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Chapter VI.

Containing some Account of Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons, with other curious Anecdotes.

Lady Bella having recovered her usual Chearfulness, thro' the Satisfaction she felt at her Uncle's returning to Reason, and the Abatement she perceived in Sir George's extreme Melancholy, mixed in the Conversation with the Wit and Vivacity which was natural to her, and which so absolutely charmed the whole Company, that not one of them remembred any of her former Extravagancies.

Mr. Glanville gazed on her with a passionate Tenderness, Sir George with Admiration, and the old Baronet with Wonder and Delight.

But Miss Glanville, who was inwardly vexed at the Superiority her Cousin's Wit gave her over herself, wished for nothing more than an Opportunity of interrupting a Conversation in which she could have no Share; and, willing to put them in mind of some of Arabella's strange Notions, when she observed them disputing concerning some of the Actions of the antient Romans, she very innocently asked Sir George, Whether in former times Women went to the Wars, and fought like Men? For my Cousin, added she, talks of one Thaltris, a Woman, that was as courageous as any Soldier whatever.

Mr. Glanville, horridly vexed at a Question that was likely to engage Arabella in a Discourse very different from that she had been so capable of pleasing in, frowned very intelligibly at his Sister; and, to prevent any Answer being given to her absurd Demand, directed some other Conversation to Arabella: But she, who saw a favourite Subject started, took no Notice of what Mr. Glanville was saying to her; but, directing her Looks to Sir George, Though Miss Glanville, said she, be a little mistaken in the Name of that fair Queen she has mentioned; yet I am persuaded you know whom she means; and that it is the renowned Thalestris, whose Valour staggers her Belief, and of whom she wants to be informed.

Ay, ay, Thalestris, said Miss Glanville: It is such a strange Name I could not remember it; but, pray, was there ever such a Person? Certainly, Madam, there was, replied Sir George: She was Queen of the Amazons, a warlike Nation of Women, who possessed great Part of Cappadocia, and extended their Conquests so far, that they became formidable to all their Neighbours.

You find, Miss, said Arabella, I did not attempt to impose upon you, when I told you of the admirable Valour of that beautiful Queen; which indeed was so great, that the united Princes, in whose Cause she fought, looked upon her Assistance to be equal to that of a whole Army; and they honoured her, accordingly; with the most distinguishing Marks of their Esteem and Acknowlegement, and offered her the chief Command of their Forces. O shameful! cried Sir Charles, offer a Woman the Command of an Army! Brave Fellows indeed, that would be commanded by a Woman! Sure you mistake, Niece; there never was such a thing heard of in the World.

What, Sir, said Arabella, will you contradict a Fact attested by the greatest Historians that ever were? You may as well pretend to say, there never were such Persons as Oroondates or Juba, as dispute the Existence of the famous Thalestris.

Why, pray, Madam, said Sir Charles, who were those? One of them, replied Arabella, was the great King of Scythia; and the other, Prince of the Two Mauritanias.

Ods-heart! interrupted Sir Charles, I believe their Kingdoms are in the Moon: I never heard of Scythia, or the Two Mauritanias, before.

And yet, Sir, replied Arabella, those Kingdoms are doubtless as well known, as France or England; and there is no Question, but the Descendants of the great Oroondates, and the valiant Juba, sway the Sceptres of them to this Day.

I must confess, said Sir George, I have a very great Admiration for those Two renowned Princes, and have read their beautiful Exploits with infinite Pleasure; notwithstanding which, I am more inclined to esteem the great Artaban, then either of them.

Though Artaban, replied Arabella, is without Question, a Warrior equal to either of them, and haply no Person in the World possessed so sublime a Courage as his was; yet, it may be, your Partiality proceeds from another Cause; and you having the Honour to resemble him in some little Infidelities he was accused of, with less Justice than yourself perhaps, induces you to favour him more than any other.

Arabella blushed when she ended these Words: And Sir George replied, with a Sigh; I have, indeed, the Honour, Madam, to resemble the great Artaban, in having dared to raise my Thoughts towards a Divine Person, who, with Reason, condemns my Adorations.

