"This mighty man whom you have slain," said the Squire, "is the son of a huge giantess. By his strength he gained rule to himself and led many nations into thraldom, conquering them, however, not in battle, by armies of men with waving banners, but by the power of his malignant eyes, with which he killed all who came within his control. Never before was he vanquished, but always vanquished all with whom he fought. Nor was there any man so strong but what he bore him down, nor any woman so fair but he made captive of her; for his chief desire was to make spoil of strength and beauty, and utterly to destroy them. Because of his wicked eyes, which cast flakes of fire into the hearts of those who looked at him, he was rightly called Corflambo.
He has left one daughter who is named the fair
[paragraph continues] Pana, who seems outwardly as fair as living eye ever yet saw; and if her virtue were as bright as her beauty, she would be as fair as any one on earth. But she is too much given to folly and pleasure, and is also too fickle and too fanciful.
"Well, as it happened, there was a gentle Squire who loved a lady of noble birth; but because his low rank forbade his hoping to marry so high, her friends sagely counselled her against letting herself down to his level. But Emilia would not break the promise she had given Amyas, for she loved him truly, and holding firmly to her first intention, she resolved to marry him, in spite of all her friends. They appointed, therefore, a time and place of meeting, but when accordingly the Squire repaired there, a sad misadventure happened. Instead of finding his fair Emilia, he was caught unawares by Corflambo, who carried his wretched captive, dismayed with despair, to his dungeon, where lie remained unaided, and unsought by any one.
"The Giant's daughter came one day in glee to the prison, to view the captives who lay in bondage there. Among the rest she chanced to see this gallant youth, the Squire of low degree. She took a great liking to him, and she promised that if he would love her in return he should have his liberty.
"Amyas, though plighted to another lady to whom he firmly meant to keep his faith, thought he had better take any means of escape offered by fortune, and therefore pretended to like Pana a very little, in order to win her favour and get his liberty. But the Giant's daughter still kept him in captivity, fearing that if she
set him free he would leave at once and forget her. Yet she showed him so much favour above the other prisoners that he was allowed sometimes to walk about her pleasure gardens, having always a keeper with him, The keeper was this dwarf, her pet menial, to whom as a special favour she commits the keys of all the prison doors. He can, at his will, release those whom he chooses, and those also whom he chooses he can reserve for more severe punishment.
When tidings of this reached me, I was deeply grieved because of the great love I bear to Amyas, and I went to the Castle of Corflambo. There I concealed myself for a long time, till one day the dwarf discovered me, and told his mistress that her Squire of low degree had secretly stolen out of prison; for he mistook me for Amyas, because no two people were ever more alike.
"I was taken and brought before the Giant's daughter, who being also beguiled by the likeness, began to blame me for seeking to escape by flight from one who loved me so dearly; and then she ordered me again to prison. Glad of this, I did not contradict her, nor make any resistance, but suffered that same dwarf to drive me to the dungeon.
"There I found my faithful friend in heavy plight and sad perplexity, for which I was sorry, yet bent myself to comfort him again with my company. But this, I found, grieved him the more; for his only joy in his distress, he said, was the thought that Emilia and I were free. He loved Emilia well, as I could guess, and yet he said his love for me was even greater.
'But I reasoned with him and showed him how easy
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Unto the prison in her joyous glee,
To view the thrals which there in bondage lay.''
it would be to manage a disguise because of our likeness, so that either we could change places or his freedom might be gained. He was most unwilling to agree, and would not for anything consent that I, who was free and out of danger, should willfully be brought into thraldom. Yet, over-ruled at last, he consented.
"The next day, at about the usual hour, the dwarf called at the door of the dungeon for Amyas to come directly to his lady's bower. Instead of Amyas, I--Placidas--came forth, and, undiscovered, went with him. The fair Pana received me with joy, and gave me an affectionate greeting, thinking that I was Amyas. Not having any former love of my own, I was quite willing to accept her kindness and favour, as indeed it was expedient to do. I pretended to make excuses for my former coldness, and promised to be more amiable in future. All this I did, not for my own sake, but to do good to my friend, for whose liberty alone I staked love and life.
"Thenceforward I found more favour at Pana's hand. She bade the dwarf who had charge of me lighten my heavy chains and grant me more scope to walk abroad. So, one day, as I played with him on the flowery bank of a stream, finding no means of gaining our freedom unless I could convey away the dwarf, I lightly snatched him up and carried him off.
"He shrieked so loudly that at his cry the tyrant himself came forth and pursued me. Nevertheless I would not give up my prey, and hither by force I have brought him."
As Placidas spoke thus to Prince Arthur, the two
ladies, still doubtful through fear, came near, wishing to hear tidings of all that had happened.
Directly Emilia spied her captive lover's friend, young Placidas, she sprang towards him, and throwing her arms round him, exclaimed, "Does Amyas still live?"
"He lives," said Placidas, "and loves his Emilia."
Not more than I love him," she cried. "But what misfortune has kept him so long from me?"
Then Placidas told her how Amyas had been taken captive. It filled her tender heart with pity to hear of the misery in which he had lain so long, and she eagerly begged Prince Arthur to set him free. This the Prince readily consented to do, and well he performed his work.