At length sir William by his generous interposition affected a compromise. It was agreed that Mr. Prettyman should fall upon his knees before lord Martin in the public room in the presence of Delia, and, asking his pardon, put a small cane into his hand. “My lord,” said sir William to the beau, “is as generous as he is brave. He will not make an improper use of the advantage you put into his hands. He will raise you from the humble posture you will have assumed, and, embracing you cordially, all that is past will be forgotten. As his lordship will take you under his protection, not an individual will dare to reflect upon you.” “Mr. Prettyman,” said sir William to lord Martin, “unites the heart of a chicken to the most absolute skill in the small sword that ever I saw. I have been only capable of restraining him by representing your lordship as the most furious and impracticable of mankind. If he once suspect that I have misrepresented you, a duel, in which I am afraid your lordship would be overmatched, must be the inevitable consequence. Might I therefore presume to advise, your lordship should make use of the advantage I have gained you without mercy.”
Containing some Specimens of Heroism.
The evening now approached, in which the scene sir William Twyford had with so much pains prepared, was to be acted. An imperfect rumour had spread that something extraordinary was to pass in the public room. Miss Prim was of opinion that a duel would be fought. “I shall be frightened out of my wits,” said she. “But I must go, for one loves any thing new, and I believe there is nothing in it that a modest woman may not see.” Miss Gawky thought it would be a boxing match. “Bless us, my dear lord Martin could stand no chance with that great lubberly macaroni.” But Miss Griskin, with a look of more than common sagacity, assured the ladies that she had penetrated to the very bottom of the matter. “Mr. Prettyman and lord Martin have ordered two large rounds of beef to be set upon the table at supper, and they mean to lay about them for a wager.”
In this manner every one made her own conjecture, which she preferred to that of all the rest. Curiosity was wrought up to the highest pitch, and the uncertainty that prevailed upon the subject, rendered the affair still more interesting. The rooms were early filled with an uncommon number of spectators. About nine o’clock Mr. Prettyman entered, but instead of exerting himself with his usual vivacity, he retired to one corner of the room, and sat in a sheepish and melancholy posture. Not long after, sir William Twyford and lord Martin came in, arm in arm.
The peer strutted immediately to the upper end of the room. Delia stood near him. “My lovely girl,” said he, with an air of vulgar familiarity, “I am rejoiced to see you. I hope I shall one day prove myself worthy of your favour.”