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Capítulo XVII
Acaecimientos ordinarios expuestos a nueva luz

Bastante restablecida ya Arabela para salir de su cuarto, tuvo tantas ocasiones de gustar a su tío por medio de la conversación (siempre agradable en no tratándose de novelas) que se aficionó mucho a ella y mostró que le incomodaba el verse precisado a dejarla. Persuadiola mucho a que fuese con él a Londres, pero, determinada a pasar el año de su luto en el retiro, se resistió a la curiosidad de ver la capital. Leyéronla el testamento de su padre; celebró mucho el artículo que hablaba de* Glanville y le dio la enhorabuena en un estilo finísimo. Glanville suspiró y no se atrevió a mirarla al darla gracias. El barón, que penetró lo que pasaba en el alma de su hijo, dijo a su sobrina que su enhorabuena podía tomarse por un agüero desventajoso, porque su hijo no podía gozar de los beneficios de su tío sino a expensas de su felicidad.

Conoció Arabela el objeto de aquella proposición, encendiéronsela los colores y eludió la respuesta con algunas preguntas sobre el manejo de su casa. Mandó distribuir las mandas que su padre había hecho a los criados y deseó que a los que le habían asistido durante su enfermedad se les continuase el salario41. Además, dejó enteramente al cuidado de su tío la distribución de sus bienes y se refirió a él para fijar sus gastos hasta salir de la tutela, para lo que no la faltaban más que tres años.

Todo ordenado ya, se dispuso el barón a partir. Glanville deseaba quedarse, pero Arabela representó que su compañía podría perjudicar a su reputación y añadió reflexiones tan prudentes y sólidas que su tío no se atrevió a interceder por Glanville. Todo lo que este pudo conseguir fue el permiso de venir a verla con tal de que Carlota, su hermana, lo acompañase.

Llegado el día de la marcha se despidió el tío de la sobrina dándola los más señalados testimonios de su afecto. Glanville tenía los ojos arrasados de lágrimas. Arabela lo advirtió y se despidió de él de manera que lo dejó consolado. p. 78

Sola ya Arabela, la fueron pareciendo más largos los días. La imagen de su padre la melancolizaba cruelmente; viéndose privada de distracción y de sociedad, acordábase de las conversaciones divertidas que había tenido con su primo y se veía precisada a hacerle justicia. Sus libros, pues, fueron todo su recurso. Pero Arabela comenzaba ya a fastidiarse cuando la casualidad la proporcionó un conocimiento que la ocupó por algunos días. Se encontró, a la puerta de la iglesia, con una dama de pocos años acompañada de una mujer de algunos más que parecía una criada de confianza. Lo bien ajustado de su vestido, su porte noble, su majestuoso talle y la hermosura de sus facciones avivaron en nuestra heroína la idea de la bella Candaza*, tal cual la pinta Magdalena Escudery42. Arabela la observó mucho, figurose que notaba en sus ojos la expresión del pesar y se imaginó una serie novelesca de desventuras. Al salir de la iglesia, se hizo encontradiza con la hermosa extranjera43, la ofreció dos asientos en su coche y la suplicó que pasase a hacerla compañía en su quinta; aceptose el ofrecimiento. La elocuencia sencilla de Arabela, su candor y un no sé qué de benevolencia y de finura de que participaba cuanto decía eran cosas nuevas para aquella dama que trabajosamente pudo gustar de una conversación en que no entraban a la parte la maledicencia y la historia de las modas. Pero Arabela, creyendo que el carácter sombrío de su nueva compañera fuese efecto de sus penas, la propuso, por distraerla, ir a pasearse, no dudando que la vista de las grutas, de los bosquecillos y arroyuelos la determinarían a franquear su corazón. La dama no dejó, a la verdad, de despedir algunos suspiros, pero habló solo de cosas indiferentes y no se explicó como una heroína afligida. Después de haber observado mil cosas de poca importancia, dijo, en fin, que aquellos jardines se parecían mucho a los de su suegro el duque de… Arabela, familiarizada con la grandeza por su nacimiento y por sus lecturas, no respondió cosa alguna. La extranjera se formalizó y dio muestras de querer volverse a su casa, pero Arabela la instó tanto para que se quedara que, al fin, se esforzó a complacerla. Su misma reserva iba empeñando más y más la curiosidad de nuestra heroína y abrazó el partido de hacer hablar a la criada. A la mañana siguiente, la llamó a su cuarto y la pidió, con su natural sencillez, que la contase la historia de su ama. Moris, así se llamaba esta mujer, vaciló primeramente, pero era habladora, poco leal y, además, esperaba que se la pagase muy bien su cuento. Estos motivos, y particularmente el último, la resolvieron a descubrir lo que la mandaba callar su obligación.

—Creída estoy –la dijo Arabela– en que vuestra linda señora tiene razones particulares para venir a refugiarse a este desierto y a ocultar aquí su nombre; aseguraos de que la protegeré en cuanto dependiere de mí, podéis hablar sin reparo.

