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Title: Cecilia; Or, Memoirs of an Heiress — Volume 3
Author: Burney, Fanny
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cecilia; Or, Memoirs of an Heiress — Volume 3" ***

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CECILIA

OR

Memoirs of an Heiress

by

FRANCES BURNEY

VOL. III.



BOOK VIII. _Continued_.



CHAPTER ii.

AN EVENT.

Scarce less unhappy in her decision than in her uncertainty, and every
way dissatisfied with her situation, her views and herself, Cecilia
was still so distressed and uncomfortable, when Delvile called the next
morning, that he could not discover what her determination had been, and
fearfully enquired his doom with hardly any hope of finding favour.

But Cecilia was above affectation, and a stranger to art. “I would not,
Sir,” she said, “keep you an instant in suspense, when I am no longer in
suspense myself. I may have appeared trifling, but I have been nothing
less, and you would readily exculpate me of caprice, if half the
distress of my irresolution was known to you. Even now, when I hesitate
no more, my mind is so ill at ease, that I could neither wonder nor be
displeased should you hesitate in your turn.”

“You hesitate no more?” cried he, almost breathless at the sound of
those words, “and is it possible--Oh my Cecilia!--is it possible your
resolution is in my favour?”

“Alas!” cried she, “how little is your reason to rejoice! a dejected and
melancholy gift is all you can receive!”

“Ere I take it, then,” cried he, in a voice that spoke joy; pain, and
fear all at once in commotion, “tell me if your reluctance has its
origin in _me_, that I may rather even yet relinquish you, than merely
owe your hand to the selfishness of persecution?”

“Your pride,” said she, half smiling, “has some right to be alarmed,
though I meant not to alarm it. No! it is with myself only I am at
variance, with my own weakness and want of judgment that I quarrel,--in
_you_ I have all the reliance that the highest opinion of your honour
and integrity can give me.”

This was enough for the warm heart of Delvile, not only to restore
peace, but to awaken rapture. He was almost as wild with delight, as he
had before been with apprehension, and poured forth his acknowledgments
with so much fervour of gratitude, that Cecilia imperceptibly grew
reconciled to herself, and before she missed her dejection, participated
in his contentment.

She quitted him as soon as she had power, to acquaint Mrs Charlton with
what had passed, and assist in preparing her to accompany them to the
altar; while Delvile flew to his new acquaintance, Mr Singleton, the
lawyer, to request him to supply the place of Mr Monckton in giving her
away.

All was now hastened with the utmost expedition, and to avoid
observation, they agreed to meet at the church; their desire of secrecy,
however potent, never urging them to wish the ceremony should be
performed in a place less awful.

When the chairs, however, came, which were to carry the two ladies
thither, Cecilia trembled and hung back. The greatness of her
undertaking, the hazard of all her future happiness, the disgraceful
secrecy of her conduct, the expected reproaches of Mrs Delvile, and
the boldness and indelicacy of the step she was about to take, all so
forcibly struck, and so painfully wounded her, that the moment she was
summoned to set out, she again lost her resolution, and regretting the
hour that ever Delvile was known to her, she sunk into a chair, and gave
up her whole soul to anguish and sorrow.

The good Mrs Charlton tried in vain to console her; a sudden horror
against herself had now seized her spirits, which, exhausted by long
struggles, could rally no more.

In this situation she was at length surprised by Delvile, whose uneasy
astonishment that she had failed in her appointment, was only to be
equalled by that with which he was struck at the sight of her tears. He
demanded the cause with the utmost tenderness and apprehension; Cecilia
for some time could not speak, and then, with a deep sigh, “Ah!” she
cried, “Mr Delvile! how weak are we all when unsupported by our own
esteem! how feeble, how inconsistent, how changeable, when our courage
has any foundation but duty!”

Delvile, much relieved by finding her sadness sprung not from any new
affliction, gently reproached her breach of promise, and earnestly
entreated her to repair it. “The clergyman,” cried he, “is waiting; I
have left him with Mr Singleton in the vestry; no new objections have
started, and no new obstacles have intervened; why, then, torment
ourselves with discussing again the old ones, which we have already
considered till every possible argument upon them is exhausted?
Tranquillize, I conjure you, your agitated spirits, and if the truest
tenderness, the most animated esteem, and the gratefullest admiration,
can soften your future cares, and ensure your future peace, every
anniversary of this day will recompense my Cecilia for every pang she
now suffers!”

Cecilia, half soothed and half ashamed, finding she had in fact nothing
new to say or to object, compelled herself to rise, and, penetrated
by his solicitations, endeavoured to compose her mind, and promised to
follow him.

He would not trust her, however, from his sight, but seizing the very
instant of her renewed consent, he dismissed the chairs, and ordering
a hackney-coach, preferred any risk to that of her again wavering, and
insisted upon accompanying her in it himself.

Cecilia had now scarce time to breathe, before she found herself at the
porch of----church. Delvile hurried her out of the carriage, and then
offered his arm to Mrs Charlton. Not a word was spoken by any of the
party till they went into the vestry, where Delvile ordered Cecilia
a glass of water, and having hastily made his compliments to the
clergyman, gave her hand to Mr Singleton, who led her to the altar.

The ceremony was now begun; and Cecilia, finding herself past all power
of retracting, soon called her thoughts from wishing it, and turned her
whole attention to the awful service; to which though she listened with
reverence, her full satisfaction in the object of her vows, made
her listen without terror. But when the priest came to that solemn
adjuration, _If any man can shew any just cause why they may not
lawfully be joined together_, a conscious tear stole into her eye, and
a sigh escaped from Delvile that went to her heart: but, when the priest
concluded the exhortation with _let him now speak, or else hereafter
for-ever hold his peace_, a female voice at some distance, called out in
shrill accents, “I do!”

The ceremony was instantly stopt. The astonished priest immediately shut
up the book to regard the intended bride and bridegroom; Delvile started
with amazement to see whence the sound proceeded; and Cecilia, aghast,
and struck with horror, faintly shriekt, and caught hold of Mrs
Charlton.

The consternation was general, and general was the silence, though all
of one accord turned round towards the place whence the voice issued: a
female form at the same moment was seen rushing from a pew, who glided
out of the church with the quickness of lightning.

Not a word was yet uttered, every one seeming rooted to the spot on
which he stood, and regarding in mute wonder the place this form had
crossed.

Delvile at length exclaimed, “What can this mean?”

“Did you not know the woman, Sir?” said the clergyman.

“No, Sir, I did not even see her.”

“Nor you, madam?” said he, addressing Cecilia.

“No, Sir,” she answered, in a voice that scarce articulated the two
syllables, and changing colour so frequently, that Delvile, apprehensive
she would faint, flew to her, calling out, “Let _me_ support you!”

She turned from him hastily, and still, holding by Mrs Charlton, moved
away from the altar.

“Whither,” cried Delvile, fearfully following her, “whither are you
going?”

She made not any answer; but still, though tottering as much from
emotion as Mrs Charlton from infirmity, she walked on.

“Why did you stop the ceremony, Sir?” cried Delvile, impatiently
speaking to the clergyman.

“No ceremony, Sir,” he returned, “could proceed with such an
interruption.”

“It has been wholly accidental,” cried he, “for we neither of us
know the woman, who could not have any right or authority for the
prohibition.” Then yet more anxiously pursuing Cecilia, “why,”
 he continued, “do you thus move off?--Why leave the ceremony
unfinished?--Mrs Charlton, what is it you are about?--Cecilia, I beseech
you return, and let the service go on!”

Cecilia, making a motion with her hand to forbid his following her,
still silently proceeded, though drawing along with equal difficulty Mrs
Charlton and herself.

“This is insupportable!” cried Delvile, with vehemence, “turn, I conjure
you!--my Cecilia!--my wife!--why is it you thus abandon me?--Turn,
I implore you, and receive my eternal vows!--Mrs Charlton, bring her
back,--Cecilia, you _must_ not go!--”

He now attempted to take her hand, but shrinking from his touch, in an
emphatic but low voice, she said, “Yes, Sir, I must!--an interdiction
such as this!--for the world could I not brave it!”

She then made an effort to somewhat quicken her pace.

“Where,” cried Delvile, half frantic, “where is this infamous woman?
This wretch who has thus wantonly destroyed me!”

And he rushed out of the church in pursuit of her.

The clergyman and Mr Singleton, who had hitherto been wondering
spectators, came now to offer their assistance to Cecilia. She declined
any help for herself, but gladly accepted their services for Mrs
Charlton, who, thunderstruck by all that had past, seemed almost robbed
of her faculties. Mr Singleton proposed calling a hackney coach, she
consented, and they stopt for it at the church porch.

The clergyman now began to enquire of the pew-opener, what she knew of
the woman, who she was, and how she had got into the church? She knew of
her, she answered, nothing, but that she had come in to early prayers,
and she supposed she had hid herself in a pew when they were over, as
she had thought the church entirely empty.

An hackney coach now drew up, and while the gentlemen were assisting Mrs
Charlton into it, Delvile returned.

“I have pursued and enquired,” cried he, “in vain, I can neither
discover nor hear of her.--But what is all this? Whither are you
going?--What does this coach do here?--Mrs Charlton, why do you get into
it?--Cecilia, what are you doing?”

Cecilia turned away from him in silence. The shock she had received,
took from her all power of speech, while amazement and terror deprived
her even of relief from tears. She believed Delvile to blame, though she
knew not in what, but the obscurity of her fears served only to render
them more dreadful.

She was now getting into the coach herself, but Delvile, who could
neither brook her displeasure, nor endure her departure, forcibly caught
her hand, and called out, “You are _mine_, you are my _wife_!--I will
part with you no more, and go whithersoever you will, I will follow and
claim you!”

“Stop me not!” cried she, impatiently though faintly, “I am sick, I am
ill already,--if you detain me any longer, I shall be unable to support
myself!”

“Oh then rest on _me_!” cried he, still holding her; “rest but upon me
till the ceremony is over!--you will drive me to despair and to madness
if you leave me in this barbarous manner!”

A crowd now began to gather, and the words bride and bridegroom reached
the ears of Cecilia; who half dead with shame, with fear, and with
distress, hastily said “You are determined to make me miserable!” and
snatching away her hand, which Delvile at those words could no longer
hold, she threw herself into the carriage.

Delvile, however, jumped in after her, and with an air of authority
ordered the coachman to Pall-Mall, and then drew up the glasses, with a
look of fierceness at the mob.

Cecilia had neither spirits nor power to resist him; yet, offended by
his violence, and shocked to be thus publickly pursued by him, her looks
spoke a resentment far more mortifying than any verbal reproach.

“Inhuman Cecilia!” cried he, passionately, “to desert me at the very
altar!--to cast me off at the instant the most sacred rites were uniting
us!--and then thus to look at me!--to treat me with this disdain at a
time of such distraction!--to scorn me thus injuriously at the moment
you unjustly abandon me!”

“To how dreadful a scene,” said Cecilia, recovering from her
consternation, “have you exposed me! to what shame, what indignity, what
irreparable disgrace!”

“Oh heaven!” cried he with horror, “if any crime, any offence of mine
has occasioned this fatal blow, the whole world holds not a wretch so
culpable as myself, nor one who will sooner allow the justice of your
rigour! my veneration for you has ever equalled my affection, and could
I think it was through _me_ you have suffered any indignity, I should
soon abhor myself, as you seem to abhor me. But what is it I have done?
How have I thus incensed you? By what action, by what guilt, have I
incurred this displeasure?

“Whence,” cried she, “came that voice which still vibrates in my ear?
The prohibition could not be on _my_ account, since none to whom I am
known have either right or interest in even wishing it.”

“What an inference is this! over _me_, then, do you conclude this woman
had any power?”

Here they stopt at the lodgings. Delvile handed both the ladies out.
Cecilia, eager to avoid his importunities, and dreadfully disturbed,
hastily past him, and ran up stairs; but Mrs Charlton refused not his
arm, on which she lent till they reached the drawing-room.

Cecilia then rang the bell for her servant, and gave orders that a
post-chaise might be sent for immediately.

Delvile now felt offended in his turn; but suppressing his vehemence, he
gravely and quietly said “Determined as you are to leave me, indifferent
to my peace, and incredulous of my word, deign, at least, before we
part, to be more explicit in your accusation, and tell me if indeed it
is possible you can suspect that the wretch who broke off the ceremony,
had ever from me received provocation for such an action?”

“I know not what to suspect,” said Cecilia, “where every thing is thus
involved in obscurity; but I must own I should have some difficulty to
think those words the effect of chance, or to credit that their speaker
was concealed without design.”

“You are right, then, madam,” cried he, resentfully, “to discard me! to
treat me with contempt, to banish me without repugnance, since I see
you believe me capable of duplicity, and imagine I am better informed
in this affair than I appear to be. You have said I shall make you
miserable,--no, madam, no! your happiness and misery depend not upon one
you hold so worthless!”

“On whatever they depend,” said Cecilia, “I am too little at ease for
discussion. I would no more be daring than superstitious, but none of
our proceedings have prospered, and since their privacy has always been
contrary both to my judgment and my principles, I know not how to repine
at a failure I cannot think unmerited. Mrs Charlton, our chaise is
coming; you will be ready, I hope, to set off in it directly?”

Delvile, too angry to trust himself to speak, now walked about the room,
and endeavoured to calm himself; but so little was his success, that
though silent till the chaise was announced, when he heard that dreaded
sound, and saw Cecilia steady in her purpose of departing, he was so
much shocked and afflicted, that, clasping his hands in a transport of
passion and grief, he exclaimed. “This, then, Cecilia, is your faith!
this is the felicity you bid me hope! this is the recompense of my
sufferings, and the performing of your engagement!”

Cecilia, struck by these reproaches, turned back; but while she
hesitated how to answer them, he went on, “You are insensible to my
misery, and impenetrable to my entreaties; a secret enemy has had power
to make me odious in your sight, though for her enmity I can assign no
cause, though even her existence was this morning unknown to me!
Ever ready to abandon, and most willing to condemn me, you have more
confidence in a vague conjecture, than in all you have observed of the
whole tenour of my character. Without knowing why, you are disposed to
believe me criminal, without deigning to say wherefore, you are eager
to banish me your presence. Yet scarce could a consciousness of guilt
itself, wound me so forcibly, so keenly, as your suspecting I am
guilty!”

“Again, then,” cried Cecilia, “shall I subject myself to a scene of such
disgrace and horror? No, never!--The punishment of my error shall at
least secure its reformation. Yet if I merit your reproaches, I deserve
not your regard; cease, therefore, to profess any for me, or make them
no more.”

“Shew but to them,” cried he, “the smallest sensibility, shew but for
me the most distant concern, and I will try to bear my disappointment
without murmuring, and submit to your decrees as to those from which
there is no appeal: but to wound without deigning even to look at what
you destroy,--to shoot at random those arrows that are pointed with
poison,--to see them fasten on the heart, and corrode its vital
functions, yet look on without compunction, or turn away with cold
disdain,--Oh where is the candour I thought lodged in Cecilia! where the
justice, the equity, I believed a part of herself!”

“After all that has past,” said Cecilia, sensibly touched by his
distress, “I expected not these complaints, nor that, from me, any
assurances would be wanted; yet, if it will quiet your mind, if it will
better reconcile you to our separation---”

“Oh fatal prelude!” interrupted he, “what on earth can quiet my mind
that leads to our separation?--Give to me no condescension with any such
view,--preserve your indifference, persevere in your coldness,
triumph still in your power of inspiring those feelings you can never
return,--all, every thing is more supportable than to talk of our
separation!”

“Yet how,” cried she, “parted, torn asunder as we have been, how is it
now to be avoided?”

“Trust in my honour! Shew me but the confidence which I will venture to
say I deserve, and then will that union no longer be impeded, which in
future, I am certain, will never be repented!”

“Good heaven, what a request! faith so implicit would be frenzy.”

“You doubt, then, my integrity? You suspect---”

“Indeed I do not; yet in a case of such importance, what ought to guide
me but my own reason, my own conscience, my own sense of right? Pain me
not, therefore, with reproaches, distress me no more with entreaties,
when I solemnly declare that no earthly consideration shall ever
again make me promise you my hand, while the terror of Mrs Delvile’s
displeasure has possession of my heart. And now adieu.”

“You give me, then, up?”

“Be patient, I beseech you; and attempt not to follow me; ‘tis a step I
cannot permit.”

“Not follow you? And who has power to prevent me?”

“_I_ have, Sir, if to incur my endless resentment is of any consequence
to you.”

She then, with an air of determined steadiness, moved on; Mrs Charlton,
assisted by the servants, being already upon the stairs.

“O tyranny!” cried he, “what submission is it you exact!--May I not even
enquire into the dreadful mystery of this morning?”

“Yes, certainly.”

“And may I not acquaint you with it, should it be discovered?”

“I shall not be sorry to hear it. Adieu.”

She was now half way down the stairs; when, losing all forbearance, he
hastily flew after her, and endeavouring to stop her, called out, “If
you do not hate and detest me,--if I am not loathsome and abhorrent to
you, O quit me not thus insensibly!--Cecilia! my beloved Cecilia!--speak
to me, at least, one word of less severity! Look at me once more, and
tell me we part not for-ever!”

Cecilia then turned round, and while a starting tear shewed her
sympathetic distress, said, “Why will you thus oppress me with
entreaties I ought not to gratify?--Have I not accompanied you to the
altar,--and can you doubt what I have thought of you?”

“_Have_ thought?--Oh Cecilia!--is it then all over?”

“Pray suffer me to go quietly, and fear not I shall go too happily!
Suppress your own feelings, rather than seek to awaken mine. Alas! there
is little occasion!--Oh Mr Delvile! were our connection opposed by no
duty, and repugnant to no friends, were it attended by no impropriety,
and carried on with no necessity of disguise,--you would not thus charge
me with indifference, you would not suspect me of insensibility,--Oh no!
the choice of my heart would then be its glory, and all I now blush to
feel, I should openly and with pride acknowledge!”

She then hurried to the chaise, Delvile pursuing her with thanks and
blessings, and gratefully assuring her, as he handed her into it, that
he would obey all her injunctions, and not even attempt to see her,
till he could bring her some intelligence concerning the morning’s
transaction.

The chaise then drove off.



CHAPTER iii.

A CONSTERNATION.

The journey was melancholy and tedious: Mrs Charlton, extremely fatigued
by the unusual hurry and exercise both of mind and body which she had
lately gone through, was obliged to travel very slowly, and to lie upon
the road. Cecilia, however, was in no haste to proceed: she was going to
no one she wished to see, she was wholly without expectation of meeting
with any thing that could give her pleasure. The unfortunate expedition
in which she had been engaged, left her now nothing but regret, and only
promised her in future sorrow and mortification.

Mrs Charlton, after her return home, still continued ill, and Cecilia,
who constantly attended her, had the additional affliction of imputing
her indisposition to herself. Every thing she thought conspired to
punish the error she had committed; her proceedings were discovered,
though her motives were unknown; the Delvile family could not fail to
hear of her enterprize, and while they attributed it to her temerity,
they would exult in its failure: but chiefly hung upon her mind the
unaccountable prohibition of her marriage. Whence that could proceed
she was wholly without ability to divine, yet her surmizes were not more
fruitless than various. At one moment she imagined it some frolic of
Morrice, at another some perfidy of Monckton, and at another an idle
and unmeaning trick of some stranger to them all. But none of these
suppositions carried with them any air of probability; Morrice, even if
he had watched their motions and pursued them to the church, which his
inquisitive impertinence made by no means impossible, could yet hardly
have either time or opportunity to engage any woman in so extraordinary
an undertaking; Mr Monckton, however averse to the connection, she
considered as a man of too much honour to break it off in a manner so
alarming and disgraceful; and mischief so wanton in any stranger, seemed
to require a share of unfeeling effrontery, which could fall to the lot
of so few as to make this suggestion unnatural and incredible.

Sometimes she imagined that Delvile might formerly have been affianced
to some woman, who having accidentally discovered his intentions,
took this desperate method of rendering them abortive: but this was a
short-lived thought, and speedily gave way to her esteem for his general
character, and her confidence in the firmness of his probity.

All, therefore, was dark and mysterious; conjecture was baffled, and
meditation was useless. Her opinions were unfixed, and her heart was
miserable; she could only be steady in believing Delvile as unhappy as
herself, and only find consolation in believing him, also, as blameless.

Three days passed thus, without incident or intelligence; her time
wholly occupied in attending Mrs Charlton; her thoughts all engrossed
upon her own situation: but upon the fourth day she was informed that a
lady was in the parlour, who desired to speak with her.

She presently went down stairs,--and, upon entering the room, perceived
Mrs Delvile!

Seized with astonishment and fear, she stopt short, and, looking aghast,
held by the door, robbed of all power to receive so unexpected and
unwelcome a visitor, by an internal sensation of guilt, mingled with a
dread of discovery and reproach.

Mrs Delvile, addressing her with the coldest politeness, said, “I fear
I have surprised you; I am sorry I had not time to acquaint you of my
intention to wait upon you.”

Cecilia then, moving from the door, faintly answered, “I cannot, madam,
but be honoured by your notice, whenever you are pleased to confer it.”

They then sat down; Mrs Delvile preserving an air the most formal and
distant, and Cecilia half sinking with apprehensive dismay.

After a short and ill-boding silence, “I mean not,” said Mrs Delvile,
“to embarrass or distress you; I will not, therefore, keep you in
suspense of the purport of my visit. I come not to make enquiries,
I come not to put your sincerity to any trial, nor to torture your
delicacy; I dispense with all explanation, for I have not one doubt to
solve: I _know_ what has passed, I _know_ that my son loves you.”

Not all her secret alarm, nor all the perturbation of her fears, had
taught Cecilia to expect so direct an attack, nor enabled her to bear
the shock of it with any composure: she could not speak, she could
not look at Mrs Delvile; she arose, and walked to the window, without
knowing what she was doing.

Here, however, her distress was not likely to diminish; for the first
sight she saw was Fidel, who barked, and jumped up at the window to lick
her hands.

“Good God! Fidel here!” exclaimed Mrs Delvile, amazed.

Cecilia, totally overpowered, covered her glowing face with both her
hands, and sunk into a chair.

Mrs Delvile for a few minutes was silent; and then, following her, said,
“Imagine not I am making any discovery, nor suspect me of any design
to develop your sentiments. That Mortimer could love in vain I never,
believed; that Miss Beverley, possessing so much merit, could be blind
to it in another, I never thought possible. I mean not, therefore, to
solicit any account or explanation, but merely to beg your patience
while I talk to you myself, and your permission to speak to you with
openness and truth.”

Cecilia, though relieved by this calmness from all apprehension of
reproach, found in her manner a coldness that convinced her of the loss
of her affection, and in the introduction to her business a solemnity
that assured her what she should decree would be unalterable. She
uncovered her face to shew her respectful attention, but she could not
raise it up, and could not utter a word.

Mrs Delvile then seated herself next her, and gravely continued her
discourse.

“Miss Beverley, however little acquainted with the state of our family
affairs, can scarcely have been uninformed that a fortune such as hers
seems almost all that family can desire; nor can she have failed to
observe, that her merit and accomplishments have no where been more felt
and admired: the choice therefore of Mortimer she could not doubt would
have our sanction, and when she honoured his proposals with her favour,
she might naturally conclude she gave happiness and pleasure to all his
friends.”

Cecilia, superior to accepting a palliation of which she felt herself
undeserving, now lifted up her head, and forcing herself to speak,
said “No, madam, I will not deceive you, for I have never been deceived
myself: I presumed not to expect your approbation,--though in missing it
I have for ever lost my own!”

“Has Mortimer, then,” cried she with eagerness, “been strictly
honourable? has he neither beguiled nor betrayed you?”

“No, madam,” said she, blushing, “I have nothing to reproach him with.”

“Then he is indeed my son!” cried Mrs Delvile, with emotion; “had he
been treacherous to you, while disobedient to us, I had indisputably
renounced him.”

Cecilia, who now seemed the only culprit, felt herself in a state of
humiliation not to be borne; she collected, therefore, all her courage,
and said, “I have cleared Mr Delvile; permit me, madam, now, to say
something for myself.”

“Certainly; you cannot oblige me more than by speaking without
disguise.”

“It is not in the hope of regaining your good opinion,--that, I see, is
lost!--but merely--”

“No, not lost,” said Mrs Delvile, “but if once it was yet higher, the
fault was my own, in indulging an expectation of perfection to which
human nature is perhaps unequal.”

Ah, then, thought Cecilia, all is over! the contempt I so much feared is
incurred, and though it may be softened, it can never be removed!

“Speak, then, and with sincerity,” she continued, “all you wish me to
hear, and then grant me your attention in return to the purpose of my
present journey.”

“I have little, madam,” answered the depressed Cecilia, “to say; you
tell me you already know all that has past; I will not, therefore,
pretend to take any merit from revealing it: I will only add, that my
consent to this transaction has made me miserable almost from the moment
I gave it; that I meant and wished to retract as soon as reflection
pointed out to me my error, and that circumstances the most perverse,
not blindness to propriety, nor stubbornness in wrong, led me to make,
at last, that fatal attempt, of which the recollection, to my last hour,
must fill me with regret and shame.”

“I wonder not,” said Mrs Delvile, “that in a situation where delicacy
was so much less requisite than courage, Miss Beverley should feel
herself distressed and unhappy. A mind such as hers could never err
with impunity; and it is solely from a certainty of her innate sense of
right, that I venture to wait upon her now, and that I have any hope
to influence _her_ upon whose influence alone our whole family must in
future depend. Shall I now proceed, or is there any thing you wish to
say first?”

“No, madam, nothing.”

“Hear me, then, I beg of you, with no predetermination to disregard me,
but with an equitable resolution to attend to reason, and a candour that
leaves an opening to conviction. Not easy, indeed, is such a task, to
a mind pre-occupied with an intention to be guided by the dictates of
inclination,---”

“You wrong me, indeed, madam!” interrupted Cecilia, greatly hurt, “my
mind harbours no such intention, it has no desire but to be guided by
duty, it is wretched with a consciousness of having failed in it! I
pine, I sicken to recover my own good opinion; I should then no longer
feel unworthy of yours; and whether or not I might be able to regain it,
I should at least lose this cruel depression that now sinks me in your
presence!”

“To regain it,” said Mrs Delvile, “were to exercise but half your power,
which at this moment enables you, if such is your wish, to make me think
of you more highly than one human being ever thought of another. Do you
condescend to hold this worth your while?”

Cecilia started at the question; her heart beat quick with struggling
passions; she saw the sacrifice which was to be required, and her pride,
her affronted pride, arose high to anticipate the rejection; but the
design was combated by her affections, which opposed the indignant
rashness, and told her that one hasty speech might separate her from
Delvile for ever. When this painful conflict was over, of which Mrs
Delvile patiently waited the issue, she answered, with much hesitation,
“To regain your good opinion, madam, greatly, truly as I value it,--is
what I now scarcely dare hope.”

“Say not so,” cried she, “since, if you hope, you cannot miss it. I
purpose to point out to you the means to recover it, and to tell you
how greatly I shall think myself your debtor if you refuse not to employ
them.”

She stopt; but Cecilia hung back; fearful of her own strength, she dared
venture at no professions; yet, how either to support, or dispute her
compliance, she dreaded to think.

“I come to you, then,” Mrs Delvile solemnly resumed, “in the name of Mr
Delvile, and in the name of our whole family; a family as ancient as
it is honourable, as honourable as it is ancient. Consider me as its
representative, and hear in me its common voice, common opinion, and
common address.

“My son, the supporter of our house, the sole guardian of its name, and
the heir of our united fortunes, has selected you, we know, for the lady
of his choice, and so fondly has, fixed upon you his affections, that
he is ready to relinquish us all in preference to subduing them. To
yourself alone, then, can we apply, and I come to you--”

“O hold, madam, hold!” interrupted Cecilia, whose courage now revived
from resentment, “I know, what you would say; you come to tell me of
your disdain; you come to reproach my presumption, and to kill me with
your contempt! There is little occasion for such a step; I am depressed,
I am self-condemned already; spare me, therefore, this insupportable
humiliation, wound me not with your scorn, oppress me not with your
superiority! I aim at no competition, I attempt no vindication, I
acknowledge my own littleness as readily as you can despise it, and
nothing but indignity could urge me to defend it!”

“Believe me,” said Mrs Delvile, “I meant not to hurt or offend you, and
I am sorry if I have appeared to you either arrogant or assuming. The
peculiar and perilous situation of my family has perhaps betrayed me
into offensive expressions, and made me guilty myself of an ostentation
which in others has often disgusted me. Ill, indeed, can we any of us
bear the test of experiment, when tried upon those subjects which call
forth our particular propensities. We may strive to be disinterested,
we may struggle to be impartial, but self will still predominate, still
shew us the imperfection of our natures, and the narrowness of our
souls. Yet acquit me, I beg, of any intentional insolence, and imagine
not that in speaking highly of my own family, I, mean to depreciate
yours: on the contrary, I know it to be respectable, I know, too, that
were it the lowest in the kingdom, the first might envy it that it gave
birth to such a daughter.”

Cecilia, somewhat soothed by this speech, begged her pardon for having
interrupted her, and she proceeded.

“To your family, then, I assure you, whatever may be the pride of our
own, _you_ being its offspring, we would not object. With your merit we
are all well acquainted, your character has our highest esteem, and
your fortune exceeds even our most sanguine desires. Strange at once
and afflicting! that not all these requisites for the satisfaction of
prudence, nor all these allurements for the gratification of happiness,
can suffice to fulfil or to silence the claims of either! There are yet
other demands to which we must attend, demands which ancestry and blood
call upon us aloud to ratify! Such claimants are not to be neglected
with impunity; they assert their rights with the authority of
prescription, they forbid us alike either to bend to inclination, or
stoop to interest, and from generation to generation their injuries
will call out for redress, should their noble and long unsullied name be
voluntarily consigned to oblivion!”

Cecilia, extremely struck by these words, scarce wondered, since so
strong and so established were her opinions, that the obstacle to her
marriage, though but one, should be considered as insuperable.

“Not, therefore, to _your_ name are we averse,” she continued, “but
simply to our own more partial. To sink that, indeed, in _any_
other, were base and unworthy:--what, then, must be the shock of my
disappointment, should Mortimer Delvile, the darling of my hopes, the
last survivor of his house, in whose birth I rejoiced as the promise of
its support, in whose accomplishments I gloried, as the revival of its
lustre,--should _he_, should, _my_ son be the first to abandon it! to
give up the name he seemed born to make live, and to cause in effect its
utter annihilation!--Oh how should I know my son when an alien to his
family! how bear to think I had cherished in my bosom the betrayer of
its dearest interests, the destroyer of its very existence!”

Cecilia, scarce more afflicted than offended, now hastily answered, “Not
for me, madam, shall he commit this crime, not on _my_ account shall he
be reprobated by his family! Think of him, therefore, no more, with any
reference to me, for I would not be the cause of unworthiness or guilt
in him to be mistress of the universe!”

“Nobly said!” cried Mrs Delvile, her eyes sparkling with joy, and her
cheeks glowing with pleasure, “now again do I know Miss Beverley! now
again see the refined, the excellent young woman, whose virtues taught
me to expect the renunciation even of her own happiness, when found to
be incompatible with her duty!”

Cecilia now trembled and turned pale; she scarce knew herself what she
had said, but, she found by Mrs Delvile’s construction of her words,
they had been regarded as her final relinquishing of her son. She
ardently wished to quit the room before she was called upon to confirm
the sentence, but, she had not courage to make the effort, nor to rise,
speak, or move.

“I grieve, indeed,” continued Mrs Delvile, whose coldness and austerity
were changed into mildness and compassion, “at the necessity I have been
under to draw from you a concurrence so painful: but no other resource
was in my power. My influence with Mortimer, whatever it may be, I have
not any right to try, without obtaining your previous consent, since I
regard him myself as bound to you in honour, and only to be released by
your own virtuous desire. I will leave you, however, for my presence,
I see, is oppressive to you. Farewell; and when you _can_ forgive me, I
think you _will_.”

“I have nothing, madam,” said Cecilia, coldly, “to forgive; you have
only asserted your own dignity, and I have nobody to blame but myself,
for having given you occasion.”

“Alas,” cried Mrs Delvile, “if worth and nobleness of soul on your part,
if esteem and tenderest affection on mine, were all which that dignity
which offends you requires, how should I crave the blessing of such a
daughter! how rejoice in joining my son to excellence so like his own,
and ensuring his happiness while I stimulated his virtue!”

“Do not talk to me of affection, madam,” said Cecilia, turning away from
her; “whatever you had for me is past,--even your esteem is gone,--you
may pity me, indeed, but your pity is mixed with contempt, and I am not
so abject as to find comfort from exciting it.”

“O little,” cried Mrs Delvile, looking at her with the utmost
tenderness, “little do you see the state of my heart, for never have you
appeared to me so worthy as at this moment! In tearing you from my son,
I partake all the wretchedness I give, but your own sense of duty must
something plead for the strictness with which I act up to mine.”

She then moved towards the door.

“Is your carriage, madam,” said Cecilia, struggling to disguise her
inward anguish under an appearance of sullenness, “in waiting?”

Mrs Delvile then came back, and holding out her hand, while her eyes
glistened with tears, said, “To part from you thus frigidly, while
my heart so warmly admires you, is almost more than I can endure. Oh
gentlest Cecilia! condemn not a mother who is impelled to this severity,
who performing what she holds to be her duty, thinks the office her
bitterest misfortune, who forsees in the rage of her husband, and the
resistance of her son, all the misery of domestic contention, and who
can only secure the honour of her family by destroying its peace!--You
will not, then, give me your hand?--”

Cecilia, who had affected not to see that she waited for it, now
coldly put it out, distantly [courtseying], and seeking to preserve
her steadiness by avoiding to speak. Mrs Delvile took it, and as she
repeated her adieu, affectionately pressed it to her lips; Cecilia,
starting, and breathing short, from encreasing yet smothered agitation,
called out “Why, why this condescension?--pray,--I entreat you,
madam!--”

“Heaven bless you, my love!” said Mrs Delvile, dropping a tear upon the
hand she still held, “heaven bless you, and restore the tranquillity you
so nobly deserve!”

“Ah madam!” cried Cecilia, vainly striving to repress any longer the
tears which now forced their way down her cheeks, “why will you break
my heart with this kindness! why will you still compel me to love!--when
now I almost wish to hate you!”--

“No, hate me not,” said Mrs Delvile, kissing from her cheeks the tears
that watered them, “hate me not, sweetest Cecilia, though in wounding
your gentle bosom, I am almost detestable to myself. Even the cruel
scene which awaits me with my son will not more deeply afflict me. But
adieu,--I must now prepare for him!”

She then left the room: but Cecilia, whose pride had no power to resist
this tenderness, ran hastily after her, saying “Shall I not see you
again, madam?”

“You shall yourself decide,” answered she; “if my coming will not give
you more pain than pleasure, I will wait upon you whenever you please.”

Cecilia sighed and paused; she knew not what to desire, yet rather
wished any thing to be done, than quietly to sit down to uninterrupted
reflection.

“Shall I postpone quitting this place,” continued Mrs Delvile, “till
to-morrow morning, and will you admit me this afternoon, should I call
upon you again?”

“I should be sorry,” said she, still hesitating, “to detain you,”--

“You will rejoice me,” cried Mrs Delvile, “by bearing me in your sight.”

And she then went into her carriage.

Cecilia, unfitted to attend her old friend, and unequal to the task of
explaining to her the cruel scene in which she had just been engaged,
then hastened to her own apartment. Her hitherto stifled emotions broke
forth in tears and repinings: her fate was finally determined, and its
determination was not more unhappy than humiliating; she was openly
rejected by the family whose alliance she was known to wish; she
was compelled to refuse the man of her choice, though satisfied his
affections were her own. A misery so peculiar she found hard to support,
and almost bursting with conflicting passions, her heart alternately
swelled from offended pride, and sunk from disappointed tenderness.



CHAPTER iv.

A PERTURBATION.

Cecelia was still in this tempestuous state, when a message was brought
her that a gentleman was below stairs, who begged to have the honour of
seeing her. She concluded he was Delvile, and the thought of meeting him
merely to communicate what must so bitterly afflict him, redoubled her
distress, and she went down in an agony of perturbation and sorrow.

He met her at the door, where, before he could speak, “Mr Delvile,”
 she cried, in a hurrying manner, “why will you come? Why will you thus
insist upon seeing me, in defiance of every obstacle, and in contempt of
my prohibition?”

“Good heavens,” cried he, amazed, “whence this reproach? Did you not
permit me to wait upon you with the result of my enquiries? Had I
not your consent--but why do you look thus disturbed?--Your eyes are
red,--you have been weeping.--Oh my Cecilia! have I any share in your
sorrow?--Those tears, which never flow weakly, tell me, have they--has
_one_ of them been shed upon my account?”

“And what,” cried she, “has been the result of your enquiries?--Speak
quick, for I wish to know,--and in another instant I must be gone.”

“How strange,” cried the astonished Delvile, “is this language! how
strange are these looks! What new has come to pass? Has any fresh
calamity happened? Is there yet some evil which I do not expect?”

“Why will you not answer first?” cried she; “when _I_ have spoken, you
will perhaps be less willing.”

“You terrify, you shock, you amaze me! What dreadful blow awaits me? For
what horror are you preparing me?--That which I have just experienced,
and which tore you from me even at the foot of the altar, still remains
inexplicable, still continues to be involved in darkness and mystery;
for the wretch who separated us I have never been able to discover.”

“Have you procured, then, no intelligence?”

“No, none; though since we parted I have never rested a moment.”

“Make, then, no further enquiry, for now all explanation would be
useless. That we _were_ parted, we know, though _why_ we cannot tell:
but that again we shall ever meet---”

She, stopt; her streaming eyes cast upwards, and a deep sigh bursting
from her heart.

“Oh what,” cried Delvile, endeavouring to take her hand, which she
hastily withdrew from him, “what does this mean? loveliest, dearest
Cecilia, my betrothed, my affianced wife! why flow those tears which
agony only can wring from you? Why refuse me that hand which so lately
was the pledge of your faith? Am I not the same Delvile to whom so few
days since you gave it? Why will you not open to him your heart? Why
thus distrust his honour, and repulse his tenderness? Oh why, giving him
such exquisite misery, refuse him the smallest consolation?”

“What consolation,” cried the weeping Cecilia, “can I give? Alas! it is
not, perhaps, _you_ who most want it!--”

Here the door was opened by one of the Miss Charltons, who came into
the room with a message from her grandmother, requesting to see Cecilia.
Cecilia, ashamed of being thus surprised with Delvile, and in tears,
waited not either to make any excuse to him, or any answer to Miss
Charlton, but instantly hurried out of the room;--not, however, to
her old friend, whom now less than ever she could meet, but to her own
apartment, where a very short indulgence of grief was succeeded by the
severest examination of her own conduct.

A retrospection of this sort rarely brings much subject of exultation,
when made with the rigid sincerity of secret impartiality: so much
stronger is our reason than our virtue, so much higher our sense of duty
than our performance!

All she had done she now repented, all she had said she disapproved; her
conduct, seldom equal to her notions of right, was now infinitely below
them, and the reproaches of her judgment made her forget for a while the
afflictions which had misled it.

The sorrow to which she had openly given way in the presence of Delvile,
though their total separation but the moment before had been finally
decreed, she considered as a weak effusion of tenderness, injurious to
delicacy, and censurable by propriety. “His power over my heart,” cried
she, “it were now, indeed, too late to conceal, but his power over my
understanding it is time to cancel. I am not to be his,--my own voice
has ratified the renunciation, and since I made it to his mother, it
must never, without her consent, be invalidated. Honour, therefore, to
her, and regard for myself, equally command me to fly him, till I cease
to be thus affected by his sight.”

When Delvile, therefore, sent up an entreaty that he might be again
admitted into her presence, she returned for answer that she was not
well, and could not see any body.

He then left the house, and, in a few minutes, she received the
following note from him.

_To Miss Beverley_. You drive me from you, Cecilia, tortured with
suspense, and distracted with apprehension, you drive me from you,
certain of my misery, yet leaving me to bear it as I may! I would call
you unfeeling, but that I saw you were unhappy; I would reproach you
with tyranny, but that your eyes when you quitted me were swollen with
weeping! I go, therefore, I obey the harsh mandate, since my absence is
your desire, and I will shut myself up at Biddulph’s till I receive
your commands. Yet disdain not to reflect that every instant will seem
endless, while Cecilia must appear to me unjust, or wound my very soul
by the recollection of her in sorrow. MORTIMER DELVILE.

The mixture of fondness and resentment with which this letter was
dictated, marked so strongly the sufferings and disordered state of the
writer, that all the softness of Cecilia returned when she perused it,
and left her not a wish but to lessen his inquietude, by assurances
of unalterable regard: yet she determined not to trust herself in his
sight, certain they could only meet to grieve over each other, and
conscious that a participation of sorrow would but prove a reciprocation
of tenderness. Calling, therefore, upon her duty to resist her
inclination, she resolved to commit the whole affair to the will of Mrs
Delvile, to whom, though under no promise, she now considered herself
responsible. Desirous, however, to shorten the period of Delvile’s
uncertainty, she would not wait till the time she had appointed to see
his mother, but wrote the following note to hasten their meeting.

_To the Hon. Mrs Delvile_. MADAM,--Your son is now at Bury; shall I
acquaint him of your arrival? or will you announce it yourself? Inform
me of your desire, and I will endeavour to fulfil it. As my own Agent
I regard myself no longer; if, as yours, I can give pleasure, or be of
service, I shall gladly receive your commands. I have the honour to be,
Madam, your most obedient servant, CECILIA BEVERLEY.

When she had sent off this letter, her heart was more at ease, because
reconciled with her conscience: she had sacrificed the son, she had
resigned herself to the mother; it now only remained to heal her wounded
pride, by suffering the sacrifice with dignity, and to recover her
tranquility in virtue, by making the resignation without repining.

Her reflections, too, growing clearer as the mist of passion was
dispersed, she recollected with confusion her cold and sullen behaviour
to Mrs Delvile. That lady had but done what she had believed was her
duty, and that duty was no more than she had been taught to expect from
her. In the beginning of her visit, and while doubtful of its success,
she had indeed, been austere, but the moment victory appeared in view,
she became tender, affectionate and gentle. Her justice, therefore,
condemned the resentment to which she had given way, and she fortified
her mind for the interview which was to follow, by an earnest desire to
make all reparation both to Mrs Delvile and herself for that which was
past.

In this resolution she was not a little strengthened, by seriously
considering with herself the great abatement to all her possible
happiness, which must have been made by the humiliating circumstance
of forcing herself into a family which held all connection with her as
disgraceful. She desired not to be the wife even of Delvile upon such
terms, for the more she esteemed and admired him, the more anxious she
became for his honour, and the less could she endure being regarded
herself as the occasion of its diminution.

Now, therefore, her plan of conduct settled, with calmer spirits, though
a heavy heart, she attended upon Mrs Charlton; but fearing to lose the
steadiness she had just acquired before it should be called upon, if she
trusted herself to relate the decision which had been made, she besought
her for the present to dispense with the account, and then forced
herself into conversation upon less interesting subjects.

This prudence had its proper effect, and with tolerable tranquility she
heard Mrs Delvile again announced, and waited upon her in the parlour
with an air of composure.

Not so did Mrs Delvile receive her; she was all eagerness and emotion;
she flew to her the moment she appeared, and throwing her arms around
her, warmly exclaimed “Oh charming girl! Saver of our family! preserver
of our honour! How poor are words to express my admiration! how
inadequate are thanks in return for such obligations as I owe you!”

“You owe me none, madam,” said Cecilia, suppressing a sigh; “on my side
will be all the obligation, if you can pardon the petulance of my
behaviour this morning.”

“Call not by so harsh a name,” answered Mrs Delvile, “the keenness of a
sensibility by which you have yourself alone been the sufferer. You
have had a trial the most severe, and however able to sustain, it was
impossible you should not feel it. That you should give up any man whose
friends solicit not your alliance, your mind is too delicate to make
wonderful; but your generosity in submitting, unasked, the arrangement
of that resignation to those for whose interest it is made, and your
high sense of honour in holding yourself accountable to me, though under
no tie, and bound by no promise, mark a greatness of mind which calls
for reverence rather than thanks, and which I never can praise half so
much as I admire.”

Cecilia, who received this applause but as a confirmation of her
rejection, thanked her only by courtsying; and Mrs Delvile, having
seated herself next her, continued her speech.

“My son, you have the goodness to tell me, is here,--have you seen him?”

“Yes, madam,” answered she, blushing, “but hardly for a moment.”

“And he knows not of my arrival?” No,--I believe he certainly does not.”

“Sad then, is the trial which awaits him, and heavy for me the office I
must perform! Do you expect to see him again?”

“No,--yes,--perhaps--indeed I hardly--” She stammered, and Mrs Delvile,
taking her hand, said “Tell me, Miss Beverley, _why_ should you see him
again?”

Cecilia was thunderstruck by this question, and, colouring yet more
deeply, looked down, but could not answer.

“Consider,” continued Mrs Delvile, “the _purpose_ of any further
meeting; your union is impossible, you have nobly consented to
relinquish all thoughts of it why then tear your own heart, and torture
his, by an intercourse which seems nothing but an ill-judged invitation
to fruitless and unavailing sorrow?”

Cecilia was still silent; the truth of the expostulation her reason
acknowledged, but to assent to its consequence her whole heart refused.

“The ungenerous triumph of little female vanity,” said Mrs Delvile, “is
far, I am sure, from your mind, of which the enlargement and liberality
will rather find consolation from lessening than from embittering
his sufferings. Speak to me, then, and tell me honestly, judiciously,
candidly tell me, will it not be wiser and more right, to avoid rather
than seek an object which can only give birth to regret? an interview
which can excite no sensations but of misery and sadness?” Cecilia then
turned pale, she endeavoured to speak, but could not; she wished to
comply,--yet to think she had seen him for the last time, to remember
how abruptly she had parted from him, and to fear she had treated him
unkindly;--these were obstacles which opposed her concurrence, though
both judgment and propriety demanded it.

“Can you, then,” said Mrs Delvile, after a pause, “can you wish to see
Mortimer merely to behold his grief? Can you desire he should see you,
only to sharpen his affliction at your loss?”

“O no!” cried Cecilia, to whom this reproof restored speech and
resolution, “I am not so despicable, I am not, I hope, so unworthy!--I
will--be ruled by you wholly; I will commit to you every thing;--yet
_once_, perhaps,--no more!”--

“Ah, my dear Miss Beverley! to meet confessedly for _once_,--what were
that but planting a dagger in the heart of Mortimer? What were it but
infusing poison into your own?

“If you think so, madam,” said she, “I had better--I will certainly--”
 she sighed, stammered, and stopt.

“Hear me,” cried Mrs Delvile, “and rather let me try to convince than
persuade you. Were there any possibility, by argument, by reflection, or
even by accident, to remove the obstacles to our connection, then would
it be well to meet, for then might discussion turn to account, and an
interchange of sentiments be productive of some happy expedients: but
here--”

She hesitated, and Cecilia, shocked and ashamed, turned away her face,
and cried “I know, madam, what you would say,--here all is over! and
therefore--”

“Yet suffer me,” interrupted she, “to be explicit, since we speak upon,
this matter now for the last time. Here, then, I say, where not ONE
doubt remains, where ALL is finally, though not happily decided, what
can an interview produce? Mischief of every sort, pain, horror, and
repining! To Mortimer you may think it would be kind, and grant it to
his prayers, as an alleviation of his misery; mistaken notion! nothing
could so greatly augment it. All his passions would be raised, all his
prudence would be extinguished, his soul would be torn with resentment
and regret, and force, only, would part him from you, when previously he
knew that parting was to be eternal. To yourself--”

“Talk not, madam, of me,” cried the unhappy Cecilia, “what you say of
your son is sufficient, and I will yield---”

“Yet hear me,” proceeded she, “and believe me not so unjust as to
consider him alone; you, also, would be an equal, though a less stormy
sufferer. You fancy, at this moment, that once more to meet him would
soothe your uneasiness, and that to take of him a farewell, would soften
the pain of the separation: how false such reasoning! how dangerous such
consolation! acquainted ere you meet that you were to meet him no more,
your heart would be all softness and grief, and at the very moment when
tenderness should be banished from your intercourse, it would bear down
all opposition of judgment, spirit, and dignity: you would hang upon
every word, because every word would seem the last, every look, every
expression would be rivetted in your memory, and his image in this
parting distress would-be painted upon your mind, in colours that would
eat into its peace, and perhaps never be erased.”

“Enough, enough,” said Cecilia, “I will not see him,--I will not even
desire it!”

“Is this compliance or conviction? Is what I have said true, or only
terrifying?”

“Both, both! I believe, indeed, the conflict would have overpowered
me,--I see you are right,--and I thank you, madam, for saving me from a
scene I might so cruelly have rued.”

“Oh Daughter of my mind!” cried Mrs Delvile, rising and embracing her,
“noble, generous, yet gentle Cecilia! what tie, what connection, could
make you more dear to me? Who is there like you? Who half so excellent?
So open to reason, so ingenuous in error! so rational! so just! so
feeling, yet so wise!”

“You are very good,” said Cecilia, with a forced serenity, “and I am
thankful that your resentment for the past obstructs not your lenity for
the present.”

“Alas, my love, how shall I resent the past, when I ought myself to have
foreseen this calamity! and I _should_ have foreseen it, had I not been
informed you were engaged, and upon your engagement built our security.
Else had I been more alarmed, for my own admiration would have bid me
look forward to my son’s. You were just, indeed, the woman he had least
chance to resist, you were precisely the character to seize his very
soul. To a softness the most fatally alluring, you join a dignity which
rescues from their own contempt even the most humble of your admirers.
You seem born to have all the world wish your exaltation, and no part
of it murmur at your superiority. Were any obstacle but this insuperable
one in the way, should nobles, nay, should princes offer their daughters
to my election, I would reject without murmuring the most magnificent
proposals, and take in triumph to my heart my son’s nobler choice!”

“Oh madam,” cried Cecilia, “talk not to me thus!--speak not such
flattering words!--ah, rather scorn and upbraid me, tell me you
despise my character, my family and my connections,--load, load me with
contempt, but do not thus torture me with approbation!”

“Pardon me, sweetest girl, if I have awakened those emotions you so
wisely seek to subdue. May my son but emulate your example, and my pride
in his virtue shall be the solace of my affliction for his misfortunes.”

She then tenderly embraced her, and abruptly took her leave.

Cecilia had now acted her part, and acted it to her own satisfaction;
but the curtain dropt when Mrs Delvile left the house, nature resumed
her rights, and the sorrow of her heart was no longer disguised or
repressed. Some faint ray of hope had till now broke through the
gloomiest cloud of her misery, and secretly flattered her that its
dispersion was possible, though distant: but that ray was extinct, that
hope was no more; she had solemnly promised to banish Delvile her sight,
and his mother had absolutely declared that even the subject had been
discussed for the last time.

Mrs Charlton, impatient of some explanation of the morning’s
transactions, soon sent again to beg Cecilia would come to her. Cecilia
reluctantly obeyed, for she feared encreasing her indisposition by the
intelligence she had to communicate; she struggled, therefore, to appear
to her with tolerable calmness, and in briefly relating what had passed,
forbore to mingle with the narrative her own feelings and unhappiness.

Mrs Charlton heard the account with the utmost concern; she accused
Mrs Delvile of severity, and even of cruelty; she lamented the strange
accident by which the marriage ceremony had been stopt, and regretted
that it had not again been begun, as the only means to have rendered
ineffectual the present fatal interposition. But the grief of Cecilia,
however violent, induced her not to join in this regret; she mourned
only the obstacle which had occasioned the separation, and not the
incident which had merely interrupted the ceremony: convinced, by the
conversations in which she had just been engaged, of Mrs Delvile’s
inflexibility, she rather rejoiced than repined that she had put it to
no nearer trial: sorrow was all she felt; for her mind was too liberal
to harbour resentment against a conduct which she saw was dictated by a
sense of right; and too ductile and too affectionate to remain unmoved
by the personal kindness which had softened the rejection, and the many
marks of esteem and regard which had shewn her it was lamented, though
considered as indispensable.

How and by whom this affair had been betrayed to Mrs Delvile she knew
not; but the discovery was nothing less than surprising, since, by
various unfortunate accidents, it was known to so many, and since, in
the horror and confusion of the mysterious prohibition to the marriage,
neither Delvile nor herself had thought of even attempting to give
any caution to the witnesses of that scene, not to make it known: an
attempt, however, which must almost necessarily have been unavailing, as
the incident was too extraordinary and too singular to have any chance
of suppression.

During this conversation, one of the servants came to inform Cecilia,
that a man was below to enquire if there was no answer to the note he
had brought in the forenoon.

Cecilia, greatly distressed, knew not upon what to resolve; that the
patience of Delvile should be exhausted, she did not, indeed, wonder,
and to relieve his anxiety was now almost her only wish; she would
therefore instantly have written to him, confessed her sympathy in his
sufferings, and besought him to endure with fortitude an evil which
was no longer to be withstood: but she was uncertain whether he was yet
acquainted with the journey of his mother to Bury, and having agreed to
commit to her the whole management of the affair, she feared it would
be dishonourable to take any step in it without her concurrence. She
returned, therefore, a message that she had yet no answer ready.

In a very few minutes Delvile called himself, and sent up an earnest
request for permission to see her.

Here, at least, she had no perplexity; an interview she had given her
positive word to refuse, and therefore, without a moment’s hesitation,
she bid the servant inform him she was particularly engaged, and sorry
it was not in her power to see any company.

In the greatest perturbation he left the house, and immediately wrote to
her the following lines.

_To Miss Beverley_. I entreat you to see me! if only for an instant, I
entreat, I implore you to see me! Mrs Charlton may be present, all the
world, if you wish it, may be present,--but deny me not admission, I
supplicate, I conjure you!

I will call in an hour; in that time you may have finished your present
engagement. I will otherwise wait longer, and call again. You will not,
I think, turn me from’ your door, and, till I have seen you, I can only
live in its vicinity. M. D.

The man who brought this note, waited not for any answer.

Cecilia read it in an agony of mind inexpressible: she saw, by its
style, how much Delvile was irritated, and her knowledge of his temper
made her certain his irritation proceeded from believing himself
ill-used. She ardently wished to appease and to quiet him, and regretted
the necessity of appearing obdurate and unfeeling, even more, at that
moment, than the separation itself. To a mind priding in its purity,
and animated in its affections, few sensations can excite keener misery,
than those by which an apprehension is raised of being thought worthless
or ungrateful by the objects of our chosen regard. To be deprived of
their society is less bitter, to be robbed of our own tranquillity by
any other means, is less afflicting.

Yet to this it was necessary to submit, or incur the only penalty which,
to such a mind, would be more severe, self-reproach: she had promised to
be governed by Mrs Delvile, she had nothing, therefore, to do but obey
her.

Yet _to turn_, as he expressed himself, _from the door_, a man who,
but for an incident the most incomprehensible, would now have been sole
master of herself and her actions, seemed so unkind and so tyrannical,
that she could not endure to be within hearing of his repulse: she
begged, therefore, the use of Mrs Charlton’s carriage, and determined
to make a visit to Mrs Harrel till Delvile and his mother had wholly
quitted Bury. She was not, indeed, quite satisfied in going to the house
of Mr Arnott, but she had no time to weigh objections, and knew not any
other place to which still greater might not be started.

She wrote a short letter to Mrs Delvile, acquainting her with her
purpose, and its reason, and repeating her assurances that she would
be guided by her implicitly; and then, embracing Mrs Charlton, whom
she left to the care of her grand-daughters, she got into a chaise,
accompanied only by her maid, and one man and horse, and ordered the
postilion to drive to Mr Arnott’s.



CHAPTER v.

A COTTAGE.

The evening was already far advanced, and before she arrived at the end
of her little journey it was quite dark. When they came within a mile
of Mr Arnott’s house, the postilion, in turning too suddenly from the
turnpike to the cross-road, overset the carriage. The accident, however,
occasioned no other mischief than delaying their proceeding, and
Cecilia and her maid were helped out of the chaise unhurt. The servants,
assisted by a man who was walking upon the road, began lifting it up;
and Cecilia, too busy within to be attentive to what passed without,
disregarded what went forward, till she heard her footman call for help.
She then hastily advanced to enquire what was the matter, and found
that the passenger who had lent his aid, had, by working in the dark,
unfortunately slipped his foot under one of the wheels, and so much hurt
it, that without great pain he could not put it to the ground.

Cecilia immediately desired that the sufferer might be carried to his
own home in the chaise, while she and the maid walked on to Mr Arnott’s,
attended by her servant on horseback.

This little incident proved of singular service to her upon first
entering the house; Mrs Harrel was at supper with her brother, and
hearing the voice of Cecilia in the hall, hastened with the extremest
surprise to enquire what had occasioned so late a visit; followed by Mr
Arnott, whose amazement was accompanied with a thousand other sensations
too powerful for speech. Cecilia, unprepared with any excuse, instantly
related the adventure she had met with on the road, which quieted their
curiosity, by turning their attention to her personal safety. They
ordered a room to be prepared for her, entreated her to go to rest with
all speed, and postpone any further account till the next day. With this
request she most gladly complied, happy to be spared the embarrassment
of enquiry, and rejoiced to be relieved from the fatigue of
conversation. Her night was restless and miserable: to know how Delvile
would bear her flight was never a moment from her thoughts, and to hear
whether he would obey or oppose his mother was her incessant wish. She
was fixt, however, to be faithful in refusing to see him, and at least
to suffer nothing new from her own enterprize or fault.

Early in the morning Mrs Harrel came to see her. She was eager to learn
why, after invitations repeatedly refused, she was thus suddenly arrived
without any; and she was still more eager to talk of herself, and relate
the weary life she led thus shut up in the country, and confined to the
society of her brother.

Cecilia evaded giving any immediate answer to her questions, and Mrs
Harrel, happy in an opportunity to rehearse her own complaints, soon
forgot that she had asked any, and, in a very short time, was perfectly,
though imperceptibly, contented to be herself the only subject upon
which they conversed.

But not such was the selfishness of Mr Arnott; and Cecilia, when she
went down to breakfast, perceived with the utmost concern that he
had passed a night as sleepless as her own. A visit so sudden, so
unexpected, and so unaccountable, from an object that no discouragement
could make him think of with indifference, had been a subject to him of
conjecture and wonder that had revived all the hopes and the fears which
had lately, though still unextinguished, lain dormant. The enquiries,
however, which his sister had given up, he ventured not to renew, and
thought himself but too happy in her presence, whatever might be the
cause of her visit.

He perceived, however, immediately, the sadness that hung upon her mind,
and his own was redoubled by the sight: Mrs Harrel, also, saw that she
looked ill, but attributed it to the fatigue and fright of the preceding
evening, well knowing that a similar accident would have made her ill
herself, or fancy that she was so.

During breakfast, Cecilia sent for the postilion, to enquire of him how
the man had fared, whose good-natured assistance in their distress had
been so unfortunate to himself. He answered that he had turned out to
be a day labourer, who lived about half a mile off. And then, partly to
gratify her own humanity, and partly to find any other employment for
herself and friends than uninteresting conversation, she proposed that
they should all walk to the poor man’s habitation, and offer him some
amends for the injury he had received. This was readily assented to,
and the postilion directed them whither to go. The place was a cottage,
situated upon a common; they entered it without ceremony, and found a
clean looking woman at work.

Cecilia enquired for her husband, and was told that he was gone out to
day-labour.

“I am very glad to hear it,” returned she; “I hope then he has got the
better of the accident he met with last night?”

“It was not him, madam,” said the woman, “met with the accident, it was
John;--there he is, working in the garden.”

To the garden then they all went, and saw him upon the ground, weeding.

The moment they approached he arose, and, without speaking, began to
limp, for he could hardly walk; away.

“I am sorry, master,” said Cecilia, “that you are so much hurt. Have you
had anything put to your foot?”

The man made no answer, but still turned away from her; a glance,
however, of his eye, which the next instant he fixed upon the ground,
startled her; she moved round to look at him again,--and perceived Mr
Belfield!

“Good God!” she exclaimed; but seeing him still retreat, she recollected
in a moment how little he would be obliged to her for betraying him, and
suffering him to go on, turned back to her party, and led the way again
into the house.

As soon as the first emotion of her surprise was over, she enquired how
long John had belonged to this cottage, and what was his way of life.

The woman answered he had only been with them a week, and that he went
out to day-labour with her husband.

Cecilia then, finding their stay kept him from his employment, and
willing to save him the distress of being seen by Mr Arnott or Mrs
Harrel, proposed their returning home. She grieved most sincerely at
beholding in so melancholy an occupation a young man of such talents and
abilities; she wished much to assist him, and began considering by what
means it might be done, when, as they were walking from the cottage, a
voice at some distance called out “Madam! Miss Beverley!” and, looking
round, to her utter amazement she saw Belfield endeavouring to follow
her.

She instantly stopt, and he advanced, his hat in his hand, and his whole
air indicating he sought not to be disguised.

Surprised at this sudden change of behaviour, she then stept forward
to meet him, accompanied by her friends: but when they came up to each
other, she checked her desire of speaking, to leave him fully at liberty
to make himself known, or keep concealed.

He bowed with a look of assumed gaiety and ease, but the deep scarlet
that tinged his whole face manifested his internal confusion; and in
a voice that attempted to sound lively, though its tremulous accents
betrayed uneasiness and distress, he exclaimed, with a forced smile,
“Is it possible Miss Beverley can deign to notice a poor miserable
day-labourer such as I am? how will she be justified in the beau monde,
when even the sight of such a wretch ought to fill her with horror?
Henceforth let hysterics be blown to the winds, and let nerves be
discarded from the female vocabulary, since a lady so young and fair can
stand this shock without hartshorn or fainting!”

“I am happy,” answered Cecilia, “to find your spirits so good; yet
my own, I must confess, are not raised by seeing you in this strange
situation.”

“My spirits!” cried he, with an air of defiance, “never were they
better, never so good as at this moment. Strange as seems my situation,
it is all that I wish; I have found out, at last, the true secret of
happiness! that secret which so long I pursued in vain, but which always
eluded my grasp, till the instant of despair arrived, when, slackening
my pace, I gave it up as a phantom. Go from me, I cried, I will be
cheated no more! thou airy bubble! thou fleeting shadow! I will live no
longer in thy sight, since thy beams dazzle without warming me! Mankind
seems only composed as matter for thy experiments, and I will quit the
whole race, that thy delusions may be presented to me no more!”

This romantic flight, which startled even Cecilia, though acquainted
with his character, gave to Mrs Harrel and Mr Arnott the utmost
surprize; his appearance, and the account they had just heard of him,
having by no means prepared them for such sentiments or such language.

“Is then this great secret of happiness,” said Cecilia, “nothing, at
last, but total seclusion from the world?”

“No, madam,” answered he, “it is Labour with Independence.”

Cecilia now wished much to ask some explanation of his affairs, but was
doubtful whether he would gratify her before Mrs Harrel and Mr Arnott,
and hurt to keep him standing, though he leant upon a stick; she told
him, therefore, she would at present detain him no longer, but endeavour
again to see him before she quitted her friends.

Mr Arnott then interfered, and desired his sister would entreat Miss
Beverley to invite whom she pleased to his house.

Cecilia thanked him, and instantly asked Belfield to call upon her in
the afternoon.

“No, madam, no,” cried he, “I have done with visits and society! I will
not so soon break through a system with much difficulty formed, when all
my future tranquility depends upon adhering to it. The worthlessness of
mankind has disgusted me with the world, and my resolution in quitting
it shall be immoveable as its baseness.”

“I must not venture then,” said Cecilia, “to enquire--”

“Enquire, madam,” interrupted he, with quickness, “what you please:
there is nothing I will not answer to you,--to this lady, to this
gentleman, to any and to every body. What can I wish to conceal, where
I have nothing to gain or to lose? When first, indeed, I saw you, I
involuntarily shrunk; a weak shame for a moment seized me, I felt
fallen and debased, and I wished to avoid you: but a little recollection
brought me back to my senses, And where, cried I, is the disgrace of
exercising for my subsistence the strength with which I am endued?
and why should I blush to lead the life which uncorrupted Nature first
prescribed to man?”

“Well, then,” said Cecilia, more and more interested to hear him, “if
you will not visit us, will you at least permit us to return with you to
some place where you can be seated?”

“I will with pleasure,” cried he, “go to any place where you may be
seated yourselves; but for me, I have ceased to regard accommodation or
inconvenience.”

They then all went back to the cottage, which was now empty, the woman
being out at work.

“Will you then, Sir,” said Cecilia, “give me leave to enquire whether
Lord Vannelt is acquainted with your retirement, and if it will not much
surprize and disappoint him?”

“Lord Vannelt,” cried he, haughtily, “has no right to be surprised. I
would have quitted _his_ house, if no other, not even this cottage, had
a roof to afford me shelter!”

“I am sorry, indeed, to hear it,” said Cecilia; “I had hoped he would
have known your value, and merited your regard.”

“Ill-usage,” answered he, “is as hard to relate as to be endured. There
is commonly something pitiful in a complaint; and though oppression in
a general sense provokes the wrath of mankind, the investigation of its
minuter circumstances excites nothing but derision. Those who give the
offence, by the worthy few may be hated; but those who receive it, by
the world at large will be despised. Conscious of this, I disdained
making any appeal; myself the only sufferer, I had a right to be
the only judge, and, shaking off the base trammels of interest and
subjection, I quitted the house in silent indignation, not chusing to
remonstrate, where I desired not to be reconciled.”

“And was there no mode of life,” said Cecilia, “to adopt, but living
with Lord Vannelt, or giving up the whole world?”

“I weighed every thing maturely,” answered he, “before I made my
determination, and I found it so much, the most eligible, that I am
certain I can never repent it. I had friends who would with pleasure
have presented me to some other nobleman; but my whole heart revolted
against leading that kind of life, and I would not, therefore, idly rove
from one great man to another, adding ill-will to disgrace, and pursuing
hope in defiance of common sense; no; when I quitted Lord Vannelt, I
resolved to give up patronage for ever.

“I retired to private lodgings to deliberate what next could be done. I
had lived in many ways, I had been unfortunate or imprudent in all.
The law I had tried, but its rudiments were tedious and disgusting; the
army, too, but there found my mind more fatigued with indolence, than my
body with action; general dissipation had then its turn, but the expence
to which it led was ruinous, and self-reproach baffled pleasure while
I pursued it; I have even--yes, there are few things I have left
untried,--I have even,--for why now disguise it?--”

He stopt and coloured, but in a quicker voice presently proceeded.

“Trade, also, has had its share in my experiments; for that, in truth,
I was originally destined,--but my education had ill suited me to such a
destination, and the trader’s first maxim I reversed, in lavishing when
I ought to have accumulated.

