Part 4 out of 7
"Have you, then, been to Sir Robert?"
"I have been to Cavendish-Square, but there, it seems, he has not
appeared all night; I traced him, through his servants, from the
Opera to a gaminghouse, where I found he had amused himself till
The uneasiness of Cecilia now encreased every moment; and Mr
Monckton, seeing he had no other chance of satisfying her, offered
his service to go again in search of both the gentlemen, and
endeavour to bring her better information. She accepted the proposal
with gratitude, and he departed.
Soon after she was joined by Mr Arnott, who, though seized with all
the horrors of jealousy at sight of her apprehensions, was so
desirous to relieve them, that without even making any merit of
obliging her, he almost instantly set out upon the same errand that
employed Mr Monckton, and determined not to mention his design till
he found whether it would enable him to bring her good tidings.
He was scarce gone when she was told that Mr Delvile begged to have
the honour of speaking to her. Surprised at this condescension, she
desired he might immediately be admitted; but much was her surprise
augmented, when, instead of seeing her ostentatious guardian, she
again beheld her masquerade friend, the white domino.
He entreated her pardon for an intrusion neither authorised by
acquaintance nor by business, though somewhat, he hoped, palliated,
by his near connection with one who was privileged to take an
interest in her affairs: and then, hastening to the motives which
had occasioned his visit, "when I had the honour," he said, "of
seeing you last night at the Opera-house, the dispute which had just
happened between two gentlemen, seemed to give you an uneasiness
which could not but be painful to all who observed it, and as among
that number I was not the least moved, you will forgive, I hope, my
eagerness to be the first to bring you intelligence that nothing
fatal has happened, or is likely to happen."
"You do me, sir," said Cecilia, "much honour; and indeed you relieve
me from a suspense extremely disagreeable. The accommodation, I
suppose, was brought about this morning?"
"I find," answered he, smiling, "you now expect too much; but hope
is never so elastic as when it springs from the ruins of terror."
"What then is the matter? Are they at last, not safe?"
"Yes, perfectly safe; but I cannot tell you they have never been in
"Well, if it is now over I am contented: but you will very much
oblige me, sir, if you will inform me what has passed."
"You oblige me, madam, by the honour of your commands. I saw but too
much reason to apprehend that measures the most violent would follow
the affray of last night; yet as I found that the quarrel had been
accidental, and the offence unpremeditated, I thought it not
absolutely impossible that an expeditious mediation might effect a
compromise: at least it was worth trying; for though wrath slowly
kindled or long nourished is sullen and intractable, the sudden
anger that has not had time to impress the mind with a deep sense of
injury, will, when gently managed, be sometimes appeased with the
same quickness it is excited: I hoped, therefore, that some trifling
concession from Sir Robert, as the aggressor,--"
"Ah sir!" cried Cecilia, "that, I fear, was not to be obtained!"
"Not by me, I must own," he answered; "but I was not willing to
think of the difficulty, and therefore ventured to make the
proposal: nor did I leave the Opera-house till I had used every
possible argument to persuade Sir Robert an apology would neither
stain his courage nor his reputation. But his spirit brooked not the
"Spirit!" cried Cecilia, "how mild a word! What, then, could poor Mr
Belfield resolve upon?"
"That, I believe, took him very little time to decide. I discovered,
by means of a gentleman at the Opera who was acquainted with him,
where he lived, and I waited upon him with an intention to offer my
services towards settling the affair by arbitration: for since you
call him poor Mr Belfield, I think you will permit me, without
offence to his antagonist, to own that his gallantry, though too
impetuous for commendation, engaged me in his interest."
"I hope you don't think," cried Cecilia, "that an offence to his
antagonist must necessarily be an offence to me?"
"Whatever I may have thought," answered he, looking at her with
evident surprise, "I certainly did not wish that a sympathy
offensive and defensive had been concluded between you. I could not,
however, gain access to Mr Belfield last night, but the affair dwelt
upon my mind, and this morning I called at his lodging as soon as it
"How good you have been!" cried Cecilia; "your kind offices have
not, I hope, all proved ineffectual!"
"So valorous a Don Quixote," returned he, laughing, "certainly
merited a faithful Esquire! He was, however, gone out, and nobody
knew whither. About half an hour ago I called upon him again; he was
then just returned home."
"I saw him; the affair was over; and in a short time he will be
able, if you will allow him so much honour, to thank you for these
"He is then wounded?"
"He is a little hurt, but Sir Robert is perfectly safe. Belfield
fired first, and missed; the Baronet was not so successless."
"I am grieved to hear it, indeed! And where is the wound?"
"The ball entered his right side, and the moment he felt it, he
fired his second pistol in the air. This I heard from his servant.
He was brought home carefully and slowly; no surgeon had been upon
the spot, but one was called to him immediately. I stayed to enquire
his opinion after the wound had been dressed: he told me he had
extracted the ball, and assured me Mr Belfield was not in any
danger. Your alarm, madam, last night, which had always been present
to me, then encouraged me to take the liberty of waiting upon you;
for I concluded you could yet have had no certain intelligence, and
thought it best to let the plain and simple fact out-run the
probable exaggeration of rumour."
Cecilia thanked him for his attention, and Mrs Harrel then making
her appearance, he arose and said, "Had my father known the honour I
have had this morning of waiting upon Miss Beverley, I am sure I
should have been charged with his compliments, and such a commission
would somewhat have lessened the presumption of this visit; but I
feared lest while I should be making interest for my credentials,
the pretence of my embassy might be lost, and other couriers, less
scrupulous, might obtain previous audiences, and anticipate my
He then took his leave.
"This white domino, at last then," said Cecilia, "is the son of Mr
Delvile! and thence the knowledge of my situation which gave me so
much surprise:--a son how infinitely unlike his father!"
"Yes," said Mrs Harrel, "and as unlike his mother too, for I assure
you she is more proud and haughty even than the old gentleman. I
hate the very sight of her, for she keeps every body in such awe
that there's nothing but restraint in her presence. But the son is a
very pretty young man, and much admired; though I have only seen him
in public, for none of the family visit here."
Mr Monckton, who now soon returned, was not a little surprised to
find that all the intelligence he meant to communicate was already
known: and not the more pleased to hear that the white domino, to
whom before he owed no good-will, had thus officiously preceded him.
Mr Arnott, who also came just after him, had been so little
satisfied with the result of his enquiries, that from the fear of
encreasing Cecilia's uneasiness, he determined not to make known
whither he had been; but he soon found his forbearance was of no
avail, as she was already acquainted with the duel and its
consequences. Yet his unremitting desire to oblige her urged him
twice in the course of the same day to again call at Mr Belfield's
lodgings, in order to bring her thence fresh and unsolicited
Before breakfast was quite over, Miss Larolles, out of breath with
eagerness, came to tell the news of the duel, in her way to church,
as it was Sunday morning! and soon after Mrs Mears, who also was
followed by other ladies, brought the same account, which by all was
addressed to Cecilia, with expressions of concern that convinced
her, to her infinite vexation, she was generally regarded as the
person chiefly interested in the accident.
Mr Harrel did not return till late, but then seemed in very high
spirits: "Miss Beverley," he cried, "I bring you news that will
repay all your fright; Sir Robert is not only safe, but is come off
"I am very sorry, Sir," answered Cecilia, extremely provoked to be
thus congratulated, "that any body conquered, or any body was
"There is no need for sorrow," cried Mr Harrel, "or for any thing
but joy, for he has not killed his man; the victory, therefore, will
neither cost him a flight nor a trial. To-day he means to wait upon
you, and lay his laurels at your feet."
"He means, then, to take very fruitless trouble," said Cecilia, "for
I have not any ambition to be so honoured."
"Ah, Miss Beverley," returned he, laughing, "this won't do now! it
might have passed a little while ago, but it won't do now, I promise
Cecilia, though much displeased by this accusation, found that
disclaiming it only excited further raillery, and therefore
prevailed upon herself to give him a quiet hearing, and scarce any
At dinner, when Sir Robert arrived, the dislike she had originally
taken to him, encreased already into disgust by his behaviour the
preceding evening, was now fixed into the strongest aversion by the
horror she conceived of his fierceness, and the indignation she felt
excited by his arrogance. He seemed, from the success of this duel,
to think himself raised to the highest pinnacle of human glory;
triumph sat exulting on his brow; he looked down on whoever he
deigned to look at all, and shewed that he thought his notice an
honour, however imperious the manner in which it was accorded.
Upon Cecilia, however, he cast an eye of more complacency; he now
believed her subdued, and his vanity revelled in the belief: her
anxiety had so thoroughly satisfied him of her love, that she had
hardly the power left to undeceive him; her silence he only
attributed to admiration, her coldness to fear, and her reserve to
Sickened by insolence so undisguised and unauthorised, and incensed
at the triumph of his successful brutality, Cecilia with pain kept
her seat, and with vexation reflected upon the necessity she was
under of passing so large a portion of her time in company to which
she was so extremely averse.
After dinner, when Mrs Harrel was talking of her party for the
evening, of which Cecilia declined making one, Sir Robert, with a
sort of proud humility, that half feared rejection, and half
proclaimed an indifference to meeting it, said, "I don't much care
for going further myself, if Miss Beverley will give me the honour
of taking my tea with her."
Cecilia, regarding him with much surprise, answered that she had
letters to write into the country, which would confine her to her
own room for the rest of the evening. The Baronet, looking at his
watch, instantly cried, "Faith, that is very fortunate, for I have
just recollected an engagement at the other end of the town which
had slipt my memory."
Soon after they were all gone, Cecilia received a note from Mrs
Delvile, begging the favour of her company the next morning to
breakfast. She readily accepted the invitation, though she was by no
means prepared, by the character she had heard of her, to expect
much pleasure from an acquaintance with that lady.
