We had been some months in this place, when my mother, uncertain whether to settle here or return to England, received a letter from a sister of hers, who was the widow of a baronet, and in very genteel circumstances. This lady had been my god-mother, and had conceived a very strong affection for me: she earnestly entreated my mother to send me over to England, promising to provide for me as her own child. My mother, who was extremely glad of this opportunity to lessen the expense of her family, by parting with one whom, of all her children, she least regarded, consented to send me over in the Spring, it being then the beginning of Winter. This delay at any other time would have been very mortifying to one of my precipitate temper; but it was now rendered agreeable, as I was no longer in a situation to make my leaving N---- indifferent to me. You may possibly wonder, my dear Amanda, that my heart, after being touched with a sincere tenderness for captain Belmein, should easily admit of another inclination. If this was levity, I must take shame to myself, and own I began to lose insensibly my indifference with regard to Dumont. I could not behold, without a secret pleasure, the silent passion which consumed him, and of which I knew myself the cause. I blushed when I met his tender glances; my eyes insensibly fixed themselves on his lovely face; I sighed by sympathy whenever he did, and yet was ignorant that I did so: He never approached me but my heart felt an involuntary transport, and a tender languor seized upon my spirits the moment he went away. I had often pretended to some judgment in matters of love, yet so blindly confident was I of myself, that these certain symptoms escaped my observation; and I suffered the encroaching passion to steal upon me by imperceptible degrees, and yet triumphed in the indifference with which I thought I repaid the passion of the most beautiful and deserving youth in the world. Had I in the least suspected I could have fallen again into a weakness, by which I had suffered so many disquiets, I would have summoned all my reason to oppose the growing flame; but, in the false security I then lived, I attributed all the emotions with which my heart was agitated, to a principle of self-love and vanity, which made me take a more than ordinary pleasure in the adorations of such an accomplished lover as Dumont. However, an accidental discovery of my sentiments to myself, drew me out of this dangerous security. One day when I was sitting with one of Dumont's sisters, with whom I had a particular friendship, a letter drops out of her pocket, which I taking up and offering to give her, "Read it, said she, 'tis from miss Lucy Belmein." I read it accordingly, and found nothing in it which affected me till I came to the bottom, and saw it signed EMILIA. As this was the name Dumont gave me in several copies of verses he addressed to me, I could not choose but be surprised to find it assumed by another. At that instant an universal trembling seized me, my heart beat as if it would leave my breast, and, with a faltering accent, I inquired how long miss Belmein had bore that name: "Oh, a long time, she replied; it was given to her by a person who has endeavored to render it famous. I'll show you, continued she, some lines that he has addressed to her, on her hiding her face with her fan at the last assembly." Immediately she gave me a paper of verses in Dumont's hand-writing, and obliged me to read them aloud: a task, though I found myself very unfit for, I was obliged to comply with.
TO EMILIA, holding her fan before her face. By Phoebus scorch'd on Lybia's sands Lies poor expiring man, 'Till pitying Jove the clouds commands To interpose their rain: So to the bright Emilia's eyes, Unskreen'd, the gazers yield; But Pallas to this fan's disguise Transforms her guardian shield; In kind compassion spreads the shade Before that angel face; Too bright thy beauty, heavenly maid, In one unclouded blaze!
