« EdellinenJatka »
you, shall confess me their superior-shall confess
In wickedness, in cruelty, sir, you are every man's superior.
You talk of cruelty, Miss Byron! triumphing over scores of prostrate lovers, madam! You remember your treatment of me, madam ! kneeling, like an abject wretch, at your feet! Kneeling for pity! But no pity could touch your heart, madam!-Ungrateful, proud girl!-Yet I am not humbling you; take notice of that; I am not humbling you; I am proposing to exalt you, madam.
Vile, vile debasement! said I.
To exalt Miss Byron into Lady Pollexfen! And yet if you hold not out your hand to me
He would have snatched my hand. I put it behind me. He would have snatched the other; I put that behind me too; and the vile wretch would then have kissed my undefended neck; but, with both my hands, I pushed his audacious forehead from me. Charming creature! he called me, with passion in his look and accent; then, cruel, proud, ungrateful; and swore by his Maker, that if I would not give my hand instantly, instead of exalting me, he would humble me. Ladies, pray withdraw, said he, leave her to me. Either Lady Pollexfen, or what I please; rearing himself proudly up. She may be happy if she will. Leave her to me.
Pray, sir, said the youngest of the two daughters; and wept for me.
Greatly hurt, indeed, to be the wife of a man of my fortune and consequence! But leave her to me, I say.-I will soon bring down her pride: What a devil am I, to creep, beg, pray, and entreat, and only for a wife !-But, madam, said the insolent wretch, you will be mine upon easier terms, perhaps.
Madam, pray, madam, said the widow to me, consider what you are about, and whom you refuse. Can you have a handsomer man? Can you have a man of greater fortune. Sir Hargrave means nothing but what is honourable. You are in his power
In his power, madam! returned I; I am in yours. You are mistress of this house. I claim the protection of it. Have you not neighbours? Your protection I put myself under. Then clasping my arms about her, lock me from him till you can have help to secure you the privilege of your own house; and deliver me safe to my friends, and I will share my fortune with your two daughters.
The wicked man took the mother and youngest daughter each by her hand, after he had disengaged the former from my clasping arms, and led them to the door. The elder followed them of her own accord. They none of them struggled against going. I begged, prayed, besought them not to go, and, when they did, would have thrust myself out with them; but the wretch, in shutting them out, squeezed me
dreadfully, as I was half in, half out; and my nose gushed out with blood.
I screamed; he seemed frightened; but instantly recovering myself-So, so, you have done your worst!-You have killed me, I hope. I was out of breath; my stomach was very much pressed, and one of my arms was bruised. I have the marks still; for he clapt to the door with violence, not knowing, to do him justice, that I was so forward in the door-way.
I was in dreadful pain. I talked half wildly, I remember. I threw myself in a chair. So, so, you have killed me, I hope-Well, now I hope, now I hope, you are satisfied. Now may you moan over the poor creature you have destroyed; for he expressed great tenderness and consternation; and I, for my part, felt such pains in my bosom, that, having never felt such before, I really thought I was bruised to death: Repeating my foolish so, so-But I forgive you, since I-Only, sir, call to the gentlewomen, sir.
Retire, sir. Let me have my own sex only about me. My head swam; my eyes failed me; and I fainted quite away.
I UNDERSTOOD afterwards that he was in the most dreadful consternation. He had fastened the door upon me and himself; and, for a few moments, was not enough present to himself to open it. Yet, crying out upon his God to have mercy upon him, and running about the room, the women hastily rapped at the door. Then he ran to it, opened it, cursed himself, and besought them to recover me, if possible.
They said I had death in my face; they lamented over me; my nose had done bleeding; but, careful of his own safety in the midst of his terror, he took my bloody handkerchief; if I did not recover, he said, that should not appear against him; and he hastened into the next room, and thrust it into the fire; by which were sitting, it seems, the minister and his helper, over some burnt brandy.
O, gentlemen! cried the wretch, nothing can be done to-night. Take this; and gave them money. The lady is in a fit. I wish you well home.
