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Chapter II.

In which Sir George, continuing his surprising History, relates a most stupendous Instance of a Valour only to be parallelled by that of the great Oroondates, C~Asareo, &c. &c. &c.

For some Months, continued Sir George, I prosecuted my Addresses to the admirable Dorothea; and I flattered myself with a Hope, that I had made some Progress in her Heart: But, alas! this deceitful Fair-one, who only laughed at the Torments she made me endure, at the time she vowed eternal Constancy to me, gave her Hand to a Lover of her Father's providing, and abandoned me, without Remorse, to the most cruel Despair.

I will not trouble you, Madam, with the Repetition of those Complaints, which this perfidious Action drew from me for a long time. At length, my Courage enabling me to overcome the Violence of my Grief, I resolved to think of the ungrateful Dorothea no more; and the Sight of another Beauty completing my Cure, I no longer remembred the unfaithful Shepherdess, but with Indifference.

Thus, Madam, have I faithfully related one of those Infidelities, wherewith my Enemies slander me; who can support their Assertion, with no better Proof, than that I did not die, when Dorothea abandoned me: But I submit it to your Candour, whether an unfaithful Mistress deserved such an Instance of Affection, from a Lover she had betrayed? Why, really, replied Arabella, after a little Pause, you had some Excuse to plead for your Failure in this Point: And though you cannot be called, the most perfect amongst Lovers, seeing you neither died, nor was in Danger of dying; yet neither ought you to be ranked among those who are most culpable: But pray proceed in your Story: I shall be better able to form a right Judgment of your Merit as a Lover, when I have heard all your Adventures.

My Passion for Dorothea, resumed Sir George, being cured by her Treachery towards me, the Love of Glory began again to revive in my Soul. I panted after some Occasion to signalize my Valour, which yet I had met with no Opportunity of doing; but, hearing that a mighty Army was preparing to march upon a secret Expedition, I privately quitted my Father's Seat; and, attended only by my faithful 'Squire, I took the same Route the Army had taken, and arrived the Day before the terrible Battle of -- was fought, where, without making myself known, I performed such Prodigies of Valour, as astonished all who beheld me. Without doubt, I should have been highly caressed by the Commander, who certainly would have given me the Honour of a Victory my Sword alone had procured for him; but, having unwittingly engaged myself too far in Pursuit of the flying Enemy, I found myself alone, encompassed with a Party of about Five hundred Men; who, seeing they were pursued only by a single Man, faced about, and prepared to kill or take me Prisoner.

Pray, Sir, interrupted Sir Charles, when did all this happen? And how came it to pass, that your Friends have been ignorant to this Moment of those Prodigies of Valour you performed at that Battle? I never heard you was ever in a Battle: Fame has done you great Injustice, by concealing the Part you had in that famous Victory.

The great Care I took to conceal myself, replied Sir George, was one Reason why my Friends did not attribute to me the Exploits, which the Knight in black Armour, who was no other than myself, performed; and the Accident I am going to relate, prevented my being discovered, while the Memory of those great Exploits were yet fresh in the Minds of those I had so greatly obliged.

Be pleased to know, therefore, Madam, that, seeing myself about to be encompassed by this Party of the Enemy, I disdained to fly; and, though I was alone, resolved to sustain their Attack, and sell my Life as dear as possible.

Why, if you did so, you was a Madman, cried Sir Charles in a Heat: The bravest Man that ever lived, would not have presumed to fight with so great a Number of Enemies. What could you expect, but to be cut in Pieces? Pooh! pooh! don't think any body will credit such a ridiculous Tale: I never knew you was so addicted to -- Lying, perhaps, the good Knight would have said; but Sir George, who was concerned he was present at his Legend, and could not blame him for doubting his Veracity, prevented his Utterance of a Word he would be obliged to take ill, by abruptly going on with his Story.

