Canto 5 & Canto 6
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #10a
CANTO 5 ARGUMENT Lurcanio, by a false report abused, Deemed by Geneura's fault his brother dead, Weening the faithless duke, whom she refused, Was taken by the damsel to her bed; And her before the king and peers accused: But to the session Ariodantes led, Strives with his brother in disguise. In season Rinaldo comes to venge the secret treason. I Among all other animals who prey On earth, or who unite in friendly wise, Whether they mix in peace or moody fray, No male offends his mate. In safety hies The she bear, matched with hers, through forest gray: The lioness beside the lion lies: Wolves, male and female, live in loving cheer; Nor gentle heifer dreads the wilful steer. II What Fury, what abominable Pest Such poison in the human heart has shed, That still 'twixt man and wife, with rage possessed, Injurious words and foul reproach are said? And blows and outrage hase their peace molest, And bitter tears still wash the genial bed; Not only watered by the tearful flood, But often bathed by senseless ire with blood? III Not simply a rank sinner, he appears To outrage nature, and his God to dare, Who his foul hand against a woman rears, Or of her head would harm a single hair. But who what drug the burning entrail sears, Or who for her would knife or noose prepare, No man appears to me, though such to sight He seem, but rather some infernal sprite. IV Such, and no other were those ruffians two, Whom good Rinaldo from the damsel scared, Conducted to these valleys out of view, That none might wot of her so foully snared. I ended where the damsel, fair of hue, To tell the occasion of her scathe prepared, To the good Paladin, who brought release; And in conclusion thus my story piece. V "Of direr deed than ever yet was done," The gentle dame began, "Sir cavalier, In Thebes, Mycene, Argos, or upon Other more savage soil, prepare to hear; And I believe, that if the circling sun To these our Scottish shores approach less near Than other land, 'tis that he would eschew A foul ferocious race that shocks his view. VI "All times have shown that man has still pursued With hair, in every clime, his natural foe; But to deal death to those who seek our good Does from too ill and foul a nature flow. Now, that the truth be better understood, I shall from first to last the occasion show, Why in my tender years, against all right, Those caitiffs would have dome me foul despite. VII " 'Tis fitting you should know, that in the spring Of life, I to the palace made resort; There served long time the daughter of the king, And grew with her in growth, well placed in court. When cruel love, my fortune envying, Willed I should be his follower and his sport; And made, beyond each Scottish lord and knight, Albany's duke find favour in my sight. VIII "And for he seemed to cherish me above All mean; his love a love as ardent bred. We hear, indeed, and see, but do not prove Man's faith, nor is his bosom's purpose read. Believing still, and yielding to my love, I ceased not till I took him to my bed; Nor, of all chambers, in that evil hour, Marked I was in Geneura's priviest bower. IX "Where, hoarded, she with careful privacy Preserved whatever she esteemed most rare; There many times she slept. A gallery From thence projected into the open air. Here oft I made my lover climb to me, And (what he was to mount) a hempen stair, When him I to my longing arms would call, From the projecting balcony let fall. X "For here my passion I as often fed As good Geneura's absence made me bold; Who with the varying season changed her bed, To shun the burning heat or pinching cold, And Albany, unseen and safely sped; For, fronting a dismantled street, and old, Was built that portion of the palace bright; Nor any went that way by day or night. XI "So was for many days and months maintained By us, in secrecy, the amorous game; Still grew by love, and such new vigour gained, I in my inmost bosom felt the flame; And that he little loved, and deeply feigned Weened not, so was I blinded to my shame: Though, in a thousand certain signs betrayed, The faithless knight his base deceit bewrayed. XII "After some days, of fair Geneura he A suitor showed himself; I cannot say If this began before he sighed for me, Or, after, of this love he made assay: But judge, alas! with what supremacy He ruled my heart, how absolute his sway! Since this he owned, and thought no shame to move Me to assist him in his second love. XIII "Unlike what he bore me, he said, indeed, That was not true which he for her displayed; But so pretending love, he hoped to speed, And celebrate due spousals with the maid. He with her royal sire might well succeed, Were she consenting to the boon he prayed; For after our good king, for wealth and birth In all the realm, was none of equal worth. XIV "Me he persuades, if through my ministry He the king's son-in-law elected were, For I must know he next the king would be Advanced as high, as subject could repair, The merit should be mine, and ever he So great a benefit in mind would bear; And he would cherish me above his bride, And more than every other dame beside. XV "I, who to please him was entirely bent, Who never could or would gainsay his will, Upon those days alone enjoy content, When I find means his wishes to fulfil: And snatch at all occasions which present A mode, his praise and merits to instil: And for my lover with all labour strain, And industry, Geneura's love to gain. XVI "With all my heart, in furtherance of his suit, I wrought what could be done, God truly knows; But with Geneura this produced no friut, Nor her to grace my duke could I dispose. For that another love had taken root In her, whose every fond affection flows Towards a gentle knight of courteous lore, Who sought our Scotland from a distant shore: XVII "And with a brother, then right young, to stay In our king's court, came out of Italy: And there of knightly arms made such assay, Was none in Britain more approved than he; Prized by the king, who (no ignoble pay), Rewarding him like his nobility, Bestowed upon the youth, with liberal hand, Burghs, baronies, and castles, woods and land. XVIII "Dear to the monarch, to the daughter still This lord was dearer, Ariodantes hight. Her with affection might his valour fill; But knowledge of his love brought more delight. Nor old Vesuvius, nor Sicilia's hill, Nor Troy-town, ever, with a blaze so bright, Flamed, as with all his heart, the damsel learned, For love of her young Ariodantes burned. XIX "The passion which she bore the lord, preferred And loved with perfect truth and all her heart, Was the occassion I was still unheard; Nor hopeful answer would she e'er impart: And still the more my lover's suit I stirred, And to obtain his guerdon strove with art, Him she would censure still, and ever more Was strengthened in the hate she nursed before. XX "My wayward lover often I excite So vain and bootless an emprize to quit; Nor idly hope to turn her stedfast sprite, Too deeply with another passion smit; And make apparent to the Scottish knight, Ariodantes such a flame had lit In the young damsel's breast, that seas in flood Would not have cooled one whit her boiling blood. XXI "This Polinesso many times had heard From me (for such the Scottish baron's name) Well warranted by sight as well as word, How ill his love was cherished by the dame. To see another to himself preferred Not only quenched the haughty warrior's flame, But the fond love, which in his