While I was reading these lines I could scarce command my concern. Involuntary sighs rushed from my bosom, my eyes were filled with tears, I felt a painful anguish at my heart, and was surprised at it. Could it be possible for disappointed pride to work such an effect! I dreaded looking into my own thoughts, lest I should discover the progress Dumont had made in my affection. Unwilling as I was to acknowledge my weakness to myself, yet I was but too sensible that I loved him. I was amazed how I could be so long ignorant of a passion, that was capable of giving me such torturing jealousy. I was convinced miss Belmein was the person he really loved, and his professions to me served only to conceal the real object of his affection. My behavior to him now took a different turn: that laughing indifference I formerly assumed, was now changed to a settled, serious scorn. I never looked on him but with frowns; and when I was under a necessity of speaking to him, it was with such a constrained civility as seemed to cover a strong aversion. This treatment affected him with the deepest concern; but I was too prejudiced to perceive it. I was continually making discoveries, as I imagined, of his attachment to miss Belmein; and it is certain, there seemed to be a regular correspondence between them. What uneasy pangs have I suffered when I observed them talk apart, as they often did! How have I interpreted every look and motion, as my disordered fancy suggested! I envied her the possession of his heart; and yet, when I coolly examined my own thoughts, I found I was not so lost to reason as to promise myself any happiness from his love to me. The difference of our religion, and his engagement with another lady, upon which his whole fortune depended, made an honorable union impracticable: and could I think of encouraging a criminal passion? I trembled when I reflected on the dangers to which this fatal inclination exposed me. Alas! in spite of these reasonable reflections, I was still in love, and still unhappy. N---- became odious to me: I could not look upon Dumont without pain; I feared he would discover my weakness; and, to avoid seeing him, I accepted the invitation of a lady of my acquaintance to pass some days with her, at a house she had a few miles from town. The agreeable solitude I went to, seemed to nourish my flame. I passed whole hours alone, recalling the idea of Dumont. But as my passion increased, so did my apprehensions. The more he was beloved, the more dangerous he appeared; yet I could not help wishing he had continued to love me. How would it soothe my grief, thought I, to see him suffer the same disquiets with myself, and sacrifice a tender inclination to a principle of duty, as I do to a sense of honor and virtue.
I was lost in this kind of reflections one day, when I saw him advancing towards me. My heart felt an involuntary transport; as it was not unlikely but this visit to Mrs. Harvey, the lady with whom I was, might be only an excuse to see me; at least, I was willing to believe so. However, I received him with the same cool civility as formerly, and asked him, what had procured us the favor of this unexpected visit. "'Tis no difficult matter, answered he, to guess the motive." "Perhaps not, interrupted I; but I am the worst guesser in the world, and it is a thousand to one that I mistake." "Well, then, I'll tell you, replied he, with a bewitching tenderness in his voice and eyes." "No, no, said I, dreading as much as I liked this discourse, I hate to be burthened with people's confidences; for I am sure you designed it should be a secret." "I would have it a secret, replied he, to every one but you."
As he spoke these words, we perceived Mrs. Harvey, my rival, and miss Dumont, walking towards us. My jealous suspicions returned at this sight: the mystery of his visit was now explained. "Ah! cried I, (forcing a laugh) it is not so difficult as I imagined, to guess the motive of your coming here. I have found it out this moment." Dumont stared at me, as if he wished an explanation of these words; but the ladies were so near that he could not ask it. Miss Belmein, as soon as the first compliments at meeting were over, engaged him in a particular conversation: I blushed and turned pale alternately at this sight. Miss Dumont, who watched my looks, seemed to smile maliciously at the alteration which was visible in my countenance. As I knew not how to account for this seeming ill-nature, in one whom I had always regarded as a friend, I felt my uneasiness redoubled. The conversation beginning to languish, Mrs. Harvey, to divert us, led us to a small ascent in the garden, from whence we could behold the sea dashing its waves against the small rocks at the extremity of the shore. The other side afforded a delightful prospect of corn fields and meadows, thick woods and winding valleys, with blue hills at a distance, which seemed to hide their heads in the clouds. "What a fine poetic landscape is here!" said Dumont, (turning to me). "One would think, said Mrs. Harvey, you two, who are favorites of the Muses, might feel some inspiration from this charming place. Come, continued she, (pulling Dumont) sing us some extempore lines this moment." "Yes, do, added I, and borrow your ideas from that gay bank of flowers there." "A good hint, miss, replied he, I'll obey you immediately." And then sung the following lines:
See how that rose contracts her sweets, And shyly turns her beauteous head! So my coy Fair my passion meets, And vainly lets my sorrows plead.
