In the mean time, my sister's unfortunate situation began to be suspected by some persons, who would not fail to whisper it about. I was aware of the ill consequences of such a report; but Maria, to stifle any reproaches she conceived I might make her, if her story became public, had the detestable art to throw all the blame of a discovery upon me. She said, my continual uneasiness at her leaving me for any time, made her choose rather to stay in her lodgings with me, than consent to remain in a private manner in the country till her delivery; her lover having offered to be at all the expenses of her retreat.
This, in fact, dear miss, was absolutely false; for Mr. Dalmere, either too indigent or too covetous, never made her such an offer; or, if he had, could I have been capable of expressing any dislike to it, as it was the only means of concealing her crime. I, indeed, often showed an extreme concern at her lying out of her lodgings of nights; both because it was highly scandalous, and laid me under the necessity of sleeping alone, which I could not do, without feeling unaccountable fears and apprehensions; the effects of a disturbed imagination, and those tales of spirits and hobgoblins I had heard in my childhood. And, therefore, whenever she was going, I always burst into tears and complaints; partly through disgust at the indecency, and horror at being left to my terrible apprehensions. My sister would always rave at me, for thus opposing her going out, with a most surprising assurance; and make me as severe reproaches, as if the design of her leaving me was the most innocent and justifiable imaginable. Upon this she grounded her accusation of me, as the cause of her continuing in town, during her being with child; though I never heard a word of her intention to leave it, or the most distant expectation that her lover would propose it to her. However, Maria said it so often, that, I am of opinion, she at last persuaded herself it was true; for I could no otherwise account for those gusts of rage with which she would terrify me, whenever I contradicted so false an assertion. As she drew nearer the time of her delivery, the palpable indifference of her lover seemed more to affect her. I took this opportunity, to endeavor to wean her mind from the fatal passion that had ruined her. My arguments, at last, worked so forcibly upon her passions, that, when she was seized with the pangs of labor, and a coach was waiting at the door, to carry her to the place designed for her privately lying-in, I dictated a letter to her, which she sent to her betrayer, in which she bid him an eternal farewell, and solemnly vowed she would never see him more; wishing, that, in her present dangerous circumstances, her life or death might be determined by the sincerity and faithful performance of the resolution she had taken. Alas, I vainly flattered myself, that a returning sense of virtue, and remorse for her past guilt, aided my remonstrances, and disposed her to this favorable change. But resentment and despair inspired these sentiments; and, during the whole time of her illness, she was agitated by no other emotions than what his still-continued indifference made her feel.
As I could never discover in the unhappy Maria any sentiments of piety, or dependence on providence, for which last she insinuated an absolute contempt, I despaired of ever reclaiming her from motives of religion, which I had often attempted in vain. I grounded, therefore, all my hopes upon that resentment and disdain which his behavior had inspired her with, and the solemn engagement she had made to give up all correspondence with him for the future. Yet this devoted girl was returned home to me but one day, before a message from her lover made her pass the next guilty night with him! Struck with inexpressible horror and grief, at seeing her thus abandoned to infamy, I gave her over for lost: and, eager now to preserve myself from the fatal contagion of her almost ruined character, I pressed her to hasten her lover in the prosecution of that little law-suit, that I might be furnished with the means of departing. Mr. Dalmere advising her to make up the affair, upon the consideration of receiving a small premium, which we had immediate occasion for, I also gladly consented, that I might no longer be kept from the asylum that was offered me. Accordingly all matters were amicably settled, and Maria went to receive the sum. I had already bespoke several things, which were necessary to my making a genteel appearance when I went to my relations; and hoped to leave England, in a few weeks, for ever: when my sister, returning, informed me, that Mr. Dalmere had stops most of the money which had been paid, to discharge what she was indebted to him.
It will be impossible, dear miss, to give you a just idea of my astonishment at this account! How a man, who had possessed himself of her honor and reputation, at a time that her distresses were arrived to the last pitch, could be capable of acting the part of a merciless creditor; and, seizing all her little dependence, leave her to struggle with want and misery! How any man, I say, could do this, struck me with such amazement and horror, that I remained for some moments unable to utter a word. At last, a sense of my own helpless state made me burst into tears. Oh, my God! cried I, I am ruined! I am undone! Maria, whose thoughts had been wholly engrossed by rage, at this proof of her lover's small regard for her, loaded me with reproaches for making this pathetic complaint, and not rather pitying her greater misery, who had been deceived by the faithless vows of such a wretch. My ruin was little, it seems, in comparison of the injury offered to the affection she had born him. I could not, indeed, refuse her my pity; for she was truly miserable., and I therefore ceased my complaints immediately, and applied myself to think on some proper methods to extricate myself from the difficulties, into which I was likely to be involved.
