Your villain it was that set the poor lady, and had the impudence to appear, and abet the sheriff’s officers in the cursed transaction. He thought, no doubt, that he was doing the most acceptable service to his blessed master. They had got a chair; the head ready up, as soon as service was over. And as she came out of the church, at the door fronting Bedford-street, the officers, stepping up to her, whispered that they had an action against her.
She was terrified, trembled, and turned pale.
Action, said she! What is that!——I
have committed no bad action!——
Lord bless me! men, what mean you?
That you are our prisoner, Madam.
Prisoner, Sirs!—What—How—Why—What have I done?
You must go with us. Be pleased, Madam, to step into this chair.
With you!—With men! Must go with men!—I am not used to go with strange men!——Indeed you must excuse me!
We can’t excuse you. We are sheriff’s officers, We have a writ against you. You must go with us, and you shall know at whose suit.
Suit! said the charming innocent; I don’t know what you mean. Pray, men, don’t lay hands upon me; (they offering to put her into the chair.) I am not used to be thus treated—I have done nothing to deserve it.
She then spied thy villain—O thou wretch, said she, where is thy vile master?—Am I again to be his prisoner? Help, good people!
A crowd had begun to gather.
My master is in the country, Madam, many miles off. If you please to go with these men, they will treat you civilly.
The people were most of them struck with compassion. A fine young creature!—A thousand pities cried some. While some few threw out vile and shocking reflections! But a gentleman interposed, and demanded to see the fellow’s authority.
They showed it. Is your name Clarissa Harlowe, Madam? said he.
Yes, yes, indeed, ready to sink, my name was Clarissa Harlowe:—but it is now Wretchedness!——Lord be merciful to me, what is to come next?
You must go with these men, Madam, said the gentleman: they have authority for what they do.
He pitied her, and retired.
Indeed you must, said one chairman.
Indeed you must, said the other.
Can nobody, joined in another gentleman, be applied to, who will see that so fine a creature is not ill used?
Thy villain answered, orders were given particularly for that. She had rich relations. She need but ask and have. She would only be carried to the officer’s house till matters could be made up. The people she had lodged with loved her:—but she had left her lodgings privately.
Oh! had she those tricks already? cried one or two.
She heard not this—but said—Well, if I must go, I must—I cannot resist —but I will not be carried to the woman’s! I will rather die at your feet, than be carried to the woman’s.