I was, however, glad at my heart that Mrs. Moore came up so seasonably with notice that dinner was ready. The fair fugitive was all in alt. She had the excuse for withdrawing, I had time to strengthen myself; the Captain had time to come; and the lady to cool.—Shakspeare advises well:
Oppose not rage,
whilst rage is in its force;
But give it way awhile, and let it waste.
The rising deluge is not stopt with dams;
Those it o’erbears, and drowns the hope of harvest.
But, wisely manag’d, its divided strength
Is sluic’d in channels, and securely drain’d:
And when its force is spent, and unsupply’d,
The residue with mounds may be restrain’d,
And dry-shod we may pass the naked ford.
I went down with the women to dinner. Mrs. Moore sent her fair boarder up a plate, but she only ate a little bit of bread, and drank a glass of water. I doubted not but she would keep her word, when it was once gone out. Is she not an Harlowe? She seems to be enuring herself to hardships, which at the worst she can never know; since, though she should ultimately refuse to be obliged to me, or (to express myself more suitable to my own heart,) to oblige me, every one who sees her must befriend her.
But let me ask thee, Belford, Art thou not solicitous for me in relation to the contents of the letter which the angry beauty had written and dispatched away by man and horse; and for what may be Miss Howe’s answer to it? Art thou not ready to inquire, Whether it be not likely that Miss Howe, when she knows of her saucy friend’s flight, will be concerned about her letter, which she must know could not be at Wilson’s till after that flight, and so, probably, would fall into my hands?—
All these things, as thou’lt see in the sequel, are provided for with as much contrivance as human foresight can admit.
I have already told thee that Will. is upon the lookout for old Grimes— old Grimes is, it seems, a gossiping, sottish rascal; and if Will. can but light of him, I’ll answer for the consequence; For has not Will. been my servant upwards of seven years?
We had at dinner, besides Miss Rawlins, a young widow-niece of Mrs. Moore, who is come to stay a month with her aunt—Bevis her name; very forward, very lively, and a great admirer of me, I assure you;—hanging smirkingly upon all I said; and prepared to approve of every word before I spoke: and who, by the time we had half-dined, (by the help of what she had collected before,) was as much acquainted with our story as either of the other two.
As it behoved me to prepare them in my favour against whatever might come from Miss Howe, I improved upon the hint I had thrown out above-stairs against that mischief-making lady. I represented her to be an arrogant creature, revengeful, artful, enterprising, and one who, had she been a man, would have sworn and cursed, and committed rapes, and played the devil, as far as I knew: [I have no doubt of it, Jack!] but who, by advantage of a female education, and pride and insolence, I believed was personally virtuous.