BOOK X. IN WHICH THE HISTORY GOES FORWARD ABOUT TWELVE HOURS.
9. Chapter ix. The escape of Sophia.
The escape of Sophia.
It is now time to look after Sophia; whom the reader, if he loves her
half so well as I do, will rejoice to find escaped from the clutches
of her passionate father, and from those of her dispassionate lover.
Twelve times did the iron register of time beat on the sonorous
bell-metal, summoning the ghosts to rise and walk their nightly
round.----In plainer language, it was twelve o'clock, and all the
family, as we have said, lay buried in drink and sleep, except only
Mrs Western, who was deeply engaged in reading a political pamphlet,
and except our heroine, who now softly stole down-stairs, and, having
unbarred and unlocked one of the house-doors, sallied forth, and
hastened to the place of appointment.
Notwithstanding the many pretty arts which ladies sometimes practise,
to display their fears on every little occasion (almost as many as the
other sex uses to conceal theirs), certainly there is a degree of
courage which not only becomes a woman, but is often necessary to
enable her to discharge her duty. It is, indeed, the idea of
fierceness, and not of bravery, which destroys the female character;
for who can read the story of the justly celebrated Arria without
conceiving as high an opinion of her gentleness and tenderness as of
her fortitude? At the same time, perhaps, many a woman who shrieks at
a mouse, or a rat, may be capable of poisoning a husband; or, what is
worse, of driving him to poison himself.
Sophia, with all the gentleness which a woman can have, had all the
spirit which she ought to have. When, therefore, she came to the place
of appointment, and, instead of meeting her maid, as was agreed, saw a
man ride directly up to her, she neither screamed out nor fainted
away: not that her pulse then beat with its usual regularity; for she
was, at first, under some surprize and apprehension: but these were
relieved almost as soon as raised, when the man, pulling off his hat,
asked her, in a very submissive manner, "If her ladyship did not
expect to meet another lady?" and then proceeded to inform her that he
was sent to conduct her to that lady.