Roxana And A French Prince Enjoy The Sweets Of Coquetry
From Roxana, Or The Fortunate Mistress by Daniel Defoe (1724)

I took the liberty once, in our freedoms, to tell him he was too bountiful, and that I was too chargeable to him for a mistress, and that I would be his faithful servant at less expense to him; and that he not only left me no room to ask him for anything, but that he supplied me with such a profusion of good things, that I scarce could wear them, or use them, unless I kept a great equipage, which he knew was no way convenient for him or for me; he smiled, and took me in his arms, and told me he was resolved, while I was his, I should never be able to ask him for anything, but that he would be daily asking new favours of me.

After we were up (for this conference was in bed), he desired I would dress me in the best suit of clothes I had. It was a day or two after the three suits were made and brought home. I told him, if he pleased, I would rather dress me in that suit which I knew he liked best. He asked me how I could know which he would like best before he had seen them. I told him I would presume for once to guess at his fancy by my own; so I went away and dressed me in the second suit, brocaded with silver, and returned in full dress, with a suit of lace upon my head, which would have been worth in England two hundred pounds sterling; and I was every way set out as well as Amy could dress me, who was a very genteel dresser too. In this figure I came to him, out of my dressing-room, which opened with folding-doors into his bedchamber.

He sat as one astonished a good while, looking at me, without speaking a word, till I came quite up to him, kneeled on one knee to him, and almost, whether he would or no, kissed his hand. He took me up, and stood up himself, but was surprised when, taking me in his arms, he perceived tears to run down my cheeks. My dear, says he, aloud, what mean these tears? My lord, said I, after some little check, for I could not speak presently, I beseech you to believe me, they are not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. It is impossible for me to see myself snatched from the misery I was fallen into, and at once to be in the arms of a prince of such goodness, such immense bounty, and be treated in such a manner; it is not possible, my lord, said I, to contain the satisfaction of it; and it will break out in an excess in some measure proportioned to your immense bounty, and to the affection which your highness treats me with, who am so infinitely below you.

It would look a little too much like a romance, here to repeat all the kind things he said to me on that occasion, but I can't omit one passage; as he saw the tears drop down my cheek, he pulls out a fine cambric handkerchief, and was going to wipe the tears off, but checked his hand, as if he was afraid to deface something; I say, he checked his hand, and tossed the handkerchief to me to do it myself. I took the hint immediately, and with a kind of pleasant disdain, How, my lord, said I, have you kissed me so often, and don't you know whether I am painted or not? Pray let your highness satisfy yourself that you have no cheats put upon you; for once let me be vain enough to say, I have not deceived you with false colours. With this, I put a handkerchief into his hand, and taking his hand into mine, I made him wipe my face so hard that he was unwilling to do it, for fear of hurting me.

He appeared surprised more than ever, and swore, which was the first time that I had heard him swear from my first knowing him, that he could not have believed there was any such skin without paint in the world. Well, my lord, said I, your highness shall have a farther demonstration than this, as to that which you are pleased to accept for beauty, that it is the mere work of nature; and with that I stepped to the door, and rung a little bell for my woman Amy, and bade her bring me a cup full of hot water, which she did; and when it was come, I desired his highness to feel if it was warm, which he did, and I immediately washed my face all over with it before him. This was, indeed, more than satisfaction, that is to say, than believing, for it was an undeniable demonstration, and he kissed my cheeks and breasts a thousand times, with expressions of the greatest surprise imaginable.

Nor was I a very indifferent figure as to shape; though I had had two children by my gentleman, and six by my true husband, I say I was no despicable shape; and my prince (I must be allowed the vanity to call him so), was taking his view of me as I walked from one end of the room to the other. At last he leads me to the darkest part of the room, and standing behind me, bade me hold up my head, when putting both his hands round my neck, as if he was spanning my neck, to see how small it was, for it was long and small, he held my neck so long and so hard in his hand, that I complained he hurt me a little. What he did it for, I knew not, nor had I the least suspicion but that he was spanning my neck; but when I said he hurt me, he seemed to let go, and in half a minute more, led me to a pier-glass, and behold I saw my neck clasped with a fine necklace of diamonds; whereas I felt no more what he was doing, than if he had really done nothing at all, nor did I suspect it in the least. If I had an ounce of blood in me that did not fly up into my face, neck, and breasts, it must be from some interruption in the vessels. I was all on fire with the sight, and began to wonder what it was that was coming to me.

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