I am afraid I shall receive a very harsh answer from her: my fault, in the eyes of my family, is of so enormous a nature, that my first application will hardly be encouraged. Then they know not (nor perhaps will believe) that I am so very ill as I am. So that, were I actually to die before they could have time to take the necessary informations, you must not blame them too severely. You must call it a fatality. I know not what you must call it: for, alas! I have made them as miserable as I am myself. And yet sometimes I think that, were they cheerfully to pronounce me forgiven, I know not whether my concern for having offended them would not be augmented: since I imagine that nothing can be more wounding to a spirit not ungenerous than a generous forgiveness.
I hope your mother will permit our correspondence for one month more, although I do not take her advice as to having this man. When catastrophes are winding up, what changes (changes that make one’s heart shudder to think of,) may one short month produce?—But if she will not— why then, my dear, it becomes us both to acquiesce.
You can’t think what my apprehensions would have been, had I known Mr. Hickman was to have had a meeting (on such a questioning occasion as must have been his errand from you) with that haughty and uncontroulable man.
You give me hope of a visit from Mr. Hickman: let him expect to see me greatly altered. I know he loves me: for he loves every one whom you love. A painful interview, I doubt! But I shall be glad to see a man whom you will one day, and that on an early day, I hope, make happy; whose gentle manners, and unbounded love for you, will make you so, if it be not your own fault.
I am, my dearest, kindest friend, the sweet companion of my happy hours, the friend ever dearest and nearest to my fond heart,
Your equally obliged and faithful,
Mrs. Norton, to miss Clarissa
Monday, July 24.
Excuse, my dearest young lady, my long silence. I have been extremely ill. My poor boy has also been at death’s door; and, when I hoped that he was better, he has relapsed. Alas! my dear, he is very dangerously ill. Let us both have your prayers!
Very angry letters have passed between your sister and Miss Howe. Every one of your family is incensed against that young lady. I wish you would remonstrate against her warmth; since it can do no good; for they will not believe but that her interposition had your connivance; nor that you are so ill as Miss Howe assures them you are.
Before she wrote, they were going to send up young Mr. Brand, the clergyman, to make private inquiries of your health, and way of life.— But now they are so exasperated that they have laid aside their intention.