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Chapter III.

A Love-Adventure, after the Romantic Taste.

Recollecting in a few Moments all that happened to me, I could not choose but be surprised at finding myself treated with so little Severity, considering I was Prisoner to Persons who had been Witnesses of the great Quantity of Blood I had shed in my own Defence. My Wounds had been dressed while I continued in my Swoon; and the Faces of those Persons who were about me, expressed nothing of Unkindness.

After reflecting some time longer on my Situation, I called to a young Man, who sat near my Bed-side, and intreated him to inform me, Where I was, and to whom I was a Prisoner? But could get no other Answer to those Questions, than a most civil Intreaty to compose myself, and not protract the Cure of my Wounds by talking, which, the Surgeons had declared, would be of a bad Consequence; and had therefore ordered me to be as little disturbed as possible.

Notwithstanding this Remonstrance, I repeated my Request, promising to be entirely governed by them for the future in what regarded my Health, provided they would satisfy me in those Particulars: But my Attendant did not so much as reply to those Importunities; but, to prevent the Continuance of them, rose from his Seat, and retired to the other End of the Chamber.

I passed that Day, and several others, without being able to learn the Truth of my Condition: All this time, I was diligently waited on by the two Persons I had first seen, neither of whom I could prevail upon to inform me of what I desired to know; and, judging, by this obstinate Reserve, and the Manner of my Treatment, that there was some Mystery in the Case, I forbore to ask them any more Questions, conceiving they had particular Orders not to answer them.

The Care that was taken to forward my Cure, in Three Weeks entirely restored me to Health: I longed impatiently to know, what was to be my Destiny; and busied myself in conjecturing it, in vain; when, one Morning, an elderly Lady entered my Chamber, at whose Appearance my Two Attendants retired.

After she had saluted me very civilly, and inquired after my Health, she seated herself in a Chair near my Bedside, and spoke to me in this manner: I make no question, Sir, but you are surprised at the Manner in which you have been treated, and the Care there has been taken to prevent discovering to you the Place where you now are; but you will doubtless be more surprised, to hear you are in the Fortress of --, and in the House of Prince Marcomire, whose Party you fought against alone; and whom you so dangerously wounded, before you was taken Prisoner by his Men.

Is it possible, Madam, said I, who, from the first Moment of her Appearance, had been in a strange Perplexity, is it possible, I am in the House of a Man, whose Life I endeavoured so eagerly to destroy? And is it to him, who oppressed me so basely with Numbers, that I am obliged for the Succour I have received? It is not to him, replied the Lady, that you are obliged for the favourable Treatment you have had; but listen to me patiently, and I will disclose the Truth of your Adventure.

Prince Marcomire, who was the Person that headed that Party against which you so valiantly defended yourself, after the Loss of the Battle, was hastening to throw himself into this Place, where his Sister, and many Ladies of Quality, had come for Security: Your indiscreet Pursuit engaged you in the most unequal Combat that ever was fought; and -- Nay, Sir, interrupted Arabella, though I do not refuse to give you all the Praises your gallant Defence of yourself against Five hundred Men deserves; yet I cannot agree with that Lady, in saying, it was the most unequal Combat that ever was fought: For, do but reflect, I beseech you, upon that which the brave Prince of Mauritania sustained against twice that Number of Men, with no other Arms than his Sword; and, you having been in Battle that Day, was, as I conceive, completely armed. The young Prince of Egypt, accompanied only by the valiant, but indiscreet, Cepio his Friend, engaged all the King of Armenia's Guards, and put them all to Flight. The courageous Ariobasanes scorned to turn his Back upon a whole Army; not to mention the invincible Artaban, whom a thousand Armies together could not have made to turn.

Be pleased to observe, Madam, said Sir George, that to the end I may faithfully recount my History, I am under a Necessity of repeating Things, which, haply, may seem too advantageous for a Man to say of himself: Therefore I indeed greatly approve of the Custom, which, no doubt, this Inconveniency introduced, of a 'Squire, who is thoroughly instructed with the Secrets of his Master's Heart, relating his Adventures, and giving a proper Eulogium of his rare Valour, without being in Danger of offending the Modesty of the renowned Knight; who, as you know, Madam, upon those Occasions, commodiously slips away.

It being, however, this Lady's Opinion, that no Man ever undertook a more hazardous Combat, or with greater Odds, against him, she did not fail to express her Admiration of it, in very high Terms.

The Noise of this Accident, pursued she, was soon spread over the whole Town; and the beautiful Sydimiris, Marcomire's Sister, hearing that her Brother was wounded, as it was thought to Death, and that the Person who killed him, was taken Prisoner; she flew out to meet her wounded Brother, distracted with Grief, and vowing to have the severest Tortures executed on him, who had thus barbarously murdered her Brother. Those who bore that unhappy Prince, having brought him into the House, his Wounds were searched; and the Surgeons declared, they were very dangerous.

Sydimiris, hearing this, redoubled her Complaints and Vows of Vengeance against you: Her Brother having then the chief Authority in the Place, she commanded, in his Name, to have you brought hither, and to be most strictly guarded; determined, if her Brother died, to sacrifice you to his Ghost.