bosom burned Into despiteful rage and hatred turned. XXII "Between Geneura and her faithful knight Such discord and ill will he schemed to shed, And put betwixt the pair such foul despite. No time should heal the quarrel he had bred; Bringing such scandal on that damsel bright, The stain should cleave to her, alive or dead: Nor, bent to wreck her on this fatal shelf, Counselled with me, or other but himself. XXIII " `Dalinda mine,' he said, his project brewed, (Dalinda is my name) `you needs must know, That from the root although the trunk be hewed, Successive suckers many times will grow. Thus my unhappy passion is renewed, Tenacious still of life, and buds; although Cut off by ill success, with new increase: Nor, till I compass my desire, will cease. XXIV " `Nor hope of pleasure this so much has wrought, As that to compass my design would please; And, if not in effect, at least in thought To thrive, would interpose some little ease. Then every time your bower by me is sought, When in her bed Geneura slumbers, seize What she puts off, and be it still your care To dress yourself in all her daily wear. XXV " `Dispose your locks and deck yourself as she Goes decked; and, as you can, with cunning heed, Imitate her; then to the gallery You, furnished with the corded stair, shall speed: I shall ascend it in the phantasy That you are she, of whom you wear the weed: And hope, that putting on myself this cheat, I in short time shall quench my amorous heat.' XXVI "So said the knight; and I, who was distraught, And all beside myself, was not aware That the design, in which he help besought, Was manifestly but too foul a snare; And in Geneura's clothes disguised, as taught, Let down (so oft I used) the corded stair. Nor I the traitor's foul deceit perceived, Until the deadly mischief was achieved. XXVII "The duke, this while, to Ariodantes' ears Had these, or other words like these, addressed; (For leagued in friendship were the cavaliers, Till, rivals, they pursued this common quest) "I marvel, since you are of all my peers He, whom I must have honoured and caressed, And held in high regard, and cherished still, You should my benefits repay so ill. XXVIII " `I am assured you comprehend and know Mine and Geneura's love, and old accord; And, in legitimate espousal, how I am about to claim her from my lord: Then why disturb my suit, and why bestow Your heart on her who offers no reward? By Heaven, I should respect your claim and place, Were your condition mine, and mine your case.' XXIX " `And I,' cried Ariodantes, `marvel more' (In answer to the Scottish lord) `at you, Since I of her enamoured was, before That gentle damsel ever met your view; And know, you are assured how evermore We two have loved; -- was never love more true -- Are certain she alone would share my lot; And are as well assured she loves you not. XXX " `Why have not I from you the same respect, To which, for friendship past, you would pretend From me; and I should bear you in effect, If your hope stood more fair to gain its end? No less than you, to wed her I expect; And if your fortunes here my wealth transcend, As favoured of the king, as you, above You, am I happy in his daughter's love.' XXXI " `Of what a strange mistake,' (to him replied The duke) `your foolish passion is the root! You think yourself beloved; I, on my side, Believe the same; this try we by the fruit. You of your own proceeding nothing hide, And I will tell the secrets of my suit: And let the man who proves least favoured, yield, Provide himself elsewhere, and quit the field. XXXII " `I am prepared, if such your wish, to swear Nothing of what is told me to reveal; And will that you assure me, for your share, You shall what I recount as well conceal.' Uniting in the pact, the rival pair Their solemn vows upon the Bible seal: And when they had the mutual promise plighted, Ariodantes first his tale recited. XXXIII "Then plainly, and by simple facts averred, How with Geneura stood his suit, avows; And how, engaged by writing and by word, She swore she would not be another's spouse. How, if to him the Scottish king demurred, Virgin austerity she ever vows; And other bridal bond for aye eschewed, To pass her days in barren solitude. XXXIV "Then added, how he hoped by worth, which he Had more than once avouched, with knightly brand, And yet might vouch, to the prosperity And honour of the king, and of his land, To please so well that monarch, as to be By him accounted worthy of the hand Of his fair child, espoused with his consent: Since he in this her wishes would content. XXXV "Then so concludes -- `I stand upon this ground, Nor I intruder fear, encroaching nigh; Nor seek I more; 'tis here my hopes I bound; Nor, striving for Geneura's love, would I Seek surer sign of it than what is found, By God allowed, in wedlock's lawful tie; And other suit were hopeless, am I sure, So excellent she is, and passing pure.' XXXVI "When Ariodantes had, with honest mind, Told what reward he hoped should quit his pain, False Polinesso, who before designed To make Geneura hateful to her swain, Began -- `Alas! you yet are far behind My hopes, and shall confess your own are vain; And say, as I the root shall manifest Of my good fortune, I alone am blest. XXXVII " `With you Geneura feigns, nor pays nor prizes Your passion, which with hopes and words is fed; And, more than this, your foolish love despises: And this to me the damsel oft has said, Of hers I am assured; of no surmises, Vain, worthless words, or idle promise bred. And I to you the fact in trust reveal, Though this I should in better faith conceal. XXXVIII " `There passes not a month, but in that space Three nights, four, six, and often ten, the fair Receives me with that joy in her embrace, Which seems to second so the warmth we share. This you may witness, and shall judge the case; If empty hopes can with my bliss compare. Then since my happier fortune is above Your wishes, yield, and seek another love.' XXXIX " `This will I not believe,' in answer cried Ariodantes, `well assured you lie, And that you have this string of falsehoods tied, To scare me from the dear emprize I try. But charge, so passing foul, you shall abide, And vouch what you have said in arms; for I Not only on your tale place no reliance; But as a traitor hurl you my defiance.' XL "To him rejoined the duke, 'I ween 'twere ill To take the battle upon either part, Since surer mean our purpose may fulfill; And if it please, my proof I can impart.' Ariodantes trembled, and a chill Went through his inmost bones; and sick at heart, Had he in full believed his rival's boast, Would on the spot have yielded up the ghost. XLI "With wounded heart, and faltering voice, pale face, And mouth of gall, he answered, 'When I see Proofs of thy rare adventure, and the grace With which the fair Geneura honours thee, I promise to forego the fruitless chase Of one, to thee so kind, so cold to me. But think not that thy story shall avail, Unless my very eyes confirm the tale.' XLII " `To warn in due time shall be my care.' (Said Polinesso) and so went his way. Two nights were scarecly passed, ere his repair To the known bower was fixed for the assay. And, ready now to spring his secret snare, He sought his rival on the appointed day, And him to hide, the night ensuing, prayed I' the street, which none their habitation made. XLIII "And to the youth a station over-right The balcony, to which he clambered, shows. Ariodantes weened, this while, the knight Would him to seek that hidden place dispose, As