I thought it was time for me to withdraw, and I did so; but not so far, but that I heard all their discourse, in which I heard abundance of fine things said of myself, which prompted my vanity, but, as I soon found, was not the way to increase my interest in the family, for the sister and the younger brother fell grievously out about it; and as he said some very disobliging things to her, upon my account, so I could easily see that she resented them, by her future conduct to me, which indeed was very unjust; for I had never had the least thought of what she suspected, as to her younger brother: indeed the elder brother in his distant remote way had said a great many things as in jest, which I had the folly to believe were in earnest, or to flatter myself with the hopes of what I ought to have supposed he never intended.
It happened one day that he came running upstairs, towards the room where his sister used to sit and work, as he often used to do; and calling to them before he came in, as was his way too, I being there alone, stepped to the door, and said, Sir, the ladies are not here, they are walked down the garden: as I stepped forward to say this, he was just got to the door, and clasping me in his arms, as if it had been by chance, O! Mrs. Betty, says he, are you here? that's better still, I want to speak with you, more than I do with them; and then having me in his arms he kissed me three or four times.
I struggled to get away, and yet did it but faintly neither, and he held me fast, and still kissed me, till he was out of breath, and, sitting down, says he, Dear Betty, I am in love with you.
His words, I must confess, fired my blood; all my spirits flew about my heart, and put me into disorder enough. He repeated it afterwards several times, that he was in love with me, and my heart spoke as plain as a voice that I liked it; nay, whenever he said I am in love with you, my blushes plainly replied, "would you were, Sir." However, nothing else passed at that time; it was but a surprise, and I soon recovered myself. He had stayed longer with me, but he happened to look out at the window and see his sisters coming up the garden, so he took his leave, kissed me again, told me he was very serious, and I should hear more of him very quickly, and away he went infinitely pleased, and, had there not been one misfortune in it, I had been in the right, but the mistake lay here, that Mrs. Betty was in earnest, and the gentleman was not.
From this time my head run upon strange things, and I may truly say I was not myself, to have such a gentleman talk to me of being in love with me, and of my being such a charming creature, as he told me I was: these were things I knew not how to bear, my vanity was elevated to the last degree. It is true I had my head full of pride, but, knowing nothing of the wickedness of the times, I had not one thought of my virtue about me; and had my young master offered it at first sight, he might have taken any liberty he thought fit with me; but he did not see his advantage, which was my happiness for that time.
It was not long but he found an opportunity to catch me again, and almost in the same posture; indeed, it had more of design in it on his part, though not on my part. It was thus: the young ladies were gone a visiting with their mother; his brother was out of town, and as for his father, he had been at London for a week before; he had so well watched me, that he knew where I was, though I did not so much as know that he was in the house, and he briskly comes up the stairs, and, seeing me at work, comes into the room to me directly, and began just as he did before, with taking me in his arms, and kissing me for almost a quarter of an hour together.
It was his younger sister's chamber that I was in, and, as there was nobody in the house but the maid below stairs, he was it may be the ruder: in short, he began to be in earnest with me indeed; perhaps he found me a little too easy, for I made no resistance to him while he only held me in his arms and kissed me; indeed, I was too well pleased with it to resist him much.
Well, tired with that kind of work, we sat down, and there he talked with me a great while; he said he was charmed with me, and that he could not rest till he had told me how he was in love with me, and, if I could love him again, and would make him happy, I should be the saving of his life, and many such fine things. I said little to him again, but easily discovered that I was a fool, and that I did not in the least perceive what he meant.
Then he walked about the room, and, taking me by the hand, I walked with him; and by and by taking his advantage, he threw me down upon the bed, and kissed me there most violently; but to give him his due, offered no manner of rudeness to me, only kissed me a great while; after this he thought he had heard somebody come up stairs, so he got off from the bed, lifted me up, professing a great deal of love for me, but told me it was all an honest affection, and that he meant no ill to me, and with that put five guineas into my hand, and went down stairs.
I was more confounded with the money than I was before with the love; and began to be so elevated, that I scarce knew the ground I stood on. I am the more particular in this, that if it comes to be read by any innocent young body, they may learn from it to guard themselves against the mischiefs which attend an early knowledge of their own beauty: if a young woman once thinks herself handsome, she never doubts the truth of any man that tells her he is in love with her; for if she believes herself charming enough to captivate him, 'tis natural to expect the effects of it.
This gentleman had now fired his inclination, as much as he had my vanity, and, as if he had found that he had an opportunity, and was sorry he did not take hold of it, he comes up again in about half an hour, and falls to work with me again just as he did before, only with a little less introduction.
And first, when he entered the room, he turned about, and shut the door. Mrs. Betty, said he, I fancied before some-body was coming up stairs, but it was not so; however, adds he, if they find me in the room with you, they shan't catch me a kissing of you. I told him I did not know who should be coming up stairs, for I believed there was nobody in the house but the cook and the other maid, and they never came up those stairs. Well, my dear, says he, 'Tis good to be sure however, and so he sits down and we began to talk; and now, though I was still on fire with his first visit, and said little, he did as it were put words in my mouth, telling me how passionately he loved me, and that though he could not till he came to his estate, yet he was resolved to make me happy then, and himself too: this is to say, to marry me, and abundance of such things, which I, poor fool, did not understand the drift of, but acted as if there was no kind of love but that which tended to matrimony; and if he had spoken of that, I had no room, as well as no power, to have said no; but we were not come to that length yet.
We had not sat long, but he got up, and, stopping my very breath with kisses, threw me upon the bed again; but then he went farther with me than decency permits me to mention, nor had it been in my power to have denied him at that moment, had he offered much more than he did.
However, though he took these freedoms with me, it did not go to that which they call the last favour, which, to do him justice, he did not attempt; and he made that self-denial of his, a plea for all his freedoms with me upon other occasions after this. When this was over, he stayed but a little while, but he put almost a handful of gold in my hand, and left me a thousand protestations of his passion for me, and of his loving me above all the women in the world.
It will not be strange if I now began to think; but alas! it was but with very little solid reflection. I had a most unbounded stock of vanity and pride, and but a very little stock of virtue. I did indeed cast sometimes with myself what my young master aimed at, but thought of nothing but the fine words and the gold; whether he intended to marry me, or not, seemed a matter of no great consequence to me; nor did I so much as think of making any capitulation for myself, till he made a kind of formal proposal to me, as you shall hear presently.
Thus I gave up myself to ruin without the least concern, and am a fair memento to all young women whose vanity prevails over their virtue. Nothing was ever so stupid on both sides: had I acted as became me, and resisted as virtue and honour required, he had either desisted his attacks, finding no room to expect the end of his design, or had made fair and honourable proposals of marriage; in which case, whoever blamed him, nobody could have blamed me. In short, if he had known me, and how easy the trifle he aimed at was to be had, he would have troubled his head no farther, but have given me four or five guineas, and have lain with me the next time he had come at me. On the other hand, if I had known his thoughts, and how hard he supposed I would be to be gained, I might have made my own terms, and if I had not capitulated for an immediate marriage, I might for a maintenance till marriage, and might have had what I would; for he was rich to excess, besides what he had in expectation; but I had wholly abandoned all such thoughts, and was taken up only with the pride of my beauty, and of being beloved by such a gentleman; as for the gold, I spent whole hours in looking upon it; I told the guineas over a thousand times a day. Never poor vain creature was so wrapped up with every part of the story, as I was, not considering what was before me, and how near my ruin was at the door; and indeed I think I rather wished for that ruin, than studied to avoid it.
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