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Chapter I.

In which our Heroine discovers her Knowlege in Astronomy.

Sir George, who had never missed a Day, during Mr. Glanville's Illness, in sending to the Castle, now he was able to see Company, visited him very frequently; and sometimes had the Happiness to meet with Arabella in his Chamber: But, knowing the Conditions of her Father's Will, and Mr. Glanville's Pretensions, he was obliged to lay so much Constraint upon himself, in the Presence of Miss Glanville, and her Brother, that he hardly durst trust his Eyes, to express his Admiration of her, for Fear of alarming them with any Suspicion of his Designs: However, he did not fail to recommend himself to her Esteem, by a Behaviour to her full of the most perfect Respect; and very often, ere he was aware, uttered some of the extravagant Compliments, that the Gallants in the French Romances use to their Mistresses.

If he walked with her in the Gardens, he would observe, that the Flowers, which were before languishing and pale, bloomed with fresh Beauty at her Approach; that the Sun shined out with double Brightness, to exceed, if possible, the Lustre of her Eyes; and that the Wind, fond of kissing her celestial Countenance, played with her fair Hair; and, by gentle Murmurs, declared its Happiness-- If Miss Glanville happened to be present, when he talked to her in this Strain, she would suppose he was ridiculing her Cousin's fantastical Turn; and when she had an Opportunity of speaking to him alone, would chide him, with a great deal of good Humour, for giving her so much Diversion at her Cousin's Expence.

Sir George, improving this Hint, persuaded Miss Glanville by his Answers, that he really laughed at Arabella; and, being now less fearful of giving any Suspicion to the gay Coquet, since she assisted him to deceive her, he applied himself, with more Assiduity than ever, to insinuate himself into Arabella's Favour.

However, the Necessity he was under of being always of Arabella's Opinion, sometimes drew him into little Difficulties with Miss Glanville. Knowing that young Lady was extremely fond of Scandal, he told her, as a most agreeable Piece of News, one Afternoon when he was there, that he had seen Miss Groves, who, he supposed, had come into the Country upon the same Account as she had done a Twelve-month before: Her Marriage being yet a Secret, the complaisant Baronet threw out an Hint or two, concerning the Familiarity and Correspondence there was between her and the Gentleman to whom she was really secretly married.

Miss Glanville, making the most of this Intelligence, said a thousand severe Things against the unfortunate Miss Groves; which Arabella, always benevolent and kind, could not bear. I persuade myself, said she to her Cousin, that you have been misinformed concerning this Beauty, whose Misfortunes you aggravate by your cruel Censures; and whoever has given you the History of her Life, has, haply, done it with great Injustice-- Why, Madam, interrupted Miss Glanville, do you think you are better acquainted with her History, as you call it, who have never been in Town, where her Follies made her so remarkable, than Persons who were Eye-witnesses of all her ridiculous Actions? I apprehend, said Arabella, that I, who have had a Relation made to me of all the Passages of her Life, and have been told all her most secret Thoughts, may know as much, if not more, than Persons who have lived in the same Place with her, and have not had that Advantage; and I think, I know enough to vindicate her from many cruel Aspersions.

Pray, Madam, returned Miss Glanville, will your Ladyship pretend to defend her scandalous Commerce with Mr. L--? I know not, Miss, said Arabella, why you call her Intercourse with that perjured Man by so unjust an Epithet. If Miss Groves be unchaste, so was the renowned Cleopatra, whose Marriage with Julius C~Asar is controverted to this Day.

And what Reasons, Madam, said Miss Glanville, have you for supposing, Miss Groves was married to Mr. L--, since all the World knows to the contrary? Very sufficient ones, said Arabella; since it is hardly possible to suppose, a young Lady of Miss Groves's Quality would stain the Lustre of her Descent by so shameful an Intrigue; and also, since there are Examples enough to be found of Persons, who suffered under the same unhappy Circumstances as herself; yet were perfectly innocent, as was that great Queen I have mentioned; who questionless, you, Sir, are sufficiently convinced, was married to that illustrious Conqueror; who, by betraying so great and so fair a Queen, in great measure tarnished the Glory of his Laurels-- Married, Madam! replied Sir George: Who presumes to say, that fair Queen was not married to that illustrious Conqueror? Nay, you know, Sir, interrupted Arabella, many People did say, even while she was living, that she was not married; and have branded her Memory with infamous Calumnies, upon Account of the Son she had by C~Asar, the brave C~Asario, who, under the Name of Cleomedon, performed such Miracles of Valour in Ethiopia.

I assure you, Madam, said Sir George, I was always a great Admirer of the famous Cleomedon, who was certainly the greatest Hero in the World.

Pardon me, Sir, said Arabella; Cleomedon was, questionless, a very valiant Man; but he, and all the Heroes that ever were, must give place to the unequalled Prince of Mauritania; that illustrious, and for a long time unfortunate, Lover of the Divine Cleopatra, who was Daughter, as you questionless know, of the great Queen we have been speaking of-- Dear Heart! said Miss Glanville, What is all this to the Purpose? I would fain know, whether Sir George believes, Miss Groves was ever married to Mr. L--.

