Fair travelers, journey to the master post if thou art lost.
Another week interrupted by travel – and my reading progress was thwarted by *talkers* for two out of three flights. Only conceive how provoking!
Despite these set backs, I am still reading, if not writing as much. I’m at that point in the readalong where you just want to barrel through and finish the thing. I know a couple of participants who were stalled are finding their stride as well – check in, how are you doing?
In Book VI we finally get a semi-romantic scene between our heroine and Morty, while he’s saving her from a sudden storm. I love me some romance in the rain, even if it is a huge cliche (big Wuthering Heights fan here. Okay, and The Notebook.) Thank god the storm came and forced Morty’s hand (metaphorically!) because I was beginning to think we’d never see the day!
We open at the Belfield’s, and take a last look at the lower classes before removing to Delvile Castle, which has an actual moat. Mrs. Belfield is still the worst, and Mr. Hobson is still a heartless man of business. Both are just trying to get by with the resources they have (a son, a trade.)
We’re one guardian down, two to go, and those two remaining have a most entertaining squabble over where Cecilia will live – and who’ll get her allowance. Mr. Delvile does his best De Niro impression:
“Pray, Sir,” cried Mr Delvile, turning round, “to whom were you pleased to address that speech?”
We are then treated to more Lady Honoria, who keeps it real with Cecilia:
“No, I assure you; I heard it at several places; and every body said how charmingly your fortune would build up all these old fortifications; but some people said they knew Mr Harrel had sold you to Mr Marriot, and that if you married Mortimer, there would be a lawsuit that would take away half your estate; and others said you had promised your hand to Sir Robert Floyer, and repented when you heard of his mortgages, and he gave it out every where that he would fight any man that pretended to you; and then again some said that you were all the time privately married to Mr Arnott, but did not dare own it, because he was so afraid of fighting with Sir Robert.”
This is the first time anyone has straight up told Cecilia what’s being said about her, and had she been told this sooner, it could have avoided a lot of bullshit.
Then, finally, we get the answers to the questions many of us posed in previous books. Perhaps these points would be more obvious to contemporary readers, but it was nice to confirm that:
- Everyone knows about the name clause
- The clause is not odd or unexpected for a female inheriting a large estate
- Morty is in love with Cecilia, and,
- The clause is the reason he’s all conflicted about it
I feel so much better!
Then, the storm. Lady H kindly insists that Morty usher Cecilia to safety, and things start to get hot ‘n’ heavy:
The strength of Cecilia was now instantly restored, and she hastily withdrew from his hold; he suffered her to disengage herself, but said in a faultering voice, “pardon me, Cecilia!—Madam!—Miss Beverley, I mean!—”
Context was enough for me to understand that calling her “Cecilia” was a blunder and it revealed his true feelings. Then he goes and ruins it like a jerk by bringing up the name thing:
“All sweetness,” cried he warmly, and snatching her hand, “is Miss Beverley!—O that I had power—that it were not utterly impossible—that the cruelty of my situation—”
“I find,” cried she, greatly agitated, and forcibly drawing away her hand, “you will teach me, for another time, the folly of fearing bad weather!”
The three young people get sick after their adventures. Cecilia and Lady H recover quickly, but Morty gets sicker and sicker. Lady H causes even more trouble, by encouraging newly-arrived suitor (can’t have enough of those) Lord Derford to pick a duel with Morty over Cecilia, and by telling a tale about Morty’s supposed mistress and child in the village – all this just to provoke Cecilia, or does she have bigger designs? It doesn’t matter, she is hilarious.
Towards the end of the book, Mrs. Delville calls Cecilia in for a serious talk and Cecilia thinks this is it – they want her to marry Morty. Instead, Mrs. D makes it abundantly clear, in a passive-aggressive, roundabout way, that Morty must not marry her, because of the name thing.
Morty is sent away from the castle as a precaution (all for a cold!) and pours his heart out to Cecilia before he leaves. Cecilia is having none of it:
“The die,” she cried, “is at last thrown; and this affair is concluded for ever! Delvile himself is content to relinquish me; no father has commanded, no mother has interfered, he has required no admonition, full well enabled to act for himself by the powerful instigation of hereditary arrogance! Yet my family, he says,–unexpected condescension! my family and every other circumstance is unexceptionable; how feeble, then, is that regard which yields to one only objection! how potent that haughtiness which to nothing will give way! Well, let him keep his name! since so wondrous its properties, so all-sufficient its preservation, what vanity, what presumption in me, to suppose myself an equivalent for its loss!”
Shades of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett here.
The entire Delvile family decides to leave the castle, forcing Cecilia to leave too. Cecilia decides to move back in with her family friend in Bury (where she should have stayed in the first place and avoided all these drama queens!) Cecilia is a little dramatic upon leaving:
she flung herself in, and, leaning back, drew her hat over her eyes, and thought, as the carriage drove off, her last hope of earthly happiness extinguished.
Modern Life in the 18th century
Secret marriages and love children: Whether you’re a Kardashian or Delvile, gossip is centres on illegitimacy:
“…how could I possibly help the mistake? when I heard of him paying for a woman’s board, what was so natural as to suppose she must be his mistress? especially as there was a child in the case. O how I wish you had been with us! you never saw such a ridiculous sight in your life; away we went in the chaise full drive to the cottage, frightening all the people almost into fits; out came the poor woman, away ran the poor man,–both of them thought the end of the world at hand! The gipsey was best off, for she went to her old business, and began begging. I assure you, I believe she would be very pretty if she was not so ill, and so I dare say Mortimer thought too, or I fancy he would not have taken such care of her.”
Man colds: Cecilia and Lady H recover from their colds in two days. Morty’s parents are basically planning his funeral when he has a slight fever. Lady H keeps it real, as always:
“Why this tender chicken caught cold in the storm last week, and not being put to bed by its mama, and nursed with white-wine whey, the poor thing has got a fever.”