These noble Lovers having related their different Adventures to Publius, he engag'd them to remain at his House, 'till the Return of those Messengers he had sent to Rome, to advertise the noble Fabius and Lucullus touching the Imprisonment of their Children, Fabius and Jemella, in Sardinia. He also sent Word to my Lord Marcellus of his Son's being arriv'd at his House, and to others of his Friends and Relations, who were concern'd with these young Lovers, or their Proceedings.
In the mean Time, Cordialia being recover'd, Scipiana accommodated her with all Things necessary for a young Lady; and so she augmented the Number of this happy Company, her Beauty, and other Endowments, giving her a Place in every Body's Esteem; but especially that of Ismenus, who soon found the Difference between her vertuous Charms, and the loose Behaviour of his African Emilia. Where Vertue is united to Beauty, the Heart of the Lover is doubly ty'd, not only by Passion, but Reason; the latter commonly proving the more strong and lasting Bond; for if Vertue does not keep, as well as Beauty take, the captivated Heart soon gets its Liberty, as appears by Ismenus and Emilia: But Cordiala's vertuous Mein and Actions fasten'd his young Heart in the strong Bonds of an unalterable Affection, which he discover'd to her on all Occasions possible.
Now it happen'd, that Libidinia, the fair Widow, Clelia's Friend, was taken very dangerously sick; wherefore she sent to speak with Clelia. Marcellus being desirous to justify himself in her Presence, who was his Accuser, desir'd Leave to accompany Clelia for that Purpose. At their Arrival they found the Lady extreamly ill, which dispos'd her to Repentance, and owning her Crime; declaring, that it was she that had made the Discord between Clelia and Marcellus; for (said she) it was I that stole the little Picture, and gave it your Ladyship, with those cunning Insinuations, as if he had return'd it in Contempt; and, on the other Side, impos'd upon him, making him believe you unfaithful. This I did not out of Malice to either of you, but too great Fondness of Marcellus. You may believe I was push'd on by a violent Passion, otherwise I would not have engag'd myself in an Enterprize so ill founded, and so easily overthrown; but I trusted in the Opposition of your Parents on both Sides, the Disguise of Marcellus, which hinder'd him from appearing openly before you for his Justification, and the Interest Jemellaand her Friends had in him, &c. Amongst all these troubled Waters I hoped to fish out something to my Advantage, if I could but form a little Animosity between you; which I wickedly accomplish'd, but am now sincerely sorry, begging Pardon both of you and Heaven.
Marcellus and Clelia thank'd her for this free Acknowledgment, which verify'd what Marcellus had asserted. They begg'd her to quiet her Mind, in Hopes the Gods would pardon her as freely as they did, and to compose herself to Rest, thereby to facilitate her Recovery, that they might have her Company at my Lord Publius Scipio's,before they departed thence; so took their Leave, recommending her to the Protection of Heaven.
They were but just return'd, when there came Fabius, Jemella, Clodius, and Milena, to the great Surprize and Astonishment of all the Company; in particular, to see Clodius in such good Intelligence with the others, insomuch, that Scipiana knew not in what Manner to receive him, 'till Fabius took her out of her Difficulty, by asking Pardon for Clodius, desiring her to receive him as a Friend, promising to inform her the rest afterwards. The first Complements and Civilities being over, Scipiana presented Cordiala to Fabius, bidding him behold his Man Almon become a fair Lady, which was very surprizing to Fabius, Clodius, and the rest; but, in particular, Clodius was agitated in Mind, there to meet the Person once design'd for his Wife; to see her who had run through so many Difficulties and Hazards, purely to avoid his Love. He look'd on her with Veneration, saying, she deserv'd to crown the Head of some great Conqueror, who, like the chase Daphne, chose to suffer any Metamorphosis, rather than be united to so loose a Liver as he had been; but Heaven, I hope, will pardon, (as these noble Persons Fabius and Jemella have done) and thou, Cordiala, also receive me into Favour; for thy Sake I can become (what I thought impossible to my Nature) a constant Lover; and then I am sure I shall be as great a Metamorphosis in Manners, as thou art in Person; and since it was my loose Way of living that caus'd your Scom, let that vertuous Life I now pretend to live, procure your Kindness. Your loose Life (reply'd Cordiala) was but one Obstacle; my low Fortune was another, and that Cause not being remov'd, the Effect must remain. This Discourse was put to a Period by the coming in of Publius, to whom Clodius address'd with profound Respect, begging him to forgive what was past touching his Daughter and Nephew, and to obtain the same for him of the Senate; promising him never to do anything unworthy of his Pardon or Protection. To which Publius reply'd, that he had receiv'd Letters from Rome, which inform'd him, that the Lords Fabius and Lucullus would be here shortly, to whom you are to address yourself, as Persons equally injur'd. In the mean Time, I excuse and desire you to remain here with this good Company.
