Beatrice Clay.

Stories from Le Morte D'Arthur and the Mabinogion online

. (page 6 of 12)
Online LibraryBeatrice ClayStories from Le Morte D'Arthur and the Mabinogion → online text (page 6 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

my lady's sister, who brings with her a knight to the rescue of my
lady." "It is lost labour," said the Red Knight; "even though she
brought Launcelot or Tristram, I hold myself a match for them."
"He is none of these," said the dwarf, "but he has overthrown the
knights who kept the ford, and the Blue Knight yielded to him."
"Let him come," said the Red Knight; "I shall soon make an end of
him, and a shameful death shall he have at my hands, as many a
better knight has had." So saying, he let the dwarf go.

Presently, there came riding towards the castle Sir Gareth and the
damsel Linet, and Gareth marvelled to see hang from the trees some
forty knights in goodly armour, their shields reversed beside them.
And when he inquired of the damsel, she told him how these were the
bodies of brave knights who, coming to the rescue of the Lady
Liones, had been overthrown and shamefully done to death by the Red
Knight. Then was Gareth shamed and angry, and he vowed to make an
end of these evil practices. So at last they drew near to the
castle walls, and saw how the plain around was covered with the Red
Knight's tents, and the noise was that of a great army. Hard by was
a tall sycamore tree, and from it hung a mighty horn, made of an
elephant's tusk. Spurring his horse, Gareth rode to it, and blew
such a blast that those on the castle walls heard it; the knights
came forth from their tents to see who blew so bold a blast, and
from a window of the castle the Lady Liones looked forth and waved
her hand to her champion. Then, as Sir Gareth made his reverence to
the lady, the Red Knight called roughly to him to leave his
courtesy and look to himself; "For," said he, "she is mine, and to
have her, I have fought many a battle." "It is but vain labour,"
said Sir Gareth, "since she loves you not. Know, too, Sir Knight,
that I have vowed to rescue her from you." "So did many another who
now hangs on a tree," replied the Red Knight, "and soon ye shall
hang beside them." Then both laid their spears in rest, and spurred
their horses. At the first encounter, each smote the other full in
the shield, and the girths of the saddles bursting, they were borne
to the earth, where they lay for awhile as if dead. But presently
they rose, and setting their shields before them, rushed upon each
other with their swords, cutting and hacking till the armour lay on
the ground in fragments. So they fought till noon and then rested;
but soon they renewed the battle, and so furiously they fought,
that often they fell to the ground together. Then, when the bells
sounded for evensong, the knights rested again a while, unlacing
their helms to breathe the evening air. But looking up to the
castle windows, Gareth saw the Lady Liones gazing earnestly upon
him; then he caught up his helmet, and calling to the Red Knight,
bade him make ready for the battle; "And this time," said he, "we
will make an end of it." "So be it," said the Red Knight. Then the
Red Knight smote Gareth on the hand that his sword flew from his
grasp, and with another blow he brought him grovelling to the
earth. At the sight of this, Linet cried aloud, and hearing her,
Gareth, with a mighty effort, threw off the Red Knight, leaped to
his sword and got it again within his hand. Then he pressed the Red
Knight harder than ever, and at the last bore him to the earth,
and unlacing his helm, made ready to slay him; but the Red Knight
cried aloud: "Mercy; I yield." At first, remembering the evil
deaths of the forty good knights, Gareth was unwilling to spare
him; but the Red Knight besought him to have mercy, telling him
how, against his will, he had been bound by a vow to make war on
Arthur's knights. So Sir Gareth relented, and bade him set forth at
once for Kink Kenadon and entreat the King's pardon for his evil
past. And this the Red Knight promised to do.

Then amidst much rejoicing, Sir Gareth was borne into the castle.
There his wounds were dressed by the Lady Liones, and there he
rested until he recovered his strength. And having won her love,
when Gareth returned to Arthur's court, the Lady Liones rode with
him, and they two were wed with great pomp in the presence of the
whole Fellowship of the Round Table; the King rejoicing much that
his nephew had done so valiantly. So Sir Gareth lived happily with
Dame Liones, winning fame and the love of all true knights. As for
Linet, she came again to Arthur's court and wedded Sir Gareth's
younger brother, Sir Gaheris.





It befell, one Whitsunday, that Arthur was holding his court at
Caerleon, when word was brought to him of a splendid white stag
that ranged the Forest of Dean, and forthwith the King proclaimed a
hunt for the morrow.

