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p. 156

Sea-Monsters and Land-Monsters

Presently they saw a hideous crowd of huge sea-monsters, such as terrified any one to behold; every shape of ugliness and horror was there--water-snakes, and whales, and sword-fish, and hippopotamuses, and sharks, and every kind of sea-monster, and they came along in thousands, with a dreadful noise and a hollow, rumbling roar. No wonder the Knight was appalled, for, compared with these, all that we hold dreadful on earth were but a trifle.

"Fear nothing," then said the Palmer, "for these creatures that look like monsters are not so in reality; they are only disguised into these fearful shapes by the wicked enchantress to terrify us, and to prevent our continuing our journey."

Then, lifting up his magic staff, he smote the sea, which immediately became calm, and all the make-believe monsters fled to the bottom of the ocean.

Free from that danger, the travellers kept on their way, and as they went, they heard a pitiful cry, as of some one wailing and weeping. At last, on an island, they saw a beautiful maiden, who seemed in great sorrow, and who kept calling to them for help. Directly Guyon heard her, he bade the Palmer steer straight to her rescue; but the latter, knowing better, said, "Fair sir, do not be displeased if I disobey you, for it would be a bad thing to listen to her, for really there is nothing the matter; it is only a trick to entrap you."

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The Knight was guided by his advice, and the ferryman held steadily straight on his course.

The next temptation they had to face was of a different kind. They came to a lovely bay, sheltered on the one side by a steep hill, and on the other by a high rock, so that between them was a still and pleasant haven. In this bay lived five mermaids, who could sing in the sweetest manner possible, but the only use they made of their skill in melody was to allure travellers, whom, when they had got hold of, they killed. So now to Guyon as he passed, they began to sing their sweetest tunes, greeting him as the mightiest knight that had ever fought in battle, and bidding him to turn his rudder into the quiet bay, where his storm-beaten vessel might safely ride.

"This is the port of rest from troublous toll," they sang; "the world's sweet inn from pain and wearisome turmoil."

The rolling sea and the waves breaking on the rock mingled with their singing, and the wind whistled in harmony. The sound so delighted Guyon that he bade the boatman row slowly, to let him listen to their melody. But the Palmer wisely counselled him not to do this, and so they got safely past the danger, and soon after they saw, in the distance, the land to which they were directing their course.

Then suddenly a thick fog came down upon them, hiding the cheerful daylight, and making the whole world seem a confused mass. They were much dismayed at this, not knowing which way to steer in the darkness, and fearing that they would fall into some

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hidden danger. To add to their confusion, they were attacked by a flock of horrible birds, which flew screaming round them, beating at them with their wicked wings--owls, and ravens, and bats, and screech-owls. Yet the travellers would not stay because of these, but went straight forward, the ferryman rowing, while the Palmer kept a firm hand on the rudder, till at last the weather began to clear, and the land showed plainly. Then the Palmer warned Sir Guyon to have his armour in readiness, for peril would soon assail him.

The Knight obeyed, and when the boat reached the shore, he and the Palmer stepped out, fully armed, and carefully prepared against every danger.

They had not gone far, before they heard a hideous bellowing, and a pack of wild beasts rushed forward as if to devour them. But when they came near, the Palmer lifted up his wonderful staff, and immediately they were quelled, and shrank back trembling.

Passing these, Sir Guyon and the Palmer soon came to the place the Knight was seeking--the object of his long and toilsome quest-the home of the wicked enchantress--the "Bower of Bliss."

Next: The Bower of Bliss