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- Cecilia Volume 1 - 35/65 -
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 accustom us."
"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 world?"
"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 insolence."
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 advice.
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 Suffolk.
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 better."
"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 deception."
"What deception, sir? I don't at all understand you. How is his safety endangered?"
"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 rescue him."
"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 them."
"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."
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