Citation
With Lance and Sword, or, Old Tales of Chivalry retold

Material Information

Title:
With Lance and Sword, or, Old Tales of Chivalry retold
Portion of title:
Old tales of chivarly retold
Creator:
Moncrieff, A. R. Hope ( Ascott Robert Hope ), 1846-1927
Gall & Inglis
Place of Publication:
London ;
Edinburgh
Publisher:
Gall and Inglis
Manufacturer:
Printed and bounde by Gall and Inglis
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
[3], 276 p., [4] leaves of plates : ill. ; 20 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Chivalry -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Knights and knighthood -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Queens -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Lancelot (Legendary character) -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Nobility -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Battles -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Dragons -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Swords -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Lance (Missile) -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Fantasy literature -- 1898 ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1898 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre:
Children's literature ( fast )
Fantasy literature ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Pictorial cover.
General Note:
Illustrations are either drawings or photographs.
General Note:
Includes prose and verse.
General Note:
Date of publication from prize inscription.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Ascott R. Hope.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026815553 ( ALEPH )
ALH2093 ( NOTIS )
166686334 ( OCLC )

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Full Text




Beis”
e.



The Baldwin Library

Ry University
mB a





SUBIR:

i

= WING WO Se Be

f\



«Told! shame upon you,’ he spoke, louking sternly from one to the other; ‘shame
it is to seek your brother s blood for so light a cause.’"—p, 275, The Challenge.





WITH

LANCE AND SWORD

CR

@lb MAales of Elhivalry retold

BY
ASCOTT R. HOPE,

Author of “In Forest and Jungle,” “Ow ihe Wer
_ Path,” &e,

Tx ondon
GALL AND INGLIS, 25 PATERNOSTER SQUARE;
: AND EDINBURGH.



PRINTED
AND BOUND BY
GALL AND INGLIS

LUTTON PLACE
EDINBURGH







CONTENTS,

THe Kyigut or tHE Liox,
Huon’s Task, . .

THe Dragon or RHopES, .
Tue Ruscun oF THE QUEER,

4

RoLaND AND OLIVER, .
FLoricE aND BLANCHEFLOWEBR,
Tur Ransom, . ; ; ;
Tur Son or AMADIS, . 6
THe KNIGHT AND THE ABDOT,
Steet-HEsrr, 6 ' :
THe Demon KniGur,

Tue CHALLENGE, .

PAGE





THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

=.
>

ODhe night of the Pion,



+
cs



L

\HE brave Sir Ewayne had wed a fair



lady, the mistress of goodly castles and



wide lands. To the marriage came
Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and
from far and near the people came to look upon
their great king; so for a week all was feasting
and jollity in the lady’s castle, where the time
was spent in sports, and hunting, and banquets,
such as beseemed these noble guests.

But when a week had passed, the king must
ride forth with his knights against the heathen
who were laying waste a distant part of his realm.
Then, as all the castle rang with the clash of



2 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

armour and the trampling of steeds, Sir Ewayne
drew his new-made wife aside, and took her by the
hand, and spoke gently thus—

“Sweet lady, my life and joy, there is a thing I
would pray thee, for my honour and thine also.”

“Truly, sir, fear not but I will do all your
wish,” said the lady, smiling; but her countenance
changed when her husband told her that she must
give him leave to follow the king.

“Well thou knowest how sad I am to part from
thee, my wife, but think how men will blame me
if I leave all my knighthood, and dwell idly at
home. Nay, what good wife would love her
husband better if he cared only to lie in her arms?
Give me leave, then, to ride forth for a twelve-
month, and win worship in deeds of arms.”

“Toth should I be to grieve thee!” she cried,
though she was sore unwilling to let him go, “I
give my leave; but, Sir Ewayne, promise, by the
love you owe me, to come again ere a twelvemonth
be gone. This is the eve of St. John; look that
you come by this day twelvemonth, for if you
come not by that day, you shall lose my love for
ever.”

“Lady,” said he, kissing her, “if I might have
my will, I would never leave thee, and now nought





THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 3

shall hinder me from keeping the day thou hast
set me. Fear not for my life. The love of thee
will be a charm to strengthen thy true knight
against every foe.” -

Gladly, then, Sir Ewayne let his squire do on
his armour, dinted in many a fray. Lightly he
leaped upon his horse among that band of goodly
knights, while his lady held the king’s stirrup and
bade him good speed. But the tears trickled
down her cheeks, so that all the knights pitied
her as they took farewell; and when her husband
lingered behind to give her one more kiss, she
whispered in his ear, beseeching him again not to
fail to keep his day.

ee th ese

I.

Far rode King Arthur and his knights, and
fiercely warred they with the heathen foe. Sir
Ewayne, as of old, was first in every fight, yet
escaped from all unhurt. When the war was over,
he did not go homewards, for the love of knight-
hood was too strong on him, and too lightly he
forgot the love of his lady; but he rode with his
brothers in arms to jousts and tournaments which,
all over the land, were held in honour of Arthur’s



4 THE OLD TALES Of CHIVALRY.

knights. There many doughty deeds were done,
and Sir Ewayne still bore himself among the
best, and won prizes in all the lists, so that his
fame went forth far and wide.

Thus the twelvemonth passed away, and so
greedy of renown was the knight, that still he
stayed from his lady, and thought not of his word
pledged to her. But, one day, as he feasted at
the king’s table, and the queen spoke to him of
his newly wed wife, he suddenly bethought him
of her last words, and how he had promised to be
with her by a day which was now some time past.
Sorrowful and ashamed, he rose from the table,
and would have saddled his horse to ride home
that hour, so that even yet he might mend his
fault; but before he could take leave of the
king and queen, there came hastily into the hall
a damsel, who knelt before Arthur, and said—

“Sir king, Heaven save thee! My lady greets
thee by me, and the good Sir Lancelot, and the
courteous Sir Gawayne, and all thy knights, save
only one, Sir Ewayne has deceived my lady, and
it were shame to call so false a man a knight.
She weened she had his heart, and truly he made
great boast of his love, but all was treason and
treachery, for now he has broken the term that





THE KNIGHT OF THE LION, 5

was set between them, and thought nothing of
her grief. He cannot be come of noble blood that
so soon forgets his wife who loved him better than
herself! Therefore, unkind and untrue man, she
will see thee no more. Deliver me my lady’s
ring!” With this, she stepped up to Sir Ewayne,
and, as he stood astonished, tore from his hand
the ring which his wife had given him as a token
of her love, hurried from the hall, leaped upon
her palfrey, and went her way without another
word. Neither squire nor groom rode with her,
and no man knew where she had gone.

Sir Ewayne stood still awhile, as overwhelmed by
the news of his lady’s anger, then rushed after the
damsel, and would have followed her on foot. But
nowhere could he see her, for she had ridden into a
great forest. Yet he ceased not to seek her, wander-
ing through the forest, wild with grief, and crying
out angrily against his own folly and forgetfulness.

“Alas for the day I was born! Have I thus
lost my lady? Would, then, that I might die!” he
cried loud and often, and in his despair tore up
the trees, and broke his sword against the rocks,
till, breathless and exhausted, he fell on the grass,
He rose again, and again fury took him, and now
he threw away his armour, helmet and shield and



6 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

mail of proof, rent his vest and shirt to shreds,
flung them to the winds, running naked like a
wild beast through the deepest thickets. His
men sought him far and near, but found only his
armour, which they brought back to the king,
and took their master for dead. The news went
abroad, and all men mourned for the brave Sir
Ewayne, and his lady most of all, for she repented
of her anger when she knew that he had lost his
wits for sorrow and love of her.

1

Til.

But Ewayne was alive in the forest, sleeping on
the bare ground, and living on roots and berries.
His madness waxed greater from day to day.
Once he came upon a savage hunting in the
woods; he wrested his bow and arrows from him,
and was gone before the savage could raise his
club. Henceforth he was able to kill wild beasts,
and have raw flesh for his daily food, and drink
warm blood. Still he fled the sight of all men;
his hair and nails grew; he was frightful to behold,
as he wandered about, murmuring to himself the
name of his wife, and from time to time taken by
a fit of fury, in which he would tear up all around









THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 7

him, and try to dash himself to pieces upon
the rocks. To such a plight had this good
knight come, who was once in so great honour
and renown.

Save himself, the only dweller in this forest was
a hermit, who had built a little cell in the midst
of a bushy glade. When the hermit saw this
naked man armed with a bow and arrows, he fled
hastily into his cell. But soon he knew Ewayne
for a madman, and took pity on him, and set barley
bread and water out at the window of his hermi-
tage for him. Ewayne’s wits were not so far gone
but that he knew the hermit meant kindly by
him, and every day he would steal up to take the
food thus provided, though. he never saw or spoke
with the holy man. Every day, too, he would
leave in return at the door of the cell the carcass
of a deer or some other beast which he had killed; _
and when he was gone, the hermit would bring it
in, and cook the venison, and set out part of that
also for the hunter. Thus both of them fared
better for this friendship, yet neither of them
knew so much as the others name. But from
Ewayne’s looks and bearing, and from the scars
of his wounds, the hermit believed him to be a

gentle knight, from whom some great sorrow had



8 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY. .

taken away his wits fora time. Then he carried
the skins of the slain beasts to the nearest town,
and sold them, and with the money bought clothes
and arms, such as beseemed a knight, and
medicines, for this hermit was skilled in heal-
ing, and hoped yet to cure the wild man of his
madness,

So a year went by, and Ewayne still dwelt in
the forest, and but for the old man’s kindness,
would have led the life of the beasts. But now
his fury was passed away; he began to bethink
him who he was, and to remember what had gone
before. Now he lay for hours on the ground
sighing and weeping. His sorrow became so
great that he cared not to eat, and he could no
longer hunt for food. His strength left him; often
he swooned away; he desired nothing but to die.
The hermit always left out bread and water for
him, but the poor man seldom came for them now.
At last, when seven days had passed, and the
food was untouched, the good hermit began to
fear that he was dead, and set out one morning
through the forest in search of him.

Before long, he came upon Ewayne lying under
a tree, all pale and worn and senseless. But his
heart still beat, and the good old man made haste









THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 9

tohelp him. He ran to his hermitage, and quickly
brought back the clothes and arms which he had
provided. These he laid by the side of the
sleeping knight, then anointed his body above the
heart with a precious ointment, of which the
virtues were known to him alone. This done, he
stole away and left Ewayne still sleeping.

When the sun came to noon, and its beams fell
on his face, he awoke, and rose, and was astonished ;
for lo! his sickness and his madness had left him,
and he stood up a whole man, in mind and body,
though how he came by this cure he knew not.
And there lay at his side clothes, and armour, and
a good sword, such as he had cast away from him
in his frenzy a year ago. That year now seemed
nothing but a frightful dream; and yet, as Ewayne
beheld himself in a clear fountain hard by, he
knew that he had, indeed, been living like a savage
man, and feared that all would fly from the sight
of him. He bathed himself in the fountain, and
though at first he was too weak to stand upright,
he was soon able to put on the clothes and the
armour, and found that he could still draw a
sword, Then he knelt and thanked Heaven for
this deliverance, and vowed never to use this sword
save te succour the helpless and the oppressed.



10 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

IV.
Slowly he now took his way through the forest,
_ stiff of limb and heavy of heart; and though his
madness had passed away, thought ever with
sorrow on the lady whose love he had lost. Thus
many an hour and many a mile he wandered, but
“met no living thing. But towards evening he
heard a dreadful noise in a thicket close at hand,
and when he hastened thither by the nearest way,
he saw a fearsome sight. A lion and a dragon
were struggling together with all the fury of their
kind. The dragon, breathing out fire from its
nostrils, twining round the body of its enemy, and
driving its fangs deep into the flesh, had almost
slain the lion, when Sir Ewayne, moved by his
knighthood to take the part of the weaker, ran up
to the rescue. He held his shield before his face
to keep off the monster’s fiery breath; he raised
his sword; for a moment the old might came back
to his arm; and with one stroke he clave the
dragon’s body in two. The lion, thus set free,
rose to its feet, and shook its bloody mane, and
roared so that all the forest echoed back the sound.
Quickly Ewayne stood upon his guard, for he
thought he must now have to do with this other



HE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 1i
fierce beast. But the lion had no mind to assail
its preserver; it crept up to him, crouching on
the ground, fawning upon him, and licking his
feet, and in all ways tried to let the knight know
its gratitude. Ewayne spoke kindly to the beast,
and dressed its wounds as best he could. Then,
when he went on his way, the lion would not leave
him, but followed or strode by his side. Soon it
came to understand his commands, and obey his
voice like a dog. Never knight bad such a faith-
ful friend as this savage creature.

At nightfall, when they halted, Ewayne broke
down boughs, and made a rude lodge in which to
pass the night. Meanwhile the lion went a little
way off and killed a deer, the carcass of which it
brought to its master, who with flint and steel lit
a fire of moss and dry branches, and on a spit
roasted the flesh for supper. But not a morsel
would the lion touch till the knight had eaten;
and when, after this simple meal, he lay down to
sleep with his head upon his shield, the grateful
beast prowled round, and spent the night in
watching over its preserver.

Next morning, Ewayne rose betimes and set
forward, knowing not nor heeding where he went,

till at evening, as before, the lion brought him his
B





12 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

prey, and they supped together and spent the
night. Many days thus he journeyed on, with
_the lion by his side, through this great forest, and
at last came upon a wide plain of rich meadows,
in the midst of which stood a many-towered castle.
Towards this the knight took his way, and reached
_ the gate at sunset.

Men came out and let down the drawbridge, but
suddenly they fled at the sight of the strange
squire which Ewayne had with him. And the
porter said— F

“Sir it behoves thee to leave that beast with-
out.”

“Nay,” replied Ewayne, “my lion and I are not
to be parted, we must either come in together, or
else will go hence.”

The porter still grumbled, but then came up
the lord of the castle, who bade that Ewayne
and his lion should be both admitted, and hastened
to meet and welcome his guest.

The knight was now courteously led into a
chamber, where the ladies of the castle unarmed
him, and brought him clothes of rich silk, and
showed him all kindness. But to Sir Ewayne it
seemed that they were sad at heart, though they
tried to look glad of his coming. When he came











THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 13

into the hall and supper was served, he still might
see that some affliction had fallen upon all the
inhabitants of the castle. His host made a fair
show for his sake, but he could scarcely speak for
sorrow, and the ladies would ever and again break
out weeping and sighing as they waited on him,
and none eat a morsel from the plenteous board.
The knight wondered greatly, and when supper
was done, he asked the lord of the castle the cuuse
of their trouble.

“Sir, if it is your will, 1 would fain know why
you make such ill cheer.”

“Alas !” was the answer, “we would make joy, as
becomes us, since we have you as our guest; but
we cannot but grieve when we think of what shall
be done to-morrow. Know that in this country
dwells a proud and cruel giant, by name Harpins
of the Mountain, who is the terror of our lives,
for no man here living can say him nay. And
oh, sir! I had four goodly sons that he has taken
prisoner, as they strove to rid the land of such a
pest. Two of them he has slain before my eyes,
and each day another is to be put to death, unless
I deliver him my daughter. Because she would
not be his wife, he has sworn to marry her to the
meanest of his servants, so morning by morning







14 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

he comes before my castle demanding her, and I
must see all my children undone, unless I can find
a champion to fight this monster. What wonder,
then, if we be full of woe !”

“Methinks it strange,” said Ewayne, when he
had listened to this tale, “that you have not ere
this sought help and counsel from the king. For
in all this wide world there is no man of so great
might, but King Arthur has knights at his Round
Table who would be full glad and willing to meet
with such a man, and try their strength against
him.”

“Sir, I have indeed sent to the king’s court,
but there are no knights there, save the best, who
can stand against this giant. And Sir Lancelot
and all the best knights have gone to rescue the
queen, who has been stolen away, they say, by a
certain felon knight. Till they come back and
bring the queen safe again, I can have no help.”

“Help you shall have!” cried Ewayne. “I
know Sir Lancelot well, and for his sake and the
maiden’s, I will undertake this battle and fight
with the giant, let him come as soon as he will.”

“Heaven reward thee!” prayed the knight, and
the lady of the castle and her daughter came and
knelt before Ewayne, and thanked him with tears





THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 15

and many words. But he declared that no lady
should kneel to him, and raised them up, and
spoke kindly to them, and prayed them to be of good
cheer, for he would avenge them on their oppressor.
Then they and all in the castle took courage, think-
ing that he must be a knight of strength and
renown who had a lion thus at his bidding, and
so blithely promised to meet this great giant.



y

That night Sir Ewayne slept once more upon a
bed, and the lion lay beside, so that no man durst
come near his chamber. In the morning he rose
early, and before he did any other thing, was
going to the chapel of the castle to hear the
service, when a servant came running to say that
the giant was at hand. Allin the castle hurried to’
the walls, and now Sir Ewayne saw a piteous sight
With huge strides the giant came on, a shagey
monster, whose hair hung to his waist, dressed
in bull-skins, and bearing no weapon but a
great club of iron; in his other hand he had a
cruel scourge of ten cords, with which he furi-
ously beat his two captives, as he drove them
before him’ almost naked, half starved with



16 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

cold and hunger, and having their hands bound
behind their backs. At every blow the blood ran
down their defenceless bodies, and their cries were
heard throughout the castle, so that all rued the
fate of these gentle youths, and their father and
mother wept to behold them. Pale and trembling
stood their sister as the giant came beneath the
walls and cried out in the ears of them all—

“Tf thou wilt have thy sons alive, deliver me
that damsel, that I may give her to the foulest
knave that eats my bread.” .

“Fear not,” said Sir Ewayne, as the weeping
ladies did on his armour. “This giant is full
fierce and cruel of his words, but either he shall
kill me, or I will deliver this maiden from the
dread of him; for, certes, it were pity that such
a foul hap should ever befall such a fair lady.”

“Oh, sir!” said the father, “do as you say, and
I will give you this castle and half my land.”

“Nay, Heaven forbid that a true knight should
take reward for succouring a damsel!” said Sir
Ewayne, and bid them let down the drawbridge.

Forth he rushed, with his lion at his heels, while
all the people in the castle fell on their knees to
pray for this gallant knight. When the giant saw
him he gave over lashing his captives, and turned







THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 17

upon their champion with mocking and boastful
words—

“What fiend made thee so bold to come out
against a man like me? Whoever sent thee here
loved thee full little, and shall soon be rid of
thee !”

“Do thy best !” cried Sir Ewayne, and without
more ado hurled his spear so straight and strong,
that it pierced the bull-hide, and sank deep into
the giant’s hairy breast. As the blood gushed out,
the hideous creature gave a roar, and, brandishing
his iron club, rushed upon the knight, as if he
would crush him to the earth. But he deftly
caught the blow upon his shield, and with his
keen sword rained strokes upon the bull-hide,
that could not turn its edge. Cries of surprise,
fear, and pity rose all around. Again and again the
knight seemed to be already a dead man, but ever
he escaped the iron club, and gave back blow for
blow, till all wondered, and said that this could be
no other than Sir Lancelot or Sir Gawayne, who
fought thus against such a foe. But ah! his
strength began to fail him; he struck wildly in
the air ; he stumbled; his shield fell from his hands,
The white maiden on the walls clasped her hands,
and would have cried out, but she could not move





18 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

her lips for terror. The giant gave a shout that
went to every heart, he raised his club, one moment
more and the knight was lost. Then suddenly
the lion raised its head as it saw its master in
such a strait. With a bound and a roar it sprang
upon the giant, and tore his flesh so that the bones
could be seen beneath. In vain he strove to use
his club; the beast leaped aside at every stroke,
and before, behind, on either side, it flew upon
him and mangled him, till he bellowed for pain,
and at last, blinded by the blood which flowed into
his eyes, overreached himself, and fell on the
ground like a heavy tree. Now Sir Ewayne had
recovered himself; he ran up to the fallen monster,
and with one mighty stroke cut off his right arm.
Next moment he drove his good blade into the
wicked heart. The trembling captives wept for
joy. Their sister swooned away upon the walls.
The castle gates were flung open, and all within
ran forth to hail the victor.

Who can tell their joy when they saw their fell
oppressor lie lifeless on the ground! The lord and
lady of the castle fell on the neck of their cham-
pion, and prayed him earnestly to stay with them
and take all that they had for his.

“Nay,” said Sir Ewayne, “I will have nought

















“With a bound and a roar the lion sprang upon the giant, In vain he strove to
use his club,”"—p. 18. The Knight of the Lion.







THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 19

of ye but it were a horse, on which to go my way
as becomes a knight.”

“Sir,” said his host, “the best steed in my stalls
is yours freely, but I would give you back what is
dearest of all to me, my daughter, that you have
given to me this day. Well are ye worthy to wed
her, and she is not worthy to be despised by any
in the land.”

“Take it for no despite if I may not wed her
or any other maiden,” answered Ewayne. “She
is indeed fair and gentle, and in all the world
there is no king or emperor or man of so great
honour that he might not gladly have so sweet
a lady for his wife. But I have a wife, and alas!
I have none. Courteous sir, entreat me no
further, but let me go hence.”

“ And if any ask us what knight has done so
doughty a deed, how shall we name thee?”

“Call me the Knight of the Lion,” said Ewayne,
and would tell them no more.

Long they pressed him to stay with them, but
when they saw that his will might not be moved,
they: said farewell, and sent him forth upon.a
gallant steed, fit for such a good knight.

Sir Ewayne gave his horse the rein, and rode
on wherever it bore him, with the faithful lion



20 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

at his side. Well pleased he was to know that
his sword had not forgotten its ancient sharpness;
yet grief ever seized him as he thought of the
lady to whom it should have been devoted.
Was she dead? Was she married again, believing
him dead? He cared not to know, since she
loved him no more. He could do nothing for her
but to obey her request, and never to seek to see
her face, or let her hear his name,



VI.

Before many months had passed, the land
began to ring with the fame of this fearless cham-
pion, who was known only as the Knight of the
Lion. Foul caitiff and cruel tyrant shook at that
name, for well they knew that the oppressed and
helpless had no surer friend. All who were in
misfortune had but to repair to him, and might
then bless the day on which he was born, for they
were not more ready to beseech than he was to
succour, and he fought for no cause in which he
did not conquer. Wherever he went the people
came forth from the towns to greet him, and
when he departed conveyed him out of the gates
with prayers that no harm might befall him,





THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 21

These prayers were as a magic armour, against
which the strongest weapons could not prevail,
and for years this knight passed through all perils
unhurt, and achieved adventures in which all
others had fallen.

“Never have men seen such a knight since the
brave Sir Ewayne was alive,” said King Arthur
among his knights at Camelot, as the news came
thither of fresh exploits done by this stranger.
“Methinks he were well worthy to sit at our
Round Table. Is there none of my knights who
will go forth and find him, and bring him hither,
by force or by his own goodwill ?”

The king’s knights were nowise loth to do his
will, for they were jealous of the fame of the
Knight of the Lion, and eagerly desired to try
their might against him. Sir Lancelot, Sir
Gawayne, and Sir Kay the boaster, all sought this
quest, and Arthur sent forth these three, bidding
them not return without the unknown knight as
courteous friend or vanquished foe.

So these three took divers ways, and rode far
and wide, asking all they met for news of a
knight who led a lion with him wherever he went.
All had heard of this knight; all bore witness
that he helped in word and deed whoever had



22 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

need of him, but no man could say where he
might be found. The three knights rode on by
hill and dale, by castle and town, but still could
hear no tidings of the Knight of the Lion. Yet
Lancelot and Gawayne ceased not to seek him,
Only Sir Kay left the quest, and rode back to tell
the king that this knight must be dead or held
fast in some dungeon.

“But now as he rode, it chanced he met with
him, and perceived by the lion that this was the
knight he sought. Because his vizor was down,
he knew not it was Sir Ewayne, but Ewayne knew
him well for Sir Kay, the steward of the king, who
ever railed at his fellows and boasted himself, but
whose words were greater than his deeds, —

“Hold,. Sir Knight of the Lion!” he cried
loudly. “I have sworn to bring thee to King
Arthur as friend or foe.”

“Sir Steward,” answered Ewayne sadly, “Ihave
no friends, and I am foe to no good man. Have
it as thou wilt.”

“Then sit firm in thy saddle,” said the boasting
knight. “But first send thy lion away, or bind
him, if thou wilt not yield thee. Thyself shall
fight with me alone,”

“Let the lion not make thee aghast. It is









THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 23

neither right nor custom to have aid against a
single knight,” and with that Sir Ewayne bade his
lion lie down, and the faithful beast obeyed him,
nor would it ever move till it saw its master in
danger.

Scant courtesy passed between these knights.
Without more ado, they ran together with their
sharp lances, and at the first onset Sir Ewayne
hurled Sir Kay out of his saddle, and cast him on
the ground a spear’s length behind his horse, and
with such force that his helm smote a foot deep
into the ground. No other harm would he do
him, because he knew him of old, but he left the
steward discomfited on the ground, and thus took
farewell of him—

“Go back to the king and tell him that the

Knight of the Lion is not worthy to be his friend, .

and that knights such as thou, whose boasting
is their chief dishonour, are unworthy to be my
foes.”

He turned his rein and rode away with heavy
heart, leading beside him the horse of the fallen
knight. It was not in him to be proud of such a
victory, and the sight of Sir Kay had set him
thinking of the days gone by, when he fought and
feasted among the princes of Arthur’s court, and



24 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

knew not of the sorrow that should come upon
him. Then all his life was full of pride and joy;
now his only hope was in death, and death came
not to him who was sick of life. At times it
seemed that his madness was about to return
upon him; the best he could look for would be to
die like a wild beast, unknown and unpitied,
bereft of himself as he had been of his wife and
his friends. Then the lion came and licked his
hand, and with tears in his eyes he raised his
head.



VIL

And lo! now, as he looked around, he knew well
the place in which he was. There was a great
leafless thorn tree above a trickling well, and
hard by, a little chapel built upon a rock. It was
under this thorn that first he met his lady many
years ago, it was in this chapel that they had
plighted their troth. At the sight that dauntless
knight grew white and trembled like a woman,
aud overcome with sudden weakness, fell from his
horse. =

He rose to his feet, and wild thoughts rushed
into his mind. In the fall his sword had escaped



THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 25

from the sheath. He seized it, he thrust the hilt
into the ground, he placed the point against his
throat, he would have slain himself on the spot,
when a voice of distress reached his ear. In the
chapel there was one weeping and complaining.
Sir Ewayne paused and cried— .

“Who art thou that mournest there ?”

«Ah! well-away!” answered the voice, “I am
the sorriest wight that ever lived, and as yet I
have lived but seven years.”

“Nay,” said the knight, “ by all the saints, there
is no sorrow like mine for seven years past, nor
any wight alive that might make such dole. I
was a man and now am none, nor worthy to be.
seen of men. Once I was a noble knight and
a lord of might and renown; I had knights and
squires in my train, and riches and lands in
plenty, and all I lost through my folly. But the
greatest sorrow is yet to tell: I lost my lady
that was full dear to me, and that loved me better
than her life. I have nought to do but to slay
myself by whom I was undone.”

“ Alas! mine is a more sorrowful case. I am
but a little maiden seven years old, my father,
they. say, died before I was born, and left my

mother in grief and fear. Many strong lords
9



26 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

have sought her to wife, yet, though she lived
alone with none to protect her, she ever sent
them away and wept for her own good knight
who is dead these seven years. Ah, sir! there is
a felon knight called Sir Salados who dwells near
at hand, and of whom all this country is in dread.
He has sore vexed my mother, and has robbed her
of all her lands when she would not give them
with her good will. And to-day this wicked
knight came at the hour of prime, and has taken
her captive in her own castle, and there, for she
will not marry him, she must starve in a dungeon,
if I bring not some champion to her succour.
Fain am I to seek the Knight of the Lion, who, as
men say, slew the giant Harpins, and never fails
ladies that are in need; for certain he would
fight this cruel man. But none know where
he may be found, and I am weak and tender of
age, and alas! alas! my mother must die.”

“Nay, dear maiden, she shall not die while I
live!” cried Ewayne, forgetting his own grief at
this pitiful tale, “thank Heaven that has brought
to thee him thou seekest. I am he whom men
call Knight of the Lion, and I will fight this felon
knight while breath is in me. Come forth and
lead me to where he is, and be of good cheer.”



THE KNIGHT OF THE LION, 27

Forth ran the little maiden with a cry of joy,
But on the threshold of the chapel she paused and
shook for fear, and pointed with her hand.

“Ah, see! There he comes riding on a black
horse, and here in this meadow he is wont to defy
all that fear not to try his might!”

Sir Ewayne looked, and saw, riding furiously
towards him on a coal-black steed, a tall knight in
black armour from head to foot, with a black shield
and a black pennon on his lance, and the trappings
of his horse were of black velvet.

«Tis well,” he said, and placed the child upon
Sir Kay’s horse, and bade her not be afraid of the
lion, for it would do no maiden harm, and bade it
watch by her while he dealt with this black knight.
Then he drew tight his girths, took his spear in
hand, leaped into the saddle, and flew forth like an
arrow, crying—

“Ho! Sir Salados, false knight and robber of
ladies, the time is come when thou shalt be well
paid for all thy villainy.”



VIL

The black knight spoke not a word, but, with a
scornful laugh, put his lance in rest and spurred



28 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

upon Ewayne. And now, as they rushed together, -
aloud peal of thunder burst above their heads, and
aheavy storm of rain and hail poured down around
them, so that the knights were almost hid from
sight. With a mighty shock they met midway.”
Both lances splintered to the handle, but neither
was shaken in his seat. Out flew their bright
swords, and deadly were the strokes dealt between
them. It was no Sir Kay with whom the Knight
of the Lion had now to do. Sparks flew from
helmet and hauberk; the armour crashed and
gaped beneath the blows; the blood poured down
upon the field. Still each sat stiffly upon his
horse, and neither would yield a foot; it was a
battle for life or death. Atlast the black knight’s
strokes seemed to wax faint, and Sir Ewayne
gathered all his strength, and smote a blow which
cleft helm and brainpan, and made Sir Salados reel
and give back as if he would have fallen. Fora
moment Ewayne held his hand, deeming that his
foe would beg for mercy; then, of a sudden, the
black knight turned and fled for his life.

With all his main he sped away, and the Knight
of the Lion rode hard behind him, sword in hand.
Like the wind they rode, for now the beaten
knight could see his castle walls, and Ewayne



THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 29

would kill his horse but he would take him dead
or alive. The storm raged around them, and the
hail blinded their eyes, but with loosened bridle
and blood-stained spurs they urged their panting
steeds, and swiftly neared the castle gate. And
now the flying craven gains the moat ; three strides
and he has crossed the drawbridge; he is hidden
within the walls. Fast follows Ewayne, heedless
of a warning cry. His good steed bounds forward,
and already he is within the gateway, when with
a clang the portcullis falls from above, smiting
through saddle and horse, shearing the spurs from
the heels of the knight, and by a hair-breadth
leaving him unhurt, but amazed, dismounted, and
alone in the house of his enemy, which was no
other than the house that had once been his.

In all haste he gained his feet and stood on
guard with his back to the gate. But the sword
had almost dropped from his hand when he saw
no one in the courtyard save a lady weeping and
wringing her hands. That lady was his wife, who
seven long years ago had bid him see her no more.

“Alas! alas!” she cried, “what do you here?
This is a den of robbers and murderers into which
you have come, and I am an unhappy lady who
must here lose my life.”



30 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Then I shall lose my own first, for my life is
not so dear to me as thine.”

The voice went to her heart. She looked
earnestly upon the closed vizor of the knight, and
was about to speak, when Sir Salados, all covered
with blood and brandishing a huge axe, burst
forth through a door in the wall, with a band of
armed men at his heels.

Now Sir Ewayne was lost, unless some enchanter
should come to his aid, or he might have wings to
fly. Yet the good knight did not quail. He drew
the lady to him and stood before her with his
sword. On rushed the black knight and his
treacherous rabble. But ere the sharp steel
clashed, a sound was heard that made them hold
and look round in dread.

It was the roar of the lion that now came raging
without the gate, and as it saw its master’s peril,
dashed against the steel bars and tore up the
earth beneath, and with all its might strove to win
to his side. Small wonder that these caitiffs shook
at the sight, and drew back a space.

_ “Would ye fear a caged beast?” cried their
felon lord, and led them once more against Sir
Ewayne.
Alas! what could his single arm do against so



THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 31

many. They closed upon him; the lady shrieked
and fell; his sword gleamed like light, and it was
wondrous to see how he stood firm among such
miglity blows. Then, as they bore him down, and
the black knight’s axe was raised above his head,
the crowd gave a cry, and a crash was heard above
the din, for the lion had burst through the bars,
and was among them with bristling mane and
_ open jaws. The heavy blow fell upon its head;
but never struck Sir Salados another stroke.
Hurled to the ground, he lay with his neck broken,
and his craven crew turned and fled on every side,
melted like snow before the hot breath of the lion,
which chased them fiercely into the inner courts
of the castle,

IX,

Breathless but unwounded, Sir Ewayne sprang
to his feet and looked around. He was alone
with the lady, who knelt before him and thanked
him full humbly. He would have spoken, but
his tongue clove to his mouth. Then was heard
the trampling of hoofs without, and two knights
rode up, and the little maiden by their side on
Sir Kay’s horse. Ewayne made clear the entry to



82 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

let them pass, and forthwith he knew them for
Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawayne.

Much they marvelled to see him safe from such
a fray, and fain were they, when the lady had told
the tale, to learn the name of her deliverer.

“Surely,” said Sir Lancelot, “there is no
knight save him of the Lion who could thus
succour a lady; and this knight we have sought
these many days.”

“Ah me!” cried the lady, “there was once
such a knight who took me for his wife. By my
own sinful pride I drove him from me, or else I had
never wanted succour against robbers and traitors.
But all that I have and hope would I give to see
him again for a moment’s space, that I might
pray him to pardon me, and die in peace.”

“Fair lady,’ said Sir Gawayne the courteous,
“that may not be. Thou wert wedded to our
fellow Sir Ewayne, and he is dead these seven
years. Would, indeed, that he were alive!”

“He is alive!” spoke a voice that all knew well
of old. “Sirs, I am he that you seek. Lady, lam
he that you loved.”

He raised his vizor, and, amazed, they saw
Ewayne stand before them. The two knights
made the sign of the cross; the lady gave a cry.



THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 30

“Oh, my wife, it is your forgiveness that I
should pray for on my knees!”

He could speak no more, and she could not
hear for joy. Each of them would fain be the
first to forgive. They fell upon one another's
necks, and in one kiss forgot all the sorrows of
these seven years,





Huows Cash,

>.
>



I

]) KNIGHT was traversing the dark glades
i} of a Syrian forest, guided only by weird




glimpses of the midnight moon. Sword.
in hand he rode, and cast a wary eye from side to

side, for it was a fearsome place, and he knew not

with what uncouth creatures it might abound.

Suddenly his horse swerved aside from the path,

rearing and trembling for terror, as there glided
forth a strange figure and stood with uplifted

hand on the moonlit sward. Its stature was no

higher than that of a newly weaned child, but the

grey beard and wrinkled brow were those of a
man of fourscore. At the sight of it the traveller

grasped tight his sword and made the sign of the

cross.

“The saints defend us! “Tis Oberon, the prince
34



HUON’S TASK. 35

of fairyland, against whom and his magic arts no
steel forged of man can avail.”

“Nay, Sir Huon of Bordeaux, fear me not,”
spoke the dwarf in mild and benevolent tones, as
if he read his thoughts.

“Thou knowest me, then?”

“ And wish thee well. J have always been the
friend of thy race, and, though unknown to thee,
have watched over thy welfare from the cradle.
Now, I am here to aid thee in the perilous enter-
prise on which thou art bound. Trust me; dis-
mount; and my goodwill shall be proved.”

For a moment the knight hesitated; then he
leaped from his steed. The enchanter waved his
' wand. Instantly the darkness gave place to a
flood of dazzling light, and with the sound of .
entrancing music there sprang up around them,
like vapour, a magnificent palace, such as no king
in Christendom could boast. One moment Sir
Huon stood on the ground damp with dew, and the
cold night wind sighed above his head among bare
- branches; the next he found himself in a lofty
hall, where the walls were of glittering crystal and
the pillars of gold, and the roof was starred with
gems of every hue, that lit up the scene with more
than noonday brilliance. The floor was one carpet



S
ou

6 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of blooming flowers, and upon it stood a table
loaded with sumptuous dishes, at the head of
which Oberon sat ona golden throne, The knight’s
horse was led away, as if by spirits of the air;
unseen hands held before him a jewelled basin of
perfumed water; the same invisible attendants
relieved him of his armour, and threw round him
a robe of embroidered silk. Then, before he had
fully recovered from his amazement, the enchanter
motioned him to a seat by his side, and the
invisible hands served them with meat and drink.
The guest at that banquet had only to form a
wish, and it seemed that a spirit stood beside him
who knew and obeyed his slightest thought.
Oberon did not eat, but while Huon satisfied his
appetite, he pledged him in a cup of wine, and
spoke thus :—

“T have vowed friendship and protection to thy
house; nothing that concerns them is hid from
me. I know the purpose of this journey and the
charge laid upon thee. It is now three months
since, in a chance fray, a good knight slew Charlot,
the king’s envious and, boastful son. The angry
king would have doomed the knight to suffer
death on the spot, but, at the entréaty of the twelve
peers of France, he consented to pardon him on



HUON’S TASK. 87

condition that he performed penance after a
strange fashion. He must ride alone to the
palace of Gaudisse, the Emir of Babylon, and
present himself in the hall while that relentless
miscreant should be sitting at meat among his
vassals and friends. Before speaking a word, he
must cut off the head of whomever he found
sitting at the Emir’s right hand, must then kiss
his fair daughter Esclarmonde thrice, and must
take from Gaudisse a handful of his beard and
four of his great teeth. Having further made the
Emir swear to be tributary to the crown of France,
he is to return with these trophies, or expect no
welcome but a shameful death. Say I not truly,
and art thou not this luckless knight ?”

“Marvellous enchanter, it is even as thou hast
said!” replied Huon. “All thisam I bound to do,
and it is better to die by the swords of the infidels,
than on the gallows!”

“Fear not, Huon, thou shalt not die. The
enterprise has perils that might make a less brave
man turn back, but thou shalt come through all
in triumph, if thou art a worthy son of my friend
thy father, and wilt but accept my aid and obey
my directions.”

“Noble Oberon, I will obey thee in all things,”



38 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

vowed Huon, and the enchanter smiled benig-
nantly, and bringing forth a crystal goblet and an
ivory horn, placed them in his hands.

“Take these gifts, and learn their value. The
goblet will at the wish of any good man fill with
meat or drink; while in the hands of the treach-
erous and base it remains for ever empty. A
barren desert lies before thee, and without this
goblet thou art like to starve by the way. When
assailed by numbers, let this horn be thy defence.
Sound it softly if the danger be slight, and watch
what befalls ; but in utmost need blow loudly, and
I myself will appear with all the host of fairy-
land. Yet remember, these charms serve only
him whose heart is true and his honour pure;
no summons from the coward or the lar will
reach my ear.”

“May I never prove unworthy of thy protec-
tion |”

“Beware, also, of rashness. I foresee too surely
that the hot blood of youth will carry thee into
perils where my aid may be of no avail. Above
all, take heed to shun the tower of Angoulafre,
that ruthless giant of whom all these countries are
in dread. In that tower he maintains himself by
enchantments even stronger than mine, and he



HUON’S TASK, 39

can only be slain by him who wears a coat of
magic mail that he stole from me years ago. It
would be courage thrown away to attack him; do
not attempt it; success is well-nigh impossible.”

“Show me the way to this tower!” was Huon’s
eager reply.

“Said I not well? Thy imprudence is too
strong for my counsels.”

“Nay, friendly enchanter, the imprudence is
thine, to let me know this danger that may be
sought and overcome. If I am destined to leave
my bones in the tower of Angoulafre, so be it;
but it shall never be said that Huon heard of a
perilous achievement and passed it by.”

“Thy task is already a full hard one,” said
Oberon, and sighed to think of the misfortunes
that might yet lie before this gallant knight.

But now the morning began to break, and at
the first beam of the rising sun the enchanted
palace vanished away like a dream, and Huon
found himself again in the heart of the forest.
The fairy prince conducted him to the verge
of it, and gave directions as to the way he
must now take. Then, earnestly repeating his
injunctions, he took leave of him with all good
wishes.



40 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY

IZ.

For several days the road of the adventurous
knight lay across a barren and uninhabited desert,
where he had good cause to know the value of
Oberon’s gifts, for the enchanted goblet never
failed to fill in his hands, and furnished him with
whatever meat and drink he desired.

At last he reached a richer tract of country, and
at evening entered the gates of a large city. There,
as he was looking about for a caravansery in which
to spend the night, a man, who appeared to be
one of the principal inhabitants of the city, came
forth from his house, and invited the stranger to
lodge with him.

Houn gladly accepted this hospitality, and was
richly entertained by his new friend according to
the customs of the East. He did not know the
name of his host, nor why a Saracen should show
him such kindness. But when supper was removed
and the attendants had withdrawn, the master of
the house rose, locked the door, plucked off his
turban and fell on his knees, crying out in good
French—

“Huon, son of my old lord and master, say that
these well-known features have not deceived me!”



HUON’S TASK, 41

“Who are you?” exclaimed Huon, astonished
to hear not only his own language, but the accent
of his native province. “Stay!” he added, re-
membering the warnings of Oberon and minding
to try the sincerity of this man. “Take this
goblet and pledge me in a cup of wine.”

“But it is empty,” said the host, handling the
talisman with a perplexed look. “I would indeed
that it were full!”

Instantly the cup filled to the brim with ruby
wine, and his astonishment was increased.

“Drink without fear, my countryman,” said
Huon, smiling, “Now I know you for an honest
man.”

The pretended Saracen drained the goblet to
the last drop, and when they had embraced each
other, as became good countrymen, he proceeded
to satisfy the curiosity of his guest.

“Know that my name is Gerasmes, and that
my father, the Mayor of Bordeaux, was one of the
most faithful of the retainers of your father’s house.”

“Ha! good Gerasmes, is it thou? Often I have
heard my father speak of you and your family.
But how come you in this city, the name of which
is unknown to me?”

“This is the Saracen city of Tourmont, and you



42 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

will learn with as much surprise as sorrow that
the Sultan who rules over it is no other than
your father’s brother.”

“My uncle! Is it possible ?”

“Hyen so—your own uncle. You have doubt-
less heard tell in your youth that a young brothcr
of my lord your father was carried away by
pirates on the sea-shore, along with all his attend-
ants. Iwas then his page, and I was brought with
him to the shores of the Red Sea, where we were
sold as slaves to Gaudisse, the Emir of Babylon.
This Emir hated the Christians with all his heart,
and, learning your uucle’s high birth, used every
effort to pervert him from his faith. He succeeded
only too well. Your uncle, threatened and tempted,
denied his baptism, and became a follower of the
Prophet. From that moment Gaudisse loaded him
with honours and riches, married him to his own
niece, and appointed him the tributary ruler of
this country.”

“Ah!” cried Huon, “I am indeed amazed and
ashamed! Lead me forthwith to this renegade
uncle. In the presence of a knight of his own
blood, he cannot but blush for the infamous
cowardice that let him abandon the faith of his
fathers.”



HUON’S TASK. 48

“Alas!” replied Gerasmes, “I fear that your
reproaches will not move him. Given up to
pleasures, jealous of a power which he exercises
with unrestrained cruelty, hardened in heart by a
long course of debauchery, he will forget that you
are the son of his brother, and will reply to your
exhortations only by ordering you to be put to
death.”

“No matter! I insist on it that you announce
my arrival to the Sultan, and procure me an inter-
view with him to-morrow morning.”

Gerasmes still endeavoured to shake his resolu-
tion, but it was not to be changed, and the knight
refused to retire to rest till his new friend promised
to doas he desired. At last Gerasmes agreed, upon
one condition.

“Give me leave to follow you wherever you go,
and serve you as your squire, as my father served
your father.”

“Willingly; but first you must know the
dangers that you will share,” said Huon, and re-
lated to him the perilous enterprise on which he
was bound.

“Twice as much should not daunt me!” ex-
claimed Gerasmes. “I can no longer bear to live
among these infidels; already my life is not safe

2



44 THE OLD TALES OF CILIVALRY

here; and I fear no danger while in the service of
such a knight.”

After spending some time in recounting to each
other their several adventures, they retired to rest,
joyful thus to have met, and hoping not soon to
part.

_—

III.

So next morning Gerasmes sought the Sultan,
and informed him of the arrival of his nephew,
Huon of Bordeaux, and of his wish to present
himself at the court.

