Though Laura could not escape the attacks of Lady Pelham, she sometimes found means to elude those of Hargrave. She watched his approach; and whenever he appeared, intrenched herself in her own apartment. She confined herself almost entirely to the house, and excused herself from every visit where she thought he might be of the party. He besieged her with letters; she sent them back unopened. Lady Pelham commanded her to be present during his visits; she respectfully, but peremptorily, refused to comply.
She had thus remained a sort of prisoner for some weeks, when her aunt one morning entered her room with an aspect which Laura could not well decipher. ‘Well, Miss Montreville,’ said she, ‘you have at last accomplished your purpose; your capricious tyranny has prevailed at last; Colonel Hargrave leaves — this morning.’
‘Dear Madam,’ cried Laura, starting up overjoyed, ‘what a deliverance!’
‘Oh to be sure, mighty cause you have to congratulate yourself upon a deliverance from a man who might aspire to the first woman in England! But you will never have it in your power to throw away such another offer. You need hardly expect to awaken such another passion.’
‘I hope, with all my heart, I shall not; but are you certain he will go?’
‘Oh, very certain. He has written to tell me so!’
‘I trust he will keep his word,’ said Laura; ‘and when I am sure he is gone, I will beg of your Ladyship to excuse me for a few hours, while I walk to Norwood. I have been so shackled of late! but the first use I make of my liberty shall be to visit my friends.’
‘I am afraid, my dear,’ returned Lady Pelham, with more gentleness than she was accustomed to use in contradiction, ‘you will scarcely find time to visit Mrs De Courcy. I have long promised to pass some time with my friend Mrs Bathurst; and I propose setting off to-morrow.