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she thanked heaven she lived in a family where there were a great many; and had more under her own command than any paltry little gentlewoman in the kingdom. Miss Graveairs cried, She believed her mistress would not encourage such sauciness to her betters.—' My betters,' says Slipslop, 'who is my bet'ters, pray?'—'I am your betters,' answered Miss Graveairs, 'and I'll acquaint your mistress.'—At which Mrs. Slipslop laughed aloud, and told her, Her lady was one of the great gentry; and such little paltry gentlewomen, as some folks, who travelled in stagecoaches, would not easily come at her.
This smart dialogue between some people and some folks was going on at the coach-door, when a solemn person riding into the inn, and seeing Miss Graveairs, immediately accosted her with 'Dear child, how do you?' She presently answered, 'O! papa, I am glad you have overtaken me.'—' So am I,' answered he; 'for one of our coaches is just at hand; and there being room for you in it, you shall go no farther in the stage, unless you desire it.'—' How can you imagine I should desire it?' says she; so bidding Slipslop ride with her fellow, if she pleased, she took her father by the hand, who was just alighted, and walked with him into a room.
Adams instantly asked the coachman, in a whisper, if he knew who the gentleman was? The coachman answered, He was now a gentleman, and kept his horse and man; 'but times are altered, Master,' said he; 'I 'remember when he was no better born than myself.' —' Ay ! ay!' said Adams. 'My father drove the squire's 'coach,' answered he, 'when that very man rode pos'tilion; but he is now his steward: and a great gentle'man.' Adams then snapped his fingers, and cried, He thought she was some such trollop. Adams made haste to acquaint Mrs. Slipslop with this Vol. v. L
good news, as he imagined it; but it found a reception different from what he expected. The prudent gentlewoman, who despised the anger of Miss Graveairs, whilst she conceived her the daughter of a gentleman of small fortune; now she heard her alliance with the upper servants of a great family in her neighbourhood, began to fear her interest with the mistress. She wished she had not carried the dispute so far, and began to think of endeavouring to reconcile herself to the young lady before she left the inn; when, luckily, the scene at London, which the reader can scarce have forgotten, presented itself to her mind; and comforted her with such assurance, that she no longer apprehended any enemy with her mistress.
Everything being now adjusted, the company entered the coach which was just on its departure, when one lady recollected she had left her fan, a second her gloves, a third a snuff-box, and a fourth a smelling-bottle behind her; to find all which occasioned some delay, and much swearing to the coachman.
As soon as the coach had left the inn, the women all together fell to the character of Miss Graveairs; whom one of them declared she had suspected to be some low creature, from the beginning of their journey; and another affirmed, had not even the looks of a gentlewoman: a third warranted she was no better than she should be; and turning to the lady who had related the story in the coach, said, * Did you ever hear, Madam, 'any thing so prudish as her remarks? Well, deliver 'me from the censoriousness of such a pnide.' The fourth added, 'O, Madam! all these creatures are cen'sorious; but for my part, I wonder where the wretch 'was bred; indeed, I must own I have seldom conversed 'with these mean kind of people; so that it may appear 'stranger to me; but to refuse the general desire of a 'whole company had something in it so astonishing, that, for my part, I own I should hardly believe it, if my 'own ears had not been witnesses to it.'—' Yes, and so 'handsome a young fellow,' cries Slipslop; 'the woman 'must have no compulsion in her: I believe she is more 'of a Turk than a Christian; I am certain, if she had 'any Christian woman's blood in her veins, the sight of 'such a young fellow must have warmed it. Indeed, 'there are some wretched, miserable old objects, that 'turn one's stomach; I should not wonder if she had 'refused such a one; I am as nice as herself; and should 'have cared no more than herself for the company of 'stinking old fellows; but, hold up thy head, Joseph, 'thou art none of those; and she, who hath not compul'sion for thee, is a Myhummetman, and I will maintain 'it.' This conversation made Joseph uneasy, as well as the ladies; who, perceiving the spirits which Mrs Blipslop was in (for indeed she was not a cup too low), began to fear the consequence; one of them therefore desired the lady to conclude the story. 'Ay, Madam,' said Slipslop, 'I beg your ladyship to give us that story you 'commensated in the morning;' which request that wellbred woman immediately complied with.
Conclusion of the unfortunate jilt.
Leonora, having once broke through the bounds which custom and modesty impose on her sex, soon gave an unbridled indulgence to her passion. Her visits to Bellarrnine were more constant, as well as longer, than his surgeon's: in a word, she became absolutely his nurse;
made his water-gruel, administered him his medicines; and, notwithstanding the prudent advice of her aunt to the contrary, almost entirely resided in her wounded lover's apartment.
The ladies of the town began to take her conduct under consideration; it was the chief topic of discourse at their tea-tables, and was very severely censured by the most part; especially by Lindamira, a lady whose discreet and starch carriage, together with a constant attendance at church three times a day, had utterly defeated many malicious attacks on her own reputation; for such was the envy that Lindamira's virtue had attracted, that, notwithstanding her own strict behaviour, and strict inquiry into the lives of others, she had not been able to escape being the mark of some arrows herself, which, however, did her no injury; a blessing, perhaps, owed by her to the clergy, who were her chief male companions, and with two or three of whom she had been barbarously and unjustly calumniated.
'Not so unjustly neither perhaps,' says Slipslop; 'for 'the clergy are men, as well as other folks.'
The extreme delicacy of Lindamira's virtue was cruelly hurt by those freedoms which Leonora allowed herself: she said, it was an affront to her sex: that she did not imagine it consistent with any woman's honour to speak to the creature, or to be seen in her company; and that, for her part, she should always refuse to dance at an assembly with her, for fear of contamination by taking her by the hand.
But to return to my story: as soon as Bellarmine was recovered, which was somewhat within a month from his receiving the wound, he set out, according to agreement, for Leonora's father's, in order to propose the match, and settle all matters with him touching settlements, and the like.
A little before his arrival, the old gentleman had received an intimation of the affair by the following letter; which I can repeat verbatim, and which, they say, was written neither by Leonora nor her aunt, though it was in a woman's hand. The letter was in these words:
k I Am sorry to acquaint you, that your daughter Leonora hath acted one of the basest as well as most simple parts with a young gentleman to whom she had engaged herself, and whom she hath (pardon the word) jilted for another of inferior fortune, notwithstanding his superior figure. You may take what measures you please on this occasion: I have performed what I thought my duty; as I have, though unknown to you, a very great respect for your family.'
The old gentleman did not give himself the trouble to answer this kind epistle; nor did he take any notice of it, after he had read it, till he saw Bellarmine. He was, to say the truth, one of those fathers who look on children as an unhappy consequence of their youthful pleasures; which as he would have been delighted not to have had attended them, so was he no less pleased with any opportunity to rid himself of the incumbrance. He passed, in the world's language, as an exceeding good father; being not only so rapacious as to rob and plunder all mankind to the utmost of his power, but even to deny himself the conveniences, and almost necessaries of life; which his neighbours attributed to a desire of raising immense fortunes for his children: but in fact it was not so: he heaped up money for its own sake only, and looked on his children as his rivals, who were to enjoy his beloved mistress when he was incapable of possessing her, and which he would have been much more charmed with the