The Sultan was no less surprised than dis-
pleased at this news. For some moments he
hesitated how to answer; but the baseness of his
soul prompted him to a dissimulation, under cover
of which he might prepare means to rid himself
of this unwelcome kinsman. He knew that
Gerasmes loved too well the Christians and the
house of Bordeaux to aid him in such treachery;
so he feigned great joy at the prospect of being
able to receive the heir of his family, and desired
that Huon might be brought to him at once.
While Gerasmes was absent on this errand, he
sent to assemble his guards, and after giving
some secret orders, went himself to meet his



HUON’S TASK. 45

nephew and present him to the nobles of the
court.

Huon burned with indignation and shame to see
upon his uncle’s brow a rich green turban, crowned
with acrescent of gems. His candid nature would
scarcely suffer him to submit to the hypocritical
embraces which the Sultan lavished upon him.

“Ah, my father!” he murmured to himself,
“what wouldst thou say if thou could behold a
prince of thy race under this hateful disguise ?”

In the hope, however, of finding a favourable
moment to reproach his uncle with his apostasy,
he tried to accept without open disgust the
salutations with which all the court pressed to
receive him. But the Sultan, asif he had divined
the intentions of his nephew, skilfully avoided all
opportunity of private speech. The whole morn-
ing they spent with all the train of courtiers and
attendants in examining the palace and its
gardens; till the hour of dinner sounded, and the
Sultan gave Huon his hand to lead him to the
hall. Now the young man could no longer
restrain his impatience.

“Oh, my uncle!” he whispered in his ear.
“Oh, prince, brother of my father, in what a state
have I the grief and shame to find thee!”



46 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

The Sultan secretly gnashed his teeth; but he
pretended to be moved by this reproach ; he gently

pressed his kinsman’s hand, and replied in the
same tone—

“Silence for the present, dear nephew! To-
morrow morning I will explain all. You do not
know the whole truth.”

Huon, deceived by his uncle’s air, calmed himself
and sat down by his side with a lighter heart.
The muftis, the cadis, and the other officers
of the court took their places; there were also
some dervishes present, upon whom, like a good
Catholic, our knight looked with the greatest
contempt and abhorrence. As for Gerasmes, he
remained without, and kept a watchful eye on
what was doing in the other parts of the palace.
He began to suspect treachery, and his suspicions
were increased when he saw armed men mustering
in the apartments near the hall. But before he
could warn his new master, what he dreaded had
already come about.

At first Huon addressed himself to do honour
to the feast, and eat with the appetite of youth
and a good conscience, All kinds of rich meats
were served to him, but, according to the law of the
Prophet, no wine appeared on the table. So, after



HUON’S TASK, AT

a time, Huon drew from his bosom the magic gob-
let, which, at his wish, was at once filled with red
and sparkling wine. At this sight the Saracens
frowned and stroked their beards, but feigning
not to observe these signs of displeasure, he cour-
teously handed the cup to the Sultan, saying—

“Dear uncle, pledge me in this goblet. It is
excellent wine of your own native province, and
will remind you of your mother’s milk. Take and
drain it!”

The Sultan often drank wine in secret, though
before others he made pretence of conforming to
the precepts of his adopted religion. It was long
since he had tasted the good wine for which his
birthplace was famed; the very name of it made
his mouth water; surely for once he might trans-
gress the law: and, in public as it was, he stretched
out his hand towards the crystal goblet in which
the generous liquor glowed like a heap of rubies.

“Besides,” he thought, to excuse himself, “I
must dissemble ; I must lull his suspicions; this will
give time for my guards to arrive and be ready.”

He received the cup, put it to his lips, and felt
a thrill of delight as he already thought to taste
the delicious flavour, when, lo! it was empty in his
hands, the contents disappearing as if by enchant-



48 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

ment. Huon could not restrain a laugh at the
Sultan’s confusion and disappointment, yet he
drew back from this uncle whose falsity was thus
revealed.

“TInsolent!” cried the Sultan, as soon as
surprise allowed him to speak. “Do you dare
to mock me in the midst of my court? But I
will teach you whether you can defy me with
impunity. Ho! without there!”

And he hurled the goblet at Huon’s head, who,
catching it in his hand, replied by tearing the
Sultan’s jewelled turban from his head, and
trampling it on the floor. The cadis, agas,
dervishes, and muftis rose from the table, uttering
cries of horror at this insult to their faith. At
the same moment, the doors of the hall were
flung open on every side, and a crowd of soldiers
and eunuchs, armed to the teeth, rushed in, and
ran upon the young knight in such haste, that
the foremost of them tripped and fell in a
struggling heap before him.

This gave Huon a moment’s respite. He
stepped back while his assailants were picking
themselves up, and did not even take the trouble
to draw his sword, but brought out the ivory horn
of Oberon, on which he began to blow gently, not



HUON’S TASK, 49

thinking the danger great enough for a louder
summons. Immediately the effects were seen.
At the first soft and melodious notes, every
Saracen stood upright, then fell a-trembling in
all his limbs, and as the sound continued, began,
willy-nilly, to break into a dance. The music of
the horn was heard over all the palace, and every
note thrilled through every limb. The dervishes
whirled themselves into the middle of the hall;
the eunuchs gambolled like kids; their weapons
dropped from the hands of the soldiers, and they
staggered as if they were drunk; the grave muftis
and cadis flung their turbans on the floor, and
spun round among the crowd; even the Sultan
himself, after stamping and wriggling in a vain
effort to maintain his dignity, was forced to caper
with the rest; and soon all the assembly was one
wild reel. Huon, standing at the head of the hall,
blew faster and faster, and the dancers were
hurried round and round with more and more
vehemence. Howling, leaping, tumbling, totter-
ing, skipping, tripping over their long garments,
panting, perspiring, frantically clinging to the
chairs and tables, and even to each other's
beards, dashing their heads against the walls,
kicking their slippers up to the ceiling, raging,



50 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.
crying, entreating, struggling, they whirled on,
and kept up the dance till they could neither
stand nor speak, but still their limbs must jerk
like a child’s toy, of which the enchanter did not
cease to pull the string. At last Huon took pity
on this wretched rout. He suddenly took the
horn from his lips, and in one moment, every
Saracen fell flat on the ground, breathless and
exhausted. ,
Seeing that they were no longer able to do him
harm, the knight made his way through the piles
of helpless bodies, and leaving the palace at his
ease, sought out the house of Gerasmes, where

- that prudent squire had already preceded him,

and was saddling their horses for immediate

departure.



IV.

Before one of the Saracens had recovered
strength to move hand or foot, Huon and
Gerasmes left the city and took the road to
Babylon.. For several days they journeyed on
without meeting any hindrance, and ai last
arrived upon a‘plain in the midst of which a huge
tower reared itself, losing its battlements in the
clouds,





HUON’S TASK. 51

“Tt is the tower of Angoulafre!” cried Huon.

“Do not approach it!” begged Gerasmes, who,
though brave, was not so eager for adventures as
his master. “Call to mind the -warnings of
Oberon. Back, if you love your life!”

But the knight feigned not to hear his squire’s
advice. He was determined to visit this tower,
the appearance of which was indeed appalling and
mysterious, As they drew nearer, they perceived
that the wall was pierced here and there with
deep windows that resembled human eyes, but
through which no human being could be seen.
All without and within was dark, silent, and
threatening. The whole pile was surrounded by a
wide, deep ditch, crossed by a drawbridgé three
feet wide, beyond which was a gate even narrower
than the bridge. The gate was defended by two
tall brazen statues, that whirled round long flails
of the same metal, like the arms of a windmill; so
broad were these flails and so rapid was their
motion, that not even a bird could pass between
them without being crushed to pieces,

The more he saw of this fearsome place, the
more Gerasmes urged his master to hold back
from it. But Huon was only tempted on by these
desperate obstacles, At a little distance from the



52 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

tower, he dismounted, bade his companion remain
with the horses, and advanced alone and on foot
towards the entrance, where hung a great basin of
brass, as large as a shield. He struck it with the
hilt of his sword, and the brass gave forth a deep,
dreadful clang that was echoed throughout the
tower.

“Now we shall see who lives here,” said- Huon
to himself; and a sorrowful cry made him turn
his eyes upwards to the loophole above the gate,
through which he caught a glimpse of the face of
a young and beautiful lady. Before a minute
had passed, the whirling arms of the statues
suddenly ceased their motion, and the lady
appeared at the wicket.

“Rash man, what do you here?” she cried, all
pale and shuddering, as Huon ran lightly across
the drawbridge. “You are but hastening upon
your death.”

“Nay; what harm can await me in the abode
of such a fair one,” said Huon gallantly.

“Alas!” replied she, casting looks of compassion
upon him, “it is not me whom ye have to fear,
but the cruel tyrant who holds me here as his
prisoner.”

“The giant Angoulafre ?”





HUON’S TASK. 53

“No other. At this moment, happily for you,
he sleeps. If he had awakened, you were surely
lost! When I heard the noise you made, I gave
you up for lost; then, perceiving the cross which
adorns your shield, I judged that you must be a
Christian knight, and resolved to save your life if
I could. Now you are warned ; oh, fly while there
is yet time!”

“Noble and beautiful damsel, I have not come
here to fly. And now that I have seen you and
know you to be the captive of this monster, I am
more than ever eager to combat him and deliver
you. But tell me, lady, before I seek the giant,
who are you, and how came you into his
power.”

“Ah! the tale of my misfortunes is soon told,
My name is Sibille. I came with my noble father,
Guerin of Guienne, on a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, and returning thence, would have sailed to
France, where a good knight, nephew of Ogier the
Dane, waited to make me his wife. But a furious
tempest threw us upon this hateful coast;
Angoulafre discovered and attacked us; my father
and all his knights were slain, and I became his
prisoner. For three years have I pined in this
house of horror, and now for the first time I hear



54 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

my native tongue and see the face of a country-
man.”

“Nay, fair Sibille, of a kinsman! Know that I
am Huon of Bordeaux, the eldest son of your father’s
brother, and therefore your cousin, and doubly
bound to deliver you from this wicked giant. -
Lead me to him forthwith, and let me deal with
this robber of ladies!”

“But ah! he is strong and fierce and

”?



“Say no more. Am I not one of the peers of
France ?”

Sibille, scarcely able to suppress her exclama-
tions of joy, no longer delayed to admit this
welcome kinsman; and, walking on tiptoe, led
the way to the chamber from which the monster’s
snoring could be heard all over the tower.

There he lay on his back, a hideous form,
seventeen fect long, with a countenance the
ferocity of which even in sleep would have made
most men shudder. Huon stood over him and
raised his sword; his first impulse was to bury it
to the hilt in the giant’s throat. But he
bethought him that he was a knight, and must
in no case attack an enemy who could not defend
himself. Besides, he fortunately remembered
that this monster could not be slain except by the



a ES eT

HUON’S TASK. 55

man who wore the enchanted coat of mail of
which Oberon had spoken; and, while Angoulafre
still slept heavily, the knight and his cousin

searched for this throughout the tower. It was

soon discovered in a cedar coffer that stood in one
of the next apartments. Huon seized it, put it
on, and was rejoiced to find that it fitted him
marvellously well.

“Now, fair cousin,” he said gaily, “excuse me
if I leave you here for a little. I am going to
awake Angoulafre, and put him to death.”

But it was no easy task to rouse the giant from
his nap. Not till Huon had shaken him, and
struck him, and shouted in his ear, and pulled
his beard, and tweaked his nose, did he begin to
move, and slowly raised his head, gaping aud
rubbing his blood-shot eyes. Then, as he caught
sight of this unexpected visitor, he stared wildly,
and bellowed in a voice that shook all the walls,
and sent Sibille, anxiously watching without, to
her knees,

“Puny creature, what madness has brought you
here to your death? Miserable wretch, tell me
your name before I crush you with one blow,
and you be never more heard of on earth!”

“Odious monster, my name is Huon of Bor-



56 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

deaux, and I am come to punish you for all your
evil deeds. Arm, and prepare for the combat.”

Angoulafre might well be astonished at this
bold language. He regarded the knight with
attention, and was still more astonished to see
him encased in the magic coat of mail.

“By. Mahomet,” he said, “it was generous of
you not to have slain me in my sleep, as you
might well have done. Come: I pardon you; it
would cost me too much trouble to take your life.
Only give me up that armour, and on this
condition I will let you go free and unharmed.”

“Nay, give you up this tower, and the princess
whom you hold captive in it; and sxaoreover,
consent to renounce Mahomet, and to follow me
to the court of the Emir of Babylon, where I
have a certain errand to do; on these conditions
will I spare your life.”

The giant laughed loudly, and made a gesture
of scorn.

“Fool, if I let you go, you could not come at
the Emir of Babylon without my aid. He is my
vassal, and this golden ring betokens the respect
due to me by him and all his. Four gates guard
his palace, each of which will fly open at the
sight of my ring. Without it you cannot hope to





HUON’S TASK. 57

pass. At the first gate, they would cut off your
right hand, at the second your left, at the third
one of your feet, at the fourth another, and when
thus you reached the hall, it would be but a
moment before your head would be shorn from
your shoulders. Be wise, then, take this ring,
_ and return my armour.”

“Ring, and armour, and all that you have is
already mine,” quoth the bold Huon. “We but
waste our time; arm, and let me slay thee without
more to-do.”

Seeing that he could by no persuasion win
back from Huon the enchanted mail, Angoulafre
withdrew to prepare for the combat. In a short
time he returned, covered from head to foot with
massive armour, and wielding a huge scythe in
both his brawny hands,

“Tam ready to fight, if you are ready to die!”
he roared, brandishing this terrific weapon over
Huon’s head. '

“Look to thyself, pagan,” replied Huon, deftly
escaping the blow.

The scythe, swung with all the giant’s strength,
struck against a pillar, and sank into it to the
depth of three feet. Angoulafre made desperate

: efforts to draw it out, but before he could succeed,
E



58 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Huon rushed forward, and cut off both his hands
at the wrists. The giant, uttering a hideous howl
of pain, turned to fly. He hurled himself into
the chamber where the pale Sibille was trembling
for the result of this struggle, but, missing his
footing, fell headlong, and his huge bulk rolled at
her feet. She screamed out; Huon was close at
his heels ; one good blow of the keen sword ended
the cruel monster’s life, and the cousins threw
themselves into each other’s arms.

When Huon had drawn the giant’s ring from
his finger, they hastened to leave this gloomy
abode, and Gerasmes rejoiced to see his master
come back safe To him the knight confided the
care of Sibille, directing him to take her to the
nearest seaport and put her on board a ship bound
for France, while he himself was achieving his
enterprise. So they parted with all good wishes,
and Huon pursued his journey alone with the
ring of Angoulafre, the enchanted coat of mail,
the wonderful goblet and horn, and his own good
sword to be his guide.



HUON’S TASK. 59

Vv.

A few days more brought Huon in sight of the
rich and beautiful city of Babylon, where upon a
high hill rose the marble palace of Gaudisse, the
Emir, or, as he was then called, the Admiral of
that country. Huon was glad to arrive at the end
of this long journey; and when, leaving his horse
at the foot of the hill, he was climbing impatiently

up its steep side, he wondered whether Gaudisse

would easily comply with the requests he had to
make, and if his daughter Esclarmonde were
indeed of such surpassing beauty as fame reported
her.

Asa loud flourish of trumpets announced that
the Emir and his guests were sitting down to
dinner, Huon presented himself at the outermost
gate of the palace, and demanded admission. That
same hour Oberon was dining in fairyland, when
suddenly he rose and uttered a cry as of pain.

“ Alas!” cried the enchanter, “the brave knight
whom I loved so well is at this moment perjuring
himself basely, and thus deprives me of both the
power and the will to succour him.”

It was too true. Huon had just been asked by
the guard whether he belonged to their.religion,



60 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

this day being a high festival among the Saracens,
in which none might take part who were not
faithful followers of the Prophet. The knight had
thoughtlessly answered “Yes,” and was at once
allowed to enter without further question. But
he no sooner found himself within the precincts of
the palace, than his conscience began to smite
him for having thus spoken a falsehood and
denied his faith. He would have given much to be
able to recall,the words, but it was now too late. He
could only determine not again to be guilty of the
like weakness. And when he had advanced as far
as the second gate, which was closed and guarded
like the first, he drew his sword and called out at
the height of his voice—

“Infidel dogs! I command ye to open to a
Christian knight !”

The guards sprang to their arms. The barrier
bristled with spears and sword-points, and in
another moment a cloud of darts would have been
hurled upon this rash intruder. But the captain
of the guard caught sight of the giant’s ring upon
the stranger’s hand, and called out—

“Forbear ! know ye not the ring of Angoulafre,
to whom our lord owes tribute and homage ?”

Instantly the weapons were lowered, the gate



HUON’S TASK. 61

was flung open, and as the knight passed through,
looking sternly around him, the guards fell upon -
their knees, and the captain, bowing low, conducted
him across a court-yard to the third barrier that
must be passed.

Here Huon bethought him of again trying the
effect of the giant’s ring.

“Behold,” he cried, “the sign before which you
must tremble and fall at my feet!” —

Again the effect was magical. At this gate, as
also at the fourth, he was received with every
mark of profound respect. Then crossing the last
court, Huon made his way into the great hall
where the banquet was being served, and found
himself face to face with the personages upon
whom he was to perform his strange mission.

At the head of the board sat the turbaned Emir
in all his pomp. On his right was the King of
Hircania, a cruel and powerful ruler, of whom all
‘the neighbouring lands stood in dread. On the
left of Gaudisse was his daughter Esclarmonde,
the most beautiful princess of the East, whose fair
face. was pale and her bright eyes red with weep-
ing. Sore against her will, she had just been
betrothed to this hateful king, and in honour of
the betrothal was gathered this brilliant assembly



62 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of the warriors and chiefs both of Babylon and
Hircania, who filled the hall, placed according to
their rank. The King of Hircania was rising to
kiss his destined bride at the moment when
Huon entered, and every eye was turned upon
the knight who, with raised vizor and naked
sword, marched up the hall, and suddenly all
were silent, so that no sound could be heard
but the trampling of his mailed feet, and the
clattering of his scabbard.

The attendants shrank right and left out of
his way, and thus unopposed, Huon reached the
Emir’s seat. Then, before a word was spoken,
he raised his sword, and with one mighty blow
cut off the head of the King of Hircania, and it
rolled at the Emir’s feet. Esclarmonde uttered
a cry. The feasters sprang up in confusion.
Gaudisse, all bespattered by the blood of his
guest, and speechless from surprise, gazed open-
mouthed upon the audacious stranger. What
was his amazement to see him calmly walk up to
the princess, who, half terrified, half rejoiced at
the fate of her unwelcome suitor, stood as if spell-
bound and did not shrink while the handsome
knight stooped and saluted her coral lips once,
twice, thrice before all the bewildered -beholders !



HUON’S TASK. 63

With the last kiss her father found words to
express his feelings.

“Madman! who are you, and in the name of
the Pmphet, what would you here?”

Huon did not concern himself to reply till he
had couxteously bowed to the blushing lady, and
handed her to her seat. Then he turned to the
Emir and said in a clear voice, that could be
heard in the farthest corner of the hall—

“My name is Huon of Bordeaux, and I am
sent hither by Charles the great king to do as I
have done ; and furthermore, to have from thee a
handful of that grizzled beard and four of thy
strongest grinders. Be pleased to do me this
favour without delay.”

“This to my face!” bellowed Gaudisse, stamp-
ing, and choking, and glowing like a live coal.
“My friend! My beard! My daughter! My
grinders! Am I alive to hear such things! Im-
possible! Outrageous! Irreverence! Audacity !
Madness! Never! Ho! my guards, my slaves,
my vassals—”

Suddenly the Emir checked himself as Huon
raised his hand, and displayed the ring of
Angoulafre.

“The ring of my sovereign lord, to whom I owe



64 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

homage and tribute! Stranger, I am bound to
hear the man that bears this token. But speak
the truth. How came you by it, and where last
saw you the mighty Angoulafre ?”

The knight had too well repented of one false-
hood to tell another.

“Pagan, thy sovereign lord is no longer to be
feared even by such as thou! This arm has ended
his wicked life. Think no more of him, but
prepare to obey the commands of my king.”

Angoulafre dead!” exclaimed the Emir, and
now cared not to restrain his wrath. “Then,
robber and murderer and insolent fool, prepare to
meet thy death. My beard and grinders, forsooth !
What next? Cowards, how long will ye suffer him
to insult your prince. Seize him! Bind him!
Off with his head! Tear him in pieces!” °

At the first word, out leaped the scimitars of
the Saracens, and a score of warriors rushed
furiously upon the dauntless knight. He stepped
back quickly and blew his horn, looking round in
confident expectation. But alas! the charm was
broken. The offended enchanter- did not regard
the summons, and the knight must defend himself
with his own good sword. The hall rang with the
clash of weapons, and above all rose the furious



HUON’S TASE. 65

voice of Gaudisse, bidding his men take the
intruder dead or alive. The fair Esclarmonde
clasped her hands and wept to see the fray. The
indignation she should have felt against her
father’s enemy was lost in regard for this daring
youth; and despite of filial duty, she could not but
wish for his escape.

But wishes were in vain, when one stood against
so many. Huon’s shield was covered with darts;
his sword was forced from his hand; the Saracens
rushed in and threw themselves upon him. He
was seized, dragged away, loaded with chains,
and hurled into the Emir’s darkest and deepest
dungeon, with the assurance that he might expect
no better fate than to be flayed alive.

Exhausted from loss of blood, he lay insensible
on the cold stones; and when at last he came to
himself, his condition was most pitiable. He
could scarcely move for pain; the Emir’s dreadful
threats rang in his ears; in all that country he
had no friend to speak a word or shed a tear for
him; and worst of all, it was by his own fault
that, he had come into such misfortune. Bitterly
he reproached himself for the falsehood by which
he had forfeited the favour of Oberon, and but for
which he might now have been reigning a victor



66 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

where he pined as a captive, and might have
sought the hand of that beautiful princess whose
charms had at first sight made such an impression
on his heart.

All night long he was tormented by these
miserable reflections, and the day brought no
ray of light to his gloomy prison. He began to
feel the want of food; his magic goblet as well as
his horn had been torn from him in the struggle,
and no one had come near him since he entered
the dungeon. Was it the intention of his enemies
to reduce his strength by starvation before
bringing him to the torture, that they might
have the satisfaction of seeing a Christian knight
die with unmanly weakness? A burning thirst
also distressed him. Thus he passed that day in
anguish of mind and body, thinking sorrowfully
of fair France, and the gallant comrades in arms
that he should never see more. The death of
Charlot was indeed avenged, and his unjust king
might well be satisfied.

At last, towards evening, he heard footsteps
without. The bolts were drawn back; the key
grated in the door of the dungeon. The knight
summoned all his fortitude, and prepared to meet
his executioners. The door opened, and there





HUON’S TASK. 67

appeared a veiled figure bearing in one hand a
lamp, and in the other a basket. Huon strove to
rise, but could not for the weight of his fetters,
The figure advanced slowly towards him; the
veil was drawn back, the lamp raised, and he saw
the pitiful face of Esclarmonde,



VIL

When some weeks had gone by, a stranger
arrived at the court of Babylon, who spoke the
language of the country well, and made believe to
be the heir of one of the great Sultans of the
East. Such a guest the Emir received with open
arms, hoping to find in him a husband for his
daughter to take the place of the King of Hircania.
A great feast was held in his honour; and, as
they sat at dinner, the stranger spoke of the
death of Angoulafre, with which all the country
rang, and asked for news of the Christian knight
who had slain him.

“That knight will do no more murders,” said
Gaudisse grimly. “Long ere this he has starved
in my dungeons.”

“Dead!” exclaimed the stranger in such tones
that Esclarmonde eagerly fixed her eyes upon



68 © THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

him, and caught a meaning in his words that her
father perceived not.

“Ay, dead, and too soon to get all his deserts,”
said the Emir. “Know you not how that madman
came here and how he fared ?”

The stranger was not unaware of Esclarmonde’s
glances, and as her father told his tale at full
length, he, as if thoughtlessly, drew aside his robe,
and let her see a rosary that hung beneath this
disguise. At the sight of it, she started and
blushed, and he knew he had not been deceived.

When the Emir had ended his story, and gone
to sleep, the stranger sought private speech of the
princess, and, as soon as they were alone, he fell
on his knees, crying—“ Lady, tell me the truth, |
for you can and will. I am come to seek out my
dear master, Sir Huon of Bordeaux,”

“You are his faithful squire, Gerasmes, of
whom he has so often spoken to me?”

“Tam no other. But say, does he live?’ Is he
in health? Where may I see him 2”

“Follow me,” replied the princess, and led the
way to a dungeon in an unfrequented part of the
palace. She drew back the bolts, and in another |
moment, the knight and his squire were embrac-

ing each other with mutual joy.



HUON’S TASK, — 69

Soon now Huon’s tale was told, while Esclar-
monde stood by, and in the obscurity it could.
not be seen how her cheeks glowed as she heard
him speak of her part in his deliverance. His
courage, as well as his misfortunes, had so moved
her heart that she could not rest for thinking of
his unhappy lot. Overcoming all scruples, she
persuaded his gaoler to let her visit the prisoner
and supply him with food. The more she saw of
this knight, the more she was grateful to have
been delivered from the hateful King of Hircania,
Deserted by the enchanter, Huon now found him-
self succoured by the powerful magic of love.
She secretly restored to him his goblet and ivory
horn; and when her father ordered the captive ta
be led forth to the most cruel death that could be
devised, she bribed the gaoler to say that he had
already expired of hunger, and in proof to exhibit
the emaciated body of a prisoner who had really
died that very day. The Emir, wrathful to see

his vengeance thus escape him, had the gaoler
executed on the spot, and tried to gratify his
hatred by inflicting all imaginable tortures on the
senseless corpse, which he believed to be that
of his enemy. Esclarmonde shuddered at the
horrors from which she had preserved Huon;



70 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

he now became dearer to her day by day. She was
easily persuaded of the errors of her faith; she
consented to be baptised as soon as possible, and
asked nothing better than to be allowed to fly with
her lover to his native land, abandoning gladly for
his sake her friends, her rank, and her religion.

With the aid of Gerasmes, they now began to
concert measures for escape. It soon seemed that
there was need of haste, for the approach was
announced of the giant Agrapard, the King of
Nubia and brother of Angoulafre, who, the Emir
had no doubt, was coming to seek his daughter's
hand. Lsclarmonde grew pale at the thought,
but Gaudisse exulted in the prospect of such a
match, and forthwith began to look coldly on
Gerasmes. He, without exciting suspicion, took
his leave, and hurried to the sea-coast, where it
was agreed that he should have a vessel in readi-
ness, while Huon and Esclarmonde watched for
the first favourable moment of escape. But now
events took an unexpected turn, which altered all
their plans.



Walls
As Agrapard drew nearer the city, it appeared
that he had come intent on far other thoughts



HUON’S TASK, 71

than those of love. He sent a herald before him
to reproach Gaudisse with having lost a single
day in avenging his brother's death, and to defy
him to mortal combat, or to demand a tribute
which would exhaust his revenues,

The Emir was in despair; vainly through all
his host he sought a warrior bold enough to
accept the challenge of this terrible giant; and
when there seemed to be no hope for him but
in submission, he cursed his gods and shed tears
of rage before his daughter, who seized the
moment to make him regret the loss of the
vanquisher of Angoulafre.

“Ah!” cried the Emir, “I let him starve to
death, and now it repents me to have lost such a
champion. He alone could save me from this
monster. Willingly would I give half my state
to bring him to life!”

“Learn,” said Esclarmonde joyfully, “that he
of whom you speak is not dead.”

“Not dead? But no—I saw his corpse! Do
you mock me, child?”

“Tt was the corpse of another. The brave
knight, Huon, is still alive, and, if you are willing,
will maintain your cause against the giant.”

Gaudisse was astonished, but this was not a



72 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

time to ask questions. He desired that Huon
should be sent for, and was surprised to find him
almost as stout and vigorous as the day on which
he was thrown into chains, This must be ex-
plained when the present danger was overpast;
in the meanwhile, he welcomed the knight, and
declared what was required of him.

“The brother of the giant whom you slew so
gloriously is under our walls, full of threats and
fury. As you conquered Angoulafre, so must you
conquer Agrapard. Go forth, brave youth, and
if you rid me of this foe, I promise to give
you my daughter, and to obey the wishes of your
king.”

Huon replied by demanding his armour. It
was brought forth to him all rusty and battered,
and his sword notched with many a blow. Right
glad was Huon to find himself again harnessed
like a warrior. They brought him the best horse
in the Emir’s stables, and after taking a tender
leave of Esclarmonde, and assuring her father
that there need now be no fear of the giant, he
mounted and rode forth to defy Agrapard without
the walls.

The combat was long and desperate. For hours
Esclarmonde’s heart was torn with anxiety, and







HUON’S TASK. 73
the Emir remained trembling in the middle of
his army, till a great shouting announced the
victory of their champion, and soon Huon ap-
peared leading the humbled giant, bound to his
saddle and covered with blood. He brought him
thus to the feet of the Emir, sitting on the terrace
of the palace, and after he had lovingly embraced
his lady, he turned to her father and said, while
Agrapard was being dragged to the dungeon he
himself had lately left—

“Behold, I have kept my promise. Now it is
for thee to perform thine.”

“My promise?” answered the wily Saracen,
“What promise? Thou art still alive: what ask
ye more ?”

“Emir, the commands of my king are still
unfulfilled. Make haste to give me your teeth
and beard; and moreover, you must renounce the
law of your false prophet, that has taught you
thus to lie.”

“Dog of a Christian, I would perish a thousand
times rather than consent to these insolent de-
mands. Now will I load thee with ten times
heavier chains, from which this time none shall
set thee free,”

Esclarmonde screamed and clung to her father’s
F



74 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

knees, crying for mercy, till she swooned away
from terror. Huon ran to support her, and cried—

“Ungrateful miscreant, as well threaten the
winds! I grant you one moment to obey me, or
else fear my wrath. Say, must I make you feel
my power ?”

“Seize him! Slay him! Back with them both
to the dungeon!” replied Gaudisse, waving his
scimitar and shouting to his men; but he held
back, not caring to measure himself with the
knight who had come from proving his strength
upon Agrapard.

The guards rushed forward. Huon smiled and
drew forth his horn. Rightly he judged that now
the enchanter must be appeased by his repent-
ance and his sufferings. He gave one blast so
loud that all the walls of the palace quivered,
and lo! in a moment Oberon was by his side, and
the ground shook with the trampling of invisible
horses and the tread of marching men.

The Emir’s soldiers could not stand against
such a foe. As they paused and looked round to
ask each other whence came these martial sounds
with which the air was filled, the forces of fairy-
land were upon them, The dwarf waved his
enchanting wand and their arms were struck from



HUON’S TASK, 75

their hands; their leaders were seized and dragged
away before their eyes; horses and men rolled in
the dust; the blood flowed from the wounds of
phantom steel; whole troops were laid low, as
trees by a hurricane; destruction swept through
the ranks like a thunderbolt, and the terror-
stricken host turned to fly in wild confusion,
without being able to see a single one of their
assailants.

Gaudisse beheld this rout of his army with
dismay, but what were his feelings when he found
himself in the grasp of invisible hands, and loaded
with the very chains that he had destined for
Huon! Before he could beg for mercy, the irresis-
tible hands had plucked the beard from his chin;
he opened his mouth to roar in agony, and four of
his largest teeth were torn from his jaws.

“Be this the fate of all cruel and unbelieving
princes!” said Oberon, and gave the beard and the
teeth to Huon. “Take now these tokens; return
to the King of France; salute him from me, and
say that, through my aid and thy own stout heart,
thou hast performed the task, and mayst well be
forgiven. Take, too, this fair lady to be thy bride, ~
and so long as ye are loving and true, Oberon
the Enchanter will be your friend.” .



76 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

VIL.

Huon now found himself master of Babylon,
and resolved to bestow it as a reward upon
his faithful squire. Gaudisse and Agrapard,
he sent to be kept in prison in the tower of
Angoulafre. He loaded the Emir’s treasures
upon camels, and set forth homewards, not
forgetting to take with him the most precious
treasure of all, the fair Esclarmonde. Arriving
at the sea-coast, they embarked in the ship which
Gerasmes had provided, and after many more
perilous adventures, reached the city of Rome.
There Esclarmonde was christened by the Pope
and married to Huon; after which they repaired
to France, and the knight, presenting the tokens
of his success, was in due time restored to the
king’s favour.

Thus ends the ancient, honourable, famous, and
delightful history of Huon of Bordeaux.





Che Pragow of Abhodes.
eee ag Poet ne

g)N the old days when the island of Rhodes
was held by the celebrated brotherhood
of the Knights of St. John, a certain
part of it suffered grievously from the depredations




of a dragon, or, as some say, a gigantic serpent.
The haunt of this monster was a rocky mountain
overhanging a dismal marsh, and crowned by a
chapel to which pilgrims. came from far and near.
Issuing forth every morning and evening out of a
dark cave in the side of the mountain, it not only
made daily havoc among the cattle and horses
that fed round the marsh, but frequently devoured
the luckless country people and pilgrims on their
way to the shrine, who were unable to fly from ©
terror at the very sight of its dreadful fangs, or
fell senseless to the ground, overpowered by the



78 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

venom of its fiery breath. In their distress, the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood sought the
succour of the knights, and one after another, the
bravest and most famous members of the order
went forth against the dragon, and were never
more seen by mortal man. The swords and spears
which had so often scattered the Saracen hosts
were powerless upon the impenetrable scales of
this creature. And when six of his best knights
had thus been lost, the Grand Master gave
command that no other shoultl undertake such
a fatal enterprise.

But in spite of this prohibition, many still
hoped that the slaughter of the dragon might be
achieved, and none more earnestly than Theodore,
a knight of Provence, youngest of the order, who
was as yet untried in arms, but burned to do some
deed of prowess that might emulate the old
glories of his brotherhood. Many a time this
youth watched the dragon from afar, and chafed
against the command which forbad him to try
his maiden sword upon its grisly scales, His
mind was constantly filled with one thought;
by night he dreamed of the combat, and by day
he found no pleasure in life so long as this
monster still ravaged the land. By dint of





THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 79

watching it and considering how it could be
overcome, he conceived a plan by which he
believed that he might be more successful than
his unfortunate companions in arms; and this plan
he long revolved in his breast, communicating it
to no one, lest some better-tried knight should
be chosen to put it in execution. At last he
could no longer restrain his impatient ardour; he
resolved to kill the dragon, or die in the attempt,
disregarding the orders of the Grand Master and
his own oath of obedience. He at once sought
leave to return to his native country, and
obtaining it, embarked for France, where he
retired to his castle and spent three months in
secretly preparing to carry out his plan, which
should bring skill to the aid of courage.

. He found out a ‘cunning artificer, and employed
him to make a wooden figure which should
exactly resemble the dragon in size, colour, and
shape. This done, he procured two bull-dogs
of the best breed, and carefully trained them to
throw themselves upon this figure and hold it fast
with their obstinate fangs, while he exercised his
horse in riding boldly up to it, and when, by a
mechanical contrivance, it was made to rear in
the air, he aimed his lance with firm eye at the



80 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

belly, which, as he had observed, was the only part
of its body unprotected by scales. The very
likeness of the creature was so horrible, that at
first both horse and dogs would turn away from it
in trembling ; but after several efforts, Theodore
was able to bring them to face it, and in time
they became accustomed to the appearance of the
counterfeit monster. When they were thoroughly
practised in the task which he designed for them,
he left home as secretly as he had come, and set
sail for Rhodes with his horse, his dogs, and two
faithful squires.

They landed on the island at nightfall, and
found the country people lamenting the death of
some shepherds, who had that evening been slain
and mangled by the dragon as they were driving
their flocks home from the marsh. Hearing this,
Theodore vowed that another sun should not
set before he had done what in him lay to rid the
country of this pest. Instead of repairing to the
cloister, he took his way up the mountain with
his attendants, and at midnight reached a little
chapel which crowned its summit. While his
squires watched without, he spent the night before
the altar, recommending himself to the favour of
Heaven, and when the dawn began to appear, he



en



THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 81

rose from his knees, and equipped himself for the
combat with a good heart. From head to foot he
was encased in shining steel, over which he wore
a red surcoat, embroidered before and behind with
the silver cross of the order; his sword and spear
were weapons of proof made by the best smith of
his native land. As soon as the beams of the
rising sun touched the mountain, Sir Theodore
sprang upon his gallant steed and rode towards
the haunt of the dragon.

Before long he came in sight of the mouth of
the cave, and the knight was aware of the monster
lying rolled up on the ground as if asleep. At the
hideous sight the hounds began to bay, and the
dragon awoke, uncoiled his scaly folds, and made
the rocks re-echo with its outcry. Then Theodore
turned to his squires and said words that might
be his last— |

“Bide you here and watch. And if I fall,
return home without delay, and let no man know
my fate.”

With this he drove the spurs into his horse,
and rode boldly forward, and the dragon rushed
forth to meet him with dreadful din, shaking the
ground with its tread, and breathing fire and venom
from its gaping jaws. The knight hurled his



82 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“spear. It struck the thick scales and rebounded
as if it were but a twig, Undaunted, he drew his
sword, and urged his steed on. But the poor
beast, terrified by the unaccustomed sound and by
the scorching breath of the dragon, swerved and
turned in spite of all its rider’s efforts. The
monster was upon him; nimbly he leapt from
his saddle, and with his good sword dealt blow
after blow. Alas! it might as well have been a
straw which he held in his hand. With one
stroke of its tail the dragon felled him to the
earth, and the shuddering squires already gave
up their master for lost, while his horse wildly
scoured the plain. But the faithful dogs had not
so ill-learned their lesson. Now they fell upon
the dragon, seized it with their fangs from
beneath, and all its furious struggles and horrible ,
cries could not force them to loose their hold.
The monster, maddened with the pain, reared its
huge body in the air at the same moment that
Theodore recovered himself and rose to his feet.
With all his might he drove his sword to the hilt
in its white belly, unprotected by scales such as
covered its back. The squires uttered an ex-
clamation, and what was their joy to see the
nideous beast sinking on the ground, The point





THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 83

had reached its heart; a deluge of black blood
gushed forth from the wound; the dragon gave one
last scream that men heard and trembled for miles
around; then it fell upon its conqueror, crush-
ing him to the ground with the weight of its
carcass.

The knight’s attendants ran eagerly up, and
hastened to drag their master from beneath the
dragon’s body, which the bull-dogs still held in
their grip. He was stunned and bruised, but
otherwise unhurt. When they had unlaced his
helm and poured water on his face, he came to his
senses, and as soon as his eyes fell on the dead
dragon, no other cordial was needed to bring back
his strength. At last his hope was fulfilled, and
Rhodes was free from this hitherto invulnerable
enemy. Well might the youth be proud of this
deed, which so many old and famous knights had
failed to do!

Scarcely was the dragon dead before rumours
of the conflict began to fly over the island, and
from all sides the people came flocking to learn if
the good news were true. When they saw with
their own eyes that they had no longer anything
to fear from the monster, they could not restrain
their joy for this deliverance, and gratitude



84 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

towards their gallant deliverer. Being rested
and refreshed, Sir Theodore mounted his horse
and rode towards the city, accompanied by an
increasing throng that struggled and pressed to
come near him, and followed by his squires,
drawing the dead body of the dragon behind
them, as a proof of their master’s prowess. When
they drew near the walls, another crowd poured
forth to meet them, eager to see the wondrous
sight and welcome the victor. The whole popula-
tion hurried out of doors to behold his triumphal
entry, and every voice was raised in acclamation
as the young knight rode through the streets, and
made his way among the shouting thousands to
the council chamber in which the knights of the
order were wont to assemble.

Here were already gathered the noble brother-
hood in their black hooded robes, with no other
ornament than crosses of white linen. On either
side of the stern Grand Master they took their
places, and into their presence was brought the
young knight, with a flush on his brow, as the
rejoicing crowd which surged into the hall behind
him, proclaimed his victory and made the vaulted
roof ring with his name, and every eye was fixed
upon him in admiration and pride.



——

THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 85

“Peace!” rang forth the deep voice of the
Grand Master, and in a moment all was still.
“We know your tale. The dragon is slain. ’Tis
well.”

Now the looks of all were turned upon him;
and men waited to hear from his lips what should
be the guerdon of this so fearless champion.

“Rash youth!” spoke the venerable Master,
“thou hast mdeed proved thy courage, but thou
hast transgressed my commands. Say, what is the
highest duty of our sacred order? Knowest thou
to which virtue above all our vows have bound
thee ?”

The blood fled from Theodore’s face as he
replied in a low voice, that thrilled in every ear—
“ Obedience.” |

“Even so. And what must be his doom who
comes proudly to tell us that he has set his vows
at nought ?”

The youth bowed his head, and made no answer.
A murmur ran through the hall, as if imploring
pity. Once more the Grand Master commanded

_ silence with upraised hand, and with knitted brow

and sorrowful voice addressed the offender—
“Thy courage is but that of the infidel; nay, in
this thou art no nobler than the monster thou



86 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

hast slain. In thy own breast dwells the fellest
foe against whom it beseemed thee to make life-
long war. Better that every one of our brethren
should have perished before the dragon, than that
one should have broken the bond by which, on the
holy soil where our Lord gave us the example of
humility, we have been consecrated to serve Him
in conquering our rebellious hearts. He who
forgets his vow and follows his own will in the
hope of vain glory is no longer worthy to be a
soldier of the cross. We spare thy life, which
thou hast not spared at my bidding. But strip
off these sacred emblems, these honourable arms.
Depart to our deepest dungeon, and be thy name
forgotten from this hour.”

All were silent. Many a knight would have
fallen on his knees for mercy to the brave youth,
but none durst question the decree of their chief.
Theodore himself prepared, without a word, to
submit to his sentence. Meekly he disrobed
himself and put off his shining armour. He took
one last look at his sword, still stained with the
dragon’s blood; then laid all before the Grand
Master's feet, and reverently kissing the old man’s
hand, turned to depart from his presence.

With folded arms and downcast looks he moved



l
;
}
:



THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 87

towards the door, and the crowd, murmuring for
pity, made way to let him pass. The Master
followed him with kindling eye, then ere he was
gone, a voice of joy and triumph rang through the
hall.

“Come back, my son! “Tis enough: once
more thou art worthy to wear the cross; thou
hast conquered thyself, and mayst now receive
the honour due to him who has vanquished the
dragon. Take back thy sword that has earned
thee a place henceforth among our bravest and
best.”

Before the eyes of all, the old man fell on the ©
youth’s neck, and embraced him with tears. Now
was Theodore’s triumph fulfilled. His fellow-
knights might crowd round to take his hand and
praise him for his bravery. Once more the people
raised a shout of joy, and his name was on every
lip. The whole city spent the day in feasting
and rejoicing.

Long was that day remembered in Rhodes!
They set up the head of the dragon above the-

_ city gates, where all that came thither might see

and thank heaven for this deliverance. In time
Sir Theodore became himself Grand Master of the
Order, and his age was graced by wisdom as in



88 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

youth he had proved his courage. When he
died, full of years and honours, there was graven
upon his tomb: HERE LIES THE VANQUISHER OF
THE DRAGON.







The Resene of the Queen,

+
+



I,
T was the merry month of May, when the




birds begin to sing among the trees, and
the fresh flowers to spring in the
meadows, and the hearts of all men are blithe and
glad of the coming summer. Early on a bright
morning, while the dew was still on the grass, had
Arthur’s queen, the Lady Guinevere, ridden forth
a-maying, with a goodly company of knights and
ladies all arrayed in green, and four squires, who,
on the points of their spears, held a canopy of
green silk above her head. Gaily they rode
through woods and fields, fearing no harm, for the
land was at peace, and laughed and sang as they
decked themselves with the sweet flowers and the
blossoming boughs. They knew not that the
false knight Sir Meleagance lay in wait for them
G



90 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

with a great company of armed men. Fiercely
had he loved the proud queen, and long had he
watched to steal her away, but he feared King
Arthur, and still more that best of all his knights,
Sir Lancelot of the Lake, who was ever near her
side. Right glad was he now to hear that this
day the queen came abroad, and her peerless
knight stayed at home. Now he vowed he would
seize her by force, and bear her away to his castle,
far among the forests and mountains.
So as the queen and her companions washed
_themselves in the dew, and wove garlands of
flowers, and made merry by the side of a budding
thicket, there suddenly burst upon them ten times
their number of armed men, Sir Meleagance at
the head, who ran to the queen, caught her horse
by the bridle, and would have led her away.
“Traitor!” cried Guinevere in anger and alarm,
“what mean you todo? Bethink thee how thou
art of noble birth, and a knight of the Round
Table, and thou to be about to dishonour it and
the good king that made thee knight! Wouldst
thou shame all knighthood and thyself and me ?”
“Let this be as it may,” said Sir Meleagance;
“wit you well, madam, that I have loved you
many a year, and never till now could I get you





THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. _ 91

at such advantage, therefore I will take you while
I may.” .

