In which our Heroine is engaged in a very perilous Adventure.
In the mean time, that solitary Fair one was alarmed by a Fear of a very unaccountable Nature; for, being in the Evening in her Closet, the Windows of which had a Prospect of the Gardens, she saw her illustrious concealed Lover, who went by the Name of Edward, while he was in her Father's Service, talking with great Emotion to her House-Steward, who seemed earnestly to listen to some Propositions he was making to him. Her Surprize at this Sight was so great, that she had not Power to observe them any longer; but, seating herself in her Chair, she had just Spirits enough to call Lucy to her Assistance; who, extremely frighted at the pale Looks of her Lady, gave her a Smelling-bottle, and was preparing to cut her Lace, when Arabella, preventing her, told her in a low Voice, that she feared she should be betrayed into the Hands of an insolent Lover, who was come to steal her away. Yes, added she with great Emotion, I have seen this presumptuous Man holding a Conversation with one of my Servants; and tho' I could not possibly, at this Distance, hear their Discourse, yet the Gestures they used in speaking, explained it too well to me; and I have Reason to expect, I shall suffer the same Violence that many illustrious Ladies have done before me; and be carried away by Force from my own House, as they were.
Alas! Madam! said Lucy, terrified at this Discourse, who is it that intends to carry your Ladyship away? Sure no Robbers will attempt any Mischief at such a time as this! Yes, Lucy, replied Arabella, with great Gravity, the worst kind of Robbers; Robbers who do not prey upon Gold and Jewels; but, what is infinitely more precious, Liberty and Honour. Do you know that Person who called himself Edward, and worked in these Gardens like a common Gardener, is now in the House, corrupting my Servants; and, questionless, preparing to force open my Chamber, and carry me away? And Heaven knows when I shall be delivered from his Chains.
God forbid, said Lucy, sobbing, that ever such a Lady should have such hard Hap! What Crime, I wonder, can you be guilty of, to deserve to be in Chains? My Crime, resumed Arabella, is to have Attractions which expose me to these inevitable Misfortunes, which even the greatest Princesses have not escaped. --But, dear Lucy, can you not think of some Methods by which I may avoid the Evil which waits me? Who knows but that he may, within these few Moments, force a Passage into my Apartment? These slight Locks can make but a poor Resistance to the Violence he will be capable of using.
Oh dear Madam! cried Lucy, trembling, and pressing near her, what shall we do? I asked your Advice, said she; but I perceive you are less able than myself to think of any thing to save me. --Ah! Glanville, pursued she, sighing, would to Heaven thou wert here now! Yes, Madam, said Lucy, Mr. Glanville, I am sure, would not suffer any one to hurt your Ladyship.
As thou valuest my Friendship, said Arabella, with great Earnestness, never acquaint him with what has just now escaped my Lips: True, I did call upon him in this Perplexity; I did pronounce his Name; and that, haply, with a Sigh, which involuntarily forced its Way: And, questionless, if he knew his good Fortune, even amidst the Danger of losing me for ever, he would resent some Emotions of Joy: But I should die with Shame at having so indiscreetly contributed to his Satisfaction: And, therefore, again I charge you, conceal, with the utmost Care, what I have said.
Indeed, Madam, said Lucy, I shall tell him nothing but what your Ladyship bids me; and I am so frighted, that I can think of nothing but that terrible Man, that wants to carry you away. Mercy on us! added she, starting, I think I hear somebody on the Stairs! Do not be alarmed, said Arabella, in a majestic Tone: It is I who have most Reason to fear: Nevertheless, I hope the Grandeur of my Courage will not sink under this Accident.
Hark, somebody knocks at the Door of my Antechamber: --My own Virtue shall support me: --Go, Lucy, and ask who it is.
Indeed I can't, Madam, said she, clinging to her: Pray pardon me: Indeed I am so afraid, I cannot stir.
Weak-souled Wench! said Arabella, How unfit art thou for Accidents like these! Ah! had Cylenia and Nartesia been like thee, the fair Berenice, and the Divine Princess of Media, had not so eagerly intreated their Ravishers to afford them their Company in their Captivity: But go, I order you, and ask who it is that is at the Door of my Apartment: They knock again: Offer at no Excuses; but do your Duty.
Lucy, seeing her Lady was really angry, went trembling out of the Closet; but would go no farther than her Bedchamber, from whence she called out to know who was at the Door.
I have some Business with your Lady, said the House-Steward (for it was he that knocked): Can I speak with her at present? Lucy, a little reassured by his Voice, made no Answer; but, creeping softly to the Door of the Antechamber, double-locked it; and then cried out in a Transport, No, I will take Care you shall not come to my Lady.