“What, then, remained for me? to run over again the same irksome round I
had not patience, and to attempt any thing new I was unqualified: money
I had none; my friends I could bear to burthen no longer; a fortnight I
lingered in wretched irresolution,--a simple accident at the end of it
happily settled me; I was walking, one morning, in Hyde Park, forming a
thousand plans for my future life, but quarrelling with them all; when
a gentleman met me on horseback, from whom, at my Lord Vannelt’s, I had
received particular civilities; I looked another way not to be seen
by him, and the change in my dress since I left his Lordship’s made me
easily pass unnoticed. He had rode on, however, but a few yards,
before, by some accident or mismanagement, he had a fall from his horse.
Forgetting all my caution, I flew instantly to his assistance; he was
bruised, but not otherwise hurt; I helpt him up, and he leant ‘pon my
arm; in my haste of enquiring how he had fared, I called him by his
name. He knew me, but looked surprised at my appearance; he was speaking
to me, however, with kindness, when seeing some gentlemen of his
acquaintance gallopping up to him, he hastily disengaged himself from
me, and instantly beginning to recount to them what had happened, he
sedulously looked another way, and joining his new companions, walked
off without taking further notice of me. For a moment I was almost
tempted to trouble him to come back; but a little recollection told me
how ill he deserved my resentment, and bid me transfer it for the future
from the pitiful individual to the worthless community.

“Here finished my deliberation; the disgust to the world which I had
already conceived, this little incident confirmed; I saw it was only
made for the great and the rich;--poor, therefore, and low, what had
I to do in it? I determined to quit it for ever, and to end every
disappointment, by crushing every hope.

“I wrote to Lord Vannelt to send my trunks to my mother; I wrote to my
mother that I was well, and would soon let her hear more: I then paid
off my lodgings, and ‘shaking the dust from my feet,’ bid a long adieu
to London; and, committing my route to chance, strole on into the
country, without knowing or caring which way.

“My first thought was simply to seek retirement, and to depend for my
future repose upon nothing but a total seclusion from society: but my
slow method of travelling gave me time for reflection, and reflection
soon showed me the error of this notion.

“Guilt, cried I, may, indeed, be avoided by solitude; but will misery?
will regret? will deep dejection of mind? no, they will follow more
assiduously than ever; for what is there to oppose them, where neither
business occupies the time, nor hope the imagination? where the past
has left nothing but resentment, and the future opens only to a dismal,
uninteresting void? No stranger to life, I knew human nature could not
exist on such terms; still less a stranger to books, I respected the
voice of wisdom and experience in the first of moralists, and most
enlightened of men, [Footnote: Dr Johnson.] and reading the letter of
Cowley, I saw the vanity and absurdity of _panting after solitude_.
[Footnote: Life of Cowley, p.34.]

“I sought not, therefore, a cell; but, since I purposed to live for
myself, I determined for myself also to think. Servility of imitation
has ever been as much my scorn as servility of dependence; I resolved,
therefore, to strike out something new, and no more to retire as every
other man had retired, than to linger in the world as every other man
had lingered.

“The result of all you now see. I found out this cottage, and took up
my abode in it. I am here out of the way of all society, yet avoid the
great evil of retreat, _having nothing to do_. I am constantly, not
capriciously employed, and the exercise which benefits my health,
imperceptibly raises my spirits in despight of adversity. I am removed
from all temptation, I have scarce even the power to do wrong; I have no
object for ambition, for repining I have no time:--I have, found out, I
repeat, the true secret of happiness, Labour with Independence.”

He stopt; and Cecilia, who had listened to this narrative with a mixture
of compassion, admiration and censure, was too much struck with its
singularity to be readily able to answer it. Her curiosity to hear him
had sprung wholly from her desire to assist him, and she had expected
from his story to gather some hint upon which her services might be
offered. But none had occurred; he professed himself fully satisfied
with his situation; and though reason and probability contradicted the
profession, she could not venture to dispute it with any delicacy or
prudence.

She thanked him, therefore, for his relation, with many apologies for
the trouble she had given him, and added, “I must not express my
concern for misfortunes which you seem to regard as conducive to your
contentment, nor remonstrate at the step you have taken, since you have
been led to it by choice, not necessity: but yet, you must pardon me if
I cannot help hoping I shall some time see you happier, according to the
common, however vulgar ideas of the rest of the world.”

“No, never, never! I am sick of mankind, not from theory, but
experience; and the precautions I have taken against mental fatigue,
will secure me from repentance, or any desire of change; for it is not
the active, but the indolent who weary; it is not the temperate, but the
pampered who are capricious.”

“Is your sister, Sir, acquainted with this change in your fortune and
opinions?”

“Poor girl, no! She and her unhappy mother have borne but too long with
my enterprizes and misfortunes. Even yet they would sacrifice whatever
they possess to enable me to play once more the game so often lost; but
I will not abuse their affection, nor suffer them again to be slaves to
my caprices, nor dupes to their own delusive expectations. I have sent
them word I am happy; I have not yet told them how or where. I fear much
the affliction of their disappointment, and, for a while, shall conceal
from them my situation, which they would fancy was disgraceful, and
grieve at as cruel.”

“And is it not cruel?” said Cecilia, “is labour indeed so sweet? and can
you seriously derive happiness from what all others consider as misery?”

“Not sweet,” answered he, “in itself; but sweet, most sweet and salutary
in its effects. When I work, I forget all the world; my projects for the
future, my disappointments from the past. Mental fatigue is overpowered
by personal; I toil till I require rest, and that rest which nature,
not luxury demands, leads not to idle meditation, but to sound, heavy,
necessary sleep. I awake the next morning to the same thought-exiling
business, work again till my powers are exhausted, and am relieved again
at night by the same health-recruiting insensibility.”

“And if this,” cried Cecilia, “is the life of happiness, why have we so
many complaints of the sufferings of the poor, and why so eternally do
we hear of their hardships and distress?”

“They have known no other life. They are strangers, therefore, to the
felicity of their lot. Had they mingled in the world, fed high their
fancy with hope, and looked forward with expectation of enjoyment; had
they been courted by the great, and offered with profusion adulation
for their abilities, yet, even when starving, been offered nothing
else!--had they seen an attentive circle wait all its entertainment from
their powers, yet found themselves forgotten as soon as out of sight,
and perceived themselves avoided when no longer buffoons!--Oh had
they known and felt provocations such as these, how gladly would their
resentful spirits turn from the whole unfeeling race, and how would they
respect that noble and manly labour, which at once disentangles them
from such subjugating snares, and enables them to fly the ingratitude
they abhor! Without the contrast of vice, virtue unloved may be lovely;
without the experience of misery, happiness is simply a dull privation
of evil.”

“And are you so content,” cried Cecilia, “with your present situation,
as even to think it offers you reparation for your past sufferings?”

“Content!” repeated he with energy, “O more than content, I am proud of
my present situation! I glory in chewing to the world, glory still more
in shewing to myself, that those whom I cannot but despise I will not
scruple to defy, and that where I have been treated unworthily, I will
scorn to be obliged.”

“But will you pardon me,” said Cecilia, “should I ask again, why in
quitting Lord Vannelt, you concluded no one else worthy a trial?”

“Because it was less my Lord Vannelt, madam, than my own situation, that
disgusted me: for though I liked not his behaviour, I found him a man
too generally esteemed to flatter myself better usage would await me
in merely changing my abode, while my station was the same. I believe,
indeed, he never meant to offend me; but I was offended the more that
he should think me an object to receive indignity without knowing it. To
have had this pointed out to him, would have been at once mortifying and
vain; for delicacy, like taste, can only partially be taught, and will
always be superficial and erring where it is not innate. Those wrongs,
which though too trifling to resent, are too humiliating to be borne,
speech can convey no idea of; the soul must feel, or the understanding
can never comprehend them.”

“But surely,” said Cecilia, “though people of refinement are rare, they
yet exist; why, then, remove yourself from the possibility of meeting
with them?”

“Must I run about the nation,” cried he, “proclaiming my distress, and
describing my temper? telling the world that though dependent I demand
respect as well as assistance; and publishing to mankind, that though
poor I will accept no gifts if offered with contumely? Who will listen
to such an account? who will care for my misfortunes, but as they may
humble me to his service? Who will hear my mortifications, but to say
I deserve them? what has the world to do with my feelings and
peculiarities? I know it too well to think calamity will soften it; I
need no new lessons to instruct me that to conquer affliction is more
wise than to relate it.”

“Unfortunate as you have been,” said Cecilia, “I cannot wonder at your
asperity; but yet, it is surely no more than justice to acknowledge,
that hard-heartedness to distress is by no means the fault of the
present times: on the contrary, it is scarce sooner made known, than
every one is ready to contribute to its relief.”

“And how contribute?” cried he, “by a paltry donation of money? Yes, the
man whose only want is a few guineas, may, indeed, obtain them; but
he who asks kindness and protection, whose oppressed spirit calls for
consolation even more than his ruined fortune for repair, how is his
struggling soul, if superior to his fate, to brook the ostentation of
patronage, and the insolence of condescension? Yes, yes, the world will
save the poor beggar who is starving; but the fallen wretch, who will
not cringe for his support, may consume in his own wretchedness without
pity and without help!”

Cecilia now saw that the wound his sensibility had received was too
painful for argument, and too recent immediately to be healed. She
forbore, therefore, to detain him any longer, but expressing her best
wishes, without venturing to hint at her services, she arose, and they
all took their leave;--Belfield hastening, as they went, to return to
the garden, where, looking over the hedge as they passed, they saw him
employed again in weeding, with the eagerness of a man who pursues his
favourite occupation.

Cecilia half forgot her own anxieties and sadness, in the concern which
she felt for this unfortunate and extraordinary young man. She wished
much to devise some means for drawing him from a life of such hardship
and obscurity; but what to a man thus “jealous in honour,” thus
scrupulous in delicacy, could she propose, without more risk of offence,
than probability of obliging? His account had, indeed, convinced her how
much he stood in need of assistance, but it had shewn her no less how
fastidious he would be in receiving it.

Nor was she wholly without fear that an earnest solicitude to serve him,
his youth, talents, and striking manners considered, might occasion even
in himself a misconstruction of her motives, such as she already had
given birth to in his forward and partial mother.

The present, therefore, all circumstances weighed, seemed no season for
her liberality, which she yet resolved to exert the first moment it was
unopposed by propriety.



CHAPTER vi.

A CONTEST.

The rest of the day was passed in discussing this adventure; but in the
evening, Cecilia’s interest in it was all sunk, by the reception of the
following letter from Mrs Delvile.

_To Miss Beverley_.

I grieve to interrupt the tranquillity of a retirement so judiciously
chosen, and I lament the necessity of again calling to trial the virtue
of which the exertion, though so captivating, is so painful; but alas,
my excellent young friend, we came not hither to enjoy, but to suffer;
and happy only are those whose sufferings have neither by folly
been sought, nor by guilt been merited, but arising merely from the
imperfection of humanity, have been resisted with fortitude, or endured
with patience.

I am informed of your virtuous steadiness, which corresponds with my
expectations, while it excites my respect. All further conflict I had
hoped to have saved you; and to the triumph of your goodness I had
trusted for the recovery of your peace: but Mortimer has disappointed
me, and our work is still unfinished.

He avers that he is solemnly engaged to you, and in pleading to me his
honour, he silences both expostulation and authority. From your own
words alone will he acknowledge his dismission; and notwithstanding my
reluctance to impose upon you this task, I cannot silence or quiet him
without making the request.

For a purpose such as this, can you, then, admit us? Can you bear with
your own lips to confirm the irrevocable decision? You will feel, I am
sure, for the unfortunate Mortimer, and it was earnestly my desire to
spare you the sight of his affliction; yet such is my confidence in your
prudence, that since I find him bent upon seeing you, I am not without
hope, that from witnessing the greatness of your mind, the interview may
rather calm than inflame him.

This proposal you will take into consideration, and if you are able,
upon such terms, to again meet my son, we will wait upon you together,
where and when you will appoint; but if the gentleness of your nature
will make the effort too severe for you, scruple not to decline it, for
Mortimer, when he knows your pleasure, will submit to it as he ought.

Adieu, most amiable and but too lovely Cecilia; whatever you determine,
be sure of my concurrence, for nobly have you earned, and ever must you
retain, the esteem, the affection, and the gratitude of AUGUSTA DELVILE.

“Alas,” cried Cecilia, “when shall I be at rest? when cease to be
persecuted by new conflicts! Oh why must I so often, so cruelly, though
so reluctantly, reject and reprove the man who of all men I wish to
accept and to please!”

But yet, though repining at this hard necessity, she hesitated not a
moment in complying with Mrs Delvile’s request, and immediately sent an
answer that she would meet her the next morning at Mrs Charlton’s.

She then returned to the parlour, and apologized to Mrs Harrel and
Mr Arnott for the abruptness of her visit, and the suddenness of her
departure. Mr Arnott heard her in silent dejection; and Mrs Harrel
used all the persuasion in her power to prevail with her to stay, her
presence being some relief to her solitude: but finding it ineffectual,
she earnestly pressed her to hasten her entrance into her own house,
that their absence might be shortened, and their meeting more sprightly.

Cecilia passed the night in planning her behaviour for the next day;
she found how much was expected from her by Mrs Delvile, who had even
exhorted her to decline the interview if doubtful of her own strength.
Delvile’s firmness in insisting the refusal should come directly
from herself, surprised, gratified and perplexed her in turn; she had
imagined, that from the moment of the discovery, he would implicitly
have submitted to the award of a parent at once so reverenced and so
beloved, and how he had summoned courage to contend with her she could
not conjecture: yet that courage and that contention astonished not
more than they soothed her, since, from her knowledge of his filial
tenderness, she considered them as the most indubitable proofs she had
yet received of the fervour and constancy of his regard for her. But
would he, when she had ratified the decision of his mother, forbear all
further struggle, and for ever yield up all pretensions to her? this was
the point upon which her uncertainty turned, and the ruling subject of
her thoughts and meditation.

To be steady, however, herself, be his conduct what it might, was
invariably her intention, and was all her ambition: yet earnestly she
wished the meeting over, for she dreaded to see the sorrow of Delvile,
and she dreaded still more the susceptibility of her own heart.

The next morning, to her great concern, Mr Arnott was waiting in the
hall when she came down stairs, and so much grieved at her departure,
that he handed her to the chaise without being able to speak to her, and
hardly heard her thanks and compliments but by recollection after she
was gone.

She arrived at Mrs Charlton’s very early, and found her old friend in
the same state she had left her. She communicated to her the purpose of
her return, and begged she would keep her granddaughters up stairs, that
the conference in the parlour might be uninterrupted and unheard.

She then made a forced and hasty breakfast, and went down to be ready
to receive them. They came not till eleven o’clock, and the time of her
waiting was passed in agonies of expectation.

At length they were announced, and at length they entered the room.

Cecilia, with her utmost efforts for courage, could hardly stand to
receive them. They came in together, but Mrs Delvile, advancing before
her son, and endeavouring so to stand as to intercept his view of her,
with the hope that in a few instants her emotion would be less visible,
said, in the most soothing accents, “What honour Miss Beverley does us
by permitting this visit! I should have been sorry to have left Suffolk
without the satisfaction of again seeing you; and my son, sensible of
the high respect he owes you, was most unwilling to be gone, before he
had paid you his devoirs.”

Cecilia courtsied; but depressed by the cruel task which awaited her,
had no power to speak; and Mrs Delvile, finding she still trembled, made
her sit down, and drew a chair next to her.

Mean while Delvile, with an emotion far more violent, because wholly
unrestrained, waited impatiently till the ceremonial of the reception
was over, and then, approaching Cecilia, in a voice of perturbation and
resentment, said, “In this presence, at least, I hope I may be heard;
though my letters have been unanswered, my visits refused, though
inexorably you have flown me--”

“Mortimer,” interrupted Mrs Delvile, “forget not that what I have told
you is irrevocable; you now meet Miss Beverley for no other purpose than
to give and to receive a mutual release of all to or engagement with
each other.”

“Pardon me, madam,” cried he, “this is a condition to which I have never
assented. I come not to release, but to claim her! I am hers, and hers
wholly! I protest it in the face of the world! The time, therefore, is
now past for the sacrifice which you demand, since scarce are you more
my mother, than I consider her as my wife.”

Cecilia, amazed at this dauntless declaration, now almost lost her fear
in her surprise; while Mrs Delvile, with an air calm though displeased,
answered, “This is not a point to be at present discussed, and I had
hoped you knew better what was due to your auditors. I only consented to
this interview as a mark of your respect for Miss Beverley, to whom in
propriety it belongs to break off this unfortunate connexion.”

Cecilia, who at this call could no longer be silent, now gathered
fortitude to say, “Whatever tie or obligation may be supposed to depend
upon me, I have already relinquished; and I am now ready to declare--”

“That you wholly give me up?” interrupted Delvile, “is that what you
would say?--Oh how have I offended you? how have I merited a displeasure
that can draw upon me such a sentence?--Answer, speak to me, Cecilia,
what is it I have done?”

“Nothing, Sir,” said Cecilia, confounded at this language in the
presence of his mother, “you have done nothing,--but yet--”

“Yet what?--have you conceived to me an aversion? has any dreadful and
horrible antipathy succeeded to your esteem?--tell, tell me without
disguise, do you hate, do you abhor me?”

Cecilia sighed, and turned away her head; and Mrs Delvile indignantly
exclaimed, “What madness and absurdity! I scarce know you under the
influence of such irrational violence. Why will you interrupt Miss
Beverley in the only speech you ought to hear from her? Why, at once,
oppress her, and irritate me, by words of more passion than reason?
Go on, charming girl, finish what so wisely, so judiciously you
were beginning, and then you shall be released from this turbulent
persecution.”

“No, madam, she must not go on!” cried Delvile, “if she does not utterly
abhor me, I will not suffer her to go on;--Pardon, pardon me, Cecilia,
but your too exquisite delicacy is betraying not only my happiness, but
your own. Once more, therefore, I conjure you to hear me, and then if,
deliberately and unbiassed, you renounce me, I will never more distress
you by resisting your decree.”

Cecilia, abashed and changing colour, was silent, and he proceeded.

“All that has past between us, the vows I have offered you of faith,
constancy and affection, the consent I obtained from you to be legally
mine, the bond of settlement I have had drawn up, and the high honour
you conferred upon me in suffering me to lead you to the altar,--all
these particulars are already known to so many, that the least
reflection must convince you they will soon be concealed from none: tell
me, then, if your own fame pleads not for me, and if the scruples which
lead you to refuse, by taking another direction, will not, with much
more propriety, urge, nay enjoin you to accept me!--You hesitate at
least,--O Miss Beverley!--I see in that hesitation--”

“Nothing, nothing!” cried she, hastily, and checking her rising
irresolution; “there is nothing for you to see, but that every way I now
turn I have rendered myself miserable!”

“Mortimer,” said Mrs Delvile, seized with terror as she penetrated into
the mental yielding of Cecilia, “you have now spoken to Miss Beverley;
and unwilling as I am to obtrude upon her our difference of sentiment,
it is necessary, since she has heard you, that I, also, should claim her
attention.”

“First let her speak!” cried Delvile, who in her apparent wavering built
new hopes, “first let her answer what she has already deigned to listen
to.”

“No, first let her hear!” cried Mrs Delvile, “for so only can she judge
what answer will reflect upon her most honour.”

Then, solemnly turning to Cecilia, she continued: “You see here, Miss
Beverley, a young man who passionately adores you, and who forgets in
his adoration friends, family, and connections, the opinions in which
he has been educated, the honour of his house, his own former views,
and all his primitive sense of duty, both public and private!--A passion
built on such a defalcation of principle renders him unworthy your
acceptance; and not more ignoble for him would be a union which would
blot his name from the injured stock whence he sprung, than indelicate
for you, who upon such terms ought to despise him.”

“Heavens, madam,” exclaimed Delvile, “what a speech!”

“O never,” cried Cecilia, rising, “may I hear such another! Indeed,
madam, there is no occasion to probe me so deeply, for I would not now
enter your family, for all that the whole world could offer me!”

“At length, then, madam,” cried Delvile, turning reproachfully to his
mother, “are you satisfied? is your purpose now answered? and is the
dagger you have transfixed in my heart sunk deep enough to appease you?”

“O could I draw it out,” cried Mrs Delvile, “and leave upon it no stain
of ignominy, with what joy should my own bosom receive it, to heal the
wound I have most compulsatorily inflicted!--Were this excellent young
creature portionless, I would not hesitate in giving my consent; every
claim of interest would be overbalanced by her virtues, and I would not
grieve to see you poor, where so conscious you were happy; but here to
concede, would annihilate every hope with which hitherto I have looked
up to my son.”

“Let us now, then, madam,” said Cecilia, “break up this conference. I
have spoken, I have heard, the decree is past, and therefore,”--

“You are indeed an angel!” cried Mrs Delvile, rising and embracing her;
“and never can I reproach my son with what has passed, when I consider
for what an object the sacrifice was planned. _You_ cannot be unhappy,
you have purchased peace by the exercise of virtue, and the close of
every day will bring to you a reward, in the sweets of a self-approving
mind.--But we will part, since you think it right; I do wrong to
occasion any delay.”

“No, we will _not_ part!” cried Delvile, with encreasing vehemence; “if
you force me, madam, from her, you will drive me to distraction! What is
there in this world that can offer me a recompense? And what can pride
even to the proudest afford as an equivalent? Her perfections you
acknowledge, her greatness of mind is like your own; she has generously
given me her heart,--Oh sacred and fascinating charge! Shall I, after
such a deposite, consent to an eternal separation? Repeal, repeal your
sentence, my Cecilia! let us live to ourselves and our consciences, and
leave the vain prejudices of the world to those who can be paid by them
for the loss of all besides!”

“Is this conflict, then,” said Mrs Delvile, “to last for-ever? Oh
end it, Mortimer, finish it, and make me happy! she is just, and will
forgive you, she is noble-minded, and will honour you. Fly, then, at
this critical moment, for in flight alone is your safety; and then will
your father see the son of his hopes, and then shall the fond blessings
of your idolizing mother soothe all your affliction, and soften all your
regret!”

“Oh madam!” cried Delvile, “for mercy, for humanity, forbear this cruel
supplication!”

“Nay, more than supplication, you have my commands; commands you have
never yet disputed, and misery, ten-fold misery, will follow their
disobedience. Hear me, Mortimer, for I speak prophetically; I know your
heart, I know it to be formed for rectitude and duty, or destined by
their neglect to repentance and horror.”

Delvile, struck by these words, turned suddenly from them both, and
in gloomy despondence walked to the other end of the room. Mrs Delvile
perceived the moment of her power, and determined to pursue the blow:
taking, therefore, the hand of Cecilia, while her eyes sparkled with the
animation of reviving hope, “See,” she cried, pointing to her son, “see
if I am deceived! can he bear even the suggestion of future contrition!
Think you when it falls upon him, he will support it better? No; he
will sink under it. And you, pure as you are of mind, and steadfast in
principle, what would your chance be of happiness with a man who never
erring till he knew you, could never look at you without regret, be his
fondness what it might?”

“Oh madam,” cried the greatly shocked Cecilia, “let him, then, see me no
more!--take, take him all to yourself! forgive, console him! I will not
have the misery of involving him in repentance, nor of incurring the
reproaches of the mother he so much reverences!”

“Exalted creature!” cried Mrs Delvile; “tenderness such as this would
confer honour upon a monarch.” Then, calling out exultingly to her
son, “See,” she added, “how great a woman can act, when stimulated by
generosity, and a just sense of duty! Follow then, at least, the example
you ought to have led, and deserve my esteem and love, or be content to
forego them.”

“And can I only deserve them,” said Delvile, in a tone of the deepest
anguish, “by a compliance to which not merely my happiness, but
my reason must be sacrificed? What honour do I injure that is not
factitious? What evil threatens our union, that is not imaginary? In
the general commerce of the world it may be right to yield to its
prejudices, but in matters of serious importance, it is weakness to be
shackled by scruples so frivolous, and it is cowardly to be governed by
the customs we condemn. Religion and the laws of our country should then
alone be consulted, and where those are neither opposed nor infringed,
we should hold ourselves superior to all other considerations.”

“Mistaken notions!” said Mrs Delvile; “and how long do you flatter
yourself this independent happiness would endure? How long could you
live contented by mere self-gratification, in defiance of the censure
of mankind, the renunciation of your family, and the curses of your
father?”

“The curses of my father!” repeated he, starting and shuddering, “O no,
he could never be so barbarous!”

“He could,” said she, steadily, “nor do I doubt but he would. If now,
however, you are affected by the prospect of his disclaiming you, think
but what you will feel when first forbid to appear before either of us!
and think of your remorse for involving Miss Beverley in such disgrace!”

“O speak not such words!” cried he, with agonizing earnestness, “to
disgrace her,--to be banished by you,--present not, I conjure you, such
scenes to my imagination!”

“Yet would they be unavoidable,” continued she; “nor have I said to you
all; blinded as you now are by passion, your nobler feelings are only
obscured, not extirpated; think, then, how they will all rise in revenge
of your insulted dignity, when your name becomes a stranger to your
ears, and you are first saluted by one so meanly adopted!--”

“Hold, hold, madam,” interrupted he, “this is more than I can bear!”

“Heavens!” still continued she, disregarding his entreaty, “what in the
universe can pay you for that first moment of indignity! Think of it
well ere you proceed, and anticipate your sensations, lest the shock
should wholly overcome you. How will the blood of your wronged ancestors
rise into your guilty cheeks, and how will your heart throb with secret
shame and reproach, when wished joy upon your marriage by the name of
_Mr Beverley_!”

Delvile, stung to the soul, attempted not any answer, but walked about
the room in the utmost disorder of mind. Cecilia would have retired,
but feared irritating him to some extravagance; and Mrs Delvile, looking
after him, added “For myself, I would still see, for I should pity
your wife,--but NEVER would I behold my son when sunk into an object of
compassion!”

“It shall not be!” cried he, in a transport of rage; “cease, cease to
distract me!--be content, madam,--you have conquered!”

“Then you are my son!” cried she, rapturously embracing him; “now I know
again my Mortimer! now I see the fair promise of his upright youth, and
the flattering completion of my maternal expectations!”

Cecilia, finding all thus concluded, desired nothing so much as to
congratulate them on their reconciliation; but having only said “Let
_me_, too,--” her voice failed her, she stopt short, and hoping she had
been unheard, would have glided out of the room.

But Delvile, penetrated and tortured, yet delighted at this sensibility,
broke from his mother, and seizing her hand, exclaimed, “Oh Miss
Beverley, if _you_ are not happy---”

“I am! I am!” cried she, with quickness; “let me pass,--and think no
more of me.”

“That voice,--those looks,--” cried he, still holding her, “they speak
not serenity!--Oh if I have injured your peace,--if that heart, which,
pure as angels, deserves to be as sacred from sorrow, through my means,
or for my sake, suffers any diminution of tranquility--”

“None, none!” interrupted she, with precipitation.

“I know well,” cried he, “your greatness of soul; and if this dreadful
sacrifice gives lasting torture only to myself,--if of _your_ returning
happiness I could be assured,--I would struggle to bear it.”

“You _may_, be assured of it,” cried she, with reviving dignity, “I have
no right to expect escaping all calamity, but while I share the common
lot, I will submit to it without repining.”

“Heaven then bless, and hovering angels watch you!” cried he, and
letting go her hand, he ran hastily out of the room.

“Oh Virtue, how bright is thy triumph!” exclaimed Mrs Delvile, flying
up to Cecilia, and folding her in her arms; “Noble, incomparable young
creature! I knew not that so much worth was compatible with human
frailty!”

But the heroism of Cecilia, in losing its object, lost its force; she
sighed, she could not speak, tears gushed into her eyes, and kissing Mrs
Delvile’s hand with a look that shewed her inability to converse with
her, she hastened, though scarce able to support herself, away, with
intention to shut herself up in her own apartment: and Mrs Delvile,
who perceived that her utmost fortitude was exhausted, opposed not her
going, and wisely forbore to encrease her emotion, by following her even
with her blessings.

But when she came into the hall, she started, and could proceed no
further; for there she beheld Delvile, who in too great agony to be
seen, had stopt to recover some composure before he quitted the house.

At the first sound of an opening door, he was hastily escaping; but
perceiving Cecilia, and discerning her situation, he more hastily turned
back, saying, “Is it possible?--To _me_ were you coming?”

She shook her head, and made a motion with her hand to say no, and would
then have gone on.

“You are weeping!” cried he, “you are pale!--Oh Miss Beverley! is this
your happiness!”

“I am very well,--” cried she, not knowing what she answered, “I am
quite well,--pray go,--I am very--” her words died away inarticulated.

“O what a voice is that!” exclaimed he, “it pierces my very soul!”

Mrs Delvile now came to the parlour door, and looked aghast at the
situation in which she saw them: Cecilia again moved on, and reached the
stairs, but tottered, and was obliged to cling to the banisters.

“O suffer me to support you,” cried he; “you are not able to
stand,--whither is it you would go?”

“Any where,--I don’t know,--” answered she, in faltering accents, “but
if you would leave me, I should be well.”

And, turning from him, she walked again towards the parlour, finding by
her shaking frame, the impossibility of getting unaided up the stairs.

“Give me your hand, my love,” said Mrs Delvile, cruelly alarmed by this
return; and the moment they re-entered the parlour, she said impatiently
to her son, “Mortimer, why are you not gone?”

He heard her not, however; his whole attention was upon Cecilia, who,
sinking into a chair, hid her face against Mrs Delvile: but, reviving in
a few moments, and blushing at the weakness she had betrayed, she raised
her head, and, with an assumed serenity, said, “I am better,--much
better,--I was rather sick,--but it is over; and now, if you will excuse
me, I will go to my own room.”

She then arose, but her knees trembled, and her head was giddy, and
again seating herself, she forced a faint smile, and said, “Perhaps I
had better keep quiet.”

“Can I bear this!” cried Delvile, “no, it shakes all my
resolution!--loveliest and most beloved Cecilia! forgive my rash
declaration, which I hear retract and forswear, and which no false
pride, no worthless vanity shall again surprise from me!--raise, then,
your eyes--”

“Hot-headed young man!” interrupted Mrs Delvile, with an air of haughty
displeasure, “if you cannot be rational, at least be silent. Miss
Beverley, we will both leave him.”

Shame, and her own earnestness, how restored some strength to Cecilia,
who read with terror in the looks of Mrs Delvile the passions with which
she was agitated, and instantly obeyed her by rising; but her son, who
inherited a portion of her own spirit, rushed between them both and the
door, and exclaimed, “Stay, madam, stay! I cannot let you go: I see your
intention, I see your dreadful purpose; you will work upon the feelings
of Miss Beverley, you will extort from her a promise to see me no more!”

“Oppose not my passing!” cried Mrs Delvile, whose voice, face and manner
spoke the encreasing disturbance of her soul; “I have but too long
talked to you in vain; I must now take some better method for the
security of the honour of my family.”

This moment appeared to Delvile decisive; and casting off in desperation
all timidity and restraint, he suddenly sprang forward, and snatching
the hand of Cecilia from his mother, he exclaimed, “I cannot, I will not
give her up!--nor now, madam, nor ever!--I protest it most solemnly! I
affirm it by my best hopes! I swear it by all that I hold sacred!”

Grief and horror next to frenzy at a disappointment thus unexpected, and
thus peremptory, rose in the face of Mrs Delvile, who, striking her hand
upon her forehead, cried, “My brain is on fire!” and rushed out of the
room.

Cecilia had now no difficulty to disengage herself from Delvile, who,
shocked at the exclamation, and confounded by the sudden departure of
his mother, hastened eagerly to pursue her: she had only flown into the
next parlour; but, upon following her thither, what was his dread and
his alarm, when he saw her extended, upon the floor, her face, hands and
neck all covered with blood! “Great Heaven!” he exclaimed, prostrating
himself by her side, “what is it you have done!--where are you
wounded?--what direful curse have you denounced against your son?”

Not able to speak, she angrily shook her head, and indignantly made a
motion with her hand, that commanded him from her sight.

Cecilia, who had followed, though half dead with terror, had yet the
presence of mind to ring the bell. A servant came immediately; and
Delvile, starting up from his mother, ordered him to fetch the first
surgeon or physician he could find.

The alarm now brought the rest of the servants into the room, and Mrs
Delvile suffered herself to be raised from the ground, and seated in a
chair; she was still silent, but shewed a disgust to any assistance
from her son, that made him deliver her into the hands of the servants,
while, in speechless agony, he only looked on and watched her.

Neither did Cecilia, though forgetting her own sorrow, and no longer
sensible of personal weakness, venture to approach her: uncertain what
had happened, she yet considered herself as the ultimate cause of this
dreadful scene, and feared to risk the effect of the smallest additional
emotion.

The servant returned with a surgeon in a few minutes: Cecilia, unable
to wait and hear what he would say, glided hastily out of the room; and
Delvile, in still greater agitation, followed her quick into the
next parlour; but having eagerly advanced to speak to her, he turned
precipitately about, and hurrying into the hall, walked in hasty steps
up and down it, without courage to enquire what was passing.

At length the surgeon came out: Delvile flew to him, and stopt him,
but could ask no question. His countenance, however, rendered words
unnecessary; the surgeon understood him, and said, “The lady will do
very well; she has burst a blood vessel, but I think it will be of
no consequence. She must be kept quiet and easy, and upon no account
suffered to talk, or to use any exertion.”

Delvile now let him go, and flew himself into a corner to return thanks
to heaven that the evil, however great, was less than he had at first
apprehended. He then went into the parlour to Cecilia, eagerly calling
out, “Heaven be praised, my mother has not voluntarily cursed me!”

“O now then,” cried Cecilia, “once more make her bless you! the violence
of her agitation has already almost destroyed her, and her frame is too
weak for this struggle of contending passions;--go to her, then, and
calm the tumult of her spirits, by acquiescing wholly in her will, and
being to her again the son she thinks she has lost!”

“Alas!” said he, in a tone of the deepest dejection; “I have been
preparing myself for that purpose, and waited but your commands to
finally determine me.”

“Let us both go to her instantly,” said Cecilia; “the least delay may be
fatal.”

She now led the way, and approaching Mrs Delvile, who, faint and weak,
was seated upon an arm chair, and resting her head upon the shoulder of
a maid servant, said, “Lean, dearest madam, upon _me_, and speak not,
but hear us!”

She then took the place of the maid, and desired her and the other
servants to go out of the room. Delvile advanced, but his mother’s eye,
recovering, at his sight, its wonted fire, darted upon him a glance of
such displeasure, that, shuddering with the apprehension of inflaming
again those passions which threatened her destruction, he hastily sank
on one knee, and abruptly exclaimed, “Look at me with less abhorrence,
for I come but to resign myself to your will.”

“Mine, also,” cried Cecilia, “that will shall be; you need not speak
it, we know it, and here solemnly we promise that we will separate for
ever.”

“Revive, then, my mother,” said Delvile, “rely upon our plighted
honours, and think only of your health, for your son will never more
offend you.”

Mrs Delvile, much surprised, and strongly affected, held out her hand to
him, with a look of mingled compassion and obligation, and dropping
her head upon the bosom of Cecilia, who with her other arm she pressed
towards her, she burst into an agony of tears.

“Go, go, Sir!” said Cecilia, cruelly alarmed, “you have said all that is
necessary; leave Mrs Delvile now, and she will be more composed.”

Delvile instantly obeyed, and then his mother, whose mouth still
continued to fill with blood, though it gushed not from her with the
violence it had begun, was prevailed upon by the prayers of Cecilia to
consent to be conveyed into her room; and, as her immediate removal
to another house might be dangerous, she complied also, though very
reluctantly, with her urgent entreaties, that she would take entire
possession of it till the next day.

This point gained, Cecilia left her, to communicate what had passed to
Mrs Charlton; but was told by one of the servants that Mr Delvile begged
first to speak with her in the next room.

She hesitated for a moment whether to grant this request; but
recollecting it was right to acquaint him with his mother’s intention of
staying all night, she went to him.

“How indulgent you are,” cried he, in a melancholy voice, as she opened
the door; “I am now going post to Dr Lyster, whom I shall entreat to
come hither instantly; but I am fearful of again disturbing my mother,
and must therefore rely upon you to acquaint her what is become of me.”

“Most certainly; I have begged her to remain here to-night, and I hope
I shall prevail with her to continue with me till Dr Lyster’s arrival;
after which she will, doubtless, be guided either in staying longer, or
removing elsewhere, by his advice.”

“You are all goodness,” said he, with a deep sigh; “and how I shall
support--but I mean not to return hither, at least not to this
house,--unless, indeed, Dr Lyster’s account should be alarming. I leave
my mother, therefore, to your kindness, and only hope, only entreat,
that your own health,--your own peace of mind--neither by attendance
upon her--by anxiety--by pity for her son--”

He stopt, and seemed gasping for breath; Cecilia turned from him to hide
her emotion, and he proceeded with a rapidity of speech that shewed his
terror of continuing with her any longer, and his struggle with himself
to be gone: “The promise you have made in both our names to my mother,
I shall hold myself bound to observe. I see, indeed, that her reason
or her life would fall the sacrifice of further opposition: of myself,
therefore, it is no longer time to think.--I take of you no leave--I
cannot! yet I would fain tell you the high reverence--but it is better
to say nothing--”

“Much better,” cried Cecilia, with a forced and faint smile; “lose not,
therefore, an instant, but hasten to this good Dr Lyster.”

“I will,” answered he, going to the door; but there, stopping and
turning round, “one thing I should yet,” he added, “wish to say,--I have
been impetuous, violent, unreasonable,--with shame and with regret I
recollect how impetuous, and how unreasonable: I have persecuted, where
I ought in silence to have submitted; I have reproached, where I ought
in candour to have approved; and in the vehemence with which I have
pursued you, I have censured that very dignity of conduct which has
been the basis of my admiration, my esteem, my devotion! but never can
I forget, and never without fresh wonder remember, the sweetness with
which you have borne with me, even when most I offended you. For this
impatience, this violence, this inconsistency, I now most sincerely
beg your pardon; and if, before I go, you could so far condescend as to
pronounce my forgiveness, with a lighter heart, I think, I should quit
you.”

“Do not talk of forgiveness,” said Cecilia, “you have never offended me;
I always knew--always was sure--always imputed--” she stopt, unable to
proceed.

Deeply penetrated by her apparent distress, he with difficulty
restrained himself from falling at her feet; but after a moment’s pause
and recollection, he said, “I understand the generous indulgence you
have shewn me, an indulgence I shall ever revere, and ever grieve to
have abused. I ask you not to remember me,--far, far happier do I wish
you than such a remembrance could make you; but I will pain the
humanity of your disposition no longer. You will tell my mother--but
no matter!--Heaven preserve you, my angelic Cecilia!--Miss Beverley,
I mean, Heaven guide, protect, and bless you! And should I see you no
more, should this be the last sad moment---”

He paused, but presently recovering himself, added, “May I hear, at
least, of your tranquillity, for that alone can have any chance to quiet
or repress the anguish I feel here!”

He then abruptly retreated, and ran out of the house.

Cecilia for a while remained almost stupified with sorrow; she forgot
Mrs Delvile, she forgot Mrs Charlton, she forgot her own design of
apologizing to one, or assisting the other: she continued in the posture
in which he had left her, quite without motion, and almost without
sensibility.



CHAPTER vii.

A MESSAGE.

From this lethargy of sadness Cecilia was soon, however, awakened by the
return of the surgeon, who had brought with him a physician to consult
upon Mrs Delvile’s situation. Terror for the mother once more drove
the son from her thoughts, and she waited with the most apprehensive
impatience to hear the result of the consultation. The physician
declined giving any positive opinion, but, having written a
prescription, only repeated the injunction of the surgeon, that she
should be kept extremely quiet, and on no account be suffered to talk.

Cecilia, though shocked and frightened at the occasion, was yet by no
means sorry at an order which thus precluded all conversation; unfitted
for it by her own misery, she was glad to be relieved from all necessity
of imposing upon herself the irksome task of finding subjects for
discourse to which she was wholly indifferent, while obliged with
sedulity to avoid those by which alone her mind was occupied.

The worthy Mrs Charlton heard the events of the morning with the utmost
concern, but charged her grand-daughters to assist her young friend in
doing the honours of her house to Mrs Delvile, while she ordered another
apartment to be prepared for Cecilia, to whom she administered all the
consolation her friendly zeal could suggest.

Cecilia, however unhappy, had too just a way of thinking to indulge in
selfish grief, where occasion called her to action for the benefit
of others: scarce a moment, therefore now did she allow to sorrow and
herself, but assiduously bestowed the whole of her time upon her two
sick friends, dividing her attention according to their own desire or
convenience, without consulting or regarding any choice of her own.
Choice, indeed, she had none; she loved Mrs Charlton, she revered Mrs
Delvile; the warmest wish with which her heart glowed, was the recovery
of both, but too deep was her affliction to receive pleasure from
either.

Two days passed thus, during which the constancy of her attendance,
which at another time would have fatigued her, proved the only relief
she was capable of receiving. Mrs Delvile was evidently affected by her
vigilant tenderness, but seemed equally desirous with herself to make
use of the prohibition to speech as an excuse for uninterrupted silence.
She enquired not even after her son, though the eagerness of her look
towards the door whenever it was opened, shewed either a hope, or an
apprehension that he might enter. Cecilia wished to tell her whither
he was gone, but dreaded trusting her voice with his name; and their
silence, after a while, seemed so much by mutual consent, that she had
soon as little courage as she had inclination to break it.

The arrival of Dr Lyster gave her much satisfaction, for upon him
rested her hopes of Mrs Delvile’s re-establishment. He sent for her down
stairs, to enquire whether he was expected; and hearing that he was not,
desired her to announce him, as the smallest emotion might do mischief.

She returned up stairs, and after a short preparation, said, “Your
favourite Dr Lyster, madam, is come, and I shall be much the happier for
having you under his care.”

“Dr Lyster?” cried she, “who sent for him?”

“I believe--I fancy--Mr Delvile fetched him.”

“My son?--is he here, then?”

“No,--he went, the moment he left you, for Dr Lyster,--and Dr Lyster is
come by himself.”

“Does he write to you?”

“No, indeed!--he writes not--he comes not--dearest madam be satisfied,
he will do neither to me ever more!”

“Exemplary young man!” cried she, in a voice hardly audible, “how great
is his loss!--unhappy Mortimer!--ill-fated, and ill-rewarded!”

She sighed, and said no more; but this short conversation, the only one
which had passed between them since her illness, agitated her so
much, that Dr Lyster, who now came up stairs, found her in a state of
trembling and weakness that both alarmed and surprised him. Cecilia,
glad of an opportunity to be gone, left the room, and sent, by Dr
Lyster’s desire, for the physician and surgeon who had already attended.

After they had been some time with their patient, they retired to a
consultation, and when it was over, Dr Lyster waited upon Cecilia in
the parlour, and assured her he had no apprehension of danger for
Mrs Delvile, “Though, for another week,” he added, “I would have her
continue your _patient_, as she is not yet fit to be removed. But pray
mind that she is kept quiet; let nobody go near her, not even her own
son. By the way he is waiting for me at the inn, so I’ll just speak
again to his mother, and be gone.”

Cecilia was well pleased by this accidental information, to learn
both the anxiety of Delvile for his mother, and the steadiness of his
forbearance for himself. When Dr Lyster came down stairs again, “I shall
stay,” he said, “till to-morrow, but I hope she will be able in another
week to get to Bristol. In the mean time I shall leave her, I see, with
an excellent nurse. But, my good young lady, in your care of her, don’t
neglect yourself; I am not quite pleased with your looks, though it is
but an old fashioned speech to tell you so.--What have you been doing to
yourself?”

“Nothing;” said she, a little embarrassed; “but had you not better have
some tea?”

“Why yes, I think I had;--but what shall I do with my young man?”

Cecilia understood the hint, but coloured, and made no answer.

“He is waiting for me,” he continued, “at the inn; however, I never yet
knew the young man I would prefer to a young woman, so if you will give
me some tea here, I shall certainly jilt him.”

Cecilia instantly rang the bell, and ordered tea.

“Well now,” said he, “remember the sin of this breach of appointment
lies wholly at your door. I shall tell him you laid violent hands on
me; and if that is not, enough to excuse me, I shall desire he will try
whether he could be more of a stoic with you himself.”

“I think I must unorder the tea,” said she, with what gaiety she could
assume, “if I am to be responsible for any mischief from your drinking
it.”

“No, no, you shan’t be off now; but pray would it be quite out of rule
for you to send and ask him to come to us?”

“Why I believe--I think--” said she, stammering, “it’s very likely he
may be engaged.”

“Well, well, I don’t mean to propose any violent incongruity. You must
excuse my blundering; I understand but little of the etiquette of young
ladies. ‘Tis a science too intricate to be learned without more study
than we plodding men of business can well spare time for. However, when
I have done _writing_ prescriptions, I will set about _reading_ them,
provided you will be my instructress.”

Cecilia, though ashamed of a charge in which prudery and affectation
were implied, was compelled to submit to it, as either to send for
Delvile, or explain her objections, was equally impossible. The Miss
Charltons, therefore, joined them, and they went to tea.

Just as they had done, a note was delivered to Dr Lyster; “see here,”
 cried he, when he had read it, “what a fine thing it is to be a _young_
man! Why now, Mr Mortimer understands as much of all this _etiquette_ as
you ladies do yourselves; for he only writes a note even to ask how his
mother does.”

He then put it into Cecilia’s hand.

_To Dr Lyster_.

Tell me, my dear Sir, how you have found my mother? I am uneasy at
your long stay, and engaged with my friend Biddulph, or I should have
followed you in person.

M.D.

“So you see,” continued the doctor, “I need not do penance for
engaging myself to you, when this young gentleman can find such good
entertainment for himself.”

Cecilia who well knew the honourable motive of Delvile’s engagement,
with difficulty forbore speaking in his vindication. Dr Lyster
immediately began an answer, but before he had finished it, called out,
“Now as I am told you are a very good young woman, I think you can do no
less than assist me to punish this gay spark, for playing the macaroni,
when he ought to visit his sick mother.”

Cecilia, much hurt for Delvile, and much confused for herself, looked
abashed, but knew not what to answer.

“My scheme,” continued the doctor, “is to tell him, that as he has found
one engagement for tea, he may find another for supper; but that as to
me, I am better disposed of, for you insist upon keeping me to yourself.
Come, what says _etiquette_? may I treat myself with this puff?”

“Certainly,” said Cecilia, endeavouring to look pleased, “if you will
favour us with your company, Miss Charltons and myself will think the
_puffing_ should rather be ours than yours.”

“That, then,” said the doctor, “will not answer my purpose, for I mean
the puff to be my own, or how do I punish him? So, suppose I tell him
I shall not only sup with three young ladies, but be invited to a
_tete-a-tete_ with one of them into the bargain?”

The young ladies only laughed, and the doctor finished his note, and
sent it away; and then, turning gaily to Cecilia, “Come,” he said, “why
don’t you give me this invitation? surely you don’t mean to make me
guilty of perjury?”

Cecilia, but little disposed for pleasantry, would gladly now have dropt
the subject; but Dr Lyster, turning to the Miss Charltons, said, “Young
ladies, I call you both to witness if this is not very bad usage: this
young woman has connived at my writing a downright falsehood, and all
the time took me in to believe it was a truth. The only way I can think
of to cure her of such frolics, is for both of you to leave us together,
and so make her keep her word whether she will or no.”

The Miss Charltons took the hint, and went away; while Cecilia, who
had not at all suspected he meant seriously to speak with her, remained
extremely perplexed to think what he had to say.

“Mrs Delvile,” cried he, continuing the same air of easy good humour,
“though I allowed her not to speak to me above twenty words, took up
near ten of them to tell me that you had behaved to her like an angel.
Why so she ought, cried I; what else was she sent for here to look
so like one? I charged her, therefore, to take all that as a thing of
course; and to prove that I really think what I say, I am now going to
make a trial of you, that, if you are any thing less, will induce you to
order some of your men to drive me into the street. The truth is, I have
had a little commission given me, which in the first place I know not
how to introduce, and which, in the second, as far as I can judge,
appears to be absolutely superfluous.”

Cecilia now felt uneasy and alarmed, and begged him to explain himself.
He then dropt the levity with which he had begun the discourse, and
after a grave, yet gentle preparation, expressive of his unwillingness
to distress her, and his firm persuasion of her uncommon worthiness, he
acquainted her that he was no stranger to her situation with respect to
the Delvile family.

“Good God!” cried she, blushing and much amazed; “and who”---

“I knew it,” said he, “from the moment I attended Mr Mortimer in his
illness at Delvile Castle. He could not conceal from me that the seat
of his disorder was his mind; and I could not know that, without readily
conjecturing the cause, when I saw who was his father’s guest, and when
I knew what was his father’s character. He found he was betrayed to me,
and upon my advising a journey, he understood me properly. His openness
to counsel, and the manly firmness with which he behaved in quitting
you, made me hope the danger was blown over. But last week, when I was
at the Castle, where I have for some time attended Mr Delvile, who has
had a severe fit of the gout, I found him in an agitation of spirits
that made me apprehend it would be thrown into his stomach. I desired
Mrs Delvile to use her influence to calm him; but she was herself in
still greater emotion, and acquainting me she was obliged to leave
him, desired I would spend with him every moment in my power. I have
therefore almost lived at the Castle during her absence, and, in
the course of our many conversations, he has acknowledged to me the
uneasiness under which he has laboured, from the intelligence concerning
his son, which he had just received.”

Cecilia wished here to enquire _how_ received, and from whom, but had
not the courage, and therefore he proceeded.

“I was still with the father when Mr Mortimer arrived post at my house
to fetch me hither. I was sent for home; he informed me of his errand
without disguise, for he knew I was well acquainted with the original
secret whence all the evil arose. I told him my distress in what
manner to leave his father; and he was extremely shocked himself when
acquainted with his situation. We agreed that it would be vain to
conceal from him the indisposition of Mrs Delvile, which the delay of
her return, and a thousand other accidents, might in some unfortunate
way make known to him. He commissioned me, therefore, to break it to
him, that he might consent to my journey, and at the same time to quiet
his own mind, by assuring him all he had apprehended was wholly at an
end.”

He stopt, and looked to see how Cecilia bore these words.

“It is all at an end, Sir;” said she, with firmness; “but I have not yet
heard your commission; what, and from whom is that?”

“I am thoroughly satisfied it is unnecessary;” he answered, “since the
young man can but submit, and you can but give him up.”

“But still, if there is a message, it is fit I should hear it.”

“If you chase it, so it is. I told Mr Delvile whither I was coming,
and I repeated to him his son’s assurances. He was relieved, but not
satisfied; he would not see him, and gave me for him a prohibition of
extreme severity, and to _you_ he bid me say--”

“From _him_, then, is my message?” cried Cecilia, half frightened, and
much disappointed.

“Yes,” said he, understanding her immediately, “for the son, after
giving me his first account, had the wisdom and forbearance not once to
mention you.”

“I am very glad,” said she, with a mixture of admiration and regret, “to
hear it. But, what, Sir, said Mr Delvile?”

“He bid me tell you that either _he_, or _you_ must see his son never
more.”

“It was indeed unnecessary,” cried she, colouring with resentment, “to
send me such a message. I meant not to see him again, he meant not to
desire it. I return him, however, no answer, and I will make him no
promise; to Mrs Delvile alone I hold myself bound; to him, send what
messages he may, I shall always hold myself free. But believe me, Dr
Lyster, if with his name, his son had inherited his character, his
desire of our separation would be feeble, and trifling, compared with my
own!”

“I am sorry, my good young lady,” said he, “to have given you this
disturbance; yet I admire your spirit, and doubt not but it will enable
you to forget any little disappointment you may have suffered. And what,
after all, have you to regret? Mortimer Delvile is, indeed, a young man
that any woman might wish to attach; but every woman cannot have him,
and you, of all women, have least reason to repine in missing him,
for scarcely is there another man you may not chuse or reject at your
pleasure.”

Little as was the consolation Cecilia could draw from this speech,
she was sensible it became not her situation to make complaints, and
therefore, to end the conversation she proposed calling in the Miss
Charltons.

“No, no,” said he, “I must step up again to Mrs Delvile, and then
be-gone. To-morrow morning I shall but call to see how she is, and leave
some directions, and set off. Mr Mortimer Delvile accompanies me back:
but he means to return hither in a week, in order to travel with his
mother to Bristol. Mean time, I purpose to bring about a reconciliation
between him and his father, whose prejudices are more intractable than
any man’s I ever met with.”

“It will be strange indeed,” said Cecilia, “should a reconciliation
_now_ be difficult!”

“True; but it is long since he was young himself, and the softer
affections he never was acquainted with, and only regards them in his
son as derogatory to his whole race. However, if there were not some few
such men, there would hardly be a family in the kingdom that could count
a great grand-father. I am not, I must own, of his humour myself, but
I think it rather peculiarly stranger, than peculiarly worse than most
other peoples; and how, for example, was that of _your_ uncle a whit the
better? He was just as fond of _his_ name, as if, like Mr Delvile, he
could trace it from the time of the Saxons.”

Cecilia strongly felt the truth of this observation, but not chusing to
discuss it, made not any answer, and Dr Lyster, after a few good-natured
apologies, both for his friends the Delviles and himself, went up
stairs.

“What continual disturbance,” cried she, when left alone, “keeps me
thus for-ever from rest! no sooner is one wound closed, but another is
opened; mortification constantly succeeds distress, and when my heart is
spared; my pride is attacked, that not a moment of tranquility may ever
be allowed me! Had the lowest of women won the affections of Mr Delvile,
could his father with less delicacy or less decency have acquainted her
with his inflexible disapprobation? To send with so little ceremony a
message so contemptuous and so peremptory!--but perhaps it is better,
for had he, too, like Mrs Delvile, joined kindness with rejection, I
might still more keenly have felt the perverseness of my destiny.”



CHAPTER vii.

A PARTING.

The next morning Dr Lyster called early, and having visited Mrs Delvile,
and again met the two gentlemen of the faculty in whose care she was to
remain, he took his leave. But not without contriving first to speak a
few words to Cecilia in private, in which he charged her to be careful
of her health, and re-animate her spirits. “Don’t suppose,” said he,
“that because I am a friend of the Delvile family, I am either blind to
your merits, or to their foibles, far from it; but then why should
they interfere with one another? Let them keep their prejudices, which,
though different, are not worse than their neighbours, and do you retain
your excellencies, and draw from them the happiness they ought to give
you. People reason and refine themselves into a thousand miseries, by
chusing to settle that they can only be contented one way; whereas,
there are fifty ways, if they would but look about them, that would
commonly do as well.”

“I believe, indeed, you are right,” answered Cecilia, “and I thank you
for the admonition; I will do what I can towards studying your scheme of
philosophy, and it is always one step to amendment, to be convinced that
we want it.”

“You are a sensible and charming girl,” said Dr Lyster, “and Mr Delvile,
should he find a daughter-in-law descended in a right line from Egbert,
first king of all England, won’t be so well off as if he had satisfied
himself with you. However, the old gentleman has a fair right, after
all, to be pleased his own way, and let us blame him how we will, we
shall find, upon sifting, it is for no other reason but because his
humour happens to clash with our own.”

“That, indeed,” said Cecilia, smiling, “is a truth incontrovertible! and
a truth to which, for the future, I will endeavour to give more weight.
But will you permit me now to ask one question?--Can you tell me
from whom, how, or when the intelligence which has caused all this
disturbance---”

She hesitated, but, comprehending her readily, he answered “How they got
at it, I never heard, for I never thought it worth while to enquire, as
it is so generally known, that nobody I meet with seems ignorant of it.”

This was another, and a cruel shock to Cecilia, and Dr Lyster,
perceiving it, again attempted to comfort her. “That the affair is
somewhat spread,” said he, “is now not to be helped, and therefore
little worth thinking of; every body will agree that the choice of
both does honour to both, and nobody need be ashamed to be successor to
either, whenever the course of things leads Mr Mortimer and yourself
to make another election. He wisely intends to go abroad, and will not
return till he is his own man again. And as to you, my good young
lady, what, after a short time given to vexation, need interrupt your
happiness? You have the whole world before you, with youth, fortune,
talents, beauty and independence; drive, therefore, from your head
this unlucky affair, and remember there can hardly be a family in the
kingdom, this one excepted, that will not rejoice in a connection with
you.”

He then good-humouredly shook hands with her, and went into his chaise.

Cecilia, though not slow in remarking the ease and philosophy with
which every one can argue upon the calamities, and moralize upon the
misconduct of others, had still the candour and good sense to see that
there was reason in what he urged, and to resolve upon making the best
use in her power of the hints for consolation she might draw from his
discourse.

During the following week, she devoted herself almost wholly to Mrs
Delvile, sharing with the maid, whom she had brought with her from the
Castle, the fatigue of nursing her, and leaving to the Miss Charltons
the chief care of their grandmother. For Mrs Delvile appeared every hour
more sensible of her attention, and more desirous of her presence, and
though neither of them spoke, each was endeared to the other by the
tender offices of friendship which were paid and received.

When this week was expired, Dr Lyster was prevailed upon to return again
to Bury, in order to travel himself with Mrs Delvile to Bristol. “Well,”
 cried he, taking Cecilia by the first opportunity aside, “how are you?
Have you studied my scheme of philosophy, as you promised me?”

“O yes,” said she, “and made, I flatter myself, no little proficiency.”

“You are a good girl,” cried he, “a very extraordinary girl! I am sure
you are; and upon my honour I pity poor Mortimer with all my soul! But
he is a noble young fellow, and behaves with a courage and spirit that
does me good to behold. To have obtained you, he would have moved heaven
and earth, but finding you out of his reach, he submits to his fate like
a man.”

Cecilia’s eyes glistened at this speech; “Yes,” said she, “he long since
said ‘tis suspence, ‘tis hope, that make the misery of life,--for there
the Passions have all power, and Reason has none. But when evils are
irremediable, and we have neither resources to plan, nor castle-building
to delude us, we find time for the cultivation of philosophy, and
flatter ourselves, perhaps, that we have found inclination!”

“Why you have considered this matter very deeply,” said he; “but I must
not have you give way to these serious reflections. Thought, after all,
has a cruel spite against happiness; I would have you, therefore, keep
as much as you conveniently can, out of its company. Run about and
divert yourself, ‘tis all you have for it. The true art of happiness in
this most whimsical world, seems nothing more nor less than this--Let
those who have leisure, find employment, and those who have business,
find leisure.”

He then told her that Mr Delvile senior was much better, and no longer
confined to his room: and that he had had the pleasure of seeing an
entire reconciliation take place between him and his son, of whom he was
more fond and more proud than any other father in the universe.

“Think of him, however, my dear young lady,” he continued, “no more,
for the matter I see is desperate: you must pardon my being a little
officious, when I confess to you I could not help proposing to the old
gentleman an expedient of my own; for as I could not drive you out of
my head, I employed myself in thinking what might be done by way of
accommodation. Now my scheme was really a very good one, only when
people are prejudiced, all reasoning is thrown away upon them. I
proposed sinking _both_ your names, since they are so at variance
with one another, and so adopting a third, by means of a title. But Mr
Delvile angrily declared, that though such a scheme might do very
well for the needy Lord Ernolf, a Peer of twenty years, his own noble
ancestors should never, by his consent, forfeit a name which so many
centuries had rendered honourable. His son Mortimer, he added, must
inevitably inherit the title of his grandfather, his uncle being old
and unmarried; but yet he would rather see him a beggar, than lose his
dearest hope that _Delvile_, Lord _Delvile_, would descend, both name
and title, from generation to generation unsullied and uninterrupted.”

“I am sorry, indeed,” said Cecilia, “that such a proposal was made, and
I earnestly entreat that none of any sort may be repeated.”

“Well, well,” said he, “I would not for the world do any mischief, but
who would not have supposed such a proposal would have done good?”

“Mr Mortimer,” he then added, “is to meet us at--for he would not, he
said, come again to this place, upon such terms as he was here last
week, for the whole worth of the king’s dominions.”

The carriage was now ready, and Mrs Delvile was prepared to depart.
Cecilia approached to take leave of her, but Dr Lyster following, said
“No talking! no thanking! no compliments of any sort! I shall carry off
my patient without permitting one civil speech, and for all the rudeness
I make her guilty of, I am willing to be responsible.”

Cecilia would then have retreated, but Mrs Delvile, holding out both her
hands, said “To every thing else, Dr Lyster, I am content to submit; but
were I to die while uttering the words, I cannot leave this inestimable
creature without first saying how much I love her, how I honour, and
how I thank her! without entreating her to be careful of her health, and
conjuring her to compleat the greatness of her conduct, by not suffering
her spirits to sink from the exertion of her virtue. And now my love,
God bless you!”

She then embraced her, and went on; Cecilia, at a motion of Dr Lyster’s,
forbearing to follow her.

“And thus,” cried she, when they were gone, “thus ends all my connection
with this family! which it seems as if I was only to have known for the
purpose of affording a new proof of the insufficiency of situation to
constitute happiness. Who looks not upon mine as the perfection of
human felicity?--And so, perhaps, it is, for it may be that Felicity and
Humanity are never permitted to come nearer.”

And thus, in philosophic sadness, by reasoning upon the universality
of misery, she restrained, at least, all violence of sorrow, though her
spirits were dejected, and her heart was heavy.

But the next day brought with it some comfort that a little lightened
her sadness; Mrs Charlton, almost wholly recovered, was able to go down
stairs, and Cecilia had at least the satisfaction of seeing an happy
conclusion to an illness of which, with the utmost concern and regret,
she considered herself as the cause. She attended her with the most
unremitting assiduity, and being really very thankful, endeavoured
to appear happy, and flattered herself that, by continual effort, the
appearance in a short time would become reality.

Mrs Charlton retired early, and Cecilia accompanied her up stairs:
and while she was with her, was informed that Mr Monckton was in the
parlour.

The various, afflicting, and uncommon scenes in which she had been
engaged since she last saw him, had almost wholly driven him from her
remembrance, or when at any time he recurred to it, it was only to
attribute the discontinuance of his visits to the offence she had
given him, in refusing to follow his advice by relinquishing her London
expedition.

Full, therefore, of the mortifying transactions which had passed since
their parting, and fearful of his enquiries into disgraces he had nearly
foretold, she heard him announced with chagrin, and waited upon him in
the most painful confusion.

Far different were the feelings of Mr Monckton; he read in her
countenance the dejection of disappointment, which impressed upon his
heart the vivacity of hope: her evident shame was to him secret triumph,
her ill-concealed sorrow revived all his expectations.

She hastily began a conversation by mentioning her debt to him, and
apologising for not paying it the moment she was of age. He knew but
too well how her time had been occupied, and assured her the delay was
wholly immaterial.

He then led to an enquiry into the present situation of her affairs;
but unable to endure a disquisition, which could only be productive of
censure and mortification, she hastily stopt it, exclaiming, “Ask me
not, I entreat you, Sir, any detail of what has passed,--the event has
brought me sufferings that may well make blame be dispensed with;--I
acknowledge all your wisdom, I am sensible of my own error, but the
affair is wholly dropt, and the unhappy connection I was forming is
broken off for-ever!”

Little now was Mr Monckton’s effort in repressing his further curiosity,
and he started other subjects with readiness, gaiety and address. He
mentioned Mrs Charlton, for whom he had not the smallest regard; he
talked to her of Mrs Harrel, whose very existence was indifferent to
him; and he spoke of their common acquaintance in the country, for not
one of whom he would have grieved, if assured of meeting no more. His
powers of conversation were enlivened by his hopes; and his exhilarated
spirits made all subjects seem happy to him. A weight was removed from
his mind which had nearly borne down even his remotest hopes; the object
of his eager pursuit seemed still within his reach, and the rival into
whose power he had so lately almost beheld her delivered, was totally
renounced, and no longer to be dreaded. A revolution such as this,
raised expectations more sanguine than ever; and in quitting the house,
he exultingly considered himself released from every obstacle to his
views--till, just as he arrived home, he recollected his wife!



CHAPTER viii.

A TALE.

A week passed, during which Cecilia, however sad, spent her time as
usual with the family, denying to herself all voluntary indulgence of
grief, and forbearing to seek consolation from solitude, or relief from
tears. She never named Delvile, she begged Mrs Charlton never to mention
him; she called to her aid the account she had received from Dr Lyster
of his firmness, and endeavoured, by an emulous ambition, to fortify her
mind from the weakness of depression and regret.

This week, a week of struggle with all her feelings, was just elapsed,
when she received by the post the following letter from Mrs Delvile.

_To Miss Beverley_.

BRISTOL, _Oct_. 21.

My sweet young friend will not, I hope, be sorry to hear of my safe
arrival at this place: to me every account of her health and welfare,
will ever be the intelligence I shall most covet to receive. Yet I mean
not to ask for it in return; to chance I will trust for information, and
I only write now to say I shall write no more.

Too much for thanks is what I owe you, and what I think of you is beyond
all power of expression. Do not, then, wish me ill, ill as I have seemed
to merit of you, for my own heart is almost broken by the tyranny I have
been compelled to practise upon yours. And now let me bid a long adieu
to you, my admirable Cecilia; you shall not be tormented with a useless
correspondence, which can only awaken painful recollections, or give
rise to yet more painful new anxieties. Fervently will I pray for
the restoration of your happiness, to which nothing can so greatly
contribute as that wise, that uniform command, so feminine, yet so
dignified, you maintain over your passions; which often I have admired,
though never so feelingly as at this conscious moment! when my own
health is the sacrifice of emotions most fatally unrestrained.

Send to me no answer, even if you have the sweetness to wish it; every
new proof of the generosity of your nature is to me but a new wound.
Forget us, therefore, wholly,--alas! you have only known us for sorrow!
forget us, dear and invaluable Cecilia! though, ever, as you have
nobly deserved, must you be fondly and gratefully remembered by AUGUSTA
DELVILE.

The attempted philosophy, and laboured resignation of Cecilia, this
letter destroyed: the struggle was over, the apathy was at an end, and
she burst into an agony of tears, which finding the vent they had
long sought, now flowed unchecked down her cheeks, sad monitors of the
weakness of reason opposed to the anguish of sorrow!

A letter at once so caressing, yet so absolute, forced its way to her
heart, in spite of the fortitude she had flattered herself was its
guard. In giving up Delvile she was satisfied of the propriety of seeing
him no more, and convinced that even to talk of him would be folly
and imprudence; but to be told that for the future they must remain
strangers to the existence of each other--there seemed in this a
hardship, a rigour, that was insupportable.

“Oh what,” cried she, “is human nature! in its best state how imperfect!
that a woman such as this, so noble in character, so elevated in
sentiment, with heroism to sacrifice to her sense of duty the happiness
of a son, whom with joy she would die to serve, can herself be thus
governed by prejudice, thus enslaved, thus subdued by opinion!” Yet
never, even when miserable, unjust or irrational; her grief was unmixed
with anger, and her tears streamed not from resentment, but affliction.
The situation of Mrs Delvile, however different, she considered to be
as wretched as her own. She read, therefore, with sadness, but not
bitterness, her farewell, and received not with disdain, but with
gratitude, her sympathy. Yet though her indignation was not irritated,
her sufferings were doubled, by a farewell so kind, yet so despotic, a
sympathy so affectionate, yet so hopeless.

