An extraordinary Instance of Generosity in a Lover, somewhat resembling that of the great Artaxerxes, in Cassandra.
The farther I went, continued Sir George, the more my Regret increased; and, finding it would be impossible to live, and quit the Divine Sydimiris, I all at once took a Resolution to remain in the Town concealed; and, communicating my Design to my Guide, I engaged him to assist me in it, by a Present of a considerable Sum, which he could not resist: Accordingly he left me in a remote Part of the Town, and went to find out a convenient Lodging for me; which he soon procured, and also a Suit of Cloaths to disguise me, my own being very rich and magnificent.
Having recommended me as a Relation of his, who was newly arrived, I was received very civilly by the People with whom he placed me; and, finding this young Man to be very witty and discreet, and also very capable of serving me, I communicated to him my Intentions by staying, which were only to be near the Divine Sydimiris, and to have the Happiness of sometimes seeing her, when she went abroad.
This Man entering into my Meaning, assured me, he would faithfully keep my Secret; and that he would not fail to bring me Intelligence of all that passed in the Palace of Marcomire.
I could with Difficulty keep myself from falling at his Feet, to express my Sense of his kind and generous Offers; but I contented myself with presenting him another Sum of Money, larger than the first, and assured him of my future Gratitude.
He then took Leave, and left me to my Reflections, which were wholly upon the Image of the Divine Sydimiris, and the Happiness of being so near the Object I adored.
My Confident came to me the next Day; but brought me no other News, than that my Escape was not yet known to Marcomire. I inquired if he had seen Sydimiris; but he replied he had not, and that Urinoe had only asked him, if he had conducted me safe out of Town: To which he had answered as we had agreed, that I had got out safe and undiscovered.
A Day or two after, he brought me News more pleasing; for he told me, that Sydimiris had sent for him into her Chamber, and asked him several Questions concerning me: That she appeared very melancholy, and even blushed, whenever she mentioned my Name.
This Account gave sufficient Matter for my Thoughts to work upon for several Days. I interpreted Sydimiris's Blush a Thousand different Ways; I reflected upon all the different Causes to which it might be owing, and busied myself with all those innumerable Conjectures, which, as you know, Madam, such an Incident always gives Rise to in a Lover's Imagination. At length I explained it to my own Advantage, and felt thereby a considerable Increase of my Affection. A whole Week having elapsed, without another Sight of my Confidant, I began to be greatly alarmed; when, on the Eighth Day of this cruel Suspense, I saw him appear; but with so many Marks of Disturbance in his Face, that I trembled to hear what he had to acquaint me with.
Oh! Sir, said he, as soon as his Concern suffered him to speak, Marcomire has discovered your Escape, and the Means by which it was procured: One of those in whom Urinoe confided, has betrayed it to him; and the beauteous Sydimiris is likely to feel the most terrible Effects of his Displeasure: He has confined her to her Chamber, and vows to sacrifice her Life to the Honour of his Family; which he says, she has stained; and he loads that admirable Lady with so many Reproaches, that it is thought, her Grief for such undeserved Calumnies will occasion her Death.
Scarce had he finished these cruel Words, when I, who all the time he had been speaking, beheld him with a dying Eye, sunk down at his Feet in a Swoon; which continued so long, that he began to think me quite dead: However I at last opened my Eyes; but it was only to pour forth a River of Tears, and to utter Complaints, which might have moved the most obdurate Heart.
After having a long time tormented myself in weeping and complaining, I at last took a Resolution, which afforded me some Alleviation of my Grief; and the faithful Toxares, seeing me a little composed, lest me to myself, with a Promise to return soon, and acquaint me with what passed further in the Palace of Marcomire.
As soon as he was gone, I rose from my Bed; and, dressing myself in those Cloaths I wore when I was taken Prisoner, I went to the Palace of Marcomire; and, demanding to see him, I was told he was in the Apartment of Sydimiris; and, at my earnest Desire, they conducted me thither.
When I entered the Room, I beheld that incomparable Beauty stretched upon a Couch, dissolved in Tears; and Urinoe upon her Knees, before her, accompanying with her own, those precious Drops which fell from the bright Eyes of her Mistress.
Marcomire, who was walking furiously about the Room, exclaiming with the utmost Violence against that fair Sufferer, did not observe my Entrance; so that I had an Opportunity of going towards Sydimiris, who, lifting up her Eyes to look upon me, gave a loud Shriek; and, by a Look of extreme Anguish, let me understand, how great her Apprehensions were upon my Account.
I am come, Madam, said I, to perform Part of the Promise I made you, and by dying, to prove your Innocence; and, freeing you from the Reproaches you suffer on my Account, I shall have the Happiness to convince you, that my Life is infinitely less dear to me, than your Tranquillity. Sydimiris, who hearkened to me with great Emotion, was going to make some Answer, when Marcomire, alarmed by his Sister's Shriek, came towards us, and, viewing me at first with Astonishment, and then with a Smile of Cruelty and Revenge, Is it possible, said he, that I behold my designed Murderer again in my Power? I am in thy Power, said I, because I am willing to be so; and came voluntarily to put myself into your Hands, to free that excellent Lady from the Imputation you have laid on her: Know, Marcomire, that it is to myself alone I owed my Liberty, which I would still preserve against all the Forces thou couldst bring to deprive me of it; and this Sword, which left thee Life enough to threaten mine, would haply once more put yours in Danger, were I not restrained by a powerful Consideration, which leaves me not the Liberty of even wishing you ill.
Ah! Dissembler, said Marcomire, in a Rage, think not to impose upon me by thy counterfeited Mildness: Thou art my Prisoner once more, and I shall take care to prevent your escaping a Second time.
I am not your Prisoner, replied I, while I possess this Sword, which has already defended me against greater Numbers than you have here to oppose me; but, continued I, throwing down my Sword at Sydimiris's Feet, I resign my Liberty to restore that Lady to your good Opinion, and to free her from those base Aspersions thou hast unjustly loaded her with, upon my Account.
It matters not, said the brutal Brother, taking up my Sword, whether thou hast resigned, or I have deprived thee of Liberty; but since thou art in my Power, thou shall feel all the Effects of my Resentment: Take him away, pursued he to some of his People; put him into the worst Dungeon you can find; and let him be guarded carefully, upon Pain of Death, if he again escapes.
With these Words, several Men offered to lead me out of the Room; but I repulsed them with Disdain; and, making a low Reverence to Sydimiris, whose Countenance expressed the Extremes of Fear and Anguish, I followed my Conductors to the Prison allotted for me; which, hideous as it was, I contemplated with a secret Pleasure, since I had by that Action, which had brought me into it, given a Testimony of my Love for the adorable Sydimiris.