Meanwhile, all the queen’s knights had sprung
to horse and drawn their swords, and would have
come. to her aid. But what could they, all un-
armed as they were, do against somany? Gallantly
they fought, while the ladies cried and wrung

their hands; many sore wounds they got and

gave, and would all have died to rescue their
mistress. But she, seeing them bleed, and know-
ing that they must lose their lives to no purpose
in such a fray, was moved by pity, and cried to
Sir Meleagance—

“Slay not my good knights, and we will go
with thee, if thou suffer them not to be hurt; else
I will rather slay myself”

“Madam,” said he, “for your sake they shall be

"led with us to my own castle, and no man shall do

them harm.”

At the queen’s bidding, her knights put up their
swords; but they looked sternly at the traitor, and
feared not to tell him to his face that he set his

_ honour in more jeopardy than their persons.

Meleagance heeded not, but charged his men to
look well that none of the prisoners should escape
to bear news of his evil deed,



92 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

For a little they stayed in this place, while the
hurts of the wounded were dressed, and the queen
- found time to speak a word in the ear of one of
her pages, that rode a swift horse.

“Flee thou,” she whispered, “when thou seest
thy time, and bear this ring to Sir Lancelot of the
Lake, and tell him what has befallen, and pray
him, as he loveth me, to come to my rescue, for
this felon fears none but him. Ride, and spare
not thy horse!”

So the boy watched his time, and suddenly he
struck spurs into his horse’s side, and fled away as
fast as he could. Well guessed Sir Meleagance the
errand on which he had gone. Those of his men
who were best mounted made haste to chase the
bold youth, and shot many arrows after him, but
he outstripped them all, and soon disappeared
in the wood.

The queen’s eyes sparkled with joy as she saw
the safe escape of her messenger.

“ Ah, madam,” said Meleagance, “ye think to
have betrayed me, but I shall take heed to Sir
Lancelot that he come not easily after you.”
With this he gave order to depart without delay,
and on the road he placed a band of archers in
ambush, charging them, that if Sir Lancelot of



THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 93

the Lake came that way, they should shoot his
horse, for they might not hope to overcome the
man himself, so great was the fear of him through-
out all the land. And now that Sir Meleagange
had the queen in his power, he laboured to excuse
himself and to gain her goodwill, not daring to
offend her when he bethought him how her
chosen knight must soon have warning of her peril.
Thus they rode to his castle, and the queen and
her knights held aloof, and would speak no words,
good or bad, to this bold traitor.

Well might he be in dread! Ere the sun was
at its height, the young page, urging his horse
over flood and field, had come to the king’s house,
where sat Lancelot alone of all the knights.
Breathlessly the boy gave the queen’s message
and delivered to him her ring. Eagerly Sir
Lancelot called for his armour.

“Tor ever,’ he said, “am I shamed, if I rescue
not that noble lady from danger and dishonour.”

Then, as he quickly armed himself, the page
told all his tale, how Sir-Meleagance burst upon
them with a hundred men, how the queen’s
knights would have fought to the death, and how
she prayed for their lives and let the traitor bear
her away.



Full Text



Beis”
e.



The Baldwin Library

Ry University
mB a


SUBIR:

i

= WING WO Se Be

f\



«Told! shame upon you,’ he spoke, louking sternly from one to the other; ‘shame
it is to seek your brother s blood for so light a cause.’"—p, 275, The Challenge.


WITH

LANCE AND SWORD

CR

@lb MAales of Elhivalry retold

BY
ASCOTT R. HOPE,

Author of “In Forest and Jungle,” “Ow ihe Wer
_ Path,” &e,

Tx ondon
GALL AND INGLIS, 25 PATERNOSTER SQUARE;
: AND EDINBURGH.
PRINTED
AND BOUND BY
GALL AND INGLIS

LUTTON PLACE
EDINBURGH




CONTENTS,

THe Kyigut or tHE Liox,
Huon’s Task, . .

THe Dragon or RHopES, .
Tue Ruscun oF THE QUEER,

4

RoLaND AND OLIVER, .
FLoricE aND BLANCHEFLOWEBR,
Tur Ransom, . ; ; ;
Tur Son or AMADIS, . 6
THe KNIGHT AND THE ABDOT,
Steet-HEsrr, 6 ' :
THe Demon KniGur,

Tue CHALLENGE, .

PAGE


THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

=.
>

ODhe night of the Pion,



+
cs



L

\HE brave Sir Ewayne had wed a fair



lady, the mistress of goodly castles and



wide lands. To the marriage came
Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and
from far and near the people came to look upon
their great king; so for a week all was feasting
and jollity in the lady’s castle, where the time
was spent in sports, and hunting, and banquets,
such as beseemed these noble guests.

But when a week had passed, the king must
ride forth with his knights against the heathen
who were laying waste a distant part of his realm.
Then, as all the castle rang with the clash of
2 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

armour and the trampling of steeds, Sir Ewayne
drew his new-made wife aside, and took her by the
hand, and spoke gently thus—

“Sweet lady, my life and joy, there is a thing I
would pray thee, for my honour and thine also.”

“Truly, sir, fear not but I will do all your
wish,” said the lady, smiling; but her countenance
changed when her husband told her that she must
give him leave to follow the king.

“Well thou knowest how sad I am to part from
thee, my wife, but think how men will blame me
if I leave all my knighthood, and dwell idly at
home. Nay, what good wife would love her
husband better if he cared only to lie in her arms?
Give me leave, then, to ride forth for a twelve-
month, and win worship in deeds of arms.”

“Toth should I be to grieve thee!” she cried,
though she was sore unwilling to let him go, “I
give my leave; but, Sir Ewayne, promise, by the
love you owe me, to come again ere a twelvemonth
be gone. This is the eve of St. John; look that
you come by this day twelvemonth, for if you
come not by that day, you shall lose my love for
ever.”

“Lady,” said he, kissing her, “if I might have
my will, I would never leave thee, and now nought


THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 3

shall hinder me from keeping the day thou hast
set me. Fear not for my life. The love of thee
will be a charm to strengthen thy true knight
against every foe.” -

Gladly, then, Sir Ewayne let his squire do on
his armour, dinted in many a fray. Lightly he
leaped upon his horse among that band of goodly
knights, while his lady held the king’s stirrup and
bade him good speed. But the tears trickled
down her cheeks, so that all the knights pitied
her as they took farewell; and when her husband
lingered behind to give her one more kiss, she
whispered in his ear, beseeching him again not to
fail to keep his day.

ee th ese

I.

Far rode King Arthur and his knights, and
fiercely warred they with the heathen foe. Sir
Ewayne, as of old, was first in every fight, yet
escaped from all unhurt. When the war was over,
he did not go homewards, for the love of knight-
hood was too strong on him, and too lightly he
forgot the love of his lady; but he rode with his
brothers in arms to jousts and tournaments which,
all over the land, were held in honour of Arthur’s
4 THE OLD TALES Of CHIVALRY.

knights. There many doughty deeds were done,
and Sir Ewayne still bore himself among the
best, and won prizes in all the lists, so that his
fame went forth far and wide.

Thus the twelvemonth passed away, and so
greedy of renown was the knight, that still he
stayed from his lady, and thought not of his word
pledged to her. But, one day, as he feasted at
the king’s table, and the queen spoke to him of
his newly wed wife, he suddenly bethought him
of her last words, and how he had promised to be
with her by a day which was now some time past.
Sorrowful and ashamed, he rose from the table,
and would have saddled his horse to ride home
that hour, so that even yet he might mend his
fault; but before he could take leave of the
king and queen, there came hastily into the hall
a damsel, who knelt before Arthur, and said—

“Sir king, Heaven save thee! My lady greets
thee by me, and the good Sir Lancelot, and the
courteous Sir Gawayne, and all thy knights, save
only one, Sir Ewayne has deceived my lady, and
it were shame to call so false a man a knight.
She weened she had his heart, and truly he made
great boast of his love, but all was treason and
treachery, for now he has broken the term that


THE KNIGHT OF THE LION, 5

was set between them, and thought nothing of
her grief. He cannot be come of noble blood that
so soon forgets his wife who loved him better than
herself! Therefore, unkind and untrue man, she
will see thee no more. Deliver me my lady’s
ring!” With this, she stepped up to Sir Ewayne,
and, as he stood astonished, tore from his hand
the ring which his wife had given him as a token
of her love, hurried from the hall, leaped upon
her palfrey, and went her way without another
word. Neither squire nor groom rode with her,
and no man knew where she had gone.

Sir Ewayne stood still awhile, as overwhelmed by
the news of his lady’s anger, then rushed after the
damsel, and would have followed her on foot. But
nowhere could he see her, for she had ridden into a
great forest. Yet he ceased not to seek her, wander-
ing through the forest, wild with grief, and crying
out angrily against his own folly and forgetfulness.

“Alas for the day I was born! Have I thus
lost my lady? Would, then, that I might die!” he
cried loud and often, and in his despair tore up
the trees, and broke his sword against the rocks,
till, breathless and exhausted, he fell on the grass,
He rose again, and again fury took him, and now
he threw away his armour, helmet and shield and
6 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

mail of proof, rent his vest and shirt to shreds,
flung them to the winds, running naked like a
wild beast through the deepest thickets. His
men sought him far and near, but found only his
armour, which they brought back to the king,
and took their master for dead. The news went
abroad, and all men mourned for the brave Sir
Ewayne, and his lady most of all, for she repented
of her anger when she knew that he had lost his
wits for sorrow and love of her.

1

Til.

But Ewayne was alive in the forest, sleeping on
the bare ground, and living on roots and berries.
His madness waxed greater from day to day.
Once he came upon a savage hunting in the
woods; he wrested his bow and arrows from him,
and was gone before the savage could raise his
club. Henceforth he was able to kill wild beasts,
and have raw flesh for his daily food, and drink
warm blood. Still he fled the sight of all men;
his hair and nails grew; he was frightful to behold,
as he wandered about, murmuring to himself the
name of his wife, and from time to time taken by
a fit of fury, in which he would tear up all around






THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 7

him, and try to dash himself to pieces upon
the rocks. To such a plight had this good
knight come, who was once in so great honour
and renown.

Save himself, the only dweller in this forest was
a hermit, who had built a little cell in the midst
of a bushy glade. When the hermit saw this
naked man armed with a bow and arrows, he fled
hastily into his cell. But soon he knew Ewayne
for a madman, and took pity on him, and set barley
bread and water out at the window of his hermi-
tage for him. Ewayne’s wits were not so far gone
but that he knew the hermit meant kindly by
him, and every day he would steal up to take the
food thus provided, though. he never saw or spoke
with the holy man. Every day, too, he would
leave in return at the door of the cell the carcass
of a deer or some other beast which he had killed; _
and when he was gone, the hermit would bring it
in, and cook the venison, and set out part of that
also for the hunter. Thus both of them fared
better for this friendship, yet neither of them
knew so much as the others name. But from
Ewayne’s looks and bearing, and from the scars
of his wounds, the hermit believed him to be a

gentle knight, from whom some great sorrow had
8 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY. .

taken away his wits fora time. Then he carried
the skins of the slain beasts to the nearest town,
and sold them, and with the money bought clothes
and arms, such as beseemed a knight, and
medicines, for this hermit was skilled in heal-
ing, and hoped yet to cure the wild man of his
madness,

So a year went by, and Ewayne still dwelt in
the forest, and but for the old man’s kindness,
would have led the life of the beasts. But now
his fury was passed away; he began to bethink
him who he was, and to remember what had gone
before. Now he lay for hours on the ground
sighing and weeping. His sorrow became so
great that he cared not to eat, and he could no
longer hunt for food. His strength left him; often
he swooned away; he desired nothing but to die.
The hermit always left out bread and water for
him, but the poor man seldom came for them now.
At last, when seven days had passed, and the
food was untouched, the good hermit began to
fear that he was dead, and set out one morning
through the forest in search of him.

Before long, he came upon Ewayne lying under
a tree, all pale and worn and senseless. But his
heart still beat, and the good old man made haste






THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 9

tohelp him. He ran to his hermitage, and quickly
brought back the clothes and arms which he had
provided. These he laid by the side of the
sleeping knight, then anointed his body above the
heart with a precious ointment, of which the
virtues were known to him alone. This done, he
stole away and left Ewayne still sleeping.

When the sun came to noon, and its beams fell
on his face, he awoke, and rose, and was astonished ;
for lo! his sickness and his madness had left him,
and he stood up a whole man, in mind and body,
though how he came by this cure he knew not.
And there lay at his side clothes, and armour, and
a good sword, such as he had cast away from him
in his frenzy a year ago. That year now seemed
nothing but a frightful dream; and yet, as Ewayne
beheld himself in a clear fountain hard by, he
knew that he had, indeed, been living like a savage
man, and feared that all would fly from the sight
of him. He bathed himself in the fountain, and
though at first he was too weak to stand upright,
he was soon able to put on the clothes and the
armour, and found that he could still draw a
sword, Then he knelt and thanked Heaven for
this deliverance, and vowed never to use this sword
save te succour the helpless and the oppressed.
10 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

IV.
Slowly he now took his way through the forest,
_ stiff of limb and heavy of heart; and though his
madness had passed away, thought ever with
sorrow on the lady whose love he had lost. Thus
many an hour and many a mile he wandered, but
“met no living thing. But towards evening he
heard a dreadful noise in a thicket close at hand,
and when he hastened thither by the nearest way,
he saw a fearsome sight. A lion and a dragon
were struggling together with all the fury of their
kind. The dragon, breathing out fire from its
nostrils, twining round the body of its enemy, and
driving its fangs deep into the flesh, had almost
slain the lion, when Sir Ewayne, moved by his
knighthood to take the part of the weaker, ran up
to the rescue. He held his shield before his face
to keep off the monster’s fiery breath; he raised
his sword; for a moment the old might came back
to his arm; and with one stroke he clave the
dragon’s body in two. The lion, thus set free,
rose to its feet, and shook its bloody mane, and
roared so that all the forest echoed back the sound.
Quickly Ewayne stood upon his guard, for he
thought he must now have to do with this other
HE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 1i
fierce beast. But the lion had no mind to assail
its preserver; it crept up to him, crouching on
the ground, fawning upon him, and licking his
feet, and in all ways tried to let the knight know
its gratitude. Ewayne spoke kindly to the beast,
and dressed its wounds as best he could. Then,
when he went on his way, the lion would not leave
him, but followed or strode by his side. Soon it
came to understand his commands, and obey his
voice like a dog. Never knight bad such a faith-
ful friend as this savage creature.

At nightfall, when they halted, Ewayne broke
down boughs, and made a rude lodge in which to
pass the night. Meanwhile the lion went a little
way off and killed a deer, the carcass of which it
brought to its master, who with flint and steel lit
a fire of moss and dry branches, and on a spit
roasted the flesh for supper. But not a morsel
would the lion touch till the knight had eaten;
and when, after this simple meal, he lay down to
sleep with his head upon his shield, the grateful
beast prowled round, and spent the night in
watching over its preserver.

Next morning, Ewayne rose betimes and set
forward, knowing not nor heeding where he went,

till at evening, as before, the lion brought him his
B


12 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

prey, and they supped together and spent the
night. Many days thus he journeyed on, with
_the lion by his side, through this great forest, and
at last came upon a wide plain of rich meadows,
in the midst of which stood a many-towered castle.
Towards this the knight took his way, and reached
_ the gate at sunset.

Men came out and let down the drawbridge, but
suddenly they fled at the sight of the strange
squire which Ewayne had with him. And the
porter said— F

“Sir it behoves thee to leave that beast with-
out.”

“Nay,” replied Ewayne, “my lion and I are not
to be parted, we must either come in together, or
else will go hence.”

The porter still grumbled, but then came up
the lord of the castle, who bade that Ewayne
and his lion should be both admitted, and hastened
to meet and welcome his guest.

The knight was now courteously led into a
chamber, where the ladies of the castle unarmed
him, and brought him clothes of rich silk, and
showed him all kindness. But to Sir Ewayne it
seemed that they were sad at heart, though they
tried to look glad of his coming. When he came








THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 13

into the hall and supper was served, he still might
see that some affliction had fallen upon all the
inhabitants of the castle. His host made a fair
show for his sake, but he could scarcely speak for
sorrow, and the ladies would ever and again break
out weeping and sighing as they waited on him,
and none eat a morsel from the plenteous board.
The knight wondered greatly, and when supper
was done, he asked the lord of the castle the cuuse
of their trouble.

“Sir, if it is your will, 1 would fain know why
you make such ill cheer.”

“Alas !” was the answer, “we would make joy, as
becomes us, since we have you as our guest; but
we cannot but grieve when we think of what shall
be done to-morrow. Know that in this country
dwells a proud and cruel giant, by name Harpins
of the Mountain, who is the terror of our lives,
for no man here living can say him nay. And
oh, sir! I had four goodly sons that he has taken
prisoner, as they strove to rid the land of such a
pest. Two of them he has slain before my eyes,
and each day another is to be put to death, unless
I deliver him my daughter. Because she would
not be his wife, he has sworn to marry her to the
meanest of his servants, so morning by morning




14 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

he comes before my castle demanding her, and I
must see all my children undone, unless I can find
a champion to fight this monster. What wonder,
then, if we be full of woe !”

“Methinks it strange,” said Ewayne, when he
had listened to this tale, “that you have not ere
this sought help and counsel from the king. For
in all this wide world there is no man of so great
might, but King Arthur has knights at his Round
Table who would be full glad and willing to meet
with such a man, and try their strength against
him.”

“Sir, I have indeed sent to the king’s court,
but there are no knights there, save the best, who
can stand against this giant. And Sir Lancelot
and all the best knights have gone to rescue the
queen, who has been stolen away, they say, by a
certain felon knight. Till they come back and
bring the queen safe again, I can have no help.”

“Help you shall have!” cried Ewayne. “I
know Sir Lancelot well, and for his sake and the
maiden’s, I will undertake this battle and fight
with the giant, let him come as soon as he will.”

“Heaven reward thee!” prayed the knight, and
the lady of the castle and her daughter came and
knelt before Ewayne, and thanked him with tears


THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 15

and many words. But he declared that no lady
should kneel to him, and raised them up, and
spoke kindly to them, and prayed them to be of good
cheer, for he would avenge them on their oppressor.
Then they and all in the castle took courage, think-
ing that he must be a knight of strength and
renown who had a lion thus at his bidding, and
so blithely promised to meet this great giant.



y

That night Sir Ewayne slept once more upon a
bed, and the lion lay beside, so that no man durst
come near his chamber. In the morning he rose
early, and before he did any other thing, was
going to the chapel of the castle to hear the
service, when a servant came running to say that
the giant was at hand. Allin the castle hurried to’
the walls, and now Sir Ewayne saw a piteous sight
With huge strides the giant came on, a shagey
monster, whose hair hung to his waist, dressed
in bull-skins, and bearing no weapon but a
great club of iron; in his other hand he had a
cruel scourge of ten cords, with which he furi-
ously beat his two captives, as he drove them
before him’ almost naked, half starved with
16 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

cold and hunger, and having their hands bound
behind their backs. At every blow the blood ran
down their defenceless bodies, and their cries were
heard throughout the castle, so that all rued the
fate of these gentle youths, and their father and
mother wept to behold them. Pale and trembling
stood their sister as the giant came beneath the
walls and cried out in the ears of them all—

“Tf thou wilt have thy sons alive, deliver me
that damsel, that I may give her to the foulest
knave that eats my bread.” .

“Fear not,” said Sir Ewayne, as the weeping
ladies did on his armour. “This giant is full
fierce and cruel of his words, but either he shall
kill me, or I will deliver this maiden from the
dread of him; for, certes, it were pity that such
a foul hap should ever befall such a fair lady.”

“Oh, sir!” said the father, “do as you say, and
I will give you this castle and half my land.”

“Nay, Heaven forbid that a true knight should
take reward for succouring a damsel!” said Sir
Ewayne, and bid them let down the drawbridge.

Forth he rushed, with his lion at his heels, while
all the people in the castle fell on their knees to
pray for this gallant knight. When the giant saw
him he gave over lashing his captives, and turned




THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 17

upon their champion with mocking and boastful
words—

“What fiend made thee so bold to come out
against a man like me? Whoever sent thee here
loved thee full little, and shall soon be rid of
thee !”

“Do thy best !” cried Sir Ewayne, and without
more ado hurled his spear so straight and strong,
that it pierced the bull-hide, and sank deep into
the giant’s hairy breast. As the blood gushed out,
the hideous creature gave a roar, and, brandishing
his iron club, rushed upon the knight, as if he
would crush him to the earth. But he deftly
caught the blow upon his shield, and with his
keen sword rained strokes upon the bull-hide,
that could not turn its edge. Cries of surprise,
fear, and pity rose all around. Again and again the
knight seemed to be already a dead man, but ever
he escaped the iron club, and gave back blow for
blow, till all wondered, and said that this could be
no other than Sir Lancelot or Sir Gawayne, who
fought thus against such a foe. But ah! his
strength began to fail him; he struck wildly in
the air ; he stumbled; his shield fell from his hands,
The white maiden on the walls clasped her hands,
and would have cried out, but she could not move


18 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

her lips for terror. The giant gave a shout that
went to every heart, he raised his club, one moment
more and the knight was lost. Then suddenly
the lion raised its head as it saw its master in
such a strait. With a bound and a roar it sprang
upon the giant, and tore his flesh so that the bones
could be seen beneath. In vain he strove to use
his club; the beast leaped aside at every stroke,
and before, behind, on either side, it flew upon
him and mangled him, till he bellowed for pain,
and at last, blinded by the blood which flowed into
his eyes, overreached himself, and fell on the
ground like a heavy tree. Now Sir Ewayne had
recovered himself; he ran up to the fallen monster,
and with one mighty stroke cut off his right arm.
Next moment he drove his good blade into the
wicked heart. The trembling captives wept for
joy. Their sister swooned away upon the walls.
The castle gates were flung open, and all within
ran forth to hail the victor.

Who can tell their joy when they saw their fell
oppressor lie lifeless on the ground! The lord and
lady of the castle fell on the neck of their cham-
pion, and prayed him earnestly to stay with them
and take all that they had for his.

“Nay,” said Sir Ewayne, “I will have nought














“With a bound and a roar the lion sprang upon the giant, In vain he strove to
use his club,”"—p. 18. The Knight of the Lion.




THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 19

of ye but it were a horse, on which to go my way
as becomes a knight.”

“Sir,” said his host, “the best steed in my stalls
is yours freely, but I would give you back what is
dearest of all to me, my daughter, that you have
given to me this day. Well are ye worthy to wed
her, and she is not worthy to be despised by any
in the land.”

“Take it for no despite if I may not wed her
or any other maiden,” answered Ewayne. “She
is indeed fair and gentle, and in all the world
there is no king or emperor or man of so great
honour that he might not gladly have so sweet
a lady for his wife. But I have a wife, and alas!
I have none. Courteous sir, entreat me no
further, but let me go hence.”

“ And if any ask us what knight has done so
doughty a deed, how shall we name thee?”

“Call me the Knight of the Lion,” said Ewayne,
and would tell them no more.

Long they pressed him to stay with them, but
when they saw that his will might not be moved,
they: said farewell, and sent him forth upon.a
gallant steed, fit for such a good knight.

Sir Ewayne gave his horse the rein, and rode
on wherever it bore him, with the faithful lion
20 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

at his side. Well pleased he was to know that
his sword had not forgotten its ancient sharpness;
yet grief ever seized him as he thought of the
lady to whom it should have been devoted.
Was she dead? Was she married again, believing
him dead? He cared not to know, since she
loved him no more. He could do nothing for her
but to obey her request, and never to seek to see
her face, or let her hear his name,



VI.

Before many months had passed, the land
began to ring with the fame of this fearless cham-
pion, who was known only as the Knight of the
Lion. Foul caitiff and cruel tyrant shook at that
name, for well they knew that the oppressed and
helpless had no surer friend. All who were in
misfortune had but to repair to him, and might
then bless the day on which he was born, for they
were not more ready to beseech than he was to
succour, and he fought for no cause in which he
did not conquer. Wherever he went the people
came forth from the towns to greet him, and
when he departed conveyed him out of the gates
with prayers that no harm might befall him,


THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 21

These prayers were as a magic armour, against
which the strongest weapons could not prevail,
and for years this knight passed through all perils
unhurt, and achieved adventures in which all
others had fallen.

“Never have men seen such a knight since the
brave Sir Ewayne was alive,” said King Arthur
among his knights at Camelot, as the news came
thither of fresh exploits done by this stranger.
“Methinks he were well worthy to sit at our
Round Table. Is there none of my knights who
will go forth and find him, and bring him hither,
by force or by his own goodwill ?”

The king’s knights were nowise loth to do his
will, for they were jealous of the fame of the
Knight of the Lion, and eagerly desired to try
their might against him. Sir Lancelot, Sir
Gawayne, and Sir Kay the boaster, all sought this
quest, and Arthur sent forth these three, bidding
them not return without the unknown knight as
courteous friend or vanquished foe.

So these three took divers ways, and rode far
and wide, asking all they met for news of a
knight who led a lion with him wherever he went.
All had heard of this knight; all bore witness
that he helped in word and deed whoever had
22 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

need of him, but no man could say where he
might be found. The three knights rode on by
hill and dale, by castle and town, but still could
hear no tidings of the Knight of the Lion. Yet
Lancelot and Gawayne ceased not to seek him,
Only Sir Kay left the quest, and rode back to tell
the king that this knight must be dead or held
fast in some dungeon.

“But now as he rode, it chanced he met with
him, and perceived by the lion that this was the
knight he sought. Because his vizor was down,
he knew not it was Sir Ewayne, but Ewayne knew
him well for Sir Kay, the steward of the king, who
ever railed at his fellows and boasted himself, but
whose words were greater than his deeds, —

“Hold,. Sir Knight of the Lion!” he cried
loudly. “I have sworn to bring thee to King
Arthur as friend or foe.”

“Sir Steward,” answered Ewayne sadly, “Ihave
no friends, and I am foe to no good man. Have
it as thou wilt.”

“Then sit firm in thy saddle,” said the boasting
knight. “But first send thy lion away, or bind
him, if thou wilt not yield thee. Thyself shall
fight with me alone,”

“Let the lion not make thee aghast. It is






THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 23

neither right nor custom to have aid against a
single knight,” and with that Sir Ewayne bade his
lion lie down, and the faithful beast obeyed him,
nor would it ever move till it saw its master in
danger.

Scant courtesy passed between these knights.
Without more ado, they ran together with their
sharp lances, and at the first onset Sir Ewayne
hurled Sir Kay out of his saddle, and cast him on
the ground a spear’s length behind his horse, and
with such force that his helm smote a foot deep
into the ground. No other harm would he do
him, because he knew him of old, but he left the
steward discomfited on the ground, and thus took
farewell of him—

“Go back to the king and tell him that the

Knight of the Lion is not worthy to be his friend, .

and that knights such as thou, whose boasting
is their chief dishonour, are unworthy to be my
foes.”

He turned his rein and rode away with heavy
heart, leading beside him the horse of the fallen
knight. It was not in him to be proud of such a
victory, and the sight of Sir Kay had set him
thinking of the days gone by, when he fought and
feasted among the princes of Arthur’s court, and
24 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

knew not of the sorrow that should come upon
him. Then all his life was full of pride and joy;
now his only hope was in death, and death came
not to him who was sick of life. At times it
seemed that his madness was about to return
upon him; the best he could look for would be to
die like a wild beast, unknown and unpitied,
bereft of himself as he had been of his wife and
his friends. Then the lion came and licked his
hand, and with tears in his eyes he raised his
head.



VIL

And lo! now, as he looked around, he knew well
the place in which he was. There was a great
leafless thorn tree above a trickling well, and
hard by, a little chapel built upon a rock. It was
under this thorn that first he met his lady many
years ago, it was in this chapel that they had
plighted their troth. At the sight that dauntless
knight grew white and trembled like a woman,
aud overcome with sudden weakness, fell from his
horse. =

He rose to his feet, and wild thoughts rushed
into his mind. In the fall his sword had escaped
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 25

from the sheath. He seized it, he thrust the hilt
into the ground, he placed the point against his
throat, he would have slain himself on the spot,
when a voice of distress reached his ear. In the
chapel there was one weeping and complaining.
Sir Ewayne paused and cried— .

“Who art thou that mournest there ?”

«Ah! well-away!” answered the voice, “I am
the sorriest wight that ever lived, and as yet I
have lived but seven years.”

“Nay,” said the knight, “ by all the saints, there
is no sorrow like mine for seven years past, nor
any wight alive that might make such dole. I
was a man and now am none, nor worthy to be.
seen of men. Once I was a noble knight and
a lord of might and renown; I had knights and
squires in my train, and riches and lands in
plenty, and all I lost through my folly. But the
greatest sorrow is yet to tell: I lost my lady
that was full dear to me, and that loved me better
than her life. I have nought to do but to slay
myself by whom I was undone.”

“ Alas! mine is a more sorrowful case. I am
but a little maiden seven years old, my father,
they. say, died before I was born, and left my

mother in grief and fear. Many strong lords
9
26 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

have sought her to wife, yet, though she lived
alone with none to protect her, she ever sent
them away and wept for her own good knight
who is dead these seven years. Ah, sir! there is
a felon knight called Sir Salados who dwells near
at hand, and of whom all this country is in dread.
He has sore vexed my mother, and has robbed her
of all her lands when she would not give them
with her good will. And to-day this wicked
knight came at the hour of prime, and has taken
her captive in her own castle, and there, for she
will not marry him, she must starve in a dungeon,
if I bring not some champion to her succour.
Fain am I to seek the Knight of the Lion, who, as
men say, slew the giant Harpins, and never fails
ladies that are in need; for certain he would
fight this cruel man. But none know where
he may be found, and I am weak and tender of
age, and alas! alas! my mother must die.”

“Nay, dear maiden, she shall not die while I
live!” cried Ewayne, forgetting his own grief at
this pitiful tale, “thank Heaven that has brought
to thee him thou seekest. I am he whom men
call Knight of the Lion, and I will fight this felon
knight while breath is in me. Come forth and
lead me to where he is, and be of good cheer.”
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION, 27

Forth ran the little maiden with a cry of joy,
But on the threshold of the chapel she paused and
shook for fear, and pointed with her hand.

“Ah, see! There he comes riding on a black
horse, and here in this meadow he is wont to defy
all that fear not to try his might!”

Sir Ewayne looked, and saw, riding furiously
towards him on a coal-black steed, a tall knight in
black armour from head to foot, with a black shield
and a black pennon on his lance, and the trappings
of his horse were of black velvet.

«Tis well,” he said, and placed the child upon
Sir Kay’s horse, and bade her not be afraid of the
lion, for it would do no maiden harm, and bade it
watch by her while he dealt with this black knight.
Then he drew tight his girths, took his spear in
hand, leaped into the saddle, and flew forth like an
arrow, crying—

“Ho! Sir Salados, false knight and robber of
ladies, the time is come when thou shalt be well
paid for all thy villainy.”



VIL

The black knight spoke not a word, but, with a
scornful laugh, put his lance in rest and spurred
28 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

upon Ewayne. And now, as they rushed together, -
aloud peal of thunder burst above their heads, and
aheavy storm of rain and hail poured down around
them, so that the knights were almost hid from
sight. With a mighty shock they met midway.”
Both lances splintered to the handle, but neither
was shaken in his seat. Out flew their bright
swords, and deadly were the strokes dealt between
them. It was no Sir Kay with whom the Knight
of the Lion had now to do. Sparks flew from
helmet and hauberk; the armour crashed and
gaped beneath the blows; the blood poured down
upon the field. Still each sat stiffly upon his
horse, and neither would yield a foot; it was a
battle for life or death. Atlast the black knight’s
strokes seemed to wax faint, and Sir Ewayne
gathered all his strength, and smote a blow which
cleft helm and brainpan, and made Sir Salados reel
and give back as if he would have fallen. Fora
moment Ewayne held his hand, deeming that his
foe would beg for mercy; then, of a sudden, the
black knight turned and fled for his life.

With all his main he sped away, and the Knight
of the Lion rode hard behind him, sword in hand.
Like the wind they rode, for now the beaten
knight could see his castle walls, and Ewayne
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 29

would kill his horse but he would take him dead
or alive. The storm raged around them, and the
hail blinded their eyes, but with loosened bridle
and blood-stained spurs they urged their panting
steeds, and swiftly neared the castle gate. And
now the flying craven gains the moat ; three strides
and he has crossed the drawbridge; he is hidden
within the walls. Fast follows Ewayne, heedless
of a warning cry. His good steed bounds forward,
and already he is within the gateway, when with
a clang the portcullis falls from above, smiting
through saddle and horse, shearing the spurs from
the heels of the knight, and by a hair-breadth
leaving him unhurt, but amazed, dismounted, and
alone in the house of his enemy, which was no
other than the house that had once been his.

In all haste he gained his feet and stood on
guard with his back to the gate. But the sword
had almost dropped from his hand when he saw
no one in the courtyard save a lady weeping and
wringing her hands. That lady was his wife, who
seven long years ago had bid him see her no more.

“Alas! alas!” she cried, “what do you here?
This is a den of robbers and murderers into which
you have come, and I am an unhappy lady who
must here lose my life.”
30 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Then I shall lose my own first, for my life is
not so dear to me as thine.”

The voice went to her heart. She looked
earnestly upon the closed vizor of the knight, and
was about to speak, when Sir Salados, all covered
with blood and brandishing a huge axe, burst
forth through a door in the wall, with a band of
armed men at his heels.

Now Sir Ewayne was lost, unless some enchanter
should come to his aid, or he might have wings to
fly. Yet the good knight did not quail. He drew
the lady to him and stood before her with his
sword. On rushed the black knight and his
treacherous rabble. But ere the sharp steel
clashed, a sound was heard that made them hold
and look round in dread.

It was the roar of the lion that now came raging
without the gate, and as it saw its master’s peril,
dashed against the steel bars and tore up the
earth beneath, and with all its might strove to win
to his side. Small wonder that these caitiffs shook
at the sight, and drew back a space.

_ “Would ye fear a caged beast?” cried their
felon lord, and led them once more against Sir
Ewayne.
Alas! what could his single arm do against so
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 31

many. They closed upon him; the lady shrieked
and fell; his sword gleamed like light, and it was
wondrous to see how he stood firm among such
miglity blows. Then, as they bore him down, and
the black knight’s axe was raised above his head,
the crowd gave a cry, and a crash was heard above
the din, for the lion had burst through the bars,
and was among them with bristling mane and
_ open jaws. The heavy blow fell upon its head;
but never struck Sir Salados another stroke.
Hurled to the ground, he lay with his neck broken,
and his craven crew turned and fled on every side,
melted like snow before the hot breath of the lion,
which chased them fiercely into the inner courts
of the castle,

IX,

Breathless but unwounded, Sir Ewayne sprang
to his feet and looked around. He was alone
with the lady, who knelt before him and thanked
him full humbly. He would have spoken, but
his tongue clove to his mouth. Then was heard
the trampling of hoofs without, and two knights
rode up, and the little maiden by their side on
Sir Kay’s horse. Ewayne made clear the entry to
82 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

let them pass, and forthwith he knew them for
Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawayne.

Much they marvelled to see him safe from such
a fray, and fain were they, when the lady had told
the tale, to learn the name of her deliverer.

“Surely,” said Sir Lancelot, “there is no
knight save him of the Lion who could thus
succour a lady; and this knight we have sought
these many days.”

“Ah me!” cried the lady, “there was once
such a knight who took me for his wife. By my
own sinful pride I drove him from me, or else I had
never wanted succour against robbers and traitors.
But all that I have and hope would I give to see
him again for a moment’s space, that I might
pray him to pardon me, and die in peace.”

“Fair lady,’ said Sir Gawayne the courteous,
“that may not be. Thou wert wedded to our
fellow Sir Ewayne, and he is dead these seven
years. Would, indeed, that he were alive!”

“He is alive!” spoke a voice that all knew well
of old. “Sirs, I am he that you seek. Lady, lam
he that you loved.”

He raised his vizor, and, amazed, they saw
Ewayne stand before them. The two knights
made the sign of the cross; the lady gave a cry.
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION. 30

“Oh, my wife, it is your forgiveness that I
should pray for on my knees!”

He could speak no more, and she could not
hear for joy. Each of them would fain be the
first to forgive. They fell upon one another's
necks, and in one kiss forgot all the sorrows of
these seven years,


Huows Cash,

>.
>



I

]) KNIGHT was traversing the dark glades
i} of a Syrian forest, guided only by weird




glimpses of the midnight moon. Sword.
in hand he rode, and cast a wary eye from side to

side, for it was a fearsome place, and he knew not

with what uncouth creatures it might abound.

Suddenly his horse swerved aside from the path,

rearing and trembling for terror, as there glided
forth a strange figure and stood with uplifted

hand on the moonlit sward. Its stature was no

higher than that of a newly weaned child, but the

grey beard and wrinkled brow were those of a
man of fourscore. At the sight of it the traveller

grasped tight his sword and made the sign of the

cross.

“The saints defend us! “Tis Oberon, the prince
34
HUON’S TASK. 35

of fairyland, against whom and his magic arts no
steel forged of man can avail.”

“Nay, Sir Huon of Bordeaux, fear me not,”
spoke the dwarf in mild and benevolent tones, as
if he read his thoughts.

“Thou knowest me, then?”

“ And wish thee well. J have always been the
friend of thy race, and, though unknown to thee,
have watched over thy welfare from the cradle.
Now, I am here to aid thee in the perilous enter-
prise on which thou art bound. Trust me; dis-
mount; and my goodwill shall be proved.”

For a moment the knight hesitated; then he
leaped from his steed. The enchanter waved his
' wand. Instantly the darkness gave place to a
flood of dazzling light, and with the sound of .
entrancing music there sprang up around them,
like vapour, a magnificent palace, such as no king
in Christendom could boast. One moment Sir
Huon stood on the ground damp with dew, and the
cold night wind sighed above his head among bare
- branches; the next he found himself in a lofty
hall, where the walls were of glittering crystal and
the pillars of gold, and the roof was starred with
gems of every hue, that lit up the scene with more
than noonday brilliance. The floor was one carpet
S
ou

6 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of blooming flowers, and upon it stood a table
loaded with sumptuous dishes, at the head of
which Oberon sat ona golden throne, The knight’s
horse was led away, as if by spirits of the air;
unseen hands held before him a jewelled basin of
perfumed water; the same invisible attendants
relieved him of his armour, and threw round him
a robe of embroidered silk. Then, before he had
fully recovered from his amazement, the enchanter
motioned him to a seat by his side, and the
invisible hands served them with meat and drink.
The guest at that banquet had only to form a
wish, and it seemed that a spirit stood beside him
who knew and obeyed his slightest thought.
Oberon did not eat, but while Huon satisfied his
appetite, he pledged him in a cup of wine, and
spoke thus :—

“T have vowed friendship and protection to thy
house; nothing that concerns them is hid from
me. I know the purpose of this journey and the
charge laid upon thee. It is now three months
since, in a chance fray, a good knight slew Charlot,
the king’s envious and, boastful son. The angry
king would have doomed the knight to suffer
death on the spot, but, at the entréaty of the twelve
peers of France, he consented to pardon him on
HUON’S TASK. 87

condition that he performed penance after a
strange fashion. He must ride alone to the
palace of Gaudisse, the Emir of Babylon, and
present himself in the hall while that relentless
miscreant should be sitting at meat among his
vassals and friends. Before speaking a word, he
must cut off the head of whomever he found
sitting at the Emir’s right hand, must then kiss
his fair daughter Esclarmonde thrice, and must
take from Gaudisse a handful of his beard and
four of his great teeth. Having further made the
Emir swear to be tributary to the crown of France,
he is to return with these trophies, or expect no
welcome but a shameful death. Say I not truly,
and art thou not this luckless knight ?”

“Marvellous enchanter, it is even as thou hast
said!” replied Huon. “All thisam I bound to do,
and it is better to die by the swords of the infidels,
than on the gallows!”

“Fear not, Huon, thou shalt not die. The
enterprise has perils that might make a less brave
man turn back, but thou shalt come through all
in triumph, if thou art a worthy son of my friend
thy father, and wilt but accept my aid and obey
my directions.”

“Noble Oberon, I will obey thee in all things,”
38 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

vowed Huon, and the enchanter smiled benig-
nantly, and bringing forth a crystal goblet and an
ivory horn, placed them in his hands.

“Take these gifts, and learn their value. The
goblet will at the wish of any good man fill with
meat or drink; while in the hands of the treach-
erous and base it remains for ever empty. A
barren desert lies before thee, and without this
goblet thou art like to starve by the way. When
assailed by numbers, let this horn be thy defence.
Sound it softly if the danger be slight, and watch
what befalls ; but in utmost need blow loudly, and
I myself will appear with all the host of fairy-
land. Yet remember, these charms serve only
him whose heart is true and his honour pure;
no summons from the coward or the lar will
reach my ear.”

“May I never prove unworthy of thy protec-
tion |”

“Beware, also, of rashness. I foresee too surely
that the hot blood of youth will carry thee into
perils where my aid may be of no avail. Above
all, take heed to shun the tower of Angoulafre,
that ruthless giant of whom all these countries are
in dread. In that tower he maintains himself by
enchantments even stronger than mine, and he
HUON’S TASK, 39

can only be slain by him who wears a coat of
magic mail that he stole from me years ago. It
would be courage thrown away to attack him; do
not attempt it; success is well-nigh impossible.”

“Show me the way to this tower!” was Huon’s
eager reply.

“Said I not well? Thy imprudence is too
strong for my counsels.”

“Nay, friendly enchanter, the imprudence is
thine, to let me know this danger that may be
sought and overcome. If I am destined to leave
my bones in the tower of Angoulafre, so be it;
but it shall never be said that Huon heard of a
perilous achievement and passed it by.”

“Thy task is already a full hard one,” said
Oberon, and sighed to think of the misfortunes
that might yet lie before this gallant knight.

But now the morning began to break, and at
the first beam of the rising sun the enchanted
palace vanished away like a dream, and Huon
found himself again in the heart of the forest.
The fairy prince conducted him to the verge
of it, and gave directions as to the way he
must now take. Then, earnestly repeating his
injunctions, he took leave of him with all good
wishes.
40 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY

IZ.

For several days the road of the adventurous
knight lay across a barren and uninhabited desert,
where he had good cause to know the value of
Oberon’s gifts, for the enchanted goblet never
failed to fill in his hands, and furnished him with
whatever meat and drink he desired.

At last he reached a richer tract of country, and
at evening entered the gates of a large city. There,
as he was looking about for a caravansery in which
to spend the night, a man, who appeared to be
one of the principal inhabitants of the city, came
forth from his house, and invited the stranger to
lodge with him.

Houn gladly accepted this hospitality, and was
richly entertained by his new friend according to
the customs of the East. He did not know the
name of his host, nor why a Saracen should show
him such kindness. But when supper was removed
and the attendants had withdrawn, the master of
the house rose, locked the door, plucked off his
turban and fell on his knees, crying out in good
French—

“Huon, son of my old lord and master, say that
these well-known features have not deceived me!”
HUON’S TASK, 41

“Who are you?” exclaimed Huon, astonished
to hear not only his own language, but the accent
of his native province. “Stay!” he added, re-
membering the warnings of Oberon and minding
to try the sincerity of this man. “Take this
goblet and pledge me in a cup of wine.”

“But it is empty,” said the host, handling the
talisman with a perplexed look. “I would indeed
that it were full!”

Instantly the cup filled to the brim with ruby
wine, and his astonishment was increased.

“Drink without fear, my countryman,” said
Huon, smiling, “Now I know you for an honest
man.”

The pretended Saracen drained the goblet to
the last drop, and when they had embraced each
other, as became good countrymen, he proceeded
to satisfy the curiosity of his guest.

“Know that my name is Gerasmes, and that
my father, the Mayor of Bordeaux, was one of the
most faithful of the retainers of your father’s house.”

“Ha! good Gerasmes, is it thou? Often I have
heard my father speak of you and your family.
But how come you in this city, the name of which
is unknown to me?”

“This is the Saracen city of Tourmont, and you
42 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

will learn with as much surprise as sorrow that
the Sultan who rules over it is no other than
your father’s brother.”

“My uncle! Is it possible ?”

“Hyen so—your own uncle. You have doubt-
less heard tell in your youth that a young brothcr
of my lord your father was carried away by
pirates on the sea-shore, along with all his attend-
ants. Iwas then his page, and I was brought with
him to the shores of the Red Sea, where we were
sold as slaves to Gaudisse, the Emir of Babylon.
This Emir hated the Christians with all his heart,
and, learning your uucle’s high birth, used every
effort to pervert him from his faith. He succeeded
only too well. Your uncle, threatened and tempted,
denied his baptism, and became a follower of the
Prophet. From that moment Gaudisse loaded him
with honours and riches, married him to his own
niece, and appointed him the tributary ruler of
this country.”

