I had been about two months in the convent, when I began to grow into some reputation for wit; and though ladies are seldom heard to praise each other's beauty, yet 'tis certain, those who saw me gave a very advantageous account of my person. My mind, which was still filled with the idea of Dumont, faithless and ungrateful as he was, suggested only the most passionate complaints, and love was still the favorite subject of my Muse. These pieces, however, I carefully concealed from sight; but my engaging friend, mademoiselle Belville, among other books, having lent me Hutchinson on the Passions, when I returned it to her, I sent the following copy of verses with it; which I have inserted, because they were the first cause of the perplexing adventures in which I was afterwards engaged.
On reading Hutchinson on the Passions. Thou who thro' Nature's various faults can rove, And show what springs the eager passions move; Teach us to combat anger, grief, and fear, Recal the sigh, and stop the falling tear. O! be thy soft philosophy address, To the untroubled ear, and tranquil breast: To these be all thy peaceful maxims taught, Who idly rove amidst a calm of thought; Whose souls by love or hate were ne'er possest, Who ne'er were wretched, and who ne'er were blest: Whose fainter wishes, pleasures, fears remain, Dreams but of bliss, and shadows but of pain; Serenely stupid. So some shallow stream Flows thro' the winding vallies still the same; Whom no rude wind can ever discompose, Who fears no winter rain, or falling snows; But slowly down its flow'ry border creeps, While the soft zephyr on its bosom sleeps. O! couldst thou teach the tortur'd soul to know, With patience, each extreme of human woe! To bear with ills, and unrepining prove The frowns of fortune, and the racks of love! Still shou'd my breast some quiet moments share, Still rise superior to each threat'ning care! Nor fear approaching ills, or distant woes, But in Philander's absence find repose.
My friend, coming to see me a few hours after, told me, she had broke through the promise I had extorted from her, never to show any of my little compositions to any person whatever. "But, miss, pursued she, I had really a secret view in disobeying you this time. I have possibly procured you a powerful acquaintance, whose assistance may be of use to you, in freeing you from your present confinement. I am intimately acquainted with a young nun, lately professed, who is niece to the marchioness de ---- This lady is a remarkable lover of the Muses: she has traveled, and read a great deal. As she understands English perfectly well, I took an opportunity to show your poem to her today, when she came to see her niece, who is a little indisposed. She read it, and (after expressing her surprise, that one so young, as I told her ladyship you was, should be able to write so well) she begged I would allow her to keep the poem, till she could take a copy of it; to which I immediately consented. When the marchioness went away, she told me, she was resolved to see you the next visit she made to the convent. I know this lady has great power with the prioress, and, I am persuaded, she will readily interest herself in your affairs, if you think proper to acquaint her with your story." Mademoiselle Belville seemed so delighted with the probability of my being released, by the marchioness's interposition, that I was not willing to throw a damp upon a thought which gave her so much pleasure, by expressing the little confidence I was capable of placing in the promises of the great. The behavior of the countess and Lady Cecilia had taught me to fear, rather than hope for, the friendship of persons of high rank; yet I thanked my obliging friend, for her care of my interests. And two or three weeks passing before we heard any more of the marchioness, I concluded she would never think more of the affair. However, in this I was mistaken. One day, when I least expected it, sister Martha told me, the prioress desired I would walk down to the parlor, where she expected me, accompanied with a lady of quality, who had desired to see me. As soon as I had a little adjusted my dress, I followed the nun, who, after introducing me into the parlor, retired. The marchioness de ---- (for I understood immediately it was her) rose up, upon my appearing, and saluted me very civilly; and, after having eagerly surveyed me for the space of two or three minutes, turned to the prioress, as if she seemed to expect the continuation of a discourse, which my coming had interrupted. "Yes, madam, (pursued that pious lady) I have been greatly afflicted to find all the pains and labor I have bestowed, to bring this poor child back to salvation, ineffectual. I fear, indeed, she is quite lost; and I don't know what to make of her obstinately persisting to deny, that she is the niece of that gentleman who brought her hither! I am loath to suspect he could be guilty of so