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Letter 17
Evelina In Continuation Friday Morning, April 15
SIR CLEMENT WILLOUGHBY called here yesterday at noon, and Captain
Mirvan invited him to dinner. For my part I spent the day in a manner the most
uncomfortable imaginable.
I found Madame Duval at breakfast in bed, though Monsieur Du Bois was in the
chamber; which so much astonished me, that I was, involuntarily, retiring, without
considering how odd an appearance my retreat would have, when Madame
Duval called me back, and laughed very heartily at my ignorance of foreign
The conversation, however, very soon took a more serious turn; for she began,
with great bitterness, to inveigh against the barbarous brutality of that fellow the
Captain, and the horrible ill-breeding of the English in general, declaring, she
should make her escape with all expedition from so beastly a nation. But nothing
can be more strangely absurd, than to hear politeness recommended in
language so repugnant to it as that of Madame Duval.
She lamented, very mournfully, the fate of her Lyons silk; and protested she had
rather have parted with all the rest of her wardrobe, because it was the first gown
she had bought to wear upon leaving off her weeds. She has a very bad cold,
and Monsieur Du Bois is so hoarse, he can hardly speak.
She insisted upon my staying with her all day; as she intended, she said, to
introduce me to some of my own relations. I would very fain have excused
myself, but she did not allow me any choice.
Till the arrival of these relations, one continued series of questions on her side,
and of answers on mine, filled up all the time we passed together. Her curiosity
was insatiable; she inquired into every action of my life, and every particular that
had fallen under my observation in the lives of all I knew. Again, she was so cruel
as to avow the most inveterate rancour against the sole benefactor her deserted
child and grand-child have met with; and such was the indignation her ingratitude
raised, that I would actually have quitted her presence and house, had she not, in
a manner the most peremptory, absolutely forbid me. But what, good Heaven!
can induce her to such shocking injustice? O, my friend and father! I have no
command of myself when this subject is started.
She talked very much of taking me to Paris, and said I greatly wanted the polish
of a French education. She lamented that I had been brought up in the country,
which, she observed, had given me a very bumpkinish air. However, she bid me
not despair, for she had known many girls much worse than me, who had
become very fine ladies after a few years residence abroad; and she particularly
instanced a Miss Polly Moore, daughter of a chandler's-shop woman, who, by an
accident not worth relating, happened to be sent to Paris, where, from an
awkward ill-bred girl, she so much improved, that she has since been taken for a
woman of quality.