The approaching Night oblig'd these happy Friends to a Cessation of their grateful Entertainments, and to retire to their respective Apartments. The Ladies attended Jemella to her's, where they begg'd the Favour of her to recite the Manner of her Escape, and other Occurrences during her Confinement in Sardinia.
Madam, said Jemella, (addressing her Words to Scipiana ) you may remember how Clodius dispos'd us in different Cabbins, I suppose, that he might make his Court to us alternatively. He was in one of his amorous Follies, when the Fire took the Ship; which proving impossible to be extinguish'd, made us betake ourselves to the last miserable Means of Escape, and so committed ourselves to the Sea, where I floated a−while, but was soon taken by a Sea−Monster, call'd a Syren, being a Fish perfectly in Shape of a Man. This Monster carry'd me into the Hollow of a Rock, and there laid me on a Crag to drein and come to myself; which I soon did, to behold the greatest Horror that ever could be presented to human View. I found my self in the Custody of Monsters, in the Hollow of a Rock, where was no Footing but Water, except such Crags or Bosses on which I was laid, and those all besmear'd with Blood, and strew'd with human Bones, and by me lay a Body half devour'd by this Monster, the other Part stunk so as almost poison'd me. Here being alone in this Station of Horror, I had Time to reflect how justly the Gods punish'd me for my Folly and Disobedience; I say, Disobedience in Will at least, tho' not in Fact, in having so despis'd and abhorr'd that Country Solitude with my Grandmother, which was indeed a noble magnificent Place, but distant from Rome, the Original of Pride, Vanity, and Luxury; which engage the Hearts of too many of our Country Ladies, who enjoy all Things excellent in Nature, but undervalue all, because not in a Place their wild Fancies would chuse; of which I found my self sufficiently sensible here, and severely chastis'd. My Punishment was a Glass wherein I saw my Crimes; and withal, the Wisdom and Justice of the Gods, in having thus adapted one to the other. I, who had so ungratefully murmur'd at the happy Lot the Gods had drawn for me in that vertuous and honourable Station with my Grandmother, was now reduc'd to the Distress ás I told you, every Moment expecting the Return of the Monster to devour me. Sometimes I thought to throw myself into the Sea, to disappoint his greedy Jaws; but then I remember'd that was Self−Murder, which would intail upon me a miserable Eternity; wherefore, I forc'd my Inclinations to remain where he had laid me, in Expectation of his Return to devour me. I lay as on an Altar, and there offer'd my self to the Gods, begging them to receive my immortal Part, when this Frame should perish: But withal reflecting how much more agreeable this Resignation would have been to them, had it been before Necessity compell'd me; for without Doubt, the Offerings we make to Heaven out of a Motive of Love, are much more acceptable than those of Fear. As I lay in these Thoughts, there came swimming into the Rock a She−Monster, as I thought, for I took it to be a Syren; but finding her speak articulately and rationally in the Roman Language, I understood this Creature was really a Woman. She told me her Husband had sent her to comfort and assist me. I ask'd her who was her Husband? She told me, that it was her Husband that had found me, and brought me thither; that he was an old He− Syren, and was worship'd for a God by all the watery Kind; and that he had taken a great Liking to me, and would not hurt me, if I would submit to him. At which Words I was more amaz'd than ever, and wish'd rather to be a Prey to his Hunger than his Love. The Woman rais'd me from the Place whereon I lay, and help'd me to scramble up some Craggs of the Rock, and pass'd with me through a Cleft, and so got into a pretty Kind of a Room, where was a little Fire of Shells and Fish Bones, as also some human Bones, Ribs, Sculls, and the like, the Ensigns of Horror and Amazement. There was a little Bed, or Couch, on which she laid me, and gave me some good Liquor out of a Bottle; all which reviv'd me, and put me in a little Condition to examine her how she came and how long she had liv'd there. She told me she was the Daughter of a wealthy Citizen of Rome, who had