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Chapter IV.

The Adventure continued.

Ah! Madam, said I, perceiving she had finished her Discourse, doubt not but I shall most gratefully preserve the Remembrance of what the generous Sydimiris has done for me; and shall always be ready to lose that Life in her Defence, which she has had the superlative Goodness to take so much Care of. But, Madam, pursued I, with an earnest Look, do not, I beseech you, refuse me one Favour, without which I shall depart with inconceivable Sorrow.

Depend upon it, valiant Sir, replied she, that if what you will require of me, be in my Power, and fit for me to grant, I shall very willingly oblige you.

It is then, resumed I, trembling at the Boldness of my Request, that you would condescend to intreat the most generous Sydimiris to favour me with an Interview, and give me an Opportunity of throwing myself at her Feet, to thank her for all those Favours I have received from her Compassion.

I cannot promise you, replied the Lady, rising, to prevail upon Sydimiris to grant you an Audience; but I assure you, that I will endeavour to dispose her to do you this Favour; and it shall not be my Fault, if you are not satisfied.

Saying this, she went out of my Chamber, I having followed her to the Door, with Protestations that I would never forget her Kindness upon this Occasion.

I past the rest of that Day in an anxious Impatience for Night, divided between Fear and Hope, and more taken up with the Thoughts of seeing Sydimiris, than with my expected Liberty.

Night came at last, and the Door of my Apartment opening, I saw the Lady who had been with me in the Morning, enter.

I have prevailed upon Sydimiris to see you, said she; and she is willing, at my Intreaty, to grant that Favour to a Person, who, she with Reason thinks, has been inhumanly treated by her Brother.

Then, giving me her Hand, she conducted me along a large Gallery, to a stately Apartment; and after traversing several Rooms, she led me into one, where Sydimiris herself was: Who, as soon as she perceived me, rose from her Seat, and received me with great Civility.

In the Transport I then was, I know not how I returned the grateful Salute the incomparable Sydimiris gave me; for most certain it is, that I was so lost in Wonder, at the Sight of the many Charms I beheld in her Person, that I could not unlock my Tongue, or remove my Eyes from her inchanting Face; but remained fixed in a Posture, which at once expressed my Admiration and Delight. To give you a Description of that Beauty which I then contemplated, I must inform you, Madam, that Sydimiris is tall, of a handsome Stature, and admirably proportioned; her Hair was of the finest Black in the World; her Complexion marvelously fair; and all the Lineaments of her Visage were perfectly beautiful; and her Eyes, which were large and black, sparkled with so quick and piercing a Fire, that no Heart was able to resist their powerful Glances: Moreover, Sydimiris is admirably shaped; her Port is high and noble; and her Air so free, yet so commanding, that there are few Persons in the World, with whom she may not dispute the Priority of Beauty: In fine, Madam, Sydimiris appeared with so many Advantages, to a Spirit prepossessed already with the most grateful Sense of her Favours, that I could not resist the sweet Violence wherewith her Charms took Possession of my Heart: I yielded therefore, without Reluctance, to my Destiny, and resigned myself, in an Instant, to those Fetters, which the Sight of the Divine Sydimiris prepared for me: Recovering therefore a little from that Admiration, which had so totally ingrossed all my Faculties, I threw myself at her Feet, with an Action wholly composed of Transport.

Divine Sydimiris, said I, beholding her with Eyes, in which the Letters of my new-born Passion might very plainly be read, see at your Feet a Man devoted to your Service, by all the Ties of Gratitude and Respect. I come, Madam, to declare to you, that from the First Moment you gave me Liberty, I had devoted that and my Life to you; and at your Feet I confirm the Gift; protesting by all that is most dear and sacred to me, that since I hold my Life from the Divine Sydimiris, she alone shall have the absolute Disposal of it for the future; and should she please again to demand it, either to appease her Brother's Fury, or to sacrifice it to her own Security, I will most faithfully perform her Will, and shed the last Drop of that Blood at her Command, which I would with Transport lose in her Defence.

A fine high-flown Speech indeed! said Sir Charles, laughing; but I hope you did not intend to keep your Word.

