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Chapter IX.

In which the Reader will find a Description of a Beauty, in a Style truly sublime.

The new-fallen Snow, pursued Sir George, was tanned, in Comparison of the refined Purity of that White which made up the Ground of her Complexion; and, though Fear had a little gathered the Carnations of her Cheeks, yet her Joy at being delivered seemed to plant them there with such fresh Advantages, that my Eye might shrink at the Brightness of that mingled Lustre: Her Mouth, as well for Shape as Colour, might shame the Imitation of the best Pencils, and the liveliest Tints; and though through some petty Intervals of Joy, it wanted the Smiles, which Grief and Terror sequestred, yet she never opened it, but like the East, at the Birth of a beautiful Day, and then discovered Treasures, whose excelling Whiteness made the Price inestimable: All the Features of her Face had so near a Kindred to Proportion and Symmetry, as the several Masters of Apelles's Art might have called it his Glory to have copied Beauties from her, as the best of Models: The Circumference of her Visage shewed the Extremes of an imperfect Circle, and almost formed it to a perfect Oval: And this Abridgment of Marvels was tapered by a Pair of the brightest Stars, that ever were lighted up by the Hand of Nature: As their Colour was the same with the Heavens, there was a spherical Harmony in their Motion; and that mingled with a Vivacity so penetrating, as neither the firmest Eye, nor the strongest Soul, could arm themselves with a Resistance of Proof against those pointed Glories: Her Head was crowned with a prodigious Quantity of fair long Hair, which Colour as fitly suited the Beauty of her Eyes, as Imagination could make it: To these Marvels of Face were joined the rest of her Neck, Hands, and Shape; and there seemed a Contest between the Form and Whiteness of the two former, which had the largest Commission from Nature to work Wonders.

In fine, her Beauty was miraculous, and could not fail of producing a sudden Effect upon a Heart like mine.

Having passed in an Instant from the extremest Admiration, to something yet more tender, I reiterated my Offers of Service to the fair Unknown; who told me, she feared her Father had Occasion for some Assistance, her Ravisher having left his Men to engage him, and keep off his Pursuit, while he rode off with his Prize: Hereupon I begg'd her to direct me to the Place where she left her Father, assuring her I would gladly venture my Life a Second time, to preserve his; and she desiring to go with me, I placed her before me on my Horse, and had the exquisite Pleasure of supporting with my Arms the fairest and most admirable Creature in the World.

In less than half an Hour, which had appeared to me but a Moment, we got to the Place where she had been torn from her Father; whom we beheld with three of his Servants, maintaining a Fight against twice as many of their Enemies.

Having gently set down the beauteous Unknown upon the Grass, I flew to the Relief of her Father; and, throwing myself furiously amongst his Assailants, dispatched two of them with so many-Blows: The others, seeing so unexpected an Assistance, gave back a little; and I took Advantage of their Consternation, to redouble my Blows, and brought Two more of them at my Feet.

There remained now but Four to overcome; and my Arrival having given new Vigour to those whose

Part I had taken, they seconded me so well, that we soon had nothing more left to do; for the rest, seeing their Comrades slain, sought their Safety in Flight: We were too generous to pursue them, the Blood of such Wretches being unworthy to be shed by our Swords.

The fair Unknown, seeing us Conquerors, flew to embrace her Father; who, holding her pressed between his Arms, turned his Eyes upon me; then quitting her, came towards me, and, in the most obliging Terms imaginable, returned me Thanks for the Assistance I had brought him; and being informed by his Daughter, of what I had done for her Preservation, this old Gentleman renewed his Acknowlegements, calling me the Preserver of his Life, the valiant Defender of his Daughter's Honour, his tutelary Angel, and the Guardian of his House.

In fine, he loaded me with so many Thanks and Praises, that I could not choose but be in some Confusion; and, to put an End to them, I begged he would inform me, by what means he came into that Misfortune.

He told me, that, residing in a Castle at the Extremity of this Forest, the Charms of his Daughter had captivated a neighbouring Lord, whose Character and Person being disagreeable both to her and himself, he had absolutely refused to give her to him: Thereupon he had set upon them as they were going to visit a Relation at some Distance, and, dragging Philonice out of the Coach, put her before him on his Horse, and carried her away, leaving Eight of his Men to engage him, and his Servants; who, being but Four in Number, must inevitably have perished, had I not come to his Relief, and, by my miraculous Valour, vanquished all his Enemies.

Saying this, he desired me to go home with him to the Castle; and having led his Daughter to the Coach, insisted upon my placing myself next her; and, getting in himself, ordered them to return home.

This Accident having altered his Design of making the Visit which had been the Occasion of his Journey; The Baron, for that I found was his Title, entertained me, all the Way, with repeated Expressions of Acknowlegements and Tenderness; and the incomparable Philonice condescended also to assure me of her Gratitude for the Service I had done her.

