THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN
KING ARTHUR 3a was at Caerlleon upon Usk 3b; and one day he sat in his chamber; and with him were Owain the son of Urien 3c, and Kynon 3d the son of Clydno 3e, and Kai the son of Kyner 3f; and Gwenhwyvar 3g and her handmaidens at needlework by the window. And if it should be said that there was a porter 3h at Arthur’s palace, there was none. Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr 3i was there, acting as porter, to welcome guests and strangers, and to receive them with honour, and to inform them of the manners and customs of the Court; and to direct those who came to the Hall or to the presence-chamber, and those who came to take up their lodging.
In the centre of the chamber King Arthur sat upon a seat of green rushes 3j, over which was spread a covering of flame-coloured satin 3k, and a cushion of red satin was under his elbow.
Then Arthur spoke, “If I thought you would not disparage me,” said he, “I would sleep while I wait for my repast; and you can entertain one another with relating tales, and can obtain a flagon of mead and some meat from Kai.” And the King went to sleep. And Kynon the son of Clydno asked Kai for that which Arthur had promised them. “I, too, will have the good tale which he promised to me,” said Kai. “Nay,” answered Kynon, “fairer will it be for thee to fulfill Arthur’s behest, in the first place, and then we will tell thee the best tale that we know.” So Kai went to the kitchen and to the mead-cellar, and returned bearing a flagon of mead and a golden goblet, and a handful of skewers, upon which were broiled collops of meat. Then they ate the collops and began to drink the mead. “Now,” said Kai, “it is time for you to give me my story.” “Kynon,” said Owain, “do thou pay to Kai the tale that is his due.” “Truly,” said Kynon, “thou are older, and art a better teller of tales, and hast seen more marvellous things than I; do thou therefore pay Kai his tale.” “Begin thyself,” quoth Owain, “with the best that thou knowest.” “I will do so,” answered Kynon.
“I was the only son of my mother and father, and I was exceedingly aspiring, and my daring was very great. I thought there was no enterprise in the world too mighty for me, and after I had achieved all the adventures that were in my own country, I equipped myself, and set forth to journey through deserts and distant regions 4a. And at length it chanced that I came to the fairest valley in the world, wherein were trees of equal growth 4b; and a river ran through the valley, and a path was by the side of the river. And I followed the path until mid-day, and continued my journey along the remainder of the valley until the evening; and at the extremity of a plain I came to a large and lustrous Castle, at the foot of which was a torrent. And I approached the Castle, and there I beheld two youths with yellow curling hair, each with a frontlet of gold upon his head, and clad in a garment of yellow satin 4c, and they had gold clasps upon their
insteps. In the hand of each of them was an ivory bow, strung with the sinews of the stag 5a; and their arrows had shafts of the bone of the whale 5b, and were winged with peacock’s feathers 5c; the shafts also had golden heads 5d. And they had daggers with blades of gold 5d, and with hilts of the bone of the whale. And they were shooting their daggers.
“And a little way from them I saw a man in the prime of life, with his beard newly shorn, clad in a robe and a mantle of yellow satin; and round the top of his mantle was a band of gold lace. On his feet were shoes of variegated leather 5e, fastened by two bosses of gold. When I saw him, I went towards him and saluted him, and such was his courtesy that he no sooner received my greeting than he returned it. And he went with me towards the Castle. Now there were no dwellers in the Castle except those who were in one hall. And there I saw four-and-twenty damsels, embroidering satin at a window. And this I tell thee, Kai, that the least fair of them was fairer than the fairest maid thou hast ever beheld in the Island of Britain, and the least lovely of them was more lovely than Gwenhwyvar 5f, the wife of Arthur, when she has appeared loveliest at the Offering, on the day of the Nativity, or at the feast of Easter. They rose up at my coming 5g, and six of them took my horse, and divested me of my armour; and six others took my arms, and washed them in a vessel until they were perfectly bright. And the third six spread cloths upon the tables and prepared meat. And the fourth six took off my soiled garments, and placed others upon me; namely, an under-vest and a doublet of fine linen, and a robe, and a surcoat, and a mantle of yellow satin with a broad gold band upon the mantle 5h. And they placed cushions both beneath and around me, with coverings of red linen; and I sat down. Now the six maidens who had taken my horse, unharnessed him, as well as if they had been the best squires in the Island of Britain. Then, behold, they brought bowls of silver wherein was water to wash, and towels of linen, some green and some white; and I washed. And in a little while
the man sat down to the table. And I sat next to him, and below me sat all the maidens, except those who waited on us. And the table was of silver, and the cloths upon the table were of linen; and no vessel was served upon the table that was not either of gold or of silver, or of buffalo-horn 6a. And our meat was brought to us. And verily, Kai, I saw there every sort of meat and every sort of liquor that I have ever seen elsewhere; but the meat and the liquor were better served there than I have ever seen them in any other place.
