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Als as she double spake, so heard she double,
With matchlesse eares deformed and distort,
Fild with false rumors and seditious trouble,
Bred in assemblies of the vulgar sort,
That still are led with every light report:
And as her eares, so eke her feet were odde,
And much unlike; th' one long, the other short,
And both misplast; that, when th' one forward yode, The other backe retired and contrarie trode.
So much her malice did her might surpas,
That even th' Almightie selfe she did maligne,
Because to man so mercifull he was,
And unto all his creatures so benigne :
Sith she herselfe was of his grace indigne :
For all this worlds faire workmanship she tride
Unto his last confusion to bring,
And that great golden chaine quite to divide,
With which it blessed Concord hath together tide.
Likewise unequall were her handës twaine;
That one did reach, the other pusht away; That one did make, the other mard againe, And sought to bring all things unto decay; Whereby great riches, gathered manie a day, She in short space did often bring to nought, And their possessours often did dismay : For all her studie was and all her thought How she might overthrow the things that Concord wrought.
Such was that Hag which with Duessa roade;
And, serving her in her malitious use
To hurt good Knights, was, as it were, her baude
To sell her borrowed beautie to abuse:
For though, like withered tree that wanteth juyce, She old and crooked were, yet now of late As fresh and fragrant as the Floure-deluce She was become, by chaunge of her estate, And made full goodly joyance to her new-found mate:
Her mate, he was a jollie youthfull Knight
That bore great sway in armes and chivalrie,
And was indeed a man of mickle might;
His name was Blandamour, that did descrie
His fickle mind full of inconstancie:
And now himselfe he fitted had right well
With two companions of like qualitie,
Faithlesse Duessa, and false Paridell,
That whether were more false, full hard it is to tell.
Now when this gallant with his goodly crew
From farre espide the famous Britomart,
Like Knight adventurous in outward vew,
With his faire Paragon, his conquests part,
Approching nigh; eftsoones his wanton hart
Was tickled with delight, and jesting sayd;
"Lo! there, Sir Paridel, for your desart,
Good lucke presents you with yond lovely Mayd,
For pitie that ye want a fellow for your ayd."
By that the lovely paire drew nigh to hond:
Whom whenas Paridel more plaine beheld,
Albee in heart he like affection fond,
Yet mindfull how he late by one was feld
That did those armes and that same scutchion weld,
He had small lust to buy his Love so deare,
But answered; "Sir, him wise I never held,
That, having once escaped perill neare,
Would afterwards afresh the sleeping evill reare.
"This Knight too late his manhood and his might I did assay, that me right dearely cost; Ne list I for revenge provoke new fight, Ne for light Ladies love, that soone is lost." The hot-spurre youth so scorning to be crost, "Take then to you this Dame of mine," quoth hee, “And I, without your perill or your cost, Will chalenge yond same other for my fee."
So forth he fiercely prickt, that one him scarce could see.
The warlike Britonesse her soone addrest,
And with such uncouth welcome did receave
Her fayned Paramour, her forced guest,
That, being forst his saddle soone to leave,
Himselfe he did of his new Love deceave;
And made himselfe th' ensample of his follie.
Which done, she passed forth, not taking leave,
And left him now as sad as whilome jollie,
Well warned to beware with whom he dar'd to dallie.
Which when his other companie beheld,
They to his succour ran with readie ayd;
And, finding him unable once to weld,
They reared him on horse-backe and upstayd,
Till on his way they had him forth convayd:
And all the way, with wondrous griefe of mynd
And shame, he shewd himselfe to be dismayd
More for the Love which he had left behynd,
Then that which he had to Sir Paridel resynd.
Nathlesse he forth did march, well as he might,
And made good semblance to his companie,
Dissembling his disease and evill plight;
Till that ere long they chaunced to espie
Two other Knights, that towards them did ply
With speedie course, as bent to charge them new :
Whom whenas Blandamour approching nie
Perceiv'd to be such as they seemd in vew,
He was full wo, and gan his former griefe renew.
For th' one of them he perfectly descride
To be Sir Scudamour, (by that he bore
The god of Love with wings displayed wide,)
Whom mortally he hated evermore,
Both for his worth, that all men did adore,
And eke because his Love he wonne by right:
Which when he thought, it grieved him full sore,
That, through the bruses of his former fight,
He now unable was to wreake his old despight.
Forthy he thus to Paridel bespake;
"Faire Sir, of friendship let me now you pray,
That as I late adventured for your sake,
The hurts whereof me now from battell stay,
Ye will me now with like good turne repay,
And justifie my cause on yonder Knight.”
"Ah! Sir," said Paridel, "do not dismay
Yourselfe for this; myselfe will for you fight,
As ye have done for me: The left hand rubs the right.”
With that he put his spurres unto his steed,
With speare in rest, and toward him did fare,
Like shaft out of a bow preventing speed.
But Scudamour was shortly well aware
Of his approch, and gan himselfe prepare
Him to receive with entertainment meete.
So furiously they met, that either bare
As when two billowes in the Irish sowndes,
Forcibly driven with contrárie tydes,
Do meete together, each abacke rebowndes
With roaring rage; and dashing on all sides,
That filleth all the Sea with fome, divydes
The doubtfull current into divers wayes:
So fell those two in spight of both their prydes;
But Scudamour himselfe did soone uprayse,
And, mounting light, his foe for lying long upbrayes:
Who, rolled on an heape, lay still in swound
All carelesse of his taunt and bitter rayle;
Till that the rest him seeing lie on ground
Ran hastily, to weete what did him ayle :
Where finding that the breath gan him to fayle,
With busie care they strove him to awake,
And doft his helmet, and undid his mayle:
So much they did, that at the last they brake
His slomber, yet so mazed that he nothing spake.
The other downe under their horses feete, That what of them became themselves did scarsly weete.
Which whenas Blandamour beheld, he sayd;
"False faitour Scudamour, that hast by slight
And foule advantage this good Knight dismayd,
A Knight much better then thyselfe behight,
Well falles it thee that I am not in plight
This day, to wreake the dammage by thee donne!
Such is thy wont, that still when any Knight
Is weakned, then thou doest him overronne :
So hast thou to thyselfe false honour often wonne."
"Ah! gentle Knight," then false Duessa sayd,
"Why do ye strive for Ladies love so sore,
Whose chiefe desire is love and friendly aid
Mongst gentle Knights to nourish evermore!
Ne be ye wroth, Sir Scudamour, therefore,
That she your Love list love another Knight,
Ne do yourselfe dislike a whit the more;
For love is free, and led with selfe-delight,
Ne will enforced be with maisterdome or might."
He little answer'd, but in manly heart
His mightie indignation did forbeare;
Which was not yet so secret, but some part
Thereof did in his frouning face appeare:
Like as a gloomie cloud, the which doth beare
An hideous storme, is by the Northerne blast
Quite overblowne, yet doth not passe so cleare
But that it all the skie doth overcast
With darknes dred, and threatens all the world to wast.
So false Duessa: but vile Atè thus ;
"Both foolish Knights, I can but laugh at both,
That strive and storme with stirre outrageous
For her, that each of you alike doth loth,
And loves another, with whom now she go❜th
In lovely wise, and sleepes, and sports, and playes;
Whilest both you here with many a cursed oth
Sweare she is yours, and stirre up bloudie frayes,
To win a Willow bough, whilest other weares the Bayes.