unjustifiable an action. The reasons he gave me for doing it, were not only just, but highly meritorious; yet there seems to be some mystery in the affair, which greatly perplexes me." I easily perceived, that the artful prioress designed to persuade the marchioness she had been imposed on herself, with regard to me; but, though I detested her profound dissimulation, I thought it highly imprudent to make her more my enemy by exposing her, while I was in her power. "'Tis easy, madam, (said I to the prioress to disprove the fiction Mr. Darcy has made use of. If you'll allow me to write to a friend in England, I am certain, in a very little time, you'll be convinced I am no relation at all to Mr. Darcy." "Really replied the marchioness, this seems to be a very reasonable request Come, madam, permit the young lady to write to her friends. I suppose; miss, (pursued her ladyship, turning to me) you will not refuse to show the prioress your letter!" "No, madam, answered I, I shall be glad if the prioress will take the trouble to read it. I am persuaded, it will help to convince her that Mr. Darcy has imposed upon her." The prioress, who did not expect my answer would have favored her views so much seemed quite pleased with my moderation) and giving me a more obliging look than I had ever yet received from her, told the marchioness, that I should be allowed to write, upon the condition her ladyship had prescribed, that of strewing the letter. And making, at the same time, a merit of this condescension with the marchioness, by assuring me it was to her request I owed this extraordinary favor, I did not fail to express my acknowledgments to that lady in very grateful terms; and also to thank the prioress, with much submission, for granting me this favor, as she called it: though, in reality, it was no more than a piece of justice she owed both me and herself.
The marchioness, upon this, changing the conversation, talked of the extreme pleasure she had received from the perusal of the poem mademoiselle Belville had given her. "I flatter myself, said her ladyship, (with an obliging air) that, when we are better acquainted, you will not refuse to let me read the rest of your performances. If I thought I had interest enough with you now, to procure myself that favor, I would ask it immediately." It was impossible, after this, to deny the marchioness a sight of my papers; and, after acknowledging the honor she did me, I went to my chamber immediately, and returned with my manuscript, which I presented to her. The marchioness, receiving it with a profusion of compliments, took her leave, after promising to see me soon; and added, that she would take the care of my letter upon herself, desiring me to write as soon as she left me, and she would send a servant to the convent for it in the morning.
The moment I left the parlor, I retired to my chamber; and choosing to address myself rather to my dear Mrs. Dormer, than any other friend in London, I wrote her a large account of all that had happened to me, from the time I left her at Richmond; and, relying entirely upon her prudence, entreated her to take what measures she judged most proper to procure my deliverance from the monastery, and to invalidate the false accounts Mr. Darcy had given of me. When I had finished this letter, I went immediately and showed it to the prioress; who, after reading it, told me, there was nothing in it which contradicted any of the facts I had urged against Mr. Darcy. She then desired I would direct it before her, and allow her to seal it with her own seal, to which I made no objection.
My heart being now more at ease, with the prospect of my liberty, I loaded mademoiselle Belville with embraces, for being the cause of so much happiness to me. That generous girl seemed charmed with my success; and greatly commended the reserve with which I had spoke, as to the part the prioress had acted in the affair. In the morning, the prioress sent to let me know that one of the marchioness's servants attended for my letter; upon which I went down to the parlor, and, finding the prioress there, I thought proper to let her see her own seal upon it, that she might be convinced I had not changed the letter, which was certainly her design in sealing it herself.
As I was now much less restrained than formerly, the prioress allowing me to see any company that came with the marchioness, I indulged the gaiety of my temper among persons, whose sprightliness was perfectly agreeable to me. The marchioness, still more prepossessed in my favor, brought several of her acquaintance with her to the convent, to have the pleasure, she said, of conversing with me. Among these a nobleman, called the count de R----, distinguished me in a very particular manner; and I, who was ever fond of any gallantry which proved the influence of my charms, did not fail to improve the count's admiration of me, by every little ensnaring art I possessed.
