2.3.8 The battle with Giant Slay-good
From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 3, Step 8.
Well, said Gaius, now you are here, and since, as I know, Mr Great-Heart is good at his weapons, if you please, after we have refreshed ourselves, we will walk into the fields, to see if we can do any good. About a mile from hence there is one Slay-good, a giant, that doth much annoy the King's highway in these parts; and I know whereabout his haunt is. He is master of a number of thieves: 't would be well if we could clear these parts of him. So they consented and went: Mr Great-Heart with his sword, helmet, and shield; and the rest with spears and staves. When they came to the place where he was, they found him with one Feeble-mind in his hand, whom his servants had brought unto him, having taken him in the way. Now the giant was rifling him, with a purpose after that to pick his bones; for he was of the nature of flesheaters.
Well, so soon as he saw Mr Great-Heart and his friends at the mouth of his cave, with their weapons, he demanded what they wanted.
Great-heart: We want thee; for we are come to revenge the quarrels of the many that thou hast slain of the pilgrims, when thou hast dragged them out of the King's highway: wherefore come out of thy cave. So he armed himself and came out, and to battle they went, and fought for above an hour, and then stood still to take wind.
Slay-good: Then said the giant, Why are you here on my ground?
Great-heart: To revenge the blood of pilgrims, as I told thee before. So they went to it again, and the giant made Mr Great-Heart give back; but he came up again, and in the greatness of his mind he let fly with such stoutness at the giant's head and sides, that he made him let his weapon fall out of his hand. So he smote him, and slew him, and cut off his head, and brought it away to the inn. He also took Feeble-mind the pilgrim, and brought him with him to his lodgings. When they were come home, they showed his head to the family, and set it up, as they had done others before, for a terror to those that should attempt to do as he hereafter.
Then they asked Mr Feeble-Mind how he fell into his hands.
Mr Feeble-Mind: Then said the poor man, I am a sickly man, as you see: and because death did usually once a day knock at my door, I thought I should never be well at home; so I betook myself to a pilgrim's life, and have travelled hither from the town of Uncertain, where I and my father were born. I am a man of no strength at all of body, nor yet of mind, but would, if I could, though I can but crawl, spend my life in the pilgrim's way. When I came at the gate that is at the head of the way, the Lord of that place did entertain me freely; neither objected he against my weakly looks, nor against my feeble mind; but gave me such things as were necessary for my journey, and bid me hope to the end. When I came to the house of the Interpreter, I received much kindness there: and because the hill of Difficulty was judged too hard for me, I was carried up that by one of his servants. Indeed, I have found much relief from pilgrims, though none were willing to go so softly as I am forced to do: yet still as they came on, they bid me be of good cheer, and said, that it was the will of their Lord that comfort should be given to the feeble-minded (1 Thess. 5:14); and so went on their own pace.
When I was come to Assault-lane, then this giant met with me, and bid me prepare for an encounter. But, alas, feeble one that I was, I had more need of a cordial; so he came up and took me. I conceited he would not kill me. Also when he had got me into his den, since I went not with him willingly, I believed I should come out alive again; for I have heard, that not any pilgrim that is taken captive by violent hands, if he keeps heart whole towards his Master, is, by the laws of providence, to die by the hand of the enemy. Robbed I looked to be, and robbed to be sure I am; but I have, as you see, escaped with life, for the which I thank my King as the author, and you as the means. Other brunts I also look for; but this I have resolved on, to wit, to run when I can, to go when I cannot run, and to creep when I cannot go. As to the main, I thank him that loved me, I am fixed; my way is before me, my mind is beyond the river that has no bridge, though I am, as you see, but of a feeble mind.
Mr Honest: Then said old Mr Honest, Have not you, sometime ago, been acquainted with one Mr Fearing, a pilgrim?
Mr Feeble-Mind: Acquainted with him! Yes, he came from the town of Stupidity, which lieth four degrees to the northward of the city of Destruction, and as many off of where I was born: yet we were well acquainted, for indeed he was my uncle, my father's brother. He and I have been much of a temper: he was a little shorter than I, but yet we were much of a complexion.
Mr Honest: I perceive you knew him, and I am apt to believe also that you were related one to another; for you have his whitely look, a cast like his with your eye, and your speech is much alike.
Mr Feeble-Mind: Most have said so that have known us both: and, besides, what I have read in him I have for the most part found in myself.
Gaius: Come, sir, said good Gaius, be of good cheer; you are welcome to me, and to my house. What thou hast a mind to, call for freely; and what thou wouldst have my servants do for thee, they will do it with a ready mind.
Then said Mr Feeble-mind, This is an unexpected favour, and as the sun shining out of a very dark cloud. Did giant Slay-good intend me this favour when he stopped me, and resolved to let me go no further? Did he intend, that after he had rifled my pockets I should go to Gaius mine host? Yet so it is.
Now, just as Mr Feeble-mind and Gaius were thus in talk, there came one running, and called at the door, and said, that about a mile and a half off there was one Mr Not-right, a pilgrim, struck dead upon the place where he was, with a thunderbolt.
Mr Feeble-Mind: Alas! said Mr Feeble-mind, is he slain? He overtook me some days before I came so far as hither, and would be my company-keeper. He was also with me when Slay-good the giant took me, but he was nimble of his heels, and escaped; but it seems he escaped to die, and I was taken to live.
"What one would think doth seek to slay outright,
Ofttimes delivers from the saddest plight.
That very Providence whose face is death,
Doth ofttimes to the lowly life bequeath.
I taken was, he did escape and flee;
Hands cross'd gave death to him and life to me."
Now, about this time Matthew and Mercy were married; also Gaius gave his daughter Phebe to James, Matthew's brother, to wife; after which time they yet stayed about ten days at Gaius' house, spending their time and the seasons like as pilgrims use to do.
When they were to depart, Gaius made them a feast, and they did eat and drink, and were merry. Now the hour was come that they must be gone; wherefore Mr Great-heart called for a reckoning. But Gaius told him, that at his house it was not the custom for pilgrims to pay for their entertainment. He boarded them by the year, but looked for his pay from the good Samaritan, who had promised him, at his return, whatsoever charge he was at with them, faithfully to repay him (Luke 10:34,35). Then said Mr Great-heart to him,
Great-heart: Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers, who have borne witness of thy charity before the church, whom if thou yet bring forward on their journey, after a godly sort, thou shalt do well (3 John 5, 6). Then Gaius took his leave of them all, and his children, and particularly of Mr Feeble-mind. He also gave him something to drink by the way.