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2.3.10 Vanity Fair

From John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, Part II, Section 3, Step 10.

Now by this time they were come within sight of the town of Vanity, where Vanity Fair is kept. So, when they saw that they were so near the town, they consulted with one another how they should pass through the town; and some said one thing, and some another. At last Mr Great-Heart said, I have, as you may understand, often been a conductor of pilgrims through this town. Now, I am acquainted with one Mr Mnason (Acts. 21:16), a Cyprusian by nation, an old disciple, at whose house we may lodge. If you think good, we will turn in there.

Content, said old Honest; Content, said Christiana; Content, said Mr Feeble-mind; and so they said all. Now you must think it was eventide by that they got to the outside of the town; but Mr Great-Heart knew the way to the old man's house. So thither they came; and he called at the door, and the old man within knew his tongue as soon as ever he heard it; so he opened the door, and they all came in. Then said Mnason, their host, How far have ye come to-day? So they said, from the house of Gaius our friend. I promise you, said he, you have gone a good stitch. You may well be weary; sit down. So they sat down.

Great-heart: Then said their guide, Come, what cheer, good sirs? I dare say you are welcome to my friend.

I also, said Mr Mnason, do bid you welcome; and whatever you want, do but say, and we will do what we can to get it for you.

Mr Honest: Our great want, a while since, was harbor and good company, and now I hope we have both.

Mr Mnason: For harbor, you see what it is; but for good company, that will appear in the trial.

Great-heart: Well, said Mr Great-Heart, will you have the pilgrims up into their lodging?

I will, said Mr Mnason. So he had them to their respective places; and also showed them a very fair dining-room, where they might be, and sup together until the time should come to go to rest.

Now, when they were seated in their places, and were a little cheery after their journey, Mr Honest asked his landlord if there was any store of good people in the town.

Mr Mnason: We have a few: for indeed they are but a few when compared with them on the other side.

Mr Honest: But how shall we do to see some of them? for the sight of good men to them that are going on pilgrimage, is like the appearing of the moon and stars to them that are sailing upon the seas.

Then Mr Mnason stamped with his foot, and his daughter Grace came up. So he said unto her, Grace, go you, tell my friends, Mr Contrite, Mr Holy-man, Mr Love-saints, Mr Dare-not-lie, and Mr Penitent, that I have a friend or two at my house who have a mind this evening to see them. So Grace went to call them, and they came; and after salutation made, they sat down together at the table.

Then said Mr Mnason their landlord, My neighbours, I have, as you see, a company of strangers come to my house; they are pilgrims: they come from afar, and are going to Mount Zion. But who, quoth he, do you think this is? pointing his finger to Christiana. It is Christiana, the wife of Christian, the famous pilgrim, who, with Faithful his brother, was so shamefully handled in our town. At that they stood amazed, saying, We little thought to see Christiana when Grace came to call us; wherefore this is a very comfortable surprise. They then asked her of her welfare, and if these young men were her husband's sons. And when she had told them they were, they said, The King whom you love and serve make you as your father, and bring you where he is in peace.

Then Mr Honest (when they were all sat down) asked Mr Contrite and the rest, in what posture their town was at present.

Mr Contrite: You may be sure we are full of hurry in fair-time. 'T is hard keeping our hearts and spirits in good order when we are in a cumbered condition. He that lives in such a place as this is, and has to do with such as we have, has need of an item to caution him to take heed every moment of the day.

Mr Honest: But how are your neighbours now for quietness?

Mr Contrite: They are much more moderate now than formerly. You know how Christian and Faithful were used at our town; but of late, I say, they have been far more moderate. I think the blood of Faithful lieth as a load upon them till now; for since they burned him, they have been ashamed to burn any more. In those days we were afraid to walk the street; but now we can show our heads. Then the name of a professor was odious; now, especially in some parts of our town, (for you know our town is large,) religion is counted honorable. Then said Mr Contrite to them, Pray how fareth it with you in your pilgrimage? how stands the country affected towards you?

Mr Honest: It happens to us as it happeneth to wayfaring men: sometimes our way is clean, sometimes foul; sometimes up hill, sometimes down hill; we are seldom at a certainty. The wind is not always on our backs, nor is every one a friend that we meet with in the way. We have met with some notable rubs already, and what are yet behind we know not; but for the most part, we find it true that has been talked of old, A good man must suffer trouble.

Mr Contrite: You talk of rubs; what rubs have you met withal?

Mr Honest: Nay, ask Mr Great-Heart, our guide; for he can give the best account of that.

Great-heart: We have been beset three or four times already. First, Christiana and her children were beset by two ruffians, who they feared would take away their lives. We were beset by Giant Bloody-man, Giant Maul, and Giant Slay-good. Indeed, we did rather beset the last than were beset by him. And thus it was: after we had been some time at the house of Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, we were minded upon a time to take our weapons with us, and go see if we could light upon any of those that are enemies to pilgrims; for we heard that there was a notable one thereabouts. Now Gaius knew his haunt better than I, because he dwelt thereabout. So we looked, and looked, till at last we discerned the mouth of his cave: then we were glad, and plucked up our spirits. So we approached up to his den; and lo, when we came there, he had dragged, by mere force, into his net, this poor man, Mr Feeble-mind, and was about to bring him to his end. But when he saw us, supposing, as we thought, he had another prey, he left the poor man in his hole, and came out. So we fell to it full sore, and he lustily laid about him; but, in conclusion, he was brought down to the ground, and his head cut off, and set up by the way-side for a terror to such as should after practise such ungodliness. That I tell you the truth, here is the man himself to affirm it, who was as a lamb taken out of the mouth of the lion.

Mr Feeble-Mind: Then said Mr Feeble-mind, I found this true, to my cost and comfort: to my cost, when he threatened to pick my bones every moment; and to my comfort, when I saw Mr Great-Heart and his friends, with their weapons, approach so near for my deliverance.

Then said Mr Holy-man, There are two things that they have need to possess who go on pilgrimage; courage, and an unspotted life. If they have not courage, they can never hold on their way; and if their lives be loose, they will make the very name of a pilgrim stink.

Then said Mr Love-saints, I hope this caution is not needful among you: but truly there are many that go upon the road, who rather declare themselves strangers to pilgrimage, than strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Then said Mr Dare-not-lie, 'Tis true. They have neither the pilgrim's weed, nor the pilgrim's courage; they go not uprightly, but all awry with their feet; one shoe goeth inward, another outward; and their hosen are out behind: here a rag, and there a rent, to the disparagement of their Lord.

These things, said Mr Penitent, they ought to be troubled for; nor are the pilgrims like to have that grace put upon them and their Pilgrim's Progress as they desire, until the way is cleared of such spots and blemishes. Thus they sat talking and spending the time until supper was set upon the table, unto which they went, and refreshed their weary bodies: so they went to rest.

Now they staid in the fair a great while, at the house of Mr Mnason, who in process of time gave his daughter Grace unto Samuel, Christian's son, to wife, and his daughter Martha to Joseph.

The time, as I said, that they staid here, was long, for it was not now as in former times. Wherefore the pilgrims grew acquainted with many of the good people of the town, and did them what service they could. Mercy, as she was wont, laboured much for the poor: wherefore their bellies and backs blessed her, and she was there an ornament to her profession. And, to say the truth for Grace, Phebe, and Martha, they were all of a very good nature, and did much good in their places. They were also all of them very fruitful; so that Christian's name, as was said before, was like to live in the world.


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