Sophia immediately sank again into a swoon--. MY greif was more audible. My Voice faltered, My Eyes assumed a vacant stare, my face became as pale as Death, and my senses were considerably impaired--.

"Talk not to me of Phaetons (said I, raving in a frantic, incoherent manner)--Give me a violin--. I'll play to him and sooth him in his melancholy Hours--Beware ye gentle Nymphs of Cupid's Thunderbolts, avoid the piercing shafts of Jupiter--Look at that grove of Firs--I see a Leg of Mutton--They told me Edward was not Dead; but they deceived me--they took him for a cucumber --" Thus I continued wildly exclaiming on my Edward's Death--. For two Hours did I rave thus madly and should not then have left off, as I was not in the least fatigued, had not Sophia who was just recovered from her swoon, intreated me to consider that Night was now approaching and that the Damps began to fall. "And whither shall we go (said I) to shelter us from either?" "To that white Cottage." (replied she pointing to a neat Building which rose up amidst the grove of Elms and which I had not before observed--) I agreed and we instantly walked to it--we knocked at the door--it was opened by an old woman; on being requested to afford us a Night's Lodging, she informed us that her House was but small, that she had only two Bedrooms, but that However we should be wellcome to one of them. We were satisfied and followed the good woman into the House where we were greatly cheered by the sight of a comfortable fire--. She was a widow and had only one Daughter, who was then just seventeen--One of the best of ages; but alas! she was very plain and her name was Bridget. . . . . Nothing therfore could be expected from her--she could not be supposed to possess either exalted Ideas, Delicate Feelings or refined Sensibilities--. She was nothing more than a mere good-tempered, civil and obliging young woman; as such we could scarcely dislike here--she was only an Object of Contempt --. Adeiu Laura.

LETTER the 14th LAURA in continuation

Arm yourself my amiable young Freind with all the philosophy you are Mistress of; summon up all the fortitude you possess, for alas! in the perusal of the following Pages your sensibility will be most severely tried. Ah! what were the misfortunes I had before experienced and which I have already related to you, to the one I am now going to inform you of. The Death of my Father and my Mother and my Husband though almost more than my gentle Nature could support, were trifles in comparison to the misfortune I am now proceeding to relate. The morning after our arrival at the Cottage, Sophia complained of a violent pain in her delicate limbs, accompanied with a disagreable Head-ake She attributed it to a cold caught by her continued faintings in the open air as the Dew was falling the Evening before. This I feared was but too probably the case; since how could it be otherwise accounted for that I should have escaped the same indisposition, but by supposing that the bodily Exertions I had undergone in my repeated fits of frenzy had so effectually circulated and warmed my Blood as to make me proof against the chilling Damps of Night, whereas, Sophia lying totally inactive on the ground must have been exposed to all their severity. I was most seriously alarmed by her illness which trifling as it may appear to you, a certain instinctive sensibility whispered me, would in the End be fatal to her.

Alas! my fears were but too fully justified; she grew gradually worse--and I daily became more alarmed for her. At length she was obliged to confine herself solely to the Bed allotted us by our worthy Landlady--. Her disorder turned to a galloping Consumption and in a few days carried her off. Amidst all my Lamentations for her (and violent you may suppose they were) I yet received some consolation in the reflection of my having paid every attention to her, that could be offered, in her illness. I had wept over her every Day--had bathed her sweet face with my tears and had pressed her fair Hands continually in mine--.

Love and Friendship Page 12

Jane Austen

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