Fiction > Hannah Webster Foster > The Coquette
Hannah Webster Foster (1759–1840).  The Coquette, or The History of Eliza Wharton.  1855.
Letter XXIV
  I resume my pen, having just returned from General Richman’s; not with an expectation, however, of your reading this till you have perused and reperused the enclosed. I can bear such neglect in this case, as I have been alike interested myself.
  I went to General Richman’s at twelve o’clock. About a mile from thence, upon turning a corner, I observed a gentleman and lady on horseback, some way before me, riding at a very moderate pace, and seemingly in close conversation. I kept at the same distance from them till I saw them stop at the general’s gate. I then put on, and, coming up with them just as they alighted, was surprised to find them no other than Major Sanford and Miss Wharton. They were both a little disconcerted at my salutation: I know not why. Miss Wharton invited him in; but he declined, being engaged to dine. General Richman received us at the door. As I handed Miss Wharton in, he observed, jocosely, that she had changed company. “Yes, sir,” she replied, “more than once since I went out, as you doubtless observed.” “I was not aware,” said Mrs. Richman, “that Major Sanford was to be of your party to-day.” “It was quite accidental, madam,” said Miss Wharton. “Miss Lawrence and I had agreed, last evening, to take a little airing this forenoon. A young gentleman, a relation of hers, who is making them a visit, was to attend us.  2
  “We had not rode more than two miles when we were overtaken by Major Sanford, who very politely asked leave to join our party. Miss Lawrence very readily consented; and we had a very sociable ride. The fineness of the day induced me to protract the enjoyment of it abroad; but Miss Lawrence declined riding so far as I proposed, as she had engaged company to dine. We therefore parted till the evening, when we are to meet again.” “What, another engagement!” said Mrs. Richman. “Only to the assembly, madam.” “May I inquire after your gallant, my dear? But I have no right, perhaps, to be inquisitive,” said Mrs. Richman. Miss Wharton made no reply, and the conversation took a general turn. Miss Wharton sustained her part with great propriety. Indeed, she discovers a fund of useful knowledge and extensive reading, which render her peculiarly entertaining; while the brilliancy of her wit, the fluency of her language, the vivacity and ease of her manners are inexpressibly engaging. I am going myself to the assembly this evening, though I did not mention it to General Richman. I therefore took my leave soon after dinner.  3
  I have heard so much in praise of Miss Wharton’s penmanship, in addition to her other endowments, that I am almost tempted to break the seal of her letter to you; but I forbear. Wishing you much happiness in the perusal of it, and more in the possession of its writer, I subscribe myself yours, &c.,

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