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  • St. Anthony of Italy
    Page 1

    IT was at the time of the year when the earth was newly decked with her summer's livery that the noble champion, St. Anthony of Italy, arrived in Thracia, where he spent his seven years' travel to the honour of his country, the glory of God, and to his own lasting renown. For after he had wandered through woods and wildernesses, by hills and dales, by caves and dens, and through unknown passages, he arrived at last upon the top of a high mountain, whereon stood a wonderfully strong castle, which was kept by the most mighty giant, whose force all Thrace could not overcome, nor even attempt to withstand. The giant's name was Blanderon ; his castle of the purest marble, with gates of brass. Over the principal entrance was an inscription telling how Blanderon kept in his tower seven daughters of the Thracian king, that the imprisoned damsels were doomed to sing the monster to sleep every night ; that thousands of knights had died in their attempts to rescue the maidens, yet that they still hoped for a victorious champion, for whom they would pray evermore.

    After St. Anthony had read this, thirst of honour so emboldened his mind that he vowed either to free these ladies, or die with honour by the fury of the giant. Therefore, going to the castle gate, he struck so vehemently thereon with the pommel of his sword, that it sounded like a thunderclap. Whereat Blanderon suddenly started up, having been fast asleep by a fountain-side, and came pacing forth of the gate, with an oak tree over his shoulder, which, at the sight of the Italian champion, he nourished about his head, as though it had been a little battleaxe.

    Addressing the noble champion, he said, "What fury hath incensed thy mind thus to venture thy feeble force against the violence of my strong arm? I tell thee, hadst thou the strength of Hercules, thou wert all too weak to encounter the mighty giant Blanderon. Thy strength I esteem as a pufi of wind, and thy strokes as a few drops of water. Therefore betake thee to thy weapon, which I compare to a bulrush ; for on this ground will I measure out thy grave."

    Thus boasted the vain-glorious giant. During which time the valiant champion had alighted from his horse. Then, after he had made his humble supplication to Heaven for good fortune, he approached within the giant's reach, who with his great oak dealt towards him such vehement blows that they seemed to shake the earth, and to rattle against the wall of the castle like thunder-claps. And had not the Knight continually skipped from the fury of his blows, he had soon been killed, for every stroke the giant gave, the root of the oak entered at least two or three inches into the ground. But the worthy champion was wise enough not to spend his full force till the giant grew breathless and unable to lift the oak above his head. Shortly the heat of the sun became so intolerable that the sweat from the giant's blows ran into his eyes, and by reason he was so extremely fat, he could not see to combat any longer, and would have run back again into his castle, but that the Italian champion, with a bold courage, assailed him so fiercely that he was forced to let his oak fall and stand gasping for breath. But the noble Knight redoubled his blows, which fell on the giant's armour like a storm of hail, whereby at last Blanderon was compelled to ask the champion's mercy. But St. Anthony saw that now or never was the time to obtain the honour of the day, and therefore rested not his weary arm till the giant was forced to bid the world farewell, and to yield his castle to the most renowned conqueror, St. Anthony of Italy.

    But by the time the long and dangerous encounter had finished, and the giant Blanderon's head was severed from his body, the sun had mounted to the highest part of the heavens. The champion's armour scalded him so much that he unbraced his corselet, laid aside his burgonet, and cast his body upon the cold earth. But the vapours from the chilly ground struck presently to his heart ; and his body lay exposed, without sense or moving, to the mercy of pale death, for the space of an hour.

    Page 2 >

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    Macdonell, Anne. The Italian Fairy Book. London: T. Fisher Unwin LTD., 1911. 113-122


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