. .. f .-. / f4..-.
E L -
I_,"' t,- .i
"'Hold! shame upon you,' he spoke, looking sternly from one to the other; 'shame
it is to seek yourbrother sbloodfor so light a cause.' "-p. 275. The Challenge.
LANCE AND SWORD
1lb JialT~ of thitaltv rettolb
ASCOTT R. HOPE,
Author of "In Forest and Jungle," 0,Q th i War
Th It ba o tn
GALL AND INGLIS, 25 PATERNOSTER SQUARE;
AND BOUND SY
GALL AND INGLIS
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION, 1
HuoN's TASK,. 34
THE DRAGON OF RHODES, 77
THE RESCUE OF THE QUEEN, 8
ROLAND AND OLIVER, 132
FLORICE AND BLANCHEFLOWE, 143
THE RANSOM, 177
THE SON OF AMADIS, 184
THE KNIGHT AND THE ABDOT, 215
THE DEMON KNIGHT, 258
THE CHALLENGE, 268
THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.
94Ce Alinxgt of t11 rixr.
L 1HE 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."
"Loth 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
"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.
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. 0
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
0 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.
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
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 other's 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
THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.
taken away his wits for a 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
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
to help 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 to succour the helpless and the oppressed.
10 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY.
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
T'E KNIGHT OF THE LION.
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 had 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
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
"Sir, it behoves thee to leave that beast with-
"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.
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 cause
of their trouble.
"Sir, if it is your will, I 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
"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.
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. All in the castle hurried to'
the walls, and now Sir Ewayne saw a piteous sight
With huge strides the giant came on, a shaggy
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-
"If 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
"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
"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
A; .b' ii
"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.
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 movie 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. 2I
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, I have
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
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
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 Tor 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
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,
and overcome with sudden weakness, fell from his
He rose to his feet, and wild thoughts rushed
into his mind. In the fall his sword had escaped
THE KNIGHT OF THE LION.
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
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. Y7
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
"Ho! Sir Salados, false knight and robber of
ladies, the time is come when thou shalt be well
paid for all thy villainy."
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,
a loud peal of thunder burst above their heads, and
a heavy 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. At last 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. For a
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
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
mighty 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.
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
32 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, I am
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. 33
SOh, 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
frst to forgive. They fell upon one another's
necks, and in one kiss forgot all the sorrows of
these seven years.
KNIGHT was traversing the dark glades
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
"The saints defend us! 'Tis Oberon, the prince
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. I 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
oB 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 on a 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
"I 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 entreaty 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 this am 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
"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 liar will
reach my ear."
"May I never prove unworthy of thy protec-
"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
"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
40 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY
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
Huon, son of my old lord and master, say that
these well-known features have not deceived me !"
BUON'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
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 ?"
"Even so-your own uncle. You have doubt-
less heard tell in your youth that a young- brother
of my lord your father was carried away by
pirates on the sea-shore, along with all his attend-
ants. I was 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 uncle'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
"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
HUON'S TASK. 43
"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
"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 do as he desired. At last Gerasmes agreed, upon
Give me leave to follow you wherever you go,
and serve you as your squire, as my father served
"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
"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
44 THE OLD TALES OF CHIVALRY
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
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 be 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
nephew and present him to the nobles of the
Huon burned with indignation and shame to see
upon his uncle's brow a rich green turban, crowned
with a crescent 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, as if 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
"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. 47
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
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.
meant. Huon could not restrain a laugh at the
Sultan's confusion and disappointment, yet he
drew back from this uncle whose falsity was thus
"Insolent!" 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
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 fiat on the ground, breathless and
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
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 at last
arrived upon a plain in the midst of which a huge
tower reared itself, losing its battlements in the
HUON'S TASK. 51
"It 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 drawbridge 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
"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
"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
"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 I 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
"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-
"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 pierce and--
"Say no more. Am I not one of the peers of
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 feet 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
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
"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 aid
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
"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 moreover,
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
"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
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
thui 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
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.
"I am ready to fight, if you are ready to die!"
he roared, brandishing this terrific weapon over
"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,
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.
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
As a 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
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 neighboring 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 Prophet, what would you here?"
HuoR did not concern himself to reply till he
had courteously 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,
Suddenly the Emir checked himself as Huon
raised his hand, and displayed the ring of
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 ona 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 TASK. 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 niight 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
Chariot 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.
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?"
"I am no other. But say, does he live? Is he
in health ? Where may I see him?"
"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 to
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. Esclarmonde 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
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 1"
"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 ?"
"It 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
7~ 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
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 combat was long and desperate. For hours
Esclarmonde's heart was torn with anxiety, and
HUON S TASK. ?3
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
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
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
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.
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
Thus ends the ancient, honourable, famous, and
delightful history of Huon of Bordeaux.
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
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
Eleaven, and when the dawn began to appear, he
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
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
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.
"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
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 indeed 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
The blood fled from Theodore's face as he
replied in a low voice, that thrilled in every ear-
"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
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
"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
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
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
VIje Tcautm of t1ht exfu
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
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 to do ? 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
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 so many ? 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
"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
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 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.
"For 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