By the marchioness's order, I had desired Mrs. Dormer to direct her letter, under cover, to her. That lady did me the favor to bring it herself to the convent. My transports were inexpressible when I opened this dear letter, to find my friend was resolved to come herself to Paris, to procure my liberty. Her letter was filled with the most ardent assurances of tenderness and regard; but I knew not what to imagine from a postscript, in which she added, that she had a most agreeable piece of news in reserve to acquaint me with, which she was resolved to have the pleasure of telling me herself. My imagination, perpetually filled with the dear idea of Dumont, immediately suggested, that what she had to say was concerning him. "Some misfortune has happened to him, said I to myself; and Mrs. Dormer, knowing the injuries I have received from him, thinks the news will give me pleasure. Alas, how ill does she judge of the state of my heart! Dumont, false as he is, will be for ever dear to me; and I can never rejoice at any thing which afflicts him." The prioress, to whom I showed Mrs. Dormer's letter, appeared quite satisfied with the contents. "I am almost persuaded, said she, that I have been imposed on; yet I can never believe Mr. Darcy had any bad design in bringing you here. He has attempted to bring about some good intention, by perhaps unjustifiable measures. Alas, good man! we are all liable to be deceived! Well, miss, when your friend comes, you shall be at liberty to depart. I must hear what she has to say. You see, she desires you to stay here till she comes, which is really very prudent: I commend her for it." "I assure you, madam, replied I, I have no reluctance at staying here. The thoughts of being confined, indeed, sat a little uneasily upon me; but since it is left to my own choice, I can consent to it very gladly." The good lady expressed great satisfaction at this complaisance and we parted that day upon very good terms with each other. The marchioness congratulated me, in a very obliging manner, upon my approaching liberty. And the count de R----, who had been acquainted with my story, assured me, it would give him a very sensible pleasure to be able to see me, without a grate between us.
Mrs. Dormer had promised to be at Paris within a month at farthest: three weeks of that time was expired) and I was impatiently expecting the happiness of seeing her, when I was alarmed by a message from the marchioness, which informed me, that the prioress was secretly forming some design with Mr. Darcy, to remove me to a convent in some distant province. This news filled me with the most dreadful apprehensions; and I should have been incapable of any comfort, had not that generous lady also added, that she would think of some means for my deliverance. I passed the rest of this day distracted between fear and hope; and not having an opportunity of seeing mademoiselle Belville, to whom I communicated all my uneasiness, I never found solitude more disagree able in my life. A message in the evening from the prioress, to attend her in the parlor, threw me into a mortal fear, lest she was going to execute her cruel intentions. But as I could not imagine she could be able to force me away, without alarming the whole convent, I was too well prepared, to be deceived by any artifice she could use. Upon my entering the room, I was surprised to hear her ask me, if I distrusted her good intentions, and the arrival of my friend, that I had procured interest to be taken out of the convent, by an order from court. At these words lifting up my eyes, I suddenly met those of the count de R----, whom I had not perceived to be at the grate. He gave me a significant look, by which I immediately comprehended the whole mystery: and judging the marchioness had fallen upon this way to procure my release, I told the prioress, that I had my own reasons for wishing to be out of the convent immediately; and, since it was now no longer in her power to detain me, I might venture to own, I did not think myself yet secure from any further attempts of Mr. Darcy. "Oh, mighty well, miss, said the prioress, (with a malicious smile) it is not hard to guess your reasons for acting thus. You may go when you please." The count, upon this, begged I would suffer him to convey me in his coach to the place where I chose to go. I accordingly complied, not doubting but he meant to carry me to the marchioness, from whom I imagined he was sent. Alas! my easy folly betrayed me a second time; and, for my punishment, I was going to be plunged into new misfortunes.