Sure, Sir, replied Arabella, you do not imagine, that Sir George would have failed in executing all he had promised to the beautiful and generous Sydimiris: What could he possibly have said less? And indeed what less could she have expected from a Man, whom at the Hazard of her own Life and Happiness, she had given Freedom to? I accompanied these Words, Madam, pursued Sir George, with so passionate a Look and Accent, that the fair Sydimiris blushed, and, for a Moment, cast down her Eyes with a visible Confusion. At last, Sir, replied she, I am too well satisfied with what I have done, with respect to your Safety, to require any Proofs of your Gratitude, that might be dangerous to it; and shall remain extremely well satisfied, if the Obligations you think you owe me, may induce you to moderate your Resentment against my Brother, for the cruel Treatment you received from him. Doubt not, Madam, interrupted I, eagerly, but I shall, in the Person of Marcomire, regard the Brother of the divine Sydimiris; and that Consideration will be sufficient, not only to make me forget all the Violences he committed against me, but even to defend his Life, if need be, with the Hazard of my own.

Excessively generous indeed! said Sir Charles: I never heard any thing like it.

Oh! dear, Sir, replied Arabella, there are numberless Instances of equal, and even superior Generosity, to be met with in the Lives of the Heroes of Antiquity: You will there see a Lover, whose Mistress has been taken from him, either by Treachery or Force, venture his Life in Defence of the injurious Husband who possesses her; and though all his Felicity depends upon his Death, yet he will rescue him from it, at the Expence of the greater Part of his Blood.

Another, who after a long and bloody War, has, by taking his Enemy Prisoner, an Opportunity of terminating it honourably; yet, thro' an heroick Principle of Generosity, he gives his Captive Liberty, without making any Conditions, and has all his Work to do over again.

A Third, having contracted a violent Friendship with the Enemies of his Country, through the same generous Sentiments, draws his Sword in their Defence, and makes no Scruple to fight against an Army, where the King his Father is in Person.

I must confess, said Sir Charles, that Generosity seems to me very peculiar, that will make a Man fight for his Enemies against his own Father.

It is in that Peculiarity, Sir, said Arabella, that his Generosity consists; for certainly there is nothing extraordinary in fighting for one's Father, and one's Country; but when a Man has arrived to such a Pitch of Greatness of Soul, as to neglect those mean and selfish Considerations, and, loving Virtue in the Persons of his Enemies, can prefer their Glory before his own particular Interest, he is then a perfect Hero indeed: Such a one was Oroondates, Artaxerxes, and many others I could name, who all gave eminent Proofs of their Disinterestedness and Greatness of Soul, upon the like Occasions: Therefore not, to detract from Sir George's Merit, I must still insist, that in the Resolutions he had taken to defend his Enemy's Life at the Expence of his own, he did no more, than what any Man of ordinary Generosity ought to do, and what he was particularly obliged to, by what the amiable Sydimiris had done for him.

I was so happy, however, Madam, continued Sir George, to find that those Expressions of my Gratitude wrought somewhat upon the Heart of the lovely Sydimiris in my Favour: Her Words discovered as much, and her Eyes spoke yet more intelligibly; but our Conversation was interrupted by the discreet Urinoe, who, fearing the Consequence of so long a Stay in her Chamber, represented to me, that it was time to take my Leave.

I turned pale at this cruel Sound; and, beholding Sydimiris with a languishing Look, Would to Heaven, Madam, said I, that instead of giving me Liberty, you would keep me eternally your Prisoner; for though a Dungeon was to be the Place of my Confinement, yet if it was near you, it would seem a Palace to me; for indeed I am no longer in a Condition to relish that Freedom you bestow upon me, since it must remove me farther from you: But I beseech you, Madam, to believe, that in delivering me from your Brother's Fetters, you have cast me into your own, and that I am more a Prisoner than ever, but a Prisoner to so lovely a Conqueror, that I do not wish to break my Chains, and prefer the sweet and glorious Captivity I am in, to all the Crowns in the World.

You are very bold, said Sydimiris, blushing, to entertain me with such Discourse; yet I pardon this Offence, in Consideration of what you have suffered from my Brother, and on Condition that you will depart immediately, without speaking another Word.

Sydimiris spoke this so earnestly, that I durst not disobey her; and, kissing the Hem of her Robe, with a passionate Air, I left ber Chamber, conducted by Urinoe; who having brought me to a private Door, which carried us into the Street, I there found a Man waiting for me, whom I knew to be the same that had attended me during my Stay in that House.

Urinoe having recommended to him to see me safe out of the Town, I took Leave of her, with the most grateful Acknowlegements for her Kindness; and followed my Conductor, so oppressed with Grief at the Thoughts of leaving the Place where Sydimiris was, that I had hardly Strength to walk.

Chapter III. | The Female Quixote | Chapter V.