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St. Anthony of Italy
Continued from page 1
After this time fair Rosalinde, one of the daughters of the Thracian king, a prisoner in the castle, by chance looked over the walls, and espied the headless body of the giant, under whose subjection she had continued for seven years, and by him a Knight unarmed, as she thought, panting for breath. She at once descended the walls of the castle, and ran with speed to the adventurous champion, whom she found to all appearance dead. But feeling as yet warm blood in every member, she returned with all haste to the castle, and fetched a box of precious balm, which the giant was wont to pour into his wounds after his encounter with any knight. With this balm the courteous lady chafed every part of the breathless champion's body ; one time washing his stiff limbs with her salt tears, another time drying them with tresses of her golden hair, which hung dangling in the wind. But yet no sign of life could she see in the Knight, which caused her to despair of his recovery.
Then, considering he had lost his life for her sake, she made up her mind to bear him company in death, with her own hands to finish her days, and die upon his breast. Just as she had unsheathed the champion's sword, and had pointed it against her bosom, she heard the distressed Knight give a terrible groan, whereat she stayed her hand. For by this time the balm had recovered him, and presently he raised up his stiff limbs from the cold earth. For a time he gazed up and down the mountain, until at last, having recovered his senses, he espied the Thracian damsel standing by, unable to speak one word for joy. After a space he revealed to her the manner of his victory; she to him the cause of his recovery, and her intended death. Whereupon, after many kind salutations, she courteously took him by the hand, and led him into the castle, where for that night she lodged his weary limbs on an easy bed stuffed with turtle-feathers and softest thistle-down.
The Knight slept soundly after his dangerous battle till the morning. Then rising from his bed, he attired himself, not in his armour, but in purple garments. The lady Rosalinde had busied herself in preparing his repast, and when he had refreshed himself with a dainty banquet, he stripped the giant Blanderon of his iron furniture, and left his naked body upon a craggy rock, to be devoured by hungry ravens ; after which the Thracian virgin discovered all the castle to the champion. First she led him to a leaden tower, where hung a hundred corselets, with other martial furniture, the spoils of such knights as had been violently slain. After that she brought him to a stable, wherein stood a hundred pampered steeds. Against it was placed the giant's own lodging. His bed was of iron, corded with mighty bars of steel ; the tester, or covering, of carved brass ; and the curtains were of leaves of gold. After this she led him to a broad pond of water, more clear than quicksilver, whereon swam six milk-white swans, with circlets of gold about their necks.
"Oh, here," said the Thracian lady, "begins the depth of all my grief ! These swans are my sisters. Daughters are we of the King of Thrace ; and the beginning of our imprisonment began in this unfortunate manner."
"The King, my father, ordained a solemn hunting to be held through the land, at which we seven sisters were present. In the middle of our sports, when the lords and barons of Thracia were in chase after a mighty lioness, the heavens suddenly began to lower ; a darkness overspread the face of the earth ; and there arose such a storm of lightning and thunder, as though heaven and earth had met together. Our lordly troops of knights and barons were separated, and we poor ladies forced to seek for shelter at the bottom of this high mountain. When the cruel giant Blanderon espied us, as he walked upon his battlements, he suddenly descended the mountain, and fetched us all under his arm up into the castle. For my six sisters, he turned their comely bodies into the shape of milk-white swans ; but kept me to lull him to sleep with sweet music." The fair Rosalinde could tell no more for weeping, whereat the Knight embraced and thus began to comfort her.
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