Delia was now alone. But instead, as she had flattered herself of having her doubts resolved, she was more uncertain, more perplexed than ever. “What” cried she, “can all this mean? How strange, and how inexplicable! Is it a real person that I have seen, or is it a vision that mocks my fancy? Am I loved, or am I hated? Oh, foolish question! Oh, fond illusion! Are we not parted for ever! Is he not gone to seek the mistress of his soul! Alas, he views me not, but with that general complacency, which youth, and the small pretensions I have to beauty are calculated to excite! He had nothing to relate that concerned myself, he merely intended to make me the confidante of his passion for another. Too surely he is unhappy. His heart seemed ready to burst with sorrow. Probably in this situation there is no greater or more immediate relief, than to disclose the subject of our distress, and to receive into our bosom the sympathetic tear of a simple and a generous heart. His behaviour today corresponds but too well with the suspicions that yesterday excited. Oh, Delia! then,” added she, “be firm. Thou shalt see the conqueror no more. Think of him no more.”
In spite however of all the resolution she could muster, Delia repaired day after day, sometimes alone, and sometimes in company with her friend, to that spot which, by the umbrage of melancholy it wore, was become more interesting than ever. Miss Fletcher, could scarcely at first be persuaded to direct her course that way, lest she should again see the ghost. But she need not have terrified herself. No ghost appeared.
Disappointed and baffled on this side, Delia by the strictest enquiries endeavoured to find out who the unknown person was, in whose fate she had become so greatly interested. The result of these enquiries, however diligent, was not entirely satisfactory. She learned that he had been for a few days upon a visit to a Mr. Moreland, a gentleman who lived about three miles from Southampton.
Mr. Moreland was a person of a very singular character. He had the reputation in the neighbourhood of being a cynic, a misanthrope, and a madman. He kept very little company, and was even seldom seen but by night. He had a garden sufficiently spacious, which was carefully rendered impervious to every human eye. And to this and his house he entirely confined himself in the day-time. The persons he saw were not the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. He had no toleration for characters that did not interest him. When he first came down to his present residence, he was visited by Mr. Hartley, Mr. Prattle, squire Savage, lord Martin, and all the most admired personages in the country. But their visits had never been returned. Mr. Prattle pronounced him a scoundrel; squire Savage said he was a nincompoop; and lord Martin was near sending him a challenge. But the censures of the former, and the threats of the latter, had never reached his ears. His domestics were numerous, but they were hired from a distance, and were permitted as little communication as possible with the powdered lacquies of Southampton. Of consequence, however much the unaccommodating conduct of Mr. Moreland disposed his neighbours to calumniate him, scandal was deprived of that daily food which is requisite for her subsistence, and the name of that gentleman was scarcely ever heard.