In this first indulgence of grief which she had granted to her
disappointment, she was soon interrupted by a summons down stairs to a
gentleman.

Unfit and unwilling to be seen, she begged that he might leave his name,
and appoint a time for calling again.

Her maid brought for answer, that he believed his name was unknown to
her, and desired to see her now, unless she was employed in some matter
of moment. She then put up her letter, and went into the parlour; and
there, to her infinite amazement, beheld Mr Albany.

“How little, Sir,” she cried, “did I expect this pleasure.”

“This pleasure,” repeated he, “do you call it?--what strange abuse of
words! what causeless trifling with honesty! is language of no purpose
but to wound the ear with untruths? is the gift of speech only granted
us to pervert the use of understanding? I can give you no pleasure,
I have no power to give it any one; you can give none to me-the whole
world could not invest you with the means!”

“Well, Sir,” said Cecilia, who had little spirit to defend herself, “I
will not vindicate the expression, but of this I will unfeignedly assure
you, I am at least as glad to see you just now, as I should be to see
anybody.”

“Your eyes,” cried he, “are red, your voice is inarticulate;--young,
rich, and attractive, the world at your feet; that world yet untried,
and its falsehood unknown, how have you thus found means to anticipate
misery? which way have you uncovered the cauldron of human woes? Fatal
and early anticipation! that cover once removed, can never be replaced;
those woes, those boiling woes, will pour out upon you continually,
and only when your heart ceases to beat, will their ebullition cease to
torture you!”

“Alas!” cried Cecilia, shuddering, “how cruel, yet how true!”

“Why went you,” cried he, “to the cauldron? it came not to you. Misery
seeks not man, but man misery. He walks out in the sun, but stops
not for a cloud; confident, he pursues his way, till the storm which,
gathering, he might have avoided, bursts over his devoted head. Scared
and amazed, he repents his temerity; he calls, but it is then too late;
he runs, but it is thunder which follows him! Such is the presumption
of man, such at once is the arrogance and shallowness of his nature! And
thou, simple and blind! hast thou, too, followed whither Fancy has led
thee, unheeding that thy career was too vehement for tranquility,
nor missing that lovely companion of youth’s early innocence, till,
adventurous and unthinking, thou hast lost her for ever!”

In the present weak state of Cecilia’s spirits, this attack was too much
for her; and the tears she had just, and with difficulty restrained,
again forced their way down her cheeks, as she answered, “It is but too
true,--I have lost her for ever!”

“Poor thing,” said he, while the rigour of his countenance was
softened into the gentlest commiseration, “so young!--looking, too, so
innocent--‘tis hard!--And is nothing left thee? no small remaining hope,
to cheat, humanely cheat thy yet not wholly extinguished credulity?”

Cecilia wept without answering.

“Let me not,” said he, “waste my compassion upon nothing; compassion is
with me no effusion of affectation; tell me, then, if thou deservest it,
or if thy misfortunes are imaginary, and thy grief is factitious?”

“Factitious,” repeated she, “Good heaven!”

“Answer me, then, these questions, in which I shall comprise the only
calamities for which sorrow has no controul, or none from human motives.
Tell me, then, have you lost by death the friend of your bosom?”

“No!”

“Is your fortune dissipated by extravagance, and your power of relieving
the distressed at an end?”

“No; the power and the will are I hope equally undiminished.”

“O then, unhappy girl! have you been guilty of some vice, and hangs
remorse thus heavy on your conscience?”

“No, no; thank heaven, to that misery, at least, I am a stranger!”

His countenance now again resumed its severity, and, in the sternest
manner, “Whence then,” he said, “these tears? and what is this caprice
you dignify with the name of sorrow?--strange wantonness of indolence
and luxury! perverse repining of ungrateful plenitude!--oh hadst thou
known what _I_ have suffered!”--

“Could I lessen what you have suffered,” said Cecilia, “I should
sincerely rejoice; but heavy indeed must be your affliction, if mine in
its comparison deserves to be styled caprice!”

“Caprice!” repeated he, “‘tis joy! ‘tis extacy compared with mine!--Thou
hast not in licentiousness wasted thy inheritance! thou hast not by
remorse barred each avenue to enjoyment! nor yet has the cold grave
seized the beloved of thy soul!”

“Neither,” said Cecilia, “I hope, are the evils you have yourself
sustained so irremediable?”

“Yes, I have borne them all!--_have_ borne? I bear them still; I shall
bear them while I breathe! I may rue them, perhaps, yet longer.”

“Good God!” cried Cecilia, shrinking, “what a world is this! how full of
woe and wickedness!”

“Yet thou, too, canst complain,” cried he, “though happy in life’s only
blessing, Innocence! thou, too, canst murmur, though stranger to death’s
only terror, Sin! Oh yet if thy sorrow is unpolluted with guilt, be
regardless of all else, and rejoice in thy destiny!”

“But who,” cried she, deeply sighing, “shall teach me such a lesson of
joy, when all within rises to oppose it?”

“I,” cried he, “will teach it thee, for I will tell thee my own sad
story. Then wilt thou find how much happier is thy lot, then wilt thou
raise thy head in thankful triumph.”

“O no! triumph comes not so lightly! yet if you will venture to trust
me with some account of yourself, I shall be glad to hear it, and much
obliged by the communication.”

“I will,” he answered, “whatever I may suffer: to awaken thee from this
dream of fancied sorrow, I will open all my wounds, and thou shalt probe
them with fresh shame.”

“No, indeed,” cried Cecilia with quickness, “I will not hear you, if the
relation will be so painful.”

“Upon _me_ this humanity is lost,” said he, “since punishment and
penitence alone give me comfort. I will tell thee, therefore, my crimes,
that thou mayst know thy own felicity, lest, ignorant it means nothing
but innocence, thou shouldst lose it, unconscious of its value. Listen
then to me, and learn what Misery is! Guilt is alone the basis of
lasting unhappiness;--Guilt is the basis of mine, and therefore I am a
wretch for ever!”

Cecilia would again have declined hearing him, but he refused to be
spared: and as her curiosity had long been excited to know something of
his history, and the motives of his extraordinary conduct, she was glad
to have it satisfied, and gave him the utmost attention.

“I will not speak to you of my family,” said he; “historical accuracy
would little answer to either of us. I am a native of the West Indies,
and I was early sent hither to be educated. While I was yet at the
University, I saw, I adored, and I pursued the fairest flower that ever
put forth its sweet buds, the softest heart that ever was broken by
ill-usage! She was poor and unprotected, the daughter of a villager;
she was untaught and unpretending, the child of simplicity! But fifteen
summers had she bloomed, and her heart was an easy conquest; yet, once
made mine, it resisted all allurement to infidelity. My fellow students
attacked her; she was assaulted by all the arts of seduction; flattery,
bribery, supplication, all were employed, yet all failed; she was wholly
my own; and with sincerity so attractive, I determined to marry her in
defiance of all worldly objections.

“The sudden death of my father called me hastily to Jamaica; I feared
leaving this treasure unguarded, yet in decency could neither marry nor
take her directly; I pledged my faith, therefore, to return to her,
as soon as I had settled my affairs, and I left to a bosom friend the
inspection of her conduct in my absence.

“To leave her was madness,--to trust in man was madness,--Oh hateful
race! how has the world been abhorrent to me since that time! I have
loathed the light of the sun, I have shrunk from the commerce of my
fellow creatures; the voice of man I have detested, his sight I have
abominated!--but oh, more than all should I be abominated myself!

“When I came to my fortune, intoxicated with sudden power, I forgot this
fair blossom, I revelled in licentiousness and vice, and left it exposed
and forlorn. Riot succeeded riot, till a fever, incurred by my own
intemperance, first gave me time to think. Then was she revenged, for
then first remorse was my portion: her image was brought back to my mind
with frantic fondness, and bitterest contrition. The moment I recovered,
I returned to England; I flew to claim her,--but she was lost! no one
knew whither she was gone; the wretch I had trusted pretended to know
least of all; yet, after a furious search, I traced her to a cottage,
where he had concealed her himself!

“When she saw me, she screamed and would have flown; I stopt her, and
told her I came faithfully and honourably to make her my wife:--her
own faith and honour, though sullied, were not extinguished, for she
instantly acknowledged the fatal tale of her undoing!

“Did I recompense this ingenuousness? this unexampled, this beautiful
sacrifice to intuitive integrity? Yes! with my curses!--I loaded her
with execrations, I reviled her in language the most opprobrious, I
insulted her even for her confession! I invoked all evil upon her
from the bottom of my heart--She knelt at my feet, she implored
my forgiveness and compassion, she wept with the bitterness of
despair,--and yet I spurned her from me!--Spurned?--let me not hide
my shame! I barbarously struck her!--nor single was the blow!--it was
doubled, it was reiterated!--Oh wretch, unyielding and unpitying!
where shall hereafter be clemency for thee!--So fair a form! so young a
culprit! so infamously seduced! so humbly penitent!

“In this miserable condition, helpless and deplorable, mangled by these
savage hands, and reviled by this inhuman tongue, I left her, in search
of the villain who had destroyed her: but, cowardly as treacherous,
he had absconded. Repenting my fury, I hastened to her again; the
fierceness of my cruelty shamed me when I grew calmer, the softness of
her sorrow melted me upon recollection: I returned, therefore, to soothe
her,--but again she was gone! terrified with expectation of insult, she
hid herself from all my enquiries. I wandered in search of her two long
years to no purpose, regardless of my affairs, and of all things but
that pursuit. At length, I thought I saw her--in London, alone, and
walking in the streets at midnight,--I fearfully followed her,--and
followed her into an house of infamy!

“The wretches by whom she was surrounded were noisy and drinking, they
heeded me little,--but she saw and knew me at once! She did not speak,
nor did I,--but in two moments she fainted and fell.

“Yet did I not help her; the people took their own measures to recover
her, and when she was again able to stand, would have removed her to
another apartment.

“I then went forward, and forcing them away from her with all the
strength of desperation, I turned to the unhappy sinner, who to chance
only seemed to leave what became of her, and cried, From this scene of
vice and horror let me yet rescue you! you look still unfit for such
society, trust yourself, therefore, to me. I seized her hand, I drew,
I almost dragged her away. She trembled, she could scarce totter, but
neither consented nor refused, neither shed a tear, nor spoke a word,
and her countenance presented a picture of affright, amazement, and
horror.

“I took her to a house in the country, each of us silent the whole way.
I gave her an apartment and a female attendant, and ordered for her
every convenience I could suggest. I stayed myself in the same house,
but distracted with remorse for the guilt and ruin into which I had
terrified her, I could not bear her sight.

“In a few days her maid assured me the life she led must destroy her;
that she would taste nothing but bread and water, never spoke, and never
slept.

“Alarmed by this account, I flew into her apartment; pride and
resentment gave way to pity and fondness, and I besought her to take
comfort. I spoke, however, to a statue, she replied not, nor seemed to
hear me. I then humbled myself to her as in the days of her innocence
and first power, supplicating her notice, entreating even her
commiseration! all was to no purpose; she neither received nor repulsed
me, and was alike inattentive to exhortation and to prayer.

“Whole hours did I spend at her feet, vowing never to arise till she
spoke to me,--all, all, in vain! she seemed deaf, mute, insensible; her
face unmoved, a settled despair fixed in her eyes,--those eyes that had
never looked at me but with dove-like softness and compliance!--She sat
constantly in one chair, she never changed her dress, no persuasions
could prevail with her to lie down, and at meals she just swallowed so
much dry bread as might save her from dying for want of food.

“What was the distraction of my soul, to find her bent upon this course
to her last hour!--quick came that hour, but never will it be forgotten!
rapidly it was gone, but eternally it will be remembered!

“When she felt herself expiring, she acknowledged she had made a
vow, upon entering the house, to live speechless and motionless, as a
pennance for her offences!

“I kept her loved corpse till my own senses failed me,--it was then only
torn from me,--and I have lost all recollection of three years of my
existence!”

Cecilia shuddered at this hint, yet was not surprised by it; Mr Gosport
had acquainted her he had been formerly confined; and his flightiness,
wildness, florid language, and extraordinary way of life, bad long led
her to suspect his reason had been impaired.

“The scene to which my memory first leads me back,” he continued, “is
visiting her grave; solemnly upon it I returned her vow, though not by
one of equal severity. To her poor remains did I pledge myself, that
the day should never pass in which I would receive nourishment, nor the
night come in which I would take rest, till I had done, or zealously
attempted to do, some service to a fellow-creature.

“For this purpose have I wandered from city to city, from the town to
the country, and from the rich to the poor. I go into every house where
I can gain admittance, I admonish all who will hear me, I shame even
those who will not. I seek the distressed where ever they are hid,
I follow the prosperous to beg a mite to serve them. I look for the
Dissipated in public, where, amidst their licentiousness, I check them;
I pursue the Unhappy in private, where I counsel and endeavour to
assist them. My own power is small; my relations, during my sufferings,
limiting me to an annuity; but there is no one I scruple to solicit, and
by zeal I supply ability.

“Oh life of hardship and pennance! laborious, toilsome, and restless!
but I have merited no better, and I will not repine at it; I have vowed
that I will endure it, and I will not be forsworn.

“One indulgence alone from time to time I allow myself,--‘tis Music!
which has power to delight me even to rapture! it quiets all anxiety, it
carries me out of myself, I forget through it every calamity, even the
bitterest anguish.

“Now then, that thou hast heard me, tell me, hast _thou_ cause of
sorrow?”

“Alas,” cried Cecilia, “this indeed is a Picture of Misery to make _my_
lot seem all happiness!”

“Art thou thus open to conviction?” cried he, mildly; “and dost thou not
fly the voice of truth! for truth and reproof are one.”

“No, I would rather seek it; I feel myself wretched, however inadequate
may be the cause; I wish to be more resigned, and if you can instruct me
how, I shall thankfully attend to you.”

“Oh yet uncorrupted creature!” cried he, “with joy will I be thy
monitor,--joy long untasted! Many have I wished to serve, all, hitherto,
have rejected my offices; too honest to flatter them, they had not the
fortitude to listen to me; too low to advance them, they had not the
virtue to bear with me. You alone have I yet found pure enough not to
fear inspection, and good enough to wish to be better. Yet words alone
will not content me; I must also have deeds. Nor will your purse,
however readily opened, suffice, you must give to me also your time
and your thoughts; for money sent by others, to others only will afford
relief; to enlighten your own cares, you must distribute it yourself.”

“You shall find me,” said she, “a docile pupil, and most glad to be
instructed how my existence may be useful.”

“Happy then,” cried he, “was the hour that brought me to this country;
yet not in search of you did I come, but of the mutable and ill-fated
Belfield. Erring, yet ingenious young man! what a lesson to the vanity
of talents, to the gaiety, the brilliancy of wit, is the sight of that
green fallen plant! not sapless by age, nor withered by disease,
but destroyed by want of pruning, and bending, breaking by its own
luxuriance!”

“And where, Sir, is he now?

“Labouring wilfully in the field, with those who labour compulsatorily;
such are we all by nature, discontented, perverse, and changeable;
though all have not courage to appear so, and few, like Belfield, are
worth watching when they do. He told me he was happy; I knew it could
not be: but his employment was inoffensive, and I left him without
reproach. In this neighbourhood I heard of you, and found your name was
coupled with praise. I came to see if you deserved it; I have seen, and
am satisfied.”

“You are not, then, very difficult, for I have yet done nothing. How are
we to begin these operations you propose? You have awakened me by them
to an expectation of pleasure, which nothing else, I believe, could just
now have given me.”

“We will work,” cried he, “together, till not a woe shall remain upon
your mind. The blessings of the fatherless, the prayers of little
children, shall heal all your wounds with balm of sweetest fragrance.
When sad, they shall cheer, when complaining, they shall soothe you. We
will go to their roofless houses, and see them repaired; we will exclude
from their dwellings the inclemency of the weather; we will clothe them
from cold, we will rescue them from hunger. The cries of distress shall
be changed to notes of joy: your heart shall be enraptured, mine, too,
shall revive--oh whither am I wandering? I am painting an Elysium!
and while I idly speak, some fainting object dies for want of succour!
Farewell; I will fly to the abodes of wretchedness, and come to you
to-morrow to render them the abodes of happiness.”

He then went away.

This singular visit was for Cecilia most fortunately timed: it almost
surprised her out of her peculiar grief, by the view which it opened
to her of general calamity; wild, flighty, and imaginative as were
his language and his counsels, their morality was striking, and their
benevolence was affecting. Taught by him to compare her state with that
of at least half her species, she began more candidly to weigh what was
left with what was withdrawn, and found the balance in her favour.
The plan he had presented to her of good works was consonant to her
character and inclinations; and the active charity in which he proposed
to engage her, re-animated her fallen hopes, though to far different
subjects from those which had depressed them. Any scheme of worldly
happiness would have sickened and disgusted her; but her mind was just
in the situation to be impressed with elevated piety, and to adopt any
design in which virtue humoured melancholy.



CHAPTER ix.

A SHOCK.

Cecelia passed the rest of the day in fanciful projects of beneficence;
she determined to wander with her romantic new ally whither-so-ever
he would lead her, and to spare neither fortune, time, nor trouble, in
seeking and relieving the distressed. Not all her attempted philosophy
had calmed her mind like this plan; in merely refusing indulgence
to grief, she had only locked it up in her heart, where eternally
struggling for vent, she was almost overpowered by restraining it; but
now her affliction had no longer her whole faculties to itself; the hope
of doing good, the pleasure of easing pain, the intention of devoting
her time to the service of the unhappy, once more delighted her
imagination,--that source of promissory enjoyment, which though often
obstructed, is never, in youth, exhausted.

She would not give Mrs Charlton the unnecessary pain of hearing the
letter with which she had been so, much affected, but she told her of
the visit of Albany, and pleased her with the account of their scheme.

At night, with less sadness than usual, she retired to rest. In her
sleep she bestowed riches, and poured plenty upon the land; she
humbled the oppressor, she exalted the oppressed; slaves were raised to
dignities, captives restored to liberty; beggars saw smiling abundance,
and wretchedness was banished the world. From a cloud in which she was
supported by angels, Cecilia beheld these wonders, and while enjoying
the glorious illusion, she was awakened by her maid, with news that Mrs
Charlton was dying!

She started up, and, undressed, was running to her apartment,--when the
maid, calling to stop her, confessed she was already dead!

She had made her exit in the night, but the time was not exactly known;
her own maid, who slept in the room with her, going early to her bedside
to enquire how she did, found her cold and motionless, and could only
conclude that a paralytic stroke had taken her off.

Happily and in good time had Cecilia been somewhat recruited by one
night of refreshing slumbers and flattering dreams, for the shock she
now received promised her not soon another.

She lost in Mrs Charlton a friend, whom nearly from her infancy she
had considered as a mother, and by whom she had been cherished with
tenderness almost unequalled. She was not a woman of bright parts, or
much cultivation, but her heart was excellent, and her disposition was
amiable. Cecilia had known her longer than her memory could look back,
though the earliest circumstances she could trace were kindnesses
received from her. Since she had entered into life, and found the
difficulty of the part she had to act, to this worthy old lady alone had
she unbosomed her secret cares. Though little assisted by her counsel,
she was always certain of her sympathy; and while her own superior
judgment directed her conduct, she had the relief of communicating her
schemes, and weighing her perplexities, with a friend to whom nothing
that concerned her was indifferent, and whose greatest wish and chief
pleasure was the enjoyment of her conversation.

If left to herself, in the present period of her life, Mrs Charlton had
certainly not been the friend of her choice. The delicacy of her mind,
and the refinement of her ideas, had now rendered her fastidious,
and she would have looked out for elegancies and talents to which Mrs
Charlton had no pretensions: but those who live in the country have
little power of selection; confined to a small circle, they must be
content with what it offers; and however they may idolize extraordinary
merit when they meet with it, they must not regard it as essential to
friendship, for in their circumscribed rotation, whatever may be their
discontent, they can make but little change.

Such had been the situation to which Mrs Charlton and Mrs Harrel owed
the friendship of Cecilia. Greatly their superior in understanding and
intelligence, had the candidates for her favour been more numerous, the
election had not fallen upon either of them. But she became known to
both before discrimination made her difficult, and when her enlightened
mind discerned their deficiencies, they had already an interest in her
affections, which made her see them with lenity: and though sometimes,
perhaps, conscious she should not have chosen them from many, she
adhered to them with sincerity, and would have changed them for none.

Mrs Harrel, however, too weak for similar sentiments, forgot her
when out of sight, and by the time they met again, was insensible to
everything but shew and dissipation. Cecilia, shocked and surprised,
first grieved from disappointed affection, and then lost that affection
in angry contempt. But her fondness for Mrs Charlton had never known
abatement, as the kindness which had excited it had never known
allay. She had loved her first from childish gratitude; but that love,
strengthened and confirmed by confidential intercourse, was now as
sincere and affectionate as if it had originated from sympathetic
admiration. Her loss, therefore, was felt with the utmost severity, and
neither seeing nor knowing any means of replacing it, she considered it
as irreparable, and mourned it with bitterness.

When the first surprize of this cruel stroke was somewhat lessened, she
sent an express to Mr Monckton with the news, and entreated to see him
immediately. He came without delay, and she begged his counsel what step
she ought herself to take in consequence of this event. Her own house
was still unprepared for her; she had of late neglected to hasten the
workmen, and almost forgotten her intention of entering it. It was
necessary, however, to change her abode immediately; she was no
longer in the house of Mrs Charlton, but of her grand-daughters and
co-heiresses, each of whom she disliked, and upon neither of whom she
had any claim.

Mr Monckton then, with the quickness of a man who utters a thought at
the very moment of its projection, mentioned a scheme upon which
during his whole ride he had been ruminating; which was that she would
instantly remove to his house, and remain there till settled to her
satisfaction.

Cecilia objected her little right of surprising Lady Margaret; but,
without waiting to discuss it, lest new objections should arise, he
quitted her, to fetch himself from her ladyship an invitation he meant
to insist upon her sending.

Cecilia, though heartily disliking this plan, knew not at present what
better to adopt, and thought anything preferable to going again to
Mrs Harrel, since that only could be done by feeding the anxiety of Mr
Arnott.

Mr Monckton soon returned with a message of his own fabrication; for
his lady, though obliged to receive whom he pleased, took care to guard
inviolate the independence of speech, sullenly persevering in refusing
to say anything, or perversely saying only what he least wished to hear.

Cecilia then took a hasty leave of Miss Charltons, who, little affected
by what they had lost, and eager to examine what they had gained, parted
from her gladly, and, with a heavy heart and weeping eyes, borrowed for
the last time the carriage of her late worthy old friend, and for-ever
quitting her hospitable house, sorrowfully set out for the Grove.



BOOK IX.



CHAPTER i.

A COGITATION.

Lady Margaret Monckton received Cecilia with the most gloomy coldness:
she apologised for the liberty she had taken in making use of her
ladyship’s house, but, meeting no return of civility, she withdrew
to the room which had been prepared for her, and resolved as much as
possible to keep out of her sight.

It now became necessary without further delay to settle her plan of
life, and fix her place of residence. The forbidding looks of Lady
Margaret made her hasten her resolves, which otherwise would for a while
have given way to grief for her recent misfortune.

She sent for the surveyor who had the superintendance of her estates, to
enquire how soon her own house would be fit for her reception; and heard
there was yet work for near two months.

This answer made her very uncomfortable. To continue two months under
the roof with Lady Margaret was a penance she could not enjoin herself,
nor was she at all sure Lady Margaret would submit to it any better: she
determined, therefore, to release herself from the conscious burthen of
being an unwelcome visitor, by boarding with some creditable family at
Bury, and devoting the two months in which she was to be kept from her
house, to a general arrangement of her affairs, and a final settling
with her guardians.

For these purposes it would be necessary she should go to London:
but with whom, or in what manner, she could not decide. She desired,
therefore, another conference with Mr Monckton, who met her in the
parlour.

She then communicated to him her schemes; and begged his counsel in her
perplexities.

He was delighted at the application, and extremely well pleased with her
design of boarding at Bury, well knowing, he could then watch and visit
her at his pleasure, and have far more comfort in her society than even
in his own house, where all the vigilance with which he observed her,
was short of that with which he was himself observed by Lady Margaret.
He endeavoured, however, to dissuade her from going to town, but her
eagerness to pay the large sum she owed him, was now too great to be
conquered. Of age, her fortune wholly in her power, and all attendance
upon Mrs Charlton at an end, she had no longer any excuse for having a
debt in the world, and would suffer no persuasion to make her begin her
career in life, with a negligence in settling her accounts which she had
so often censured in others. To go to London therefore she was fixed,
and all that she desired was his advice concerning the journey.

He then told her that in order to settle with her guardians, she must
write to them in form, to demand an account of the sums that had been
expended during her minority, and announce her intention for the future
to take the management of her fortune into her own hands.

She immediately followed his directions, and consented to remain at the
Grove till their answers arrived.

Being now, therefore, unavoidably fixed for some time at the house, she
thought it proper and decent to attempt softening Lady Margaret in her
favour. She exerted all her powers to please and to oblige her; but the
exertion was necessarily vain, not only from the disposition, but the
situation of her ladyship, since every effort made for this conciliatory
purpose, rendered her doubly amiable in the eyes of her husband, and
consequently to herself more odious than ever. Her jealousy, already but
too well founded, received every hour the poisonous nourishment of fresh
conviction, which so much soured and exasperated a temper naturally
harsh, that her malignity and ill-humour grew daily more acrimonious.
Nor would she have contented herself with displaying this irascibility
by general moroseness, had not the same suspicious watchfulness which
discovered to her the passion of her husband, served equally to make
manifest the indifference and innocence of Cecilia; to reproach her
therefore, she had not any pretence, though her knowledge how much she
had to dread her, past current in her mind for sufficient reason to
hate her. The Angry and the Violent use little discrimination; whom
they like, they enquire not if they approve; but whoever, no matter
how unwittingly, stands in their way, they scruple not to ill use, and
conclude they may laudably detest.

Cecilia, though much disgusted, gave not over her attempt, which she
considered but as her due while she continued in her house. Her general
character, also, for peevishness and haughty ill-breeding, skilfully,
from time to time, displayed, and artfully repined at by Mr Monckton,
still kept her from suspecting any peculiar animosity to herself, and
made her impute all that passed to the mere rancour of ill-humour. She
confined herself, however, as much as possible to her own apartment,
where her sorrow for Mrs Charlton almost hourly increased, by the
comparison she was forced upon making of her house with the Grove.

That worthy old lady left her grand-daughters her co-heiresses and sole
executrixes. She bequeathed from them nothing considerable, though
she left some donations for the poor, and several of her friends were
remembered by small legacies. Among them Cecilia had her picture, and
favourite trinkets, with a paragraph in her will, that as there was no
one she so much loved, had her fortune been less splendid, she should
have shared with her grand-daughters whatever she had to bestow.

Cecilia was much affected by this last and solemn remembrance. She more
than ever coveted to be alone, that she might grieve undisturbed, and
she lamented without ceasing the fatigue and the illness which, in so
late a period, as it proved, of her life, she had herself been the means
of occasioning to her.

Mr Monckton had too much prudence to interrupt this desire of solitude,
which indeed cost him little pain, as he considered her least in
danger when alone. She received in about a week answers from both her
guardians. Mr Delvile’s letter was closely to the purpose, without a
word but of business, and couched in the haughtiest terms. As he had
never, he said, acted, he had no accounts to send in; but as he was
going to town in a few days, he would see her for a moment in the
presence of Mr Briggs, that a joint release might be signed, to prevent
any future application to him.

Cecilia much lamented there was any necessity for her seeing him at all,
and looked forward to the interview as the greatest mortification she
could suffer.

Mr Briggs, though still more concise, was far kinder in his language:
but he advised her to defer her scheme of taking the money into her own
hands, assuring her she would be cheated, and had better leave it to
him.

When she communicated these epistles to Mr Monckton, he failed not to
read, with an emphasis, by which his arrogant meaning was still more
arrogantly enforced, the letter of Mr Delvile aloud. Nor was he sparing
in comments that might render it yet more offensive. Cecilia neither
concurred in what he said, nor opposed it, but contented herself, when
he was silent, with producing the other letter.

Mr Monckton read not this with more favour. He openly attacked the
character of Briggs, as covetous, rapacious, and over-reaching, and
warned her by no means to abide by his counsel, without first taking the
opinion of some disinterested person. He then stated the various arts
which might be practised upon her inexperience, enumerated the dangers
to which her ignorance of business exposed her, and annotated upon
the cheats, double dealings, and tricks of stock jobbing, to which
he assured her Mr Briggs owed all he was worth, till, perplexed and
confounded, she declared herself at a loss how to proceed, and earnestly
regretted that she could not have his counsel upon the spot.

This was his aim: to draw the wish from her, drew all suspicion of
selfish views from himself: and he told her that he considered her
present situation as so critical, the future confusion or regularity
of her money transactions seeming to depend upon it, that he would
endeavour to arrange his affairs for meeting her in London.

Cecilia gave him many thanks for the kind intention, and determined to
be totally guided by him in the disposal and direction of her fortune.

Mean time he had now another part to act; he saw that with Cecilia
nothing more remained to be done, and that, harbouring not a doubt of
his motives, she thought his design in her favour did her nothing but
honour; but he had too much knowledge of the world to believe it would
judge him in the same manner, and too much consciousness of duplicity to
set its judgment at defiance.

To parry, therefore, the conjectures which might follow his attending
her, he had already prepared Lady Margaret to wish herself of the party:
for however disagreeable to him was her presence and her company, he had
no other means to be under the same roof with Cecilia.

Miss Bennet, the wretched tool of his various schemes, and the mean
sycophant of his lady, had been employed by him to work upon her
jealousy, by secretly informing her of his intention to go to town,
at the same time that Cecilia went thither to meet her guardians.
She pretended to have learned this intelligence by accident, and to
communicate it from respectful regard; and advised her to go to London
herself at the same time, that she might see into his designs, and be
some check upon his pleasure.

The encreasing infirmities of Lady Margaret made this counsel by no
means palatable: but Miss Bennet, following the artful instructions
which she received, put in her way so strong a motive, by assuring her
how little her company was wished, that in the madness of her spite
she determined upon the journey. And little heeding how she tormented
herself while she had any view of tormenting Mr Monckton, she was led on
by her false confident to invite Cecilia to her own house.

Mr Monckton, in whom by long practice, artifice was almost nature, well
knowing his wife’s perverseness, affected to look much disconcerted at
the proposal; while Cecilia, by no means thinking it necessary to extend
her compliance to such a punishment, instantly made an apology, and
declined the invitation.

Lady Margaret, little versed in civility, and unused to the arts of
persuasion, could not, even for a favourite project, prevail upon
herself to use entreaty, and therefore, thinking her scheme defeated,
looked gloomily disappointed, and said nothing more.

Mr Monckton saw with delight how much this difficulty inflamed her,
though the moment he could speak alone with Cecilia he made it his care
to remove it.

He represented to her that, however privately she might live, she was
too young to be in London lodgings by herself, and gave an hint which
she could not but understand, that in going or in staying with only
servants, suspicions might soon be raised, that the plan and motive of
her journey were different to those given out.

She knew he meant to insinuate that it would be conjectured she
designed to meet Delvile, and though colouring, vext and provoked at the
suggestion, the idea was sufficient to frighten her into his plan.

In a few days, therefore, the matter was wholly arranged, Mr Monckton,
by his skill and address, leading every one whither he pleased, while,
by the artful coolness of his manner, he appeared but to follow himself.
He [set] out the day before, though earnestly wishing to accompany
them, but having as yet in no single instance gone to town in the same
carriage with Lady Margaret, he dared trust neither the neighbourhood
nor the servants with so dangerous a subject for their comments.

Cecilia, compelled thus to travel with only her Ladyship and Miss
Bennet, had a journey the most disagreeable, and determined, if
possible, to stay in London but two days. She had already fixed upon a
house in which she could board at Bury when she returned, and there she
meant quietly to reside till she could enter her own.

Lady Margaret herself, exhilarated by a notion of having outwitted her
husband, was in unusual good spirits, and almost in good humour.
The idea of thwarting his designs, and being in the way of his
entertainment, gave to her a delight she had seldom received from any
thing; and the belief that this was effected by the superiority of her
cunning, doubled her contentment, and raised it to exultation. She owed
him, indeed, much provocation and uneasiness, and was happy in this
opportunity of paying her arrears.

Mean while that consummate master in every species of hypocrisy,
indulged her in this notion, by the air of dissatisfaction with which he
left the house. It was not that she meant by her presence to obviate any
impropriety: early and long acquainted with the character of Cecilia,
she well knew, that during her life the passion of her husband must be
confined to his own breast: but conscious of his aversion to herself,
which she resented with the bitterest ill-will, and knowing how little,
at any time, he desired her company, she consoled herself for her
inability to give pleasure by the power she possessed of giving pain,
and bore with the fatigue of a journey disagreeable and inconvenient
to her, with no other view than the hope of breaking into his plan of
avoiding her. Little imagining that the whole time she was forwarding
his favourite pursuit, and only acting the part which he had appointed
her to perform.



CHAPTER ii.

A SURPRIZE.

Lady Margaret’s town house was in Soho Square; and scarcely had Cecilia
entered it, before her desire to speed her departure, made her send
a note to each of her guardians, acquainting them of her arrival, and
begging, if possible, to see them the next day.

She had soon the two following answers:

_To Miss Cecilia Beverley,----These November_ 8, 1779. Miss,--Received
yours of the same date; can’t come tomorrow. Will, Wednesday the
10th.--Am, &c., Jno. Briggs.

Miss Cecilia Beverley

_To Miss Beverley_.

Mr Delvile has too many affairs of importance upon his hands, to make
any appointment till he has deliberated how to arrange them. Mr Delvile
will acquaint Miss Beverley when it shall be in his power to see her.

St James’s-square, _Nov_ 8.

These characteristic letters, which at another time might have diverted
Cecilia, now merely served to torment her. She was eager to quit town,
she was more eager to have her meeting with Mr Delvile over, who,
oppressive to her even when he meant to be kind, she foresaw, now he
was in wrath, would be imperious even to rudeness. Desirous, however,
to make one interview suffice for both, and to settle whatever business
might remain unfinished by letters, she again wrote to Mr Briggs,
whom she had not spirits to encounter without absolute necessity, and
informing him of Mr Delvile’s delay, begged he would not trouble himself
to call till he heard from her again.

Two days passed without any message from them; they were spent chiefly
alone, and very uncomfortably, Mr Monckton being content to see little
of her, while he knew she saw nothing of any body else. On the
third morning, weary of her own thoughts, weary of Lady Margaret’s
ill-humoured looks, and still more weary of Miss Bennet’s parasitical
conversation, she determined, for a little relief to the heaviness of
her mind, to go to her bookseller, and look over and order into the
country such new publications as seemed to promise her any pleasure.

She sent therefore, for a chair, and glad to have devised for herself
any amusement, set out in it immediately.

Upon entering the shop, she saw the Bookseller engaged in close
conference with a man meanly dressed, and much muffled up, who
seemed talking to him with uncommon earnestness, and just as she was
approaching, said, “To terms I am indifferent, for writing is no
labour to me; on the contrary, it is the first delight of my life, and
therefore, and not for dirty pelf, I wish to make it my profession.”

The speech struck Cecilia, but the voice struck her more, it was
Belfield’s! and her amazement was so great, that she stopt short to look
at him, without heeding a man who attended her, and desired to know her
commands.

The bookseller now perceiving her, came forward, and Belfield, turning
to see who interrupted them, started as if a spectre had crossed his
eyes, slapped his hat over his face, and hastily went out of the shop.

Cecilia checking her inclination to speak to him, from observing his
eagerness to escape her, soon recollected her own errand, and employed
herself in looking over new books.

Her surprize, however, at a change so sudden in the condition of this
young man, and at a declaration of a passion for writing, so opposite to
all the sentiments which he had professed at their late meeting in
the cottage, awakened in her a strong curiosity to be informed of his
situation; and after putting aside some books which she desired to have
packed up for her, she asked if the gentleman who had just left the
shop, and who, she found by what he had said, was an Author, had written
anything that was published with his name?

“No, ma’am,” answered the Bookseller, “nothing of any consequence; he
is known, however, to have written several things that have appeared as
anonymous; and I fancy, now, soon, we shall see something considerable
from him.”

“He is about some great work, then?”

“Why no, not exactly that, perhaps, at present; we must feel our way,
with some little smart _jeu d’esprit_ before we undertake a great work.
But he is a very great genius, and I doubt not will produce something
extraordinary.”

“Whatever he produces,” said Cecilia, “as I have now chanced to see him,
I shall be glad you will, at any time, send to me.”

“Certainly, ma’am; but it must be among other things, for he does not
chuse, just now to be known; and it is a rule in our business never to
tell people’s names when they desire to be secret. He is a little out
of cash, just now, as you may suppose by his appearance, so instead of
buying books, he comes to sell them. However, he has taken a very good
road to bring himself home again, for we pay very handsomely for things
of any merit, especially if they deal smartly in a few touches of the
times.”

Cecilia chose not to risk any further questions, lest her knowledge of
him should be suspected, but got into her chair, and returned to Lady
Margaret’s.

The sight of Belfield reminded her not only of himself; the gentle
Henrietta again took her place in her memory, whence her various
distresses and suspences had of late driven from it everybody but
Delvile, and those whom Delvile brought into it. But her regard for
that amiable girl, though sunk in the busy scenes of her calamitous
uncertainties, was only sunk in her own bosom, and ready, upon their
removal, to revive with fresh vigour. She was now indeed more unhappy
than even in the period of her forgetfulness, yet her mind, was no
longer filled with the restless turbulence of hope, which still more
than despondency unfitted it for thinking of others.

This remembrance thus awakened, awakened also a desire of renewing the
connection so long neglected. All scruples concerning Delvile had now
lost their foundation, since the doubts from which they arose were both
explained and removed: she was certain alike of his indifference to
Henrietta, and his separation from herself; she knew that nothing was
to be feared from painful or offensive rivalry, and she resolved,
therefore, to lose no time in seeking the first pleasure to which since
her disappointment she had voluntarily looked forward.

Early in the evening, she told Lady Margaret she was going out for
an hour or two, and sending again for a chair, was carried to
Portland-street.

She enquired for Miss Belfield, and was shewn into a parlour, where she
found her drinking tea with her mother, and Mr Hobson, their landlord.

Henrietta almost screamed at her sight, from a sudden impulse of joy
and surprize, and, running up to her, flung her arms round her neck,
and embraced her with the most rapturous emotion: but then, drawing
back with a look of timidity and shame, she bashfully apologized for
her freedom, saying, “Indeed, dearest Miss Beverley, it is no want
of respect, but I am so very glad to see you it makes me quite forget
myself!”

Cecilia, charmed at a reception so ingenuously affectionate, soon
satisfied her doubting diffidence by the warmest thanks that she had
preserved so much regard for her, and by doubling the kindness with
which she returned her caresses.

“Mercy on me, madam,” cried Mrs Belfield, who during this time had
been busily employed in sweeping the hearth, wiping some slops upon the
table, and smoothing her handkerchief and apron, “why the girl’s enough
to smother you. Henny, how can you be so troublesome? I never saw you
behave in this way before.”

“Miss Beverley, madam,” said Henrietta, again retreating, “is so kind as
to pardon me, and I was so much surprised at seeing her, that I hardly
knew what I was about.”

“The young ladies, ma’am,” said Mr Hobson, “have a mighty way of
saluting one another till such time as they get husbands: and then
I’ll warrant you they can meet without any salutation at all. That’s my
remark, at least, and what I’ve seen of the world has set me upon making
it.”

This speech led Cecilia to check, however artless, the tenderness of
her fervent young friend, whom she was much teized by meeting in such
company, but who seemed not to dare understand the frequent looks which
she gave her expressive of a wish to be alone with her.

“Come, ladies,” continued the facetious Mr Hobson, “what if we were all
to sit down, and have a good dish of tea? and suppose, Mrs Belfield,
you was to order us a fresh round of toast and butter? do you think the
young ladies here would have any objection? and what if we were to have
a little more water in the tea-kettle? not forgetting a little more tea
in the teapot. What I say is this, let us all be comfortable; that’s my
notion of things.”

“And a very good notion too,” said Mrs Belfield, “for you who have
nothing to vex you. Ah, ma’am, you have heard, I suppose, about my son?
gone off! nobody knows where! left that lord’s house, where he might
have lived like a king, and gone out into the wide world nobody knows
for what!”

“Indeed?” said Cecilia, who, from seeing him in London concluded he was
again with his family, “and has he not acquainted you where he is?”

“No, ma’am, no,” cried Mrs Belfield, “he’s never once told me where
he is gone, nor let me know the least about the matter, for if I did I
would not taste a dish of tea again for a twelvemonth till I saw him get
back again to that lord’s! and I believe in my heart there’s never such
another in the three kingdoms, for he has sent here after him I dare say
a score of times. And no wonder, for I will take upon me to say he won’t
find his fellow in a hurry, Lord as he is.”

“As to his being a Lord,” said Mr Hobson, “I am one of them that lay no
great stress upon that, unless he has got a good long purse of his own,
and then, to be sure, a Lord’s no bad thing. But as to the matter of
saying Lord such a one, how d’ye do? and Lord such a one, what do you
want? and such sort of compliments, why in my mind, it’s a mere nothing,
in comparison of a good income. As to your son, ma’am, he did not go
the right way to work. He should have begun with business, and gone into
pleasure afterwards and if he had but done that, I’ll be bold to say we
might have had him at this very minute drinking tea with us over this
fireside.”

“My son, Sir,” said Mrs Belfield, rather angrily, “was another sort of
a person than a person of business: he always despised it from a child,
and come of it what may, I am sure he was born to be a gentleman.”

“As to his despising business,” said Mr Hobson, very contemptuously,
“why so much the worse, for business is no such despiseable thing. And
if he had been brought up behind a counter, instead of dangling after
these same Lords, why he might have had a house of his own over his
head, and been as good a man as myself.”

“A house over his head?” said Mrs Belfield, “why he might have had what
he would, and have done what he would, if he had but followed my advice,
and put himself a little forward. I have told him a hundred times to ask
some of those great people he lived amongst for a place at court, for I
know they’ve so many they hardly know what to do with them, and it was
always my design from the beginning that he should be something of a
great man; but I never could persuade him, though, for anything I know,
as I have often told him, if he had but had a little courage he might
have been an Ambassador by this time. And now, all of a sudden, to be
gone nobody knows where!”--

“I am sorry, indeed,” said Cecilia, who knew not whether most to pity or
wonder at her blind folly; “but I doubt not you will hear of him soon.”

“As to being an Ambassador, ma’am,” said Mr Hobson, “it’s talking quite
out of character. Those sort of great people keep things of that kind
for their own poor relations and cousins. What I say is this; a man’s
best way is to take care of himself. The more those great people see you
want them, the less they like your company. Let every man be brought up
to business, and then when he’s made his fortune, he may walk with his
hat on. Why now there was your friend, ma’am,” turning to Cecilia, “that
shot out his brains without paying any body a souse; pray how was that
being more genteel than standing behind a counter, and not owing a
shilling?”

“Do you think a young lady,” cried Mrs Belfield warmly, “can bear to
hear of such a thing as standing behind a counter? I am sure if my son
had ever done it, I should not expect any lady would so much as look at
him, And yet, though I say it, she might look a good while, and not see
many such persons, let her look where she pleased. And then he has such
a winning manner into the bargain, that I believe in my heart there’s
never a lady in the land could say no to him. And yet he has such a
prodigious shyness, I never could make him own he had so much as asked
the question. And what lady can begin first?”

“Why no,” said Mr Hobson, “that would be out of character another way.
Now my notion is this; let every man be agreeable! and then he may ask
what lady he pleases. And when he’s a mind of a lady, he should look
upon a frown or two as nothing; for the ladies frown in courtship as a
thing of course; it’s just like a man swearing at a coachman; why he’s
not a bit more in a passion, only he thinks he sha’n’t be minded without
it.”

“Well, for my part,” said Mrs Belfield, “I am sure if I was a young
lady, and most especially if I was a young lady of fortune, and all
that, I should like a modest young gentleman, such as my son, for
example, better by half than a bold swearing young fellow, that would
make a point to have me whether I would or no.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” cried Mr Hobson; “but the young ladies are not of that
way of thinking; they are all for a little life and spirit. Don’t I say
right, young ladies?”

Cecilia, who could not but perceive that these speeches was levelled at
herself, felt offended and tired; and finding she had no chance of any
private conversation with Henrietta, arose to take leave: but while
she stopped in the passage to enquire when she could see her alone, a
footman knocked at the door, who, having asked if Mr Belfield lodged
there, and been answered in the affirmative; begged to know whether Miss
Beverley was then in the house?

Cecilia, much surprised, went forward, and told him who she was.

“I have been, madam,” said he, “with a message to you at Mr Monckton’s,
in Soho-Square: but nobody knew where you was; and Mr Monckton came out
and spoke to me himself, and said that all he could suppose was that you
might be at this house. So he directed me to come here.”

“And from whom, Sir, is your message?”

“From the honourable Mr Delvile, madam, in St James’s-Square. He desires
to know if you shall be at home on Saturday morning, the day after
to-morrow, and whether you can appoint Mr Briggs to meet him by twelve
o’clock exactly, as he sha’n’t be able to stay above three minutes.”

Cecilia gave an answer as cold as the message; that she would be in
Soho-Square at the time he mentioned, and acquaint Mr Briggs of his
intention.

The footman then went away; and Henrietta told her, that if she could
call some morning she might perhaps contrive to be alone with her, and
added, “indeed I wish much to see you, if you could possibly do me so
great an honour; for I am very miserable, and have nobody to tell so!
Ah, Miss Beverley! you that have so many friends, and that deserve as
many again, you little know what a hard thing it is to have none!--but
my brother’s strange disappearing has half broke our hearts!”

Cecilia was beginning a consolatory speech, in which she meant to
give her private assurances of his health and safety, when she was
interrupted by Mr Albany, who came suddenly into the passage.

Henrietta received him with a look of pleasure, and enquired why he
had so long been absent; but, surprised by the sight of Cecilia, he
exclaimed, without answering her, “why didst thou fail me? why
appoint me to a place thou wert quitting thyself?--thou thing of fair
professions! thou inveigler of esteem! thou vain, delusive promiser of
pleasure!”

“You condemn me too hastily,” said Cecilia; “if I failed in my promise,
it was not owing to caprice or insincerity, but to a real and bitter
misfortune which incapacitated me from keeping it. I shall soon,
however,--nay, I am already at your disposal, if you have any commands
for me.”

“I have always,” answered he, “commands for the rich, for I have always
compassion for the poor.”

“Come to me, then, at Mr Monckton’s in Soho-Square,” cried she, and
hastened into her chair, impatient to end a conference which she saw
excited the wonder of the servants, and which also now drew out from
the parlour Mr Hobson and Mrs Belfield. She then kissed her hand to
Henrietta, and ordered the chairmen to carry her home.

It had not been without difficulty that she had restrained herself from
mentioning what she knew of Belfield, when she found his mother and
sister in a state of such painful uncertainty concerning him. But her
utter ignorance of his plans, joined to her undoubted knowledge of his
wish of concealment, made her fear doing mischief by officiousness,
and think it wiser not to betray what she had seen of him, till better
informed of his own views and intentions. Yet, willing to shorten a
suspence so uneasy to them, she determined to entreat Mr Monckton would
endeavour to find him out, and acquaint him with their anxiety.

That gentleman, when she returned to his house, was in a state of mind
by no means enviable. Missing her at tea, he had asked Miss Bennet where
she was, and hearing she had not left word, he could scarce conceal his
chagrin. Knowing, however, how few were her acquaintances in town,
he soon concluded she was with Miss Belfield, but, not satisfied with
sending Mr Delvile’s messenger after her, he privately employed one
in whom he trusted for himself, to make enquiries at the house without
saying whence he came.

But though this man was returned, and he knew her safety, he still felt
alarmed; he had flattered himself, from the length of time in which she
had now done nothing without consulting him, she would scarce even think
of any action without his previous concurrence. And he had hoped, by a
little longer use, to make his counsel become necessary, which he knew
to be a very short step from rendering it absolute.

Nor was he well pleased to perceive, by this voluntary excursion,
a struggle to cast off her sadness, and a wish to procure herself
entertainment: it was not that he desired her misery, but he was earnest
that all relief from it should spring from himself: and though far from
displeased that Delvile should lose his sovereignty over her thoughts,
he was yet of opinion that, till his own liberty was restored, he had
less to apprehend from grief indulged, than grief allayed; one could
but lead her to repining retirement, the other might guide her to a
consolatory rival.

He well knew, however, it was as essential to his cause to disguise his
disappointments as his expectations, and, certain that by pleasing
alone he had any chance of acquiring power, he cleared up when Cecilia
returned, who as unconscious of feeling, as of owing any subjection to
him, preserved uncontrolled the right of acting for herself, however
desirous and glad of occasional instruction.

She told him where she had been, and related her meeting Belfield, and
the unhappiness of his friends, and hinted her wish that he could be
informed what they suffered. Mr Monckton, eager to oblige her, went
instantly in search of him, and returning to supper, told her he had
traced him through the Bookseller, who had not the dexterity to parry
his artful enquiries, and had actually appointed him to breakfast in
Soho-Square the next morning.

He had found him, he said, writing, but in high spirits and good humour.
He had resisted, for a while, his invitation on account of his dress,
all his clothes but the very coat which he had on being packed up and
at his mother’s: but, when laughed at by Mr Monckton for still
retaining some foppery, he gaily protested what remained of it should
be extinguished; and acknowledging that his shame was no part of his
philosophy, declared he would throw it wholly aside, and, in spite of
his degradation, renew his visits at his house.

“I would not tell him,” Mr Monckton continued, “of the anxiety of his
family; I thought it would come more powerfully from yourself, who,
having seen, can better enforce it.”

Cecilia was very thankful for this compliance with her request, and
anticipated the pleasure she hoped soon to give Henrietta, by the
restoration of a brother so much loved and so regretted.

She sent, mean time, to Mr Briggs the message she had received from Mr
Delvile, and had the satisfaction of an answer that he would observe the
appointment.



CHAPTER iii.

A CONFABULATION.

The next morning, while the family was at breakfast, Belfield, according
to his promise, made his visit.

A high colour overspread his face as he entered the room, resulting from
a sensation of grief at his fallen fortune, and shame at his altered
appearance, which though he endeavoured to cover under an air of
gaiety and unconcern, gave an awkwardness to his manners, and a visible
distress to his countenance: Mr Monckton received him with pleasure, and
Cecilia, who saw the conflict of his philosophy with his pride, dressed
her features once more in smiles, which however faint and heartless,
shewed her desire to reassure him. Miss Bennet, as usual when not called
upon by the master or lady of the house, sat as a cypher; and Lady
Margaret, always disagreeable and repulsive to the friends of her
husband, though she was not now more than commonly ungracious, struck
the quick-feeling and irritable Belfield, to wear an air of rude
superiority meant to reproach him with his disgrace.

This notion, which strongly affected him, made him, for one instant,
hesitate whether he should remain another in the same room with her: but
the friendliness of Mr Monckton, and the gentleness and good breeding of
Cecilia, seemed so studious to make amends for her moroseness, that he
checked his too ready indignation, and took his seat at the table. Yet
was it some time before he could recover even the assumed vivacity which
this suspected insult had robbed him of, sufficiently to enter into
conversation with any appearance of ease or pleasure. But, after
a while, soothed by the attentions of Cecilia and Mr Monckton, his
uneasiness wore off, and the native spirit and liveliness of his
character broke forth with their accustomed energy.

“This good company, I hope,” said he, addressing himself, however, only
to Cecilia, “will not so much _mistake the thing_ as to criticise my
dress of this morning; since it is perfectly according to rule, and to
rule established from time immemorial: but lest any of you should
so much err as to fancy shabby what is only characteristic, I must
endeavour to be beforehand with the malice of conjecture, and have the
honour to inform you, that I am enlisted in the Grub-street regiment, of
the third story, and under the tattered banner of scribbling volunteers!
a race which, if it boasts not the courage of heroes, at least equals
them in enmity. This coat, therefore, is merely the uniform of my
corps, and you will all, I hope, respect it as emblematical of wit and
erudition.”

“We must at least respect you,” said Cecilia, “who thus gaily can sport
with it.”

“Ah, madam!” said he, more seriously, “it is not from you I ought
to look for respect! I must appear to you the most unsteady and
coward-hearted of beings. But lately I blushed to see you from poverty,
though more worthily employed than when I had been seen by you in
affluence; that shame vanquished, another equally narrow took its place,
and yesterday I blushed again that you detected me in a new pursuit,
though I had only quitted my former one from a conviction it was ill
chosen. There seems in human nature a worthlessness not to be conquered!
yet I will struggle with it to the last, and either die in the attempt,
or dare seem that which I am, without adding to the miseries of life,
the sting, the envenomed sting of dastardly false shame!”

“Your language is wonderfully altered within this twelvemonth,” said Mr
Monckton; “_the worthlessness of human nature_! the _miseries of
life_! this from you! so lately the champion of human nature, and the
panegyrist of human life!”

“Soured by personal disappointment,” answered he, “I may perhaps speak
with too much acrimony; yet, ultimately, my opinions have not much
changed. Happiness is given to us with more liberality than we are
willing to confess; it is judgment only that is dealt us sparingly, and
of that we have so little, that when felicity is before us, we turn
to the right or left, or when at the right or left, we proceed strait
forward. It has been so with me; I have sought it at a distance, amidst
difficulty and danger, when all that I could wish has been immediately
within my grasp.”

“It must be owned,” said Mr Monckton, “after what you have suffered from
this world you were wont to defend, there is little reason to wonder at
some change in your opinion.”

“Yet whatever have been my sufferings,” he answered, “I have generally
been involved in them by my own rashness or caprice. My last enterprise
especially, from which my expectations were highest, was the most
ill-judged of any. I considered not how little my way of life had fitted
me for the experiment I was making, how irreparably I was enervated
by long sedentary habits, and how insufficient for bodily strength
was mental resolution. We may fight against partial prejudices, and by
spirit and fortitude we may overcome them; but it will not do to war
with the general tenor of education. We may blame, despise, regret as we
please, but customs long established, and habits long indulged, assume
an empire despotic, though their power is but prescriptive. Opposing
them is vain; Nature herself, when forced aside, is not more elastic in
her rebound.”

“Will you not then,” said Cecilia, “since your experiment has failed,
return again to your family, and to the plan of life you formerly
settled?”

“You speak of them together,” said he, with a smile, “as if you thought
them inseparable; and indeed my own apprehension they would be
deemed so, has made me thus fear to see my friends, since I love not
resistance, yet cannot again attempt the plan of life they would have me
pursue. I have given up my cottage, but my independence is as dear to me
as ever; and all that I have gathered from experience, is to maintain
it by those employments for which my education has fitted me, instead of
seeking it injudiciously by the very road for which it has unqualified
me.”

“And what is this independence,” cried Mr Monckton, “which has thus
bewitched your imagination? a mere idle dream of romance and enthusiasm;
without existence in nature, without possibility in life. In uncivilised
countries, or in lawless times, independence, for a while, may perhaps
stalk abroad; but in a regular government, ‘tis only the vision of a
heated brain; one part of a community must inevitably hang upon another,
and ‘tis a farce to call either independent, when to break the chain by
which they are linked would prove destruction to both. The soldier wants
not the officer more than the officer the soldier, nor the tenant
the landlord, more than the landlord the tenant. The rich owe their
distinction, their luxuries, to the poor, as much as the poor owe their
rewards, their necessaries, to the rich.”

“Man treated as an Automaton,” answered Belfield, “and considered merely
with respect to his bodily operations, may indeed be called dependent,
since the food by which he lives, or, rather, without which he
dies, cannot wholly be cultivated and prepared by his own hands: but
considered in a nobler sense, he deserves not the degrading epithet;
speak of him, then, as a being of feeling and understanding, with pride
to alarm, with nerves to tremble, with honour to satisfy, and with a
soul to be immortal!--as such, may he not claim the freedom of his own
thoughts? may not that claim be extended to the liberty of speaking,
and the power of being governed by them? and when thoughts, words, and
actions are exempt from controul, will you brand him with dependency
merely because the Grazier feeds his meat, and the Baker kneads his
bread?”

“But who is there in the whole world,” said Mr Monckton, “extensive
as it is, and dissimilar as are its inhabitants, that can pretend to
assert, his thoughts, words, and actions, are exempt from controul? even
where interest, which you so much disdain, interferes not,--though where
that is I confess I cannot tell!--are we not kept silent where we wish
to reprove by the fear of offending? and made speak where we wish to be
silent by the desire of obliging? do we not bow to the scoundrel as low
as to the man of honour? are we not by mere forms kept standing when
tired? made give place to those we despise? and smiles to those we hate?
or if we refuse these attentions, are we not regarded as savages, and
shut out of society?”

“All these,” answered Belfield, “are so merely matters of ceremony, that
the concession can neither cost pain to the proud, nor give pleasure to
the vain. The bow is to the coat, the attention is to the rank, and the
fear of offending ought to extend to all mankind. Homage such as this
infringes not our sincerity, since it is as much a matter of course as
the dress that we wear, and has as little reason to flatter a man as the
shadow which follows him. I no more, therefore, hold him deceitful for
not opposing this pantomimical parade, than I hold him to be dependent
for eating corn he has not sown.”

“Where, then, do you draw the line? and what is the boundary beyond
which your independence must not step?”

“I hold that man,” cried he, with energy, “to be independent, who treats
the Great as the Little, and the Little as the Great, who neither exults
in riches nor blushes in poverty, who owes no man a groat, and who
spends not a shilling he has not earned.”

“You will not, indeed, then, have a very numerous acquaintance, if this
is the description of those with whom you purpose to associate! but is
it possible you imagine you can live by such notions? why the Carthusian
in his monastery, who is at least removed from temptation, is not
mortified so severely as a man of spirit living in the world, who would
prescribe himself such rules.”

“Not merely have I prescribed,” returned Belfield, “I have already put
them in practice; and far from finding any pennance, I never before
found happiness. I have now adopted, though poor, the very plan of life
I should have elected if rich; my pleasure, therefore, is become my
business, and my business my pleasure.”

“And is this plan,” cried Monckton, “nothing more than turning
Knight-errant to the Booksellers?”

“‘Tis a Knight-errantry,” answered Belfield, laughing, “which, however
ludicrous it may seem to you, requires more soul and more brains than
any other. Our giants may, indeed, be only windmills, but they must be
attacked with as much spirit, and conquered with as much bravery, as
any fort or any town, in time of war [to] be demolished; and though the
siege, I must confess, may be of less national utility, the assailants
of the quill have their honour as much at heart as the assailants of the
sword.”

“I suppose then,” said Monckton, archly, “if a man wants a biting
lampoon, or an handsome panegyric, some newspaper scandal, or a sonnet
for a lady--”

“No, no,” interrupted Belfield eagerly, “if you imagine me a hireling
scribbler for the purposes of defamation or of flattery, you as little
know my situation as my character. My subjects shall be my own, and my
satire shall be general. I would as much disdain to be personal with an
anonymous pen, as to attack an unarmed man in the dark with a dagger I
had kept concealed.”

A reply of rallying incredulity was rising to the lips of Mr Monckton,
when reading in the looks of Cecilia an entire approbation of this
sentiment, he checked his desire of ridicule, and exclaimed, “spoken
like a man of honour, and one whose works may profit the world!”

“From my earliest youth to the present hour,” continued Belfield,
“literature has been the favourite object of my pursuit, my recreation
in leisure, and my hope in employment. My propensity to it, indeed,
has been so ungovernable, that I may properly call it the source of my
several miscarriages throughout life. It was the bar to my preferment,
for it gave me a distaste to other studies; it was the cause of my
unsteadiness in all my undertakings, because to all I preferred it.
It has sunk me to distress, it has involved me in difficulties; it
has brought me to the brink of ruin by making me neglect the means
of living, yet never, till now, did I discern it might itself be my
support.”

“I am heartily glad, Sir,” said Cecilia, “your various enterprizes and
struggles have at length ended in a project which promises you so much
satisfaction. But you will surely suffer your sister and your mother
to partake of it? for who is there that your prosperity will make so
happy?”

“You do them infinite honour, madam, by taking any interest in their
affairs; but to own to you the truth, what to me appears prosperity,
will to them wear another aspect. They have looked forward to my
elevation with expectations the most improbable, and thought everything
within my grasp, with a simplicity incredible. But though their hopes
were absurd, I am pained by their disappointment, and I have not courage
to meet their tears, which I am sure will not be spared when they see
me.”

“‘Tis from tenderness, then,” said Cecilia, half smiling, “that you are
cruel, and from affection to your friends that you make them believe you
have forgotten them?”

There was a delicacy in this reproach exactly suited to work upon
Belfield, who feeling it with quickness, started up, and cried, “I
believe I am wrong!--I will go to them this moment!”

Cecilia felt eager to second the generous impulse; but Mr Monckton,
laughing at his impetuosity, insisted he should first finish his
breakfast.

“Your friends,” said Cecilia, “can have no mortification so hard to bear
as your voluntary absence; and if they see but that you are happy, they
will soon be reconciled to whatever situation you may chuse.”

“Happy!” repeated he, with animation, “Oh I am in Paradise! I am come
from a region in the first rude state of nature, to civilization and
refinement! the life I led at the cottage was the life of a savage; no
intercourse with society, no consolation from books; my mind locked up,
every source dried of intellectual delight, and no enjoyment in my power
but from sleep and from food. Weary of an existence which thus levelled
me with a brute, I grew ashamed of the approximation, and listening to
the remonstrance of my understanding, I gave up the precipitate plan, to
pursue one more consonant to reason. I came to town, hired a room, and
sent for pen, ink and paper: what I have written are trifles, but the
Bookseller has not rejected them. I was settled, therefore, in a moment,
and comparing my new occupation with that I had just quitted, I seemed
exalted on the sudden from a mere creature of instinct, to a rational
and intelligent being. But when first I opened a book, after so long
an abstinence from all mental nourishment,--Oh it was rapture! no
half-famished beggar regaled suddenly with food, ever seized on his
repast with more hungry avidity.”

“Let fortune turn which way it will,” cried Monckton, “you may defy all
its malice, while possessed of a spirit of enjoyment which nothing can
subdue!”

“But were you not, Sir,” said Cecilia, “as great an enthusiast the other
day for your cottage, and for labour?”

“I was, madam; but there my philosophy was erroneous: in my ardour
to fly from meanness and from dependence, I thought in labour and
retirement I should find freedom and happiness; but I forgot that my
body was not seasoned for such work, and considered not that a
mind which had once been opened by knowledge, could ill endure the
contraction of dark and perpetual ignorance. The approach, however, of
winter, brought me acquainted with my mistake. It grew cold, it grew
bleak; little guarded against the inclemency of the ----, I felt its
severity in every limb, and missed a thousand indulgencies which in
possession I had never valued. To rise at break of day, chill, freezing,
and comfortless! no sun abroad, no fire at home! to go out in all
weather to work, that work rough, coarse, and laborious!--unused to such
hardships, I found I could not bear them, and, however unwillingly, was
compelled to relinquish the attempt.”

Breakfast now being over, he again arose to take leave.

“You are going, then, Sir,” said Cecilia, “immediately to your friends?”

“No, madam,” answered he hesitating, “not just this moment; to-morrow
morning perhaps,--but it is now late, and I have business for the rest
of the day.”

“Ah, Mr Monckton!” cried Cecilia, “what mischief have you done by
occasioning this delay!”

“This goodness, madam,” said Belfield, “my sister can never sufficiently
acknowledge. But I will own, that though, just now, in a warm moment, I
felt eager to present myself to her and my mother, I rather wish, now I
am cooler, to be saved the pain of telling them in person my situation.
I mean, therefore, first to write to them.”

“You will not fail, then, to see them to-morrow?”

“Certainly--I think not.”

“Nay, but certainly you _must_ not, for I shall call upon them to-day,
and assure them they may expect you. Can I soften your task of writing
by giving them any message from you?”

“Ah, madam, have a care!” cried he; “this condescension to a poor author
may be more dangerous than you have any suspicion! and before you have
power to help yourself, you may see your name prefixed to the Dedication
of some trumpery pamphlet!”

“I will run,” cried she, “all risks; remember, therefore, you will be
responsible for the performance of my promise.”

“I will be sure,” answered he, “not to forget what reflects so much
honour upon myself.”

Cecilia was satisfied by this assent, and he then went away.

“A strange flighty character!” cried Mr Monckton, “yet of uncommon
capacity, and full of genius. Were he less imaginative, wild and
eccentric, he has abilities for any station, and might fix and
distinguish himself almost where-ever he pleased.”

“I knew not,” said Cecilia, “the full worth of steadiness and prudence
till I knew this young man; for he has every thing else; talents the
most striking, a love of virtue the most elevated, and manners the most
pleasing; yet wanting steadiness and prudence, he can neither act with
consistency nor prosper with continuance.”

“He is well enough,” said Lady Margaret, who had heard the whole
argument in sullen taciturnity, “he is well enough, I say; and there
comes no good from young women’s being so difficult.”

Cecilia, offended by a speech which implied a rude desire to dispose
of her, went up stairs to her own room; and Mr Monckton, always enraged
when young men and Cecilia were alluded to in the same sentence, retired
to his library.

She then ordered a chair, and went to Portland-street, to fulfil what
she had offered to Belfield, and to revive his mother and sister by the
pleasure of the promised interview.

She found them together: and her intelligence being of equal consequence
to both, she did not now repine at the presence of Mrs Belfield.
She made her communication with the most cautious attention to their
characters, softening the ill she had to relate with respect to
Belfield’s present way of living, by endeavouring to awaken affection
and joy from the prospect of the approaching meeting. She counselled
them as much as possible to restrain their chagrin at his misfortunes,
which he would but construe into reproach of his ill management; and
she represented that when once he was restored to his family, he might
almost imperceptibly be led into some less wild and more profitable
scheme of business.

When she had told all she thought proper to relate, kindly interspersing
her account with the best advice and best comfort she could suggest,
she made an end of her visit; for the affliction of Mrs Belfield
upon hearing the actual situation of her son, was so clamorous and
unappeaseable, that, little wondering at Belfield’s want of courage to
encounter it, and having no opportunity in such a storm to console the
soft Henrietta, whose tears flowed abundantly that her brother should
thus be fallen, she only promised before she left town to see her again,
and beseeching Mrs Belfield to moderate her concern, was glad to leave
the house, where her presence had no power to quiet their distress.

