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Chapter 58

Peregrine, almost distracted with his Disappointment, conjures the fair Fleming to permit his Visits at Brussels — She withdraws from his Pursuit.

Things being thus adjusted, and all the company dressed, they went to breakfast about five in the morning; and in less than an hour after were seated in the diligence, where a profound silence prevailed. Peregrine, who used to be the life of the society, was extremely pensive and melancholy on account of his mishap, the Israelite and his dulcinea dejected in consequence of their disgrace, the poet absorbed in lofty meditation, the painter in schemes of revenge; while Jolter, rocked by the motion of the carriage, made himself amends for the want of rest he had sustained; and the mendicant, with his fair charge, were infected by the cloudy aspect of our youth, in whose disappointment each of them, for different reasons, bore no inconsiderable share. This general languor and recess from all bodily exercise disposed them all to receive the gentle yoke of slumber; and in half-an-hour after they had embarked, there was not one of them awake, except our hero and his mistress, unless the Capuchin was pleased to counterfeit sleep, in order to indulge our young gentleman with an opportunity of enjoying some private conversation with his beauteous ward.

Peregrine did not neglect the occasion; but, on the contrary, seized the first minute, and, in gentle murmurs, lamented his hard hap in being thus the sport of fortune. He assured her, and that with great sincerity, that all the cross accidents of his life had not cost him one half of the vexation and keenness of chagrin which he had suffered last night; and that now he was on the brink of parting from her, he should be overwhelmed with the blackest despair, if she would not extend her compassion so far as to give him an opportunity of sighing at her feet in Brussels, during the few days his affairs would permit him to spend in that city. This young lady, with an air of mortification, expressed her sorrow for being the innocent cause of his anxiety; said she hoped last night’s adventure would be a salutary warning to both their souls; for she was persuaded, that her virtue was protected by the intervention of Heaven; that whatever impression it might have made upon him, she was enabled by it to adhere to that duty from which her passion had begun to swerve; and, beseeching him to forget her for his own peace, gave him to understand, that neither the plan she had laid down for her own conduct, nor the dictates of her honour, would allow her to receive his visits, or carry on any other correspondence with him, while she was restricted by the articles of her marriage-vow.

This explanation produced such a violent effect upon her admirer, that he was for some minutes deprived of the faculty of speech; which he no sooner recovered, than he gave vent to the most unbridled transports of passion. He taxed her with barbarity and indifference; told her, that she had robbed him of his reason and internal peace; that he would follow her to the ends of the earth, and cease to live sooner than cease to love her; that he would sacrifice the innocent fool who had been the occasion of all this disquiet, and murder every man whom he considered as an obstruction to his views. In a word, his passions, which had continued so long in a state of the highest fermentation, together with the want of that repose which calms and quiets the perturbation of the spirits, had wrought him up to a pitch of real distraction. While he uttered these delirious expressions, the tears ran down his cheeks; and he underwent such agitation that the tender heart of the fair Fleming was affected with his condition: and, while her own face was bedewed with the streams of sympathy, she begged him, for Heaven’s sake, to be composed; and promised, for his satisfaction, to abate somewhat of the rigour of her purpose. Consoled by this kind declaration, he recollected himself; and, taking out his pencil, gave her his address, when she had assured him, that he should hear from her in four-and-twenty hours, at farthest, after their separation.

Thus soothed, he regained the empire of himself, and, by degrees, recovered his serenity. But this was not the case with his Amanda, who, from this sample of his disposition, dreaded the impetuosity of his youth, and was effectually deterred from entering into any engagements that might subject her peace and reputation to the rash effects of such a violent spirit. Though she was captivated by his person and accomplishments, she had reflection enough to foresee, that the longer she countenanced his passion, her own heart would be more and more irretrievably engaged, and the quiet of her life the more exposed to continual interruption. She therefore profited by these considerations, and a sense of religious honour, which helped her to withstand the suggestions of inclination; and resolved to amuse her lover with false hopes, until she should have it in her power to relinquish his conversation, without running any risk of suffering by the inconsiderate sallies of his love. It was with this view that she desired he would not insist upon attending her to her mother’s house, when they arrived at Brussels; and he, cajoled by her artifice, took a formal leave of her, ............

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