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He returned to his lodgings, and laid himself down; but, notwithstanding the fatigue he had undergone, sleep refused to visit his eyelids, all his faculties being kept in motion by the ideas that crowded so fast upon his imagination. Nevertheless, though his mind continued in agitation, his body was refreshed, and he arose in the forenoon with more serenity and vigour than he had enjoyed for many months. Every moment his heart throbbed with new rapture, when he found himself on the brink of possessing all that his soul held dear and amiable; he put on his gayest looks and apparel; insisted upon the Castilian's doing the same honour to the occasion; and the alteration of dress produced such an advantageous change in the appearance of Don Diego, that when Joshua arrived at the appointed hour, he could scarce recognise his features, and complimented him very politely on the improvement of his looks.
True it is, the Spaniard was a personage of a very prepossessing mien and noble deportment; and had not grief, by increasing his native gravity, in some measure discomposed the symmetry of his countenance, he would have passed for a man of a very amiable and engaging physiognomy. They set out in the Jew's coach for the house of Madam Clement, and were ushered into an apartment, where they found the clergyman and physician with that lady, to whom Don Diego and the Hebrew were by Melvil introduced.
Before they had seated themselves, Renaldo inquired about the health of Monimia, and was directed to the next room by Madam Clement, who permitted him to go thither, and conduct her to the company. He was not slow of availing himself of this permission. He disappeared in an instant, and, during his short absence, Don Diego was strangely disturbed The blood flushed and forsook his cheeks by turns; a cold vapour seemed to shiver through his nerves; and at his breast he felt uncommon palpitation. Madam Clement observed his discomposure, and kindly inquired into the cause; when he replied, "I have such an interest in what concerns the Count de Melvil, and my imagination is so much prepossessed with the perfections of Monimia, that I am, as it were, agonised with expectation; yet never did my curiosity before raise such tumults as those that now agitate my bosom."
He had scarce pronounced these words, when the door, reopening, Renaldo led in this mirror of elegance and beauty, at sight of whom the Israelite's countenance was distorted into a stare of admiration. But if such was the astonishment of Joshua, what were the emotions of the Castilian, when, in the beauteous orphan, he beheld the individual features of his long-lost Serafina!
His feelings are not to be described. The fond parent, whose affection shoots even to a sense of pain, feels not half such transport, when he unexpectedly retrieves a darling child from the engulfing billows or devouring flame. The hope of Zelos had been totally extinguished. His heart had been incessantly torn with anguish and remorse, upbraiding him as the murderer of Serafina. His, therefore, were the additional transports of a father disburdened of the guilt of such enormous homicide. His nerves were too much overpowered by this sudden recognition, to manifest the sensation of his soul by external signs. He started not, nor did he lift an hand in token of surprise; he moved not from the spot on which he stood; but, riveting his eyes to those of the lovely phantom, remained without motion, until she, approaching with her lover, fell at his feet, and clasping his knees, exclaimed, "May I yet call you father?"
This powerful shock aroused his faculties; a cold sweat bedewed his forehead; his knees began to totter; he dropped upon the floor, and throwing his arms around her, cried, "O nature! O Serafina! Merciful Providence! thy ways are past finding out." So saying, he fell upon her neck, and wept aloud. The tears of sympathetic joy trickled down her snowy bosom, that heaved with rapture inexpressible. Renaldo's eyes poured forth the briny stream. The cheeks of Madam Clement were not dry in this conjuncture; she kneeled by Serafina, kissed her with all the eagerness of maternal affection, and with uplifted hands adored the Power that preordained this blessed event. The clergyman and doctor intimately shared the general transport; and as for Joshua, the drops of true benevolence flowed from his eyes, like the oil on Aaron's beard, while he skipped about the room in an awkward ecstasy, and in a voice resembling the hoarse notes of the long-eared tribe, cried, "O father Abraham! such a moving scene hath not been acted since Joseph disclosed himself unto his brethren in Egypt."
Don Diego having found utterance to his passion, proceeded in this strain: "O my dear child! to find thee thus again, after our last unhappy parting, is wonderful! miraculous! Blessed be the all-good, my conscience. I am not then the dire assassin, who sacrificed his wife and daughter to an infernal motive, falsely titled honour? though I am more and more involved in a mystery, which I long to hear explained."
"That shall be my task," cried Renaldo, "but first permit me to implore your sanction to my passion for the incomparable Serafina. You already know our mutual sentiments; and though I own the possession of such inestimable worth and beauty would be a recompense that infinitely transcends the merit I can plead, yet, as it hath been my good fortune to inspire her with a mutual flame, I hope to reap from your indulgence here, what I could not expect from my own desert; and we present ourselves, in hope of your paternal assent and benediction."
"Were she more fair and good and gentle than she is," answered the Castilian, "and to my partial observation nought e'er appeared on earth more beauteous and engaging, I would approve your title to her heart, and recommend you to her smiles, with all a father's influence and power. Yes, my daughter! my joy on this occasion is infinitely augmented by the knowledge of those tender ties of love that bind thee to this amiable youth; a youth to whose uncommon courage and generosity I owe my life and my subsistence, together with the inexpressible delight that now revels in my bosom. Enjoy, my children, the happy fruits of your reciprocal attachment. May Heaven, which hath graciously conducted you through a labyrinth of perplexity and woe, to this transporting view of blissful days, indulge you with that uninterrupted stream of pure felicity, which is the hope, and ought to be the boon of virtue, such as yours!"
So saying, he joined their hands, and embraced them with the most cordial love and satisfaction, which diffused itself to every individual of the company, who fervently invoked the Almighty Power, in behalf of this enraptured pair. The tumult of these emotions having a little subsided, and the Castilian being seated betwixt Renaldo and his beauteous bride, he politely bespoke the indulgence of Madam Clement, begging she would permit him to demand the performance of the Count's promise, that he might be forthwith made acquainted with those circumstances of his own fate which he was so impatient to learn.
The lady having assured him, that she and all the company would take pleasure in hearing the recapitulation, the Spaniard, addressing himself to Melvil, "In the name of Heaven!" said he, "how could you supplant that rival, who fell a sacrifice to my resentment, after he had bewitched the heart of Serafina? for, sure, the affection he had kindled in her breast must have long survived his death," "That rival," replied the Count, "who incurred your displeasure, was no other than Renaldo." With these words, he applied to one eye a patch of black silk provided for the purpose, and turning his face towards Don Diego, that gentleman started with astonishment, crying, "Good Heaven! the very countenance of Orlando, whom I slew! this is still more amazing!"
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The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom -by- Tobias Smollett