. Arabella, pleas'd at her Solicitude, open'd one of the Letters; but glancing her Eye to the Bottom, and seeing the Name of Selvin, she threw it hastily upon the Table, and averting her Eyes, What a Mortification have I avoided, said she, that Letter is from Selvin; and questionless, contains an Avowal of his Crime.
Nay, you must read it, cried Miss Glanville, taking it up; since you have open'd it, its the same Thing: You can never persuade him but you have seen it. However, to spare your Nicety, I'll read it to you. Which accordingly she did, and found it as follows.
Madam, "I know not what Insinuations have been made use of to persuade you I was guilty of the Offence, which, with Justice, occasion'd your Resentment this Morning; but I assure you, nothing was ever more false. My Thoughts of your Ladyship are very different, and full of the profoundest Respect and Veneration. I have Reason to suspect Mr. Tinsel is the Person who has thus endeavoured to prejudice me with your Ladyship; therefore I am excusable if I tell you, that those very Sentiments, too disrespectful to be named, which he would persuade you are mine, he discover'd himself. He then, Madam, is the Person guilty of that Offence he so falsly lays to the Charge of him, who is, with the utmost Respect and Esteem," Madam, Your Ladyship's most obedient, and most humble Servant, F. Selvin.
How's this, cry'd Miss Glanville? Why, Madam, you are certainly mistaken. You see Mr. Selvin utterly denies the Crime of loving you. He has suffer'd very innocently in your Opinion. Indeed, your Ladyship was too hasty in condemning him.
If what he says be true, replied Arabella, who had been in extream Confusion, while a Letter so different from what she expected was reading; I have indeed unjustly condemn'd him. Nevertheless, I am still inclin'd to believe this is all Artifice; and that he is really guilty of entertaining a Passion for me.
But why should he take so much Pains to deny it, Madam, said Miss Glanville? Methinks that looks very odd.
Not at all, interrupted Arabella, whose Spirits were rais'd by recollecting an Adventure in her Romance, similar to this. Mr. Selvin has fallen upon the very same Stratagem with Seramenes ; who being in Love with the beautiful Cleobuline, Princess of Corinth, took all imaginable Pains to conceal his Passion, in order to be near that fair Princess; who would have banish'd him from her Presence, had she known he was in Love with her.
Nay, he went so far in his Dissimulation, as to pretend Love to one of the Ladies of her Court; that his Passion for the Princess might be the less taken notice of. In these Cases therefore, the more resolutely a Man denies his Passion, the more pure and violent it is. Then Mr. Selvin's Passion is certainly very violent, reply'd Miss Glanville, for he denies it very resolutely; and I believe none but your Ladyship would have discover'd his Artifice. But shall we not open the other Letter? I have a strong Notion it comes from Tinsel.
For that very Reason I would not be acquainted with the Contents, reply'd Arabella. You see, Mr. Selvin accuses him of being guilty of that Offence which he denies: I shall doubtless, meet with a Confirmation of his Love in that Letter. Do not, I beseech you added she, seeing her Cousin preparing to open the Letter, expose me to the Pain of hearing a presumptuous Declaration of Love. Nay, pursued she, rising in great Emotion, if you are resolved to persecute me by reading it, I'll endeavour to get out of the hearing of it.
You shan't, I declare, said Miss Glanville, laughing and holding her, I'll oblige you to hear it.
I vow, Cousin, said Arabella smiling, you use me just as the Princess Cleopatra did the fair and wife Antonia. However, if by this you mean to do any Kindness to the unfortunate Person who wrote that Billet, you are greatly mistaken; since, if you oblige me to listen to a Declaration of his Crime, you will lay me under a Necessity to banish him. A Sentence he would have avoided, while I remained ignorant of it.
To this Miss Glanville made no other Reply than by opening the Billet, the Contents of which may be found in the following Chapter.