I took leave of the prioress immediately, and could not help expressing my transport to the count the moment I was out of those dreadful walls. The count, when he handed me into his coach, told me, that the marchioness was at a house of hers a few miles distance from Paris, and that she expected me there. I was a little uneasy at being obliged to make this journey alone with a nobleman, whom I was but slightly acquainted with: but there was no remedy; I must submit. I would have engaged him to let me know how the marchioness happened to be acquainted with the designs of the prioress against me; but he very gallantly evaded satisfying my curiosity, by telling me, the marchioness best knew the whole affair; and that he could not consent to waste the present agreeable moments in any discourse, that was not expressive of the passion I had inspired him with. As he had never spoke so plainly before, I was a little embarrassed how to answer him; but ascribing the compliments he entertained me with, to the peculiar genius of his country, absolutely refused to make any particular application of them. We very soon came to the house. The count having handed me into a room, I expected, with some impatience, when the marchioness would appear. I thought it strange, after staying a quarter of an hour, to find I was still alone with the count, who seemed greatly perplexed. "Am I not to see the marchioness, my lord? said I, at last. Does her ladyship know I am here?" "Alas, miss, replied the count, you are deceived! I have not brought you to the marchioness, but to one who has an infinitely greater interest in you. 'Tis the earl of L---- whom you will shortly see." "The earl of L----! interrupted I. Is he in Paris? Have you betrayed me then, my lord, into the hands of a man, whose designs upon me can only be injurious to my honor? For heaven's sake, explain this mystery! How unfortunate am I, and how very cruel are you, to bring me into this situation!" "Is it possible, mademoiselle, returned the count, that you can be sincere! Do you really wish not to see the earl?" "Certainly, my lord, said I, I would avoid seeing that nobleman. My acquaintance with him is but very small, and I have no inclination to improve it; but if he has been capable of engaging your lordship in this stratagem to get me out of the convent, I have reason to apprehend he has some very unjustifiable views, and must therefore think it a great unhappiness to be thus betrayed into his power." "No, charming mademoiselle, (replied the count, in a rapture) do not fear that I will betray you into the hands of a man you would avoid. The sentiments you have discovered, have made me inexpressibly happy! Pardon the artifice I have used, to find whether you really loved the earl of L----. But, alas, ought I not to fear the action I have been guilty of, will draw your resentment upon me! Yet a tender passion, and anxious concern lest I should lose You forced me to this expedient. Suspend your reproaches, till I have explained my motives for this conduct, and do not condemn me unheard I am intimately acquainted with the earl of L----, and, libertine as he is, I found some amiable qualities in him, which forced my esteem. Our acquaintance began while he was yet a youth, and sent to Paris under the care of a governor. As he is very fond of passing some of his time here, he generally comes once a year, which has improved our acquaintance to a great degree of intimacy. A fortnight ago he arrived in Paris: I had introduced him to the acquaintance of the marchioness de ---- and he happened to be there, when that lady mentioning you, asked him, if he had ever heard of you before. I observed an alteration in his countenance at the mention of your name: he inquired eagerly into the circumstances of your being brought here, which the marchioness related very exactly. As we came home together, he pressed my hand, and cried, "Dear count, it is in your power to do me a very considerable service. This dear girl, that the marchioness speaks of, I have loved from my childhood; but she has got that whim of virtue in her head, and I cannot prevail upon her to listen to my proposals. But, if I can but get her out of that convent into my own power, I do not despair of accomplishing my designs. You must, my dear count, procure me a lettre de cachet, by which I may oblige the prioress immediately to give her liberty." "But, said I, does your lordship think she will consent to receive it from you?" "Ah! as for that, replied he, we will contrive afterwards how to engage her consent. If you will procure the order, I'll invent some means to make her comply with it." This, pursued the count, was the scheme the earl proposed, from which I would have dissuaded him; but he continued obstinately bent to prosecute it. I therefore frankly confessed, I would have no hand in it, and we parted with mutual dissatisfaction. It immediately occurred to me, that the earl did not want acquaintance here, who had interest enough to procure him the order he wanted: I, therefore, resolved to prevent him; and, having got a lettre de cachet myself, I sent a message, as if from the marchioness, to warn you of some danger; imagining, with reason, that, upon that information, you would not refuse to consent to any measures, by which we might procure your liberty. The event has answered my expectation; and, if you will be persuaded to pardon the innocent deceit I have practiced for your safety, my happiness will be complete." "Then, it seems, my lord, answered I, that l am not in the marchioness's house, and that lady has had no hand in this affair! 