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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

And at last Artamene finds himself


which somewhat philosophical meditation it is not surprising that he should be informed by one of his aides-de-camp that the Princess was in the garden. For what were Princesses made? and for what gardens?

The third is a longer passage, but it shall be subjected to that kind of _cento_ing which has been found convenient earlier in this volume.

[Sidenote: The Fight of the Four Hundred.]

[_The dispute between the kings of Cappadocia on the one hand and of Pontus on the other has been referred to a select combat of two hundred men a side. Artamene, of course, obtains the command of the Cappadocians, to the despair of his explosive but not ungenerous rival, "Philip Dastus." After a very beautiful interview with Mandane (where, once more, the most elegant compliments pass between these gentlefolkliest of all heroes and heroines) and divers preliminaries, the fight comes off._][162] They began to advance with heads lowered, without cries or noise of any kind, but in a silence which struck terror. As soon as they were near enough to use their javelins, they launched them with such violence that [_a slight bathos_] these flying weapons had a pretty great effect on both sides, but much greater on that of the Cappadocians than on the other. Then, sword in hand and covered by their shields, they came

to blows, and Artamene, as we were informed, immolated the first victim [_but how about the javelin "effect"?_] in this bloody sacrifice. For, having got in front of all his companions by some paces, he killed, with a mighty sword-stroke, the first who offered resistance. [_Despite this, the general struggle continues to go against the Cappadocians, though Artamene's exploits alarm one of the enemy, named Artane, so much that he skulks away to a neighbouring knoll. At last_] things came to such a point that Artamene found himself with fourteen others against forty; so I leave you to judge, Sir [_Chrisante parle toujours_], whether the party of the King of Pontus did not believe they had conquered, and whether the Cappadocians had not reason to think themselves beaten. But as, in this fight, it was not allowed either to ask or to give quarter, and was necessary either to win or to die, the most despairing became the most valiant. [_The next stage is, that in consequence of enormous efforts on his part, the hero finds himself and his party ten to ten, which "equality" naturally cheers them up. But the wounds of the Cappadocians are the severer; the ten on their side become seven, with no further loss to the enemy, and at last Artamene finds himself, after three hours' fighting, alone against three, though only slightly wounded. He wisely uses his great agility in retiring and dodging; separates one enemy from the other two, and kills him; attacks the two survivors, and, one luckily stumbling over a buckler, kills a second, so that at last the combat is single. During this time the coward Artane abstains from intervening, all the more because the one surviving champion of Pontus is a personal rival of his, and because, by a very ingenious piece of casuistry, he persuades himself that the two combatants are sure to kill each other, and he, Artane, surviving, will obtain the victory for self and country!_]

He is nearly right; but not quite. For after Artamene has wounded the Pontic Pharnaces in six places, and Pharnaces Artamene in four (for we wound "by the card" here), the hero runs Pharnaces through the heart, receiving only a thigh-wound in return. He flourishes both swords, cries "I have conquered!" and falls in a faint from loss of blood. Artane thinks him dead, and without caring to come close and "mak sicker," goes off to claim the victory. But Artamene revives, finds himself alone, and, with what strength he has left, piles the arms of the dead together, writes with his own blood on a silver shield--

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