"Now, miss, said Dumont, pray exert your Muse." "O, with all my heart, I replied; I'll contribute to your triumph." Upon which I sung these words:
See how the roving bee incessant flies From flow'r to flow'r, and each new fragrance tries! Fantastic emblem of the lover's mind! To change, and dear variety, inclin'd.
I cast an upbraiding glance at Dumont, as I ended these words. "Come, now for the application," said miss Dumont. "Mine, said I, is to the whole lordly sex in general." "And yours," resumed she to her brother. "Let the fair one make it to herself, replied he; since she must certainly know her own picture." "Ah, then, interrupted Mrs. Harvey, 'tis to one in this company it seems," (looking on me with a smile). "Nay, madam, replied I, (blushing) 'tis unkind to tempt his discretion thus. Pray let us correct our curiosity, and consider, that few people are in love enough to own it." Dumont made no other reply to these words than by a look, which methought spoke a great deal.
When the ladies took their leave, he walked at a distance with miss Belmein; and I observed, with some pain, that he was engaged in a very serious conversation with her. After he had handed them into the coach, I expected he would have gone with them; but I was deceived: he made some excuse for staying longer. My resentment at his behavior to miss Belmein was so great, that I hardly deigned to speak to him as we followed Mrs. Harvey to the house. "Dear miss Harriot, said he, (after breathing three or four sighs) will you not tell me what fault I have committed, that has drawn upon me your aversion? ThoughI have not dared to speak to you of the passion which consumes me, yet I am persuaded you are not ignorant of it. But is excess of love my fault? Tell me, I conjure you, do you hate me because I cannot help adoring you?" "Sure, interrupted I, you think 'tis miss Belmein you are talking to." "Miss Belmein! said he, (surprised) I don't understand you! For heaven's sake explain yourself!" "Nay, answered I, since you have a mind to be so very discreet, and make a secret of your affection for her, I have no intention to oblige you to confess it. But your behavior to that young lady is so very particular, that it is no difficult matter to discover your sentiments." In spite of my endeavors to the contrary, I could not pronounce these words without a visible emotion. I saw joy sparkle in his eyes. He guessed the cause of my concern. "Oh! cried he, (seizing my hand) how unjustly do you suspect me! I must clear myself, thoughI betray the trust that is reposed in me. You know captain D----, continued he: he has long loved miss Belmein, and has the happiness of being agreeable to her. When he left N---- he entrusted me with the secret of his passion. I convey all his letters to her, and this confidence creates an intimacy between us, which has given rise to your suspicions. Read this letter, said he, (taking one out of his pocket) 'tis from him, and you will be convinced I tell you nothing but truth." I took the letter without hesitation, and found it just as he had said. My anger vanished in a moment: I saw immediately through miss Dumont's artifice, and was convinced she had made use of miss Belmein's name to discover my sentiments with regard to her brother. That terrible jealousy which had taken possession of my heart, vanished in a moment: my first emotions were all joy. Dumont observed the unguarded transport: he watched my eyes, and read in them every motion of my soul. Emboldened by this discovery, he kissed my hand a thousand times, with an ardor that drew me out of the sweet reverie I was in. I hastily snatched my hand from his: "Oh forgive me, said he, (in the tenderest accent) if I have indulged a hope that you are not displeased to find me faithful." These words filled me with the utmost confusion: I trembled at the dangerous discovery I had made; and, resolving, if possible, to draw myself out of this perplexity, "If I had vanity enough, said I, (looking on him with a careless smile) to imagine you really loved me, I should certainly envy the prodigious happiness you enjoy this moment, at this imaginary discovery you have made of my sentiments. But, dear Dumont, pursued I, (laughing) confess that I have fairly outwitted you; and, for the future, don't let a little personated jealousy prevail upon you to give up the secrets of your friends." I saw he was quite disconcerted at this raillery, and I pursued it with so much art, that he took his leave of me in a disorder, which convinced me my behavior had greatly perplexed him.
You may imagine, my dear friend, that I did not offer so great a violence to my inclinations without feeling a sensible pain. I loved the engaging Dumont, and was convinced I was beloved by him: yet I was under a sad necessity of flying from this dear object of my tenderness; and, to conceal my weakness, I forced myself to treat him with the utmost scorn and indifference, when every look, every tender word, sunk deep into my soul, and gave me agonies impossible to describe.