So, with the dawn, there was much trampling of hoofs and baying of
hounds as all the knights got to horse; but Queen Guenevere
herself, though she had said she would ride with the hunt, slept
late, and when she called her maidens to her, it was broad day.
Then, with much haste, she arrayed herself, and taking one of her
ladies with her, rode to a little rising ground in the forest, near
which, as she well knew, the hunt must pass.

Presently, as she waited, there came riding by the gallant knight,
Geraint of Devon. He was arrayed neither for the chase nor for the
fight, but wore a surcoat of white satin and about him a loose
scarf of purple, with a golden apple at each corner. And when the
Queen had answered his salutation, she said: "How is it, Prince,
that ye be not ridden with the hunters?" "Madam," answered he,
"with shame I say it; I slept too late." Smiling, the Queen said:
"Then are we both in the same case, for I also arose too late. But
tarry with me, and soon ye will hear the baying of the hounds; for
often I have known them break covert here."

Then as they waited on the little woodland knoll, there came riding
past a knight full armed, a lady with him, and behind them a dwarf,
misshapen and evil-looking, and they passed without word or
salutation to the Queen.

Then said Guenevere to Geraint: "Prince, know ye yonder knight?"
"Nay, madam," said he; "his arms I know not, and his face I might
not see." Thereupon the Queen turned to her attendant and said:
"Ride after them quickly and ask the dwarf his master's name." So
the maiden did as she was bidden; but when she inquired of the
dwarf, he answered her roughly: "I will not tell thee my master's
name." "Since thou art so churlish," said she, "I will even ask him
himself." "That thou shalt not," he cried, and struck her across
the face with his whip. So the maiden, alarmed and angered, rode
back to the Queen and told her all that had happened. "Madam,"
cried Geraint, "the churl has wronged your maiden and insulted your
person. I pray you, suffer me to do your errand myself." With the
word, he put spurs to his horse and rode after the three. And when
he had come up with the dwarf, he asked the knight's name as the
maiden had done, and the dwarf answered him as he had answered the
Queen's lady. "I will speak with thy master himself," said Geraint.
"Thou shalt not, by my faith!" said the dwarf. "Thou art not
honourable enough to speak with my lord." "I have spoken with men
of as good rank as he," answered Geraint, and would have turned his
horse's head that he might ride after the knight; but the dwarf
struck him across the face such a blow that the blood spurted forth
over his purple scarf. Then, in his wrath, Geraint clapped hand to
sword, and would have slain the churl, but that he bethought him
how powerless was such a misshapen thing. So refraining himself, he
rode back to the Queen and said: "Madam, for the time the knight
has escaped me. But, with your leave, I will ride after him, and
require of him satisfaction for the wrong done to yourself and to
your maiden. It must be that I shall come presently to a town where
I may obtain armour. Farewell; if I live, ye shall have tidings of
me by next even." "Farewell," said the Queen; "I shall ever hold
your good service in remembrance."

So Geraint rode forth on his quest, and followed the road to the
ford of the Usk, where he crossed, and then went on his way until
he came to a town, at the further end of which rose a mighty
castle. And as he entered the town, he saw the knight and the lady,
and how, as they rode through the streets, from every window the
folk craned their necks to see them pass, until they entered the
castle and the gate fell behind them. Then was Geraint satisfied
that they would not pass thence that night, and turned him about to
see where he could obtain the use of arms that, the next day, he
might call the knight to account.

Now it seemed that the whole town was in a ferment. In every house,
men were busy polishing shields, sharpening swords, and washing
armour, and scarce could they find time to answer questions put to
them; so at the last, finding nowhere in the town to rest, Geraint
rode in the direction of a ruined palace, which stood a little
apart from the town, and was reached by a marble bridge spanning a
deep ravine. Seated on the bridge was an old man, hoary-headed, and
clothed in the tattered remains of what had once been splendid
attire, who gave Geraint courteous greeting. "Sir," said Geraint,
"I pray you, know ye where I may find shelter for this night?"
"Come with me," said the old man, "and ye shall have the best my
old halls afford." So saying, he led Geraint into a great
stone-paved court-yard, surrounded by buildings, once strong
fortifications, but then half burned and ruinous. There he bade
Geraint dismount, and led the way into an upper chamber, where sat
an aged dame, and with her a maiden the fairest that ever Geraint
had looked upon, for all that her attire was but a faded robe and
veil. Then the old man spoke to the maiden, saying: "Enid, take the
good knight's charger to a stall and give him corn. Then go to the
town and buy us provision for a feast to-night." Now it pleased not
Geraint that the maiden should thus do him service; but when he
made to accompany her, the old man, her father, stayed him and kept
him in converse until presently she was returned from the town and
had made all ready for the evening meal. Then they sat them down to
supper, the old man and his wife with Geraint between them; and the
fair maid, Enid, waited upon them, though it irked the Prince to
see her do such menial service.

