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And, downe him plucking, with his nayles and teeth
And sure I weene, had not the Ladies cry
"Now, Lady, sith
your fortunes thus dispose,
That, if ye list have liberty, ye may;
Unto yourselfe I freely leave to chose,
Whether I shall you leave, or from these Villaines lose.2"
"Ah! nay, Sir Knight," said she, "it may not be,
But that I needes must by all meanes fulfill
This penaunce, which enioyned is to me,
Least 3 unto me betide a greater ill:
Yet no lesse thankes to you for your good will."
So humbly taking leave she turnd aside :
On his first quest, in which did him betide
But first it falleth me by course to tell
Of faire Serena; who, as earst 5 you heard,
1 Sith, since.
2 Lose, loose, deliver. 3 Least, lest.
XXXI. 2. As earst you heard.] See the fiftieth stanza of the preceding canto.
With those two Carles, fled fast away, afeard
So fresh the image of her former dread,
That every foote did tremble which did tread,
And every body two, and two she foure did read.2
Through hils and dales, through bushes and through breres,3 Long thus she fled, till that at last she thought Herselfe now past the perill of her feares: Then looking round about, and seeing nought Which doubt of daunger to her offer mought, She from her palfrey lighted on the plaine; And, sitting downe, herselfe awhile bethought Of her long travell and turmoyling paine; And often did of love, and oft of lucke, complaine. XXXIII.
And evermore she blamed Calepine,
The good Sir Calepine, her owne true Knight,
Great perill of his life, and restlesse paines did take.
Tho whenas all her plaints she had displayd,
Upon the grasse herselfe adowne she layd;
Unto a strange mischaunce, that menac'd her decay.1
In these wylde deserts, where she now abode,
"Thereto3 they usde one most accursed order,*
Now drowned in the depth of sleepe all fearlesse lay.
Soone as they spide her, lord! what gladfull glee They made amongst themselves! but when her face
Decay, destruction. 2 Rode, inroad. 3 Thereto, besides. 4 Order, custom, fashion. 5 Kynde, nature.
Like the faire yvory shining they did see,
And then her eate attonce, or many meales to make.
The best advizement was, of bad, to let her
For sleepe, they sayd, would make her battill better:
Whose share, her guiltlesse bloud they would present: But of her dainty flesh they did devize
To make a common feast, and feed with gurmandize.
So round about her they themselves did place
As each thought best to spend the lingring space:
Of finest flowers, and with full busie care
1 Grace, favor.
XXXVIII. 3.—Battill.] This word is explained by the commentators to mean to grow fat. But that could not be the consequence of her being allowed to sleep undisturbed. It seems rather to mean here to relish.
The Damzell wakes; then all attonce upstart, And round about her flocke, like many flies, Whooping and hallowing on every part, As if they would have rent the brasen skies. Which when she sees with ghastly griefful1 eies, Her heart does quake, and deadly pallid hew Benumbes her cheekes: then out aloud she cries, Where none is nigh to heare, that will her rew,2 And rends her golden locks, and snowy brests embrew.3
But all bootes not; they hands upon her lay;
The which amongst them they in peeces teare,
Her yvorie neck; her alabaster brest;
Her paps, which like white silken pillowes were
To offer sacrifice divine thereon;
Her goodly thighes, whose glorie did appeare
The spoiles of Princes hang'd which were in battel won.
1 Griefful, full of grief.
2 Rew. pity.
Embrew, stain with blood.