Poquísimo gustosa Moris con semejante oferta, arrugó el ceño; pero Arabela a efecto de inspirarla confianza añadió:

—Os dispenso de que empecéis por los sucesos de su infancia, pasad rápidamente a las cosas importantes, dadme el gusto de pintarme bien los afectos de su alma en los instantes críticos para que pueda yo apreciar las cosas y juzgar mejor de vuestra ama.

i Corrijo el original «con», que carece de sentido aquí.

ii Candaza] Condaza.

41 ‘distribuir las órdenes de su padre’.

42 La historia de Candaza, reina de Etiopía, y sus amores por Cesarión constituye una parte importante del libro Cléopâtre, de La Calprenède y no de Scudéry (Dalziel 393).

43 ‘extraña’, seguramente por influencia del témino original inglés stranger. De otro modo, el lector moderno puede confundirse, dado que se la califica de «inglesa» en el título del capítulo siguiente. Este significado ya queda recogido en el diccionario de Terreros y Pando (1787) (NTLLE).

Chapter IV
Which contains some common occurrences, but placed in a new light.

Arabella, in a few days, leaving her chamber, had so many opportunities of charming her uncle by her conversation, [97] which, when it did not turn upon any incident in her romances, was perfectly fine, easy, and entertaining that he declared he should quit the castle with great regret, and endeavoured to persuade her to accompany him to town. But Arabella, who was determined to pass the year of her mourning in the retirement she had always lived in, absolutely refused, strong as her curiosity was, to see London.

Mr. Glanville secretly rejoiced at this resolution, though he seemed desirous of making her change it; but she was unalterable, and, therefore, the baronet did not think proper to press her anymore.

Her father’s will being read to her, she seemed extremely pleased with the article in favour of Mr. Glanville, wishing him joy of the estate that was bequeathed to him, with a most enchanting sweetness.

Mr. Glanville sighed, and cast his eyes on the ground, as he returned her compliment, with a very low bow; and Sir Charles, observing his confusion, told Arabella that he thought it was a very bad omen for his son, to wish him joy of an estate which he could not come to the possession of but by a very great misfortune.

Arabella, understanding his meaning, blushed; and, willing to change the discourse, proceeded to consult her uncle upon the regulation of her house. Besides the legacies her father had bequeathed to his servants, those who were more immediately about his person she desired might have their salaries continued to them. She made no other alteration than discharging these attendants, retaining all the others; and [98] submitting to her uncle the management of her estates, receiving the allowance he thought proper to assign her till she was of age, of which she wanted* three years.

Everything being settled, Sir Charles prepared to return to town. Mr. Glanville, who desired nothing so much as to stay some time longer with his cousin in her solitude, got his father to entreat that favour for him of Arabella. But she represented to her uncle the impropriety of a young gentleman’s staying with her, in her house, now her father was dead, in a manner so genteel and convincing that Sir Charles could press it no further; and all that Mr. Glanville could obtain was a permission to visit her some time after, provided he could prevail upon his sister, Miss Charlotte Glanville, to accompany him.

The day of their departure being come, Sir Charles took his leave of his charming niece, with many expressions of esteem and affection; and Mr. Glanville appeared so concerned that Arabella could not help observing it, and bade him adieu with great sweetness.

When they were gone, she found her time hung heavy upon her hands; her father was continually in her thoughts, and made her extremely melancholy. She recollected the many agreeable conversations she had had with Glanville, and wished it had been consistent with decency to have detained him. Her books being the only amusement she had left, she applied herself to reading with more eagerness than ever; but, notwithstanding the delight she took in this employment, she had so many hours of solitude and melancholy to indulge [99] the remembrance of her father in that she was very far from being happy.p. 89

As she wished for nothing more passionately than an agreeable companion of her own sex and rank, an accident threw a person in her way, who, for some days, afforded her a little amusement. Stepping one day out of her coach to go into church, she saw a young lady enter, accompanied by a middle-aged woman, who seemed to be an attendant. As Arabella had never seen anyone, above the rank of a gentleman farmer’s daughter, in this church, her attention was immediately engaged by the appearance of this stranger, who was very magnificently dressed. Though she did not seem to be more than eighteen years of age, her stature was above the ordinary size of women; and, being rather too plump to be delicate, her mien was so majestic, and such an air of grandeur was diffused over her whole person, joined to the charms of a very lovely face that Arabella could hardly help thinking she saw the beautiful Candace before her, who, by Scudery’s description, very much resembled this fair one.

Arabella, having heedfully observed her looks, thought she saw a great appearance of melancholy in her eyes, which filled her with a generous concern for the misfortunes of so admirable a person; but, the service beginning, she was not at liberty to indulge her reflections upon this occasion, as she never suffered any thoughts, but those of religion, to intrude upon her mind during these pious rites.