So as they ate, they talked, and presently Geraint asked of the
cause why the palace was all in ruins. "Sir knight," said the old
man, "I am Yniol, and once I was lord of a broad earldom. But my
nephew, whose guardian I had been, made war upon me, affirming that
I had withheld from him his dues; and being the stronger, he
prevailed, and seized my lands and burnt my halls, even as ye see.
For the townsfolk hold with him, because that, with his tournaments
and feastings, he brings many strangers their way." "What then is
all the stir in the town even now?" asked Geraint. "To-morrow,"
said the Earl, "they hold the tournament of the Sparrow-Hawk. In
the midst of the meadow are set up two forks, and on the forks a
silver rod, and on the rod the form of a Sparrow-Hawk. Two years
has it been won by the stout knight Edeyrn, and if he win it the
morrow, it shall be his for aye, and he himself known as the
Sparrow-Hawk." "Tell me," cried Geraint, "is that the knight that
rode this day with a lady and a dwarf to the castle hard by?" "The
same," said Yniol; "and a bold knight he is." Then Geraint told
them of the insult offered that morning to Queen Guenevere and her
maiden, and how he had ridden forth to obtain satisfaction. "And
now, I pray you," said Geraint, "help me to come by some arms, and
in to-morrow's lists will I call this Sparrow-Hawk to account."
"Arms have I," answered the Earl, "old and rusty indeed, yet at
your service. But, Sir Knight, ye may not appear in to-morrow's
tournament, for none may contend unless he bring with him a lady in
whose honour he jousts." Then cried Geraint: "Lord Earl, suffer me
to lay lance in rest in honour of the fair maiden, your daughter.
And if I fall to-morrow, no harm shall have been done her, and if I
win, I will love her my life long, and make her my true wife." Now
Enid, her service ended, had left them to their talk; but the Earl,
rejoicing that so noble a knight should seek his daughter's love,
promised that, with the maiden's consent, all should be as the
Prince desired.

So they retired to rest that night, and the next day at dawn,
Geraint arose, and, donning the rusty old armour lent him by Earl
Yniol, rode to the lists; and there amongst the humbler sort of
onlookers, he found the old Earl and his wife and with them their
fair daughter.

Then the heralds blew their trumpets, and Edeyrn bade his lady-love
take the Sparrow-Hawk, her due as fairest of the fair. "Forbear,"
cried Geraint; "here is one fairer and nobler for whom I claim the
prize of the tournament." "Do battle for it, then!" cried Edeyrn.
So the two took their lances and rushed upon one another with a
crash like thunder, and each broke his spear. Thus they encountered
once and again; but at the last Geraint bore down upon Edeyrn with
such force that he carried him from his horse, saddle and all. Then
he dismounted, and the two rushed upon each other with their
swords. Long they fought, the sparks flying and their breath coming
hard, till, exerting all his strength, Geraint dealt the other such
a blow as cleft his helmet and bit to the bone. Then Edeyrn flung
away his sword and yielded him. "Thou shalt have thy life," said
Geraint, "upon condition that, forthwith, thou goest to Arthur's
court, there to deliver thyself to our Queen, and make such
atonement as shall be adjudged thee, for the insult offered her
yester morn." "I will do so," answered Edeyrn; and when his wounds
had been dressed he got heavily to horse and rode forth to

Then the young Earl, Yniol's nephew, adjudged the Sparrow-Hawk to
Geraint, as victor in the tourney, and prayed him to come to his
castle to rest and feast. But Geraint, declining courteously, said
that it behoved him to go there where he had rested the night
before. "Where may that have been?" asked the Earl; "for though ye
come not to my castle, yet would I see that ye fare as befits your
valour." "I rested even with Yniol, your uncle," answered Geraint.
The young Earl mused awhile, and then he said: "I will seek you,
then, in my uncle's halls, and bring with me the means to furnish
forth a feast."