one well suited to his fell despite, And, bent to take his life, this ambush chose, Under the false pretence to make him see What seemed a sheer impossibility. XLIV "To go the peer resolved, but in such guise, He should not be with vantage overlaid; And should he be assaulted by surprise, He need not be by fear of death dismay'd. He had a noble brother, bold and wise, First of the court in arms; and on his aid, Lurcanio hight, relied with better heart Than if ten others fought upon his part. XLV "He called him to his side, and willed him take His arms; and to the place at evening led: Yet not his secret purpose would be break; Nor this to him, or other would have read: Him a stone's throw removed he placed, and spake: ` -- Come if thou hearest he cry,' the warrior said; `But as thou lovest me (whatsoe'er befall) Come not and move not, brother, till I call.' XLVI " `Doubt not' (the valiant brother said) `but go'; And thither went that baron silently, And hid within the lonely house, and low, Over against my secret gallery. On the other side approached the fraudful foe, So pleased to work Geneura's infamy; And, while I nothing of the cheat divine, Beneath my bower renews the wonted sign. XLVII "And I in costly robe, in which were set Fair stripes of gold upon a snowy ground, My tresses gathered in a golden net, Shaded with tassels of vermillion round, Mimicking fashions, which were only met In fair Geneura, at the accustomed sound, The gallery mount, constructed in such mode, As upon every side my person showed. XLVIII "This while Lurcanio, either with a view To snares which might beset his brother's feet, Or with the common passion to pursue, And play the spy on other, where the street Was darkest, and its deepest shadows threw, Followed him softly to his dim retreat: And not ten paces from the knight aloof, Bestowed himself beneath the self same roof. XLIX "Suspecting nought, I seek the balcony, In the same habits which I mentioned, dressed; As more than once or twice (still happily) I did before; meanwhile the goodly vest Was in the moonlight clearly seen, and I, In aspect not unlike her, in the rest Resembling much Geneura's shape and cheer, One visage well another might appear. L "So much the more, that there was ample space Between the palace and the ruined row: Hence the two brothers, posted in that place, Were lightly cheated by the lying show. Now put yourself in his unhappy case, And figure what the wretched lover's woe, When Polinesso climbed the stair, which I Cast down to him, and scaled the gallery. LI "Arrived, my arms about his neck I throw, Weening that we unseen of others meet, And kiss his lips and face with loving show, As him I hitherto was wont to greet; And he assayed, with more than wonted glow, Me to caress, to mask his hollow cheat. Led to the shameful spectacle, aghast, That other, from afar, viewed all that passed, LII "And fell into such fit of deep despair, He there resolved to die; and, to that end, Planted the pommel of his falchion bare I' the ground, its point against his breast to bend. Lurcanio, who with marvel by that stair, Saw Polinesso to my bower ascend, But knew not who the wight, with ready speed Sprang forward, when he saw his brother's deed. LIII "And hindered him in that fell agony From turning his own hand against his breast. Had the good youth been later, or less nigh, To his assistance he had vainly pressed. Then, `Wretched brother, what insanity.' (He cried) `your better sense has dispossessed? Die for a woman! rather let her kind Be scattered like the mist before the wind! LIV " `Compass her death! 'tis well deserved; your own Reserve, as due to more illustrious fate. 'Twas well to love, before her fraud was shown, But she, once loved, now more deserves your hate: Since, witnessed by your eyes, to you is known A wanton of what sort you worshipped late. Her fault before the Scottish king to attest, Reserve those arms you turn against your breast.' LV "Ariodantes, so surprised, forewent, Joined by his brother, the design in show; But resolute to die, in his intent Was little shaken: Rising thence to go, He bears away a heart not simply rent, But dead and withered with excess of woe: Yet better comfort to Lurcanio feigns, As if the rage were spent which fired his veins. LVI "The morn ensuing, without further say To his good brother, or to man beside, He from the city took his reckless way With deadly desperation for his guide; Nor, save the duke and knight, for many a day Was there who knew what moved the youth to ride: And in the palace, touching this event, And in the realm, was various sentiment. LVII "But eight days past or more, to Scotland's court A traveller came, and to Geneura he Related tidings of disastrous sort; That Ariodantes perished in the sea: Drowned of his own free will was the report, No wind to blame for the calamity! Since from a rock, which over ocean hung, Into the raging waves he headlong sprung; LVIII " `Who said, before he reached that frowning crest, To me, whom he encountered by the way, Come with me, that your tongue may manifest, And what betides me to Geneura say; And tell her, too, the occasion of the rest, Which you shall witness without more delay; In having seen too much, the occasion lies; Happy had I been born without these eyes!" LIX " `By chance, upon a promontory we Were standing, overright the Irish shore; When, speaking thus on that high headland, he Plunged from a rock amid the watery roar. I saw him leap, and left him in the sea; And, hurrying thence, to you the tidings bore.' Geneura stood amazed, her colour fled, And, at the fearful tale, remained half dead. LX "O God! what said, what did she, when alone, She on her faithful pillow layed her head! She beat her bosom, and she tore her gown, And in despite her golden tresses shed; Repeating often, in bewildered tone, The last sad words which Ariodantes said; -- That the sole source of such despair, and such Disaster, was that he had seen too much. LXI "Wide was the rumour scattered that the peer Had slain himself for grief; nor was the cry By courtly dame, or courtly cavalier, Or by the monarch, heard with tearless eye. But, above all the rest, his brother dear Was whelmed with sorrow of so deep a dye, That, bent to follow him, he well nigh turned His hand against himself, like him he mourned. LXII "And many times repeating in his thought, It was Geneura who his brother slew, Who was to self-destruction moved by nought But her ill deed, which he was doomed to view, So on his mind the thirst of vengeance wrought, And so his grief his season overthrew; That he thought little, graced of each estate, To encounter king and people's common hate; LXIII "And, when the throng was fullest in the hall, Stood up before the Scottish king, and said, `Of having marred my brother's wits withal, Sir king, and him to his destruction led, Your daughter only can I guilty call: For in his inmost soul such sorrow bred The having seen her little chastity, He loathed existence, and preferred to die. LXIV " `He was her lover; and for his intent Was honest, this I seek not, I, to veil; And to deserve her by his valour meant Of thee, if faithful service might avail; But while he stood aloof, and dared but scent The blossoms, he beheld another scale, Scale the forbidden tree with happier boot, And bear away from him the wished-for fruit.' LXV "Then added, how into the gallery came Geneura, and how dropped the corded stair; And how into the chamber of the dame Had climbed a leman of