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Letter 20
Evelina In Continuation
OUR places were in the front row of a side-box. Sir Clement Willoughby, who
knew our intention, was at the door of the theatre, and handed us from the
We had not been seated five minutes before Lord Orville, whom we saw in the
stage-box, came to us; and he honoured us with his company all the evening;
Miss Mirvan and I both rejoiced that Madam Duval was absent, as we hoped for
the enjoyment of some conversation, uninterrupted by her quarrels with the
Captain: but I soon found that her presence would have made very little
alteration; for as far was I from daring to speak, that I knew not where even to
The play was Love for Love; and though it is fraught with wit and entertainment I
hope I shall never see it represented again; for it is so extremely indelicate-to use
the softest word I can-that Miss Mirvan and I were perpetually out of
countenance, and could neither make any observations ourselves, nor venture to
listen to those of others. This was the most provoking, as Lord Orville was in
excellent spirits, and exceedingly entertaining.
When the play was over, I flattered myself I should be able to look about me with
less restraint, as we intended to stay the farce; but the curtain had hardly
dropped, when the box-door opened, and in came Mr. Lovel, the man by whose
foppery and impertinence I was so much teased at the ball where I first saw Lord
I turned away my head, and began talking to Miss Mirvan; for I was desirous to
avoid speaking to him-but in vain; for, as soon as he had made his compliments
to Lord Orville and Sir Clement Willoughby, who returned them very coldly, he
bent his head forward and said to me, "I hope, Ma'am, you have enjoyed your
health since I had the honour-I beg ten thousand pardons, but, I protest I was
going to say the honour of dancing with you-however, I mean the honour of
seeing you dance?"
He spoke with a self-complacency that convinced me that he had studied this
address, by way of making reprisals for my conduct at the ball; I therefore bowed
slightly, but made no answer.
After a short silence he again called my attention, by saying, in an easy,
negligent way, "I think, Ma'am, you was never in town before?"
"No, Sir."
"So I did presume. Doubtless, Ma'am, every thing must be infinitely novel to you.
Our customs, our manners, and les etiquettes de nous autres, can have little very
resemblance to those you have been used to. I imagine, Ma'am, your retirement
is at no very small distance from the capital?"
I was so much disconcerted at this sneering speech, that I said not a word;
though I have since thought my vexation both stimulated and delighted him.