She passed the rest of the day in sad reflections upon the meeting
she was herself to have the next morning with Mr Delvile. She wished
ardently to know whether his son was gone abroad, and whether Mrs
Delvile was recovered, whose health, in her own letter, was mentioned in
terms the most melancholy: yet neither of these enquiries could she even
think of making, since reasonably, without them, apprehensive of some
reproach.



CHAPTER iv.

A WRANGLING.

Mr Monckton, the next day, as soon as breakfast was over, went out,
to avoid showing, even to Cecilia, the anxiety he felt concerning the
regulation of her fortune, and arrangement of her affairs. He strongly,
however, advised her not to mention her large debt, which, though
contracted in the innocence of the purest benevolence, would incur
nothing but reproof and disapprobation, from all who only heard of it,
when they heard of its inutility.

At eleven o’clock, though an hour before the time appointed, while
Cecilia was sitting in Lady Margaret’s dressing room, “with sad civility
and an aching head,” she was summoned to Mr Briggs in the parlour.

He immediately began reproaching her with having eloped from him, in the
summer, and with the various expences she had caused him from useless
purchases and spoilt provisions. He then complained of Mr Delvile, whom
he charged with defrauding him of his dues; but observing in the midst
of his railing her dejection of countenance, he suddenly broke off, and
looking at her with some concern, said, “what’s the matter, Ducky? a’n’t
well? look as if you could not help it.”

“O yes,” cried Cecilia, “I thank you, Sir, I am very well.”

“What do you look so blank for, then?” said he, “bay? what are fretting
for?--crossed in love?--lost your sweetheart?”

“No, no, no,” cried she, with quickness.

“Never mind, my chick, never mind,” said he, pinching her cheek, with
resumed good humour, “more to be had; if one won’t snap, another will;
put me in a passion by going off from me with that old grandee, or would
have got one long ago. Hate that old Don; used me very ill; wish I could
trounce him. Thinks more of a fusty old parchment than the price of
stocks. Fit for nothing but to be stuck upon an old monument for a
Death’s head.”

He then told her that her accounts were all made out, and he was ready
at any time to produce them; he approved much of her finishing wholly
with the _old Don_, who had been a mere cypher in the executorship; but
he advised her not to think of taking her money into her own hands, as
he was willing to keep the charge of it himself till she was married.

Cecilia, thanking him for the offer, said she meant now to make her
acknowledgments for all the trouble he had already taken, but by no
means purposed to give him any more.

He debated the matter with her warmly, told her she had no chance to
save herself from knaves and cheats, but by trusting to nobody but
himself, and informing her what interest he had already made of her
money, enquired how she would set about getting more?

Cecilia, though prejudiced against him by Mr Monckton, knew not how to
combat his arguments; yet conscious that scarce any part of the money
to which he alluded was in fact her own, she could not yield to them.
He was, however, so stubborn and so difficult to deal with, that she at
length let him talk without troubling herself to answer, and privately
determined to beg Mr Monckton would fight her battle.

She was not, therefore, displeased by his interruption, though very much
surprised by the sight of his person, when, in the midst of Mr Briggs’s
oratory, Mr Hobson entered the parlour.

“I ask pardon, ma’am,” cried he, “if I intrude; but I made free to call
upon the account of two ladies that are acquaintances of yours, that are
quite, as one may say, at their wit’s ends.”

“What is the matter with them, Sir?”

“Why, ma’am, no great matter, but mothers are soon frightened, and when
once they are upon the fret, one may as well talk to the boards! they
know no more of reasoning and arguing, than they do of a shop ledger!
however, my maxim is this; every body in their way; one has no more
right to expect courageousness from a lady in them cases, than one has
from a child in arms; for what I say is, they have not the proper use of
their heads, which makes it very excusable.”

“But what has occasioned any alarm? nothing, I hope, is the matter with
Miss Belfield?”

“No, ma’am; thank God, the young lady enjoys her health very well: but
she is taking on just in the same way as her mamma, as what can be more
natural? Example, ma’am, is apt to be catching, and one lady’s crying
makes another think she must do the same, for a little thing serves for
a lady’s tears, being they can cry at any time: but a man is quite of
another nature, let him but have a good conscience, and be clear of the
world, and I’ll engage he’ll not wash his face without soap! that’s what
I say!”

“Will, will!” cried Mr Briggs, “do it myself! never use soap; nothing
but waste; take a little sand; does as well.”

“Let every man have his own proposal;” answered Hobson; “for my part, I
take every morning a large bowl of water, and souse my whole head in it;
and then when I’ve rubbed it dry, on goes my wig, and I am quite fresh
and agreeable: and then I take a walk in Tottenham Court Road as far as
the Tabernacle, or thereabouts, and snuff in a little fresh country
air, and then I come back, with a good wholesome appetite, and in a fine
breathing heat, asking the young lady’s pardon; and I enjoy my pot of
fresh tea, and my round of hot toast and butter, with as good a relish
as if I was a Prince.”

“Pot of fresh tea,” cried Briggs, “bring a man to ruin; toast and
butter! never suffer it in my house. Breakfast on water-gruel, sooner
done; fills one up in a second. Give it my servants; can’t eat much of
it. Bob ‘em there!” nodding significantly.

“Water-gruel!” exclaimed Mr Hobson, “why I could not get it down if I
might have the world for it! it would make me quite sick, asking the
young lady’s pardon, by reason I should always think I was preparing for
the small-pox. My notion is quite of another nature; the first thing I
do is to have a good fire; for what I say is this, if a man is cold in
his fingers, it’s odds if ever he gets warm in his purse! ha! ha! warm,
you take me, Sir? I mean a pun. Though I ought to ask pardon, for I
suppose the young lady don’t know what I am a saying.”

“I should indeed be better pleased, Sir,” said Cecilia, “to hear what
you have to say about Miss Belfield.”

“Why, ma’am, the thing is this; we have been expecting the young
‘Squire, as I call him, all the morning, and he has never come; so Mrs
Belfield, not knowing where to send after him, was of opinion he might
be here, knowing your kindness to him, and that.”

“You make the enquiry at the wrong place, Sir,” said Cecilia, much
provoked by the implication it conveyed; “if Mr Belfield is in this
house, you must seek him with Mr Monckton.”

“You take no offence, I hope, ma’am, at my just asking of the question?
for Mrs Belfield crying, and being in that dilemma, I thought I could
do no less than oblige her by coming to see if the young gentleman was
here.”

“What’s this? what’s this?” cried Mr Briggs eagerly; “who are talking
of? hay?--who do mean? is this the sweet heart? eh, Duck?”

“No, no, Sir,” cried Cecilia.

“No tricks! won’t be bit! who is it? will know; tell me, I say!”

“_I’ll_ tell Sir,” cried Mr Hobson; “it’s a very handsome young
gentleman, with as fine a person, and as genteel a way of behaviour, and
withal, as pretty a manner of dressing himself, and that, as any lady
need desire. He has no great head for business, as I am told, but the
ladies don’t stand much upon that topic, being they know nothing of it
themselves.”

“Has got the ready?” cried Mr Briggs, impatiently; “can cast an account?
that’s the point; can come down handsomely? eh?”

“Why as to that, Sir, I’m not bound to speak to a gentleman’s private
affairs. What’s my own, is my own, and what is another person’s, is
another person’s; that’s my way of arguing, and that’s what I call
talking to the purpose.”

“Dare say he’s a rogue! don’t have him, chick. Bet a wager i’n’t
worth two shillings; and that will go for powder and pomatum; hate a
plaistered pate; commonly a numscull: love a good bob-jerom.”

“Why this is talking quite wide of the mark,” said Mr Hobson, “to
suppose a young lady of fortunes would marry a man with a bob-jerom.
What I say is, let every body follow their nature; that’s the way to be
comfortable; and then if they pay every one his own, who’s a right to
call ‘em to account, whether they wear a bob-jerom, or a pig-tail down
to the calves of their legs?”

“Ay, ay,” cried Briggs, sneeringly, “or whether they stuff their gullets
with hot rounds of toast and butter.”

“And what if they do, Sir?” returned Hobson, a little angrily; “when a
man’s got above the world, where’s the harm of living a little genteel?
as to a round of toast and butter, and a few oysters, fresh opened, by
way of a damper before dinner, no man need be ashamed of them, provided
he pays as he goes: and as to living upon water-gruel, and scrubbing
one’s flesh with sand, one might as well be a galley-slave at once. You
don’t understand life, Sir, I see that.”

“Do! do!” cried Briggs, speaking through his shut teeth; “you’re out
there! oysters!--come to ruin, tell you! bring you to jail!”

“To jail, Sir?” exclaimed Hobson, “this is talking quite ungenteel! let
every man be civil; that’s what I say, for that’s the way to make every
thing agreeable but as to telling a man he’ll go to jail, and that, it’s
tantamount to affronting him.”

A rap at the street-door gave now a new relief to Cecilia, who began to
grow very apprehensive lest the delight of spending money, thus warmly
contested with that of hoarding it, should give rise to a quarrel,
which, between two such sturdy champions for their own opinions, might
lead to a conclusion rather more rough and violent than she desired to
witness: but when the parlour-door opened, instead of Mr Delvile, whom
she now fully expected, Mr Albany made his entrance.

This was rather distressing, as her real business with her guardians
made it proper her conference with them should be undisturbed: and
Albany was not a man with whom a hint that she was engaged could be
risked: but she had made no preparation to guard against interruption,
as her little acquaintance in London had prevented her expecting any
visitors.

He advanced with a solemn air to Cecilia, and, looking as if hardly
determined whether to speak with severity or gentleness, said, “once
more I come to prove thy sincerity; now wilt thou go with me where
sorrow calls thee? sorrow thy charity can mitigate?”

“I am very much concerned,” she answered, “but indeed at present it is
utterly impossible.”

“Again,” cried he, with a look at once stern and disappointed, “again
thou failest me? what wanton trifling! why shouldst thou thus elate a
worn-out mind, only to make it feel its lingering credulity? or why,
teaching me to think I had found an angel, so unkindly undeceive me?”

“Indeed,” said Cecilia, much affected by this reproof, “if you knew how
heavy a loss I had personally suffered--”

“I do know it,” cried he, “and I grieved for thee when I heard it. Thou
hast lost a faithful old friend, a loss which with every setting sun
thou mayst mourn, for the rising sun will never repair it! but was that
a reason for shunning the duties of humanity? was the sight of death a
motive for neglecting the claims of benevolence? ought it not rather to
have hastened your fulfilling them? and should not your own suffering
experience of the brevity of life, have taught you the vanity of all
things but preparing for its end?”

“Perhaps so, but my grief at that time made me think only of myself.”

“And of what else dost thou think now?”

“Most probably of the same person still!” said she, half smiling, “but
yet believe me, I have real business to transact.”

“Frivolous, unmeaning, ever-ready excuses! what business is so important
as the relief of a fellow-creature?”

“I shall not, I hope, there,” answered she, with alacrity, “be backward;
but at least for this morning I must beg to make you my Almoner.”

She then took out her purse.

Mr Briggs and Mr Hobson, whose quarrel had been suspended by the
appearance of a third person, and who had stood during this short
dialogue in silent amazement, having first lost their anger in their
mutual consternation, now lost their consternation in their mutual
displeasure Mr. Hobson felt offended to hear business spoken of
slightly, and Mr Briggs felt enraged at the sight of Cecilia’s ready
purse. Neither of them, however, knew which way to interfere, the
stem gravity of Albany, joined to a language too lofty for their
comprehension, intimidating them both. They took, however, the relief of
communing with one another, and Mr Hobson said in a whisper “This, you
must know, is, I am told, a very particular old gentleman; quite what I
call a genius. He comes often to my house, to see my lodger Miss Henny
Belfield, though I never happen to light upon him myself, except once in
the passage: but what I hear of him is this; he makes a practice, as
one may say, of going about into people’s houses, to do nothing but find
fault.”

“Shan’t get into mine!” returned Briggs, “promise him that! don’t half
like him; be bound he’s an old sharper.”

Cecilia, mean time, enquired what he desired to have.

“Half a guinea,” he answered.

“Will that do?”

“For those who have nothing,” said he, “it is much. Hereafter, you may
assist them again. Go but and see their distresses, and you will wish to
give them every thing.”

Mr Briggs now, when actually between her fingers he saw the half
guinea, could contain no longer; he twitched the sleeve of her gown, and
pinching her arm, with a look of painful eagerness, said in a whisper
“Don’t give it! don’t let him have it! chouse him, chouse him! nothing
but an old bite!”

“Pardon me, Sir,” said Cecilia, in a low voice, “his character is very
well known to me.” And then, disengaging her arm from him, she presented
her little offering.

At this sight, Mr Briggs was almost outrageous, and losing in his wrath,
all fear of the stranger, he burst forth with fury into the following
outcries, “Be ruined! see it plainly; be fleeced! be stript! be robbed!
won’t have a gown to your back! won’t have a shoe to your foot! won’t
have a rag in the world! be a beggar in the street! come to the parish!
rot in a jail!--half a guinea at a time!--enough to break the Great
Mogul!”

“Inhuman spirit of selfish parsimony!” exclaimed Albany, “repinest thou
at this loan, given from thousands to those who have worse than nothing?
who pay to-day in hunger for bread they borrowed yesterday from pity?
who to save themselves from the deadly pangs of famine, solicit but what
the rich know not when they possess, and miss not when they give?”

“Anan!” cried Briggs, recovering his temper from the perplexity of
his understanding, at a discourse to which his ears were wholly
unaccustomed, “what d’ye say?”

“If to thyself distress may cry in vain,” continued Albany, “if thy own
heart resists the suppliant’s prayer, callous to entreaty, and hardened
in the world, suffer, at least, a creature yet untainted, who melts
at sorrow, and who glows with charity, to pay from her vast wealth a
generous tax of thankfulness, that fate has not reversed her doom, and
those whom she relieves, relieve not her!”

“Anan!” was again all the wondering Mr Briggs could say.

“Pray, ma’am,” said Mr Hobson, to Cecilia, “if it’s no offence, was the
Gentleman ever a player?”

“I fancy not, indeed!”

“I ask pardon, then, ma’am; I mean no harm; but my notion was the
gentleman might be speaking something by heart.”

“Is it but on the stage, humanity exists?” cried Albany, indignantly;
“Oh thither hasten, then, ye monopolizers of plenty! ye selfish,
unfeeling engrossers of wealth, which ye dissipate without enjoying,
and of abundance, which ye waste while ye refuse to distribute! thither,
thither haste, if there humanity exists!”

“As to engrossing,” said Mr Hobson, happy to hear at last a word with
which he was familiar, “it’s what I never approved myself. My maxim is
this; if a man makes a fair penny, without any underhand dealings, why
he has as much a title to enjoy his pleasure as the Chief Justice, or
the Lord Chancellor: and it’s odds but he’s as happy as a greater man.
Though what I hold to be best of all, is a clear conscience, with a neat
income of 2 or 3000 a year. That’s my notion; and I don’t think it’s a
bad one.”

“Weak policy of short-sighted ignorance!” cried Albany, “to wish for
what, if used, brings care, and if neglected, remorse! have you not now
beyond what nature craves? why then still sigh for more?”

“Why?” cried Mr Briggs, who by dint of deep attention began now better
to comprehend him, “why to buy in, to be sure! ever hear of stocks, eh?
know any thing of money?”

“Still to make more and more,” cried Albany, “and wherefore? to spend in
vice and idleness, or hoard in chearless misery! not to give succour
to the wretched, not to support the falling; all is for self,
however little wanted, all goes to added stores, or added luxury; no
fellow-creature served, nor even one beggar relieved!”

“Glad of it!” cried Briggs, “glad of it; would not have ‘em relieved;
don’t like ‘em; hate a beggar; ought to be all whipt; live upon
spunging.”

“Why as to a beggar, I must needs say,” cried Mr Hobson, “I am by no
means an approver of that mode of proceeding; being I take ‘em all for
cheats: for what I say is this, what a man earns, he earns, and it’s no
man’s business to enquire what he spends, for a free-born Englishman is
his own master by the nature of the law, and as to his being a subject,
why a duke is no more, nor a judge, nor the Lord High Chancellor, and
the like of those; which makes it tantamount to nothing, being he is
answerable to nobody by the right of Magna Charta: except in cases of
treason, felony, and that. But as to a beggar, it’s quite another thing;
he comes and asks me for money; but what has he to shew for it? what
does he bring me in exchange? why a long story that he i’n’t worth a
penny! what’s that to me? nothing at all. Let every man have his own;
that’s my way of arguing.”

“Ungentle mortals!” cried Albany, “in wealth exulting; even in
inhumanity! think you these wretched outcasts have less sensibility
than yourselves? think you, in cold and hunger, they lose those feelings
which even in voluptuous prosperity from time to time disturb you? you
say they are all cheats? ‘tis but the niggard cant of avarice, to lure
away remorse from obduracy. Think you the naked wanderer begs from
choice? give him your wealth and try.”

“Give him a whip!” cried Briggs, “sha’n’t have a souse! send him to
Bridewell! nothing but a pauper; hate ‘em; hate ‘em all! full of tricks;
break their own legs, put out their arms, cut off their fingers, snap
their own ancles,--all for what? to get at the chink! to chouse us of
cash! ought to be well flogged; have ‘em all sent to the Thames; worse
than the Convicts.”

“Poor subterfuge of callous cruelty! you cheat yourselves, to shun the
fraud of others! and yet, how better do you use the wealth so guarded?
what nobler purpose can it answer to you, than even a chance to snatch
some wretch from sinking? think less how _much_ ye save, and more
for _what_; and then consider how thy full coffers may hereafter make
reparation, for the empty catalogue of thy virtues.”

“Anan!” said Mr Briggs, again lost in perplexity and wonder.

“Oh yet,” continued Albany, turning towards Cecilia, “preach not here
the hardness which ye practice; rather amend yourselves than corrupt
her; and give with liberality what ye ought to receive with gratitude!”

“This is not my doctrine,” cried Hobson; “I am not a near man, neither,
but as to giving at that rate, it’s quite out of character. I have as
good a right to my own savings, as to my own gettings; and what I say
is this, who’ll give to _me_? let me see that, and it’s quite another
thing: and begin who will, I’ll be bound to go on with him, pound for
pound, or pence for pence. But as to giving to them beggars, it’s what
I don’t approve; I pay the poor’s rate, and that’s what I call charity
enough for any man. But for the matter of living well, and spending
one’s money handsomely, and having one’s comforts about one, why it’s a
thing of another nature, and I can say this for myself, and that is,
I never grudged myself any thing in my life. I always made myself
agreeable, and lived on the best. That’s my way.”

“Bad way too,” cried Briggs, “never get on with it, never see beyond
your nose; won’t be worth a plum while your head wags!” then, taking
Cecilia apart, “hark’ee, my duck,” he added, pointing to Albany, “who is
that Mr Bounce, eh? what is he?”

“I have known him but a short time, Sir; but I think of him very
highly.”

“Is he a _good_ man? that’s the point, is he a _good_ man?”

“Indeed he appears to me uncommonly benevolent and charitable.”

“But that i’n’t the thing; is he _warm_? that’s the point, is he
_warm_?”

“If you mean _passionate_,” said Cecilia, “I believe the energy of his
manner is merely to enforce what he says.”

“Don’t take me, don’t take me,” cried he, impatiently; “can come down
with the ready, that’s the matter; can chink the little gold boys? eh?”

“Why I rather fear not by his appearance; but I know nothing of his
affairs.”

“What does come for? eh? come a courting?”

“Mercy on me, no!”

“What for then? only a spunging?”

“No, indeed. He seems to have no wish but to assist and plead for
others.”

“All fudge! think he i’n’t touched? ay, ay; nothing but a trick! only to
get at the chink: see he’s as poor as a rat, talks of nothing but giving
money; a bad sign! if he’d got any, would not do it. Wanted to make
us come down; warrant thought to bam us all! out there! a’n’t so soon
gulled.”

A knock at the street door gave now a new interruption, and Mr Delvile
at length appeared.

Cecilia, whom his sight could not fail to disconcert, felt doubly
distressed by the unnecessary presence of Albany and Hobson; she
regretted the absence of Mr Monckton, who could easily have taken them
away; for though without scruple she could herself have acquainted Mr
Hobson she had business, she dreaded offending Albany, whose esteem she
was ambitious of obtaining.

Mr Delvile entered the room with an air stately and erect; he took off
his hat, but deigned not to make the smallest inclination of his head,
nor offered any excuse to Mr Briggs for being past the hour of his
appointment: but having advanced a few paces, without looking either
to the right or left, said, “as I have never acted, my coming may not,
perhaps, be essential; but as my name is in the Dean’s Will, and I have
once or twice met the other executors mentioned in it, I think it a duty
I owe to my own heirs to prevent any possible future enquiry or trouble
to them.”

This speech was directly addressed to no one, though meant to be
attended to by every one, and seemed proudly uttered as a mere apology
to himself for not having declined the meeting.

Cecilia, though she recovered from her confusion by the help of her
aversion to this self-sufficiency, made not any answer. Albany retired
to a corner of the room; Mr Hobson began to believe it was time for him
to depart; and Mr Briggs thinking only of the quarrel in which he had
separated with Mr Delvile in the summer, stood swelling with venom,
which he longed for an opportunity to spit out.

Mr Delvile, who regarded this silence as the effect of his awe-inspiring
presence, became rather more complacent; but casting his eyes round the
room, and perceiving the two strangers, he was visibly surprised, and
looking at Cecilia for some explanation, seemed to stand suspended from
the purpose of his visit till he heard one.

Cecilia, earnest to have the business concluded, turned to Mr Briggs,
and said, “Sir, here is pen and ink: are you to write, or am I? or what
is to be done?”

“No, no,” said he, with a sneer, “give it t’other; all in our turn;
don’t come before his Grace the Right Honourable Mr Vampus.”

“Before whom, Sir?” said Mr Delvile, reddening.

“Before my Lord Don Pedigree,” answered Briggs, with a spiteful grin,
“know him? eh? ever hear of such a person?”

Mr Delvile coloured still deeper, but turning contemptuously from him,
disdained making any reply.

Mr Briggs, who now regarded him as a defeated man, said exultingly to Mr
Hobson, “what do stand here for?--hay?--fall o’ your marrowbones; don’t
see ‘Squire High and Mighty?”

“As to falling on my marrowbones,” answered Mr Hobson, “it’s what I
shall do to no man, except he was the King himself, or the like of that,
and going to make me Chancellor of the Exchequer, or Commissioner of
Excise. Not that I mean the gentleman any offence; but a man’s a man,
and for one man to worship another is quite out of law.”

“Must, must!” cried Briggs, “tell all his old grand-dads else: keeps ‘em
in a roll; locks ‘em in a closet; says his prayers to ‘em; can’t live
without ‘em: likes ‘em better than cash!--wish had ‘em here! pop ‘em all
in the sink!”

“If your intention, Sir,” cried Mr Delvile, fiercely, “is only to insult
me, I am prepared for what measures I shall take. I declined seeing you
in my own house, that I might not be under the same restraint as when it
was my unfortunate lot to meet you last.”

“Who cares?” cried Briggs, with an air of defiance, “what can do, eh?
poke me into a family vault? bind me o’ top of an old monument? tie
me to a stinking carcase? make a corpse of me, and call it one of your
famous cousins?--”

“For heaven’s sake, Mr Briggs,” interrupted Cecilia, who saw that Mr
Delvile, trembling with passion, scarce refrained lifting up his stick,
“be appeased, and let us finish our business!”

Albany now, hearing in Cecilia’s voice the alarm with which she was
seized, came forward and exclaimed, “Whence this unmeaning dissension?
to what purpose this irritating abuse? Oh vain and foolish! live ye so
happily, last ye so long, that time and peace may thus be trifled with?”

“There, there!” cried Briggs, holding up his finger at Mr Delvile, “have
it now! got old Mr Bounce upon you! give you enough of it; promise you
that!”

“Restrain,” continued Albany, “this idle wrath; and if ye have ardent
passions, employ them to nobler uses; let them stimulate acts of virtue,
let them animate deeds of beneficence! Oh waste not spirits that may
urge you to good, lead you to honour, warm you to charity, in poor and
angry words, in unfriendly, unmanly debate!”

Mr Delvile, who from the approach of Albany, had given him his whole
attention, was struck with astonishment at this address, and almost
petrified with wonder at his language and exhortations.

“Why I must own,” said Mr Hobson, “as to this matter I am much of the
same mind myself; for quarreling’s a thing I don’t uphold; being it
advances one no way; for what I say is this, if a man gets the better,
he’s only where he was before, and if he gets worsted, why it’s odds but
the laugh’s against him: so, if I may make bold to give my verdict, I
would have one of these gentlemen take the other by the hand, and so
put an end to bad words. That’s my maxim, and that’s what I call being
agreeable.”

Mr Delvile, at the words _one of these gentlemen take the other by the
hand_, looked scornfully upon Mr Hobson, with a frown that expressed his
highest indignation, at being thus familiarly coupled with Mr Briggs.
And then, turning from him to Cecilia, haughtily said, “Are these
two persons,” pointing towards Albany and Hobson, “waiting here to be
witnesses to any transaction?”

“No, Sir, no,” cried Hobson, “I don’t mean to intrude, I am going
directly. So you can give me no insight, ma’am,” addressing Cecilia, “as
to where I might light upon Mr Belfield?”

“Me? no!” cried she, much provoked by observing that Mr Delvile suddenly
looked at her.

“Well, ma’am, well, I mean no harm: only I hold it that the right way to
hear of a young gentleman, is to ask for him of a young lady: that’s my
maxim. Come, Sir,” to Mr Briggs, “you and I had like to have fallen out,
but what I say is this; let no man bear malice; that’s my way: so I hope
we part without ill blood?”

“Ay, ay;” said Mr Briggs, giving him a nod.

“Well, then,” added Hobson, “I hope the good-will may go round, and that
not only you and I, but these two good old gentlemen will also lend a
hand.”

Mr Delvile now was at a loss which way to turn for very rage; but after
looking at every one with a face flaming with ire, he said to Cecilia,
“If you have collected together these persons for the purpose of
affronting me, I must beg you to remember I am not one to be affronted
with impunity!”

Cecilia, half frightened, was beginning an answer that disclaimed any
such intention, when Albany, with the most indignant energy, called out,
“Oh pride of heart, with littleness of soul! check this vile arrogance,
too vain for man, and spare to others some part of that lenity thou
nourishest for thyself, or justly bestow on thyself that contempt thou
nourishest for others!”

And with these words he sternly left the house.

The thunderstruck Mr Delvile began now to fancy that all the demons
of torment were designedly let loose upon him, and his surprise and
resentment operated so powerfully that it was only in broken sentences
he could express either. “Very extraordinary!--a new method of
conduct!--liberties to which I am not much used!--impertinences I shall
not hastily forget,--treatment that would scarce be pardonable to a
person wholly unknown!--”

“Why indeed, Sir,” said Hobson, “I can’t but say it was rather a cut up;
but the old gentleman is what one may call a genius, which makes it a
little excusable; for he does things all his own way, and I am told it’s
the same thing who he speaks to, so he can but find fault, and that.”

“Sir,” interrupted the still more highly offended Mr Delvile, “what
_you_ may be told is extremely immaterial to _me_; and I must take the
liberty to hint to you, a conversation of this easy kind is not what I
am much in practice in hearing.”

“Sir, I ask pardon,” said Hobson, “I meant nothing but what was
agreeable; however, I have done, and I wish you good day. Your humble
servant, ma’am, and I hope, Sir,” to Mr Briggs, “you won’t begin bad
words again?”

“No, no,” said Briggs, “ready to make up; all at end; only don’t much
like _Spain_, that’s all!” winking significantly, “nor a’n’t over fond
of a _skeleton_!”

Mr Hobson now retired; and Mr Delvile and Mr Briggs, being both wearied
and both in haste to have done, settled in about five minutes all for
which they met, after passing more than an hour in agreeing what that
was.

Mr Briggs then, saying he had an engagement upon business, declined
settling his own accounts till another time, but promised to see Cecilia
again soon, and added, “be sure take care of that old Mr Bounce! cracked
in the noddle; see that with half an eye! better not trust him! break
out some day: do you a mischief!”

He then went away: but while the parlour-door was still open, to the no
little surprise of Cecilia, the servant announced Mr Belfield. He hardly
entered the room, and his countenance spoke haste and eagerness. “I have
this moment, madam,” he said, “been informed a complaint has been lodged
against me here, and I could not rest till I had the honour of assuring
you, that though I have been rather dilatory, I have not neglected my
appointment, nor has the condescension of your interference been thrown
away.”

He then bowed, shut the door, and ran off Cecilia, though happy to
understand by this speech that he was actually restored to his family,
was sorry at these repeated intrusions in the presence of Mr Delvile,
who was now the only one that remained.

She expected every instant that he would ring for his chair, which he
kept in waiting; but, after a pause of some continuance, to her equal
surprise and disturbance, he made the following speech. “As it is
probable I am now for the last time alone with you, ma’am, and as it is
certain we shall meet no more upon business, I cannot, in justice to my
own character, and to the respect I retain for the memory of the Dean,
your uncle, take a final leave of the office with which he was pleased
to invest me, without first fulfilling my own ideas of the duty it
requires from me, by giving you some counsel relating to your future
establishment.”

This was not a preface much to enliven Cecilia; it prepared her for such
speeches as she was least willing to hear, and gave to her the mixt and
painful sensation of spirits depressed, with ride alarmed.

“My numerous engagements,” he continued, “and the appropriation of my
time, already settled, to their various claims, must make me brief in
what I have to represent, and somewhat, perhaps, abrupt in coming to the
purpose. But that you will excuse.”

Cecilia disdained to humour this arrogance by any compliments or
concessions: she was silent, therefore; and when they were both seated,
he went on.

“You are now at a time of life when it is natural for young women to
wish for some connection: and the largeness of your fortune will remove
from you such difficulties as prove bars to the pretensions, in this
expensive age, of those who possess not such advantages. It would have
been some pleasure to me, while I yet considered you as my Ward, to have
seen you properly disposed of: but as that time is past, I can only give
you some general advice, which you may follow or neglect as you think
fit. By giving it, I shall satisfy myself; for the rest, I am not
responsible.”

He paused; but Cecilia felt less and less inclination to make use of the
opportunity by speaking in her turn.

“Yet though, as I just now hinted, young women of large fortunes may
have little trouble in finding themselves establishments, they ought
not, therefore, to trifle when proper ones are in their power, nor to
suppose themselves equal to any they may chance to desire.”

Cecilia coloured high at this pointed reprehension; but feeling her
disgust every moment encrease, determined to sustain herself with
dignity, and at least not suffer him to perceive the triumph of his
ostentation and rudeness.

“The proposals,” he continued, “of the Earl of Ernolf had always my
approbation; it was certainly an ill-judged thing to neglect such an
opportunity of being honourably settled. The clause of the name was, to
_him_, immaterial; since his own name half a century ago was unheard of,
and since he is himself only known by his title. He is still, however,
I have authority to acquaint you, perfectly well disposed to renew his
application to you.”

“I am sorry, Sir,” said Cecilia coldly, “to hear it.”

“You have, perhaps, some other better offer in view?”

“No, Sir,” cried she, with spirit, “nor even in desire.”

“Am I, then, to infer that some inferior offer has more chance of your
approbation?”

“There is no reason, Sir, to infer any thing; I am content with my
actual situation, and have, at present, neither prospect nor intention
of changing it.”

“I perceive, but without surprise, your unwillingness to discuss
the subject; nor do I mean to press it: I shall merely offer to your
consideration one caution, and then relieve you from my presence. Young
women of ample fortunes, who are early independent, are sometimes apt
to presume they may do every thing with impunity; but they are mistaken;
they are as liable to censure as those who are wholly unprovided for.”

“I hope, Sir,” said Cecilia, staring, “this at least is a caution rather
drawn from my situation than my behaviour?”

“I mean not, ma’am, narrowly to go into, or investigate the subject;
what I have said you may make your own use of; I have only to observe
further, that when young women, at your time of life, are at all
negligent of so nice a thing as reputation, they commonly live to repent
it.”

He then arose to go, but Cecilia, not more offended than amazed, said,
“I must beg, Sir, you will explain yourself!”

“Certainly this matter,” he answered, “must be immaterial to _me_: yet,
as I have once been your guardian by the nomination of the Dean
your uncle, I cannot forbear making an effort towards preventing any
indiscretion: and frequent visits to a young man--”

“Good God! Sir,” interrupted Cecilia, “what is it you mean?”

“It can certainly, as I said before, be nothing to _me_, though I should
be glad to see you in better hands: but I cannot suppose you have been
led to take such steps without some serious plan; and I would advise
you, without loss of time, to think better of what you are about.”

“Should I think, Sir, to eternity,” cried Cecilia, “I could never
conjecture what you mean!”

“You may not chuse,” said he, proudly, “to understand me; but I have
done. If it had been in my power to have interfered in your service with
my Lord Derford, notwithstanding my reluctance to being involved in any
fresh employment, I should have made a point of not refusing it: but
this young man is nobody,--a very imprudent connection--”

“What young man, Sir?”

“Nay, _I_ know nothing of him! it is by no means likely I should: but as
I had already been informed of your attention to him, the corroborating
incidents of my servant’s following you to his house, his friend’s
seeking him at yours, and his own waiting upon you this morning; were
not well calculated to make me withdraw my credence to it.”

“Is it, then, Mr Belfield, Sir, concerning whom you draw these
inferences, from circumstances the most accidental and unmeaning?”

“It is by no means my practice,” cried he, haughtily, and with evident
marks of high displeasure at this speech, “to believe any thing lightly,
or without even unquestionable authority; what once, therefore, I have
credited, I do not often find erroneous. Mistake not, however, what I
have said into supposing I have any objection to your marrying; on the
contrary, it had been for the honour of my family had you been married a
year ago I should not then have suffered the degradation of seeing a son
of the first expectations in the kingdom upon the point of renouncing
his birth, nor a woman of the first distinction ruined in her health,
and broken for ever in her constitution.”

The emotions of Cecilia at this speech were too powerful for
concealment; her colour varied, now reddening with indignation, now
turning pale with apprehension; she arose, she trembled and sat down,
she arose again, but not knowing what to say or what to do, again sat
down.

Mr Delvile then, making a stiff bow, wished her good morning.

“Go not so, Sir!” cried she, in faltering accents; “let me at least
convince you of the mistake with regard to Mr Belfield--”

“My mistakes, ma’am,” said he, with a contemptuous smile, “are perhaps
not easily convicted: and I may possibly labour under others that
would give you no less trouble: it may therefore be better to avoid any
further disquisition.”

“No, not better,” answered she, again recovering her courage from this
fresh provocation; “I fear no disquisition; on the contrary, it is my
interest to solicit one.”

“This intrepidity in a young woman,” said he, ironically, “is certainly
very commendable; and doubtless, as you are your own mistress, your
having run out great part of your fortune, is nothing beyond what you
have a right to do.”

“Me!” cried Cecilia, astonished, “run out great part of my fortune!”

“Perhaps that is another _mistake_! I have not often been so
unfortunate; and you are not, then, in debt?”

“In debt, Sir?”

“Nay, I have no intention to inquire into your affairs. Good morning to
you, ma’am.”

“I beg, I entreat, Sir, that you will stop!--make me, at least,
understand what you mean, whether you deign to hear my justification or
not.”

“O, I am mistaken, it seems! misinformed, deceived; and you have neither
spent more than you have received, nor taken up money of Jews? your
minority has been clear of debts? and your fortune, now you are of age,
will be free from incumbrances?”

Cecilia, who now began to understand him, eagerly answered, “do you
mean, Sir, the money which I took up last spring?”

“O no; by no means, I conceive the whole to be a _mistake_!”

And he went to the door.

“Hear me but a moment, Sir!” cried she hastily, following him; “since
you know of that transaction, do not refuse to listen to its occasion; I
took up the money for Mr Harrel; it was all, and solely for him.”

“For Mr Harrel, was it?” said he, with an air of supercilious
incredulity; “that was rather an unlucky step. Your servant, ma’am.”

And he opened the door.

“You will not hear me, then? you will not credit me?” cried she in the
cruellest agitation.

“Some other time, ma’am; at present my avocations are too numerous to
permit me.”

And again, stiffly bowing, he called to his servants, who were waiting
in the hall, and put himself into his chair.



CHAPTER v.

A SUSPICION.

Cecilia was now left in a state of perturbation that was hardly to be
endured. The contempt with which she had been treated during the whole
visit was nothing short of insult, but the accusations with which it was
concluded did not more irritate than astonish her.

That some strange prejudice had been taken against her, even more than
belonged to her connection with young Delvile, the message brought her
by Dr Lyster had given her reason to suppose: what that prejudice was
she now knew, though how excited she was still ignorant; but she found
Mr Delvile had been informed she had taken up money of a Jew, without
having heard it was for Mr Harrel, and that he had been acquainted with
her visits in Portland-street, without seeming to know Mr Belfield had
a sister. Two charges such as these, so serious in their nature, and so
destructive of her character, filled her with horror and consternation,
and even somewhat served to palliate his illiberal and injurious
behaviour.

But how reports thus false and thus disgraceful should be raised, and by
what dark work of slander and malignity they had been spread, remained a
doubt inexplicable. They could not, she was certain, be the mere rumour
of chance, since in both the assertions there was some foundation of
truth, however cruelly perverted, or basely over-charged.

This led her to consider how few people there were not only who had
interest, but who had power to propagate such calumnies; even her
acquaintance with the Belfields she remembered not ever mentioning,
for she knew none of their friends, and none of her own knew them. How,
then, should it be circulated, that she “visited often at the house?”
 however be invented that it was from her “attention to the young man?”
 Henrietta, she was sure, was too good and too innocent to be guilty of
such perfidy; and the young man himself had always shewn a modesty and
propriety that manifested his total freedom from the vanity of such a
suspicion, and an elevation of sentiment that would have taught him to
scorn the boast, even if he believed the partiality.

The mother, however, had neither been so modest nor so rational; she had
openly avowed her opinion that Cecilia was in love with her son; and as
that son, by never offering himself, had never been refused, her opinion
had received no check of sufficient force, for a mind so gross and
literal, to change it.

This part, therefore, of the charge she gave to Mrs Belfield, whose
officious and loquacious forwardness she concluded had induced her to
narrate her suspicions, till, step by step, they had reached Mr Delvile.

But though able, by the probability of this conjecture, to account for
the report concerning Belfield, the whole affair of the debt remained a
difficulty not to be solved. Mr Harrel, his wife, Mr Arnott, the Jew and
Mr Monckton, were the only persons to whom the transaction was known;
and though from five, a secret, in the course of so many months, might
easily be supposed likely to transpire, those five were so particularly
bound to silence, not only for her interest but their own, that it was
not unreasonable to believe it as safe among them all, as if solely
consigned to one. For herself, she had revealed it to no creature but Mr
Monckton; not even to Delvile; though, upon her consenting to marry him,
he had an undoubted right to be acquainted with the true state of
her affairs; but such had been the hurry, distress, confusion and
irresolution of her mind at that period, that this whole circumstance
had been driven from it entirely, and she had, since, frequently
blamed herself for such want of recollection. Mr Harrel, for a thousand
reasons, she was certain had never named it; and had the communication
come from his widow or from Mr Arnott, the motives would have been
related as well as the debt, and she had been spared the reproach of
contracting it for purposes of her own extravagance. The Jew, indeed,
was, to her, under no obligation of secrecy, but he had an obligation
far more binding,--he was tied to himself.

A suspicion now arose in her mind which made it thrill with horror;
“good God! she exclaimed, can Mr Monckton---”

She stopt, even to herself;--she checked the idea;--she drove it hastily
from her;--she was certain it was false and cruel,--she hated herself
for having started it.

“No,” cried she, “he is my friend, the confirmed friend of many years,
my well-wisher from childhood, my zealous counsellor and assistant
almost from my birth to this hour:--such perfidy from him would not even
be human!”

Yet still her perplexity was undiminished; the affair was undoubtedly
known, and it only could be known by the treachery of some one entrusted
with it: and however earnestly her generosity combated her rising
suspicions, she could not wholly quell them; and Mr Monckton’s strange
aversion to the Delviles, his earnestness to break off her connexion
with them, occurred to her remembrance, and haunted her perforce with
surmises to his disadvantage.

That gentleman, when he came home, found her in this comfortless and
fluctuating state, endeavouring to form conjectures upon what had
happened, yet unable to succeed, but by suggestions which one moment
excited her abhorrence of him, and the next of herself.

He enquired, with his usual appearance of easy friendliness, into what
had passed with her two guardians, and how she had settled her affairs.
She answered without hesitation all his questions, but her manner was
cold and reserved, though her communication was frank.

This was not unheeded by Mr Monckton, who, after a short time, begged to
know if any thing had disturbed her.

Cecilia, ashamed of her doubts, though unable to get rid of them, then
endeavoured to brighten up, and changed the subject to the difficulties
she had had to encounter from the obstinacy of Mr Briggs.

Mr Monckton for a while humoured this evasion; but when, by her
own exertion, her solemnity began to wear off, he repeated his
interrogatory, and would not be satisfied without an answer.

Cecilia, earnest that surmises so injurious should be removed, then
honestly, but without comments, related the scene which had just past
between Mr Delvile and herself.

No comments were, however, wanting to explain to Mr Monckton the change
of her behaviour. “I see,” he cried hastily, “what you cannot but
suspect; and I will go myself to Mr Delvile, and insist upon his
clearing me.”

Cecilia, shocked to have thus betrayed what was passing within her,
assured him his vindication required not such a step, and begged he
would counsel her how to discover this treachery, without drawing from
her concern at it a conclusion so offensive to himself.

He was evidently, however, and greatly disturbed; he declared his own
wonder equal to hers how the affair had been betrayed, expressed the
warmest indignation at the malevolent insinuations against her conduct,
and lamented with mingled acrimony and grief, that there should exist
even the possibility of casting the odium of such villainy upon himself.

Cecilia, distressed, perplexed, and ashamed at once, again endeavoured
to appease him, and though a lurking doubt obstinately clung to her
understanding, the purity of her own principles, and the softness of her
heart, pleaded strongly for his innocence, and urged her to detest her
suspicion, though to conquer it they were unequal.

“It is true,” said he, with an air ingenuous though mortified, “I
dislike the Delviles, and have always disliked them; they appear to me
a jealous, vindictive, and insolent race, and I should have thought I
betrayed the faithful regard I professed for you, had I concealed my
opinion when I saw you in danger of forming an alliance with them; I
spoke to you, therefore, with honest zeal, thoughtless of any enmity I
might draw upon myself; but though it was an interference from which I
hoped, by preventing the connection, to contribute to your happiness,
it was not with a design to stop it at the expence of your character,--a
design black, horrible, and diabolic! a design which must be formed by a
Daemon, but which even a Daemon could never, I think, execute!”

The candour of this speech, in which his aversion to the Delviles was
openly acknowledged, and rationally justified, somewhat quieted the
suspicions of Cecilia, which far more anxiously sought to be confuted
than confirmed: she began, therefore, to conclude that some accident,
inexplicable as unfortunate, had occasioned the partial discovery to Mr
Delvile, by which her own goodness proved the source of her defamation:
and though something still hung upon her mind that destroyed that firm
confidence she had hitherto felt in the friendship of Mr Monckton, she
held it utterly unjust to condemn him without proof, which she was not
more unable to procure, than to satisfy herself with any reason why so
perfidiously he should calumniate her.

Comfortless, however, and tormented with conjectures equally vague and
afflicting, she could only clear him to be lost in perplexity, she could
only accuse him to be penetrated with horror. She endeavoured to suspend
her judgment till time should develop the mystery, and only for the
present sought to finish her business and leave London.

She renewed, therefore, again, the subject of Mr Briggs, and told him
how vain had been her effort to settle with him. Mr Monckton instantly
offered his services in assisting her, and the next morning they went
together to his house, where, after an obstinate battle, they gained
a complete victory: Mr Briggs gave up all his accounts, and, in a few
days, by the active interference of Mr Monckton, her affairs were wholly
taken out of his hands. He stormed, and prophesied all ill to Cecilia,
but it was not to any purpose; he was so disagreeable to her, by his
manners, and so unintelligible to her in matters of business, that
she was happy to have done with him; even though, upon inspecting his
accounts, they were all found clear and exact, and his desire to retain
his power over her fortune, proved to have no other motive than a love
of money so potent, that to manage it, even for another, gave him a
satisfaction he knew not how to relinquish.

Mr Monckton, who, though a man of pleasure, understood business
perfectly well, now instructed and directed her in making a general
arrangement of her affairs. The estate which devolved to her from her
uncle, and which was all in landed property, she continued to commit to
the management of the steward who was employed in his life-time; and
her own fortune from her father, which was all in the stocks, she now
diminished to nothing by selling out to pay Mr Monckton the principal
and interest which she owed him, and by settling with her Bookseller.

While these matters were transacting, which, notwithstanding her
eagerness to leave town, could not be brought into such a train as to
permit her absence in less than a week, she passed her time chiefly
alone. Her wishes all inclined her to bestow it upon Henrietta, but
the late attack of Mr Delvile had frightened her from keeping up
that connection, since however carefully she might confine it to the
daughter, Mrs Belfield, she was certain, would impute it all to the son.

That attack rested upon her mind, in defiance of all her endeavours
to banish it; the contempt with which it was made seemed intentionally
offensive, as if he had been happy to derive from her supposed ill
conduct, a right to triumph over as well as reject her. She concluded,
also, that Delvile would be informed of these calumnies, yet she judged
his generosity by her own, and was therefore convinced he would not
credit them: but what chiefly at this time encreased her sadness and
uneasiness, was the mention of Mrs Delvile’s broken constitution
and ruined health. She had always preserved for that lady the most
affectionate respect, and could not consider herself as the cause of her
sufferings, without feeling the utmost concern, however conscious she
had not wilfully occasioned them.

Nor was this scene the only one by which her efforts to forget this
family were defeated; her watchful monitor, Albany, failed not again to
claim her promise; and though Mr Monckton earnestly exhorted her not to
trust herself out with him, she preferred a little risk to the keenness
of his reproaches, and the weather being good on the morning that he
called, she consented to accompany him in his rambles: only charging her
footman to follow where-ever they went, and not to fail enquiring for
her if she stayed long out of his sight. These precautions were rather
taken to satisfy Mr Monckton than herself, who, having now procured
intelligence of the former disorder of his intellects, was fearful of
some extravagance, and apprehensive for her safety.

He took her to a miserable house in a court leading into Piccadilly,
where, up three pair of stairs, was a wretched woman ill in bed, while a
large family of children were playing in the room.

“See here,” cried he, “what human nature can endure! look at that poor
wretch, distracted with torture, yet lying in all this noise! unable to
stir in her bed, yet without any assistant! suffering the pangs of acute
disease, yet wanting the necessaries of life!”

Cecilia went up to the bed-side, and enquired more particularly into the
situation of the invalid; but finding she could hardly speak from pain,
she sent for the woman of the house, who kept a Green Grocer’s shop on
the ground floor, and desired her to hire a nurse for her sick lodger,
to call all the children down stairs, and to send for an apothecary,
whose bill she promised to pay. She then gave her some money to get what
necessaries might be wanted, and said she would come again in two days
to see how they went on.

Albany, who listened to these directions with silent, yet eager
attention, now clasped both his hands with a look of rapture, and
exclaimed “Virtue yet lives,--and I have found her?”

Cecilia, proud of such praise, and ambitious to deserve it, chearfully
said, “where, Sir, shall we go now?”

“Home;” answered he with an aspect the most benign; “I will not wear out
thy pity by rendering woe familiar to it.”

Cecilia, though at this moment more disposed for acts of charity than
for business or for pleasure, remembered that her fortune however large
was not unlimited, and would not press any further bounty for objects
she knew not, certain that occasions and claimants, far beyond her
ability of answering, would but too frequently arise among those with
whom she was more connected, she therefore yielded herself to his
direction, and returned to Soho-Square.

Again, however, he failed not to call the time she had appointed for
re-visiting the invalid, to whom, with much gladness, he conducted her.

The poor woman, whose disease was a rheumatic fever, was already much
better; she had been attended by an apothecary who had given her some
alleviating medicine; she had a nurse at her bedside, and the room being
cleared of the children, she had had the refreshment of some sleep.

She was now able to raise her head, and make her acknowledgments to her
benefactress; but not a little was the surprise of Cecilia, when, upon
looking in her face, she said, “Ah, madam, I have seen you before!”

Cecilia, who had not the smallest recollection of her, in return desired
to know when, or where?

“When you were going to be married, madam, I was the Pew-Opener at ----
Church.”

Cecilia started with secret horror, and involuntarily retreated from the
bed; while Albany with a look of astonishment exclaimed, “Married!--why,
then, is it unknown?”

“Ask me not!” cried she, hastily; “it is all a mistake.”

“Poor thing!” cried he, “this, then, is the string thy nerves endure not
to have touched! sooner will I expire than a breath of mine shall make
it vibrate! Oh sacred be thy sorrow, for thou canst melt at that of the
indigent!”

Cecilia then made a few general enquiries, and heard that the poor
woman, who was a widow, had been obliged to give up her office, from
the frequent attacks which she suffered of the rheumatism; that she had
received much assistance both from the Rector and the Curate of ----
Church, but her continual illness, with the largeness of her family,
kept her distressed in spite of all help.

Cecilia promised to consider what she could do for her, and then giving
her more money, returned to Lady Margaret’s.

Albany, who found that the unfortunate recollection of the Pew-Opener
had awakened in his young pupil a melancholy train of reflections,
seemed now to compassionate the sadness which hitherto he had reproved,
and walking silently by her side till she came to Soho-Square, said
in accents of kindness, “Peace light upon thy head, and dissipate thy
woes!” and left her.

“Ah when!” cried she to herself, “if thus they are to be revived
for-ever!”

Mr Monckton, who observed that something had greatly affected her, now
expostulated warmly against Albany and his wild schemes; “You trifle
with your own happiness,” he cried, “by witnessing these scenes of
distress, and you will trifle away your fortune upon projects you can
never fulfil: the very air in those miserable houses is unwholesome for
you to breathe; you will soon be affected with some of the diseases to
which you so uncautiously expose yourself, and while not half you give
in charity will answer the purpose you wish, you will be plundered by
cheats and sharpers till you have nothing left to bestow. You must be
more considerate for yourself, and not thus governed by Albany, whose
insanity is but partially cured, and whose projects are so boundless,
that the whole capital of the East India Company would not suffice to
fulfil them.”

Cecilia, though she liked not the severity of this remonstrance,
acknowledged there was some truth in it, and promised to be discreet,
and take the reins into her own hands.

There remained for her, however, no other satisfaction; and the path
which had thus been pointed out to her, grew more and more alluring
every step. Her old friends, the poor Hills, now occurred to her memory,
and she determined to see herself in what manner they went on.

The scene which this enquiry presented to her, was by no means
calculated to strengthen Mr Monckton’s doctrine, for the prosperity in
which she found this little family, amply rewarded the liberality she
had shewn to it, and proved an irresistible encouragement to similar
actions. Mrs Hill wept for joy in recounting how well she succeeded,
and Cecilia, delighted by the power of giving such pleasure, forgot all
cautions and promises in the generosity which she displayed. She paid
Mrs Roberts the arrears that were due to her, she discharged all that
was owing for the children who had been put to school, desired they
might still be sent to it solely at her expense, and gave the mother a
sum of money to be laid out in presents for them all.

To perform her promise with the Pew Opener was however more difficult;
her ill health, and the extreme youth of her children making her utterly
helpless: but these were not considerations for Cecilia to desert her,
but rather motives for regarding her as more peculiarly an object
of charity. She found she had once been a clear starcher, and was a
tolerable plain work-woman; she resolved, therefore, to send her into
the country, where she hoped to be able to get her some business, and
knew that at least, she could help her, if unsuccessful, and see that
her children were brought up to useful employments. The woman herself
was enchanted at the plan, and firmly persuaded the country air would
restore her health. Cecilia told her only to wait till she was well
enough to travel, and promised, in the mean time, to look out some
little habitation for her. She then gave her money to pay her bills, and
for her journey, and writing a full direction where she would hear of
her at Bury, took leave of her till that time.

These magnificent donations and designs, being communicated to Albany,
seemed a renovation to him of youth, spirit, and joy! while their effect
upon Mr Monckton resembled an annihilation of all three! to see money
thus sported away, which he had long considered as his own, to behold
those sums which he had destined for his pleasures, thus lavishly
bestowed upon beggars, excited a rage he could with difficulty conceal,
and an uneasiness he could hardly endure; and he languished, he sickened
for the time, when he might put a period to such romantic proceedings.

Such were the only occupations which interrupted the solitude of
Cecilia, except those which were given to her by actual business; and
the moment her affairs were in so much forwardness that they could be
managed by letters, she prepared for returning into the country. She
acquainted Lady Margaret and Mr Monckton with her design, and gave
orders to her servants to be ready to set off the next day.

Mr Monckton made not any opposition, and refused himself the
satisfaction of accompanying her: and Lady Margaret, whose purpose was
now answered, and who wished to be in the country herself, determined to
follow her.



CHAPTER vi.

A DISTURBANCE.

This matter being settled at breakfast, Cecilia, having but one day more
to spend in London, knew not how to let it pass without taking leave of
Henrietta, though she chose not again to expose herself to the forward
insinuations of her mother; she sent her, therefore, a short note,
begging to see her at Lady Margaret’s, and acquainting her that the next
day she was going out of town.

Henrietta returned the following answer.

_To Miss Beverley_.

Madam,--My mother is gone to market, and I must not go out without her
leave; I have run to the door at every knock this whole week in hopes
you were coming, and my heart has jumpt at every coach that has gone
through the street. Dearest lady, why did you tell me you would come? I
should not have thought of such a great honour if you had not put it in
my head. And now I have got the use of a room where I can often be alone
for two or three hours together. And so I shall this morning, if it
was possible my dear Miss Beverley could come. But I don’t mean to be
teasing, and I would not be impertinent or encroaching for the world;
but only the thing is I have a great deal to say to you, and if you was
not so rich a lady, and so much above me, I am sure I should love you
better than any body in the whole world, almost; and now I dare say I
shan’t see you at all; for it rains very hard, and my mother, I know,
will be sadly angry if I ask to go in a coach. O dear! I don’t know
what I can do! for it will half break my heart, if my dear Miss Beverley
should go out of town, and I not see her!--I am, Madam, with the
greatest respectfulness, your most humble servant,

HENRIETTA BELFIELD.

This artless remonstrance, joined to the intelligence that she could
see her alone, made Cecilia instantly order a chair, and go herself to
Portland-street: for she found by this letter there was much doubt if
she could otherwise see her, and the earnestness of Henrietta made her
now not endure to disappoint her. “She has much,” cried she, “to say to
me, and I will no longer refuse to hear her; she shall unbosom to me
her gentle heart, for we have now nothing to fear from each other. She
promises herself pleasure from the communication, and doubtless it must
be some relief to her. Oh were there any friendly bosom, in which I
might myself confide!--happier Henrietta! less fearful of thy pride,
less tenacious of thy dignity! thy sorrows at least seek the consolation
of sympathy,--mine, alas! fettered by prudence, must fly it!”

She was shewn into the parlour, which she had the pleasure to find
empty; and, in an instant, the warm-hearted Henrietta was in her arms.
“This is sweet of you indeed,” cried she, “for I did not know how to ask
it, though it rains so hard I could not have walked to you, and I don’t
know what I should have done, if you had gone away and quite forgot me.”

She then took her into the back parlour, which she said they had lately
hired, and, as it was made but little use of, she had it almost entirely
to herself.

There had passed a sad scene, she told her, at the meeting with her
brother, though now they were a little more comfortable; yet, her
mother, she was sure, would never be at rest till he got into some
higher way of life; “And, indeed, I have some hopes,” she continued,
“that we shall be able by and bye to do something better for him; for
he has got one friend in the world, yet; thank God, and such a noble
friend!--indeed I believe he can do whatever he pleases for him,--that
is I mean I believe if he was to ask any thing for him, there’s nobody
would deny him. And this is what I wanted to talk to you about.”--

Cecilia, who doubted not but she meant Delvile, scarce knew how to press
the subject, though she came with no other view: Henrietta, however, too
eager to want solicitation, went on.

“But the question is whether we shall be able to prevail upon my brother
to accept any thing, for he grows more and more unwilling to be obliged,
and the reason is, that being poor, he is afraid, I believe, people
should think he wants to beg of them: though if they knew him as well
as I do, they would not long think that, for I am sure he would a great
deal rather be starved to death. But indeed, to say the truth, I am
afraid he has been sadly to blame in this affair, and quarrelled when
there was no need to be affronted; for I have seen a gentleman who knows
a great deal better than my brother what people should do, and he says
he took every thing wrong that was done, all the time he was at Lord
Vannelt’s.”

“And how does this gentleman know it?”

“O because he went himself to enquire about it; for he knows Lord
Vannelt very well, and it was by his means my brother came acquainted
with him. And this gentleman would not have wished my brother to be used
ill any more than I should myself, so I am sure I may believe what he
says. But my poor brother, not being a lord himself, thought every body
meant to be rude to him, and because he knew he was poor, he suspected
they all behaved disrespectfully to him. But this gentleman gave me his
word that every body liked him and esteemed him, and if he would not
have been so suspicious, they would all have done any thing for him in
the world.”

“You know this gentleman very well, then?”

“O no, madam!” she answered hastily, “I don’t know him at all! he only
comes here to see my brother; it would be very impertinent for me to
call him an acquaintance of mine.”

“Was it before your brother, then, he held this conversation with you?”

“O no, my brother would have been affronted with him, too, if he had!
but he called here to enquire for him at the time when he was lost to
us, and my mother quite went down upon her knees to him to beg him to
go to Lord Vannelt’s, and make excuses for him, if he had not behaved
properly: but if my brother was to know this, he would hardly speak to
her again! so when this gentleman came next, I begged him not to mention
it, for my mother happened to be out, and so I saw him alone.”

“And did he stay with you long?”

“No, ma’am, a very short time indeed; but I asked him questions all the
while, and kept him as long as I could, that I might hear all he had to
say about my brother.”

“Have you never seen him since?”

“No, ma’am, not once! I suppose he does not know my brother is come back
to us. Perhaps when he does, he will call.”

“Do you wish him to call?”

“Me?” cried she, blushing, “a little;--sometimes I do;--for my brother’s
sake.”

“For your brother’s sake! Ah my dear Henrietta! but tell me,--or _don’t_
tell me if you had rather not,--did I not once see you kissing a letter?
perhaps it was from this same noble friend?”

“It was not a letter, madam,” said she, looking down, “it was only the
cover of one to my brother.”

“The cover of a letter only!--and that to your brother!--is it possible
you could so much value it?”

“Ah madam! _You_, who are always used to the good and the wise, who see
no other sort of people but those in high life, _you_ can have no notion
how they strike those that they are new to!--but I who see them seldom,
and who live with people so very unlike them--Oh you cannot guess how
sweet to _me_ is every thing that belongs to them! whatever has but
once been touched by their hands, I should like to lock up, and keep for
ever! though if I was used to them, as you are, perhaps I might think
less of them.”

Alas! thought Cecilia, who by _them_ knew she only meant _him_, little
indeed would further intimacy protect you!

“We are all over-ready,” continued Henrietta, “to blame others, and that
is the way I have been doing all this time myself; but I don’t blame my
poor brother now for living so with the great as I used to do, for now
I have seen a little more of the world, I don’t wonder any longer at his
behaviour: for I know how it is, and I see that those who have had good
educations, and kept great company, and mixed with the world,--O it
is another thing!--they seem quite a different species!--they are so
gentle, so soft-mannered! nothing comes from them but what is meant
to oblige! they seem as if they only lived to give pleasure to other
people, and as if they never thought at all of themselves!”

“Ah Henrietta!” said Cecilia, shaking her head, “you have caught the
enthusiasm of your brother, though you so long condemned it! Oh have a
care lest, like him also, you find it as pernicious as it is alluring!”

“There, is no danger for _me_, madam,” answered she, “for the people I
so much admire are quite out of my reach. I hardly ever even see them;
and perhaps it may so happen I may see them no more!”

“The people?” said Cecilia, smiling, “are there, then, many you so much
distinguish?”

“Oh no indeed!” cried she, eagerly, “there is only one! there _can_
be--I mean there are only a few--” she checked herself, and stopt.

“Whoever you admire,” cried Cecilia, “your admiration cannot but honour:
yet indulge it not too far, lest it should wander from your heart to
your peace, and make you wretched for life.”

“Ah madam!--I see you know who is the particular person I was thinking
of! but indeed you are quite mistaken if you suppose any thing bad of
me!”

“Bad of you!” cried Cecilia, embracing her, “I scarce think so well of
any one!”

“But I mean, madam, if you think I forget he is so much above me. But
indeed I never do; for I only admire him for his goodness to my brother,
and never think of him at all, but just by way of comparing him,
sometimes, to the other people that I see, because he makes me hate them
so, that I wish I was never to see them again.”

“His acquaintance, then,” said Cecilia, “has done you but an ill office,
and happy it would be for you could you forget you had ever made it.”

“O, I shall never do that! for the more I think of him, the more I
am out of humour with every body else! O Miss Beverley! we have a sad
acquaintance indeed! I’m sure I don’t wonder my brother was so ashamed
of them. They are all so rude, and so free, and put one so out of
countenance,--O how different is this person you are thinking of! he
would not distress anybody, or make one ashamed for all the world! _You_
only are like him! always gentle, always obliging!--sometimes I think
you must be his sister--once, too, I heard--but that was contradicted.”

A deep sigh escaped Cecilia at this speech; she guessed too well
what she might have heard, and she knew too well how it might be
contradicted.

“Surely, _you_ cannot be unhappy, Miss Beverley!” said Henrietta, with a
look of mingled surprise and concern.

“I have much, I own,” cried Cecilia, assuming more chearfulness, “to be
thankful for, and I endeavour not to forget it.”

“O how often do I think,” cried Henrietta, “that you, madam, are
the happiest person in the world! with every thing at your own
disposal,--with every body in love with you, with all the money that you
can wish for, and so much sweetness that nobody can envy you it! with
power to keep just what company you please, and every body proud to be
one of the number!--Oh if I could chuse who I would be, I should sooner
say Miss Beverley than any princess in the world!”

Ah, thought Cecilia, if such is my situation,--how cruel that by one
dreadful blow all its happiness should be thrown away!

“Were I a rich lady, like you,” continued Henrietta, “and quite in my
own power, then, indeed, I might soon think of nothing but those people
that I admire! and that makes me often wonder that _you_, madam, who are
just such another as himself--but then, indeed, you may see so many of
the same sort, that just this one may not so much strike you: and for
that reason I hope with all my heart that he will never be married as
long as he lives, for as he must take some lady in just such high life
as his own, I should always be afraid that she would never love him as
she ought to do!”

He need not now be single, thought Cecilia, were that all he had cause
to apprehend!

“I often think,” added Henrietta, “that the rich would be as much
happier for marrying the poor, as the poor for marrying the rich, for
then they would take somebody that would try to deserve their kindness,
and now they only take those that know they have a right to it. Often
and often have I thought so about this very gentleman! and sometimes
when I have been in his company, and seen his civility and his
sweetness, I have fancied I was rich and grand myself, and it has quite
gone out of my head that I was nothing but poor Henrietta Belfield!”

“Did he, then,” cried Cecilia a little alarmed, “ever seek to ingratiate
himself into your favour?”

“No, never! but when treated with so much softness, ‘tis hard always
to remember one’s meanness! You, madam, have no notion of that task: no
more had I myself till lately, for I cared not who was high, nor who was
low: but now, indeed, I must own I have some times wished myself richer!
yet he assumes so little, that at other times, I have almost forgot all
distance between us, and even thought--Oh foolish thought!--

“Tell it, sweet Henrietta, however!”

“I will tell you, madam, every thing! for my heart has been bursting to
open itself, and nobody have I dared trust. I have thought, then, I have
sometimes thought,--my true affection, my faithful fondness, my glad
obedience,--might make him, if he did but know them, happier in me than
in a greater lady!”

“Indeed,” cried Cecilia, extremely affected by this plaintive
tenderness, “I believe it--and were I him, I could not, I think,
hesitate a moment in my choice!”

Henrietta now, hearing her mother coming in, made a sign to her to be
silent; but Mrs Belfield had not been an instant in the passage, before
a thundering knocking at the street-door occasioned it to be instantly
re-opened. A servant then enquired if Mrs Belfield was at home, and
being answered by herself in the affirmative, a chair was brought into
the house.

But what was the astonishment of Cecilia, when, in another moment, she
heard from the next parlour the voice of Mr Delvile senior, saying,
“Your servant, ma’am; Mrs Belfield, I presume?”

There was no occasion, now, to make a sign to her of silence, for her
own amazement was sufficient to deprive her of speech.

“Yes, Sir,” answered Mrs Belfield; “but I suppose, Sir, you are some
gentleman to my son.”

“No, madam,” he returned, “my business is with yourself.”

Cecilia now recovering from her surprise, determined to hasten unnoticed
out of the house, well knowing that to be seen in it would be regarded
as a confirmation of all that he had asserted. She whispered, therefore,
to Henrietta, that she must instantly run away, but, upon softly opening
the door leading to the passage, she found Mr Delvile’s chairmen, and a
footman there in waiting.

She closed it again, irresolute what to do: but after a little
deliberation, she concluded to out-stay him, as she was known to all
his servants, who would not fail to mention seeing her; and a retreat so
private was worse than any other risk. A chair was also in waiting for
herself, but it was a hackney one, and she could not be known by it;
and her footman she had fortunately dismissed, as he had business to
transact for her journey next day.

Mean-while the thinness of the partition between the two parlours made
her hearing every word that was said unavoidable.

“I am sure, Sir, I shall be very willing to oblige you,” Mrs Belfield
answered; “but pray, Sir, what’s your name?”

“My name, ma’am,” he replied, in a rather elevated voice, “I am seldom
obliged to announce myself; nor is there any present necessity I should
make it known. It is sufficient I assure you, you are speaking to no
very common person, and probably to one you will have little chance to
meet with again.”

“But how can I tell your business, Sir, if I don’t so much as know your
name?”

“My business, madam, I mean to tell myself; your affair is only to hear
it. I have some questions, indeed, to ask, which I must trouble you to
answer, but they will sufficiently explain themselves to prevent
any difficulty upon your part. There is no need, therefore, of any
introductory ceremonial.”

“Well, Sir,” said Mrs Belfield, wholly insensible of this ambiguous
greatness, “if you mean to make your name a secret.”

“Few names, I believe, ma’am,” cried he, haughtily, “have less the
advantage of secrecy than mine! on the contrary, this is but one among
a very few houses in this town to which my person would not immediately
announce it. That, however, is immaterial; and you will be so good as to
rest satisfied with my assurances, that the person with whom you are now
conversing, will prove no disgrace to your character.”