A FAMILY PARTY.
Cecilia the next morning, between nine and ten o'clock, went to St
James'-Square; she found nobody immediately ready to receive her,
but in a short time was waited upon by Mr Delvile.
After the usual salutations, "Miss Beverley," he said, "I have given
express orders to my people, that I may not be interrupted while I
have the pleasure of passing some minutes in conversation with you
before you are presented to Mrs Delvile."
And then, with an air of solemnity, he led her to a seat, and having
himself taken possession of another, continued his speech.
"I have received information, from authority which I cannot doubt,
that the indiscretion of certain of your admirers last Saturday at
the Opera-house occasioned a disturbance which to a young woman of
delicacy I should imagine must be very alarming: now as I consider
myself concerned in your fame and welfare from regarding you as my
ward, I think it is incumbent upon me to make enquiries into such of
your affairs as become public; for I should feel in some measure
disgraced myself, should it appear to the world, while you are under
my guardianship, that there was any want of propriety in the
direction of your conduct."
Cecilia, not much flattered by this address, gravely answered that
she fancied the affair had been misrepresented to him.
"I am not much addicted," he replied, "to give ear to any thing
lightly; you must therefore permit me to enquire into the merits of
the cause, and then to draw my own inferences. And let me, at the
same time, assure you there is no other young lady who has any right
to expect such an attention from me. I must begin by begging you to
inform me upon what grounds the two gentlemen in question, for such,
by courtesy, I presume they are called, thought themselves entitled
publicly to dispute your favour?"
"My favour, Sir!" cried Cecilia, much amazed.
"My dear," said he, with a complacency meant to give her courage, "I
know the question is difficult for a young lady to answer; but be
not abashed, I should be sorry to distress you, and mean to the
utmost of my power to save your blushes. Do not, therefore, fear me;
consider me as your guardian, and assure yourself I am perfectly
well disposed to consider you as my ward. Acquaint me, then, freely,
what are the pretensions of these gentlemen?"
"To me, Sir, they have, I believe, no pretensions at all."
"I see you are shy," returned he, with encreasing gentleness, "I see
you cannot be easy with me; and when I consider how little you are
accustomed to me, I do not wonder. But pray take courage; I think it
necessary to inform myself of your affairs, and therefore I beg you
will speak to me with freedom."
Cecilia, more and more mortified by this humiliating condescension,
again assured him he had been misinformed, and was again, though
discredited, praised for her modesty, when, to her great relief,
they were interrupted by the entrance of her friend the _white
"Mortimer," said Mr Delvile, "I understand you have already had the
pleasure of seeing this young lady?"
"Yes, Sir," he answered, "I have more than once had that happiness,
but I have never had the honour of being introduced to her."
"Miss Beverley, then," said the father, "I must present to you Mr
Mortimer Delvile, my son; and, Mortimer, in Miss Beverley I desire
you will remember that you respect a ward of your father's."
"I will not, Sir," answered he, "forget an injunction my own
inclinations had already out-run."
Mortimer Delvile was tall and finely formed, his features, though
not handsome, were full of expression, and a noble openness of
manners and address spoke the elegance of his education, and the
liberality of his mind.
When this introduction was over, a more general conversation took
place, till Mr Delvile, suddenly rising, said to Cecilia, "You will
pardon me, Miss Beverley, if I leave you for a few minutes; one of
my tenants sets out to-morrow morning for my estate in the North,
and he has been two hours waiting to speak with me. But if my son is
not particularly engaged, I am sure he will be so good as to do the
honours of the house till his mother is ready to receive you."
And then, graciously waving his hand, he quitted the room.
"My father," cried young Delvile, "has left me an office which,
could I execute it as perfectly as I shall willingly, would be
performed without a fault."
"I am very sorry," said Cecilia, "that I have so much mistaken your
hour of breakfast; but let me not be any restraint upon you, I shall
find a book, or a newspaper, or something to fill up the time till
Mrs Delvile honours me with a summons."
"You can only be a restraint upon me," answered he, "by commanding
me from your presence. I breakfasted long ago, and am now just come
from Mr Belfield. I had the pleasure, this morning, of being
admitted into his room."
"And how, Sir, did you find him?"
"Not so well, I fear, as he thinks himself; but he was in high
spirits, and surrounded by his friends, whom he was entertaining
with all the gaiety of a man in full health, and entirely at his
ease; though I perceived, by the frequent changes of his
countenance, signs of pain and indisposition, that made me, however
pleased with his conversation, think it necessary to shorten my own
visit, and to hint to those who were near me the propriety of
leaving him quiet."
"Did you see his surgeon, Sir?"
"No; but he told me he should only have one dressing more of his
wound, and then get rid of the whole business by running into the
"Were you acquainted with him, Sir, before this accident?"
"No, not at all; but the little I have seen of him has strongly
interested me in his favour: at Mr Harrel's masquerade, where I
first met with him, I was extremely entertained by his humour,--
though there, perhaps, as I had also the honour of first seeing Miss
Beverley, I might be too happy to feel much difficulty in being
pleased. And even at the Opera he had the advantage of finding me in
the same favourable disposition, as I had long distinguished you
before I had taken any notice of him. I must, however, confess I did
not think his anger that evening quite without provocation,--but I
beg your pardon, I may perhaps be mistaken, and you, who know the
whole affair, must undoubtedly be better able to account for what
Here he fixed his eyes upon Cecilia, with a look of curiosity that
seemed eager to penetrate into her sentiments of the two
"No, certainly," she answered, "he had all the provocation that ill-
breeding could give him."
"And do you, madam," cried he, with much surprize, "judge of this
matter with such severity?"
"No, not with severity, simply with candour."
"With candour? alas, then, poor Sir Robert! Severity were not half
so bad a sign for him!"
A servant now came in, to acquaint Cecilia that Mrs Delvile waited
breakfast for her.
This summons was immediately followed by the re-entrance of Mr
Delvile, who, taking her hand, said he would himself present her to
his lady, and with much graciousness assured her of a kind
The ceremonies preceding this interview, added to the character she
had already heard of Mrs Delvile, made Cecilia heartily wish it
over; but, assuming all the courage in her power, she determined to
support herself with a spirit that should struggle against the
ostentatious superiority she was prepared to expect.
She found her seated upon a sofa, from which, however, she arose at
her approach; but the moment Cecilia beheld her, all the
unfavourable impressions with which she came into her presence
immediately vanished, and that respect which the formalities of her
introduction had failed to inspire, her air, figure, and countenance
She was not more than fifty years of age; her complection, though
faded, kept the traces of its former loveliness, her eyes, though
they had lost their youthful fire, retained a lustre that evinced
their primeval brilliancy, and the fine symmetry of her features,
still uninjured by the siege of time, not only indicated the
perfection of her juvenile beauty, but still laid claim to
admiration in every beholder. Her carriage was lofty and commanding;
but the dignity to which high birth and conscious superiority gave
rise, was so judiciously regulated by good sense, and so happily
blended with politeness, that though the world at large envied or
hated her, the few for whom she had herself any regard, she was
infallibly certain to captivate.
The surprise and admiration with which Cecilia at the first glance
was struck proved reciprocal: Mrs Delvile, though prepared for youth
and beauty, expected not to see a countenance so intelligent, nor
manners so well formed as those of Cecilia: thus mutually astonished
and mutually pleased, their first salutations were accompanied by
looks so flattering to both, that each saw in the other, an
immediate prepossession in her favour, and from the moment that they
met, they seemed instinctively impelled to admire.
"I have promised Miss Beverley, madam," said Mr Delvile to his lady,
"that you would give her a kind reception; and I need not remind you
that my promises are always held sacred."
"But I hope you have not also promised," cried she, with quickness,
"that I should give _you_ a kind reception, for I feel at this
very moment extremely inclined to quarrel with you."
"Why so, madam?"
"For not bringing us together sooner; for now I have seen her, I
already look back with regret to the time I have lost without the
pleasure of knowing her."
"What a claim is this," cried young Delvile, "upon the benevolence
of Miss Beverley! for if she has not now the indulgence by frequent
and diligent visits to make some reparation, she must consider
herself as responsible for the dissension she will occasion."
"If peace depends upon my visits," answered Cecilia, "it may
immediately be proclaimed; were it to be procured only by my
absence, I know not if I should so readily agree to the conditions."
"I must request of you, madam," said Mr Delvile, "that when my son
and I retire, you will bestow half an hour upon this young lady, in
making enquiries concerning the disturbance last Saturday at the
Opera-house. I have not, myself, so much time to spare, as I have
several appointments for this morning; but I am sure you will not
object to the office, as I know you to be equally anxious with
myself, that the minority of Miss Beverley should pass without
"Not only her minority, but her maturity," cried young Delvile,
warmly, "and not only her maturity, but her decline of life will
pass, I hope, not merely without reproach, but with fame and
"I hope so too;" replied Mr Delvile: "I wish her well through every
stage of her life, but for her minority alone it is my business to
do more than wish. For that, I feel my own honour and my own credit
concerned; my honour, as I gave it to the Dean that I would
superintend her conduct, and my credit, as the world is acquainted
with the claim she has to my protection."
"I will not make any enquiries," said Mrs Delvile, turning to
Cecilia with a sweetness that recompensed her for the haughtiness of
her guardian, "till I have had some opportunity of convincing Miss
Beverley, that my regard for her merits they should be answered."
"You see, Miss Beverley," said Mr Delvile, "how little reason you
had to be afraid of us; Mrs Delvile is as much disposed in your
favour as myself, and as desirous to be of service to you.
