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Chapter IX.

Which will be found to contain Information absolutely necessary for the right understanding of this History.

Our fair and afflicted Heroine, accompanied by the Ladies we have mention'd, having cross'd the River, pursu'd their Walk upon its winding Banks, entertaining themselves with the usual Topicks of Conversation among young Ladies, such as their Winnings and Losings at Brag, the Prices of Silks, the newest Fashions, the best Hair-Cutter, the Scandal at the last Assembly, &c.

Arabella was so disgusted with this (as she thought) insipid Discourse, which gave no Relief to the Anxiety of her Mind, but added a Kind of Fretfulness and Impatience to her Grief; that she resolv'd to quit them, and with Lucy, go in quest of the Princess of Gaul's Retreat.

The Ladies however, insisted upon her not leaving them; and her Excuse that she was going in search of an unfortunate Unknown, for whom she had vow'd a Friendship, made them all immediately resolve to accompany her, extremely diverted with the Oddity of the Design, and sacrificing her to their Mirth by fly Leers, Whispers, stifled Laughs, and a thousand little sprightly Sallies, which the disconsolate Arabella took no Notice of, so deeply were her Thoughts engag'd.

Tho' she knew not which Way to direct her Steps, yet concluding the melancholy Cynecia would certainly chuse some very solitary Place for her Residence, she rambled about among the least frequented Paths, follow'd by the young Ladies, who ardently desir'd to see this unfortunate Unknown; tho' at Arabella's earnest Request, they promis'd not to shew themselves to the Lady , who, she inform'd them, for very urgent Reasons, was oblig'd to keep herself conceal'd.

Fatiguing as this Ramble was to the delicate Spirits of Arabella's Companions, they were enabled to support it by the Diversion her Behaviour afforded them.

Every Peasant she met, she enquir'd if a Beautiful Lady disguis'd did not dwell somewhere thereabout.

To some she gave a Description of her Person, to others an Account of the Domesticks that were with her; not forgetting her Dress, her Melancholy, and the great Care she took to keep herself conceal'd.

These strange Enquiries, with the strange Language in which they were made, not a little surpriz'd the good People to whom she address'd herself, yet mov'd to Respect by the majestick Loveliness of her Person, they answer'd her in the Negative, without any Mixture of Scoff and Impertinence.

How unfavourable is Chance, said Arabella fretting at the Disappointment, to Persons who have any Reliance upon it! This Lady that I have been in Search of so long without Success, may probably be found by others who do not seek her, whose Presence she may wish to avoid, yet not be able.

The young Ladies finding it grew late, express'd their Apprehensions at being without any Attendants; and desir'd Arabella to give over her Search for that Day. Arabella at this Hint of Danger, enquir'd very earnestly, If they apprehended any Attempts to carry them away? And without staying for an Answer, urg'd them to walk Home as fast as possible, apologizing for the Danger into which she had so indiscreetly drawn both them and herself; yet added her Hopes, that if any Attempt should be made upon their Liberty, some generous Cavalier would pass by who would rescue them: A Thing so common, that they had no Reason to despair of it.

Arabella construing the Silence with which her Companions heard these Assurances, into a Doubt of their being so favoured by Fortune, proceeded to inform them of several Instances wherein Ladies met with unexpected Relief and Deliverance from Ravishers.

She mention'd particularly the Rescue of Statira by her own Brother, whom she imagin'd for many Years dead; that of the Princess Berenice by an absolute Stranger, and many others, whose Names, Characters and Adventures she occasionally run over; all which the young Ladies heard with inconceivable Astonishment. And the Detail had such an Effect upon Arabella's Imagination, bewilder'd as it was in the Follies of Romances, that 'spying three or four Horsemen riding along the Road towards them, she immediately concluded they would be all seiz'd and carry'd off.

Possess'd with this Belief, she utter'd a loud Cry, and flew to the Water-side, which alarming the Ladies, who could not imagine what was the Matter, they ran after her as fast as possible.

Arabella stop'd when she came to the Waterside, and looking round about, and not perceiving any Boat to waft them over to Richmond, a Thought suddenly darted into her Mind, worthy those ingenious Books which gave it Birth.

Turning therefore to the Ladies, who all at once were enquiring the Cause of her Fright; 'Tis now, my fair Companions, said she, with a solemn Accent, that the Destinies have furnish'd you with an Opportunity of displaying in a Manner truly Heroick, the Sublimity of your Virtue, and the Grandeur of your Courage to the World.

The Action we have it in our Power to perform will immortalize our Fame, and raise us to a Pitch of Glory equal to that of the renown'd Clelia herself.

Like her, we may expect Statues erected to our Honour: Like her, be propos'd as Patterns to Heroines in ensuing Ages: And like her, perhaps, meet with Sceptres and Crowns for our Reward. What that beauteous Roman Lady perform'd to preserve herself from Violation by the impious Sextus, let us imitate to avoid the Violence our intended Ravishers yonder come to offer us.

Fortune, which has thrown us into this Exigence, presents us the Means of gloriously escaping: And the Admiration and Esteem of all Ages to come, will be the Recompence of our noble Daring.

