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chair. When he had heard that this incident had been related in the presence of Sir James, he was greatly alarmed lest Lady Forrest should increase his suspicions, by attempting to conceal that which, by a series of inquiry to which he was now stimulated, he would probably discover: he condemned this conduct in himself, and, as the most effectual means at once to quiet the mind of his wife and obtain her assistance, be told her all that had happened, and his apprehension of the consequences : he also urged her to go directly to Miss Meadows, by wbom his account would be confirmed, and of whom she might learn farther intelligence of Sir James; and to find some way to acquaint Lady Forest with her danger, and admonish her to conceal nothing.
Mrs. Freeman was convinced of the captain's sincerity, not only by the advice which he urged her to give to Lady Forrest, but by the consistency of the story aud the manner in which he was affected. Her jealousy was changed into pity for her friend, and apprehension for her husband. She hasted to Miss Meadows, and learned that Sir James had inquired of the servant for his lady, and was told that she had been there early with Captain Freeman, but went away soon after him: she related to Miss Meadows all that had happened, and thinking it at least possible that Sir James might not go directly home, she wrote the following letter to his lady:
MY DEAR LADY FORREST, “I AM in the utmost distress for you, Sir James has suspicions which truth only can remove, and of which my indiscretion is the cause. If I had not concealed my desire of the captain's return, your design to disengage yourself from him, which I learn from Miss Meadows, would have been effected. Sir James breakfasted with me in the Haymarket; and has since called at your father's from whence I write : he knows that your stay here was short, and has reason to believe the captain put you into a chair some hours afterwards at Spring Gardens. I hope, therefore, my dear lady, that this will "reach
hands time enough to prevent your concealing any thing. It would have been better if Sir James had known nothing, for then you
would not have been suspected ; but now he must know all, or you cannot be justified. Forgive the freedom with which I write, and believe me most affectionately
“ MARIA FREEMAN." “ P.S. I have ordered the bearer to say he came from Mrs. Fashion the milliner.”
This letter was given to a chairman, and he was ordered to say he brought it from the milliner's; because, if it should be known to come from Mrs. Freeman, and should fall by accident into Sir James's hands, his curiosity might prompt him to read it, and his jealousy to question the lady, without communicating the contents.
No. 56. SATURDAY, MAY 19, 1753.
Multos in summa pericula misit
Sir James, being convinced that his lady and the captain had passed the morning at a bagnio, by the answer which he received at her father's, went directly home. His lady was just arrived before him, and had not recovered from the confusion and dread which seized her when she heard that Sir James came to town the night before, and at the same instant anticipated the consequences of her own indiscretion. She was told he was then at the coffee-house, and in a few minutes was thrown into a universal tremor upon hearing him knock at the door. He perceived her distress not with compassion but rage, because he believed it to proceed from the consciousness of guilt: he turned pale, and his lips quivered: but he so far restrained his passion as to ask ber, without invective, “Where, and how she had passed the night?” She replied, so At Captain Freeman's; that the captain was upon guard, that she sat up with his lady till he came in, and that then insisting to see her home, she would suffer the coach to go no further than her father's, where he left her early in the morning :” she had not fortitude to relate the sequel, but stopped with some appearance of irresolution and terror. Sir James then asked, “ If she came directly from her father's home.” This question, and the manner in which it was asked, increased her confusion : to appear to have stopped short in her narrative, she thought would be an implication of guilt, as it would betray a desire of concealment: but the past could not be recalled, and she was impelled by equivocation to falsehood, from which, however, she would have been kept back by fear, if Sir James bad not deceived her into a belief that he had been no farther than the neighbourhood. After these tumultuous reflections, which passed in a moment, she ventured to affirm, that“ she stayed with Miss Meadows till eight, and then came home:' but she uttered this falsehood with such marks of guilt and shame, which she had indeed no otherwise than by this falsehood incurred or deserved, that Sir James
no more doubted her infidelity than her existence. As her story was the same with that of the captain's, and as the one had concealed the truth and the other denied it, he concluded there was a confederacy between them; and determining first to bring the captain to account, he turned from her abruptly, and immediately left the house.
At the door he met the chairman who had been dispatched by Mrs. Freeman to his lady, and fiercely interrogated him what was his business; the man produced the letter, and saying, as he had been ordered, that he brought it from Mrs. Fashion, Sir James snatched it from him, and muttering some expressions of contempt and resentment, thrust it into his pocket. It happened that Sir James did not find the
captain at home; he, therefore, left a billet, in which he requested to see him at a neighbouring tavern, and added that he had put on his sword.
In the meantime, his lady, dreading the discovery of the falsehood which she had asserted, dispatched a billet to Captain Freeman; in which she conjured him as a man of honour, for particular reasons not to own to Sir James, or any other person, that he had seen her after he had left her at her father's : she also wrote to her cousin Meadows, entreating, that if she was questioned by Sir James, he might be told that she stayed with her till eight o'clock, an hour at which only herself and the servants were up.
The billet to Miss Meadows came soon after the chairman had returned with an account of what had happened to the letter; and Mrs. Freeman was just gone in great haste to relate the accident to the captain, as it was of importance that he should know it before his next interview with Sir James: but the captain had been at home before her, and had received both Sir James's billet and that of his lady. He went immediately to the tavern, and, inquiring for Sir James Forrest, was shown into a back room one pair of stairs : Sir James received his salutation without reply, and instantly bolted the door. His jealousy was complicated with that indignation and contempt, which a sense of injury from a person of inferior rank never fails to produce; he, therefore, demanded of the captain, in a haughty tone, “ Whether he had not that morning been in company with his wife, after he had left her at her father's ?” The captain, who was incensed at Sir James's manner, and deemed himself engaged in honour to keep the lady's secret, answered, that " after what he had said in the morning, no man had a right to suppose he had seen the lady afterwards; that to insinuate the contrary, was obliquely to charge him with a falsehood; that he was bound to answer no such questions, till they were properly explained ; and that as a gentleman he was prepared to vindicate his honour.” Sir James justly deemed this reply an equivocation and an insult: and being no longer able to restrain his rage, he cursed the captain as a liar and a scoundrel, and at the same time striking him a violent blow with his fist, drew his sword and put himself in a posture of defence. Whatever design the captain might have had to bring his friend to temper, and reconcile bim to his wife, when he first entered the room, he was now equally enraged, and indeed had suffered equal indignity; he, therefore, drew at the same instant, and after a few desperate passes on both sides, he received a wound in his breast, and reeling backward a few paces, fell down.