Endeavour, therefore, to cast off this timidity, and to make
yourself easy. You must come to us often; use will do more towards
removing your fears, than all the encouragement we can give you."
"But what are the fears," cried Mrs Delvile, "that Miss Beverley can
have to remove? unless, indeed, she apprehends her visits will make
us encroachers, and that the more we are favoured with her presence,
the less we shall bear her absence."
"Pray, son," said Mr Delvile, "what was the name of the person who
was Sir Robert Floyer's opponent? I have again forgotten it."
"True; it is a name I am perfectly unacquainted with: however, he
may possibly be a very good sort of man; but certainly his opposing
himself to Sir Robert Floyer, a man of some family, a gentleman,
rich, and allied to some people of distinction, was a rather strange
circumstance: I mean not, however, to prejudge the case; I will hear
it fairly stated; and am the more disposed to be cautious in what I
pronounce, because I am persuaded Miss Beverley has too much sense
to let my advice be thrown away upon her."
"I hope so, Sir; but with respect to the disturbance at the Opera, I
know not that I have the least occasion to trouble you."
"If your measures," said he, very gravely, "are already taken, the
Dean your uncle prevailed upon me to accept a very useless office;
but if any thing is yet undecided, it will not, perhaps, be amiss
that I should be consulted. Mean time, I will only recommend to you
to consider that Mr Belfield is a person whose name nobody has
heard, and that a connection with Sir Robert Floyer would certainly
be very honourable for you."
"Indeed, Sir," said Cecilia, "here is some great mistake; neither of
these gentlemen, I believe, think of me at all."
"They have taken, then," cried young Delvile with a laugh, "a very
extraordinary method to prove their indifference!"
"The affairs of Sir Robert Floyer," continued Mr Delvile, "are
indeed, I am informed, in some disorder; but he has a noble estate,
and your fortune would soon clear all its incumbrances. Such an
alliance, therefore, would be mutually advantageous: but what would
result from a union with such a person as Mr Belfield? he is of no
family, though in that, perhaps, you would not be very scrupulous;
but neither has he any money; what, then, recommends him?"
"To me, Sir, nothing!" answered Cecilia.
"And to me," cried young Delvile, "almost every thing! he has wit,
spirit, and understanding, talents to create admiration, and
qualities, I believe, to engage esteem!"
"You speak warmly," said Mrs Delvile; "but if such is his character,
he merits your earnestness. What is it you know of him?"
"Not enough, perhaps," answered he, "to coolly justify my praise;
but he is one of those whose first appearance takes the mind by
surprise, and leaves the judgment to make afterwards such terms as
it can. Will you, madam, when he is recovered, permit me to
introduce him to you?"
"Certainly;" said she, smiling; "but have a care your recommendation
does not disgrace your discernment."
"This warmth of disposition, Mortimer," cried Mr Delvile, "produces
nothing but difficulties and trouble: you neglect the connections I
point out, and which a little attention might render serviceable as
well as honourable, and run precipitately into forming such as can
do you no good among people of rank, and are not only profitless in
themselves, but generally lead you into expence and inconvenience.
You are now of an age to correct this rashness: think, therefore,
better of your own consequence, than thus idly to degrade yourself
by forming friendships with every shewy adventurer that comes in
"I know not, Sir," answered he, "how Mr Belfield deserves to be
called an adventurer: he is not, indeed, rich; but he is in a
profession where parts such as his seldom fail to acquire riches;
however, as to me his wealth can be of no consequence, why should my
regard to him wait for it? if he is a young man of worth and
"Mortimer," interrupted Mr Delvile, "whatever he is, we know he is
not a man of rank, and whatever he may be, we know he cannot become
a man of family, and consequently for Mortimer Delvile he is no
companion. If you can render him any service, I shall commend your
so doing; it becomes your birth, it becomes your station in life to
assist individuals, and promote the general good: but never in your
zeal for others forget what is due to yourself, and to the ancient
and honourable house from which you are sprung."
"But can we entertain Miss Beverley with nothing better than family
lectures?" cried Mrs Delvile.
"It is for me," said young Delvile, rising, "to beg pardon of Miss
Beverley for having occasioned them: but when she is so good as to
honour us with her company again, I hope I shall have more
He then left the room; and Mr Delvile also rising to go, said, "My
dear, I commit you to very kind hands; Mrs Delvile, I am sure, will
be happy to hear your story; speak to her, therefore, without
reserve. And pray don't imagine that I make you over to her from any
slight; on the contrary, I admire and commend your modesty very
much; but my time is extremely precious, and I cannot devote so much
of it to an explanation as your diffidence requires."
And then, to the great joy of Cecilia, he retired; leaving her much
in doubt whether his haughtiness or his condescension humbled her
"These men," said Mrs Delvile, "can never comprehend the pain of a
delicate female mind upon entering into explanations of this sort: I
understand it, however, too well to inflict it. We will, therefore,
have no explanations at all till we are better acquainted, and then
if you will venture to favour me with any confidence, my best
advice, and, should any be in my power, my best services shall be at
"You do me, madam, much honour," answered Cecilia, "but I must
assure you I have no explanation to give."
"Well, well, at present," returned Mrs Delvile, "I am content to
hear that answer, as I have acquired no right to any other: but
hereafter I shall hope for more openness: it is promised me by your
countenance, and I mean to claim the promise by my friendship."
"Your friendship will both honour and delight me, and whatever are
your enquiries, I shall always be proud to answer them; but indeed,
with regard to this affair--"
"My dear Miss Beverley," interrupted Mrs Delvile, with a look of
arch incredulity, "men seldom risk their lives where an escape is
without hope of recompence. But we will not now say a word more upon
the subject. I hope you will often favour me with your company, and
by the frequency of your visits, make us both forget the shortness
of our acquaintance."
Cecilia, finding her resistance only gave birth to fresh suspicion,
now yielded, satisfied that a very little time must unavoidably
clear up the truth. But her visit was not therefore shortened; the
sudden partiality with which the figure and countenance of Mrs
Delvile had impressed her, was quickly ripened into esteem by the
charms of her conversation: she found her sensible, well bred, and
high spirited, gifted by nature with superior talents, and polished
by education and study with all the elegant embellishments of
cultivation. She saw in her, indeed, some portion of the pride she
had been taught to expect, but it was so much softened by elegance,
and so well tempered with kindness, that it elevated her character,
without rendering her manners offensive.
With such a woman, subjects of discourse could never be wanting, nor
fertility of powers to make them entertaining: and so much was
Cecilia delighted with her visit, that though her carriage was
announced at twelve o'clock, she reluctantly concluded it at two;
and in taking her leave, gladly accepted an invitation to dine with
her new friend three days after; who, equally pleased with her young
guest, promised before that time to return her visit.
Cecilia found Mrs Harrel eagerly waiting to hear some account how
she had passed the morning, and fully persuaded that she would leave
the Delviles with a determination never more, but by necessity, to
see them: she was, therefore, not only surprised but disappointed,
when instead of fulfilling her expectations, she assured her that
she had been delighted with Mrs Delvile, whose engaging qualities
amply recompensed her for the arrogance of her husband; that her
visit had no fault but that of being too short, and that she had
already appointed an early day for repeating it.
Mrs Harrel was evidently hurt by this praise, and Cecilia, who
perceived among all her guardians a powerful disposition to hatred
and jealousy, soon dropt the subject: though so much had she been
charmed with Mrs Delvile, that a scheme of removal once more
occurred to her, notwithstanding her dislike of her stately
At dinner, as usual, they were joined by Sir Robert Floyer, who grew
more and more assiduous in his attendance, but who, this day,
contrary to his general custom of remaining with the gentlemen, made
his exit before the ladies left the table; and as soon as he was
gone, Mr Harrel desired a private conference with Cecilia.
They went together to the drawing-room, where, after a flourishing
preface upon the merits of Sir Robert Floyer, he formally acquainted
her that he was commissioned by that gentleman, to make her a tender
of his hand and fortune.
Cecilia, who had not much reason to be surprised at this overture,
desired him to tell the Baronet, she was obliged to him for the
honour he intended her, at the same time that she absolutely
declined receiving it.
Mr Harrel, laughing, told her this answer was very well for a
beginning, though it would by no means serve beyond the first day of
the declaration; but when Cecilia assured him she should firmly
adhere to it, he remonstrated with equal surprise and discontent
upon the reasons of her refusal. She thought it sufficient to tell
him that Sir Robert did not please her, but, with much raillery, he
denied the assertion credit, assuring her that he was universally
admired by the ladies, that she could not possibly receive a more
honourable offer, and that he was reckoned by every body the finest
gentleman about the town. His fortune, he added, was equally
unexceptionable with his figure and his rank in life; all the world,
he was certain, would approve the connexion, and the settlement made
upon her should be dictated by herself.
Cecilia begged him to be satisfied with an answer which she never
could change, and to spare her the enumeration of particular
objections, since Sir Robert was wholly and in every respect
disagreeable to her.
"What, then," cried he, "could make you so frightened for him at the
Opera-house? There has been but one opinion about town ever since of
your prepossession in his favour."
"I am extremely concerned to hear it; my fright was but the effect
of surprise, and belonged not more to Sir Robert than to Mr
He told her that nobody else thought the same, that her marriage
with the Baronet was universally expected, and, in conclusion,
notwithstanding her earnest desire that he would instantly and
explicitly inform Sir Robert of her determination, he repeatedly
refused to give him any final answer till she had taken more time
Cecilia was extremely displeased at this irksome importunity, and
still more chagrined to find her incautious emotion at the Opera-
house, had given rise to suspicions of her harbouring a partiality
for a man whom every day she more heartily disliked.
