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Chapter IX.

Containing a Love-Letter in the Heroic Stile; with some occasional Reasonings by Lucy, full of Wit and Simplicity.

Our fair Heroine, having ended the foregoing Soliloquy, took up the Letter, and gave it to Lucy, who had, all the time she was speaking, observed a profound Silence, mixed with a most eager Attention.

Here, pursued she, carry it to the Person who brought it; and bid him tell his Master, that, lest I should find any thing in it, which may offend me, I have chosen not to read it: And, if he is wise, he will profit by my Concern for him, and take care how he hazards displeasing me a Second time by an Importunity of this kind, which I shall not so easily pardon him.

Lucy, who had taken particular Notice of this Speech, in order to remember every Word of it, when she repeated it again, went conning her Lesson to the Place where she had desired the Servant to wait her coming: But he was gone; such being indeed his Master's Orders; for he was apprehensive, that, following the Custom of the Ladies in Romances, Arabella would return his Letter; and therefore, to deprive her of an Opportunity of sending it back that Night, he ordered his Man to say, he waited for an Answer; but, as soon as he conveniently could, to come away without one.

Lucy, in a great Surprize at the Servant's going away, returned to her Lady with the Letter in her Hand, telling her she must needs read it now, since the Person, who brought it, was gone.

It must be confessed, said Arabella, taking the Letter from her, with a Smile, he has fallen upon an ingenious Device, to make me keep it for this Night; and, since, haply, I may be mistaken in the Contents, I have a mind to open it.

Lucy did not fail to confirm her Lady in this Design: And Arabella, making as if she yielded to the Importunities of her Confidante, opened the Letter; which she found as follows: The unfortunate and despairing Bellmour, to the Divine Arabella.

Madam, Since it is, doubtless, not only with your Permission, but even by your Commands, that your Uncle, Sir Charles Glanville, comes to pronounce the Sentence of my Death, in the Denunciation of your Anger, I submit, Madam, without repining at the Rigour of that Doom you have inflicted on me. Yes, Madam, this Criminal, who has dared to adore you, with the most sublime and perfect Passion that ever was, acknowleges the Justice of his Punishment; and, since it is impossible to cease loving you, or to live without telling you he does so, he is going, voluntarily, to run upon that Death your Severity makes him wish for, and the Greatness of his Crime demands. Let my Death then, O Divine Arabella, expiate the Offence I have been guilty of! And let me hope those fair Eyes, that have beheld me with Scorn when alive, will not refuse to shed some Tears upon my Tomb! And that, when you remember my Crime of loving you, you will also be pleased to remember, that I died for that Crime; and wish for no other Comfort in Death, but the Hope of your not hating, when he is no more, The unhappy Bellmour.

Arabella, who had read this Letter aloud, sighed gently at the Conclusion of it; but poor Lucy, who was greatly affected at so dolorous an Epistle, could not restrain her Tears; but sobbed so often, and with so much Violence, as, at length, recalled her Lady from the Reverie, into which she was plunged.

What ails you? said she to her Confidante, greatly surprised: What is the Cause of this unseemly Sorrow? Oh! Madam! cried Lucy, her Sobs making a frequent and unpleasing Interruption in her Words; I shall break my Heart to be sure: Never was such a sad mournful Letter in the World: I could cry my Eyes out for the poor Gentleman. Pray excuse me, Madam; but, indeed, I can't help saying, You are the most hard-heartedest Lady I ever knew in my born Days: Why, to be sure, you don't care, if an hundred fine Gentlemen should die for you, tho' their Spirits were to haunt you every Night! Well! I would not have what your Ladyship has to answer for, for all the World! You are a foolish Wench! replied Arabella, smiling at her Simplicity: Do you think I have any Cause to accuse myself, tho' Five thousand Men were to die for me? 'Tis very certain, my Beauty has produced very deplorable Effects: The unhappy Hervey has expiated, by his Death, the Violence his too desperate Passion forced him to meditate against me: The no less guilty, the noble Unknown, Edward, is wandering about the World, in a tormenting Despair; and stands exposed to the Vengeance of my Cousin, who has vowed his Death. My Charms have made another Person, whose Character ought to be sacred to me, forget all the Ties of Consanguinity; and become the Rival of his Son, whose Interest he once endeavoured to support: And, lastly, the unfortunate Bellmour consumes away in an hopeless Passion; and, conscious of his Crime, dooms himself, haply, with more Severity than I desire, to a voluntary Death; in hopes, thereby, of procuring my Pardon and Compassion, when he is no more. All these, Lucy, as I said before, are very deplorable Effects of my Beauty; but you must observe, that my Will has no Part in the Miseries, that unfortunate Beauty occasions; and that, tho' I could even wish myself less fair, in order to avoid giving so much Unhappiness to others, yet these Wishes would not avail; and since, by a fatal Necessity, all these Things will happen, whether I would or no, I must comfort myself under the Uneasiness, which the Sensibility of my Temper makes me feel, by the Reflection, that, with my own Consent, I contribute nothing to the Misfortune of those who love me.

Will your Ladyship then let poor Sir George die? said Lucy, who had listened very attentively to this fine Harangue, without understanding what it meant.

Questionless, he must die, replied Arabella, if he persists in his Design of loving me. But, pray, Madam, resumed Lucy, cannot your Ladyship command him to live, as you did Mr. Hervey, and Mr. Glanville, who both did as you bid them? I may command him to live, said Arabella; and there is no Question but he would obey me, if I likewise permit him to love me; but, this last not being fit for me to do, I see no way to prevent the sad Resolution he has taken.

To be sure, Madam, returned Lucy, your Ladyship knows what you ought to do better than I can advise your Ladyship, being that you are more learned than me: But, for all that, I think it's better to save Life than to kill, as the Bible-Book says; and, since I am sure your Ladyship is a good Christian, if the Gentleman dies for the Want of a few kind Words, or so, I am sure you will be troubled in Mind about it.

It must be confessed, said Arabella, smiling, that, tho' your Solicitations are not very eloquent, they are very earnest and affecting; and I promise you, I will think about it; and, if I can persuade myself, I am doing no wrong Thing, by concerning myself about his Preservation, I will dispatch you To-morrow Morning, with my Orders to him, to live, or, at least, to proceed no further in his Design of dying, till he has further Cause.

Lucy, being extremely glad she had gained her Point, called in her Lady's other Women, who, having assisted her to undress, left her in her Closet, to which she always retired for an Hour, before she went to Bed.

Chapter VIII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter I.