And why, pray, Mrs. Lucy? said the Steward: What have I done, that you are so much my Enemy? You are a Rogue, said Lucy, growing very courageous, because the Door was locked between them.
A Rogue! said he, What Reason have you for calling me a Rogue? I assure you I will acquaint my Lady with your Insolence. I came to speak to her Ladyship about Edward; who prayed me to intercede for him, that he may be taken again into her Service: For he says, my Lady never believed any thing against him; and that was my Business: But, when I see her, I'll know whether you are allowed to abuse me in this manner.
Arabella, by this time, was advanced as far as the Bedchamber, longing to know what sort of Conference Lucy was holding with her intended Ravisher: When that faithful Confidante, seeing her, came running to her, and whispered her, that the House-Steward was at the Door, and said he wanted to intercede for Edward.
Ah! the Traitor! said Arabella, retiring again: Has he, then, really bargained with that disloyal Man, to deliver up his Mistress? I am undone, Lucy, said she, unless I can find a Way to escape out of the House. They will, questionless, soon force the Doors of my Apartment.
Suppose, said Lucy, your Ladyship went down the Stairs that lead from your Dressingroom into the Garden; and you may hide yourself in the Gardener's House till Mr. Glanville come.
I approve, said Arabella, of one Part of your Proposal: But I shall not trust myself in the Gardener's House; who, questionless, is in the Plot with the rest of my perfidious Servants, since none of them have endeavoured to advertise me of my Danger. If we can gain the Gardens undiscovered, we may get out by that Door at the Foot of the Terrace, which leads into the Fields; for you know I always keep the Key of that private Door: So, Lucy, let us commend ourselves to the Direction of Providence, and be gone immediately.
But what shall we do, Madam, said Lucy, when we are got out? Why, said Arabella, you shall conduct me to your Brother's; and, probably, we may meet with some generous Cavalier by the Way, who will protect us till we get thither: However, as I have as great a Danger to fear within Doors, as without, I will venture to make my Escape, though I should not be so fortunate as to meet with any Knight who will undertake to protect me from the Danger which I may apprehend in the Fields.
Saying this, she gave the Key of the Door to Lucy, whose Heart beat violently with Fear; and, covering herself with some black Cypress, which she wore in the Nature of a Veil, went softly down the little Staircase to the Terrace, followed by Lucy (who looked eagerly about her every Step that she went); and, having gained the Garden-door, hastily unlocked it, and fled, as fast as possible, cross the Fields, in order to procure a Sanctuary at William's House: Arabella, begging Heaven to throw some generous Cavalier in her Way, whose Protection she might implore, and, taking every Tree at a Distance for a Horse and Knight, hastened her Steps to meet her approaching Succour; which, as soon as she came near, miserably balked her Expectations.
Though William's Farm was not more than two Miles from the Castle; yet Arabella, unused to such a rude Way of Travelling, began to be greatly fatigued: The Fear she was in of being pursued by her apprehended Ravisher, had so violent an Effect upon her Spirits, that she was hardly able to prosecute her Flight; and, to complete her Misfortunes, happening to stumble over a Stump of a Tree that lay in her Way, she strained her Ancle; and the violent Anguish she felt, threw her into a Swoon.
Lucy, upon whose Arm she leaned, perceiving her fainting, screamed out aloud, not knowing what to do with her in that Condition: She placed her upon the Ground; and, supporting her Head against that fatal Stump, began to rub her Temples, weeping excessively all the time. Her Swoon still continuing, the poor Girl was in inconceivable Terror: Her Brother's House was now but a little Way off; but it being impossible for her to carry her Lady thither without some Help, she knew not what to resolve upon.
At length, thinking it better to leave her for a few Moments, to run for Assistance, than to sit by her and see her perish for want of it, she left her, though not without extreme Agony; and flew, with the utmost Eagerness, to her Brother's. She was lucky enough to meet him just coming out of his Door; and, telling him the Condition in which she left her Lady, he, without asking any Questions about the Occasion of so strange an Accident, notwithstanding his Amazement, ran with all Speed to the Place where Lucy had left her: But, to their Astonishment and Sorrow, she was not to be found: They walked a long time in Search of her; and Lucy, being almost distracted with Fear lest she had been carried away, made Complaints that so puzzled her Brother he knew not what to say to her: But, finding their Search fruitless, they agreed to go home to the Castle, supposing, with some Appearance of Reason, that they might hear of her there.
