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Book VI, Canto XI

July 22, 2011

It happens that the captain of the brigands falls in love with Pastorella. He treats her well, hoping to get her to like him, and though she does not love him she has enough presence of mind to be nice to him in return. This gets his hopes up, and finally she has no choice to but to feign sickness to avoid having sex with him. The captain sits by her sickbed, mourning his pretty captive, until a day comes when the slavetraders arrive.

The captain brings out Coridon and Meliboe and the rest of the pastoral people to sell them. Some of the men remember the fair shepherdess and ask for Pastorella, but the captain claims her for his own refuses to sell her. This brings them to blows and many of the brigands and the captives are killed in the scuffle, including Meliboe and his wife. Coridon manages to slip away. The captain dies with Pastorella in his arms, but she receives part of the same wound that kills him. She is finally discovered underneath a pile of bodies, wounded but still alive. The victorious men tend to her wound but she grieves sorely for her dead friends and family.

Calidore returns from hunting to find everyone (and their sheep) disappeared and their homes pillaged. He meets the fleeing Coridon, who – thinking Pastorella dead – tells him all that happened. After he recovers from his initial shock, Calidore decides to go look for Pastorella or her body and avenge her if he can. He talks Coridon into showing him the path to the caves.

On the way back they encounter a flock and some brigands who have stolen the sheep. They fall in with these thieves and are hired on as shepherds, since the thieves are ignorant of sheep-tending. They follow the thieves into the caves, and in the middle of the night start killing everyone to get to Pastorella. Finally Calidore finds her, “but like to one distraught / And robd of reason”. Calidore kills so many men at the room’s entrance that he is able to barricade the door with their bodies. In the morning he pushes his way out and kills the rest of the brigands on the surface.

Finally they are all gone. He retrieves all their plunder from the caves, gives Coridon back all the sheep that were stolen, and takes Pastorella somewhere safe.


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