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tion fhe received, but which made her feverely feel all the miferies of dependence. Her beauty attracted a multitude of admirers, many of whom, prefuming on her poverty, treated her with a licentious levity, which always wounded her ingenuous pride. Her perfon, her mind, her manners, were univerfally commended by the men; but no one thought of making her his wife. "Amelia, they cried, is an enchanting creature; but who, in thefe times, can afford to marry a pretty, proud girl, fupported by charity?" Though this prudential queftion was never uttered in the prefence of Amelia, fhe began to perceive its influence, and fuffered the painful dread of proving a perpetual burden to thofe friends, by whofe generofity fhe fubfifted: the wifhed a thousand times that her affectionate aunt, inftead of cultivating her mind with such dangerous refinement, had placed her in any ftation of life where he might have maintained herfelf by her own manual labour: she fometimes entertained a project of making fome attempt for this purpofe; and the once thought of changing her name, and of trying to fupport herfelf as an actress on one of the public theatres; but this idea, which her honeft pride had fuggested, was effectually fupprefied by her modefty; and the continued to waste the most precious time of her youth, under the mortification of perpetually wishing to change her mode of life, and of not knowing how to effect it. Almost two years had now elapfed fince the death of her aunt; and, without any profpect of marriage, he was in her fecond period of refidence with Mrs. Wormwood. Amelia's understanding was by no means inferior to her other endowments.
he began to penetrate all the artful difguife, and to gain a perfect and very painful infight into the real character of her prefent hoftefs. This lady had remarked, that when Mifs Nevil refided with her, her houfe was much more frequented by gentlemen than at any other feafon. This indeed was true; and it unluckily happened that thefe vifitors often forgot to applaud the fmart fayings of Mrs. Wormwood, in contemplating the fweet countenance of Amelia; a circumftance full fufficient to awaken, in the neglected wit, the most bitter envy, hatred, and malice. In truth, Mrs. Wormwood detested her lovely guet with the most implacable virulence; but he had the fingular art of difguiling her deteftation in the language of flattery: fhe understood the truth of Pope's maxim,
He hurts me most who lavishly commends;"
and fhe therefore made ufe of lavish commendation as an inftrument of malevolence towards Amelia; the infulted the taste, and ridiculed the choice, of every new-married man, and declared herself convinced, that he was a fool, because he had not not chofen that most lovely young woman. To more than one gentleman fhe faid, you must marry Amelia; and, as few men chufe to be driven into wedlock, fome offers were poffibly prevented by the treacherous vehemence of her praise. Her malice, however, was not fufficiently gratified by obferving that Amelia had no prospect of marriage. To indulge her malignity, fhe refolved to amuse this unhappy girl with the hopes of fuch a joyous event, and then to turn, on a fudden, all these fplendid hopes iuto mockery and delufion. Accident led her to pitch on Mr. Nelson, as
a perfon whofe name fhe might with the greatest fafety employ as the inftrument of her infidious defign, and with the greater chance of fuccefs, as the obferved that Amelia had conceived for him a particular regard. Mr. Nelfon was a gentleman, who, having met with very fingular events, had contracted a great but very amiable fingularity of character. He was placed, early in life, in a very lucrative commercial fituation, and was on the point of fettling happily in marriage with a very beautiful young lady, when the houfe in which the refided was confumed by fire. Great part of her family, and among them the deftined bride, was buried in the ruins. Mr. Nelfon, in lofing the object of his ardent affection by fo fudden a calamity, loft for fome time the ufe of his reafon; and when his health and fenfes returned, he fill continued under the oppreffion of the profoundeft melancholy, till his fond devotion to the memory of her, whom he had loft in fo fevere a manner, fuggefted to his fancy a fingular plan of benevolence, in the profecution of which he recovered a great portion of his former fpirits. This plan confifted in fearching for female objects of charity, whofe diftreffes had been occafioned by fire. As his fortune was very ample, and his own private expences very moderate, he was able to relieve many unfortunate perfons in this condition; and his affectionate imagination delighted itself with the idea, that in thefe uncommon acts of beneficence he was guided by the influence of that lovely angel, whofe mortal beauty had perifhed in the flames. Mr. Nelfon frequently vifited a married fitter, who was fettled in the town where Mrs. Wormwood refided.
There was alfo, in the fame town, an amiable elderly widow, for whom he had a particular efteen. This lady, whofe name was Melford, had been left in very scanty circumftances on the death of her hufband, and, refiding at that time in London, fhe had been involved in additional diftrefs by that calamity to which the attentive charity of Mr. Nelson was for ever directed: he more than repaired the lofs which fhe futtained by fire, and affifted in fettling her in the neighbourhood of his lifter. Mrs. Mclford had been intimate with the aunt of Amelia, and was fill the most valuable friend of that lovely orphan, who paid her frequent vifits, though the never refided under her roof. Mr. Nelfon had often feen Amelia at the house of Mrs. Melford, which led him to treat her with particular politenefs whenever he visited Mrs. Wormwood; a circumstance on which the latter founded her ungenerous project. She perfectly knew all the fingular private history of Mr. Nelfon, and firmly believed, like all the rest of his acquaintance, that no attractions could ever tempt him to marry; but the thought it poffible to make Amelia conceive the hope that her beauty had melted his refolution; and nothing, the fuppofed, could more effectually mortify her guest than to find herself derided for fo vain an expectation.
