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THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

   

Part II

 


Section 5

Valley of Humiliation - Valley of the Shadow of Death - Giant Maul slain


 

THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH

When they had passed by this place, they came upon the borders of the Shadow of Death, and this valley was longer than the other; a place also most strangely haunted with evil things, as many are able to testify. But these women and children went the better through it, because they had daylight; and because Mr. GREAT-HEART was their conductor.

When they were entered upon this valley, they thought that they heard a groaning as of dead men--a very great groaning. They thought also they did hear words of lamentation spoken, as of some in extreme torment. These things made the boys to quake; the women also looked pale and wan; but their guide bade them be of good comfort.

So they went on a little farther, and they thought that they felt the ground begin to shake under them, as if some hollow place was there; they heard also a kind of a hissing as of serpents; but nothing as yet appeared. Then said the boys, "Are we not yet at the end of this doleful place?" But the guide also bade them be of good courage, and look well to their feet; "Lest haply," said he, "you be taken in some snare."

Now JAMES began to be sick; but I think the cause thereof was fear; so his mother gave him some of that glass of spirits that she had given her at the INTERPRETER'S house, and three of the pills that Mr. SKILL had prepared; and the boy began to revive. Thus they went on, till they came to about the middle of the valley; and then CHRISTIANA said, "Methinks I see something yonder upon the road before us, a thing of such a shape such as I have not seen." Then said JOSEPH, "Mother, what is it?" "An ugly thing, child; an ugly thing," said she. "But, mother what is it like," said he. "'T is like I cannot tell what," said she. And now it was but a little way off. Then said she, "It is nigh."

"Well, well," said Mr. GREAT-HEART, "Let them that are most afraid keep close to me." So the fiend came on, and the conductor met it; but when it was just come to him, it vanished to all their sights. Then remembered they what had been told some time ago, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

They went therefore on, as being a little refreshed; but they had not gone far, before MERCY, looking behind her, saw, as she thought, something most like a lion, and it came a great padding pace after; and it had a hollow voice of roaring, and at every roar that it gave, it made all the valley echo, and their hearts to ache, save the heart of him that was their guide. So it came up, and Mr. GREAT-HEART went behind, and put the pilgrims all before him. The lion also came on apace; and Mr. GREAT-HEART addressed himself to give him battle. But when the lion saw that it was determined that resistance should be made, he also drew back, and came no farther.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." 1 Peter 5:8, 9

Then they went on again, and their conductor did go before them, till they came at a place where was cast up a pit the whole breadth of the way; and before they could be prepared to go over that, a great mist and darkness fell upon them, so that they could not see. Then said the pilgrims, "Alas! now what shall we do?" But their guide made answer, "Fear not; stand still, and see what an end will be put to this also": so they stayed there because their path was marred. Then they also thought that they did hear more apparently the noise and rushing of the enemies; the fire also and the smoke of the pit was much easier to be discerned. Then said CHRISTIANA to MERCY, "Now I see what my poor husband went through. I have heard much of this place, but I never was here afore now; poor man! he went here all alone in the night--he had night almost quite through the way; also these fiends were busy about him, as if they would have torn him in pieces. Many have spoken of it; but none can tell what the Valley of the Shadow of Death should mean until they come in it themselves. 'The heart knows its own bitterness; and a stranger intermeddles not with its joy.' To be here is a fearful thing."

Great-heart. This is like doing business in great waters, or like going down into the deep; this is like being in the heart of the sea, and like going down to the bottoms of the mountains. Now it seems as if the earth with its bars were about us for ever. "But let them that walk in darkness, and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God." For my part, as I have told you already, I have gone often through this valley, and have been much harder put to it than I am now; and yet you see I am alive. I would not boast, for that I am not mine own saviour; but I trust we shall have a good deliverance. Come, let us pray for light to him that can lighten our darkness, and that can rebuke, not only these, but all the Satans in hell.

So they cried and prayed, and God sent light and deliverance: for there was now no let in their way; no not there, where but now they were stopped with a pit.

Yet they were not got through the valley; so they went on still; and behold, great stinks and loathsome smells, to the great annoyance of them. Then said MERCY to CHRISTIANA, "It is not so pleasant being here as at the Gate; or at the INTERPRETER'S; or at the house where we lay last."