My father, when he died, had a balance of a hundred and forty pounds due to him from a gentleman, with whom he had had large dealings; but, through some errors in settling the accounts, the payment of the money was disputed. My sister, having other business upon her hands, had neglected this affair; but the pressing occasion we had for money, made me entreat an intimate friend of my father's to take it in hand. Accordingly he promised to procure payment of the debt; and I began to compose myself with the hopes of being enabled to leave my sister, from whom I designed to take no more than what was necessary for some little fineries, and the expenses of my journey.
In the mean time, we continued in the same fine lodgings; and my sister not being able to conform to her circumstances, our manner of living was not altered from what it had formerly been. Maria, who would not have been sorry if I had espoused the same principles with herself, would frequently hint to me, that, as I had several lovers who would make very advantageous settlements upon me, I had no reason to fear being reduced to any extremities. Whether she desired I should sacrifice myself to these views, I know not; but 'tis certain, she took no care to preserve either my virtue or reputation. She was now with child a second time; and the sight of her in this condition, filled me with perpetual disgust and inquietude; for sure, if there can be any extenuations found for the first fault of that kind, no partiality can excuse the second. However, she thought it necessary to provide for her own security; and leaving me to answer for all the debts we had contracted, while we lived together, went off to her lover, and remained concealed in his lodgings.
I believe, miss, few people could have forgiven an action, which, considering all its aggravating circumstances, could hardly be paralleled by any thing which I have yet heard. My sister, after first neglecting to provide for our future subsistence, by a proper application of the trifle we had left; after engaging in a scandalous intrigue, by which she exposed her own character and my innocence to inevitable ruin; after being the cause of my not seeking the protection of my relations, and reducing me to a precarious dependence upon what might never be obtained; left me, at last, at the most early years, to struggle with all the miseries her infamy had brought upon me!
Figure to yourself, my dear, a young creature, not yet seventeen, who, for near three years, had led a most disagreeable life with a sister, who had been almost all that time plunged in a criminal intrigue! left, at last, to encounter all the miseries of want, and the reproaches of the world, for the bad conduct of the nearest relation she had; and restrained from seeking assistance and relief, by the fear of exposing the crimes of a sister, who was still dear to her! This was my unhappy situation! I was ordered by Maria to tell every person, who inquired for her, that she was in the country: and though I obeyed my instructions exactly, as well for her sake as my own; yet my sister was the first to prove me an accomplice in her guilt, by receiving company in her lover's apartments, and being known to all his acquaintance: and was so infatuated, that she believed she could appear there with all imaginable freedom, and yet be thought only a visitant; and, great as she was with child, that no one could observe it.
As she sometimes ventured out of an evening to see me, I endeavored to expostulate with her on this strange proceeding: but my daring to suppose there was a possibility of her being discovered by these means threw her into such violent rages, that I was forced to be silent; for Maria had a way of silencing reason and conviction by the thunder of her voice. And she would pronounce a negative with a force, that might have been heard over all the house; for she knew I would rather give up the argument than expose her, by speaking loud enough to be heard amidst the echoes of her own voice, on so infamous a subject.
I lived thus for about three months by myself, in continual expectation that Mr. W----, so was that friend of my father's called, would, by his interest and management, get this money I mentioned to you paid. The distresses I was reduced to, in this time, were almost greater than I could well support: I was teased with constant demands for money; and my sister's disappearing, giving cause for suspicion that they were designed to be imposed upon, made me often obliged to suffer very disagreeable reflections. I have sat in my own chamber for a week together, without tasting any thing, but tea, in all that timed till I was brought so extremely low, that I was hardly able to stir. It is not with any design to give you a high idea of my virtue, that I tell you, that, in this scene of distress, I had the alternative of affluence and splendor proposed to me, if I could have been capable of preferring wealthy infamy to indigent chastity and innocence. In those moments, when present misery, heightened by the expectation of greater, most disturbed me, I was sometimes tempted to think, that I had done all that virtue could demand of me; and that, if severe necessity forced me to resign my honor, fortune only could be to blame, which had reduced me to such terrible extremities. But this false reasoning made but little impression on my mind: I started at the thoughts of guilt, and dreaded my own weakness in trials so severe. I implored assistance from that power, who alone was able to afford it.