The younger daughter reported this to me afterwards, and what follows: They had desired the maid, it seems, to bring them more firing, and a jug of ale; and they would sit in the chimney-corner, they said, till peep of day; but the same young woman, who was taken off from her errand, to assist me, finding me, as they all thought, not likely to recover, ran in to them, and declared, that the lady was dead, certainly
dead; and what, said she, will become of us all? This terrified the two men. They said, it was then time for them to be gone. Accordingly, taking each of them another dram, they snatched up their hats and sticks, and away they hurried; hoping, the doctor said, that, as they were innocent, and only meant to serve the gentleman, their names, whatever happened, would not be called in question.
When I came a little to myself, I found the three women only with me. I was in a cold sweat, all over shivering. There was no fire in that room; they led me into the parlour, which the two men had quitted, and sat me down in an elbow-chair; for I could hardly stand, or support myself; and chafed my temples with Hungary-water.
Wretched creatures, men of this cast, my Lucy, thus to sport with the healths and happiness of poor creatures whom they pretend to love! I am afraid I never shall be what I was. At times I am very sensible at my stomach of this violent squeeze.
The mother and elder sister left me soon after, and went to Sir Hargrave. I can only guess at the result of their deliberations by what followed.
The younger sister, with compassionate frankness, answered all my questions, and let me know all the above particulars. Yet she wondered that I could refuse so handsome and so rich a man as Sir Hargrave.
She boasted much of their reputation. Her mother would not do an ill thing, she said, for the world and she had a brother who had a place in the custom-house, and was as honest a man, though she said it, as any in it. She owned that she knew my new vile servant; and praised his fidelity to the masters he had served, in such high terms, as if she thought all duties were comprised in that one, of obeying his principals, right or wrong. Mr William, she said, was a pretty man, a genteel man, and she believed he was worth money; and she was sure would make an excellent husband. I soon found that the simple girl was in love with this vile, this specious fellow. She could not bear to hear me hint anything in his disfavour, as, by way of warning to her, I would have done. But she was sure Mr William was a downright honest man; and that, if he were guilty of any bad thing, it was by command of those to whom he owed duty: and they are to be answerable for that, you know, madam.
We were broke in upon, as I was intending to ask more questions, (for I find this Wilson was the prime agent in all this mischief,) when the elder sister called out the younger; and instantly came in Sir Hargrave.
He took a chair, and sat down by me, one leg thrown over the knee of the other; his elbow upon that knee, and his hands supporting his bowed-down head; biting his lips; looking at
me, then from me, then at me again, five or six times, as in malice.
Ill-natured, spiteful, moody wretch! thought I, (trembling at his strange silence, after such hurt as he had done me, and what I had endured, and still felt in my stomach and arm,) what an odious creature thou art!
At last I broke silence. I thought I would be as mild as I could, and not provoke him to do me farther mischief. Well have you done, Sir Hargrave, (have you not?) to commit such a violence upon a poor young creature that never did nor thought you evil!
I paused. He was silent.
What distraction have you given to my poor cousins Reeves! How my heart bleeds for them! I stopt. He was still silent.
I hope, sir, you are sorry for the mischief you have done me; and for the pain you have given to my friends!-I hope, sir
Cursed! said he.
I stopt, thinking he would go on: but he said no more; only changing his posture; and then resuming it.
These people, sir, seem to be honest people. I hope you designed only to terrify me. Your bringing me into no worse company is an assurance to me that you meant better, thanDevils all! interrupted he.
I thought he was going on; but he grinned, shook his head, and then again reclined it upon his hand.
I forgive you, sir, the pain you have given me. But my friends-As soon as day breaks, (and I hope that is not far off,) I will get the women to let my cousins Reeves
Then up he started-Miss Byron, said he, you are a woman, a true woman-and held up his hand, clenched. I knew not what to think of his intention.
Miss Byron, proceeded he, after a pause, you are the most consummate hypocrite that I ever knew in my life; and yet I thought that the best of you all could fall into fits and swoonings whenever you pleased.
I was now silent. I trembled.
D-d fool! ass! blockhead! woman's fool! I ought to be d-d for my credulous folly! I tell you, Miss Byron-then he looked at me as if he were crazy; and walked two or three times about the room.
To be dying one half hour, and the next to look so provoking
I was still silent.
I could curse myself for sending away the parson. I thought I had known something of women's tricks-but yet your arts, your hypocrisy, shall not serve you, madam. What I failed in here, shall be done elsewhere. By the great God of heaven, it shall!
