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Part 4 Chapter 7

Mrs. Heartfree Relates Her Adventures.

Mrs. Heartfree proceeded thus: “The vengeance which the French captain exacted on that villain (our hero) persuaded me that I was fallen into the hands of a man of honour and justice; nor indeed was it possible for any person to be treated with more respect and civility than I now was; but if this could not mitigate my sorrows when I reflected on the condition in which I had been betrayed to leave all that was dear to me, much less could it produce such an effect when I discovered, as I soon did, that I owed it chiefly to a passion which threatened me with great uneasiness, as it quickly appeared to be very violent, and as I was absolutely in the power of the person who possessed it, or was rather possessed by it. I must however do him the justice to say my fears carried my suspicions farther than I afterwards found I had any reason to carry them: he did indeed very soon acquaint me with his passion, and used all those gentle methods which frequently succeed with our sex to prevail with me to gratify it; but never once threatened, nor had the least recourse to force. He did not even once insinuate to me that I was totally in his power, which I myself sufficiently saw, and whence I drew the most dreadful apprehensions, well knowing that, as there are some dispositions so brutal that cruelty adds a zest and savour to their pleasures, so there are others whose gentler inclinations are better gratified when they win us by softer methods to comply with their desires; yet that even these may be often compelled by an unruly passion to have recourse at last to the means of violence, when they despair of success from persuasion; but I was happily the captive of a better man. My conqueror was one of those over whom vice hath a limited jurisdiction; and, though he was too easily prevailed on to sin, he was proof against any temptation to villany.

“We had been two days almost totally becalmed, when, a brisk gale rising as we were in sight in Dunkirk, we saw a vessel making full sail towards us. The captain of the privateer was so strong that he apprehended no danger but from a man-of-war, which the sailors discerned this not to be. He therefore struck his colours, and furled his sails as much as possible, in order to lie by and expect her, hoping she might be a prize.” (Here Heartfree smiling, his wife stopped and inquired the cause. He told her it was from her using the sea-terms so aptly: she laughed, and answered he would wonder less at this when he heard the long time she had been on board; and then proceeded.) “This vessel now came alongside of us, and hailed us, having perceived that on which we were aboard to be of her own country; they begged us not to put into Dunkirk, but to accompany them in their pursuit of a large English merchantman, whom we should easily overtake, and both together as easily conquer. Our captain immediately consented to this proposition, and ordered all his sail to be crowded. This was most unwelcome news to me; however, he comforted me all he could by assuring me I had nothing to fear, that he would be so far from offering the least rudeness to me himself, that he would, at the hazard of his life, protect me from it. This assurance gave me all the consolation which my present circumstances and the dreadful apprehensions I had on your dear account would admit.” (At which words the tenderest glances passed on both sides between the husband and wife.)

“We sailed near twelve hours, when we came in sight of the ship we were in pursuit of, and which we should probably have soon come up with had not a very thick mist ravished her from our eyes. This mist continued several hours, and when it cleared up we discovered our companion at a great distance from us; but what gave us (I mean the captain and his crew) the greatest uneasiness was the sight of a very large ship within a mile of us, which presently saluted us with a gun, and now appeared to be a third-rate English man-of-war. Our captain declared the impossibility of either fighting or escaping, and accordingly struck without waiting for the broadside which was preparing for us, and which perhaps would have prevented me from the happiness I now enjoy.” This occasioned Heartfree to change colour; his wife therefore passed hastily to circumstances of a more smiling complexion.

“I greatly rejoiced at this event, as I thought it would not only restore me to the safe possession of my jewels, but to what I value beyond all the treasure in the universe. My expectation, however, of both these was somewhat crost for the present: as to the former, I was told they should be carefully preserved; but that I must prove my right to them before I could expect their restoration, which, if I mistake not, the captain did not very eagerly desire I should be able to accomplish: and as to the latter, I was acquainted that I should be put on board the first ship which they met on her way to England, but that they were proceeding to the West Indies.

“I had not been long on board the man-of-war before I discovered just reason rather to lament than rejoice at the exchange of my captivity; for such I concluded my present situation to be. I had now another lover in the captain of this Englishman, and much rougher and less gallant than the Frenchman had been. He used me with scarce common civility, as indeed he shewed very little to any other person, treating his officers little better than a man of no great good-breeding would exert to his meanest servant, and that too on some very irritating provocation. As for me, he addressed me with the insolence of a basha to a Circassian slave; he talked to me with the loose licence in which the most profligate libertines converse with harlots............

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