Such was the state of my mind when I was obliged to return to town. My brother being resolved to go back to Jamaica, where his affairs called him, entreated me to give him my company at home the few days he had to stay. I was struck with horror at the thoughts of parting with this dear brother, who had always discovered for me more than parental affection. My grief produced the most violent effects: I wept continually: and though he employed every soothing art he was master of, to calm my uneasiness; yet I could not behold the day approach, when he was to leave us, without almost sinking under the load of anguish that oppress me. "I must leave you, my dear Harriot, said he, (drawing me aside;) heaven only knows with what regret! But, before I part with you, suffer me to conjure you to persist in the just and becoming resolution you have taken, to avoid Dumont as much as possible. I see you are surprised, continued he; but I am not ignorant that he pretends to love you. Your whole behavior hitherto, has been such as I cannot choose but approve. I am charmed with that diffidence you have showed of yourself, in flying the dangerous addresses of a man so formed to please. True virtue is never without a just distrust of itself. However specious his pretensions may seem, yet 'tis impossible he can have honorable views; and thoughI will not suppose he has dared to disclose his designs to you, yet as he endeavors, by all the appearances of a respectful passion, to make himself master of your affections, 'tis only by shunning him as you do, that you can promise yourself any security from his artifices." The confusion I was in, while my brother was speaking, might easily have convinced him how deeply I was interested in what he had said; but without taking notice of it, he pressed me tenderly in his arms. "My dearest sister, continued he, forgive my fears: I own my heart is perpetually alarmed upon your account. A girl of wit and spirit, like you, is exposed to numberless dangers; and were you going to live with a person less prudent than your aunt, Lady L----, I should tremble for the dangerous charms you possess, lest they should expose you to trials, to which all your prudence would be hardly equal." "Ah, my dear brother, interrupted I, (melting into tears) I hope my conduct shall never give you cause to blush that I am your sister. Whatever may be my situation in -life, the instructions you have given me shall be the rule of my actions." My brother made no other answer to this than a most affectionate embrace, and then bade me farewell, with eyes swimming in tears. I was not able to speak: oppress with insupportable affliction, I fainted away in his arms; too sad presage of my misfortune! Alas! I never saw this dear, this worthy brother more.
Oh! my Amanda, scarce can I recall the remembrance of that fatal day, without feeling a renewal of all the pangs I suffered. But let me not tire you with a faint imperfect representation of my sorrows, of my wild despair, at parting with the best of friends and brothers. His absence gave me a reasonable excuse for the solitude and grief to which I devoted myself: but the dear, dangerous idea of Dumont intruded itself amidst my complainings for my brother, and claimed, in spite of me, part of the tears I shed. I persisted, however, in so severe a behavior to him, that he never durst entertain me with discourses of his passion, thoughmy intimacy with his sisters gave him frequent opportunities.