Mrs Belfield, overpowered, though hardly knowing, with what, only said
_he was very welcome_, and begged him to sit down.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he answered, “My business is but of a moment, and my
avocations are too many to suffer my infringing that time. You say you
have a son; I have heard of him, also, somewhere before; pray will you
give me leave to enquire--I don’t mean to go deep into the matter,--but
particular family occurrences make it essential for me to know,--whether
there is not a young person of rather a capital fortune, to whom he is
supposed to make proposals?”

“Lack-a-day, no, Sir!” answered Mrs Belfield, to the infinite relief of
Cecilia, who instantly concluded this question referred to herself.

“I beg your pardon, then; good morning to you, ma’am,” said Mr Delvile,
in a tone that spoke his disappointment; but added “And there is no such
young person, you say, who favours his pretensions?”

“Dear Sir,” cried she, “why there’s nobody he’ll so much as put the
question to! there’s a young lady at this very time, a great fortune,
that has as much a mind to him, I tell him, as any man need desire to
see; but there’s no making him think it! though he has been brought up
at the university, and knows more about all the things, or as much, as
any body in the king’s dominions.”

“O, then,” cried Mr Delvile, in a voice of far more complacency, “it is
not on the side of the young woman that the difficulty seems to rest?”

“Lord, no, Sir! he might have had her again and again only for asking!
She came after him ever so often; but being brought up, as I said, at
the university, he thought he knew better than me, and so my preaching
was all as good as lost upon him.”

The consternation of Cecilia at these speeches could by nothing be
equalled but by the shame of Henrietta, who, though she knew not to
whom her mother made them, felt all the disgrace and the shock of them
herself.

“I suppose, Sir,” continued Mrs Belfield, “you know my son?”

“No, ma’am, my acquaintance is--not very universal.”

“Then, Sir, you are no judge how well he might make his own terms. And
as to this young lady, she found him out, Sir, when not one of his own
natural friends could tell where in the world he was gone! She was the
first, Sir, to come and tell me news of him though I was his own mother!
Love, Sir, is prodigious for quickness! it can see, I sometimes
think, through bricks and mortar. Yet all this would not do, he was so
obstinate not to take the hint!”

Cecilia now felt so extremely provoked, she was upon the point of
bursting in upon them to make her own vindication; but as her passions,
though they tried her reason never conquered it, she restrained herself
by considering that to issue forth from a room in that house, would do
more towards strengthening what was thus boldly asserted, than all her
protestations could have chance to destroy.

“And as to young ladies themselves,” continued Mrs Belfield, “they know
no more how to make their minds known than a baby does: so I suppose
he’ll shilly shally till somebody else will cry snap, and take her. It
is but a little while ago that it was all the report she was to have
young Mr Delvile, one of her guardian’s sons.”

“I am sorry report was so impertinent,” cried Mr Delvile, with much
displeasure; “young Mr Delvile is not to be disposed of with so little
ceremony; he knows better what is due to his family.”

Cecilia here blushed from indignation, and Henrietta sighed from
despondency.

“Lord, Sir,” answered Mrs Belfield, “what should his family do better?
I never heard they were any so rich, and I dare say the old gentleman,
being her guardian, took care to put his son enough in her way, however
it came about that they did not make a match of it: for as to old Mr
Delvile, all the world says---”

“All the world takes a very great liberty,” angrily interrupted
Mr Delvile, “in saying any thing about him: and you will excuse my
informing you that a person of his rank and consideration, is not
lightly to be mentioned upon every little occasion that occurs.”

“Lord, Sir,” cried Mrs Belfield, somewhat surprised at this unexpected
prohibition, “I don’t care for my part if I never mention the old
gentleman’s name again! I never heard any good of him in my life, for
they say he’s as proud as Lucifer, and nobody knows what it’s of, for
they say--”

“_They_ say?” cried he, firing with rage, “and who are _they_? be so
good as inform me that?”

“Lord, every body, Sir! it’s his common character.”

“Then every body is extremely indecent,” speaking very loud, “to pay
no more respect to one of the first families in England. It is a
licentiousness that ought by no means to be suffered with impunity.”

Here, the street-door being kept open by the servants in waiting, a
new step was heard in the passage, which Henrietta immediately knowing,
turned, with uplifted hands to Cecilia, and whispered, “How unlucky!
it’s my brother! I thought he would not have returned till night!”

“Surely he will not come in here?” re-whispered Cecilia.

But, at the same moment, he opened the door, and entered the room. He
was immediately beginning an apology, and starting back, but Henrietta
catching him by the arm, told him in a low voice, that she had made use
of his room because she had thought him engaged for the day, but begged
him to keep still and quiet, as the least noise would discover them.

Belfield then stopt; but the embarrassment of Cecilia was extreme;
to find herself in his room after the speeches she had heard from his
mother, and to continue with him in it by connivance, when she knew she
had been represented as quite at his service, distressed and provoked
her immeasurably; and she felt very angry with Henrietta for not sooner
informing her whose apartment she had borrowed. Yet now to remove, and
to be seen, was not to be thought of; she kept, therefore, fixed to
her seat, though changing colour every moment from the variety of her
emotions.

During this painful interruption she lost Mrs Belfield’s next answer,
and another speech or two from Mr Delvile, to whose own passion and
loudness was owing Belfield’s entering his room unheard: but the next
voice that called their attention was that of Mr Hobson, who just then
walked into the parlour.

“Why what’s to do here?” cried he, facetiously, “nothing but chairs and
livery servants! Why, ma’am, what is this your rout day? Sir your most
humble servant. I ask pardon, but I did not know you at first. But come,
suppose we were all to sit down? Sitting’s as cheap as standing, and
what I say is this; when a man’s tired, it’s more agreeable.”

“Have you any thing further, ma’am,” said Mr Delvile, with great
solemnity, “to communicate to me?”

“No, Sir,” said Mrs Belfield, rather angrily, “it’s no business of mine
to be communicating myself to a gentleman that I don’t know the name of.
Why, Mr Hobson, how come you to know the gentleman?”

“To know _me_!” repeated Mr Delvile, scornfully.

“Why I can’t say much, ma’am,” answered Mr Hobson, “as to my knowing the
gentleman, being I have been in his company but once; and what I say is,
to know a person if one leaves but a quart in a hogshead, it’s two pints
too much. That’s my notion. But, Sir, that was but an ungain business
at ‘Squire Monckton’s t’other morning. Every body was no-how, as one may
say. But, Sir, if I may be so free, pray what is your private opinion of
that old gentleman that talked so much out of the way?”

“My private opinion, Sir?”

“Yes, Sir; I mean if it’s no secret, for as to a secret, I hold it’s
what no man has a right to enquire into, being of its own nature it’s
a thing not to be told. Now as to what I think myself, my doctrine is
this; I am quite of the old gentleman’s mind about some things, and
about others I hold him to be quite wide of the mark. But as to talking
in such a whisky frisky manner that nobody can understand him, why
its tantamount to not talking at all, being he might as well hold his
tongue. That’s what _I_ say. And then as to that other article, of
abusing a person for not giving away all his lawful gains to every
cripple in the streets, just because he happens to have but one leg, or
one eye, or some such matter, why it’s knowing nothing of business! it’s
what _I_ call talking at random.”

“When you have finished, Sir,” said Mr Delvile, “you will be so good to
let me know.”

“I don’t mean to intrude, Sir; that’s not my way, so if you are upon
business--”

“What else, Sir, could you suppose brought me hither? However, I by no
means purpose any discussion. I have only a few words more to say to
this gentlewoman, and as my time is not wholly inconsequential, I should
not be sorry to have an early opportunity of being heard.”

“I shall leave you with the lady directly, Sir; for I know business
better than to interrupt it: but seeing chairs in the entry, my notion
was I should see ladies in the parlour, not much thinking of gentlemen’s
going about in that manner, being I never did it myself. But I have
nothing to offer against that; let every man have his own way; that’s
what _I_ say. Only just let me ask the lady before I go, what’s the
meaning of my seeing two chairs in the entry, and only a person for one
in the parlour? The gentleman, I suppose, did not come in _both_; ha!
ha! ha!”

“Why now you put me in mind,” said Mrs Belfield, “I saw a chair as
soon as I come in; and I was just going to say who’s here, when this
gentleman’s coming put it out of my head.”

“Why this is what I call Hocus Pocus work!” said Mr Hobson; “but I shall
make free to ask the chairmen who they are waiting for.”

Mrs Belfield, however, anticipated him; for running into the passage,
she angrily called out, “What do you do here, Misters? do you only come
to be out of the rain? I’ll have no stand made of my entry, I can tell
you!”

“Why we are waiting for the lady,” cried one of them.

“Waiting for a fiddlestick!” said Mrs Belfield; “here’s no lady here,
nor no company; so if you think I’ll have my entry filled up by two
hulking fellows for nothing, I shall shew you the difference. One’s dirt
enough of one’s own, without taking people out of the streets to help
one. Who do you think’s to clean after you?”

“That’s no business of ours; the lady bid us wait,” answered the man.

Cecilia at this dispute could with pleasure have cast herself out of the
window to avoid being discovered; but all plan of escape was too late;
Mrs Belfield called aloud for her daughter, and then, returning to the
front parlour, said, “I’ll soon know if there’s company come to my house
without my knowing it!” and opened a door leading to the next room!

Cecilia, who had hitherto sat fixed to her chair, now hastily arose, but
in a confusion too cruel for speech: Belfield, wondering even at his own
situation, and equally concerned and surprised at her evident distress,
had himself the feeling of a culprit, though without the least knowledge
of any cause: and Henrietta, terrified at the prospect of her mother’s
anger, retreated as much as possible out of sight.

Such was the situation of the discovered, abashed, perplexed, and
embarrassed! while that of the discoverers, far different, was bold,
delighted, and triumphant!

“So!” cried Mrs Belfield, “why here’s Miss Beverley!--in my son’s back
room!” winking at Mr Delvile.

“Why here’s a lady, sure enough!” said Mr Hobson, “and just where she
should be, and that is with a gentleman. Ha! ha! that’s the right way,
according to my notion! that’s the true maxim for living agreeable.”

“I came to see Miss Belfield,” cried Cecilia, endeavouring, but vainly,
to speak with composure, “and she brought me into this room.”

“I am but this moment,” cried Belfield, with eagerness, “returned home;
and unfortunately broke into the room, from total ignorance of the
honour which Miss Beverley did my sister.”

These speeches, though both literally true, sounded, in the
circumstances which brought them out, so much as mere excuses, that
while Mr Delvile haughtily marked his incredulity by a motion of his
chin, Mrs Belfield continued winking at him most significantly, and Mr
Hobson, with still less ceremony, laughed aloud.

“I have nothing more, ma’am,” said Mr Delvile to Mrs Belfield, “to
enquire, for the few doubts with which I came to this house are now
entirely satisfied. Good morning to you, ma’am.”

“Give me leave, Sir,” said Cecilia, advancing with more spirit, “to
explain, in presence of those who can best testify my veracity, the real
circumstances--”

“I would by no means occasion you such unnecessary trouble, ma’am,”
 answered he, with an air at once exulting and pompous, “the situation in
which I see you abundantly satisfies my curiosity, and saves me from the
apprehension I was under of being again convicted of a _mistake_!”

He then made her a stiff bow, and went to his chair.

Cecilia, colouring deeply at this contemptuous treatment, coldly took
leave of Henrietta, and courtsying to Mrs Belfield, hastened into the
passage, to get into her own.

Henrietta was too much intimidated to speak, and Belfield was too
delicate to follow her; Mr Hobson only said “The young lady seems quite
dashed;” but Mrs Belfield pursued her with entreaties she would stay.

She was too angry, however, to make any answer but by a distant bow of
the head, and left the house with a resolution little short of a vow
never again to enter it.

Her reflections upon this unfortunate visit were bitter beyond measure;
the situation in which she had been surprised,--clandestinely concealed
with only Belfield and his sister--joined to the positive assertions of
her partiality for him made by his mother, could not, to Mr Delvile, but
appear marks irrefragable that his charge in his former conversation
was rather mild than over-strained, and that the connection he had
mentioned, for whatever motives denied, was incontestably formed.

The apparent conviction of this part of the accusation, might also
authorise, to one but too happy in believing ill of her, an implicit
faith in that which regarded her having run out her fortune. His
determination not to hear her shewed the inflexibility of his character;
and it was evident, notwithstanding his parading pretensions of wishing
her welfare, that his inordinate pride was inflamed, at the very
supposition he could be mistaken or deceived for a moment.

Even Delvile himself, if gone abroad, might now hear this account with
exaggerations that would baffle all his confidence: his mother,
too, greatly as she esteemed and loved her, might have the matter so
represented as to stagger her good opinion;--these were thoughts the
most afflicting she could harbour, though their probability was such
that to banish them was impossible.

To apply again to Mr Delvile to hear her vindication, was to subject
herself to insolence, and almost to court indignity. She disdained
even to write to him, since his behaviour called for resentment, not
concession; and such an eagerness to be heard, in opposition to all
discouragement, would be practising a meanness that would almost merit
repulsion.

Her first inclination was to write to Mrs Delvile, but what now, to her,
was either her defence or accusation? She had solemnly renounced all
further intercourse with her, she had declared against writing again,
and prohibited her letters: and, therefore, after much fluctuation of
opinion, her delicacy concurred with her judgment, to conclude it would
be most proper, in a situation so intricate, to leave the matter to
chance, and commit her character to time.

In the evening, while she was at tea with Lady Margaret and Miss Bennet,
she was suddenly called out to speak to a young woman; and found, to her
great surprise, she was no other than Henrietta.

“Ah madam!” she cried, “how angrily did you go away this morning! it
has made me miserable ever since, and if you go out of town without
forgiving me, I shall fret myself quite ill! my mother is gone out to
tea, and I have run here all alone, and in the dark, and in the wet,
to beg and pray you will forgive me, for else I don’t know what I shall
do!”

“Sweet, gentle girl!” cried Cecilia, affectionately embracing her, “if
you had excited all the anger I am capable of feeling, such softness as
this would banish it, and make me love you more than ever!”

Henrietta then said, in her excuse, that she had thought herself quite
sure of her brother’s absence, who almost always spent the whole day at
the bookseller’s, as in writing himself he perpetually wanted to consult
other authors, and had very few books at their lodgings: but she would
not mention that the room was his, lest Cecilia should object to
making use of it, and she knew she had no other chance of having the
conversation with her she had so very long wished for. She then again
begged her pardon, and hoped the behaviour of her mother would not
induce her to give her up, as she was shocked at it beyond measure, and
as her brother, she assured her, was as innocent of it as herself.

Cecilia heard her with pleasure, and felt for her an encreasing regard.
The openness of her confidence in the morning had merited all her
affection, and she gave her the warmest protestations of a friendship
which she was certain would be lasting as her life.

Henrietta then, with a countenance that spoke the lightness of her
heart, hastily took her leave, saying she did not dare be out longer,
lest her mother should discover her excursion. Cecilia insisted,
however, upon her going in a chair, which she ordered her servant to
attend, and take care himself to discharge.

This visit, joined to the tender and unreserved conversation of the
morning, gave Cecilia the strongest desire to invite her to her house in
the country; but the terror of Mrs Belfield’s insinuations, added to
the cruel interpretations she had to expect from Mr Delvile, forbid her
indulging this wish, though it was the only one that just now she could
form.



CHAPTER vii.

A CALM.

Cecilia took leave over night of the family, as she would not stay their
rising in the morning: Mr Monckton, though certain not to sleep when she
was going, forbearing to mark his solicitude by quitting his apartment
at any unusual hour. Lady Margaret parted from her with her accustomed
ungraciousness, and Miss Bennet, because in her presence, in a manner
scarcely less displeasing.

The next morning, with only her servants, the moment it was light, she
set out. Her journey was without incident or interruption, and she went
immediately to the house of Mrs Bayley, where she had settled to board
till her own was finished.

Mrs Bayley was a mere good sort of woman, who lived decently well with
her servants, and tolerably well with her neighbours, upon a small
annuity, which made her easy and comfortable, though by no means
superior to such an addition to her little income as an occasional
boarder might produce.

Here Cecilia continued a full month: which time had no other
employment than what she voluntarily gave to herself by active deeds of
benevolence.

At Christmas, to the no little joy of the neighbourhood, she took
possession of her own house, which was situated about three miles from
Bury.

The better sort of people were happy to see her thus settled amongst
them, and the poorer, who by what they already had received, knew
well what they still might expect, regarded the day in which she
fixed herself in her mansion, as a day to themselves of prosperity and
triumph.

As she was no longer, as hitherto, repairing to a temporary habitation,
which at pleasure she might quit, and to which, at a certain period, she
could have no possible claim, but to a house which was her own for
ever, or, at least, could solely by her own choice be transferred,
she determined, as much as was in her power, in quitting her desultory
dwellings, to empty her mind of the transactions which had passed in
them, and upon entering a house where she was permanently to reside,
to make the expulsion of her past sorrows, the basis upon which to
establish her future serenity.

And this, though a work of pain and difficulty, was not impracticable;
her sensibility, indeed, was keen, and she had suffered from it the
utmost torture; but her feelings were not more powerful than her
understanding was strong, and her fortitude was equal to her trials.
Her calamities had saddened, but not weakened her mind, and the words
of Delvile in speaking of his mother occurred to her now with all
the conviction of experience, that “evils inevitable are always best
supported, because known to be past amendment, and felt to give defiance
to struggling.” [Footnote: See Vol. ii. p. 317.]

A plan by which so great a revolution was to be wrought in her mind, was
not to be effected by any sudden effort of magnanimity, but by a regular
and even tenour of courage mingled with prudence. Nothing, therefore,
appeared to her so indispensable as constant employment, by which a
variety of new images might force their way in her mind to supplant
the old ones, and by which no time might be allowed for brooding over
melancholy retrospections.

Her first effort, in this work of mental reformation, was to part with
Fidel, whom hitherto she had almost involuntarily guarded, but whom she
only could see to revive the most dangerous recollections. She sent him,
therefore, to the castle, but without any message; Mrs Delvile, she was
sure, would require none to make her rejoice in his restoration.

Her next step was writing to Albany, who had given her his direction, to
acquaint him she was now ready to put in practice their long concerted
scheme. Albany instantly hastened to her, and joyfully accepted the
office of becoming at once her Almoner and her Monitor. He made it his
business to seek objects of distress, and always but too certain to find
them, of conducting her himself to their habitations, and then leaving
to her own liberality the assistance their several cases demanded: and,
in the overflowing of his zeal upon these occasions, and the rapture
of his heart in thus disposing, almost at his pleasure, of her noble
fortune, he seemed, at times, to feel an extasy that, from its novelty
and its excess, was almost too exquisite to be borne. He joined with the
beggars in pouring blessings upon her head, he prayed for her with the
poor, and he thanked her with the succoured.

The pew-opener and her children failed not to keep their appointment,
and Cecilia presently contrived to settle them in her neighbourhood:
where the poor woman, as she recovered her strength, soon got a little
work, and all deficiencies in her power of maintaining herself were
supplied by her generous patroness. The children, however, she ordered
to be coarsely brought up, having no intention to provide for them but
by helping them to common employments.

The promise, also, so long made to Mrs Harrel of an apartment in
her house, was now performed. That lady accepted it with the utmost
alacrity, glad to make any change in her situation, which constant
solitude had rendered wholly insupportable. Mr Arnott accompanied her to
the house, and spent one day there; but receiving from Cecilia,
though extremely civil and sweet to him, no hint of any invitation for
repeating his visit, he left it in sadness, and returned to his own in
deep dejection. Cecilia saw with concern how he nourished his hopeless
passion, but knew that to suffer his visits would almost authorise
his feeding it; and while she pitied unaffectedly the unhappiness she
occasioned, she resolved to double her own efforts towards avoiding
similar wretchedness.

This action, however, was a point of honour, not of friendship, the time
being long since past that the society of Mrs Harrel could afford her
any pleasure; but the promises she had so often made to Mr Harrel in
his distresses, though extorted from her merely by the terrors of the
moment, still were promises, and, therefore, she held herself bound to
fulfil them.

Yet far from finding comfort in this addition to her family, Mrs Harrel
proved to her nothing more than a trouble and an incumbrance; with
no inherent resources, she was continually in search of occasional
supplies; she fatigued Cecilia with wonder at the privacy of her life,
and tormented her with proposals of parties and entertainments. She
was eternally in amazement that with powers so large, she had wishes so
confined, and was evidently disappointed that upon coming to so ample an
estate, she lived, with respect to herself and her family, with no more
magnificence or shew than if Heiress to only ú500 a year.

But Cecilia was determined to think and to live for herself, without
regard to unmeaning wonder or selfish remonstrances; she had neither
ambition for splendour, nor spirits for dissipation; the recent sorrow
of her heart had deadened it for the present to all personal taste of
happiness, and her only chance for regaining it, seemed through the
medium of bestowing it upon others. She had seen, too, by Mr Harrel,
how wretchedly external brilliancy could cover inward woe, and she
had learned at Delvile Castle to grow sick of parade and grandeur. Her
equipage, therefore, was without glare, though not without elegance, her
table was plain, though hospitably plentiful, her servants were for use,
though too numerous to be for labour. The system of her oeconomy, like
that of her liberality, was formed by rules of reason, and her own ideas
of right, and not by compliance with example, nor by emulation with the
gentry in her neighbourhood.

But though thus deviating in her actions from the usual customs of
the young and rich, she was peculiarly careful not to offend them
by singularity of manners. When she mixed with them, she was easy,
unaffected, and well bred, and though she saw them but seldom, her good
humour and desire of obliging kept them always her friends. The plan
she had early formed at Mrs Harrel’s she now studied daily to put in
practice; but that part by which the useless or frivolous were to be
excluded her house, she found could only be supported by driving from
her half her acquaintance.

Another part, also, of that project she found still less easy of
adoption, which was solacing herself with the society of the wise, good,
and intelligent. Few answered this description, and those few were with
difficulty attainable. Many might with joy have sought out her liberal
dwelling, but no one had idly waited till the moment it was at her
disposal. All who possessed at once both talents and wealth, were
so generally courted they were rarely to be procured; and all who to
talents alone owed their consequence, demanded, if worth acquiring, time
and delicacy to be obtained. Fortune she knew, however, was so often at
war with Nature, that she doubted not shortly meeting those who would
gladly avail themselves of her offered protection.

Yet, tired of the murmurs of Mrs Harrel, she longed for some relief from
her society, and her desire daily grew stronger to owe that relief to
Henrietta Belfield. The more she meditated upon this wish, the less
unattainable it appeared to her, till by frequently combating its
difficulties, she began to consider them imaginary: Mrs Belfield, while
her son was actually with herself, might see she took not Henrietta as
his appendage; and Mr Delvile, should he make further enquiries, might
hear that her real connection was with the sister, since she received
her in the country, where the brother made no pretence to follow
her. She considered, too, how ill she should be rewarded in giving up
Henrietta for Mr Delvile, who was already determined to think ill of
her, and whose prejudices no sacrifice would remove.

Having hesitated, therefore, some time between the desire of present
alleviation, and the fear of future mischief, the consciousness of her
own innocence at length vanquished all dread of unjust censure, and she
wrote an invitation to Henrietta enclosed in a letter to her mother.

The answer of Henrietta expressed her rapture at the proposal; and that
of Mrs Belfield made no objection but to the expence.

Cecilia, therefore, sent her own maid to travel with her into Suffolk,
with proper directions to pay for the journey.

The gratitude of the delighted Henrietta at the meeting was boundless;
and her joy at so unexpected a mark of favour made her half wild.
Cecilia suffered it not to languish for want of kindness to support
it; she took her to her bosom, became the soother of all her cares, and
reposed in her, in return, every thought that led not to Delvile.

There, however, she was uniformly silent; solemnly and eternally parted
from him, far from trusting the secret of her former connexion to
Henrietta, the whole study of her life was to drive the remembrance of
it from herself.

Henrietta now tasted a happiness to which as yet her whole life had been
a stranger; she was suddenly removed from turbulent vulgarity to the
enjoyment of calm elegance; and the gentleness of her disposition,
instead of being tyrannically imposed upon, not only made her loved with
affection, but treated with the most scrupulous delicacy. Cecilia had
her share in all the comfort she bestowed; she had now a friend to
oblige, and a companion to converse with. She communicated to her all
her schemes, and made her the partner of her benevolent excursions;
she found her disposition as amiable upon trial, as her looks and her
manners had been engaging at first sight; and her constant presence and
constant sweetness, imperceptibly revived her spirits, and gave a new
interest to her existence.

Meantime Mr Monckton, who returned in about a fortnight to the Grove,
observed the encreasing influence of Albany with the most serious
concern. The bounties of Cecilia, extensive, magnificent, unlimited,
were the theme of every tongue, and though sometimes censured and
sometimes admired, they were wondered at universally. He suffered her
for a while to go on without remonstrance, hoping her enthusiasm would
abate, as its novelty wore out: but finding that week following week was
still distinguished by some fresh act of beneficence, he grew so alarmed
and uneasy, he could restrain himself no longer. He spoke to her
with warmth, he represented her conduct as highly dangerous in its
consequence; he said she would but court impostors from every corner of
the kingdom, called Albany a lunatic, whom she should rather avoid than
obey; and insinuated that if a report was spread of her proceedings, a
charity so prodigal, would excite such alarm, that no man would think
even her large and splendid fortune, would ensure him from ruin in
seeking her alliance.

Cecilia heard this exhortation without either terror or impatience, and
answered it with the utmost steadiness. His influence over her mind was
no longer uncontrolled, for though her suspicions were not strengthened,
they had never been removed, and friendship has no foe so dangerous as
distrust! She thanked him, however, for his zeal, but assured him his
apprehensions were groundless, since though she acted from inclination,
she acted not without thought. Her income was very large, and she was
wholly without family or connection; to spend it merely upon herself
would be something still worse than extravagance, it must result from
wilfulness the most inexcusable, as her disposition was naturally
averse to luxury and expence. She might save indeed, but for whom? not a
creature had such a claim upon her; and with regard to herself, she was
so provided for it would be unnecessary. She would never, she declared,
run in debt even for a week, but while her estate was wholly clear, she
would spend it without restriction.

To his hint of any future alliance, she only said that those who
disapproved her conduct, would probably be those she should disapprove
in her turn; should such an event however take place, the retrenching
from that time all her present peculiar expences, would surely, in a
clear ú3000 a-year, leave her rich enough for any man, without making
it incumbent upon her at present, to deny herself the only pleasure she
could taste, in bestowing that money which to her was superfluous, upon
those who received it as the prolongation of their existence.

A firmness so deliberate in a system he so much dreaded, greatly shocked
Mr Monckton, though it intimidated him from opposing it; he saw she was
too earnest, and too well satisfied she was right, to venture giving
her disgust by controverting her arguments; the conversation, therefore,
ended with new discontent to himself, and with an impression upon
the mind of Cecilia, that though he was zealous and friendly, he was
somewhat too worldly and suspicious.

She went on, therefore, as before, distributing with a lavish hand
all she could spare from her own household; careful of nothing but of
guarding against imposition, which, though she sometimes unavoidably
endured, her discernment, and the activity of her investigating
diligence, saved her from suffering frequently. And the steadiness with
which she repulsed those whom she detected in deceit, was a check upon
tricks and fraud, though it could not wholly put a stop to them.

Money, to her, had long appeared worthless and valueless; it had failed
to procure her the establishment for which she once flattered herself
it seemed purposely designed; it had been disdained by the Delviles,
for the sake of whose connection she had alone ever truly rejoiced in
possessing it; and after such a conviction of its inefficacy to secure
her happiness, she regarded it as of little importance to herself, and
therefore thought it almost the due of those whose distresses gave it a
consequence to which with her it was a stranger.

In this manner with Cecilia passed the first winter of her majority.
She had sedulously filled it with occupations, and her occupations had
proved fertile in keeping her mind from idleness, and in restoring it
to chearfulness. Calls upon her attention so soothing, and avocations
so various for her time, had answered the great purpose for which
originally she had planned them, in almost forcing from her thoughts
those sorrows which, if indulged, would have rested in them incessantly.



CHAPTER viii.

AN ALARM.

The spring was now advancing, and the weather was remarkably fine; when
one morning, while Cecilia was walking with Mrs Harrel and Henrietta
on the lawn before her house, to which the last dinner bell was just
summoning them, to return, Mrs Harrel looked round and stopt at sight
of a gentleman galloping towards them, who in less than a minute
approached, and dismounting and leaving his horse to his servant, struck
them all at the same instant to be no other than young Delvile!

A sight so unexpected, so unaccountable, so wonderful, after an
absence so long, and to which they were mutually bound, almost wholly
over-powered Cecilia from surprise and a thousand other feelings, and
she caught Mrs Harrel by the arm, not knowing what she did, as if
for succour; while Henrietta with scarce less, though much more glad
emotion, suddenly exclaimed, “‘tis Mr Delvile!” and sprang forward to
meet him.

He had reached them, and in a voice that spoke hurry and perturbation,
respectfully made his compliments to them all, before Cecilia recovered
even the use of her feet: but no sooner were they restored to her, than
she employed them with the quickest motion in her power, still leaning
upon Mrs Harrel, to hasten into the house. Her solemn promise to Mrs
Delvile became uppermost in her thoughts, and her surprise was soon
succeeded by displeasure, that thus, without any preparation, he forced
her to break it by an interview she had no means to prevent.

Just as they reached the entrance into the house, the Butler came to
tell Cecilia that dinner was upon the table. Delvile then went up to
her, and said, “May I wait upon you for one instant before--or after you
dine?”

“I am engaged, Sir,” answered she, though hardly able to speak, “for the
whole day.”

“You will not, I hope, refuse to hear me,” cried he, eagerly, “I cannot
write what I have to say,--”

“There is no occasion that you should, Sir,” interrupted she, “since I
should scarcely find time to read it.”

She then courtsied, though without looking at him, and went into the
house; Delvile remaining in utter dismay, not daring, however wishing,
to follow her. But when Mrs Harrel, much surprised at behaviour so
unusual from Cecilia, approached him with some civil speeches, he
started, and wishing her good day, bowed, and remounted his horse:
pursued by the soft eyes of Henrietta till wholly out of sight.

They then both followed Cecilia to the dining-parlour.

Had not Mrs Harrel been of this small party, the dinner would have been
served in vain; Cecilia, still trembling with emotion, bewildered with
conjecture, angry with Delvile for thus surprising her, angry with
herself for so severely receiving him, amazed what had tempted him to
such a violation of their joint agreement, and irresolute as much what
to wish as what to think, was little disposed for eating, and with
difficulty compelled herself to do the honours of her table.

Henrietta, whom the sight of Delvile had at once delighted and
disturbed, whom the behaviour of Cecilia had filled with wonder and
consternation, and whom the evident inquietude and disappointment which
that behaviour had given to Delvile, had struck with grief and terror,
could not swallow even a morsel, but having cut her meat about her
plate, gave it, untouched, to a servant.

Mrs Harrel, however, though she had had her share in the surprise, had
wholly escaped all other emotion; and only concluded in her own mind,
that Cecilia could sometimes be out of humour and ill bred, as well as
the rest of the world.

While the dessert was serving, a note was brought to Henrietta, which a
servant was waiting in great haste to have answered.

Henrietta, stranger to all forms of politeness, though by nature soft,
obliging and delicate, opened it immediately; she started as she cast
her eye over it, but blushed, sparkled, and looked enchanted, and
hastily rising, without even a thought of any apology, ran out of the
room to answer it.

Cecilia, whose quick eye, by a glance unavoidable, had seen the hand
of Delvile, was filled with new amazement at the sight. As soon as the
servants were gone, she begged Mrs Harrel to excuse her, and went to her
own apartment.

Here, in a few minutes, she was followed by Henrietta, whose countenance
beamed with pleasure, and whose voice spoke tumultuous delight. “My
dear, dear Miss Beverley!” she cried, “I have such a thing to tell
you!--you would never guess it,--I don’t know how to believe it
myself,--but Mr Delvile has written to me!--he has indeed! that note was
from him.--I have been locking it up, for fear of accidents, but I’ll
run and fetch it, that you may see it yourself.”

She then ran away; leaving Cecilia much perplexed, much uneasy
for herself, and both grieved and alarmed for the too tender, too
susceptible Henrietta, who was thus easily the sport of every airy and
credulous hope.

“If I did not shew it you,” cried Henrietta, running back in a
moment, “you would never think it possible, for it is to make such a
request--that it has frightened me almost out of my wits!”

Cecilia then read the note.

_To Miss Belfield_.

Mr Delvile presents his compliments to Miss Belfield, and begs to
be permitted to wait upon her for a few minutes, at any time in the
afternoon she will be so good as to appoint.

“Only think,” cried the rapturous Henrietta, “it was _me_, poor simple
_me_, of all people, that he wanted so to speak with!--I am sure I
thought a different thought when he went away! but do, dearest Miss
Beverley, tell me this one thing, what do you think he can have to say
to me?”

“Indeed,” replied Cecilia, extremely embarrassed, “it is impossible for
me to conjecture.”

“If _you_ can’t, I am sure, then, it is no wonder _I_ can’t! and I have
been thinking of a million of things in a minute. It can’t be about any
business, because I know nothing in the world of any business; and it
can’t be about my brother, because he would go to our house in town
about him, and there he would see him himself; and it can’t be about my
dear Miss Beverley, because then he would have written the note to her
and it can’t be about any body else, because I know nobody else of his
acquaintance.”

Thus went on the sanguine Henrietta, settling whom and what it could
_not_ be about, till she left but the one thing to which her wishes
pointed that it _could_ be about. Cecilia heard her with true
compassion, certain that she was deceiving herself with imaginations
the most pernicious; yet unable to know how to quell them, while in such
doubt and darkness herself.

This conversation was soon interrupted, by a message that a gentleman in
the parlour begged to speak with Miss Belfield.

“O dearest, dearest Miss Beverley!” cried Henrietta, with encreasing
agitation, “what in the world shall I say to him, advise me, pray advise
me, for I can’t think of a single word!”

“Impossible, my dear Henrietta, unless I knew what he would say to you!”

“O but I can guess, I can guess!”--cried she, her cheeks glowing, while
her whole frame shook, “and I sha’n’t know what in the whole world to
answer him! I know I shall behave like a fool,--I know I shall disgrace
myself sadly!”

Cecilia, truly sorry Delvile should see her in such emotion, endeavoured
earnestly to compose her, though never less tranquil herself. But
she could not succeed, and she went down stairs with expectations of
happiness almost too potent for her reason.

Not such were those of Cecilia; a dread of some new conflict took
possession of her mind, that mind so long tortured with struggles, so
lately restored to serenity!

Henrietta soon returned, but not the same Henrietta she went;--the
glow, the hope, the flutter were all over; she looked pale and wan, but
attempting, as she entered the room, to call up a smile, she failed, and
burst into tears.

Cecilia threw her arms round her neck, and tried to console her; but,
happy to hide her face in her bosom, she only gave the freer indulgence
to her grief, and rather melted than comforted by her tenderness, sobbed
aloud.

Cecilia too easily conjectured the disappointment she had met, to pain
her by asking it; she forbore even to gratify her own curiosity by
questions that could not but lead to her mortification, and suffering
her therefore to take her own time for what she had to communicate, she
hung over her in silence with the most patient pity.

Henrietta was very sensible of this kindness, though she knew not half
its merit: but it was a long time before she could articulate, for
sobbing, that _all_ Mr Delvile wanted, at last, was only to beg she
would acquaint Miss Beverley, that he had done himself the honour of
waiting upon her with a message from Mrs Delvile.

“From Mrs Delvile?” exclaimed Cecilia, all emotion in her turn, “good
heaven! how much, then, have I been to blame? where is he now?--where
can I send to him?--tell me, my sweet Henrietta, this instant!”

“Oh madam!” cried Henrietta, bursting into a fresh flood of tears, “how
foolish have I been to open my silly heart to you!--he is come to pay
his addresses to you!--I am sure he is!--”

“No, no, no!” cried Cecilia, “indeed he is not!--but I must, I ought to
see him,--where, my love, is he?”,

“In the parlour,--waiting for an answer.--”

Cecilia, who at any other time would have been provoked at such a delay
in the delivery of a message so important, felt now nothing but concern
for Henrietta, whom she hastily kissed, but instantly, however, quitted,
and hurried to Delvile, with expectations almost equally sanguine as
those her poor friend but the moment before had crushed.

“Oh now,” thought she, “if at last Mrs Delvile herself has relented,
with what joy will I give up all reserve, all disguise, and frankly avow
the faithful affection of my heart!”

Delvile received her not with the eagerness with which he had first
addressed her; he looked extremely disturbed, and, even after her
entrance, undetermined how to begin.

She waited, however, his explanation in silence; and, after an
irresolute pause, he said, with a gravity not wholly free from
resentment, “I presumed, madam, to wait upon you from the permission of
my mother; but I believe I have obtained it so late, that the influence
I hoped from it is past!”

“I had no means, Sir,” answered she, chearfully, “to know that you
came from her: I should else have received her commands without any
hesitation.”

“I would thank you for the honour you do her, were it less pointedly
exclusive. I have, however, no right of reproach! yet suffer me to ask,
could you, madam, after such a parting, after a renunciation so absolute
of all future claim upon you, which though extorted from me by duty, I
was bound, having promised, to fulfil by principle,-could you imagine me
so unsteady, so dishonourable, as to obtrude myself into your presence
while that promise was still in force?”

“I find,” cried Cecilia, in whom a secret hope every moment grew
stronger, “I have been too hasty; I did indeed believe Mrs Delvile would
never authorise such a visit; but as you have so much surprised me, I
have a right to your pardon for a little doubt.”

“There spoke Miss Beverley!” cried Delvile, reanimating at this little
apology, “the same, the unaltered Miss Beverley I hoped to find!--yet
_is_ she unaltered? am I not too precipitate? and is the tale I have
heard about Belfield a dream? an error? a falsehood?”

“But that so quick a succession of quarrels,” said Cecilia, half
smiling, “would be endless perplexity, I, now, would be affronted that
you can ask me such a question.”

“Had I, indeed, _thought_ it a question,” cried he, “I would not have
asked it: but never for a moment did I credit it, till the rigour of
your repulse alarmed me. You have condescended, now, to account for
that, and I am therefore encouraged to make known to you the purpose
of my venturing this visit. Yet not with confidence shall I speak
if, scarce even with hope!--it is a purpose that is the offspring of
despair,--

“One thing, Sir,” cried Cecilia, who now became frightened again, “let
me say before you proceed; if your purpose has not the sanction of Mrs
Delvile, as well as your visit, I would gladly be excused hearing it,
since I shall most certainly refuse it.”

“I would mention nothing,” answered he, “without her concurrence;
she has given it me: and my father himself has permitted my present
application.”

“Good Heaven!” cried Cecilia, “is it possible!” clasping her hands
together in the eagerness of her surprise and delight.

“_Is it possible_!” repeated Delvile, with a look of rapture; “ah Miss
Beverley!--once my own Cecilia!--do you, can you _wish_ it possible?”

“No, No!” cried she, while pleasure and expectation sparkled in her
eyes, “I wish nothing about it.--Yet tell me how it has happened,--I am
_curious_,” added she, smiling, “though not interested in it.”

“What hope would this sweetness give me,” cried he, “were my scheme
almost any other than it is!--but you cannot,--no, it would be
unreasonable, it would be madness to expect your compliance!--it is next
to madness even in me to wish it,--but how shall a man who is desperate
be prudent and circumspect?”

“Spare, spare yourself,” cried the ingenuous Cecilia, “this, unnecessary
pain!--you will find from me no unnecessary scruples.”

“You know not what you say!--all noble as you are, the sacrifice I have
to propose--”

“Speak it,” cried she, “with confidence! speak it even with certainty of
success! I will be wholly undisguised, and openly, honestly own to you,
that no proposal, no sacrifice can be mentioned, to which I will not
instantly agree, if first it has had the approbation of Mrs Delvile.”

Delvile’s gratitude and thanks for a concession never before so
voluntarily made to him, interrupted for a while, even his power of
explaining himself. And now, for the first time, Cecilia’s sincerity was
chearful, since now, for the first time, it seemed opposed by no duty.

When still, therefore, he hesitated, she herself held out her hand to
him, saying, “what must I do more? must I offer this pledge to you?”

“For my life would I not resign it!” cried he, delightedly receiving it;
“but oh, how soon will you withdraw it, when the only terms upon which
I can hold it, are those of making it sign from itself its natural right
and inheritance?”

Cecilia, not comprehending him, only looked amazed, and he proceeded.

“Can you, for my sake, make such a sacrifice as this? can you for a man
who for yours is not permitted to give up his name, give up yourself the
fortune of your late uncle? consent to such settlements as I can
make upon you from my own? part with so splendid an income wholly and
for-ever?--and with only your paternal L10,000 condescend to become
mine, as if your uncle had never existed, and you had been Heiress to no
other wealth?”

This, indeed, was a stroke to Cecilia unequalled by any she had met,
and more cruel than any she could have in reserve. At the proposal of
parting with her uncle’s fortune, which, desirable as it was, had as
yet been only productive to her of misery, her heart, disinterested, and
wholly careless of money, was prompt to accede to the condition; but at
the mention of her paternal fortune, that fortune, of which, now, not
the smallest vestige remained, horror seized all her faculties! she
turned pale, she trembled, she involuntarily drew back her hand, and
betrayed, by speechless agitation, the sudden agonies of her soul!

Delvile, struck by this evident dismay, instantly concluded his plan
had disgusted her. He waited some minutes in anxious expectation of an
answer, but finding her silence continued while her emotion encreased,
the deepest crimson dyed his face, and unable to check his chagrin,
though not daring to confess his disappointment, he suddenly quitted
her, and walked, in much disorder, about the room. But soon recovering
some composure, from the assistance of pride, “Pardon, madam,” he said,
“a trial such as no man can be vindicated in making. I have indulged a
romantic whim, which your better judgment disapproves, and I receive but
the mortification my presumption deserved.”

“You know not then,” said Cecilia, in a faint voice, “my inability to
comply?”

“Your ability or inability, I presume, are elective?”

“Oh no!--my power is lost--my fortune itself is gone!”

“Impossible! utterly impossible!” cried he with vehemence.

“Oh that it were!--your father knows it but too well.”

“My father!”

“Did he, then, never hint it to you?”

“Oh distraction!” cried Delvile, “what horrible confirmation is coming!”
 and again he walked away, as if wanting courage to hear her.

Cecilia was too much shocked to force upon him her explanation; but
presently returning to her, he said, “_you_, only, could have made this
credible!”

“Had you, then, actually heard it?”

“Oh I had heard it as the most infamous of falsehoods! my heart swelled
with indignation at so villainous a calumny, and had it not come from my
father, my resentment at it had been inveterate!”

“Alas!” cried Cecilia, “the fact is undeniable! yet the circumstances
you may have heard with it, are I doubt not exaggerated.”

“Exaggerated indeed!” he answered; “I was told you had been surprised
concealed with Belfield in a back room, I was told that your parental
fortune was totally exhausted, and that during your minority you had
been a dealer with Jews!--I was told all this by my father; you may
believe I had else not easily been made hear it!”

“Yet thus far,” said she, “he told you but what is true; though--”

“True!” interrupted Delvile, with a start almost frantic. “Oh never,
then, was truth so scandalously wronged!--I denied the whole charge!-I
disbelieved every syllable!--I pledged my own honour to prove every
assertion false!”

“Generous Delvile!” cried Cecilia, melting into tears, “this is what I
expected from you! and, believe me, in _your_ integrity my reliance had
been similar!”

“Why does Miss Beverley weep?” cried he, softened, and approaching her,
“and why has she given me this alarm? these things must at least
have been misrepresented, deign, then, to clear up a mystery in which
suspense is torture!”

Cecilia, then, with what precision and clearness her agitation allowed
her, related the whole history of her taking up the money of the Jew
for Mr Harrel, and told, without reserve, the reason of her trying
to abscond from his father at Mrs Belfield’s. Delvile listened to her
account with almost an agony of attention, now admiring her conduct;
now resenting her ill usage; now compassionating her losses; but though
variously moved by different parts, receiving from the whole the delight
he most coveted in the establishment of her innocence.

Thanks and applause the warmest, both accompanied and followed her
narration; and then, at her request, he related in return the several
incidents and circumstances to which he had owed the permission of this
visit.

He had meant immediately to have gone abroad; but the indisposition
of his mother made him unwilling to leave the kingdom till her health
seemed in a situation less precarious. That time, however, came not; the
Winter advanced, and she grew evidently worse. He gave over, therefore,
his design till the next Spring, when, if she were able, it was her
desire to try the South of France for her recovery, whither he meant to
conduct her.

But, during his attendance upon her, the plan he had just mentioned
occurred to him, and he considered how much greater would be his chance
of happiness in marrying Cecilia with scarce any fortune at all, than
in marrying another with the largest. He was convinced she was far other
than expensive, or a lover of shew, and soon flattered himself she might
be prevailed upon to concur with him, that in living together, though
comparatively upon little, they should mutually be happier than in
living asunder upon much.

When he started this scheme to his mother, she heard it with mingled
admiration of his disinterestedness, and regret at its occasion: yet
the loftiness of her own mind, her high personal value for Cecilia,
her anxiety to see her son finally settled while she lived, lest his
disappointment should keep him single from a lasting disgust, joined to
a dejection of spirits from an apprehension that her interference had
been cruel, all favoured his scheme, and forbid her resistance. She
had often protested, in their former conflicts, that had Cecilia
been portionless, her objections had been less than to an estate so
conditioned; and that to give to her son a woman so exalted in herself,
she would have conquered the mere opposition of interest, though that
of family honour she held invincible. Delvile now called upon her to
remember those words, and ever strict in fidelity, she still promised to
abide by them.

Ah! thought Cecilia, is virtue, then, as inconsistent as vice? and can
the same character be thus high-souled, thus nobly disinterested with
regard to riches, whose pride is so narrow and so insurmountable, with
respect to family prejudice!

Yet such a sacrifice from Cecilia herself, whose income intitled her
to settlements the most splendid, Mrs Delvile thought scarcely to be
solicited; but as her son was conscious he gave up in expectation no
less than she would give up in possession, he resolved upon making the
experiment, and felt an internal assurance of success.

This matter being finally settled with his mother, the harder task
remained of vanquishing the father, by whom, and before whom the name of
Cecilia was never mentioned, not even after his return from town,
though loaded with imaginary charges against her. Mr Delvile held it
a diminution of his own in the honour of his son, to suppose he wanted
still fresh motives for resigning her. He kept, therefore, to himself
the ill opinion he brought down, as a resource in case of danger, but
a resource he disdained to make use of, unless driven to it by absolute
necessity.

But, at the new proposal of his son, the accusation held in reserve
broke out; he called Cecilia a dabler with Jews, and said she had been
so from the time of her uncle’s death; he charged her with the grossest
general extravagance, to which he added a most insidious attack upon her
character, drawn from her visits at Belfield’s of long standing, as well
as the particular time when he had himself surprised her concealed with
the young man in a back parlour: and he asserted, that most of the
large sums she was continually taking up from her fortune, were lavished
without scruple upon this dangerous and improper favourite.

Delvile had heard this accusation with a rage scarce restrained from
violence; confident in her innocence, he boldly pronounced the whole a
forgery, and demanded the author of such cruel defamation. Mr Delvile,
much offended, refused to name any authority, but consented, with an air
of triumph, to abide by the effect of his own proposal, and gave him a
supercilious promise no longer to oppose the marriage, if the terms he
meant to offer to Miss Beverley, of renouncing her uncle’s estate, and
producing her father’s fortune, were accepted.

“O little did I credit,” said Delvile in conclusion, “that he knew
indeed so well this last condition was impracticable! his assertions
were without proof; I thought them prejudiced surmises; and I came in
the full hope I should convict him of his error. My mother, too, who
warmly and even angrily defended you, was as firmly satisfied as myself
that the whole was a mistake, and that enquiry would prove your fortune
as undiminished as your purity. How will she be shocked at the tale
I have now to unfold! how irritated at your injuries from Harrel! how
grieved that your own too great benevolence should be productive of such
black aspersions upon your character!”

“I have been,” cried Cecilia, “too facile and too unguarded; yet always,
at the moment, I seemed but guided by common humanity. I have ever
thought myself secure of more wealth than I could require, and regarded
the want of money as an evil from which I was unavoidably exempted. My
own fortune, therefore, appeared to me of small consequence, while the
revenue of my uncle insured me perpetual prosperity.--Oh had I foreseen
this moment--”

“Would you, then, have listened to my romantic proposal?”

“Would I have listened?--do you not see too plainly I could not have
hesitated!”

“Oh yet, then, most generous of human beings, yet then be mine! By our
own oeconomy we will pay off our mortgages; by living a while abroad,
we will clear all our estates; I will still keep the name to which my
family is bigotted, and my gratitude for your compliance shall make you
forget what you lose by it!”

“Speak not to me such words!” cried Cecilia, hastily rising; “your
friends will not listen to them, neither, therefore, must I.”

“My friends,” cried he with energy, “are henceforth out of the question:
my father’s concurrence with a proposal he _knew_ you had not power to
grant, was in fact a mere permission to insult you; for if, instead of
dark charges, he had given any authority for your losses, I had myself
spared you the shock you have so undeservedly received from hearing
it.--But to consent to a plan which _could_ not be accepted!--to make me
a tool to offer indignity to Miss Beverley!--He has released me from his
power by so erroneous an exertion of it, and my own honour has a claim
to which his commands must give place. That honour binds me to Miss
Beverley as forcibly as my admiration, and no voice but her own shall
determine my future destiny.”

“That voice, then,” said Cecilia, “again refers you to your mother.
Mr Delvile, indeed, has not treated me kindly; and this last mock
concession was unnecessary cruelty; but Mrs Delvile merits my utmost
respect, and I will listen to nothing which has not her previous
sanction.”

“But will her sanction be sufficient? and may I hope, in obtaining it,
the security of yours?”

“When I have said I will hear nothing without it, may you not almost
infer--I will refuse nothing with it!”

The acknowledgments he would now have poured forth, Cecilia would not
hear, telling him, with some gaiety, they were yet unauthorized by Mrs
Delvile. She insisted upon his leaving her immediately, and never again
returning, without his mother’s express approbation. With regard to his
father, she left him totally to his own inclination; she had received
from him nothing but pride and incivility, and determined to skew
publicly her superior respect for Mrs Delvile, by whose discretion and
decision she was content to abide.

“Will you not, then, from time to time,” cried Delvile, “suffer me to
consult with you?”

“No, no,” answered she, “do not ask it! I have never been insincere
with you, never but from motives not to be overcome, reserved even for
a moment; I have told you I will put every thing into the power of
Mrs Delvile, but I will not a second time risk my peace by any action
unknown to her.”

Delvile gratefully acknowledged her goodness, and promised to require
nothing more. He then obeyed her by taking leave, eager himself to put
an end to this new uncertainty, and supplicating only that her good
wishes might follow his enterprise.

And thus, again, was wholly broken the tranquility of Cecilia; new
hopes, however faint, awakened all her affections, and strong fears, but
too reasonable, interrupted her repose. Her destiny, once more, was
as undecided as ever, and the expectations she had crushed, retook
possession of her heart.

The suspicions she had conceived of Mr Monckton again occurred to her;
though unable to ascertain and unwilling to believe them, she tried to
drive them from her thoughts. She lamented, however, with bitterness,
her unfortunate connexion with Mr Harrel, whose unworthy impositions
upon her kindness of temper and generosity, now proved to her an evil
far more serious and extensive, than in the midst of her repugnance to
them she had ever apprehended.



CHAPTER ix.

A SUSPENSE.

Delvile had been gone but a short time, before Henrietta, her eyes still
red, though no longer streaming, opened the parlour door, and asked if
she might come in?

Cecilia wished to be alone, yet could not refuse her.

“Well, madam,” cried she, with a forced smile, and constrained air of
bravery, “did not I guess right?”

“In what?” said Cecilia, unwilling to understand her.

“In what I said would happen?--I am sure you know what I mean.”

Cecilia, extremely embarrassed, made no answer; she much regretted the
circumstances which had prevented an earlier communication, and was
uncertain whether, now, it would prove most kind or most cruel to
acquaint her with what was in agitation, which, should it terminate in
nothing, was unnecessarily wounding her delicacy for the openness of her
confidence, and which, however serviceable it might prove to her in
the end, was in the means so rough and piercing she felt the utmost
repugnance to the experiment.

“You think me, madam, too free,” said Henrietta, “in asking such a
question; and indeed your kindness has been so great, it may well make
me forget myself: but if it does, I am sure I deserve you should send me
home directly, and then there is not much fear I shall soon be brought
to my senses!”

“No, my dear Henrietta, I can never think you too free; I have told
you already every thing I thought you would have pleasure in hearing;
whatever I have concealed, I have been fearful would only pain you.”

“I have _deserved_, madam,” said she, with spirit, “to be pained, for
I have behaved with the folly of a baby. I am very angry with myself
indeed! I was old enough to have known better,--and I ought to have been
wise enough.”

“You must then be angry with yourself, next,” said Cecilia, anxious
to re-encourage her, “for all the love that I bear you; since to your
openness and frankness it was entirely owing.”

“But there are some things that people should _not_ be frank in;
however, I am only come now to beg you will tell me, madam, when it is
to be;--and don’t think I ask out of nothing but curiosity, for I have a
very great reason for it indeed.”

“What be, my dear Henrietta?--you are very rapid in your ideas!”

“I will tell you, madam, what my reason is; I shall go away to my
own home,--and so I would if it were ten times a worse home than it
is!--just exactly the day before. Because afterwards I shall never like
to look that gentleman in the face,--never, never!--for married ladies I
know are not to be trusted!”

“Be not apprehensive; you have no occasion. Whatever may be my fate, I
will never be so treacherous as to betray my beloved Henrietta to _any_
body.”

“May I ask you, madam, one question?”

“Certainly.”

“Why did all this never happen before?”

“Indeed,” cried Cecilia, much distressed, “I know not that it will
happen now.”

“Why what, dear madam, can hinder it?”

“A thousand, thousand things! nothing can be less secure.”

“And then I am still as much puzzled as ever. I heard, a good while ago,
and we all heard that it was to be; and I thought that it was no wonder,
I am sure, for I used often to think it was just what was most likely;
but afterwards we heard it was no such thing, and from that moment I
always believed there had been nothing at all in it.”

“I must speak to you, I find, with sincerity; my affairs have long been
in strange perplexity: I have not known myself what to expect; one day
has perpetually reversed the prospect of another, and my mind has been
in a state of uncertainty and disorder, that has kept it--that still
keeps it from comfort and from rest!”

“This surprises me indeed, madam! I thought _you_ were all happiness!
but I was sure you deserved it, and I thought you had it for that
reward. And this has been the thing that has made me behave so wrong;
for I took it into my head I might tell you every thing, because I
concluded it could be nothing to you; for if great people loved one
another, I always supposed they married directly; poor people, indeed,
must stay till they are able to settle; but what in the whole world,
thought I, if they like one another, should hinder such a rich lady as
Miss Beverley from marrying such a rich gentleman at once?”

Cecilia now, finding there was no longer any chance for concealment,
thought it better to give the poor Henrietta at least the gratification
of unreserved confidence, which might somewhat sooth her uneasiness by
proving her reliance in her faith. She frankly, therefore, confessed
to her the whole of her situation. Henrietta wept at the recital with
bitterness, thought Mr Delvile a monster, and Mrs Delvile herself scarce
human; pitied Cecilia with unaffected tenderness, and wondered that the
person could exist who had the heart to give grief to young Delvile! She
thanked her most gratefully for reposing such trust in her; and Cecilia
made use of this opportunity, to enforce the necessity of her struggling
more seriously to recover her indifferency.

She promised she would not fail; and forbore steadily from that time to
name Delvile any more: but the depression of her spirits shewed she had
suffered a disappointment such as astonished even Cecilia. Though modest
and humble, she had conceived hopes the most romantic, and though
she denied, even to herself, any expectations from Delvile, she
involuntarily nourished them with the most sanguine simplicity. To
compose and to strengthen her became the whole business of Cecilia; who,
during her present suspense, could find no other employment in which she
could take any interest.

Mr Monckton, to whom nothing was unknown that related to Cecilia, was
soon informed of Delvile’s visit, and hastened in the utmost alarm,
to learn its event. She had now lost all the pleasure she had formerly
derived from confiding in him, but though averse and confused, could not
withstand his enquiries.

Unlike the tender Henrietta’s was his disappointment at this relation,
and his rage at such repeated trials was almost more than he could curb.
He spared neither the Delviles for their insolence of mutability in
rejecting or seeking her at their pleasure, nor herself for her easiness
of submission in being thus the dupe of their caprices. The subject
was difficult for Cecilia to dilate upon; she wished to clear, as he
deserved, Delvile himself from any share in the censure, and she felt
hurt and offended at the charge of her own improper readiness; yet shame
and pride united in preventing much vindication of either, and she heard
almost in silence what with pain she bore to hear at all.

He now saw, with inexpressible disturbance, that whatever was his
power to make her uneasy, he had none to make her retract, and that the
conditional promise she had given Delvile to be wholly governed by his
mother, she was firm in regarding to be as sacred as one made at the
altar.

Perceiving this, he dared trust his temper with no further debate; he
assumed a momentary calmness for the purpose of taking leave of her,
and with pretended good wishes for her happiness, whatever might be her
determination, he stifled the reproaches with which his whole heart was
swelling, and precipitately left her.

Cecilia, affected by his earnestness, yet perplexed in all her opinions,
was glad to be relieved from useless exhortations, and not sorry, in her
present uncertainty, that his visit was not repeated.

She neither saw nor heard from Delvile for a week, and augured nothing
but evil from such delay. The following letter then came by the post.

_To Miss Beverley. April 2d_, 1780

I must write without comments, for I dare not trust myself with making
any; I must write without any beginning address, for I know not how you
will permit me to address you.

I have lived a life of tumult since last compelled to leave you, and
when it may subside, I am still in utter ignorance.

The affecting account of the losses you have suffered through your
beneficence to the Harrels, and the explanatory one of the calumnies you
have sustained from your kindness to the Belfields, I related with the
plainness which alone I thought necessary to make them felt. I then told
the high honour I had received, in meeting with no other repulse to my
proposal, than was owing to an inability to accede to it; and informed
my mother of the condescending powers with which you had invested her.
In conclusion I mentioned my new scheme, and firmly, before I would
listen to any opposition, I declared that though wholly to their
decision I left the relinquishing my own name or your fortune, I was not
only by your generosity more internally yours than ever, but that since
again I had ventured, and with permission to apply to you, I should hold
myself hence forward unalterably engaged to you.

And so I do, and so I shall! nor, after a renewal so public, will any
prohibition but yours have force to keep me from throwing myself at your
feet.

My father’s answer I will not mention; I would I could forget it! his
prejudices are irremediable, his resolutions are inflexible. Who or what
has worked him into an animosity so irreclaimable, I cannot conjecture,
nor will he tell; but something darkly mysterious has part in his wrath
and his injustice.

My mother was much affected by your reference to herself. Words of the
sweetest praise broke repeatedly from her; no other such woman, she
said, existed; no other such instance could be found of fidelity
so exalted! her son must have no heart but for low and mercenary
selfishness, if, after a proof of regard so unexampled, he could bear
to live without her! Oh how did such a sentence from lips so highly
reverenced, animate, delight, confirm, and oblige me at once!

The displeasure of my father at this declaration was dreadful; his
charges, always as improbable as injurious, now became too horrible
for my ears; he disbelieved you had taken up the money for Harrel, he
discredited that you visited the Belfields for Henrietta: passion not
merely banished his justice, but, clouded his reason, and I soon left
the room, that at least I might not hear the aspersions he forbid me to
answer.

I left not, however, your fame to a weak champion: my mother defended it
with all the spirit of truth, and all the confidence of similar virtue!
yet they parted without conviction, and so mutually irritated with each
other, that they agreed to meet no more.

This was too terrible! and I instantly consolidated my resentment to
my father, and my gratitude to my mother, into concessions and
supplications to both; I could not, however, succeed; my mother was
deeply offended, my father was sternly inexorable: nor here rests
the evil of their dissention, for the violence of the conflict has
occasioned a return more alarming than ever of the illness of my mother.

All her faith in her recovery is now built upon going abroad; she is
earnest to set off immediately; but Dr Lyster has advised her to make
London in her way, and have a consultation of physicians before she
departs.

To this she has agreed; and we are now upon the road thither.

Such is, at present, the melancholy state of my affairs. My mother
_advised_ me to write; forgive me, therefore, that I waited not
something more decisive to say. I could prevail upon neither party
to meet before the journey; nor could I draw from my father the base
fabricator of the calumnies by which he has been thus abused.

Unhappily, I have nothing more to add: and whether intelligence, such
as this, or total suspense, would be least irksome, I know not. If my
mother bears her journey tolerably well, I have yet one more effort
to make; and of that the success or the failure will be instantly
communicated to Miss Beverley, by her eternally devoted, but half
distracted.

Mortimer Delvile.

Scarcely could Cecilia herself decide whether this comfortless letter
or none at all were preferable. The implacability of Mr Delvile was
shocking, but his slandering her character was still more intolerable;
yet the praises of the mother, and her generous vindication, joined to
the invariable reliance of Delvile upon her innocence, conferred upon
her an honour that offered some alleviation.

The mention of a fabricator again brought Mr Monckton to her mind, and
not all her unwillingness to think him capable of such treachery, could
now root out her suspicions. Delvile’s temper, however, she knew was too
impetuous to be trusted with this conjecture, and her fear of committing
injustice being thus seconded by prudence, she determined to keep to
herself doubts that could not without danger be divulged.

She communicated briefly to Henrietta, who looked her earnest curiosity,
the continuance of her suspense; and to her own fate Henrietta became
somewhat more reconciled, when she saw that no station in life rendered
happiness certain or permanent.



CHAPTER x.

A RELATION.

Another week past still without any further intelligence. Cecilia was
then summoned to the parlour, and to Delvile himself.

He looked hurried and anxious; yet the glow of his face, and the
animation of his eyes, immediately declared he at least came not to take
leave of her.

“Can you forgive,” cried he, “the dismal and unsatisfactory letter I
wrote you? I would not disobey you twice in the same manner, and I could
not till now have written in any other.”

“The consultation with the physicians, then,” said Cecilia, “is over?”

“Alas, yes; and the result is most alarming; they all agree my mother is
in a dangerous way, and they rather forbear to oppose, than advise her
going abroad: but upon that she is earnestly bent, and intends to set
out without delay. I shall return to her, therefore, with all speed, and
mean not to take any rest till I have seen her.”

Cecilia expressed with tenderness her sorrow for Mrs Delvile: nor were
her looks illiberal in including her son in her concern.

“I must hasten,” he cried, “to the credentials by which I am authorised
for coming, and I must hasten to prove if Miss Beverley has not
flattered my mother in her appeal.”

He then informed her that Mrs Delvile, apprehensive for herself, and
softened for him by the confession of her danger, which she had extorted
from her physicians, had tenderly resolved upon making one final effort
for his happiness, and ill and impatient as she was, upon deferring her
journey to wait its effect.

Generously, therefore, giving up her own resentment, she wrote to Mr
Delvile in terms of peace and kindness, lamenting their late dissention,
and ardently expressing her desire to be reconciled to him before she
left England. She told him the uncertainty of her recovery which had
been acknowledged by her physicians, who had declared a calmer mind
was more essential to her than a purer air. She then added, that such
serenity was only to be given her, by the removal of her anxiety at the
comfortless state of her son. She begged him, therefore, to make known
the author of Miss Beverley’s defamation, assuring him, that upon
enquiry, he would find her character and her fame as unsullied as his
own; and strongly representing, that after the sacrifice to which she
had consented, their son would be utterly dishonourable in thinking of
any other connexion. She then to this reasoning joined the most earnest
supplication, protesting, in her present disordered state, of health,
her life might pay the forfeiture of her continual uneasiness.

“I held out,” she concluded, “while his personal dignity, and the honour
of his name and family were endangered; but where interest alone is
concerned, and that interest is combated by the peace of his mind, and
the delicacy of his word, my opposition is at an end. And though our
extensive and well founded views for a splendid alliance are abolished,
you will agree with me hereafter, upon a closer inspection, that the
object for whom he relinquishes them, offers in herself the noblest
reparation.”

Cecilia felt gratified, humbled, animated and depressed at once by this
letter, of which Delvile brought her a copy. “And what,” cried she, “was
the answer?”

“I cannot in decency,” he replied, “speak my opinion of it: read it
yourself,--and let me hear yours.”

_To the Honourable Mrs Delvile_.

Your extraordinary letter, madam, has extremely surprised me. I had been
willing to hope the affair over from the time my disapprobation of it
was formally announced. I am sorry you are so much indisposed, but I
cannot conclude your health would be restored by my acceding to a plan
so derogatory to my house. I disapprove it upon every account, not only
of the name and the fortune, but the lady herself. I have reasons more
important than those I assign, but they are such as I am bound in
honour not to mention. After such a declaration, nobody, I presume, will
affront me by asking them. Her defence you have only from herself,
her accusation I have received from authority less partial. I command,
therefore, that my son, upon pain of my eternal displeasure, may never
speak to me on the subject again, and I hope, madam, from you the same
complaisance to my request. I cannot explain myself further, nor is it
necessary; it is no news, I flatter myself, to Mortimer Delvile or his
mother, that I do nothing without reason, and I believe nothing upon
slight grounds.

A few cold compliments concerning her journey, and the re-establishment
of her health, concluded the letter.

Cecilia, having read, hastily returned it, and indignantly said, “My
opinion, Sir, upon this letter, must surely be yours; that we had done
wiser, long since, to have spared your mother and ourselves, those vain
and fruitless conflicts which we ought better to have foreseen were
liable to such a conclusion. Now, at least, let them be ended, and let
us not pursue disgrace wilfully, after suffering from it with so much
rigour involuntarily.”

“O no,” cried Delvile, “rather let us now spurn it for ever! those
conflicts must indeed be ended, but not by a separation still more
bitter than all of them.”

He then told her, that his mother, highly offended to observe by the
extreme coldness of this letter, the rancour he still nourished for
the contest preceding her leaving him, no longer now refused even her
separate consent, for a measure which she thought her son absolutely
engaged to take.

“Good heaven!” cried Cecilia, much amazed, “this from Mrs Delvile!--a
separate consent?”--

“She has always maintained,” he answered, “an independent mind,
always judged for herself, and refused all other arbitration: when so
impetuously she parted us, my father’s will happened to be her’s, and
thence their concurrence: my father, of a temper immoveable and stern,
retains stubbornly the prejudices which once have taken possession
of him; my mother, generous as fiery, and noble as proud, is open to
conviction, and no sooner convinced, than ingenuous in acknowledging it:
and thence their dissention. From my father I may hope forgiveness, but
must never expect concession; from my mother I may hope all she ought
to grant, for pardon but her vehemence,--and she has every great quality
that can dignify human nature!”

