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And like to lead the labyrinth about;
Which when by tract they hunted had throughout,
At length it brought them to a hollow cave,
Amid the thickest woods. The cbampion stout
Eftsoones dismounted from his courser brave,
And to the dwarfe a while his needlesse spere he

gave.

“ Be well aware,” quoth then that ladie milde, “ Least suddaine mischiefe ye too rash provoke: The danger bid, the place unknowne and wilde, Breedes dreadfull doubts; oft fire is without smoke, And perill without show: therefore your stroke, Sir Knight, with-hold, till further tryall made." “Ah, ladie,” said he, “ shame were to revoke The forward footing for and hidden shade : [wade.Vertue gives her selfe light through darknesse for to

“ Yea but," quoth she,.“ the perill of this place
I better wot then you: Though nowe too late
To wish you backe returne with foule disgrace,
Yet wisedome warnes, whilst foot is in the gate,
To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate.
This is the Wandring Wood, this Errours Den,
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate :
Therefore I read beware.”—“ Fly, fly," quoth then
The fearfull dwarfe; “this is no place for living men.”

But, full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthful knight could not for ought be staide;
But forth unto the darksom hole he went,
And looked in : his glistring armor made
A little glooming light, much like a shade ;

By which he saw the ugly monster plaine,
Half like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th' other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.

And, as she lay upon the durtie ground,
Her huge long taile her den all overspread,
Yet was in knots and many boughtes upwound,
Pointed with mortall sting : of her there bred
A thousand young ones, which she daily fed,
Sucking upon her poisonous dugs: each one
Of sundrie shapes, yet all ill-favoured:
Soone as that úncouth light upon them shone,
Into her mouth they crept,and suddain all were gone.

Their dam upstart out of her den effraide,
And rushed forth, hurling her hideous taile,
About her cursed head; whose folds displaid
Were stretcht now forth at length without entraile,
She lookt about, and seeing one in mayle,
Armed to point, sought backe to turne againe ;
For light she hated as the dead ly bale,
Ay wont in desert darknes to remaine, [plaine,
Where plain none might her see, nor she see any

Which when the valiant Elfe perceiv'd, he lept
As lyon fierce upon the flying pray,
And with bis trenchand blade her boldly kept
From turning backe, and forced her to stay :
There with enrag'd she loudly gan to bray,
And turning fierce her speckled taile advaunst,
Threatning her angrie sting, him to dismay ;
Who, nought aghast, his mightie hand enhaunst :
The stroke down from her head unto her shoulder

glaunst. Vol. II.

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Much daunted with that dint her scene was dazd ;
Yet kindling rage her selfe she gathered round,
And all attonce her beastly bodie raizd
With doubled forces high above the ground:
Tho, wrapping up her wrethed sterne arownd,
Lept fierce upon his shield, and her huge traine
All suddenly about his body wound,
That hand or foot to stirr he strove in vaine.
God helpe the man so wrapt in Errours endlesse

traine !

His lady, sad to see his sore constraint,
Cride out, “Now, now, sir Knight, shew what ye bee;
Add faith unto your force, and be not faint ;
Strangle her, els she sure will strangle thee.”
That when he heard, in great perplexitie,
His gall did grate for griefe and high disdaine :
And, knitting all his force, got one hand free,
Wherewith he grypt her gorge with so great paine,
That soone to loose her wicked bands did her con-

straine.

Therewith she spewd out of her filthie maw
A floud of poyson horrible and blacke,
Full of great lumps of Aesh and gobbets raw,
Which stunck so vildly, that it forst him slacke
His grasping hold, and from her turne him backe :
Her vomit full of bookes and papers was,
With loathly frogs and toades, which eyes did lacke,
And creeping sought way in the weedy gras :
Her filthie parbreake all the place defiled has.

As when old father Nilus gins to swell
With timely pride above the Aegyptian vale,
His fattie waves doe fertile slime outwell,

And overflow each plaine and lowly dale :
But, when his later spring gins to avale,
Huge heapes of mudd he leaves, wherin there breed
Ten thousand kindes of creatures, partly male
And partly femall, of his fruitful seed; [reed.
Such ugly monstrous shapes elsewhere may no man

The same so sore annoyed has the knight,
That, wel-nigh choked with the deadly stinke,
His forces faile, ne can no lenger fight.
Whose corage when the feend perceivd to shrinke,
She poured forth out of her hellish sinke
Her fruitfull cursed spawne of serpents small,
(Deformed monsters, fowle, and blacke as inke,)
Which swarming all about his legs did crall,
And him encombred sore, but could not hurt at all,

As gentle shepheard in sweete eventide,
When ruddy Phebus gins to welke in west,
High on an hill, his flocke to vewen wide,
Markes which doe byte their hasty supper best ;
A cloud of cumbrous gnattes doe him molest,
All striving to infixe their feeble stinges,
That from their noyance he no where can rest;
But with his clownish hands their tender wings
He brusheth oft, and oft doth mar their murmurings.

Thus ill bestedd, and fearefull more of shame
Then of the certeine perill he stood in,
Halfe furious unto his foe he came,
Resolvd in minde all suddenly to win,
Or soone to lose, before he once would lin;
And stroke at her with more then manly force,
That from her body, full of filthie sin,

He raft her hatefull heade without remorse : (corse. A streame of cole-black blood forth gushed from her

Her scattred brood, soone as their parent deare
They saw so rudely falling to the ground,
Groning full deadly all with troublous feare
Gathred themselves about her body round,
Weening their wonted entrance to have found
At her wide mouth; but, being there withstood,
They flocked all about her bleeding wound,
And sucked up their dying mothers bloud ; [good.
Making her death their life, and eke her hurt their

That detestable sight him much amazde,
To see th' unkindly impes, of Heaven accurst,
Devoure their dam; on whom while so he gazd,
Having all satisfide their bloudy thurst,
Their bellies swolne he saw with fulnesse burst,
And bowels gushing forth : well worthy end
Of such, as drunke her life, the which them nurst!
Now needeth him no lenger labour spend,
His foes have slaine themselves, with whom he should

contend.

His lady seeing all, that chaunst, from farre,
Approcht in hast to greet his victorie ;
And saide,“ Faire knight, borne under happie starre,
Who see your vanquisht foes before you lye;
Well worthie be you of that armory,
Wherein ye have great glory wonne this day,
And proov'd your strength on a strong enimie;
Your first adventure : many such I pray,
And henceforth ever wish that like succeed it may!"

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