Here they found nothing but Grief and Confusion. Mr. Glanville and his Sister were just returned, and had been at Lady Bella's Apartment; but, not finding her there, they asked her Women where she was, who, not knowing any thing of her Flight, concluded she was in the Garden with Lucy. Mr. Glanville, surprised at her being at that Hour in the Garden, ran eagerly to engage her to come in, being apprehensive she would take Cold, by staying so late in the Air: But, not finding her in any of her usual Walks, he ordered several of the Servants to assist him in searching the whole Garden, sending them to different Places: But they all returned without Success; which filled him with the utmost Consternation.
He was returning, excessively uneasy, to the House, when he saw Lucy; who had been just told, in answer to her Inquiries about her Lady, that they were gone to look for her in the Garden; and running up to Mr. Glanville, who hoped to hear News of Lady Bella from her, Oh! Sir, said she, is my Lady found? What! Lucy, said Mr. Glanville (more alarmed than before), do not you know where she is? I thought you had been with her.
Oh! dear, cried Lucy, wringing her Hands; for certain my poor Lady was stolen away while she was in that fainting Fit. Sir, said she to Glanville, I know who the Person is that my Lady said (and almost broke my Heart) would keep her in Chains: He was in the House not many Hours ago.
Mr. Glanville, suspecting this was some new Whim of Arabella's, would not suffer Lucy to say any more before the Servants, who stood gaping with Astonishment at the strange Things she uttered; but bid her follow him to his Apartment, and he would hear what she could inform him concerning this Accident. He would, if possible, have prevented his Sister from being present at the Story; but, not being able to form any Excuse for not suffering her to hear every thing that related to her Cousin, they all three went into his Chamber; where he desired Lucy to tell him what she knew about her Lady.
You must know, Sir, said Lucy, sobbing, that there came a Man here to take away my Lady: A great Man he is, though he worked in the Gardens; for he was in Love with her: And so he would not own who he was.
And pray, interrupted Miss Glanville, Who told you he was a great Man, as you say? My Lady told me, said Lucy: But, howsomever, he was turned away; for the Gardener says he catched him stealing Carp.
A very great Man, indeed, said Miss Glanville, that would steal Carp! You must know, Madam, said she, that was only a Pretence: For he went there, my Lady says, to drown himself.
Bless me! cried Miss Glanville, laughing; the Girl's distracted, sure. Lord! Brother, don't listen to her nonsensical Tales; we shall never find my Cousin by her.
Leave her to me, said Mr. Glanville, whispering: Perhaps I may discover something by her Discourse, that will give us some Light into this Affair.
Nay, I'll stay, I am resolved, answered she; for I long to know where my Cousin is: Tho', do you think what this Girl says is true, about a great Man disguised in the Gardens? Sure my Cousin could never tell her such Stuff: But, now I think of it, added she, Lady Bella, when we were speaking about the Jockey, talked something about a Lover: I now believe it is as the Girl says. Pray let's hear her out.
Mr. Glanville was ready to die with Vexation, at the Charmer of his Soul's being thus exposed; but there was no Help for it.
Pray, said he to Lucy, tell us no more about this Man: But, if you can guess where your Lady is, let me know.
Indeed I can't, Sir, said she; for my Lady and I both stole out of the House, for fear Edward should break open the Doors of her Apartment; and we were running as fast as possible to my Brother's House (where she said she would hide herself till you came); but my poor dear Lady fell down and hurt herself so much, that she fainted away: I tried what I could to fetch her again; but she did not open her Eyes: So I ran like Lightning to my Brother, to come and help me to carry her to the Farm; but, when we came back, she was gone.
What do you say? cried Mr. Glanville, with a distracted Look: Did you leave her in that Condition in the Fields? And was she not to be found when you came back? No, indeed, Sir, said Lucy, weeping, we could not find her, though we wandered about a long time.
Oh! Heavens! said he, walking about the Room in a violent Emotion, Where can she be? What is become of her? Dear Sister, pursued he, order somebody to saddle my Horse: I'll traverse the Country all Night in quest of her.
You had best inquire, Sir, said Lucy, if Edward is in the House: He knows, may be, where my Lady is.
Who is he? cried Glanville.
Why the great Man, Sir, said Lucy, whom we thought to be a Gardener, who came to carry my Lady away; which made her get out of the House as fast as she could.
This is the strangest Story, said Miss Glanville, that ever I heard: Sure nobody would be so mad to attempt such an Action; my Cousin has the oddest Whims! Mr. Glanville, not able to listen any longer, charged Lucy to say nothing of this Matter to any one; and then ran eagerly out of the Room, ordering two or three of the Servants to go in Search of their Lady: He then mounted his Horse in great Anguish of Mind, not knowing whither to direct his Course.