I wept. I could not then speak.
Can't you go into fits again? Can't you? said the barbarian, with an air of a piece with his
words; and using other words of the lowest reproach.
God deliver me, prayed I to myself, from the hands of this madman!
I arose, and as the candle stood near the glass, I saw in it my vile figure, in this abominable habit, to which, till then, I had paid little attention. O how I scorned myself!
Pray, Sir Hargrave, said I, let me beg that you will not terrify me farther. I will forgive you for all you have hitherto done, and place it to my own account, as a proper punishment for consenting to be thus marked for a vain and foolish creature. Your abuse, sir, give me leave to say, is low and unmanly: but, in the light of a punishment, I will own it to be all deserved: and let here my punishment end, and I will thank you; and forgive you with my whole heart.
Your fate is determined, Miss Byron.
Just then came in a servant-maid with a capuchin, who whispered something to him: to which he answered, That's well
He took the capuchin; the maid withdrew; and approached me with it. I started, trembled, and was ready to faint. I caught hold of the back of the elbow-chair.
Your fate is determined, madam, repeated the savage here, put this on-now fall into fits again-put this on!
Pray, Sir Hargrave
And pray, Miss Byron: what has not been completed here, shall be completed in a safer place; and that in my own way-Put this on, I tell you. Your compliance may yet befriend
In came two men-servants.
Pray, Sir Hargrave-Lord protect me-Pray, Sir Hargrave-where are the gentlewomen?— Lord protect me!
Then running to the door, against which one of the men stood-Man, stand out of the way, said I. But he did not: he only bowed.
I cried out, Mrs, I forget your name: Miss and t’other Miss ——, I forget your names-If you are good creatures, as I hoped you were
I called as loud as my fears would let me. At last came in the elder sister-O madam! good young gentlewoman! I am glad you are come, said I.
And so am I, said the wicked man.-Pray, Miss Sally, put on this lady's capuchin.
Lord bless me! for why? for what? I have no capuchin !
I would not permit her to put it on, as she would have done.
The savage then wrapt his arms about mine, and made me so very sensible, by his force, of
Now, Miss Byron, said he, make yourself easy; or command a fit; it is all one: my end will be better served by the latter-Miss Sally, give orders.
She ran out with the candle. Frank, give me the cloak, said Sir Hargrave.
The fellow had a red cloak on his arm. His barbarous master took it from him. To your posts, said he.
The two men withdrew in haste. Now, my dearest life, said he, with an air of insult, as I thought, you command your fate, if you are
He threw the cloak about me.
I begged, prayed, would have kneeled to him; but all was in vain: the tiger-hearted man, as Mr Greville had truly called him, muffled me up in it; and by force carried me through a long entry to the fore door. There was ready a chariot and six; and that Sally was at the door with a lighted candle.
I called out to her. I called out for her mother; for the other sister. I besought him to let me say but six words to the widow.
But no widow was to appear; no younger sister she was perhaps more tender-hearted than the elder: and, in spite of all my struggles, prayers, resistance, he lifted me into the
Men on horseback were about it. I thought that Wilson was one of them; and so it proved. Sir Hargrave said to that fellow, you know what tale to tell, if you meet with impertinents. And in he came himself.
I screamed. Scream on, my dear, upbraidingly, said he; and barbarously mocked me, imitating, low wretch! the bleating of a sheep -Could you not have killed him for this, my Lucy? Then rearing himself up, Now am I lord of Miss Byron ! exulted he.
Still I screamed for help; and he put his hand before my mouth, though vowing honour, and such sort of stuff; and, with his unmanly roughness, made me bite my lip. And away lashed the coachman with your poor Harriet.
As the chariot drove by houses, I cried out for help once or twice, at setting out. But, under pretence of preventing my taking cold, he tied a handkerchief over my face, head, and mouth, having first muffled me up in the cloak;
pressing against my arm with his whole weight, so that I had not my hands at liberty. And when he had done, he seized them, and held them both in his left hand, while his right arm, thrown round me, kept me fast on the seat: and except that now and then my struggling head gave me a little opening, I was blinded.
But at one place on the road, just after I had screamed, and made another effort to get my hands free, I heard voices; and immediately the chariot stopt. Then how my heart was filled with hope! But, alas! it was momentary. I heard one of his men say, (that Wilson, I believe,) The best of husbands, I assure you, sir; and she is the worst of wives.