While she was deliberating in what manner she could clear up this
mistake, which, after she was left alone, occupied all her thoughts,
she was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Monckton, whose joy in
meeting her at length by herself exceeded not her own, for charmed
as he was that he could now examine into the state of her affairs,
she was not less delighted that she could make them known to him.
After mutual expressions, guarded, however, on the part of Mr.
Monckton, though unreserved on that of Cecilia, of their
satisfaction in being again able to converse as in former times, he
asked if she would permit him, as the privilege of their long
acquaintance, to speak to her with sincerity.
She assured him he could not more oblige her.
"Let me, then," said he, "enquire if yet that ardent confidence in
your own steadiness, which so much disdained my fears that the
change of your residence might produce a change in your sentiments,
is still as unshaken as when we parted in Suffolk? Or whether
experience, that foe to unpractised refinement, has already taught
you the fallibility of theory?"
"When I assure you," replied Cecilia, "that your enquiry gives me no
pain, I think I have sufficiently answered it, for were I conscious
of any alteration, it could not but embarrass and distress me. Very
far, however, from finding myself in the danger with which you
threatened me, of _forgetting Bury, its inhabitants and its
environs_, I think with pleasure of little else, since London,
instead of bewitching, has greatly disappointed me."
"How so?" cried Mr Monckton, much delighted.
"Not," answered she, "in itself, not in its magnificence, nor in its
diversions, which seem to be inexhaustible; but these, though
copious as instruments of pleasure, are very shallow as sources of
happiness: the disappointment, therefore, comes nearer home, and
springs not from London, but from my own situation."
"Is that, then, disagreeable to you?"
"You shall yourself judge, when I have told you that from the time
of my quitting your house till this very moment, when I have again
the happiness of talking with you, I have never once had any
conversation, society or intercourse, in which friendship or
affection have had any share, or my mind has had the least
She then entered into a detail of her way of life, told him how
little suited to her taste was the unbounded dissipation of the
Harrels, and feelingly expatiated upon the disappointment she had
received from the alteration in the manners and conduct of her young
friend. "In her," she continued, "had I found the companion I came
prepared to meet, the companion from whom I had so lately parted,
and in whose society I expected to find consolation for the loss of
yours and of Mrs Charlton's, I should have complained of nothing;
the very places that now tire, might then have entertained me, and
all that now passes for unmeaning dissipation, might then have worn
the appearance of variety and pleasure. But where the mind is wholly
without interest, every thing is languid and insipid; and accustomed
as I have long been to think friendship the first of human
blessings, and social converse the greatest of human enjoyments, how
ever can I reconcile myself to a state of careless indifference, to
making acquaintance without any concern either for preserving or
esteeming them, and to going on from day to day in an eager search
of amusement, with no companion for the hours of retirement, and no
view beyond that of passing the present moment in apparent gaiety
Mr Monckton, who heard these complaints with secret rapture, far
from seeking to soften or remove, used his utmost endeavours to
strengthen and encrease them, by artfully retracing her former way
of life, and pointing out with added censures the change in it she
had been lately compelled to make: "a change," he continued, "which
though ruinous of your time, and detrimental to your happiness, use
will, I fear, familiarize, and familiarity render pleasant."
"These suspicions, sir," said Cecilia, "mortify me greatly; and why,
when far from finding me pleased, you hear nothing but repining,
should you still continue to harbour them?"
"Because your trial has yet been too short to prove your firmness,
and because there is nothing to which time cannot contentedly
"I feel not much fear," said Cecilia, "of standing such a test as
might fully satisfy you; but nevertheless, not to be too
presumptuous, I have by no means exposed myself to all the dangers
which you think surround me, for of late I have spent almost every
evening at home and by myself."
This intelligence was to Mr Monckton a surprise the most agreeable
he could receive. Her distaste for the amusements which were offered
her greatly relieved his fears of her forming any alarming
connection, and the discovery that while so anxiously he had sought
her every where in public, she had quietly passed her time by her
own fireside, not only re-assured him for the present, but gave him
information where he might meet with her in future.
He then talked of the duel, and solicitously led her to speak
[openly] of Sir Robert Floyer; and here too, his satisfaction was
entire; he found her dislike of him such as his knowledge of her
disposition made him expect, and she wholly removed his suspicions
concerning her anxiety about the quarrel, by explaining to him her
apprehensions of having occasioned it herself, from accepting the
civility of Mr Belfield, at the very moment she shewed her aversion
to receiving that of Sir Robert.
Neither did her confidence rest here; she acquainted him with the
conversation she had just had with Mr Harrel, and begged his advice
in what manner she might secure herself from further importunity.
Mr Monckton had now a new subject for his discernment. Every thing
had confirmed to him the passion which Mr Arnott had conceived for
Cecilia, and he had therefore concluded the interest of the Harrels
would be all in his favour: other ideas now struck him; he found
that Mr Arnott was given up for Sir Robert, and he determined
carefully to watch the motions both of the Baronet and her young
guardian, in order to discover the nature of their plans and
connection. Mean time, convinced by her unaffected aversion to the
proposals she had received, that she was at present in no danger
from the league he suspected, he merely advised her to persevere in
manifesting a calm repugnance to their solicitations, which could
not fail, before long, to dishearten them both.
"But Sir," cried Cecilia, "I now fear this man as much as I dislike
him, for his late fierceness and brutality, though they have
encreased my disgust, make me dread to shew it. I am impatient,
therefore, to have done with him, and to see him no more. And for
this purpose, I wish to quit the house of Mr Harrel, where he has
access at his pleasure."
"You can wish nothing more judiciously," cried he; "would you, then,
return into the country?"
"That is not yet in my power; I am obliged to reside with one of my
guardians. To-day I have seen Mrs Delvile, and--"
"Mrs Delvile?" interrupted Mr Monckton, in a voice of astonishment.
"Surely you do not think of removing into that family?"
"What can I do so well? Mrs Delvile is a charming woman, and her
conversation would afford me more entertainment and instruction in a
single day, than under this roof I should obtain in a twelvemonth."
"Are you serious? Do you really think of making such a change?"
"I really wish it, but I know not yet if it is practicable: on
Thursday, however, I am to dine with her, and then, if it is in my
power, I will hint to her my desire."
"And can Miss Beverley possibly wish," cried Mr Monckton with
earnestness, "to reside in such a house? Is not Mr Delvile the most
ostentatious, haughty, and self-sufficient of men? Is not his wife
the proudest of women? And is not the whole family odious to all the
"You amaze me!" cried Cecilia; "surely that cannot be their general
character? Mr Delvile, indeed, deserves all the censure he can meet
for his wearisome parade of superiority; but his lady by no means
merits to be included in the same reproach. I have spent this whole
morning with her, and though I waited upon her with a strong
prejudice in her disfavour, I observed in her no pride that exceeded
the bounds of propriety and native dignity."
"Have you often been at the house? Do you know the son, too?"
"I have seen him three or four times."
"And what do you think of him?"
"I hardly know enough of him to judge fairly."
"But what does he seem to you? Do you not perceive in him already
all the arrogance, all the contemptuous insolence of his father?"
"O no! far from it indeed; his mind seems to be liberal and noble,
open to impressions of merit, and eager to honour and promote it."
"You are much deceived; you have been reading your own mind, and
thought you had read his: I would advise you sedulously to avoid the
whole family; you will find all intercourse with them irksome and
comfortless: such as the father appears at once, the wife and the
son will, in a few more meetings, appear also. They are descended
from the same stock, and inherit the same self-complacency. Mr
Delvile married his cousin, and each of them instigates the other to
believe that all birth and rank would be at an end in the world, if
their own superb family had not a promise of support from their
hopeful Mortimer. Should you precipitately settle yourself in their
house, you would very soon be totally weighed down by their united
Cecilia again and warmly attempted to defend them; but Mr Monckton
was so positive in his assertions, and so significant in his
insinuations to their discredit, that she was at length persuaded
she had judged too hastily, and, after thanking him for his counsel,
promised not to take any measures towards a removal without his
This was all he desired; and now, enlivened by finding that his
influence with her was unimpaired, and that her heart was yet her
own, he ceased his exhortations, and turned the discourse to
subjects more gay and general, judiciously cautious neither by
tedious admonitions to disgust, nor by fretful solicitude to alarm
her. He did not quit her till the evening was far advanced, and
then, in returning to his own house, felt all his anxieties and
disappointments recompensed by the comfort this long and
satisfactory conversation had afforded him. While Cecilia, charmed
with having spent the morning with her new acquaintance, and the
evening with her old friend, retired to rest better pleased with the
disposal of her time than she had yet been since her journey from
A TETE A TETE.
The two following days had neither event nor disturbance, except
some little vexation occasioned by the behaviour of Sir Robert
Floyer, who still appeared not to entertain any doubt of the success
of his addresses. This impertinent confidence she could only
attribute to the officious encouragement of Mr Harrel, and therefore
she determined rather to seek than to avoid an explanation with him.
But she had, in the mean time, the satisfaction of hearing from Mr
Arnott, who, ever eager to oblige her, was frequent in his
enquiries, that Mr Belfield was almost entirely recovered.
On Thursday, according to her appointment, she again went to St
James' Square, and being shewn into the drawing-room till dinner was
ready, found there only young Mr Delvile.
After some general conversation, he asked her how lately she had had
any news of Mr Belfield?
"This morning," she answered, "when I had the pleasure of hearing he
was quite recovered. Have you seen him again, sir?"
"Yes madam, twice."
"And did you think him almost well?"
"I thought," answered he, with some hesitation, "and I think still,
that your enquiries ought to be his cure."
