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Chapter VI.

Containing what a judicious Reader will hardly approve.

Mrs. Morris ending her Narration, Arabella, who had not been able to restrain her Tears at some Parts of it, thanked her for the Trouble she had been at; and assured her of her Secrecy: Your Lady's Case, said she, is much to be lamented; and greatly resembles the unfortunate Cleopatra's, whom Julius C~A¦sar privately marrying, with a Promise to own her for his Wife, when he should be peaceable Master of the Roman Empire, left that great Queen big with Child, and, never intending to perform his Promise, suffered her to be exposed to the Censures the World has so freely cast upon her; and which she so little deserved.

Mrs. Morris, seeing the favourable Light in which Arabella viewed the Actions of her Lady, did not think proper to say any thing to undeceive her; but went out of the Closet, not a little mortified at her Disappointment: For she saw she was likely to receive nothing for betraying her Lady's Secrets, from Arabella: Who seemed so little sensible of the Pleasure of Scandal, as to be wholly ignorant of its Nature; and not to know it when it was told her.

Miss Groves, who was just come to Lady Bella's Chamber-door, to inquire for her, was surprised to see her Woman come out of it; and who, upon meeting her, expressed great Confusion. As she was going to ask her some Questions concerning her Business there, Arabella came out of her Closet; and, seeing Miss Groves in her Chamber, asked her Pardon for staying so long from her.

I have been listening to your History, said she, with great Frankness, which your Woman has been relating: And I assure you I am extremely sensible of your Misfortunes.

Miss Groves, at these Words, blushed with extreme Confusion; and Mrs. Morris turned pale with Astonishment and Fear. Arabella, not sensible that she had been guilty of any Indiscretion, proceeded to make Reflections upon some Part of her Story; which, though they were not at all disadvantageous to that young Lady, she received as so many Insults: And asked Lady Bella, If she was not ashamed to tamper with a Servant to betray the Secrets of her Mistress? Arabella, a little surprised at so rude a Question, answered, however, with great Sweetness; and protested to her, that she would make no ill Use of what she had learned of her Affairs: For, in fine, Madam, said she, do you think I am less fit to be trusted with your Secrets, than the Princess of the Leontines was with those of Clelia; between whom there was no greater Amity and Acquaintance, than with us? And you must certainly know, that the Secrets which that admirable Person entrusted with Lysimena, were of a Nature to be more dangerous, if revealed, than yours. The Happiness of Clelia depended upon Lysimena's Fidelity: And the Liberty, nay, haply, the Life, of Aronces, would have been in Danger, if she had betrayed them. Though I do not intend to arrogate to myself the Possession of those admirable Qualities which adorned the Princess of the Leontines, yet I will not yield to her, or any one else, in Generosity and Fidelity: And if you will be pleased to repose as much Confidence in me, as those illustrious Lovers did in her, you shall be convinced I will labour as earnestly for your Interest, as that fair Princess did for those of Aronces and Clelia.

Miss Groves was so busied in reflecting upon the Baseness of her Woman in exposing her, that she heard not a Word of this fine Harangue (at which Mrs. Morris, notwithstanding the Cause she had for Uneasiness, could hardly help laughing); but, assuming some of that Haughtiness in her Looks, for which she used to be remarkable, she told Lady Bella, that she imputed her impertinent Curiosity to her Country Ignorance, and ill Breeding: And she did not doubt but she would be served in her own kind, and meet with as bad Fortune as she had done; and, perhaps, deserve it worse than she did: For there are more false Men in the World besides Mr. L--; and she was no handsomer than other People.

Saying this, she flung out of the Room, her Woman following, leaving Arabella in such Confusion at a Behaviour of which she had never before had an Idea, that for some Moments she remained immoveable.

Recollecting herself, at last, and conceiving, that Civility required she should endeavour to appease this incensed Lady, she went down Stairs after her; and, stopping her just as she was going out of the House, intreated her to be calm, and suffer her to vindicate herself from the Imputation of being impertinently curious to know her Affairs.

Miss Groves, quite transported with Shame and Anger, refused absolutely to stay.

At least, Madam, said Arabella, stay till my Coach can be got ready; and don't think of walking home, so slightly attended.

This Offer was as sullenly answered as the other: And Arabella, finding she was determined to venture home, with no other Guard than her Woman, who silently followed her, ordered two of her Footmen to attend her at a small Distance; and to defend her, if there should be Occasion.

For who knows, said she to Lucy, what Accident may happen? Some one or other of her insolent Lovers may take this Opportunity to carry her away; and I should never forgive myself for being the Cause of such a Misfortune to her.

Mrs. Morris having found it easy to reconcile herself to her Lady, by assuring her, that Lady Bella was acquainted with great Part of her Story before; and that what she told her, tended only to justify her Conduct, as she might have been convinced by what Lady Bella said; they both went home with a Resolution to say nothing of what had passed, with relation to the Cause of the Disgust Miss Groves had received: But only said, in general, that Lady Bella was the most ridiculous Creature in the World; and was so totally ignorant of good Breeding, that it was impossible to converse with her.

Chapter V. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VII.