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Nath'lesse that stroke so cruell passage found,
That glauncing on her shoulder-plate it bit
Unto the bone, and made a griesly wound,
That she her shield through raging smart of it
Could scarse uphold ; yet soone she it requit :
For, having force increast through furious paine,
She her so rudely on the helmet smit
That it empierced to the very braine,
And her proud person low prostráted on the plaine.
Where being layd, the wrothfull Britonesse
Stayd not till she came to herselfe againe ;
But in revenge both of her Loves distresse
And her late vile reproch though vaunted vaine,
And also of her wound which sore did paine,
She with one stroke both head and helmet cleft:
Which dreadfull sight when all her warlike traine
There present saw,
sence bereft Fled fast into the towne, and her sole victor left.
But yet so fast they could not home retrate,
But that swift Talus did the formost win;
And, pressing through the preace unto the gate,
Pelmell with them attonce did enter in :
There then a piteous slaughter did begin ;
For all that ever came within his reach
He with his yron flale did thresh so thin,
That he no worke at all left for the leach ;
Like to an hideous storme, which nothing may empeach.
And now by this the noble Conqueresse
Herselfe came in, her glory to partake;
Where though revengefull vow she did professe,
Yet, when she saw the heapes which he did make
Of slaughtred carkasses, her heart did quake
For very ruth, which did it almost rive,
That she his fury willed him to slake :
For else he sure had left not one alive;
But all, in his revenge, of spirite would deprive.
Tho, when she had his execution stayd,
She for that yron prison did enquire,
In which her wretched Love was captive layd :
Which breaking open with indignant ire,
She entred into all the partes entire:
Where when she saw that lothly uncouth sight
Of men disguiz’d in womanishe attire,
Her heart gan grudge for very deepe despight
Of so unmanly maske in misery misdight.
At last whenas to her owne Love she came,
Whom like disguize no lesse deformed had,
At sight thereof abasht with secrete shame
She turnd her head aside, as nothing glad
To have beheld a spectacle so bad ;
And then too well believ'd that which tofore
Iealous suspect as true untruely drad:
Which vaine conceipt now nourishing no more,
She sought with ruth to salve his sad misfortunes sore.
Not so great wonder and astonishment
Did the most chast Penelope possesse,
To see her Lord, that was reported drent
And dead long since in dolórous distresse,
Come home to her in piteous wretchednesse,
After long travell of full twenty yeares ;
That she knew not his favours likelynesse,
For many scarres and many hoary heares;
But stood long staring on him mongst uncertaine feares.
"Ah! my deare Lord, what sight is this,” quoth she,
“What May-game hath misfortune made of you?
Where is that dreadfull manly looke? where be
Those mighty palmes, the which ye wont t'embrew
In bloud of kings, and great hoastes to subdew ?
Could ought on earth so'wondrous change have wrought,
As to have robde
of that manly hew? Could so great courage stouped have to ought? Then farewell, fleshly force ; I see thy pride is nought !"
Thenceforth she streight into a bowre him brought,
And causd him those uncomely weedes undight;
And in their steede for other rayment sought,
Whereof there was great store, and armors bright,
Which had bene reft from many a noble Knight;
Whom that proud Amazon subdewed had,
Whilest fortune favourd her successe in fight:
In which whenas she him anew had clad,
She was reviv'd, and ioyd much in his semblance glad.
So there awhile they afterwards remained,
Him to refresh, and her late wounds to heale :
During which space she there as Princess rained ;
And changing all that forme of common-weale
The liberty of Women did repeale,
Which they had long usurpt; and, them restoring
To mens subiection, did true iustice deale:
That all they, as a goddesse her adoring,
Her wisedome did admire, and hearkned to her loring.
For all those Knights, which long. in captive shade
Had shrowded bene, she did from thraldome free;
And Magistrates of all that City made,
And gave to them great living and large fee :
And, that they should for ever faithfull bee,
Made them sweare fëalty to Artegall :
Who when himselfe now well recur'd did see,
He purposd to proceed, whatso befall,
Uppon his first adventure which him forth did call.
Full sad and sorrowfull was Britomart
For his departure, her new cause of griefe;
Yet wisely moderated her owne smart,
Seeing his honor, which she tendred chiefe,
Consisted much in that adventures priefe:
The care whereof, and hope of his successe,
Gave unto her great comfort and reliefe ;
That womanish complaints she did represse,
And tempred for the time her present heavinesse.
There she continu'd for a certaine space,
Till through his want her woe did more increase:
Then, hoping that the change of aire and place
Would change her paine and sorrow somewhat ease,
She parted thence, her anguish to appease.
Meane while her noble Lord Sir Artegall
Went on his way; ne ever howre did cease,
Till he redeemed had that Lady thrall :
That for another Canto will more fitly fall.