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Chapter 77

He endeavours to Reconcile himself to his Mistress, and Expostulates with the Uncle, who forbids him the House.

In this state of division, he went home to his own lodgings in a chair; and while he deliberated with himself whether he should relinquish the pursuit, and endeavour to banish her idea from his breast, or go immediately and humble himself before his exasperated mistress, and offer his hand as an atonement for his crime, his servant put in his hand a packet, which had been delivered by a ticket porter at the door. He no sooner perceived that the superscription was in Emilia’s handwriting, than he guessed the nature of the contents; and, opening the seal with disordered eagerness, found the jewels he had given to her enclosed in a billet, couched in these words:—

“That I may have no cause to reproach myself with having retained the least memorial of a wretch whom I equally despise and abhor, I take this opportunity of restoring these ineffectual instruments of his infamous design upon the honour of “Emilia.”

His chagrin was so much galled and inflamed at the bitterness of this contemptuous message, that he gnawed his fingers till the blood ran over his nails, and even wept with vexation. Sometimes he vowed revenge against her haughty virtue, and reviled himself for his precipitate declaration, before his scheme was brought to maturity; then he would consider her behaviour with reverence and regard, and bow before the irresistible power of her attractions. In short, his breast was torn by conflicting passions: love, shame, and remorse, contended with vanity, ambition, and revenge; and the superiority was still doubtful when headstrong desire interposed, and decided in favour of an attempt towards a reconciliation with the offended fair.

Impelled by this motive, he set out in the afternoon for the house of her uncle, not without hopes of that tender enjoyment, which never fails to attend an accommodation betwixt two lovers of taste and sensibility. Though the consciousness of his trespass encumbered him with an air of awkward confusion, he was too confident of his own qualifications and address to despair of forgiveness; and, by that time he arrived at the citizen’s gate, he had conned a very artful and pathetic harangue, which he proposed to utter in his own behalf, laying the blame of his conduct on the impetuosity of his passion, increased by the burgundy which he had too liberally drunk; but he did not meet with an opportunity to avail himself of this preparation. Emilia, suspecting that he would take some step of this kind to retrieve her favour, had gone abroad on pretence of visiting, after having signified to her kinsman her resolution to avoid the company of Peregrine, on account of some ambiguities which, she said, were last night remarkable in his demeanour at the masquerade. She chose to insinuate her suspicion in these hints, rather than give an explicit detail of the young man’s dishonourable contrivance, which might have kindled the resentment of the family to some dangerous pitch of animosity and revenge.

Our adventurer, finding himself baffled in his expectation of seeing her, inquired for the old gentleman, with whom he thought he had influence enough to make his apology good, in case he should find him prepossessed by the young lady’s information. But here too he was disappointed, the uncle having gone to dine in the country, and his wife was indisposed; so that he had no pretext for staying in the house till the return of his charmer. Being, however, fruitful of expedients, he dismissed his chariot, and took possession of a room in a tavern, the windows of which fronted the merchant’s............

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