Page images
PDF
EPUB

With that they ran at each other, and Florestan smote his shield so strongly against his helmet that the laces brake, and the helmet came off. The Knight could not keep his seat; he fell upon his sword, and broke it in two. Florestan turned his horse and pointed his lance at him —you are dead, unless you yield the Damsel ! I yield her, quoth he, and cursed be she, and the day wherein I first beheld her, for she made me commit so many follies that at last I have destroyed myself. Florestan left him, and went to the Damsel, saying, you are mine ! You have well won me, quoth she, and may do with me as you please. Let us go then! said he ; but one of the other Damsels then said to him, Sir Knight, you are parting good company; we have been a year together, and it grieves us to be separated. Said Florestan, if you chuse to go in my company I will take you also, otherwise you must be separated, for I will not leave so fair a Damsel as this. And if she be fair, quoth the Damsel, neither do I esteem myself so ugly, but that Knight should venture something for me also; but I believe you are not of that temper. What? cried he, think you that I would leave you here for fear 2 so help me as I would have done so only to respect your free will, but you shall see. . He bade the Squires place her also on her palfrey, and the Dwarf, who sate up aloft, cried out again for help.

Presently there came another Knight from the valley, and said to Florestan, Don Cavalier, you have won one Damsel, and, not content with her, you would carry off another; you must, therefore, lose both, and your head too; for it is not fit that a Knight of such degree as you should have in your keeping a Damsel of such rank. You praise yourself bountifully, quoth Florestan; yet had I rather have two Knights of my kin for my helpers than thee I neither regard thee nor them, said the Knight : you have won this Damsel from him who could not defend her; if I conquer thee, she shall be mine; if the victory is yours, you shall take the other whom I defend. Content, quoth Florestan. Defend yourself now, if you can said he of the valley; and they ran their encounter. The Knight pierced through Florestan's shield, and broke his lance against the strong mail. Florestan failed in the race; ashamed at that, when the Knight had taken from his Squire another lance, he ran again, and pierced the shield of his antagonist and the arm that held it, and drove him back upon the crupper of his horse ; the horse reared and threw him, and, the ground being hard, he neither moved hand nor foot. Damsel, said Florestan, you are mine ; for methinks your friend can neither help you nor himself. So it seems, quoth she.

Florestan looked at the other Damsel, who now remained alone by the fountain, and saw that she was very sad. Damsel, said he, if it please you, I will not leave you here alone. She did not answer him, but said to his host, Go from hence, I counsel you ! you know that these Knights are not enough to protect you from him who will presently be here, and, if he take you, you are sure to die. I will see what may happen, he answered, my horse is swift, and my Tower at hand. Ah, said she, take care of yourself; ye are but three, and you unarmed, and you well know that is nothing against him. When Florestan heard this, he became more desirous to carry away that Damsel, and see him whom she praised so greatly. So he had her also placed on her palfrey ; and the Dwarf, who sate up aloft, said, Don Cavalier, in an ill hour are you so bold : here comes one who shall take vengeance for all ! and then he shouted out, help! help, Sir! you linger too long ! Presently there came another Knight from the same valley; his armour was inlaid with gold, and he rode upon a bay horse, big enough for a giant, Two Squires came after him, armed with corselets and morions like serving men, and each carried a huge battle-axe in his hand, in the use of which weapon their master prided himself. He cried out to Florestan, stay, Knight, and seek not to fly, for it will not save you: die you must, and it is better die like a brave man, than like a coward : When Florestan heard himself threatened, he waxed wonderous angry, and cried out, come on, wretch and rascal, and clumsy % fool! So help me God, as I fear thee no more than a great cowardly beast. Ah, quoth the Knight, how it grieves me that I cannot wreak sufficient vengeance upon thee would that the best four of thy lineage were here, that I might cut off their heads with thine ! Protect yourself from one, cried Florestan, you may dispense with the rest. Then, being both greatly incensed, they ran at each other, and the shields and the mails of both were pierced with the violence of the encounter: the large Knight lost

* Ven cativa cosa, y mala , y fuera de razon , sin talle. The language of vituperation is not easily translatable.

both his stirrups, and was fain to save himself by clinging round his horse's neck. Florestan, as he past on, caught at one of the battle-axes, and plucked it with such force from the Squire who held it, that both the man and his horse were brought to the ground. The Knight of the Valley had recovered his seat, and was ready with the other battle-axe, and Florestan made at him with equal arms : both struck at once, each on the helmet of his enemy; the axes went in three fingers' depth. Florestan bowed his face upon his breast with the weight of the blow : the Knight fell upon the neck of his horse, and the axe, being fast in the other's helmet, slipt from his hand; before he could raise himself, Florestan smote him as he lay between the helm and gorget, so that his head fell at the horse's feet. This done, he turned to the Damsels. Certes, good Knight, quoth the first of them, I once thought that not ten such as you could have won us.

The young Knight, their host, then came up to

Florestan, and said, Sir, I love this Damsel dearly,

and she loves me. It is a year since this Knight

whom you have slain hath forcibly detained her,

so that I could not see her : now, that I may re

ceive her from your hands, I beseech you refuse

« PreviousContinue »