Cecilia, whose affection and reverence for Mrs Delvile were unfeigned,
and who loved in her son this filial enthusiasm, readily concurred with
him in praising her, and sincerely esteemed her the first among women.

“Now, then,” cried he, with earnestness, “now is the time when your
generous admiration of her is put to the test; see what she writes
to you;--she has left to me all explanation: but I insisted upon some
credential, lest you should believe I only owed her concurrence to a
happy dream.”

Cecilia in much trepidation took the letter, and hastily run it over.

_To Miss Beverley_.

Misery, my sweet young friend, has long been busy with us all; much have
we owed to the clash of different interests, much to that rapacity
which to enjoy any thing, demands every thing, and much to that general
perverseness which labours to place happiness in what is with-held.
Thus do we struggle on till we can struggle no longer; the felicity
with which we trifle, at best is but temporary; and before reason and
reflection shew its value, sickness and sorrow are commonly become
stationary.

Be it yours, my love, and my son’s, to profit by the experience, while
you pity the errors, of the many who illustrate this truth. Your mutual
partiality has been mutually unfortunate, and must always continue
so for the interests of both: but how blind is it to wait, in our own
peculiar lots, for that perfection of enjoyment we can all see wanting
in the lot of others! My expectations for my son had “outstepped the
modesty of” probability. I looked for rank and high birth, with
the fortune of Cecilia, and Cecilia’s rare character. Alas! a new
constellation in the heavens might as rationally have been looked for!

My extravagance, however, has been all for his felicity, dearer to me
than life,--dearer to me than all things but his own honour! Let us but
save that, and then let wealth, ambition, interest, grandeur and pride,
since they cannot constitute his happiness, be removed from destroying
it. I will no longer play the tyrant that, weighing good and evil by my
own feelings and opinions, insists upon his acting by the notions I have
formed, whatever misery they may bring him by opposing all his own.

I leave the kingdom with little reason to expect I shall return to it;
I leave it--Oh blindness of vanity and passion!--from the effect of
that violence with which so lately I opposed what now I am content to
advance! But the extraordinary resignation to which you have agreed,
shews your heart so wholly my son’s, and so even more than worthy the
whole possession of his, that it reflects upon him an honour more bright
and more alluring, than any the most illustrious other alliance could
now confer.

I would fain see you ere I go, lest I should see you no more; fain
ratify by word of mouth the consent that by word of mouth I so
absolutely refused! I know not how to come to Suffolk,--is it not
possible you can come to London? I am told you leave to me the
arbitration of your fate, in giving you to my son, I best shew my sense
of such an honour.

Hasten then, my love, to town, that I may see you once more! wait no
longer a concurrence thus unjustly with-held, but hasten, that I may
bless the daughter I have so often wished to own! that I may entreat her
forgiveness for all the pain I have occasioned her, and committing to
her charge the future happiness of my son, fold to my maternal heart the
two objects most dear to it!

AUGUSTA DELVILE.



Cecilia wept over this letter with tenderness, grief and alarm; but
declared, had it even summoned her to follow her abroad, she could not,
after reading it, have hesitated in complying.

“O now, then,” cried Delvile, “let our long suspenses end! hear me with
the candour; my mother has already listened to me--be mine, my Cecilia,
at once,--and force me not, by eternal scruples, to risk another
separation.”

“Good heaven, Sir!” cried Cecilia, starting, “in such a state as Mrs
Delvile thinks herself, would you have her journey delayed?”

“No, not a moment! I would but ensure you mine, and go with her all over
the world!”

“Wild and impossible!--and what is to be done with Mr Delvile?”

“It is on his account wholly I am thus earnestly precipitate. If I do
not by an immediate marriage prevent his further interference, all I
have already suffered may again be repeated, and some fresh contest with
my mother may occasion another relapse.”

Cecilia, who now understood him, ardently protested she would not listen
for a moment to any clandestine expedient.

He besought her to be patient; and then anxiously represented to
her their peculiar situations. All application to his father he was
peremptorily forbid making, all efforts to remove his prejudices their
impenetrable mystery prevented; a public marriage, therefore, with such
obstacles, would almost irritate him to phrenzy, by its daring defiance
of his prohibition and authority.

“Alas!” exclaimed Cecilia, “we can never do right but in parting!”

“Say it not,” cried he, “I conjure you! we shall yet live, I hope, to
prove the contrary.”

“And can you, then,” cried she, reproachfully, “Oh Mr Delvile! can you
again urge me to enter your family in secret?”

“I grieve, indeed,” he answered, “that your goodness should so severely
be tried; yet did you not condescend to commit the arbitration to my
mother?”

“True; and I thought her approbation would secure my peace of mind; but
how could I have expected Mrs Delvile’s consent to such a scheme!”

“She has merely accorded it from a certainty there is no other resource.
Believe me, therefore, my whole hope rests upon your present compliance.
My father, I am certain, by his letter, will now hear neither petition
nor defence; on the contrary, he will only enrage at the temerity of
offering to confute him. But when he knows you are his daughter, his
honour will then be concerned in yours, and it will be as much his
desire to have it cleared, as it is now to have it censured.”

“Wait at least your return, and let us try what can be done with him.”

“Oh why,” cried Delvile, with much earnestness, “must I linger out month
after month in this wretched uncertainty! If I wait I am undone! my
father, by the orders I must unavoidably leave, will discover the
preparations making without his consent, and he will work upon you in my
absence, and compel you to give me up!”

“Are you sure,” said she, half smiling, “he would have so much power?”

“I am but too sure, that the least intimation, in his present irritable
state of mind, reaching him of my intentions, would make him not
scruple, in his fury, pronouncing some malediction upon my disobedience
that _neither_ of us, I must own, could tranquilly disregard.”

This was an argument that came home to Cecilia, whose deliberation upon
it, though silent, was evidently not unfavourable.

He then told her that with respect to settlements, he would instantly
have a bond drawn up, similar to that prepared for their former intended
union, which should be properly signed and sealed, and by which he would
engage himself to make, upon coming to his estate, the same settlement
upon her that was made upon his mother.

“And as, instead of keeping up three houses,” he continued, “in the
manner my father does at present, I mean to put my whole estate _out to
nurse_, while we reside for a while abroad, or in the country, I doubt
not but in a very few years we shall be as rich and as easy as we shall
desire.”

He told her, also, of his well-founded expectations from the Relations
already mentioned; which the concurrence of his mother with his marriage
would thence forward secure to him.

He then, with more coherence, stated his plan at large. He purposed,
without losing a moment, to return to London; he conjured her, in the
name of his mother, to set out herself early the next day, that the
following evening might be dedicated wholly to Mrs Delvile: through her
intercession he might then hope Cecilia’s compliance, and every thing on
the morning after should be prepared for their union. The long-desired
ceremony over, he would instantly ride post to his father, and pay him,
at least, the respect of being the first to communicate it. He would
then attend his mother to the Continent, and leave the arrangement
of everything to his return. “Still, therefore, as a single man,” he
continued, “I mean to make the journey, and I shall take care, by the
time I return, to have all things in readiness for claiming my sweet
Bride. Tell me, then, now, if you can reasonably oppose this plan?”

“Indeed,” said Cecilia, after some hesitation, “I cannot see the
necessity of such violent precipitancy.”

“Do you not try me too much,” cried Delvile, impatiently, “to talk now
of precipitancy! after such painful waiting, such wearisome expectation!
I ask you not to involve your own affairs in confusion by accompanying
me abroad; sweet to me as would be such an indulgence, I would not make
a run-away of you in the opinion of the world. All I wish is the secret
certainty I cannot be robbed of you, that no cruel machinations may
again work our separation, that you are mine, unalterably mine, beyond
the power of caprice or ill fortune.”

Cecilia made no answer; tortured with irresolution, she knew not upon
what to determine.

“We might then, according to the favour or displeasure of my father,
settle wholly abroad for the present, or occasionally visit him in
England; my mother would be always and openly our friend--Oh be firm,
then, I conjure you, to the promise you have given her, and deign to be
mine on the conditions she prescribes. She will be bound to you for ever
by so generous a concession, and even her health may be restored by the
cessation of her anxieties. With such a wife, such a mother, what
will be wanting for _me_! Could I lament not being richer, I must be
rapacious indeed!--Speak, then, my Cecilia! relieve me from the agony
of this eternal uncertainty, and tell me your word is invariable as your
honour, and tell me my mother gives not her sanction in vain!”

Cecilia sighed deeply, but, after some hesitation, said, “I little knew
what I had promised, nor know I now what to perform!--there must ever, I
find, be some check to human happiness! yet, since upon these terms, Mrs
Delvile herself is content to wish me of her family--”

She stopt; but, urged earnestly by Delvile, added “I must not, I think,
withdraw the powers with which I entrusted her.”

Delvile, grateful and enchanted, now forgot his haste and his business,
and lost every wish but to re-animate her spirits: she compelled him,
however, to leave her, that his visit might less be wondered at, and
sent by him a message to Mrs. Delvile, that, wholly relying upon her
wisdom, she implicitly submitted to her decree.



CHAPTER xi.

AN ENTERPRISE.

Cecilia now had no time for afterthoughts or anxious repentance, since
notwithstanding the hurry of her spirits, and the confusion of her mind,
she had too much real business, to yield to pensive indulgence.

Averse to all falsehood, she invented none upon this occasion; she
merely told her guests she was summoned to London upon an affair of
importance; and though she saw their curiosity, not being at liberty to
satisfy it with the truth, she attempted not to appease it by fiction,
but quietly left it to its common fare, conjecture. She would gladly
have made Henrietta the companion of her journey, but Henrietta was the
last to whom that journey could give pleasure. She only, therefore, took
her maid in the chaise, and, attended by one servant on horseback, at
six o’clock the next morning, she quitted her mansion, to enter into an
engagement by which soon she was to resign it for ever.

Disinterested as she was, she considered her situation as peculiarly
perverse, that from the time of her coming to a fortune which most
others regarded as enviable, she had been a stranger to peace, a
fruitless seeker of happiness, a dupe to the fraudulent, and a prey to
the needy! the little comfort she had received, had been merely from
dispensing it, and now only had she any chance of being happy herself,
when upon the point of relinquishing what all others built their
happiness upon obtaining!

These reflections only gave way to others still more disagreeable; she
was now a second time engaged in a transaction she could not approve,
and suffering the whole peace of her future life to hang upon an action
dark, private and imprudent: an action by which the liberal kindness of
her late uncle would be annulled, by which the father of her intended
husband would be disobeyed, and which already, in a similar instance,
had brought her to affliction and disgrace. These melancholy thoughts
haunted her during the whole journey, and though the assurance of
Mrs Delvile’s approbation was some relief to her uneasiness, she
involuntarily prepared herself for meeting new mortifications, and was
tormented with an apprehension that this second attempt made her merit
them.

She drove immediately, by the previous direction of Delvile, to a
lodging-house in Albemarle Street, which he had taken care to have
prepared for her reception. She then sent for a chair, and went to Mrs
Delvile’s. Her being seen by the servants of that house was not very
important, as their master was soon to be acquainted with the real
motive of her journey.

She was shewn into a parlour, while Mrs Delvile was informed of her
arrival, and there flown to by Delvile with the most grateful eagerness.
Yet she saw in his countenance that all was not well, and heard upon
enquiry that his mother was considerably worse. Extremely shocked
by this intelligence, she already began to lament her unfortunate
enterprise. Delvile struggled, by exerting his own spirits, to restore
hers, but forced gaiety is never exhilarating; and, full of care and
anxiety, he was ill able to appear sprightly and easy.

They were soon summoned upstairs into the apartment of Mrs Delvile, who
was lying upon a couch, pale, weak, and much altered. Delvile led the
way, saying, “Here, madam, comes one whose sight will bring peace and
pleasure to you!”

“This, indeed,” cried Mrs Delvile, half rising and embracing her, “is
the form in which they are most welcome to me! virtuous, noble Cecilia!
what honour you do my son! with what joy, should I ever recover, shall I
assist him in paying the gratitude he owes you!”

Cecilia, grieved at her situation, and affected by her kindness, could
only answer with her tears; which, however, were not shed alone; for
Delvile’s eyes were full, as he passionately exclaimed, “This, this is
the sight my heart has thus long desired! the wife of my choice taken
to the bosom of the parent I revere! be yet but well, my beloved mother,
and I will be thankful for every calamity that has led to so sweet a
conclusion!”

“Content yourself, however, my son, with one of us,” cried Mrs Delvile,
smiling; “and content yourself, if you can, though your hard lot should
make that one this creature of full bloom, health, and youth! Ah, my
love,” added she, more seriously, and addressing the still weeping
Cecilia, “should now Mortimer, in losing me, lose those cares by which
alone, for some months past, my life has been rendered tolerable, how
peaceably shall I resign him to one so able to recompense his filial
patience and services!”

This was not a speech to stop the tears of Cecilia, though such warmth
of approbation quieted her conscientious scruples. Delvile now earnestly
interfered; he told her that his mother had been ordered not to talk or
exert herself, and entreated her to be composed, and his mother to be
silent.

“Be it _your_ business, then,” said Mrs Delvile, more gaily, “to find
us entertainment. We will promise to be very still if you will take that
trouble upon yourself.”

“I will not,” answered he, “be rallied from my purpose; if I cannot
entertain, it will be something to weary you, for that may incline you
to take rest, which will he answering a better purpose.”

“Mortimer,” returned she, “is this the ingenuity of duty or of love?
and which are you just now thinking of, my health, or a conversation
uninterrupted with Miss Beverley?”

“Perhaps a little of both!” said he, chearfully, though colouring.

“But you rather meant it should pass,” said Mrs Delvile, “you were
thinking only of me? I have always observed, that where one scheme
answers two purposes, the ostensive is never the purpose most at heart.”

“Why it is but common prudence,” answered Delvile, “to feel our way a
little before we mention what we most wish, and so cast the hazard of
the refusal upon something rather less important.”

“Admirably settled!” cried Mrs Delvile: “so my rest is but to prove Miss
Beverley’s disturbance!--Well, it is only anticipating our future way of
life, when her disturbance, in taking the management of you to herself,
will of course prove my rest.”

She then quietly reposed herself, and Delvile discoursed with Cecilia
upon their future plans, hopes and actions.

He meant to set off from the church-door to Delvile Castle, to acquaint
his father with his marriage, and then to return instantly to London:
there he entreated Cecilia to stay with his mother, that, finding them
both together, he might not exhaust her patience, by making his parting
visit occasion another journey to Suffolk.

But here Cecilia resolutely opposed him; saying, her only chance to
escape discovery, was going instantly to her own house; and representing
so earnestly her desire that their marriage should be unknown till his
return to England, upon a thousand motives of delicacy, propriety, and
fearfulness, that the obligation he owed already to a compliance which
he saw grew more and more reluctant, restrained him both in gratitude
and pity from persecuting her further. Neither would she consent to
seeing him in Suffolk; which could but delay his mother’s journey, and
expose her to unnecessary suspicions; she promised, however, to write
to him often, and as, from his mother’s weakness, he must travel very
slowly, she took a plan of his route, and engaged that he should find a
letter from her at every great town.

The bond which he had already had altered, he insisted upon leaving in
her own custody, averse to applying to Mr Monckton, whose behaviour to
him had before given him disgust, and in whom Cecilia herself no
longer wished to confide. He had again applied to the same lawyer, Mr
Singleton, to give her away; for though to his secrecy he had no tie, he
had still less to any entire stranger. Mrs Delvile was too ill to attend
them to church, nor would Delvile have desired from her such absolute
defiance of his father.

Cecilia now gave another sigh to her departed friend Mrs Charlton, whose
presence upon this awful occasion would else again have soothed and
supported her. She had no female friend in whom she could rely; but
feeling a repugnance invincible to being accompanied only by men, she
accepted the attendance of Mrs Delvile’s own woman, who had lived many
years in the family, and was high in the favour and confidence of her
lady.

The arrangement of these and other articles, with occasional
interruptions from Mrs Delvile, fully employed the evening. Delvile
would not trust again to meeting her at the church; but begged her to
send out her servants between seven and eight o’clock in the morning, at
which time he would himself call for her with a chair.

She went away early, that Mrs Delvile might go to rest, and it was
mutually agreed they should risk no meeting the next day. Delvile
conjured them to part with firmness and chearfulness, and Cecilia,
fearing her own emotion, would have retired without bidding her adieu.
But Mrs Delvile, calling after her, said, “Take with you my blessing!”
 and tenderly embracing her, added, “My son, as my chief nurse, claims
a prescriptive right to govern me, but I will break from his control to
tell my sweet Cecilia what ease and what delight she has already given
to my mind! my best hope of recovery is founded on the pleasure I
anticipate to witnessing your mutual happiness: but should my illness
prove fatal, and that felicity be denied me, my greatest earthly care is
already removed by the security I feel of Mortimer’s future peace. Take
with you, then, my blessing, for you are become one to me! long daughter
of my affection, now wife of my darling son! love her, Mortimer, as
she merits, and cherish her with tenderest gratitude!--banish, sweetest
Cecilia, every apprehension that oppresses you, and receive in Mortimer
Delvile a husband that will revere your virtues, and dignify your
choice!”

She then embraced her again, and seeing that her heart was too full for
speech, suffered her to go without making any answer. Delvile attended
her to her chair, scarce less moved than herself, and found only
opportunity to entreat her punctuality the next morning.

She had, indeed, no inclination to fail in her appointment, or risk
the repetition of scenes so affecting, or situations so alarming. Mrs
Delvile’s full approbation somewhat restored to her her own, but nothing
could remove the fearful anxiety, which still privately tormented her
with expectations of another disappointment.

The next morning she arose with the light, and calling all her courage
to her aid, determined to consider this day as decisive of her destiny
with regard to Delvile, and, rejoicing that at least all suspense would
be over, to support herself with fortitude, be that destiny what it
might.

At the appointed time she sent her maid to visit Mrs Hill, and gave some
errands to her man that carried him to a distant part of the town: but
she charged them both to return to the lodgings by nine o’clock, at
which hour she ordered a chaise for returning into the country.

Delvile, who was impatiently watching for their quitting the house, only
waited till they were out of sight, to present himself at the door. He
was shewn into a parlour, where she instantly attended him; and being
told that the clergyman, Mr Singleton, and Mrs Delvile’s woman, were
already in the church, she gave him her hand in silence, and he led her
to the chair.

The calmness of stifled hope had now taken place in Cecilia of quick
sensations and alarm. Occupied with a firm belief she should never be
the wife of Delvile, she only waited, with a desperate sort of patience,
to see when and by whom she was next to be parted from him.

When they arrived near the church, Delvile stopt the chair. He handed
Cecilia out of it, and discharging the chairmen, conducted her into the
church. He was surprised himself at her composure, but earnestly wishing
it to last, took care not to say to her a word that should make any
answer from her necessary.

He gave her, as before, to Mr Singleton, secretly praying that not, as
before, she might be given him in vain: Mrs Delvile’s woman attended
her; the clergyman was ready, and they all proceeded to the altar.

The ceremony was begun; Cecilia, rather mechanically than with
consciousness, appearing to listen to it but at the words, _If any man
can shew any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together_,
Delvile himself shook with terror, lest some concealed person should
again answer it, and Cecilia, with a sort of steady dismay in her
countenance, cast her eyes round the church, with no other view than
that of seeing from what corner the prohibiter would start.

She looked, however, to no purpose; no prohibiter appeared, the ceremony
was performed without any interruption, and she received the thanks
of Delvile, and the congratulations of the little set, before the idea
which had so strongly pre-occupied her imagination, was sufficiently
removed from it to satisfy her she was really married.

They then went to the vestry, where their business was not long; and
Delvile again put Cecilia into a chair, which again he accompanied on
foot.

Her sensibility now soon returned, though still attended with
strangeness and a sensation of incredulity. But the sight of Delvile at
her lodgings, contrary to their agreement, wholly recovered her
senses from the stupor which had dulled them. He came, however, but to
acknowledge how highly she had obliged him, to see her himself restored
to the animation natural to her, character, and to give her a million
of charges, resulting from anxiety and tenderness. And then, fearing the
return of her servants, he quitted her, and set out for Delvile Castle.

The amazement of Cecilia was still unconquerable; to be actually united
with Delvile! to be his with the full consent of his mother,--to have
him her’s, beyond the power of his father,--she could not reconcile it
with possibility; she fancied it a dream,--but a dream from which she
wished not to wake.



BOOK X.



CHAPTER i

A DISCOVERY.

Cecilia’s journey back to the country was as safe and free from
interruption as her journey had been to town, and all that distinguished
them was what passed in her own mind: the doubts, apprehensions, and
desponding suspense which had accompanied her setting out, were now
all removed, and certainty, ease, the expectation of happiness, and the
cessation of all perplexity, had taken their place. She had nothing left
to dread but the inflexibility of Mr Delvile, and hardly any thing even
to hope but the recovery of his lady.

Her friends at her return expressed their wonder at her expedition,
but their wonder at what occasioned it, though still greater, met no
satisfaction. Henrietta rejoiced in her sight, though her absence had
been so short; and Cecilia, whose affection with her pity increased,
intimated to her the event for which she wished her to prepare herself,
and frankly acknowledged she had reason to expect it would soon take
place.

Henrietta endeavoured with composure to receive this intelligence, and
to return such a mark of confidence with chearful congratulations: but
her fortitude was unequal to an effort so heroic, and her character was
too simple to assume a greatness she felt not: she sighed and changed
colour; and hastily quitted the room that she might sob aloud in
another.

Warm-hearted, tender, and susceptible, her affections were all
undisguised: struck with the elegance of Delvile, and enchanted by his
services to her brother, she had lost to him her heart at first without
missing it, and, when missed, without seeking to reclaim it. The
hopelessness of such a passion she never considered, nor asked herself
its end, or scarce suspected its aim; it was pleasant to her at the
time, and she looked not to the future, but fed it with visionary
schemes, and soothed it with voluntary fancies. Now she knew all was
over, she felt the folly she had committed, but though sensibly and
candidly angry at her own error, its conviction offered nothing but
sorrow to succeed it.

The felicity of Cecilia, whom she loved, admired and revered, she wished
with the genuine ardour of zealous sincerity; but that Delvile, the very
cause and sole subject of her own personal unhappiness, should himself
constitute that felicity, was too much for her spirits, and seemed to
her mortified mind too cruel in her destiny.

Cecilia, who in the very vehemence of her sorrow saw its innocence,
was too just and too noble to be offended by it, or impute to the bad
passions of envy or jealousy, the artless regret of an untutored mind.
To be penetrated too deeply with the merit of Delvile, with her wanted
no excuse, and she grieved for her situation with but little mixture
of blame, and none of surprise. She redoubled her kindness and caresses
with the hope of consoling her, but ventured to trust her no further,
till reflection, and her natural good sense, should better enable her to
bear an explanation.

Nor was this friendly exertion any longer a hardship to her; the sudden
removal, in her own feelings and affairs, of distress and expectation,
had now so much lightened her heart, that she could spare without
repining, some portion of its spirit to her dejected young friend.

But an incident happened two mornings after which called back, and most
unpleasantly, her attention to herself. She was told that Mrs Matt, the
poor woman she had settled in Bury, begged an audience, and upon sending
for her up stairs, and desiring to know what she could do for her,
“Nothing, madam, just now,” she answered, “for I don’t come upon my own
business, but to tell some news to you, madam. You bid me never take
notice of the wedding, that was to be, and I’m sure I never opened my
mouth about it from that time to this; but I have found out who it was
put a stop to it, and so I come to tell you.”

Cecilia, extremely amazed, eagerly desired her to go on.

“Why, madam, I don’t know the gentlewoman’s name quite right yet, but
I can tell you where she lives, for I knew her as soon as I set eyes on
her, when I see her at church last Sunday, and I would have followed her
home, but she went into a coach, and I could not walk fast enough; but I
asked one of the footmen where she lived, and he said at the great house
at the Grove: and perhaps, madam, you may know where that is: and then
he told me her name, but that I can’t just now think of.”

“Good heaven!” cried Cecilia,--“it could not be Bennet?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s the very name; I know it again now I hear it.”

Cecilia then hastily dismissed her, first desiring her not to mention
the circumstance to any body.

Shocked and dismayed, she now saw, but saw with horror, the removal of
all her doubts, and the explanation of all her difficulties, in the
full and irrefragable discovery of the perfidy of her oldest friend and
confident.

Miss Bennet herself she regarded in the affair as a mere tool, which,
though in effect it did the work, was innocent of its mischief, because
powerless but in the hand of its employer.

“That employer,” cried she, “must be Mr Monckton! Mr Monckton whom so
long I have known, who so willingly has been my counsellor, so ably my
instructor! in whose integrity I have confided, upon whose friendship
I have relied! my succour in all emergencies, my guide in all
perplexities!--Mr _Monckton_ thus dishonourably, thus barbarously to
betray me! to turn against me the very confidence I had reposed in his
regard for me! and make use of my own trust to furnish the means to
injure me!”--

She was now wholly confirmed that he had wronged her with Mr Delvile;
she could not have two enemies so malignant without provocation, and he
who so unfeelingly could dissolve a union at the very altar, could alone
have the baseness to calumniate her so cruelly.

Evil thoughts thus awakened, stopt not merely upon facts; conjecture
carried her further, and conjecture built upon probability. The
officiousness of Morrice in pursuing her to London, his visiting her
when there, and his following and watching Delvile, she now reasonably
concluded were actions directed by Mr Monckton, whose house he had but
just left, and whose orders, whatever they might be, she was almost
certain he would obey. Availing himself, therefore, of the forwardness
and suppleness which met in this young man, she doubted not but his
intelligence had contributed to acquaint him with her proceedings.

The motive of such deep concerted and accumulated treachery was next to
be sought: nor was the search long; one only could have tempted him to
schemes so hazardous and costly; and, unsuspicious as she was, she now
saw into his whole design.

Long accustomed to regard him as a safe and disinterested old friend,
the respect with which, as a child, she had looked up to him, she
had insensibly preserved when a woman. That respect had taught her to
consider his notice as a favour, and far from suspiciously shunning, she
had innocently courted it: and his readiness in advising and tutoring
her, his frank and easy friendliness of behaviour, had kept his
influence unimpaired, by preventing its secret purpose from being
detected.

But now the whole mystery was revealed; his aversion to the Delviles, to
which hitherto she had attributed all she disapproved in his behaviour,
she was convinced must be inadequate to stimulate him to such lengths.
That aversion itself was by this late surmise accounted for, and no
sooner did it occur to her, than a thousand circumstances confirmed it.

The first among these was the evident ill will of Lady Margaret, which
though she had constantly imputed to the general irascibility for which
her character was notorious, she had often wondered to find impenetrable
to all endeavours to please or soften her. His care of her fortune, his
exhortations against her expences, his wish to make her live with Mr
Briggs, all contributed to point out the selfishness of his attentions,
which in one instance rendered visible, became obvious in every other.

Yet various as were the incidents that now poured upon her memory to
his disgrace, not one among them took its rise from his behaviour to
herself, which always had been scrupulously circumspect, or if for a
moment unguarded, only at a season when her own distress or confusion
had prevented her from perceiving it. This recollection almost staggered
her suspicions; yet so absolute seemed the confirmation they received
from every other, that her doubt was overpowered, and soon wholly
extinguished.

She was yet ruminating on this subject, when, word was brought her that
Mr Monckton was in the parlour.

Mingled disgust and indignation made her shudder at his name, and
without pausing a moment, she sent him word she was engaged, and could
not possibly leave her room.

Astonished by such a dismission, he left the house in the utmost
confusion. But Cecilia could not endure to see him, after a discovery of
such hypocrisy and villainy.

She considered, however, that the matter could not rest here: he would
demand an explanation, and perhaps, by his unparalleled address, again
contrive to seem innocent, notwithstanding appearances were at present
so much against him. Expecting, therefore, some artifice, and determined
not to be duped by it, she sent again for the Pew-opener, to examine her
more strictly.

The woman was out at work in a private family, and could not come till
the evening: but, when further questioned, the description she gave of
Miss Bennet was too exact to be disputed.

She then desired her to call again the next morning and sent a servant
to the Grove, with her compliments to Miss Bennet, and a request that
she might send her carriage for her the next day, at any time she
pleased, as she wished much to speak with her.

This message, she was aware, might create some suspicion, and put her
upon her guard; but she thought, nevertheless, a sudden meeting with the
Pew-opener, whom she meant abruptly to confront with her, would baffle
the security of any previously settled scheme.

To a conviction such as this even Mr Monckton must submit, and since he
was lost to her as a friend, she might at least save herself the pain of
keeping up his acquaintance.



CHAPTER ii.

AN INTERVIEW.

The servant did not return till it was dark; and then, with a look of
much dismay, said he had been able to meet with nobody who could either
give or take a message; that the Grove was all in confusion, and the
whole country in an uproar, for Mr Monckton, just as he arrived, had
been brought home dead!

Cecilia screamed with involuntary horror; a pang like remorse seized her
mind, with the apprehension she had some share in this catastrophe,
and innocent as she was either of his fall or his crimes, she no
sooner heard he was no more, than she forgot he had offended her, and
reproached herself with severity for the shame to which she meant to
expose him the next morning.

Dreadfully disturbed by this horrible incident, she entreated Mrs
Harrel and Henrietta to sup by themselves, and going into her own room,
determined to write the whole affair to Delvile, in a letter she should
direct to be left at the post-office for him at Margate.

And here strongly she felt the happiness of being actually his wife; she
could now without reserve make him acquainted with all her affairs, and
tell to the master of her heart every emotion that entered it.

While engaged in this office, the very action of which quieted her,
a letter was brought her from Delvile himself. She received it with
gratitude and opened it with joy; he had promised to write soon, but so
soon she had thought impossible.

The reading took not much time; the letter contained but the following
words:

_To Miss Beverley_.

MY CECILIA!--Be alone, I conjure you; dismiss every body, and admit me
this moment!

Great was her astonishment at this note! no name to it, no conclusion,
the characters indistinct, the writing crooked, the words so few, and
those few scarce legible!

He desired to see her, and to see her alone; she could not hesitate in
her compliance,--but whom could she dismiss?--her servants, if ordered
away, would but be curiously upon the watch,--she could think of no
expedient, she was all hurry and amazement.

She asked if any one waited for an answer? The footman said no; that
the note was given in by somebody who did not speak, and who ran out of
sight the moment he had delivered it.

She could not doubt this was Delvile himself,--Delvile who should now
be just returned from the castle to his mother, and whom she had thought
not even a letter would reach if directed any where nearer than Margate!

All she could devise in obedience to him, was to go and wait for him
alone in her dressing-room, giving orders that if any one called they
might be immediately brought up to her, as she expected somebody upon
business, with whom she must not be interrupted.

This was extremely disagreeable to her; yet, contrary as it was to their
agreement, she felt no inclination to reproach Delvile; the abruptness
of his note, the evident hand-shaking with which it had been written,
the strangeness of the request in a situation such as theirs,--all
concurred to assure her he came not to her idly, and all led her to
apprehend he came to her with evil tidings.

What they might be, she had no time to conjecture; a servant, in a few
minutes, opened the dressing-room door, and said, “Ma’am, a gentleman;”
 and Delvile, abruptly entering, shut it himself, in his eagerness to get
rid of him.

At his sight, her prognostication of ill became stronger! she went
forward to meet him, and he advanced to her smiling and in haste;
but that smile did not well do its office; it concealed not a pallid
countenance, in which every feature spoke horror; it disguised not an
aching heart, which almost visibly throbbed with intolerable emotion!
Yet he addressed her in terms of tenderness and peace; but his tremulous
voice counteracted his words, and spoke that all within was tumult and
war!

Cecilia, amazed, affrighted, had no power to hasten an explanation,
which, on his own part, he seemed unable, or fearful to begin. He talked
to her of his happiness in again seeing her before he left the kingdom,
entreated her to write to him continually, said the same thing two and
three times in a breath, began with one subject, and seemed unconscious
he wandered presently into another, and asked her questions innumerable
about her health, journey, affairs, and ease of mind, without hearing
from her any answer, or seeming to miss that she had none.

Cecilia grew dreadfully terrified; something strange and most alarming
she was sure must have happened, but _what_, she had no means to know,
nor courage, nor even words to enquire.

Delvile, at length, the first hurry of his spirits abating, became more
coherent and considerate: and looking anxiously at her, said, “Why this
silence, my Cecilia?”

“I know not!” said she, endeavouring to recover herself, “but your
coming was unexpected: I was just writing to you at Margate.”

“Write still, then; but direct to Ostend; I shall be quicker than the
post; and I would not lose a letter--a line--a word from you, for all
the world can offer me!”

“Quicker than the post?” cried Cecilia; “but how can Mrs Delvile--” she
stopt; not knowing what she might venture to ask.

“She is now on the road to Margate; I hope to be there to receive her. I
mean but to bid you adieu, and be gone.”

Cecilia made no answer; she was more and more astonished, more and more
confounded.

“You are thoughtful?” said he, with tenderness; “are you
unhappy?--sweetest Cecilia! most excellent of human creatures! if I have
made you unhappy--and I must!--it is inevitable!--”

“Oh Delvile!” cried she, now assuming more courage, “why will you not
speak to me openly?--something, I see, is wrong; may I not hear it? may
I not tell you, at least, my concern that any thing has distressed you?”

“You are too good!” cried he; “to deserve you is not possible, but to
afflict you is inhuman!”

“Why so?” cried she, more chearfully; “must I not share the common lot?
or expect the whole world to be new modelled, lest I should meet in it
any thing but happiness?”

“There is not, indeed, much danger! Have you pen and ink here?”

She brought them to him immediately, with paper.

“You have been writing to me, you say?--I will begin a letter myself.”

“To me?” cried she.

He made no answer, but took up the pen, and wrote a few words, and then,
flinging it down, said, “Fool!--I could have done this without coming!”

“May I look at it?” said she; and, finding he made no opposition,
advanced and read.

_I fear to alarm you by rash precipitation,--I fear to alarm you by
lingering suspense,--but all is not well--_

“Fear nothing!” cried she, turning to him with the kindest earnestness;
“tell me, whatever it may be!--Am I not your wife? bound by every tie
divine and human to share in all your sorrows, if, unhappily, I cannot
mitigate them!”

“Since you allow me,” cried he, gratefully, “so sweet a claim, a claim
to which all others yield, and which if you repent not giving me, will
make all others nearly immaterial to me,--I will own to you that all,
indeed, is not well! I have been hasty,--you will blame me; I deserve,
indeed, to be blamed!--entrusted with your peace and happiness, to
suffer rage, resentment, violence, to make me forego what I owed to such
a deposite!--If your blame, however, stops short of repentance--but it
cannot!”

“What, then,” cried she with warmth, “must you have done? for there
is not an action of which I believe you capable, there is not an event
which I believe to be possible, that can ever make me repent belonging
to you wholly!”

“Generous, condescending Cecilia!” cried he; “Words such as these, hung
there not upon me an evil the most depressing, would be almost more than
I could bear--would make me too blest for mortality!”

“But words such as these,” said she more gaily, “I might long have
coquetted ere I had spoken, had you not drawn them from me by this
alarm. Take, therefore, the good with the ill, and remember, if all does
not go right, you have now a trusty friend, as willing to be the partner
of your serious as your happiest hours.”

“Shew but as much firmness as you have shewn sweetness,” cried he, “and
I will fear to tell you nothing.”

She reiterated her assurances; they then both sat down, and he began his
account.

“Immediately from your lodgings I went where I had ordered a chaise, and
stopped only to change horses till I reached Delvile Castle. My father
saw me with surprise, and received me with coldness. I was compelled by
my situation to be abrupt, and told him I came, before I accompanied
my mother abroad, to make him acquainted with an affair which I thought
myself bound in duty and respect to suffer no one to communicate to him
but myself. He then sternly interrupted me, and declared in high terms,
that if this affair concerned _you_, he would not listen to it. I
attempted to remonstrate upon this injustice, when he passionately broke
forth into new and horrible charges against you, affirming that he had
them from authority as indisputable as ocular demonstration. I was then
certain of some foul play.”--

“Foul play indeed!” cried Cecilia, who now knew but too well by whom she
had been injured. “Good heaven, how have I been deceived, where most I
have trusted!”

“I told him,” continued Delvile, “some gross imposition had been
practiced upon him, and earnestly conjured him no longer to conceal
from me by whom. This, unfortunately, encreased his rage; imposition,
he said, was not so easily played upon him, he left that for _me_ who so
readily was duped; while for himself, he had only given credit to a man
of much consideration in Suffolk, who had known you from a child, who
had solemnly assured him he had repeatedly endeavoured to reclaim you,
who had rescued you from the hands of Jews at his own hazard and loss,
and who actually shewed him bonds acknowledging immense debts, which
were signed with your own hand.”

“Horrible!” exclaimed Cecilia, “I believed not such guilt and perfidy
possible!”

“I was scarce myself,” resumed Delvile, “while I heard him: I demanded
even with fierceness his author, whom I scrupled not to execrate as he
deserved; he coldly answered he was bound by an oath never to reveal
him, nor should he repay his honourable attention to his family by a
breach of his own word, were it even less formally engaged. I then
lost all patience; to mention honour, I cried, was a farce, where
such infamous calumnies were listened to;--but let me not shock you
unnecessarily, you may readily conjecture what passed.”

“Ah me!” cried Cecilia, “you have then quarrelled with your father!”

“I have!” said he; “nor does he yet know I am married: in so much wrath
there was no room for narration; I only pledged myself by all I held
sacred, never to rest till I had cleared your fame, by the detection of
this villainy, and then left him without further explanation.”

“Oh return, then, to him directly!” cried Cecilia, “he is your father,
you are bound to bear with his displeasure;--alas! had you never known
me, you had never incurred it!”

“Believe me,” he answered, “I am ill at ease under it: if you wish it,
when you have heard me, I will go to him immediately; if not, I will
write, and you shall yourself dictate what.”

Cecilia thanked him, and begged he would continue his account.

“My first step, when I left the Castle, was to send a letter to my
mother, in which I entreated her to set out as soon as possible for
Margate, as I was detained from her unavoidably, and was unwilling my
delay should either retard our journey, or oblige her to travel faster.
At Margate I hoped to be as soon as herself, if not before her.”

“And why,” cried Cecilia, “did you not go to town as you had promised,
and accompany her?”

“I had business another way. I came hither.”

“Directly?”

“No; but soon.”

“Where did you go first?”

“My Cecilia, it is now you must summon your fortitude: I left my
father without an explanation on my part;--but not till, in his rage of
asserting his authority, he had unwarily named his informant.”

“Well!”

“That informant--the most deceitful of men!--was your long pretended
friend, Mr Monckton!”

“So I feared!” said Cecilia, whose blood now ran cold through her veins
with sudden and new apprehensions.

“I rode to the Grove, on hack-horses, and on a full gallop the whole
way. I got to him early in the evening. I was shewn into his library. I
told him my errand.--You look pale, my love? You are not well?--”

Cecilia, too sick for speech, leant her head upon a table. Delvile was
going to call for help; but she put her hand upon his arm to stop
him, and, perceiving she was only mentally affected, he rested, and
endeavoured by every possible means to revive her.

After a while, she again raised her head, faintly saying, “I am sorry
I interrupted you; but the conclusion I already know,--Mr Monckton is
dead!”

“Not dead,” cried he; “dangerously, indeed, wounded, but thank heaven,
not actually dead!”

“Not dead?” cried Cecilia, with recruited strength and spirits, “Oh then
all yet may be well!--if he is not dead; he may recover!”

“He may; I hope he will!”

“Now, then,” she cried, “tell me all: I can bear any intelligence but of
death by human means.”

“I meant not to have gone such lengths; far from it; I hold duels in
abhorrence, as unjustifiable acts of violence, and savage devices of
revenge. I have offended against my own conviction,--but, transported
with passion at his infamous charges, I was not master of my reason; I
accused hum of his perfidy; he denied it; I told him I had it from my
father,--he changed the subject to pour abuse upon him; I insisted on a
recantation to clear you; he asked by what right? I fiercely answered;
by a husband’s! His countenance, then, explained at least the motives
of his treachery,--he loves you himself! he had probably schemed to keep
you free till his wife died, and then concluded his machinations would
secure you his own. For this purpose, finding he was in danger of losing
you, he was content even to blast your character, rather than suffer you
to escape him! But the moment I acknowledged my marriage he grew more
furious than myself; and, in short-for why relate the frenzies of rage?
we walked out together; my travelling pistols were already charged;
I gave him his choice of them, and, the challenge being mine, for
insolence joined with guilt had robbed me of all forbearance, he fired
first, but missed me: I then demanded whether he would clear your
fame? he called out ‘Fire! I will make no terms,’--I did fire,--and
unfortunately aimed better! We had neither of us any second, all was the
result of immediate passion; but I soon got people to him, and assisted
in conveying him home. He was at, first believed to be dead, and I was
seized by his servants; but he afterwards shewed signs of life, and by
sending for my friend Biddulph, I was released. Such is the melancholy
transaction I came to relate to you, flattering myself it would
something less shock you from me than from another: yet my own real
concern for the affair, the repentance with which from the moment the
wretch fell, I was struck in being his destroyer, and the sorrow, the
remorse, rather, which I felt, in coming to wound you with such
black, such fearful intelligence,--you to whom all I owe is peace and
comfort!--these thoughts gave me so much disturbance, that, in fact, I
knew less than any other how to prepare you for such a tale.”

He stopt; but Cecilia could say nothing: to censure him now would both
be cruel and vain; yet to pretend she was satisfied with his conduct,
would be doing violence to her judgment and veracity. She saw, too, that
his error had sprung wholly from a generous ardor in her defence, and
that his confidence in her character, had resisted, without wavering,
every attack that menaced it. For this she felt truly grateful; yet
his quarrel with his father,--the danger of his mother,--his necessary
absence,--her own clandestine situation,--and more than all, the
threatened death of Mr Monckton by his hands, were circumstances so full
of dread and sadness, she knew not upon which to speak,--how to offer
him comfort,--how to assume a countenance that looked able to receive
any, or by what means to repress the emotions which to many ways
assailed her. Delvile, having vainly waited some reply, then in a
tone the most melancholy, said, “If it is yet possible you can be
sufficiently interested in my fate to care what becomes of me, aid me
now with your counsel, or rather with your instructions; I am scarce
able to think for myself, and to be thought for by you, would yet be a
consolation that would give me spirit for any thing.”

Cecilia, starting from her reverie, repeated, “To care what becomes of
you-? Oh Delvile!--make not my heart bleed by words of such unkindness!”

“Forgive me,” cried he, “I meant not a reproach; I meant but to state
my own consciousness how little I deserve from you. You talked to me of
going to my father? do you still wish it?”

“I think so!” cried she; too much disturbed to know what she said, yet
fearing again to hurt him by making him wait her answer.

“I will go then,” said he, “without doubt: too happy to be guided by
you, which-ever way I steer. I have now, indeed much to tell him; but
whatever may be his wrath, there is little fear, at this time, that my
own temper cannot bear it! what next shall I do?”

“What next?” repeated she; “indeed I know not!”

“Shall I go immediately to Margate? or shall I first ride hither?”

“If you please,” said she, much perturbed, and deeply sighing.

“I please nothing but by your direction, to follow that is my only
chance of pleasure. Which, then, shall I do?-you will not, now, refuse
to direct me?”

“No, certainly, not for the world!”

“Speak to me, then, my love, and tell me;--why are you thus silent?--is
it painful to you to counsel me?”

“No, indeed!” said she, putting her hand to her head, “I will speak to
you in a few minutes.”

“Oh my Cecilia!” cried he, looking at her with much alarm, “call back
your recollection! you know not what you say, you take no interest in
what you answer.”

“Indeed I do!” said she, sighing deeply, and oppressed beyond the
power of thinking, beyond any power but an internal consciousness of
wretchedness.

“Sigh not so bitterly,” cried he, “if you have any compassion! sigh not
so bitterly,--I cannot bear to hear you!”

“I am very sorry indeed!” said she, sighing again, and not seeming
sensible she spoke.

“Good Heaven!” cried he, rising, “distract me not with this
horror!--speak not to me in such broken sentences!--Do you hear me,
Cecilia?--why will you not answer me?”

She started and trembled, looked pale and affrighted, and putting both
her hands upon her heart, said, “Oh yes!--but I have an oppression
here,--a tightness, a fulness,--I have not room for breath!”

“Oh beloved of my heart!” cried he, wildly casting himself at her feet,
“kill me not with this terror!--call back your faculties,--awake from
this dreadful insensibility! tell me at least you know me!--tell me I
have not tortured you quite to madness!--sole darling of my affections!
my own, my wedded Cecilia!--rescue me from this agony! it is more than I
can support!”---

This energy of distress brought back her scattered senses, scarce more
stunned by the shock of all this misery, than by the restraint of her
feelings in struggling to conceal it. But these passionate exclamations
restoring her sensibility, she burst into tears, which happily relieved
her mind from the conflict with which it was labouring, and which, not
thus effected, might have ended more fatally.

Never had Delvile more rejoiced in her smiles than now in these
seasonable tears, which he regarded and blest as the preservers of her
reason. They flowed long without any intermission, his soothing and
tenderness but melting her to more sorrow: after a while, however, the
return of her faculties, which at first seemed all consigned over to
grief, was manifested by the returning strength of her mind: she blamed
herself severely for the little fortitude she had shewn, but having now
given vent to emotions too forcible to be wholly stiffed, she assured
him he might depend upon her’ better courage for the future, and
entreated him to consider and settle his affairs.

Not speedily, however, could Delvile himself recover. The torture he had
suffered in believing, though only for a few moments, that the terror
he had given to Cecilia had affected her intellects, made even a deeper
impression upon his imagination, than the scene of fury and death, which
had occasioned that terror: and Cecilia, who now strained every nerve
to repair by her firmness, the pain which by her weakness she had given
him, was sooner in a condition for reasoning and deliberation than
himself.

“Ah Delvile!” she cried, comprehending what passed within him, “do
you allow nothing for surprize? and nothing for the hard conflict of
endeavouring to suppress it? do you think me still as unfit to advise
with, and as worthless, as feeble a counsellor, as during the first
confusion of my mind?”

“Hurry not your tender spirits, I beseech you,” cried he, “we have time
enough; we will talk about business by and by.”

“What time?” cried she, “what is it now o’clock?”

“Good Heaven!” cried he, looking at his watch, “already past ten! you
must turn me out, my Cecilia, or calumny will still be busy, even though
poor Monckton is quiet.”

“I _will_ turn you out,” cried she, “I am indeed most earnest to have
you gone. But tell me your plan, and which way you mean to go?”

“That;” he answered, “you shall decide for me yourself: whether to
Delvile Castle, to finish one tale, and wholly communicate another, or
to Margate, to hasten my mother abroad, before the news of this calamity
reaches her.”

“Go to Margate,” cried she, eagerly, “set off this very moment! you can
write to your father from Ostend. But continue, I conjure you, on the
continent, till we see if this unhappy man lives, and enquire, of those
who can judge, what must follow if he should not!”

“A trial,” said he, “must follow, and it will go, I fear, but hardly
with me! the challenge was mine; his servants can all witness I went
to him, not he to me,--Oh my Cecilia! the rashness of which I have been
guilty, is so opposite to my principles, and, all generous as is your
silence, I know it so opposite to yours, that never, should his blood be
on my hands, wretch as he was, never will my heart be quiet more.”

“He will live, he will live!” cried Cecilia, repressing her horror,
“fear nothing, for he will live;--and as to his wound and his
sufferings, his perfidy has deserved them. Go, then, to Margate; think
only of Mrs Delvile, and save her, if possible, from hearing what has
happened.”

“I will go,--stay,--do which and whatever you bid me: but, should what I
fear come to pass, should my mother continue ill, my father inflexible,
should this wretched man die, and should England no longer be a country
I shall love to dwell in,--could you, then, bear to own,--would you,
then, consent to follow me?”

“Could I?--am I not yours? may you not command me? tell me, then, you
have only to say,--shall I accompany you at once?”

Delvile, affected by her generosity, could scarce utter his thanks; yet
he did not hesitate in denying to avail himself of it; “No, my Cecilia,”
 he cried, “I am not so selfish. If we have not happier days, we will at
least wait for more desperate necessity. With the uncertainty if I have
not this man’s life to answer for at the hazard of my own, to take my
wife--my bride,--from the kingdom I must fly!--to make her a fugitive
and an exile in the first publishing that she is mine! No, if I am not a
destined alien for life I can never permit it. Nothing less, believe
me, shall ever urge my consent to wound the chaste propriety of your
character, by making you an eloper with a duelist.”

They then again consulted upon their future plans; and concluded that in
the present disordered state of their affairs, it would be best not to
acknowledge even to Mr Delvile their marriage, to whom the news of the
duel, and Mr Monckton’s danger, would be a blow so severe, that, to add
to it any other might half distract him.

To the few people already acquainted with it, Delvile therefore
determined to write from Ostend, re-urging his entreaties for their
discretion and secrecy. Cecilia promised every post to acquaint him how
Mr Monckton went on, and she then besought him to go instantly, that he
might out-travel the ill news to his mother.

He complied, and took leave of her in the tenderest manner, conjuring
her to support her spirits, and be careful of her health. “Happiness,”
 said he, “is much in arrears with us, and though my violence may have
frightened it away, your sweetness and gentleness will yet attract it
back: all that for me is in store must be received at your hands,--what
is offered in any other way, I shall only mistake for evil! droop not,
therefore, my generous Cecilia, but in yourself preserve me!”

“I will not droop,” said she; “you will find, I hope, you have not
intrusted yourself in ill hands.”

“Peace then be with you, my love!--my comforting, my soul-reviving
Cecilia! Peace, such as angels give, and such as may drive from your
mind the remembrance of this bitter hour!”

He then tore himself away.

Cecilia, who to his blessings could almost, like the tender Belvidera,
have exclaimed,

           “O do not leave me!--stay with me and curse me!”

listened to his steps till she could hear them no longer, as if the
remaining moments of her life were to be measured by them: but then,
remembering the danger both to herself and him of his stay, she
endeavoured to rejoice that he was gone, and, but that her mind was in
no state for joy, was too rational not to have succeeded.

Grief and horror for what was past, apprehension and suspense for
what was to come, so disordered her whole frame, so confused even her
intellects, that when not all the assistance of fancy could persuade
her she still heard the footsteps of Delvile, she went to the chair upon
which he had been seated, and taking possession of it, sat with her arms
crossed, silent, quiet, and erect, almost vacant of all thought, yet
with a secret idea she was doing something right.

Here she continued till Henrietta came to wish her good night; whose
surprise and concern at the strangeness of her look and attitude, once
more recovered her. But terrified herself at this threatened wandering
of her reason, and certain she must all night be a stranger to rest, she
accepted the affectionate offer of the kind-hearted girl to stay with
her, who was too much grieved for her grief to sleep any more than
herself.

She told her not what had passed; that, she knew, would be fruitless
affliction to her: but she was soothed by her gentleness, and her
conversation was some security from the dangerous rambling of her ideas.

Henrietta herself found no little consolation in her own private
sorrows, that she was able to give comfort to her beloved Miss Beverley,
from whom she had received favours and kind offices innumerable. She
quitted her not night nor day, and in the honest pride of a little
power to skew the gratefulness of her heart, she felt a pleasure and
self-consequence she had never before experienced.



CHAPTER iii.

A SUMMONS.

Cecilia’s earliest care, almost at break of day, was to send to the
Grove; from thence she heard nothing but evil; Mr Monckton was still
alive, but with little or no hope of recovery, constantly delirious, and
talking of Miss Beverley, and of her being married to young Delvile.

Cecilia, who knew well this, at least, was no delirium, though shocked
that he talked of it, hoped his danger less than was apprehended.

The next day, however, more fatal news was brought her, though not from
the quarter she expected it: Mr Monckton, in one of his raving fits, had
sent for Lady Margaret to his bed side, and used her almost inhumanly:
he had railed at her age and her infirmities with incredible fury,
called her the cause of all his sufferings, and accused her as the
immediate agent of Lucifer in his present wound and danger. Lady
Margaret, whom neither jealousy nor malignity had cured of loving him,
was dismayed and affrighted; and in hurrying out of the room upon his
attempting, in his frenzy, to strike her, she dropt down dead in an
apoplectic fit.

“Good Heaven!” thought Cecilia, “what an exemplary punishment has this
man! he loses his hated wife at the very moment when her death could
no longer answer his purposes! Poor Lady Margaret! her life has been as
bitter as her temper! married from a view of interest, ill used as a bar
to happiness, and destroyed from the fruitless ravings of despair!”

She wrote all this intelligence to Ostend, whence she received a letter
from Delvile, acquainting her he was detained from proceeding further
by the weakness and illness of his mother, whose sufferings from
seasickness had almost put an end to her existence.

Thus passed a miserable week; Monckton still merely alive, Delvile
detained at Ostend, and Cecilia tortured alike by what was recently
passed, actually present, and fearfully expected; when one morning she
was told a gentleman upon business desired immediately to speak with
her.

She hastily obeyed the summons; the constant image of her own mind,
Delvile, being already present to her, and a thousand wild conjectures
upon what had brought him back, rapidly occurring to her.

Her expectations, however, were ill answered, for she found an entire
stranger; an elderly man, of no pleasant aspect or manners.

She desired to know his business.

“I presume, madam, you are the lady of this house?”

She bowed an assent.

“May I take the liberty, madam, to ask your name?’

“My name, sir?”

“You will do me a favour, madam, by telling it me.”

“Is it possible you are come hither without already knowing it?”

“I know it only by common report, madam.”

“Common report, sir, I believe is seldom wrong in a matter where to be
right is so easy.”

“Have you any objection, madam, to telling me your name?”

“No, sir; but your business can hardly be very important, if you are yet
to learn whom you are to address. It will be time enough, therefore, for
us to meet when you are elsewhere satisfied in this point.”

She would then have left the room.

“I beg, madam,” cried the stranger, “you will have patience; it is
necessary, before I can open my business, that I should hear your name
from yourself.”

“Well, sir,” cried she with some hesitation, “you can scarce have come
to this house, without knowing that its owner is Cecilia Beverley.”

“That, madam, is your maiden name.”

“My maiden name?” cried she, starting.

“Are you not married, madam?”

“Married, sir?” she repeated, while her cheeks were the colour of
scarlet.

“It is, properly, therefore, madam, the name of your husband that I mean
to ask.”

“And by what authority, sir,” cried she, equally astonished and
offended, “do you make these extraordinary enquiries?”

“I am deputed, madam, to wait upon you by Mr Eggleston, the next heir
to this estate, by your uncle’s will, if you die without children, or
change your name when you marry. His authority of enquiry, madam,
I presume you will allow, and he has vested it in me by a letter of
attorney.”

Cecilia’s distress and confusion were now unspeakable; she knew not what
to own or deny, she could not conjecture how she had been betrayed, and
she had never made the smallest preparation against such an attack.

“Mr Eggleston, madam,” he continued, “has been pretty credibly informed
that you are actually married: he is very desirous, therefore, to
know what are your intentions, for your continuing to be called _Miss_
Beverley, as if still single, leaves him quite in the dark: but, as he
is so deeply concerned in the affair, he expects, as a lady of honour,
you will deal with him without prevarication.”

“This demand, sir,” said Cecilia, stammering, “is so extremely--so--so
little expected--”

“The way, madam, in these cases, is to keep pretty closely to the point;
are you married or are you not?”

Cecilia, quite confounded, made no answer: to disavow her marriage, when
thus formally called upon, was every way unjustifiable; to acknowledge
it in her present situation, would involve her in difficulties
innumerable.

“This is not, madam, a slight thing; Mr Eggleston has a large family and
a small fortune, and that, into the bargain, very much encumbered;
it cannot, therefore, be expected that he will knowingly connive at
cheating himself, by submitting to your being actually married, and
still enjoying your estate though your husband does not take your name.”

Cecilia, now, summoning more presence of mind, answered, “Mr Eggleston,
sir, has, at least, nothing to fear from imposition: those with whom he
has, or may have any transactions in this affair, are not accustomed to
practice it.”

“I am far from meaning any offence, madam; my commission from Mr
Eggleston is simply this, to beg you will satisfy him upon what grounds
you now evade the will of your late uncle, which, till cleared up,
appears a point manifestly to his prejudice.”

“Tell him, then, sir, that whatever he wishes to know shall be explained
to him in about a week. At present I can give no other answer.”

“Very well, madam; he will wait that time, I am sure, for he does not
wish to put you to any inconvenience. But when he heard the gentleman
was gone abroad without owning his marriage, he thought it high time to
take some notice of the matter.”

Cecilia, who by this speech found she was every way discovered, was
again in the utmost confusion, and with much trepidation, said, “since
you seem so well, sir, acquainted with this affair, I should be glad you
would inform me by what means you came to the knowledge of it?”

“I heard it, madam, from Mr Eggleston himself, who has long known it.”

“Long, sir?--impossible! when it is not yet a fortnight--not ten days,
or no more, that---”

She stopt, recollecting she was making a confession better deferred.

“That, madam,” he answered, “may perhaps bear a little contention: for
when this business comes to be settled, it will be very essential to
be exact as to the time, even to the very hour; for a large income per
annum, divides into a small one per diem: and if your husband keeps his
own name, you must not only give up your uncle’s inheritance from
the time of relinquishing yours, but refund from the very day of your
marriage.”

“There is not the least doubt of it,” answered she; “nor will the
smallest difficulty be made.”

“You will please, then, to recollect, madam, that this sum is every hour
encreasing; and has been since last September, which made half a year
accountable for last March. Since then there is now added---”

“Good Heaven, Sir,” cried Cecilia, “what calculation are you making out?
do you call last week last September?”

“No, madam; but I call last September the month in which you were
married.”

“You will find yourself, then, sir, extremely mistaken; and Mr Eggleston
is preparing himself for much disappointment, if he supposes me so long
in arrears with him.”

“Mr Eggleston, madam, happens to be well informed of this transaction,
as, if there is any dispute in it, you will find. He was your immediate
successor in the house to which you went last September in Pall-Mall;
the woman who kept it acquainted his servants that the last lady who
hired it stayed with her but a day, and only came to town, she found, to
be married: and hearing, upon enquiry, this lady was Miss Beverley, the
servants, well knowing that their master was her conditional heir, told
him the circumstance.”

“You will find all this, sir, end in nothing.”

“That, madam, as I said before, remains to be proved. If a young lady at
eight o’clock in the morning, is seen,--and she was seen, going into a
church with a young gentleman, and one female friend; and is afterwards
observed to come out of it, followed by a clergyman and another person,
supposed to have officiated as father, and is seen get into a coach with
same young gentleman, and same female friend, why the circumstances are
pretty strong!--”

“They may seem so, Sir; but all conclusions drawn from them will be
erroneous. I was not married then, upon my honour!”

“We have little, madam, to do with professions; the circumstances are
strong enough to bear a trial, and--”

“A trial!--”

“We have traced, madam, many witnesses able to stand to divers
particulars; and eight months share of such an estate as this, is well
worth a little trouble.”

“I am amazed, sir! surely Mr Eggleston never desired you to make use of
this language to me?”

“Mr Eggleston, madam, has behaved very honourably; though he knew
the whole affair so long ago, he was persuaded Mr Delvile had private
reasons for a short concealment; and expecting every day when they would
be cleared up by his taking your name, he never interfered: but being
now informed he set out last week for the continent, he has been advised
by his friends to claim his rights.”

“That claim, sir, he need not fear will be satisfied; and without any
occasion for threats of enquiries or law suits.”

“The truth, madam, is this; Mr Eggleston is at present in a little
difficulty about some money matters, which makes it a point with him of
some consequence to have the affair settled speedily: unless you could
conveniently compromise the matter, by advancing a particular sum,
till it suits you to refund the whole that is due to him, and quit the
premises.”

“Nothing, sir, is due to him! at least, nothing worth mentioning. I
shall enter into no terms, for I have no compromise to make. As to the
premises, I will quit them with all the expedition in my power.”

“You will do well, madam; for the truth is, it will not be convenient to
him to wait much longer.”

He then went away.

“When, next,” cried Cecilia, “shall I again be weak, vain, blind enough
to form any plan with a hope of secresy? or enter, with _any_ hope, into
a clandestine scheme! betrayed by those I have trusted, discovered
by those I have not thought of, exposed to the cruellest alarms, and
defenceless from the most shocking attacks!--Such has been the life I
have led since the moment I first consented to a private engagement!--Ah
Delvile! your mother, in her tenderness, forgot her dignity, or she
would not have concurred in an action which to such disgrace made me
liable!”



CHAPTER iv.

A DELIBERATION.

It was necessary, however, not to moralize, but to act; Cecilia had
undertaken to give her answer in a week, and the artful attorney had
drawn from her an acknowledgment of her situation, by which he might
claim it yet sooner.

The law-suit with which she was threatened for the arrears of eight
months, alarmed her not, though it shocked her, as she was certain she
could prove her marriage so much later.

It was easy to perceive that this man had been sent with a view of
working from her a confession, and terrifying from her some money;
the confession, indeed, in conscience and honesty she could not wholly
elude, but she had suffered too often by a facility in parting with
money to be there easily duped.

Nothing, however, was more true, than that she now lived upon an estate
of which she no longer was the owner, and that all she either spent or
received was to be accounted for and returned, since by the will of her
uncle, unless her husband took her name, her estate on the very day of
her marriage was to be forfeited, and entered upon by the Egglestons.
Delvile’s plan and hope of secresy had made them little weigh this
matter, though this premature discovery so unexpectedly exposed her to
their power.

The first thought that occurred to her, was to send an express to
Delvile, and desire his instructions how to proceed; but she dreaded his
impetuosity of temper, and was almost certain that the instant he should
hear she was in any uneasiness or perplexity, he would return to her, at
all hazards, even though Mr Monckton were dead, and his mother herself
dying. This step, therefore, she did not dare risk, preferring any
personal hardship, to endangering the already precarious life of Mrs
Delvile, or to hastening her son home while Mr Monckton was in so
desperate a situation.

But though what to avoid was easy to settle, what to seek was difficult
to devise. She bad now no Mrs Charlton to receive her, not a creature in
whom she could confide. To continue her present way of living was deeply
involving Delvile in debt, a circumstance she had never considered, in
the confusion and hurry attending all their plans and conversations, and
a circumstance which, though to him it might have occurred, he could not
in common delicacy mention.

Yet to have quitted her house, and retrenched her expences, would have
raised suspicions that must have anticipated the discovery she so much
wished to have delayed. That wish, by the present danger of its failure,
was but more ardent; to have her affairs and situation become
publicly known at the present period, she felt would half distract
her.--Privately married, parted from her husband at the very moment of
their union, a husband by whose hand the apparent friend of her earliest
youth was all but killed, whose father had execrated the match, whose
mother was now falling a sacrifice to the vehemence with which she had
opposed it, and who himself, little short of an exile, knew not yet
if, with personal safety, he might return to his native land! To
circumstances so dreadful, she had now the additional shock of being
uncertain whether her own house might not be seized, before any other
could be prepared for her reception!

Yet still whither to go, what to do, or what to resolve, she was wholly
unable to determine; and after meditating almost to madness in the
search of some plan or expedient, she was obliged to give over the
attempt, and be satisfied with remaining quietly where she was, till she
had better news from Delvile of his mother, or better news to send him
of Mr Monckton; carefully, mean time, in all her letters avoiding to
alarm him by any hint of her distress.

Yet was she not idle, either from despair or helplessness: she found her
difficulties encreased, and she called forth more resolution to combat
them: she animated herself by the promise she had made Delvile, and
recovering from the sadness to which she had at first given way, she now
exerted herself with vigour to perform it as she ought.

She began by making an immediate inspection into her affairs, and
endeavouring, where expence seemed unnecessary, to lessen it. She gave
Henrietta to understand she feared they must soon part; and so afflicted
was the unhappy girl at the news, that she found it the most cruel
office she had to execute. The same intimation she gave to Mrs Harrel,
who repined at it more openly, but with a selfishness so evident that it
blunted the edge of pity. She then announced to Albany her inability to
pursue, at present, their extensive schemes of benevolence; and though
he instantly left her, to carry on his laborious plan elsewhere, the
reverence she had now excited in him of her character, made him leave
her with no sensation but of regret, and readily promise to return when
her affairs were settled, or her mind more composed.

These little preparations, which were all she could make, with enquiries
after Mr Monckton, and writing to Delvile, sufficiently filled up her
time, though her thoughts were by no means confined to them. Day after
day passed, and Mr Monckton continued to linger rather than live; the
letters of Delvile, still only dated from Ostend, contained the most
melancholy complaints of the illness of his mother; and the time
advanced when her answer would be claimed by the attorney.

The thought of such another visit was almost intolerable; and within two
days of the time that she expected it, she resolved to endeavour herself
to prevail with Mr Eggleston to wait longer.

Mr Eggleston was a gentleman whom she knew little more than by sight; he
was no relation to her family, nor had any connection with the Dean,
but by being a cousin to a lady he had married, and who had left him
no children. The dean had no particular regard for him, and had rather
mentioned him in his will as the successor of Cecilia, in case she died
unmarried or changed her name, as a mark that he approved of her doing
neither, than as a matter he thought probable, if even possible, to turn
out in his favour.

He was a man of a large family, the sons of which, who were extravagant
and dissipated, had much impaired his fortune by prevailing with him to
pay their debts, and much distressed him in his affairs by successfully
teasing him for money.

Cecilia, acquainted with these circumstances, knew but too well with
what avidity her estate would be seized by them, and how little the sons
would endure delay, even if the father consented to it. Yet since the
sacrifice to which she had agreed must soon make it indisputably
their own, she determined to deal with them openly; and acknowledged,
therefore, in her letter, her marriage without disguise, but begged
their patience and secresy, and promised, in a short time, the most
honourable retribution and satisfaction.

She sent this letter by a man and horse, Mr Eggleston’s habitation being
within fifteen miles of her own.

The answer was from his eldest son, who acquainted her that his father
was very ill, and had put all his affairs into the hands of Mr Carn, his
attorney, who was a man of great credit, and would see justice done on
all sides.

If this answer, which she broke open the instant she took it into
her hand, was in itself a cruel disappointment to her, how was that
disappointment embittered by shame and terror, when, upon again folding
it up, she saw it was directed to Mrs Mortimer Delvile!

This was a decisive stroke; what they wrote to her, she was sure they
would mention to all others; she saw they were too impatient for her
estate to be moved by any representations to a delay, and that their
eagerness to publish their right, took from them all consideration of
what they might make her suffer. Mr Eggleston, she found, permitted
himself to be wholly governed by his son; his son was a needy and
profligate spendthrift, and by throwing the management of the affair
into the hands of an attorney, craftily meant to shield himself from the
future resentment of Delvile, to whom, hereafter, he might affect, at
his convenience, to disapprove Mr Carn’s behaviour, while Mr Carn was
always secure, by averring he only exerted himself for the interest of
his client.