Full of these sanguinary Resolutions, she left his Chamber, having seen him laid in Bed; and his Wounds dressed; but passing along a Gallery to her own Apartment, she met the Persons who were bringing you to the Room that was to be your Prison: You was not, pursued the Lady, yet recovered from your Swoon, so that they carried you like one that was dead: They had taken off your Helmet to give you Air; by which means your Face being quite uncovered, pale, languishing, and your Eyes closed, as if in Death, presented the most moving, and, at the same time, most pleasing Object in the World.

Sydimiris, who stopt, and for a Moment eagerly gazed upon you, lost all of a sudden the Fierceness, which before had animated her against you: And lifting up her Eyes to view those Men that carried you; Are you sure, said she to them, that this is the Person who wounded my Brother? Yes, Madam, replied one of them; this must be he, since there was no other in his Company; and he alone sustained the Attack of Five hundred Men; and would probably not have left one of them alive, had not his Sword, by breaking, put it into our Power to take him Prisoner.

Carry him away, said Sydimiris; but let his Wounds be dressed, and let him be carefully looked to, that, if my Brother dies, he may be punished as he deserves.

Pronouncing these Words in a low and faltering Voice, she turned her Eyes a second time upon you; then, hastily averting her Looks, she hurried to her own Chamber, and threw herself into a Chair, with all the Marks of a very great Disturbance.

The Affection I have for her, being the Person who had brought her up, and most favoured with her Confidence, made me behold her in this Condition with great Concern; and supposing it was her Brother that disquieted her, I besought her not to give way to the Violence of her Grief, but to hope that Heaven would restore him to her Prayers.

Alas! my dear Urinoe, said she, I am more culpable than you can imagine; and I grieve less for the Condition to which I see Marcomire reduced, than for that Moderation wherewith I am constrained, spite of myself, to behold his Enemy.

Yes, dear Urinoe, pursued she, blushing, and casting down her Eyes, the Actions of this Unknown appear to me in quite another Light, since I have seen him; and, instead of looking upon him as the Murderer of my Brother, I cannot help admiring that rare Valour, with which he defended himself against so great a Number of Enemies; and am even ready to condemn the furious Marcomire, for oppressing so brave a Man.

As I had never approved of those violent Transports of Grief and Rage, which she had expressed upon the first News of her Brother's Misfortune; and as I looked upon your glorious Defence with the utmost Admiration; so, far from condemning the Change of her Thoughts, I confirmed her in the favourable Opinion she began to entertain of you; and, continuing to make Remarks upon all the Particulars of the Combat, which had come to our Knowlege, we found nothing in your Behaviour, but what increased our Admiration.

Sydimiris therefore, following the Dictates of her own Generosity, as well as my Advice, placed Two Persons about you, whose Fidelity we could rely on; and gave them Orders to treat you with all imaginable Care and Respect, but not to inform you of the Place in which you was, or to whom you was Prisoner.

In the mean time, Marcomire, whose Wounds had been again examined, was declared out of Danger by the Surgeons; and he having understood the Excess of his Sister's Grief, and the Revenge she had vowed against you, gave her Thanks for those Expressions of her Tenderness; and also uttered some Threats, which intimated a violent Hatred against you; and a Design of prosecuting his Revenge upon you, as soon as he was in a Condition to leave his Chamber.

Sydimiris, who heard him, could with Difficulty dissemble her Concern.

Ah! Urinoe, said she to me, when we were alone; 'tis now, that I more than ever repent of that Excess of Rage, which transported me against the brave Unknown. I have thereby put him intirely into my Brother's Power, and shall be haply accessary to that Death he is meditating for him, or else a perpetual Imprisonment.

This Reflection gave her so much Pain, that I could not choose but pity her; and considering, that the only way to preserve you, was for her to dissemble a Rage equal to Marcomire's against you, in order to prevent being suspected of any Design in your Favour, I persuaded her to join with him in every thing he said; while, in the mean time, we would endeavour to get you cured of your Wounds, that you might at least be in a Condition once more to defend yourself with that miraculous Valour Heaven has bestowed on you.

Sydimiris perceiving her Brother would soon be in a Condition to execute his Threats, resolved to hazard every thing, rather than to expose you to his Rage: She therefore communicated to me her Design of giving you Liberty, and, by presenting a sufficient Reward to your Guard, inducing them to favour your Escape.

I undertook to manage this Business in her Name, and have done it so effectually, that you will this Night be at Liberty, and may depart the Town immediately, in which it will be dangerous to stay any time, for fear of being discovered.

Sydimiris forbad me to let you know the Person to whom you would be obliged for your Freedom; but I could not endure, that you should unjustly involve the Sister of Marcomire, in that Resentment you will questionless always preserve against him; and to keep you from being innocently guilty of Ingratitude, I resolved to acquaint you with the Nature of those Obligations you owe to her.

Chapter II. | The Female Quixote | Chapter IV.