"O," cried Cecilia, "I hope he has far better medicines: but I am
afraid I have been misinformed, for I see you do not think him
"You must not, however," replied he, "blame those messengers whose
artifice has only had your satisfaction in view; nor should I be so
malignant as to blast their designs, if I did not fear that Mr
Belfield's actual safety may be endangered by your continual
"What deception, sir? I don't at all understand you. How is his
"Ah madam!" said he smiling, "what danger indeed is there that any
man would not risk to give birth to such solicitude! Mr Belfield
however, I believe is in none from which a command of yours cannot
"Then were I an hard-hearted damsel indeed not to issue it! but if
my commands are so medicinal, pray instruct me how to administer
"You must order him to give up, for the present, his plan of going
into the country, where he can have no assistance, and where his
wound must be dressed only by a common servant, and to remain
quietly in town till his surgeon pronounces that he may travel
without any hazard."
"But is he, seriously, so mad as to intend leaving town without the
consent of his surgeon?"
"Nothing less than such an intention could have induced me to
undeceive you with respect to his recovery. But indeed I am no
friend to those artifices which purchase present relief by future
misery: I venture, therefore, to speak to you the simple truth, that
by a timely exertion of your influence you may prevent further
"I know not, Sir," said Cecilia, with the utmost surprise, "why you
should suppose I have any such influence; nor can I imagine that any
deception has been practiced."
"It is possible," answered he, "I may have been too much alarmed;
but in such a case as this, no information ought to be depended upon
but that of his surgeon. You, madam, may probably know his opinion?"
"Me?--No, indeed? I never saw his surgeon; I know not even who he
"I purpose calling upon him to-morrow morning; will Miss Beverley
permit me afterwards the honour of communicating to her what may
"I thank you, sir," said she, colouring very high; "but my
impatience is by no means so great as to occasion my giving you that
Delvile, perceiving her change of countenance, instantly, and with
much respect, entreated her pardon for the proposal; which, however,
she had no sooner granted, than he said very archly, "Why indeed you
have not much right to be angry, since it was your own frankness
that excited mine. And thus, you find, like most other culprits, I
am ready to cast the blame of the offence upon the offended. I feel,
however, an irresistible propensity to do service to Mr Belfield;--
shall I sin quite beyond forgiveness if I venture to tell you how I
found him situated this morning?"
"No, certainly,--if you wish it, I can have no objection."
"I found him, then, surrounded by a set of gay young men, who, by
way of keeping up his spirits, made him laugh and talk without
ceasing: he assured me himself that he was perfectly well, and
intended to gallop out of town to-morrow morning; though, when I
shook hands with him at parting, I was both shocked and alarmed to
feel by the burning heat of the skin, that far from discarding his
surgeon, he ought rather to call in a physician."
"I am very much concerned to hear this account," said Cecilia; "but
I do not well understand what you mean should on my part follow it?"
"That," answered he, bowing, with a look of mock gravity, "I pretend
not to settle! In stating the case I have satisfied my conscience,
and if in hearing it you can pardon the liberty I have taken, I
shall as much honour the openness of your character, as I admire
that of your countenance."
Cecilia now, to her no little astonishment, found she had the same
mistake to clear up at present concerning Mr Belfield, that only
three days before she had explained with respect to the Baronet. But
she had no time to speak further upon the subject, as the entrance
of Mrs Delvile put an end to their discourse.
That lady received her with the most distinguishing kindness;
apologised for not sooner waiting upon her, and repeatedly declared
that nothing but indisposition should have prevented her returning
the favour of her first visit.
They were soon after summoned to dinner. Mr Delvile, to the infinite
joy of Cecilia, was out.
The day was spent greatly to her satisfaction. There was no
interruption from visitors, she was tormented by the discussion of
no disagreeable subjects, the duel was not mentioned, the
antagonists were not hinted at, she was teized with no self-
sufficient encouragement, and wearied with no mortifying affability;
the conversation at once was lively and rational, and though
general, was rendered interesting, by a reciprocation of good-will
and pleasure in the conversers.
The favourable opinion she had conceived both of the mother and the
son this long visit served to confirm: in Mrs Delvile she found
strong sense, quick parts, and high breeding; in Mortimer, sincerity
and vivacity joined with softness and elegance; and in both there
seemed the most liberal admiration of talents, with an openness of
heart that disdained all disguise. Greatly pleased with their
manners, and struck with all that was apparent in their characters,
she much regretted the prejudice of Mr Monckton, which now, with the
promise she had given him, was all that opposed her making an
immediate effort towards a change in her abode.
She did not take her leave till eleven o'clock, when Mrs Delvile,
after repeatedly thanking her for her visit, said she would not so
much encroach upon her good nature as to request another till she
had waited upon her in return; but added, that she meant very
speedily to pay that debt, in order to enable herself, by friendly
and frequent meetings, to enter upon the confidential commission
with which her guardian had entrusted her.
Cecilia was pleased with the delicacy which gave rise to this
forbearance, yet having in fact nothing either to relate or conceal,
she was rather sorry than glad at the delay of an explanation, since
she found the whole family was in an error with respect to the
situation of her affairs.
Cecilia, upon her return home, heard with some surprise that Mr and
Mrs Harrel were by themselves in the drawing-room; and, while she
was upon the stairs, Mrs Harrel ran out, calling eagerly, "Is that
Before she could make an answer, Mr Harrel, in the same impatient
tone, exclaimed, "Is it Mr Arnott?"
"No;" said Cecilia, "did you expect him so late?"
"Expect him? Yes," answered Mr Harrel, "I have expected him the
whole evening, and cannot conceive what he has done with himself."
"'Tis abominably provoking," said Mrs Harrel, "that he should be out
of the way just now when he is wanted. However, I dare say to-morrow
will do as well."
"I don't know that," cried Mr Harrel. "Reeves is such a wretch that
I am sure he will give me all the trouble in his power."
Here Mr Arnott entered; and Mrs Harrel called out "O brother, we
have been distressed for you cruelly; we have had a man here who has
plagued Mr Harrel to death, and we wanted you sadly to speak to
"I should have been very glad," said Mr Arnott, "to have been of any
use, and perhaps it is not yet too late; who is the man?"
"O," cried Mr Harrel, carelessly, "only a fellow from that rascally
taylor who has been so troublesome to me lately. He has had the
impudence, because I did not pay him the moment he was pleased to
want his money, to put the bill into the hands of one Reeves, a
griping attorney, who has been here this evening, and thought proper
to talk to me pretty freely. I can tell the gentleman I shall not
easily forget his impertinence! however, I really wish mean time I
could get rid of him."
"How much is the bill, Sir?" said Mr Arnott.
"Why it's rather a round sum; but I don't know how it is, one's
bills mount up before one is aware: those fellows charge such
confounded sums for tape and buckram; I hardly know what I have had
of him, and yet he has run me up a bill of between three and four
Here there was a general silence; till Mrs Harrel said "Brother,
can't you be so good as to lend us the money? Mr Harrel says he can
pay it again very soon."
"O yes, very soon," said Mr Harrel, "for I shall receive a great
deal of money in a little time; I only want to stop this fellow's
mouth for the present."
"Suppose I go and talk with him?" said Mr Arnott.
"O, he's a brute, a stock!" cried Mr Harrel, "nothing but the money
will satisfy him: he will hear no reason; one might as well talk to
Mr Arnott now looked extremely distressed; but upon his sister's
warmly pressing him not to lose any time, he gently said, "If this
person will but wait a week or two, I should be extremely glad, for
really just now I cannot take up so much money, without such
particular loss and inconvenience, that I hardly know how to do it:
--but yet, if he will not be appeased, he must certainly have it."
"Appeased?" cried Mr Harrel, "you might as well appease the sea in a
storm! he is hard as iron."
Mr Arnott then, forcing a smile, though evidently in much
uneasiness, said he would not fail to raise the money the next
morning, and was taking his leave, when Cecilia, shocked that such
tenderness and good-nature should be thus grossly imposed upon,
hastily begged to speak with Mrs Harrel, and taking her into another
room, said, "I beseech you, my dear friend, let not your worthy
brother suffer by his generosity; permit me in the present exigence
to assist Mr Harrel: my having such a sum advanced can be of no
consequence; but I should grieve indeed that your brother, who so
nobly understands the use of money, should take it up at any
"You are vastly kind," said Mrs Harrel, "and I will run and speak to
them about it: but which ever of you lends the money, Mr Harrel has
assured me he shall pay it very soon."
She then returned with the proposition. Mr Arnott strongly opposed
it, but Mr Harrel seemed rather to prefer it, yet spoke so
confidently of his speedy payment, that he appeared to think it a
matter of little importance from which he accepted it. A generous
contest ensued between Mr Arnott and Cecilia, but as she was very
earnest, she at length prevailed, and settled to go herself the next
morning into the city, in order to have the money advanced by Mr
Briggs, who had the management of her fortune entirely to himself,
her other guardians never interfering in the executive part of her
This arranged, they all retired.
And then, with encreasing astonishment, Cecilia reflected upon the
ruinous levity of Mr Harrel, and the blind security of his wife; she
saw in their situation danger the most alarming, and in the
behaviour of Mr Harrel selfishness the most inexcusable; such
glaring injustice to his creditors, such utter insensibility to his
friends, took from her all wish of assisting him, though the
indignant compassion with which she saw the easy generosity of Mr
Arnott so frequently abused, had now, for his sake merely, induced
her to relieve him.
She resolved, however, as soon as the present difficulty was
surmounted, to make another attempt to open the eyes of Mrs Harrel
to the evils which so apparently threatened her, and press her to
exert all her influence with her husband, by means both of example
and advice, to retrench his expences before it should be absolutely
too late to save him from ruin.
She determined also at the same time dial she applied for the money
requisite for this debt, to take up enough for discharging her own
bill at the bookseller's, and putting in execution her plan of
assisting the Hills.