“Ah!” cried Huon, “I am indeed amazed and
ashamed! Lead me forthwith to this renegade
uncle. In the presence of a knight of his own
blood, he cannot but blush for the infamous
cowardice that let him abandon the faith of his
fathers.”
HUON’S TASK. 48

“Alas!” replied Gerasmes, “I fear that your
reproaches will not move him. Given up to
pleasures, jealous of a power which he exercises
with unrestrained cruelty, hardened in heart by a
long course of debauchery, he will forget that you
are the son of his brother, and will reply to your
exhortations only by ordering you to be put to
death.”

“No matter! I insist on it that you announce
my arrival to the Sultan, and procure me an inter-
view with him to-morrow morning.”

Gerasmes still endeavoured to shake his resolu-
tion, but it was not to be changed, and the knight
refused to retire to rest till his new friend promised
to doas he desired. At last Gerasmes agreed, upon
one condition.

“Give me leave to follow you wherever you go,
and serve you as your squire, as my father served
your father.”

“Willingly; but first you must know the
dangers that you will share,” said Huon, and re-
lated to him the perilous enterprise on which he
was bound.

“Twice as much should not daunt me!” ex-
claimed Gerasmes. “I can no longer bear to live
among these infidels; already my life is not safe

2
44 THE OLD TALES OF CILIVALRY

here; and I fear no danger while in the service of
such a knight.”

After spending some time in recounting to each
other their several adventures, they retired to rest,
joyful thus to have met, and hoping not soon to
part.

_—

III.

So next morning Gerasmes sought the Sultan,
and informed him of the arrival of his nephew,
Huon of Bordeaux, and of his wish to present
himself at the court.

The Sultan was no less surprised than dis-
pleased at this news. For some moments he
hesitated how to answer; but the baseness of his
soul prompted him to a dissimulation, under cover
of which he might prepare means to rid himself
of this unwelcome kinsman. He knew that
Gerasmes loved too well the Christians and the
house of Bordeaux to aid him in such treachery;
so he feigned great joy at the prospect of being
able to receive the heir of his family, and desired
that Huon might be brought to him at once.
While Gerasmes was absent on this errand, he
sent to assemble his guards, and after giving
some secret orders, went himself to meet his
HUON’S TASK. 45

nephew and present him to the nobles of the
court.

Huon burned with indignation and shame to see
upon his uncle’s brow a rich green turban, crowned
with acrescent of gems. His candid nature would
scarcely suffer him to submit to the hypocritical
embraces which the Sultan lavished upon him.

“Ah, my father!” he murmured to himself,
“what wouldst thou say if thou could behold a
prince of thy race under this hateful disguise ?”

In the hope, however, of finding a favourable
moment to reproach his uncle with his apostasy,
he tried to accept without open disgust the
salutations with which all the court pressed to
receive him. But the Sultan, asif he had divined
the intentions of his nephew, skilfully avoided all
opportunity of private speech. The whole morn-
ing they spent with all the train of courtiers and
attendants in examining the palace and its
gardens; till the hour of dinner sounded, and the
Sultan gave Huon his hand to lead him to the
hall. Now the young man could no longer
restrain his impatience.

“Oh, my uncle!” he whispered in his ear.
“Oh, prince, brother of my father, in what a state
have I the grief and shame to find thee!”
46 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

The Sultan secretly gnashed his teeth; but he
pretended to be moved by this reproach ; he gently

pressed his kinsman’s hand, and replied in the
same tone—

“Silence for the present, dear nephew! To-
morrow morning I will explain all. You do not
know the whole truth.”

Huon, deceived by his uncle’s air, calmed himself
and sat down by his side with a lighter heart.
The muftis, the cadis, and the other officers
of the court took their places; there were also
some dervishes present, upon whom, like a good
Catholic, our knight looked with the greatest
contempt and abhorrence. As for Gerasmes, he
remained without, and kept a watchful eye on
what was doing in the other parts of the palace.
He began to suspect treachery, and his suspicions
were increased when he saw armed men mustering
in the apartments near the hall. But before he
could warn his new master, what he dreaded had
already come about.

At first Huon addressed himself to do honour
to the feast, and eat with the appetite of youth
and a good conscience, All kinds of rich meats
were served to him, but, according to the law of the
Prophet, no wine appeared on the table. So, after
HUON’S TASK, AT

a time, Huon drew from his bosom the magic gob-
let, which, at his wish, was at once filled with red
and sparkling wine. At this sight the Saracens
frowned and stroked their beards, but feigning
not to observe these signs of displeasure, he cour-
teously handed the cup to the Sultan, saying—

“Dear uncle, pledge me in this goblet. It is
excellent wine of your own native province, and
will remind you of your mother’s milk. Take and
drain it!”

The Sultan often drank wine in secret, though
before others he made pretence of conforming to
the precepts of his adopted religion. It was long
since he had tasted the good wine for which his
birthplace was famed; the very name of it made
his mouth water; surely for once he might trans-
gress the law: and, in public as it was, he stretched
out his hand towards the crystal goblet in which
the generous liquor glowed like a heap of rubies.

“Besides,” he thought, to excuse himself, “I
must dissemble ; I must lull his suspicions; this will
give time for my guards to arrive and be ready.”

He received the cup, put it to his lips, and felt
a thrill of delight as he already thought to taste
the delicious flavour, when, lo! it was empty in his
hands, the contents disappearing as if by enchant-
48 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

ment. Huon could not restrain a laugh at the
Sultan’s confusion and disappointment, yet he
drew back from this uncle whose falsity was thus
revealed.

“TInsolent!” cried the Sultan, as soon as
surprise allowed him to speak. “Do you dare
to mock me in the midst of my court? But I
will teach you whether you can defy me with
impunity. Ho! without there!”

And he hurled the goblet at Huon’s head, who,
catching it in his hand, replied by tearing the
Sultan’s jewelled turban from his head, and
trampling it on the floor. The cadis, agas,
dervishes, and muftis rose from the table, uttering
cries of horror at this insult to their faith. At
the same moment, the doors of the hall were
flung open on every side, and a crowd of soldiers
and eunuchs, armed to the teeth, rushed in, and
ran upon the young knight in such haste, that
the foremost of them tripped and fell in a
struggling heap before him.

This gave Huon a moment’s respite. He
stepped back while his assailants were picking
themselves up, and did not even take the trouble
to draw his sword, but brought out the ivory horn
of Oberon, on which he began to blow gently, not
HUON’S TASK, 49

thinking the danger great enough for a louder
summons. Immediately the effects were seen.
At the first soft and melodious notes, every
Saracen stood upright, then fell a-trembling in
all his limbs, and as the sound continued, began,
willy-nilly, to break into a dance. The music of
the horn was heard over all the palace, and every
note thrilled through every limb. The dervishes
whirled themselves into the middle of the hall;
the eunuchs gambolled like kids; their weapons
dropped from the hands of the soldiers, and they
staggered as if they were drunk; the grave muftis
and cadis flung their turbans on the floor, and
spun round among the crowd; even the Sultan
himself, after stamping and wriggling in a vain
effort to maintain his dignity, was forced to caper
with the rest; and soon all the assembly was one
wild reel. Huon, standing at the head of the hall,
blew faster and faster, and the dancers were
hurried round and round with more and more
vehemence. Howling, leaping, tumbling, totter-
ing, skipping, tripping over their long garments,
panting, perspiring, frantically clinging to the
chairs and tables, and even to each other's
beards, dashing their heads against the walls,
kicking their slippers up to the ceiling, raging,
50 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.
crying, entreating, struggling, they whirled on,
and kept up the dance till they could neither
stand nor speak, but still their limbs must jerk
like a child’s toy, of which the enchanter did not
cease to pull the string. At last Huon took pity
on this wretched rout. He suddenly took the
horn from his lips, and in one moment, every
Saracen fell flat on the ground, breathless and
exhausted. ,
Seeing that they were no longer able to do him
harm, the knight made his way through the piles
of helpless bodies, and leaving the palace at his
ease, sought out the house of Gerasmes, where

- that prudent squire had already preceded him,

and was saddling their horses for immediate

departure.



IV.

Before one of the Saracens had recovered
strength to move hand or foot, Huon and
Gerasmes left the city and took the road to
Babylon.. For several days they journeyed on
without meeting any hindrance, and ai last
arrived upon a‘plain in the midst of which a huge
tower reared itself, losing its battlements in the
clouds,


HUON’S TASK. 51

“Tt is the tower of Angoulafre!” cried Huon.

“Do not approach it!” begged Gerasmes, who,
though brave, was not so eager for adventures as
his master. “Call to mind the -warnings of
Oberon. Back, if you love your life!”

But the knight feigned not to hear his squire’s
advice. He was determined to visit this tower,
the appearance of which was indeed appalling and
mysterious, As they drew nearer, they perceived
that the wall was pierced here and there with
deep windows that resembled human eyes, but
through which no human being could be seen.
All without and within was dark, silent, and
threatening. The whole pile was surrounded by a
wide, deep ditch, crossed by a drawbridgé three
feet wide, beyond which was a gate even narrower
than the bridge. The gate was defended by two
tall brazen statues, that whirled round long flails
of the same metal, like the arms of a windmill; so
broad were these flails and so rapid was their
motion, that not even a bird could pass between
them without being crushed to pieces,

The more he saw of this fearsome place, the
more Gerasmes urged his master to hold back
from it. But Huon was only tempted on by these
desperate obstacles, At a little distance from the
52 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

tower, he dismounted, bade his companion remain
with the horses, and advanced alone and on foot
towards the entrance, where hung a great basin of
brass, as large as a shield. He struck it with the
hilt of his sword, and the brass gave forth a deep,
dreadful clang that was echoed throughout the
tower.

“Now we shall see who lives here,” said- Huon
to himself; and a sorrowful cry made him turn
his eyes upwards to the loophole above the gate,
through which he caught a glimpse of the face of
a young and beautiful lady. Before a minute
had passed, the whirling arms of the statues
suddenly ceased their motion, and the lady
appeared at the wicket.

“Rash man, what do you here?” she cried, all
pale and shuddering, as Huon ran lightly across
the drawbridge. “You are but hastening upon
your death.”

“Nay; what harm can await me in the abode
of such a fair one,” said Huon gallantly.

“Alas!” replied she, casting looks of compassion
upon him, “it is not me whom ye have to fear,
but the cruel tyrant who holds me here as his
prisoner.”

“The giant Angoulafre ?”


HUON’S TASK. 53

“No other. At this moment, happily for you,
he sleeps. If he had awakened, you were surely
lost! When I heard the noise you made, I gave
you up for lost; then, perceiving the cross which
adorns your shield, I judged that you must be a
Christian knight, and resolved to save your life if
I could. Now you are warned ; oh, fly while there
is yet time!”

“Noble and beautiful damsel, I have not come
here to fly. And now that I have seen you and
know you to be the captive of this monster, I am
more than ever eager to combat him and deliver
you. But tell me, lady, before I seek the giant,
who are you, and how came you into his
power.”

“Ah! the tale of my misfortunes is soon told,
My name is Sibille. I came with my noble father,
Guerin of Guienne, on a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, and returning thence, would have sailed to
France, where a good knight, nephew of Ogier the
Dane, waited to make me his wife. But a furious
tempest threw us upon this hateful coast;
Angoulafre discovered and attacked us; my father
and all his knights were slain, and I became his
prisoner. For three years have I pined in this
house of horror, and now for the first time I hear
54 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

my native tongue and see the face of a country-
man.”

“Nay, fair Sibille, of a kinsman! Know that I
am Huon of Bordeaux, the eldest son of your father’s
brother, and therefore your cousin, and doubly
bound to deliver you from this wicked giant. -
Lead me to him forthwith, and let me deal with
this robber of ladies!”

“But ah! he is strong and fierce and

”?



“Say no more. Am I not one of the peers of
France ?”

Sibille, scarcely able to suppress her exclama-
tions of joy, no longer delayed to admit this
welcome kinsman; and, walking on tiptoe, led
the way to the chamber from which the monster’s
snoring could be heard all over the tower.

There he lay on his back, a hideous form,
seventeen fect long, with a countenance the
ferocity of which even in sleep would have made
most men shudder. Huon stood over him and
raised his sword; his first impulse was to bury it
to the hilt in the giant’s throat. But he
bethought him that he was a knight, and must
in no case attack an enemy who could not defend
himself. Besides, he fortunately remembered
that this monster could not be slain except by the
a ES eT

HUON’S TASK. 55

man who wore the enchanted coat of mail of
which Oberon had spoken; and, while Angoulafre
still slept heavily, the knight and his cousin

searched for this throughout the tower. It was

soon discovered in a cedar coffer that stood in one
of the next apartments. Huon seized it, put it
on, and was rejoiced to find that it fitted him
marvellously well.

“Now, fair cousin,” he said gaily, “excuse me
if I leave you here for a little. I am going to
awake Angoulafre, and put him to death.”

But it was no easy task to rouse the giant from
his nap. Not till Huon had shaken him, and
struck him, and shouted in his ear, and pulled
his beard, and tweaked his nose, did he begin to
move, and slowly raised his head, gaping aud
rubbing his blood-shot eyes. Then, as he caught
sight of this unexpected visitor, he stared wildly,
and bellowed in a voice that shook all the walls,
and sent Sibille, anxiously watching without, to
her knees,

“Puny creature, what madness has brought you
here to your death? Miserable wretch, tell me
your name before I crush you with one blow,
and you be never more heard of on earth!”

“Odious monster, my name is Huon of Bor-
56 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

deaux, and I am come to punish you for all your
evil deeds. Arm, and prepare for the combat.”

Angoulafre might well be astonished at this
bold language. He regarded the knight with
attention, and was still more astonished to see
him encased in the magic coat of mail.

“By. Mahomet,” he said, “it was generous of
you not to have slain me in my sleep, as you
might well have done. Come: I pardon you; it
would cost me too much trouble to take your life.
Only give me up that armour, and on this
condition I will let you go free and unharmed.”

“Nay, give you up this tower, and the princess
whom you hold captive in it; and sxaoreover,
consent to renounce Mahomet, and to follow me
to the court of the Emir of Babylon, where I
have a certain errand to do; on these conditions
will I spare your life.”

The giant laughed loudly, and made a gesture
of scorn.

“Fool, if I let you go, you could not come at
the Emir of Babylon without my aid. He is my
vassal, and this golden ring betokens the respect
due to me by him and all his. Four gates guard
his palace, each of which will fly open at the
sight of my ring. Without it you cannot hope to


HUON’S TASK. 57

pass. At the first gate, they would cut off your
right hand, at the second your left, at the third
one of your feet, at the fourth another, and when
thus you reached the hall, it would be but a
moment before your head would be shorn from
your shoulders. Be wise, then, take this ring,
_ and return my armour.”

“Ring, and armour, and all that you have is
already mine,” quoth the bold Huon. “We but
waste our time; arm, and let me slay thee without
more to-do.”

Seeing that he could by no persuasion win
back from Huon the enchanted mail, Angoulafre
withdrew to prepare for the combat. In a short
time he returned, covered from head to foot with
massive armour, and wielding a huge scythe in
both his brawny hands,

“Tam ready to fight, if you are ready to die!”
he roared, brandishing this terrific weapon over
Huon’s head. '

“Look to thyself, pagan,” replied Huon, deftly
escaping the blow.

The scythe, swung with all the giant’s strength,
struck against a pillar, and sank into it to the
depth of three feet. Angoulafre made desperate

: efforts to draw it out, but before he could succeed,
E
58 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Huon rushed forward, and cut off both his hands
at the wrists. The giant, uttering a hideous howl
of pain, turned to fly. He hurled himself into
the chamber where the pale Sibille was trembling
for the result of this struggle, but, missing his
footing, fell headlong, and his huge bulk rolled at
her feet. She screamed out; Huon was close at
his heels ; one good blow of the keen sword ended
the cruel monster’s life, and the cousins threw
themselves into each other’s arms.

When Huon had drawn the giant’s ring from
his finger, they hastened to leave this gloomy
abode, and Gerasmes rejoiced to see his master
come back safe To him the knight confided the
care of Sibille, directing him to take her to the
nearest seaport and put her on board a ship bound
for France, while he himself was achieving his
enterprise. So they parted with all good wishes,
and Huon pursued his journey alone with the
ring of Angoulafre, the enchanted coat of mail,
the wonderful goblet and horn, and his own good
sword to be his guide.
HUON’S TASK. 59

Vv.

A few days more brought Huon in sight of the
rich and beautiful city of Babylon, where upon a
high hill rose the marble palace of Gaudisse, the
Emir, or, as he was then called, the Admiral of
that country. Huon was glad to arrive at the end
of this long journey; and when, leaving his horse
at the foot of the hill, he was climbing impatiently

up its steep side, he wondered whether Gaudisse

would easily comply with the requests he had to
make, and if his daughter Esclarmonde were
indeed of such surpassing beauty as fame reported
her.

Asa loud flourish of trumpets announced that
the Emir and his guests were sitting down to
dinner, Huon presented himself at the outermost
gate of the palace, and demanded admission. That
same hour Oberon was dining in fairyland, when
suddenly he rose and uttered a cry as of pain.

“ Alas!” cried the enchanter, “the brave knight
whom I loved so well is at this moment perjuring
himself basely, and thus deprives me of both the
power and the will to succour him.”

It was too true. Huon had just been asked by
the guard whether he belonged to their.religion,
60 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

this day being a high festival among the Saracens,
in which none might take part who were not
faithful followers of the Prophet. The knight had
thoughtlessly answered “Yes,” and was at once
allowed to enter without further question. But
he no sooner found himself within the precincts of
the palace, than his conscience began to smite
him for having thus spoken a falsehood and
denied his faith. He would have given much to be
able to recall,the words, but it was now too late. He
could only determine not again to be guilty of the
like weakness. And when he had advanced as far
as the second gate, which was closed and guarded
like the first, he drew his sword and called out at
the height of his voice—

“Infidel dogs! I command ye to open to a
Christian knight !”

The guards sprang to their arms. The barrier
bristled with spears and sword-points, and in
another moment a cloud of darts would have been
hurled upon this rash intruder. But the captain
of the guard caught sight of the giant’s ring upon
the stranger’s hand, and called out—

“Forbear ! know ye not the ring of Angoulafre,
to whom our lord owes tribute and homage ?”

Instantly the weapons were lowered, the gate
HUON’S TASK. 61

was flung open, and as the knight passed through,
looking sternly around him, the guards fell upon -
their knees, and the captain, bowing low, conducted
him across a court-yard to the third barrier that
must be passed.

Here Huon bethought him of again trying the
effect of the giant’s ring.

“Behold,” he cried, “the sign before which you
must tremble and fall at my feet!” —

Again the effect was magical. At this gate, as
also at the fourth, he was received with every
mark of profound respect. Then crossing the last
court, Huon made his way into the great hall
where the banquet was being served, and found
himself face to face with the personages upon
whom he was to perform his strange mission.

At the head of the board sat the turbaned Emir
in all his pomp. On his right was the King of
Hircania, a cruel and powerful ruler, of whom all
‘the neighbouring lands stood in dread. On the
left of Gaudisse was his daughter Esclarmonde,
the most beautiful princess of the East, whose fair
face. was pale and her bright eyes red with weep-
ing. Sore against her will, she had just been
betrothed to this hateful king, and in honour of
the betrothal was gathered this brilliant assembly
62 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of the warriors and chiefs both of Babylon and
Hircania, who filled the hall, placed according to
their rank. The King of Hircania was rising to
kiss his destined bride at the moment when
Huon entered, and every eye was turned upon
the knight who, with raised vizor and naked
sword, marched up the hall, and suddenly all
were silent, so that no sound could be heard
but the trampling of his mailed feet, and the
clattering of his scabbard.

The attendants shrank right and left out of
his way, and thus unopposed, Huon reached the
Emir’s seat. Then, before a word was spoken,
he raised his sword, and with one mighty blow
cut off the head of the King of Hircania, and it
rolled at the Emir’s feet. Esclarmonde uttered
a cry. The feasters sprang up in confusion.
Gaudisse, all bespattered by the blood of his
guest, and speechless from surprise, gazed open-
mouthed upon the audacious stranger. What
was his amazement to see him calmly walk up to
the princess, who, half terrified, half rejoiced at
the fate of her unwelcome suitor, stood as if spell-
bound and did not shrink while the handsome
knight stooped and saluted her coral lips once,
twice, thrice before all the bewildered -beholders !
HUON’S TASK. 63

With the last kiss her father found words to
express his feelings.

“Madman! who are you, and in the name of
the Pmphet, what would you here?”

Huon did not concern himself to reply till he
had couxteously bowed to the blushing lady, and
handed her to her seat. Then he turned to the
Emir and said in a clear voice, that could be
heard in the farthest corner of the hall—

“My name is Huon of Bordeaux, and I am
sent hither by Charles the great king to do as I
have done ; and furthermore, to have from thee a
handful of that grizzled beard and four of thy
strongest grinders. Be pleased to do me this
favour without delay.”

“This to my face!” bellowed Gaudisse, stamp-
ing, and choking, and glowing like a live coal.
“My friend! My beard! My daughter! My
grinders! Am I alive to hear such things! Im-
possible! Outrageous! Irreverence! Audacity !
Madness! Never! Ho! my guards, my slaves,
my vassals—”

Suddenly the Emir checked himself as Huon
raised his hand, and displayed the ring of
Angoulafre.

“The ring of my sovereign lord, to whom I owe
64 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

homage and tribute! Stranger, I am bound to
hear the man that bears this token. But speak
the truth. How came you by it, and where last
saw you the mighty Angoulafre ?”

The knight had too well repented of one false-
hood to tell another.

“Pagan, thy sovereign lord is no longer to be
feared even by such as thou! This arm has ended
his wicked life. Think no more of him, but
prepare to obey the commands of my king.”

Angoulafre dead!” exclaimed the Emir, and
now cared not to restrain his wrath. “Then,
robber and murderer and insolent fool, prepare to
meet thy death. My beard and grinders, forsooth !
What next? Cowards, how long will ye suffer him
to insult your prince. Seize him! Bind him!
Off with his head! Tear him in pieces!” °

At the first word, out leaped the scimitars of
the Saracens, and a score of warriors rushed
furiously upon the dauntless knight. He stepped
back quickly and blew his horn, looking round in
confident expectation. But alas! the charm was
broken. The offended enchanter- did not regard
the summons, and the knight must defend himself
with his own good sword. The hall rang with the
clash of weapons, and above all rose the furious
HUON’S TASE. 65

voice of Gaudisse, bidding his men take the
intruder dead or alive. The fair Esclarmonde
clasped her hands and wept to see the fray. The
indignation she should have felt against her
father’s enemy was lost in regard for this daring
youth; and despite of filial duty, she could not but
wish for his escape.

But wishes were in vain, when one stood against
so many. Huon’s shield was covered with darts;
his sword was forced from his hand; the Saracens
rushed in and threw themselves upon him. He
was seized, dragged away, loaded with chains,
and hurled into the Emir’s darkest and deepest
dungeon, with the assurance that he might expect
no better fate than to be flayed alive.

Exhausted from loss of blood, he lay insensible
on the cold stones; and when at last he came to
himself, his condition was most pitiable. He
could scarcely move for pain; the Emir’s dreadful
threats rang in his ears; in all that country he
had no friend to speak a word or shed a tear for
him; and worst of all, it was by his own fault
that, he had come into such misfortune. Bitterly
he reproached himself for the falsehood by which
he had forfeited the favour of Oberon, and but for
which he might now have been reigning a victor
66 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

where he pined as a captive, and might have
sought the hand of that beautiful princess whose
charms had at first sight made such an impression
on his heart.

All night long he was tormented by these
miserable reflections, and the day brought no
ray of light to his gloomy prison. He began to
feel the want of food; his magic goblet as well as
his horn had been torn from him in the struggle,
and no one had come near him since he entered
the dungeon. Was it the intention of his enemies
to reduce his strength by starvation before
bringing him to the torture, that they might
have the satisfaction of seeing a Christian knight
die with unmanly weakness? A burning thirst
also distressed him. Thus he passed that day in
anguish of mind and body, thinking sorrowfully
of fair France, and the gallant comrades in arms
that he should never see more. The death of
Charlot was indeed avenged, and his unjust king
might well be satisfied.

At last, towards evening, he heard footsteps
without. The bolts were drawn back; the key
grated in the door of the dungeon. The knight
summoned all his fortitude, and prepared to meet
his executioners. The door opened, and there


HUON’S TASK. 67

appeared a veiled figure bearing in one hand a
lamp, and in the other a basket. Huon strove to
rise, but could not for the weight of his fetters,
The figure advanced slowly towards him; the
veil was drawn back, the lamp raised, and he saw
the pitiful face of Esclarmonde,



VIL

When some weeks had gone by, a stranger
arrived at the court of Babylon, who spoke the
language of the country well, and made believe to
be the heir of one of the great Sultans of the
East. Such a guest the Emir received with open
arms, hoping to find in him a husband for his
daughter to take the place of the King of Hircania.
A great feast was held in his honour; and, as
they sat at dinner, the stranger spoke of the
death of Angoulafre, with which all the country
rang, and asked for news of the Christian knight
who had slain him.

“That knight will do no more murders,” said
Gaudisse grimly. “Long ere this he has starved
in my dungeons.”

“Dead!” exclaimed the stranger in such tones
that Esclarmonde eagerly fixed her eyes upon
68 © THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

him, and caught a meaning in his words that her
father perceived not.

“Ay, dead, and too soon to get all his deserts,”
said the Emir. “Know you not how that madman
came here and how he fared ?”

The stranger was not unaware of Esclarmonde’s
glances, and as her father told his tale at full
length, he, as if thoughtlessly, drew aside his robe,
and let her see a rosary that hung beneath this
disguise. At the sight of it, she started and
blushed, and he knew he had not been deceived.

When the Emir had ended his story, and gone
to sleep, the stranger sought private speech of the
princess, and, as soon as they were alone, he fell
on his knees, crying—“ Lady, tell me the truth, |
for you can and will. I am come to seek out my
dear master, Sir Huon of Bordeaux,”

“You are his faithful squire, Gerasmes, of
whom he has so often spoken to me?”

“Tam no other. But say, does he live?’ Is he
in health? Where may I see him 2”

“Follow me,” replied the princess, and led the
way to a dungeon in an unfrequented part of the
palace. She drew back the bolts, and in another |
moment, the knight and his squire were embrac-

ing each other with mutual joy.
HUON’S TASK, — 69

Soon now Huon’s tale was told, while Esclar-
monde stood by, and in the obscurity it could.
not be seen how her cheeks glowed as she heard
him speak of her part in his deliverance. His
courage, as well as his misfortunes, had so moved
her heart that she could not rest for thinking of
his unhappy lot. Overcoming all scruples, she
persuaded his gaoler to let her visit the prisoner
and supply him with food. The more she saw of
this knight, the more she was grateful to have
been delivered from the hateful King of Hircania,
Deserted by the enchanter, Huon now found him-
self succoured by the powerful magic of love.
She secretly restored to him his goblet and ivory
horn; and when her father ordered the captive ta
be led forth to the most cruel death that could be
devised, she bribed the gaoler to say that he had
already expired of hunger, and in proof to exhibit
the emaciated body of a prisoner who had really
died that very day. The Emir, wrathful to see

his vengeance thus escape him, had the gaoler
executed on the spot, and tried to gratify his
hatred by inflicting all imaginable tortures on the
senseless corpse, which he believed to be that
of his enemy. Esclarmonde shuddered at the
horrors from which she had preserved Huon;
70 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

he now became dearer to her day by day. She was
easily persuaded of the errors of her faith; she
consented to be baptised as soon as possible, and
asked nothing better than to be allowed to fly with
her lover to his native land, abandoning gladly for
his sake her friends, her rank, and her religion.

With the aid of Gerasmes, they now began to
concert measures for escape. It soon seemed that
there was need of haste, for the approach was
announced of the giant Agrapard, the King of
Nubia and brother of Angoulafre, who, the Emir
had no doubt, was coming to seek his daughter's
hand. Lsclarmonde grew pale at the thought,
but Gaudisse exulted in the prospect of such a
match, and forthwith began to look coldly on
Gerasmes. He, without exciting suspicion, took
his leave, and hurried to the sea-coast, where it
was agreed that he should have a vessel in readi-
ness, while Huon and Esclarmonde watched for
the first favourable moment of escape. But now
events took an unexpected turn, which altered all
their plans.



Walls
As Agrapard drew nearer the city, it appeared
that he had come intent on far other thoughts
HUON’S TASK, 71

than those of love. He sent a herald before him
to reproach Gaudisse with having lost a single
day in avenging his brother's death, and to defy
him to mortal combat, or to demand a tribute
which would exhaust his revenues,

The Emir was in despair; vainly through all
his host he sought a warrior bold enough to
accept the challenge of this terrible giant; and
when there seemed to be no hope for him but
in submission, he cursed his gods and shed tears
of rage before his daughter, who seized the
moment to make him regret the loss of the
vanquisher of Angoulafre.

“Ah!” cried the Emir, “I let him starve to
death, and now it repents me to have lost such a
champion. He alone could save me from this
monster. Willingly would I give half my state
to bring him to life!”

“Learn,” said Esclarmonde joyfully, “that he
of whom you speak is not dead.”

“Not dead? But no—I saw his corpse! Do
you mock me, child?”

“Tt was the corpse of another. The brave
knight, Huon, is still alive, and, if you are willing,
will maintain your cause against the giant.”

Gaudisse was astonished, but this was not a
72 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

time to ask questions. He desired that Huon
should be sent for, and was surprised to find him
almost as stout and vigorous as the day on which
he was thrown into chains, This must be ex-
plained when the present danger was overpast;
in the meanwhile, he welcomed the knight, and
declared what was required of him.

“The brother of the giant whom you slew so
gloriously is under our walls, full of threats and
fury. As you conquered Angoulafre, so must you
conquer Agrapard. Go forth, brave youth, and
if you rid me of this foe, I promise to give
you my daughter, and to obey the wishes of your
king.”

Huon replied by demanding his armour. It
was brought forth to him all rusty and battered,
and his sword notched with many a blow. Right
glad was Huon to find himself again harnessed
like a warrior. They brought him the best horse
in the Emir’s stables, and after taking a tender
leave of Esclarmonde, and assuring her father
that there need now be no fear of the giant, he
mounted and rode forth to defy Agrapard without
the walls.

The combat was long and desperate. For hours
Esclarmonde’s heart was torn with anxiety, and




HUON’S TASK. 73
the Emir remained trembling in the middle of
his army, till a great shouting announced the
victory of their champion, and soon Huon ap-
peared leading the humbled giant, bound to his
saddle and covered with blood. He brought him
thus to the feet of the Emir, sitting on the terrace
of the palace, and after he had lovingly embraced
his lady, he turned to her father and said, while
Agrapard was being dragged to the dungeon he
himself had lately left—

“Behold, I have kept my promise. Now it is
for thee to perform thine.”

“My promise?” answered the wily Saracen,
“What promise? Thou art still alive: what ask
ye more ?”

“Emir, the commands of my king are still
unfulfilled. Make haste to give me your teeth
and beard; and moreover, you must renounce the
law of your false prophet, that has taught you
thus to lie.”

“Dog of a Christian, I would perish a thousand
times rather than consent to these insolent de-
mands. Now will I load thee with ten times
heavier chains, from which this time none shall
set thee free,”

Esclarmonde screamed and clung to her father’s
F
74 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

knees, crying for mercy, till she swooned away
from terror. Huon ran to support her, and cried—

“Ungrateful miscreant, as well threaten the
winds! I grant you one moment to obey me, or
else fear my wrath. Say, must I make you feel
my power ?”

“Seize him! Slay him! Back with them both
to the dungeon!” replied Gaudisse, waving his
scimitar and shouting to his men; but he held
back, not caring to measure himself with the
knight who had come from proving his strength
upon Agrapard.

The guards rushed forward. Huon smiled and
drew forth his horn. Rightly he judged that now
the enchanter must be appeased by his repent-
ance and his sufferings. He gave one blast so
loud that all the walls of the palace quivered,
and lo! in a moment Oberon was by his side, and
the ground shook with the trampling of invisible
horses and the tread of marching men.

The Emir’s soldiers could not stand against
such a foe. As they paused and looked round to
ask each other whence came these martial sounds
with which the air was filled, the forces of fairy-
land were upon them, The dwarf waved his
enchanting wand and their arms were struck from
HUON’S TASK, 75

their hands; their leaders were seized and dragged
away before their eyes; horses and men rolled in
the dust; the blood flowed from the wounds of
phantom steel; whole troops were laid low, as
trees by a hurricane; destruction swept through
the ranks like a thunderbolt, and the terror-
stricken host turned to fly in wild confusion,
without being able to see a single one of their
assailants.

Gaudisse beheld this rout of his army with
dismay, but what were his feelings when he found
himself in the grasp of invisible hands, and loaded
with the very chains that he had destined for
Huon! Before he could beg for mercy, the irresis-
tible hands had plucked the beard from his chin;
he opened his mouth to roar in agony, and four of
his largest teeth were torn from his jaws.

“Be this the fate of all cruel and unbelieving
princes!” said Oberon, and gave the beard and the
teeth to Huon. “Take now these tokens; return
to the King of France; salute him from me, and
say that, through my aid and thy own stout heart,
thou hast performed the task, and mayst well be
forgiven. Take, too, this fair lady to be thy bride, ~
and so long as ye are loving and true, Oberon
the Enchanter will be your friend.” .
76 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

VIL.

Huon now found himself master of Babylon,
and resolved to bestow it as a reward upon
his faithful squire. Gaudisse and Agrapard,
he sent to be kept in prison in the tower of
Angoulafre. He loaded the Emir’s treasures
upon camels, and set forth homewards, not
forgetting to take with him the most precious
treasure of all, the fair Esclarmonde. Arriving
at the sea-coast, they embarked in the ship which
Gerasmes had provided, and after many more
perilous adventures, reached the city of Rome.
There Esclarmonde was christened by the Pope
and married to Huon; after which they repaired
to France, and the knight, presenting the tokens
of his success, was in due time restored to the
king’s favour.

Thus ends the ancient, honourable, famous, and
delightful history of Huon of Bordeaux.


Che Pragow of Abhodes.
eee ag Poet ne

g)N the old days when the island of Rhodes
was held by the celebrated brotherhood
of the Knights of St. John, a certain
part of it suffered grievously from the depredations




of a dragon, or, as some say, a gigantic serpent.
The haunt of this monster was a rocky mountain
overhanging a dismal marsh, and crowned by a
chapel to which pilgrims. came from far and near.
Issuing forth every morning and evening out of a
dark cave in the side of the mountain, it not only
made daily havoc among the cattle and horses
that fed round the marsh, but frequently devoured
the luckless country people and pilgrims on their
way to the shrine, who were unable to fly from ©
terror at the very sight of its dreadful fangs, or
fell senseless to the ground, overpowered by the
78 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

venom of its fiery breath. In their distress, the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood sought the
succour of the knights, and one after another, the
bravest and most famous members of the order
went forth against the dragon, and were never
more seen by mortal man. The swords and spears
which had so often scattered the Saracen hosts
were powerless upon the impenetrable scales of
this creature. And when six of his best knights
had thus been lost, the Grand Master gave
command that no other shoultl undertake such
a fatal enterprise.

But in spite of this prohibition, many still
hoped that the slaughter of the dragon might be
achieved, and none more earnestly than Theodore,
a knight of Provence, youngest of the order, who
was as yet untried in arms, but burned to do some
deed of prowess that might emulate the old
glories of his brotherhood. Many a time this
youth watched the dragon from afar, and chafed
against the command which forbad him to try
his maiden sword upon its grisly scales, His
mind was constantly filled with one thought;
by night he dreamed of the combat, and by day
he found no pleasure in life so long as this
monster still ravaged the land. By dint of


THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 79

watching it and considering how it could be
overcome, he conceived a plan by which he
believed that he might be more successful than
his unfortunate companions in arms; and this plan
he long revolved in his breast, communicating it
to no one, lest some better-tried knight should
be chosen to put it in execution. At last he
could no longer restrain his impatient ardour; he
resolved to kill the dragon, or die in the attempt,
disregarding the orders of the Grand Master and
his own oath of obedience. He at once sought
leave to return to his native country, and
obtaining it, embarked for France, where he
retired to his castle and spent three months in
secretly preparing to carry out his plan, which
should bring skill to the aid of courage.

. He found out a ‘cunning artificer, and employed
him to make a wooden figure which should
exactly resemble the dragon in size, colour, and
shape. This done, he procured two bull-dogs
of the best breed, and carefully trained them to
throw themselves upon this figure and hold it fast
with their obstinate fangs, while he exercised his
horse in riding boldly up to it, and when, by a
mechanical contrivance, it was made to rear in
the air, he aimed his lance with firm eye at the
80 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

belly, which, as he had observed, was the only part
of its body unprotected by scales. The very
likeness of the creature was so horrible, that at
first both horse and dogs would turn away from it
in trembling ; but after several efforts, Theodore
was able to bring them to face it, and in time
they became accustomed to the appearance of the
counterfeit monster. When they were thoroughly
practised in the task which he designed for them,
he left home as secretly as he had come, and set
sail for Rhodes with his horse, his dogs, and two
faithful squires.

They landed on the island at nightfall, and
found the country people lamenting the death of
some shepherds, who had that evening been slain
and mangled by the dragon as they were driving
their flocks home from the marsh. Hearing this,
Theodore vowed that another sun should not
set before he had done what in him lay to rid the
country of this pest. Instead of repairing to the
cloister, he took his way up the mountain with
his attendants, and at midnight reached a little
chapel which crowned its summit. While his
squires watched without, he spent the night before
the altar, recommending himself to the favour of
Heaven, and when the dawn began to appear, he
en



THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 81

rose from his knees, and equipped himself for the
combat with a good heart. From head to foot he
was encased in shining steel, over which he wore
a red surcoat, embroidered before and behind with
the silver cross of the order; his sword and spear
were weapons of proof made by the best smith of
his native land. As soon as the beams of the
rising sun touched the mountain, Sir Theodore
sprang upon his gallant steed and rode towards
the haunt of the dragon.

Before long he came in sight of the mouth of
the cave, and the knight was aware of the monster
lying rolled up on the ground as if asleep. At the
hideous sight the hounds began to bay, and the
dragon awoke, uncoiled his scaly folds, and made
the rocks re-echo with its outcry. Then Theodore
turned to his squires and said words that might
be his last— |

“Bide you here and watch. And if I fall,
return home without delay, and let no man know
my fate.”

With this he drove the spurs into his horse,
and rode boldly forward, and the dragon rushed
forth to meet him with dreadful din, shaking the
ground with its tread, and breathing fire and venom
from its gaping jaws. The knight hurled his
82 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“spear. It struck the thick scales and rebounded
as if it were but a twig, Undaunted, he drew his
sword, and urged his steed on. But the poor
beast, terrified by the unaccustomed sound and by
the scorching breath of the dragon, swerved and
turned in spite of all its rider’s efforts. The
monster was upon him; nimbly he leapt from
his saddle, and with his good sword dealt blow
after blow. Alas! it might as well have been a
straw which he held in his hand. With one
stroke of its tail the dragon felled him to the
earth, and the shuddering squires already gave
up their master for lost, while his horse wildly
scoured the plain. But the faithful dogs had not
so ill-learned their lesson. Now they fell upon
the dragon, seized it with their fangs from
beneath, and all its furious struggles and horrible ,
cries could not force them to loose their hold.
The monster, maddened with the pain, reared its
huge body in the air at the same moment that
Theodore recovered himself and rose to his feet.
With all his might he drove his sword to the hilt
in its white belly, unprotected by scales such as
covered its back. The squires uttered an ex-
clamation, and what was their joy to see the
nideous beast sinking on the ground, The point


THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 83

had reached its heart; a deluge of black blood
gushed forth from the wound; the dragon gave one
last scream that men heard and trembled for miles
around; then it fell upon its conqueror, crush-
ing him to the ground with the weight of its
carcass.

The knight’s attendants ran eagerly up, and
hastened to drag their master from beneath the
dragon’s body, which the bull-dogs still held in
their grip. He was stunned and bruised, but
otherwise unhurt. When they had unlaced his
helm and poured water on his face, he came to his
senses, and as soon as his eyes fell on the dead
dragon, no other cordial was needed to bring back
his strength. At last his hope was fulfilled, and
Rhodes was free from this hitherto invulnerable
enemy. Well might the youth be proud of this
deed, which so many old and famous knights had
failed to do!

Scarcely was the dragon dead before rumours
of the conflict began to fly over the island, and
from all sides the people came flocking to learn if
the good news were true. When they saw with
their own eyes that they had no longer anything
to fear from the monster, they could not restrain
their joy for this deliverance, and gratitude
84 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

towards their gallant deliverer. Being rested
and refreshed, Sir Theodore mounted his horse
and rode towards the city, accompanied by an
increasing throng that struggled and pressed to
come near him, and followed by his squires,
drawing the dead body of the dragon behind
them, as a proof of their master’s prowess. When
they drew near the walls, another crowd poured
forth to meet them, eager to see the wondrous
sight and welcome the victor. The whole popula-
tion hurried out of doors to behold his triumphal
entry, and every voice was raised in acclamation
as the young knight rode through the streets, and
made his way among the shouting thousands to
the council chamber in which the knights of the
order were wont to assemble.

Here were already gathered the noble brother-
hood in their black hooded robes, with no other
ornament than crosses of white linen. On either
side of the stern Grand Master they took their
places, and into their presence was brought the
young knight, with a flush on his brow, as the
rejoicing crowd which surged into the hall behind
him, proclaimed his victory and made the vaulted
roof ring with his name, and every eye was fixed
upon him in admiration and pride.
——

THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 85

“Peace!” rang forth the deep voice of the
Grand Master, and in a moment all was still.
“We know your tale. The dragon is slain. ’Tis
well.”

Now the looks of all were turned upon him;
and men waited to hear from his lips what should
be the guerdon of this so fearless champion.

“Rash youth!” spoke the venerable Master,
“thou hast mdeed proved thy courage, but thou
hast transgressed my commands. Say, what is the
highest duty of our sacred order? Knowest thou
to which virtue above all our vows have bound
thee ?”

The blood fled from Theodore’s face as he
replied in a low voice, that thrilled in every ear—
“ Obedience.” |

“Even so. And what must be his doom who
comes proudly to tell us that he has set his vows
at nought ?”

The youth bowed his head, and made no answer.
A murmur ran through the hall, as if imploring
pity. Once more the Grand Master commanded

_ silence with upraised hand, and with knitted brow

and sorrowful voice addressed the offender—
“Thy courage is but that of the infidel; nay, in
this thou art no nobler than the monster thou
86 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

hast slain. In thy own breast dwells the fellest
foe against whom it beseemed thee to make life-
long war. Better that every one of our brethren
should have perished before the dragon, than that
one should have broken the bond by which, on the
holy soil where our Lord gave us the example of
humility, we have been consecrated to serve Him
in conquering our rebellious hearts. He who
forgets his vow and follows his own will in the
hope of vain glory is no longer worthy to be a
soldier of the cross. We spare thy life, which
thou hast not spared at my bidding. But strip
off these sacred emblems, these honourable arms.
Depart to our deepest dungeon, and be thy name
forgotten from this hour.”

All were silent. Many a knight would have
fallen on his knees for mercy to the brave youth,
but none durst question the decree of their chief.
Theodore himself prepared, without a word, to
submit to his sentence. Meekly he disrobed
himself and put off his shining armour. He took
one last look at his sword, still stained with the
dragon’s blood; then laid all before the Grand
Master's feet, and reverently kissing the old man’s
hand, turned to depart from his presence.

With folded arms and downcast looks he moved
l
;
}
:



THE DRAGON OF RHODES. 87

towards the door, and the crowd, murmuring for
pity, made way to let him pass. The Master
followed him with kindling eye, then ere he was
gone, a voice of joy and triumph rang through the
hall.

“Come back, my son! “Tis enough: once
more thou art worthy to wear the cross; thou
hast conquered thyself, and mayst now receive
the honour due to him who has vanquished the
dragon. Take back thy sword that has earned
thee a place henceforth among our bravest and
best.”

Before the eyes of all, the old man fell on the ©
youth’s neck, and embraced him with tears. Now
was Theodore’s triumph fulfilled. His fellow-
knights might crowd round to take his hand and
praise him for his bravery. Once more the people
raised a shout of joy, and his name was on every
lip. The whole city spent the day in feasting
and rejoicing.

Long was that day remembered in Rhodes!
They set up the head of the dragon above the-

_ city gates, where all that came thither might see

and thank heaven for this deliverance. In time
Sir Theodore became himself Grand Master of the
Order, and his age was graced by wisdom as in
88 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

youth he had proved his courage. When he
died, full of years and honours, there was graven
upon his tomb: HERE LIES THE VANQUISHER OF
THE DRAGON.




