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Chapter VIII.

A single Combat fought with prodigious Valour, and described with amazing Accuracy.

Give me Leave, Sir, said Sir Charles, to ask, If you eat in all this Time? Alas! Sir, replied Sir George, Sighs and Tears were all my Sustenance.

Sir Charles, Mr. Glanville, and Miss, laughing at this Answer, Arabella seemed greatly confused: It is not to be imagined, said she, that Sir George; or, to say better, Prince Viridmore, lived Ten Months without eating any thing to support Nature; but such trifling Circumstances are always left out, in the Relations of Histories; and truly an Audience must be very dull and unapprehensive, that cannot conceive, without being told, that a Man must necessarily eat in the Space of Ten Months.

But the Food Sir George lived on, replied the Baronet, was very unsubstantial, and would not afford him much Nourishment.

I suppose, resumed Arabella, he lived upon such Provisions as the Forest afforded him; such as wild Fruits, Herbs, bitter Sallads, and the like; which, considering the Melancholy that possessed him, would appear a voluptuous Repast; and which the unfortunate Orontes, when he was in the same Situation, thought infinitely too good for him.

Sir Charles, finding Arabella took no Notice of the Historian's Hyperbole of living upon his Sighs and Tears, passed it over, for fear of offending her; and Sir George, who had been in some Anxiety how to bring himself off, when he perceived Arabella was reasonable enough to suppose he must have eat during his Abode in the Forest, went on with his Relation in this Manner.

I lived, as I before observed to you, Madam, in this Cave for Ten Months; and truly I was so reconciled to that solitary way of Life, and found so much Sweetness in it, that I believe, I should have remained there till this Day, but for the Adventure which I am going to recount.

It being my Custom to walk out every Evening in the Forest; returning to my Cave, something later then usual, I heard the Cries of a Woman at some Distance, who seemed to be in Distress: I stopped to listen from what Side those Cries proceeded; and, perceiving they seemed to approach nearer to me, I took down my Armour from the Tree where I had hung it; and hastily arming myself, shaped my Course towards the Place from whence those Complaints seemed to come, resolving to assist that unknown Person with all the Strength that was left me.

Having gone some Paces, I spied through the Branches of the Trees a Man on Horseback with a Lady, who struggled to get loose, and at times calling aloud for Succour. This Sight inflaming me with Rage against that impious Ravisher; I flew towards him: And when I came within hearing; Hold, Wretch! cried I, and cease to offer Violence to that Lady, whom thou bearest away by Force; or prepare to defend thyself against one, who will die, before he will suffer thee to prosecute thy unjust Designs.

The Man, without answering me, clapped Spurs to his Horse; and it would have been impossible to have overtaken him, had not my own Horse, which had never quitted the Forest, appeared in my View: I quickly mounted him, and followed the Track the Ravisher had taken, with such Speed, that I came up with him in a Moment.

Caitiff! said I, release the Lady, and defend thyself. These Words, which I accompanied with a thundering Blow upon his Head-piece, obliged him to set down the Lady, who implored Heaven, with the utmost Ardour, to grant me the Victory: And, recoiling back a few Paces, to take a View of me, I know not, said he, for what Reason thou settest thyself to oppose my Designs; but I well know, that thou shalt dearly repent of thy Temerity.

Saying this, he advanced furiously towards me, and aimed so heavy a Blow at my Head, that, had I not received it on my Shield, I might haply have no longer been in a Condition to defend the distressed Lady: But, having, with the greatest Dexterity imaginable, avoided this Blow, I made at him with so much Fierceness, and directed my Aims so well, that in a few Moments I wounded him in several Places; and his Arms were all dyed with his Blood.

This good Success redoubled my Vigour; and having, by a lucky Stroke with my Sword, cut the Strings of his Head-piece, it fell off: And his Head being bare, I was going to let fall a dreadful Blow upon it, which doubtless would have shivered it in a thousand Pieces, when he cried out for Quarter, and, letting fall his Sword, by that Action assured me my Victory was intire.

Live Wretch, cried I, since thou art base enough to value Life after being vanquished; but swear upon my Sword, that thou wilt never more attempt the Liberty of that Lady.

While I was speaking, I perceived he was no longer able to sit his Horse: But, staggering a Moment, he fell off, and lay extended without Motion upon the Ground. Touched with Compassion at this Sight, I alighted, and, supposing him to be in a Swoon, was preparing to give him some Assistance; but, upon my nearer Approach, I found he was quite dead.

Leaving therefore this mournful Object, I turned about, with an Intention to go and offer the distressed Lady my further Help; but I perceived her already at my Feet.

Valiant Knight, said she, with a Tone of Voice so bewitching, that all my Faculties were suspended, as by Inchantment, suffer me, on my Knees, to thank you, for the Deliverance you have procured me from that base Man; since to your admirable Valour I owe not only the Preservation of my Life; but, what is infinitely dearer to me, my Honour.

The Astonishment, wherewith I beheld the miraculous Beauty that appeared before me, kept me a Moment in such an attentive Gaze, that I forgot she was at my Feet: Recollecting myself, however, with some Confusion at my Neglect, Oh! rise, Madam, cried I, helping her up with infinite Respect, and debase not such Perfection to a Posture, in which all the Monarchs on the Earth might glory to appear before it.

That you may the better conceive the Alteration which the Sight of this fair Unknown produced in my Soul, I will endeavour, to give you a Description of her Beauty, which was altogether miraculous.

Chapter VII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter IX.