Page images
PDF
EPUB

queen, and with her many ladies and damsels ready to disarm them, but the queen would suffer none of them to touch the Child of the Sea, whom she herself disarmed, and threw a mantle over him. The king then came and saw how he was wounded, and asked him why he had not delayed the day of battle. It had been needless, quoth the Child ; I have no wound to detain me. So they presently dressed his wounds, and the supper was brought.

On the morrow the queen and her ladies went to visit them, and they found them conversing with the king. Then mass was said, which being ended, the Child armed himself, not in the arms which he had worn yesterday, for they had been so dealt with that they were useless, but in a rich and goodly armour. Then he took leave of the queen, and mounted a fresh horse. King Perion carried his helm, and an old knight called Aganon his lance, and Prince Agrayes his shield, whereon were pourtrayed two azure lions in a field of gold, rampant the one against the other. They went out from the town, and found King Abies mounted on a large black courser, armed at all points save his head. The townsmen and those of the host placed themselves where they might best see the combat. The lists were marked out, and scaffolding erected round them. Then they laced on their helmets. King Abies hung round his neck a shield, which bore a giant in a field azure, and a knight beheading him, for so he had once slain a giant who had lain waste his country. When they both had taken their arms, all who were in the lists went out, each commending their own champion to God; and the two knights ran at each other, as they who were of great strength and good heart. At the first encounter all their arms failed, ine

lances pierced through shield and breast plate, and into the flesh, and the staves flew in pieces, and they met body to body and horse to horse so furiously that both fell, and all the beholders thought them dead; but soon they rose, and plucked the spear-heads from the wound, and engaged so fiercely with their swords that it was fearful to see them. Yet the combat seemed unequal, not that the Child of the Sea was not well made and of goodly stature, but King Abies was so large that there was no knight whom he did not exceed in stature by a palm, and his limbs were like those of a giant; he was, however, beloved by his people, and had in him all good qualities except that he was too proud. The battle between them was cruel and without any respite, and their strokes resounded like the fight of twenty knights. They sliced away the shields, and battered the helmets, and hewed away the harness, and each bled so fast, that it was a wonder how they could endure, and thus they continued till the hour* of tierce; and then the sun grew hot and heated their armour, so that they began to wax somewhat feeble.

At this time King Abies drew back. Hold ! said he, and let us rest if you will: thou art the best knight that ever I combated withal—but I shall not for that spare thee, for thou hast killed him whom I loved best, and now puttest me to shame that the battle should last so long, before so many good men, The Child of the Sea answered him, King Abies, thou hast shame for this, and not for entering this country in thy pride, and doing so much evil to him who had not deserved it at thy hands! Remember that men, and kings especially, are not to do what they can but what they

* Nine in the morning.

ought. And now thou wishest to rest !-so have they whom you in your oppression would not allow to rest; and that you may feel what you have made others feel, look to yourself, for you shall not rest here. Abies then took his sword and the little of his shield that was left; To thy own misfortune dost thou brave me, quoth he, for thou shalt not leave these lists till I have cut off thy head. Do thy utmost ! replied the Child. Herewith more cruelly than before they renewed the battle, as if it were even then begun. King Abies, who was well practised in arms, fought warily now, warding the sword of his antagonist and striking where the blow could injure most; but the lightness and promptitude of the Child made him in the end lose ground. And now has the Child destroyed all the remaining part of his shield, and wounded him so often that the sword turned in his hand for weakness, and so prest he was that he gave back, and almost turned to fly, seeking some safety against that sword that so cruelly he felt. But, when he saw no remedy but death, he grasped his sword in both hands, and smote at the Child, thinking to hew his helmet ; the shield caught the blow, and the sword pierced in so deep that Abies could not pull it forth. The Child, in return, struck him so fiercely on the left leg that he cut it off, and the king fell. The Child set foot upon him, and, plucking off his helmet, said, Thou art dead, King Abies, if thou dost not yield thyself vanquished ! He replied, I am indeed dead, not vanquished, and my pride has overthrown me. I pray thee, let assurance be given to my people, that they may safely depart and carry me into my own country. I forgive thee and all whom I hated, and all that I have taken from King Perion shall be restored, and I beseech you let me be confessed. When the Child of the Sea heard this, he was exceeding sorrowful for King Abies, though he knew that he would have been without pity had he been the conqueror; and now the men of the army and of the town assembled in peace, King Abies ordered all his conquests to be restored, and Perion gave assurance to the Irish that they might return in safety. And Abies, having received all the sacraments of the holy church, gave up the ghost; and they carried him to his own country, making great lamentation for his loss.

King Perion and Agrayes, and the chiefs of the realm, then came to the Child, and led him away from the field with such honours as the conquerors in these feats are wont to receive, who by their prowess pro*cure not only glory to themselves, but the welfare of a ruined country. The damsel of Denmark had arrived at the commencement of the battle, and now, seeing how happily it had ended, she came up to him Child of the Sea, speak with me apart. He went aside with her, and then she said, Oriana, your mistress, hath sent me, and I bring you from her this.writing wherein you shall find your name. He took the writing, but he had heard nothing save the name of his lady, and that had so confused him that the writing fell from his hand, and he dropped the reins upon his horse's neck. What now, sir ? quoth she; take you so ill the message that comes from the noblest damsel in the world, and who so dearly loveth you, and hath made me endure so much toil in your search? Friend! said he, I did not hear what you said for this pain which seized me, as you once witnessed heretofore. She answered, you need not dissemble with me. I know both your affairs and my lady's, for she hath

trusted me, and if you love her you do no wrong, for it is not easy to relate how dearly she loveth you. And with that she repeated Oriana's message, and gave him again the writing, which he opened, and saw that his name was Amadis. The damsel having accomplished her errand, would then have returned, but he besought her to remain till the third day, and then he would accompany her. I came to you, she replied, and shall do as you command. The Child then rejoined King Perion, who was awaiting him.

As they entered the city, the people welcomed with shouts their deliverer. So they proceeded to the palace, and in the Child's chamber they found the queen and all her ladies, and they took him in their arms from his horse, and the queen disarmed him, and masters came and searched his wounds, which though many were without danger. The king desired that he and Agrayes would eat with him, but he would have no other company than the damsel, to whom he did all the honour that could be devised. Thus he remained some days, nor did his wounds prevent him from walking frequently in the great hall to converse with the damsel, whom he still detained till. he could bear arms and accompany her.

B

CHAP. XI.-How King Perion and Queen Elisena knew the

Child of the Sea to be their son Amadis. T so happened, that as he was one day walkP ing in the hall with the damsel, young MeAS licia, King Perion's daughter, past by him weeping. He asked her why she wept, and she told him for a ring, which her father had given her to keep while he slept, and which she had lost. I will give

« PreviousContinue »