“Until the repast was half over, neither the man nor any one of the damsels spoke a single word to me; but when the man perceived that it would be more agreeable to me to converse than to eat any more, he began to inquire of me who I was. I said I was glad to find that there was some one who would discourse with me, and that it was not considered so great a crime at that Court for people to hold converse together. ‘Chieftain,’ said the man, ‘we would have talked to thee sooner, but we feared to disturb thee during thy repast; now, however, we will discourse.’ Then I told the man who I was, and what was the cause of my journey; and said that I was seeking whether any one was superior to me, or whether I could gain the mastery over all. The man looked upon me, and he smiled and said, ‘If I did not fear to distress thee too much, I would show thee that which thou seekest.’ Upon this I became anxious and sorrowful, and when the man perceived it, he said, ‘If thou wouldest rather that I should show thee thy disadvantage than thine advantage, I will do so. Sleep here to-night, and in the morning arise early, and take the road upwards through the valley until thou reachest the wood through which thou camest hither. A little way within the wood thou wilt meet with a road branching off to the right, by which thou must proceed, until thou comest to a large sheltered glade with a mound in the centre. And thou wilt see a black man of great stature on the top of the mound. He is not smaller in size than two of the men of this world. He has but one foot; and one eye in the middle of his forehead.
[paragraph continues] And he has a club of iron, and it is certain that there are no two men in the world who would not find their burden in that club. And he is not a comely man, but on the contrary he is exceedingly ill-favoured; and he is the woodward of that wood. And thou wilt see a thousand wild animals grazing around him. Inquire of him the way out of the glade, and he will reply to thee briefly, and will point out the road by which thou shalt find that which thou art in quest of.’
“And long seemed that night to me. And the next morning I arose and equipped myself, and mounted my horse, and proceeded straight through the valley to the wood; and I followed the cross-road which the man had pointed out to me, till at length I arrived at the glade. And there was I three times more astonished at the number of wild animals that I beheld, than the man had said I should be. And the black man was there, sitting upon the top of the mound. Huge of stature as the man had told me that he was, I found him to exceed by far the description he had given me of him. As for the iron club which the man had told me was a burden for two men, I am certain, Kai, that it would be a heavy weight for four warriors to lift; and this was in the black man’s hand. And he only spoke to me in answer to my questions. Then I asked him what power he held over those animals. ‘I will show thee, little man,’ said he. And he took his club in his hand, and with it he struck a stag a great blow so that he brayed vehemently, and at his braying the animals came together, as numerous as the stars in the sky, so that it was difficult for me to find room in the glade to stand among them. There were serpents, and dragons, and divers sorts of animals. And he looked at them, and bade them go and feed; and they bowed their heads, and did him homage as vassals to their lord.