design'd to marry her to a rich neighbouring Citizen; but she, like many of her Age and Rank, thinking her Wealth deserv'd something above her Quality, kept a secret Intrigue with one of the Gallants of the Town, a Man of Wit and Quality: So, flattering herself with the Hopes of being one Day his Lady, suffer'd herself to be debauch'd by him; but was so far from finding what her Folly expected, that she became the Object of his Scorn and Aversion; which is no more than common in those Cases. Her Father finding out what had happen'd, with the utmost Anger turn'd her out of Doors, to find that Misery her Crimes had sought. In this distress'd Condition she wander'd, resolving, if possible, to get into some far Country, there to hide her Shame; in order to which, she made Acquaintance with some Sea−men, who took her on Board, where she was diliver'd of the Fruit of her Lewdness; and not many Days after the Ship was cast away, and she was taken up by the foremention'd Sea−Monster, and liv'd with him ever since as his Wife. In this I could not but again admire the exact Justice of Heaven, in thus punishing her Lewdness and Disobedience to her Parents. She that refus'd the honest Espousals provided by her Father, became Wife to a Monster; she that disgrac'd herself and her Friends by unlawful Lust, was a Prostitute to a Fish: Nor did I omit to make Reflections on my self, in the Case of Marcellus. I ask'd her how she did at first accommodate herself to that strange Life? She said, it was with much Difficulty; but Custom made it become natural, insomuch, that now she believes she could not bear dwelling on Land. The Syrenus, she said, had always been very kind to her, and she very assistant to him, in helping him to catch his Prey; for she could swim and dive as well as he; but principally she was beneficial to him in bringing the half−drown'd Prey to Life in this little Room; for he could not endure so far from the Water, especially in this Place where there was Fire, and he did not love to eat the Bodies that were drown'd; and that was the Reason she had taken so much Pains to bring me to Life; nevertheless, (said she) be not afraid, be rul'd by me, and you shall be happy; for I have a Son (continu'd she) shall be your Husband, and you shall live with me in this Rock, which is the chief in all this Sea. In a little Time you will learn to swim and dive, see all the Riches at the Bottom of the Sea, the Groves of Samphire, and pleasant Grotto's of Coral; rejoycé in the Voices of the Syrens, and dance to the Musick of the Tritons; every one striving to do you Service, and be worship'd as a Goddess by all the watery Kind; and what can Ambition require more than to be Deify'd? All this Extravagance so distracted, frighted, and amaz'd me, that I scarce knew what to say: But as the Honour of the Gods ought to concern one most, so I began to reprimand her first on that Score, as affronting and blaspheming their Divinities, in setting up poor Mortals in their Place, or making them Competitors. As I was about to proceed, to make her know the Affront she put upon human Kind in general, and to me in particular, we heard a Noise below, which she understood; for the Monster she call'd Husband, had brought in more Prey, so call'd to her to take it up, in order to bring it to Life, if possible. It was a Man, in all Appearance dead; however, she laid him before the Fire, and chaf'd him well with the Liquors she had by her, and forc'd some down his Throat. In the mean Time, I knew not what I had best to do, whether to assist her or not; for I knew that the bringing him to Life, was but to make him the more pleasing Prey to the Monster; therefore thought him happier to remain dead, as he appear'd. But then again, I thought the Gods expected I should serve the present Necessity, and leave the Event to their Providence; therefore, I arose from the Couch on which I was laid, and join'd my Endeavours with hers to bring him to Life. When I had cleans'd his Face from the Froth and Filth with which it was smear'd, I found this Object of Misery was Clodius. I continu'd my Endeavours to bring him to Life, neither out of Malice nor Kindness, but out of Duty to the Gods, and the natural Tie of Humanity. At last we began to find a Kind of reviving Warmth to overspread him, and his Pulses began to