Servant to command,
“Bowstead Park, Dec. 3rd, 1737.”
“Enigmatical!” said Betty.
“It could hardly be otherwise if he had to employ a secretary” said her father. “Who can have written for him?”
“His friend, Dr. Godfrey, most probably,” said Betty. “It is well spelt as well as indited, and has not the air of being drawn up by a lawyer.”
“No, it is not Hargrave’s hand. It is strange that he says nothing of the settlements.”
“Here is a postscript, adding, ’Should you consent, Hargrave will give you ample satisfaction as to the property which I can settle on your daughter.’”
“Of that I have no doubt,” said the Major. “Well, Betty, on reflection, if I were only secure that no force was put on the child’s will, and if I could exchange a few words face to face with Amyas Belamour, I should not be so utterly averse as I was at first sight. She is a good child, and if she like him, and find it not hard to do her duty by him, she might be as happy as another. And since she is out of our reach it might save her from worse. What say you, child?”
“That last is the strongest plea with me,” said Betty, with set lips.
They took another evening for deliberation, but there was something in the tone of the letter that wrought on them, and it ended in a cautious consent being given, on the condition of the father being fully satisfied of his daughter’s free and voluntary acquiescence.
“After all,” he said to Betty, “I shall be able to go up to Bowstead for the wedding, and if I find that her inclinations have been forced, I can take her away at all risks.”
CHAPTER XIX. WOOING IN THE DARK.
You may put out my eyes with
a ballad-maker’s pen, and hang me
up for the sign of blind Cupid.—Much Ado About Nothing.
Aurelia had been walking in the park with her two remaining charges, when a bespattered messenger was seen riding up to the door, and Letitia dropped her hoop in her curiosity and excitement.
Lady Belamour, on obtaining the Major’s partial acquiescence, had felt herself no longer obliged to vegetate at Carminster, but had started for Bath, while the roads were still practicable; and had at the same time sent off a courier with letters to Bowstead. Kind Mrs. Dove had sent a little packet to each of the children, but they found Cousin Aura’s sympathy grievously and unwontedly lacking, and she at last replied to their repeated calls to here to share their delight, that they must run away, and display their treasures to Molly and Jumbo. She must read her letters alone.