Hey-day! cried Sir Charles, are you going to speak of Divine Things, after all the Fables you have been talking of? Troth, I love to hear young Men enter upon such Subjects: But pray, Niece, who told you Sir George was an Infidel? Mr. Glanville, replied Arabella: And I am inclined to think he spoke Truth; for Sir George has never pretended to deny it.

How! interrupted Sir Charles; I am sorry to hear that. I hope you have never, added he, looking at the young Baronet, endeavoured to corrupt my Son with any of your Freethinking Principles: I am for every body having Liberty of Conscience; but I cannot endure to hear People of your Stamp endeavouring to propagate your mischievous Notions; and because you have no Regard for your own future Happiness, disturbing other People in the laudable Pursuit of theirs.

We will not absolutely condemn Sir George, said Arabella, till we have heard his History from his own Mouth, which he promised, some time ago, to relate when I desired it.

I do not imagine his History is fit to be heard by Ladies, said Sir Charles; for your Infidels live a strange kind of Life.

However that may be, replied Arabella, we must not dispense with Sir George from performing his Promise: I dare say there are no Ladies here, who will think the worse of him for freely confessing his Faults.

You may answer for yourself, if you please, Madam, said Sir Charles; but I hope my Girl there, will not say as much.

I dare say my Cousin is not so rigid, said Arabella: She has too much the Spirit of Julia in her, to find Fault with a little Infidelity.

I am always obliged to you for your Comparisons, Cousin, said Miss Glanville: I suppose this is greatly to my Advantage too.

I assure you, Madam, said Sir George, Lady Bella has done you no Injury by the Comparison she has just now made; for Julia was one of the finest Princesses in the World.

Yet she was not free from the Suspicion of Infidelity, replied Arabella; but though I do not pretend to tax my Cousin with that Fault, yet it is with a great deal of Reason that I say she resembles her in her volatile Humour.

I was never thought to be ill-humoured in my Life, Madam, said Miss Glanville, colouring; and I cannot imagine what Reason I have given you for saying I am.

Nay, Cousin, said Arabella, I am not condemning your Humour; for, to say the Truth, there are a great many Charms in a volatile Disposition; and, notwithstanding the admirable Beauty of Julia, it is possible she made as many Slaves by her light and airy Carriage, as she did by her Eyes, though they were the fairest in the World, except the divine Cleopatra's.

Cleopatra! cried Sir Charles: Why she was a Gypsey, was she not? I never heard her called so, said Arabella, gravely; and I am apt to believe you are not at all acquainted with her: But pray, pursued she, let us wave this Discourse at present, and prepare to listen to Sir George's Relation of his Life; which, I dare say, is full of very extraordinary Events: However, Sir, added she, directing her Speech to the young Baronet, I am afraid your Modesty will induce you to speak with less Candour than you ought, of those great Actions, which questionless you have performed: Therefore we shall hear your History, with greater Satisfaction, from the Mouth of your faithful 'Squire, who will not have the same Reasons that you have, for suppressing what is most admirable in the Adventures of your Life.

Since it is your Pleasure, Madam, replied Sir George, to hear my Adventures, I will recount them as well as I am able myself, to the end that I may have an Opportunity of obliging you by doing some Violence to my natural Modesty, which will not suffer me to relate Things the World have been pleased to speak of to my Advantage, without some little Confusion.

Then, casting down his Eyes, he seemed to be recollecting the most material Passages in his Life. Mr. Glanville, though he could have wished he had not indulged Arabella in her ridiculous Request, was not able to deny himself the Diversion of hearing what Kind of History he would invent; and therefore resolved to stay and listen to him.

Miss Glanville was also highly delighted with the Proposal; but Sir Charles, who could not conceive there could be any thing worth listening to, in a young Rake's Account of himself, got up with an Intention to walk in the Garden; when, perceiving it rained, he changed his Resolution, and, resuming his Seat, prepared to listen, as every one else did, to the expected Story.

When Sir George, after having paused a Quarter of an Hour longer, during which all the Company observed a profound Silence, began his Relation in this Manner, addressing himself to Arabella.

Chapter V. | The Female Quixote | Chapter I.