The next morning she arose early, and attended by her servant, set
out for the house of Mr Briggs, purposing, as the weather was clear
and frosty, to walk through Oxford Road, and then put herself into a
chair; and hoping to return to Mr Harrel's by the usual hour of
She had not proceeded far, before she saw a mob gathering, and the
windows of almost all the houses filling with spectators. She
desired her servant to enquire what this meant, and was informed
that the people were assembling to see some malefactors pass by in
their way to Tyburn.
Alarmed at this intelligence from the fear of meeting the unhappy
criminals, she hastily turned down die next street, but found that
also filling with people who were running to the scene she was
trying to avoid: encircled thus every way, she applied to a
maidservant who was standing at the door of a large house, and
begged leave to step in till the mob was gone by. The maid
immediately consented, and she waited here while she sent her man
for a chair.
He soon arrived with one; but just as she returned to the street
door, a gentleman, who was hastily entering the house, standing back
to let her pass, suddenly exclaimed, "Miss Beverley!" and looking at
him, she perceived young Delvile.
"I cannot stop an instant," cried she, running down the steps, "lest
the crowd should prevent the chair from going on."
"Will you not first," said he, handing her in, "tell me what news
you have heard?"
"News?" repeated she. "No, I have heard none!"
"You will only, then, laugh at me for those officious offers you did
so well to reject?"
"I know not what offers you mean!"
"They were indeed superfluous, and therefore I wonder not you have
forgotten them. Shall I tell the chairmen whither to go?"
"To Mr Briggs. But I cannot imagine what you mean."
"To Mr Briggs!" repeated he, "O live for ever French beads and
Bristol stones! fresh offers may perhaps be made there, impertinent,
officious, and useless as mine!"
He then told her servant the direction, and, making his bow, went
into the house she had just quitted.
Cecilia, extremely amazed by this short, but unintelligible
conversation, would again have called upon him to explain his
meaning, but found the crowd encreasing so fast that she could not
venture to detain the chair, which with difficulty made its way to
the adjoining streets: but her surprize at what had passed so
entirely occupied her, that when she stopt at the house of Mr
Briggs, she had almost forgotten what had brought her thither.
The foot-boy, who came to the door, told her that his master was at
home, but not well.
She desired he might be acquainted that she wished to speak to him
upon business, and would wait upon him again at any hour when he
thought he should be able to see her.
The boy returned with an answer that she might call again the next
Cecilia, knowing that so long a delay would destroy all the kindness
of her intention, determined to write to him for the money, and
therefore went into the parlour, and desired to have pen and ink.
The boy, after making her wait some time in a room without any fire,
brought her a pen and a little ink in a broken tea-cup, saying
"Master begs you won't spirt it about, for he's got no more; and all
our blacking's as good as gone."
"Blacking?" repeated Cecilia.
"Yes, Miss; when Master's shoes are blacked, we commonly gets a
little drap of fresh ink."
Cecilia promised to be careful, but desired him to fetch her a sheet
"Law, Miss," cried the boy, with a grin, "I dare say master'd as
soon give you a bit of his nose! howsever, I'll go ax."
In a few minutes he again returned, and brought in his hand a slate
and a black lead pencil; "Miss," cried he, "Master says how you may
write upon this, for he supposes you've no great matters to say."
Cecilia, much astonished at this extreme parsimony, was obliged to
consent, but as the point of the pencil was very blunt, desired the
boy to get her a knife that she might cut it. He obeyed, but said
"Pray Miss, take care it ben't known, for master don't do such a
thing once in a year, and if he know'd I'd got you the knife, he'd
go nigh to give me a good polt of the head."
Cecilia then wrote upon the slate her desire to be informed in what
manner she should send him her receipt for 600 pounds, which she
begged to have instantly advanced.
The boy came back grinning, and holding up his hands, and said,
"Miss, there's a fine piece of work upstairs! Master's in a peck of
troubles; but he says how he'll come down, if you'll stay till he's
got his things on."
"Does he keep his bed, then? I hope I have not made him rise?"
"No, Miss, he don't keep his bed, only he must get ready, for he
wears no great matters of cloaths when he's alone. You are to know,
Miss," lowering his voice, "that that day as he went abroad with our
sweep's cloaths on, he comed home in sich a pickle you never see! I
believe somebody'd knocked him in the kennel; so does Moll; but
don't you say as I told you! He's been special bad ever since. Moll
and I was as glad as could be, because he's so plaguy sharp; for, to
let you know, Miss, he's so near, it's partly a wonder how he lives
at all: and yet he's worth a power of money, too."
"Well, well," said Cecilia, not very desirous to encourage his
forwardness, "if I want any thing, I'll call for you."
The boy, however, glad to tell his tale, went on.
"Our Moll won't stay with him above a week longer, Miss, because she
says how she can get nothing to eat, but just some old stinking salt
meat, that's stayed in the butcher's shop so long, it would make a
horse sick to look at it. But Moll's pretty nice; howsever, Miss, to
let you know, we don't get a good meal so often as once a quarter!
why this last week we ha'n't had nothing at all but some dry musty
red herrings; so you may think, Miss, we're kept pretty sharp!"
He was now interrupted by hearing Mr Briggs coming down the stairs,
upon which, abruptly breaking off his complaints, he held up his
finger to his nose in token of secrecy, and ran hastily into the
The appearance of Mr Briggs was by no means rendered more attractive
by illness and negligence of dress. He had on a flannel gown and
night cap; his black beard, of many days' growth, was long and grim,
and upon his nose and one of his cheeks was a large patch of brown
paper, which, as he entered the room, he held on with both his
Cecilia made many apologies for having disturbed him, and some civil
enquiries concerning his health.
"Ay, ay," cried he, pettishly, "bad enough: all along of that
trumpery masquerade; wish I had not gone! Fool for my pains."
"When were you taken ill, Sir?"
"Met with an accident; got a fall, broke my head, like to have lost
my wig. Wish the masquerade at old Nick! thought it would cost
nothing, or would not have gone. Warrant sha'n't get me so soon to
"Did you fall in going home, Sir?"
"Ay, ay, plump in the kennel; could hardly get out of it; felt
myself a going, was afraid to tear my cloaths, knew the rascal would
make me pay for them, so by holding up the old sack, come bolt on my
face! off pops my wig; could not tell what to do; all as dark as
"Did not you call for help?"
"Nobody by but scrubs, knew they would not help for nothing.
Scrawled out as I could, groped about for my wig, found it at last,
all soused in the mud; stuck to my head like Turner's cerate,"
"I hope, then, you got into a hackney coach?"
"What for? to make things worse? was not bad enough, hay?--must pay
two shillings beside?"
"But how did you find yourself when you got home, Sir?"
"How? why wet as muck; my head all bumps, my cheek all cut, my nose
big as two! forced to wear a plaister; half ruined in vinegar. Got a
great cold; put me in a fever; never been well since."
"But have you had no advice, Sir? Should not you send for a
"What to do, hay? fill me with jallop? can get it myself, can't I?
Had one once; was taken very bad, thought should have popt off;
began to flinch, sent for the doctor, proved nothing but a cheat!
cost me a guinea, gave it at fourth visit, and he never came again!
---warrant won't have no more!"
Then perceiving upon the table some dust from the black lead pencil,
"What's here?" cried he, angrily, "who's been cutting the pencil?
wish they were hanged; suppose it's the boy; deserves to be
horsewhipped: give him a good banging."
Cecilia immediately cleared him, by acknowledging she had herself
been the culprit.
"Ay, ay," cried he, "thought as much all the time! guessed how it
was; nothing but ruin and waste; sending for money, nobody knows
why; wanting 600 pounds--what to do? throw it in the dirt? Never
heard the like! Sha'n't have it, promise you that," nodding his
head, "shan't have no such thing!"
"Sha'n't have it?" cried Cecilia, much surprised, "why not, Sir?"
"Keep it for your husband; get you one soon: won't have no juggling.
Don't be in a hurry; one in my eye."
Cecilia then began a very earnest expostulation, assuring him she
really wanted the money, for an occasion which would not admit of
delay. Her remonstrances, however, he wholly disregarded, telling
her that girls knew nothing of the value of money, and ought not to
be trusted with it; that he would not hear of such extravagance, and
was resolved not to advance her a penny. Cecilia was both provoked
and confounded by a refusal so unexpected, and as she thought
herself bound in honour to Mr Harrel not to make known the motive of
her urgency, she was for some time totally silenced: till
recollecting her account with the bookseller, she determined to rest
her plea upon that, persuaded that he could not, at least, deny her
money to pay her own bills. He heard her, however, with the utmost
contempt; "Books?" he cried, "what do you want with books? do no
good; all lost time; words get no cash." She informed him his
admonitions were now too late, as she had already received them, and
must therefore necessarily pay for them. "No, no," cried he, "send
'em back, that's best; keep no such rubbish, won't turn to account;
do better without 'em." "That, Sir, will be impossible, for I have
had them some time, and cannot expect the bookseller to take them
again." "Must, must," cried he, "can't help himself; glad to have
'em too. Are but a minor, can't be made pay a farthing." Cecilia
with much indignation heard such fraud recommended, and told him she
could by no means consent to follow his advice. But she soon found,
to her utter amazement, that he steadily refused to give her any
other, or to bestow the slightest attention upon her expostulations,
sturdily saying that her uncle had left her a noble estate, and he
would take care to see it put in proper hands, by getting her a good
and careful husband.
"I have no intention, no wish, Sir," cried she, "to break into the
income or estate left me by my uncle; on the contrary, I hold them
sacred, and think myself bound in conscience never to live beyond
them: but the L10,000 bequeathed me by my Father, I regard as more
peculiarly my own property, and therefore think myself at liberty to
dispose of it as I please."