that lady fair; Who, for disguise (he knew not hence his name), Had changed his habits, and concealed his hair; And, in conclusion, vowed that every word So said, he would avouch with lance and sword. LXVI "You may divine how grieves the sire, distraught With woe, when he the accusation hears: As well that what he never could have thought, He of his daughter learns with wondering ears, As that he knows, if succour be not brought By cavalier, that in her cause appears, Who may upon Lurcanio prove the lie, He cannot choose, but doom the maid to die. LXVII "I do not think our Scottish law to you Is yet unknown, which sentences to fire The miserable dame, or damsel, who Grants other than her wedded lord's desire. She dies, unless a champion, good and true, Arm on her side before a month expire; And her against the accuser base maintain Unmeriting such death, and free from stain. LXVIII "The king has made proclaim by town and tower, (For he believes her wronged, his child to free) Her he shall have to wife, with ample dower, Who saves the royal maid from infamy. But each to the other looks, and to this hour No champion yet, 'tis said, appears: for he, Lurcanio, is esteemed so fierce in fight, It seems as he were feared of every knight. "And evil Fate has willed her brother dear, Zerbino, is not here the foe to face; Since many months has roved the cavalier, Proving his matchless worth with spear and mace; For if the valiant champion were more near, (Such is his courage) or in any place, Whither in time the news might be conveyed, He would not fail to bear his sister aid. LXX "The king, mean time, who would the quest pursue, And by more certain proof than combat, try If the accuser's tale be false or true, And she deserve, or merit not, to die, Arrests some ladies of her retinue, That, as he weens, the fact can verify. Whence I foresaw, that if I taken were, Too certain risque the duke and I must share. LXXI "That very night I from the palace flee, And to the duke repair, escaped from court; And, were I taken, make him plainly see How much it either's safety would import: He praised, and bade me of good courage be, And, for his comfort, prayed me to resort To a strong castle which he held hard by; And gave me two to bear me company. LXXII "With what full proofs, sir stranger, you have heard, I of my love assured the Scottish peer; And clearly can discern, if so preferred, That lord was justly bound to hold me dear. Mark, in conclusion, what was my reward; The glorious meed of my great merit hear! And say if woman can expect to earn, However well she love, her love's return. LXXIII "For this perfidious, foul, ungrateful man, At length suspicious of my faith and zeal, And apprehending that his wily plan, In course of time, I haply might reveal, Feigned that meanwhile the monarch's anger ran Too high, he would withdraw me, and conceal Within a fortress of his own, where I (Such was his real end) was doomed to die. LXXIV "For secretly the duke enjoined the guide, Who with me through the gloomy forest went, The worthy guerdon of a faith so tried, To slay me; and had compassed his intent, But for your ready succour, when I cried. Behold! what wages love's poor slaves content." Thus to Rinaldo did Dalinda say, As they together still pursued their way. LXXV Above all other fortune, to the knight Was welcome to have found the gentle maid, Who the whole story of Geneura bright, And her unblemished innocence displayed; And, if he hoped, although accused with right, To furnish the afflicted damsel aid, Persuaded of the calumny's disproof, He with more courage warred in her behoof. LXXVI And for St. Andrew's town, with eager speed, Where was the king with all his family, And where the single fight, in listed mead, Upon his daughter's quarrel, was to be, The good Rinaldo pricked, nor spared his steed, Until, within an easy distance, he Now near the city, met a squire who brought More recent tidings than the damsel taught: LXXVII That thither had repaired a stranger knight, To combat in Geneura's quarrel bent, With ensigns strange, not known of living wight, Since ever close concealed the warrior went; Not, since he had been there, had bared to sight His visage, aye within his helmet pent: And that the very squire who with him came, Swore that he knew not what the stranger's name. LXXVIII Not far they ride before the walls appear, And now before the gate their coursers stand. To advance the sad Dalinda was in fear, Yet followed, trusting in Rinaldo's brand. The gate was shut, and to the porter near, What this implies Rinaldo makes demand: To him was said, the people, one and all, Were trooped to see a fight without the wall: LXXIX Beyond the city, fought upon accord, Between Lurcanio and a stranger knight; Where, on a spacious meadow's level sward, The pair already had begun the fight. The porter opened to Mount Alban's lord, And straight behind the peer the portal hight. Rinaldo through the empty city rode, But in a hostel first the dame bestowed: LXXX And will that she (he will not long delay To seek her there) till his return repose; And quickly to the lists pursued his way, Where the two made that fell exchange of blows, And strove and struggled yet in bloody fray. Lurcanio's heart with vengeful hatred glows Against Geneura; while that other knight As well maintains the quarrel for her right. LXXXI Six knights on foot within the palisade Stand covered with the corslet's iron case; Beneath the Duke of Albany arrayed, Borne on a puissant steed of noble race: Who there, as lord high-constable obeyed, Was keeper of the field and of the place, And joyed Geneura's peril to espy With swelling bosom and exulting eye. LXXXII Rinaldo pierces through the parted swarm, (So wide is felt the good Bayardo's sway,) And he who hears the courser come in storm, Halts not, in his desire to make him way: Above is seen Rinaldo's lofty form, The flower of those who mix in martial fray. He stops his horse before the monarch's chair, While all to hear the paladin repair. LXXXIII "Dread sir," to him the good Rinaldo said, "Let not the pair this combat longer ply; Since whichsoever of the two falls dead, Know, that you let him perish wrongfully: This thinks that he is right, and is misled, Vouches the false, and knows not 'tis a lie: Since that which brought his brother to his end, Moves him in causeless battle contend. LXXXIV "That, in pure gentleness, with little care If what he here maintains be wrong or right, Because he would preserve a maid so fair, Perils his person in the furious fight. To injured innocence I safety bear, And to the evil man its opposite. But first, for love of God, the battle stay; Then list, sir king, to what I shall display." LXXXV So moved the king the grave authority Of one who seemed so worthy, by his cheer, That he made sign the battle should not be Further continued then with sword or spear: To whom, together with his chivalry, And barons of the realm and others near Rinaldo all the treacherous plot displayed, Which Polinesso for Geneura layed. LXXXVI Next that he there in arms would testify The truth of what he vouched, the warrior cried. False Polinesso, called, with troubled eye, Stood forth, but daringly the tale denied. To him the good Rinaldo in reply; "By deeds be now the doubtful quarrel tried." The field was cleared, and, ready armed, the foes, Without more let, in deadly duel close. LXXXVII How was the hope to king and people dear, The proof might show Geneura innocent! All trust that God will make the