move. We continu'd our Endeavours 'till I thought I saw him open his Eyes, then I call'd him by his Name, to try if he had yet any Sense. At my naming Clodius, the Woman started and trembled, so that I fear'd she would have fainted quite away, I left Clodius, to address my Assistance to her, who in a little Time recover'd, and said, the Gods had been extreamly just, to bring him to Punishment, who had been the Cause of her Ruin, and the Disgrace of her Family. But now (said she) I shall see that Flesh, whose Lust knew no Bounds, devour'd with the Teath of a Sea−Monster; and that Tongue, whose Falshood betray'd my Innocence, torn from its Root, and on these Coals made an Offering to Pluto; and many Things more she said to this Purpose. But Clodius coming to himself, told her that she was to accuse herself of her Ruin, forasmuch as she was not ignorant of the World: She knew the Town, and the Humour of the Times, and knew, that young Men would say and swear any Thing to gain their Ends on Girls, and then abandon them to Ruin and Despair; for, said he, that young Girl that will carry on secret Intrigues of Love, without the Knowledge or Consent of her Parents, deserves to be treated by her Gallant as you have been by me; for how could you suppose I would make you a Lady, or a Wife, who could not keep yourself a vertuous Maid, nor a dutiful Daughter? No, no, (continu'd he) those who bridle not their fond Desires with the Curb of Reason, or filial Duty, are only fit to be Wives to Monsters, or Mistresses to the last of Mankind; and such as will run to Balls Theatres, and Treats, with young Men of the Town, cannot expect the Vows we make are made to be kept, but to become the broken Meat for lost Vertue to feed upon, and be the miserable Support of a ruin'd Reputation: Of all which you could not be ignorant, at least my Character was sufficiently known, to have inform'd you; therefore, it is yourself you are to reproach for all your Misfortunes.
As they were in this Discourse, the Monster below made a Noise, which she understood, and gave him down a great Fish or two, the Blood being first squeez'd out, as also a Bottle of good Liquor. She told us he had ask'd her if either of us were so well recover'd, as to be fit to be his Prey; but she had told him no, out of Kindness to me, (as she worded it) and Malice to Clodius; adding, that she design'd me for her Son, who was in all Respects a Human Creature, excepting that he could live under Water. She ran on, saying many Things in Praise of this her young Monster; which shews how blind we are towards the Defects or Deformities of what belongs to ourselves; for she represented this young Monster as a Hero of the Ocean, a principal Minister of State to Neptune, and a young God of all the watry Kind. As I was about to reprimand her for her Extravagance, we heard a Noise below, which was the worthy Monster her Son, who had brought with him a Woman, so call'd, to his Mother to take her up through the Cleft. As soon as we saw her, we knew her to be Milena, Scipiana's faithful Waiting−Gentlewoman. The poor Girl was wet, fatigu'd, and faint, otherwise alive and well; for the young Monster had found her when she first fell into the Water, and carry'd her to the Side of a Rock, where he had entertain'd her with the Sight of many Sea−Rarities, and the Voices of Syrens, Creatures of his own Kindred; and after perceiving her faint and discompos'd, brought her here to his Mother, to be reviv'd, he himself coming along with her; so I had a Sight of my pretended Lover, and was presented to him by his Mother, as the Person she had found him for his Wife: But the Monster by Luck was so good−natur'd to refuse me, telling his Mother, (in a strange squeaking Tone) that he was desirous to have the Woman he had found himself, having already offer'd her his Love; and if that other Woman wanted a Mate, she might take that Man which was there with her, he being resolv'd to keep to this Woman he had found: Which Piece of Kindness and Constancy serv'd only to augment Milena's Fright and Consternation; and indeed we had no Reason to be otherwise in that miserable State to which we were reduc'd. However, Clodius was so far Master of his Temper, as to make Use of the Monster's Kindness, and began to flatter him in it, and told him how extreamly this