“Then the black man said to me, ‘Seest thou now, little man, what power I hold over these animals?’ Then I inquired of him the way, and he became very rough in his
manner to me; however, he asked me whither I would go? And when I told him who I was and what I sought, he directed me. ‘Take,’ said he, ‘that path that leads towards the head of the glade, and ascend the wooded steep until thou comest to its summit; and there thou wilt find an open space like to a large valley, and in the midst of it a tall tree, whose branches are greener than the greenest pine-trees. Under this tree is a fountain 8a, and by the side of the fountain a marble slab, and on the marble slab a silver bowl, attached by a chain of silver, so that it may not be carried away. Take the bowl and throw a bowlful of water upon the slab, and thou wilt hear a mighty peal of thunder, so that thou wilt think that heaven and earth are trembling with its fury. With the thunder there will come a shower so severe that it will be scarce possible for thee to endure it and live. And the shower will be of hailstones; and after the shower, the weather will become fair, but every leaf that was upon the tree will have been carried away by the shower. Then a flight of birds will come and alight upon the tree; and in thine own country thou didst never hear a strain so sweet as that which they will sing. And at the moment thou art most delighted with the song of the birds, thou wilt hear a murmuring and complaining coming towards thee along the valley. And thou wilt see a knight upon a coal-black horse, clothed in black velvet, and with a pennon of black linen upon his lance; and he will ride unto thee to encounter thee with the utmost speed. If thou fleest from him he will overtake thee, and if thou abidest there, as sure as thou art a mounted knight, he will leave thee on foot. And if thou dost not find trouble in that adventure, thou needest not seek it during the rest of thy life.’
“So I journeyed on, until I reached the summit of the steep, and there I found everything as the black man had described it to me. And I went up to the tree, and beneath it I saw the fountain, and by its side the marble slab, and the silver bowl fastened by the chain. Then I took the bowl,
and cast a bowlful of water upon the slab; and thereupon, behold, the thunder came, much more violent than the black man had led me to expect; and after the thunder came the shower; and of a truth I tell thee, Kai, that there is neither man nor beast that can endure that shower and live. For not one of those hailstones would be stopped, either by the flesh or by the skin, until it had reached the bone. I turned my horse’s flank towards the shower, and placed the beak of my shield over his head and neck, while I held the upper part of it over my own head. And thus I withstood the shower. When I looked on the tree there was not a single leaf upon it, and then the sky became clear, and with that, behold the birds lighted upon the tree, and sang. And truly, Kai, I never heard any melody equal to that, either before or since. And when I was most charmed with listening to the birds, lo, a murmuring voice was heard through the valley, approaching me and saying, ‘Oh, Knight, what has brought thee hither? What evil have I done to thee, that thou shouldst act towards me and my possessions as thou hast this day? Dost thou not know that the shower to-day has left in my dominions neither man nor beast alive that was exposed to it?’ And thereupon, behold, a Knight on a black horse appeared, clothed in jet-black velvet, and with a tabard of black linen about him. And we charged each other, and, as the onset was furious, it was not long before I was overthrown. Then the Knight passed the shaft of his lance through the bridle rein of my horse, and rode off with the two horses, leaving me where I was. And he did not even bestow so much notice upon me as to imprison me, nor did he despoil me of my arms. So I returned along the road by which I had come. And when I reached the glade where the black man was, I confess to thee, Kai, it is a marvel that I did not melt down into a liquid pool, through the shame that I felt at the black man’s derision. And that night I came to the same castle where I had spent the night preceding. And I was more agreeably entertained that night than I had been
the night before; and I was better feasted, and I conversed freely with the inmates of the castle, and none of them alluded to my expedition to the fountain, neither did I mention it to any; and I remained there that night. When I arose on the morrow, I found, ready saddled, a dark bay palfrey, with nostrils as red as scarlet; and after putting on my armour, and leaving there my blessing, I returned to my own Court. And that horse I still possess, and he is in the stable yonder. And I declare that I would not part with him for the best palfrey in the Island of Britain.
“Now of a truth, Kai, no man ever before confessed to an adventure so much to his own discredit 10a, and verily it seems strange to me, that neither before nor since have I heard of any person besides myself who knew of this adventure, and that the subject of it should exist within King Arthur’s dominions, without any other person lighting upon it.”
“Now,” quoth Owain, “would it not be well to go and endeavour to discover that place?”