It cannot, dear miss, be imagined by any, who have not felt the same emotions, the heart-felt joy, the inward peace and conscious triumphs of my soul, when, by these ardent ejaculations, I found my wavering resolutions more confirmed, and virtue taking deeper root in my heart. I indulged the pleasing, (may I add) justifiable pride, which glowed in every thought that represented me suffering in so glorious a cause; and, thus supported, bore afflictions which my youth, and the delicacy of my constitution, rendered far more hard for me to suffer than many others.
I had dismissed the servant who attended us, as soon as my sister left me; and having little other entertainment than a few books, which, by frequent reading, grew tasteless, I resigned myself up to a melancholy and despair, which, every moment increasing, threatened me with some very dangerous illness. I don't know whether I have told you, that my sister. when she went away, left me with whom we lodged. This man, alarmed at my sister's disappearing all Of a sudden, made me so extremely uneasy about the money that was due to him, that I acquainted Mr. W---- with his behavior) and pressed him, if he really could do any thing in the affair he had undertaken, to do it as soon as possible. This gentleman, who was always profuse in his promises of service, assured me, he did not doubt but that he should settle that matter to our satisfaction: but added, that he was going out of town for a little time; and, for fear the landlord should make me uneasy, he would speak to him, and engage him to wait till he returned, when he was sure he could get our money paid.
Mr. W---- was a man of a large fortune; and, if I had seemed willing to accept of an obligation from him, there is no doubt but he would have offered to have paid this money himself: but I knew the danger of accepting favors of this kind. And Mr. W----, having too great a regard for my dear father, to attempt any thing against the honor of his child, made no offers of an assistance, for which he neither expected or desired any return. He, however, did as much as I could with decency accept: when he came to take his leave of me, he desired Mr. C----, the landlord, might walk up to my dining-room; and then, telling him the situation of my affairs, and that he had undertaken to get me a considerable sum paid, which was a debt due to my father, asked him, if he would be contented to wait for three months, which was the time he proposed staying in the country; and that, when he came to town, he would take care to see him discharged. Mr. C---- could have no objection to so reasonable a proposal; and assured Mr. W----, that he would give the young lady no uneasiness till that time was expired. Upon which Mr. W---- went away, and left me very well satisfied with the ease he had procured me.
The wretched Maria was now near her time. Her lover had removed her to an obscure apartment in a house, with no creature in it but herself. Here she spent the melancholy hours: I will not say, tortured with remorse for her guilt; but almost distracted with the anguish that her lover's now more than indifference (for it was risen to disgust) gave her. I could not behold her in this affecting condition, without a heart bleeding with a sense of her distress. I went to see her two or three times a week; for I was in no danger of meeting Mr. Dalmere. He hardly ever saw her, and only sent his servant once or twice a day with what things were necessary for her subsistence. The thoughts of her being left alone in that helpless state, when she expected every moment to be taken ill, used to give me such terrible apprehensions upon her account, that I was miserable to excess. She was so lowly in her behavior to her lover, that she resolved to bear any inconveniency rather than press him to place her in a properer place: and he, never troubling himself with any reflections about her condition, suffered her to remain in a house, as I said before, without any human creature but herself in it At last, a place being pitched upon, where she was to remove in a few days, my heart was a little at rest; but, dreading lest she should be indisposed in the night, and no one near her, I could not prevail upon myself to leave her alone, but passed the two or three last nights, that she staid in this house, with her.