Constancy in Love was esteem'd on Land, and promis'd him if he would go with them on Shore, he should find a much happier Being than here at Sea, and there he should have this Woman to himself, and live together in a stately House, and have many Servants to wait on them, and there enjoy all that Sea and Land could afford; which he easily believ'd, because his Mother had told him such admirable Stories of the Land, that he seem'd willing to go with us, provided his Mother would go; for he said he would not leave her behind, she being one of the earthly World, he would not abandon her alone to the watry Kind; with other Things to this Purpose, which he spake with such an Air of Love and Tenderness, that we began to be charm'd with the Creature, and used what Arguments we could to perswade him to go with us. In the mean Time, Clodius perswaded the Woman, telling her that she and her Son should live with him in his Castle in Sardinia, and that he would establish her Son in one of his Lordships and so make her and him happy after all the Affliction his Crimes had procur'd her. The wretched Creature was not hard to be persuaded, and accordingly persuaded her Son; so by a general Consent we were all to leave the Rock that Night; we only stay'd till the Moon rose, which was not long, it being a little past the Full. At the Rise of the Moon the Syrens all began to sing, and made the finest Harmony possible; there were great Numbers dwelt about that Rock, and other Rocks in that Sea: They sung in perfect Concord, tho' many and divers Sort of Voices, from the highest Treble to the lowest Base, yet so united, that one could scarce distinguish whether it was not all one Voice: Then they sung in Parts, and sometimes only a particular Voice; but which Way soever it was, it was most charming, and I perceiv'd they sung in Honour of the rising Moon, as being the chief Goddess of the Ocean. Their Singing being over, they threw up a great deal of Water, as an Offering to the Moon, which they spouted up in most curious Works, Curls, and Branches to Admiration. This being done, they retir'd to their Rest on the Sides of the Rocks. Then it was that we were to enterprize our Escape, which was to be done with great Silence and soft Motions, for fear of waking the old Syren who lay snoaring below, and no Way to pass but down by the same Cleft we ascended, close by his rocky Bed. However, by the Help of the Woman and her Son, we got safe down into the Water. At the Entrance of the watery Cave lay a Plank of a broken Ship; on this they put Clodius; and the Woman taking me, and her Son Milena, we all made our Escape to Shore in Sardinia. Here we stay'd a while to rest and refresh our selves after our dangerous Fatigues; but our Companions grew soon indispos'd, being out of their Element; for the Woman had liv'd so long in the Water, that it was become so natural to her, that she could not bear the Air at Land, but grew so ill, that we almost despair'd of her Recovery, and her Son worse; so, upon their earnest Desires, we help'd them both into the Water again, being sorry that we had no other Way to testify our Gratitude for all their Kindness.
Having a little recover'd our Fatigue, Clodius hasted to convey us to his Castle, which stood in the Midst of Sardinia, encompass'd with many Lordships of his own: A Place truly magnificent, having been in former Times the Palace Royal of the Kings of Sardinia. Here we had all Things necessary for my Sex and Quality; but the Thoughts of my being a Prisoner in the Hands of the lewd Clodius, and the Loss of my dear Friend Scipiana,together with other sorrowful Reflexions, gave me a perpetual Chagrin; which, together with the foul Air of Sardinia, depriv'd me of my Health, that I was incapable of returning into my own Country, if Clodius would have permitted. Nevertheless I must do him the Justice to own, that he not only assur'd me in Words, of all Service, but also perform'd in Fact; for there was nothing wanting, that might conduce to the Recovery of my Health; even he ceas'd to persecute me with his Love, leaving me in Repose with Milena and those other Women he had given me for Attendance; for, to say the Truth, Clodius is not ill−natur'd, only his extravagant Conduct in some Things has so far lost his Reputation, as may be very hardly retriev'd.