"What," cried he, in a rage, "make it over to a scrubby bookseller!
give it up for an old pot-hook? no, no, won't suffer it; sha'n't be,
sha'n't be, I say! if you want some books, go to Moorfields, pick up
enough at an old stall; get 'em at two pence a-piece; dear enough,
Cecilia for some time hoped he was merely indulging his strange and
sordid humour by an opposition that was only intended to teize her;
but she soon found herself extremely mistaken: he was immoveable in
obstinacy, as he was incorrigible in avarice; he neither troubled
himself with enquiries nor reasoning, but was contented with
refusing her as a child might be refused, by peremptorily telling
her she did not know what she wanted, and therefore should not have
what she asked.
And with this answer, after all that she could urge, she was
compelled to leave the house, as he complained that his brown paper
plaister wanted fresh dipping in vinegar, and he could stay talking
The disgust with which this behaviour filled her, was doubled by the
shame and concern of returning to the Harrels with her promise
unperformed; she deliberated upon every method that occurred to her
of still endeavouring to serve them, but could suggest nothing,
except trying to prevail upon Mr Delvile to interfere in her favour.
She liked not, indeed, the office of solicitation to so haughty a
man, but, having no other expedient, her repugnance gave way to her
generosity, and she ordered the chairmen to carry her to St James's
And here, at the door of his Father's house, and just ascending the
steps, she perceived young Delvile.
"Again!" cried he, handing her out of the chair, "surely some good
genius is at work for me this morning!"
She told him she should not have called so early, now she was
acquainted with the late hours of Mrs Delvile, but that she merely
meant to speak with his Father, for two minutes, upon business.
He attended her up stairs; and finding she was in haste, went
himself with her message to Mr Delvile: and soon returned with an
answer that he would wait upon her presently.
The strange speeches he had made to her when they first met in the
morning now recurring to her memory, she determined to have them
explained, and in order to lead to the subject, mentioned the
disagreeable situation in which he had found her, while she was
standing up to avoid the sight of the condemned malefactors.
"Indeed?" cried he, in a tone of voice somewhat incredulous, "and
was that the purpose for which you stood up?"
"Certainly, Sir;--what other could I have?"
"None, surely!" said he, smiling, "but the accident was singularly
"Opportune?" cried Cecilia, staring, "how opportune? this is the
second time in the same morning that I am not able to understand
"How _should_ you understand what is so little intelligible?"
"I see you have some meaning which I cannot fathom, why, else,
should it be so extraordinary that I should endeavour to avoid a
mob? or how could it be opportune that I should happen to meet with
He laughed at first without making any answer; but perceiving she
looked at him with impatience, he half gaily, half reproachfully,
said, "Whence is it that young ladies, even such whose principles
are most strict, seem universally, in those affairs where their
affections are concerned, to think hypocrisy necessary, and deceit
amiable? and hold it graceful to disavow to-day, what they may
perhaps mean publicly to acknowledge to-morrow?"
Cecilia, who heard these questions with unfeigned astonishment,
looked at him with the utmost eagerness for an explanation.
"Do you so much wonder," he continued, "that I should have hoped in
Miss Beverley to have seen some deviation from such rules? and have
expected more openness and candour in a young lady who has given so
noble a proof of the liberality of her mind and understanding?"
"You amaze me beyond measure!" cried she, "what rules, what candour,
what liberality, do you mean?"
"Must I speak yet more plainly? and if I do, will you bear to hear
"Indeed I should be extremely glad if you would give me leave to
"And may I tell you what has charmed me, as well as what I have
presumed to wonder at?"
"You may tell me any thing, if you will but be less mysterious."
"Forgive then the frankness you invite, and let me acknowledge to
you how greatly I honour the nobleness of your conduct. Surrounded
as you are by the opulent and the splendid, unshackled by
dependance, unrestrained by authority, blest by nature with all that
is attractive, by situation with all that is desirable,--to slight
the rich, and disregard the powerful, for the purer pleasure of
raising oppressed merit, and giving to desert that wealth in which
alone it seemed deficient--how can a spirit so liberal be
sufficiently admired, or a choice of so much dignity be too highly
"I find," cried Cecilia, "I must forbear any further enquiry, for
the more I hear, the less I understand."
"Pardon me, then," cried he, "if here I return to my first question:
whence is it that a young lady who can think so nobly, and act so
disinterestedly, should not be uniformly great, simple in truth, and
unaffected in sincerity? Why should she be thus guarded, where
frankness would do her so much honour? Why blush in owning what all
others may blush in envying?"
"Indeed you perplex me intolerably," cried Cecilia, with some
vexation, "why Sir, will you not be more explicit?"
"And why, Madam," returned he, with a laugh, "would you tempt me to
be more impertinent? have I not said strange things already?"
"Strange indeed," cried she, "for not one of them can I comprehend!"
"Pardon, then," cried he, "and forget them all! I scarce know myself
what urged me to say them, but I began inadvertently, without
intending to go on, and I have proceeded involuntarily, without
knowing how to stop. The fault, however, is ultimately your own, for
the sight of you creates an insurmountable desire to converse with
you, and your conversation a propensity equally incorrigible to take
some interest in your welfare."
He would then have changed the discourse, and Cecilia, ashamed of
pressing him further, was for some time silent; but when one of the
servants came to inform her that his master meant to wait upon her
directly, her unwillingness to leave the matter in suspense induced
her, somewhat abruptly, to say, "Perhaps, Sir, you are thinking of
"A happy conjecture!" cried he, "but so wild a one, I cannot but
marvel how it should occur to you!"
"Well, Sir," said she, "I must acknowledge I now understand your
meaning; but with respect to what has given rise to it, I am as much
a stranger as ever."
The entrance of Mr Delvile here closed the conversation.
He began with his usual ostentatious apologies, declaring he had so
many people to attend, so many complaints to hear, and so many
grievances to redress, that it was impossible for him to wait upon
her sooner, and not without difficulty that he waited upon her now.
Mean time his son almost immediately retired: and Cecilia, instead
of listening to this harangue, was only disturbing herself with
conjectures upon what had just passed. She saw that young Delvile
concluded she was absolutely engaged to Mr Belfield, and though she
was better pleased that any suspicion should fall there than upon
Sir Robert Floyer, she was yet both provoked and concerned to be
suspected at all. An attack so earnest from almost any other person
could hardly have failed being very offensive to her, but in the
manners of young Delvile good breeding was so happily blended with
frankness, that his freedom seemed merely to result from the
openness of his disposition, and even in its very act pleaded its
Her reverie was at length interrupted by Mr Delvile's desiring to
know in what he could serve her.
She told him she had present occasion for L600, and hoped he would
not object to her taking up that sum.
"Six hundred pounds," said he, after some deliberation, "is rather
an extraordinary demand for a young lady in your situation; your
allowance is considerable, you have yet no house, no equipage, no
establishment; your expences, I should imagine, cannot be very
He stopt, and seemed weighing her request.
Cecilia, shocked at appearing extravagant, yet too generous to
mention Mr Harrel, had again recourse to her bookseller's bill,
which she told him she was anxious to discharge.
"A bookseller's bill?" cried he; "and do you want L600 for a
"No, Sir," said she, stammering, "no,--not all for that,--I have
some other--I have a particular occasion--"
"But what bill at all," cried he, with much surprise, "can a young
lady have with a bookseller? The Spectator, Tatler and Guardian,
would make library sufficient for any female in the kingdom, nor do
I think it like a gentlewoman to have more. Besides, if you ally
yourself in such a manner as I shall approve and recommend, you
will, in all probability, find already collected more books than
there can ever be any possible occasion for you to look into. And
let me counsel you to remember that a lady, whether so called from
birth or only from fortune, should never degrade herself by being
put on a level with writers, and such sort of people."
Cecilia thanked him for his advice, but confessed that upon the
present occasion it came too late, as the books were now actually in
her own possession.
"And have you taken," cried he, "such a measure as this without
consulting me? I thought I had assured you my opinion was always at
your service when you were in any dilemma."
"Yes, Sir," answered Cecilia; "but I knew how much you were
occupied, and wished to avoid taking up your time."
"I cannot blame your modesty," he replied, "and therefore, as you
have contracted the debt, you are, in honour, bound to pay it. Mr
Briggs, however, has the entire management of your fortune, my many
avocations obliging me to decline so laborious a trust; apply,
therefore, to him, and, as things are situated, I will make no
opposition to your demand."
"I have already, Sir," said Cecilia, "spoke to Mr Briggs, but--"
"You went to him first, then?" interrupted Mr Delvile, with a look
of much displeasure.
"I was unwilling, Sir, to trouble you till I found it unavoidable."
She then acquainted him with Mr Briggs' refusal, and entreated he
would do her the favour to intercede in her behalf, that the money
might no longer be denied her.
Every word she spoke his pride seemed rising to resent, and when,
she had done, after regarding her some time with apparent
indignation, he said, "_I_ intercede! _I_ become an
Cecilia, amazed to find him thus violently irritated, made a very
earnest apology for her request; but without paying her any
attention, he walked up and down the room, exclaiming, "an agent!
and to Mr Briggs!--This is an affront I could never have expected!
why did I degrade myself by accepting this humiliating office? I
ought to have known better!" Then, turning to Cecilia, "Child," he
added, "for whom is it you take me, and for what?"
Cecilia again, though affronted in her turn, began some
protestations of respect; but haughtily interrupting her, he said,
"If of me, and of my rank in life you judge by Mr Briggs or by Mr
Harrel, I may be subject to proposals such as these every day;
suffer me, therefore, for your better information, to hint to you,
that the head of an ancient and honourable house, is apt to think
himself somewhat superior to people but just rising from dust and
Thunderstruck by this imperious reproof, she could attempt no
further vindication; but when he observed her consternation, he was
somewhat appeased, and hoping he had now impressed her with a proper
sense of his dignity, he more gently said, "You did not, I believe,
intend to insult me."
