Her parents said she might do so, for they relied on her great discretion that she would make such use of it as would always redound to her honour and advantage. “With that permission, then,” said Leonisa, “I beg it may not be taken amiss if I choose rather to seem overbold than ungrateful; and so, worthy Ricardo, my inclination, hitherto coy, perplexed, and dubious, declares in your favour, that the world may know that women are not all ungrateful. I am yours, Ricardo, and yours I will be till death, unless better knowledge move you to refuse me your hand.”
Ricardo was almost beside himself to hear her speak thus, and could make no other reply than by falling on his knees before her, grasping her hands, and kissing them a thousand times, with delicious tears. Cornelio wept with vexation, Leonisa’s parents for joy, and all the bystanders for admiration and sympathy.
The bishop, who was present, led them with his blessing to the church, and dispensing with the usual forms, married them at once. The whole city overflowed with gladness, which it testified that night by a splendid illumination, and for many days following in jousts and rejoicings given by the relations of Ricardo and Leonisa. Halima, who had lost all hope of having Ricardo for her husband, was content to become the wife of Mahmoud, having returned with him to the bosom of the church. Her parents and her two nephews were, by Ricardo’s bounty, presented with so much out of his share of the spoil as sufficed to maintain them for the rest of their lives. In a word, all were happy to their heart’s content; and the fame of Ricardo, spreading beyond the limits of Sicily, extended throughout all Italy and beyond it. He was universally known as the Generous Lover, and his renown is still prolonged in the persons of the many sons borne to him by Leonisa, who was a rare example of discretion, virtue, modesty, and beauty.
Among the spoils which the English carried off from the city of Cadiz, was a little girl of about seven years old. An English gentleman, named Clotald, commander of a squadron of vessels, took her to London without the knowledge of the Earl of Essex, and in defiance of his general orders. The parents complained to the earl of the loss of their child, and implored him, since he had declared that property alone should be seized, and the persons of the inhabitants should be left free, they should not, besides being reduced to poverty, suffer the additional misery of being deprived of their daughter, who was the very light of their eyes. The earl caused it to be proclaimed throughout his whole army, that whoever had possession of the child, should restore her on pain of death; but no threatened penalties could constrain Clotald to obey; in spite of them, he kept the child concealed in his ship, being fascinated, though in a Christian manner, with the incomparable beauty of Isabella, as she was called. In fine, her inconsolable parents were left to mourn her loss, and Clotald, rejoicing beyond measure, returned to London, and presented the pretty child to his wife, as the richest prize he had brought home from the war.