After many Weeks Sickness, I began at last to recover. I walk'd into the Park which join'd to the House, where there are many Groves, Grotto's, and Fountains, fine Walks of Trees, marble Statues, and rare carv'd Work. At my first going out, I went to a Fountain of Diana, a Place I had before frequented, to implore the Protection of this Deity. Approaching the Place, (which is inviron'd and cover'd over with Trees) I saw lying, as it were, at the Feet of the Goddess, a gallant Person asleep, who at the Noise of our Entry awak'd, and seeming all surpriz'd, cast himself at my Feet, saying, If you be the Guardian Goddess of this Place, forgive my intruding into your Retirement, accept of my Devotions, and favour me with your divine Protection and Assistance. I was surpriz'd at these his Expressions, and stood in a little Pause what to answer. In the mean Time, Milena looking well upon him, knew him to be Fabius, and he as soon knew her to be Milena, and ask'd her for her Lady Scipiana, in Search of whom he had left Italy, and was come into Sardinia, in Hopes to hear News of her, or at least to be reveng'd on Clodius for his having assassinated him in the Streets of Rome. Whereupon Milena gave him a brief Account how we had been carry'd away by Clodius; and how we, together with Scipiana, were forc'd on the Waves, by Means of Fire taking the Ship: And as she was about to proceed to the Means and Manner of our getting thither, Clodius came, I suppose thinking to congratulate my going abroad. At the Sight of him, Fabiuswas so transported, that he drew, and ran violently upon him, saying, he would now deliver the World of a Monster; so gave him a very desperate Wound, before Clodius could put himself in any Posture of Defence: Which was a Rashness Fabius would not have been guilty of, had he had a generous vertuous Opposite; but the unworthy Actions of Clodius had depriv'd him of the Right of a fair Combat. This Accident forc'd a Passage to our Cries, and immediately a Number of Clodius's Servants came, and took their Master to his Bed, and Fabius to Prison; his Man also, who was on the other Side the Park−Wall, with the Horses he brought to the Castle, to serve his Master. Clodius's Wound confin'd him long to his Bed, and was so bad, that the Surgeons despair'd of his Recovery. Wherefore he sent for me, and begg'd my Pardon for all that had pass'd; charg'd the Master of his Houshold, that if he dy'd, to see me convey'd safe to my Father, and to give Fabius his Liberty, saying, that he had well deserv'd what he had receiv'd from him, even Death; and many other Words, testifying Kindness to us, and sincere Repentance for all his Crimes and Follies.
In the mean Time, Fabius, by Means of his Imprisonment, and the ill Air of Sardinia, fell sick; for which Clodiusseem'd very sorry, and engag'd me to go to him, and assure him of all Kindness from Clodius, and to conjure him, on his Behalf, to neglect nothing that might conduce to his Recovery. When I was with him, he told me this Honour I did him, was capable not only to cure, but even raise him from the Dead; for I believe, continu'd he, the chief Cause of my Sickness to proceed from the Want of your Presence. These Words a little displeas'd me, as supposing them unsuitable to our unhappy Circumstances; so that I was under a little Pause, not knowing readily what to reply. Therefor he added, 'Tis true, Madam, I have not had one Moment's Repose since I first saw you at the Fountain. Pardon, continu'd he, this my abrupt Declaration, which I should not have made, if Sickness did not partly force me; for it is such as I have Reason to think may take me out of the World; and I shall die much more satisfy'd, since you are informed I die your most faithful and passionate Lover. To which I reply'd, that I had very hard Fortune to be the Object of Courtship to all false and inconstant Pretenders. If (said I) there be no Truth in your Sex, there ought to be Honour in your Quality, or at least Respect to mine. Adieu, Sir, your Discourse is very displeasing.
Being return'd to my own Apartment, I reflected with Anger on what had pass'd, examining my own Conduct and Behaviour, but could find nothing that might thus expose me to Courtship, and make me the Mistress to so may false Pertenders. Marcellus, Clodius, and now Fabius, who seem'd to me the most unpardonable, thus to abuse the Charms of the bright Scipiana, and affront her in thus offering a false Amour to me her Friend; and this from Fabius, the worthy, noble, vertuous Fabius, that he should be false to his Love, false to the most vertuous of her Sex, and his Kinswoman; and in so doing transgress his Duty to his noble Parents, who authoriz'd this Affection by their unanimous Consent and Approbation.