treason clear, And show she was accused with foul intent: For Polinesso, greedy and severe, And proud was held, and false and fraudulent. So that none there, of all assembled, deemed It marvel, if the knight such fraud had schemed. LXXXVIII False Polinesso, with a mien distressed, A pallid cheek, and heart which thickly beat, At the third trumpet, laid his lance in rest; As well Rinaldo spurred the knight to meet, And levelled at his evil foeman's breast, Eager to finish at a single heat. Nor counter to his wish was the event; Since through the warrior half his weapon went. LXXXIX Him, through his breast, impaled upon the spear, More than six yards beyond his horse he bore. With speed alighted Mount Albano's peer, And, ere he rose, unlaced the helm he wore: But he for mercy prayed with humble cheer, Unfit to strive in joust or warfare more: And, before king and court, with faltering breath, Confessed the fraud which brought him to his death. XC He brings not his confession to a close, And pangs of death the failing accents drown: The prince, who ended saw his daughter's woes, Redeemed from death and scorn, her virtue shown, With more delight and rapture overflows, Than if he, having lost his kingly crown, Then saw it first upon his head replaced; So that he good Rinaldo singly graced. XCI And when, through his uplifted casque displaid, Features, well known before, the king descried, His thanks to God with lifted hands he paid, That he had deigned such succour to provide. That other cavalier, who bared his blade, Unknown of all, upon Geneura's side, And thither came from far, his aid to impart, Looked upon all that passed, and stood apart. XCII Him the good king entreated to declare His name, or, at the least, his visage shew; That he might grace him with such guerdon fair, As to his good intent was justly due. The stranger, after long and earnest prayer, Lifted to covering casque, and bared to view What in the ensuing canto will appear, If you are fain the history to hear. CANTO 6 ARGUMENT Ariodantes has, a worthy meed, With his loved bride, the fief of Albany. Meantime Rogero, on the flying steed, Arrives in false Alcina's empery: There from a myrtle-tree her every deed, A human myrtle hears, and treachery, And thence would go; but they who first withdrew Him from one strife, engage him in a new. I Wretched that evil man who lives in trust His secret sin is safe in his possession! Since, if nought else, the air, the very dust In which the crime is buried, makes confession, And oftentimes his guilt compels the unjust, Though sometime unarraigned in worldly session, To be his own accuser, and bewray, So God has willed, deeds hidden from the day. II The unhappy Polinesso hopes had nursed, Wholly his secret treason to conceal. By taking off Dalinda, who was versed In this, and only could the fact reveal; And adding thus a second to his first Offence, but hurried on the dread appeal, Which haply he had stunned, at least deferred; But he to self-destruction blindly spurred. III And forfeited estate, and life, and love Of friends at once, and honour, which was more. The cavalier unknown, I said above, Long of the king and court entreated sore, At length the covering helmet did remove, And showed a visage often seen before, The cherished face of Ariodantes true, Of late lamented weeping Scotland through; IV Ariodantes, whom with tearful eye His brother and Geneura wept as dead, And king, and people, and nobility: Such light his goodness and his valour shed. The pilgrim therefore might appear to lie In what he of the missing warrior said. Yet was it true that from a headland, he Had seen him plunge into the foaming sea. V But, as it oft befalls despairing wight, Who grisly Death desires till he appear; But loathes what he had sought, on nearer sight; So painful seems the cruel pass and drear. Thus, in the sea engulphed, the wretched knight, Repentant of his deed, was touched with fear; And, matchless both for spirit and for hand, Beat back the billows, and returned to land. VI And, now despising, as of folly bred, The fond desire which did to death impell, Thence, soaked and dripping wet, his way did tread, And halted at a hermit's humble cell: And housed within the holy father's shed, There secretly awhile designed to dwell; Till to his ears by rumour should be voiced, If his Geneura sorrowed or rejoiced. VII At first he heard that, through excess of woe, The miserable damsel well-nigh died: For so abroad the doleful tidings go, 'Twas talked of in the island, far and wide: Far other proof than that deceitful show, Which to his cruel grief he thought he spied! And next against the fair Geneura heard Lurcanio to her sire his charge preferred: VIII Nor for his brother felt less enmity Than was the love he lately bore the maid; For he too foul, and full of cruelty, Esteemed the deed, although for him essayed; And, hearing after, in her jeopardy, That none appeared to lend the damsel aid, Because so puissant was Lurcanio's might, All dreaded an encounter with the knight, IX And that who well the youthful champion knew, Believed he was so wary and discreet, That, had what he related been untrue, He never would have risqued so rash a feat, -- For this the greater part the fight eschew, Fearing in wrongful cause the knight to meet -- Ariodantes (long his doubts are weighed) Will meet his brother in Geneura's aid. X "Alas! (he said) I cannot bear to see Thus by my cause the royal damsel die; My death too bitter and too dread would be, Did I, before my own, her death descry; For still my lady, my divinity She is; -- the light and comfort of my eye. Her, right or wrong, I cannot choose but shield, And for her safety perish in the field. XI "I know I choose the wrong, and be it so! And in the cause shall die: nor this would move; But that, alas! my death, as well I know, Will such a lovely dame's destruction prove, To death I with one only comfort go, That, if her Polinesso bears her love, To her will manifestly be displayed, That hitherto he moves not in her aid. XII "And me, so wronged by her, the maid shall view Encounter death in her defence; and he, My brother, who such flames of discord blew, Shall pay the debt of vengeance due to me. For well I ween to make Lurcanio rue (Informed of the event) his cruelty, Who will have thought to venge me with his brand, And will have slain me with his very hand." XIII He, having this concluded in his thought, Made new provision of arms, steed, and shield; Black was the vest and buckler which he bought, Where green and yellow striped the sable field: By hazard found, with him a squire he brought, A stranger in that country; and, concealed (As is already told) the unhappy knight, Against his brother came, prepared for fight. XV And yielding to his natural inclination, And at the suit of all his court beside, And mostly at Rinaldo's instigation, Assigned the youth the damsel as his bride. Albany's duchy, now in sequestration, Late Polinesso's, who in duel died, Could not be forfeited in happier hour; Since this the monarch made his daughter's dower. XVI Rinaldo for Dalinda mercy won; Who from her fault's due punishment went free. She, satiate of the world, (and this to shun, The damsel so had vowed) to God will flee: And hence, in Denmark's land, to live a nun, Straight from her native Scotland sailed the sea. But it is time Rogero to pursue, Who on his courser posts the welkin through. XVII Although Rogero is of constant mind, Not from his cheek the wonted hues depart. I ween