This blessing is all the favour I have now to ask: it is all I dare to ask: yet am I afraid to rush at once, though by letter, into the presence of either. And if I did not ask it, it might seem to be owing to stubbornness and want of duty, when my heart is all humility penitence. Only, be so good as to embolden me to attempt this task— write but this one line, ’Clary Harlowe, you are at liberty to write as you desire.’ This will be enough—and shall, to my last hour, be acknowledged as the greatest favour, by
Your truly penitent sister,
Mrs. Norton, to miss Clarissa
Monday, July 31.
MY DEAREST YOUNG LADY,
I must indeed own that I took the liberty to write to your mother, offering to enclose to her, if she gave me leave, your’s of the 24th: by which I thought she would see what was the state of your mind; what the nature of your last troubles was from the wicked arrest; what the people are where you lodge; what proposals were made you from Lord M.’s family; also your sincere penitence; and how much Miss Howe’s writing to them, in the terms she wrote in, disturbed you—but, as you have taken the matter into your own hands, and forbid me, in your last, to act in this nice affair unknown to you, I am glad the letter was not required of me—and indeed it may be better that the matter lie wholly between you and them; since my affection for you is thought to proceed from partiality.
They would choose, no doubt, that you should owe to themselves, and not to my humble mediation, the favour for which you so earnestly sue, and of which I would not have your despair: for I will venture to assure you, that your mother is ready to take the first opportunity to show her maternal tenderness: and this I gather from several hints I am not at liberty to explain myself upon.
I long to be with you, now I am better, and now my son is in a fair way of recovery. But is it not hard to have it signified to me that at present it will not be taken well if I go?—I suppose, while the reconciliation, which I hope will take place, is negotiating by means of the correspondence so newly opened between you and your sister. But if you will have me come, I will rely on my good intentions, and risque every one’s displeasure.
Mr. Brand has business in town; to solicit for a benefice which it is expected the incumbent will be obliged to quit for a better preferment: and, when there, he is to inquire privately after your way of life, and of your health.
He is a very officious young man; and, but that your uncle Harlowe (who has chosen him for this errand) regards him as an oracle, your mother had rather any body else had been sent.
He is one of those puzzling, over-doing gentlemen, who think they see farther into matters than any body else, and are fond of discovered mysteries where there are none, in order to be thought shrewd men.