Book III, Canto VII
Florimell is still running. Her horse finally gives out and the poor “traueller vnwonted to such way” is forced to walk. She walks through the woods to a fairy-tale witch’s house. The witch is astonished to see such a beautiful girl. She pities her situation and gives her food and shelter.
The hag has a son, a lazy and oafish man. He comes home to see Florimell sitting on the ground with his mother, and is also astonished at her beauty. Neither witch nor son knows what to think of her. Florimell stays there awhile and the son develops a crush on her. He can’t tell her about his lust, so he brings her flowers and birds and miscellaneous small animals as gifts.
Of course, after a time Florimell is ready to leave, so she jumps on her restored horse one day before dawn and is outta there. The witch and the son are devastated at her loss, so the witch conjures an evil Beast, like a hyena but more terrible, to either bring her back or kill her. The Beast tracks poor Florimell down.
After a lot of running, her horse collapses, and the Beast chases her through the woods to the sea. Florimell intends to drown herself rather than be caught or eaten. Luckily for her there is a boat at the shore, so she gets to escape. Unluckily for her horse, the Beast returns to devour him. As it chows down on the horse carcass, who should arrive but Sir Satyrane, whom you might remember from I.VI. Satyrane recognizes Florimell’s horse and her golden girl that she had lost in her flight. Fearful of her death, he attacks the Beast, but since it is magical he has trouble killing it. Instead he binds it with the girdle (he was good at binding fierce animals if you recall his backstory) and leads it after him.
Ash he is walking with the Beast, he sees a Giantess, riding a (presumably huge) horse, with a squire bound up on the horse before her. Hot on her heels rides a knight in pursuit. Satyrane is a good guy so he abandons the Beast in his rush to help. The Giantess sees him coming, drops the squire, and swings her huge mace at him. He intercepts the hit with a blow to her shield that doesn’t affect her at all. She swings at him again and knocks him senseless. Then she picks him up and rides on. At this point the pursuing knight has almost caught up, so to increase her speed the Giantess drops Satyrane and keeps running.
Satyrane awakens to see the squire nearby, notices that the squire is attractive and unbinds his hands and feet. He learns from the squire that the Giantess’s name is Argante. She is a half-Titan born from incest and really into perpetuating incest with her twin brother Ollyphant. She is also really into having sex with anything, including animals, hence her abduction of this particular squire. He calls himself “The Squyre of Dames” because he had previous been on a yearlong quest (supposedly at the behest of his lady Columbell) to serve ladies wherever he met them. At the end of the year, he had “served” (teehee) 300 ladies. So Columbell gave him another quest – to find at least as many ladies who would refuse him. So far he has only found three – a hooker who refused him since he had no money, a nun who didn’t trust his discretion, and a for-real chaste damsel living in the woods.
Thus I am hopelesse euer to attaine
My Ladies loue, in such a desperate case,
But all my dayes am like to wast in vaine,
Seeking to match the chaste with th’vnchaste Ladies traine.
Satyrane goes back to where he left the Beast, but of course it has gone.