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Chapter VI.

In which the Adventure is really concluded; tho', possibly, not as the Reader expected.

The Marquis sometimes permitting his Daughter to ride out, and this being the only Diversion she was allowed, or ever experienced, she did not sail to take it as often as she could.

She was returning from one of these Airings one Day, attended by two Servants, when Mr. Hervey, who happened to be at some Distance, observing a Lady on Horseback, who made a very graceful Figure, he rode up to her, in order to have a nearer View; and, knowing Lady Bella again, resolved to speak to her: But while he was considering how he should accost her, Arabella suddenly seeing him, and observing he was making up to her, her Imagination immediately suggested to her, that this insolent Lover had a Design to seize her Person; and this Thought terrifying her extremely, she gave a loud Shriek; which Mr. Hervey hearing, rode eagerly up to her to inquire the Reason of it, at the same time that her two Attendants, as much amazed as himself, came galloping up also.

Arabella, upon his coming close to her, redoubled her Cries. If you have any Valour, said she to her Servants, defend your unfortunate Mistress, and rescue her from this unworthy Man.

The Servants, believing him to be a Highwayman, by this Exclamation, and dreading lest he should present his Pistol at their Heads, if they offered to make any Resistance, recoiled a few Paces back, expecting he would demand their Purses when he had robbed their Lady: But the extreme Surprize he was in, keeping him motionless, the Fellows not seeing any Pistols in his Hand, and animated by Arabella's Cries, who, calling them Cowards and Traitors, urged them to deliver her; they both, in a Moment, laid hold of Mr. Hervey, and forced him to alight; which they did also themselves, still keeping fast hold of him, whom Surprize, Shame, and Rage, had hitherto kept silent.

Rascals! cried he, when he was able to speak, what do you mean by using me in this manner? Do you suppose I had any Intention to hurt the Lady? --What do you take me for? For a Villain, for a Ravisher, interrupted Arabella, who, contrary to all Laws both human and divine, endeavour to possess yourself by Force of a Person whom you are not worthy to serve; and whose Charity and Compassion you have returned with the utmost Ingratitude.

Upon my Word, Madam, said Mr. Hervey, I don't understand one Word you say: You either mistake me for some other Person, or are pleased to divert yourself with the Surprize I am in: But I beseech you carry the Jest no farther, and order your Servants to let me go; or, by Heaven--cried he struggling to get loose, if I can but free one of my Hands, I'll stab the Scoundrels before your Face.

It is not with Threats like these, resumed Arabella with great Calmness, that I can be moved. A little more Submission and Respect would become you better; you are now wholly in my Power; I may, if I please, carry you to my Father, and have you severely punished for your Attempt: But to shew you, that I am as generous as you are base and designing, I'll give you Freedom, provided you promise me never to appear before me again: But, in order to secure my own Safety, you must deliver up your Arms to my Servants, that I may be assured you will not have it in your Power to make a second Attempt upon my Liberty.

Mr. Hervey, whose Astonishment was increased by every Word she spoke, began now to be apprehensive, that this might prove a very serious Affair, since she seemed resolved to believe he had a Design to carry her off; and, knowing that an Attempt of that Nature upon an Heiress might have dangerous Consequences, he resolved to accept the Conditions she offered him: But while he delivered his Hanger to the Servant, he assured her in the strongest Terms, that he had no other Design in riding up to her, but to have a nearer View of her Person.

Add not Falshood, said Arabella sternly, to a Crime already black enough; for tho', by an Effect of my Generosity, I have resolved not to deliver you up to the Resentment of my Father, yet nothing shall ever be able to make me pardon this Outrage. Go then, pursued she, go, base Man, unworthy of the Care I took of thy Safety; go to some distant Country, where I may never hear of thee more; and suffer me, if possible, to lose the Remembrance of thy Crimes, Saying this, she ordered her Servants, who had got the Hanger in their Possession, to set him at Liberty, and mount their Horses; which they did immediately, and followed their Lady, who rode with all imaginable Speed to the Castle.

Mr. Hervey, not yet recovered from his Surprize, stood some Moments considering the strange Scene he had been Witness to; and in which he had, much against his Will, appeared the principal Character. As he was not acquainted with Lady Bella's Foible, he concluded her Fears of him were occasioned by her Simplicity, and some Misrepresentations that had been made her by Lucy, who, he thought, had betrayed him; and, fearing this ridiculous Adventure would be soon made public, and himself exposed to the Sneers of his Country Acquaintance, he resolved to go back to London as soon as possible.

The next Day, pretending he had received a Letter which obliged him to set out immediately, he took Leave of his Cousin, heartily glad at the Escape he should make from his Raillery; for he did not doubt but the Story would very soon be known, and told greatly to his Disadvantage.

But Arabella, in order to be completely generous, a Quality for which all the Heroines are famous, laid a Command upon her two Attendants not to mention what had passed, giving them, at the same time, Money to secure their Secrecy; and threatening them with her Displeasure, if they disobeyed.

Arabella, as soon as she had an Opportunity, did not fail to acquaint her faithful Lucy with the Danger from which she had so happily escaped, thanking Heaven at the same time with great Devotion, for having preserved her from the Hands of the Ravisher.

Two or three Months rolled away, after this Accident, without offering any new Adventure to our fair Visionary; when her Imagination, always prepossessed with the same fantastic Ideas, made her stumble upon another Mistake, equally absurd and ridiculous.

Chapter V. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VII.