In these Kind of Thoughts I pass'd the Night. Next Morning Almon his Man came to speak with Milena, telling her how cruelly his Master resented my severe Deportment; and therefore begg'd of her to gain me, if possible, to come once more to him, to give him Opportunity to beg my Pardon. This she represented to me in a Manner so touching, that I could not defend my self from her Importunities. When I enter'd his Chamber, I know not whether by Means of his Weakness, or Surprize of my Presence, but he fainted quite away. After a while, being come to himself, he said the Gods would not permit him to leave this World, without asking Pardon, though (continu'd he) I have little Hopes of obtaining it, not being able to repent; for it is less in my Power to cease from loving you, than Heaven or my own Happiness; therefore Pardon must proceed from your own Goodness, Be not cruel, Madam, to your dying Lover; dying not in Fancy, but in real Fact; pity the weak State to which I am reduc'd by Sickness and hard Fortune, and let that Pity excite you to pardon the rash Declaration I made of my Love, and abandon me not to your Scorn and Anger. I know not what Answer to make (reply'd I) in these your weak Circumstances, only beg you to remember, that Marcellus on my Part, and Scipiana on yours, ought to be the chief Object of our Affections, and Bound of all our amorous Inclinations. The Gods, and Scipiana herself, (were she here, reply'd he) could witness, that our Love was rather the Effect of Duty to our Parents, than any essential Being it had in our Souls; nor was I ever sensible of its divine Authority, 'till your Eyes brought me in Subjection: Not but that I have a true Veneration for my Cousin Scipiana's Perfections, and throughly convinc'd of the Excellence of filial Duty; nevertheless, our Passions not being in our Power, we cannot always comply with our Parents Election. This is an unseasonable Discourse, reply'd I, at present; therefore beg you to defer it, at least, 'till the Recovery of your Health and our Liberty, and then we shall see which Way Providence and our wise Parents will dispose Things. In the mean Time, I beg you to quiet your Mind by a true Resignation to the Will of the Gods; and, at present, give me Leave to retire, for your weak State requires Repose. These Words he receiv'd with some Satisfaction, and endeavour'd to apply them to the Recovery of his Health, in the mean Time sending Almonfrequently to entertain Milena on the Subject of his Affection.
When Clodius was a little recover'd of his Wound, he came to visit Fabius, and told him, that since Scipiana, the Object of their Enmity was absent, he desir'd they might be perfect Friends, forgiving each other what was past, and living in good Intelligence for the future; and as I shall be ready to render you all Service, (continu'd Clodius) so I hope to receive reciprocal Obligations from you, in particular, in what I am about to propose.
Be pleas'd to know, that in Consideration of you and Justice, I have overcome my Passion for Scipiana, as belonging to you by Right of her Father's Donation; that if the Gods have spar'd her, I shall never more dispute her with you, but shall for ever direct all my Vows to the adorable Jemella, and desire you to perswade her on my Behalf; for the Reputation you have acquir'd of Virtue and Wisdom, may intitle you to be her Counsellor; and whatsoever you shall assert to her of the Sincerity of my Affection, or the Reformation of my Life, I shall make good in Fact, for I profess I begin to be weary of my loose dabauch'd Way of living. I should think my self happy (reply'd Fabius ) to serve and join with you in a mutual Friendship; but you are mistaken in thinking the Object of our Dispute absent in the Person of Scipiana; for I assure you, she has no other Share in my Heart than that of a Friend or Relation; but Jemella is the only Beauty I do or ever shall adore. Is it possible (reply'd Clodius ) that one of your Character, the wise and virtuous Fabius, should be inconstant in his Love; I know Fortune has been liberal of her Favours of that Kind towards me, but I little thought of finding a Companion in you; nevertheless I love you for it; but withal love my self so well, as to secure you from doing me any Injury. Wherefore he kept Fabius a closer Prisoner than before, and prohibited all Correspondence between Almon and Milena; in the mean Time perscuted me with his Courtship, which was to me extremely displeasing. Fabius, no doubt, found himself unhappy enough under this his strict Restraint; nor could we hope for an End of this our Misfortune, it being impossible for us to advertise our Friends, or the Senate, of this our Confinement.
