« PreviousContinue »
"And am I now in safetie sure," quoth he, "From him, that would have forced me to dye? And is the point of death now turnd fro mee, That I may tell this haplesse history?" "Fear nought," quoth he, "no daunger now is nye." "Then shall I you recount a ruefull cace," Said he," the which with this unlucky eye I late beheld; and, had not greater grace Me reft from it, had bene partaker of the place.
"I lately chaunst (would I had never chaunst!)
"From whom retourning sad and comfortlesse, As on the way together we did fare,
We met that Villen, (God from him me blesse !) That cursed wight, from whom I scapt whyleare,2 A man of hell, that calls himselfe Despayre: Who first us greets, and after fayre areedes 3 Of tydinges straunge, and of adventures rare : So creeping close, as snake in hidden weedes, Inquireth of our states, and of our knightly deedes.
1 Gent, accomplished.
2 Whyleare, just now. 3 Areedes, informs.
"Which when he knew, and felt our feeble harts Embost with bale,2 and bitter byting griefe, Which love had launched with his deadly darts; With wounding words, and termes of foule repriefe,3 He pluckt from us all hope of dew reliefe, That earst us held in love of lingring life: Then hoplesse, hartlesse, gan the cunning thiefe Perswade us dye, to stint all further strife; To me he lent this rope, to him a rusty knife:
"With which sad instrument of hasty death, That wofull lover, loathing lenger light, A wyde way made to let forth living breath. But I, more fearfull or more lucky wight, Dismayd with that deformed dismall sight, Fledd fast away, halfe dead with dying feare; Ne yet assur'd of life by you, Sir Knight, Whose like infirmity like chaunce may beare: But God you never let his charmed speaches heare!"
"How may a man," said he, " with idle speach
1 Embost, overwhelmed.
2 Bale, sorrow.
3 Repriefe, reproof.
▲ Earst, before.
XXXI. 3. — I wote, &c.] I, who have been taught by recent experience, know how a man may be so won, though I would not have been persuaded to do the like by the world's wealth.
Into the heart, and searcheth every vaine;
"Certes," sayd he, "hence shall I never rest, Till I that Treachours art have heard and tryde: And you, Sir Knight, whose name mote I request, Of grace do me unto his cabin guyde." “I, that hight1 Trevisan," quoth he, “will ryde, Against my liking, backe to doe you grace: But not for gold nor glee will I abyde
By you, when ye arrive in that same place; For lever had I die then 3 see his deadly face."
Ere long they come, where that same wicked wight
And all about it wandring ghostes did wayle and howle:
3 Then, than.
4 Ypight, placed.
• Ragged rocky knees, rough points or projections of rock.
1 Hight, am named.
Whose carcases were scattred on the greene, And throwne about the cliffs. Arrived there, That bare-head Knight, for dread and dolefull teene,' Would faine have fled, ne durst approachen neare; But th' other forst him staye, and comforted in feare.
That darkesome cave they enter, where they find
His griesie lockes, long growen and unbound,
His raw-bone cheekes, through penurie and pine,
His garment, nought but many ragged clouts,
Which piteous spectacle, approving trew
2 Griesie, greasy or filthy.
3 As, as if.
Him to avenge, before his blood were cold; And to the Villein sayd; "Thou damned wight, The authour of this fact we here behold, What iustice can but iudge against thee right, [sight?" With thine owne blood to price1 his blood, here shed in
"What franticke fit," quoth he, " hath thus distraught Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give? What justice ever other judgement taught, But he should dye, who merites not to live? None els to death this man despayring drive But his owne guiltie mind, deserving death. Is then uniust to each his dew to give? Or let him dye, that loatheth living breath? Or let him dye at ease, that liveth here uneath??
"Who travailes by the wearie wandring way,
"He there does now enioy eternall rest
And happy ease, which thou doest want and crave,
What if some little payne the passage have,
1 Price, atone for. 2 Uneath, scarcely.