I screamed again. Ay, scream and be d-d, I heard said in a stranger's voice, if that be the case. Poor gentleman! I pity him with all my heart. And immediately the coachman drove on again.
The vile wretch laughed: That's you, my dear, and hugged me round. You are the d-d wife. And again he laughed: By my soul, I am a charming contriver! Greville, Fenwick, Orme, where are you now?-By my soul, this will be a pretty story to tell, when all your fears are over, my Byron!
I was ready to faint several times. I begged for air: and when we were in an open road, and I suppose there was nobody in sight, he vouchsafed to pull down the blinding handkerchief, but kept it over my mouth; so that, except now and then, that I struggled it aside with my head, (and my neck is still, my dear, very stiff with my efforts to free my face,) I could only make a murmuring kind of noise.
The curtain of the fore-glass was pulled down, and generally the canvass on both sides drawn up. But I was sure to be made acquainted when we came near houses, by his care again to blind and stifle me up.
A little before we were met by my deliverer, I had, by getting one hand free, unmuffled myself so far as to see (as I had guessed once or twice before by the stone pavements) that we were going through a town; and then I again vehemently screamed. But he had the cruelty to thrust a handkerchief into my mouth, so that I was almost strangled; and my mouth was hurt, and is still sore, with that and his former violence of the like nature.
Indeed, he now and then made apologies for the cruelty, to which, he said, he was compelled, by my invincible obstinacy, to have recourse. I was sorely hurt, he said, to be the wife of a man of his consideration! But I should be that, or worse. He was in for it, (he said more than once,) and must proceed. I might see that all my resistance was in vain. He had me in his net; and, d-n him, if he were not revenged for all the trouble I had given him. You keep no terms with me, my Byron, said he once; and d-n me, if I keep any with you!
I doubted not his malice: his love had no tenderness in it: but how could I think of being consenting, as I may say, to such barbarous usage, and by a man so truly odious to me? What a slave had I been in spirit, could I have qualified on such villainous treatment as I had met with! or had I been able to desert myself!
At one place the chariot drove out of the road, over rough ways, and little hillocks, as I thought, by its rocking; and then, it stopping, he let go my hands, and endeavoured to sooth me. He begged I would be pacified, and offered, if I would forbear crying out for help, to leave my eyes unmuffled all the rest of the way. But I would not, I told him, give such a sanction to his barbarous violence.
On the chariot's stopping, one of his men came up, and put a handkerchief into his master's hands, in which were some cakes and sweetmeats; and gave him also a bottle of sack, with a glass. Sir Hargrave was very urgent with me to take some of the sweetmeats, and to drink a glass of the wine: but I had neither stomach nor will to touch either.
He ate himself very cordially. God forgive me, I wished in my heart, that there were pins and needles in every bit he put into his mouth.
He drank two glasses of the wine. Again he urged me. I said, I hoped I had eaten and drunk my last.
You have no dependence upon my honour, madam, said the villain; so cannot be disappointed much, do what I will. Ungrateful, proud, vain, obstinate, he called me.
What signifies, said he, shewing politeness to a woman who has shewn none to me, though she was civil to every other man? Ha, ha, ha, hah! What, my sweet Byron, I don't hit your fancy! You don't like my morals! laughing again. My lovely fly, said the insulting wretch, hugging me round in the cloak, how prettily have I wrapt you about in my web!
Such a provoking low wretch !-I struggled to free myself; and unhooked the curtain of the fore-glass but he wrapt me about the closer, and said he would give me his garter for my girdle, if I would not sit still, and be orderly. Ah, my charming Byron ! said he, your opportunity is over-all your struggles will not avail you will not avail you. That's a word of your own, you know. I will, however, forgive you, if you promise to love me now. But if you stay till I get you to the allotted place; then, madam, take what follows.
I saw that I was upon a large, wild, heathlike place, between two roads, as it seemed. I asked nothing about my journey's end. All I had to hope for as to an escape, (though then I began to despair of it,) was upon the road, or in some town. My journey's end, I knew, must be the beginning of new trials; for I was resolved to suffer death rather than to marry him. What I now was most apprehensive about, was, of fall
ing into fits; and I answered to his barbarous insults as little as possible, that I might not be provoked beyond the little strength I had left
Three or four times he offered to kiss me; and cursed my pride for resisting him: making him clasp a cloud, was his speech, (aiming at wit,) instead of his Juno; calling the cloak a cloud.