that faster than a leaf i' the wind Fluttered within his breast the stripling's heart. All Europe's region he had left behind In his swift course; and, issuing in that part, Passed by a mighty space, the southern sound Where great Alcides fixed the sailor's bound. XVIII That hippogryph, huge fowl, and strange to sight, Bears off the warrior with such rapid wing, He would have distanced, in his airy flight, The thunder bearing bird of Aether's king: Nor other living creature soars such height, Him in his mighty swiftness equalling. I scarce believe that bolt, or lightning flies, Or darts more swiftly from the parted skies. XIX When the huge bird his pinions long had plied, In a straight line, without one stoop or bend, He, tired of air, with sweeping wheel and wide, Began upon an island to descend; Like that fair region, whither, long unspied Of him, her wayward mood did long offend, Whilom in vain, through strange and secret sluice, Passed under sea the Virgin Arethuse. XX A more delightful place, wherever hurled Through the whole air, Rogero had not found: And, had he ranged the universal world, Would not have seen a lovelier in his round, Than that, where, wheeling wide, the courser furled His spreading wings, and lighted on the ground, 'Mid cultivated plain, delicious hill, Moist meadow, shady bank, and crystal rill. XXI Small thickets, with the scented laurel gay, Cedar, and orange, full of fruit and flower, Myrtle and palm, with interwoven spray, Pleached in mixed modes, all lovely, form a bower; And, breaking with their shade the scorching ray, Make a cool shelter from the noontide hour. And nightingales among those branches wing Their flight, and safely amorous descants sing. XXII Amid red roses and white lilies there, Which the soft breezes freshen as they fly, Secure the cony haunts, and timid hare, And stag, with branching forehead broad and high. These, fearless of the hunter's dart or snare, Feed at their ease, or ruminating lie: While, swarming in those wilds, from tuft or steep Dun deer or nimble goat, disporting, leap. XXIII When the hyppogryph above the island hung, And had approached so nigh that landscape fair, That, if his rider from the saddle sprung, He might the leap with little danger dare, Rogero lit the grass and flowers among, But held him, lest he should remount the air: And to a myrtle, nigh the rolling brine, Made fast, between a bay-tree and a pine. XXIV And there, close-by where rose a bubbling fount, Begirt the fertile palm and cedar-tree, He drops the shield, the helmet from his front Uplifts, and, either hand from gauntlet free, Now turning to the beach, and now the mount, Catches the gales which blow from hill or sea, And, with a joyous murmur, lightly stir The lofty top of beech, or feathery fir: XXV And, now, to bathe his burning lips he strains; Now dabbles in the crystal wave, to chase The scorching heat which rages in his veins, Caught from the heavy corslet's burning case. Nor is it marvel if the burden pains; No ramble his in square or market-place! Three thousand miles, without repose, he went, And still, at speed, in ponderous armour pent. XXVI Meanwhile the courser by the myrtle's side, Whom he left stabled in the cool retreat, Started at something in the wood descried, Scared by I know not what; and in his heat So made the myrtle shake where he was tied, He brought a shower of leaves about his feet; He made the myrtle shake and foliage fall, But, struggling, could not loose himself withal. XXVII As in a stick to feed the chimney rent, Where scanty pith ill fills the narrow sheath, The vapour, in its little channel pent, Struggles, tormented by the fire beneath; And, till its prisoned fury find a vent, Is heard to hiss and bubble, sing and seethe: So the offended myrtle inly pined, Groaned, murmured, and at last unclosed its rind: XXVIII And hence a clear, intelligible speech Thus issued, with a melancholy sound; "If, as thy cheer and gentle presence teach, Thou courteous art and good, his reign unbound, Release me from this monster, I beseech: Griefs of my own inflict sufficient wound: Nor need I, compassed with such ills about, Other new pain to plague me from without." XXIX At the first sound, Rogero turns to see Whence came the voice, and, in unused surprise, Stands, when he finds it issues from the tree; And swiftly to remove the courser hies. Then, with a face suffused with crimson, he In answer to the groaning myrtle, cries; "Pardon! and, whatsoe'er thou art, be good, Spirit of man, or goddess of the wood! XXX "Unweeting of the wonderous prodigy Of spirit, pent beneath the knotty rind, To your fair leaf and living body I Have done this scathe and outrage undesigned. But not the less for that, to me reply, What art thou, who, in rugged case confined, Dost live and speak? And so may never hail From angry heaven your gentle boughs assail! XXXI "And if I now or ever the despite I did thee can repair, or aid impart, I, by that lady dear, my promise plight, Who in her keeping has my better part, To strive with word and deed, till thou requite The service done with praise and grateful heart." Rogero said; and, as he closed his suit, That gentle myrtle shook from top to root. XXXII Next drops were seen to stand upon the bark, As juice is sweated by the sapling-spray, New-severed, when it yields to flame and spark, Sometime in vain kept back and held at bay. And next the voice began: "My story dark, Forced by thy courteous deed, I shall display; -- What once I was -- by whom, through magic lore, Changed to a myrtle on the pleasant shore. XXXIII "A peer of France, Astolpho was my name, Whilom a paladin, sore feared in fight; Cousin I was to two of boundless fame, Orlando and Rinaldo. I by right Looked to all England's crown; my lawful claim After my royal father, Otho hight. More dames than one my beauty served to warm, And in conclusion wrought my single harm. XXXIV "Returning from those isles, whose eastern side The billows of the Indian ocean beat, Where good Rinaldo and more knights beside With me were pent in dark and hollow seat, Thence, rescued by illustrious Brava's pride, Whose prowess freed us from that dark retreat, Westward I fared along the sandy shores, On which the stormy north his fury pours. XXXV "Pursuing thus our rugged journey, we Came (such our evil doom) upon the strand, Where stood a mansion seated by the sea: Puissant Alcina owned the house and land. We found her, where, without her dwelling, she Had taken on the beach her lonely stand; And though nor hook nor sweeping net she bore, What fish she willed, at pleasure drew to shore. XXXVI "Thither swift dolphins gambol, inly stirred, And open-mouthed the cumbrous tunnies leap; Thither the seal or porpus' wallowing herd Troop at her bidding, roused from lazy sleep; Raven-fish, salmon, salpouth, at her word, And mullet hurry through the briny deep, With monstrous backs above the water, sail Ork, physeter, sea-serpent, shark, and whale. XXXVII "There we behold a mighty whale, of size The hugest yet in any water seen: More than eleven paces, to our eyes, His back appears above the surface green: And (for still firm and motionless he lies, And such the distance his two ends between) We all are cheated by the floating pile, And idly take the monster for an isle. XXXVIII "Alcina made the ready fish obey By simple words and by mere magic lore: Born with Morgana -- but I cannot say If at one birth, or after or before. As soon as seen, my aspect pleased the fay; Who showed it in the countenance she