I returned home the same evening she was removed; and I was Sitting at my desk reading, when I heard a man's step coming hastily up the stairs. The house being very large, and no one on the same floor with me, I was a little startled, reflecting that I had left the door of my apartment open. I was just going to rise, when a tall ill-looking man entered the room, and advanced with a slow step towards me. The dining-room being very large, and having only one candle, which was placed on the desk where I was reading, it afforded but a glimmering light to the rest of the room; and made the solemn stalking of the man, who approached me in a profound silence, appear so tremendous, that I sat immovable with terror, keeping my eyes fixed on his motions. At last, when he had got close up to me, he showed a bit of paper he held in his hand, told me it was a writ, and that it empowered him to seize my person. The astonishment and terror with which I was seized, hindered me from replying; when Mr. C---- came in, "Miss, said he, you can't be surprised that I have taken this method to get my money. Your sister's leaving the house, without taking any notice of the debt, with reason alarmed me. A few weeks ago, when I happened to see her, as she came from you, I sent after her, to beg she would allow me to speak to her; upon which she replied, that she was going about a little business, and would call upon me in half an hour. I never saw her from that day. Could she expect that such a palpable falsehood would not give me suspicions, that she did not mean to do me justice! And, since she has left you to answer for all, 'tis fit I should secure myself, and force you to pay." "But, replied I, (very innocently) I can't give you what I have not; and besides, you promised Mr. W---- to wait his coming to town. You know I have no other expectations but from that money he has promised to get paid. What is it you mean to do with me?" "To be plain with you, miss, said Mr. C----, I am resolved to have my money, get it as you will. I know you can be at no difficulty, were it twenty times as much: you have friends who would be glad to oblige you." "I know of no friends, replied I, that I would accept such an obligation from; and, if you have grounded your hopes of immediate payment, upon my application to any one, you will find yourself much deceived." "Then you must go with me, miss," (said the terrible man that stood by me). "Yet be advised, miss, said Mr. C----. If you'll condescend to acquaint any person with your situation, my son here waits to carry the message; and you shall be at liberty to stay in your apartment all night, if you don't receive an answer before morning." "No, no, sir, said I, (rising) I see your design. Never imagine, that any extremity can force me to an action that may endanger my virtue. I am willing to suffer all the effects of your cruelty: do me the favor only to let your servant go for Miss Granger, who is the only person I shall send to, upon this occasion; and I should be obliged to you too, if you would inform me whither I am to go?" "That honest man, miss, replied Mr. C----, will take you to his house. He has a wife and family, and you may remain there a week, if you please; and consider, in that time, whether it will be better to apply to your friends, or be confined in a worse place." "'Tis very well, sir, replied I, (not at all daunted;) but since I am going away for some time, I hope you'll leave me at liberty to put up some linen that I may have occasion for." At this they both withdrew; and, as soon as I had tied up some clean linen, I told the man, who was waiting at the door, that I was ready. "I would give ten pounds, miss, said he, (taking my bundle, which he would not allow me to carry down stairs myself) that I had not been employed in this affair: I was never so much shocked in my life." I thanked him for his civility; and, by his advice, locking up the doors of my apartment, and taking the keys, went down stairs. "I think, miss, said he, it will be better to walk to my house, which is but two streets off, rather than take a coach, which, as it is quite dark, will be unnecessary." I readily agreed; for I was by no means willing to trust myself alone in a coach with him. Just as I was stepping out of the house, Mr. C---- asked me, if I was still determined not to send for any friend, but Miss Granger: to which I answered with a negative full of scorn, and was conducted by the officer to his house.
I had scarce entered it, when Mr. C----'s daughter came; and telling me, with tears in her eyes, that as she could not bear to let me be alone till Miss Granger came to me, she had ventured out unknown to her father. I expressed myself greatly obliged to her, for this instance of her friendship; when the officer's wife, moved to some respect by my dress, conducted us to a genteel enough chamber; and, upon the arrival of my friend, Miss C---- immediately withdrew. As soon as Miss Granger and I were by ourselves, I gave free vent to my tears, which pride and indignation had hitherto restrained. She kept me company a long time, endeavoring to calm my affliction: and, being perfectly well acquainted with my affairs, confessed, that she saw no remedy for my present misfortunes, but by applying for the assistance of some of those persons, who, she knew, avowed a passion for me. "I see no harm, said she, in soliciting so trifling a service, which you have almost a certainty of repaying, without endangering your honor or reputation." "Ah, miss! interrupted I, say no more of it! I will never expose myself to the pain of being I obliged to any man, who has a dishonorable design upon me. Besides, I 'tis probable, that the money I expect may never be received. The person, in whose hands the papers were lodged, says he lost them in removing from one house to another; and, I am afraid, the most I can expect, from even Mr. W----'s interposition, is some trifling consideration from the person who owes the money, and that rather as a present than an acknowledgment of the debt." "What do you resolve to do then?" said miss Granger. "I am resolved, replied I, to let Mr. C---- be convinced, by my staying here, that I have no expectations but from Mr. W----'s coming to town; and, probably, he will be prevailed upon to change his measures, when he finds that what he has done has failed of procuring the effect he desired. Or, if not, I will rather be confined in a prison, as he says I must, than lay myself under such dreadful obligations." "Alas, returned Miss Granger, you know not what you say! Compose yourself, if possible, tonight; and I'll come again in the morning, and consult upon some methods less disagreeable to you." Saying this, she took leave of me, and the woman of the house very obligingly helped me to undress.