As she was going out of church she observed the young lady attended only with the woman who came with her, preparing to walk [100] home, and therefore stepped forward, and, saluting her with a grace peculiar to herself, entreated her to come into her coach, and give her the pleasure of setting her down at her own house. So obliging an offer from a person of Arabella’s rank could not fail of being received with great respect by the young lady, who was not ignorant of all the forms of good breeding; and, accepting her invitation, she stepped into the coach, Arabella obliging her woman to come in also, for whom, as she had that day only Lucy along with her, there was room enough.

As they were going home, Arabella, who longed to be better acquainted, entreated the fair stranger, as she called her, to go to the castle, and spend the day with her; and she consenting, they passed by the house where she lodged, and alighted at the castle, where Arabella welcomed her with the most obliging expressions of civility and respect. The young lady, though perfectly versed in the modes of town-breeding, and nothing-meaning ceremony, was at a loss how to make proper returns to the civilities of Arabella. The native elegance and simplicity of her manners were accompanied with so much real benevolence of heart, such insinuating tenderness and graces so irresistible that she was quite oppressed with them; and, having spent most of her time between her toilet and quadrille,* was so little qualified for partaking a conversation so refined as Arabella’s that her discourse appeared quite tedious to her, since it was neither upon fashions, assemblies,* cards, or scandal.

Her silence, and that absence of mind which she betrayed made Arabella conclude she was [101] under some very great affliction. And, to amuse her after dinner, led her into the gardens, supposing a person whose uneasiness, as she did not doubt, proceeded from love, would be pleased with the sight of groves and streams, and be tempted to disclose her misfortunes while they wandered in that agreeable privacy. In this, however, she was deceived; for though the young lady sighed several times, yet, when she did speak, it was only of indifferent things, and not at all in the manner of an afflicted heroine.

After observing upon a thousand trifles, she told Arabella, at last, to whom she was desirous of making known her alliance to quality, that these gardens were extremely like those of her father’s-in-law, the duke of …, at ….p. 90

At this intimation, she expected Arabella would be extremely surprised; but that lady, whose thoughts were always familiarised to objects of grandeur, and would not have been astonished if she had understood her guest was the daughter of a king, appeared so little moved that the lady was piqued by her indifference; and, after a few moments’ silence, began to mention going away.

Arabella, who was desirous of retaining her a few days, entreated her so obligingly to favour her with her company for some time in her solitude that the other could not refuse. And dispatching her woman to the house where she lodged, to inform them of her stay at the castle, would have dispensed with her coming again to attend her, had not Arabella insisted upon the contrary.

The reserve which the daughter-in-law of the duke of … still continued to maintain, [102] notwithstanding the repeated expressions of friendship Arabella used to her, increased her curiosity to know her adventures, which she was extremely surprised she had never offered to relate; but attributing her silence upon this head to her modesty, she was resolved, as was the custom in those cases, to oblige her woman, who, she presumed, was her confidante, to relate her lady’s history to her; and sending for this person one day, when she was alone, to attend her in her closet, she gave orders to her women if the fair stranger came to enquire for her, to say she was then busy, but would wait on her as soon as possible.

After this caution, she ordered Mrs. Morris to be admitted; and, obliging her to sit down, told her she sent for her in order to hear from her the history of her lady’s life, which she was extremely desirous of knowing.

Mrs. Morris, who was a person of sense, and had seen the world, was extremely surprised at this request of Arabella, which was quite contrary to the laws of good breeding; and, as she thought, betrayed a great deal of impertinent curiosity. She could not tell how to account for the free manner in which she desired her to give up her lady’s secrets, which, indeed, were not of a nature to be told, and appeared so much confused that Arabella took notice of it; and supposing it was her bashfulness which caused her embarrassment, she endeavoured to reassure her by the most affable behaviour imaginable.

Mrs. Morris, who was not capable of much fidelity for her lady, being but lately taken [103] into her service, and not extremely fond of her, thought she had now a fine opportunity of recommending herself to Arabella, by telling her all she knew of Miss Groves, for that was her name; and therefore told her, since she was pleased to command it, she would give her what account she was able of her lady; but entreated her to be secret, because it was of great consequence to her that her affairs should not be known.

“I always imagined,” said Arabella, “that your beautiful mistress had some particular reason for not making herself known, and for coming in this private manner into this part of the country. You may assure yourself therefore that I will protect her as far as I am able, and offer her all the assistance in my power to give her. Therefore you may acquaint me with her adventures, without being apprehensive of a discovery that would be prejudicial to her.”p. 91

Mrs. Morris, who had been much better pleased with the assurances of a reward for the intelligence* she was going to give her, looked a little foolish at these fine promises, in which she had no share; and Arabella, supposing she was endeavouring to recollect all the passages of her lady’s life, told her she need not give herself the trouble to acquaint her with anything that passed during the infancy of her lady, but proceed to acquaint her with matters of greater importance: “And since,” said she, “you have, no doubt, been most favoured with her confidence, you will do me a pleasure to describe to me, exactly, all the thoughts of her soul, as she has communicated them to you, that I may the better comprehend her history.”

iof which she wanted] obs. To lack.

iiquadrille] A card game for four players.

iiiassemblies] A gathering of people for entertainment.

ivintelligence] Information, news.