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Whom Calidore awhile well having vewed,
At length bespake; "What meanes this, gentle swaine ! Why hath thy hand too bold itselfe embrewed
In blood of Knight, the which by thee is slaine, By thee no Knight; which armes impugneth plaine !” "Certes," said he, "loth were I to have broken The Law of Armes; yet breake it should againe, Rather then let myselfe of wight be stroken, So long as these two armes were able to be wroken.
"For not I him, as this his Ladie here
May witnesse well, did offer first to wrong,
Ne surely thus unarm'd I likely were;
But he me first through pride and puissance strong
Assayld, not knowing what to armes doth long."
"Perdie great blame," then said Sir Calidore,
"For armed Knight a wight unarm'd to wrong:
But then aread, thou gentle Chyld, wherefore
Betwixt you two began this strife and sterne uprore."
"That shall I sooth," said he, "to you declare.
I, whose unryper yeares are yet unfit
For thing of weight or worke of greater care,
Doe spend my dayes and bend my carelesse wit
To salvage chace, where I thereon may hit
In all this forrest and wyld woodie raine :
Where, as this day I was enraunging it,
I chaunst to meete this Knight who there lyes slaine, Together with this Ladie, passing on the Plaine.
"The Knight, as ye did see, on horsebacke was,
And this his Ladie, that him ill became,
On her faire feet by his horse-side did pas
Through thicke and thin, unfit for any Dame:
Yet not content, more to increase his shame,
Whenso she lagged, as she needs mote so,
He with his speare (that was to him great blame)
Would thumpe her forward and inforce to goe,
Weeping to him in vaine and making piteous woe,
"Which when I saw, as they me passed by,
Much was I moved in indignant mind,
And gan to blame him for such cruelty
Towards a Ladie, whom with usage kind
He rather should have taken up behind.
Wherewith he wroth and full of proud disdaine
Tooke in foule scorne that I such fault did find,
And me in lieu thereof revil'd againe,
Threatning to chástize me, as doth t' a chyld pertaine.
"Which I no lesse disdayning, backe returned
His scornefull taunts unto his teeth againe,
That he streightway with haughtie choler burned,
And with his speare strooke me one stroke or twaine;
Which I, enforst to beare though to my paine,
Cast to requite; and with a slender dart,
Fellow of this I beare, throwne not in vaine,
Strooke him, as seemeth, underneath the hart,
That through the wound his spirit shortly did depart.”
Yet rested not, but further gan inquire
Of that same Ladie, whether what he spoke Were soothly so, and that th' unrighteous ire Of her owne Knight had given him his owne due hire.
Much did Sir Calidore admyre his speach
Tempred so well, but more admyr'd the stroke
That through the mayles had made so strong a breach
Into his hart, and had so sternely wroke
His wrath on him that first occasion broke :
Of all which whenas she could nought deny,
But cleard that Stripling of th' imputed blame;
Sayd then Sir Calidore; "Neither will I
Him charge with guilt, but rather doe quite clame:
For, what he spake, for you he spake it, Dame
And what he did, he did himselfe to save : [shame :
Against both which that Knight wrought Knightlesse
For Knights and all men this by nature have,
Towards all womenkind them kindly to behave.
66 But, sith that he is gone irrevocable,
Please it you, Ladie, to us to aread
What cause could make him so dishonourable
To drive you so on foot, unfit to tread
And lackey by him, gainst all womanhead."
"Certes, Sir Knight,” sayd she, " full loth I were
To rayse a lyving blame against the dead:
But, since it me concernes myselfe to clere,
I will the truth discover as it chaunst whylere.
"This day, as he and I together roade
Upon our way to which we weren bent,
We chaunst to come foreby a covert glade
Within a wood, whereas a Ladie gent
Sate with a Knight in joyous jolliment
Of their franke loves, free from all gealous spyes:
Faire was the Ladie sure, that mote content
An hart not carried with too curious eyes,
And unto him did shew all lovely courtesyes.
"Whom when my Knight did see so lovely faire,
He inly gan her Lover to envý,
And wish that he part of his spoyle might share:
Whereto whenas my presence he did spy
To be a let, he bad me by and by
For to alight: but, whenas I was loth
My Loves owne part to leave so suddenly,
He with strong hand down from his steed me throw'th, And with presumpteous powre against that Knight streight [go❜th.
"Unarm'd all was the Knight, as then more meete
For Ladies service and for loves delight,
Then fearing any foeman there to meete:
Whereof he taking oddes, streight bids him dight
Himselfe to yeeld his Love or else to fight:
Whereat the other starting up dismayd,
Yet boldly answer'd, as he rightly might,
To leave his Love he should be ill apayd,
In which he had good right gaynst all that it gainesayd.
"Yet since he was not presently in plight
Her to defend, or his to justifie,
He him requested, as he was a Knight,
To lend him day his better right to trie,
Or stay till he his armes, which were thereby,
Might lightly fetch: but he was fierce and whot,
Ne time would give, nor any termes aby,
But at him flew, and with his speare him smot;
From which to thinke to save himselfe it booted not.
Meane while his Ladie, which this outrage saw, Whilest they together for the quarrey strove, Into the covert did herselfe withdraw, And closely hid herselfe within the Grove. My Knight hers soone, as seemes, to daunger drove And left sore wounded: but, when her he mist, He woxe halfe mad; and in that rage gan rove And range through all the wood, whereso he wist She hidden was, and sought her so long as him list.
But, whenas her he by no meanes could find,
After long search and chauff he turned backe
Unto the place where me he left behind:
There gan he me to curse and ban, for lacke
Of that faire bootie, and with bitter wracke,
To wreake on me the guilt of his owne wrong :
Of all which I yet glad to beare the packe
Strove to appease him, and perswaded long;
But still his passion grew more violent and strong.
Then, as it were t' avenge his wrath on mee,
When forward we should fare, he flat refused
To take me up (as this young man did see)
Upon his steed, for no just cause accused,
But forst to trot on foot, and foule misused,
Pounching me with the butt-end of his speare,
In vaine complayning to be so abused;
For he regarded neither playnt nor teare,
But more enforst my paine, the more my plaints to heare.
"So passed we, till this young man us met;
And being moov'd with pittie of my plight
Spake, as was meete, for ease of my regret :
Whereof befell what now is in your sight."
"Now sure," then said Sir Calidore," and right
Me seemes, that him befell by his owne fault:
Whoever thinkes through confidence of might,
Or through support of count'nance proud and hault,
To wrong the weaker, oft falles in his owne assault."
Then turning backe unto that gentle Boy,
Which had himselfe so stoutly well acquit;
Seeing his face so lovely sterne and coy,
And hearing th' answeres of his pregnant wit,
He praysd it much, and much admyred it;
That sure he weend him born of noble blood,
With whom those graces did so goodly fit:
And, when he long had him beholding stood,
He burst into these wordes, as to him seemed good;
"But, should it not displease thee it to tell,
(Unlesse thou in these woods thyselfe conceale
For love amongst the woodie gods to dwell,)
I would thyselfe require thee to reveale;
For deare affection and unfayned zeale
Which to thy noble personage I beare,
And wish thee grow in worship and great weale:
For, since the day that armes I first did reare,
I never saw in any greater hope appeare."
"Faire gentle Swayne, and yet as stout as fayre,
That in these woods amongst the Nymphs dost wonne, Which daily may to thy sweete lookes repayre, As they are wont unto Latonaes sonne After his chace on woodie Cynthus donne; Well may I certes such an one thee read, As by thy worth thou worthily hast wonne, Or surely borne of some Heroicke sead, That in thy face appeares and gratious goodly-head.