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Chapter V.

Being a Chapter of Mistakes.

Sir Charles, who, by this Time, had got to the Place she directed him to, but saw no Appearance of fighting, and only a few Haymakers in Discourse together, inquired, If there had been any Quarrel between two Gentlemen in that Place? One of them, at this Question, advancing, told Sir Charles, that two Gentlemen had quarrelled there, and were fighting with Swords; but that they had parted them; and that one of them, having an Horse tied to a Tree, mounted him, and rode away: That the other, they believed, was not far off; and that there had been no Bloodshed, they having come time enough to prevent it.

Sir Charles was extremely satisfied with this Account; and, giving the Haymakers some Money for the good Office they did in parting the two Combatants, rode up to meet Lady Bella; and informed her, that his Son was safe.

I cannot imagine he is safe, replied she, when I see some of his Enemies (pointing to the Haymakers) still alive: It is not customary, in those Cases, to suffer any to escape: And, questionless, my Cousin is either dead, or a Prisoner, since all his Adversaries are not vanquished.

Why, you dream, Madam, replied Sir Charles: Those Fellows yonder are Haymakers: What should make them Enemies to my Son? They were lucky enough to come in time to prevent him and another Gentleman from doing each other a Mischief. I cannot imagine for what Reason my Son quarrelled with that Person they speak of: Perhaps you can inform me.

Certainly, Sir, said Arabella, I can inform you, since I was the Cause of their Quarrel.

The Story is too long to tell you now; and, besides, it is so connected with the other Accidents of my Life, that 'tis necessary you should be acquainted with my whole History, in order to comprehend it: But, if those Persons are what you say, and did really part my Cousin and his Antagonist, truly I believe they have done him a very ill Office: For, I am persuaded, my Cousin will never be at Rest, till, by his Rival's Death, he has freed himself from one, capable of the most daring Enterprizes to get me into his Power: And, since I cannot be in Security while he lives, and persists in the Resolution he has taken to persecute me, it had been better if he had suffered all the Effects of my Cousin's Resentment at that time, than to give him the Trouble to hunt him through the World, in order to sacrifice him to the Interest of his Love and Vengeance.

Sir Charles, no less astonished than alarmed at this Discovery of his Niece's sanguinary Sentiments, told her, he was sorry to see a Lady so far forget the Gentleness of her Sex, as to encourage and incite Men to such Extremities, upon her Account. And, for the future, added he, I must intreat you, Niece, to spare me the Affliction of seeing my Son exposed to these dangerous Quarrels: For, though his Life is so little regarded by you, yet it is of the utmost Consequence to me. Arabella, who found Matter sufficient in the Beginning of this Speech, to be offended with her Uncle, yet, mistaking the latter Part of it for a pathetic Complaint of her Cruelty, replied very gravely, That her Cousin's Safety was not so indifferent to her as he imagined: And that she did not hate him so much, but that his Death would affect her very sensibly.

Arabella, in speaking these Words, blushed with Shame, as thinking they were rather too tender: And Sir Charles, who coloured likewise, from a very different Motive, was opening his Mouth, to tell her, that he did not think his Son was much obliged to her for not hating him; when Arabella, supposing he designed to press her to a further Explanation of the favourable Sentiments she felt for Mr. Glanville, stopped him with Precipitation: Press me no more, said she, upon this Subject: And, as I have already spoken too much, haply, before so many Witnesses, seek not to enhance my Confusion, by prolonging a Discourse that at present must needs be disagreeable to me.

I shall readily agree with you, Madam, replied Sir Charles, that you have spoken too much: And, if I had thought you capable of speaking in the manner you have done, I would have been more cautious in giving you an Occasion for it.

I should imagine, Sir, said Arabella, blushing with Anger, as she before did with Shame, that you would be the last Person in the World who could think I had spoken too much upon this Occasion: And, since you are pleased to tell me so, I think it fit to let you know, that I have not, in my Opinion, transgressed the Laws of Decency and Decorum, in what I have said in my Cousin's Favour: And I can produce many Examples of greater Freedom of Speech, in Princesses, and Ladies of the highest Quality: However, I shall learn such a Lesson of Moderation in this respect, from your Reproof, that I promise you, neither yourself, or Mr. Glanville, shall have any Cause, for the future, to complain of my want of Discretion.

