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Letter 26
Evelina To The Rev. Mr. Villars Howard Grove, April 27
O MY dear Sir, I now write in the greatest uneasiness! Madame Duval has made
a proposal which terrifies me to death, and which was as unexpected as it is
She had been employed for some hours this afternoon in reading letters from
London: and, just about tea-time, she sent for me into her room, and said, with a
look of great satisfaction, "Come here, child, I've got some very good news to tell
you: something that will surprise you, I'll give you my word, for you ha'n't no
notion of it."
I begged her to explain herself; and then, in terms which I cannot repeat, she
said she had been considering what a shame it was to see me such a poor
country, shame-faced thing, when I ought to be a fine lady; and that she had
long, and upon several occasions, blushed for me, though she must own the fault
was none of mine; for nothing better could be expected from a girl who had been
so immured. However, she assured me she had, at length, hit upon a plan, which
would make quite another creature of me.
I waited, without much impatience, to hear what this preface led to; but I was
soon awakened to more lively sensations, when she aquainted me, that her
intention was to prove my birthright, and to claim, by law, the inheritance of my
real family!
It would be impossible for me to express my extreme consternation when she
thus unfolded her scheme. My surprise and terror were equally great; I could say
nothing: I heard her with a silence which I had not the power to break.
She then expatiated very warmly upon the advantages I should reap from her
plan; talked in a high style of my future grandeur; assured me how heartily I
should despise almost every body and every thing I had hitherto seen; predicted
my marrying into some family of the first rank in the kingdom; and, finally, said I
should spend a few months in Paris, where my education and manners might
receive their last polish.
She enlarged also upon the delight she should have, in common with myself,
from mortifying the pride of certain people, and showing them that she was not to
be slighted with impunity.
In the midst of this discourse, I was relieved by a summons to tea. Madame
Duval was in great spirits; but my emotion was too painful for concealment, and
every body enquired into the cause. I would fain have waived the subject, but
Madame Duval was determined to make it public. She told tham that she had it in
her head to make something of me, and that they should soon call me by another
name than that of Anville; and yet that she was not going to have the child
married neither.
I could not endure to hear her proceed, and was going to leave the room; which,
when Lady Howard perceived, she begged Madame Duval would defer her
intelligence to some other opportunity; but she was so eager to communicate her
scheme, that she could bear no delay; and therefore they suffered me to go