The time now approached when I was to leave N----, and not all my resolution could enable me any longer to support an appearance of indifference to Dumont. The deep despair that was visible in his eyes, filled my whole soul with unutterable grief. I could no longer assume my haughty airs when he approached me. Spite of myself, my looks wore a sympathizing sorrow. He took advantage from this alteration in my behavior to him; and having found me one day alone, when he came to make me a visit, he threw himself suddenly on his knees before me, and, in the tenderest and most affecting language, begged me not to leave him in that absolute despair, to which my cruelties had reduced him. "Alas, Dumont, said I, (obliging him to quit that posture) what is it you expect from me? If it be really true that you love me as much as you would have me believe, my situation and yours leave me only the power of pitying you." "I know, replied he, (eagerly) all the objections you can make against admitting my addresses: you may urge my engagement to my cousin, and the difference of our religion; but these obstacles are slight, in comparison of your insensibility. Oh! pursued he, (grasping my hand) little do you know with what excess of tenderness I love you. I became a captive to your almost infant-beauties; and, while we continued on board the same vessel, what torments did I not endure in my endeavors to vanquish my fatal passion! When the happy Belmein was upon the point of becoming your husband, the impossibility there appeared of ever making you mine, and the thousand arts I used to forget you, though they could not cure me, yet abated the violence of my anguish. But when I saw you again, cried he, (looking on me with eyes sparkling with tenderness) when I beheld you more lovely than ever, and heard you the universal object of every one's esteem and admiration, my smothered passion blazed with more violence than ever. I have adored you ever since; and if it had been possible for any thing to have conquered my affection for you, your uncommon severity would have done it." "Oh Dumont! interrupted I, (struggling to suppress my tears) leave me, I beg you: I cannot bear to hear your complaints. To what purpose do you endeavor to melt me thus? I have, indeed, as you say, treated you harshly; but my duty, my honor, obliged me to it." Dumont, who, from the moment I began to speak, had gazed on me with a fixed attention, observing the disorder I was in, which would scarce allow me to utter a word without stopping to take breath; "Is it possible, said he, that I could be mistaken in the cause of your ill-usage of me! Have you not hated me, then?" "Alas, replied I, (no longer able to restrain my tears) reproach me no more! Did you know what my soul feels this moment, you'd pity me." "Good God! said Dumont, (starting from his seat) what means this! You weep, my lovely, my adorable Harriot! I dare not suppose I can be the cause of this affliction." "Yet spare me, I conjure you, interrupted I, (half dead with shame and grief) spare me the confusion of telling you what I could wish you knew. Can you not give a name to this distress? But why do I trifle! I shall never see you more: I have given to virtue all that it can demand of me. I am going to leave you for ever: but shall I leave you in the cruel belief of my ingratitude? Yes, dear Dumont, cried I, (with precipitation) I love you. Oh, would to heaven I could say my passion was as justifiable as 'tis sincere." "Sure, said my transported lover, I do but dream! love me, do you say? But why do I doubt it! cried he, (clasping me eagerly in his arms) those dear enchanting eyes confess it. Never did I behold such softness in them before. My dear, lovely torment, continued he, (pressing me closer to his bosom) my bliss, my pain, why have you thus long persecuted me with an appearance of hatred?" "Oh Dumont! cried I, (breaking from his arms, and blushing at the liberty he had taken) how well does your behavior reproach me for the confidence I repose in you!" "Ah, for heaven's sake, resumed he, forgive the transport of a man whom your rigors had reduced to the deepest despair; and now, made wild with joy, know not what he does or says." "Yet hear me calmly, I replied: 'tis true I love you, I will not blush to own it, since, in the resolution I have taken, I have nothing to reproach myself with. I acknowledge myself obliged to you for that excess of tenderness with which you have regarded me; nor could I defend my heart from feeling for you all that affection you could have wished to inspire me with. Fate has put a bar between us; but, inevitable as it is, it has not hindered me from loving you: and that I have concealed my sentiments with so much care, you must impute to my fixed resolution of conquering a passion I could never hope to indulge with innocence. Heaven knows, my heart did not suffer less than yours by the cruel constraint I put on myself; but my virtue demanded this sacrifice of me. Do not condemn me then, dear Dumont. Pity my distress, and the sad necessity which obliges me to fly you for ever." "Ah Harriot! returned he, (sighing) where have you learned this refined reasoning, and how long have you been governed by those false