AND OF THE CUSTOMS OF
FOLK IN DIVERSE ISLES THAT BE ABOUT IN THE LORDSHIP OF PRESTER JOHN
BESIDE that Isle of Mistorak upon the left side nigh to the river
of Pison is a marvellous thing.
There is a vale between the
mountains, that dureth nigh a four mile. And some men clepe it the
Vale Enchanted, some clepe it the Vale of Devils, and some clepe it
the Vale Perilous. In that vale hear men often-time great tempests
and thunders, and great murmurs and noises, all days and nights,
and great noise, as it were sound of tabors and of nakers and of
trumps, as though it were of a great feast. This vale is all full
of devils, and hath been always. And men say there, that it is one
of the entries of hell. In that vale is great plenty of gold and
silver. Wherefore many misbelieving men, and many Christian men
also, go in oftentime for to have of the treasure that there is;
but few come again, and namely of the misbelieving men, ne of the
Christian men neither, for anon they be strangled of devils.
And in mid place of that vale, under a rock, is an head and the
visage of a devil bodily, full horrible and dreadful to see, and it
sheweth not but the head, to the shoulders. But there is no man in
the world so hardy, Christian man ne other, but that he would be
adread to behold it, and that it would seem him to die for dread,
so is it hideous for to behold. For he beholdeth every man so
sharply with dreadful eyen, that be evermore moving and sparkling
as fire, and changeth and stirreth so often in diverse manner, with
so horrible countenance, that no man dare not neighen towards him.
And from him cometh out smoke and stinking fire and so much
abomination, that unnethe no man may there endure.
But the good Christian men, that be stable in the faith, enter well
without peril. For they will first shrive them and mark them with
the token of the holy cross, so that the fiends ne have no power
over them. But albeit that they be without peril, yet, natheles,
ne be they not without dread, when that they see the devils visibly
and bodily all about them, that make full many diverse assaults and
menaces, in air and in earth, and aghast them with strokes of
thunder-blasts and of tempests. And the most dread is, that God
will take vengeance then of that that men have misdone against his
And ye shall understand, that when my fellows and I were in that
vale, we were in great thought, whether that we durst put our
bodies in adventure, to go in or not, in the protection of God.
And some of our fellows accorded to enter, and some not. So there
were with us two worthy men, friars minors, that were of Lombardy,
that said, that if any man would enter they would go in with us.
And when they had said so, upon the gracious trust of God and of
them, we let sing mass, and made every man to be shriven and
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