bursting into tears, she cryed, “Do with me, madam, whatever you please; I am the most miserable undone wretch upon earth; if my dear aunt forsakes me, where shall I look for a protector?” “My dear niece,” cries she, “you will have a very good protector in his lordship; a protector whom nothing but a hankering after that vile fellow Jones can make you decline.” “Indeed, madam,” said Sophia, “you wrong me. How can you imagine, after what you have shewn me, if I had ever any such thoughts, that I should not banish them for ever? If it will satisfy you, I will receive the sacrament upon it never to see his face again.” “But, child, dear child,” said the aunt, “be reasonable; can you invent a single objection?” “I have already, I think, told you a sufficient objection,” answered Sophia. “What?” cries the aunt; “I remember none.” “Sure, madam,” said Sophia, “I told you he had used me in the rudest and vilest manner.” “Indeed, child,” answered she, “I never heard you, or did not understand you:—but what do you mean by this rude, vile manner?” “Indeed, madam,” said Sophia, “I am almost ashamed to tell you. He caught me in his arms, pulled me down upon the settee, and thrust his hand into my bosom, and kissed it with such violence that I have the mark upon my left breast at this moment.” “Indeed!” said Mrs. Western. “Yes, indeed, madam,” answered Sophia; “my father luckily came in at that instant, or Heaven knows what rudeness he intended to have proceeded to.” “I am astonished and confounded,” cries the aunt. “No woman of the name of Western hath been ever treated so since we were a family. I would have torn the eyes of a prince out, if he had attempted such freedoms with me. It is impossible! sure, Sophia, you must invent this to raise my indignation against him.” “I hope, madam,” said Sophia, “you have too good an opinion of me to imagine me capable of telling an untruth. Upon my soul it is true.” “I should have stabbed him to the heart, had I been present,” returned the aunt. “Yet surely he could have no dishonourable design; it is impossible! he durst not: besides, his proposals shew he hath not; for they are not only honourable, but generous. I don’t know; the age allows too great freedoms. A distant salute is all I would have allowed before the ceremony. I have had lovers formerly, not so long ago neither; several lovers, though I never would consent to marriage, and I never encouraged the least freedom. It is a foolish custom, and what I never would agree to. No man kissed more of me than my cheek. It is as much as one can bring oneself to give lips up to a husband; and, indeed, could I ever have been persuaded to marry, I believe I should not have soon been brought to endure so much.” “You will pardon me, dear madam,” said Sophia, “if I make one observation: you own you have had many lovers, and the world knows it, even if you should deny it. You refused them all, and, I am convinced, one coronet at least among them.” “You say true, dear Sophy,” answered she; “I had once the offer of a title.” “Why, then,” said Sophia, “will you not suffer me to refuse this once?” “It is true, child,” said she, “I have refused the offer of a title; but it was not so good an offer; that is, not so very, very good an offer.”—“Yes, madam,” said Sophia; “but you have had very great proposals from men of vast fortunes. It was not the first, nor the second, nor the third advantageous match that offered itself.” “I own it was not,” said she. “Well, madam,” continued Sophia, “and why may not I expect to have a second, perhaps, better than this? You are now but a young woman, and I am convinced would not promise to yield to the first lover of fortune, nay, or of title too. I am a very young woman, and sure I need not despair.” “Well, my dear, dear Sophy,” cries the aunt, “what would you have me say?” “Why, I only beg that I may not be left alone, at least this evening; grant me that, and I will submit, if you think, after what is past, I ought to see him in your company.” “Well, I will grant it,” cries the aunt. “Sophy, you know I love you, and can deny you nothing. You know the easiness of my nature; I have not always been so easy. I have been formerly thought cruel; by the men, I mean. I was called the cruel Parthenissa. I have broke many a window that has had verses to the cruel Parthenissa in it. Sophy, I was never so handsome as you, and yet I had something of you formerly. I am a little altered. Kingdoms and states, as Tully Cicero says in his epistles, undergo alterations, and so must the human form.” Thus run she on for near half an hour upon herself, and her conquests, and her cruelty, till the arrival of my lord, who, after a most tedious visit, during which Mrs. Western never once offered to leave the room, retired, not much more satisfied with the aunt than with the niece; for Sophia had brought her aunt into so excellent a temper, that she consented to almost everything her niece said; and agreed that a little distant behaviour might not be improper to so forward a lover.

Thus Sophia, by a little well-directed flattery, for which surely none will blame her, obtained a little ease for herself, and, at least, put off the evil day. And now we have seen our heroine in a better situation

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