I went to bed, and passed that night in a distraction of mind not easily to be described. I was but just risen in the morning, when the maid let me know, that a young gentleman, named Belville, inquired for me, having some message to deliver from Miss Granger. This gentle man I had seen a few months before: he was an intimate acquaintance of Miss Granger's, and, from the first moment of his seeing me, had declared a very tender friendship for me. I call it friendship, though I was but too sensible that he really loved me passionately: but I had been so tired with hearing the language of love, which had only aimed hitherto at my ruin, that I made it a condition of our acquaintance, that Mr. Belville should never presume to talk to me in any other stile than that of a disinterested friend. As he seemed to dread nothing so much as displeasing me, he obeyed these injunctions very exactly; and concealing the ardent lover under the appearance of the tender friend, insensibly won my esteem and confidence.
As I found by this visit, that Miss Granger had laid open my situation to him, I could not refuse to see him; and understanding they had strewn him into a parlor, I at last assumed courage to go down to him. The sight of me, oppressed as I was with inconceivable anguish, had so deep an effect on the heart of the tender Belville, that, for some moments, he was unable to utter a word. He cast himself at my feet in a transport of sorrow; and taking my hand, which I could not refuse him, bathed it with tears: and showed in his actions such an excess of affliction and despair, that I was obliged to chide him for a weakness, which represented my own sufferings in so aggravating a light.
As soon as he was composed enough to talk upon my affairs, he told me, that he had already been with Mr. C----, and offered him his note, which he had refused. "I am so unfortunate, miss, said he, (melting again into tears) as not to be able, at present, to raise the sum for which you are detained. I am wholly dependent upon a relation, who loves money better than even health and life." "Sure, sir, said I, (blushing) you don't imagine that I will accept of freedom from any one, but those from whom I have a right to desire it. I have a considerable sum due to me; and, if Mr. C---- will not be persuaded to wait till I can pay him convenientlyI am determined he shall not force me to be obliged to any one: and you have greatly offended me, by making any overtures to Mr. C----, without consulting me."
Miss Granger coming in that moment, and hearing my last words, sharply reproved me for the severity of my behavior. "Do not think, miss, said she, that I would advise you to any thing inconsistent with your honor. There is a necessity for your accepting an obligation for once; and I cannot believe any one would take an ungenerous advantage of this occasion of serving you." "Dear Miss Granger, interrupted Belville, (eagerly) do not press your lovely friend to accept of assistance from any one, she has reason to apprehend will make an ill use of the favor she confers on him by it. Since she disapproves of every other method, but persuading Mr. C---- to have patience, suffer me to talk with him again: perhaps I may be able to prevail with him. Take no resolution, I conjure you, till I return." Saying this, he hurried out of the room, after giving me a look full of inexpressible tenderness and anxiety. Miss Granger continued with me the remainder of the day; and, indeed, I had every alleviation that such circumstances as mine could possibly admit of. I was treated with the greatest respect and tenderness by the woman of the house, who would not suffer her maid to attend me; but served me herself with as much submission, as I could have expected from a servant of my own. In the evening Mr. Belville returned, bringing with him the person who had arrested me, who told me, with a bow, that I was now at liberty, and might leave his house whenever I pleased. When he had said this, he withdrew immediately, to leave me at liberty to ask how this affair was composed. Mr. Belville would not explain any thing to me till I had quitted the house; but I positively refused to stir, till I knew how my freedom had been obtained. "'Tis so difficult a matter, miss, said he, to satisfy your delicacy, that I know not whether I shall not incur your resentment by what I have done. Mr. C---- was perfectly inexorable to all the reasons I could urge, to move him to withdraw your arrest. He insisted upon your finding him security; and the only person from whom I thought you would consent to accept it, was the gentleman to whom, by your orders, I had given your deceased father's manuscripts, which he was to publish This circumstance, together with his being a married man, left no room for any scruples; and he showed such a readiness to serve you, upon this occasion, that I shall think myself obliged to him while I live." "I should be very unhappy, returned I, in receiving this obligation from any other and since I have a certainty of the money being paid, when Mr. W---- comes to town, I