'Tis certain, that I have reason to rejoice the earl of L---- has been prevented from executing his unjustifiable designs; but the manner of my deliverance gives me great pain, as it must subject me to very unfavorable censures. What will people think of my leaving the convent with your lordship! Will not the marchioness herself explain this affair to my disadvantage? Ah, my lord, I beseech you, let me return immediately to Paris, and implore that lady's protection. Since I am not safe at the convent, I must conceal myself till my friend arrives." "And where, interrupted his lordship, can you be so well concealed as in this house! None of my servants know you, and you may remain here in perfect security." "Certainly, replied I, (with some resentment) your lordship imagines I have very little regard for my character, if you can think to persuade me it will be decent for me to stay in your lordship's house! I am determined to return to Paris directly; and, if I am not so happy to find out the marchioness, I'll rather go back to the convent again, than hazard the loss of my reputation by staying here." "Indeed, but you must not, my charmer," said the count, (with an ironical air). "How, my lord, answered I, must not! What do you mean?" "I tell you, interrupted he, I love you passionately! Your wit, your youth, and beauty, have made an absolute conquest of my heart. I have been an idolizer of your sex in general, but never felt the true force of love till I saw you. Judge if, with these sentiments, I could think with patience of my rival's designs! I have been obliged to encroach upon the respect I owe you, to secure you to myself. You shall be mistress of my heart and fortune; nor do I desire the possession of your person, till the tender passion I hope to inspire, shall make you bestow it willingly upon me. In the mean time, you shall have an absolute authority here. My servants are instructed in my intentions, and will treat you, in all respects, as their mistress. For myself, I'll return to Paris immediately, and declare at the convent, that I have left you at the marchioness's. As that lady is really not in town, no one can discover the falsehood: and, as to her, I'll acquaint her, when I see her, with the earl's intentions; and assure her, I only assisted you in getting out of the convent, and sent one of my servants with you to Calais, from whence you proposed to go immediately to England. See, my charmer, how I have provided for your reputation! There are none in this house but two or three servants, whose fidelity I am assured of. Farewell, mademoiselle, said he, (rising) I am going this moment to Paris, to leave you free from apprehensions."
Saying this, he made me a low bow, and hurried out of the room. Confounded as I was, with surprise and grief, at this speech, I retained presence of mind enough to run to the window, which fronted the court before the house, to see if he really went away. It being now night, the flambeaux about the coach, which stood still at the door, gave me a plain view of the count, who stepping into the coach, it immediately drove away. I was a little re- assured at this sight; but beginning to reflect on my situation, I accused myself as being the first cause of this kind of misfortunes. Has not my fatal fondness for admiration, thought I, betrayed my virtue into numberless dangers! Shall I never grow weary of this folly, till it has undone me! Ah! let me profit by these accidents and, for the future, spare myself such vexatious adventures!
I was lost in this sort of reasoning, when a middle aged gentlewoman entered the room, and, with a great deal of troublesome ceremony invited me to go into another room, where the cloth was laid for supper "Sit down, madam, said I, (with a great deal of good-humor) and do me the favor to inform me where I am; for, I assure you, I am quite a stranger in your country." "What, mademoiselle, replied she, was you never at St. Dennis before? 'Tis but a mighty little way from Paris', The woman, being as talkative as I could wish, gave me information enough to carry me to Paris, if I could find means of getting out of the house. I endeavored to discover by what name and character the count had introduced me here; but either she was absolutely unacquainted with both those circumstances, or affected to be so: and all I could gather from her was, that the count was a man of intrigue, and I had reason to believe I was in very dangerous hands.
