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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

For Aryante and Andramite continue the flight


headlong violence, has provoked another duel with the Assyrian Prince Intaphernes,[183] and has been badly worsted and wounded by his foe, who is unhurt. This puts everything off, and for a long time the main story drops again (except as far as the struggles of Anaxaris between honour and love are depicted), first to a great deal of miscellaneous talk about the quarrel of King and Prince, and then to a regular _Histoire_ of the King, Intaphernes, Atergatis, Princess Istrine, and the Princess of Bithynia, Spithridates's sister and daughter of a very robustious and rather usurping King Arsamones, who is a deadly enemy of Cyrus. The dead Queen Nitocris, and the passion for her of a certain Gadates, Intaphernes's father, and also sometimes, if not always, called a "Prince," come in here. The story again introduces the luckless Spithridates himself, who is first, owing to his likeness to Cyrus, persecuted by Thomyris, and then imprisoned by his father Arsamones because he will not give up Araminta and marry Istrine, whom Nitocris had wanted to marry her own son Philidaspes--a good instance of the extraordinary complications and contrarieties in which the book indulges, and of which, if Dickens had been a more "literary" person, he might have thought when he made the unfortunate Augustus Moddle observe that "everybody appears to be somebody else's." Finally, the volume ends with an account of the leisurely progress of Mandane and Cyrus to Ecbatana and Cyaxares, while the King of Assyria recovers as best he can. But at certain "tombs" on the route evidence is found that the King of Pontus has been recently in the land of the living, and is by no means disposed to give up Mandane.

The second volume of this part is one of the most eventless of all, and is mainly occupied by a huge _Histoire_ of Puranius, Prince of Phocaea, his love Cleonisbe, and others, oddly topped by a passage of the main story, describing Cyrus's emancipation of the captive Jews. He is for a time separated from the Princess.

The first pages of IX. i. are lively, though they are partly a _recit_. Prince Intaphernes tells Cyrus all about Anaxaris (Aryante), and how by representing Cyrus as dead and the King of Assyria in full pursuit of her, he has succeeded in carrying off Mandane; how also he has had the cunning, by availing himself of the passion of another high officer, Andramite, for Doralise, to induce him to join, in order that the maid of honour may accompany her mistress. Accordingly Cyrus, the King of Assyria himself, and others start off in fresh pursuit; but the King has at first the apparent luck. He overtakes the fugitives, and a sharp fight follows. But the guards whom Cyrus has placed over the Princess, and who, in the belief of his death, have followed the ravishers, are too much for Philidaspes, and he is fatally wounded; fulfilling the oracle, as we anticipated long ago, by dying in Mandane's arms, and honoured with a sigh from her as for her intended rescuer.

She herself, therefore, is in no better plight, for Aryante and Andramite continue the flight, with her and her ladies, to a port on the Euxine, destroying, that they may not be followed, all the shipping save one craft they select, and making for the northern shore. Here after a time Aryante surrenders Mandane to his sister Thomyris, as he cannot well help doing, though he knows her violent temper and her tigress-like passion for Cyrus, and though, also, he is on rather less than brotherly terms with her, and has a party among the Massagetae who would gladly see him king. Meanwhile the King of Pontus and Phraortes, Araminta's carrier-off, fight and kill each other, and Araminta is given up--a loss for Mandane, for they have been companions in quasi-captivity, and there is no longer any subject of jealousy between them.


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