“By the hand of my friend,” said Kai, “often dost thou utter that with thy tongue which thou wouldst not make good with thy deeds.”
“In very truth,” said Gwenhwyvar, “it were better thou wert hanged, Kai, than to use such uncourteous speech 10b towards a man like Owain.”
“By the hand of my friend, good Lady,” said Kai, “thy praise of Owain is not greater than mine.”
With that Arthur awoke, and asked if he had not been sleeping a little.
“Yes, Lord,” answered Owain, “thou hast slept awhile.”
“Is it time for us to go to meat?”
“It is, Lord,” said Owain.
Then the horn for washing 10c was sounded, and the King and all his household sat down to eat. And when the meal was ended, Owain withdrew to his lodging, and made ready his horse and his arms.
On the morrow, with the dawn of day, he put on his armour, and mounted his charger, and travelled through distant lands and over desert mountains. And at length he arrived at the valley which Kynon had described to him; and he was certain that it was the same that he sought. And journeying along the valley by the side of the river, he followed its course till he came to the plain and within sight of the Castle. When he approached the Castle, he saw the youths shooting their daggers in the place where Kynon had seen them, and the yellow man, to whom the Castle belonged, standing hard by. And no sooner had Owain saluted the yellow man than he was saluted by him in return.
And he went forward towards the Castle, and there he saw the chamber, and when he had entered the chamber he beheld the maidens working at satin embroidery, in chairs of gold. And their beauty and their comeliness seemed to Owain far greater than Kynon had represented to him. And they rose to wait upon Owain, as they had done to Kynon, and the meal which they set before him gave more satisfaction to Owain than it had done to Kynon.
About the middle of the repast, the yellow man asked Owain the object of his journey. And Owain made it known to him, and said, “I am in quest of the Knight who guards the fountain.” Upon this the yellow man smiled, and said that he was as loth to point out that adventure to Owain as he had been to Kynon. However, he described the whole to Owain, and they retired to rest.
The next morning Owain found his horse made ready for him by the damsels, and he set forward and came to the glade where the black man was. And the stature of the black man seemed more wonderful to Owain than it had done to Kynon, and Owain asked of him his road, and he showed it to him. And Owain followed the road, as Kynon had done, till he came to the green tree; and he beheld the fountain, and the slab beside the fountain, with the bowl upon it. And Owain took the bowl, and threw a bowlful
of water upon the slab. And, lo, the thunder was heard, and after the thunder came the shower, much more violent than Kynon had described, and after the shower the sky became bright. And when Owain looked at the tree, there was not one leaf upon it. And immediately the birds came, and settled upon the tree, and sang. And when their song was most pleasing to Owain, he beheld a Knight 12a coming towards him through the valley, and he prepared to receive him; and encountered him violently. Having broken both their lances, they drew their swords, and fought blade to blade. Then Owain struck the Knight a blow through his helmet, head-piece and visor, and through the skin, and the flesh, and the bone, until it wounded the very brain. Then the black Knight felt that he had received a mortal wound, upon which he turned his horse’s head, and fled. And Owain pursued him, and followed close upon him, although he was not near enough to strike him with his sword. Thereupon Owain descried a vast and resplendent Castle. And they came to the Castle gate. And the black Knight was allowed to enter, and the portcullis was let fall upon Owain; and it struck his horse behind the saddle, and cut him in two, and carried away the rowels of the spurs that were upon Owain’s heels. And the portcullis descended to the floor. And the rowels of the spurs and part of the horse were without, and Owain with the other part of the horse remained between the two gates, and the inner gate was closed, so that Owain could not go thence; and Owain was in a perplexing situation. And while he was in this state, he could see through an aperture in the gate, a street facing him, with a row of houses on each side. And he beheld a maiden 12b, with yellow curling hair, and a frontlet of gold upon her head; and she was clad in a dress of yellow satin, and on her feet were shoes of variegated leather. And she approached the gate, and desired that it should be opened. “Heaven knows, Lady,” said Owain, “it is no more possible for me to open to thee from hence, than it is for thee
to set me free.” “Truly,” said the damsel, “it is very sad that thou canst not be released, and every woman ought to succour thee, for I never saw one more faithful in the service of ladies than thou. As a friend thou art the most sincere, and as a lover the most devoted. Therefore,” quoth she, “whatever is in my power 13a to do for thy release, I will do it. Take this ring 13b and put it on thy finger, with the stone inside thy hand; and close thy hand upon the stone. And as long as thou concealest it, it will conceal thee. When they have consulted together, they will come forth to fetch thee, in order to put thee to death; and they will be much grieved that they cannot find thee. And I will await thee on the horseblock 13c yonder; and thou wilt be able to see me, though I cannot see thee; therefore come and place thy hand upon my shoulder, that I may know that thou art near me. And by the way that I go hence, do thou accompany me.”
