Chapter 6


Access to the young lady was by no means difficult; for, as she lived now on a perfect friendly footing with her aunt, she was at full liberty to receive what visitants she pleased.

Sophia was dressing, when she was acquainted that there was a gentlewoman below to wait on her. As she was neither afraid, nor ashamed, to see any of her own sex, Mrs. Miller was immediately admitted.

Curtsies and the usual ceremonials between women who are strangers to each other, being past, Sophia said, “I have not the pleasure to know you, madam.” “No, madam,” answered Mrs. Miller, “and I must beg pardon for intruding upon you. But when you know what has induced me to give you this trouble, I hope—” “Pray, what is your business, madam?” said Sophia, with a little emotion. “Madam, we are not alone,” replied Mrs. Miller, in a low voice. “Go out, Betty,” said Sophia.

When Betty was departed, Mrs. Miller said, “I was desired, madam, by a very unhappy young gentleman, to deliver you this letter.” Sophia changed colour when she saw the direction, well knowing the hand, and after some hesitation, said—“I could not conceive, madam, from your appearance, that your business had been of such a nature.—Whomever you brought this letter from, I shall not open it. I should be sorry to entertain an unjust suspicion of any one; but you are an utter stranger to me.”

“If you will have patience, madam,” answered Mrs. Miller, “I will acquaint you who I am, and how I came by that letter.” “I have no curiosity, madam, to know anything,” cries Sophia; “but I must insist on your delivering that letter back to the person who gave it you.”

Mrs. Miller then fell upon her knees, and in the most passionate terms implored her compassion; to which Sophia answered: “Sure, madam, it is surprizing you should be so very strongly interested in the behalf of this person. I would not think, madam”—“No, madam,” says Mrs. Miller, “you shall not think anything but the truth. I will tell you all, and you will not wonder that I am interested. He is the best-natured creature that ever was born.”—She then began and related the story of Mr. Anderson.—After this she cried, “This, madam, this is his goodness; but I have much more tender obligations to him. He hath preserved my child.”—Here, after shedding some tears, she related everything concerning that fact, suppressing only those circumstances which would have most reflected on her daughter, and concluded with saying, “Now, madam, you shall judge whether I can ever do enough for so kind, so good, so generous a young man; and sure he is the best and worthiest of all human beings.”

The alterations in the countenance of Sophia had hitherto been chiefly to her disadvantage, and had inclined her complexion to too great paleness; but she now waxed redder, if possible, than vermilion, and cried, “I know not what to say; certainly what arises from gratitude cannot be blamed—But what service can my reading this letter do your friend, since I am resolved never—” Mrs. Miller fell again to her entreaties, and begged to be forgiven, but she could not, she said, carry it back. “Well, madam,” says Sophia, “I cannot help it, if you will force it upon me.—Certainly you may leave it, whether I will or no.” What Sophia meant, or whether she meant anything, I will not presume to determine; but Mrs. Miller actually understood this as a hint, and presently laying the letter down on the table, took her leave, having first begged permission to wait again on Sophia; which request had neither assent nor denial.

The letter lay upon the table no longer than till Mrs. Miller was out of sight; for then Sophia opened and read it.

This letter did very little service to his cause; for it consisted of little more than confessions of his own unworthiness, and bitter lamentations of despair, together with the most solemn protestations of his unalterable fidelity to Sophia, of which, he said, he hoped to convince her, if he had ever more the honour of being admitted to her presence; and that he could account for the letter to Lady Bellaston in such a manner, that, though it would not entitle him to her forgiveness, he hoped at least to obtain it from her mercy. And concluded with vowing that nothing was ever less in his thoughts than to marry Lady Bellaston.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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