wore: Then wrought with art, and compassed her intent, To part me from the friends with whom I went. XXXIX "She came towards us with a cheerful face, With graceful gestures, and a courteous air, And said: 'So you my lodging please to grace, Sir cavalier, and will with me repair, You shall behold the wonders of my chace, And note the different sorts of fish I snare; Shaggy or smooth, or clad in scales of light, And more in number than the stars of night: XL " 'And would you hear a mermaid sing so sweet, That the rude sea grows civil at her song, Wont at this hour her music to repeat, (With that she showed the monster huge and long -- I said it seemed an island -- as her seat) Pass with me where she sings the shoals among.' I, that was always wilful, at her wish, I now lament my rashness, climb the fish. XLI "To Dudon and Rinaldo's signal blind, I go, who warn me to misdoubt the fay. With laughing face Alcina mounts behind, Leaving the other two beside the bay. The obedient fish performs the task assigned, And through the yielding water works his way. Repentant of my deed, I curse the snare, Too far from land my folly to repair. XLII "To aid me swam Mount Alban's cavalier, And was nigh drowned amid the waves that rise; For a south-wind sprang up that, far and near, Covered with sudden darkness seas and skies. I know not after what befel the peer: This while Alcina to console me tries, And all that day, and night which followed, me Detained upon that monster in mid-sea, XLIII "Till to this isle we drifted with the morn, Of which Alcina keeps a mighty share; By that usurper from a sister torn, Who was her father's universal heir: For that she only was in wedlock born, And for those other two false sisters were (So well-instructed in the story, said One who rehearsed the tale) in incest bred. XLIV "As these are practised in iniquity, And full of every vice and evil art; So she, who ever lives in chastity, Wisely on better things has set her heart. Hence, leagued against her, in conspiracy, Those others are, to drive her from her part: And more than once their armies have o'errun Her realm, and towns above a hundred won. XLV "Nor at this hour a single span of ground Would Logistilla (such her name) command, But that a mountain here, and there a sound, Protects the remnant from the invading band. 'Tis thus the mountain and the river bound England, and part it from the Scottish land. Yet will the sisters give their foe no rest, Till of her scanty remnant dispossest. XLVI "Because in wickedness and vice were bred The pair, as chaste and good they loath the dame. But, to return to what I lately said, And to relate how I a plant became; Me, full of love, the kind Alcina fed With full delights; nor I a weaker flame For her, within my burning heart did bear, Beholding her so courteous and so fair. XLVII "Clasped in her dainty limbs, and lapt in pleasure, I weened that I each separate good had won, Which to mankind is dealt in different measure, Little or more to some, and much to none. I evermore contemplated my treasure, Nor France nor aught beside I thought upon: In her my every fancy, every hope Centered and ended as their common scope. XLVIII "By her I was as much beloved, or more; Nor did Alcina now for other care; She left her every lover; for before, Others, in truth, the fairy's love did share: I was her close adviser evermore; And served by her, where they commanded were. With me she counselled, and to me referred; Nor, night nor day, to other spake a word. XLIX "Why touch my wounds, to aggravate my ill, And that, alas! without the hope of cure? Why thus the good possessed remember still, Amid the cruel penance I endure? When kindest I believed Alcina's will, And fondly deemed my happiness secure, From me the heart she gave, the fay withdrew, And yielded all her soul to love more new. L "Late I discerned her light and fickle bent, Still loving and unloving at a heat: Two months, I reigned not more, no sooner spent, Than a new paramour assumed my seat; And me, with scorn, she doomed to banishment, From her fair grace cast out. 'Tis then I weet I share a thousand lovers' fate, whom she Had to like pass reduced, all wrongfully. LI "And these, because they should not scatter bruits, Roaming the world, of her lascivious ways, She, up and down the fruitful soil, transmutes To olive, palm, or cedar, firs or bays. These, as you see me changed, Alcina roots; While this transformed into a monster strays; Another melts into a liquid rill; As suits that haughty fairy's wanton will. LII "Thou, too, that to this fatal isle art led By way unwonted and till now unknown, That some possessor of the fairy's bed, May be for thee transformed to wave or stone, Thou shalt, with more than mortal pleasures fed, Have from Alcina seigniory and throne; But shalt be sure to join the common flock, Transformed to beast or fountain, plant or rock. LIII "I willingly to thee this truth impart, Not that I hope with profit to advise: Yet 'twill be better, that informed, in part, Of her false ways, she harm not by surprise. Perhaps, as faces differ, and in art And wit of man an equal difference lies, Thou may'st some remedy perchance apply To the ill, which thousand others could not fly." LIV The good Rogero, who from Fame had learned That he was cousin to the dame he wooed, Lamented much the sad Astolpho, turned From his true form, to barren plant and rude: And for her love, for whom so sore he burned, Would gladly serve the stripling if he cou'd: But, witless how to give the wished relief, Might but console the unhappy warrior's grief. LV As best he could, he strove to soothe his pain; Then asked him, if to Logistil's retreat Were passage, whether over hill or plain; That he might so eschew Alcina's seat. -- `There was a way', the myrtle said again, -- `But rough with stones, and rugged to the feet -- If he, some little further to the right, Would scale the Alpine mountain's very height: LVI `But that he must not think he shall pursue The intended journey far; since by the way He will encounter with a frequent crew, And fierce, who serve as rampart to the fay, That block the road against the stranger, who Would break her bounds, and the deserter stay.' Rogero thanked the tree for all, and taught, Departed thence with full instructions fraught. LVII The courser from the myrtle he untied, And by the bridle led behind him still; Nor would he, as before, the horse bestride, Lest he should bear him off against his will: He mused this while how safely he might find A passage to the land of Logistil; Firm in his purpose every nerve to strain, Lest empire over him Alcina gain. LVIII He to remount the steed, and through the air To spur him to a new career again Now thought; but doubted next, in fear to fare Worse on the courser, restive to the rein. "No, I will win by force the mountain stair," Rogero said; (but the resolve was vain) Nor by the beach two miles his way pursued, Ere he Alcina's lovely city viewed. LIX A lofty wall at distance meets his eye Which girds a spacious town within its bound; It seems as if its summit touched the sky, And all appears like gold from top to ground. Here some one says it is but alchemy -- And haply his opinion is unsound -- And haply he more wittily divines: For me, I deem it gold because it shines. LX When he was nigh the city-walls, so bright, The world has not their equal, he the straight And spacious way deserts, the way which dight Across the plain, conducted to the gate; And by that safer road upon the