"Mrs. Wormwood began, therefore, to infinuate, in the most artful manner, that Mr. Nelson was very particular in his civilities to Amelia; magnified all his amiable qualities, and expreffed the greatest pleafure in the profpect of fo delightful a match. Thefe perty artifices, however, had no effect on the natural modefty and diffidence of Amelia. She faw nothing that P autho
authorised fuch an idea in the ufual politeness of a well-bred man of thirty feven; fhe pitied the misfortune, the admired the elegant and engaging, though ferious manners, and the revered the virtues, of Mr. Nelfon; but, fuppofing his mind to be entirely engroffed, as it really was, by his fingular charitable purfuits, fhe entertained not a thought of engaging his affection. Mrs. Worm wood was determined to play off her favourite engine of malignity, a counterfeited letter. She had acquired, in her youth, the very dangerous talent of forging any hand that the pleafed; and her paffion for mifchief had afforded her much practice in this treacherous art. Having previoufly, and fecretly, engaged Mr. Nelion to drink tea with her, fhe wrote a billet to Amelia, in the name of that gentleman, and with the most perfect imitation of his hand. The billet faid, that he defigned himself the pleafure of paffing that afternoon at the houfe of Mrs. Wormwood, and requested the favour of a private conference with Mifs Nevil in the courfe of the evening, intimating, in the moft delicate and doubtful terms, an ardent defire of becoming her husband. Mrs. Wormwood contrived that Amelia fhould not receive this billet till just before dinner time, that he might not fhew it to her friend aud confidant, Mrs. Melford, and, by her means, detect its fallacy before the hour of her intended humiliation arrived.
"Amelia blushed in reading the note, and, in the firft furprife of unfufpecting innocence, gave it to the vigilant Mrs. Wormwood, who burst into vehement expreffions of delight, congratulated her blufhing gueft on the full fuccefs of her charms, and triumphed in her own prophetic difcernment. They fat
down to dinner, but poor Amelia could hardly fwallow a morfel; her mind was in a tumultuous agi tation of pleasure and amazement. The malicious impoftor, enjoying her confufion, allowed her no time to compofe her hurried fpirits in the folitude of her chamber. Some female vifitors arrived to tea; and, at length, Mr. Nelfon entered the room. Amelia trembled and bluthed as he approached her; but she was a little relieved from her embarraffment by the business of the tea-table, over which the prefided. Amelia was naturally graceful in every thing fhe did, but the prefent agitation of her mind gave a temporary aukwardness to all her motions: fhe committed many little blunders in the management of the tea-table; a cup fell from her trembling hand, and was broken; but the politenefs of Mr. Nelfon led him to fay fo many kind and graceful things to her on thefe petty incidents, that, inftead of increafing her diftrefs, they produced an oppofite effect, and the tumult of her bofom gradually fubfided into a calm and compofed delight. She ventured to meet the eyes of Mr. Nelfon, and thought them expreffive of that tenderness which pro mifed a happy end to all her misfortunes. At the idea of exchanging mifery and dependence for com fort and honour, as the wife of fo amiable a man, her heart expanded with the most innocent and grateful joy. This appeared in her countenance, and gave fuch an exquifite radiance to all her features, that he looked a thousand times more beautiful than ever. Mrs. Wormwood faw this improvement of her charms, and, fickening a the fight, determined to reduce the fplendor of fuch infufferable beauty, and haftily terminate the triumph
own credulity, which he condemned with that excess of severity fo natural to a delicate mind in ar raigning itself. She would have flown for immediate confolation to her friend, Ms. Melford, but the had reafon to believe that lady engaged on a vifit, and the therefore refolved to take a folitary walk for the purpose of compofing her fpirits: but neither folitude nor exer cife could restore her tranquillity; and, as it grew late in the evening, fhe haftened to Mrs. Melford's, in hopes of now finding her returned. Her worthy old confidant was indeed in her little parlour alone, when Amelia entered the room. The eyes of this lovely girl immediately betrayed her diftress; and the old lady, with her usual tenderness, exclaimed, "Good heaven! my dear child, for what have you been crying?" "Because, replied Amelia, in a broken voice, and bursting into a fresh fhower of tears, because I am a fool." Mrs. Melford began to be most seriously alarmed, and, expreffing her maternal folicitude in the kindest manner, Amelia produced the fatal paper-" There, fays fhe, is a letter in the name of your excellent friend, Mr. Nelfon; it is a forgery of Mrs. Wormwood's, and I have been fuch an ideot as to believe it real." The affectionate Mrs. Melford, who, in her first alarm, had apprehended a much heavier calamity, was herself greatly comforted in difcovering the truth, and faid many kind things to confole her young friend. "Do not fancy. replied Amelia, that I am foolifhly in love with Mr. Nelfon, though I think him the most pleasing as well as the mot éxcellent of men; and though I confefs to you, that I fhould certainly think it a bleffed lot to find a refuge from the P 2 mifery
