But I lose time; yet know not how to employ it till this fellow returns with the sequel of thy soul-harrowing intelligence!
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Monday night, July 17.
On my return to Rowland’s, I found that the apothecary was just gone up. Mrs. Rowland being above with him, I made the less scruple to go up too, as it was probable, that to ask for leave would be to ask to be denied; hoping also, that the letters had with me would be a good excuse.
She was sitting on the side of the broken couch, extremely weak and low; and, I observed, cared not to speak to the man: and no wonder; for I never saw a more shocking fellow, of a profession tolerably genteel, nor heard a more illiterate one prate—physician in ordinary to this house, and others like it, I suppose! He put me in mind of Otway’s apothecary in his Caius Marius; as borrowed from the immortal Shakspeare:
Meagre and very rueful were his
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.
------------ Famine in his cheeks:
Need and oppression staring in his eyes:
Contempt and beggary hanging on his back:
The world no friend of his, nor the world’s law.
As I am in black, he took me, at my entrance, I believe, to be a doctor; and slunk behind me with his hat upon his two thumbs, and looked as if he expected the oracle to open, and give him orders.
The lady looked displeased, as well at me as at Rowland, who followed me, and at the apothecary. It was not, she said, the least of her present misfortunes, that she could not be left to her own sex; and to her option to see whom she pleased.
I besought her excuse; and winking for the apothecary to withdraw, [which he did,] told her, that I had been at her new lodgings, to order every thing to be got ready for reception, presuming she would choose to go thither: that I had a chair at the door: that Mr. Smith and his wife [I named their names, that she should not have room for the least fear of Sinclair’s] had been full of apprehensions for her safety: that I had brought two letters, which were left there fore her; the one by the post, the other that very morning.
This took her attention. She held out her charming hand for them; took them, and, pressing them to her lips—From the only friend I have in the world! said she; kissing them again; and looking at the seals, as if to see whether they had been opened. I can’t read them, said she, my eyes are too dim; and put them into her bosom.
I besought her to think of quitting that wretched hole.
Whither could she go, she asked, to be safe and uninterrupted for the short remainder of her life; and to avoid being again visited by the creatures who had insulted her before?
I gave her the solemnest assurances that she should not be invaded in her new lodgings by any body; and said that I would particularly engage my honour, that the person who had most offended her should not come near her, without her own consent.