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Chapter III.

In which Arabella meets with another admirable Adventure.

Our lovely Heroine had not been above a Fortnight in London, before the gross Air of that smoaky Town affected her Health so much, that Sir Charles propos'd to her to go for a few Weeks to Richmond, where he hir'd a House elegantly furnish'd for her Reception.

Miss Glanville had been too long out of that darling City, to pay her the Compliment of attending her constantly at Richmond; yet she promis'd to be as often as possible with her: And Sir Charles, having Affairs that could not dispense with his Absence from Town, plac'd his Steward in her House, being a Person whose Prudence and Fidelity he could rely upon; and he, with her Women, and two or three other menial Servants, made up her Equipage.

As it was not consistent with Decorum for Mr. Glanville to reside in her House, he contented himself with riding to Richmond generally every Day: And as long as Arabella was pleas'd with that Retirement, he resolv'd not to press her Return to Town till the Countess of -- arriv'd, in whose Conversation he grounded all his Hopes of her Cure.

At that Season of the Year Richmond not being quite deserted by Company, Arabella was visited by several Ladies of Fashion; who charm'd with her Affability, Politeness, and good Sense, were strangely perplex'd how to account for some Peculiarities in her Dress and Manner of thinking.

Some of the younger Sort from whom Arabella's extraordinary Beauty took away all Pretensions to Equality on that Score, made themselves extremely merry with her Oddnesses, as they call'd them, and gave broad Intimations that her Head was not right.

As for Arabella, whose Taste was as delicate, Sentiments as refin'd, and Judgment as clear as any Person's could be who believ'd the Authenticity of Scudery's Romances, she was strangely disappointed to find no Lady with whom she could converse with any tolerable Pleasure: And that instead of Clelia's, Statira's, Mandana's, &c. she found only Miss Glanville among all she knew.

The Comparison she drew between such as these and the charming Countess of -- whom she had just begun to be acquainted with at Bath, increas'd her Regret for the Interruption that was given to so agreeable a Friendship: And it was with infinite Pleasure Mr. Glanville heard her repeatedly wish for the Arrival of that admirable Lady (as she always call'd her) in Town.

Not being able to relish the insipid Conversation of the young Ladies that visited her at Richmond, her chief Amusement was to walk in the Park there; which because of its Rural Privacy, was extremely agreeable to her Inclinations. Here she indulg'd Contemplation, leaning on the Arm of her faithful Lucy, while her other Women walk'd at some Distance behind her, and two Men Servants kept her always in Sight.

One Evening when she was returning from her usual Walk, she heard the Sound of a Woman's Voice, which seem'd to proceed from a Tuft of Trees that hid her from her View. And stopping a Moment, distinguish'd some plaintive Accents, which increasing her Curiosity, she advanc'd towards the Place, telling Lucy, she was resolv'd if possible to discover who the distress'd Lady was, and what was the Subject of her Affliction.

As she drew nearer with softly treading Steps, she could distinguish through the Branches of the Trees, now despoil'd of great part of their Leaves, two Women seated on the Ground, their Backs towards her, and one of them with her Head gently reclin'd on the other's Shoulder, seem'd by her mournful Action to be weeping; for she often put her Handkerchief to her Eyes, breathing every Time a Sigh, which, as Arabella phras'd it, seem'd to proceed from the deepest Recesses of her Heart.

This Adventnre, more worthy indeed to be styl'd an Adventure than all our Fair Heroine had ever yet met with, and so conformable to what she had read in Romances, fill'd her Heart with eager Expectation. She made a Sign to Lucy to make no Noise, and creeping still closer towards the Place where this afflicted Person sat, she heard her distinctly utter these Words, which however were often interrupted with her Sighs.

Ah! Ariamenes, whom I to my Misfortune have too much loved, and whom to my Misfortune I fear I shall never sufficiently hate, since that Heav'n and thy cruel Ingratitude hath ordain'd that thou shalt never be mine, and that so many sweet and dear Hopes are for ever taken from me, return me at least, ungrateful Man, return me those Testimonies of my innocent Affection, which were sometimes so dear and precious to thee. Return me those Favours, which all innocent as they were, are become Criminal by thy Crime. Return me, Cruel Man, return me those Reliques of my Heart which thou detainest in Despight of me, and which, notwithstanding thy Infidelity, I cannot recover.

Here her Tears interrupting her Speech, Arabella being impatient to know the History of this afflicted Person, came softly round to the other Side, and shewing herself, occasion'd some Disturbance to the sad Unknown; who rising from her Seat, with her Face averted, as if asham'd of having so far disclos'd her Sorrows in a Stranger's Hearing, endeavour'd to pass by her un-notic'd.

Arabella perceiving her Design, stop'd her with a very graceful Action, and with a Voice all compos'd of Sweetness, earnestly conjur'd her to relate her History.

Think not, Lovely Unknown, said she (for she was really very pretty) that my Endeavours to detain you proceed from an indiscreet Curiosity. 'Tis true, some Complaints which have fallen from your fair Mouth, have rais'd in me a Desire to be acquainted with your Adventures; but this Desire has its Foundation in that Compassion your Complaints have fill'd me with: And if I wish to know your Misfortunes, 'tis only with a View of affording you some Consolation.

Pardon me, Madam, said the Fair Afflicted, gazing on Arabella with many Signs of Admiration, if my Confusion at being over-heard in a Place I had chosen to bewail my Misfortunes, made me be guilty of some Appearance of Rudeness, not seeing the admirable Person I wanted to avoid. But pursued she, hesitating a little, those Characters of Beauty I behold in your Face, and the Gracefulness of your Deportment convincing me you can be of no ordinary Rank, I will the less scruple to acquaint you with my Adventures, and the Cause of those Complaints you have heard proceed from my Mouth.

Arabella assuring her, that whatever her Misfortunes were, she might depend upon all the Assistance in her Power, seated herself near her at the Foot of the Tree where she had been sitting, and giving Lucy Orders to join the rest of her Women, and stay at a Distance till she made a Sign to them to advance, she prepar'd to listen to the Adventures of the Fair Unknown, who after some little Pause, began to relate them in this Manner.

Chapter II. | The Female Quixote | Chapter IV.