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Thine eldest Nephew was a cause of care and sore distresse.
Whose head was armde with palmed homes, whose own hounds in the wood
Did pull their master to the ground and fill them with his bloud.
But if you sift the matter well, ye shall not finde desart
But cruell fortune to have bene the cause of this his smart.
For who could doe with oversight? Great slaughter had bene made
Of sundrie sortes of savage beastes one morning: and the shade
Of things was waxed verie short. It was the time of day
That mid betweene the East and West the Sunne doth seeme to stay.
When as the Thebane stripling thus bespake his companie,
Still raunging in the waylesse woods some further game to spie:
Our weapons and our toyles are moist and staind with bloud of Deere:
This day hath done inough as by our quarrie may appeare.
As soone as with hir scarlet wheeles next morning bringeth light,
We will about our worke againe. But now Hiperion bright
Is in the middes of Heaven, and seares the fieldes with firie rayes.
Take up your toyles, and cease your worke, and let us go our wayes.
They did even so, and ceast their worke. There was a valley thicke
With Pinaple and Cipresse trees that armed be with pricke.
Gargaphie hight this shadie plot, it was a sacred place
Tochast Diana and the Nymphes that wayted on hir grace.
Within the furthest en ereof there was a pleasant Bowre
So vaulted with the leavie trees the Sunne had there no powre:
Not made by hand nor mans devise: and yet no man alive,
A trimmer piece of worke than that could for his life contrive.
With flint and Pommy was it wallde by nature halfe about,
And on the right side of the same full freshly flowed out
A lively spring with Christall streame: whereof the upper brim
Was greneawith grasse and matted herbes that smelled verie trim.
Whe hebe )elt hir selfe waxe faint, of following of hir game,
It was oi-etrsfome for to come and bath hir in the same.
That day she, having timely left hir hunting in the chace,
Was entred with hir troupe of Nymphes within this pleasant place.
She tooke hirrquiveLad hir bow the which she had unbent,
And eke hir Javelin to a Nymph that served that intent.
Another Nymph t ttaie hir clothes among hir traine she chose,
Two losde hir buskins from hir legges and pulled off hir hose.
The Thebane Ladie Crocale more cunnig than the rest
Did trusse hir tresses handsomly which hung behind undrest.
And yet hir owne hung waving still. Then Niphe nete and cleene
With Hiale glistring like the grass in beautie fresh and sheene,
And Rhanis clearer of hir skin than are the rainie drops,
And little bibling Phyale, and Pseke that pretie Mops
Powrde water into vessels large to washe their Ladie with.
Now while she keepes this wont, behold, by wandring in the frith
He wist not whither (having staid his pastime till the morrow)
Comes Cadmus Nephew to this thicke: and entring in with sorrow
(Such was his cursed cruell fate) saw Phebe where she washt.
The Damsels at the sight of man quite out of countnance dasht,
(Bicause they everichone were bare and naked to the quicke)
Did beate their handes against their breasts, and cast out such a shricke,
That all the wood did ring thereof: and clinging to their dame
Did all they could to hide both hir and eke themselves fro shame.
But Phebe was of personage so comly and so tall,
That by the middle of hir necke she overpeerd them all.
Such colour as appeares in Heaven by Phebus broken rayes
Directly shining on the Cloudes, or such as is alwayes
The colour of the Morning Cloudes before the Sunne doth show,
Such sanguine colour in the face of Phoebe gan to glowe
There standing naked in his sight. Who though she had hir gard
Of Nymphes about hir: yet she turnde hir bodie from him ward.
And casting back an angrie looke, like as she would have sent
An arrow at him had she had hir bow there readie bent,
So raught she water in hir hande and for to wreake the spight
Besprinckled all the heade and face of this unluckie knight, r
And thus forespake the heavie lot that should upon him light:
Now make thy vaunt among thy Mates, thou sawste Diana bare.
Tell if thou can: I give thee leave: tell hardily: doe not spare.
This done she makes no further threates, but by and by doth spread
A payre of lively olde Harts homes upon his sprinckled head.
She sharpes his eares, she makes his necke both slender, long and lanke.
She turnes his fingers into feete, his armes to spindle shanke.