The discerning Cecilia, though but little experienced in business, and
wholly unsuspicious by nature, yet saw into this management, and doubted
not these excuses were already arranged. She had only, therefore, to
save herself an actual ejectment, by quitting a house in which she was
exposed to such a disgrace.

But still whither to go she knew not! One only attempt seemed in her
power for an honourable asylum, and that was more irksomely painful to
her than seeking shelter in the meanest retreat: it was applying to Mr
Delvile senior.

The action of leaving her house, whether quietly or forcibly, could not
but instantly authenticate the reports spread by the Egglestons of her
marriage: to hope therefore for secresy any longer would be folly, and
Mr Delvile’s rage at such intelligence might be still greater to hear
it by chance than from herself. She now lamented that Delvile had not
at once told the tale, but, little foreseeing such a discovery as the
present, they had mutually concluded to defer the communication till his
return.

Her own anger at the contemptuous ill treatment she had repeatedly met
from him, she was now content not merely to suppress but to dismiss,
since, as the wife of his son without his consent, she considered
herself no longer as wholly innocent of incurring it. Yet, such was her
dread of his austerity and the arrogance of his reproaches, that, by
choice, she would have preferred an habitation with her own pensioner,
the pew-opener, to the grandest apartment in Delvile Castle while he
continued its lord.

In her present situation, however, her choice was little to be
consulted: the honour of Delvile was concerned in her escaping even
temporary disgrace, and nothing, she knew, would so much gratify him, as
any attention from her to his father. She wrote to him, therefore, the
following letter, which she sent by an express.

_To the Hon. Compton Delvile.

April 29th_, 1780.

SIR,--I should not, even by letter, presume thus to force myself upon
your remembrance, did I not think it a duty I now owe your son, both to
risk and to bear the displeasure it may unhappily occasion. After
such an acknowledgment, all other confession would be superfluous; and
uncertain as I am if you will ever deign to own me, more words than are
necessary would be merely impertinent.

It was the intention of your son, Sir, when he left the kingdom, to
submit wholly to your arbitration, at his return, which should be
resigned, his own name or my fortune: but his request for your decision,
and his supplication for your forgiveness, are both, most unfortunately,
prevented, by a premature and unforeseen discovery of our situation,
which renders an immediate determination absolutely unavoidable.

At this distance from him, I cannot, in time, receive his directions
upon the measures I have to take; pardon me then, Sir, if well knowing
my reference to him will not be more implicit than his own to you, I
venture, in the present important crisis of my affairs, to entreat those
commands instantly, by which I am certain of being guided ultimately.

I would commend myself to your favour but that I dread exciting your
resentment. I will detain you, therefore, only to add, that the father
of Mr Mortimer Delvile, will ever meet the most profound respect from
her who, without his permission, dare sign no name to the honour she now
has in declaring herself his most humble, and most obedient servant.

* * * * *

Her mind was somewhat easier when this letter was written, because she
thought it a duty, yet felt reluctance in performing it. She wished to
have represented to him strongly the danger of Delvile’s hearing her
distress, but she knew so well his inordinate self-sufficiency, she
feared a hint of that sort might be construed into an insult, and
concluded her only chance that he would do any thing, was by leaving
wholly to his own suggestions the weighing and settling what.

But though nothing was more uncertain than whether she should be
received at Delvile Castle, nothing was more fixed than that she must
quit her own house, since the pride of Mr Delvile left not even a chance
that his interest would conquer it. She deferred not, therefore, any
longer making preparations for her removal, though wholly unsettled
whither.

Her first, which was also her most painful task, was to acquaint
Henrietta with her situation: she sent, therefore, to desire to speak
with her, but the countenance of Henrietta shewed her communication
would not surprise her.

“What is the matter with my dear Henrietta?” cried Cecilia; “who is
it has already afflicted that kind heart which I am now compelled to
afflict for myself?”

Henrietta, in whom anger appeared to be struggling with sorrow,
answered, “No, madam, not afflicted for _you_! it would be strange if I
were, thinking as I think!”

“I am glad,” said Cecilia, calmly, “if you are not, for I would give to
you, were it possible, nothing but pleasure and joy.”

“Ah madam!” cried Henrietta, bursting into tears, “why will you say so
when you don’t care what becomes of me! when you are going to cast me
off!--and when you will soon be too happy ever to think of me more!”

“If I am never happy till then,” said Cecilia, “sad, indeed, will be
my life! no, my gentlest friend, you will always have your share in
my heart; and always, to me, would have been the welcomest guest in my
house, but for those unhappy circumstances which make our separating
inevitable.”

“Yet you suffered me, madam, to hear from any body that you was married
and going away; and all the common servants in the house knew it before
me.”

“I am amazed!” said Cecilia; “how and which way can they have heard it?”

“The man that went to Mr Eggleston brought the first news of it, for
he said all the servants there talked of nothing else, and that their
master was to come and take possession here next Thursday.”

Cecilia started at this most unwelcome intelligence; “Yet you envy
me,” she cried, “Henrietta, though I am forced from my house! though in
quitting it, I am unprovided with any other, and though him for whom
I relinquish it, is far off, without means of protecting, or power of
returning to me!”

“But you are married to him, madam!” cried she, expressively.

“True, my love; but, also, I am parted from him!”

“Oh how differently,” exclaimed Henrietta, “do the great think from
the little! were _I_ married,--and _so_ married, I should want neither
house, nor fine cloaths, nor riches, nor any thing;--I should not care
where I lived,--every place would be paradise! I would walk to him
barefoot if he were a thousand miles off, and I should mind nobody else
in the world while I had him to take care of me!”

Ah Delvile! thought Cecilia, what powers of fascination are yours!
should I be tempted to repine at what I have to bear, I will think of
this heroick girl and blush!

Mrs Harrel now broke in upon them, eager to be informed of the truth or
falsehood of the reports which were buzzed throughout the house.
Cecilia briefly related to them both the state of her affairs, earnestly
expressing her concern at the abrupt separation which must take place,
and for which she had been unable to prepare them, as the circumstances
which led to it had been wholly unforeseen by herself.

Mrs Harrel listened to the account with much curiosity and surprize; but
Henrietta wept incessantly in hearing it: the object of a passion ardent
as it was romantic, lost to her past recovery; torn herself, probably
for ever, from the best friend she had in the world; and obliged to
return thus suddenly to an home she detested,--Henrietta possessed not
the fortitude to hear evils such as these, which, to her inexperienced
heart, appeared the severest that could be inflicted.

This conversation over, Cecilia sent for her Steward, and desired him,
with the utmost expedition, to call in all her bills, and instantly to
go round to her tenants within twenty miles, and gather in, from those
who were able to pay, the arrears now due to her; charging him, however,
upon no account, to be urgent with such as seemed distressed.

The bills she had to pay were collected without difficulty; she never
owed much, and creditors are seldom hard of access; but the money she
hoped to receive fell very short of her expectations, for the indulgence
she had shewn to her tenants had ill prepared them for so sudden a
demand.



CHAPTER v.

A DECISION.

This business effectually occupied the present and following day; the
third, Cecilia expected her answer from Delvile Castle, and the visit
she so much dreaded from the attorney.

The answer arrived first.

_To Miss Beverley_.

MADAM,--As my son has never apprized me of the extraordinary step which
your letter intimates, I am too unwilling to believe him capable of so
far forgetting what he owes his family, to ratify any such intimation by
interfering with my counsel or opinion.--I am, Madam, &c.,

COMPTON DELVILE.

DELVILE CASTLE, _May 1st, 1780_.

Cecilia had little right to be surprised by this letter, and she had not
a moment to comment upon it, before the attorney arrived.

“Well, madam,” said the man, as he entered the parlour, “Mr Eggleston
has stayed your own time very patiently: he commissions me now to
enquire if it is convenient to you to quit the premises.”

“No, Sir, it is by no means convenient to me; and if Mr Eggleston will
wait some time longer, I shall be greatly obliged to him.”

“No doubt, madam, but he will, upon proper considerations.”

“What, Sir, do you call proper?”

“Upon your advancing to him, as I hinted before, an immediate particular
sum from what must, by and bye, be legally restituted.”

“If this is the condition of his courtesy, I will quit the house without
giving him further trouble.”

“Just as it suits you, madam. He will be glad to take possession
to-morrow or next day.”

“You did well, Sir, to commend his patience! I shall, however, merely
discharge my servants, and settle my accounts, and be ready to make way
for him.”

“You will not take it amiss, madam, if I remind you that the account
with Mr Eggleston must be the first that is settled.”

“If you mean the arrears of this last fortnight or three weeks,
I believe I must desire him to wait Mr Delvile’s return, as I may
otherwise myself be distressed for ready money.”

“That, madam, is not likely, as it is well known you have a fortune that
was independent of your late uncle; and as to distress for ready money,
it is a plea Mr Eggleston can urge much more strongly.”

“This is being strangely hasty, Sir!--so short a time as it is since Mr
Eggleston could expect _any_ of this estate!”

“That, madam, is nothing to the purpose; from the moment it is his, he
has as many wants for it as any other gentleman. He desired me, however,
to acquaint you, that if you still chose an apartment in this house,
till Mr Delvile returns, you shall have one at your service.”

“To be a _guest_ in this house, Sir,” said Cecilia, drily, “might
perhaps seem strange to me; I will not, therefore, be so much in his
way.”

Mr Carn then informed her she might put her seal upon whatever she meant
hereafter to claim or dispute, and took his leave.

Cecilia now shut herself up in her own room, to meditate without
interruption, before she would proceed to any action. She felt much
inclination to send instantly for some lawyer; but when she considered
her peculiar situation, the absence of her husband, the renunciation of
his father, the loss of her fortune, and her ignorance upon the subject,
she thought it better to rest quiet till Delvile’s own fate, and own
opinion could be known, than to involve herself in a lawsuit she was so
little able to superintend.

In this cruel perplexity of her mind and her affairs, her first thought
was to board again with Mrs Bayley; but that was soon given up, for she
felt a repugnance unconquerable to continuing in her native county, when
deprived of her fortune, and cast out of her dwelling.

Her situation, indeed, was singularly unhappy, since, by this unforeseen
vicissitude of fortune, she was suddenly, from being an object of envy
and admiration, sunk into distress, and threatened with disgrace; from
being every where caressed, and by every voice praised, she blushed to
be seen, and expected to be censured; and, from being generally regarded
as an example of happiness, and a model of virtue, she was now in
one moment to appear to the world, an outcast from her own house, yet
received into no other! a bride, unclaimed by a husband! an HEIRESS,
dispossessed of all wealth!

To be first acknowledged as _Mrs Delvile_ in a state so degrading, she
could not endure; and to escape from it, one way alone remained, which
was going instantly abroad.

Upon this, therefore, she finally determined: her former objections to
such a step being now wholly, though unpleasantly removed, since she had
neither estate nor affairs to demand her stay, and since all hopes of
concealment were totally at an end. Her marriage, therefore, and its
disgraceful consequences being published to the world, she resolved
without delay to seek the only asylum which was proper for her, in the
protection of the husband for whom she had given up every other.

She purposed, therefore, to go immediately and privately to London,
whence she could best settle her route for the continent: where she
hoped to arrive before the news of her distress reached Delvile, whom
nothing, she was certain, but her own presence, could keep there for a
moment after hearing it.

Thus decided, at length, in her plan, she proceeded to put it in
execution with calmness and intrepidity; comforting herself that the
conveniencies and indulgencies with which she was now parting, would
soon be restored to her, and though not with equal power, with far more
satisfaction. She told her steward her design of going the next morning
to London, bid him pay instantly all her debts, and discharge all
her servants, determining to keep no account open but that with Mr
Eggleston, which he had made so intricate by double and undue demands,
that she thought it most prudent and safe to leave him wholly to
Delvile.

She then packed up all her papers and letters, and ordered her maid to
pack up her clothes.

She next put her own seal upon her cabinets, draws, and many other
things, and employed almost all her servants at once, in making complete
inventories of what every room contained.

She advised Mrs Harrel to send without delay for Mr Arnott, and return
to his house. She had first purposed to carry Henrietta home to her
mother herself; but another scheme for her now occurred, from which she
hoped much future advantage to the amiable and dejected girl.

She knew well, that deep as was at present her despondency, the removal
of all possibility of hope, by her knowledge of Delvile’s marriage, must
awaken her before long from the delusive visions of her romantic fancy;
Mr Arnott himself was in a situation exactly similar, and the knowledge
of the same event would probably be productive of the same effect. When
Mrs Harrel, therefore, began to repine at the solitude to which she was
returning, Cecilia proposed to her the society of Henrietta, which, glad
to catch at any thing that would break into her loneliness, she listened
to with pleasure, and seconded by an invitation.

Henrietta, to whom all houses appeared preferable to her own home,
joyfully accepted the offer, committing to Cecilia the communication of
the change of her abode to Mrs Belfield.

Cecilia, who in the known and tried honour of Mr Arnott would
unreluctantly have trusted a sister, was much pleased by this little
arrangement, from which should no good ensue, no evil, at least, was
probable. But she hoped, through the mutual pity their mutual melancholy
might inspire, that their minds, already not dissimilar, would be
softened in favour of each other, and that, in conclusion, each might
be happy in receiving the consolation each could give, and a union would
take place, in which their reciprocal disappointment might, in time, be
nearly forgotten.

There was not, indeed, much promise of such an event in the countenance
of Mr Arnott, when, late at night, he came for his sister, nor in the
unbounded sorrow of Henrietta, when the moment of leave-taking arrived.
Mr Arnott looked half dead with the shock his sister’s intelligence had
given him, and Henrietta’s heart, torn asunder between friendship
and love, was scarce able to bear a parting, which from Cecilia, she
regarded as eternal, added to the consciousness it was occasioned by her
going to join Delvile for life!

Cecilia, who both read and pitied these conflicting emotions, was
herself extremely hurt by this necessary separation. She tenderly
loved Henrietta, she loved her even the more for the sympathy of their
affections, which called forth the most forcible commiseration,--that
which springs from fellow-feeling!

“Farewell,” she cried, “my Henrietta, be but happy as you are innocent,
and be both as I love you, and nothing will your friends have to wish
for you, or yourself to regret.”

“I must always regret,” cried the sobbing Henrietta, “that I cannot live
with you for ever! I should regret it if I were queen of all the world,
how much more then, when I am nothing and nobody! I do not wish _you_
happy, madam, for I think happiness was made on purpose for you, and
nobody else ever had it before; I only wish you health and long life,
for the sake of those who will be made as happy as you,--for you will
spoil them,--as you have spoilt me,--from being ever happy without you!”

Cecilia re-iterated her assurances of a most faithful regard, embraced
Mrs Harrel, spoke words of kindness to the drooping Mr Arnott, and then
parted with them all.

Having still many small matters to settle, and neither company nor
appetite, she would eat no supper; but, in passing thro’ the hall, in
her way to her own room, she was much surprised to see all her domestics
assembled in a body. She stopt to enquire their intention, when they
eagerly pressed forward, humbly and earnestly entreating to know why
they were discharged? “For no reason in the world,” cried Cecilia, “but
because it is at present out of my power to keep you any longer.”

“Don’t part with _me_, madam, for that,” cried one of them, “for I will
serve you for nothing!”

“So will I!” cried another, “And I!” “And I!” was echoed by them all;
while “no other such mistress is to be found!” “We can never bear any
other place!” and “keep _me_, madam, at least!” was even clamorously
urged by each of them.

Cecilia, distressed and flattered at once by their unwillingness to
quit her, received this testimony of gratitude for the kind and liberal
treatment they had received, with the warmest thanks both for their
services and fidelity, and assured them that when again she was settled,
all those who should be yet unprovided with places, should be preferred
in her house before any other claimants.

Having, with difficulty, broken from them, she sent for her own man,
Ralph, who had lived with her many years before the death of the Dean,
and told him she meant still to continue him in her service. The man
heard it with great delight, and promised to re-double his diligence to
deserve her favour. She then communicated the same news to her maid, who
had also resided with her some years, and by whom with the same, or more
pleasure it was heard.

These and other regulations employed her almost all night; yet late
and fatigued as she went to bed, she could not close her eyes: fearful
something was left undone, she robbed herself of the short time she had
allowed to rest, by incessant meditation upon what yet remained to be
executed. She could recollect, however, one only thing that had escaped
her vigilance, which was acquainting the pew-opener, and two or three
other poor women who had weekly pensions from her, that they must, at
least for the present, depend no longer upon her assistance.

Nothing indeed could be more painful to her than giving them such
information, yet not to be speedy with it would double the barbarity of
their disappointment. She even felt for these poor women, whose loss in
her she knew would be irreparable, a compassion that drove from her mind
almost every other subject, and determined her, in order to soften to
them this misfortune, to communicate it herself, that she might prevent
them from sinking under it, by reviving them with hopes of her future
assistance.

She had ordered at seven o’clock in the morning an hired chaise at the
door, and she did not suffer it long to wait for her. She quitted her
house with a heart full of care and anxiety, grieving at the necessity
of making such a sacrifice, uncertain how it would turn out, and
labouring under a thousand perplexities with respect to the measures
she ought immediately to take. She passed, when she reached the hall,
through a row of weeping domestics, not one of whom with dry eyes could
see the house bereft of such a mistress. She spoke to them all with
kindness, and as much as was in her power with chearfulness: but the
tone of her voice gave them little reason to think the concern at this
journey was all their own.

She ordered her chaise to drive round to the pew-opener’s and thence to
the rest of her immediate dependents. She soon, however, regretted that
she had given herself this task; the affliction of these poor pensioners
was clamorous, was almost heart-breaking; they could live, they said, no
longer, they were ruined for ever; they should soon be without bread
to eat, and they might cry for help in vain, when their generous, their
only benefactress was far away!

Cecilia made the kindest efforts, to comfort and encourage them,
assuring them the very moment her own affairs were arranged, she would
remember them all, visit them herself, and contribute to their relief,
with all the power she should have left. Nothing, however, could console
them; they clung about her, almost took the horses from the chaise,
and conjured her not to desert those who were solely cherished by her
bounty!

Nor was this all she had to suffer; the news of her intention to quit
the county was now reported throughout the neighbourhood, and had spread
the utmost consternation among the poor in general, and the lower close
of her own tenants in particular, and the road was soon lined with
women and children, wringing their hands and crying. They followed
her carriage with supplications that she would return to them, mixing
blessings with their lamentations, and prayers for her happiness with
the bitterest repinings at their own loss!

Cecilia was extremely affected; her liberal and ever-ready hand was
every other instant involuntarily seeking her purse, which her many
immediate expences, made her prudence as often check: and now first she
felt the capital error she had committed, in living constantly to the
utmost extent of her income, without ever preparing, though so able to
have done it, against any unfortunate contingency.

When she escaped, at last, from receiving any longer this painful
tribute to her benevolence, she gave orders to her man to ride forward
and stop at the Grove, that a precise and minute account of Mr Monckton,
might be the last, as it was now become the most important, news she
should hear in Suffolk. This he did, when to her equal surprise and
delight, she heard that he was suddenly so much better, there were hopes
of his recovery.

Intelligence so joyful made her amends for almost every thing; yet she
hesitated not in her plan of going abroad, as she knew not where to be
in England, and could not endure to hurry Delvile from his sick mother,
by acquainting him with her helpless and distressed situation. But so
revived were her spirits by these unexpected tidings, that a gleam of
brightest hope once more danced before her eyes, and she felt herself
invigorated with fresh courage and new strength, sufficient to support
her through all hardships and fatigues.

Spirits and courage were indeed much wanted for the enterprize she had
formed; but little used to travelling, and having never been out of
England, she knew nothing of the route but by a general knowledge of
geography, which, though it could guide her east or west, could teach
her nothing of foreign customs, the preparations necessary for the
journey, the impositions she should guard against, nor the various
dangers to which she might be exposed, from total ignorance of the
country through which she had to pass.

Conscious of these deficiencies for such an undertaking, she deliberated
without intermission how to obviate them. Yet sometimes, when to these
hazards, those arising from her youth and sex were added, she was upon
the point of relinquishing her scheme, as too perilous for execution,
and resolving to continue privately in London till some change happened
in her affairs.

But though to every thing she could suggest, doubts and difficulties
arose, she had no friend to consult, nor could devise any means by which
they might be terminated. Her maid was her only companion, and Ralph,
who had spent almost his whole life in Suffolk, her only guard and
attendant. To hire immediately some French servant, used to travelling
in his own country, seemed the first step she had to take, and so
essential, that no other appeared feasible till it was done. But where
to hear of such a man she could not tell, and to take one not
well recommended, would be exposing herself to frauds and dangers
innumerable.

Yet so slow as Delvile travelled, from whom her last letter was still
dated Ostend, she thought herself almost certain, could she once reach
the continent, of overtaking him in his route within a day or two of her
landing.

The earnest inclination with which this scheme was seconded, made her
every moment less willing to forego it. It seemed the only harbour for
her after the storm she had weathered, and the only refuge she could
properly seek while thus houseless and helpless. Even were Delvile in
England, he had no place at present to offer her, nor could any thing be
proposed so unexceptionable as her living with Mrs Delvile at Nice,
till he knew his father’s pleasure, and, in a separate journey home, had
arranged his affairs either for her return, or her continuance abroad.

With what regret did she now look back to the time when, in a distress
such as this, she should have applied for, and received the advice of
Mr Monckton as oracular! The loss of a counsellor so long, so implicitly
relied upon, lost to her also, only by his own interested worthlessness,
she felt almost daily, for almost daily some intricacy or embarrassment
made her miss his assistance: and though glad, since she found him so
undeserving, that she had escaped the snares he had spread for her,
she grieved much that she knew no man of honest character and equal
abilities, that would care for her sufficiently to supply his place in
her confidence.

As she was situated at present, she could think only of Mr Belfield to
whom she could apply for any advice. Nor even to him was the application
unexceptionable, the calumnies of Mr Delvile senior making it
disagreeable to her even to see him. But he was at once a man of
the world and a man of honour; he was the friend of Mortimer, whose
confidence in him was great, and his own behaviour had uniformly shewn a
respect far removed from impertinence or vanity, and a mind superior to
being led to them by the influence of his gross mother. She had, indeed,
when she last quitted his house, determined never to re-enter it; but
determinations hasty or violent, are rarely observed, because rarely
practicable; she had promised Henrietta to inform Mrs Belfield whither
she was gone, and reconcile her to the absence she still hoped to make
from home. She concluded, therefore, to go to Portland-street without
delay, and enquire openly and at once whether, and when, she might
speak with Mr Belfield; resolving, if tormented again by any forward
insinuations, to rectify all mistakes by acknowledging her marriage.

She gave directions accordingly to the post-boy and Ralph.

With respect to her own lodgings while in town, as money was no longer
unimportant to her, she meant from the Belfields to go to the Hills, by
whom she might be recommended to some reputable and cheap place. To the
Belfields, however, though very late when she arrived in town, she
went first, unwilling to lose a moment in promoting her scheme of going
abroad.

She left her maid in the chaise, and sent Ralph on to Mrs Hill, with
directions to endeavour immediately to procure her a lodging.



CHAPTER vi.

A PRATING.

Cecilia was shewn into a parlour, where Mrs Belfield was very earnestly
discoursing with Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins; and Belfield himself, to her
great satisfaction, was already there, and reading.

“Lack a-day!” cried Mrs Belfield, “if one does not always see the people
one’s talking of! Why it was but this morning, madam, I was saying to Mr
Hobson, I wonder, says I, a young lady of such fortunes as Miss Beverley
should mope herself up so in the country! Don’t you remember it, Mr
Hobson?”

“Yes, madam,” answered Mr Hobson, “but I think, for my part, the young
lady’s quite in the right to do as she’s a mind; for that’s what I call
living agreeable: and if I was a young lady to-morrow, with such fine
fortunes, and that, it’s just what I should do myself: for what I say
is this: where’s the joy of having a little money, and being a little
matter above the world, if one has not one’s own will?”

“Ma’am,” said Mr Simkins, who had scarce yet raised his head from the
profoundness of his bow upon Cecilia’s entrance into the room, “if I may
be so free, may I make bold just for to offer you this chair?”

“I called, madam,” said Cecilia, seizing the first moment in her power
to speak, “in order to acquaint you that your daughter, who is perfectly
well, has made a little change in her situation, which she was anxious
you should hear from myself.”

“Ha! ha! stolen a match upon you, I warrant!” cried the facetious Mr
Hobson; “a good example for you, young lady; and if you take my advice,
you won’t be long before you follow it; for as to a lady, let her be
worth never so much, she’s a mere nobody, as one may say, till she can
get herself a husband, being she knows nothing of business, and is made
to pay for every thing through the nose.”

“Fie, Mr Hobson, fie!” said Mr Simkins, “to talk so slighting of the
ladies before their faces! what one says in a corner, is quite of
another nature; but for to talk so rude in their company,--I thought you
would scorn to do such a thing.”

“Sir, I don’t want to be rude no more than yourself,” said Mr Hobson,
“for what I say is, rudeness is a thing that makes nobody agreeable;
but I don’t see because of that, why a man is not to speak his mind to
a lady as well as to a gentleman, provided he does it in a complaisant
fashion.”

“Mr Hobson,” cried Mrs Belfield, very impatiently, “you might as well
let _me_ speak, when the matter is all about my own daughter.”

“I ask pardon, ma’am,” said he, “I did not mean to stop you; for as to
not letting a lady speak, one might as well tell a man in business not
to look at the Daily Advertiser; why, it’s morally impossible!”

“But sure, madam,” cried Mrs Belfield, “it’s no such thing? You can’t
have got her off already?”

“I would I had!” thought Cecilia; who then explained her meaning; but in
talking of Mrs Harrel, avoided all mention of Mr Arnott, well foreseeing
that to hear such a man existed, and was in the same house with her
daughter, would be sufficient authority to her sanguine expectations,
for depending upon a union between them, and reporting it among her
friends, his circumstance being made clear, Cecilia added, “I could
by no means have consented voluntarily to parting so soon with Miss
Belfield, but that my own affairs call me at present out of the
kingdom.” And then, addressing herself to Belfield, she enquired if he
could recommend to her a trusty foreign servant, who would be hired only
for the time she was to spend abroad?

While Belfield was endeavouring to recollect some such person, Mr Hobson
eagerly called out “As to going abroad, madam, to be sure you’re to do
as you like, for that, as I say, is the soul of every thing; but else I
can’t say it’s a thing I much approve; for my notion is this: here’s a
fine fortune, got as a man may say, out of the bowels of one’s mother
country, and this fine fortune, in default of male issue, is obliged to
come to a female, the law making no proviso to the contrary. Well, this
female, going into a strange country, naturally takes with her this
fortune, by reason it’s the main article she has to depend upon; what’s
the upshot? why she gets pilfered by a set of sharpers that never saw
England in their lives, and that never lose sight of her till she has
not a sous in the world. But the hardship of the thing is this:
when it’s all gone, the lady can come back, but will the money come
back?--No, you’ll never see it again: now this is what I call being no
true patriot.”

“I am quite ashamed for to hear you talk so, Mr Hobson!” cried Mr
Simkins, affecting to whisper; “to go for to take a person to task at
this rate, is behaving quite unbearable; it’s enough to make the young
lady afraid to speak before you.”

“Why, Mr Simkins,” answered Mr Hobson, “truth is truth, whether one
speaks it or not; and that, ma’am, I dare say, a young lady of your good
sense knows as well as myself.”

“I think, madam,” said Belfield, who waited their silence with great
impatience, “that I know just such a man as you will require, and one
upon whose honesty I believe you may rely.”

“That’s more,” said Mr Hobson, “than I would take upon me to say for
any _Englishman_! where you may meet with such a _Frenchman_, I won’t be
bold to say.”

“Why indeed,” said Mr Simkins, “if I might take the liberty for to put
in, though I don’t mean in no shape to go to contradicting the young
gentleman, but if I was to make bold to speak my private opinion upon
the head, I should be inclinable for to say, that as to putting a
dependance upon the French, it’s a thing quite dubious how it may turn
out.”

“I take it as a great favour, ma’am,” said Mrs Belfield, “that you have
been so complaisant as to make me this visit to-night, for I was almost
afraid you would not have done me the favour any more; for, to be sure,
when you was here last, things went a little unlucky: but I had no
notion, for my part, who the old gentleman was till after he was gone,
when Mr Hobson told me it was old Mr Delvile: though, sure enough, I
thought it rather upon the extraordinary order, that he should come here
into my parlour, and make such a secret of his name, on purpose to ask
me questions about my own son.”

“Why I think, indeed, if I may be so free,” said Mr Simkins, “it was
rather petickeler of the gentleman; for, to be sure, if he was so over
curious to hear about your private concerns, the genteel thing, if I may
take the liberty for to differ, would have been for him to say, ma’am,
says he, I’m come to ask the favour of you just to let me a little into
your son’s goings on; and any thing, ma’am, you should take a fancy for
to ask me upon the return, why I shall be very compliable, ma’am, says
he, to giving of you satisfaction.”

“I dare say,” answered Mrs Belfield, “he would not have said so much if
you’d have gone down on your knees to ask him. Why he was upon the very
point of being quite in a passion because I only asked him his name!
though what harm that could do him, I’m sure I never could guess.
However, as he was so mighty inquisitive about my son, if I had but
known who he was in time, I should have made no scruple in the world to
ask him if he could not have spoke a few words for him to some of those
great people that could have done him some good. But the thing that I
believe put him so out of humour, was my being so unlucky as to say,
before ever I knew who he was, that I had heard he was not over and
above good-natured; for I saw he did not seem much to like it at the
time.”

“If he had done the generous thing,” said Mr Simkins, “it would have
been for him to have made the proffer of his services of his own
free-will; and it’s rather surpriseable to me he should never have
thought of it; for what could be so natural as for him to say, I see,
ma’am, says he, you’ve got a very likely young gentleman here, that’s a
little out of cash, says he, so I suppose, ma’am, says he, a place, or a
pension, or something in that shape of life, would be no bad compliment,
says he.”

“But no such good luck as that will come to my share,” cried Mrs
Belfield, “I can tell you that, for every thing I want to do goes quite
contrary. Who would not have thought such a son as mine, though I say it
before his face, could not have made his fortune long ago, living as he
did, among all the great folks, and dining at their table just like one
of themselves? yet, for all that, you see they let him go on his own
way, and think of him no more than of nobody! I’m sure they might be
ashamed to shew their faces, and so I should tell them at once, if I
could but get sight of them.”

“I don’t mean, ma’am,” said Mr Simkins, “for to be finding fault with
what you say, for I would not be unpelite in no shape; but if I might be
so free as for to differ a little bit, I must needs say I am rather for
going to work in anotherguess sort of a manner; and if I was as you--”

“Mr Simkins,” interrupted Belfield, “we will settle this matter another
time.” And then, turning to the wearied Cecilia, “The man, madam,” he
said, “whom I have done myself the honour to recommend to you, I can see
to-morrow morning; may I then tell him to wait upon you?”

“I ask pardon for just putting in,” cried Mr Simkins, before Cecilia
could answer, and again bowing down to the ground, “but I only mean to
say I had no thought for to be impertinent, for as to what I was agoing
to remark, is was not of no consequence in the least.”

“Its a great piece of luck, ma’am,” said Mrs Belfield, “that you should
happen to come here, of a holiday! If my son had not been at home, I
should have been ready to cry for a week: and you might come any day the
year through but a Sunday, and not meet with him any more than if he had
never a home to come to.”

“If Mr Belfield’s home-visits are so periodical,” said Cecilia, “it must
be rather less, than more, difficult to meet with him.”

“Why you know, ma’am,” answered Mrs Belfield, “to-day is a red-letter
day, so that’s the reason of it.”

“A red-letter day?”

“Good lack, madam, why have not you heard that my son is turned
book-keeper?”

Cecilia, much surprised, looked at Belfield, who, colouring very high,
and apparently much provoked by his mother’s loquacity, said, “Had Miss
Beverley not heard it even now, madam, I should probably have lost with
her no credit.”

“You can surely lose none, Sir,” answered Cecilia, “by an employment too
little pleasant to have been undertaken from any but the most laudable
motives.”

“It is not, madam, the employment,” said he, “for which I so much blush
as for the person employed--for _myself_! In the beginning of the winter
you left me just engaged in another business, a business with which
I was madly delighted, and fully persuaded I should be enchanted
for ever;--now, again, in the beginning of the summer,--you find me,
already, in a new occupation!”

“I am sorry,” said Cecilia, “but far indeed from surprised, that you
found yourself deceived by such sanguine expectations.”

“Deceived!” cried he, with energy, “I was bewitched, I was infatuated!
common sense was estranged by the seduction of a chimera; my
understanding was in a ferment from the ebullition of my imagination!
But when this new way of life lost its novelty,--novelty! that
short-liv’d, but exquisite bliss! no sooner caught than it vanishes, no
sooner tasted than it is gone! which charms but to fly, and comes but
to destroy what it leaves behind!--when that was lost, reason, cool,
heartless reason, took its place, and teaching me to wonder at the
frenzy of my folly, brought me back to the tameness--the sadness of
reality!”

“I am sure,” cried Mrs Belfield, “whatever it has brought you back to,
it has brought you back to no good! it’s a hard case, you must needs
think, madam, to a mother, to see a son that might do whatever he would,
if he’d only set about it, contenting himself with doing nothing but
scribble and scribe one day, and when he gets tired of that, thinking of
nothing better than casting up two and two!”

“Why, madam,” said Mr Hobson, “what I have seen of the world is this;
there’s nothing methodizes a man but business. If he’s never so much
upon the stilts, that’s always a sure way to bring him down, by reason
he soon finds there’s nothing to be got by rhodomontading. Let every man
be his own carver; but what I say is, them gentlemen that are what one
may call geniuses, commonly think nothing of the main chance, till they
get a tap on the shoulder with a writ; and a solid lad, that knows three
times five is fifteen, will get the better of them in the long run. But
as to arguing with gentlemen of that sort, where’s the good of it? You
can never bring them to the point, say what you will; all you can get
from them, is a farrago of fine words, that you can’t understand without
a dictionary.”

“I am inclinable to think,” said Mr Simkins, “that the young gentleman
is rather of opinion to like pleasure better than business; and, to be
sure, it’s very excusable of him, because it’s more agreeabler. And I
must needs say, if I may be so free, I’m partly of the young gentleman’s
mind, for business is a deal more trouble.”

“I hope, however,” said Cecilia to Belfield, “your present situation is
less irksome to you?”

“Any situation, madam, must be less irksome than that which I quitted:
to write by rule, to compose by necessity, to make the understanding,
nature’s first gift, subservient to interest, that meanest offspring of
art!--when weary, listless, spiritless, to rack the head for invention,
the memory for images, and the fancy for ornament and illusion; and when
the mind is wholly occupied by its own affections and affairs, to call
forth all its faculties for foreign subjects, uninteresting discussions,
or fictitious incidents!--Heavens! what a life of struggle between
the head and the heart! how cruel, how unnatural a war between the
intellects and the feelings!”

“As to these sort of things,” said Mr Hobson, “I can’t say I am much
versed in them, by reason they are things I never much studied; but if I
was to speak my notion, it is this; the best way to thrive in the world
is to get money; but how is it to be got? Why by business: for business
is to money, what fine words are to a lady, a sure road to success. Now
I don’t mean by this to be censorious upon the ladies, being they have
nothing else to go by, for as to examining if a man knows any thing of
the world, and that, they have nothing whereby to judge, knowing nothing
of it themselves. So that when they are taken in by rogues and sharpers,
the fault is all in the law, for making no proviso against their having
money in their own hands. Let every one be trusted according to their
headpiece and what I say is this: a lady in them cases is much to be
pitied, for she is obligated to take a man upon his own credit, which is
tantamount to no credit at all, being what man will speak an ill word of
himself? you may as well expect a bad shilling to cry out don’t take me!
That’s what I say, and that’s my way of giving my vote.”

Cecilia, quite tired of these interruptions, and impatient to be gone,
now said to Belfield, “I should be much obliged to you, Sir, if you
could send to me the man you speak of tomorrow morning. I wished, also
to consult you with regard to the route I ought to take. My purpose is
to go to Nice, and as I am very desirous to travel expeditiously, you
may perhaps be able to instruct me what is the best method for me to
pursue.”

“Come, Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins,” cried Mrs Belfield, with a look of
much significance and delight, “suppose you two and I was to walk into
the next room? There’s no need for us to hear all the young lady may
have a mind to say.”

“She has nothing to say, madam,” cried Cecilia, “that the whole world
may not hear. Neither is it my purpose to talk, but to listen, if Mr
Belfield is at leisure to favour me with his advice.”

“I must always be at leisure, and always be proud, madam,” Belfield
began, when Hobson, interrupting him, said, “I ask pardon, Sir, for
intruding, but I only mean to wish the young lady good night. As to
interfering with business, that’s not my way, for it’s not the right
method, by reason--”

“We will listen to your reason, Sir,” cried Belfield, “some other time;
at present we will give you all credit for it unheard.”

“Let every man speak his own maxim, Sir,” cried Hobson; “for that’s what
I call fair arguing: but as to one person’s speaking, and then making an
answer for another into the bargain, why it’s going to work no-how; you
may as well talk to a counter, and think because you make a noise upon
it with your own hand, it gives you the reply.”

“Why, Mr Hobson,” cried Mrs Belfield, “I am quite ashamed of you for
being so dull! don’t you see my son has something to say to the lady
that you and I have no business to be meddling with?”

“I’m sure, ma’am, for my part,” said Mr Simkins, “I’m very agreeable to
going away, for as to putting the young lady to the blush, it’s what I
would not do in no shape.”

“I only mean,” said Mr Hobson, when he was interrupted by Mrs Belfield,
who, out of all patience, now turned him out of the room by the
shoulders, and, pulling Mr Simkins after, followed herself, and shut
the door, though Cecilia, much provoked, desired she would stay, and
declared repeatedly that all her business was public.

Belfield, who had, looked ready to murder them all during this short
scene, now approached Cecilia, and with an air of mingled spirit and
respect, said, “I am much grieved, much confounded, madam, that your
ears should be offended by speeches so improper to reach them; yet if
it is possible I can have the honour of being of any use to you, in me,
still, I hope, you feel you may confide. I am too distant from you in
situation to give you reason to apprehend I can form any sinister views
in serving you; and, permit me to add, I am too near you in mind, ever
to give you the pain of bidding me remember that distance.”

Cecilia then, extremely unwilling to shock a sensibility not more
generous than jealous, determined to continue her enquiries, and, at
the same time, to prevent any further misapprehension, by revealing her
actual situation.

“I am sorry, Sir,” she answered, “to have occasioned this disturbance;
Mrs Belfield, I find, is wholly unacquainted with the circumstance which
now carries me abroad, or it would not have happened.”

Here a little noise in the passage interrupting her, she heard Mrs
Belfield, though in a low voice, say, “Hush, Sir, hush! you must not
come in just now; you’ve caught me, I confess, rather upon the listening
order; but to tell you the truth, I did not know what might be going
forward. However, there’s no admittance now, I assure you, for my son’s
upon particular business with a lady, and Mr Hobson and Mr Simkins and
I, have all been as good as turned out by them but just now.”

Cecilia and Belfield, though they heard this speech with mutual
indignation, had no time to mark or express it, as it was answered
without in a voice at once loud and furious, “_You_, madam, may be
content to listen here; pardon me if I am less humbly disposed!” And the
door was abruptly opened by young Delvile!

Cecilia, who half screamed from excess of astonishment, would scarcely,
even by the presence of Belfield and his mother, have been restrained
from flying to meet him, had his own aspect invited such a mark of
tenderness; but far other was the case; when the door was open, he stopt
short with a look half petrified, his feet seeming rooted to the spot
upon which they stood.

“I declare I ask pardon, ma’am,” cried Mrs Belfield, “but the
interruption was no fault of mine, for the gentleman would come in;
and--”

“It is no interruption, madam;” cried Belfield, “Mr Delvile does me
nothing but honour.”

“I thank you, Sir!” said Delvile, trying to recover and come forward,
but trembling violently, and speaking with the most frigid coldness.

They were then, for a few instants, all silent; Cecilia, amazed by his
arrival, still more amazed by his behaviour, feared to speak lest
he meant not, as yet, to avow his marriage, and felt a thousand
apprehensions that some new calamity had hurried him home: while
Belfield was both hurt by his strangeness, and embarrassed for the sake
of Cecilia; and his mother, though wondering at them all, was kept quiet
by her son’s looks.

Delvile then, struggling for an appearance of more ease, said, “I seem
to have made a general confusion here:--pray, I beg”--

“None at all, Sir,” said Belfield, and offered a chair to Cecilia.

“No, Sir,” she answered, in a voice scarce audible, “I was just going.”
 And again rang the bell.

“I fear I hurry you, madam?” cried Delvile, whose whole frame was now
shaking with uncontrollable emotion; “you are upon business--I ought to
beg your pardon--my entrance, I believe, was unseasonable.”--

“Sir!” cried she, looking aghast at this speech.

“I should have been rather surprised,” he added, “to have met you here,
so late,--so unexpectedly,--so deeply engaged--had I not happened to see
your servant in the street, who told me the honour I should be likely to
have by coming.”

“Good God!--” exclaimed she, involuntarily; but, checking herself as
well as she could, she courtsied to Mrs Belfield, unable to speak to
her, and avoiding even to look at Belfield, who respectfully hung back,
she hastened out of the room: accompanied by Mrs Belfield, who again
began the most voluble and vulgar apologies for the intrusion she had
met with.

Delvile also, after a moment’s pause, followed, saying, “Give me leave,
madam, to see you to your carriage.”

Cecilia then, notwithstanding Mrs Belfield still kept talking, could no
longer refrain saying, “Good heaven, what does all this mean?”

“Rather for _me_ is that question,” he answered, in such agitation he
could not, though he meant it, assist her into the chaise, “for mine, I
believe, is the greater surprise!”

“What surprise?” cried she, “explain, I conjure you!”

“By and bye I will,” he answered; “go on postilion.”

“Where, Sir?”

“Where you came from, I suppose.”

“What, Sir, back to Rumford?”

“Rumford!” exclaimed he, with encreasing disorder, “you came then from
Suffolk hither?--from Suffolk to this very house?”

“Good heaven!” cried Cecilia, “come into the chaise, and let me speak
and hear to be understood!”

“Who is that now in it?”

“My Maid.”

“Your maid?--and she waits for you thus at the door?”--

“What, what is it you mean?”

“Tell the man, madam, whither to go.”

“I don’t know myself--any where you please--do you order him.”

“I order him!--you came not hither to receive orders from _me_!--where
was it you had purposed to rest?”

“I don’t know--I meant to go to Mrs Hill’s--I have no place taken.”--

“No place taken!” repeated he, in a voice faultering between passion
and grief; “you purposed, then, to stay here?--I have perhaps driven you
away?”

“Here!” cried Cecilia, mingling, in her turn, indignation with surprise,
“gracious heaven! what is it you mean to doubt?”

“Nothing!” cried he, with emphasis, “I never have had, I never _will_
have a doubt! I will know, I will have _conviction_ for every thing!
Postilion, drive to St James’s-square!--to Mr Delvile’s. There, madam, I
will wait upon you.”

“No! stay, postilion!” called out Cecilia, seized with terror
inexpressible; “let me get out, let me speak with you at once!”

“It cannot be; I will follow you in a few minutes--drive on, postilion!”

“No, no!--I will not go--I dare not leave you--unkind Delvile!--what is
it you suspect.”

“Cecilia,” cried he, putting his hand upon the chaise-door, “I have
ever believed you spotless as an angel! and, by heaven! I believe you so
still, in spite of appearances--in defiance of every thing!--Now then be
satisfied;--I will be with you very soon. Meanwhile, take this letter,
I was just going to send to you.--Postilion, drive on, or be at your
peril!”

The man waited no further orders, nor regarded the prohibition of
Cecilia, who called out to him without ceasing; but he would not listen
to her till he got to the end of the street; he then stopt, and she
broke the seal of her letter, and read, by the light of the lamps,
enough to let her know that Delvile had written it upon the road from
Dover to London, to acquaint her his mother was now better, and had
taken pity of his suspense and impatience, and insisted upon his coming
privately to England, to satisfy himself fully about Mr Monckton,
communicate his marriage to his father, and give those orders towards
preparing for its being made public, which his unhappy precipitation in
leaving the kingdom had prevented.

This letter, which, though written but a few hours before she received
it, was full of tenderness, gratitude and anxiety for her happiness,
instantly convinced her that his strange behaviour had been wholly
the effect of a sudden impulse of jealousy; excited by so unexpectedly
finding her in town, at the very house where his father had assured
him she had an improper connexion, and alone, so suspiciously, with
the young man affirmed to be her favourite. He knew nothing of the
ejectment, nothing of any reason for her leaving Suffolk, every thing
had the semblance of no motive but to indulge a private and criminal
inclination.

These thoughts, which confusedly, yet forcibly, rushed upon her mind,
brought with them at once an excuse for his conduct, and an alarm for
his danger; “He must think,” she cried, “I came to town only to meet Mr
Belfield!” then, opening the chaise-door herself, she jumpt out, and ran
back into Portland-street, too impatient to argue with the postilion to
return with her, and stopt not till she came to Mrs Belfield’s house.

She knocked at the door with violence; Mrs Belfield came to it herself;
“Where,” cried she, hastily entering as she spoke, “are the gentlemen?”

“Lack-a-day! ma’am,” answered Mrs Belfield, “they are both gone out.”

“Gone out?--where to?--which way?”

“I am sure I can’t tell, ma’am, no more than you can; but I am sadly
afraid they’ll have a quarrel before they’ve done.”

“Oh heaven!” cried Cecilia, who now doubted not a second duel, “tell me,
shew me, which way they went?”

“Why, ma’am, to let you into the secret,” answered Mrs Belfield, “only I
beg you’ll take no notice of it to my son, but, seeing them so much out
of sorts, I begged the favour of Mr Simkins, as Mr Hobson was gone out
to his club, just to follow them, and see what they were after.”

Cecilia was much rejoiced this caution had been taken, and determined to
wait his return. She would have sent for the chaise to follow her; but
Mrs Belfield kept no servant, and the maid of the house was employed in
preparing the supper.

When Mr Simkins came back, she learnt, after various interruptions from
Mrs Belfield, and much delay from his own slowness and circumlocution,
that he had pursued the two gentlemen to the * * coffee-house.

She hesitated not a moment in resolving to follow them: she feared the
failure of any commission, nor did she know whom to entrust with
one: and the danger was too urgent for much deliberation. She begged,
therefore, that Mr. Simkins would walk with her to the chaise; but
hearing that the coffee-house was another way, she desired Mrs Belfield
to let the servant run and order it to Mrs Roberts, in Fetterlane, and
then eagerly requested Mr Simkins to accompany her on foot till they met
with an hackney-coach.

They then set out, Mr Simkins feeling proud and happy in being allowed
to attend her, while Cecilia, glad of any protection, accepted his offer
of continuing with her, even after she met with an hackney-coach.

When she arrived at the coffee-house, she ordered the coachman to desire
the master of it to come and speak with her.

He came, and she hastily called out, “Pray, are two gentlemen here?”

“Here are several gentlemen here, madam.”

“Yes, yes,--but are two upon any business--any particular business--”

“Two gentlemen, madam, came about half an hour ago, and asked for a room
to themselves.”

“And where are they now?--are they up stairs?--down stairs?--where are
they?”

“One of them went away in about ten minutes, and the other soon after.”

Bitterly chagrined and disappointed, she knew not what step to take
next; but, after some consideration, concluded upon obeying Delvile’s
own directions, and proceeding to St James’s-square, where alone, now,
she seemed to have any chance of meeting with him. Gladly, however, she
still consented to be accompanied by Mr Simkins, for her dread of being
alone, at so late an hour, in an hackney-coach, was invincible. Whether
Delvile himself had any authority for directing her to his father’s,
or whether, in the perturbation of his new--excited and agonising
sensations of jealousy, he had forgotten that any authority was
necessary, she knew not; nor could she now interest herself in the
doubt: a second scene, such as had so lately passed with Mr Monckton,
occupied all her thoughts: she knew the too great probability that
the high spirit of Belfield would disdain making the explanation which
Delvile in his present agitation might require, and the consequence of
such a refusal must almost inevitably be fatal.



CHAPTER vii.

A PURSUIT.

The moment the porter came to the door, Cecilia eagerly called out from
the coach, “Is Mr Delvile here?”

“Yes, madam,” he answered, “but I believe he is engaged.”

“Oh no matter for any engagement!” cried she, “on the door,--I must speak
to him this moment!”

“If you will please to step into the parlour, madam, I will tell
his gentleman you are here; but he will be much displeased if he is
disturbed without notice.”

“Ah heaven!” exclaimed she, “what Mr Delvile are you talking of?”

“My master, madam.”

Cecilia, who had got out of the coach, now hastily returned to it,
and was some time in too great agony to answer either the porter, who
desired some message, or the coachman, who asked whither he was to
drive. To see Mr Delvile, unprotected by his son, and contrary to his
orders, appeared to her insupportable; yet to what place could she go?
where was she likely to meet with Delvile? how could he find her if she
went to Mrs Hill’s? and in what other house could she at present claim
admittance?

After a little recovering from this cruel shock, she ventured, though in
a faultering voice, to enquire whether young Mr Delvile had been there?

“Yes, madam,” the porter answered; “we thought he was abroad, but he
called just now, and asked if any lady had been at the house. He would
not even stay to go up to my master, and we have not dared tell him of
his arrival.”

This a little revived her; to hear that he had actually been enquiring
for her, at least assured her of his safety from any immediate violence,
and she began to hope she might now possibly meet with him time
enough to explain all that had past in his absence, and occasioned her
seemingly strange and suspicious situation at Belfield’s. She compelled
herself, therefore, to summon courage for seeing his father, since, as
he had directed her to the house, she concluded he would return there to
seek her, when he had wandered elsewhere to no purpose.

She then, though with much timidity and reluctance, sent a message to Mr
Delvile to entreat a moment’s audience.

An answer was brought her that he saw no company so late at night.

Losing now all dread of his reproaches, in her superior dread of missing
Delvile, she called out earnestly to the man, “Tell him, Sir, I beseech
him not to refuse me! tell him I have something to communicate that
requires his immediate attention!”

The servant obeyed; but soon returning, said his master desired him to
acquaint her he was engaged every moment he stayed in town, and must
positively decline seeing her.

“Go to him again,” cried the harassed Cecilia, “assure him I come not
from myself, but by the desire of one he most values: tell him I entreat
but permission to wait an hour in his house, and that I have no other
place in the world whither I can go!”

Mr Delvile’s own gentleman brought, with evident concern, the answer
to this petition; which was, that while the Honourable Mr Delvile was
himself alive, he thought the desire of any other person concerning his
house, was taking with him a very extraordinary liberty; and that he was
now going to bed, and had given orders to his servants to carry him no
more messages whatsoever, upon pain of instant dismission.

Cecilia now seemed totally destitute of all resource, and for a few
dreadful minutes, gave herself up to utter despondency: nor, when she
recovered her presence of mind, could she form any better plan than that
of waiting in the coach to watch the return of Delvile.

She told the coachman, therefore, to drive to a corner of the square,
begging Mr Simkins to have patience, which he promised with much
readiness, and endeavoured to give her comfort, by talking without
cessation.

She waited here near half an hour. She then feared the disappointment of
Delvile in not meeting her at first, had made him conclude she meant
not to obey his directions, and had perhaps urged him to call again upon
Belfield, whom he might fancy privy to her non-appearance. This was
new horror to her, and she resolved at all risks to drive to
Portland-street, and enquire if Belfield himself was returned home. Yet,
lest they should mutually be pursuing each other all night, she stopt
again at Mr Delvile’s, and left word with the porter, that if young Mr
Delvile should come home, he would hear of the person he was enquiring
for at Mrs Roberts’s in Fetter-lane. To Belfield’s she did not dare
to direct him; and it was her intention, if there she procured no new
intelligence, to leave the same message, and then go to Mrs Roberts
without further delay. To make such an arrangement with a servant who
knew not her connection with his young master, was extremely repugnant
to her; but the exigence was too urgent for scruples, and there was
nothing to which she would not have consented, to prevent the fatal
catastrophe she apprehended.

When she came to Belfield’s, not daring to enter the house, she sent in
Mr Simkins, to desire that Mrs Belfield would be so good as to step to
the coach door.

“Is your son, madam,” she cried, eagerly, “come home? and is any body
with him?”

“No, ma’am; he has never once been across the threshold since that
gentleman took him out; and I am half out of my wits to think”--

“Has that gentleman,” interrupted Cecilia, “been here anymore?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s what I was going to tell you; he came again just
now, and said”--

“Just now?--good heaven!--and which way is he gone?”

“Why he is after no good, I am afraid, for he was in a great passion,
and would hardly hear any thing I said.”

“Pray, pray answer me quick!--where, which way did he go?”

“Why, he asked me if I knew whither my son was come from the * *
coffee-house; why, says I, I’m sure I can’t tell, for if it had not been
for Mr Simkins, I should not so much as have known he ever went to the
* * coffee-house; however, I hope he a’n’t come away, because if he is,
poor Miss Beverley will have had all that trouble for nothing; for she’s
gone after him in a prodigious hurry; and upon my only saying that, he
seemed quite beside himself, and said, if I don’t meet with your son at
the * * coffee-house myself, pray, when he comes in, tell him I shall be
highly obliged to him to call there; and then he went away, in as great
a pet as ever you saw.”

Cecilia listened to this account with the utmost terror and misery; the
suspicions of Delvile would now be aggravated, and the message he
had left for Belfield, would by him be regarded as a defiance. Again,
however, to the * * coffee-house she instantly ordered the coach, an
immediate explanation from herself seeming the only possible chance for
preventing the most horrible conclusion to this unfortunate and eventful
evening.

She was still accompanied by Mr Simkins, and, but that she attended to
nothing he said, would not inconsiderably have been tormented by his
conversation. She sent him immediately into the coffee-room, to enquire
if either of the gentlemen were then in the house.

He returned to her with a waiter, who said, “One of them, madam, called
again just now, but he only stopt to write a note, which he left to be
given to the gentleman who came with him at first. He is but this moment
gone, and I don’t think he can be at the bottom of the street.”

“Oh drive then, gallop after him!”--cried Cecilia; “coachman! go this
moment!”

“My horses are tired,” said the man, “they have been out all day, and
they will gallop no further, if I don’t stop and give them a drink.”

Cecilia, too full of hope and impatience for this delay, forced open
the door herself, and without saying another word, jumped out of the
carriage, with intention to run down the street; but the coachman
immediately seizing her, protested she should not stir till he was paid.

In the utmost agony of mind at an hindrance by which she imagined
Delvile would be lost to her perhaps for ever, she put her hand in her
pocket, in order to give up her purse for her liberty; but Mr Simkins,
who was making a tiresome expostulation with the coachman, took it
himself, and declaring he would not see the lady cheated, began a
tedious calculation of his fare.

“O pay him any thing!” cried she, “and let us be gone! an instant’s
delay may be fatal!”

Mr Simkins, too earnest to conquer the coachman to attend to her
distress, continued his prolix harangue concerning a disputed shilling,
appealing to some gathering spectators upon the justice of his cause;
while his adversary, who was far from sober, still held Cecilia, saying
the coach had been hired for the lady, and he would be paid by herself.

“Good God!” cried the agitated Cecilia,--“give him my purse at
once!--give him every thing he desires!”--

The coachman, at this permission, encreased his demands, and Mr Simkins,
taking the number of his coach, protested he would summons him to the
Court of Conscience the next morning. A gentleman, who then came out
of the coffee-house, offered to assist the lady, but the coachman, who
still held her arm, swore he would have his right.

“Let me go! let me pass!” cried she, with encreasing eagerness and
emotion; “detain me at your peril!--release me this moment--only let me
run to the end of the street,--good God! good Heaven! detain me not for
mercy!”

Mr Simkins, humbly desiring her not to be in haste, began a formal
apology for his conduct; but the inebriety of the coachman became
evident; a mob was collecting; Cecilia, breathless with vehemence and
terror, was encircled, yet struggled in vain to break away; and the
stranger gentleman, protesting, with sundry compliments, he would
himself take care of her, very freely seized her hand.

This moment, for the unhappy Cecilia, teemed with calamity; she was
wholly overpowered; terror for Delvile, horror for herself, hurry,
confusion, heat and fatigue, all assailing her at once, while all means
of repelling them were denied her, the attack was too strong for her
fears, feelings, and faculties, and her reason suddenly, yet totally
failing her, she madly called out, “He will be gone! he will be gone!
and I must follow him to Nice!”

The gentleman now retreated; but Mr Simkins, who was talking to the mob,
did not hear her; and the coachman, too much intoxicated to perceive her
rising frenzy, persisted in detaining her.

“I am going to France!” cried she, still more wildly, “why do you stop
me? he will die if I do not see him, he will bleed to death!”

The coachman, still unmoved, began to grow very abusive; but the
stranger, touched by compassion, gave up his attempted gallantry, and Mr
Simkins, much astonished, entreated her not to be frightened: she was,
however, in no condition to listen to him; with a strength hitherto
unknown to her, she forcibly disengaged herself from her persecutors;
yet her senses were wholly disordered; she forgot her situation, her
intention, and herself; the single idea of Delvile’s danger took sole
possession of her brain, though all connection with its occasion was
lost, and the moment she was released, she fervently clasped her hands,
exclaiming, “I will yet heal his wound, even at the hazard of my life!”
 and springing forward, was almost instantly out of sight.

Mr Simkins now, much alarmed, and earnestly calling after her, entered
into a compromise with the coachman, that he might attend her; but the
length of his negociation defeated its purpose, and before he was
at liberty to follow her, all trace was lost by which he might have
overtaken her. He stopt every passenger he met to make enquiries, but
though they led him on some way, they led him on in vain; and, after
a useless and ill-managed pursuit, he went quietly to his own home,
determining to acquaint Mrs Belfield with what had happened the next
morning.

Mean while the frantic Cecilia escaped both pursuit and insult by the
velocity of her own motion. She called aloud upon Delvile as she flew to
the end of the street. No Delvile was there!--she turned the corner;
yet saw nothing of him; she still went on, though unknowing whither,
the distraction of her mind every instant growing greater, from the
inflammation of fatigue, heat, and disappointment. She was spoken to
repeatedly; she was even caught once or twice by her riding habit; but
she forced herself along by her own vehement rapidity, not hearing what
was said, nor heeding what was thought. Delvile, bleeding by the arm of
Belfield, was the image before her eyes, and took such full possession
of her senses, that still, as she ran on, she fancied it in view. She
scarce touched the ground; she scarce felt her own motion; she seemed
as if endued with supernatural speed, gliding from place to place, from
street to street; with no consciousness of any plan, and following no
other direction than that of darting forward where-ever there was most
room, and turning back when she met with any obstruction; till quite
spent and exhausted, she abruptly ran into a yet open shop, where,
breathless and panting, she sunk upon the floor, and, with a look
disconsolate and helpless, sat for some time without speaking.

The people of the house, concluding at first she was a woman of the
town, were going roughly to turn her out; but soon seeing their mistake,
by the evident distraction of her air and manner, they enquired of some
idle people who, late as it was, had followed her, if any of them knew
who she was, or whence she came?

They could give no account of her, but supposed she was broke loose from
Bedlam.

Cecilia then, wildly starting up, exclaimed, “No, no,--I am not mad,--I
am going to Nice--to my husband.”

“She’s quite crazy,” said the man of the house, who was a Pawn-Broker;
“we had better get rid of her before she grows mischievous--”

“She’s somebody broke out from a private mad house, I dare say,” said a
man who had followed her into the shop; “and if you were to take care of
her a little while, ten to one but you’ll get a reward for it.”

“She’s a gentlewoman, sure enough,” said the mistress of the house,
“because she’s got such good things on.”

And then, under pretence of trying to find some direction to her upon
a letter, or paper, she insisted upon searching her pockets: here,
however, she was disappointed in her expectations: her purse was in the
custody of Mr Simkins, but neither her terror nor distress had saved her
from the daring dexterity of villainy, and her pockets, in the mob,
had been rifled of whatever else they contained. The woman therefore
hesitated some time whether to take charge of her or, not: but being
urged by the man who made the proposal, and who said they might depend
upon seeing her soon advertised, as having escaped from her keepers,
they ventured to undertake her.

Mean while she endeavoured again to get out, calling aloud upon Delvile
to rescue her, but so wholly bereft of sense and recollection, she could
give no account who she was, whence she came, or whither she wished to
go.

They then carried her up stairs, and attempted to make her lie down
upon a bed; but supposing she refused because it was not of straw, they
desisted; and, taking away the candle, locked the door, and all went to
rest.

In this miserable condition, alone and raving, she was left to pass
the night! in the early part of it, she called upon Delvile without
intermission, beseeching him to come to her defence in one moment, and
deploring his death the next; but afterwards, her strength being wholly
exhausted by these various exertions and fatigues, she threw herself
upon the floor, and lay for some minutes quite still. Her head then
began to grow cooler, as the fever into which terror and immoderate
exercise had thrown her abated, and her memory recovered its functions.

This was, however, only a circumstance of horror to her: she found
herself shut up in a place of confinement, without light, without
knowledge where she was, and not a human being near her!

Yet the same returning reason which enabled her to take this view of
her own situation, brought also to her mind that in which she had left
Delvile;--under all the perturbation of new-kindled jealousy, just
calling upon Belfield,--Belfield, tenacious of his honour even more than
himself,--to satisfy doubts of which the very mention would be received
as a challenge!

“Oh yet, oh yet,” cried she, “let me fly and overtake them!--I may find
them before morning, and to-night it must surely have been too late for
this work of death!”

She then arose to feel for the door, and succeeded; but it was locked,
and no effort she could make enabled her to open it.

Her agony was unspeakable; she called out with violence upon the people
of the house, conjured them to set her at liberty, offered any reward
for their assistance, and threatened them with a prosecution if
detained.

Nobody, however, came near her: some slept on notwithstanding all the
disturbance she could make, and others; though awakened by her cries,
concluded them the ravings of a mad woman, and listened not to what she
said.

Her head was by no means in a condition to bear this violence of
distress; every pulse was throbbing, every vein seemed bursting, her
reason, so lately returned, could not bear the repetition of such a
shock, and from supplicating for help with all the energy of feeling
and understanding, she soon continued the cry from mere vehemence of
distraction.

Thus dreadfully passed the night; and in the morning, when the woman of
the house came to see after her, she found her raving with such frenzy,
and desperation, that her conscience was perfectly at ease in the
treatment she had given her, being now firmly satisfied she required the
strictest confinement.

She still, however, tried to get away; talked of Delvile without
cessation, said she should be too late to serve him, told the woman she
desired but to prevent murder, and repeatedly called out, “Oh beloved of
my heart! wait but a moment, and I will snatch thee from destruction!”

Mrs Wyers, this woman, now sought no longer to draw from her whence she
came, or who she was, but heard her frantic exclamations without any
emotion, contentedly concluding that her madness was incurable: and
though she was in a high fever, refused all sustenance, and had every
symptom of an alarming and dangerous malady, she was fully persuaded
that her case was that of decided insanity, and had not any notion of
temporary or accidental alienation of reason.

All she could think of by way of indulgence to her, was to bring her
a quantity of straw, having heard that mad people were fond of it; and
putting it in a heap in one corner of the room, she expected to see her
eagerly fly at it.

Cecilia, however, distracted as she was, was eager for nothing but to
escape, which was constantly her aim, alike when violent or when quiet.
Mrs Wyers, finding this, kept her closely confined, and the door always
locked, whether absent or present.



CHAPTER vii.

AN ENCOUNTER.

Two whole days passed thus; no enquiries reached Mrs Wyers, and she
found in the news-papers no advertisement. Meanwhile Cecilia grew worse
every moment, tasted neither drink nor food, raved incessantly, called
out twenty times in a breath, “Where is he? which way is he gone?”
 and implored the woman by the most pathetic remonstrances, to save her
unhappy Delvile, _dearer to her than life, more precious than peace or
rest_!

At other times she talked of her marriage, of the displeasure of his
family, and of her own remorse; entreated the woman not to betray her,
and promised to spend the remnant of her days in the heaviness of sorrow
and contrition.

Again her fancy roved, and Mr Monckton took sole possession of it. She
reproached him for his perfidy, she bewailed that he was massacred, she
would not a moment out-live him, and wildly declared _her last remains
should moulder in his hearse_! And thus, though naturally and commonly
of a silent and quiet disposition, she was now not a moment still, for
the irregular starts of a terrified and disordered imagination, were
changed into the constant ravings of morbid delirium.

The woman, growing uneasy from her uncertainty of pay for her trouble,
asked the advice of some of her friends what was proper for her to do;
and they counselled her to put an advertisement into the papers herself
the next morning.

The following, therefore, was drawn up and sent to the printer of the
Daily Advertiser.

MADNESS.

Whereas a crazy young lady, tall, fair complexioned, with blue eyes and
light hair, ran into the Three Blue Balls, in----street, on Thursday
night, the 2nd instant, and has been kept there since out of charity.
She was dressed in a riding habit. Whoever she belongs to is desired to
send after her immediately. She has been treated with the utmost care
and tenderness. She talks much of some person by the name of Delvile.

N.B.--She had no money about her.

May, 1780.

This had but just been sent off, when Mr Wyers, the man of the house,
coming up stairs, said, “Now we shall have two of them, for here’s
the crazy old gentleman below, that says he has just heard in the
neighbourhood of what has happened to us, and he desires to see the poor
lady.”

“It’s as well let him come up, then,” answered Mrs Wyers, “for he goes
to all sort of places and people, and ten to one but he’ll bustle about
till he finds out who she is.”

Mr Wyers then went down stairs to send him up.

He came instantly. It was Albany, who in his vagrant rambles, having
heard an unknown mad lady was at this pawn-broker’s, came, with his
customary eagerness to visit and serve the unhappy, to see what could be
done for her.

When he entered the room, she was sitting upon the bed, her eyes
earnestly fixed upon the window, from which she was privately indulging
a wish to make her escape. Her dress was in much disorder, her fine hair
was dishevelled, and the feathers of her riding hat were broken and half
falling down, some shading her face, others reaching to her shoulder.

“Poor lady!” cried Albany, approaching her, “how long has she been in
this state?”

She started at the sound of a new voice, she looked round,--but what was
the astonishment of Albany to see who it was!--He stept back,-he came
forward,--he doubted his own senses,--he looked at her earnestly,--he
turned from her to look at the woman of the house,--he cast his eyes
round the room itself, and then, lifting up his hands, “O sight of woe!”
 he cried, “the generous and good! the kind reliever of distress! the
benign sustainer of misery!--is _This_ Cecilia!”--

Cecilia, imperfectly recollecting, though not understanding him, sunk
down at his feet, tremblingly called out, “Oh, if he is yet to be saved,
if already he is not murdered,--go to him! fly after him! you will
presently overtake him, he is only in the next street, I left him there
myself, his sword drawn, and covered with human blood!”