Madam Diserre, (for that was her name) as soon as supper was ended, showed me into a bed-chamber, and then left me to my repose. I spent most part of the night in considering how I should get a letter conveyed to mademoiselle Belville at the convent. I judged it the most prudent way to get the marchioness, by her means, acquainted with the count's stratagem, and the place of my concealment, from which she was best able to procure my liberty. The thoughts of escaping from the house, and going to Paris, first presented themselves to my imagination; but, upon deeper reflection, I held that a more unsafe way than waiting a little for the assistance of my friends. Though it had been possible to get out of the house, without being perceived by that woman, who, I had reason to imagine, was to watch me continually, where could I go, to be safe, when I was got to Paris? If I went to the convent, I was in danger of being forced out by Lord L----; for I was convinced, the count could not have invented the story of him: for how, unless that young nobleman had entrusted him with it, should he know of his inclination for me! 'Twas possible, indeed, the marchioness might be in town, and the count have his reasons for denying it. This supposition having escaped me at first, I began again to think I had best try to make my escape; for it was full as hazardous to attempt corrupting a servant to get a letter delivered, as to endeavor to leave the house. The perplexity I was in, hindered me from resolving on any thing. What I most apprehended was, that the count might take it into his head to confine me in a convent, in some distant province, to force me, by those harsh means, to comply with his desires. Unhappy state of youth and beauty! left unprotected, to the dangerous snares which powerful vice is ever ready to lay for them! The most solid virtue is not always a sufficient defense against the artifices of men, whose rank and fortune supply them with various means for the ruin of unsuspecting innocence. All I could do in this perplexing situation, was to dissemble my discontent; and, by making my spies secure of my willingness to stay, expect some favorable opportunity, by their neglect, to steal out of the house. Madam Diserre, entering my chamber early in the morning, assisted me to rise; and Observing that she had brought me a very rich undress, together with other necessaries suitable to it, I remained a few moments in suspense, whether I ought to accept them. As there was a necessity for my appearing perfectly satisfied, I could not refuse these things, without bringing a contrary suspicion upon myself: I, therefore, suffered the officious Frenchwoman to dress me as she pleased, excepting only to the vermilion, with which she would have daubed my cheeks. When I was dressed, and had drank my chocolate, madam Diserre proposed walking in the gardens, which belonged to the house. "I would rather, replied I, take a view of the town. Shall we go together, and divert ourselves a little?" "Not for the world, mademoiselle! said she, (hastily). My lord left strict orders to the contrary. He desired that you might not even look out of a window, for fear of being seen." "Well, resumed I, (smiling) I only tried your discretion: I have no inclination to stir abroad, till your lord thinks proper. I suppose you know his reasons." "No, really, mademoiselle, replied she, (with a simplicity I know not whether to call real or affected). My lord never explains himself, on any private affairs, to his servants. I have had the management of this little retreat a great many years. My lord seldom stays long here: he is only fond of it for its near neighborhood to the city, from whence he often comes with a few select friends to divert himself." "I am persuaded, interrupted I, that my lord is too secure of your fidelity, not to tell you his motives for this uncommon care of me. Are you really ignorant who I am?" "I see, mademoiselle, said she, (smiling) you have a mind to tempt my curiosity; but you shall find me so discreet, that I will not presume to ask you to disclose yourself."
