The aunt was almost borne down with this torrent of words; she, however, rallied all the strength she could, and, drawing her mouth up in a purse, began: "I am not surprized, niece, at this ingratitude. Those who advise young women for their interest, must always expect such a return: I am convinced my brother will thank me for breaking off your match with Horatio, at any rate." — "That may not be in your power yet," answered Leonora, "though it is very ungrateful in you to desire or attempt it, after the presents you have received from him." (For indeed true it is, that many presents, and some pretty valuable ones, had passed from Horatio to the old lady; but as true it is, that Bellarmine, when he breakfasted with her and her niece, had complimented her with a brilliant from his finger, of much greater value than all she had touched of the other.)
The aunt's gall was on float to reply, when a servant brought a letter into the room, which Leonora, hearing it came from Bellarmine, with great eagerness opened, and read as follows: —
"MOST DIVINE CREATURE, — The wound which I fear you have heard I received from my rival is not like to be so fatal as those shot into my heart which have been fired from your eyes, tout brilliant. Those are the only cannons by which I am to fall; for my surgeon gives me hopes of being soon able to attend your ruelle; till when, unless you would do me an honour which I have scarce the hardiesse to think of, your absence will be the greatest anguish which can be felt by,
"Avec toute le respecte in the world,
"Your most obedient, most absolute Devote,
As soon as Leonora perceived such hopes of Bellarmine's recovery, and that the gossip Fame had, according to custom, so enlarged his danger, she presently abandoned all further thoughts of Horatio, and was soon reconciled to her aunt, who received her again into favour, with a more Christian forgiveness than we generally meet with. Indeed, it is possible she might be a little alarmed at the hints which her niece had given her concerning the presents. She might apprehend such rumours, should they get abroad, might injure a reputation which, by frequenting church twice a day, and preserving the utmost rigour and strictness in her countenance and behaviour for many years, she had established.
Leonora's passion returned now for Bellarmine with greater force, after its small relaxation, than ever. She proposed to her aunt to make him a visit in his confinement, which the old lady, with great and commendable prudence, advised her to decline: "For," says she, "should any accident intervene to prevent your intended match, too forward a behaviour with this lover may injure you in the eyes of others. Every woman, till she is married, ought to consider of, and provide against, the possibility of the affair's breaking off." Leonora said, "She should be indifferent to whatever might happen in such a case; for she had now so absolutely placed her affections on this dear man (so she called him), that, if it was her misfortune to lose him, she should for ever abandon all thoughts of mankind." She, therefore, resolved to visit him, notwithstanding all the prudent advice of her aunt to the contrary, and that very afternoon executed her resolution.
The lady was proceeding in her story, when the coach drove into the inn where the company were to dine, sorely to the dissatisfaction of Mr Adams, whose ears were the most hungry part about him; he being, as the reader may perhaps guess, of an insatiable curiosity, and heartily desirous of hearing the end of this amour, though he professed he could scarce wish success to a lady of so inconstant a disposition.