principles of honor and virtue, which teach you 'tis a less crime to precipitate a wretch, who adores you, into the extremes" misery, than to grant the smallest concession to ascertain his happiness?" "What is it you say? interrupted I, (with some emotion) What concession can I possibly make you, without endangering my honor and reputation? Ah, know me better, Dumont! and do not imagine my tenderness for you can ever influence me to an action unworthy of my birth and sentiments." "By heaven you wrong me! said my lover. Your honor shall ever be sacred with me: I would lose my dearest blood in its defense. But oh, my lovely Harriot, is there not something due to love! Shall our mutual affection serve only to increase our misery! I will not suppose my charming angel can ever be influenced by views of interest; and though, by refusing the lady to whom my infant-vows were engaged, I sacrifice all my expectations of a splendid fortune, and reduce myself to the small competency I hold independent of my father; yet sure my excess of love will, in some measure, compensate for my want of fortune. Suffer me then, my dearest Harriot, to hope you will consent to our union when we arrive in England. I will take a passage in the same ship with you: my father will readily consent to my going, if I tell him 'tis with an intention to visit my cousin. See, my dearest creature, how every thing favors us! But, alas, you frown, you seem displeased. Can it be possible, that, after having been happy enough to gain your heart, I should have any more obstacles to surmount." "Ah Dumont! returned I, do you think I am so little capable of governing an unhappy passion, as to consent to indulge it at the expense of your ruin and my own quiet? Shall I allow you to expose yourself to the resentment of all your relations, forsake a lady to whom you are solemnly contracted, and reduce yourself from a state of affluence, to one unworthy of your merit, for an unhappy girl, who can bring you nothing but herself? But, were I weak enough to consent you should involve yourself in this misery, know there is another powerful bar to our union. I never disobeyed my father while he lived: dying, he left me an absolute command never to marry any one of your religion, however advantageous it might be to my interests. Alas! continued I, (my eyes streaming with tears at the mention of that honored name) I would suffer a thousand deaths rather than break the solemn vow I made, never to disobey him in so important a point. See, dear Dumont, the insurmountable obstacles which fate has put between us! Call it not cruelty then, if I resolve to see you no more: if you do not desire to have me miserable, conquer this fatal passion, and do not interrupt my endeavors to restore myself to that tranquillity which you have deprived me of."
Dumont, who, all the time I had been speaking, had sat leaning his head upon one of his hands, looked up when I had finished, and showed me his face all bathed in tears. "Oh heavens! cried he, you have indeed raised an insurmountable bar to my happiness. Am I then doomed to lose you, because my principles in religion differ from yours? Alas, my lovely Harriot! said he, it is decreed that I must be miserable for ever. ThoughI look upon the possession of you to be the sublimes" happiness that any man can arrive at in this world, yet I cannot consent to purchase it by changing my religion. The man who could basely forsake the principles he was bred in, from any other motive than a conviction that they are false, must render himself unworthy the blessing of being yours." "Do not imagine, interrupted I, that I could be capable of approving your change, if you only made a sacrifice of your religion to love. No, whenever that happens, may it be the effect of reason and conviction. But, believe me, dear Dumont, thoughyou really profess the same principles with myself, I would never consent to your breaking through your engagement with your cousin, and sacrificing your fortune for me. Submit then patiently, I conjure you, to that cruel destiny which divides us. Conquer your passion, if you are able: but be assured, neither time or absence shall ever force me to forget you."
I was going on when I observed a mortal paleness overspread his face: he fixed his eyes on me with a look so full of sweet unutterable sorrow, that, quite melted with the sight, and fearing lest my resolution should fail me, I rose from my seat; "Farewell, dear Dumont, cried I, (bursting into tears) I cannot, dare not stay any longer: I am not able to support my own affliction, and the sight of yours." As I said these words I moved towards the door, when Dumont hastily following me, "At least, cried he, (spreading his arms) give me the comfort of a last embrace." I made no answer, but gently reclining my head upon his shoulder, suffered him to clasp me in his arms, while my tears and sighs left me not the power of uttering a word. "Oh heavens! said my lover, (pressing me to his bosom with inconceivable transport) shall this dear embrace be the last I must ever receive?" "Alas! interrupted I, (struggling to get loose) forget me, dear Dumont. All that we have both to do now is, to banish all hope of ever meeting again."