Sir Charles, who was very polite and good-natured, was half angry with himself, for having obliged his Niece to such a Submission, as he thought it; and, apologizing for the Rudeness of his Reprehension, assured her, that he was perfectly convinced of her Discretion in all things; and did not doubt but her Conduct would be always agreeable to him.

Arabella, who, from what her Uncle had said, began to entertain Suspicions, that would never have entered any Imagination but hers, looked earnestly upon him for half a Moment, as if she wished to penetrate into the most secret Recesses of his Heart: But, fansying she saw something in his Looks that confirmed her Apprehensions, she removed her Eyes from his Face, and, fastening them on the Ground, remained for some Moments in Confusion. --Sir Charles, whom her apparent Disturbance made very uneasy, proposed returning to the Castle; telling Lady Bella he expected to find his Son already there. 'Tis more than probable, said she, turning to Sir George, that my Cousin is gone in Pursuit of my Ravisher; and the Interruption that has been given to his designed Vengeance, making him more furious than before, 'tis not likely he will return till he has punished his Insolence by that Death he so justly merits.

Mr. Glanville is already so happy in your Opinion, said Sir George, with a very profound Sigh, that there is no need of his rendering you this small Service, to increase your Esteem: But, if my Prayers are heard, the Punishment of your Ravisher will be reserved for a Person less fortunate, indeed, than Mr. Glanville, tho' not less devoted to your Interest, and concerned in your Preservation.

Sir George counterfeiting a Look of extreme Confusion and Fear, as he ended these Words; Arabella, who perfectly comprehended the Meaning they were designed to convey, thought herself obliged to take no Notice of them: And, therefore, without making any Reply to the young Baronet, who ventured slowly to lift his Eyes to her Face, in order to discover if there were any Signs of Anger in it, she told Sir Charles she inclined to go home: And Sir George, with the rest of the Company, attended them to the Castle; where, as soon as they arrived, they took their Leave.

Sir George, notwithstanding Arabella's Care to deprive him of an Opportunity of speaking to her, told her, in a Whisper, having eagerly alighted to help her off her Horse, I am going, Madam, to find out that insolent Man, who has dared to offer Violence to the fairest Person in the World: And, if I am so happy as to meet with him, he shall either take my Life, or I will put him into a Condition never to commit any more Offences of that Nature.

Saying this, he made a low Bow; and, being desirous to prevent her Answer, remounted his Horse, and went away with the rest of the Company.

Arabella, who, upon this Occasion, was to be all Confusion, mixed with some little Resentment, discovered so much Emotion in her Looks, while Sir George was whispering to her, that her Uncle, as he was handing her into the House, asked her, If she was offended at any thing Sir George had said to her? Arabella, construing this Question as she had done some other things her Uncle had said to her, replied, in a reserved manner, Since my Looks, contrary to my Intention, have betrayed my Thoughts to you, I will not scruple to confess, that I have some Cause to be offended with Sir George; and that, in two Instances To-day, he has seemed to forget the Respect he owes me.

Sir Charles was fired at this Account: Is it possible, said he, that Sir George has had the Assurance to say any thing to offend you, and that before my Face too? This Affront is not to be borne. I am sorry, replied Arabella, eying him heedfully, to see you so much concerned at it.

Don't be uneasy, interrupted Sir Charles: There will be no bad Consequences happen from it: But he shall hear of it, added he, raising his Voice with Passion: I'll force him this Night to explain himself.

You must pardon me, Sir, said Arabella, more and more confirmed in her Notions, if I tell you, that I am extremely offended at your uncommon Zeal upon this Occasion: And also I must assure you, that a little more Calmness would be less liable to Suspicion.

Miss Glanville coming to meet them, Sir Charles, who did not take much Notice of what Arabella said, eagerly inquired for his Son; and, hearing he was not come home, was apprehensive of his meeting again with the Person he had quarrelled with: But his Fears did not last long; for Mr. Glanville came in, having purposely avoided the Company, to hide the Uneasiness Lady Bella's tormenting Folly had given him.

Chapter IV. | The Female Quixote | Chapter VI.