"Good Heaven, Sir; no!" cried Cecilia, "nothing was more distant
from my thoughts: if my expressions have been faulty, it has been
wholly from ignorance."
"Well, well, we will think then no more of it."
She then said she would no longer detain him, and, without daring to
again mention her petition, she wished him good morning.
He suffered her to go, yet, as she left the room, graciously said,
"Think no more of my displeasure, for it is over: I see you were not
aware of the extraordinary thing you proposed. I am sorry I cannot
possibly assist you; on any other occasion you may depend upon my
services; but you know Mr Briggs, you have seen him yourself,--
judge, then, how a man of any fashion is to accommodate himself with
such a person!"
Cecilia concurred, and, courtsying, took her leave.
"Ah!" thought she, in her way home, "how happy is it for me that I
followed the advice of Mr Monckton! else I had surely made interest
to become an inmate of that house, and then indeed, as he wisely
foresaw, I should inevitably have been overwhelmed by this pompous
insolence! no family, however amiable, could make amends for such a
master of it."
The Harrels and Mr Arnott waited the return of Cecilia with the
utmost impatience; she told them with much concern the failure of
her embassy, which Mr Harrel heard with visible resentment and
discontent, while Mr Arnott, entreating him not to think of it,
again made an offer of his services, and declared he would disregard
all personal convenience for the pleasure of making him and his
Cecilia was much mortified that she had not the power to act the
same part, and asked Mr Harrel whether he believed his own influence
with Mr Briggs would be more successful.
"No, no," answered he, "the old curmudgeon would but the rather
refuse. I know his reason, and therefore am sure all pleas will be
vain. He has dealings in the alley, and I dare say games with your
money as if it were his own. There is, indeed, one way--but I do not
think you would like it--though I protest I hardly know why not--
however, 'tis as well let alone."
Cecilia insisted upon hearing what he meant, and, after some
hesitation, he hinted that there were means by which, with very
little inconvenience, she might borrow the money.
Cecilia, with that horror natural to all unpractised minds at the
first idea of contracting a voluntary debt, started at this
suggestion, and seemed very ill disposed to listen to it. Mr Harrel,
perceiving her repugnance, turned to Mr Arnott, and said, "Well, my
good brother, I hardly know how to suffer you to sell out at such a
loss, but yet, my present necessity is so urgent--"
"Don't mention it," cried Mr Arnott, "I am very sorry I let you know
it; be certain, however, that while I have anything, it is yours and
The two gentlemen we then retiring together; but Cecilia, shocked
for Mr Arnott, though unmoved by Mr Harrel, stopt them to enquire
what was the way by which it was meant she could borrow the money?
Mr Harrel seemed averse to answer, but she would not be refused; and
then he mentioned a Jew, of whose honesty he had made undoubted
trial, and who, as she was so near being of age, would accept very
trifling interest for whatever she should like to take up.
The heart of Cecilia recoiled at the very mention of a _Jew_,
and _taking up money upon interest_; but, impelled strongly by
her own generosity to emulate that of Mr Arnott, she agreed, after
some hesitation, to have recourse to this method.
Mr Harrel then made some faint denials, and Mr Arnott protested he
had a thousand times rather sell out at any discount, than consent
to her taking such a measure; but, when her first reluctance was
conquered, all that he urged served but to shew his worthiness in a
stronger light, and only increased her desire of saving him from
such repeated imposition.
Her total ignorance in what manner to transact this business, made
her next put it wholly into the hands of Mr Harrel, whom she begged
to take up 600 pounds, upon such terms as he thought equitable, and
to which, what ever they might be, she would sign her name.
He seemed somewhat surprised at the sum, but without any question or
objection undertook the commission: and Cecilia would not lessen it,
because unwilling to do more for the security of the luxurious Mr
Harrel, than for the distresses of the laborious Hills.
Nothing could be more speedy than the execution of this affair, Mr
Harrel was diligent and expert, the whole was settled that morning,
and, giving to the Jew her bond for the payment at the interest he
required, she put into the hands of Mr Harrel L350, for which he
gave his receipt, and she kept the rest for her own purposes.
She intended the morning after this transaction to settle her
account with the bookseller. When she went into the parlour to
breakfast, she was somewhat surprised to see Mr Harrel seated there,
in earnest discourse with his wife. Fearful of interrupting a
_tete-a-tete_ so uncommon, she would have retired, but Mr
Harrel, calling after her, said, "O pray come in! I am only telling
Priscilla a piece of my usual ill luck. You must know I happen to be
in immediate want of L200, though only for three or four days, and I
sent to order honest old Aaron to come hither directly with the
money, but it so happens that he went out of town the moment he had
done with us yesterday, and will not be back again this week. Now I
don't believe there is another Jew in the kingdom who will let me
have money upon the same terms; they are such notorious rascals,
that I hate the very thought of employing them."
Cecilia, who could not but understand what this meant, was too much
displeased both by his extravagance and his indelicacy, to feel at
all inclined to change the destination of the money she had just
received; and therefore coolly agreed that it was unfortunate, but
added nothing more.
"O, it is provoking indeed," cried he, "for the extra-interest I
must pay one of those extortioners is absolutely so much money
Cecilia, still without noticing these hints, began her breakfast. Mr
Harrel then said he would take his tea with them: and, while he was
buttering some dry toast, exclaimed, as if from sudden recollection,
"O Lord, now I think of it, I believe, Miss Beverley, you can lend
me this money yourself for a day or two. The moment old Aaron comes
to town, I will pay you."
Cecilia, whose generosity, however extensive, was neither
thoughtless nor indiscriminate, found something so repulsive in this
gross procedure, that instead of assenting to his request with her
usual alacrity, she answered very gravely that the money she had
just received was already appropriated to a particular purpose, and
she knew not how to defer making use of it.
Mr Harrel was extremely chagrined by this reply, which was by no
means what he expected; but, tossing down a dish of tea, he began
humming an air, and soon recovered his usual unconcern.
In a few minutes, ringing his bell, he desired a servant to go to Mr
Zackery, and inform him that he wanted to speak with him
"And now," said he, with a look in which vexation seemed struggling
with carelessness, "the thing is done! I don't like, indeed, to get
into such hands, for 'tis hard ever to get out of them when once one
begins,--and hitherto I have kept pretty clear. But there's no help
for it--Mr Arnott cannot just now assist me--and so the thing must
take its course. Priscilla, why do you look so grave?"
"I am thinking how unlucky it is my Brother should happen to be
unable to lend you this money."
"O, don't think about it; I shall get rid of the man very soon I
dare say--I hope so, at least--I am sure I mean it."
Cecilia now grew a little disturbed; she looked at Mrs. Harrel, who
seemed also uneasy, and then, with some hesitation, said "Have you
really never, Sir, employed this man before?"
"Never in my life: never any but old Aaron. I dread the whole race;
I have a sort of superstitious notion that if once I get into their
clutches, I shall never be my own man again; and that induced me to
beg your assistance. However, 'tis no great matter."
She then began to waver; she feared there might be future mischief
as well as present inconvenience, in his applying to new usurers,
and knowing she had now the power to prevent him, thought herself
half cruel in refusing to exert it. She wished to consult Mr.
Monckton, but found it necessary to take her measures immediately,
as the Jew was already sent for, and must in a few moments be either
employed or discarded.
Much perplext how to act, between a desire of doing good, and a fear
of encouraging evil, she weighed each side hastily, but while still
uncertain which ought to preponderate, her kindness for Mrs. Harrel
interfered, and, in the hope of rescuing her husband from further
bad practices, she said she would postpone her own business for the
few days he mentioned, rather than see him compelled to open any new
account with so dangerous a set of men.
He thanked her in his usual negligent manner, and accepting the 200
pounds, gave her his receipt for it, and a promise she should be paid
in a week.
Mrs. Harrel, however, seemed more grateful, and with many embraces
spoke her sense of this friendly good nature. Cecilia, happy from
believing she had revived in her some spark of sensibility,
determined to avail herself of so favourable a symptom, and enter at
once upon the disagreeable task she had set herself, of representing
to her the danger of her present situation.
As soon, therefore, as breakfast was done, and Mr Arnott, who came
in before it was over, was gone, with a view to excite her attention
by raising her curiosity, she begged the favour of a private
conference in her own room, upon matters of some importance.
She began with hoping that the friendship in which they had so long
lived would make her pardon the liberty she was going to take, and
which nothing less than their former intimacy, joined to strong
apprehensions for her future welfare, could authorise; "But oh
Priscilla!" she continued, "with open eyes to see your danger, yet
not warn you of it, would be a reserve treacherous in a friend, and
cruel even in a fellow-creature."
"What danger?" cried Mrs Harrel, much alarmed, "do you think me ill?
do I look consumptive?"
"Yes, consumptive indeed!" said Cecilia, "but not, I hope, in your
And then, with all the tenderness in her power, she came to the
point, and conjured her without delay to retrench her expences, and
change her thoughtless way of life for one more considerate and
Mrs Harrel, with much simplicity, assured her _she did nothing but
what every body else did_, and that it was quite impossible for
her to _appear in the world_ in any other manner.
"But how are you to appear hereafter?" cried Cecilia, "if now you
live beyond your income, you must consider that in time your income
by such depredations will be exhausted."
"But I declare to you," answered Mrs Harrel, "I never run in debt
for more than half a year, for as soon as I receive my own money, I
generally pay it away every shilling: and so borrow what I want till
pay day comes round again."