Fabius walking one Day in his Chamber, reflecting on his Misfortune, he perceiv'd the Floor in one Part to give a more hollow Sound than the other; wherefore to satisfy his Curiosity, Almon and he found Means to get up those Planks, where they found Steps, by which they descended a great Depth into an arch'd Vault, which led them far under Ground. As they pass'd on, they came to a little Rivulet which ran cross the Vault, whose Murmur made a kind of strange and dreadful Noise as it pass'd that hollow Cavity. At first, they thought this Brook would have put a Period to their Passage; but, upon Search, they found it fordable, and the Vault to extend it self a great Way beyond, 'till at last they came to Steps, which mounted a vast Height, but when they were got to the Top, they were surpriz'd to find over their Heads a flat Board; but after a little Obfervation, they found the Board to give Way, and lifted up in Manner of a Trap−Door. They entering, found themselves in the midst of a vast Image of Hercules, which is plac'd directly over the Altar in his Temple. In the Back−Part of this monstrous Figure was a Passage into the Priest's Lodging, where they found him in his Bed fast asleep, it being Night when they undertook this Enterprize. By this Adventure they guess'd at the Cheat of those Priests, who amus'd the People with their own Frauds, making them pass for divine Oracles: For this Castle of Clodius was formerly the Palace Royal of the Kings of Sardinia, and the Vault, no doubt, had been a secret Passage for the Priest's to the King's Closet, there to know of him what they should make the Oracle deliver to the People: But these Abuses being remov'd by the Wisdom of our Roman Government, the said Passage was forgot, at least never known to Clodius. But to return to Fabius and Almon. They, without Noise, or waking the Priest, return'd quietly to their Lodging, and there consider'd what Use they might make of this Discovery.
They resolv'd upon making an Escape; but seeing no Possibility of having me with 'em, Fabius resolv'd to stay himself, and only send Almon to try his Wits and Fortune to get through the Priest's Lodgings, which they put in Execution the first Opportunity: Almon being to feign himself Mercury, and sent from the Gods with their Benediction to the Priest, with a little Purse of Gold, as a Recompence of his Devotion, or rather to pay his Passage through his House; for the Golden Key can open all Locks, and break thro' all Barriers.
Three or four Days pass'd without any Noise or Suspicion of what had happen'd. Then Clodius having been a Hunting, and a little fatigu'd, return'd by the House of the said Priest, where he went in a little to refresh himself. The Priest being full of Joy and Extasy, could not contain from revealing to Clodius this extraordinary Favour of the Gods: But Clodius having more Wit than Devotion, interrogated the Priest much about it; and by the Description he gave, fancy'd it must needs be Almon, escap'd by some Stratagem of Fabius; and being impatient to know the Truth, as soon as he got Home, went directly to the Apartment of Fabius, where missing Almon, he was convinc'd of what before he suspected; but politickly dissembling the same, said to Fabius, Notwithstanding that you are my Rival, and in my Possession, having Power to retain you Prisoner, or put you to Death, nevertheless I am willing to give you Liberty, not doubting but that you will in Requital resign to me Jemella. Fabius thank'd him for the offer'd Kindness of his Liberty; but withal assur'd him, that the principal Use he would make of it, should be to the Service of Jemella. Therefore (continu'd he) if you will render this Action truly generous, give Jemella her Liberty also, and then let us try whose Vows and Services will be most acceptable. At that Rate, reply'd Clodius, I shall be sure to be the Loser. For that Reputation of Virtue which the World has bestow'd on you, will as surely give you that Advantage against me, as Flattering the People gives a Man the consular Dignity against a Person of greater Merit. But 'tis no Matter (continu'd he) if it be so, she is not the first Mistress I have lost by an hundred, and I hope will not be the last by a thousand; then let us go together to her, and see if she will be content to go with us into Italy. Thus they came to me, Clodius making the agreeable Proposal, desiring me to pardon what was pass'd, and be his Advocate to my Father and the Senate. This generous good Offer I thought ought not to be slighted, he being able to defend himself against all the Power of Rome, (at least a considerable Time) the whole Country of Sardinia being at his Devotion, or indeed at the Devotion of any one that would deliver them from their Roman Conquerors. So, not knowing what might happen, or what Violence he might be tempted to use upon us, when besieg'd, distress'd, and hopeless of Pardon; wherefore I comply'd with this Profer, and in Consideration of the handsome Treatment I had receiv'd whilst I was there, promised him any Act of Friendship in my Power. Thus we came together, without any considerable Adventure, 'till we arriv'd at this Port, and became happy in finding all this good Company.
Jemella having finish'd her Discourse, the Ladies return'd her Thanks, and all address'd themselves to Night's Repose.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:05