BOOK XV. IN WHICH THE HISTORY ADVANCES ABOUT TWO DAYS.
9. Chapter ix. Containing love-letters of several sorts.
Jones declared he could not venture the experiment. "Perhaps," said
he, "she may be less shocked at this proposal from one man than from
another. And if she should take me at my word, where am I then?
caught, in my own trap, and undone for ever." "No;" answered
Nightingale, "not if I can give you an expedient by which you may at
any time get out of the trap."----"What expedient can that be?"
replied Jones. "This," answered Nightingale. "The young fellow I
mentioned, who is one of the most intimate acquaintances I have in the
world, is so angry with her for some ill offices she hath since done
him, that I am sure he would, without any difficulty, give you a sight
of her letters; upon which you may decently break with her; and
declare off before the knot is tyed, if she should really be willing
to tie it, which I am convinced she will not."
After some hesitation, Jones, upon the strength of this assurance,
consented; but, as he swore he wanted the confidence to propose the
matter to her face, he wrote the following letter, which Nightingale
"I am extremely concerned, that, by an unfortunate engagement
abroad, I should have missed receiving the honour of your ladyship's
commands the moment they came; and the delay which I must now suffer
of vindicating myself to your ladyship greatly adds to this
misfortune. O, Lady Bellaston! what a terror have I been in for fear
your reputation should be exposed by these perverse accidents! There
is one only way to secure it. I need not name what that is. Only
permit me to say, that as your honour is as dear to me as my own, so
my sole ambition is to have the glory of laying my liberty at your
feet; and believe me when I assure you, I can never be made
completely happy without you generously bestow on me a legal right
of calling you mine for ever.--I am,
with most profound respect,
your ladyship's most obliged,
obedient, humble servant,
To this she presently returned the following answer: