The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 4
His Mother's Prowess And Death; Together With Some Instances Of His Own
It would have been impossible for the mother of our adventurer, such as she hath
been described, to sit quietly in her tent, while such an heroic scene was acting.
She was no sooner apprised of the general's intention to attack the enemy, than
she, as usual, packed up her moveables in a waggon, which she committed to
the care of a peasant in the neighbourhood, and put herself in motion with the
troops; big with the expectation of re-acting that part in which she had formerly
acquitted herself so much to her advantage.--Nay, she by this time looked upon
her own presence as a certain omen of success to the cause which she
espoused; and, in their march to battle, actually encouraged the ranks with
repeated declarations, importing, that she had been eye-witness of ten decisive
engagements, in all of which her friends had been victorious, and imputing such
uncommon good fortune to some supernatural quality inherent in her person.
Whether or not this confidence contributed to the fortune of the day, by inspiring
the soldiers to an uncommon pitch of courage and resolution, I shall not pretend
to determine. But, certain it is, the victory began from that quarter in which she
had posted herself; and no corps in the army behaved with such intrepidity as
that which was manifested by those who were favoured with her admonitions and
example; for she not only exposed her person to the enemy's fire, with the
indifference and deliberation of a veteran, but she is said to have achieved a very
conspicuous exploit by the prowess of her single arm. The extremity of the line to
which she had attached herself, being assaulted in flank by a body of the spahis,
wheeled about, in order to sustain the charge, and received them with such a
seasonable fire, as brought a great number of turbans to the ground; among
those who fell, was one of the chiefs or agas, who had advanced before the rest,
with a view to signalise his valour.
Our English Penthesilea no sooner saw this Turkish leader drop, than, struck
with the magnificence of his own and horse's trappings, she sprung forward to
seize them as her prize, and found the aga not dead, though in a good measure
disabled by his misfortune, which was entirely owing to the weight of his horse,
that, having been killed by a musket-ball, lay upon his leg, so that he could not
disengage himself. Nevertheless, perceiving the virago approach with fell intent,
he brandished his symitar, and tried to intimidate his assailant with a most
horrible exclamation; but it was not the dismal yell of a dismounted cavalier,
though enforced with a hideous ferocity of countenance, and the menacing
gestures with which he waited her approach, that could intimidate such an
undaunted she-campaigner; she saw him writhing in the agonies of a situation
from which he could not move; and, running towards him with the nimbleness
and intrepidity of a Camilla, described a semicircle in the progress of her assault,
and attacking him on one side, plunged her well-tried dagger in his throat. The
shades of death encompassed him, his life-blood issued at the wound, he fell
prone upon the earth, he bit the dust, and having thrice invoked the name of
Allah! straight expired.