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Superior creature! how you shame me! I will replace the letter. And I promise you, that if I cannot forget the contents of it myself, (and yet they are glorious to my brother,) I will never mention any of them to you; unless the letter be fairly communicated to you, and to us all.
I threw my arms about her neck. She fervently returned the sisterly embrace. We separated; she retiring at one door, in order to go up to replace the letter ; I at the other, to reconsider all that had passed on the occasion. And I hope I shall love her the better for taking so kindly a behaviour so contrary to what her own had been.
Well, but don't you congratulate me, my dear, on my escape from my curiosity? I am sure my grandmamma, and my aunt, will be pleased with their girl. Yet it was a hard struggle, I own: in the suspense I am in; a very hard struggle. But though wishes will play about my heart, that I knew such of the contents as it might concern me to know; yet I am infinitely better pleased that I yielded not to the temptation, than I should have been, if I had. And then, methinks, my pride is gratified in the superiority this lady ascribes to me over herself, whom so lately I thought greatly my superior.
Yet what merit have I in this ? Since, if I had considered ouly rules of policy, I should have been utterly wrong, had I yielded to the temptation: for what use could I have made of any knowledge I might have obtained by this means? If any proposal is to be made me, of what nature soever, it must, in that case, have appeared to be quite new to me: and what an affectation ust that have occasioned, what dissimulation, in your Harriet! And how would a creature, educated as I have been, have
behaved under such trials as might have arisen from a knowledge so faultily obtained ?
And had I been discovered; bad I given cause of suspicion either to Dr. Bartlett, or Sir Charles ; I should have appeared as the principal in the fact: it would have been mean to accuse Miss Grandison, as the tempter, in a temptation yielded to with my eyes open. And should I not have cast a slur upon that curiosity which. Dr. Bartlett before had not refused to gratify, as well as shut myself out from all future communications and confidence ?
It is very possible, besides, that, unused as I have been to artifice and disguise, I should have betrayed myself ; especially had I found any of the contents of the letter very affecting.
Thus you see, Lucy, that policy, as well as rectitude of manners, justifies me: and in this particular I am a happy girl.
Miss Grandison has just now told her sister what passed between us. Lady L-says, she would not have been Miss Grandison, in taking the letter, by what means soever come at; for how, said she, did I know what secrets there might be in it, before I read it? But I think verily, when it had been got at, and offered me, I could not have been Miss Byron.
And she threw her arms about me: Dear creature, said she, you must be Lady Grandison—
Must! said Miss Grandison : she shall.
Miss Grandison talked to Lady - of its being likely that her brother would go to Bologna: of a visit he is soon to make to Grandison-ball; and she to go with him on a tour to Paris, in order to settle some matters relating to the will of his late friend Mr. Danby
Well, Lucy, my time in town is hastening to its period. Why am I not reminded that my three allotted months are near expired ? Will you receive the poor girl, who, perhaps, will not be able to carry down with her the heart she brought up? And yet, to go down to such dear friends without it, what an ungrateful sound has that!
Miss Grandison began to talk of other subjects relating to her brother, and that greatly to his praise. I could have heard all she had to say with intivite pleasure. I do love to hear him praised. But, as I doubted not but these subjects arose from the letter so surreptitiously obtained, I restrained myself, and withdrew.
Of what a happy temper is Miss Grandison! She was much affected with the scene that passed between us; but all is over with her already. One lesson upon her harpsichord sets every thing right with her. She has been rallying Lord L— with as much life and spirit, as if she had done nothing to be vexed at. Had I been induced by her to read the letter which she got at dishonestly, as she owned, what a poor figure should I have made in my own eyes, for a month to come!
But did she not as soon overcome the mortification given her by her brother, on the detection of Captain Anderson's affair? How unmercifully did she rally me within a few hours after !-Yet, she has fine qualities. One cannot help loving her. I do love her. But is it not a weakness to look without abatement of affection on those faults in one person which we should hold utterly inexcusable in another? In Miss Grandison's case, however, don't say it is, Lucy. O what a partiality! Yet she has within these few minutes owned, that she thought the step she had taken a faulty one, before she came to me with the letter; and hoped to induce me to countenance her in what she had done.
I called her a little Satan on this occasion. But, after all, what if the dear Charlotte's curiosity was more for my sake than her own? No motive of friendship, you will say, can justify a wrong action—Why no, Lucy; that is very true; but if you knew Miss Grandison, you would love her dearly
[The Letter which Miss Byron refused to read, or hear read.]
I HOPE my
Friday night, March 17. Lord L-- and my sisters will be able to make Colnebrook so agreeable to Miss Byron, that I may have the pleasure of finding her there in the beginning of the week. My Lord W.
is in town. He has invited me to dine with him to-morrow; and must not be denied, was a part of his message, brought me by Halden his steward, who says, that his lordship has something of consequence to consult me upon.
When, my dear friend, shall I find time for myself? Pray make my compliments to my Lord L-, and to my three sisters; and tell them from me, that when I have the
happiness of being in their company, then it is that I think I give time to myself.
I have a letter from Bologna: from the faithful Camilla. The contents of it give me great concern. She urges me to make one more visit there. She tells me, that the bishop said, in her hearing, it would be kind, if I would. Were such a visit to be requested generally; and it were likely to be of service; you may believe that I would cheerfully make it.
I should go for a fortnight at least to Grandison-ball. Burgess has let me know, that the workmen have gone almost as far as they can go without my farther orders. And the churchwardens have signified to me, that the church is completely beautified, according to my directions; so that it will be ready to be opened on the Sunday after next, at farthest; and entreat iny presence, both as patron and benefactor. I would now hasten my designed alterations at the Hall.
I had rather not be present at the opening. Yet the propriety of my being there will probably prevail upon me to comply with the entreaties of the churchwardens; who, in their letter, signify the expectations of Sir Samuel Clarke, Sir William Turner, and Mr. Barnham, of seeing me, and my sister Charlotte. You will be pleased to mention this to her.
I wish, without putting a slight upon good Mr. Dobson, that you, my dear friend, could oblige us with the first
All then would be decent, and worthy of the occasion; and the praise would be given properly, and not to the agent. But as it would be a little mortifying to Mr. Dobson (of whose praise only I am apprehensive) so much as to hint such a wish, I will write to him, that