Fiction > Hannah Webster Foster > The Coquette
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Hannah Webster Foster (1759–1840).  The Coquette, or The History of Eliza Wharton.  1855.
 
Letter XXX
 
TO MISS LUCY FREEMAN.
NEW HAVEN.  
  I believe your spirits need a cordial indeed, my dear Lucy, after drawing so dreadful a portrait of my swain. But I call him mine no longer. I renounce him entirely. My friends shall be gratified; and if their predictions are verified, I shall be happy in a union with a man of their choice. General Richman and lady have labored abundantly to prove that my ruin was inevitable if I did not immediately break all intercourse with Major Sanford. I promised a compliance with their wishes, and have accomplished the task, though a hard one I found it. Last Thursday he was here, and desired leave to spend an hour with me. I readily consented, assuring my friends it should be the last hour which I would ever spend in his company.
  1
  He told me that he was obliged to leave town for a few days; and as I should probably see Mr. Boyer before his return, he could not depart in peace without once more endeavoring to interest me in his favor, to obtain some token of esteem, some glimpse of hope that I would not utterly reject him, to support him in his absence. I thanked him for the polite attention he had paid me since our acquaintance, told him that I should ever retain a grateful sense of his partiality to me, that he would ever share my best wishes, but that all connection of the kind to which he alluded must from that time forever cease.  2
  He exerted all his eloquence to obtain a retraction of that sentence, and ran with the greatest volubility through all the protestations, prayers, entreaties, professions, and assurances which love could feel or art contrive. I had resolution, however, to resist them, and to command my own emotions on the occasion better than my natural sensibility gave me reason to expect.  3
  Finding every effort vain, he rose precipitately, and bade me adieu. I urged his tarrying to tea; but he declined, saying that he must retire to his chamber, being, in his present state of mind, unfit for any society, as he was banished from mine. I offered him my hand, which he pressed with ardor to his lips, and, bowing in silence, left the room.  4
  Thus terminated this affair—an affair which, perhaps, was only the effect of mere gallantry on his part, and of unmeaning pleasantry on mine, and which, I am sorry to say, has given my friends so much anxiety and concern. I am under obligations to them for their kind solicitude, however causeless it may have been.  5
  As an agreeable companion, as a polite and finished gallant, Major Sanford is all that the most lively fancy could wish. And as you have always affirmed that I was a little inclined to coquetry, can you wonder at my exercising it upon so happy a subject? Besides, when I thought more seriously, his liberal fortune was extremely alluring to me, who, you know, have been hitherto confined to the rigid rules of prudence and economy, not to say necessity, in my finances.  6
  Miss Lawrence called on me yesterday, as she was taking the air, and asked me whether Major Sanford took leave of me when he left town. “He was here last week,” said I, “but I did not know that he was gone away.” “O, yes,” she replied, “he is gone to take possession of his seat which he has lately purchased of Captain Pribble. I am told it is superb; and it ought to be, if it has the honor of his residence.” “Then you have a great opinion of Major Sanford,” said I. “Certainly; and has not every body else?” said she. “I am sure he is a very fine gentleman.” Mrs. Richman smiled rather contemptuously, and I changed the subject. I believe that the innocent heart of this simple girl is a little taken in.  7
  I have just received a letter from Mr. Boyer in the usual style. He expects the superlative happiness of kissing my hand next week. O, dear! I believe I must begin to fix my phiz. Let me run to the glass, and try if I can make up one that will look madamish. Yes, I succeeded very well.  8
  I congratulate you on your new neighbor; but I advise friend George to have the Gordian knot tied immediately, lest you should be insnared by this bewitching squire.  9
  I have been trying to seduce General Richman to accompany me to the assembly this evening, but cannot prevail. Were Mrs. Richman able to go with us, he would be very happy to wait on us together; but, to tell the truth, he had rather enjoy her company at home than any which is to be found abroad. I rallied him on his old-fashioned taste, but my heart approved and applauded his attachment. I despise the married man or woman who harbors an inclination to partake of separate pleasures.  10
  I am told that a servant man inquires for me below—the messenger of some enamoured swain, I suppose. I will step down and learn what message he brings.  11
  Nothing extraordinary; it is only a card of compliments from a Mr. Emmons, a respectable merchant of this city, requesting the honor to wait on me to the assembly this evening—a welcome request, which I made no hesitation to grant. If I must resign these favorite amusements, let me enjoy as large a share as possible till the time arrives. I must repair to the toilet, and adorn for a new conquest the person of
ELIZA WHARTON.  
  12
 
 
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