And so it was. Scarcely had Prince Geraint returned to the ruined
hall and bathed and rested him after his labours, when the young
Earl arrived, and with him forty of his followers bearing all
manner of stores and plenishings. And that same hour, the young
Earl was accorded with Yniol, his uncle, restoring to him the lands
of which he had deprived him, and pledging his word to build up
again the ruined palace.

When they had gone to the banquet, then came to them Enid, attired
in beautiful raiment befitting her rank; and the old Earl led her
to Geraint, saying: "Prince, here is the maiden for whom ye fought,
and freely I bestow her upon you." So Geraint took her hand before
them all and said: "She shall ride with me to Caerleon, and there
will I wed her before Arthur's court." Then to Enid he said:
"Gentle maiden, bear with me when I pray you to don the faded robe
and veil in which first I saw you." And Enid, who was ever gentle
and meek, did as he desired, and that evening they rode to

So when they drew near the King's palace, word was brought to
Guenevere of their approach. Then the Queen went forth to greet the
good knight, and when she had heard all his story, she kissed the
maiden, and leading her into her own chamber, arrayed her right
royally for her marriage with the Prince. And that evening they
were wed amidst great rejoicing, in the presence of all the
knights and ladies of the court, the King himself giving Enid to
her husband. Many happy days they spent at Caerleon, rejoicing in
the love and good-will of Arthur and his Queen.



Geraint and the fair Enid abode more than a year at Arthur's court;
Enid winning daily more and more the love of all by her gentleness
and goodness, and Geraint being ever amongst the foremost in the
tournament. But presently there came word of robber raids upon the
borders of Devon; wherefore the Prince craved leave of Arthur to
return to his own land, there to put down wrong and oppression, and
maintain order and justice. And the King bade him go and secure to
every man his due.

So Geraint passed to his own land, Enid going with him; and soon he
had driven the oppressors from their strongholds and established
peace and order, so that the poor man dwelt in his little cot
secure in his possessions. But when all was done, and there was
none dared defy him, Geraint abode at home, neglectful of the
tournament and the chase, and all those manly exercises in which he
had once excelled, content if he had but the companionship of his
wife; so that his nobles murmured because he withdrew himself from
their society, and the common people jeered at him for a laggard.

Now these evil rumours came to Enid's ears, and it grieved her that
she should be the cause, however unwillingly, of her husband's
dishonour; and since she could not bring herself to speak to her
lord of what was in her heart, daily she grew more sorrowful, till
the Prince, aware of her altered demeanour, became uneasy, not
knowing its source.

So time went by till it chanced, one summer morning, that with the
first rays of the sun, Enid awoke from her slumbers, and, rising,
gazed upon her husband as he lay, and marvelled at his strength.
"Alas!" said she, "to be the cause that my lord suffers shame!
Surely I should find courage to tell him all, were I indeed true
wife to him!" Then, by ill chance, her tears falling upon him awoke
him, so that he heard her words, but brokenly, and seeing her weep
and hearing her accuse herself, it came into his thought that, for
all his love and care for her, she was weary of him, nay, even that
perhaps she loved him not at all. In anger and grief he called to
his squire and bade him saddle his charger and a palfrey for Enid;
and to her he said: "Put on thy meanest attire, and thou shalt ride
with me into the wilderness. It seems that I have yet to win me
fame; but before thou seest home again, thou shalt learn if indeed
I am fallen so low as thou deemest." And Enid, wondering and
troubled, answered, "I know naught of thy meaning, my lord." "Ask
me nothing," said Geraint. So sorrowfully and in silence Enid
arrayed herself, choosing for her apparel the faded robe and veil
in which first her lord had seen her.

Then the squire brought them their horses; but when he would have
mounted and ridden after, Geraint forbade him. And to Enid the
Prince said: "Ride before me and turn not back, no matter what thou
seest or hearest. And unless I speak to thee, say not a word to