The Resene of the Queen,

+
+



I,
T was the merry month of May, when the




birds begin to sing among the trees, and
the fresh flowers to spring in the
meadows, and the hearts of all men are blithe and
glad of the coming summer. Early on a bright
morning, while the dew was still on the grass, had
Arthur’s queen, the Lady Guinevere, ridden forth
a-maying, with a goodly company of knights and
ladies all arrayed in green, and four squires, who,
on the points of their spears, held a canopy of
green silk above her head. Gaily they rode
through woods and fields, fearing no harm, for the
land was at peace, and laughed and sang as they
decked themselves with the sweet flowers and the
blossoming boughs. They knew not that the
false knight Sir Meleagance lay in wait for them
G
90 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

with a great company of armed men. Fiercely
had he loved the proud queen, and long had he
watched to steal her away, but he feared King
Arthur, and still more that best of all his knights,
Sir Lancelot of the Lake, who was ever near her
side. Right glad was he now to hear that this
day the queen came abroad, and her peerless
knight stayed at home. Now he vowed he would
seize her by force, and bear her away to his castle,
far among the forests and mountains.
So as the queen and her companions washed
_themselves in the dew, and wove garlands of
flowers, and made merry by the side of a budding
thicket, there suddenly burst upon them ten times
their number of armed men, Sir Meleagance at
the head, who ran to the queen, caught her horse
by the bridle, and would have led her away.
“Traitor!” cried Guinevere in anger and alarm,
“what mean you todo? Bethink thee how thou
art of noble birth, and a knight of the Round
Table, and thou to be about to dishonour it and
the good king that made thee knight! Wouldst
thou shame all knighthood and thyself and me ?”
“Let this be as it may,” said Sir Meleagance;
“wit you well, madam, that I have loved you
many a year, and never till now could I get you


THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. _ 91

at such advantage, therefore I will take you while
I may.” .

Meanwhile, all the queen’s knights had sprung
to horse and drawn their swords, and would have
come. to her aid. But what could they, all un-
armed as they were, do against somany? Gallantly
they fought, while the ladies cried and wrung

their hands; many sore wounds they got and

gave, and would all have died to rescue their
mistress. But she, seeing them bleed, and know-
ing that they must lose their lives to no purpose
in such a fray, was moved by pity, and cried to
Sir Meleagance—

“Slay not my good knights, and we will go
with thee, if thou suffer them not to be hurt; else
I will rather slay myself”

“Madam,” said he, “for your sake they shall be

"led with us to my own castle, and no man shall do

them harm.”

At the queen’s bidding, her knights put up their
swords; but they looked sternly at the traitor, and
feared not to tell him to his face that he set his

_ honour in more jeopardy than their persons.

Meleagance heeded not, but charged his men to
look well that none of the prisoners should escape
to bear news of his evil deed,
92 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

For a little they stayed in this place, while the
hurts of the wounded were dressed, and the queen
- found time to speak a word in the ear of one of
her pages, that rode a swift horse.

“Flee thou,” she whispered, “when thou seest
thy time, and bear this ring to Sir Lancelot of the
Lake, and tell him what has befallen, and pray
him, as he loveth me, to come to my rescue, for
this felon fears none but him. Ride, and spare
not thy horse!”

So the boy watched his time, and suddenly he
struck spurs into his horse’s side, and fled away as
fast as he could. Well guessed Sir Meleagance the
errand on which he had gone. Those of his men
who were best mounted made haste to chase the
bold youth, and shot many arrows after him, but
he outstripped them all, and soon disappeared
in the wood.

The queen’s eyes sparkled with joy as she saw
the safe escape of her messenger.

“ Ah, madam,” said Meleagance, “ye think to
have betrayed me, but I shall take heed to Sir
Lancelot that he come not easily after you.”
With this he gave order to depart without delay,
and on the road he placed a band of archers in
ambush, charging them, that if Sir Lancelot of
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 93

the Lake came that way, they should shoot his
horse, for they might not hope to overcome the
man himself, so great was the fear of him through-
out all the land. And now that Sir Meleagange
had the queen in his power, he laboured to excuse
himself and to gain her goodwill, not daring to
offend her when he bethought him how her
chosen knight must soon have warning of her peril.
Thus they rode to his castle, and the queen and
her knights held aloof, and would speak no words,
good or bad, to this bold traitor.

Well might he be in dread! Ere the sun was
at its height, the young page, urging his horse
over flood and field, had come to the king’s house,
where sat Lancelot alone of all the knights.
Breathlessly the boy gave the queen’s message
and delivered to him her ring. Eagerly Sir
Lancelot called for his armour.

“Tor ever,’ he said, “am I shamed, if I rescue
not that noble lady from danger and dishonour.”

Then, as he quickly armed himself, the page
told all his tale, how Sir-Meleagance burst upon
them with a hundred men, how the queen’s
knights would have fought to the death, and how
she prayed for their lives and let the traitor bear
her away.
94 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Ah!” cried Sir Lancelot, “I had rather than
a kingdom that I had been there well armed.
But now this felon knight shall hear of me, as I
am a living man, for I will never hold till I come
to his castle, and prove his treachery upon the

head of him and all his.”

' .His good steed was led forth, he girt on his
sharp sword, took his shield and spear in hand,
and rode forth im all haste, with the young page
to guide him on his way.

Swiftly they rode till they came to the meadow
marked by blood and the trampling of horses and
other signs of struggle. Hence a broad track lay
through the wood, which they followed till it led
them to a narrow pass, where of a sudden a band
of archers sprang up and bid them turn back.

“Who are ye that bid a knight of the Round
Table leave his right way?” said Sir Lancelot,
and would have ridden on.

“This way shall ye leave, or else ye shall go it

22

on foot!” was the answer; and with that the
arrows flew out, and both the horses fell sore
wounded on the ground.

“Shame on you!” cried the knight, getting
clear of his horse’s body, and making at them with

his sword. But they ran like deer, and he could
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 95
not come at them for the hedges and ditches that
lay between, so he was fain to return to the path,
angry and discomfited.

“ Alas!” he said, “that ever a knight should
do so treacherously to another; but it is an old
saying, a good man is never in danger but when
he is in danger of a coward. But this, too, Sir
Meleagance, shall be added to thy reckoning.”

The knight and the page must now go, as best
they could, on foot. But Sir Lancelot was
cumbered with his heavy armour, which yet he
durst not leave, if he hoped to overcome the
traitor. Sore annoyed, he strove to press on, and
went slowly through the wood, for he would not
turn back and was too eager to stay while
another horse might be brought him. But as
he chafed and lamented at this mischance, and
by reason of the heat and the weight of his
armour, could scarcely stir farther, there came by
a foul cart driven by a churlish fellow, whom
Lancelot bid hold. |

“Say, carter, what shall I give thee to suffer
_ me to ride in thy cart?”

“Thou shalt not come into my cart, for I am
sent to fetch wood,” replied the churl.

“T pray you, bring me to the nearest castle,”
96 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

said the knight courteously. But the fellow was
still sullen, and refused, so thereupon Lancelot
went up to him and gave him such a buffet that
he fell from the cart, and lay on the earth as if
lead.

Now, in these days it was thought great shame
for a gentle knight to ride in a cart, and felons
only were carried thus to a base death. This Sir
Lancelot heeded little for the nonce, since all his
thought was of the queen’s peril, and nothing of
his own honour. But the young page took it ill
that this great lord whom he followed should wish
to ride in such a mean manner, and he cried—

“ Ah, sir, surely you were shamed for ever if
you rode in this cart, for no knight or squire may
ride thus without disgrace.”

“Boy,” said the knight sternly, “ would ye be my
squire, then know ye this, that no man may be
shamed save by himself. If ye fear disgrace or
danger in this adventure, return when you will
but I must go on as I can, for Sir Lancelot of the
Lake fears no man’s ill word, when he serves his
queen.”

The page hung his head and blushed. And
now the churlish carter came to himself, and
grovelling in terror before the knight, cried—
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 97

“ Fair lord, spare my life, and I will carry you
where you will.”

Sir Lancelot mounted into the cart, and bid
drive on forthwith, and his young squire walked
beside, half doubting if this could be the great
knight whom all men held in such honour.

Slowly they went, jolting and creaking along
the track, and sore troubled was Sir Lancelot
when he thought how the queen was being
carried fast and far away. Many country folk
they met on the road, who stared to see a knight
in full armour standing in a mean cart, and asked
mockingly what he had done that was thus led to
the gallows. At this the boy was angry, and
would have himself chastised their insolence, but
Sir Lancelot bade him hold, for he said a fool’s
scorn could hurt no man but himself.

Thus they fared on, and towards evening the
road brought them before a castle. The boy ran
forward, and sounded the horn that hung at the
gate, at which sound the lady of the castle came
forth with her damsels, and asked who was this
knight that was being carried to be hanged, and
what might be his crime.

“Nay, madam,” declared the page, “this is no
felon, but the most noble knight in the world.”
98 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Ha! ha! A most noble knight; and surely
he is hard bestead when he rides thus uncouthly.”

“Lady,” said Sir Lancelot, “if you would but
look on my shield, you might learn my name, and
I would have you know, that I am bound on a
great errand, and need the succour of all loyal
folk.”

“Thou hast stolen the shield from some good
knight,” cried she, still looking scornfully on him;
and his brow grew stern, but he gently answered—

“Be that as it may, but suffer me and my —
squire to rest here this night.”

“Rest if ye will, but ye shall lie in my kitchen,
and eat with my scullion knaves, and to-morrow
ye may ride on to the gallows, or where you will.”
And with this the lady of the castle turned away
with her damsels, and Sir Lancelot bowed his
head and was silent, for he could speak no hard
words to a lady.

ee

ie

The knight and the youth were left standing in
the court-yard of the castle alone, and knew not
where to bestow themselves. No man came out
to welcome them. The damsels turned away
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 99

‘proudly like their mistress, and for no asking
would make ready a bed for the knight of the
cart. The scullions looked forth from the kitchen,
and mocked at their sorry plight. But Lancelot
still bade his squire not to lose cheer, for thus
must the true follower of arms learn to bear all
things, even to discourtesy, when need were.
Yet he himself was full sorrowful, and ever
thought upon the queen, and how he might
most quickly come up with that wicked traitor.

Then it seemed that the lady of the castle
had changed her thought of them, for as they
stood there tired and abashed, a damsel came
from her and bid them follow, and led them into
a great hall lit with torches of wax and strewn
with fresh rushes, where stood a table spread
with a rich banquet and many vessels of gold and
silver, as became such a stately mansion.

“Be ye welcome,” said the lady, now as cour-
teous as she had before seemed unkind. “ It is
ever joy and pride to us to harbour such a knight
in our castle and give him of our best.”

- The young page looked at her with astonish-
ment, and wondered if this were the same- lady, .
but Lancelot showed no wonder, for he knew the
ways of woman. And she aided him to disarm.
100 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

and with her own hands brought warm water in a
golden basin, and put on him a scarlet mantle,
trimmed with fur, and made him sit beside her
at the table.

Weary and hungry, the knight was glad to
be so well at ease. He sat down by the mistress
of the castle, who, now that she was in kindly
mood, appeared one of the loveliest ladies in the
world. His squire and the damsels served them
with all manner of dainty meats and goblets of
red wine; and while they eat, minstrels sang
and made music in the hall. Lancelot was fain
to think that he had never elsewhere found better
lodging and entertainment. But his heart was
still heavy, so long as the queen was in the power
of her enemies. The lady saw that he was
troubled, and with smiles and laughter and merry
talk, strove to cheer him, but in vain.

When supper was over, she ordered all the
rest to leave them, and when they were alone,
asked her guest why his mood was so sorrowful,
and what adventure this might be which he
pursued so eagerly. Then Lancelot told her how
the queen had been stolen away, and how he
should have ridden night and day till he came up
with her.
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 101

“Truly, Arthur has many another knight to
ride after his queen. And are there no ladies
fairer than she?” said the hostess, looking on
Lancelot with eyes that went to his heart like
strong wine.

“Madam, what would you 2”

“Look upon my face, and say if I am not one
to be loved. See this castle and its wide ‘lands,
of all these thou mayst be lord, if thou wilt but
turn aside from this adventure, and stay with one
who loves thee better than her lands and riches,”

“Nay,” said Lancelot, turning his face from her
bewitching smiles. “My honour, fair maiden, is
dearer to me than life, and I may not leave thig
quest for any lady alive. I have vowed never to
see the king till I bring back Guinevere and
have punished this traitor. Who art thou that
wouldst thus entice me to shame?”

The lady’s face shone with a beauty more than
earthly. A strain of enchanting music was heard,
and a sweet perfume spread the hall. Sir Lan-
celot rose to his feet.

“Who art thou to despise me thus?” cried the
lady, and began to weep, and would have thrown
her arms round his neck.

The knight shook her off. She uttered a cry of
102 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

rage and grief and fled away, and at the same
moment a strong cold wind rushed through the
hall, dashed down the lights, and left all in
darkness.

Lancelot staggered like a drunken man, amazed,
as well he might be, at the customs of this house.
He called loudly for his squire, but no one
answered. He groped in the darkness to find the
door, but in vain. The lady did not return. Not
a voice or a footstep was heard throughout all the
tastle. He seemed to be alone. What should he
do? As he moved about, feeling his way with
his hands, he came upon a couch by the wall, and
sank down, overpowered by weariness. Muttering
a brief prayer, he stretched his limbs upon the
couch, and would have given himself to sleep.

Whether he waked or slept he knew not, nor
how long he lay, but he turned from side to side,
and was troubled with frightful shadows of ill and
a vision as it were of a dark cloud that rested
upon himself and upon the queen, and he would
have fled from it, and could not. Then the cloud
opened, and in his dream he saw a hermitage and
a little chapel full of dead men’s tombs, and before
the altar a lady’s corpse lay upon a black bier,
covered with a white cloth, and a knight knelt by
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 103

and wept sorely and confessed his sins, and his
armour was covered with blood. And he strove
to pray for that knight’s soul, but his tongue clove
to his mouth. Then, as it were, a peal of thunder
deafened all his mind, and he woke and sat up,
with the cold sweat on his brow, and a deathly
chill through his blood.

What did he see? The stately hall of the
castle had become a gloomy prison, where he lay
on the bare earth, loaded with heavy fetters, and
great drops trickled down the wall upon his
shivering body, and snakes and vermin crawled
around in the light of the moon that through the
barred windows fell fearsomely upon the darkness
of this dungeon.

Sir Lancelot held his breath, he struggled to
free his arm, he made the sign of the cross on his
forehead, and putting forth his strength, burst the
chains that held him, and, all bewildered, sprang
to his feet. All was ghostly silence.. Then
suddenly piteous cries burst forth from a chamber
hard by, and the whole castle shook as with the
tread of armed men. The knight grasped his
sword, and ran to the place. The thick wall
parted before him; he sped on, with the screams
for his guide, and by the weird moonlight saw the
104 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

lady of the castle struggling in the arms of a tall
knight, who was dragging her away. With one
blow, Sir Lancelot laid him at his feet. Then
forth rushed six more men in armour, brandishing
great axes, with which they set upon him at once,
while the lady clung to him, and hindered his arm.
Calling shame on them for their cowardice, he
struck about him, and had given them mortal —
wounds, but his sword passed through these grim
forms, as if they had been air, and lo! they were
gone. Astonished, Sir Lancelot looked around and
saw no one; then a mist came before his eyes;
and when it passed away, the whole scene had
vanished like a dream. He was standing in the
clear sunlight, and beside him the lady had taken
her true form, and stood known for the Fairy of the
Lake, his powerful protectress and the guardian
of his youth.

“Thus, Lancelot, has thy worth been tried,”
spoke the voice he knew full well. “Scorn, lust,
and fear, thou hast played the man against them
all, and in this quest there is no mortal foe whom
thou shalt not overcome.”
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 105

Til.

While Lancelot was being aided with succour
and counsel by the Fairy of the Lake, Sir Meleagance
was hurrying on with his prisoners. If horses and
men could have endured, he would have ridden
day and night, so much he feared to be pursued
by Lancelot. And yet the road was so hard and
so long, and so beset with perils, that he trusted
Lancelot might not win safely to the end. The
false knight knew not fully yet with whom he had
to do.

' At the first spot where they halted for the night
the queen left her ivory comb on the grass,
hoping that Lancelot might see it and know
that she had passed that way. Next day, likewise,
she laid a tress of her hair beside a fountain,
which Lancelot failed not to find there and laid
on his heart. And every night thus she left
some token which might guide her deliverer; but
Meleagance knew it not. Often he spoke to the
queen, and would have her listen to his love, but
she only wept, and bid him be sure that this
wrong would be avenged, nor was her heart
moved by all his vows and his promises that she

should be a greater and richer lady than ever she
H
106 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

had been at Arthur’s court. Always she answered
him with grief and anger, till his mood changed,
and he swore it should go ill with this proud lady
when once he had her within his walls, and that
no knight then should be able to rescue her from
his hands.

Many days they rode, and at last came to the
wicked lord’s castle, a great and gloomy pile, fit to
be the home of such a man.

“Here I have brought you, Lady Guinevere,”
said Meleagance mockingly, as the gate opened to
let them enter. “Where is the man that shall

_ bring you out?”

“Alas!” cried the queen, “ye know well to
whom ye speak, but if my lord the king or Sir
Lancelot were here, ye would speak in another
wise; and so ye shall before this your work is
ended.”

“Madam, ye do me wrong, and yourself wrong,
to be so proud,” he said, leading her into the
chamber prepared for her, while the yard of the
castle was yet full of his men and of her wounded
and captive train. “These friends will forget thee,
and thou mayst well forget them; but here thou
shalt dwell in prison till I can have fairer words
for my pains.”
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 107

“What voice is that ?” cried the queen, starting
up and running to the window.

And lo! there was Lancelot already at the gate
—well she knew the shield borne by his squire—
and all the castle rang with his shout—

“Where art thou, Sir Meleagance, false traitor,
and false knight of the Round Table? Now come
forth, for here am IJ, Sir Lancelot of the Lake, to
fight with thee!” And with that he burst open
the gate which the porter would have shut in his
face, and made his way into the court-yard, none
daring to stay him.

Queen Guinevere laughed for joy; but Melea-
gance was sore afraid at the sound of that voice.
Suddenly he fell upon his knees, and said—

“Madam, I put myself into your power. Forgive
me if I have done you wrong.”

“What would you now 2” cried she. ‘In sooth,
I well knew I should not be forgotten by this
good knight.”

“Madam,” pleaded the cowardly traitor, “all
shall be amended as you wish, and I wholly set
- myself at your mercy. Speak to my lord Sir
Lancelot, and bid him hold. Then such cheer as
may be made in this poor castle ye shall have
till morn, and after that ye may all return to the
108 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

king, and myself and all that I have shall be
yours.”

Much and eagerly he spoke to her in the same
wise, and all the time Sir Lancelot stood in the
court with his drawn sword, and kept crying—

«Thou traitor, come forth !”

At last Meleagance came out, and the queen
beside him. Lancelot ran forward to meet the
felon knight, but was amazed to see him shrink
behind the queen, and to hear her speak as if no
wrong had been done—

“Sir Lancelot, why are ye so moved 2”

“Ha, madam, so you ask me that question ?
Meseemeth,” said Lancelot, “ye ought to be more
wroth than I am, for yours is the hurt and
dishonour.”

“Truly,” said the queen, “ye speak the truth,
and heartily I thank you; but ye must come in
with me peaceably, for all is put in my hand, and
all that is evil shall be redressed, since this knight
full sore repenteth him of what he hath done.”

“Madam,” said Lancelot, striving to keep down
his wrath, “since ye have made friends with him,
I may not be against it, though Sir Meleagance
hath done full shamefully and cowardly to me.
Ah, madam, and had I known ye would have so”
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN, 109

soon made friends with him, IT would not have
made such haste unto you!”

“Why say you so? Do you repent yourself of
your own good deeds?” asked Guinevere. “Be
sure that I make friends with Sir Meleagance for
no love or favour I bear him, but to have peace
and no slander.” .

Sternly looked Lancelot towards the traitor, as
he said—

“You know well I never loved slander; but
there is neither man nor woman alive, except my
lord King Arthur and you, madam, that should
hinder me from making that man’s heart full Galle
or ever I departed hence.”

“ Well, do as ye please,” said the queen, looking
hard at Lancelot, but he understood her not.

Now all this she had said, not from womanliness,
as caring to show mercy to Meleagance, but from
wilfulness, desiring to try Sir Lancelot if he would
restrain his wrath at her bidding, and thus to
prove her power over this best of knights. Never
was knight so devoted to a lady’s will, and never
was lady so. unworthy of such a knight.

“Madam,” said he, “so ye be pleased, I care
not,” and without more words, turned to her
knights, and asked them how they did, and told
110 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY. ~

them how basely Meleagance had set archers to
slay his horse, and how he was fain to let himself
be carried in a cart. Then they told him of their
hurts, and murmured against the traitor who had
done them such wrong ; but they spake low because
of the queen, albeit they marvelled that she cared
not to be revenged.

Now, Meleagance seeing Guinevere and her
champion at strife, as he thought, and deeming
that he would yet have to answer to the king,
took this time to make excuse for himself, and
called out loudly, and accused the queen of
shameful deeds, declaring that he would prove her
a traitress to King Arthur.

“That is false!” cried she, with flushed brow
and kindled eyes.

“False!” echoed Lancelot, returning to her
side at the first word of dishonour done to her
name.

“ All this proud language shall not avail you,”
said Meleagance, casting about in his mind for
fresh villainies, when he saw this sword still
ready to defend the honour of the queen. “I will
prove what I say by my hands at fit time and
place.”

« And I will prove thee false!” cried Lancelot,
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 111 -

rushing up to him like a hound let loose, while
the queen fell swooning into the arms of her
damsels.

“Beware what ye do,” said the traitor, and his
sword stayed in its sheath. “Though ye are
never so good a knight, Sir Lancelot, as ye know
well ye are renowned the best knight in the
world, yet should ye fear to do battle in a wrong
quarrel.”

“Look thou to that, for I will prove thee a liar
where and when thou wilt.”

“Hold!” said Meleagance, thinking to gain time
for some treason. “Here is my glove, as a sign
that I will maintain that the queen has been
false to her lord, and I will do battle with thee
this day twelvemonths before the king at Carduel.”

“ And I receive your glove. Be witness, all ye,
that I will meet this felon knight as he desires,
and that he shall pay full dearly for all his
wickedness.”

So spoke Sir Lancelot, with no thought of
treachery, for such men dread not such perils,
holding other men loyal and true as themselves.

—too
112 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

IV.

Not another hour would they stay bencath this
roof, though Meleagance urged them to remain
that night, for he had a wicked plot in his mind.
But Lancelot departed as soon as the queen with
her knights and ladies could get to horse, taking
no other leave of the traitor than to bid him look
to it that he failed not to meet him that day
twelvemonths, then to maintain his charge before
the king. The queen’s knight would have
appointed an earlier day, unwilling that his
mistress should rest so long under a slander; but
Meleagance made many excuses, as that he was
still suffering from a wound, that he was at war
with a lord of his country, that he had vowed a
pilgrimage, and might not fight in arms till it
were fulfilled. So thus they agreed and parted,
each trusting, the one through valour, the other
through treachery, that his canse would prevail.

Then Sir Lancelot and the rescued captives
fared homewards. They journeyed slowly, the
knights who had been wounded in defence of the
queen being now set upon litters for their ease,
and that their wounds might sooner be healed.
Thus for many days they went joyfully, and drew
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 113

towards Carduel without meeting any hindrance.
But on the way Lancelot’s young squire told them
of all the chances and dangers that befell this
good knight as he had followed the queen—how he
passed through the perilous forest and overcame
its enchantments, how he slew the fiery dragon, ~
how he freed a bridge which was kept by a knight
that robbed and murdered all travellers, how he
cut off the heads of two huge savages in a narrow
pass, and how he destroyed the wicked custom of
a castle where he spent the night. All this the
knights and ladies heard with great wonder, and
praised Sir Lancelot, saying that he was well
worthy to be renowned the greatest knight in the
world, and rightly honoured by high and low.
But when they spoke thus, the queen was silent.
In her heart she thanked her deliverer, and knew
well what it was to have so trusty a friend, yet
still she would try him with her wilfulness, and
have men see how long this peerless knight would
suffer her pride. And as he ever courteously bore
with her, she feigned to mock him, and cried
often—

“Ah! Lancelot, that a knight of the Round
Table should have been drawn in a churl’s cart!”

“Madam, I shall know to deal with any
114 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

knight that makes me this reproach,” was all his
answer.

But one day, seeing that she was in such a
scornful mood, Sir Lancelot turned his rein and
rode apart from the rest of the company with his
young squire, who marvelled much that this good
knight should be so used by a lady. But he
spoke not his mind, since his master had bid him
know that a knightly man must learn to rule his
tongue as well as his steed, and would never hear
but gentle words of the queen, for all her unkind-
ness,

As thus they rode together and spoke of the
battle with Sir Meleagance that was to be at
Carduel, they came to a place where two ways
met. And there sat a dwarf, passing ill to look
on, and wept and wrung his hands, as in gore
grief,

“Say, what ails you or yours that you make
such moan?” asked Lancelot, checking his steed
at this sight.

“Woe is me,” replied the dwarf, “ for my mistress,
a fair lady that is in sore distress, and cannot be

helped unless there come to her succour the good
knight that rode in a cart to rescue the queen !”

“Then weep no more, for I am that knight, and
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 115

I will succour thy lady in all that I can. Tell me,
where is this lady ?”

“ Sir, she dwelleth in a tower twelve miles from
this place, and if I lead you to her, she will have
great joy.”

“That she shall have, if I may bring it her.
Ride on,” said Lancelot to his squire, “and say to
the queen that [ shall be with her anon, in a day
or two at the farthest. Meantime, I will follow
this adventure alone.”

The young squire would have asked leave to
follow him, but he knew that his lord’s word was
his will, So he hastened after the queen with the
message, and Lancelot caught up the dwarf and
placed him on his saddle, and rode away upon his
adventure.

Twelve miles he rode, and twenty and more,
before they came to the place where the lady was. -
The dwarf ever bade Lancelot haste, for lis
mistress was in sore need; and he spurred his
steed and pressed on, thinking no evil. They
passed through a dark forest, in which fierce
wild beasts fled away from their path, and through
a long deep valley, where all the rocks were white
with dead men’s bones, and by the edge of a lonely
lake, dim with mist and vanishing among great
116 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

mountains, on which were seen no dwellings of men.
And thus at last, as night was falling, they came to
a strong tower on the brow of a mighty rock, so
steep, that the horse could hardly win its way up
the stony side.

“Here dwells my lady and weeps day and night,
and here thou shalt learn what she requires of
thee.”

As they neared the tower, the gate was thrown
open, and the seneschal, clothed in black, came
forth to welcome the knight with all reverence.
He called out to bestow his steed in the best stall
of the stable, and prayed Lancelot to come to
supper, after which he should see the lady who
had desired his aid, and had no knight save him
to befriend her.

Much wondering that a lady should dwell alone
in such a fearsome place, Lancelot followed the
seneschal into the hall, where a great banquet
was prepared, and a damsel came forward to rid
him of his arms.

“Nay,” said Lancelot courteously, “for I cannot
part with my sword till I learn how I may use it
in the service of her at whose bidding I have come
here.”

Then suddenly the seneschal’s countenance
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 117

changed, and he turned round with an evil frown,
and said—

“Easily thou hast come here, but hardly shalt
thou go away !”

Sir Lancelot started, and made a step forward,
with his hand on his sword-hilt. But he had set
his foot firmly on a trap-door, which gave way
beneath him, and he fell helpless into a deep pit
below.

The pit was full of straw, or that good knight
would never have left it alive. As soon as he
came to himself, and found himself lying on the
straw, his body bruised, his armour battered, he
leaped up and shouted as one possessed, and
rushed from side to side like a caged lion. But
all was darkness and solitude; he dashed himself
in vain against the thick walls, and his cries only
mocked him, re-echoed from the roof of his
dungeon. Then Lancelot’s dauntless heart sunk
within him, for he knew that this was the doing
of his enemy, and that he had been entrapped by
treason.
118 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

Vv

Glad was King Arthur to see his queen and
his knights come back unharmed, and full wroth
when he heard how Meleagance had impeached
the Lady Guinevere of high treason, and how he
had given his glove to Lancelot, that he would
answer it in the lists.

“By my life,” he said, “this traitor hath been
over-bold. But where is Sir Lancelot 2”

“Sir,” said they all, “we know not where he is,
but we deem he has ridden on some adventure,
as he is ofttimes wont to do.”

“Let him be,” said the king. “He will not
fail to be here anon.”

But the time passed away, and Lancelot did not
come, so that Guinevere sorrowed and feared, and
sore repented her of how she had used that good
knight, for she thought he had deserted her out
of anger at her pride, and the reproach she made
him -concerning: that churl’s cart. And when
months had gone by, and still he came not, the
king sent out knights far and wide to seck him
and bring him to the court. But nowhere could
they find so much as tidings of him, and they
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 119

knew not that dark tower hidden in the moun-
tains, where he was pining in prison.

Fiercely the good knight’s heart swelled within
him when he found himself thus held captive,
and sorely he grieved to know that he could not
keep his day, so that all men would hold him .
shamed, and his lady the queen must be condemned.
His sorrow almost drove him mad in that dark.
dungeon, and he could scarcely have been known
for the Lancelot before whom Meleagance trembled.
Through a little chink the sun shone in upon
him for an hour each noon, and thus only he was
able to mark how time went by, day after day,
week after week, month after month, and every
day was like a year to the hopeless prisoner.
He had been starved to death, if the seneschal’s
daughter, pitying him for his goodly manhood and
his misfortunes, had not let down, from time to
time, a little bread and water into the pit where
he lay on the straw, and cared not whether he
lived or died, so long as he might not be free to
do his duty, and to right the queen.

Thus wearily passed a year away, and next day
the lists would be set at Carduel, and Sir Melea-
gance would be there in arms to prove his wicked.
words. That night Lancelot heard a great
120 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

trampling of horses in the court-yard of the
tower, and his heart was stirred within him, for
he hoped this might be some of Arthur’s knights
come to deliver him. But the sounds ceased; no
one came near his prison, and he gave himself to
despair. It was in vain that he tried to take
comfort, saying—

“Surely it will be understood by the king and
queen that I am dead, or sick, or in prison. All
men that know me will say for me that I am in
some evil case, or else J had been there; and I
wot well there will be found a good knight, either
of my kindred, or some vther that loveth me, to
take my quarrel in hand.”

Soon his worst fears would come upon him
again, and he cried bitterly—

“Ab, no! They will say that I was angered at
‘the queen, or that I took her for guilty, and there-
fore I did not come to maintain her cause, so shall
we both be dishonoured and destroyed for ever.”

So weak was Lancelot, that he wept like a
woman at this thought. And all that night he
did not sleep, but ceased not to cry out, and to
lament, and to speak bitter words against the traitor
that had done him this great wrong. He knew
not that deliverance was at hand.
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 121

That evening a lady had arrived at the tower,
with a great train of squires and damsels. It was
the trampling of their horses that Lancelot had
heard in his dungeon. The seneschal came out
to meet her with all reverence, for he knew her
for the sister of his master, Sir Meleagance, who
had bid him obey her in all things as himself.
So she was welcomed and lodged in the tower
that night, and early in the morning she rose and
sent for the seneschal.

“Say, who is this prisoner that maketh such
dole in the dungeon,” she asked. “So loud and
often he cried that I could not rest for pity
of him.”

“Madam, this is a knight that my lord Sir
Meleagance bid us keep here a twelvemonth
gone. His name I know not, but here ye may
see his shield, and in truth he was a goodly
knight to be so prisoned.”

The lady looked at the shield, and cried—

“T know this knight well, and I would have him
ride with me. Bring him forth; I will answer
- for this to your lord.”

The seneschal doubted, but the lady would not
be gainsaid; and at her bidding he ordered Sir

Lancelot to be brought from his prison.
I
122 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

They brought him out into the court-yard all
amazed, and though the sun was scarce risen, the
light dazzled his eyes that had dwelt so long in
darkness.

“Sir,” gaid the lady, “will ye ride with me on

an errand I wot of.”
. “Ah, lady !” he cried, “I cannot go with thee
at this time. For to-day, as I am good knight and
true man, I must be at Carduel to fight before our
lord the king.”

“To Carduel would I bring thee,” said the lady.
“Flo, there! Lead forth this knight’s horse.”

Sir Lancelot seized her hand, and would have
fallen on his knees to thank her; but she bade
‘him be silent, and refresh himself with food and
drink before setting out.

At her bidding now the seneschal gave the
knight all he desired, and brought him his shield
and spear, and set him upon his own steed, that
neighed for joy to see its master once more.
Then they departed from the tower, the lady and
Lancelot alone, and she told him that they must
haste.

Wondering who she might be that thus be-
friended him, Sir Lancelot rode by her side, and
full swiftly they galloped over mountain and dale,
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 123

by flood and field. As he felt his steed bound
beneath him, the knight’s. strength came back,
and his heart beat high when he had his good
spear once more in his hand. He spoke to the
lady, but she answered not a word, but waved her
hand, beckoning him to follow faster. The good
horse knew his master’s voice, and needed not the
spur. Faster and faster they flew, till the lady
drew rein upon the brow of a hill, and pointed to
the plain beneath. Lo! there shone the sun upon
the towers of Carduel and the banners of Arthur's
knights.

Till now Lancelot had hardly known whether
this were not a dream, from which he should
wake to find himself still wasting in his dungeon.
But now it was these long days of captivity that
seemed like a hideous vision of darkness. Words
cannot tell his joy. Eagerly he turned from the
sight to thank the lady who had brought him
hither. But ere he could open his lips, her form
and countenance changed, and she vanished before
his eyes, and he knew that it was the Fairy of the
Lake who, in this guise, had delivered him.
124 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

VI.

Now leave we Sir Lancelot galloping with all
his might, and turn to a fair meadow near the
town, where the lists were set forth in which this
day the queen’s guilt or innocence should be
proved. There came Arthur, known among his
knights by his stature and by the golden dragon
that crowned his helmet. A great crowd from far
and near had gathered to behold the battle, and
great sorrow they made for the queen, who wept
and wrung her hands when she saw that her
champion did not keep his day. And there was
Sir Meleagance, boasting and exulting as if his
cause were already won, for he thought he had
Lancelot fast in his dungeon, and of all the Round
Table there was no other knight of whom he was
in dread.

Sore troubled was the great king that day, since
he had vowed that his wife should die a shameful
death, if he who accused her of treachery could
make good his charge in the lists. And still Sir
Lancelot came not, and the hour appointed for
the combat drew near.

“Some grievous mischance must have over-
taken Sir Lancelot,” said all the knights, “If he
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 125
were alive and not sick or in prison, he would
surely be here, for never heard we that ever he
failed his part in any battle.”

“Then do me justice!” cried Meleagance loudly
and often. “Or else bring forth some champion
who will defy me, for here I come to attaint thy
queen as traitress to thee and to her own honour,
and which of you shall say me nay 2”

The boldest knights of all that fellowship looked
upon his mighty body and his keen arms, and
none answered him. ‘They feared to have to do
with such a man, and it was little love they bore
the proud Lady Guinevere, whom, in their hearts,
those that knew her best took for guilty, since
they well saw that she loved not her trustful lord.
But as all stood silent, there pressed through the
throng a youth and knelt before the king. It
was he, the queen’s erstwhile page, who had
followed Lancelot on that great adventure.

“ My lord Arthur!” he cried, with eager eyes,
“if there be none better to take this cause in hand,
I beseech you, give me leave to do battle here this
day for my lord and master, and to save my lady
the queen.”

Loud laughed Sir Meleagance in scorn, and said—

“Win thy spurs, sir page, and meanwhile hold
126 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

thy peace among armed knights. I fight not but
with worthy men.”

“Ah,” said the youth, the blood reddening on
his beardless cheek, ‘there is no battle but God
will have a stroke in it, and these are false and
wicked words that thou art come here to defend.
And so the king will knight me, and Heaven will
help me; I shall prove this upon thy body.”

The knights murmured among themselves, and
said that this boy was too young to be made a
knight. But the king looked kindly on him, and
said—

“Nay, to have been Lancelot’s squire is enough.
Gramercy, gentle youth, I give thee leave, and do
thy best, for I dare well say there is some treason
done to Sir Lancelot. Come thou to my pavilion.
With her own hands the queen shall arm and
equip thee for this fight, then on my best horse
thou shalt meet this bold accuser, and Heaven
defend the right !”

The people set up a great shout as the youth
followed Arthur, and round the lists all pressed
and strained to see what would now befall. Sir
Meleagance sat upright on his great steed, and
laughed grimly within the bars of his helmet, for
now he hoped the proud queen, and the mighty






































“Gracefully he reined his steed, and firmly he held his lance, yet he seemed a
slender stripling to meet such an enemy.”—p, 127. The Rescue,
TILE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 127

Lancelot, and this rash boy should at one stroke
be put for ever to shame.

It was noon when the youth came forth from
the king’s pavilion mounted upon a white horse,
and armed all in white with a blank shield.
Gracefully he reined his steed, and firmly he held
his lance, yet he seemed a slender stripling and
unfit to meet such an enemy, and all the knights
wondered, while the ladies had pity in their
hearts to see him go to sure death. But he
showed no fear as he rode to the end of the lists
and took his place over against the accuser, and
both made ready for the onset.

Now the king gave the signal, the trumpets
sounded, the heralds advanced to proclaim the
combat, and all held their breath.

“Come, then,” mocked Meleagance, setting
himself firm in his saddle, “come, that I may
chastise thee, for too long have I awaited this
Lancelot !”

“ And he is here!” cried a voice as of thunder,
that all knew well.

“Hold!” bade the king loudly, and the queen
raised her tearful eyes and joyfully uttered the
name of her champion. Every eye was turned to
the spot where Lancelot burst into the lists, his
128 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

horse all foam and sweat, his armour rusty aud
bespattered, and the traitor’s glove in his helmet.
At the sight, Meleagance grew pale behind his
vizor, and his knees shook.

“This was the day and hour, and lo! false and
wicked knight, I have come to defy thee, in spite
of all thy treachery. Lect go, sir heralds, without
more ado.”

Meleagance spoke not a word. He gave
himself for dead, and half turned to fly. But
he might not pass through the crowd, and in
despair he drove his horse towards Lancelot.
Like a thunderbolt, the queen’s knight fell upon
him and hurled him to the ground, before men
had done marvelling at this sudden sight. As he
_rose, Sir Lancelot leaped down and drew his
sword. But the felon knight fought feebly, and
soon he fell, and groyelled before his conqueror
with craven prayers—

“Oh! most noble knight, Sir Lancelot of the
Lake, save my life, for I yield me unto you as
overcome, and I beseech you, as ye be a knight
and fellow of the Round Table, slay me not, and
whether I live or die, I put myself in the king’s
hands and yours.”

Sir Lancelot knew not what to do, for his heart
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 129

was full of deadly wrath against this felon knight;
yet he was too noble to slay one who thus yielded
himself. He looked to the king, but Arthur
spoke not. He looked to the queen, but she gave
no sign of mercy. Then loudly he let all know
how this miserable man had entrapped him by
treachery, that he might not keep his day, and
asked what should be done to such a false
and base knight. In all that assembly was
none who did not answer that Meleagance must
die.

“Then rise for shame,” said Lancelot, “and
perform this battle to the uttermost.”

“Nay,” cried the beaten man, “I will never rise
till ye take me as yielden and recreant.”

Lancelot lowered his sword, and said sternly—

“Sir Meleagance, I proffer you this: I will lay
aside my helmet and my shield and disarm my
left side, and let my left hand be bound behind
me, that it shall not help me, and so I will fight
with you.”

A murmur ran from lip to lip.

“My Lord Arthur,” called out Meleagance,
starting upon his feet, “ye have heard this proffer.
I will take it. Let-him be disarmed and bounden

according to his words.”
130 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

“What say ye?” asked the king of Lancelot,
“Will ye abide by your proffer.”

“Yea, my lord. I will never go from that I
have once said,” answered the knight, and Arthur
gave command to do to him as he had said.

So they who guarded the lists saw to it, and
the youth that had been his squire disarmed Sir
Lancelot, first his head, and then his left side, and
bound his left arm behind his back. This done,
they left him against Meleagance in all his mail,
and many a knight and lady marvelled that Sir
Lancelot would jeopardy himself in such wise.
Never had any seen so strange a fight,

On rushed Meleagance, with his sword raised
high to strike the bare head and side which
Lancelot turned towards him. Down came the
sword, but lightly the good knight drew back, and
deftly he turned aside the blow with his own
blade, and strongly he smote again, and this
stroke failed not its mark. Through helmet and
skull it clove, and the sword dropped from the
traitor’s hand as his body rolled in the dust, while,
all unhurt, Sir Lancelot greeted the queen and
proclaimed her innocence, with none to say him
nay.

Now tolled the death-bell for the felon knight
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN. 131.

They hacked off the spurs from his heels, and
broke his sword over the dead body, and stripped it
shamefully, and dragged it forth from the lists to be
burned with all dishonour, that men might know
to hate the deeds for which he had died. But
at the great entreaty of the knights of the Round
Table, the king suffered him to be interred, and
on his tomb was declared how and by whom he
was slain. And henceforth, says the chronicle,
the king and queen made more of Sir Lancelot,
and more was he cherished and esteemed by his
fellows than ever he was before. And all men
said that happy was Guinevere that had a knight
to serve her, whom neither shame, nor peril, nor
treason could overcome.


Doland and Oliber,

+
>



JHE city of Vienne is closely besieged, for
Duke Girard, its lord, is at feud with his
sovereign, Charles the great King of
France. Fiercely have they quarrelled over a
wager at chess, and Girard must fly from the
court, and call around him his kinsmen and
vassals. Now they bravely defend the walls
round which lies the mighty host of Charles.
The twelve peers of France are there, Archbishop
Turpin, the wise Duke Naymes, Ganilon the
traitor, Lambert of Bourges, Ogier the Dane,
Richard of Normandy, Renaud of Montauban, and
many another knight renowned in song and story.
Great feats of arms are done on either side, but
all the land grieves for this war between those

that should be at peace.
132



ROLAND AND OLIVER. 133

For two years the siege lasted, during which
Charles remained before the city, unable to take
it, and unwilling to retreat. The knights and
squires were wont to pass much of their time
in hunting and in the sports of chivalry. One day
Oliver, Duke Girard’s nephew, upon whose chin
the beard was beginning to grow, had stolen forth
from the city alone, without arms or signs of rank,
and passing fearlessly through the king’s men,
essayed his skill among a band of youths who
were playing at the quintain. All were astonished
at the strength and grace of this young stranger,
who far surpassed even Roland, the nephew of
Charles, at the game in which, hitherto, he had
always borne away the prize. Suddenly there
rose a murmur that this was one of the enemy
who had found his way into the camp.

“Seize him!” was the cry, and a score of
mailed hands were laid on Oliver. He shook
them off; he snatched up a tent stake and laid
his assailants on the ground; he sprang upon a
swift horse, and flew towards the town. The
king’s men followed hard and fast, and young
Roland was foremost of them all, Already he
was close upon the fugitive; he had raised his
sword to strike, when he heard a cry from the
134 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY. ~

walls. He looked up, and there was the fair Alda,
Oliver’s sister, clasping her hands and raising her
blue eyes to heaven, as she saw her brother’s
danger. The arm of Roland dropped to his side.
He reined his steed, and let Oliver ride on un-
harmed, Those who beheld him thought he had
been wounded by an arrow from the walls. The
shaft had gone to his heart.

Night and day Roland henceforth thought of
the fair Alda, and no longer cared to prove his
courage in assaults against the city of her kins-
men, There were times of truce, too, when the
ladies of Vienne rode freely through the king’s
camp, and then the youth might feast his eyes on
her beauty. The day came when he was made a
knight, and before ever he had dinted his bright
shield, he sought speech of this lady, and said—

“T dare not ask of thee to accept me as thy
knight; but I trust that all the deeds of my life
will prove that there is none more faithful and
devoted to thy service.”

“ Ah, sir,” replied the blushing maiden, “I wish
well that we might be friends, but this may not
be while thy house is at feud with mine.”

From that day Roland strove to win his uncle’s
mind to peace, and in likewise counselled Duke
ROLAND AND OLIVER. 135
Naymes and the bravest of the peers. But
Charles frowned, and said bitterly that he had
expected other things from the new-made knight,
and the false Ganilon whispered doubts and
sneers, for Ganilon hated Roland ever since the
young knight had disabled him in his first
tourney. These whispers came to Roland’s ear,
and made his blood burn to show himself worthy
of his spurs and to shame the slanderers.

Before long he had his wish. Now arrayed in
rich furs and goodly mantle as beseemed a knight,
came Oliver to the king’s tent to treat for peace.
Before all the barons and knights he told his
errand, but the king’s brow was stern as he
answered—

“Peace Duke Girard shall not have, till he
come with a saddle on his back to sue for it.”