“Sweet powers of kindness and compassion!” cried the old man, “look upon
this creature with pity! she who raised the depressed, she who cheared
the unhappy! she whose liberal hand turned lamentations into joy! who
never with a tearless eye could hear the voice of sorrow!--is _This_ she
herself!--can _This_ be Cecilia!”

“O do not wait to talk!” cried she, “go to him now, or you will never
see him more! the hand of death is on him,--cold, clay-cold is its
touch! he is breathing his last--Oh murdered Delvile! massacred husband
of my heart! groan not so piteously! fly to him, and weep over him!--fly
to him and pluck the poniard from his wounded bosom!”

“Oh sounds of anguish and horror!” cried the melted moralist, tears
running quick down his rugged cheeks; “melancholy indeed is this
sight, humiliating to morality! such is human strength, such human
felicity!--weak as our virtues, frail as our guilty natures!”

“Ah,” cried she, more wildly, “no one will save me now! I am married,
and no one will listen to me! ill were the auspices under which I gave
my hand! Oh it was a work of darkness, unacceptable and offensive! it
has been sealed, therefore, with blood, and to-morrow it will be signed
with murder!”

“Poor distracted creature!” exclaimed he, “thy pangs I have felt, but
thy innocence I have forfeited!--my own wounds bleed afresh,--my own
brain threatens new frenzy.”--

Then, starting up, “Good woman,” he added, “kindly attend her,--I will
seek out her friends, put her into bed, comfort, sooth, compose her.--I
will come to you again, and as soon as I can.”

He then hurried away.

“Oh hour of joy!” cried Cecilia, “he is gone to rescue him! oh blissful
moment! he will yet be snatched from slaughter!”

The woman lost not an instant in obeying the orders she had received;
she was put into bed, and nothing was neglected, as far as she had
power and thought, to give a look of decency and attention to her
accommodations.

He had not left them an hour, when Mary, the maid who had attended
her from Suffolk, came to enquire for her lady. Albany, who was now
wandering over the town in search of some of her friends, and who
entered every house where he imagined she was known, had hastened to
that of Mrs Hill the first of any, as he was well acquainted with her
obligations to Cecilia; there, Mary herself, by the directions which
her lady had given Mrs Belfield, had gone; and there, in the utmost
astonishment and uneasiness, had continued till Albany brought news of
her.

She was surprised and afflicted beyond measure, not only at the state of
her mind, and her health, but to find her in a bed and an apartment so
unsuitable to her rank of life, and so different to what she had ever
been accustomed. She wept bitterly while she enquired at the bed-side
how her lady did, but wept still more, when, without answering, or
seeming to know her, Cecilia started up, and called out, “I must be
removed this moment! I must go to St James’s-square,--if I stay an
instant longer, the passing-bell will toll, and then how shall I be in
time for the funeral?”

Mary, alarmed and amazed, turned hastily from her to the woman of the
house, who calmly said, the lady was only in a raving fit, and must not
be minded.

Extremely frightened at this intelligence, she entreated her to be quiet
and lie still. But Cecilia grew suddenly so violent, that force only
could keep her from rising; and Mary, unused to dispute her commands,
prepared to obey them.

Mrs Wyers now in her turn opposed in vain; Cecilia was peremptory, and
Mary became implicit, and, though not without much difficulty, she
was again dressed in her riding habit. This operation over, she moved
towards the door, the temporary strength of delirium giving, her a
hardiness that combated fever, illness, fatigue, and feebleness. Mary,
however averse and fearful, assisted her, and Mrs Wyers, compelled by
the obedience of her own servant, went before them to order a chair.

Cecilia, however, felt her weakness when she attempted to move down
stairs; her feet tottered, and her head became dizzy; she leaned it
against Mary, who called aloud for more help, and made her sit down till
it came. Her resolution, however, was not to be altered; a stubbornness,
wholly foreign to her genuine character, now made her stern and
positive; and Mary, who thought her submission indispensable, cried, but
did not offer to oppose her.

Mr and Mrs Wyers both came up to assist in supporting her, and Mr Wyers
offered to carry her in his arms; but she would not consent; when she
came to the bottom of the stairs, her head grew worse, she again lent
it upon Mary, but Mr Wyers was obliged to hold them both. She still,
however, was firm in her determination, and was making another effort to
proceed, when Delvile rushed hastily into the shop.

He had just encountered Albany; who, knowing his acquaintance, though
ignorant of his marriage, with Cecilia, had informed him where to seek
her.

He was going to make enquiry if he was come to the right house, when
he perceived her,--feeble, shaking, leaning upon one person, and half
carried by another!--he started back, staggered, gasped for breath,--but
finding they were proceeding, advanced with trepidation, furiously
calling out, “Hold! stop!--what is it you are doing? Monsters of savage
barbarity, are you murdering my wife?”

The well-known voice no sooner struck the ears of Cecilia, than
instantly recollecting it, she screamed, and, is suddenly endeavouring
to spring forward, fell to the ground.

Delvile had vehemently advanced to catch her in his arms and save her
fall, which her unexpected quickness had prevented her attendants from
doing; but the sight of her changed complection, and the wildness of her
eyes and air, again made him start,--his blood froze through his veins,
and he stood looking at her, cold and almost petrified.

Her own recollection of him seemed lost already; and exhausted by the
fatigue she had gone through in dressing and coming down stairs, she
remained still and quiet, forgetting her design of proceeding, and
forming no new one for returning.

Mary, to whom, as to all her fellow servants, the marriage of Cecilia
had been known, before she left the country, now desired from Delvile
directions what was to be done.

Delvile, starting suddenly at this call from the deepest horror into the
most desperate rage, fiercely exclaimed, “Inhuman wretches! unfeeling,
execrable wretches, what is it you have done to her? how came she
hither?--who brought her?--who dragged her?--by what infamous usage has
she been sunk into this state?”

“Indeed, sir, I don’t know!” cried Mary.

“I assure you, sir,” said Mrs Wyers, “the lady--”

“Peace!” cried he, furiously, “I will not hear your falsehoods!--peace,
and begone!”--

Then, casting himself upon the ground by her side, “Oh my Cecilia,”
 he cried, “where hast thou been thus long? how have I lost thee? what
dreadful calamity has befallen thee?--answer me, my love! raise your
sweet head and answer me!--oh speak!--say to me any thing; the bitterest
words will be mercy to this silence!”---

Cecilia then, suddenly looking up, called out with great quickness, “Who
are you?”

“Who am I!” cried he, amazed and affrighted.

“I should be glad you would go away,” cried she, in a hurrying manner,
“for you are quite unknown to me.”

Delvile, unconscious of her insanity, and attributing to resentment
this aversion and repulse, hastily moved from her, mournfully answering,
“Well indeed may you disclaim me, refuse all forgiveness, load me with
hatred and reproach, and consign me to eternal anguish! I have merited
severer punishment still; I have behaved like a monster, and I am
abhorrent to myself!”

Cecilia now, half rising, and regarding him with mingled terror and
anger, eagerly exclaimed, “If you do not mean to mangle and destroy me,
begone this instant.”

“To mangle you!” repeated Delvile, shuddering, “how horrible!--but I
deserve it!--look not, however, so terrified, and I will tear myself
away from you. Suffer me but to assist in removing you from this place,
and I will only watch you at a distance, and never see you more till you
permit me to approach you.”

“Why, why,” cried Cecilia, with a look of perplexity and impatience,
“will you not tell me your name, and where you come from?”

“Do you not know me?” said he, struck with new horror; “or do you only
mean to kill me by the question?”

“Do you bring me any message from Mr Monckton?”

“From Mr Monckton?--no; but he lives and will recover.”

“I thought you had been Mr Monckton yourself.”

“Too cruel, yet justly cruel Cecilia!--is then Delvile utterly
renounced?--the guilty, the unhappy Delvile!--is he cast off for ever?
have you driven him wholly from your heart? do you deny him even a place
in your remembrance?”

“Is your name, then, Delvile?”

“O what is it you mean? Is it me or my name you thus disown?”

“‘Tis a name,” cried she, sitting up, “I well remember to have heard,
and once I loved it, and three times I called upon it in the dead of
night. And when I was cold and wretched, I cherished it; and when I was
abandoned and left alone, I repeated it and sung to it.”

“All-gracious powers!” cried Delvile, “her reason is utterly gone!”
 And, hastily rising, he desperately added, “what is death to this
blow?--Cecilia, I am content to part with thee!”

Mary now, and Mrs Wyers, poured upon him eagerly an account of her
illness, and insanity, her desire of removal, and their inability to
control her.

Delvile, however, made no answer; he scarce heard them: the deepest
despair took possession of his mind, and, rooted to the spot where he
stood, he contemplated iii dreadful stillness the fallen and altered
object of his best hopes and affections; already in her faded cheeks
and weakened frame, his agonising terror read the quick impending
destruction of all his earthly happiness! the sight was too much for
his fortitude, and almost for his understanding; and when his woe became
utterable, he wrung his hands, and groaning aloud, called out, “Art thou
gone so soon! my wife! my Cecilia! have I lost thee already?”

Cecilia, with utter insensibility to what was passing, now suddenly, and
with a rapid yet continued motion, turned her head from side to side,
her eyes wildly glaring, and yet apparently regarding nothing.

“Dreadful! dreadful!” exclaimed Delvile, “what a sight is this!” and
turning from her to the people of the house, he angrily said, “why is
she here upon the floor? could you not even allow her a bed? Who attends
her? Who waits upon her? Why has nobody sent for help?--Don’t answer
me,--I will not hear you, fly this moment for a physician,--bring two,
bring three--bring all you can find?”

Then, still looking from Cecilia, whose sight he could no longer
support, he consulted with Mary whither she should be conveyed: and, as
the night was far advanced, and no place was prepared for her elsewhere,
they soon agreed that she could only be removed up stairs.

Delvile now attempted to carry her in his arms; but trembling and
unsteady, he had not strength to sustain her; yet not enduring to behold
the helplessness he could not assist, he conjured them to be careful
and gentle, and, committing her to their trust, ran out himself for a
physician.

Cecilia resisted them with her utmost power, imploring them not to bury
her alive, and averring she had received intelligence they meant to
entomb her with Mr Monckton.

They put her, however, to bed, but her raving grew still more wild and
incessant.

Delvile soon returned with a physician, but had not courage to attend
him to her room. He waited for him at the foot of the stairs, where,
hastily stopping him,

“Well, sir,” he cried, “is it not all over? is it not impossible she can
live?”

“She is very ill, indeed, sir,” he answered, “but I have given
directions which perhaps---”

“_Perhaps_!” interrupted Delvile, shuddering, “do not stab me with such
a word!”

“She is very delirious,” he continued, “but as her fever is very high,
that is not so material. If the orders I have given take effect, and the
fever is got under, all the rest will be well of course.”

He then went away; leaving Delvile as much thunderstruck by answers
so alarming, as if he had consulted him in full hope, and without even
suspicion of her danger.

The moment he recovered from this shock, he flew out of the house for
more advice.

He returned and brought with him two physicians. They confirmed the
directions already given, but would pronounce nothing decisively of her
situation.

Delvile, half mad with the acuteness of his misery, charged them all
with want of skill, and wrote instantly into the country for Dr Lyster.

He went out himself in search of a messenger to ride off express, though
it was midnight, with his letter; and then, returning, he was hastening
to her room, but, while yet at the door, hearing her still raving, his
horror conquered his eagerness, and, hurrying down stairs, he spent the
remnant of the long and seemingly endless night in the shop.



CHAPTER ix.

A TRIBUTE.

Mean while Cecilia went through very severe discipline, sometimes
strongly opposing it, at other times scarce sensible what was done to
her.

The whole of the next day passed in much the same manner, neither did
the next night bring any visible alteration. She had now nurses and
attendants even more than sufficient, for Delvile had no relief but from
calling in more help. His terror of again seeing her encreased with his
forbearance; the interview which had already past had almost torn him
asunder, and losing all courage for attempting to enter her room, he now
spent almost all his time upon the stairs which led to it. Whenever she
was still, he seated himself at her chamber door, where, if he could
hear her breathe or move, a sudden hope of her recovery gave to him a
momentary extasy that recompensed all his sufferings. But the instant
she spoke, unable to bear the sound of so loved a voice uttering nothing
but the incoherent ravings of lightheadedness, he hastened down stairs,
and flying out of the house, walked in the neighbouring streets, till he
could again gather courage to enquire or to listen how she went on.

The following morning, however, Dr Lyster came, and every hope revived.
He flew to embrace him, told him instantly his marriage with Cecilia,
and besought him by some superior effort of his extraordinary abilities
to save him the distraction of her loss.

“My good friend,” cried the worthy Doctor, “what is this you ask of me?
and how can this poor young lady herself want advice more than you do?
Do you think these able physicians actually upon the spot, with all
the experience of full practice in London to assist their skill, want a
petty Doctor out of the country to come and teach them what is right?”

“I have more reliance upon you,” cried Delvile, than upon the whole
faculty; come, therefore, and prescribe for her,--take some new course
“--

“Impossible, my good Sir, impossible! I must not lose my wits from
vanity, because you have lost yours from affliction. I could not refuse
to come to you when you wrote to me with such urgency, and I will now go
and see the young lady, as a _friend_, with all my heart. I am sorry for
you at my soul, Mr Mortimer! She is a lovely young creature, and has an
understanding, for her years and sex, unequalled.”

“Never mention her to me!” cried the impatient Delvile, “I cannot bear
it! Go up to her, dear Doctor, and if you want a consultation, send, if
you please, for every physician in town.”

Dr Lyster desired only that those who had already attended might
be summoned; and then, giving up to his entreaties the accustomed
ceremonial of waiting for them, he went to Cecilia.

Delvile did not dare accompany him; and so well was he acquainted with
his plainness and sincerity, that though he expected his return with
eagerness, he no sooner heard him upon the stairs, than fearing to know
his opinion, he hastily snatched up his hat, and rushed vehemently out
of the house to avoid him.

He continued to walk about the streets, till even the dread of ill
news was less horrible to him than this voluntary suspense, and then he
returned to the house.

He found Dr Lyster in a small back parlour, which Mrs Wyers, finding she
should now be well paid, had appropriated for Delvile’s use.

Delvile, putting his hand upon the Doctor’s shoulder, said, “Well, my
dear Dr Lyster, _you_, still, I hope”--

“I would I could make you easy!” interrupted the Doctor; “yet, if you
are rational, one comfort, at all events, I can give you; the crisis
seems approaching, and either she will recover, or before to-morrow
morning”---

“Don’t go on, Sir!” cried Delvile, with mingled rage and horror, “I
will not have her days limited! I sent not for you to give me such an
account!”

And again he flew out of the house, leaving Dr Lyster unaffectedly
concerned for him, and too kind-hearted and too wise to be offended at
the injustice of immoderate sorrow.

In a few minutes, however, from the effect rather of despair than
philosophy, Delvile grew more composed, and waited upon Dr Lyster to
apologize for his behaviour. He received his hearty forgiveness, and
prevailed upon him to continue in town till the whole was decided.

About noon, Cecilia, from the wildest rambling and most perpetual
agitation, sunk suddenly into a state of such utter insensibility,
that she appeared unconscious even of her existence; and but that she
breathed, she might already have passed for being dead.

When Delvile heard this, he could no longer endure even his post upon
the stairs; he spent his whole time in wandering about the streets, or
stopping in Dr Lyster’s parlour to enquire if all was over.

That humane physician, not more alarmed at the danger of Cecilia, than
grieved at the situation of Delvile, thought the present fearful crisis
at least offered an opportunity of reconciling him with his father. He
waited, therefore, upon that gentleman in St James’s-square, and openly
informed him of the dangerous state of Cecilia, and the misery of his
son.

Mr Delvile, though he would gladly, to have annulled an alliance he held
disgraceful to his family, have received intelligence that Cecilia was
no more, was yet extremely disconcerted to hear of sufferings to which
his own refusal of an asylum he was conscious had largely contributed;
and after a haughty struggle between tenderness and wrath, he begged the
advice of Dr Lyster how his son might be drawn from such a scene.

Dr Lyster, who well knew Delvile was too desperate to be tractable,
proposed surprising him into an interview by their returning together:
Mr Delvile, however apprehensive and relenting, conceded most
unwillingly to a measure he held beneath him, and, when he came to the
shop, could scarce be persuaded to enter it. Mortimer, at that time,
was taking a solitary ramble; and Dr Lyster, to complete the work he
had begun of subduing the hard pride of his father, contrived, under
pretence of waiting for him, to conduct him to the room of the invalide.

Mr Delvile, who knew not whither he was going, at first sight of the bed
and the attendants, was hastily retreating; but the changed and livid
face of Cecilia caught his eye, and, struck with sudden consternation,
he involuntarily stopt.

“Look at the poor young lady!” cried Dr Lyster; “can you wonder a sight
such as this should make Mr Mortimer forget every thing else?”

She was wholly insensible, but perfectly quiet; she seemed to
distinguish nothing, and neither spoke nor moved.

Mr Delvile regarded her with the utmost horror: the refuge he so
implacably refused her on the night when her intellects were disordered,
he would now gladly have offered at the expence of almost similar
sufferings, to have relieved himself from those rising pangs which
called him author of this scene of woe. His pride, his pomp, his ancient
name, were now sunk in his estimation; and while he considered himself
the destroyer of this unhappy young creature, he would have sacrificed
them all to have called himself her protector. Little is the boast of
insolence when it is analysed by the conscience! bitter is the agony
of self-reproach, where misery follows hardness of heart! yet, when the
first painful astonishment from her situation abated, the remorse she
excited being far stronger than the pity, he gave an angry glance at Dr
Lyster for betraying him into such a sight, and hastily left the room.

Delvile, who was now impatiently waiting to see Dr Lyster in the little
parlour, alarmed at the sound of a new step upon the stairs, came out to
enquire who had been admitted. When he saw his father, he shrunk back;
but Mr Delvile, no longer supported by pride, and unable to recover from
the shock he had just received, caught him in his arms, and said “Oh
come home to me, my son! this is a place to destroy you!”

“Ah, Sir,” cried Delvile, “think not of me now!--you must shew me no
kindness; I am not in a state to bear it!” And, forcibly breaking from
him, he hurried out of the house.

Mr Delvile, all the father awakened in his bosom, saw his departure
with more dread than anger; and returned himself to St James’s-square,
tortured with parental fears, and stung by personal remorse, lamenting
his own inflexibility, and pursued by the pale image of Cecilia.

She was still in this unconscious state, and apparently as free from
suffering as from enjoyment, when a new voice was suddenly heard
without, exclaiming, “Oh where is she? where is she? where is my dear
Miss Beverley?” and Henrietta Belfield ran wildly into the room.

The advertisement in the news-papers had at once brought her to town,
and directed her to the house: the mention that the lost lady _talked
much of a person by the name of Delvile_, struck her instantly to mean
Cecilia; the description corresponded with this idea, and the account of
the dress confirmed it: Mr Arnott, equally terrified with herself, had
therefore lent her his chaise to learn the truth of this conjecture, and
she had travelled all night.

Flying up to the bedside, “Who is this?” she cried, “this is not Miss
Beverley?” and then screaming with unrestrained horror, “Oh mercy!
mercy!” she called out, “yes, it is indeed! and nobody would know
her!--her own mother would not think her her child!”

“You must come away, Miss Belfield,” said Mary, “you must indeed,--the
doctors all say my lady must not be disturbed.”

“Who shall take me away?” cried she, angrily, “nobody Mary! not all the
doctors in the world! Oh sweet Miss Beverley! I will lie down by your
side,--I will never quit you while you live,--and I wish, I wish I could
die to save your precious life!”

Then, leaning over her, and wringing her hands, “Oh I shall break my
heart,” she cried, “to see her in this condition! Is this the so happy
Miss Beverley, that I thought every body born to give joy to? the
Miss Beverley that seemed queen of the whole world! yet so good and so
gentle, so kind to the meanest person! excusing every body’s faults but
her own, and telling them how they might mend, and trying to make them
as good as herself!--Oh who would know her! who would know her! what
have they done to you, my beloved Miss Beverley? how have they altered
and disfigured you in this wicked and barbarous manner?”

In the midst of this simple yet pathetic testimony, to the worth and
various excellencies of Cecilia, Dr Lyster came into the room. The women
all flocked around him, except Mary, to vindicate themselves from any
share in permitting this new comer’s entrance and behaviour; but Mary
only told him who she was, and said, that if her lady was well enough to
know her, there was nobody she was certain she would have been so glad
to see.

“Young lady,” said the doctor, “I would advise you to walk into another
room till you are a little more composed.”

“Every body, I find, is for hurrying me away,” cried the sobbing
Henrietta, whose honest heart swelled with its own affectionate
integrity; “but they might all save themselves the trouble, for go I
will not!”

“This is very wrong,” said the doctor, “and must not be suffered: do you
call it friendship to come about a sick person in this manner?”

“Oh my Miss Beverley!” cried Henrietta, “do you hear how they all
upbraid me? how they all want to force me away from you, and to hinder
me even from looking at you! Speak for me, sweet lady! speak for me
yourself! tell them the poor Henrietta will not do you any harm; tell
them she only wishes just to sit by you, and to see you!--I will hold by
this dear hand,--I will cling to it till the last minute; and you will
not, I know you will not, give orders to have it taken away from me!”

Dr Lyster, though his own good nature was much affected by this fond
sorrow, now half angrily represented to her the impropriety of indulging
it: but Henrietta, unused to disguise or repress her feelings, grew only
the more violent, the more she was convinced of Cecilia’s danger: “Oh
look but at her,” she exclaimed, “and take me from her if you can!
see how her sweet eyes are fixed! look but what a change in her
complexion!--She does not see me, she does not know me,--she does not
hear me! her hand seems quite lifeless already, her face is all fallen
away!--Oh that I had died twenty deaths before I had lived to see this
sight!--poor wretched Henrietta, thou bast now no friend left in the
world! thou mayst go and lie down in some corner, and no one will come
and say to thee a word of comfort!”

“This must not be!” said Dr Lyster, “you must take her away.”

“You shall not!” cried she, desperately, “I will stay with her till she
has breathed her last, and I will stay with her still longer! and if she
was to speak to you this moment, she would tell you that she chose it.
She loved the poor Henrietta, and loved to have her near her; and when
she was ill, and in much distress, she never once bid me leave her room.
Is it not true, my sweet Miss Beverley? do you not know it to be true?
Oh look not so dreadfully! turn to your unhappy Henrietta; sweetest,
best of ladies! will you not speak to her once more? will you not say to
her one single word?”

Dr Lyster now grew very angry, and telling her such violence might have
fatal consequences, frightened her into more order, and drew her away
himself. He had then the kindness to go with her into another room,
where, when her first vehemence was spent, his remonstrances and
reasoning brought her to a sense of the danger she might occasion, and
made her promise not to return to the room till she had gained strength
to behave better.

When Dr Lyster went again to Delvile, he found him greatly alarmed
by his long stay; he communicated to him briefly what had passed, and
counselled him to avoid encreasing his own grief by the sight of
what was suffered by this unguarded and ardent girl. Delvile readily
assented, for the weight of his own woe was too heavy to bear any
addition.

Henrietta now, kept in order by Dr Lyster, contented herself with only
sitting on the bed, without attempting to speak, and with no other
employment than alternately looking at her sick friend, and covering
her streaming eyes with her handkerchief; from time to time quitting the
room wholly, for the relief of sobbing at liberty and aloud in another.

But, in the evening, while Delvile and Dr Lyster were taking one of
their melancholy rambles, a new scene was acted in the apartment of
the still senseless Cecilia. Albany suddenly made his entrance into it,
accompanied by three children, two girls and one boy, from the ages of
four to six, neatly dressed, clean, and healthy.

“See here!”’ cried he, as he came in, “see here what I’ve brought
you! raise, raise your languid head, and look this way! you think me
rigid,--an enemy to pleasure, austere, harsh, and a forbidder of joy:
look at this sight, and see the contrary! who shall bring you comfort,
joy, pleasure, like this? three innocent children, clothed and fed by
your bounty!”

Henrietta and Mary, who both knew him well, were but little surprised at
anything he said or did, and the nurses presumed not to interfere but by
whispers.

Cecilia, however, observed nothing that passed; and Albany, somewhat
astonished, approached nearer to the bed; “Wilt thou not speak?” he
cried.

“She can’t, Sir,” said one of the women; “she has been speechless many
hours.”

The air of triumph with which he had entered the room was now changed
into disappointment and consternation. For some minutes he thoughtfully
and sorrowfully contemplated her, and then, with a deep sigh, said, “How
will the poor rue this day!” Then, turning to the children, who, awed by
this scene, were quiet from terror. “Alas!” he said, “ye helpless babes,
ye know not what you have lost: presumptuously we came; unheeded we must
return! I brought you to be seen by your benefactress, but she is going
where she will find many such.”

He then led them away; but, suddenly coming back, “I may see her,
perhaps, no more! shall I not, then, pray for her? Great and aweful is
the change she is making; what are human revolutions, how pitiful, how
insignificant, compared with it!--Come, little babies, come; with gifts
has she often blessed _you_, with wishes bless _her_! Come, let us kneel
round her bed; let us all pray for her together; lift up your innocent
hands, and for all of you I will speak.”

He then made the children obey his injunctions, and having knelt
himself, while Henrietta and Mary instantly did the same, “Sweet
flower!” he cried, “untimely cropt in years, yet in excellence mature!
early decayed in misery, yet fragrant in innocence! Gentle be thy exit,
for unsullied have been thy days; brief be thy pains, for few have been
thy offences! Look at her sweet babes, and bear her in your remembrance;
often will I visit you and revive the solemn scene. Look at her ye,
also, who are nearer to your end--Ah! will you bear it like her!”

He paused; and the nurses and Mrs Wyers, struck by this call, and moved
by the general example, crept to the bed, and dropt on their knees,
almost involuntarily.

“She departs,” resumed Albany, “the envy of the world! while yet no
guilt had seized her soul, and no remorse had marred her peace. She was
the hand-maid of charity, and pity dwelt in her bosom! her mouth
was never open but to give comfort; her foot-steps were followed by
blessings! Oh happy in purity, be thine the song of triumph!--softly
shalt thou sink to temporary sleep,--sublimely shalt thou rise to life
that wakes for ever!”

He then got up, took the children by their little hands, and went away.



CHAPTER x.

A TERMINATION.

Dr Lyster and Delvile met them at the entrance into the house. Extremely
alarmed lest Cecilia had received any disturbance, they both hastened
up stairs, but Delvile proceeded only to the door. He stopt there and
listened; but all was silent; the prayers of Albany had struck an awe
into every one; and Dr Lyster soon returned to tell him there was no
alteration in his patient.

“And he has not disturbed her?” cried Delvile.

“No, not at all.”

“I think, then,” said he, advancing, though trembling, “I will yet see
her once more.”

“No, no, Mr Mortimer,” cried the doctor, “why should you give yourself
so unnecessary a shock?”

“The shock,” answered he, “is over!--tell me, however, is there any
chance I may hurt _her_?”

“I believe not; I do not think, just now, she will perceive you.”

“Well, then,--I may grieve, perhaps, hereafter, that once more--that
one glance!”--He stopt, irresolute the doctor would again have dissuaded
him, but, after a little hesitation, he assured him he was prepared for
the worst, and forced himself into the room.

When again, however, he beheld Cecilia,--senseless, speechless,
motionless, her features void of all expression, her cheeks without
colour, her eyes without meaning,--he shrunk from the sight, he leant
upon Dr Lyster, and almost groaned aloud.

The doctor would have conducted him out of the apartment; but,
recovering from this first agony, he turned again to view her, and
casting up his eyes, fervently ejaculated, “Oh merciful powers! Take,
or destroy her! let her not linger thus, rather let me lose her
for ever!--O far rather would I see her dead, glad in this dreadful
condition!”

Then, advancing to the bed side, and yet more earnestly looking at her,
“I pray not now,” he cried, “for thy life! inhumanly as I have treated
thee, I am not yet so hardened as to wish thy misery lengthened no;
quick be thy restoration, or short as pure thy passage to eternity!--Oh
my Cecilia! lovely, however altered! sweet even in the arms of death and
insanity! and dearer to my tortured heart in this calamitous state, than
in all thy pride of health and beauty!”--

He stopt, and turned from her, yet could not tear himself away; he came
back, he again looked at her, he hung over her in anguish unutterable;
he kissed each burning hand, he folded to his bosom her feeble form,
and, recovering his speech, though almost bursting with sorrow, faintly
articulated, “Is all over? no ray of reason left? no knowledge of thy
wretched Delvile?--no, none! the hand of death is on her, and she
is utterly gone!--sweet suffering excellence! loved, lost, expiring
Cecilia!--but I will not repine! peace and kindred angels are watching
to receive thee, and if thou art parted from thyself, it were impious
to lament thou shouldst be parted from me.--Yet in thy tomb will be
deposited all that to me could render existence supportable, every
frail chance of happiness, every sustaining hope, and all alleviation of
sorrow!”--

Dr Lyster now again approaching, thought he perceived some change in
his patient, and peremptorily forced him away from her: then returning
himself, he found that her eyes were shut, and she was dropt asleep.

This was an omen the most favourable he could hope. He now seated
himself by the bedside, and determined not to quit her till the expected
crisis was past. He gave the strictest orders for the whole house to be
kept quiet, and suffered no one in the room either to speak or move.

Her sleep was long and heavy; yet, when she awoke, her sensibility
was evidently returned. She started, suddenly raised her head from the
pillow, looked round her, and called out, “where am I now?”

“Thank Heaven!” cried Henrietta, and was rushing forward, when Dr
Lyster, by a stern and angry look, compelled her again to take her seat.

He then spoke to her himself, enquired how she did, and found her quite
rational.

Henrietta, who now doubted not her perfect recovery, wept as violently
for joy as she had before wept for grief; and Mary, in the same belief,
ran instantly to Delvile, eager to carry to him the first tidings that
her mistress had recovered her reason.

Delvile, in the utmost emotion, then returned to the chamber; but
stood at some distance from the bed, waiting Dr Lyster’s permission to
approach it.

Cecilia was quiet and composed, her recollection seemed restored,
and her intellects sound: hut she was faint and weak, and contentedly
silent, to avoid the effort of speaking.

Dr Lyster encouraged this stillness, and suffered not anyone, not even
Delvile, to advance to her. After a short time, however, she again, and
very calmly, began to talk to him. She now first knew him, and seemed
much surprised by his attendance. She could not tell, she said, what
of late had happened to her, nor could guess where she was, or by what
means she came into such a place. Dr Lyster desired her at present
not to think upon the subject, and promised her a full account of
everything, when she was stronger, and more fit for conversing.

This for a while silenced her. But, after a short pause, “Tell me,” she
said, “Dr Lyster, have I no friend in this place but you?”

“Yes, yes, you have several friends here,” answered the Doctor, “only I
keep them in order, lest they should hurry or disturb you.”

She seemed much pleased by this speech; but soon after said, “You must
not, Doctor, keep them in order much longer, for the sight of them, I
think, would much revive me.”

“Ah, Miss Beverley!” cried Henrietta, who could not now restrain
herself, “may not _I_, among the rest, come and speak to you?”

“Who is that?” said Cecilia, in a voice of pleasure, though very feeble;
“is it my ever-dear Henrietta?”

“Oh this is joy indeed!” cried she, fervently kissing her cheeks and
forehead, “joy that I never, never expected to have more!”

“Come, come,” cried Dr Lyster, “here’s enough of this; did I not do well
to keep such people off?”

“I believe you did,” said Cecilia, faintly smiling; “my too kind
Henrietta, you must be more tranquil!”

“I will, I will indeed, madam!--my dear, dear Miss Beverley, I will
indeed!--now once you have owned me, and once again I hear your sweet
voice, I will do any thing, and every thing, for I am made happy for my
whole life!”

“Ah, sweet Henrietta!” cried Cecilia, giving her her hand, “you must
suppress these feelings, or our Doctor here will soon part us. But tell
me, Doctor, is there no one else that you can let me see?”

Delvile, who had listened to this scene in the unspeakable perturbation
of that hope which is kindled from the very ashes of despair, was now
springing forward; but Dr Lyster, fearful of the consequences, hastily
arose, and with a look and air not to be disputed, took hold of his arm,
and led him out of the room. He then represented to him strongly the
danger of agitating or disturbing her, and charged him to keep from her
sight till better able to bear it; assuring him at the same time that he
might now reasonably hope her recovery.

Delvile, lost in transport, could make no answer, but flew into his
arms, and almost madly embraced him; he then hastened out of sight to
pour forth fervent thanks, and hurrying back with equal speed, again
embraced the Doctor, and while his manly cheeks were burnt with tears of
joy, he could not yet articulate the glad tumult of his soul.

The worthy Dr Lyster, who heartily partook of his happiness, again urged
him to be discreet; and Delvile, no longer intractable and desperate,
gratefully concurred in whatever he commanded. Dr Lyster then returned
to Cecilia, and to relieve her mind from any uneasy suspense, talked to
her openly of Delvile, gave her to understand he was acquainted with
her marriage, and told her he had prohibited their meeting till each was
better able to support it.

Cecilia by this delay seemed half gratified, and half disappointed;
but the rest of the physicians, who had been summoned upon this happy
change, now appearing, the orders were yet more strictly enforced for
keeping her quiet.

She submitted, therefore, peaceably; and Delvile, whose gladdened heart
still throbbed with speechless rapture, contentedly watched at her
chamber door, and obeyed implicitly whatever was said to him.

She now visibly, and almost hourly grew better; and, in a short time,
her anxiety to know all that was passed, and by what means she became so
ill, and confined in a house of which she had not any knowledge, obliged
Dr Lyster to make himself master of these particulars, that he might
communicate them to her with a calmness that Delvile could not attain.

Delvile himself, happy to be spared the bitter task of such a relation,
informed him all he knew of the story, and then entreated him to narrate
to her also the motives of his own strange, and he feared unpardonable
conduct, and the scenes which had followed their parting.

He came, he said, to England, ignorant of all that had past in his
absence, intending merely to wait upon his father, and communicate his
marriage, before he gave directions to his lawyer for the settlements
and preparations which were to precede its further publication. He
meant, also, to satisfy himself, of the real situation of Mr Monckton,
and then, after an interview with Cecilia, to have returned to his
mother, and waited at Nice till he might publicly claim his wife.

To this purpose he had written in his letter, which he meant to have put
in the Post-office in London himself; and he had but just alighted from
his chaise, when he met Ralph, Cecilia’s servant, in the street.

Hastily stopping him, he enquired if he had left his place? “No,”
 answered Ralph, “I am only come up to town with my lady.”

“With your lady?” cried the astonished Delvile, is your lady then in
town?”

“Yes, sir, she is at Mrs Belfield’s.”

“At Mrs Belfield’s?--is her daughter returned home?

“No, sir, we left her in the country.”

He was then going on with a further account, but, in too much confusion
of mind to hear him Delvile abruptly wished him good night, and marched
on himself towards Belfield’s.

The pleasure with which he would have heard that Cecilia was so near to
him, was totally lost in his perplexity to account for her journey. Her
letters had never hinted at such a purpose,--the news reached him
only by accident,--it was ten o’clock at night,--yet she was at
Belfield’s--though the sister was away,--though the mother was
professedly odious to her!--In an instant, all he had formerly heard,
all he had formerly disregarded, rushed suddenly upon his memory, and
he began to believe he had been deluded, that his father was right, and
that Belfield had some strange and improper influence over her heart.

The suspicion was death to him; he drove it from him, he concluded
the whole was some error: his reason as powerfully as his tenderness
vindicated her innocence; and though he arrived at the house in much
disorder, he yet arrived with a firm persuasion of an honourable
explanation.

The door was open,--a chaise was at it in waiting,--Mrs Belfield was
listening in the passage; these appearances were strange, and encreased
his agitation. He asked for her son in a voice scarce audible,--she told
him he was engaged with a lady, and must not be disturbed.

That fatal answer, at a moment so big with the most horrible surmises,
was decisive: furiously, therefore, he forced himself past her, and
opened the door:--but when he saw them together,--the rest of the family
confessedly excluded, his rage turned to horror, and he could hardly
support himself.

“O Dr Lyster!” he continued, “ask of the sweet creature if these
circumstances offer any extenuation for the fatal jealousy which seized
me? never by myself while I live will it be forgiven, but she, perhaps,
who is all softness, all compassion, and all peace, may some time hence
think my sufferings almost equal to my offence.”

He then proceeded in his narration.

When he had so peremptorily ordered her chaise to St James’s-square, he
went back to the house, and desired Belfield to walk out with him. He
complied, and they were both silent till they came to a Coffee-house,
where they asked for a private room. The whole way they went, his heart,
secretly satisfied of the purity of Cecilia, smote him for the situation
in which he had left her; yet, having unfortunately gone so far as to
make his suspicions apparent, he thought it necessary to his character
that their abolition should be equally public.

When they were alone, “Belfield,” he said, “to obviate any imputation of
impertinence in my enquiries, I deny not, what I presume you have been
told by herself, that I have the nearest interest in whatever concerns
the lady from whom we are just now parted: I must beg, therefore, an
explicit account of the purpose of your private conversation with her.”

“Mr Delvile,” answered Belfield, with mingled candour and spirit, “I am
not commonly much disposed to answer enquiries thus cavalierly put to
me; yet here, as I find myself not the principal person concerned, I
think I am bound in justice to speak for the absent who is. I assure
you, therefore, most solemnly, that your interest in Miss Beverley I
never heard but by common report, that our being alone together was by
both of us undesigned and undesired, that the honour she did our house
in calling at it, was merely to acquaint my mother with my sister’s
removal to Mrs Harrel’s, and that the part which I had myself in her
condescension, was simply to be consulted upon a journey which she has
in contemplation to the South of France. And now, sir, having given you
this peaceable satisfaction, you will find me extremely at your service
to offer any other.”

Delvile instantly held out his hand to him; “What you assert,” he said,
“upon your honour, requires no other testimony. Your gallantry and
your probity are equally well known to me; with either, therefore, I am
content, and by no means require the intervention of both.”

They then parted; and now, his doubts removed, and his punctilio
satisfied, he flew to St James’s-square, to entreat the forgiveness of
Cecilia for the alarm he had occasioned her, and to hear the reason of
her sudden journey, and change of measures. But when he came there, to
find that his father, whom he had concluded was at Delvile Castle,
was in the house, while Cecilia had not even enquired for him at the
door,--“Oh let me not,” he continued, “even to myself, let me not trace
the agony of that moment!--where to seek her I knew not, why she was in
London I could not divine, for what purpose she had given the postilion
a new direction I could form no idea. Yet it appeared that she wished to
avoid me, and once more, in the frenzy of my disappointment, I supposed
Belfield a party in her concealment. Again, therefore, I sought him,--at
his own house,--at the coffee-house where I had left him,--in vain,
wherever I came, I just missed him, for, hearing of my search, he went
with equal restlessness, from place to place to meet me. I rejoice we
both failed; a repetition of my enquiries in my then irritable state,
must inevitably have provoked the most fatal resentment.

“I will not dwell upon the scenes that followed,--my laborious search,
my fruitless wanderings, the distraction of my suspense, the excess of
my despair!--even Belfield, the fiery Belfield, when I met with him the
next day, was so much touched by my wretchedness, that he bore with
all my injustice; feeling, noble young man! never will I lose the
remembrance of his high-souled patience.

“And now, Dr Lyster, go to my Cecilia; tell her this tale, and try,
for you have skill sufficient, to soften, yet not wound her with my
sufferings. If then she can bear to see me, to bless me with the sound
of her sweet voice, no longer at war with her intellects, to hold out
to me her loved hand, in token of peace and forgiveness.--Oh, Dr Lyster!
preserver of _my_ life in hers! give to me but that exquisite moment,
and every past evil will be for ever obliterated!”

“You must be calmer, Sir,” said the Doctor, “before I make the attempt.
These heroicks are mighty well for sound health, and strong nerves, but
they will not do for an invalide.”

He went, however, to Cecilia, and gave her this narration, suppressing
whatever he feared would most affect her, and judiciously enlivening the
whole by his strictures. Cecilia was much easier for this removal of her
perplexities, and, as her anguish and her terror had been unmixed with
resentment, she had now no desire but to reconcile Delvile with himself.

Dr Lyster, however, by his friendly authority, obliged her for some
time to be content with this relation; but when she grew better, her
impatience became stronger, and he feared opposition would be as hurtful
as compliance.

Delvile, therefore, was now admitted; yet slowly and with trepidation he
advanced, terrified for her, and fearful of himself, filled with remorse
for the injuries she had sustained, and impressed with grief and horror
to behold her so ill and altered.

Supported by pillows, she sat almost upright. The moment she saw him,
she attempted to bend forward and welcome him, calling out in a tone of
pleasure, though faintly, “Ah! dearest Delvile! is it you?” but too
weak for the effort she had made, she sunk back upon her pillow, pale,
trembling, and disordered.

Dr Lyster would then have interfered to postpone their further
conversation; but Delvile was no longer master of himself or his
passions: he darted forward, and kneeling at the bed side, “Sweet
injured excellence!” he cried, “wife of my heart! sole object of my
chosen affection! dost thou yet live? do I hear thy loved voice?--do I
see thee again?--art thou my Cecilia? and have I indeed not lost thee?”
 then regarding her more fixedly, “Alas,” he cried, “art thou indeed my
Cecilia! so pale, so emaciated!--Oh suffering angel! and couldst thou
then call upon Delvile, the guilty, but heart-broken Delvile, thy
destroyer, thy murderer, and yet not call to execrate him?”

Cecilia, extremely affected, could not utter a word; she held out to
him her hand, she looked at him with gentleness and kindness, but tears
started into her eyes, and trickled in large drops down her colourless
cheeks.

“Angelic creature!” cried Delvile, his own tears overflowing, while he
pressed to his lips the kind token of her pardon, “can you give to me
again a hand so ill deserved? can you look with such compassion on the
author of your woes? on the wretch, who for an instant could doubt the
purity of a mind so seraphic!”

“Ah, Delvile!” cried she, a little reviving, “think no more of what is
past!--to see you,--to be yours,--drives all evil from my remembrance!”

“I am not worthy this joy!” cried he, rising, kneeling, and rising
again; “I know not how to sustain it! a forgiveness such as this,--when
I believed You must hate me for ever! when repulse and aversion were
all I dared expect,--when my own inhumanity had bereft thee of thy
reason,--when the grave, the pitiless grave, was already open to receive
thee.”--

“Too kind, too feeling Delvile!” cried the penetrated Cecilia, “relieve
your loaded heart from these bitter recollections; mine is lightened
already,--lightened, I think, of every thing but its affection for
_you_!”

“Oh words of transport and extacy!” cried the enraptured Delvile, “oh
partner of my life! friend, solace, darling of my bosom! that so lately
I thought expiring! that I folded to my bleeding heart in the agony of
eternal separation!”--

“Come away, Sir, come away,” cried Dr Lyster, who now saw that Cecilia
was greatly agitated, “I will not be answerable for the continuation of
this scene;” and taking him by the arm, he awakened him from his frantic
rapture, by assuring him she would faint, and forced him away from her.

Soon after he was gone, and Cecilia became more tranquil, Henrietta,
who had wept with bitterness in a corner of the room during this scene,
approached her, and, with an attempted smile, though in a voice hardly
audible, said, “Ah, Miss Beverley, you will, at last, then be happy!
happy as all your goodness deserves. And I am sure I should rejoice in
it if I was to die to make you happier!”

Cecilia, who but too well knew her full meaning, tenderly embraced her,
but was prevented by Dr Lyster from entering into any discourse with
her.

The first meeting, however, with Delvile being over, the second was
far more quiet, and in a very short time, he would scarcely quit her a
moment, Cecilia herself receiving from his sight a pleasure too great
for denial, yet too serene for danger.

The worthy Dr Lyster, finding her prospect of recovery thus fair,
prepared for leaving London: but, equally desirous to do good out of his
profession as in it, he first, at the request of Delvile, waited upon
his father, to acquaint him with his present situation, solicit his
directions for his future proceedings, and endeavour to negociate a
general reconciliation.

Mr Delvile, to whose proud heart social joy could find no avenue, was
yet touched most sensibly by the restoration of Cecilia. Neither his
dignity nor his displeasure had been able to repress remorse, a feeling
to which, with all his foibles, he had not been accustomed. The view of
her distraction had dwelt upon his imagination, the despondency of his
son had struck him with fear and horror. He had been haunted by self
reproach, and pursued by vain regret; and those concessions he had
refused to tenderness and entreaty, he now willingly accorded to change
repentance for tranquility. He sent instantly for his son, whom even
with tears he embraced, and felt his own peace restored as he pronounced
his forgiveness.

New, however, to kindness, he retained it not long, and a stranger to
generosity, he knew not how to make her welcome: the extinction of his
remorse abated his compassion for Cecilia, and when solicited to receive
her, he revived the charges of Mr Monckton.

Cecilia, informed of this, determined to write to that gentleman
herself, whose long and painful illness, joined to his irrecoverable
loss of her, she now hoped might prevail with him to make reparation for
the injuries he had done her.

_To Mr Monckton_.

I write not, Sir, to upbraid you; the woes which have followed your ill
offices, and which you may some time hear, will render my reproaches
superfluous. I write but to beseech that what is past may content you;
and that, however, while I was single, you chose to misrepresent me to
the Delvile family, you will have so much honour, since I am now become
one of it, as to acknowledge my innocence of the crimes laid to my
charge.

In remembrance of my former long friendship, I send you my good wishes;
and in consideration of my hopes from your recantation, I send you, Sir,
if you think it worth acceptance, my forgiveness.

CECILIA DELVILE.

Mr Monckton, after many long and painful struggles between useless rage,
and involuntary remorse, at length sent the following answer.

_To Mrs Mortimer Delvile_.

Those who could ever believe you guilty, must have been eager to think
you so. I meant but your welfare at all times, and to have saved you
from a connection I never thought equal to your merit. I am grieved,
but not surprised, to hear of your injuries; from the alliance you
have formed, nothing else could be expected: if my testimony to your
innocence can, however, serve to mitigate them, I scruple not to declare
I believe it without taint.

* * * * *

Delvile sent by Dr Lyster this letter to his father, whose rage at the
detection of the perfidy which had deceived him, was yet inferior to
what he felt that his family was mentioned so injuriously.

His conference with Dr Lyster was long and painful, but decisive: that
sagacious and friendly man knew well how to work upon, his passions,
and so effectually awakened them by representing the disgrace of his own
family from the present situation of Cecilia, that before he quitted his
house he was authorised to invite her to remove to it.

When he returned from his embassy, he found Delvile in her room, and
each waiting with impatience the event of his negociation.

The Doctor with much alacrity gave Cecilia the invitation with which he
had been charged; but Delvile, jealous for her dignity, was angry and
dissatisfied his father brought it not himself, and exclaimed with much
mortification, “Is this all the grace accorded me?”

“Patience, patience, Sir,” answered the Doctor; “when you have thwarted
any body in their first hope and ambition, do you expect they will send
you their compliments and many thanks for the disappointment? Pray let
the good gentleman have his way in some little matters, since you have
taken such effectual care to put out of his reach the power of having it
in greater.”

“O far from starting obstacles,” cried Cecilia, “let us solicit a
reconciliation with whatever concessions he may require. The misery of
DISOBEDIENCE we have but too fatally experienced; and thinking as we
think of filial ties and parental claims, how can we ever hope happiness
till forgiven and taken into favour?”

“True, my Cecilia,” answered Delvile, “and generous and condescending
as true; and if _you_ can thus sweetly comply, I will gratefully forbear
making any opposition. Too much already have you suffered from the
impetuosity of my temper, but I will try to curb it in future by the
remembrance of your injuries.”

“The whole of this unfortunate business,” said Dr Lyster, “has been the
result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. Your uncle, the Dean, began it, by his
arbitrary will, as if an ordinance of his own could arrest the course of
nature! and as if _he_ had power to keep alive, by the loan of a name,
a family in the male branch already extinct. Your father, Mr Mortimer,
continued it with the same self-partiality, preferring the wretched
gratification of tickling his ear with a favourite sound, to the solid
happiness of his son with a rich and deserving wife. Yet this,
however, remember; if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so
wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you
will also owe their termination: for all that I could say to Mr Delvile,
either of reasoning or entreaty,--and I said all I could suggest, and I
suggested all a man need wish to hear,--was totally thrown away, till
I pointed out to him his _own_ disgrace, in having a _daughter-in-law_
immured in these mean lodgings!

“Thus, my dear young lady, the terror which drove you to this house, and
the sufferings which have confined you in it, will prove, in the event,
the source of your future peace: for when all my best rhetorick failed
to melt Mr Delvile, I instantly brought him to terms by coupling his
name with a pawnbroker’s! And he could not with more disgust hear his
son called Mr Beverley, than think of his son’s wife when he hears of
the _Three Blue Balls_! Thus the same passions, taking but different
directions, _do_ mischief and _cure_ it alternately.

“Such, my good young friends, is the MORAL of your calamities. You have
all, in my opinion, been strangely at cross purposes, and trifled, no
one knows why, with the first blessings of life. My only hope is that
now, having among you thrown away its luxuries, you will have known
enough of misery to be glad to keep its necessaries.”

This excellent man was yet prevailed upon by Delvile to stay and assist
in removing the feeble Cecilia to St James’s-square.

Henrietta, for whom Mr Arnott’s equipage and servants had still remained
in town, was then, though with much difficulty, persuaded to go back to
Suffolk: but Cecilia, however fond of her society, was too sensible of
the danger and impropriety of her present situation, to receive from it
any pleasure.

Mr Delvile’s reception of Cecilia was formal and cold: yet, as she now
appeared publicly in the character of his son’s wife, the best
apartment in his house had been prepared for her use, his domestics were
instructed to wait upon her with the utmost respect, and Lady Honoria
Pemberton, who was accidentally in town, offered from curiosity, what
Mr Delvile accepted from parade, to be herself in St James’s-square, in
order to do honour to his daughter-in-law’s first entrance.

When Cecilia was a little recovered from the shock of the first
interview, and the fatigue of her removal, the anxious Mortimer would
instantly have had her conveyed to her own apartment; but, willing to
exert herself, and hoping to oblige Mr Delvile, she declared she was
well able to remain some time longer in the drawing-room.

“My good friends,” said Dr Lyster, “in the course of my long practice,
I have found it impossible to study the human frame, without a little
studying the human mind; and from all that I have yet been able to make
out, either by observation, reflection, or comparison, it appears to me
at this moment, that Mr Mortimer Delvile has got the best wife, and that
you, Sir, have here the most faultless daughter-in-law, that any husband
or any father in the three kingdoms belonging to his Majesty can either
have or desire.”

Cecilia smiled; Mortimer looked his delighted concurrence; Mr Delvile
forced himself to make a stiff inclination of the head; and Lady Honoria
gaily exclaimed, “Dr Lyster, when you say the _best_ and the most
_faultless_, you should always add the rest of the company excepted.”

“Upon my word,” cried the Doctor, “I beg your ladyship’s pardon; but
there is a certain unguarded warmth comes across a man now and then,
that drives _etiquette_ out of his head, and makes him speak truth
before he well knows where he is.”

“O terrible!” cried she, “this is sinking deeper and deeper. I had hoped
the town air would have taught you better things; but I find you have
visited at Delvile Castle till you are fit for no other place.”

“Whoever, Lady Honoria,” said Mr Delvile, much offended, “is fit for
Delvile Castle, must be fit for every other place; though every other
place may by no means be fit for him.”

“O yes, Sir,” cried she, giddily, “every possible place will be fit for
him, if he can once bear with that. Don’t you think so, Dr Lyster?”

“Why, when a man has the honour to see your ladyship,” answered he,
good-humouredly, “he is apt to think too much of the person, to care
about the place.”

“Come, I begin to have some hopes of you,” cried she, “for I see, for a
Doctor, you have really a very pretty notion of a compliment: only you
have one great fault still; you look the whole time as if you said it
for a joke.”

“Why, in fact, madam, when a man has been a plain dealer both in
word and look for upwards of fifty years, ‘tis expecting too quick a
reformation to demand ductility of voice and eye from him at a blow.
However, give me but a little time and a little encouragement, and, with
such a tutress, ‘twill be hard if I do not, in a very few lessons,
learn the right method of seasoning a simper, and the newest fashion of
twisting words from meaning.”

“But pray,” cried she, “upon those occasions, always remember to look
serious. Nothing sets off a compliment so much as a long face. If you
are tempted to an unseasonable laugh, think of Delvile Castle; ‘tis an
expedient I commonly make use of myself when I am afraid of being too
frisky: and it always succeeds, for the very recollection of it gives me
the head-ache in a moment. Upon my word, Mr Delvile, you must have the
constitution of five men, to have kept such good health, after living so
long at that horrible place. You can’t imagine how you’ve surprised me,
for I have regularly expected to hear of your death at the end of every
summer: and, I assure you, once, I was very near buying mourning.”

“The estate which descends to a man from his own ancestors, Lady
Honoria,” answered Mr Delvile, “will seldom be apt to injure his health,
if he is conscious of committing no misdemeanour which has degraded
their memory.”

“How vastly odious this new father of yours is!” said Lady Honoria, in a
whisper to Cecilia; “what could ever induce you to give up your charming
estate for the sake of coming into this fusty old family! I would really
advise you to have your marriage annulled. You have only, you know, to
take an oath that you were forcibly run away with; and as you are
an Heiress, and the Delviles are all so violent, it will easily be
credited. And then, as soon as you are at liberty, I would advise you to
marry my little Lord Derford.”

“Would you only, then,” said Cecilia, “have me regain my freedom in
order to part with it?”

“Certainly,” answered Lady Honoria, “for you can do nothing at all
without being married; a single woman is a thousand times more shackled
than a wife; for she is accountable to every body; and a wife, you know,
has nothing to do but just to manage her husband.”

“And that,” said Cecilia, smiling, “you consider as a trifle?”

“Yes, if you do but marry a man you don’t care for.”

“You are right, then, indeed, to recommend to me my Lord Derford!”

“O yes, he will make the prettiest husband in the world; you may fly
about yourself as wild as a lark, and keep him the whole time as tame as
a jack-daw: and though he may complain of you to your friends, he will
never have the courage to find fault to your face. But as to Mortimer,
you will not be able to govern him as long as you live; for the moment
you have put him upon the fret, you’ll fall into the dumps yourself,
hold out your hand to him, and, losing the opportunity of gaining some
material point, make up at the first soft word.”

“You think, then, the quarrel more amusing than the reconciliation?”

“O, a thousand times! for while you are quarrelling, you may say any
thing, and demand any thing, but when you are reconciled, you ought to
behave pretty, and seem contented.”

“Those who presume to have any pretensions to your ladyship,” said
Cecilia, “would be made happy indeed should they hear your principles!”

“O, it would not signify at all,” answered she, “for one’s fathers, and
uncles, and those sort of people, always make connexions for one, and
not a creature thinks of our principles, till they find them out by our
conduct: and nobody can possibly do that till we are married, for they
give us no power beforehand. The men know nothing of us in the world
while we are single, but how we can dance a minuet, or play a lesson
upon the harpsichord.”

“And what else,” said Mr Delvile, who advanced, and heard this last
speech, “need a young lady of rank desire to be known for? your ladyship
surely would not have her degrade herself by studying like an artist or
professor?”

“O no, Sir, I would not have her study at all; it’s mighty well for
children, but really after sixteen, and when one is come out, one
has quite fatigue enough in dressing, and going to public places,
and ordering new things, without all that torment of first and second
position, and E upon the first line, and F upon the first, space!”

“Your ladyship must, however, pardon me for hinting,” said Mr Delvile,
“that a young lady of condition, who has a proper sense of her dignity,
cannot be seen too rarely, or known too little.”

“O but I hate dignity!” cried she carelessly, “for it’s the dullest
thing in the world. I always thought it was owing to that you were so
little amusing;--really I beg your pardon, Sir, I meant to say so little
talkative.”

“I can easily credit that your ladyship spoke hastily,” answered he,
highly piqued, “for I believe, indeed, a person of a family such as
mine, will hardly be supposed to have come into the world for the office
of amusing it!”

“O no, Sir,” cried she, with pretended innocence, “nobody, I am sure,
ever saw you with such a thought.” Then, turning to Cecilia, she added
in a whisper, “You cannot imagine, my dear Mrs Mortimer, how I detest
this old cousin of mine! Now pray tell me honestly if you don’t hate him
yourself?”

“I hope,” said Cecilia, “to have no reason.”

“Lord, how you are always upon your guard! If I were half as cautious,
I should die of the vapours in a month; the only thing that keeps me
at all alive, is now and then making people angry; for the folks at our
house let me go out so seldom, and then send me with such stupid
old chaperons, that giving them a little torment is really the only
entertainment I can procure myself. O--but I had almost forgot to tell
you a most delightful thing!”

“What is it?”

“Why you must know I have the greatest hopes in the world that my father
will quarrel with old Mr Delvile!”

“And is that such a delightful thing!”

“O yes; I have lived upon the very idea this fortnight; for then, you
know, they’ll both be in a passion, and I shall see which of them looks
frightfullest.”

“When Lady Honoria whispers,” cried Mortimer, “I always suspect some
mischief.”

“No indeed,” answered her ladyship, “I was merely congratulating Mrs
Mortimer about her marriage. Though really, upon second thoughts, I
don’t know whether I should not rather condole with her, for I have long
been convinced she has a prodigious antipathy to you. I saw it the whole
time I was at Delvile Castle, where she used to change colour at the
very sound of your name; a symptom I never perceived when I talked to
her of my Lord Derford, who would certainly have made her a thousand
times a better husband.”

“If you mean on account of his title, Lady Honoria,” said Mr Delvile;
“your ladyship must be strangely forgetful of the connections of your
family, not to remember that Mortimer, after the death of his uncle
and myself, must inevitably inherit one far more honourable than a
new-sprung-up family, like my Lord Ernolf’s, could offer.”

“Yes, Sir; but then, you know, she would have kept her estate, which
would have been a vastly better thing than an old pedigree of new
relations. Besides, I don’t find that any body cares for the noble blood
of the Delviles but themselves; and if she had kept her fortune, every
body, I fancy, would have cared for _that_.”

“Every body, then,” said Mr Delvile, “must be highly mercenary and
ignoble, or the blood of an ancient and honourable house, would
be thought contaminated by the most distant hint of so degrading a
comparison.”

“Dear Sir, what should we all do with birth if it was not for wealth?
it would neither take us to Ranelagh nor the Opera; nor buy us caps nor
wigs, nor supply us with dinners nor bouquets.”

“Caps and wigs, dinners and bouquets!” interrupted Mr Delvile; “your
ladyship’s estimate of wealth is really extremely minute.”

“Why, you know, Sir, as to caps and wigs, they are very serious things,
for we should look mighty droll figures to go about bare-headed; and
as to dinners, how would the Delviles have lasted all these thousand
centuries if they had disdained eating them?”

“Whatever may be your ladyship’s satisfaction,” said Mr Delvile,
angrily, “in depreciating a house that has the honour of being nearly
allied with your own, you will not, I hope at least, instruct this
lady,” turning to Cecilia, “to adopt a similar contempt of its antiquity
and dignity.”

“This lady,” cried Mortimer, “will at least, by condescending to become
one of it, secure us from any danger that such contempt may spread
further.”

“Let me but,” said Cecilia, looking gratefully at him, “be as secure
from exciting as I am from feeling contempt, and what can I have to
wish?”

“Good and excellent young lady!” said Dr Lyster, “the first of blessings
indeed is yours in the temperance of your own mind. When you began your
career in life, you appeared to us short-sighted mortals, to possess
more than your share of the good things of this world; such a union of
riches, beauty, independence, talents, education and virtue, seemed
a monopoly to raise general envy and discontent; but mark with what
scrupulous exactness the good and bad is ever balanced! You have had
a thousand sorrows to which those who have looked up to you have been
strangers, and for which not all the advantages you possess have been
equivalent. There is evidently throughout this world, in things as
well as persons, a levelling principle, at war with pre-eminence, and
destructive of perfection.”

“Ah!” cried Mortimer, in a low voice to Cecilia, “how much higher
must we all rise, or how much lower must you fall, ere any levelling
principle will approximate us with YOU!”

He then entreated her to spare her strength and spirits by returning to
her own apartment, and the conversation was broken up.

“Pray permit me, Mrs Mortimer,” cried Lady Honoria, in taking leave,
“to beg that the first guest you invite to Delvile Castle may be me.
You know my partiality to it already. I shall be particularly happy in
waiting upon you in tempestuous weather! We can all stroll out together,
you know, very sociably; and I sha’n’t be much in your way, for if there
should happen to be a storm, you can easily lodge me under some great
tree, and while you amuse yourselves with a _tete-a-tete_, give me the
indulgence of my own reflections. I am vastly fond of thinking, and
being alone, you know,--especially in thunder and lightning!”

She then ran away; and they all separated: Cecilia was conveyed up
stairs, and the worthy Dr Lyster, loaded with acknowledgments of every
kind, set out for the country.

Cecilia, still weak, and much emaciated, for some time lived almost
wholly in her own room, where the grateful and solicitous attendance of
Mortimer, alleviated the pain both of her illness and confinement: but
as soon as her health permitted travelling, he hastened with her abroad.

Here tranquility once more made its abode the heart of Cecilia; that
heart so long torn with anguish, suspense and horrour! Mrs Delvile
received her with the most rapturous fondness, and the impression of her
sorrows gradually wore away, from her kind and maternal cares, and from
the watchful affection and delighted tenderness of her son.

The Egglestons now took entire possession of her estate, and Delvile, at
her entreaty, forbore shewing any personal resentment of their conduct,
and put into the hands of a lawyer the arrangement of the affair.

They continued abroad some months, and the health of Mrs Delvile was
tolerably re-established. They were then summoned home by the death of
Lord Delvile, who bequeathed to his nephew Mortimer his town house, and
whatever of his estate was not annexed to his title, which necessarily
devolved to his brother.

The sister of Mrs Delvile, a woman of high spirit and strong passions,
lived not long after him; but having, in her latter days, intimately
connected herself with Cecilia, she was so much charmed with her
character, and so much dazzled by her admiration of the extraordinary
sacrifice she had made, that, in a fit of sudden enthusiasm, she altered
her will, to leave to her, and to her sole disposal, the fortune which,
almost from his infancy, she had destined for her nephew. Cecilia,
astonished and penetrated, opposed the alteration; but even her sister,
now Lady Delvile, to whom she daily became dearer, earnestly supported
it; while Mortimer, delighted to restore to her through his own family,
any part of that power and independence of which her generous and pure
regard for himself had deprived her, was absolute in refusing that the
deed should be revoked.

Cecilia, from this flattering transaction, received a further conviction
of the malignant falsehood of Mr Monckton, who had always represented
to her the whole of the Delvile family as equally poor in their
circumstances, and illiberal in their minds. The strong spirit of
active benevolence which had ever marked her character, was now again
displayed, though no longer, as hitherto, unbounded. She had learnt
the error of profusion, even in charity and beneficence; and she had a
motive for oeconomy, in her animated affection for Mortimer.

She soon sent for Albany, whose surprise that she still existed, and
whose rapture at her recovered prosperity, now threatened his senses
from the tumult of his joy, with nearly the same danger they had lately
been menaced by terror. But though her donations were circumscribed by
prudence, and their objects were selected with discrimination, she
gave to herself all her former benevolent pleasure, in solacing his
afflictions, while she softened his asperity, by restoring to him his
favourite office of being her almoner and monitor.

She next sent to her own pensioners, relieved those distresses which her
sudden absence had occasioned, and renewed and continued the salaries
she had allowed them. All who had nourished reasonable expectations from
her bounty she remembered, though she raised no new claimants but with
oeconomy and circumspection. But neither Albany nor the old pensioners
felt the satisfaction of Mortimer, who saw with new wonder the virtues
of her mind, and whose admiration of her excellencies, made his
gratitude perpetual for the happiness of his lot.

The tender-hearted Henrietta, in returning to her new friends, gave way,
with artless openness, to the violence of untamed grief; but finding Mr
Arnott as wretched as herself, the sympathy Cecilia had foreseen soon
endeared them to each other, while the little interest taken in either
by Mrs Harrel, made them almost inseparable companions.

Mrs Harrel, wearied by their melancholy, and sick of retirement, took
the earliest opportunity that was offered her of changing her situation;
she married very soon a man of fortune in the neighbourhood, and,
quickly forgetting all the past, thoughtlessly began the world again,
with new hopes, new connections,--new equipages and new engagements!

Henrietta was then obliged to go again to her mother, where, though
deprived of all the indulgencies to which she was now become familiar,
she was not more hurt by the separation than Mr Arnott. So sad and so
solitary his house seemed in her absence, that he soon followed her to
town, and returned not till he carried her back its mistress. And there
the gentle gratitude of her soft and feeling heart, engaged from the
worthy Mr Arnott the tenderest affection, and, in time, healed the wound
of his early and hopeless passion.

The injudicious, the volatile, yet noble-minded Belfield, to whose
mutable and enterprising disposition life seemed always rather beginning
than progressive, roved from employment to employment, and from public
life to retirement, soured with the world, and discontented with
himself, till vanquished, at length, by the constant friendship of
Delvile, he consented to accept his good offices in again entering the
army; and, being fortunately ordered out upon foreign service, his hopes
were revived by ambition, and his prospects were brightened by a view of
future honour.

The wretched Monckton, dupe of his own cunning and artifices, still
lived in lingering misery, doubtful which was most acute, the pain of
his wound and confinement, or of his defeat and disappointment. Led on
by a vain belief that he had parts to conquer all difficulties, he had
indulged without restraint a passion in which interest was seconded by
inclination. Allured by such fascinating powers, he shortly suffered
nothing to stop his course; and though when he began his career he would
have started at the mention of actual dishonour, long before it was
concluded, neither treachery nor perjury were regarded by him as
stumbling blocks.

All fear of failing was lost in vanity, all sense of probity was sunk in
interest, all scruples of conscience were left behind by the heat of the
chace. Yet the unforeseen and melancholy catastrophe of his long arts,
illustrated in his despite what his principles had obscured, that
even in worldly pursuits where fraud out-runs integrity, failure joins
dishonour to loss, and disappointment excites triumph instead of pity.

The upright mind of Cecilia, her purity, her virtue, and the moderation
of her wishes, gave to her in the warm affection of Lady Delvile, and
the unremitting fondness of Mortimer, all the happiness human life seems
capable of receiving:--yet human it was, and as such imperfect! she knew
that, at times, the whole family must murmur at her loss of fortune, and
at times she murmured herself to be thus portionless, tho’ an HEIRESS.
Rationally, however, she surveyed the world at large, and finding that
of the few who had any happiness, there were none without some misery,
she checked the rising sigh of repining mortality, and, grateful with
general felicity, bore partial evil with chearfullest resignation.





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