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Chapter III.

The Contrast continued.

The Company she had left behind her being all, except Mr. Glanville, to the last Degree surpriz'd at her strange Words and Actions, continued mute for several Minutes after she was gone, staring upon one another, as if each wish'd to know the other's Opinion of such an unaccountable Behaviour. At last Miss Glanville, who observed her Brother's Back was towards her, told Mr. Selvin in a low Voice, that she hop'd he would call and take his Leave of them before he set out for the Place where his Despair would carry him.-- Mr. Selvin in spite of his natural Gravity, could not forbear laughing at this Speech of Miss Glanville's, which shock'd her Brother, and not being able to stay where Arabella was ridicul'd, nor intitled to resent it, which would have been a manifest Injustice on that Occasion, he retir'd to his own Apartment to give vent to that Spleen which in those Moments made him out of Humour with all the World.

Sir Charles, when he was gone, indulg'd himself in a little Mirth on his Niece's Extravagance, protesting he did not know what to do with her. Upon which Miss Glanville observ'd, that it was a Pity there were not such Things as Protestant Nunneries; giving it as her Opinion, that her Cousin ought to be confin'd in one of those Places, and never suffer'd to see any Company, by which Means she would avoid exposing herself in the Manner she did now.

Mr. Selvin, who possibly thought this a reasonable Scheme of Miss Glanville's, seem'd by his Silence to assent to her Opinion; but Sir Charles was greatly displeas'd with his Daughter for expressing herself so freely; alledging that Arabella, when she was out of those Whims, was a very sensible young Lady, and sometimes talk'd as learnedly as a Divine. To which Mr. Selvin also added, that she had a great Knowledge of History, and had a most surprizing Memory; and after some more Discourse to the same Purpose, he took his Leave, earnestly entreating Sir Charles to believe that he never entertain'd any Design of making his Addresses to Lady Bella.

In the mean Time, that Lady after having given near half an Hour to those Reflexions which occur to Heroines in the same Situation with herself, called for Lucy, and order'd her to go to the Dining-Room, and see in what Condition Mr. Selvin was, telling her she had certainly left him in a Swoon, as also the Occasion of it; and bid her give him all the Consolation in her Power.

Lucy, with Tears in her Eyes at this Recital, went down as she was order'd, and entering the Room without any Ceremony, her Thoughts being wholly fix'd on the melancholy Circumstance her Lady had been telling her; she look'd eagerly round the Room without speaking a Word, till Sir Charles and Miss Glanville, who thought she had been sent with some Message from Arabella, ask'd her both at the same Instant, What she wanted?-- I came, Sir, said Lucy, repeating her Lady's Words, to see in what Condition Mr. Selvin is in, and to give him all the Solation in my Power. Sir Charles, laughing heartily at this Speech, ask'd her what she could do for Mr. Selvin? To which she reply'd, she did not know; but her Lady had told her to give him all the Solation in her Power.

Consolation thou would'st say, I suppose, said Sir Charles.

Yes, Sir, said Lucy curtesying. Well, Child, added he, go up and tell your Lady, Mr. Selvin does not need any Consolation.

Lucy accordingly return'd with this Message, and was met at the Chamber-Door by Arabella, who hastily ask'd her if Mr. Selvin was recover'd from his Swoon: To which Lucy reply'd that she did not know; but that Sir Charles bid her tell her Ladyship, Mr. Selvin did not need any Consolation.

Oh Heavens! cry'd Arabella, throwing herself into a Chair as pale as Death--He is dead, he has fallen upon his Sword, and put an End to his Life and Miseries at once--Oh! how unhappy am I, cry'd she, bursting into Tears, to be the Cause of so cruel an Accident-- Was ever any Fate so terrible as mine--Was ever Beauty so fatal--Was ever Rigour so unfortunate --How will the Quiet of my future Days be disturbed by the sad Remembrance of a Man whose Death was caused by my Disdain--But why, resum'd she after a little Pause--Why do I thus afflict myself for what has happen'd by an unavoidable Necessity? Nor am I singular in the Misfortune which has befallen me--Did not the sad Perinthus die for the beautiful Panthea-- Did not the Rigour of Barsina bring the miserable Oxyatres to the Grave--And the Severity of Statira make Oroondates fall upon his Sword in her Presence, tho' happily he escap'd being kill'd by it--Let us then not afflict ourselves unreasonably at this sad Accident--Let us lament as we ought the fatal Effects of our Charms--But let us comfort ourselves with the Thought that we have only acted conformable to our Duty.

Arabella having pronounc'd these last Words with a solemn and lofty Accent, order'd Lucy, who listen'd to her with Eyes drown'd in Tears, to go down and ask if the Body was remov'd-- for added she, all my Constancy will not be sufficient to support me against that pitiful Sight.

Lucy accordingly deliver'd her Message to Sir Charles and Miss Glanville, who were still together, discoursing on the fantastical Turn of Arabella, when the Knight, who could not possibly comprehend what she meant by asking if the Body was removed, bid her tell her Lady he desired to speak with her.