Once more, my fair Companions, If your Honour be dear to you, if an immortal Glory be worth your seeking, follow the Example I shall set you, and equal with me the Roman Clelia.

Saying this, she plung'd into the Thames, intending to swim over it, as Clelia did the Tyber.

The young Ladies, who had listen'd with silent Astonishment at the long Speech she had made them, the Purport of which not one of them understood, scream'd out aloud at this horrid Spectacle, and wringing their Hands, ran backwards and forwards like distracted Persons, crying for Help. Lucy tore her Hair, and was in the utmost Agony of Grief, when Mr. Roberts, who, as we have said before, kept them always in Sight, having observ'd Arabella running towards the Water-side, follow'd them as fast as he could, and came Time enough up to see her frantick Action. Jumping into the River immediately after her, he caught hold of her Gown, and drew her after him to the Shore. A Boat that Instant appearing, he put her into it, senseless, and to all Appearance dead. He and Lucy supporting her, they were wasted over in a few Moments to the other Side: Her House being near the River, Mr. Roberts carry'd her in his Arms to it; and as soon as he saw her shew Signs of returning Life, left her to the Care of the Women, who made haste to put her into a warm Bed, and ran to find out Mr. Glanville, as we have related.

There remains now only to account for Sir George and Miss Glanville's sudden Appearance, which happen'd, gentle Reader, exactly as follows.

Miss Glanville, having set out pretty late in the Afternoon, with a Design of staying all Night at Richmond, as her Chaise drove up Kew-Lane, saw one of her Cousin's Women, Deborah by Name, talking to a Gentleman, whom, notwithstanding the Disguise of a Horseman's Coat, and a Hat slouch'd over his Face, she knew to be Sir George Bellmour.

This Sight alarming her Jealousy, and renewing all her former Suspicions, that her Cousin's Charms rival'd hers in his Heart, as soon as she alighted, finding Arabella was not at Home, she retir'd in great Anguish of Mind to her Chamber, revolving in her Mind every Particular of Sir George's Behaviour to her Cousin in the Country, and finding new Cause for Suspicion in every Thing she recollected, and reflecting upon the Disguise in which she saw him, and his Conference with her Woman, she concluded herself had all along been the Dupe of his Artifice, and her Cousin the real Object of his Love. This Thought throwing her into an Extremity of Rage, all her tenderest Emotions were lost in the Desire of Revenge. She imagin'd to herself so much Pleasure from exposing his Treachery, and putting it our of his Power to deny it, that she resolv'd, whatever it cost her, to have that Satisfaction.

Supposing therefore Deborah was now return'd, she rung her Bell, and commanded her Attendance on her in her Chamber.

The Stern Brow with which she receiv'd her, frighten'd the Girl, conscious of her Guilt, into a Disposition to confess all, even before she was tax'd with any thing.

Miss Glanville saw her Terror, and endeavour'd to heighten it, by entering at once into Complaints and Exclamations against her, threatning to acquaint her Father with her Plots to betray her Lady, and assuring her of a very severe Punishment for her Treachery.

The Girl, terrify'd extremely at these Menaces, begg'd Miss Glanville, with Tears, to forgive her, and not to acquaint Sir Charles or her Lady, with her Fault; adding, that she would confess all, and never while she liv'd, do such a Thing again.

Miss Glanville would make her no Promises, but urg'd her to confess: Upon which Deborah sobbing, own'd, That for the Sake of the Presents Sir George had made her, she consented to meet him privately from Time to Time, and give him an Account of every Thing that pass'd with Regard to her Lady; not thinking there was any Harm in it. That according to his Desires, she had constantly acquainted him with all her Lady's Motions, when, and where she went, how she and Mr. Glanville agreed, and a hundred other Things which he enquir'd about. That that Day in particular, he had intreated her to procure him the Mans of an Interview with her Lady, if possible; and understanding Mr. Glanville was not at Richmond, she had let him privately into the Garden, where she hop'd to prevail upon her Lady to go.

What, said Miss Glanville surpriz'd, Is Sir George waiting for my Cousin in the Garden then? Yes, indeed, Madam, said Deborah: But I'll go and tell him to wait no longer; and never speak to him again, if your Ladyship will but be pleas'd to forgive me.

Miss Glanville having taken her Resolution, not only promis'd Deborah her Pardon, but also a Reward, provided she would contrive it so, that she might meet Sir George instead of her Cousin.

The Girl, having the true Chamber-Maid Spirit of Intrigue in her, immediately propos'd her putting on one of her Lady's Veils; which as it was now the Close of the Evening, would disguise her sufficiently; to which Miss Glanville, transported with the Thoughts of thus having an Opportunity of convincing Sir George of his Perfidy, and reproaching him for it, consented, and bid her bring it without being observ'd, into her Chamber. Deborah informing her, that Sir George was conceal'd in the Summer-House, as soon as she had equipp'd herself with Arabella's Veil she went into the Walk that led to it; and Sir George, believing her to be that Lady, hasten'd to throw himself at her Feet, and had scarce got through half a Speech he had study'd for his present Purpose, when Mr. Glanville gave a fatal Interruption to his Heroicks, in the Manner we have already related.

Chapter VIII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter X.