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Balays then returned to the damsel, and when he saw how fair she was, he said to her, Certes, fair lady, had your beauty so taken these fellows as it hath me, they would never have suffered you to depart. Sir knight, replied the damsel, had those thieves forced me to their desires, both God and the world might hold me excused; contrariwise, if I should willingly grant your unhonourable request, I neither could nor ought to be pardoned : hitherto you have shown yourself a good knight, let me entreat you to accompany prowess in arms with continence and virtue, as by duty you are bound. My good lady, Balays answered, think no more of what I said : it becomes knights to serve damsels, and to woo their love, and it becomes them to deny as you have done; and albeit at the first we think it much to obtain of them what we desire, yet when wisely and discreetly they resist our inordinate appetites, keeping that, without which they are worthy of no praise, they be even of ourselves more reverenced and commended. She kissed his hand, and answered, For this reason I thank you more for saving my honour than my life.—Then they left that place where the dead men lay, and coming to a pleasant meadow rested there till it was day; and then Balays armed himself, and mounted the damsel's palfrey, because his own horse was slain, and taking her behind him, rode on, for she had desired him to leave her in some habitation, as he could by no means abandon his quest.
As thus they rode on communing together, they saw a knight coming towards them having one leg upon the horse's neck, but drawing nearer he put foot in stirrup, and couched his lance against Balays, and threw him and the damsel from the palfrey. Mistress,
said he then to the damsel, I am sorry for your fall, but I will take you where amends shall be made: this fellow is not worthy to carry you. By this Balays had risen and recognized the knight, and making at him shield and sword in hand, he cried, Don Cavalier, you rode on more than apace after driving my horse astray: by God's help you shall pay by daylight, for your night-knavery! What ! quoth the other, you are one of those who laughed at me: it is my turn now! And he drove at him with his spear so fiercely that the shield was pierced ; but Balays with one blow cut the spear from his hand. The knight then drew his sword, and struck upon his helmet, and the sword went in two fingers' depth. Balays took the occasion, and caught his enemy's shield, and drew him with such force toward him that the saddle came round and he fell, and he cut the laces of his helmet, and buffetted his head with the sword-hilt till he stunned him, and taking his sword broke it against a stone. Then he placed the damsel on her palfrey, and mounted the knight's horse, and rode toward the tree at the cross-way.
That night they were lodged by two women of holy life, who gave them such poor cheer as they could, and blessed Sir Balays for ridding the country of the thieves who had long infested it. Thence they proceeded to the cross-way, where they found Amadis, and had not tàrried long before Galaor came up. So having conducted the damisel to her father's castle, where they were honourably entreated, they continued their way to Windsor.
CHAP. XXX.-How King Lisuarte held a Cortes and of what happened there. JING LISUARTE was so content with the
tidings of Amadis and Galaor, which the
dwarf had brought him, that he determined to hold the most honourable court that ever had been held in Great Britain. At this time Olivas made his appeal of treason against the Duke of Bristol, for the death of his cousin; and the king, with the advice of those who were best versed in these forms, summoned the duke to answer within a month, and if he would justify his cause with two knights beside himself, Olivas should produce other two their equals to maintain his accusation. This done, the court was proclaimed for the day of our Lady in September.
One day when they were all assembled in the palace, and devising together of the festival, a strange damsel, well attired and accompanied by a gentle page, entered, and dismounted from her palfrey, and asked which was the king. Lisuarte answered, he was the man. In sooth, my lord, she replied, you seem like a king in your port and countenance, but I know not whether you be so in heart. Damsel, quoth he, you see the one, and shall be satisfied when you prove the other. She answered, You speak as I desire; remember, therefore, what you have promised before so many great persons, for when you hold your court in London, on St. Mary's day, I shall put you to the proof. So took she leave of him, returning the way she came. All present were much troubled at the rash promise which he had made to a strange damsel, knowing that for no fear would he leave to perform it, and doubting that some ill was designed him.
Presently three knights came through the gate, two of them armed at all points, the third unarmed, of good stature and well proportioned, his hair grey, but of a green and comely old age. He held in his hand a coffer, and having enquired which was the king, dismounted from his palfrey and knelt before him, saying, God preserve you, sir ! for you have made the noblest promise that ever king did, if you hold it. What promise was that ? quoth Lisuarte-- To maintain chivalry in its highest honour and degree: few princes now a days labour to that end, therefore are you to be commended above all other.—Certes, knight, that promise shall I hold while I live. God grant you life to compleat it ! quoth the old man, and because you have summoned a great court to London, I have brought something here which becomes such a person for such an occasion. Then he opened the coffer, and took out a crown of gold, so curiously wrought and set with pearls and gems, that all were amazed at its beauty, and it well appeared that it was only fit for the brow of some mighty lord. Is it not a work which the most cunning artists would wonder at ? said the old knight. Lisuarte answered, In truth it is. Yet, said the knight, it hath a virtue more to be esteemed than its rare work and richness; whatever king hath it on his head, shall always increase his honour; this it did for him for whom it was made till the day of his death, since then no king hath worn it: I will give it you, sir, for one boon, which will save my head that is now in danger to be lost. The queen hearing this, exclaimed, Truly, my lord, such a jewel well becomes you : give any thing for it that the knight may ask. You also, lady, said the knight, should purchase a rich mantle that I bring ;—and he took from the coffer the richest and most beautiful mantle that ever was seen ; for, besides the pearls and precious stones wherewith it was beautified, there were figured upon it all the birds and beasts in nature, so that it looked like a miracle. On my faith, exclaimed the queen, this cloth can only have been made by that Lord who can do everything. It is the work of man, said the old knight, but rarely will one be found to make its fellow : it should belong to wife rather than maiden, for she that weareth it shall never have dispute with her husband. Brisena answered, If that be true, it is above all price; I will give you for it whatever you ask : and Lisuarte bade him demand what he would for the mantle and the crown. The old man answered, I must go, to my sorrow, to him whose prisoner I am, and have now no time to stay, nor to consider what their worth should be, but I will be with you at your court in London; till then, keep you the crown, and you my lady queen the mantle : if you do not accept my terms, you shall restore them ; but, having proved their virtue, you will be ready to pay me more than now. Lisuarte replied, We will either give you what you ask, or restore the crown and mantle. Knights and ladies all ! quoth the old man, you hear what the king and queen promise ! that they will restore to me my crown and mantle, or give me what I shall ask ! They answered, we all hear ! The old man then took his leave, saying, I go to the worst prison that ever man had! One of the armed knights took off his helmet while he was there, and appeared young and sufficiently comely ; the other would not unhelm himself, but held down his head, and he was of such overgreat stature that no knight in court could equal him