And now, my dear Byron, said he, if you will not come to compromise with me, I must dress you again for the journey. We will stop at a town a little farther, (beckoning to one of his men, and, on his approaching, whispering to him, his whole body out of the chariot,) and there you shall alight; and a very worthy woman, to whom I shall introduce you, will persuade you, perhaps, to take refreshment, though I cannot.
You are a very barbarous man, Sir Hargrave. I have the misfortune to be in your power. You may dearly repent the usage I have already received from you. You have made my life of no estimation with me. I will not contend.
And tears ran down my cheeks. Indeed, I thought my heart was broke.
He wrapt me up close, and tied the handkerchief about my mouth and head. I was quite passive.
The chariot had not many minutes got into the great road again, over the like rough and sometimes plashy ground,, when it stopt on a dispute between the coachman, and the coachman of another chariot and six, as it proved.
Sir Hargrave had but just drawn my handkerchief closer to my eyes, when this happened. Hinder not my tears from flowing, said I; struggling to keep my eyes free, the cloak enough muffling me, and the handkerchief being over my mouth; so that my voice could be but just heard by him, as I imagine.
He looked out of his chariot, to see the occasion of this stop; and then I found means to disengage one hand.
I heard a gentleman's voice directing his own coachman to give way.
I then pushed up the handkerchief, with my disengaged hand, from my mouth, and pulled it down over my eyes, and cried out for help: help, for God's sake!
A man's voice (it was my deliverer's, as it happily proved,) bid Sir Hargrave's coachman proceed at his peril.
Sir Hargrave, with terrible oaths and curses, ordered him to proceed, and to drive through all opposition.
The gentleman called Sir Hargrave by his name; and charged him with being upon a bad design.
The vile wretch said, he had only secured a runaway wife, cloped to, and intending to elope from, a masquerade, to her adulterer, horrid
he put aside the cloak, and appealed to my dress.
I cried out, No, no, no, five or six times repeated; but could say no more at that instant, holding up then both my disengaged hands for protection.
The wicked man endeavoured to muffle me up again, and to force the handkerchief, which I had then got under my chin, over my mouth; and brutally cursed me.
The gentleman would not be satisfied with Sir Hargrave's story. He would speak to me. Sir Hargrave called him impertinent, and other names; and asked who the devil he was? with rage and contempt.-The gentleman, however, asked me, and with an air that promised deliverance, if I were Sir Hargrave's wife.
No, no, no, no-I could only say.
For my own part, I could have no scruple, distressed as I was, and made desperate, to throw myself into the protection, and even into the arms, of my deliverer; though a very fine young gentleman. It would have been very hard, had I fallen from bad to bad; had the sacred name of protector been abused by another Sir Hargrave, who would have had the additional crime of betraying a confidence to answer for. But, however this had proved, an escape from the present evil was all I had in my head at the
But you may better conceive, than I can express, the terror I was in, when Sir Hargrave drew his sword, and pushed at the gentleman, with such words as denoted (for I could not look that way) he had done him mischief. But when I found my oppressor, my low-meaning, and soon after low-laid oppressor, pulled out of the chariot, by the brave, the gallant man, (which was done with such force, as made the chariot rock,) and my protector safe; I was as near fainting with joy, as before I had been with terror. I had shaken off the cloak, and untied the handkerchief.
He carried me in his arms (I could not walk) to his own chariot.
I heard Sir Hargrave curse, swear, and threaten. I was glad, however, he was not dead.
Mind him not, madam, fear him not, said Sir Charles Grandison: [you know his noble name, my Lucy: coachman, drive not over your master: take care of your master; or some such words he said, as he lifted me into his own chariot. He came not in, but shut the chariot door, as soon as he had seated me.
He just surveyed, as it were, the spot, and bid a servant let Sir Hargrave know who he was; and then came back to me.
Partly through terror, partly through weakness, I had sunk to the bottom of the chariot He opened the door, entered, and, with all the tenderness of a brother, soothed me, and lifted me on the seat once more. He ordered his coach