My mother calling me that instant, Dumont threw himself suddenly at my feet, "If you do not wish, said he, (eagerly) to see me breathe out my life the moment you prepare to leave me, grant me one favor, I conjure you." "Well, answered I, (with a voice interrupted with sighs) all that I can grant with honor, I will." "Promise me, pursued he, for one year to remain unmarried, and do not in that time endeavor to forget me." "Without inquiring into your reasons for making this request, replied I, I promise you, upon my honor, to comply with it." Dumont at these words rose up immediately, and was making an effort to fold me once more in his arms, when my sister Fanny opened the door. I immediately took notice that her eyes were red, as if she had been weeping; and hastily asking the cause, "My mother answered she, has just been informed that the ship, in which you are to go, sails in two days. Judge, continued she, (the tears streaming down her sweet face) if I can hear this news with indifference!"
Dumont that instant, making a hasty bow, rushed out of the room, and left us at liberty to indulge our mutual grief, for a parting which the excess of tenderness we had for each other made almost insupportable.
My mother having sent for me up to her chamber, after discoursing to me a long time, with her usual distance and reserve, upon the subject of my affairs, and the methods I should use to gain the favor of my aunt, who was in a condition to make me a very genteel fortune; told me, that she expected I should show the utmost respect and obedience to my governess, under whose care I was to continue, 'till she delivered me up to my aunt. I promised her, with great readiness, to obey her most punctually in this particular; for, indeed, Mrs. Blandon had not only rendered herself dear to me, by the uncommon tenderness she discovered for me, but I reverenced and esteemed her good sense, and the many amiable qualities she possessed. I spent that night and the following day in endeavors to comfort my dear Fanny, who was almost inconsolable at the thoughts of parting; but my mother having promised to let her make a visit to my eldest sister, who lived in Philadelphia, she was a little composed.
Dumont, who had often begged for another interview, which I constantly refused, at last wrote to me; and, in the most tender and moving terms imaginable, conjured me to give him a confirmation, under my hand, of the promise I had made him when we parted. I had scarce finished my answer to this billet, in which I made no scruple to comply with his request, when a servant came to tell me, the captain of the ship had sent to desire we would come on board immediately. My dearest Fanny threw herself, half dead, into my arms at these words. My own affliction was so great, that I was not able to comfort her. We continued weeping in this posture so long, that Mrs. Blandon came up to hasten me. "Alas, my dear children, said she, (excessively moved at the condition she found us in) why do you afflict yourselves in this manner for a short absence! Your mother will soon come to England herself, and then you'll meet again. Come, continued she, (embracing my sister) don't afflict miss Harriot too much with the sight of your grief. Consider, the weight of this parting falls heaviest upon her. You have your mother and eldest sister with you, but she, poor child! has only me to comfort her." Fanny, whose temper was truly generous, was so struck with Mrs. Blandon's remonstrance, that she composed herself immediately; and, after embracing me two or three times with an excess of tenderness, we followed Mrs. Blandon down stairs. I had just time, before I went into my mother's room, to give Fanny my billet to Dumont, conjuring her to deliver it with the utmost secrecy, which she faithfully promised. I then went in to take leave of my mother, with whom I found some company, who were come to go with me to the water-side. I kneeled to my mother to receive her blessing, kissing at the same time her hands, which I bathed with my tears. She blessed and kissed me several times, but with a composure that greatly astonished me. I left her at last, strongly affected with the indifference she discovered; and, with my sister Fanny, and the rest of the company, walked to the water side, where a boat waited to carry us to the ship, which lay at some distance. My heart died within me, when the man held out his hand to help me in. I turned to take another embrace of my dear sister, who, remembering Mrs. Blandon's words, suppressed her tears, and recommended to me to be cheerful and composed. The rest of the company saluted me with much tenderness, and I steps into the boat, followed by Mrs. Blandon; who, the moment we put off from shore, employed her utmost endeavors to comfort me. I kept my eyes constantly fixed on my dearest sister as long as I could see her; and being at last come close to the ship, I was helped up and received by the captain with much respect.
The extreme melancholy which wholly engrossed me, made me choose to retire immediately to the cabin allotted for my governess and me, which was the best in the ship. The first days of our voyage I spent in continual grief; but by degrees my temper returned to its natural sprightliness, and I began to reflect with pleasure on the agreeable and splendid life I was going to lead with my aunt.