Doubtless, I do, said he; for, as Lady Bella says, she is in the same unhappy Circumstance with the great Cleopatra; and if Julius C~Asar could be guilty of denying his Marriage with that Queen, I see no Reason to suppose, why Mr. L-- might not be guilty of the same kind of Injustice.

So then, interrupted Miss Glanville, blushing with Spite, you will really offer to maintain, that Miss Groves was married? Ridiculous! How such a Report would be laughed at in London! I assure you, replied Arabella, if ever I go to London, I shall not scruple to maintain that Opinion to every one, who will mention that Fair-one to me; and use all my Endeavours to confirm them in it.

Your Ladyship would do well, said Miss Glanville, to persuade People, that Miss Groves, at Fifteen, did not want to run away with her Writing-master.

As I am persuaded myself, said Arabella, that Writing-master was some noble Stranger in Disguise, who was passionately in Love with her, I shall not suffer any body, in my Hearing, to propagate such an unlikely Story; but since he was a Person worthy of her Affection, if she had run away with him, her Fault was not without Example, and even Excuse: You know what the fair Artemisa did for Alexander, Sir, pursued she, turning to Sir George: I would fain know your Sentiments upon the Action of that Princess, which some have not scrupled to condemn-- Whoever they are, Madam, said Sir George, who condemn the fair Artemisa for what she did for Alexander, are Miscreants and Slanderers; and though that beautiful Princess has been dead more than Two thousand Years, I would draw my Sword in Defence of her Character, against all who should presume, in my Presence, to cast any Censures upon it.

Since you are so courageous, said Miss Glanville, laughing excessively at this Sally, which, she thought, was to ridicule her Cousin; it is to be hoped, you will defend a living Lady's Character, who may thank you for it; and make the World believe, that her Correspondence with Mr. L-- was intirely innocent; and that she never had any Design to run away with her Writing-master.

Are you resolved, Cousin, said Lady Bella, to persist in that ridiculous Mistake, and take a Nobleman for a Writing-master only because his Love put him upon such a Stratagem to obtain his Mistress? Indeed, Lady Bella, said Miss Glanville, smileing, you may as well persuade me, the Moon is made of a Cream Cheese, as that any Nobleman turned himself into a Writingmaster, to obtain Miss Groves-- Is it possible, Miss, said Arabella, that you can offer such an Affront to my Understanding, as to suppose, I would argue upon such a ridiculous System; and compare the Second glorious Luminary of the Heavens to so unworthy a Resemblance? I have taken some Pains to contemplate the Heavenly Bodies; and, by Reading and Observation, am able to comprehend some Part of their Excellence: Therefore it is not probable, I should descend to such trivial Comparisons; and liken a Planet, which, haply, is not much less than our Earth, to a thing so inconsiderable, as that you name-- Pardon me, dear Cousin, interrupted Miss Glanville, laughing louder than before, if I divert myself a little with the Extravagance of your Notions. Really I think, you have no Reason to be angry, if I supposed you might make a Comparison between the Moon and a Cream Cheese; since you say, that same Moon, which don't appear broader than your Gardener's Face, is not much less than the whole World: Why, certainly, I have more Reason to trust my own Eyes, than such whimsical Notions as these.

Arabella, unwilling to expose her Cousin's Ignorance, by a longer Dispute upon this Subject, begged her to let it drop for the present; and, turning to Sir George, I am very glad, said she, that having always had some Inclination to excuse, and even defend, the Flight of Artemisa with Alexander, my Opinion is warranted by that of a Person so generous as yourself: Indeed, when we consider, that this Princess forsook her Brother's Dominions, and fled away with a Lover whom she did not hate; questionless, her Enemies accuse her, with some Appearance of Reason, of too great Imbecillity.

But, Madam, replied Sir George, her Enemies will not take the Pains to examine her Reasons for this Conduct-- True, Sir, resumed Arabella; for she was in Danger of seeing a Prince, who loved her, put to a cruel and infamous Death upon a public Scaffold; and she did not resolve to fly with him, till all her Tears and Prayers were found ineffectual to move the King her Brother to Mercy.

Tho', replied Sir George, I am extremely angry with the indiscreet Cepio, who discovered Alexander to the Armenian King; yet what does your Ladyship think of that gallant Action of his, when he saw him upon the Scaffold, and the Executioner ready to cut off his Head? How brave it was of him, to pass undauntedly thro' the prodigious Number of Guards that environed the Scaffold; and, with his drawn Sword, run the Executioner through the Body, in the Sight of them all! Then giving the Prince another Sword, engage more than Two thousand Men in his Defence! Questionless, replied Arabella, it was a glorious Action; and when I think, how the King of Armenia was enraged to see such a Multitude of Soldiers fly from the Swords of Two Men, I cannot choose but divert myself with the Consternation he was in: Yet that was nothing to the horrible Despair, which tormented him afterwards, when he found, that Alexander, after being again taken and imprisoned, had broken his Chains, and carried away with him the Princess Artimesa his Sister.

Chapter VIII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter II.