It happened, that the criminal herself received it from her servant, and brought it to me in my closet; and, making her honours (for I can’t say but she is very obliging to me, though she takes such saucy freedoms with my friends) away she tript; and I, inquiring for her, when, with surprise, as you may believe, I had read your charge, found she was gone to visit a poor sick neighbour; of which indeed I knew before because she took the chariot; but I had forgot it in my wrath.
At last, in she came, with that sweet composure in her face which results from a consciousness of doing generally just and generous things. I resumed, therefore, that sternness and displeasure which her entrance had almost dissipated. I took her hand; her charming eye (you know what an eye she has, Sir Simon) quivered at my overclouded aspect; and her lips, half drawn to a smile, trembling with apprehension of a countenance so changed from what she left it.
And then, all stiff and stately as I could look, did I accost her—“Come along with me, Pamela, to my closet. I want to talk with you.”
“What have I done? Let me know, good Sir!” looking round, with her half-affrighted eyes, this way and that, on the books, and pictures, and on me, by turns.
“You shall know soon,” said I, “the crime you have been guilty of.”—“Crime, Sir! Pray let me—This closet, I hoped, would not be a second time witness to the flutter you put me in.”
There hangs a tale, Sir Simon, which I am not very fond of relating, since it gave beginning to the triumphs of this little sorceress. I still held one hand, and she stood before me, as criminals ought to do before their judge, but said, “I see, Sir, sure I do,—or what will else become of me!—less severity in your eyes, than you affect to put on in your countenance. Dear Sir, let me but know my fault: I will repent, acknowledge, and amend.”
“You must have great presence of mind, Pamela, such is the nature of your fault, if you can look me in the face, when I tell it you.”
“Then let me,” said the irresistible charmer, hiding her face in my bosom, and putting her other arm about my neck, “let me thus, my dear Mr. B., hide this guilty face, while I hear my fault told; and I will not seek to extenuate it, by my tears, and my penitence.”
I could hardly hold out. What infatuating creatures are these women, when they thus soothe and calm the tumults of an angry heart! When, instead of scornful looks darted in return for angry ones, words of defiance for words of peevishness, persisting to defend one error by another, and returning vehement wrath for slight indignation, and all the hostile provocations of the marriage warfare; they can thus hide their dear faces in our bosoms, and wish but to know their faults, to amend them!
I could hardly, I say, resist the sweet girl’s behaviour; nay, I believe, I did, and in defiance to my resolved displeasure, press her forehead with my lips, as the rest of her face was hid on my breast; but, considering it was the cause of my friend, I was to assert, my injured friend, wounded and insulted, in so various a manner by the fair offender, thus haughtily spoke I to the trembling mischief, in a pomp of style theatrically tragic: