Maria or the Wrongs of Woman
"BY WATCHING my only visitor, my uncle's friend, or by some other means, Mr.
Venables discovered my residence, and came to enquire for me. The maid-
servant assured him there was no such person in the house. A bustle ensued--I
caught the alarm--listened--distinguished his voice, and immediately locked the
door. They suddenly grew still; and I waited near a quarter of an hour, before I
heard him open the parlour door, and mount the stairs with the mistress of the
house, who obsequiously declared that she knew nothing of me.
"Finding my door locked, she requested me to open it, and prepare to go
home with my husband, poor gentleman! to whom I had already occasioned
sufficient vexation.' I made no reply. Mr. Venables then, in an assumed tone of
softness, intreated me, 'to consider what he suffered, and my own reputation,
and get the better of childish resentment.' He ran on in the same strain,
pretending to address me, but evidently adapting his discourse to the capacity of
the landlady; who, at every pause, uttered an exclamation of pity; or 'Yes, to be
sure--Very true, sir.'
"Sick of the farce, and perceiving that I could not avoid the hated interview, I
opened the door, and he entered. Advancing with easy assurance to take my
hand, I shrunk from his touch, with an involuntary start, as I should have done
from a noisome reptile, with more disgust than terror. His conductress was
retiring, to give us, as she said, an opportunity to accommodate matters. But I
bade her come in, or I would go out; and curiosity impelled her to obey me.
"Mr. Venables began to expostulate; and this woman, proud of his confidence,
to second him. But I calmly silenced her, in the midst of a vulgar harangue, and
turning to him, asked, 'Why he vainly tormented me? declaring that no power on
earth should force me back to his house.'
"After a long altercation, the particulars of which, it would be to no purpose to
repeat, he left the room. Some time was spent in loud conversation in the parlour
below, and I discovered that he had brought his friend, an attorney, with him.*
* In the original edition the paragraph following is preceded by three lines of
asterisks [Publisher's note].
The tumult on the landing place, brought out a gentleman, who had recently
taken apartments in the house; he enquired why I was thus assailed?* The
voluble attorney instantly repeated the trite tale. The stranger turned to me,
observing, with the most soothing politeness and manly interest, that 'my
countenance told a very different story.' He added, 'that I should not be insulted,
or forced out of the house, by any body.'
* The introduction of Darnford as the deliverer of Maria, in an early stage of
the history, is already stated (Chap. III.) to have been an after-thought of the
author. This has probably caused the imperfectness of the manuscript in the
above passage; though, at the same time, it must be acknowledged to be
somewhat uncertain, whether Darnford is the stranger intended in this place. It
appears from Chap. XVII, that an interference of a more decisive nature was
designed to be attributed to him. EDITOR. [Godwin's note]