As soon as Mammon and Sir Guyon entered the House of Riches, the door immediately shut of itself, and from behind it leapt forth an ugly fiend, who followed them wherever they went. He kept an eager watch on Guyon, hoping that before long the Knight would lay a covetous hand on some of the treasures, in which case he was ready to tear him to pieces with his claws.
The form of the house inside was rude and strong, like a huge cave hewn out of the cliff; from cracks in the rough vault hung lumps of gold, and every rift was laden with rich metal, so that they seemed ready to fall in pieces, while high above all the spider spun her crafty web, smothered in smoke and clouds blacker than jet. The roof, and floor, and walls were all of gold, but covered with dust and hid in darkness, so that no one could see the colour of it; for the cheerful daylight never came inside that house, only a faint shadow of uncertain light, like a dying lamp. Nothing was to be seen but great iron chests and strong coffers, all barred with double bands of metal, so that no one could force them open by violence; but all the ground
was strewn with the bones of dead men, who had lost their lives in that place, and were now left there unburied.
They passed on, and Guyon spoke not a word till they came to an iron door, which opened to them of its own accord, and showed them such a store of riches as the eye of man had never seen before.
Then Mammon, turning to the warrior, said, "Behold here the world's happiness! Behold here the end at which all men aim, to be made rich! Such favour--to be happy--is now laid before you."
"I will not have your offered favour," said the Knight, "nor do I intend to be happy in that way. Before my eyes I place another happiness, another end. To those that take pleasure in them, I resign these base things. But I prefer to spend my fleeting hours in fighting and brave deeds, and would rather be lord over those who have riches than have them myself, and be their slave."
At that the fiend gnashed his teeth, and was angry because he was kept so long from his prey, for he thought that so glorious a bait would surely have tempted his guest. Had it done so, he would have snatched him away lighter than a dove in a falcon's claws.
But, when Mammon saw he had missed his object, he thought of another way to entrap the Knight unawares. He led him away into another room where there were a hundred furnaces burning fiercely. By every furnace were many evil spirits horrible to see, busily engaged in tending the fires, or working with
the molten metal. When they saw Guyon they all stood stock still to wonder at him, for they had never seen such a mortal before; he was almost afraid of their staring eyes and hideous figures.
"Behold what living eye has never seen before," said Mammon. "Here is the fountain of the world's good. If, therefore, you will be rich, be well advised and change your wilful mood, lest hereafter you may wish and not be able to have."
"Let it suffice that I refuse all your idle offers," said Guyon. "All that I need I have. Why should I covet more than I can use? Keep such vain show for your worldlings, but give me leave to follow my quest."
Mammon was much displeased, but he led him forward, to entice him further. He brought him through a dark and narrow way to a broad gate, built of beaten gold. The gate was open, but there stood in front of it a sturdy fellow, very bold and defiant-looking. In his right hand he held an iron club, but he himself seemed as if he were made of gold. His name was Disdain. When he saw Guyon he brandished his club, but Mammon bade him be still, and led his guest past him.
He took him into a large place, like some solemn temple; great golden pillars upheld the massive roof, and every pillar was decked with crowns and diadems, such as princes wore while reigning on earth. A crowd of people of every sort and nation were there assembled, all pressing with a great uproar to the upper part, where was placed a high throne. On it
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That Living eye before did never see:
* * * * * * *
Here is the fountaine of the worldes good:
How, therefore, if thou wilt enriched bee,
Avise thee well, and chaunge thy wilfull mood.''
sat a woman, clad in gorgeous robes of royalty. Her face seemed marvellously fair; her beauty threw such brightness round that all men could see it; it was not all her own, however, but was partly made up by art.
As she sat there, glittering, she held a great gold chain, the upper end of which reached high into heaven, and the other end deep down into the lower regions; and all the crowd around her pressed to catch hold of that chain, to climb aloft by it, and excel others.
The name of the chain was Ambition, and every link was a step of dignity. Some thought to raise themselves to a high place by riches, some by pushing. some by flattery, some by friends--and all by wrong ways, for those that were up themselves kept others low, and those that were low held tight hold of others, not letting them rise, while every one strove to throw down his companions.
When Guyon saw this he began to ask what all the crowd meant, and who was the lady that sat on the throne.
"That goodly person, round whom every one flocks, is my dear daughter," said Mammon. "From her alone come honour and dignity, and this world's happiness, for which all men struggle, but which few get. She is called Philotime, the Love of Honour, and she is the fairest lady in the world. Since you have found favour with me, I will make her your wife, if you like, that she may advance you, because of your work and just merits."
"I thank you much, Mammon," said the gentle Knight, "for offering me such favour, but I am only
a mortal, and, I know well, an unworthy match for such a wife. And, if I were not, yet is my troth plighted and my love declared to another lady, and to change one I s love without cause is a disgrace to a knight."
Mammon was inwardly enraged, but, hiding his feelings, he led him away, through the grisly shadows, by a beaten path, into a garden well furnished with herbs and fruits of an unknown kind. They were not such as men gather from the fertile earth, sweet and of good taste, but deadly black, both leaf and flower. Here grew cypress and ebony, poppy and deadly nightshade, hemlock, and many other poisonous plants. The place was called the Garden of Proserpine. In the midst was a silver seat, under a thick arbour, and near by grew a great tree with spreading branches, laden with golden apples.
Mammon showed the Knight many wonders in the Garden of Proserpine, and tried to tempt him to sit in the silver seat, or to eat of the golden apples. If Guyon had done so, the horrible monster who waited behind would have pounced on him and torn him to pieces; but he was wary and took care not to yield to temptation, so the beguiler was cheated of his prey, But now he began to feel weak and ill for want of food and sleep, for three days had passed since he entered the cave. So he begged Mammon to guide him back to the surface of the earth by the way they had come. Mammon, though very unwilling, was forced to obey; but the change was too much for Guyon in his feeble state, and as soon as he came into the light, and began to breathe the fresh air, he fainted away.