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The Beast with a Thousand Tongues

Sir Calidore, having rescued Pastorella from the brigands' den, took her to the Castle of Belgard, where the good Sir Bellamour was lord, and there a strange thing happened.

Years before, Sir Bellamour had secretly married a beautiful maiden, called Claribel, the daughter of a rich and powerful man, known by the name of the "Lord of Many Islands." Her father had hoped, because of his great wealth, that his daughter would marry the Prince of a neighbouring country, and when he found that she loved Sir Bellamour, he was in such a rage that he threw them in two deep dungeons, forbidding them ever to see each other. When Claribel was in prison, a little daughter was born to her; but, fearing lest her father should get hold of it, she entrusted it to her handmaid, Melissa, to have it brought up as a stranger's child. The trusty damsel carried it into an empty field, and having kissed and wept over it, placed it on the ground, and hid herself behind some bushes near, to see what mortal would take pity on the poor little infant. At length a shepherd, who kept his fleecy flocks on the plains around, led by the infant's cry, came to the place, and when he found there the abandoned treasure, he took it up, and wrapping it in his mantle, bore it home to his honest wife, who ever afterwards brought it up as her own child.

Claribel and Bellamour remained a long time in

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captivity, till at last the "Lord of Many Islands" died, and left them all his possessions. Then the tide of fortune turned, they were restored to freedom, and rejoiced in happiness together. They had lived for a long time in peace and love when Sir Calidore brought Pastorella to the castle. Here they both received the heartiest welcome, for Sir Bellamour was an old friend of Calidore's, and loved him well; and Claribel, seeing how weak and wan Pastorella was after her long captivity, tended her with the greatest love and care.

Now, it happened that before the handmaiden parted with the infant she noticed on its breast a little purple mark, like a rose unfolding its silken leaves. This same maiden, Melissa, was appointed to wait on Pastorella, and one morning, when she was helping her to dress, she noticed on her chest the rosy mark which she remembered well on the little infant, Claribel's daughter. Full of joy, she rail in haste to her mistress, and told her that the beautiful lady was no other than the little child who had been born in prison. Then Claribel ran quickly to the stranger maiden, and finding it was even as Melissa said, she clasped her in her arms and held her close, weeping softly and saying, "And do you now live again, my daughter, and are you still alive whom long I mourned as dead?"

Then there was great rejoicing in the Castle of Belgard.

Meanwhile Sir Calidore was pursuing the quest of the Blatant Beast, seeking him in every place with

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''Putting his puissance forth, pursued so hard<BR>
That backward he enforced him to fall;<BR>
And being down, ere he new help could call;<BR>
His shield he on him threw, and far down held.''
Click to enlarge

''Putting his puissance forth, pursued so hard
That backward he enforced him to fall;
And being down, ere he new help could call;
His shield he on him threw, and far down held.''


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unresting pain and toil, and following him by his destroying track, for wherever the monster went he left behind him ruin and devastation.

At last, in a narrow place, Sir Calidore overtook him, and, fiercely assailing, forced him to turn. Then the Blatant Beast ran at him with open mouth, huge and horrible; it was all set with a double row of iron teeth, and in it were a thousand tongues of every kind and quality--some were of dogs, that barked day and night; some of cats that yawled; some of bears that growled continually; some of tigers that seemed to grin and snarl at all who passed by; but most of them were tongues of mortal men, who poured forth abuse, not caring where nor when; and among them were mingled here and there the tongues of serpents, with three-forked stings, that spat out poison at all who came within reach, speaking hateful things Of good and bad alike, of high and low, not even sparing kings or kaisers, but either blotting them with infamy or biting them with their baneful teeth.

But Calidore, not in the least afraid of this horrid spectacle, met him with such impetuous might that he checked his violence and beat him back. Then the monster, rearing up, ramped upon him with his ravenous paws, as if his cruel claws would have rent him; but the Knight, being well on guard, cast his shield between, and putting forth all his strength, forced him to fall back; and when he was down, he threw his shield on him and pinned him to the ground. In vain did the Beast rage and roar; for the more he strove, the more firmly the Knight held him, so that he was almost mad

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with spite. He grinned, he bit, he scratched, he spat out venom, and acted like a horrible fiend.

When the monster saw force was of no avail, he began to use his hundred tongues, and reviled and railed at the Knight with bitter terms of infamy, weaving in many a forged lie, whose like Sir Calidore had never heard or thought of; yet for all that he did not let the creature go, but held him so tight that he nearly choked him.

At last, when he found his strength failing and his rage lessening, Sir Calidore took a strong muzzle of the stoutest iron, made with many a link, with which he fastened up his mouth, shutting up therein his blasphemous tongue, so that he should never more defame gentle knight or wrong lovely lady; and to this he tied a great long chain, with which he dragged him forth in spite of himself. The hideous Beast chafed inwardly at these strange bonds, which no one till then had dared to impose on him; yet he dared not draw back nor attempt to resist the power of the noble Calidore, but trembled before him, and followed like a frightened dog.

All through Faerie Land he followed him thus, as if he had learnt obedience, so that all the people wherever he went thronged out of the town to see Sir Calidore lead the Blatant Beast in bondage, and seeing it were amazed at the sight; and all such people as he had formerly wronged rejoiced to see him a captive, and many wondered at the Beast, but more wondered at the Knight.

Thus was this monster suppressed and tamed by the

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mastering might of the doughty Calidore, and so for a long time he remained. But at last, either by wicked fate or the fault of men, he broke his iron chain, and got again at liberty into the world; and here he still ranges, barking and biting, sparing no one in his malice, and doing an infinite deal of mischief wherever he goes; and since the days of the good Sir Calidore no man has ever been able to master him.