This is a rather turgid Canto redeemed slightly towards the end with an interesting fight scene and a rather gory death.
After being freed from cross-dressing bondage Artegall sets off once more on his quest to do whatever the hell it was thing Book was about.
We get a classic meet-cute between Artegall and Arthur, another case of shadow meeting shadow;
Artegall sees a Damizel fleeing some dudes, with another dude following them.
Artegall attacks one of the guys, meanwhile, the pursuer, Arthur, attacks the other. Both win and in the confusion they start fighting each other. Once blows are struck, in true badass fashion, they both realise they are ultimare tough guys. They are about to supermurder each other when the Damizell calms them down;
"They stayd their hands, when she thus gan to speake;
Ah gentle Knights, what meane ye thus to wreake?
I am the wrong'd, whome ye did enterprise
Both to redresse, and both redrest likewise:
Witnesse the Paynims both, whom ye may see
There dead on ground. What doe ye then devise
Of more revenge? if more, then I am shee,
Which was the roote of all, and your revenge on mee."
Luckily Talus's misogyny processor must be offline at this exact moment becasue he doesn't immediately slaughter her, and both Arthur and Arthegall are agreed that this is one of those women that they won't compulsively try to murder.
Info Dump: there is a very nice Queen, Mercilla, and a very bad man, in this case a Souldan and Idol-Worshipper, with an even worse wife, Adicia who are typically bent on being super-evil for reasons. The Queen sent this particular Damizell, Samient, to try to be reasonable with this woman and;
"Me like a dog she out of dores did thrust,
Miscalling me by many a bitter name,
That never did her ill, ne once deserved blame."
She then sends these two to kill Samient, which is where out heroes come in.
Arthur and Arthegall disguise themselves to get into the guys castle and a fight breaks out. This bad guy has a Dick Dastardly Whacky Races Chariot;
"And mounting straight upon a charret hye,
With yron wheeles and hookes arm'd dreadfully,
And drawne of cruell steeds, which he had fed
With flesh of men, whom through fell tyranny
He slaughtered had, and ere they were halfe ded,
Their bodies to his beasts for provender did spread."
The Souldan throws darts at Arthur and Arthur wards them, attempting to strike back, but;
".. he was mounted in his seat so high,
And his wingfooted coursers him did beare
So fast away, that ere his readie speare
He could advence, he farre was gone and past."
The Souldan throws another dart which makes "a griesly wound in his enriven side" and opens "the wellspring of his blood".
"... like to a Lyon wood,
Which being wounded of the huntsmans hand
Can not come neare him in the covert wood,
Where he with boughes hath built his shady stand,
And fenst himself about with many a flaming brand."
Whenever he gets close "His charret wheeles about him whirled round" and his carniverous horses chase his brave, but still herbiverous horse.
"Thus long they trast, and traverse to and fro"
Which an uncharitable mind would regard as somewhat equivalent to a Hanna Barbara cartoon. Arthur still can't get close so he unveils his magical shield;
"Like lightening flash, that hath the gazer burned,
So did the sight thereof their sense dismay,
That backe againe upon themselves they turned,
And with their ryder ranne perforce away:
Ne could the Souldan them from flying stay,
With raynes, or wonted rule, as well he knew.
Nought feared they, what he could do, or say,
But th'onely feare, that was before their vew;
From which like bazed deare, dismayfully they flew."
Fast did they fly, as them their feete could beare,
High over hills, and lowly over dales,
As they were follow'd of their former feare.
In vaine the Pagan bannes, and sweares and rayles,
And backe with both his hands unto him hayles
The resty raynes, regarded now no more:
He to them calles and speakes, yet nought avayles;
They heare him not, they have forgot his lore,
But go, which way they list, their guide have forlore."
There are a few verses of this until;
"At last they have all overthrowne to ground
Quite topside turvey, and the pagan hond
Amongst the yron hookes and graples keene,
Torne all to rags, and rent with many a wound,
That no whole peece of him was to be seene,
But scattred all about, and strow'd upon the greene.
So was this Souldan rapt and all to rent,
That of his shape appear'd no litle moniment."
Arthur takes the shield and that has done for the Souldan, what of the wife?
She's pretty cool;
"Yet not, as women wont in dolefull fit,
She was dismayd, or faynted through affright,
But gathered unto her her troubled wit,
And gan eftsoones devize to be aveng'd for it
Streight downe she ranne, like and enraged cow,
That is berobbed of her youngling dere,
With knife in hand, and fatally did vow,
To wreake her on that mayden, messengere,
Whom she had causd be kept as prisonere,
By Artegall, misween'd for her owne Knight,
That brought her backe. And comming present there,
She at her ran with all her force and might,
All flaming with revenge and furious despight."
Artegall manages to grab the knife from her hand;
"With that like one enfelon'd or distraught,
She forth did rome, whether her rage her bore,
With franticke passion, and with furie fraught;
And breaking forth out at a posterne dore,
Unto the wyld wood ranne, her dolours to deplore.
As a mad bytch, when as the franticke fit
Her burning tongue with rage inflamed hath,
Doth runne at randon, and with furious bit
Snatching at every thing, doth wreake her wrath
On man and beast, that commeth in her path.
They they doe say, that she transformed was
Into a Tygre, and that Tygres scath
In crueltie and outrage she did pas,
To prove her surname true, that she imposed has."
She gets away with it! And turns into a Rage-Tyger. End of canto! I told you that robots Misogyny chip was down.