The women seemed moved; for I spoke with great earnestness, though low—and besides, they love to have their sex, and its favours, appear of importance to us. They shook their deep heads at each other, and looked sorrowful: and this moved my tender heart too.
’Tis an unheard-of case, Ladies—had she not preferred me to all mankind—There I stopped—and that, resumed I, feeling for my handkerchief, is what staggered Captain Tomlinson when he heard of her flight; who, the last time he saw us together, saw the most affectionate couple on earth!—the most affectionate couple on earth!—in the accent-grievous, repeated I.
Out then I pulled my handkerchief, and putting it to my eyes, arose, and walked to the window—It makes me weaker than a woman, did I not love her, as never man loved his wife! [I have no doubt but I do, Jack.]
There again I stopt; and resuming—Charming creature, as you see she is, I wish I had never beheld her face!—Excuse me, Ladies; traversing the room, and having rubbed my eyes till I supposed them red, I turned to the women; and, pulling out my letter-case, I will show you one letter—here it is—read it, Miss Rawlins, if you please—it will confirm to you how much all my family are prepared to admire her. I am freely treated in it;—so I am in the two others: but after what I have told you, nothing need be a secret to you two.
She took it, with an air of eager curiosity, and looked at the seal, ostentatiously coroneted; and at the superscription, reading out, To Robert Lovelace, Esq.—Ay, Madam—Ay, Miss, that’s my name, [giving myself an air, though I had told it to them before,] I am not ashamed of it. My wife’s maiden name—unmarried name, I should rather say—fool that I am!—and I rubbed my cheek for vexation [Fool enough in conscience, Jack!] was Harlowe—Clarissa Harlowe—you heard me call her my Clarissa—
I did—but thought it to be a feigned or love-name, said Miss Rawlins.
I wonder what is Miss Rawlins’s love-name, Jack. Most of the fair romancers have in their early womanhood chosen love-names. No parson ever gave more real names, than I have given fictitious ones. And to very good purpose: many a sweet dear has answered me a letter for the sake of owning a name which her godmother never gave her.
No—it was her real name, I said.
I bid her read out the whole letter. If the spelling be not exact, Miss Rawlins, said I, you will excuse it; the writer is a lord. But, perhaps, I may not show it to my spouse; for if those I have left with her have no effect upon her, neither will this: and I shall not care to expose my Lord M. to her scorn. Indeed I begin to be quite careless of consequences.
Miss Rawlins, who could not but be pleased with this mark of my confidence, looked as if she pitied me.
And here thou mayest read the letter, No. III.