Placing my Back therefore against a Tree, pursued he, to prevent my being assaulted behind, I presented my Shield to the Boldest of these Assailants; who, having struck an impotent Blow upon it, as he was lifting up his Arm to renew his Attack, I cut it off with one Stroke of my Sword; and the same Instant plunged it to the Hilt in the Breast of another, and clove the Scull of a Third, who was making at me, in two Parts.

Sir Charles, at this Relation, burst into a loud Fit of Laughter; and, being more inclined to divert himself, than be offended at the Folly and Vanity of the young Baronet, he permitted him to go on with his surprising Story, without giving him any other Interruption.

These Three Executions, Madam, pursued Sir George, were the Effects only of so many Blows; which raised such Indignation in my Enemies, that they prest forward in great Numbers to destroy me; but, having, as I before said, posted myself so advantageously, that I could only be assaulted before, not more than Three or Four could attack me at one time. The Desire of lengthening out my Life, till happily some Succour might come to my Relief, so invigorated my Arm, and added to my ordinary Strength an almost irresistible Force, that I dealt Death at every Blow; and in less than a quarter of an Hour, saw more than Fifty of my Enemies at my Feet, whose Bodies served for a Bulwark against their Fellows Swords.

The Commander of this little Body, not having Generosity enough to be moved with those prodigious Effects of my Valour in my Favour, was transported with Rage at my Resistance; and the Sight of so many of his Men slain before his Face, served only to increase his Fury; and that Moment, seeing, that, with Two more Blows, I had sent Two of his most valiant Soldiers to the Shades, and that the rest fearing to come within the Length of my Sword, had given me a few Moments Respite, Ah! Cowards! cried he, are you afraid of a single Man? And will you suffer him to escape from your Vengeance, who has slain so many of your brave Comrades before your Eyes? These Words inspiring them with a Fierceness, such as he desired, they advanced towards me with more Fury than before: By this time, I had received several large Wounds, and my Blood ran down from many Parts of my Body: Yet was I not sensible of any Decay of Strength, nor did the settled Designs of my Enemies to destroy me daunt me in the least: I still relied upon the Assistance I expected Providence would send to my Relief, and determined, if possible, to preserve my Life, till it arrived.

I fought, therefore, with a Resolution, which astonished my Enemies, but did not move them to any Regard for my Safety: And, observing their brutal Commander, a few Paces from me, encouraging his Men, both with his Cries and Gestures, Indignation against this inhuman Wretch so transported me out of my Discretion, that I quitted my Post, in order to sacrifice him to my Revenge.

Seeing me advance furiously towards him, he turned pale with Fear, and endeavoured to shelter himself in the midst of his Men; who, more valiant than himself, opposed themselves to my Rage, to favour his Retreat: But quickly clearing myself a Way with my Sword, I pressed towards the barbarous Coward; and, ere he could avoid the Blow I aimed at him, it struck him senseless at my Feet.

My particular Revenge thus satisfied, I was sensible of the Fault I had committed in quitting my Post, by which I exposed myself to be surrounded by the Enemy. I endeavoured to regain it, but in vain: I was beset on all Sides, and now despaired of any Safety; and therefore only sought to die courageously, and make as many of my Enemies as I could, attend my Fall.

Exasperated by the Misfortune of their Commander, they pressed upon me with redoubled Fury. Faint as I was, with the Loss of Blood, and so fatigued with the past Action, and the obstinate Fight I had maintained so long with such a considerable Number, I could hardly any longer lift up my Arm; and, to complete, my Misfortune, having thrust my Sword into the Body of one of the forwardest of my Enemies, in my endeavouring to regain it, it broke in Pieces, and the Hilt only remained in my Hand.

This Accident completed my Defeat: Deprived of my Sword, I was no longer capable of making any Defence: Several of them pressed upon me at once; and, throwing me down, tied my Hands together behind me. Shame and Rage at this Indignity worked so forcibly upon my Spirts, weakened as I then was, that I fell into a Swoon. What happened till my Recovery, I am not able to tell; but, at the Return of my Senses, I found myself laid on a Bed in a tolerable Chamber, and some Persons with me, who kept a profound Silence.

Chapter I. | The Female Quixote | Chapter III.