She wrappes him in a hairie hyde beset with speckled spottes,
And planteth in him fearefulnesse. And so away he trottes,
Full greatly wondring to him selfe what made him in that cace
To be so wight and swift of foote. But when he saw his face
And horned temples in the brooke, he would have cryde Alas,
But as for then no kinde of speach out of his lippes could passe.
He sighde and brayde: for that was then the speach that did remaine,
And downe the eyes that were not his, his bitter teares did raine.
No part remayned (save his minde) of that he earst had beene.
What should he doe? turne home againe to Cadmus and the Queene?
Or hyde himselfe among the Woods? Of this he was afrayd,
And of the tother ill ashamde. While doubting thus he stayd.
His houndes espyde him where he was, and Blackfoote first of all
And Stalker speciall good of scent began aloud to call.
This latter was a hounde of Crete, the other was of Spart.
Then all the kenell fell in round, and everie for his part,
Dyd follow freshly in the chase more swifter than the winde,
Spy, Eateal, Scalecliffe, three good houndes comne all of Arcas kinde,
Strong Bilbucke, currish Savage, Spring, and Hunter fresh of smell,
And Lightfoote who to lead a chase did beare away the bell,
Fierce Woodman hurte not long ago in hunting of a Bore,
And Shepeheird woont to follow sheepe and neate to fielde afore.
And Laund, a fell and eger bitch that had a Wolfe to Syre:
Another brach callde Greedigut with two hir Puppies by her.
And Ladon gant as any Greewnd, a hownd in Sycion bred,
Blab, Fleetewood, Patch whose flecked skin with sundrie spots was spred:
Wight, Bowman, Royster, Beautie faire and white as winters snow,
And Tawnie full of duskie haires that over all did grow,
With lustie Ruffler passing all the resdue there in strength,
And Tempest best of footemanshipe in holding out at length.
And Cole and Swift, and little Woolfe, as wight as any other,
Accompanide with a Ciprian hound that was his native brother,
And Snatch amid whose forehead stoode a starre as white as snowe,
The resdue being all as blacke and slicke as any Crowe.
And shaggie Rugge with other twaine that had a Syre of Crete,
And Dam of Sparta: T'one of them callde Jollyboy, a great
And large flewd hound: the tother Chorle who ever gnoorring went,
And Kingwood with a shyrle loude mouth the which he freely spent,
With divers mo whose names to tell it were but losse of tyme.
This fellowes over hill and dale in hope of pray doe clyme.
Through thicke and thin and craggie cliffes where was no way to go,
He flyes through groundes where oftentymes he chased had ere tho.
Even from his owne folke is he faine (alas) to flee away.
He strayned oftentymes to speake, and was about to say:
I am Acteon: know your Lorde and Mayster, sirs, I pray.
But use of wordes and speach did want to utter forth his minde.
Their crie did ring through all the Wood redoubled with the winde,
First Slo did pinch him by the haunch, and next came Kildeere in,
And Hylbred fastned on his shoulder, bote him through the skinne.
These cam forth later than the rest, but coasting thwart a hill,
They did gainecope him as he came, and helde their Master still
Untill that all the rest came in, and fastned on him too.
No part of him was free from wound. He could none other do
But sigh, and in the shape of Hart with voyce as Hartes are woont,
(For voyce of man was none now left to helpe him at the brunt)
By braying shew his secret grief among the Mountaynes hie,
And kneeling sadly on his knees with dreerie teares in eye,
As one by humbling of himselfe that mercy seemde to crave,
With piteous looke in stead of handes his head about to wave.
Not knowing that it was their Lord, the huntsmen cheere their houndsi
With wonted noyse and for Acteon looke about the grounds.
They hallow who could lowdest crie still calling him by name,
As though he were not there, and much his absence they do blame
In that he came not to the fall, but slackt to see the game.
As often as they named him he sadly shooke his head,
And faine he would have beene away thence in some other stead.
But there he was. And well he could have found in heart to see
His dogges fell deedes, so that to feele in place he had not bee.
They hem him in on everie side, and in the shape of Stagge,
With greedie teeth and griping pawes their Lord in peeces dragge.
So fierce was cruell Phoebes wrath, it could not be alayde,
Till of his fault by bitter death the raunsome he had payde.
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