"Oh, but," said one of the boys, "it is not so bad to go through here, as it is to abide here always; and for aught I know that one reason why we must go this way to the house prepared for us is that our home might be made the sweeter to us."

"Well said, SAMUEL," quoth the guide; "thou hast now spoke like a man." "Why, if ever I get out here again," said the boy, "I think I shall prize light and good way better than ever I did in all my life." Then said the guide, "We shall be out by and bye"

So on they went; and JOSEPH said, "Cannot we see to the end of this valley as yet?" Then said the guide, "Look to your feet; for you shall presently be among the snares." So they looked to their feet and went on; but they were troubled much with the snares. Now when they were come among the snares, they espied a man cast into the ditch on the left hand, with his flesh all rent and torn. Then said the guide, "That is one HEEDLESS, that was a going this way; he has lain there a great while. There was one TAKEHEED with him when he was taken and slain; but he escaped their hands. You cannot imagine how many are killed here about; and yet men are so foolishly venturous, as to set out lightly on pilgrimage, and to come without a guide. Poor CHRISTIAN! it was a wonder that he here escaped; but he was beloved of his God; also he had a good heart of his own, or else he could never have done it." Now they drew towards the end of the way; and just there, where CHRISTIAN had seen the cave when he went by, out thence came forth MAUL, a giant. This MAUL did use to spoil young pilgrims with sophistry; and he called GREAT-HEART by his name, and said unto him, "How many times have you been forbidden to do these things?" Then said Mr. GREAT-HEART, "What things?" "What things?" quoth the giant, "you know what things; but I will put an end to your trade." "But pray," said Mr. GREAT-HEART, "before we fall to it, let us understand wherefore we must fight" (now the women and children stood trembling, and knew not what to do). Quoth the giant, "You rob the country, and rob it with the worst of thefts." "These are but generals," said Mr. GREAT-HEART; "come to particulars, man."

Then said the giant, "Thou practisest the craft of a kidnapper; thou gatherest up women and children, and carriest them into a strange country, to the weakening of my master's kingdom." But now GREAT-HEART replied, "I am a servant of the God of heaven; my business is to persuade sinners to repentance; I am commanded to do my endeavour to turn men, women and children from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; and if this be indeed the ground of thy quarrel, let us fall to it as soon as thou wilt."

Then the giant came up; and Mr. GREAT-HEART went to meet him. And as he went, he drew his sword; but the giant had a club. So without more ado they fell to it; and at the first blow, the giant stroke Mr. GREAT-HEART down upon one of his knees: with that, the women and children cried out. So Mr. GREAT-HEART, recovering himself, laid about him in full lusty manner, and gave the giant a wound in his arm; thus he fought for the space of an hour, to that height of heat, that the breath came out of the giant's nostrils as the heat doth out of a boiling cauldron.

Then they sat down to rest them, but Mr. GREAT-HEART betook him to prayer; also the women and children did nothing but sigh and cry all the time that the battle did last.

When they had rested them, and taken breath, they both fell to it again; and Mr. GREAT-HEART with a full blow, fetched the giant down to the ground. "Nay, hold, and let me recover," quoth he. So Mr. GREAT-HEART fairly let him get up, so to it they went again: and the giant missed but little of all-to-breaking Mr. GREAT-HEART'S skill with his club.

Mr. GREAT-HEART seeing that, runs to him in the full heat of his spirit, and pierces him under the fifth rib; with that the giant began to faint, and could hold up his club no longer. Then Mr. GREAT-HEART seconded his blow, and smote the head of the giant from his shoulders. Then the women and children rejoiced; and Mr. GREAT-HEART also praised God for the deliverance he had wrought.

When this was done, they amongst them erected a pillar, and fastened the giant's head thereon; and wrote underneath in letters that passengers might read:


"He that did wear this head was one
That pilgrims did misuse;
He stopt their way, he spared none,
But did them all abuse:
Until that I, GREAT-HEART arose,
The pilgrim's guide to be;
Until that I did him oppose,
That was their enemy."

       

The Pilgrim's Progress - Discourse with Old Honest

 


 

The Pilgrim's Progress - Contents