right, Strains now against the mountain; but, in wait, Encounters soon the crowd of evil foes, Who furiously the Child's advance oppose. LXI Was never yet beheld a stranger band, Of mien more hideous, or more monstrous shape. Formed downwards from neck like men, he scanned Some with the head of cat, and some of ape; With hoof of goat that other stamped the sand; While some seemed centaurs, quick in fight and rape; Naked, or mantled in outlandish skin. These doting sires, those striplings bold in sin. LXII This gallops on a horse without a bit; This backs the sluggish ass, or bullock slow; These mounted on the croup of centaur sit: Those perched on eagle, crane, or estridge, go. Some male, some female, some hermaphrodit, These drain the cup and those the bungle blow. One bore a corded ladder, one a book; One a dull file, or bar of iron shook. LXIII The captain of this crew, which blocked the road, Appeared, with monstrous paunch and bloated face; Who a slow tortoise for a horse bestrode, That passing sluggishly with him did pace: Down looked, some here, some there, sustained the load, For he was drunk, and kept him in his place. Some wipe his brows and chin from sweat which ran, And others with their vests his visage fan. LXIV One, with a human shape and feet, his crest, Fashioned like hound, in neck and ears and head, Bayed at the gallant Child with angry quest, To turn him to the city whence he fled. "That will I never, while of strength possessed To brandish this," the good Rogero said: With that his trenchant faulchion he displayed, And pointed at him full the naked blade. LXV That monster would have smote him with a spear, But swiftly at his foe Rogero sprung, Thrust at his paunch, and drove his faulchion sheer Through his pierced back a palm; his buckler flung Before him, and next sallied there and here: But all too numerous was the wicked throng. Now grappled from behind, now punched before, He stands, and plies the crowd with warfare sore. LXVI One to the teeth, another to the breast, Of that foul race he cleft; since no one steeled In mail, his brows with covering helmet dressed, Or fought, secured by corslet or by shield; Yet is he so upon all quarters pressed, That it would need the Child, to clear the field, And to keep off the wicked crew which swarms, More than Briareus' hundred hands and arms. LXVII If he had thought the magic shield to show, (I speak of that the necromancer bore, Which dazed the sight of the astonished foe, Left at his saddle by the wizard Moor) That hideous band, in sudden overthrow, Blinded by this, had sunk the knight before. But haply he despised such mean as vile, And would prevail by valour, not by guile. LXVIII This as it may: the Child would meet his fate, Ere by so vile a band be prisoner led; When, lo! forth issuing from the city's gate, Whose wall appeared like shining gold I said, Two youthful dames, not born in low estate, If measured by their mien and garb, nor bred By swain, in early wants and troubles versed; But amid princely joys in palace nursed! LXIX On unicorn was seated either fair, A beast than spotless ermine yet more white; So lovely were the damsels, and so rare Their garb, and with such graceful fashion dight, That he who closely viewed the youthful pair, Would need a surer sense than mortal sight, To judge between the two. With such a mien Embodied Grace and Beauty would be seen. LXX Into the mead rode this and the other dame, Where the foul crew opposed the Child's retreat. The rabble scattered as the ladies came, Who with extended hand the warrior greet. He, with a kindling visage, red with shame, Thanked the two damsels for their gentle feat; And was content upon their will to wait, With them returning to that golden gate. LXXI Above, a cornice round the gateway goes, Somedeal projecting from the colonnade, In which is not a single part but glows, With rarest gems of India overlaid. Propp'd at four points, the portal did repose On columns of one solid diamond made. Whether what met the eye was false or true, Was never sight more fair or glad to view. LXXII Upon the sill and through the columns there, Ran young and wanton girls, in frolic sport; Who haply yet would have appeared more fair, Had they observed a woman's fitting port. All are arrayed in green, and garlands wear Of the fresh leaf. Him these in courteous sort, With many proffers and fair mien entice, And welcome to this opening Paradise: LXXIII For so with reason I this place may call, Where, it is my belief, that Love had birth; Where life is spent in festive game and ball, And still the passing moments fleet in mirth. Here hoary-headed Thought ne'er comes at all, Nor finds a place in any bosom. Dearth, Nor yet Discomfort, never enter here, Where Plenty fills her horn throughout the year. LXXIV Here, where with jovial and unclouded brow, Glad April seems to wear a constant smile, Troop boys and damsels: One, whose fountains flow, On the green margin sings in dulcet style; Others, the hill or tufted tree below, In dance, or no mean sport the hours beguile. While this, who shuns the revellers' noisy cheer, Tells his love sorrows in his comrade's ear. LXXV Above the laurel and pine-tree's height, Through the tall beech and shaggy fir-tree's spray, Sport little loves, with desultory flight: These, at their conquests made, rejoiced and gay: These, with the well-directed shaft, take sight At hearts, and those spread nets to catch their prey; One wets his arrows in the brook which winds, And one on whirling stone the weapon grinds. LXXVI To good Rogero here was brought a steed, Puissant and nimble, all of sorel hue; Who was caparisoned with costly weed, Broidered with gold, and jewels bright to view. That other winged horse, which, at his need, Obedient to the Moorish wizard flew, The friendly damsels to a youth consigned, Who led him at a slower pace behind. LXXVII That kindly pair who, by the wicked band Offended fate, had saved the youthful knight; The wicked crew, that did the Child withstand, When he the road had taken on his right, Exclaimed, "Fair sir, your works already scanned By us, who are instructed of your might, Embolden us, in our behalf, to pray You will the prowess of your arm assay. LXXVIII "We soon shall reach a bottom which divides The plain into two parts: A cruel dame A bridge maintains, which there a stream bestrides, Eriphila the savage beldam's name; Who cheats, and robs, and scathes, whoever rides To the other shore, a giantess in frame; Who has long poisonous teeth her prey to tear, And scratches with her talons like a bear. LXXIX "Besides that she infests the public way, Which else were free; she often ranging through All this fair garden, puts in disarray This thing or that. Of the assassin crew, That people who without the portal gay, Lately with brutal rage assaulted you, Many her sons, the whole her followers call, As greedy and inhospitable all." LXXX "For you not only her I would assail, But do a hundred battles, well content: Then of my person, where it may avail, Dispose (Rogero said) to you intent. Silver and land to conquer, plate or mail I swear not, I, in warlike cuirass pent; But to afford my aid to others due; And, most of all, to beauteous dames like you." LXXXI Their grateful thanks the ladies, worthily Bestowed on such a valiant champion, paid: They talking thus the bridge and river see, And at her post the haughty dame arraid (Sapphire and emerald decked the panoply) In arms of gold: but I awhile delay Till other strain the issue of the fray.