“ Nay, my lord king,” answered Oliver, “ he were
unworthy to be a peer of France if he thus
debased himself.”

Then spoke the false Ganilon—

“We have here the nephew in our hands. Let
us hang him over against the gates, and thus
teach the proud uncle to rebel against his king.”

The eyes of Roland shone with anger, and he

felled the traitor to the earth,
K
136 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Tt were shame to us,” he cried, “if a messenger
might not come and go freely, and speak all his
will!”

“T have done my errand,” said Oliver, preparing
to depart. “If the king will remove his host,
and seek no more to harm us, Duke Girard and
_all his men will henceforth serve him faithfully in
all things. If not, ye know well how we can
defend ourselves.”

The wise Duke Naymes whispered in his master’s
ear, counselling him to fair words that might end
this unworthy strife. But Charles sat silent with
the cloud on his brow. ‘Long had he stayed round
this rebellious town, and he was not willing to
depart till it had yielded to his mercy, or till nota .
soul within it should be left alive. Then suddenly
Oliver turned to Roland, and cried—

“Shall thy uncle and mine be ever at war?
Say, young knight, wilt thou meet me, and fight
out this quarrel in single combat?”

“Ay, that will I, for France and the king!”
answered Roland eagerly.

“So be it!” said Charles, rising from his seat.
“These two are of like age and strength, and it
behoves them to win their spurs. Go back to the
duke, young sir, and offer him this covenant: that
ROLAND AND OLIVER. 187

if thou be vanquished, he shall leave the town
forthwith ; but if my nephew fall, I will raise the
siege and let him live in peace.”

Willingly all the peers raised their voices in
- assent, for they were wearied of this long war, and
loved not to shed the blood of their countrymen.
Thus it was agreed, and the combat was appointed
to take place next day on a little island in the
stream that rolled between the duke’s castle and
the camp of the king.

That night King Charles had a troubled dream.
He dreamed that a falcon. and a hawk fought
fiercely together, but before he might know which
overcame the other, he awoke and could sleep no
more. Anxious, he vowed a pilgrimage to Jerusa-
lem if Roland should have the victory. Mean-
while the fair Alda spent the night on her knees
in the chapel of the castle. If Oliver were slain
on the morrow, she would become a nun. And
yet she could not pray that Roland might fall by
his hands. As she did on her brother’s armour,
she wept, dreading both victory and defeat.

Now the hour of the combat had come. The
bank of the river was thronged with spectators.
The besieged covered the walls, and high above
all sat the lady Alda with eager eyes. Opposite
188 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

stood the mailed host of the king. From either
bank the young knights were rowed across, and
left together on the island. Oliver was equipped
in rich arms that a good Jew had given him
when he was made knight. Roland had the
famed sword Durandal, that could not be bent
or broken, and the shield, with its red and
white quarterings, that the Saracen was to know
so well. Courteously they saluted each other, and
the fight began forthwith.

Brightly shone their swords in the morning sun.
Fiercely closed the young champions for life or
death. Loud echoed the blows from the castle
walls. The rivets flew from their armour, and
splinters of steel fell into the river on either
hand. All who beheld marvelled to see such
strokes, at each of which it seemed that one of
the fighters must fall. Blood and sweat poured
down their bodies; they panted for breath; they
exhausted their strength, but neither would yield
an inch.

It was a good blade that Girard’s nephew had
from the Jew, but no steel could withstand the
matchless Durandal. At last Oliver’s sword broke
in his hand. He was forced to his knees; already
he almost felt the enemy’s sword in his heart;
ROLAND AND OLIVER. 139

he closed his eycs and thought of heaven, and his
sister’s despairing cry rang in his ears.

But Roland flung away his weapon.

“Rise,” he said, “I am the nephew of the King
of France. I slay not unarmed men.”

Oliver rose to his feet, and they faced each other
with naked hands. They tore up two saplings, and
with them struck mighty blows till these were
broken. Then they locked their bodies together,
and wrestled like lions, till both at the same
moment came to the ground.

When they stood up breathless, the king saw
them unlace their helmets and embrace.

“Ha! is my nephew tired of the fight,” he cried,
and Ganilon whispered into his ear that Roland
was betraying him for love of that lady upon the
castle walls.

“Nay,” said the wise Duke Naymes, “I will go
through the fire, or fight a Saracen giant, if
Roland be false,” and so spoke all the peers whose
own hearts were loyal.

In friendly converse the youths reposed through-
out the noonday heat. Another sword was brought,
to Oliver from the castle, and a great gold flagon
of wine, from which they both drank to the lady
Alda and pledged each other.
140 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY, |

“Right glad am I,” said Oliver, “to have to do
with so good a man.”

“ And sad am I,” said Roland, “to grieve so fair
a lady.”

They aided one another to lace on their helmets,
and with fresh strength renewed the battle. The
hot sun went down towards the west, but still they
fought on, and the two hosts watched them, now
with hope and now with fear. Again and again
they paused to take breath; then crossed their
swords once more. Would the day not see the
end of this struggle ?

Now it was Roland who lowered his blade.

“Hold!” he said. “I am fevered and weak,
and if it please thee, I would fain lie down and
rest a time.” J

“With all my heart,” replied Oliver. “It were
no honour to vanquish a knight through sickness.
Rest and fear not; I myself will watch over
thee.”

Roland undid his helmet, and stretched himself
on the earth. Then Oliver brought a great stone,
and put it beneath his head to give him ease,
and fanned his face, and fetched water in his own
helmet.

“Ah! he yields—-he is overcome!” cried the
ROLAND AND OLIVER. 141

king, and Alda had great pity of the fallen
knight.

But the king’s nephew stood up and laughed.

“Nay, I did but feign to try thy faith. I could
fight on for days and nights, if need were. But,
courteous sir, since ye use me thus, I would right
willingly call thee my brother. And if I live, I
will marry no lady but thy fair sister.”

“ And if I live, she shall marry no man but thee,”
said Oliver.

The sun went down as again they closed in
desperate encounter. All that day had they
fought with all their might, and neither could
boast of victory. Again the good blades clashed,
and the blows resounded over the water. The
shades gathered round and hid them from sight.
The anxious watchers could see but the sparks
struck from helm and hauberk. And at last the
darkness came between them, and the sounds of
strife ceased,

They had fallen into each other’s arms, and
vowed lifelong friendship, since neither might ©
prevail over the other as a foe. Roland under-
took to make Girard’s peace with his uncle.
Gliver promised him the hand of his sister.
Erenceforth, as brothers, they should share wealth,
142 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

and honour, and love, and never again draw sword,
unless it were fighting side by side.

And now a great uproar arose in the camp. News
had come that the Saracens were invading France.
Gladly now both king and duke heard their
nephews’ entreaty for peace, and willingly they
agreed to turn their arms against the infidels,

The reconciliation was sealed by Roland’s
betrothal to Alda. All the land rejoiced that this
long strife should thus be brought to an end, and
with high hearts the united host marched to that
great war in which Charles and his twelve peers
won such renown. But in friendship and war,
none were more renowned than Roland and Oliver,
who lived together henceforth as brothers, and
died together on the field of Roncesvalles,


Flovice and Blancheflotwer.

+>.
o



-T
JN the days when a great part of Spain
was under the power of the Moors, a




certain Italian prince and his newly
married bride were travelling on foot through that
country in lowly guise and without attendants, for
they had vowed a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.
James at Compostella. The time was ill-chosen
for such a journey. The Christians had been
conspiring to shake off the yoke of their oppressors,
and Felix, the Moorish king of Murcia, had sent
out troops to punish their rebellion, with orders
to put all men of the hostile faith to the sword,
and to carry away their women and children as
slaves.

The two pilgrims, weary and exhausted by the

heat, had one day lain down to repose in the shade
143
144 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of a forest, when they were discovered by a band
of Moorish soldiers, who killed the unhappy prince
on the spot. His horror-stricken bride awoke to
find herself covered with his blood and a prisoner
in the hands of his murderers.

Topaze, for this was her name, was taken to the
_ court of Murcia, and placed among the slaves of
the queen, a beautiful woman about her own
age, who, learning something of her misfortunes,
was moved by pity, and behaved so kindly to the
captive lady, that Topaze was encouraged to
confide in her so far as to tell her real name and
the whole of her sorrowful story, which did not
fail to call forth the hearty sympathy of her new
mistress. After this she was treated as an equal
rather than a servant. The queen and the captive
became close friends, and were constantly together.
Moreover, the queen promised that the children
whom each of them was now expecting to bring
forth should be educated together, and taught
from their infancy to love one another with as
much warmth as their parents.

On the same day, the Moorish queen was
delivered of a son and the captive princess of a
daughter. They were born on Palm Sunday,
which the Christians were accustomed to celebrate
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 145

with branches and garlands, and the queen, in
allusion to the ceremonies of her friend’s religion,
ordered that the boy and girl should be named
Florice and Blancheflower.

But Blancheflower’s mother was not destined to
" rejoice in her child. Worn by grief and by the
constant remembrance of her husband’s cruel
fate, she only lived long enough to hold the infant
in her arms. The Queen of Murcia stood by,
trying to cheer her, but her tears were not to be
restrained, and as they fell fast on Blancheflower’s
forehead, she murmured the sacred words of
Christian baptism, and besought the queen, as a
last favour, that the child might be brought up in
the precepts of her own religion to which she had
thus consecrated it. Mingling her tears with her
friend’s, the queen promised what she desired;
then Topaze kissed her hand in token of grati-
tude, looked up to heaven, and died,

—+

TI.

The royal lady did not forget her friend’s last
wishes and her own promise. The two children
were brought up together as her own, and came
to love each other like brother and sister. Blanche-
146 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

flower was instructed in the Christian faith, and
in all the accomplishments of her sex, in which
she showed as much readiness and skill as Florice
did in the sports and exercises that should fit
him to be a brave and warlike prince. He was as
gallant as she was beautiful; from childhood they
were a goodly pair ; all her happiness was to win
his love, and all his care to deserve hers.

But this intimacy was not seen with approval
by other eyes than those of the good-hearted
queen. The young prince’s tutor, a mollah named
Mohady, was a fanatical teacher of the Mahometan
religion, and jealously watched his pupil’s love for
the Christian princess, fearing, not without reason,
that it would prevent him from becoming a
bigoted adherent of the faith of his fathers, He
could not move the queen to listen to him on
this point; with the king, however, he was more
successful. Felix was not a harsh parent, but he
prided himself on his zeal for the creed of Islam,
and when he saw his son growing up so devoted
to Blancheflower, he thought it was time to
break off this too close friendship, and to that
end, by the tutor’s advice, resolved to send the
young prince to the court of his uncle, the king
of a neighbouring country, at whose famous court
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 147

he might finish his education as a knightly
warrior, and have the opportunity of distinguish-
ing himself in feats of arms.

Florice was in despair when he found that he
was to be separated from his dear Blancheflower,
and was only reconciled to this banishment when
he remembered that it was to teach him to make
himself more worthy of her. The parting between
them was most sorrowful and affectionate. Asa
farewell gift, Blancheflower presented the prince
with a talisman which had belonged to her
mother.

“Take this gem, dear Florice,” she hurriedly
said, as Felix drew near to separate them.
“Never let it leave you; look on it daily, and if
ever you see a cloud upon its bright surface,

understand that I am in danger, and need your
help.”

Il.

Florice was received by his uncle with open
arms, and treated with every mark of affection
and regard. But nothing could make him forget
Blancheflower. In the midst of the feasts and
sports held in his honour, the thought of her ever
148 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

filled his heart ; from the gayest company and the
brightest scenes he stole away to murmur her
name, His only pleasure in this new abode was
found in a little garden, where he planted her
‘ name in rows of white flowers, surrounded by a
border of roses and violets. Here he would come
to gaze on these dear letters as they rose from
the earth, and to think of the happy day which
should once more give back to his eyes the pure
flower on which he had set his heart.

One morning Mohady, zealous for his pupil’s
piety, came before sunrise to call him to prayer,
according. to the custom of true Islamites. But
early as it was, the prince had already stolen forth
into his garden. There the tutor followed him,
and found him standing over the bed of flowers
that bore his beloved’s name. He was singing to
the accompaniment of a guitar. The suspicious
tutor stole up softly, and heard the following

words :—

“O thou for whom alone I live,
Though thou art far away ;
To sing and sigh my love, I come,
At break of day.

The sun that tints the Eastern sky
Brings nothing bright to me;
One joy alone dispels my night—

To think of thee,
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 149

« The flowers that may not glad thine eyes
Give me but one delight ;
Thy stainless, lovely name they trace
In letters white. .

« At least, I know that thou art safe,
And chase away my fears ;
Thy talisman is all undimmed,
Save by my tears.

“Vet needless this bright gem to warn ;
If trouble thee befell,
A tender instinct of my heart
Alone would tell.

“Ah! nestling in my mother’s breast,
Rest, safe and pure, my dove !
And ever let her anxious care
Recall my love!

“Q God! to whom my Blancheflower kneels,
I too Thy grace implore ;
Grant me the hope and faith of her
Whom I adore.

“Then, at Thy shrine——”

Here Florice was interrupted by a loud cry,
and turning round, saw his tutor, who raised his
hands in horror and exclaimed—

“O great Prophet! what frightful blasphemy
do I hear? A royal descendant of Omar is
willing to renounce our religion for that of a
Christian slave! Truly the wise have said, that

1”?

there are no crimes too great to be done for love
1590 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Mohady lost no time in sending news of this
calamity to King Felix, earnestly urging him, as
he valued his son’s highest welfare, to take some
opportunity of putting an eternal separation
between Florice and the Christian maiden. At
the same time he wrote a private letter to
Ajoub, chief Iman of Murcia, a man of fierce
temper and unscrupulous in the cause of the
Prophet. When this bigot learned how the
interests of his faith were threatened, he did not
hesitate to contrive a foul plan which should strike
at the root of the danger.

Florice was now more closely watched, and
could no longer steal away into his garden to
water Blancheflower’s name with his tears. The
constant surveillance of his tutor, plying him with
arguments for the Mahometan creed, became
insupportable to him. He remembered his desire
to prove himself worthy of such pure love; he
roused himself from his dejection, and longed for
an opportunity of doing some gallant deed. He
knelt before his uncle, and prayed to be made
a knight, that he might go forth in arms as
beseemed his race, and have noble warriors for his
companions, instead of a cunning and heartless
mollah,
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 151

His prayer was, granted; the new-made knight
rose from his knees with a flush of pride, and at
that moment his first thought was to kiss the
talisman, which he fondly hoped would give
strength to his maiden sword. But as he drew
it forth from his bosom, he saw to his horror that
it had grown dark and clouded; the face of the
gem seemed to be covered by smoke, with here
and there a flash -of fire. By this he knew that
some dire danger was at that moment threatening
his beloved. He shuddered and turned pale.
Not an hour was to be lost. Hastily he did on
his untried arms, and mounting a fleet steed
which his uncle had given him, spurred madly
away towards Murcia, letting no one know where
he went.



IV.

All day and all night he rode without drawing
rein, and by daybreak arrived at the gates of
his father’s capital, Here he was met by a sad
procession of carts, escorted by soldiers and by
executioners carrying torches. The first of these
carts were filled with piles of faggots, and in the

last was borne to a cruel death a woman veiled
Ti
152 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

in black, and loaded with chains, behind whom
came a cadi, or minister of justice, with a scroll
proclaiming her crime. As he saw all this, a
terrible foreboding took possession of the prince’s
heart. He lowered his vizor, rode up to the
procession, and in faltering tones asked who it
was that was thus being led to execution, and
what might be her crime.

“Ah!” said the veiled figure in a well-known
voice, “I call Heaven and all the saints to witness
that I die innocent!”

Florice was wild with rage and grief. He
draws his sword, he bids the procession stop, and
learns from the cadi that this was indeed his
beloved Blancheflower, who had been accused of
attempting the king’s life. By her hands a
peacock had been served at the royal banquet.
Before any of the guests had tasted it, a morsel
was flung by Ajoub to a little dog, which eat and
fell dead in horrible agony. The bird was found
to be poisoned, and who but Blancheflower had
placed the poison in its body? Her guilt seemed
clear; she had no friend save the queen, and no
champion appeared in her defence; she had been
sentenced to a cruel death.

“Nay!” cried Florice loudly. “I will defy
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 1538

these false accusers to the last drop of my
blood.”

He had not arrived a moment too soon. Now
he ordered the sad procession to turn back, and
forthwith sent word to the king that an unknown
knight claimed to defend the Christian maiden’s
cause. This demand Felix could not refuse.
He ordered Ajoub to produce a champion to
maintain his accusation, and one was soon found
in the person of the Iman’s son, a fierce warrior
of enormous size and strength, who was already

well known for his deeds of daring.

Forthwith the lists were prepared. At one end
was placed the cart containing poor Blancheflower ;
at the other a great fire was lighted to consume
her if her champion should lose the battle. Into
the open space, surrounded by armed men, galloped
the two combatants. The son of Ajoub threw
down his gauntlet, and repeated his father’s
accusation against the princess, to which Florice
loudly replied —* Traitor, thou liest in thy throat.”
Then the fight began.

The son of Ajoub did not obtain the easy
victory which he had hoped. The unknown
knight parried all his blows with skill and re-
solution, and waited for his huge opponent to
154 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

exhaust his strength by wild rage. Unfortunately,
the horse of the former being severely wounded,
became unmanageable, and in spite of all his
efforts, bore him back to the edge of the. lists,
across which he seemed about to be forced, when
Blancheflower, drawing aside her veil, exclaimed—

“Ah, Florice, if thou wert here to assist
me!”

This sent a thrill of strength through the prince.
He attacked with fresh energy, his sword seemed
to move like lightning, and at every stroke was
covered with blood; in his turn, the son of Ajoub
began to be driven back; and at length Florice,
uttering a prayer to the God of the Christians
and of his mistress, at the same moment aimed
a tremendous blow, which almost severed his ~
adversary’s head from his body. Down fell the
false champion into the dust. With a cry of
despair, Ajoub rushed forward towards the body of
his son, but met with the same fate at the hands
of the conqueror. Then one of the Iman’s slaves,
conscience-stricken, flung himself at the king’s
feet, and confessed that by his master’s orders he
had prepared the poisoned dish. Thus was the
wicked plot revealed. The king and queen took
the slandered maiden to their arms, and bid her
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 155

thank the gallant knight who had saved her from
a frightful death. Ajoub’s corpse was flung-on
the flames kindled for Blancheflower, and she was
hailed as innocent by the joyful shouts of all the
spectators.

The victorous knight did not reveal his name or
rank, but having saluted the king and queen, and
also the lovely damsel whose innocence he had
made clear, he rode out of the city, and returned
with all speed to his uncle’s kingdom. Rightly
he dreaded his father’s displeasure if he ventured
to proclaim his unabated love for the Christian
princess and declare himself as her champion.



AY

Covered with blood and faint from his wounds,
he reached the court of his uncle, where no
inquiries could move him to tell what adventure
he had essayed. His hurts were severe, but his
mind tormented him more than his body. Secrecy
and separation only fanned the flame of his love;
he could not bear to think that Blancheflower
was in the midst of enemies, while he lay helpless
on his-couch. His sufferings increased; and the
physician who was called to him, was at no loss te
156 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

discover their chief cause, for the poor youth kept
wildly repeating the name of Blancheflower, and
no other thought seemed to live in his fevered
brain. Florice’s uncle, who had come to look on
the prince with great kindness and esteem, learned
the truth from the physician, and wrote to his
' brother, proposing that Blancheflower should be
sent to him from Murcia, seeing that her presence
alone would be able to cure a sickness that might
end in death. :

Alas! this well-meant letter had a very different
result from that hoped by the writer. King Felix
was wroth to find that Florice still persisted
against his wishes in this attachment to the
queen’s favourite. His hatred of Blancheflower
was kindled again, and again he gave heed to the
advice of Mohady, who kept persuading him that
unless she were got rid of, the prince would
certainly be turned away from the faith of his
ancestors. And Florice, before he had recovered
his strength, saw the talisman clouding over anew
to warn him that fresh danger was approaching
bis beloved.

He rose from his sick-bed, and in spite of all
that his friends could say or do, set out again for
Murcia. But when he reached his father’s home,
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 157

what terrible news met him on the threshold?
Blancheflower, they told him, was dead, and his
father, pitying and trying to comfort his unhappy
son, showed him a splendid tomb on which were
inscribed her name, her virtues, and her untimely
fate.

“Would that I had died with her!” cried the
prince, throwing himself upon the cold marble of
the tomb, and vowing that he would never leave
this spot, where all the hopes of his life lay buried.

He swooned away, and by his father’s orders
was carried into the palace and tended with every
care. But the wound had gone to his heart; he
lay overwhelmed with dumb despair; and all who
saw him said that he must die.

Not once did he speak, till his mother, fearing
for her son’s life, came to his chamber, dismissed
the attendants, barred the door, and with many
tears told him a story, the first word of which
sent the blood to his white cheek, and took the
seal of misery from his lips. Blancheflower was
not dead. This cruel tale, this mocking tomb,
were but intended to deceive him, and to kill his
love. The unhappy princess had been sold as a
slave, and carried off by the merchants into the
East. His sorrowful mother could no longer keep
158 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

this wicked secret, and willingly encouraged him
in what she knew would be his first wish, to
follow Blancheflower, and rescue her wherever
she might be.

The prince’s weakness left him as if by magic.
He rose from his bed, and embracing his mother,
_ declared that he would never see her again till he
brought back her friend and his loved one. From
that moment he gave himself up to the search.
Agonised as he was by the thought of the sorrow
and hardships which at that moment his dear
princess might be bearing, made doubly bitter,
perhaps, by the belief that he had deserted her,
Florice was well aware of the need of prudence
and foresight. The first step was to persuade his
father that a sea-voyage might restore his health.
This was easily done; the king, rejoiced to see
his son coming to himself, ordered a ship to be
prepared at once, and placed the prince on board
under the care of the mollah Mohady. No com-
panion could have been chosen less to the mind
of Florice, who, however, did not oppose his
father’s wishes, and hoped to be able to get rid
of this fanatical guardian. He learned the name
of the Eastern port to which Blancheflower had
been taken. Thither the ship was steered, and
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 159

every day that separated him from it seemed to
the prince like a year. :

But when they came in sight of land, a violent
storm arose, and in spite of all their exertions, the
ship was wrecked upon a wild and rocky-coast.
The tutor and all on board were drowned, all but
Florice, to whom the hopes of rescuing his beloved
mistress gave a preternatural strength. He alone
escaped and swam to shore, carrying with him
Blancheflower’s talisman and a-bag of valuable
jewels.



VI

When, exhausted by his struggles, the waves
cast him on firm ground, he found nothing but
bare rocks and barren sand; no sign of human
habitation met his eye. But soon beginning to
recover strength, he took his way inland, and
after walking for some hours, reached a lovely
valley, filled with fertile fields and well-built
houses, which assured him that at least he had
fallen among a civilised people. The first
persons he met received him with kindness, and
conducted him to the residence of the chief of
the village, a venerable man, whose countenance
160 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

bespoke both benevolence and wisdom, and who
no sooner learned the stranger’s unfortunate plight
than he offered him every assistance, and begged
him to be his guest as long as he pleased. Florice
was at once provided with dry clothes, and was
conducted to a chamber, where he was invited to
take the repose of which he stood so much in
need. When he awoke, he found supper in readi-
ness; and his host showed himself most able and
willing to entertain him. Florice was touched by
this kindness; he felt drawn towards the friendly
chief, but it did not escape the observation of the
latter that he scarcely eat or drank, and seemed
to be pre-occupied by some great anxiety which
banished all cheerfulness from his mind. With
delicacy and sympathy, Saadi, such was the old
man’s name, ventured to invite his guest’s con-
fidence, and to hint that it would give him plea-
. sure if he could relieve his distress. And Florice,
unable to hide his secret, told him that he was a
Mahometan prince, and that he pined with love
for a Christian maid, who for his sake was suffering
great misfortunes. The old man smiled benignly,
and bid him have no fear that he would frown on
such an attachment.
“JT am,” said he,“a Persian by birth, and a
FLORICF AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 161

worshipper of the Sun, a religion which teaches
its votaries that all men are brothers, and that no
difference of faith or race should be allowed to set
barriers between them. I, too, have suffered much
from the hatred of ignorance and fanaticism, and
it will be the purest of pleasures to me if I can
help another in such a case.”

Then Florice could no longer contain himself,
but opened his whole heart to his new friend, and
told all his story, not concealing his name and
rank, and informing Saadi how Blancheflower had
been sold as a slave, and how his mind had no
rest till he could find her and save her from this
cruel fate.

“The first part of your task will not be hard,”
said Saadi, when he had listened attentively to
this tale. “You are at present in the very country
to which your love has been brought. And if she
is fair as you say, she cannot fail to have been
bought for the seraglio of the Sultan, who is now,
indeed, absent with his army, but whose agents visit
the slave-market on the arrival of every vessel, and
make choice of all the most beautiful damsels.”

“Where is this seraglio?” cried Florice, leaping
from his seat, with hope and eagerness sparkling

in ‘his eyes.
162 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Softly, good youth. The Sultan’s palace is
not far from this spot, but you must be cautious
how you approach it. It is surrounded by a
wide park, to enter which is death. But I have
a plan in my head, which I will communicate to
you; and if once you can obtain admission, I am
‘luckily able to help you. The Sultan, as I said,
is at the camp. In his absence, the chief of the
seraglio, a negro named Mozab, is all powerful.
This man was once my slave, and I know him well.
I taught him to play chess and to have a
passionate liking for the game, of his skill in
which he is ridiculously proud. If you can make
use of this foible to gain intimacy with him, you
will no doubt be able to learn what you wish to
know, and afterwards we can concert together
what.should be done.”

The prince warmly declared his gratitude for
this advice, and, in his impatience, was for setting
out at once. But Saadi, pointing out the need of
the greatest caution, urged him to remain all
night, and consider well the plan he proposed.
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER, 163

VII.

Florice allowed himself to be persuaded to pass
the night at Saadi’s house. But his anxiety
prevented him from sleeping; all night he thought
of Blancheflower, and longed for the moment
when he should clasp her in his arms, or die in the
attempt. At break of day he rose, and having
been provided by Saadi with a horse, a falcon, and
a bag of gold, he rode hastily in the direction of
the Sultan’s palace, a magnificent pile, crowned
by domes and minarets that sparkled in the sun,
and surrounded by beautiful gardens-and a wide
park full of the richest and rarest trees in the
world.

About mid-day he came to the wall of this
park, and, following out the old man’s counsel, let
loose his falcon, which flew towards the palace.
Florice followed it into the park, but he had no
sooner crossed the boundary than a troop of armed
men sprung upon him, seized him, and led him
into the presence of a splendidly attired negro,
who fiercely asked him what rashness led one so
young to such certain death.

“Most gracious lord,” said Florice, bowing low
before the negro, whom he perceived to be Mozab
164 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

himself, “I am a foreigner, and ignorant of your
laws. As I was riding near this spot, my falcon
flew towards the palace, and I followed it, knowing
not that I should thus incur your displeasure.
But surely you are too just and benevolent to
punish me for a crime which I committed in
_ ignorance.”

Mozab’s vanity was touched by the deference
with which Florice addressed him. In a softer
tone, he inquired where the stranger came from,
and why he visited this country.

“T come from Spain,” said Florice, “and my
reason for visiting your country may seem a
strange one. I am passionately fond of the game
of chess, and I have attained such proficiency in
it, that I could find no player to beat me at home,
Hearing, then, of the skill of the chess-players of
the East, I came hither to seek an opportunity of
matching myself against them.”

“Go no farther!” cried Mozab joyfully. “I
myself will give you a lesson ;” and turning to the
guards, he bid them release the youth, since he
was a stranger and ignorant of their customs.

The negro then courteously led the way to his
own apartment, and Florice’s heart beat high as he
found himself a welcome guest in the palace, where
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 165

it might be that only a wall divided him from his
beloved one. He strove, however, to conceal his
emotion, which the negro did not notice, so
impatient was he to show his skill. He offered
refreshments to his new acquaintance, but scarcely
gave him time to eat, and hastened to get out the
chess-board. Mozab was covetous as well as vain ;
his eyes glistened when Florice drew out a bag
of five hundred gold bezants, and laid them down
as his stake.

The game began. At first the players seemed
to be equally matched. Mozab put forth his best
efforts, and, after atime, Florice, having taken the
measure of his skill, let him think that he was
gaining the advantage. The negro was chuckling
and looking greedily at the gold bezants, when his
adversary changed his tactics, and after allowing
himself to lose one or two pieces, suddenly took
the offensive, gave check twice and checkmate in
another move.

Mozab could scarcely conceal his vexation. He
muttered a few sullen words, ran to his cabinet,
took out a thousand bezants, and proposed that
they should play again for the double stake.
Florice readily consented, and won this game
with greater ease than the former. Then the
166 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

negro gave vent to his anger and disappointment,
and called out—
“OQ Saadi! you have not taught me well enough
“Nay,” said Florice politely, “you were discon-
certel by my unexpected arrival—you have not |

1?

yet become familiar with my style of play. I am
. sure, if we were to be matched fairly, you would
prove the stronger. As for the sum which I have
staked, suffer me to show myself not ignorant of
the customs of the Hast in addressing a great man,
and accept this gold as a humble offering from one
who desires no favour but that of being admitted
to your society, and taking from you the lessons
which you are so well able to give.” :

Mozab was as delighted as astonished by this
courtesy and generosity.

“By the Prophet! you are a man after my
heart,” he cried. “Let us be friends. Come
to-morrow and sup with me. To-night I must
leave you, as I have to wait upon a new slave of
surpassing beauty—a Christian maiden of Spain,
“who has just been added to the Sultan’s harem.”

Florice had almost betrayed himself by an
exclamation of joy. What was his emotion when
he found his hopes thus confirmed, and saw that
he might count on obtaining the friendship of
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 167

Blancheflower’s guardian? Eagerly, as he took
leave of Mozab, he promised to return next day,
and they separated with every protestation of
friendly regard. But as Florice rode forth, and
saw in the moonlight the towers which contained
his love, he checked his horse, and felt that he
could scarcely tear himself away from the spot.
Fain would he have wandered all night round
these sacred walls, happy if only he could -
remember that Blancheflower’s sweet eyes were
hidden behind them. But more prudent thoughts
prevailed, and he returned to the house of Saadi,
who was anxiously waiting to know how he had
succeeded,



VIII.

Next day at the appointed time Florice pre-
sented himself before the palace, and was at once
admitted by order of Mozab, whom he found
impatient to begin the game. This time he
proposed to play for but fifty pieces of gold, to
which Florice agreed, and allowed his adversary to
win three games. Such success put him into
good humour, and he was still better pleased when

the prince handed him the money in a gold-
M
168 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

embroidered purse with a diamond clasp, saying at
the same time—

“T was certain you could beat me as soon as we
were fairly matched. My father is the best player
in Spain, but even he would have to acknowledge
your superiority.”

_ The slaves now announced supper, which was
served in a magnificent apartment, and consisted
of such rich viands as Mozab thought worthy of
his guest. First they loaded the table with savoury
stews of flesh and fowl; the second course consisted
of pastry and confectionery; the third of every
kind of fruit, When this was removed, having
ordered the attendants to leave them and locked
the door, Mozab opened a cupboard and produced
a jar of rich wine and two crystal goblets, which
he invited his friend to fill, regardless of the
precepts of the Koran. Florice pretended to
drink; the negro made no pretence, but quaffed
goblet after goblet of the forbidden juice, till he
grew quite uproarious in his mirth. He chattered,
he sang, he vowed eternal devotion to his new
friend; he embraced Florice with drunken warmth,
and as he staggered back to his seat, his turban
fell off. Florice hastened to spring forward and
pickitup. He carefully replaced it on the negro’s
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 169

head, at the same time fastening it witha splendid
emerald brooch, at the sight of which Mozab could
no longer contain himself.

“Why, who are you,” he cried, “that give gifts
worthy of an emperor ?”

Florice seized the favourable moment of the
negro’s admiration and astonishment. Taking him
by the hand, and whispering in his ear, he told
him who he was, and what had brought him
thither, and besought Mozab to allow him to see
Blancheflower, were it but for a moment,

Such a daring proposal at first took away the
negro’s breath; he was in doubt whether he
should not call the guard and have this audacious
youth strangled on the spot; but as he hesitated,
Florice threw round his neck a chain of pearls and
diamonds worth a fortune, and bade him know
that this was nothing to the rewards which he had
the power and the will to bestow upon the man who
should aid him in his enterprise. Avarice, drunk-
enness, friendship joined to break down Mozab’s
fidelity to his master. He grasped the prince’s

_hand and promised to grant his request, if he, for
his part, would keep the matter profoundly secret.
Florice readily promised, and joyfully listened to
the plan by which the negro proposed to aid him,
170 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Fach of the Sultan’s wives has an apartment
of her own,” he said, “into which no man enters
but by my orders. Luckily, a way of conveying
you to your mistress is not wanting. She begged
me yesterday, as the sole favour she had to ask, to
send her some flowers, and I have prepared a large
basket of roses and lilies which to-morrow morning
four eunuchs will bear to her chamber. In this
basket it will be easy to conceal you; but first you
must pretend to leave the palace. As soon as you
arrive at a little grove which you will see near the
gate, let your horse go loose, and hide yourselt
among the trees. Thence I will fetch you before
daybreak ; and,remember, the slightest imprudence
on your part will betray us both to certain death,
for though the Sultan is absent, he has spies
throughout the palace who inform him of all
disobedience to his orders.”

So spoke the negro, whom the importance
and excitement ‘of the occasion seemed to have
sobered all at once. Florice assured him that he
would obey his instructions closely, and left the
palace, as directed, hiding himself in the grove,
where he passed the night in a state of the most
restless expectancy.

He thought nothing of the danger of what he
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER, 171

was about to do; his mind was on fire with hope
of seeing Blancheflower and being at least able to
die at her feet,



IX,

Mozab was faithful to his promise. arly in the
morning he fetched Florice from the grove, and
admitted him by a private entrance to his own
apartments. There he made him lie down ina
large basket, and completely covered him with
roses and lilies. Then he summoned four black
slaves, and bid them take the basket to the
chamber of the Christian maid.

Grumbling under the unusual weight of their
burden, the slaves carried Florice through passages
and staircases that seemed to him endless. At
length they paused, laid their burden down and
withdrew. And then, to his rapturous delight,
he heard the well-known voice of Blancheflower.
She was speaking to herself in the once familiar
language which recalled her lost liberty. The
first word that met the prince’s ears was his own
name,
“Florice! Ah, if my Florice but knew my
cruel fate, And yet, his fidelity could but little
_ avail me. How could he tear me from the power
172 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of this heathen tyrant, who soon—I shudder to
think how soon—will return to his palace, and
force me to submit to his hateful embraces.
Never! I will rather die than become the wife
of any man—save one!”

Dropping her tears upon the gay blossoms, the
pure maiden, sweeter than all roses and fairer than
all lilies, stooped down to take a handful of the
flowers whose fragrance was like a memory of
days gone by. Suddenly Florice stirred, and
Blancheflower, affrighted, saw that some one was
concealed in the basket. She could not restrain
herself from acry ofalarm. The eunuchs, who were
not yet out of hearing, rushed back at the sound.

The prince gave himself up for lost. But, with
fortunate presence of mind, Blancheflower con-
cealed her agitation, and told them that a gnat
hidden among the flowers had stung her hand.

The slaves once more withdrew. Then Florice
could wait no longer. He raised himself among
the flowers, leaped forth, knelt at his trembling
lady’s feet, and, blinded by the joy of her presence,
was only able to seize her hand and cover it with
kisses.

“Florice !”

“Q Blancheflower! with what peril and pain
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER. 178

have I sought you! Never again let us be
separated. Let us be betrothed here, on this spot.
The God of the Christians is good, He will bless
our union, and who then can part us!”

For a moment Biancheflower was silent, then
with eager eyes, she asked Florice if he were
willing to be baptised into her religion.

“By thy hands, yes!” cried the eager prince;
and, kneeling, they vowed to Heaven that hence-
forth their lives should be one in faith, as in love.
It was a wild dream of joy.

But as Florice, rising, turned to clasp his beloved
in his arms, she caught sight of the talisman
which hung round his neck, and started back with
an exclamation of alarm. Its bright surface was
clouded over with the warning of danger.

At the same moment approaching steps were
heard without, and a cry that the Sultan was at
hand. Unexpectedly he had just returned from
the army, and was hastening to visit the new
acquisition to his harem, of whose beauty he had
heard so much. Already he was at the door, and
_ his attendants were ordering it to be opened.
Florice felt for his sword; alas! he had left it in
Mozab’s apartments. He threw himself before
Blancheflower. She knelt and raised her hands in
174 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

prayer. He rushed to the door and strove to
secure it. But in vain, the lock was burst open,
and the Sultan, irritated at the delay opposed to
his commands, stalked into the chamber, and
raged like an angry lion to find a man within
these sacred precincts.

——

Xx,

Escape and resistance were equally hopeless,
The lovers were torn from each other’s arms, and
secured by the attendants. Nor was there delay
of judgment. For such a crime there could be
but one punishment. By order of the wrathful
monarch, they were dragged forth to instant death
in the court-yard of the palace.

Hand in hand the lovers went to their fate, and
the hearts of all were moved with pity, who saw
how fair and young were the doomed pair, and
how tenderly they strove to cling together and to
comfort each other in this bitter hour. ‘Then as
the Sultan urged the executioners to haste, Florice
cast himself on his knees, and cried—

“Me only ! slay one only, for I shall die twice if
she dies for me!”

And Blancheflower threw herself before him
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWER, 175

and besought the Sultan rather to take her life
alone—

“The guilt was mine! Spare him, and let me
suffer the penalty.”

The furious ruler drew his sword, and would
have put them to death with his ownband. Then
both knelt, and stretched out their necks together
to receive the fatal blow, and Florice cried—

“Tamaman! Let me meet death first.”

The Sultan stayed his uplifted arm. His mood
began to change. The sight of such loveliness and
such devotion melted even his anger to pity. He
saw how all around were weeping, he turned away
his head, the sword fell from his hand. Then his
lords and counsellors came near and besought him
to have mercy. He bid the lovers rise.

The Sultan was a generous man at heart,
When he heard the story of Florice’s adventures,
he not only forgave him, but promised to resign to
him the maiden whom he had loved so tenderly
and so truly—nay, he insisted on having their
marriage solemnised at once, and entertained the —
newly wedded lovers with the greatest hospitality
and magnificence. He even pardoned the faith-
less Mozab at the prayer of Florice, for there was
no favour too great for the prince to ask. so well
176 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

did he gain upon the heart of this Eastern poten-
tate, who had almost made him a victim to the
first outburst of his anger.

Florice had now won the hope of his life. A
single thought troubled him. How could his
father be reconciled to this marriage? Would the
king ever consent to receive a Christian princess
as his daughter? They knew not what was then
passing in the palace of Murcia, where King Felix
lay on his death-bed, and messengers were hurrying
forth to search far and wide for the young prince.
‘When this news reached them, Florice and
Blancheflower set out for Murcia in all haste, but
arrived only in time to close the old king’s eyes and
to learn that he died repenting of his cruelty to the
Christian maid, and beseeching her forgiveness.

Florice now mounted the throne of his ancestors,
and he and his young bride did not fail to make
themselves dear to the hearts of the people. His
mother lived long to rejoice in the union of these
two, whom she looked upon as equally her own
children. The new king brought to his court the
wise and benevolent Saadi, and governed in all
things by his counsel. Thus, after so many
troubles, fears, and dangers, these faithful lovers
were at last happy and prosperous.
Ghe Hansom.



was at the height of his power. Long
had he afflicted the true faith, and made
Christian blood to flow like water upon the soil



of the Holy Land. Weary of his oppression, the
knights of Christendom had at last joined to make
a struggle against him. From all countries they
came in arms, lords and heroes of renown, and
if courage could have given victory, the Sultan
would have been overthrown. But Heaven willed
it otherwise; and in a great battle well-nigh all
the Christian champions were slain or taken
‘captive.

Among the prisoners was Hugo of Tabarie,
forced to yield when from loss of blood he could

- no longer hold the sword with which he had laid
177
178 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

low many a turbaned infidel. Covered with
wounds, he was brought into the presence of
Saladin, who was right proud to have such a
warrior in his power. And when he learned that
this knight was a powerful prince m his own
country, he asked him why he had not chosen to
remain there in peace, rather than travel far
across the seas to suffer hardships and affront
death.
_' “Nay,” said the Christian, “that were the part
of the churl that cares not but to eat and sleep
like the beasts of the field. Honour and religion ~
constrain us who are vowed to knighthood; and
therefore, heedless of pains and dangers, we come
to rescue the sacred sepulchre from your profane
hands.”
' “Qn a vain errand, truly, ye have come,” said
the Sultan sternly. “And since the fortune of
battle is thus, ye shall not go lightly away. Thy
ransom must be a hundred thousand golden
bezants, a fit price for such a prince; or thou
must pay for this rashness with thy head.”

“So be it,” replied Sir Hugo, unmoved. “I am
ready to die, if need be; but as for the ransom, if
I were to sell all my lands, I could not bring half
the sum.”
THE RANSOM. 179

Saladin marked him well, and was pleased by
his firmness of spirit.

“’Twere pity a brave knight should die for lack
of gold. This much I grant thee: go freely back
to thy friends and seek their aid, leaving me thy
promise to return upon a set day. Surely the
Christians will give much to save such a
champion.”

Sir Hugo thanked the Sultan, and gave the
promise required of him. The day was appointed
for his return, and as soon as his wounds would
allow him to travel, he set forth from the camp
of the infidels, and went among the Christians of
that part of the world, seeking to borrow money for
his ransom. But alas! he could not gather half
that great sum before the day on which he had
promised to return. There was nothing for him
but to die, and in his heart sadly bidding farewell
to his wife and children far over the sea, he came
to deliver himself into the Sultan’s. power, and
told the tale of his ill-success.

“And I,” said Saladin, “have sworn by the
Prophet that thou shalt die, unless the ransom be
paid to the last bezant. Yet it grieves me to
slay a man who has thus given himself to death
rather than break his word. Many a one, in such
180 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

a strait, would have thought less of my trust than
of his own safety.”

“The word of a knight is stronger than iron
chains and bars,” said the captive proudly. “On
the day when I was received into that sacred order
I vowed to hold honour dearer than life, and
he who doubts our good faith knows little of
christian chivalry.”

“I would know more of this order and its
vows,’ said the Sultan, leading his prisoner aside
into his chamber, where they might converse in
private. Hugo hesitated, not willing to speak
freely on these things to an infidel, but at Sala-
din’s earnest entreaty he consented to describe the
ceremonies of dedication to knighthood, and the
monarch listened with interest and growing respect
for such an institution.

This degree, he learned, is the noblest of earthly
honours, beside which the pride of kingdoms,
lordships, and wealth are as nought. The gentle
youth who aspires to it, after worthily serving as
page and squire, is duly prepared by vigil, fast, and
prayer. Then Sir Hugo told how his hair is
cut close, and how he is bathed in pure water, a
type of that inward cleanness without which no
candidate should dare to present himself. He is
THE RANSOM. 181

now laid upon a soft couch, that may remind him of
the rest that in Paradise awaits the faithful soldier
of the cross. His limbs are covered with a shirt of
spotless white, a symbol of the purity in which
it ever behoves him to keep his body. Piece by
piece his armour and habiliments are girded on,
and the mystic meaning of each is explained.
Over all is thrown a rich red robe, as a token that
he must always be ready to shed his blood in every
good cause. Now, bareheaded, he kneels lowly
before the sovereign or warrior of renown at whose
hands he is to be made knight, who strikes him
on the shoulder with the flat of a sword, the
last blow that he may receive without dishonour.
Lastly, his spurs and helmet are fastened on, and
his sword is given him with a solemn charge.

“Henceforth,” ended Sir Hugo, “he is bound to
speak truth and to hate liars, to honour religion,
to obey his king, to be courteous and helpful to all
ladies, to sustain the right and to confound those
that do wrong, to succour the oppressed in all the
world, to despise hardships and death, and to fear
the face of no man.”

Saladin heard, and for a while sat in deep
reflection. Then he rose and without a word led
his prisoner into a hall crowded with Saracen
182 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

emirs and chiefs. Silence fell on all that assembly
when they saw their great sovereign, and thus he
addressed them—

“Behold a gallant enemy who must die for want
of ransom. Which among you will give of your
wealth to buy his life?”

The generous Saracens pressed forward and vied
with each other who should offer most in such a
cause. Freely they poured out their gold before
the Sultan, and soon the sum required lay in a
glittering heap. Saladin turned to the captive
‘and said—

“See, thou art free! and accept this gold
which I give thee in return for the lesson thou
hast taught me, and as a proof that there are
noble minds in our host as well as among
the christian knights. Go back to tell through
Christendom that Saladin can be as courteous to
the vanquished as he is well known to be fierce
on the field.”

