Mr. Selby resumes his letter to Reverend Boyer and encloses a letter from Eliza. He had gone to General Richman’s around noon to retrieve Eliza’s letter, and was surprised to find her on horseback with Major Sanford. They seemed surprised to see Selby as well, and Sanford refused Eliza’s invitation to come in. Eliza and Selby were met at the door by General Richman, who laughed at Eliza for changing company.
General Richman’s joke that Eliza changed company on her date may just be a gentle ribbing, but this is subtle shaming, as well. He implies, and then laughs, that Eliza is promiscuous and that there is something untoward about the completely innocent (thus far) relationships she has been engaged in. While it might be funny, it is designed to control Eliza’s behavior.
Eliza claimed that her running into Major Sanford was “accidental.” Last night she made plans with Miss Laurence to go riding, and they had simply come by Sanford in their travels. He asked to join them, and then Miss Laurence excused herself to dress for dinner, as they were all going to the assembly that evening. “I am going myself to the assembly this evening,” Mr. Selby writes, “though I did not mention it.”
Miss Laurence excuses herself because, presumably, she is aware that her father is considering Sanford as her potential husband, and she has to watch him obviously try to woo and seduce Eliza. This is another example of their sexist, patriarchal society—Miss Laurence has little control over her life and fate either.