Arabella, upon receiving this Summons, set herself to consider what could be the Intent of it. If Mr. Selvin be dead, said she, what Good can my Presence do among them? Surely it cannot be to upbraid me with my Severity, that my Uncle desires to see me-- No, it would be unjust to suppose it. Questionless my unhappy Lover is still struggling with the Pangs of Death, and for a Consolation in his last Moments, implores the Favour of resigning up his Life in my Sight. Pausing a little at these Words, she rose from her Seat with a Resolution to give the unhappy Selvin her Pardon before he dy'd. Meeting Mr. Glanville as he was returning from his Chamber to the Dining-Room, she told him, she hop'd the Charity she was going to discover towards his Rival, would not give him any Uneasiness; and preventing his Reply by going hastily into the Room, he follow'd her dreading some new Extravagance, yet not able to prevent it, endeavour'd to conceal his Confusion from her Observation--Arabella after breathing a gentle Sigh told told Sir Charles, that she was come to grant Mr. Selvin her Pardon for the Offence he had been guilty of, that he might depart in Peace.

Well, well, said Sir Charles, he is departed in Peace without it.

How, Sir, interrupted Arabella, is he dead then already? Alas! why had he not the Satisfaction of seeing me before he expir'd, that his Soul might have departed in Peace! He would have been assur'd not only of my Pardon, but Pity also; and that Assurance would have made him happy in his last Moments.

Why, Niece, interrupted Sir Charles staring, you surprize me prodigiously: Are you in earnest? Questionless I am, Sir, said she, nor ought you to be surpriz'd at the Concern I express for the Fate of this unhappy Man, nor at the Pardon I propos'd to have granted him; since herein I am justified by the Example of many great and virtuous Princesses, who have done as much, nay, haply more than I intended to have done, for Persons whose Offences were greater than Mr. Selvin's.

I am very sorry, Madam, said Sir Charles, to hear you talk in this Manner: 'Tis really enough to make one suspect you are-- You do me great Injustice, Sir, interrupted Arabella, if you suspect me to be guilty of any unbecoming Weakness for this Man: If barely expressing my Compassion for his Misfortunes be esteem'd so great a Favour, what would you have thought if I had supported his Head on my Knees while he was dying, shed Tears over him, and discover'd all the Tokens of a sincere Affliction for him?-- Good God! said Sir Charles listing up his Eyes, Did any body ever hear of any thing like this? What, Sir, said Arabella, with as great an Appearance of Surprize in her Countenance as his had discover'd, Do you say you never heard of any thing like this? Then you never heard of the Princess of Media, I suppose-- No, not I, Madam, said Sir Charles peevishly.

Then, Sir, resum'd Arabella, permit me to tell you, that this fair and virtuous Princess condescended to do all I have mention'd for the fierce Labynet, Prince of Assyria; who tho' he had mortally offended her by stealing her away out of the Court of the King her Father, nevertheless, when he was wounded to Death in her Presence, and humbly implor'd her Pardon before he died, she condescended as I have said, to support him on her Knees, and shed Tears for his Disaster--I could produce many more Instances of the like Compassion in Ladies almost as highly born as herself, tho' perhaps their Quality was not quite so illustrious, she being the Heiress of two powerful Kingdoms. Yet to mention only these-- Good Heav'ns! cry'd Mr. Glanville here, being quite out of Patience, I shall go distracted-- Arabella surpriz'd at this Exclamation, look'd earnestly at him for a Moment--and then ask'd him, Whether any thing she had said had given him Uneasiness? Yes, upon my Soul, Madam, said Glanville so vex'd and confus'd that he hardly knew what he said-- I am sorry for it, reply'd Arabella gravely, and also am greatly concern'd to find that in Generosity you are so much exceeded by the illustrious Cyrus; who was so far from taking Umbrage at Mandana's Behaviour to the dying Prince, that he commended her for the Compassion she had shewn him. So also did the brave and generous Oroondates, when the fair Statira-- By Heav'ns! cry'd Glanville rising in a Passion, there's no hearing this. Pardon me, Madam, but upon my Soul, you'll make me hang myself.

Hang yourself, repeated Arabella, sure you know not what you say? --You meant, I suppose, that you'll fall upon your Sword. What Hero ever threatned to give himself so vulgar a Death? But pray let me know the Cause of your Despair, so sudden and so violent.

Mr. Glanville continuing in a sort of sullen Silence, Arabella raising her Voice went on: Tho' I do not conceive myself oblig'd to give you and Account of my Conduct, seeing that I have only permitted you yet to hope for my Favour; yet I owe to myself and my own Honour the Justification I am going to make. Know then, that however suspicious my Compassion for Mr. Selvin may appear to your mistaken Judgment, yet it has its Foundation only in the Generosity of my Disposition, which inclines me to pardon the Fault when the unhappy Criminal repents; and to afford him my Pity when his Circumstances require it. Let not therefore the Charity I have discover'd towards your Rival, be the Cause of your Despair, since my Sentiments for him were he living, would be what they were before; that is, full of Indifference, nay, haply Disdain. And suffer not yourself to be so carried away by a violent and unjust Jealousy, as to threaten your own Death, which if you really had any Ground for your Suspicions, and truly lov'd me, would come unsought for, tho' not undesir'd-- For indeed, was your Despair reasonable, Death would necessarily follow it; for what Lover can live under so desperate a Misfortune. In that Case you may meet Death undauntedly when it comes, nay, embrace it with Joy; but truly the killing one's self is but a false Picture of true Courage, proceeding rather from Fear of a further Evil, than Contempt of that you fly to: For if it were a Contempt of Pain, the same Principle would make you resolve to bear patiently and fearlesly all kind of Pains; and Hope being of all other the most contrary Thing to Fear, this being an utter Banishment of Hope, seems to have its Ground in Fear.

Chapter II. | The Female Quixote | Chapter IV.