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CHAPTER XL

The conelusion of Mrs. Heartfrees adventures.

If I mistake not, I was interrupted just as I was beginning to repeat some of tie compliments made me by the hermit.'—' Just as you had finished them, I believe, Madam,' said the Justice. 'Very well, Sir,' said she, ' I am sure I have no pleasure in the repetition. He concluded then with telling me, though I was, in his eyes, the most charming woman in the world, and might tempt a saint to abandon the ways of holiness, yet my beauty inspired him with a much tenderer affection towards me, than to purchase any satisfaction of his own desires with my misery; if therefore I could be so cruel to him to reject his honest and sincere address, nor could submit to a solitary life with one, who would endeavour', by all possible means, to make me happy, I had no force to dread; for that I was as much at my liberty, as if I was in France, or England, or any other free country. I repulsed him with the same civility with which he advanced; and told him that, as he professed great regard for religion, I was convinced he would cease from all farther solicitation, when I informed him, that, if I had no other objection, my own innocence would not admit of my hearing him on this subject, for

that I was married. He started a little at that word,

and was for some time silent; but, at length recovering himself, he began to urge the uncertainty of my husband's being alive, and the probability of the contrary; he then spoke of marriage as of a civil policy only; on which head he urged many arguments not worth repeating, and was growing so very eager and importunate, that I know not whither his passion might

VOL. IV. x

have hurried him, had not three of the sailors, well armed, appeared at that instant in sight of the cave. I no sooner saw them, than, exulting with the utmost inward joy, I told him my companions were come for me, and that I must now take my leave of him; assuring him, that I would always remember, with the most grateful acknowledgment, the favours I had received at his hands. He fetched a very heavy sigh, and, squeezing me tenderly by the hand, he saluted my lips with a little more eagerness than the European salutations admit of; and told me, he should likewise remember my arrival at his cave to the last day of his life; adding —0 that he could there spend the whole in the company

of one whose bright eyes had kindled ;but I know

you will think, Sir, that we women love to repeat the compliments made us, I will therefore omit them. In a word, the sailors being now arrived, I quitted him, with some compassion for the reluctance with which he parted from me, and went forward with my companions. i We had proceeded but a few paces before one of the sailors said to his comrades; D—n me, Jack, who knows whether yon fellow hath not some good flip in his cave; I innocently answered, the poor wretch had only one

bottle of brandy. Hath he so, cries the sailor, 'Fore

George, we will taste it; and so saying they immediately returned back, and myself with them. We found the poor man prostrate on the ground, expressing all the symptoms of misery and lamentation. I told him in French (for the sailors could not speak that language,) what they wanted.—He pointed to the place where the bottle was deposited, saying, they were welcome to that, and whatever else he had; and added, he cared not if they took his life also. The sailors searched the whole cave, where finding nothing more which they deemed worth their taking, they walked off with the bottle, and immediately emptying it, without offering me a drop; they proceeded with me towards the town.

'In our way, I observed one whisper another, while he kept his eye stedfastly fixed on me. This gave me some uneasiness; but the other answered, No, d—n me, the captain will never forgive us: besides, we have enough of it among the black women, and, in my mind, one colour is as good as another. This was enough to give me violent apprehensions; but I heard no more of that kind, till we came to the town, where, in about six hours, I arrived in safety.

'As soon as I came to the captain, he inquired what was become of my friend, meaning the villainous Count. "When he was informed by me of what had happened, he wished me heartily joy of my delivery, and, expressing the utmost abhorrence of such baseness, swore if ever he met him he would cut his throat; but indeed we both concluded that he had died of the blow which the hermit had given him.

'I was now introduced to the chief magistrate of this country, who was desirous of seeing me. I will give you a short description of him: He was chosen (as is the custom there) for his superior bravery and wisdom. His power is entirely absolute during his continuance; but, on the first deviation from equity and justice, he is liable to be deposed and punished by the people, the elders of whom, once a year, assemble to examine into his conduct. Besides the danger which these examinations, which are very strict, expose him to, his office is of such care and trouble that nothing but that restless love of power, so predominant in the mind of man, could make it the object of desire; for he is indeed the only slave of all the natives of this country. He is obliged, in time of peace, to hear the complaint of every person in his dominions, and to render him justice. For which purpose every one may demand an audience of him, unless during the hour which he is allowed for dinner, when he sits alone at the table, and is attended, in the most public manner, with more than European ceremony. This is done to create an awe and respect towards him in the eye of the vulgar; but, lest it should elevate him too much in his own opinion, in order to his humiliation, he receives every evening, in private, from a kind of beadle a gentle kick on his posteriors; besides which, he wears a ring in his nose, somewhat resembling that we ring our pigs with, and a chain round his neck, not unlike that worn by our aldermen; both which, I suppose, to be emblematical, but heard not the reasons of either assigned. There are many more particularities among these people, which, when I have an opportunity, I may relate to you. The second day after my return from court, one of his officers, whom they call Schach Pimpach, waited upon me, and, by a French interpreter who lives here, informed me that the chief magistrate liked my person, and offered me an immense present if I would suffer him to enjoy it (this is, it seems, their common form of making love). I rejected the present, and never heard any further solicitation; for, as it is no shame for women here to consent at the first proposal, so they never receive a second.

'I had resided in this town a week, when the captain informed me that a number of slaves, who had been taken captives in war, were to be guarded to the sea side, where they were to be sold to the merchants who traded in them to America; that if I would embrace this opportunity I might assure myself of finding a passage to America, and thence to England; acquainting me at the same time that he himself intended to go with them. I readily agreed to accompany him. The chief, being advertised of our designs, sent for us 'both to court, and without mentioning a word of love 'to me, having presented me with a very rich jewel, of 'less value, he said, than my chastity, took a very civil 'leave, recommending me to the care of heaven, and 1 ordering us a large supply of provisions for our journey.

'We were provided with mules for ourselves and 'what we carried with us, and, in nine days, reached 'the sea shore, where we found an English vessel ready 'to receive both us and the slaves. We went aboard 'it, and sailed the next day with a fair wind for New 'England, where I hoped to get an immediate passage 'to the Old: but Providence was kinder than my ex'pectation; for the third day after we were at sea we 'met an English man of war homeward bound; the 'captain of it was a very good-natured man, and agreed 'to take me on board. I accordingly took my leave 'of my old friend the master of the shipwrecked vessel, 'who went on to New England, whence he intended 'to pass to Jamaica, where his owners lived. I was now 'treated with great civility, had a little cabin assigned 'me, and dined every day at the captain's table, who 'was indeed a very gallant man, and, at first, made me 'a tender of his affections; but, when he found me 'resolutely bent to preserve myself pure and entire for 'the best of husbands, he grew cooler in his addresses, 'and soon behaved in a manner very pleasing to me, 'regarding my sex only so far as to pay me a deference, 'which is very agreeable to us all.

'To conclude my story; I met with no adventure in this 'passage at all worth relating till my landing at Graves'end, whence the captain brought me in his own boat 'to the Tower. In a short hour after my arrival we 'had that meeting, which, however dreadful at first, 'will, I now hope, by the good offices of the best of 'men, whom heaven for ever bless, end in our perfect

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