I found there was nothing to be made of this woman; and so I put an end to the conversation, by desiring to see the gardens she talked of. As they were of no very large extent, I walked round them several times, meditating the means of getting out, by a door, which I observed led into a small field, and was but slightly fastened. I fixed my eyes eagerly on this door; and sensible that it was the company of this woman only, that hindered me from escaping immediately, I thought of several stratagems to get rid of her; but all proved ineffectual. The rage I was in, at being thus hindered from procuring my liberty, took off all restraint: "What, cried I, (frowning) am I not to be left a moment to myself! Are you directed to watch my steps in this manner? Sure I may be allowed to walk here alone, if I please!" "Pardon me, mademoiselle, replied she, I dare not disobey my lord, who ordered me to attend you continually. You may walk here as long as you please; but I must wait upon you." "Really, interrupted I, (beginning to recollect myself) I could spare this needless piece of ceremony: I am fond of solitude, and love nothing so much as the liberty of indulging my own reflections sometimes.!, I had scarce finished these words, when I saw the count, at the end of the same alley in which we were walking. As he advanced nearer, madam Diserre struck into another walk, when the count, hastily running towards me, snatched my hand, which he kissed several times, in spice of my efforts to draw it away. "How cruel are you, mademoiselle, said he, (with a languishing air, when I had forced my hand from him) to deny me so small a favor! Methinks a passion, so tender and respectful as mine, merits a kinder return." "Certainly, my lord, replied I, you think me an ill judge of a respectful passion, to imagine I can mistake yours for such! You have got me into your power by a stratagem, not at all advantageous to my character, and treat me as if I was your prisoner. Why am I not allowed the liberty of retiring to any other place, more consistent with my honor? Have you any right to detain me here?" "My regard for your safety, answered the count, obliges me to entreat you will remain here, till the earl goes from Paris: I saw him but this morning; and my refusing to assist his designs of getting you out of the convent, has enraged him violently. He swears he will find out some means of forcing you away, be the attempt ever so difficult. It was very happy, that the marchioness, in relating your story, never mentioned the particular convent in which you was confined; so that, 'tis probable, it will be some time before he knows of your being removed. You see the necessity of concealing yourself, mademoiselle! I know the earl of L----, when he is resolutely bent to accomplish any design, is most indefatigable in his pursuit; and, if you wish to avoid him, 'tis only here you can be safe." "Were you only a disinterested friend, my lord, replied I, there might be some excuse for accepting the asylum you offer me for a few days; but, since you expect I should look on you as a lover, it is not so decent to lay myself under an obligation." "You shall regard me in what light you please, resumed his lordship, provided you will but consent to stay here. Possibly you will be disposed to listen to the offers my love will force me to make you. I would make myself master of your heart, before I solicited the possession of your person; and, by the sincerity of my love, oblige you to confess I deserve you." As I could not imagine the count had any honorable views in the passion he professed for me, the more he endeavored to convince me of the truth of it, the more I was alarmed.
The only prospect of deliverance I could foresee, at present, was by applying to the marchioness, which, if I could get a letter conveyed to mademoiselle Belville, might be easily effected. I dissembled the uneasiness I was under to the count; and, willing to oblige him to leave me more at liberty, I gave him hopes I would not think of leaving his house, till I might do it with safety. The count seemed overjoyed at having brought me to this point; and it being near the hour when he was to be at the Louvre, as he told me, he took his leave, after first leading me into the house.
I had observed, while I was in the garden, a young man, who was employed in it; and concluded, if I could meet with an opportunity of speaking to him alone, I might prevail upon him, with a bribe, to get a letter delivered to my friend at Paris. As soon, therefore, as dinner was over, I retired to my chamber, and wrote a long letter to mademoiselle Belville; in which I related all that happened to me, and conjured her to let the marchioness know immediately where I was, and implore her assistance to get me out of the count's hands. I also begged her to see Mrs. Dormer, if she came to the convent before I was at liberty; but charged her to recommend it to this dear friend, to be very secret in her attempts to rescue me: for I was apprehensive, if the count heard that the place of my retreat was discovered, he would send me to some other place, where I could receive no assistance.