Overcome with surprise and gratitude, the
knight could scarcely thank his generous con-

-queror. But when he found words, he prayed that
with the gold he might be permitted to ransom
some of his companions in captivity.

“Tis well,” replied the Sultan, “that I have a
THE RANSOM. 183

richer gift to offer thee, since gold is no meet
guerdon for such aman. I set them all free—
they are thine.”

He kept his word. The Christian prisoners
were set free forthwith, and spent several days
in feasting and sport among their enemies, now
for the nonce become friends. Then, loaded with
presents, and attended by an honourable escort,
they were conducted to the camp of the Crusaders,
by whom, henceforth, the magnanimity of Saladin
was known and esteemed no less than his prowess
‘in war.



N
Ghe Son of Amadis,

+
+



I



HE wanderings and trials of that renowned
knight Amadis de Gaul, seemed at last
to be at an end. Reconciled to his




father-in-law, King Lisuarte of Great Britain, and
triumphant over his enemies, he now ruled in
the Firm Island, and was publicly united to the
incomparable princess Oriana, who had long in
secret been his. Archalaus, that wicked enchanter
and implacable foe of his house, was a prisoner
in the palace, where a dark iron cage and heavy
fetters condemned him to brood in solitary rage
over fresh schemes of malignity which he despaired
of being able to carry out.

But the sky of their happiness was not long
unclouded for Amadis and Oriana. One day they

were walking together on the shore, when a veiled
j 184
THE SON OF AMADIS. 185

woman in long black robes came and threw herself
at the knight’s feet.

“My lord,” she cried with a lamentable voice,
“have pity upon my unhappy lot! Never, they say,
did lady appeal in vain to your generosity. No, sir,
I will not rise from my knees till you have granted
me a boon! And you, madam, do not fear: I seek
nothing of your husband which will take him from
your side. The gift is one within his power to
grant by a single word, and I beseech you, by your
love for him, to join your entreaties to mine that
he will not deny me the favour I desire.”

Oriana’s tender heart was moved by the tears
of this afflicted lady. She joined in requesting
Amadis to fulfil her petition, which he, in his
courtesy, needed no beseeching to do.

“Rise, madam,” he said, taking her by the hand.
“The boon you demand of me is already granted.”

Then the lady rose, drew aside her black veil,
and exclaimed triumphantly—

“ Amadis, do you know me? I am the wife of
Archalaus, and my demand is, that you let him go
free.”

Amadis and Oriana were indignant at the
cunning and audacity with which this woman
had beguiled them into granting her request,
186 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

But the knight had promised, and his word was
sacred.

“Follow me,” he said, and led the way to the
narrow iron cage in which her husband was
confined.

His gigantic form was bent double ; his hair and
nails had grown to an enormous length ; his eyes
gleamed savagely; indeed, he looked more like
a beast than a man, and his first words showed
that the wretch’s evil disposition was not a whit
changed.

“ Archalaus, how would you thank me if, for the
sake of your wife, I were to set you free ?”

“ By ceaseless hatred and vengeance,” hissed out
the enchanter, gnashing his teeth, and glaring upon
them so as to make Oriana. shudder.

Amadis would waste no more time in parleying
with this monster. He drew his trembling bride
away, and gave orders that the prisoner should be
at once released. This was done, and Archalaus
and his companion made haste to leave the palace
and to set sail from the shores of the Firm Island.

Amadis could now no longer give himself up
to enjoyment of the delights of his new abode.
Such a palace was not to be seen in all the world
beside ; it was built of polished marble, adorned
THE SON OF AMADIS. 187

within and without with gold, silver, ivory, amber,
alabaster, rich woods from every country under the
sun, and precious stones of all kinds. The garden
around, blooming in perpetual summer, was filled
with flowers of every hue, statues, fountains,
sparkling brooks, cool arbours, delicious fruits in
abundance, and the rarest and most beautiful
trees, the branches of which resounded with the
songs of gorgeously plumaged birds. Nothing had
been left undone by the power of the magician
who had made this palace and bestowed it as the
reward of valour and constancy. But in the midst
of all the magnificence of which he was now
master, Amadis was ill at ease, troubled by a pre-
sentiment that some evil would erelong come of
his generosity. He could scarcely look at the face
of his beloved Oriana without thinking of the
unknown calamity that Archalaus might at that
moment be preparing for her.

II.

Too true were the forebodings of the lord of the
Firm Island. Before many days had passed, there
were gathered together in his palace the sove-_
reigns of the neighbouring countries and several
188 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

of his old companions in arms, who had come to
be present at the ceremony of knighting his son
Esplandian. And as they sat at a banquet, came
news that King Lisuarte had, while hunting in the
woods, been ensnared by three damsels and carried
away into captivity, but none knew whither.
Here could plainly be seen the hand of Archalaus,
who as yet durst not strike a blow at the prince
himself, of whose power he had been made so well
aware,

The guests hastened to console with Oriana under
her father’s misfortune, and willingly offered her
the help of their arms. Never had the world seen
such a goodly band of knights as met now in that
hall, and were taking earnest counsel for the dis-
covery and deliverance of Lisuarte, when loud
cries of fear and wonder were heard without
suddenly interrupting their deliberations.

Amadis and his friends ran forth, sword in hand,
and hurried down to the shore, followed by Oriana,
leaning on her son Esplandian. What did they
behold!

A mountain of fire seemed to be swiftly advanc-
ing towards them over the calm surface of the sea;
it sent forth neither smoke nor flame, but glowed
throughout with a brilliance which dazzled every
THE SON OF AMADIS, 189

eye, even at a great distance. If it touched the
shore, the whole island must be burned to ashes.
The heat could already be felt more scorching
than that of the noonday sun, when the fiery
mass burst open with a terrific crash; the two
sides fell hissing into the sea, and disclosed what
appeared to be a monstrous green serpent, which
cleft the waves with its gleaming wings stretched
out like banks of oars. The head of this prodigy
was raised out of the water higher than the mast
of the largest ship, and its throat vomited forth
streams of flame and frightful cries. As it kept
approaching, the knights upon the shore, for all
their intrepidity, were on the point of turning to
fly, if the example of Amadis had not constrained
them to hold their ground.

Their astonishment was still greater when the
marvellous thing, now close at hand, was seen to
undergo a new transformation. Its wings beat
furiously, sending up to the sky clouds of spray,
from which issued a stately gilded ship with
glistening sails. From stem to stern it was
covered with rare flowers and precious gems, and
on the snowy deck stood a band of nymphs,
surrounding a queenly figure upon a throne of
emerald, and filling the air with the entrancing
190 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

music of golden flutes and harps. To these
harmonious sounds, the magnificent vessel glided
into the port. -

“Tis Urganda the Unknown!” ae Amadis,
hastening forward to meet his powerful and
beneficent protectress, as soon as this recognition
released him from the spell of surprise.

It was indeed the fairy Urganda. Usually, ©
she disclosed herself under the most strange and
often the most hideous forms, which could inspire
nothing but terror. But now, coming amidst her
friends, she appeared in her natural beauty, as
a blooming maiden, uniting all the freshness of
spring with all the richness of summer. Amadis
and Esplandian gave her their hands to lead her
on shore; the assembled knights and kings pressed
~ forward to salute ber; and she, graciously embrac-
ing Oriana, spoke thus—

“Did I not assure you that you should see me
again, if ever you were in need of my aid? Iam
come to let you know that Lisuarte is unharmed,
and shall yet be set free. But, valiant and well-
tried knights, it is vain that you will traverse sea
and land to discover him; this achievement is
reserved for one alone.”

“For which of us?” cried they all in a breath.
THE SON OF AMADIS. 191

“For him who is youngest among you, and
must now enter upon the career that may prove
him worthy of his illustrious birth.”

“For me?” cried young Esplandian, starting
forth from his mother’s side with sparkling eyes.

Urganda smiled and beckoned’ with her hand.
Straightway her damsels began to play so mar-
vellously upon their instruments, that the sweet
sounds fell like a spell upon the ears of all who
heard. Their eyes softly closed; they gave them-
selves up to the delicious music, and insensibly
they all sank into a deep sleep.

It was hours before they awoke. Urganda had
sailed away, and no trace of the wonderful green
serpent was to be seen in the horizon. Esplan-
dian was gone from among them. In the hand
of Amadis was a scroll bearing these words—

“Do you, kings and heroes, return to your own
countries to dwell there in repose, leaving glory
and the prize of arms to those who begin now
to climb the changeable round of Fortune, and
contenting yourselves with the favour which she
has hitherto shown you. And thou, Amadis of
Gaul, who hast conquered so many fierce knights
and cruel giants, let the honours already gained
suffice thee; now taste the sweets and bitters of
192 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

royal rule, and learn to be diligent in great affairs,
as in thy young years thou hast so long and
so faithfully done the duties of a knight-errant.
Rest henceforth in peace, knowing that a scion of
thy race shall never be wanting to perpetuate thy
renown! I have said: too often have I proved
my goodwill towards thee and thine that thou
shouldst hesitate to trust thy unfailing friend
“URGANDA THE UNKNOWN.”

—++——

IIT.

Esplandian had been carried off upon the deck
of the Green Serpent. To the youth it seemed as
if the music wafted him away in a delicious dream,
and when he awoke, he found himself alone, lying
upon the shore of an island, in the midst of the
ocean.

He rose and looked around him. The island
was nothing but a high, bare rock, rising steeply
from the waves, and crowned by the ruins of a
vast tower. There was no sign of life or vegeta-
tion upon its craggy sides, and no other land could
be seen across the calm surface of fhe sea, nor was
any sound heard in that solitude; even the water
lapped silently upon the stony edge. It was a
THE SON OF AMADIS. 193

place to try the spirit of the bravest; but Esplan-
dian did not fear. He felt certain that this was
the first step of a glorious career of adventures to
which his destiny was about to lead him; and his
heart beat high as he began to climb the rock,
making towards the ruined tower.

The way was long and steep, and it seemed as
if he should never reach that tower, but the young
knight toiled on undaunted. He found himself
clad from head to foot in new and _ brilliant
armour, yet without sword or other weapon; and
before long he was aware of hissings and growlings
within the deep caverns of the rocks, which told
that there might be fierce beasts to be encountered.
Still he turned not back. The rays of the noonday
sun beat upon him till he had almost fainted from
the heat, and often he was forced to halt to take
breath ; then, looking down, he saw that he bad
mounted to a dizzy height, while the summit
appeared ever nearer the clouds. But he was
resolved to press on while strength was left him,
and after hours of this laborious journeying, he
stood at last upon the rocky platform from which
rose the crumbling ruins of the tower, and amidst
them a little temple of Hercules, which he now
perceived for the first time.
194 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

This temple was one solid mass of granite,
without window or other opening. Walls and
roof were polished like a mirror, and there was no
trace of chisel or mortar upon the smooth surface,
‘which reflected back the sun so brightly, as for a
time to dazzle Esplandian’s eyes. The entrance
was by a double door, likewise of granite, the two
sides of which were firmly closed by a great sword
buried to its jewel-studded hilt in the thick
stone. It seemed as if no mortal strength could
force open that door or withdraw the blade that
barred it.

Well-nigh exhausted, the youth advanced slowly
towards the entrance of the temple. At the sight
of the sparkling hilt, he forgot his fatigue, and
sprang eagerly forward to seize it. But before
he could reach the door, a dreadful roar was heard
echoing throughout the ruins, and an enormous
dragon rushed forth.

Esplandian had scarce time to mark its red eyes
and grizzly scales; in an instant it was upon hin,
and, weaponless as he was, hurled him to the
ground, and wound its coils round his body. Hialf-
choked, he struggled in the loathsome embrace,
while the monster endeavoured in vain to tear his
armour with its sharp claws. In vain, too, he
THE SON OF AMADIS, 195

tried to free himself; but the son of Amadis was
no easy prey. He clung to its wings, he dug his
nails into the flesh, he pulled it down with all his
might; man and monster rolled upon the rock in
desperate wrestle ; he dragged it towards the door
of the temple, and despair gave him energy to lay
his hand on the hilt of the sword. To his surprise
the blade started out at the first touch, and with
all the strength left him, he drove it into the
dragon’s throat. At the same moment the gates of
the temple flew open with a crash, and all the island
shook as if an earthquake was upheaving it. So
terrible was the commotion, that as he felt the
dragon’s grasp relax, his brain spun round, and he
staggered to his feet only to fall senseless on therock.

When he came to himself, the shades of night
had fallen, and the pale light of the rising moon
showed the hideous form of the dragon lying —
motionless by his side. The temple was open, and
its interior brilliantly illuminated. He stepped
across the threshold, and saw that the hight
came from a tomb in the centre, which shone with
a splendour like that of the sun. Upon this tomb
couched a gold lion, that in its claws held a rich
scabbard, and before it was an inscription in letters

of fire—
196 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

THE SHEATH OF THE SWORD THAT CAN BE
DRAWN FORTH BY NONE BUT HIM WHO IS DESTINED
TO SURPASS THE RENOWN OF ALL KNIGHTS NOW
_ LIVING.

Esplandian joyfully laid his hand upon the
sheath, which yielded to him as lightly as the
sword. had done. He could not now doubt his
high destiny and the protection of the sage
Urganda, and would not delay an hour in proceed-
ing on the perilous adventure reserved for him.

He left the temple, the heavy doors of which
closed behind him with a sound like thunder, and
took his way down the side of the rock, following
the same path by which he had ascended. In his
hand he bore the drawn sword, the blade of which
flashed so brightly as to guide his footsteps and
light up the crevices on either side. These
crevices swarmed with venomous reptiles, which,
now that the darkness had come on, stole forth
and would have assailed him, but at the glow of
the marvellous sword they fled back into their
holes, and the youth went on unharmed, though
all the air was filled with the angry hissing of
the foul creatures, and he could feel their hot
breath at every step.

The descent seemed as short as the ascent had
THE SON OF AMADIS, 197

been long. A few minutes brought him down to
the edge of the sea, and here he found a skiff
moored, and in it an old man, dressed in Turkish
garb.

“Who are you, and what do you here 2” asked
Esplandian, but the old man did not open his lips.
By signs he gave the knight to understand that
he was dumb, and in the same fashion invited him
to enter the skiff.

Hsplandian stepped on board, and immediately
the mute seized the oars, and pushed off the frail
vessel, which shot forth like an arrow into the open
sea,



IV.

The little bark carried the young knight and
. his dumb companion safely across the ocean, and
at last brought them in sight of a rugged country
covered with woods. Towards this the skiff was
turned, and no sooner had Esplandian leaped on
shore than it sped away, leaving him alone at
the foot of a mountain, on which might be seen a
great castle, fortified with strong walls and tall
towers.

The youth could not think that chance alone
had brought him to this spot. Full of confidence
198 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

in the wise Urganda, and believing himself
_ invincible with his good sword, he followed the
coast, seeking carefully among the rocks for a
path which might lead -him to the castle. After
wandering for an hour he came upon a little
hermitage, surmounted by a cross, and ran
forward to find the inhabitant of this retreat.

_ The hermit was coming from a fountain which
bubbled from the ground in the wood behind his
hut. As he issued from the wood,. he was sur-
prised to see an armed knight who saluted him in
own language, and kneeling before him asked his
blessing.

“For long,” said he, “no inhabitant of this
heathen land has saluted me thus. Your speech,
your aims show that you must be a native of
Great Britain. I also was born a subject of
King Lisuarte. But say, how come you here,
where your life and liberty are in such danger ?”

“Holy father, fear not for me,” replied Esplan-
dian, “I can punish whoever dares to attack me
Ii is fate that has brought me here, and I burn
with impatience to know what achievement it has
decreed for me.”

Then, believing that he might trust the hermit
fully, he related to him what had happened on
THE SON OF AMADIS. 199

the Firm Island, how Archalaus had been set free,
and how King Lisuarte had been entrapped and
carried off.

“Alas!” cried the old man, « your tale is but
too true. You are now near the abode of this
wicked enchanter, to which yesterday he returned,
and brought with him a captive, who is rumoured
to be a great prince. This may be no other than
the King of Great Britain.”

“Would, then, that the sun were not near its
setting! But to-morrow, I will deliver him.”

“My dear son,” said the hermit, looking kindly
on his youth and his comeliness, “beware of offend-
ing Heaven by an enterprise so much above your
power. This castle, named the Forbidden Moun-
tain, is well-nigh inaccessible; and the giants who
guard it would suffice to put a whole army to
flight. Besides, if this prisoner should prove not
to be Lisuarte, why should you imperil yourself
for the sake of an unknown?”

“Tt is enough that he is an unfortunate prince:
his need and the laws of knighthood call me to
his aid. Grant me only shelter for this night, and
to-morrow at daybreak show mea path that will
lead me to this robber’s gates.”

The hermit no longer attempted to dissuade
0
~ 900 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

this high-spirited youth. He seized him by the
hand, bid him welcome to the humble retreat,
and shared with him his frugal provisions.

While Esplandian lay down to rest, the good
old man spent the night in prayers for his success.
At daybreak he awoke his guest, aided him to
arm, and conducted him to a path cut out of the
rock, by which alone the castle of Archalaus could
be reached. There he took leave of the youth,
giving him his blessing, and embracing him with
tears, for he scarce hoped to see him again.

With a light heart, Esplandian sprang up the
steps, that by a winding ascent led him to the
brow of the mountain, where stood the grim
castle, on one side hanging over the sea, and on
the other enclosed by a deep and broad moat. A
narrow bridge crossed it and led to the heavy
iron door, which appeared to be the only entrance.
Before this door was posted a gigantic sentinel,
who advanced towards Esplandian with uplifted
axe, shouting to him to give up his sword, if he
wished to escape death.

“It would be more to the purpose,” replied
Esplandian, “if you were to offer to lead me to
your master, armed as Iam. Go on—I am ready
to follow.”
THE SON OF AMADIS. 201

“Ah! ah!” said the giant. “So you would
play the babbler. Well, I am sorry to spoil your
_ arms; they are new and handsome ones. For
the last time: are you willing to give them up
peaceably? Then, perhaps, I may allow you the
honour of serving me.”

Without another word, Esplandian impatiently
rushed upon him. The giant swung round his
axe and brought it down, but the young knight
caught the blow upon his shield.

“You should love well the shield that has saved
you from such a stroke!” cried the giant, and
raised his ponderous weapon for another blow,
but before he could deliver it, Esplandian drove
the magic sword through his armour, and pierced
him from side to side, leaping back to escape the
torrent of blood which gushed from the wound,

With his last breath, the fallen sentinel raised
a cry of alarm; and as Esplandian sprang over his
body, and rushed through the gate with drawn
sword, he found himself confronted by a taller
giant in green armour.

“Ah, wretch!” he cried in a voice of thunder.
“How could the redoubtable Argantes have fallen
under the arm of such a puny creature ?”

“You shall know anon!” retorted the knight,
202 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

as the portcullis crashed down behind him, and he
found himself alone in the castle of the enemy,
with no hope of escape but in victory. He ran
towards the giant, who came on no less eagerly,
and the combat began with the utmost fury on -
either side. The giant’s wrath redoubled as he
felt his blood flow under the edge of the magic
sword, and Esplandian’s joy was great when he
recognised that he had now to do with no less
an adversary than Archalaus himself.

“ Perfidious enchanter!” he cried, with a stroke
at every word—‘“learn that it is the son of
Amadis whom ‘Heaven has sent to punish thy
crimes !”

“Would that he were here himself! But at
least I can avenge myself on thee for the long
and harsh captivity which thy father forced me to
undergo.”

With this he whirled round his sword with both
hands, but the mighty blow only cleft the air, for
Esplandian leaped aside, and in his turn smote
the enchanter so surely that, uttering roars of pain,
he reeled towards the archway which opened into
the next court. The young knight followed hard
upon him. Archalaus struck wildly in the air,
and could not parry the keen sword. Again and
THE SON OF AMADIS. 203

again it pierced his armour, till the enchanter fell
expiring in his blood before the eyes of the people
of the castle, who were bringing forth chains to
bind the audacious stranger.

“Furion! Furion!” cried the traitor, and a
young giant, unarmed, ran up in time to unlace
his father’s casque, and to receive his last words—
“Avenge my death upon Amadis and all his

fe

race

Esplandian, generous as the other knights of his
house, now lowered the point of his sword and .
drew back a few paces, unwilling to follow up his
victory against an enemy whom he saw to be
without defence. But he might not sheathe his
blade. Furion, as soon as he saw that hig father
was dead, hurried back into the hall, calling out
for his arms to be brought to him. Esplandian
did not attempt to pursue him, but seeing an
aged lady who came out wringing her hands and
seemed to be the mistress of the castle, he ad-
vanced and addressed her respectfully—

“TI regret, madam, that those whose fate you
lament have forced me to combat and put them to
death. I do not know where I am, but I cannot
doubt that a supernatural power has led me here
to deliver a great king who is confined in your
204 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

dungeons. Restore him to liberty, madam, and I
will cease to trouble the place of your abode.”

“Fool!” she exclaimed, kneeling by the body
of her husband, “I hope yet to see you in a more
pitiable case than even that king. The blood that
you have just shed calls out for yours. Know that
Archabone, the mother of Argantes and Furion,
yet fears not thy race, and looks forward to its
annihilation !”

Esplandian did not deign to reply to the furious
woman, and he passed into the next court to
escape her reproaches. Here a door was thrown
open, and Furion issued forth covered with glitter-
ing armour, and holding an enormous scimitar in
his hand. The first thing he did was to call his
mother, and kneeling before her, he said—

“Come and enjoy the pleasure of seeing your
husband and your son avenged. But as I am
determined that my arm alone shall sacrifice this
rash intruder, allow me to forbid that any one
enter this court till the combat be ended.”

With his own hand Furion then shut all the
entrances, leaving open only the archway, from
which his mother might watch the fight; and
Esplandian courteously waited till these prepara-
tions were made. Then the two adversaries flew
THE SON OF AMADIS. 205

at each other, and all the castle rang with the clash
of their weapons.

The giant, who was at least eight feet high,
seemed likely to have the advantage in the
struggle; but the armour which Esplandian had
received from Urganda resisted the most terrible
blows, while the magic sword shore through
Furion’s mail as if it had been silk, so that his
blood soon reddened the white pavement of the
court; he began to give ground, and still Esplan-
dian, unhurt and untired, followed him, till
Arcabone trembled for her son. She would have
rushed forth to separate the combatants, when, to
her horror and despair, she saw that it was too
late. The mortal blow had been struck. The
boastful Furion gave one great cry, and fell lifeless
at the feet of his opponent.

At this the mother fainted away, and her
damsels came out to bear ber into the castle,
Esplandian, his mind always set on the deliverance
of Lisuarte, followed them at a little distance,
but, respecting a mother’s grief, halted upon the
threshold till she should have recovered her
senses,

“Cruel!” she cried, when she opened her eyes
and saw him standing without, all covered with the
206 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

blood of her sons. “Cruel knight, do you seek to
put an end to the life which you have made miser-
able. What would youofme? I will give up my
treasures and all the riches of the castle.”

“Nay, madam,” replied Esplandian, “I seck
nothing that is yours, and it grieves me to have
caused your tears to flow; but release straightway
the king whom you hold here in prison, and resist
no longer the will of Heaven.”

“Come hither, then!” cried the treacherous
enchantress. “Iam ready to deliver thee the key
of his prison.”

Thus summoned, Esplandian stepped over the
threshold. An enchantment had been laid upon
it, so that no stranger could cross without falling
senseless on the ground, and it was trusting to
this enchantment that Arcabone had invited him
to enter. But she knew not that the marvellous
sword held him who bore it free from every spell.
Without faltering, Esplandian passed over the -
charmed spot, and approached her fearlessly.
Great was her grief to see that her wicked arts
had no power over him.

“Ah, thou hast triumphed!” she cried. “Or
rather, the power of my old enemy Urganda
triumphs in thee. So be it! Follow me, and
THE SON OF AMADIS. 207

thyself shall break the chains of him whose
captivity has cost me so dear.”

With this, bidding her attendants remain, she
led the way to a damp, slippery staircase, which
brought them into a vast subterranean vault.
Esplandian followed her cautiously along the
tortuous windings of this gloomy place. Here,
indeed, she would willingly have profited by the
darkness to attempt some new treachery, but
Esplandian’s luminous sword lit up all the vault,
so that, as plainly as in daylight, he saw the
dripping walls and the floor strewn with bones,
and the dagger which the enchantress had halt
drawn from her bosom. The light of this wondrous
blade took away all her hope; she no longer tried
to wreak her vengeance upon the knight, but led
him straight to the cell where the unfortunate
Lisuarte was expecting and desiring nothing but
death to end his sorrows.

“Who comes here to mock my misery?” he
murmured, as the light of the sword burst upon
him and. dazzled his old eyes.

“One who in your cause, sire, would gladly
shed half the blood that he owes to you.”

“Tis the voice of Esplandian!” cried the old
king, stretching out his chained hands, and his
208 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

grandson fell upon his neck, while Arcabone,
unable for rage to witness the triumph of her
enemies, hurried away to seek some champion who
might yet discomfit this victorious knight,



Vis

The joy may be imagined with which the
two kinsmen now embraced each other. Esplan-
dian hastened to relieve his grandsire from the
enchanter’s chains, which fell off like threads at
the touch of the magic sword. Lisuarte thanked
heaven for his deliverance, and wondered to hear
how this young scion of his house had overthrown
these redoubtable giants. Then as they eagerly
conversed, and imparted to each other what had
befallen them since they parted on the Firm
Island, a great noise of shouting was heard above,
which reminded them that it was not well to tarry
in this perilous part of the castle.

Esplandian took the old king’s hand and led him
through the dark windings of the vault and up the
broken stairs, till they came out into the light of
day. They now found themselves in a hall, the
windows of which looked over the sea, and they
could perceive that a large fleet of vessels had
THE SON OF AMADIS, 209

just cast anchor below the castle. This was the
fleet of Matroco, the eldest of the sons of Archalaus.
He had been absent on a piratical excursion to the
neighbouring coast, and now returned to hear of
the fate that had overtaken his kinsmen. With
enormous strides he was hastening towards the
gate of the castle, and Esplandian, seeing him
approach, went down to await him in the court
where Furion still lay bathed in his blood.

This Matroco was the tallest and strongest of
the sons of Arcabone, and she might well lament
his absence when his brothers fell before her eyes
under the hand of the son of Amadis. He was,
moreover, of a less brutal disposition than the rest
of his race, and his manners were even marked by
a degree of chivalric courtesy unusual in a giant.
But when he found his brother Argantes lying
lifeless in the first doorway, all other thoughts
gave way to the burning desire of revenge. What
was his rage and grief to see a little further on the
corpse of Archalaus? And he had scarcely shed
a few tears over it, before his mother ran up and
pointed to the body of his youngest brother in the
next court.

“Is this thy work?” he cried, hurrying towards
Esplandian, who awaited him with drawn sword.
210 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Ah! would thou. hadst more lives than one,
that thou mightst pay me fully for these I have
lost!”

But now Arcabone, wrath and fear struggling
in her mind, gave way to womanly weakness,
and threw herself before him with tearful
entreaties—

“Oh! dearest of my sons, do not expose thyself
in combat with the destroyer of our race, but
think that thou alone art left me to console and
protect my age!”

“Madam,” replied Matroco, gently putting her
aside, “those whom you and I lament have died
like brave men; their courage, if not my own,
forbids me to shrink before their conqueror.”

“Beware what you do,” said Esplandian, willing
to spare him. “Give heed to the tears of your
mother. Those who have fallen beneath my sword
sought their own fate in attacking me. My
adventure is achieved, since I have here the king
whom I came to deliver. Take back, then, this
castle; I abandon it to you freely. All that I
require of you is to repent of the cruelty and
oppression which have made your race so hateful,
and to embrace the true faith, in the strength of
which I have come here to punish Archalaus, to
THE SON OF AMADIS. 211
deliver Lisuarte, and to enlighten your heathen
mind.”

“T do not blame you,” replied Matroco. “You
have borne yourself like a brave knight; but you
must not think to overcome me by empty words,
Honour bids me avenge my kinsmen; and it is
not at any man’s bidding that I will change my
faith. Shall a warrior of my might, hitherto
victor in every combat, submit without a blow?
No; it is for our arms to decide between us!”

With that he brandished his sword and ran
upon Esplandian, who quickly put himself on his
guard, and once more the clash of steel resounded
from the walls. .

Their first blows were more terrible than any
which had been struck that day. Both were
received upon their shields ; but while Esplandian’s
was not even dinted, the magic sword carried away
half the buckler of Matroco. No words can de-
scribe the fury of the combat which now ensued,
and which lasted for more than a hour before either
champion. would yield an inch. Breathless and
bleeding, they fought on, so that all who saw them
wondered, and it seemed as if there could be no
end to the battle till both fighters fell lifeless. In
spite of the goodness of Esplandian’s armour, he
212 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

was wounded in several places; but Matroco was
covered with wounds from head to foot, and his
mail was strewn in shreds all around. For the
first time in his life he drew back, and leaned
heavily upon the hilt of his sword. The strength
of that giant-brood, men said, was wont to be at
its height at mid-day, and thereafter to decrease as
the sun sank towards the west. It was now long
past noon, and the last son of Archalaus began to
fear that his hour was come. Esplandian was stil]
able to pursue his victory, but his generosity for-
bad him to press upon the enfeebled foe.

“Pagan, see how your evil deeds are visited
upon you through my hands!” he exclaimed.
“Tt is not to me that I conjure you to submit
yourself, but to Heaven, which you have too long
offended by your pride and perverseness.”

Matroco trembled and sank upon his knees,
crying — “ Christian, thou hast conquered! I
repent me of all I have done, and I would fain
be instructed in thy faith.”

Joyful to see the change wrought in the giant’s
disposition, Esplandian held out to Matroco the
hilt of his sword, and, said—

“Ah! worthy foe, take now my sword as a sign
of the victory thou hast gained over thyself.”
TIIE SON OF AMADIS. 2138

To this Matroco replied by desiring that a priest
should at once be sent for to receive his confession
and admit him into the true Church. He also gave
orders for the release of the Christian prisoners
on board his fleet. Lisuarte and Esplandian,
perceiving that his wounds could not be staunched,
and that he was growing weaker every moment,
took him up in their arms and carried him gently
into the chamber of his mother, who followed,
rending the air with her cries. The knight forgot
his own wounds in attending to those of his enemy;
but it was too plain that they were mortal.

The hermit arrived in haste, and while he was
shriving the wounded man, Esplandian went out
to give directions for the burial of the slain.
Before long, he was summoned back by the loud
lamentation raised round the bed of Matroco,
and entered in time to see the penitent giant lift
his eyes to heaven and expire. His last words
were to implore the holy man’s blessing.

Lisuarte knelt by the bedside and wept to see
this heathen come to such an edifying end. The
old Arcabone, out of her senses with grief, as she
beheld the death of her last and dearest son,
snatched up his sword, and would have struck the
king with all the strength of madness and despair.
214 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Esplandian seized her hand, not a moment too soon;
they drew her away, and the hermit vainly endea-
youred to calm her. With a piercing scream, she
rushed to the window, and before a hand could be
laid upon her, had hurled herself over the precipice
into the waves rolling far beneath at its base.

The mariners of Matroco’s fleet, seeing her fall,
were launching their skiffs to rescue her. But
now upon the horizon appeared the terrible mass
of fire; already the beating of the gigantic wings
could be heard; and the Green Serpent, Urganda’s
mysterious vessel, came swiftly towards the For-
bidden Mountain. At the sight the sailors were
horror-struck. Some hastened to seek safety on
land, some cut the cables of their ships and tried
to sail away. The whole fleet was scattered like
minnows at the approach of a strange monster, and
the body of Arcabone floated lifeless and unheeded
upon the water.

Thus perished all the race of Archalaus!


Che Anight and the Abbot.

+
+>



L

HE young Jehan de Saintré was already
renowned asa model of knighthood. He
had distinguished himself in tourna-

ments not only in France, but at all the courts of

Europe ; he had been marked out by the especial

favour of his sovereign ; he had just taken part in

a most glorious war against the Turks, and now he



was returning to the home of his ancestors, for
the first time since the begmning of his career.
His father being dead, it was right that he should
thus visit the castle and receive the homage of
his dependants, but there was a stronger attraction
_ to draw him from court and camp. He hoped to
see again his neighbour and mistress, the Dame
des Belles-Cousins, a lady of the blood-royal of

France, whom he had loved from boyhood, and
P 215
216 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

who, on the day he was made knight, placed upon
his arm the rich enamelled bracelet that ever
sincs he had worn and treasured as the gage of
her fidelity.

On the morning after his arrival, carefully attir-
ing himself in a satin doublet embroidered with
gold and pearls, new scarlet hose, and a gay velvet
cap, he mounted his swiftest horse, and taking with
him a single squire, galloped impatiently towards
the castle where she dwelt with whom his dearest -
thoughts had remained throughout all his adven-
tures. But when he reached the park, he met an
old servant of the princess, who told him that his
mistress had just ridden out upon her palfrey,
attended by three of her ladies, with the intention
of hunting in the forest. Saintré did not hesitate
to follow her with all haste. He plunged into the
forest, and guided by the blowing of the horns and
the baying of the dogs, soon came to a glade where
to his joy he saw the beautiful Dame des Belles-
Cousins, looking more beautiful than ever as her
face glowed with the excitement and exercise of

the chase. To fly towards her, to leap from his
horse, to salute her eagerly, was the work of
an instant. The lady, who did not know of his
return and had reasons for not wishing to see him,
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 217

gave a cry of surprise, and coloured, though not
with pleasure.

“Ab! is it you, my lord De Saintré ?” she said
coldly, and with evident embarrassment. “I did
not expect you so soon. Why have you left the
king your master? Why have you come to seek
me here?”

Saintré, surprised and confounded, fixed his eyes
on the lady, who turned hers away. ie

“Madam ! is it indeed you who speak thus and
receive so coldly your faithful knight ?”

“If Iam not mistaken,” she replied haughtily,
“your words convey some reproach. What right
have you to come to trouble me in my amuse-
ments?”

The knight felt as if his knees would no longer
support him in his grief and astonishment. He
drew back, and the lady was about to turn away,
when a tall and handsome man, in the habit of a
monk, but with a hunting-horn round his neck,
spurred up to her, and cried out, taking no heed
of Saintré—

“There is not a moment to be lost, if you would
see the death of the stag!”

The princess smiled, struck her palfrey, and rode
away at the churchman’s side, without deigning
218 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

ancther word to Saintré, who remained motionless,
unable to divine the cause of this cold reception.
He turned to Catherine, one of the princess’s ladies,
and asked who was this man that had just led her
mistress away.

“ Ah! brave and unhappy Saintré, how the times
are changed!” cried Catherine and the other
ladies sorrowfully, for they all knew and esteemed
the young knight.

Then they told him that this was the Abbot of a
monastery of St. Bernard close at hand, which a few
weeks before their mistress had visited to perform
her religious duties at a great festival, and being
wonderfully pleased by her reception, had ended by
allowing the Abbot to gain such influeuce over her,
that she was no longer happy out of his company.

This explanation opened Saintré’s eyes, and
tormented his heart. Eager either to confirm or
to remove his suspicions, he remounted his horse
and accompanied the damsels to the spot where
the stag had just been killed, and where the Abbot
was gallantly presenting its foot to the Dame des
Belles-Cousins. |

Saintré now approached them with an air of
reserve, and bowed low to the lady, who returned
his salutation, saying—
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT. 219

“No doubt, sir, you have come from your castle
to take part in the chase?”

“No, madam. Hearing that you had retired
from the court, I feared you might be ill, and my
anxiety did not allow me to lose a moment in
coming to inquire for you.” .

“Indeed, you are foolish to disquiet yourself.
You may see that I have never been better than
Tam now. And,” she said, smiling to the Abbot,
“T have never known so much enjoyment as has
lately fallen to my lot.”

The Abbot, who had meanwhile been informed
of the knight’s name and rank, now prevented his
reply by addressing him in a somewhat familiar
manner—

“My lord De Saintré, I learn that we are neigh-
bours; it shall not be my fault if we do not
become friends.” Then, without waiting for an
answer, he turned to the lady and said, with a still
more familiar air, and in a tone which allowed the
knight to hear him: “Madam, shall I not beg the
lord de Saintré to dine with us to-day at the
abbey ?”

“ Do as you please,” she rejoined, with some con-
straint. “However, you need not tear his cloak to
hold him, if he should refuse your invitation.”
220 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Saintré, who had by this time recovered his
self-possession, and was determined to have a full
explanation of his mistress’s change of mind, at
once accepted the Lord Abbot's invitation; and all
the party now made for the monastery. On the way,
the knight rode behind with Catherine and the
other ladies in attendance, and contented himself
by closely watching the conduct of the princess,
while the presumptuous monk played the part of
her cavalier, treating her with the utmost freedom,
whispering often in her ear, and seeming to jest
upon the serious air with which Saintré followed
them, scarcely able thus to hide his rage and
vexation. Nor were these feelings lessened when,
on his springing forward to assist the lady from
her horse, she thanked him coldly, and desired
the Abbot rather to perform this service. Times
were indeed changed !

The magnificence with which they were received
at the abbey was the cause of not a little surprise
to the young knight, who was not aware of the
degeneracy into which many of these religious
institutions had fallen. It seemed as if they had
arrived at a palace where preparations were being
made: for the wedding of a great lord, rather
than at the retreat of disciples of the severe St,
THE ENIGHT AND THE ABBOT 227

Bernard. The repast was served in a pleasant
apartment surrounded by gardens; the table was
spread with the finest linen and gaily ornamented
with flowers. The dishes were various and ex-
quisitely cooked, and the wines, not only of the
country, but of Greece and Spain, shone in goblets
of crystal among dishes of fine fruit. The Abbot
did the honours of the repast with all the gaiety
of a man of the world, mingled with the pride of
a rich monk who felt assured of his high position.
He conversed gallantly with the ladies; he tried
to engage Saintré in conversation, and when he
received small encouragement, took his revenge
by exhibiting the terms of intimacy on which the
most honoured of the guests allowed him to be.
When several flagons had been emptied, his mirth
became louder and more reckless, till, egged on
by the looks and words of the Dame des Belles-
Cousins, he even ventured upon some jests against
chivalry and its professors, at the same time
pressing her foot, as if to call her attention to his
pleasantry. Saintré saw this movement and how
it was received. Though he had resolved to wear
an air of cold indifference towards this heartless
woman, he could not but blush for her, and sorrow-
fully turned his eyes down towards the rich bracelet
222 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

on his wrist. The monk’s spirits rose higher as the
knight’s looks grew more grave and could no
longer hide his displeasure ; and he cried in a tone
of raillery.

“What ails you, my lord De Saintré? You
seem to be ill-satisfied with your fare and your
company. Is it the wine which you find not good,

or does a knight admitted to the table of great
kings scorn the pittance of us poor monks?”

Saintré assured him that no one could wish for
better cheer, and that, moreover, the presence of
such an illustrious lady would lend honour to the
vilest hovel. The churchman took offence at this
phrase, and rejoined roughly—

“ All these knights and squires who go running
over the world would think themselves lucky to
find sometimes such hovels as this on their jour-
neys.”

The lady laughed loudly, and pressing the
Abbot’s foot in her turn, seemed to urge him to
carry on the jest.

“You must confess, Lord de Saintré,” he con-
tinued, “that of all these fellows in armour, there
are few led by the true love of glory. Finding
themselves idle at the court, they begin by looking
about for some silly woman to befool; if they find
HE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 223

her, they do their best to deceive her and them-
selves; they are rejected, they groan, they weep;
but the ladies, who are too ready to believe in
great passions, become often their dupes in the
end. One of the surest means of bringing this
about is to undertake for a lady what they call
enterprises of love. Then, wearing some token on
their arm, their neck, or their leg, they make these
poor women believe that this is done for their
sake, and that they are about to run the greatest
dangers to be able to lay the prize at the feet of
their mistresses. They find their advantage in
this, for, it being the custom of great courts to
encourage such undertakings, they know that they
will receive from the bounty of their master the
means of jaunting about the world and amusing
themselves to their heart’s content. When they
have well tramped the roads, they return with a
lying varlet at their backs, whom they dress up as
a herald-at-arms; and as they make him brag of
their exploits even more than they do themselves,
the result is a string of false tales, a false reputa-
tion, and a brilliant reception, which is not in the
least deserved. What do you say, madam?”
added the impudent Abbot. “Do you think that
I am far wrong?”
224 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY,

“T think,” said the princess, “that you have just
described most exactly all these young adven-
turers.” ;

“Ah, madam!” cried Saintré, with a look
that made her quail. “Ah, madam! is it
possible that you.should think so? J am
astonished that a princess, who from her birth
and position ought to be the patroness of chivalry,
should allow it to be thus reviled in her presence
with so much falsehood and audacity.”

“Truly, my lord De Saintré,” interrupted the
monk, “there may be some exceptions; but in
general I have given a faithful account of all
these people who cover themselves with iron, and
who would often be very much alarmed if they
fell in with a real danger.”

“Lord Abbot,” replied the knight sternly, “you
are too presumptuous. Respect an order which
endows you, protects you, and secures you in the
possession of the riches you so much abuse. If
you were able to support by deeds the rash
words that you have just uttered, you should
- soon suffer the punishment they deserve.”

“Faith!” cried the Abbot, “I would support
them before and against any one, if it might be
on equal terms, and with arms such as I am
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 225

accustomed to use. It is very easy for a man
so wrapped up in armour that it would be hard
to prick him with a needle, to brave a poor fellow
of a monk who has nothing but his frock and his
rosary ; but if, to support what you have said, you
were to present me a champion who would consent
to wrestle with me, for example, madam should
soon see which of us two 1s right.”

The Dame des Belles-Cousins kept screaming
with laughter at this dispute. With her eyes,
her feet, and her hands she applauded the Abbot,
and seemed to be urging him on to fresh in-
solence. She knew that he was a man of great
strength and accustomed to all sorts of bodily
exercises, 80, losing all restraint, and seeking only
to provoke and mortify her former lover, she
cried out mockingly—

“Lord Abbot, know you not what you risk by
such a challenge, and do not you see that my
lord De Saintré, who happens to be here without
his arms, ought not to hesitate in accepting it ?”

“Very good,” said the Abbot. “If the sport
pleases the gentleman, I am his man. No; I
will not go back from my word. And TI shall
be delighted if madam will consent to be a
spectator of this contest, and to crown with
226 THE ALP TALES OF CHIVALRY.

her own hands whichever of us shall gain the
victory.”

Saintré felt bitterly the cunning and malice of
her whom he now despised and detested as much
as before she had been undeservingly loved. But
his high spirit would not allow him to be defied
with impunity by a boastful monk; though he
knew that wrestling was a sport to which he was
not used, he rose, and said, with a proud glance at
the fickle lady—

“Tt is, indeed, madam, the only kind of com-
bat which you merit to have undertaken for you !”

As soon as the Abbot saw Saimtré on his feet,
he joyfully sprang from the table, and hastened
to seize and kiss the hand which the knight had
so often pressed. Then, in his exultation, he
dragged rather than led the princess to a green
meadow before the walls of the monastery, where
the young brothers of the order were accustomed to
disport themselves, and where commodious seats
were arranged under the shadow of leafy planes
and sycamores. There the ladies took their
places, and the monks stood round in a circle.
The Abbot lost no time in stripping off his hood
and scapulary, disclosing long, brawny limbs, more
like those of a warrior than a churchman; while
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT. 227

Saintré was relieved of his doublet by his squire,
and burned with vexation to hear the lady
loudly praising his opponent’s manly strength,
and confidently predicting for the monk an easy
victory.

The knight, however, endeavoured to conceal
his feelings, and with a good grace presented
himself to the sinewy grasp of the Abbot.
Cautiously they locked their arms and legs
together; then the struggle began. It was a
fine sight to see how they wrestled together with
firm-set lips and strained muscles. They bent, they
writhed, they tottered, they exhausted all their
strength and skill; for a little, it seemed as if
they were equal in force. But the monk was too
well practised to this kind of encounter; he stood
like a tower in the arms of Saintré, whose feet :
soon flew into the air.

“Oh! do beg my lord to spare me!” cried the
impudent Abbot, as he laid the slender form of
his adversary full length on the grass, amid the
laughter and applause of the spectators, loudest —
of all being the voice of Dame des Belles-Cousins,
that echoed mockingly—

“Spare him, Saintré! Spare the poor monk !”

While Saintré, angry and ashamed, was rising
228 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

from the ground, the Abbot knelt at the lady’s feet
and said to her with mock gravity—

“Madam, you behold how I have just maintained
my words in the lists. But if my lord De Saintré
is willing to try a second fall, I will let him see
that since I have laid down my scapulary, I can
as well as he be obedient to the custom of the
jousts, which prescribes that a last lance should be
broken in honour of the ladies.”

