I told the women, ’I despaired that it would ever be better with us while Miss Howe had so strange an ascendancy over my spouse, and remained herself unmarried. And until the reconciliation with her friends could be effected; or a still happier event—as I should think it, who am the last male of my family; and which my foolish vow, and her rigour, had hitherto’—
Here I stopt, and looked modest, turning my diamond ring round my finger; while goody Moore looked mighty significant, calling it a very particular case; and the maiden fanned away, and primm’d, and purs’d, to show that what I had said needed no farther explanantion.
’I told them the occasion of our present difference. I avowed the reality of the fire; but owned, that I would have made no scruple of breaking the unnatural oath she had bound me in, (having a husband’s right on my side,) when she was so accidentally frighted into my arms; and I blamed myself excessively, that I did not; since she thought fit to carry her resentment so high, and had the injustice to suppose the fire to be a contrivance of mine.’
Nay, for that matter, Mrs. Moore said, as we were married, and madam was so odd—every gentleman would not—and stopt there Mrs. Moore.
’To suppose I should have recourse to such a poor contrivance, said I, when I saw the dear creature every hour.’—Was not this a bold put, Jack?
A most extraordinary case, truly, cried the maiden; fanning, yet coming in with her Well-but’s!—and her sifting Pray, Sir’s!—and her restraining Enough, Sir’s.—flying from the question to the question—her seat now-and-then uneasy, for fear my want of delicacy should hurt her abundant modesty; and yet it was difficult to satisfy her super-abundant curiosity.
’My beloved’s jealousy, [and jealousy of itself, to female minds, accounts for a thousand unaccountablenesses,] and the imputation of her half-phrensy, brought upon her by her father’s wicked curse, and by the previous persecutions she had undergone from all her family, were what I dwelt upon, in order to provide against what might happen.’
In short, ’I owned against myself most of the offences which I did not doubt but she would charge me with in their hearing; and as every cause has a black and white side, I gave the worst parts of our story the gentlest turn. And when I had done, acquainted them with some of the contents of that letter of Captain Tomlinson which I left with the lady. I concluded with James Harlowe, and of Captain Singleton, or of any sailor-looking men.’
This thou wilt see, from the letter itself, was necessary to be done. Here, therefore, thou mayest read it. And a charming letter to my purpose wilt thou find it to be, if thou givest the least attention to its contents.