hope he will run no danger by his good-nature." Alas how little did I foresee, that this generous action would be attended with numberless inquietudes, and precipitate me, if possible, into still greater evils! As soon as I left this house, I went immediately to a distant relation's, a widow, who had a large family, and, having but a very small income, lived quite private. Here I proposed to stay till my affairs were settled, and I was in a condition to leave England. Belville, whose late services claimed the first place in my friendship, was the only visitor I saw, next to my most intimate female friend. I listened with unusual complaisance to the ardent passion he professed for me. Gratitude for the obligations he had laid on me, won him my esteem and affection. He told me, he must be miserable to the last degree, unless I gave him my hand. Could I see him wretched, to whom I owed more than my life! When I found all the reasons I urged against our union ineffectual, I consented to marry him; and as his whole dependence was on the interest of some persons of distinction here, who had promised to provide for him, we proposed to keep our marriage a secret, till that was effected. I continued still to stay at the house of my relation, and Mr. Belville at his own lodgings; yet our marriage was not concealed a week. All his and my acquaintance knew it; and the union of two young people, so dependent in their circumstances, furnished sufficient matter for discourse, on the extravagance of that passion which had formed it. Our marriage being now publicly known, Mr. Belville remained in the lodgings with me, continuing his solicitations for a provision with more ardor than before.
The time drew nigh when C----'s bill was to be paid. Mr. W---- not coming to town, I trembled lest Mr. Belville's friend should suffer upon my account; and sent every day for a fortnight to Mr. W----'s lodgings, but could hear no accounts of him. The horrors I suffered are not to be expressed! 'Twas from his influence alone, that I could ever hope to recover that money I depended upon. I employed other measures in vain. I had nothing to show for the debt: and while I was racked with fruitless expectation, Mr. Belville's friend was obliged to pay the bill. From that moment my unfortunate husband was loaded with the most cruel censures. It was generally reported and believed, that he had drawn his friend into this scrape, only to marry me with the more security. could any thing more effectually ruin a young man, whose whole dependence was upon the good offices of his friends, than to have the character of villain stamped upon him, at his first setting out in the world! In effect, my dear miss, it absolutely ruined us. Mr. Belville met with nothing but reproaches where-ever he went, the story was told with such aggravating circumstances: and his friend's distress heightened the general odium. Mr. W----'s interposition, at first, in the affair being thought only a falsehood, invented by Mr. Belville and me; every thing that was cruel and malicious, was said of us both. While we groaned under the oppressive load of calumny thus laid on us, Mr. W---- came to town; but had so entirely forgot his promise, that he never went to Mr. C---- to inquire after me. 'Tis probable, indeed, that, hearing I was married, he thought I had no occasion for his assistance. As Mr. C---- had the villainy to deny Mr. W----'s having promised to see him paid, we had no means left of justifying ourselves but by calling upon Mr. W----, by a public advertisement, to acknowledge the part he acted in this affair. However, considering the fortune and interest of that gentleman, it was thought a dangerous expedient.
I will not pretend to tell you the difficulties we sustained for a long time, under the pressure of want and calumny: yet love, more powerful than all our misfortunes, enabled us to bear them cheerfully; and the never-dying affection of my dear Belville, in the midst of horrors, afforded me real happiness. His relations, at last, condescending to take notice of our situation, consented to do something for our support, upon the hard condition of parting us for two years. They sent him upon a trading voyage to Jamaica; and, till his return, I was determined to shut myself up in a monastery. At my request, he accompanied me here, where I remain as a pensioner; but am, in reality, as much secluded from the world as any of the nuns. What relations I have in this country living in Languedoc, I see no one but the ladies in the convent; and have never been out of these walls since I first entered them, which is now near a year. The absence of my dear Belville renews all my afflictions, and makes life almost insupportable."
Thus did the lovely mademoiselle Belville conclude her affecting history. My eyes had flowed with sympathizing tears, during the sad recital of so many cruel misfortunes. I embraced her with an excess of tenderness, and promised her an eternal friendship; and was charmed with the graceful and engaging manner in which she returned the protestations I made her.