umph of her deluded gueft. She began with a few malicious and farcaftic remarks on the vanity of beautiful young women, and the hopes which they frequently entertain of an imaginary lover; but, finding these remarks produced not the effect the intended, the took an opportunity of whispering in the ear of Amelia, and begged her not to harbour any vain ex pectations, for the billet fhe had received was a counterfeit, and a mere piece of pleafantry. Amelia fhuddered, and tarned pale: furprife, difappointment, and indignation, confpired to overwhelm her. She exerted her utmost power to conceal her emotions; but the conflict in her bofom was too violent to be disguised. The tears, which the vainly endeavoured to fupprefs, burit forth, and fhe was obliged to quit the room in very vifible di order. Mr. Nelfon expreffed his concern; but he was checked in his benevolent enquiries by the caution of Mrs. Wormwood, who faid, on the occafion, that Mifs Nevil was a very amiable girl, but the had fome peculiarities of temper, and was apt to put a wrong con. 1truction on the innocent pleasantry of her friends. Mr. Nelfon obferving that Amelia did not return, and hoping that his departure might contribute to restore the interrupted harmony of the house, took an early leave of Mrs. Wormwood, who immediately flew to the chamber of Amelia, to exult, like a fiend, over that lovely victim of her fuccefsful malignity. She found not the perfon whom he was fo eager to infult. Amelia had indeed retired to her chamber, and paffed there a very miferable half hour, much hurt by the treacherous cruelty of Mrs. Wormwood, and fill inore wounded by reflections on her
mifery of my prefent dependence, in the arms of fo benevolent and fo generous a protector.” "Those arms are now open to receive you, faid a voice that was heard before the fpeaker appeared. Amelia started at the found, and her furprife was not a little increafcd in feeing Mr. Nelfon himself, who, entering the room from an adjoining apartment, embraced the lovely orphan in a transport of tenderness and delight. Amelia, alive to all the feelings of genuine modefty, was for fome minutes more painfully diftreffed by this furprife, than the had been by her past mortification: fhe was ready to fink into the earth at the idea of having betrayed her fecret to the man from whom he would have laboured most to conceal it. In the first tumult of this delicate confufion, fhe finks into a chair, and hides her face in her handkerchief. Nelfon, with a mixture of refpect and love, being afraid of increafing her diftrefs, feizes one of her hands, and continues to kiss it without uttering a word. The good Mrs. Melford, almost as much aftonifhed, but lefs painfully confufed than Amelia, beholds this unexpected fcene with that kind of joy which is much more difpofed to weep than to fpeak:-and, while this little party is thus ab forbed in filence, let me haften to relate the incidents which produced their fituation.
"Mr. Nelfon had observed the farcastic manner of Mrs. Wormwood towards Amelia, and, as foon as he had ended his uncomfortable vifit, he haftened to the worthy Mrs: Melford, to give her fome little account of what had paffed, and to concert with her fome happier plan for the fupport of this amiable infulted orphan. "I am acquainted, faid he, with fome
brave and wealthy officers, who have ferved with the father of Mifs Nevil, and often speak of him with refpect; I am fure I can raise among them a fubfcription for the maintenance of this tender unfortunate girl we will procure for Her an annuity, that fhall enable her to efcape from fuch malignant patronage, to have a little home of her own, and to fupport a fervant." Mrs. Melford was tranfported at this idea; and, recollecting all her own obligations to this benevolent man, wept, and extolled his generofity; and, fuddenly feeing Amelia at fome distance, through a bow window, which commanded the ftreet in which the lived, "Thank Heaven, fhe cried, here comes my poor child, to hear and bless you for the extent of your goodness.” Nelfon, who delighted most in doing good by ftealth, immediately extorted from the good old lady a promife of fecrefy: it was the best part of his plan, that Amelia should never know the perfons to whom she was to owe her independence. "I am till afraid of you, my worthy old friend, faid Nelfon; your countenance or manner will, I know, betray me, if Mifs Nevil fees me here to-night."-" Well, faid the delighted old lady, I will humour your delicacy; Amelia will probably not stay with me ten minutes; you may amufe yourself, for that time, in my fpacious garden: I will not fay you are here; and, as foon as the good girl returns home, I will come and impart to you the particulars of her recent vexation."" Admirably fettled," cried Nelfon; and he im mediately retreated into a little back room, which led through a glafs door into a long flip of ground, embellifhed with the fweetest and leaft expentive flowers, which af