At our Arrival at the Castle, I perceived it was very large and magnificent: The Baron conducted me to one of the best Apartments, and would stay in the Room till my Armour was taken off, that he might be assured I had received no Hurts: Having rendered him the like Civility in his own Chamber, and satisfied myself he was not wounded, we returned to the beautiful Philonice; and this second Sight having finished my Defeat, I remained so absolutely her Slave, that neither Dorothea nor Sydimiris were more passionately beloved.

At the earnest Intreaty of the Baron, I staid some Weeks in the Castle; during which, the daily Sight of Philonice so augmented my Flames, that I was no longer in a Condition to conceal them; but, fearing to displease that Divine Beauty by a Confession of my Passion, I languished in secret; and the Constraint I laid upon myself, gave me such Torments, that I fell into a profound Melancholy, and looked so pale and dejected, that the Baron was sensible of the Alteration, and conjured me in the most pressing Terms, to acquaint him with the Cause of my Uneasiness: But though I continued obstinately silent with my Tongue, yet my Eyes spoke intelligibly enough; and the Blushes which appeared in the fair Cheeks of Philonice, whenever she spoke to me on the Subject of my Grief, convinced me she was not ignorant of my Passion.

At length the Agitation of my Mind throwing me into a Fever, the Baron, who was firmly persuaded, that my Illness proceeded from some concealed Vexation, pressed me continually to declare myself; and, finding all his Intreaties ineffectual, he commanded his Daughter to endeavour to find out the Cause of that Grief which had put me into such a Condition.

For that Purpose therefore, having brought the fair Philonice into my Chamber, he staid a few Minutes, and, leaving the Room, under Pretence of Business, Philonice remained alone by my Bedside, her Women, out of Respect, staying at the other End of the Chamber.

This Divine Person, seeing herself alone with me, and remembring her Father's Command, blushed, and cast down her Eyes in such apparent Confusion, that I could not help observing it: And, interpreting it to the Displeasure she took in being so near me, Whatever Joy I take in the Honour your Visit does me, Madam, said I, in a weak Voice; yet since nothing is so dear to me, as your Satisfaction, I would rather dispense with this Mark of your Goodness to an unfortunate Wretch, then see you in the least Constraint.

And why, replied she, with a Tone full of Sweetness, do you suppose that I am here by Constraint, when it would be more just to believe, that in visiting the valiant Defender of my Honour, and the Life of my Father, I only follow my own Inclinations? Ah! Madam, said I, transported with Joy at so favourable a Speech, the little Service I had the Happiness to do you, does not merit so infinite a Favour; and tho' I had lost the best Part of my Blood in your Defence, I should have been well rewarded with your Safety.

Since you do not repent of what you have done, replied she, I am willing to be obliged to you for another Favour; and ask it with the greater Hope of obtaining it, as I must acquaint you, it is by my Father's Command I take that Liberty, who is much interested in my Success. There is no Occasion, Madam, returned I, to make use of any Interest but your own, to engage me to obey you, since that is, and ever will be, all-powerful with me: Speak then, Madam, and let me know what it is you desire of me, that I may, once in my Life, have the Glory of obeying you.

It is, said she, blushing still more than before, that you will acquaint us with the Cause of that Melancholy, which has, as we imagine, occasioned your present Illness.

At these Words I trembled, turned pale; and, not daring to discover the true Cause of my Affliction, I remained in a profound Silence.

I see, said the beautiful Philonice, that you have no Inclination to obey me; and since my Request has, as I perceive, given you some Disturbance, I will prevail upon my Father to press you no farther upon this Subject.

No, Madam, said I, eagerly; the Baron shall be satisfied, and you shall be obeyed; though, after the Knowlege of my Crime, you doom me to that Death I so justly merit.

Yes Madam, this unfortunate Man, who has had the Glory to acquire your Esteem by the little Service he did you, has cancelled the Merit of that Service by daring to adore you.

I love you, divine Philonice; and, not being able either to repent, or cease to be guilty of loving you, I am resolved to die, and spare you the Trouble of pronouncing my Sentence.

I beseech you therefore to believe, that I would have died in Silence, but for your Command to declare myself, and you should never have known the Excess of my Love and Despair, had not my Obedience to your Will obliged me to confess it.

I finished these Words with so much Fear and Confusion, that I durst not lift my Eyes up to the fair Face of Philonice, to observe how she received this Discourse: I waited therefore, trembling, for her Answer; but finding that in several Minutes she spoke not a Word, I ventured at last, to cast a languishing Glance upon the Visage I adored, and saw so many Marks of Disorder upon it, that I was almost dead with the Apprehensions of having offended her beyond even the Hope of procuring her Pardon by my Death.

Chapter VIII. | The Female Quixote | Chapter X.