Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, by Samuel Johnson

Chapter XIV

Rasselas and Imlac Receive an Unexpected Visit.

They had now wrought their way to the middle, and solaced their toil with the approach of liberty, when the Prince, coming down to refresh himself with air, found his sister Nekayah standing at the mouth of the cavity. He started, and stood confused, afraid to tell his design, and yet hopeless to conceal it. A few moments determined him to repose on her fidelity, and secure her secrecy by a declaration without reserve.

“Do not imagine,” said the Princess, “that I came hither as a spy. I had long observed from my window that you and Imlac directed your walk every day towards the same point, but I did not suppose you had any better reason for the preference than a cooler shade or more fragrant bank, nor followed you with any other design than to partake of your conversation. Since, then, not suspicion, but fondness, has detected you, let me not lose the advantage of my discovery. I am equally weary of confinement with yourself, and not less desirous of knowing what is done or suffered in the world. Permit me to fly with you from this tasteless tranquillity, which will yet grow more loathsome when you have left me. You may deny me to accompany you, but cannot hinder me from following.”

The Prince, who loved Nekayah above his other sisters, had no inclination to refuse her request, and grieved that he had lost an opportunity of showing his confidence by a voluntary communication. It was, therefore, agreed that she should leave the valley with them; and that in the meantime she should watch, lest any other straggler should, by chance or curiosity, follow them to the mountain.

At length their labour was at an end. They saw light beyond the prominence, and, issuing to the top of the mountain, beheld the Nile, yet a narrow current, wandering beneath them.

The Prince looked round with rapture, anticipated all the pleasures of travel, and in thought was already transported beyond his father’s dominions. Imlac, though very joyful at his escape, had less expectation of pleasure in the world, which he had before tried and of which he had been weary.

Rasselas was so much delighted with a wider horizon, that he could not soon be persuaded to return into the valley. He informed his sister that the way was now open, and that nothing now remained but to prepare for their departure.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38