Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson - HTML preview

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Letter 15

 

DEAR MOTHER,

I broke off abruptly my last letter; for I feared he was coming; and so it happened. I put the letter in my bosom, and took up my work, which lay by me; but I had so little of the artful, as he called it, that I looked as confused as if I had been doing some great harm.

Sit still, Pamela, said he, mind your work, for all me.--You don't tell me I am welcome home, after my journey to Lincolnshire. It would be hard, sir, said I, if you was not always welcome to your honour's own house.

I would have gone; but he said, Don't run away, I tell you. I have a word or two to say to you. Good sirs, how my heart went pit-a-pat! When I was a little kind to you, said he, in the summer-house, and you carried yourself so foolishly upon it, as if I had intended to do you great harm, did I not tell you you should take no notice of what passed to any creature? and yet you have made a common talk of the matter, not considering either my reputation, or your own.--I made a common talk of it, sir! said I: I have nobody to talk to, hardly.

He interrupted me, and said, Hardly! you little equivocator! what do you mean by hardly? Let me ask you, have not you told Mrs. Jervis for one? Pray your honour, said I, all in agitation, let me go down; for it is not for me to hold an argument with your honour. Equivocator, again! said he, and took my hand, what do you talk of an argument? Is it holding an argument with me to answer a plain question? Answer me what I asked. O, good sir, said I, let me beg you will not urge me farther, for fear I forget myself again, and be saucy.

Answer me then, I bid you, says he, Have you not told Mrs. Jervis? It will be saucy in you if you don't answer me directly to what I ask. Sir, said I, and fain would have pulled my hand away, perhaps I should be for answering you by another question, and that would not become me. What is it you would say? replies he; speak out. Then, sir, said I, why should your honour be so angry I should tell Mrs. Jervis, or any body else, what passed, if you intended no harm?

Well said, pretty innocent and artless! as Mrs. Jervis calls you, said he; and is it thus you taunt and retort upon me, insolent as you are! But still I will be answered directly to my question. Why then, sir, said I, I will not tell a lie for the world: I did tell Mrs. Jervis; for my heart was almost broken; but I opened not my mouth to any other. Very well, boldface, said he, and equivocator again! You did not open your mouth to any other; but did not you write to some other? Why, now, and please your honour, said I, (for I was quite courageous just then,) you could not have asked me this question, if you had not taken from me my letter to my father and mother, in which I own I had broken my mind freely to them, and asked their advice, and poured forth my griefs!

And so I am to be exposed, am I, said he, in my own house, and out of my house, to the whole world, by such a sauce-box as you? No, good sir, said I, and I hope your honour won't be angry with me; it is not I that expose you, if I say nothing but the truth. So, taunting again! Assurance as you are! said he: I will not be thus talked to! Pray, sir, said I, of whom can a poor girl take advice, if it must not be of her father and mother, and such a good woman as Mrs. Jervis, who, for her sex-sake, should give it me when asked? Insolence! said he, and stamped with his foot, am I to be questioned thus by such a one as you? I fell down on my knees, and said, For Heaven's sake, your honour, pity a poor creature, that knows nothing of her duty, but how to cherish her virtue and good name: I have nothing else to trust to: and, though poor and friendless here, yet I have always been taught to value honesty above my life. Here's ado with your honesty, said he, foolish girl! Is it not one part of honesty to be dutiful and grateful to your master, do you think? Indeed, sir, said I, it is impossible I should be ungrateful to your honour, or disobedient, or deserve the names of bold-face or insolent, which you call me, but when your commands are contrary to that first duty which shall ever be the principle of my life!

He seemed to be moved, and rose up, and walked into the great chamber two or three turns, leaving me on my knees; and I threw my apron over my face, and laid my head on a chair, and cried as if my heart would break, having no power to stir.

At last he came in again, but, alas! with mischief in his heart! and raising me up, he said, Rise, Pamela, rise; you are your own enemy. Your perverse folly will be your ruin: I tell you this, that I am very much displeased with the freedoms you have taken with my name to my housekeeper, as also to your father and mother; and you may as well have real cause to take these freedoms with me, as to make my name suffer for imaginary ones. And saying so, he offered to take me on his knee, with some force. O how I was terrified! I said, like as I had read in a book a night or two before, Angels and saints, and all the host of heaven, defend me! And may I never survive one moment that fatal one in which I shall forfeit my innocence! Pretty fool! said he, how will you forfeit your innocence, if you are obliged to yield to a force you cannot withstand? Be easy, said he; for let the worst happen that can, you will have the merit, and I the blame; and it will be a good subject for letters to your father and mother, and a tale into the bargain for Mrs. Jervis.

He by force kissed my neck and lips; and said, Whoever blamed Lucretia? All the shame lay on the ravisher only and I am content to take all the blame upon me, as I have already borne too great a share for what I have not deserved.

May I, said I, Lucretia like, justify myself with my death, if I am used barbarously! O my good girl! said he, tauntingly, you are well read, I see; and we shall make out between us, before we have done, a pretty story in romance, I warrant ye.

He then put his hand in my bosom, and indignation gave me double strength, and I got loose from him by a sudden spring, and ran out of the room! and the next chamber being open, I made shift to get into it, and threw to the door, and it locked after me; but he followed me so close, he got hold of my gown, and tore a piece off, which hung without the door; for the key was on the inside.

I just remember I got into the room; for I knew nothing further of the matter till afterwards; for I fell into a fit with my terror, and there I lay, till he, as I suppose, looking through the key-hole, spyed me upon the floor, stretched out at length, on my face; and then he called Mrs. Jervis to me, who, by his assistance, bursting open the door, he went away, seeing me coming to myself; and bid her say nothing of the matter, if she was wise.

Poor Mrs. Jervis thought it was worse, and cried over me like as if she was my mother; and I was two hours before I came to myself; and just as I got a little up on my feet, he coming in, I fainted away again with the terror; and so he withdrew: but he staid in the next room to let nobody come near us, that his foul proceedings might not be known.

Mrs. Jervis gave me her smelling-bottle, and had cut my laces, and set me in a great chair, and he called her to him: How is the girl? said he: I never saw such a fool in my life. I did nothing at all to her. Mrs. Jervis could not speak for crying. So he said, She has told you, it seems, that I was kind to her in the summer-house, though I'll assure you, I was quite innocent then as well as now; and I desire you to keep this matter to yourself, and let me not be named in it.

O, sir, said she, for your honour's sake, and for Christ's sake!--But he would not hear her, and said--For your own sake, I tell you, Mrs. Jervis, say not a word more. I have done her no harm. And I won't have her stay in my house; prating, perverse fool, as she is! But since she is so apt to fall into fits, or at least pretend to do so, prepare her to see me to-morrow after dinner, in my mother's closet, and do you be with her, and you shall hear what passes between us.

And so he went out in a pet, and ordered his chariot and four to be got ready, and went a visiting somewhere.

Mrs. Jervis then came to me, and I told her all that had happened, and said, I was resolved not to stay in the house: And she replying, He seemed to threaten as much; I said, I am glad of that; then I shall be easy. So she told me all he had said to her, as above.

Mrs. Jervis is very loath I should go; and yet, poor woman! she begins to be afraid for herself; but would not have me ruined for the world. She says to be sure he means no good; but may be, now he sees me so resolute, he will give over all attempts; and that I shall better know what to do after tomorrow, when I am to appear before a very bad judge, I doubt.

O how I dread this to-morrow's appearance! But be as assured, my dear parents, of the honesty of your poor child, as I am of your prayers for

Your dutiful DAUGHTER.

O this frightful to-morrow; how I dread it!