“Ah!” she cried, “I believe my lord too gallant
to refuse obedience to this custom. But if he
declines, I will all my life hold him for a craven
knight, and will put him to shame before the
queen and all the court.”

Furious at the heartlessness of one who was now
become as hateful to him as hitherto she had been
adored, Saintré did not hesitate to attempt a
second trial of strength, in which he had no better
luck than before. The vigorous monk, still
boasting and laughing at the knight’s vain efforts,
had again the triumph of putting him out of
breath and hurling him to the ground,

This unequal struggle might not even yet have
ended if the ladies of the princess, who esteemed
Saintré and by no means shared the delight with
which their mistress saw the most renowned
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 229

champion of France befooled and overthrown by
her favourite, had not persuaded her to recollect
herself and return to the banqueting chamber,
whither the excited and exulting Abbot presently
followed her. But some of the oldest monks in
the community, who had long been scandalised by
their superior’s way of life, took this opportunity
of remonstrating with him on his conduct, and
ventured to represent that more respect was due
to the young lord De Saintré, whose forefathers
had been among the richest benefactors of the
abbey, and whose resentment they might justly
feel after the unseemly way in which he had -
~ been treated among them. The Abbot was not,
or pretended not to be, insensible to their
reproaches. He agreed that he might have
pushed his pleasantry too far, and promised to
behave so that the knight should excuse what
had happened.

Meanwhile, Saintré, tired and bruised, adjusted
his apparel, and hiding his indignation, was medi-
tating schemes of vengeance. In a short time he
appeared among the company with an affected air
of frankness and good-humour. The Abbot rose
at once and politely led him to his place.

“My lord,” he said, “such are our country
230 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

games, and in deigning to take part in them,
you have not less shown the goodness of your
character, than you have proved its loftiness, arms
in hand, at the head of our armies.”

It is a torment rather than a pleasure to hear
oneself praised by a man one hates, especially if
he has gained some advantage over us. But
Saintré was able to dissimulate his feelings, and
receiving with apparent cordiality the compliments
of the Abbot, he said gaily to the Dame des Belles-
Cousins—

“Ts it not, madam, a pity that so tall a man,
so well made and with such sinews, should be
counted among the peaceful sons of St. Bernard ?
Of what use might he not have been to the service
of the king, if he had rather borne arms! Two
knights such as he would set to flight a whole
troop of the bravest men-at-arms; and it would be
difficult to find any one with an air so martial, so
redoubtable as the Lord Abbot would have if we
could only see him arrayed in good armour and
fighting at the head of the foremost ranks.”

“Truly,” replied the lady, blind upon the merit
of her favourite, “I believe that most of those
whom we see shining and prancing in such posts
could not compare with so sturdy a warrior.”
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT. 231

The Abbot was delighted in his heart, but he
affected to receive this praise with great modesty.

“T might, perhaps, have been worth something
in this profession,” he said, “if I had served for a
time as squire to the lord De Saintré, the flower
of our knighthood.”

Similar compliments passed between them, so
that complete friendship seemed to be restored.
And before the party broke up, Saintré begged
them all to dine with him next day at his castle,
The princess at first received this request with
much haughtiness; she affected that her royal
birth forbad her to become the guest of a simple
baron, and it was only on the solicitation of the
Abbot, anxious to reinstate himself in the good
graces of his neighbour, that she consented to
accept the invitation. It may be judged whether
the knight was well pleased to owe this favour to
the influence of his priestly rival, but he pretended
to receive it with gratitude, and taking his leave,
rode home to his castle, where he had certain
preparations to make for the entertainment
of his visitors after a fashion which will pre-
sently show us that the chevaliers of old had
not always the finest sense of courtesy and
magnanimity.

Q
232 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

iE

Next day, accordingly, the princess arrived
upon her palfrey shortly before noon, attended by
her ladies, as well as by the Abbot, who rode at her
side upon a mule, which he endeavoured to make
prance and curvet as if it had been a war-steed.

Saintré met them at the gate with all marks of
respect and pleasure, and conducted them through
the ante-chamber, lined with his gentlemen and
pages, to the hall where a sumptuous banquet had
been prepared. There was at first a certain re-
serve and awkwardness between the host and his
guests; fortunately, before long the clock of the
castle struck the hour of twelve, and the dinner
was served. The young master of the house led
the princess to the gilded seat that had been
set for her at the head of the table; the Abbot
sat down without ceremony upon a stool at her
side; the ladies took their places, while Saintré
himself remained standing, and, with a napkin
thrown across his shoulder, prepared to serve the
great lady, nor would he sit down except at her
most pressing desire, and then only at the end of
the second course.

He had not neglected to place before the Abbot
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 2338

more than one flagon of rich wine, which he
knew that the voluptuous churchman loved too
well to keep his head long clear from their
enticing fumes. In fact, the conversation soon
became lively and unrestrained. The lady seemed
to forget her former lover altogether, or believing
that her manner towards him had made him
sufficiently understand the distance which was
henceforth to be between them, gave her attention
entirely to the Abbot, who, pluming himself on
her infatuation, talked, and laughed, and assumed
all the airs of a man of fashion, while Saintré sat
silent and gloomy at his own table.

After a time, however, they condescended to
take some notice of their host, complimenting
him on the excellence of his repast, on the beauty
of his castle, and especially on the decorations of
the hall. The walls were hung with standards,
suits of complete armour, and other trophies
which he had taken from the infidels. Saintré
saw and encouraged the interest which the Abbot
showed in these military equipments; he pointed
out the large and heavy armour of a sultan
whom he had killed with his own hand, and
remarked that there were few men robust enough
to hear it.
234 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

“Faith, my lord!” cried the Abbot, draining his
goblet, “if it were a question of wearing it for a
couple of hours or so, even of running and jumping
in it, and if the wearer might have it for his pains,
I believe you would not have far to look for
some one who would agree to such a bargain.”

“Indeed,” replied Saintré, “I believe that if
any one could gain this wager, it would be a man
of your stature and strength; for the sultan who
wore these arms was the most terrible Turk with
whom I ever had to do, and I could not have
killed him if his badly fastened hauberk had not
presented me an opening through which I plunged
my sword into his body. But if I thought that
you could make any use of them, I should be
delighted to offer them to you.”

The Dame des Belles-Cousins was completely
duped by the polite and even friendly air with
which Saintré said this, and, curious to see how
these fine arms would become the tall figure of
the Abbot, who in her eyes was such a hero, she
urged him to try them on.

“Well,” he said, helping himself to another cup
of wine, “I remember that I have in my church
a great St. George all covered with rusty and
battered armour. If my lord De Saintré ig
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT. 235

willing to put me to the trial, I will see if I
cannot win this armour to do honour to my poor
old saint.” ;

Everybody applauded this proposal, and the
monk got up and laid aside his frock, while Saintré
took down the different pieces of the sultan’s
armour, and disposed himself to act as squire to
this strange knight. He took care to lace the
casque and hauberk firmly on with double knots,
and tightly closed the rivets with a hammer, so
that the wearer would have some difficulty in
ridding himself of this unaccustomed guise. As
soon as the Abbot was equipped from head to foot,
he began to walk up and down with a ridiculously
martial air, delighted thus to display himself
before the ladies. Their attention being taken
up, Saintré then slipped away unnoticed, and
with the aid of his squire, hastily did on his own
armour in an adjoining chamber.

The Lord Abbot was strutting, and swelling, and
pluming himself like a turkey-cock, drinking in
greedily the praises of the foolish princess, when
suddenly the master of the house returned in full
armour, followed by a herald-at-arms in his livery,
who carried two bucklers, two swords, two battle-
axes and two poniards. At the same moment
236 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

they saw the doors of the hall occupied by armed
men, who presented the points of their weapons
and forbad al] egress.

“What does this mean, Saintré?” cried the
princess, turning pale, while the Abbot stopped
short and attempted in vain to raise the vizor of
his helmet, through the bars of which he could
not see clearly what was going on. “What are
you going to do 2”

“Nothing but what is just,” said the knight
sternly. “Yesterday this Abbot of yours pro-
voked me at his house to a kind of combat
in which he was long practised; you seemed to
encourage him, and you forced me into accepting
his challenge, To-day, in my turn, I challenge him
at those weapons with which I am best acquainted,
and if you have any sense of justice, madam, you
will press him also not to refuse me.”

Meanwhile the herald was offering the Abbot
his choice of weapons, and he was refusing with
the most pitiable air of reluctance, and looking
around in vain for some way of retreat.

“Saintré, Saintré!” cried the lady imploringly ;
and as he turned away without heeding her, she
endeavoured to assume a tone of authority, and
said—“Do you dare to insult a princess of my
THE KNIGHT AND: THE ABBOT. 237

rank! Forbear, sir, or fear the most severe effects
of my indignation.”

But the knight was neither to be entreated nor
threatened. He seized her by the arm and forced
her back into a chair, crying—

“Do you dare, perfidious and disloyal woman,
to boast of your august rank after shaming it by
the behaviour which has lost you one of the most
faithful and devoted of lovers. No! I no longer
recognise you either as the sovereign of my soul or
as the cousin of my king! And thou, wretch!” he
added, making a stride towards the quailing Abbot,
“no longer hesitate to make use of thy strength
and of the arms of proof with which I have
covered thee. Defend thyself like a man, or in
an instant I will have thee thrown from the
windows of my castle, armed as thou art, and thou
shalt perish like a dog before the eyes of this
unworthy lady of thine!”

The monk saw that his only chance was to
defend himself as best he could. Trusting in his
enormous strength, he chose a battle-axe and a
dagger from the arms presented him by the herald, —
and Saintré took the same weapons. They stood
facing each other for a moment; then the Abbot,

‘who was taller than his opponent by a head, ran
238 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

desperately upon him, hoping to annihilate him
at a single blow. But Saintré adroitly caught
the blow on the back of his axe, and without .
caring to return it, clapped his point to the vizor of
the Abbot, and making as if he would have pierced
the bars, bore him back several paces till he
stumbled across one of the tressels of the table and
fell heavily backwards, making the hall ring with
his fall and the clash of his armour. Both unable
and unwilling to rise, he lay motionless under the
gleaming axe of the knight, who seemed about to
cleave off his head, when the Dame des Belles-
Cousins shrieked out—

“Stay, stay! O Saintré; what would you do 2”

“Punish him before your eyes, O most faithless
of all ladies! But tremble not; his base blood
shall not be shed by my hand.” With this he
opened the helmet of the Abbot, who lay breath-
less, quaking, and unable to speak for terror. As
he panted and gasped, Saintré seized his tongue,
dragged it out, and slit it with his dagger. “Thou
shalt be chastised only as all revilers should be, for
the false words which thy foul mouth has vomited
out against the sacred order of Chivalry and those
who profess it.”

The Dame des Belles-Cousins had fainted on
TT

Aa WE iN















































































‘Both unable and unwilling to rise, the Abbot lay motionless_under the gleaming
axe of the knight."—p. 238, The Knight and the Abbot.
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABBOT, 239

her seat, and her weeping ladies ran round her.
Saintré felt a movement of pity, but checked it,
and tearing from his arm the bracelet which had
been her gage of love, he flung it down by her side.
Then looking upon her face with a bitter smile, he
strode from the hall.

All was ready for his departure. In the court
he mounted his horse and rode away, leaving
the castle to his servants, and the Abbot and
the princess to console each other as best they
could.


Steel-BHeart

+
>



IL

7a|ERONE, the daughter of the old King of
the Borders, sat at the window of her
bower. She looked forth on the wide
plain surrounding her father’s castle, and saw a



knight riding towards it, whose bright arms
flashed in the light of the setting sun. He rode
slowly, as one in pai, and as the maiden looked
she feared he would fall from his horse for
weakness, and her heart was drawn to him in
compassion. Quickly she arose and bade a couch
be made ready, and sent forth two of her damsels
to meet the knight and bring him in, while with
her own hands she sought out rich clothes and
healing salve for his wounds,

At the gate of the castle she greeted this guest,

all covered with blood, and so sore hurt that he
240
STEEL-HEART, 241

could hardly dismount from his horse. He raised
his vizor, disclosing a winsome and youthful
countenance, as she gave kim welcome, but
when she was fain to know his name, and how
he came by such hurt, he prayed her to excuse
him,

“For,” said he, “on the day that I was made
knight, I vowed to tell my name to none save him
who should overcome me. Even now, hard by
this place, I met a knight who would have forced
me to reveal myself, and he came nigh to have
slain me. Yet at the last I vanquished him, and
still my vow holds good.”

“T would not have thee break thy vow for me,”
she said smiling. “Such a brave knight must
sure have some fair lady who holds his name in
her heart.”

“Nay, till this hour I have seen no maiden to
whom I might give my love,” said he—and their
eyes met.

“There are many ladies who would prize it well,”
she replied; and with such speeches he was led
into the chamber prepared for him.

There the king’s daughter removed his blood-
stained armour, and washed his wounds, and bound
them up with her own white hands, and brought
242 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

him cordials and medicines, and when his pain
was thus relieved, she left him to repose.

“A knight without a name! There are full
many knights whose names were better hidden
than told,” said her old father, when he learned
what manner of guest was within his walls.

But to Nerone it seemed that he did the
stranger wrong to speak thus lightly of his worth.
She thought she had never seen such a goodly
youth, and made sure that, whatever his name
might be, it bore no shadow of dishonour. All
night she dreamed of him, and in the morning she
went early to see how he did.

Alas! his wounds were little like to heal. He
was weaker and fevered, and all the skill of Nerone
and her damsels could not give him ease. Through-
out that day, and many days after, he lay tossing
on his couch, speaking wildly, and knowing not
where he was. With all gentleness the king’s
daughter tended him, placing pillows under his
throbbing head, bringing him drink to assuage his
burning thirst, and singing softly to soothe him to
sleep like a fretful child. Yor hours she would sit
by his bed, looking into his shining eyes that
knew her not; and the more she looked, the more
she loved him. Often she wondered who and
STEEL-HEART. 243

whence he was; she examined his arms, but his
gilded shield was blank, and there was no token
from which she might learn his name. He was
young and strong; he would recover and ride
away; she would never see him more, and he
might never know how her heart was moved
towards him. At last, unable to restrain herself,
as he lay helpless and insensible, she softly drew
the ring from his finger, and hung round his neck
her own chain of gold. With this ring she vowed
she would never part.

Now, while the nameless knight thus lay sick
in the castle, there arrived with a great train
Fergus, king of the north country, a cruel and
treacherous and ill-favoured lord, whom men loved
little, but feared for his power. He had heard tell
of the beauty of the fair Nerone, and was come to
seek her for his wife, not thinking to be denied.
But when the maiden knew his errand, she grew
red as the rose, then pale as the lily, and said that
she had no wish to wed this king, however rich he
might be.

The King of the Borders was well willing to see
his daughter the bride of Fergus, and said much
to urge his suit.

“Knights, barons, and princes have sought thy
244 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

hand, and still stubbornly dost thou say them nay.
My daughter, men begin to say that thou hast a
heart as hard as steel.”

“He who can gain my heart shall learn what it
is,’ was her answer; and she would have turned
away, but her father held her.

“And who so fit to gain and have all that is
thine as this king, our neighbour? No maiden
can easily find such a husband.”

“Nay, then, let him show himself worthy of
me!” she cried, with all a maiden’s pride. “I
know one that is a better knight by far, and
so he could bear arms, he would prove it right
soon.”

“T see that thy wits have gone astray with that
young stranger. But, Nerone, bethink thee, a
king’s daughter is not a prize for every wandering
knight. Fergus can give thee rank and wealth,
and when I die, his kingdom will be added to
mine, and thou shalt be queen over all.”

“T shall be rich enough with him I love. And
rather let me have a husband that can defend my
lands and my honour. If I am a king’s daughter,
iam not to be had for the asking, unless a man
can win me.”

And no more gracious answer would she give to
STEEL-HEART. 245

Fergus, strive as he might to gain her favour.
The more he saw her, the more he desired her ;
but she grew to hate the sight of him from day
to day. She would have none of his gifts; scarce
could he get speech of her; from the feasts and
revelry with which they made entertainment for
him in the hall of the castle, she ever stole away
to watch by the side of her wounded knight, and
told herself that such a gallant youth must rise
to be greater than all the kings of the north and
the south. To her great joy, she now saw that he
began to amend. Before many days she might
hope to know that she had judged aright of his
skill and valour. With her own hands she fur-
bished up his arms, and with her own eyes she
saw that his steed was well cared for, that it
might not fail its master in the hour of need,
Then, when the blood came back into the knight’s
pale face, she spoke to her father, telling him
that she no longer desired to remain unwedded,
and requesting that a tournament should be pro-
claimed for a month from that day, at which he
who best held the lists against all comers should
win her hand, Her heart foretold who must be
the victor,

' The old king loving his daughter well, con-
R
246 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

sented to her wish, and gave orders for this
tournament to be held with great pomp. He
trusted that the prize would fall to the suitor
favoured by himsclf. Fergus was indeed a tall
and strong knight, but a craven at heart, from
whom the maiden had done well to shrink at
first sight, as a dove flies from a bird of prey.
This was no way of wooing for him. When he
knew that this nameless knight and many others
of renown would dispute the prize with him, he
resolved to win his wish by foul means, rather
than risk the issue of a fair field.

He took leave of the King of the Borders, and
feigned to ride away from that land. But he
gathered his men, and lay secretly in wait, and
broke into the castle by night. The king was old,
and the nameless knight lay still sick; there was
none to oppose the false Fergus. He seized the
king’s daughter, and forced her away with him,
heedless of her anger and entreaties.

“Ah, treacherous guest and disloyal knight!”
she cried, as he held her fast on his saddle-bow
and spurred fiercely on, while she through her
tears looked back into the darkness towards her
father’s home, and stretched out her hands in
vain. “Truly my heart told me to beware of such
STEEL-HEART, Q47

love, and bitterly had I repented if I had smiled
on such a wooer.”

“Like ye not the wooing?” laughed Fergus.
“Then our wedding must be the merrier.”

“ False and cruel, there can be no mirth for me
where thou art,” she wept piteously ; but he rode
faster on, saying—

“Weep thy fill now. But a maiden cannot
for ever keep a heart of steel.”

Thus he bore her away to a castle far away by
the sea-shore. Meanwhile her old father was
wroth to lose his child, yet feared to follow, lest
worse should befall both him and her. But when
the nameless knight heard of the villainy wrought
to this lady that had tended and befriended him
in his sickness, he forgot all his pain, sprang
from his couch, with his wounds not yet healed,
and got to horse, vowing never again to lieina
bed till he had punished this traitor and brought
the maiden back to her father’s house. And so
rode he far and long in search of her.

—t—e

I.

In the castle to which Fergus carried Nerone
lived his two sisters, as cruel and evil-minded as
248 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

himself, And since still the king’s daughter
would not even speak to him for all his offers of
love, he left her there in charge of his sisters,
saying—

“Take this maiden with a heart like steel, and
teach her to love ere I come again.”

So now poor Nerone must lead a hard life with
these pitiless women. At first, indeed, they tried
fair words to win her to be their brother’s bride,
but when these did not avail, they used her with
all unkindness. They stripped her of her rich
garments and dressed her in a ragged gown;
they forced her to scrub, and cook, and wash, and
when, for weakness, she could not perform these
tasks to their mind, she was beaten without
mercy, like the meanest slave. Her food was
scanty bread and water, and she had no other bed
than a plank of wood, while her tormentors fared
plentifully and lay softly before her eyes. And
every day they told her, with threats and blows,
that she had but to relent and speak the word,
then she should enjoy the best of all, as their
sister and their brother’s wife.

But no word of willingness would she speak,
though she became daily more white and thin,
and her strength served her less and less to go
STEEL-HEART. 249

through these unwonted labours. Her only com-
fort was to sit alone in a dark corner of the hall,
and weep silently, and think with sorrow of her
home, and her father, and that goodly knight
without a name,

Thus the weeks passed by, and to Nerone it
seemed that she could no longer endure her life,
till she prayed for death to release her from the
hands of these cruel ladies. And this was the
manner of her release.

One day, for some trifling fault, they beat her
so cruelly, that she fell on the ground in a swoon,
and was taken for dead. Now the sisters were
afraid, for they thought they had killed her, and
dreaded their brother’s wrath, When Nerone
came to herself and heard them lamenting and
wringing their hands, a bold device entered her
mind, Since no one appeared to rescue her, the
only hope of escape was in herself, and no fate
could be worse than that which she now endured.
With this thought, she lay still, she closed her
eyes, she held her breath, and feigned to be indeed
a corpse.

Then the sisters caused her to be wrapped in a
costly shroud, decked with gold and jewels, as
became a king’s bride. The body was laid upon
250 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

a bier, and with great pomp carried by night to a
tomb without the castle walls, while funeral hymns
were sung and the passing bell tolled for this
unhappy lady. The sisters followed her to the
tomb and made great moan, but less for her sake
than for their own.

They did well to fear their brother's anger.
Next day he arrived at the castle, and when he
heard that Nerone had died under their cruel
hands, his anger was beyond bounds, and he
ordered the wicked sisters to be beheaded forth-
with. Then he flew to the tomb to take one last
look at the face of her whom he had loved go
unworthily. But the tomb was open and empty.
Some thief, they said, must have robbed it for the
sake of the rich ornaments of the corpse. In the
bitterness of his sorrow, Fergus cursed himself for
what he had done, and, raging like a madman,
rode away from the place, after commanding the
castle where such woe had been wrought, to be
razed to the ground.

Before long he fell in with the nameless knight,
now healed of his wounds and eager to avenge
the wrong done to the daughter of the King of
the Borders, As soon as he saw the shield of
Fergus, he bore down upon him, fiercely bidding
STEEL-HEART. 251
him look to himself, for one or other of them must
die that day.

Fergus laid his lance in rest, and they rushed
together without more ado. At the first shock
the king of the north country was hurled to the
ground, and never rose again.

—— —

iI.

But the fair Nerone was not dead. When
the funeral procession had retired, she rose from
the bier and stole forth unseen. Full glad she
was to be once more free; but now she must
contrive means not to fall again into the hands of
her persecutors.

In a cottage near the castle lived an old woman,
who alone had shown her kindness during her
captivity. To this cottage she made her way
under the cover of darkness and told her tale, and
was welcomed and sheltered for that night. The
kind woman would have concealed her longer,
but she feared to remain near the castle. . Her
hostess had a son of her height; she dressed her-
self in his clothes, and, thus disguised, set out on
foot, caring not where she went, so that she escaped
from Fergus and his sisters.
252 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

For many days she wandered over the mount-
ains and valleys, living on the charity of the
country people, and passing everywhere for a boy.
Her tender feet bled from the stones, and she
shivered in the cold winds, She knew not where
to find a friend. She feared to return home, lest
her father should give her up to Fergus. Often
she had to sleep on the bare ground, and was
terrified by the roar of wild beasts. And at last,
since she could do no better, she hired herself to
a peasant, to keep his sheep.

“Steel-Heart,” she said, was her name, and that
she had travelled from a country far away.

Time passed by, and Nerone still stayed in this
place, patiently keeping sheep, and thinking
herself forgotten, But at last there came riding
by a gallant knight, and her heart beat fast when
she saw the gilded shield that bore no device save
the words Sans nom. This was his shield whom
she had tended while he lay wounded in her
father’s castle, and it was no other voice that she
now heard, as the knight reined his steed and
looked curiously upon her.

“Pretty shepherd-boy, what is thy name ?”

“Sir, they call me Steel-Heart,” she answered,
turning her blushing looks to the ground.
STEEL-HEART, 253

“With such a name methinks a youth might
love to follow arms rather than to herd sheep.
Say, wilt thou come with me, and serve me as my
squire?”

“T ask no better!” she cried, with sparkling
eyes.

Willingly, then, Steel-Heart threw her crook
away, and followed this knight wherever he might
go. Kindly he taught her the duties of a squire,
courteously making allowance for her ignorance,
and assisting her in those tasks which her feeble
arms could not yet perform. If this was to serve,
she told herself, she would rather serve such a
master than be queen of the richest country in
the world. And -when first she undid his cuirass,
what was her joy to see still round his neck that
golden chain which she had placed there while
he lay sick and unconscious of her loving care.
She still treasured the ring which she had drawn
from his finger, but she forbore to show it him,
for she thought—

“He will not care to be reminded of me now.
Doubtless, he will soon see some other lady more
worthy of him. And, so I am near him, I can be
content.”

The knight rode on, and knew not that she
254 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

whom he still sought to find was with him night
and day. Faithfully she served him as his squire,
and followed him to many tournaments and feats
of arms. Then proud and glad she was to see
how he bore himself, and how all went down
before his lance and shrank back from the edge
of his sword; yet, in the heat of the fight, she
trembled for his life, and had much ado to school
herself to stand by and not betray the womanly
fears that belied her name. But for his sake she
endured such sights, as if her heart had indeed
been of steel ; and ever he came out victorious, and
no man could earn the right to make him tell his
name. The squire rejoiced, but the knight was
sad in the midst of his triumphs, and he told her—

“For all this I care not, so long as in vain I
seek a lady who, I think, loves me well, and suffers
great wrong. Good Squire Stecl-Heart, it will be
a happy day that brings me to deliver her; and
till then, I can take no rest.”

Nerone’s heart was full; she thought the time
was come when she must speak, yet still she
kept silence, not knowing how to disclose herself.
That night while he slept she placed his ring
upon the knight’s finger; and when he rose in
the morning he saw it and knew it, and was
STEEL-HEART. 255

astonished. But not yet did he know the face of
his young squire, to whom he loved so well to
speak of that lady that bound up his wounds in
her father’s castle.

Thus the nameless knight rode east and west
and north and south, and at last returned to the
castle of the King of the Borders, to tell that his
search bad been in vain. The old king was
almost blind with grief as well as age, and knew
not his daughter’s face. And none knew her in
the guise of the squire Steel-Heart, when thus
_ she returned to her home.

After waiting on her master’s needs, she crept
into the darkest corner of the hall and sat there
unseen of all, When supper was over, the king
called for music, and the minstrels came. Great
songs they sang of the deeds of yore; then the
squires and damsels played on the lute and sang
tender strains of love; and Steel-Heart listened,
keeping her eyes on the face of her knight.

He, in his turn, was asked if he would sing.

“Nay, I have no skill,” he said. “But where
is my squire Steel-Heart? I warrant he has a
sweet voice.”

So summoned, Nerone came forward and took
the lute, and, standing in the firelight, began to
256 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

sing to it, in such a voice that the old king |
trembled as he heard, and all eyes were turned
upon the young squire. Thus ran her song—
“Dreams not that wounded knight of her who watched
him night and day ?
In vain a hateful suitor came and tore the maid away.
He sought in. vain to win her love; he said her heart
was steel ;

But ah! her heart another had—*twas true through woe
and weal,

“They thought her dead, but death came not to such a
woful wight ; .

She feigned to die, yet lived unknown again to tend her

knight. : :

She laced his helm and bore his shield, as squire and

serving boy; :

And ah! while near her own true love, she asks no

other joy.”

At the first sound the knight started, calling to
mind the voice that had sung to him in his
sickness. As the song went on, he gazed upon his
squire like one in a dream. And now when it
ended, a cloud seem to have passed from his eyes.
He sprang to his feet, and seized her hand.

“Nerone!” was the cry, as she fell into the
arms of her father, weeping for joy.

The knight stood all amazed. Then Nerone
turned to him, and he knelt before her,

“Ah! true maiden and faithful squire, thou hast
STEEL-HEART, 257

conquered me by love, and to thee I may tell my
- name! Iam Hector, the King of the South. Be
thou the mistress of me and all that is mine!”

Throughout the land all now was mirth and
gladness. The King of the Borders joyfully gave
his daughter’s hand to this adventurous youth, who,
since he had slain Fergus, was the sovereign lord
of both North and South. The three kingdoms
were henceforth joined in one, over which Hector
and Nerone ruled happily and gloriously, till they
alone were alive to remember the days when he
rode unknown save as the knight without a name,
and she followed him as his faithful squire with
the heart of steel,


The Demon Fight.”

+



4]

BRAVE and virtuous knight named
Albert, journeying attended by a single



squire, was one night hospitably enter-
tained at the castle of a certain lord. After
supper, the household gathered round the fire in



* This tale will be recognised as the foundation of the
well-known episode in “ Marmion” :—

“ Wonder it seemed, in the squire’s eyes,
That one, so wary held, and wise—
Of whom ’twas said, he scarce received
For gospel, what the church believed,

Should, stirred by idle tale,
Ride forth in silence of the night,
As hoping half to meet a sprite,

Arrayed in plate and mail.”

Tt would not have been used here, if it had not seemed

the most characteristic specimen of a class of tale which

. was not to be left unrepresented,
258
THE DEMON KNIGHT. 259

the great hall, to pass the hour before retiring to
rest. No minstrel or jongleur being present, they
were fain to amuse themselves and the stranger
by repeating old tales and traditions, well known
in the neighbourhood. Among these was one
which all but the guest had heard a hundred
times, but which none ever heard without awe;
for indeed it was a tale to move the boldest
heart.

Not many miles from this castle was an ancient
camp, surrounded by a natural rampart of earth,
with but one opening to the circular field within
which, so the story ran, had been the scene of a
terrible slaughter in days long gone by. No
human habitation was in sight, and no rash hand
had ventured to turn up this earth, still stained,
as men believed, with blood. Even by daylight
the country people would scarcely dare to enter
the enclosure. It was said to be haunted by a
shape of dread, whose name was not to be spoken
in a whisper, and whom no living eyes had seen.
But if any man were courageous enough to seek
this spot, armed and alone at the dead of night,
and to call upon the spectre to appear, his
challenge would not fail to be answered, A figure
of prodigious height and strength would rise from ~
260 THE OLD TALES oF CHIVALRY,

the ground, mounted and equipped as a knight,
Then the too bold adventurer must defend
himself with all his might, for one or other of the
combatants was surely doomed to fall in that
ghostly encounter, Many stout-hearted adven-
turers had not shrank from the trial, but not one
ever returned to tell how he had fared with the
Demon Knight.

Such was the tale at which old men still
shuddered, and which made the youths and
damsels creep closer together, and draw into the
dying light of the hearth. When it was finished,
all sat still, and no word was spoken till the
master of the castle suddenly rose and pro-
posed to his guest that they should retire for
the night. ;

Albert willingly agreed, for he was tired by a
long day’s journey, and meant to set out at an
early hour next day. The members of the house-
hold dispersed, hurrying through the shadows of
the vaulted corridors, and casting fearful looks
from side to side. The guest was conducted to
his chamber and left to repose,

But the story of the Demon Knight had taken
too strong hold of his mind to be easily shaken
off. The lights went out one by one; the rest of

i
THE DEMON KNIGHT, 261

the castle sank into slumber ; no sound was heard
but the steady tramp of the warder without and
the breathing of his squire sleeping at the door of
his chamber—while still the young knight lay
awake, thinking of what he had just heard.
Restlessly he turned from side to side, and tried
in vain to banish the curiosity which had been so
powerfully excited in him. He closed his eyes,
and his mind was filled with visions of the
spectral champion. He opened them and saw the
moonlight falling through a barred arch upon his
glittering arms. From moment to moment his
brain grew more and more heated, and a mad
desire to seek this mysterious spot possessed him
with greater and greater force. He had never
feared to face a foe in mortal form, and never
could he hope to find such a chance to win glory
as in this combat, where all others had failed.
How could he rest when such an adversary was
awaiting him?

So his fevered thoughts ran on, and at last he
could no longer resist the impulse which urged
him to this perilous adventure. He leaped out of
bed and roused his squire, who was amazed to
learn his master’s intention, but knew him too
well to oppose it. By the moonlight he did on

8
262 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

the knight’s arms; then, softly stealing down to
the court-yard, they saddled their horses, and
left the castle without awaking any one but the
porter. From him Albert received directions for
the way to the old camp, and paid no heed to
his earnest warning not to approach it at such an
hour,

They rode forth, and were soon galloping reck-
lessly across a bare, bleak moor, full of pits and
morasses, in the centre of which rose the hollow
mound said to be haunted by this phantom. It
was a cold and cheerlcss night; heavy clouds
rolled over the sky, and only by occasional glimpses
of the moon did they catch sight of the dark
ramparts towards which they were hastening.
But Albert did not halt till he was close to the
entrance of the camp. There, beneath the weird
shadows of a thunder-blasted oak, he drew rein
and looked around.

The night air had cooled his excited mood, and
he felt half inclined to return without entering
the magic circle. His squire, too, terrified by the
look of the place and the tale told of it, now
ventured to beg him to desist from such a hopeless
undertaking. A moment’s reflection, however,
told Albert that he could not withdraw with


THE DEMON KNIGHT. 263

honour, and he resolved to proceed, come what
might. Ordering the squire to await him beside
this tree, and to go back to the castle if he did
not return by sunrise, he rode forward to the
entrance.

His horse neighed, and plunged violently, and
all its master’s strength was required to make
the high-spirited animal leap the trench and pass
through the opening of the circle. As they
entered, and the hoofs fell upon the soft turf
within, the moon was suddenly hid by a cloud, and
the enclosure was plunged in darkness, All was
silent as the grave. A cold wind swept by,
striking a deadly chill through Albert’s limbs. |
His heart beat as he strained his eyes into the
surrounding shadows, and feared to see them
peopled by phantom forms. He felt the horse
trembling under him, and his own knees began to
shake, But he manned himself; and firmly
grasping his lance, raised his voice with an effort—

“ Appear!”

The word sounded deep and hollow as in a
vault, and was rolled back by echoes on every
side. And instantly Albert was aware that a
shadowy thing, dark even in the darkness, had
risen like a vapour from the earth, and was taking
264 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

shape opposite him asa huge knight mounted upon
a huge horse. No word it spoke, and there was no
clash of these ghostly arms; but the young knight
perceived that the unearthly form was bearing
down upon him, and that he had need of all his
courage and skill, Driving the spurs deep into
his horse’s flanks, he urged it wildly forward; and
they met halfway. -Never had Albert felt such a
shock. His own lance seemed to glide off the
armour of his adversary; as for himself, he scarcely
knew how it went with him. He was borne from
his saddle; his brain whirled round as he put his.
hand to his sword hilt; all was blindness and
amazement ; he struck wildly in the air; and the
first thing of which he was clearly conscious was
lying helplessly on the ground, while the phantom
stood over him with naked sword and spoke
fearful words—words such as no human lips
can frame, and no human ears can hear, save
when the soul stands upon the brink of eternal
loss.

The young knight shuddered to know that he
was being bidden renounce his redemption and
vow for ever to serve the powers of evil, He gave
himself up for dead. He closed his eyes; his
tongue clove to the roof of his mouth; his limbs
THE DEMON KNIGHT, 265

scemed to be frozen with horror. He could only
press to his heart the cross upon the hilt of his
sword; then he gained strength for a moment,
and murmured the name of CHRIST.

A wild shriek rang through the ramparts.
Albert raised his head, and saw that his demon
foe had vanished at the sacred word. The moon
came out from the clouds and lit up the grassy
ring. It was empty, save for himself and the
black steed of his late adversary. His own horse
had fled.

Earnestly thanking Heaven for his deliverance,
Albert seized the rein of the black steed and led
it away. Beneath the oak tree he found his horse
and squire, who, seeing it return riderless, had
given his master up for lost. In a few words, the
knight told him what had happened, and they
rode back to the castle, where they arrived before
daybreak.

The rattling of the drawbridge and the tram-
pling of hoofs brought forth the inhabitants, who
hastened forward to learn the young knight’s tale.
At first they refused to believe him, thinking he
was relating a dream. But when they saw the
horse which he had won from the Demon Knight
they could no longer doubt, and broke out into
266 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

loud cries of wonder and admiration, as well
they might.

Albert received their praises with modesty, and
retired to remove his armour, accompanied by the
master of the castle, who could not contain his joy
to see his guest return from such an adventure
alive and unhurt. So he himself supposed ; but
when they came to disarm him, one of his thigh-
pieces was found full of clotted blood from a
severe wound which he had not noticed till now.
And now he began to recall the incidents of the
desperate struggle, and became aware that his foe
had hurled at him the fragment of his broken
spear and thus given him this hurt.

Meanwhile, in the court-yard, a crowd was
gathered round the horse of the vanquished.
By the light of torches, it could be seen to be a
magnificent charger of prodigious size, black as
jet, with large eyes shining like fire, and a great
mane streaming from its proudly arched neck.. It
foamed, and reared, and pawed the ground so
furiously that few cared to draw near it.
Suddenly the cock crew. With an angry snort,
it broke from the hands of the squire, dashed
through the gate, and disappeared in the grey
light of early dawn.
THE DEMON KNIGHT. 267

Albert lay long at the castle before recovering
from his wound. At length it healed, but every
year for the rest of his life it broke out afresh
upon the same night and at the very hour of that
ghostly encounter. Men said that henceforth the
ancient camp was freed from its dreadful spell;
and no eye has ever again beheld the Demon
Knight.


Ghe Challenge,
—_—_—_-j—_- —

E King of England had married a
daughter of the King of France, and
held high festival at Greenwich, then
the residence of his court. From all parts of



Europe came princes and knights to be present at
this ceremony and to take part in the tournaments
which had been proclaimed in honour of it,
Seldom had such splendid rejoicings been seen in
any land. Every hour not devoted to tilting in
the lists was taken up by magnificent processions,
solemn religious services, and sumptuous feasts in
the royal palace. For the common crowd there
was no lack of games and spectacles; oxen were
roasted whole at blazing bonfires, wine ran freely
an the market-place, prisoners were releascd, alms
were bountifully distributed to the poor. Mirth
268
THE CHALLENGE. 269

and joy filled all the country, and every voice -
was raised to invoke blessings upon the royal
pair.

On the first day of the tournaments the honour
of knighthood was conferred by the king’s hand
upon a number of bachelors, the flower of the
young nobility of his own and the neighbouring
countries. Among the new-made knights were a
young Spaniard called Tirante the White, from
the colour of his armour, and the Seigneur de
Villermes, the heir of one of the greatest families
in France, both of whom were no sooner girded
with their swords than they bid fair to distinguish
themselves among their compeers. Neither of
them hesitated to touch the shields of the oldest
and best-tried champions, and both bore them-
selves so gallantly in every encounter, that all
men said the sovereigns to whom they owed
allegiance were happy to have young knights
so well able to win their spurs on a stricken
field.

The festivities were brought to an end by a
grand banquet, at which these two youths were
among the guests. When after supper the knights
and ladies met to dance in the hall, Tirante’s
regards were attracted by the elegance and love-
270 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

liness of the young Lady Agnes, a near relation of
the queen, who was yet singularly pleasing and
modest in her manners, with none of that pride
which is so often found in persons of lofty birth.
So the young Spaniard ventured to approach and
request her hand for the dance; after which he
addressed her with a profound reverence—

“The virtue, the high rank, the beauty, the
gracefulness, and the wit which unite in you, fair
Agnes, unite also to make me most desirous of
being counted among the humblest but most
faithful of your servants. Grant me, I pray you,
that knot which you wear upon your bosom, that
I may carry it all my life in token of your
condescension; and I swear by the order of
chivalry which I have received, that in your
honour I will fight with any knight to the death,
on foot or horseback, armed or disarmed.”

“ Ah! why risk your life for such a one as I?”
cried Agnes, blushing; but she took off the knot,
set with diamonds, and handed it to the young
knight, who received it on his knees, saying, as
she fastened it in his cap—

“Madam, I can never thank you enough for the
present you have just made me, which I will ever
value more than the crown of a kingdom.”
THE CHALLENGE. 271

But this was beheld with jealous eyes by the
Seigneur de Villermes. He seized an opportunity
to draw Tirante aside, and said—

“Sir, you have much audacity; never knight
ventured to make such a demand of such a lady
as the peerless Agnes. By goodwill or by force, you
must give up to me the favour which you have
just received at her hands, for I have more right
to it than you, since from my youth I have served
and respected this lady. I must have it; do not
force me to deprive you of your life as well,”
he continued, touching the hilt of his sword.

“Forsooth!” replied Tirante, “I should be
regarded as the most infamous and worthless of
knights, if I gave up to you this favour which I
have sworn to preserve with my life. Sir, your
words are too high; I must bring down your
pride.”

Then as the Frenchman laid his hands upon the
jewelled knot, Tirante hurled him back, and both
blades flew out of the scabbards. It was all the
spectators of this scene could do to part them.
Out of regard for the presence of the king and
queen, however, they put up their swords for the
present, and each retired to his lodging, accom-
panied by his friends.
272 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

Before long the page of De Villermes brought
to Tirante a letter in these terms—

“To thee, Don Tirante, surnamed the White, who
hast been the destruction of so many champions.
If thou art not afraid to risk thy life, I leave thee
the choice of arms: armed, disarmed, on foot or
horseback, naked or clothed, it matters not to me,
so long as I may fight with thee to the death.
Written by my own hand, and sealed with my
seal. DE VILLERMES.”

Tirante read the letter, and dismissed the page
courteously, with a present of ten crowns of gold.
Then he went out to search for the herald king-at-
arms, and after binding him to secrecy, showed
him the challenge which he had just received, and
begged him to go at once to Villermes to arrange
the terms of the combat. And, though the other
was the aggressor, he left to him the choice of arms.
A blank paper signed and sealed was delivered to
the king-at-arms by Tirante, who at the same
time presented him with a mantle of rich brocade
edged with fur.

The herald at once sought out Villermes, and
drawing him apart, said—

“My lord, I wish well that I might bring
you and Sir Tirante into accord, but if you
THE CHALLENGE, 273

persist in your resolution, here is your letter
and his reply: it is, as you see, a carte blanche
signed by his hand and sealed with hig arms.
You are the aggressor, but decide all as you
will, and let the combat be as soon as you
please.”

The Lord of Villermes was charmed with his
rival’s courtesy. He replied to the king-at-arms
that he willingly accepted the right of choice
given him by his enemy, and proposed that they
should fight on foot, with no armour save a linen .
shirt, a buckler of paper, and a helmet of flowers.
Neither should use any other weapon than his
sword. ‘The time was fixed for that same evening,
at an hour when the king and the court would be
attending divine service.

Armed in this fantastic fashion, the French and
the Spanish knight met in a secluded grove,
No spectators were present except a few of their
most intimate friends and the herald who was
appointed to be judge of the combat. Before
giving the signal for its commencement,.he made
a final attempt to reconcile them, but neither
would listen to any such entreaty,

“So be it!” he said, withdrawing, and leaving
them face to face, when he had declared that this
274 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

combat was @ outrance, and that one or both
could not leave the field alive.

Meanwhile the idle page of Villermes’ had
thought to please Lady Agnes by telling her
what was passing. Far other was the effect of his
story on her gentle heart. She turned pale, and
wrung her hands, bitterly reproaching herself for
her innocent share in this quarrel.

“Alas!” she cried, once and again, “that for
my sake such knights should fall to such strife.
Never can I have a happy hour if one of them
perish in this deadly combat; and all my life
shall I wear no other robe than the bloodstained
robe of the slain, to be a token to all ladies how
they lightly bestow their favours !”

Her lips had scarce strength to frame this vow
before she swooned away in sight of the king, as he
was coming from chapel. He stayed to ask what
ailed the lady, and when they told him of the
strange fight that was even then being fought, he
frowned for the first time since his wedding-day.
’ There was no need for the queen to beseech his
interference. Ordering his horse, he rode quickly
to the scene of the combat.

He arrived in time to see both combatants
almost at the end of their strength. The garlands
THE CHALLENGE, 275

of flowers which formed their helmets had long
since been trampled in the dust; their useless
bucklers were cut into shreds; their fine linen
shirts were covered with stains and great streams
of blood, and gashes through which the frightful
wounds could be seen. Yet the knights, though
scarce able to stand, were still fighting feebly ,
but their swords fell from their hands, and they
staggered back, as the king on his foaming horse
burst between them and cried—* Hold !”

“Shame upon you!” he spoke, looking sternly
from one to the other. “Shame it is to seek your
brother’s blood for so light a cause. Are there no
foes of God and man, that thus ye strive for a
foolish conceit and to win the praise of fools?
Never does the true knight lack enemies against
whom it behoves him to risk his life, but little
do ye regard the vows of knighthood, and well
may it come to ruin through such as you who
have brought our revels to this end by your false
pride and idle wrangling. Therefore for a year
and a day I forbid you both to wear in my court
the arms which ye have girded on without learn-
ing to rule your spirits better than angry boys;
and henceforth let all know that they do but
harm their own fame and the love of ladies and
276 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.

the service of their sovereign, who draw the sword
save in a worthy cause, in which alone it can be
sheathed without dishonour.”

Exhausted by loss of blood and overwhelmed
by shame, the young knights could not utter a
word. As the king turned away, they fell helpless
on the ground, wet with their wasted blood.
Litters were brought, and they were carried
slowly back to their lodgings. It was long before
their severe wounds were healed; then both,
departed to the East to fight against the Turks in
the ranks of Christendom,

THE END.
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