Obrazy na stronie


and though of these interviews they were themselves witnesses, yet Sir James insensibly became jealous of his lady, and Mrs. Freeman of her husband.

It happened in the May following, that Sir James went about ten miles out of town to be present at the election of a member of parliament for the county, and was not expected to return till the next day. In the evening his lady took a chair and visited Mrs. Freeman: the rest of the company went away early, the Captain was upon guard, Sir James was out of town, and the two ladies after supper fate down to piquet, and continued the game without once reflecting upon the hour, till three in the morning. Lady Forrest would then have gone home; but Mrs. Freeman, perhaps

; chiefly to conceal a contrary desire, importuned her to ftay till the Captain came in, and at length with some reluctance she consented.

About five the Captain came home, and Lady Forreft immediately sent out for a chair : a chair, as it happened, could not be procured : but a hackney-coach being brought in its stead, the Captain infifted upon wait. ing on her ladyfhip home. This she refused with some emotion; it is probable that she still regarded the Captain with less indifference than she wilhed, and was, therefore more sensible of the impropriety of his offer: but her reasons for rejecting it, however forcible, being such as she could not allege, he persisted, and her refolution was overborne. By this importunate complaisance, the Captain had not only thrown Lady Forrest into confusion, but displeased his wife : she could not, however, without unpoliteness, oppose it; and left her uineafinefs thould be discovered, she affceted a negligence which in fome degree revenged it: the desired


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that when he came back he would not disturb her, for that she should go directly to bed; and added, with a kind of drousy insensibility, “ I am more than half afleep


Lady Forrest and the Captain were to go from the Haymarket to Grosvenor Square. It was about half an hour after five when they got into the coach : the morning was remarkably fine, the late conteft had fhaken off all disposition to sleep, and Lady Forrest could. not help saying, that she had much rather take a walk. in the Park than go home to bed. The Captain zea. lously expressed the fame sentiment, and proposed that the coach should set them down at St. James's Gate.. The lady, however, had nearly the same objections against being seen in the Mall without any other company than the Captain, that she had against its being known that they were alone together in a hackneycoach: fhe, therefore, to extricate herself from this fecond difficulty, proposed that they should call at her fa. ther's in Bond-street, and take her cousin Meadows, whom she knew to be an early riser with them. This project was immediately put in execution ; but Lady Forrest found her coufin indisposed with a cold. When the had communicated the design of this early visit, Miss Meadows intreated her to give up her walk in the Park, to stay till the family rose, and go home after breakfast; “ No," replied Lady Forreft, “ I am

determined up on a walk ; but as I must first get rid of “ Captain Freeman, I will send down word that I will “ take your advice.” A fervant was accordingly difpatched to acquaint the Captain, who was waiting below, that Miss Meadows was indisposed and had en. gaged Lady Forrest to breakfaft.




No. LV. Tuesday, May 15, 1753.

Quid quisque vitet, nunquam homini fatis.
Cautum eft in horas.


While danger hourly round us rise,
No caution guards us from surprise.


The Captain discharged the coach; but being piqued

; at the behaviour of his wife, and feeling that flow of fpirits which usually returns with the morning, even to those who have not slept in the night, he had no desire to go home, and therefore resolved to enjoy the fine morning in the Park alone.

Lady Forrest, not doubting but that the Captain would immediately return home, congratulated herself upon her deliverance ; but at the same time to indulge her defire of a walk, followed him into the Park.

The Captain had reached the top of the Mall, and turning back, met her before. The had advanced two hundred yards beyond the palace. The moment she perceived him, the remembrance of her message, the motives that produced it, the detection of its falsehood, and discovery of its design, her disappointment and confciousness of that very situation which she had fo much; F 6




reason to avoid, all concurred to cover her with confufion which it was impossible to hide : pride and good breeding were, however, still predominant over truth and prudence; she was still zealous to remove from the Captain's mind any fufpicion of a design to fhun him, and therefore, with an effort perhaps equal to that of a hero who smiles upon the rack, she affected an air of gaiety, said she was glad to see him, and as an excuse for her message and her conduct, prattled something about the fickleness of woman's mind, and concluded with observing, that the changed her's too often ever to be mad.

By this conduct a retreat was rendered impossible, and they walked together till between eight and nine ; but the clouds having insensibly gathered, and a sudden shower falling just as they reached SpringGardens, they went out instead of going back; and the Captain. having put the lady into a chair took his leave.

It happened that Sir James, contrary to his first purpose, had returned from his journey, at night. He learnt from the fervants, that his lady was gone to Captain Freeman's, and was secretly displeased that the had made this visit when he was absent; an incident, which, however trifiing in itself, was by the magic of jealousy swelled into importance : yet upon recollection he reproved himself for this displeasure, since the presence of the Captain's lady would sufficiently secure the honour of his own. While he was struggling with these fufpicions, they increased both in number and strength in proportion as the night wore away. At one he went to bed ; but he passed the night in agonies of terror and resentment, doubting whether the absence of his lady was the effect of accident, or design, listening to every

noise and bewildering himself in a multitude of extravagant fuppofitions, he rose again at at break of day; and after several hours of suspence and irresolution, whether to wait the issue, or go out for intelligence, the restlessness of curiosity prevailed, and about eight he set out for Captain Freeman's; but left word with his servants, that he was gone to a neighbouring coffeehouse.

Mrs. Freeman, whose affected indifference and disfimulation of a design to go immediately to bed, contributed to prevent the Captain's return, had during his absence suffered inexpreslible disquiet; she, had indeed, neither intention to go to bed, nor inclination to sleep; she walked backward and forward in her chamber, distracted with jealousy and fufpense, till she was informed that Sir James was below, and desired to fee her. When she came down, he discovered that she had been in tears ; his fear was now more alarmed than his jealousy, and he concluded that some fatal accident had befallen his wife ; but he foon learnt that she and the Captain had gone from thence at five in the morning, and that he was not yet returned. Mrs. Freeman by Sir James's inquiry, knew that his lady had not been at home : her fufpicions, therefore, were confirmed; and in her jealousy, which to prevent a duel she laboured to conceal, Sir James found new cause for his own. He determined, however, to wait with as much decency as possible, till the Captain came in; and perhaps two perfons were never more embarrassed by the presence of each other, While breakfast was getting ready, Dr. Tattle came to pay Mrs. Freeman a morning - visit; and to the un{peakable grief both of the lady and her guest was im


« PoprzedniaDalej »