So they rode forward along the least frequented road till they came
to a vast forest, which they entered. There Enid, as she rode in
front, saw four armed men lurking by the road, and one said to the
other: "See, now is our opportunity to win much spoil at little
cost; for we may easily overcome this doleful knight, and take from
him his arms and lady." And Enid hearing them, was filled with fear
and doubt; for she longed to warn her lord of his danger, yet
feared to arouse his wrath, seeing he had bidden her keep silence.
Then said she to herself: "Better to anger him, even to the slaying
of me, than have the misery of seeing him perish." So she waited
till Geraint drew near, and said: "Lord, there lie in wait for thee
four men fully armed, to slay and rob thee." Then he answered her
in anger: "Did I desire thy silence or thy warning? Look, then, and
whether thou desirest my life or my death, thou shalt see that I
dread not these robbers." Then, as the foremost of the four rode
upon him, Geraint drove upon him with his spear with such force
that the weapon stood out a cubit behind him; and so he did with
the second, and the third, and the fourth. Then, dismounting from
his horse, he stripped the dead felons of their armour, bound it
upon their horses, and tying the bridle reins together, bade Enid
drive the beasts before her. "And," said he, "I charge thee, at thy
peril, speak no word to me."

So they went forward; and presently Enid saw how three horsemen,
well armed and well mounted, rode towards them. And one said to the
other: "Good fortune, indeed! Here are four horses and four suits
of armour for us, and but one knight to deal with; a craven too, by
the way he hangs his head." Then Enid thought within herself how
her lord was wearied with his former combat, and resolved to warn
him even at her own peril. So she waited till he was come up with
her, and said: "Lord, there be three men riding towards us, and
they promise themselves rich booty at small cost." Wrathfully spoke
Geraint: "Their words anger me less than thy disobedience"; and
immediately rushing upon the mid-most of the three knights, he bore
him from his horse; then he turned upon the other two who rode
against him at the same moment, and slew them both. As with the
former caitiffs, so now Geraint stripped the three of their armour,
bound it upon the horses, and bade Enid drive these forward with
the other four.

Again they rode on their way, and, for all his anger, it smote
Geraint to the heart to see the gentle lady labouring to drive
forward the seven horses. So he bade her stay, for they would go no
farther then, but rest that night as best they might in the forest;
and scarcely had they dismounted and tethered the horses before
Geraint, wearied with his encounters, fell asleep; but Enid
remained watching, lest harm should come to her lord while he

With the first ray of light, Geraint awoke, and his anger against
Enid was not passed; so, without more ado, he set her on her
palfrey and bade her drive the horses on in front as before,
charging her that, whatever befell, that day at least, she should
keep silence.

Soon they passed from the forest into open land, and came upon a
river flowing through broad meadows where the mowers toiled. Then,
as they waited to let the horses drink their fill, there drew near
a youth, bearing a basket of bread and meat and a blue pitcher
covered over with a bowl. So when the youth saluted them, Geraint
stayed him, asking whence he came. "My lord," said the lad, "I am
come from the town hard by, to bring the mowers their breakfast."
"I pray thee, then," said the Prince, "give of the food to this
lady, for she is faint." "That will I gladly," answered the youth,
"and do ye also partake, noble sir"; and he spread the meal for
them on the grass while they dismounted. So when they had eaten and
were refreshed, the youth gathered up the basket and pitcher,
saying he would return to the town for food for the mowers. "Do
so," said the Prince, "and when thou art come there, take for me
the best lodging that thou mayst. And for thy fair service, take a
horse and armour, whichsoever thou wilt." "My lord, ye reward me
far beyond my deserts," cried the youth. "Right gladly will I make
all ready against your arrival, and acquaint my master, the Earl,
of your coming."

So Geraint and Enid followed after the youth to the town, and
there they found everything prepared for their comfort, even as he
had promised; for they were lodged in a goodly chamber well
furnished with all that they might require. Then said Geraint to
Enid: "Abide at one end of the room and I will remain at the other.
And call the woman of the house if thou desirest her aid and
comfort in aught." "I thank thee, lord," answered Enid patiently;
but she called for no service, remaining silent and forlorn in the
farthest corner of the great chamber.

Presently there came to the house the Earl, the youth's master, and
with him twelve goodly knights to wait upon him. And Geraint
welcomed them right heartily, bidding the host bring forth his best
to furnish a feast. So they sat them down at the table, each in his
degree according to his rank, and feasted long and merrily; but
Enid remained the while shrinking into her corner if perchance she
might escape all notice.

As they sat at the banquet, the Earl asked Prince Geraint what
quest he followed. "None but mine own inclination and the adventure
it may please heaven to send," said Geraint. Then the Earl, whose

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryBeatrice ClayStories from Le Morte D'Arthur and the Mabinogion → online text (page 6 of 12)