« PreviousContinue »
they led into a hall, and supper was given them right honourably; and, when the cloths were removed, the old knight went to Galaor and asked him if the damsel was to be his bedfellow. He replied, No; and two damsels then conducted her to her chamber, while he was shown a rich bed for himself. Here rest yourself, said his host : God knows the pleasure I have in entertaining you, and all errant knights, for I myself have been one, and have two sons who are the like, but both now are badly wounded, for there came by a knight who dismounted them both, and they greatly ashamed of their foil rode after him, and came up to him by a river as he was about to cross it in a boat; and they would have made him do battle with the sword, since they knew how he could joust. The knight, who was in haste, would have declined the battle, but my sons prevented him from entering the boat. A lady who was in the boat then said to them, that they were discourteous in detaining her knight against her will; but they said, He must needs do battle. Let it be, then, said the lady, that he shall fight with the better of you twain, and if he shall conquer him that shall suffice. Not so, they answered ; if one failed, the other would prove his fortune. The knight then grew angry, and cried, Come both, since you will not let me proceed ! and one after the other he sent them from their horses, utterly confounded; then crossed the river and went his way. I went afterwards to bring home my sons for they were sorely wounded : you shall see with what wounds, such as never before were given by any knight. He then sent for the armour which they had worn, and it was so cut through with the sword that Galaor greatly marvelled, and asked what arms the knight bore.-A
vermilion shield with two grey lions, and another on his helmet, and he rides a roan horse. Know you who he is? cried Galaor, No, said the old knight. It is the same knight whom I am seeking, quoth Galaor, and, if I find him, I will revenge your two sons and myself, or die. Sir friend, quoth his host, I would counsel you to forbear the attempt, for as for what my sons have suffered they brought it on themselves; and then he bade him good night.
The next morning Galaor and his guide departed; they crossed the river in the boat, and proceeding about five leagues came to a fortress. Wait for me a little, said the damsel ; I will be here presently : and she entered the castle. Presently she returned, bringing with her another damsel and ten knights on horseback ; and that other damsel, who was passing fair, said to Galaor, Sir, my cousin tells me you are in quest of the knight who bears two grey lions in a vermilion shield, that you may know who he is; but I tell you that you cannot learn by force, for there is no knight like him in all the islands, and he will neither tell you nor any other for three years, unless it be forced from him. Damsel, said Galaor, I shall not cease my enquiry, and would rather learn his name by force than by other means. Since that be so, said she, within three days I will bring you to him, at my cousin's request. They set forth, and by vespers time came to an arm of the sea that clipped round an island, so that there was full three leagues of water to cross; a bark was ready at the harbour, but before they entered it an oath was demanded, that there was only one knight in company. Why is this oath required ? said Galaor. The damsel replied, The lady of the island will have it so; when one knight has
crost over, no other is suffered to come till the first return or is slain.—Who is it that kills or conquers them !_The knight whom you are seeking; he has been here half a year, and by this occasion : a turney was held here by the lady of the island, and another dame of great beauty; this knight came hither from a foreign land, and being on her side won the victory. Whereat she was so pleased, that she never rested till she had won him for her paramour; but because he is desirous of seeking adventures, the lady, to detain him with her, invites knights to joust against him. If by chance they are slain, they are there interred; otherwise, they are sent back, and he gives their arms and horses to his mistress. She is a full fair lady, and her name Corisanda; the island is called Gravisanda. How came he, said Galaor, to keep the forest? It was a boon asked of him by a damsel, said she, tho' his mistress hardly permitted him to perform it.
By this they had reached the island; the night was some way advanced, but it was clear moonlight, the damsel had two tents pitched beside a little brook, and there they supped, and rested till the morning. Galaor would fain have shared the damsel's tent, but to that, albeit, she thought him the fairest of all knights and much delighted in his conversation, she would not consent. In the morning they set forward, and he asked his guide if she knew the knight's name?
-Neither man nor woman in all this land know it, except his mistress. Then was Galaor the more curious that one of such worth in arms should so conceal himself. Presently they saw a castle on a height, surrounded for a league on all sides by a rich plain. In that castle, quoth the damsel, is he whom you seek. Having advanced farther, they found a stone pillar curiously wrought, and a horn upon it. Sound that horn, said she, and you shall presently see the knight. Galaor blew the horn, and forthwith there came certain men from the castle, and pitched a tent in the meadow before the gate, and then there issued out ten dames and damsels, and in the midst of them one richly clad, who was the lady of the rest. Why does the knight tarry? quoth Galaor, who saw all this. The damsel answered, he will not come till the lady send for him. I beseech you then, said he, go to her and request her to summon him, for I have much to do elsewhere and cannot tarry. When the lady heard this errand, What ! cried she, holds he our knight so cheap that he already thinks of doing ought elsewhere? he will depart sooner than he thinks, and more to his cost. Then she turned to her man : Go, call the strange knight. Anon he came from the castle, armed and afoot ; his men led his horse, and carried his shield and lance and helmet, and he went straight to his mistress. You see a foolish knight yonder, said she, who thinks lightly to take his leave of you : I desire you would make him know his foolishness! and then she embraced and kissed him. All this made Galaor the more angry.
The knight mounted, and slowly rode down the height. Galaor was ready as soon as he saw him in the level, and bade him defend himself: they ran at each other; both lances were broken, both shields pierced, both knights deeply wounded. Don Galaor drew his sword: the stranger said to him, Knight, by the faith you owe to God, and to the thing you love best, let us joust once more! You conjure me so, said Galaor, that I will do it, but I am sorry my horse is not so good as yours, else we would joust till one
of us fell, or till all your lances were broken! The knight made no answer, but called to his squire for two lances, and sent the one to Galaor. Again they encountered : Galaor's horse came on his knees and tottered, and was almost down; the stranger lost both his stirrups, and was fain to hold round the neck of his horse. Galaor spurred up his, and had now sword in hand; thereat, the stranger, somewhat abashed, exclaimed, You are desirous to do combat with the sword ; certes, I fear it rather for you than for myself: if you do not believe me, you shall see. Do your worst ! quoth Galaor : I will either die, or revenge those whom you left in the forest. Then the stranger recollected that it was he who had defied him on foot, and he answered him angrily, Revenge yourself if you can, but I rather think you will carry back one shame upon another.
The ladies, seeing how gallantly they had jousted, thought they would then have accorded, but when they saw the sword-battle, they were greatly amazed at the fury with which it was begun. Such mortal blows they gave each other, that the head was often made to bow upon the breast, and the steel* arches of the helmets were cut through, and their trappings, and the sword went through the linings and was felt upon the head; and the field was strewn with the fragments of their shields and their broken mail. This continued long, till each wondered that his antagonist could hold out. Galaor's horse at last began to fail him, and could scarcely move, whereat he waxed exceeding wroth, thinking that only this de
* Cortando de los yelmos los arcos de azero con parte de las faldas dellos, assi qui las espadas descendian, a los almofares, y las sentian en las cabeças.