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185

Which, like your votary, to win,
I have not spar'd my tatter'd skin ;
And, for those meritorious lashes,
To claim your favour and good graces.

Quoth she, I do remember once
I freed you from th' enchanted sconce ;
And that you promis’d, for that favour,
To bind your back to th' good behaviour, 190
And for my fake and service, vow'd
To lay upon’t a heavy load,
And what ’t would bear to a scruple prove,
As other knights do oft' make love.
Which, whether you have done or no,
Concerns yourself, not me, to know ;
But if you have, I shall confefs,
Y' are honefter than I could guess.
Quoth he, if you suspect my troth,

, I cannot prove it but by oath ;

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And, if you make a question on't,
I'll pawn my soul that I have don't :
And he that makes his soul his furety,
I think does give the best security.

Quoth she, some say the soul's secure
Against distress and forfeiture ;
Is free from action, and exempt
From execution and contempt;
And to be fummond to appear
In th’ other world's illegal here,
And therefore few make any account
Int' what incumbrances they run't:
For most men carry things so even
Between this world, and hell, and heaven,
Without the least offence to either,
They freely deal in all together ;
And equally abhor to quit
This world for both, or both for it :

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And when they pawn and damn their souls,
They are but pris'ners on paroles.

For that, quoth he, 'tis rational,
They may be accountable in all :
For when there is that intercourse
Between divine and human pow'rs,
That all that we determine here
Commands obedience ev'ry where ;
When penalties may be commuted
For fines, or ears, and executed,
It follows, nothing binds so fast
As fouls in pawn and mortgage past:
For oaths are the only tests and scales
Of right and wrong, and true and false;
And there's no other way to try
The doubts of law and justice by.
Quoth she, what is it

would swear? 235

you There's no believing till I hear :

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For, 'till they're understood, all tales,
Like nonsense, are not true nor false.

Quoth he, when I resolv'd t' obey
What you commanded th other day,
And to perform my exercise,
As schools are wont, for

your
fair

eyes ;
T'avoid all scruples in the case,
I went to do 't upon the place ;
But as the castle is enchanted
By Sidrophel the witch, and haunted
With evil spirits, as you know,
Who took my Squire and me for two,
Before I'd hardly time to lay
My weapons by, and disarray,
I heard a formidable noise,
Loud as the Stentrophonic voice,
That roar'd far off, dispatch and strip,
I'm ready with th' infernal whip,

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That shall divest thy ribs of skin,
To expiate thy ling’ring sin;
Thou ’ast broke perfidiously th yoath,
And not perform’d thy plighted troth,
But spar’d thy renegado back,
Where thou ’adft so great a prize at stake, 260
Which now the fates have order'd me,
For penance and revenge, to flea,
Unless thou presently make haste ;
Time is, time was ; and there it ceast.
With which, tho' startsd, I confefs,
Yet th’ horror of the thing was less
Than the other dismal apprehension
Of interruption or prevention ;
And therefore, snatching up the rod,
I laid upon my back a load,

270 Resolv’d to spare no flesh and blood, To make my word and honour good;

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