But here this moment is Will. come running hither to tell me that his lady actually returned to her lodgings last night between eleven and twelve; and is now there, though very ill.
I hasten to her. But, that I may not add to her indisposition, by any rough or boisterous behaviour, I will be as soft and gentle as the dove herself in my addresses to her.
That I do love
her, I all ye host of Heaven,
Be witness.—That she is dear to me!
Dearer than day, to one whom sight must leave;
Dearer than life, to one who fears to die!
The chair is come. I fly to my beloved.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq.
Curse upon my stars!—Disappointed again! It was about eight when I arrived at Smith’s.—The woman was in the shop.
So, old acquaintance, how do you now? I know my love is above.—Let her be acquainted that I am here, waiting for admission to her presence, and can take no denial. Tell her, that I will approach her with the most respectful duty, and in whose company she pleases; and I will not touch the hem of her garment, without her leave.
Indeed, Sir, you are mistaken. The lady is not in this house, nor near it.
I’ll see that.—Will.! beckoning him to me, and whispering, see if thou canst any way find out (without losing sight of the door, lest she should be below stairs) if she be in the neighbourhood, if not within.
Will. bowed, and went off. Up went I, without further ceremony; attended now only by the good woman.
I went into each apartment, except that which was locked before, and was now also locked: and I called to my Clarissa in the voice of love; but, by the still silence, was convinced she was not there. Yet, on the strength of my intelligence, I doubted not but she was in the house.
I then went up two pairs of stairs, and looked round the first room: but no Miss Harlowe.
And who, pray, is in this room? stopping at the door of another.
A widow gentlewoman, Sir.—Mrs. Lovick.
O my dear Mrs. Lovick! said I.—I am intimately acquainted with Mrs. Lovick’s character, from my cousin John Belford. I must see Mrs. Lovick by all means.—Good Mrs. Lovick, open the door.
Your servant, Madam. Be so good as to excuse me.—You have heard my story. You are an admirer of the most excellent woman in the world. Dear Mrs. Lovick, tell me what is become of her?
The poor lady, Sir, went out yesterday, on purpose to avoid you.
How so? she knew not that I would be here.
She was afraid you would come, when she heard you were recovered from your illness. Ah! Sir, what pity it is that so fine a gentleman should make such ill returns for God’s goodness to him!