Then she went away from Owain, and he did all that the maiden had told him. And the people of the Castle came to seek Owain, to put him to death, and when they found nothing but the half of his horse, they were sorely grieved.
And Owain vanished from among them, and went to the maiden, and placed his hand upon her shoulder; whereupon she set off, and Owain followed her, until they came to the door of a large and beautiful chamber, and the maiden opened it, and they went in, and closed the door. And Owain looked around the chamber, and behold there was not even a single nail in it that was not painted with gorgeous colours 13d; and there was not a single panel that had not sundry images in gold portrayed upon it.
The maiden kindled a fire, and took water in a silver bowl, and put a towel of white linen on her shoulder, and gave Owain water to wash. Then she placed before him a silver table, inlaid with gold; upon which was a cloth of yellow linen; and she brought him food. And of a truth, Owain had never seen any kind of meat that was not there in abundance, but it was better cooked there than he had ever found it in any
other place. Nor did he ever see so excellent a display of meat and drink, as there. And there was not one vessel from which he was served, that was not of gold or of silver. And Owain ate and drank, until late in the afternoon, when lo, they heard a mighty clamour in the Castle; and Owain asked the maiden what that outcry was. “They are administering extreme unction,” said she, “to the Nobleman who owns the Castle.” And Owain went to sleep.
The couch which the maiden had prepared for him was meet for Arthur himself; it was of scarlet, and fur, and satin, and sendall, and fine linen. In the middle of the night they heard a woful outcry. “What outcry again is this?” said Owain. “The Nobleman who owned the Castle is now dead,” said the maiden. And a little after daybreak, they heard an exceeding loud clamour and wailing. And Owain asked the maiden what was the cause of it. “They are bearing to the church the body of the Nobleman who owned the Castle.”
And Owain rose up, and clothed himself, and opened a window of the chamber, and looked towards the Castle; and he could see neither the bounds, nor the extent of the hosts that filled the streets. And they were fully armed; and a vast number of women were with them, both on horseback and on foot; and all the ecclesiastics in the city, singing. And it seemed to Owain that the sky resounded with the vehemence of their cries, and with the noise of the trumpets, and with the singing of the ecclesiastics. In the midst of the throng, he beheld the bier, over which was a veil of white linen; and wax tapers were burning beside and around it, and none that supported the bier was lower in rank than a powerful Baron.
Never did Owain see an assemblage so gorgeous with satin, and silk, and sendall 14a. And following the train, he beheld a lady with yellow hair falling over her shoulders, and stained with blood; and about her a dress of yellow satin, which was torn. Upon her feet were shoes of variegated leather. And it was a marvel that the ends of her
fingers were not bruised, from the violence with which she smote her hands together. Truly she would have been the fairest lady Owain ever saw, had she been in her usual guise. And her cry was louder than the shout of the men, or the clamour of the trumpets. No sooner had he beheld the lady, than he became inflamed with her love, so that it took entire possession of him.
Then he inquired of the maiden who the lady was. “Heaven knows,” replied the maiden, “she may be said to be the fairest, and the most chaste, and the most liberal, and the wisest, and the most noble of women. And she is my mistress; and she is called the Countess 15a of the Fountain, the wife of him whom thou didst slay yesterday.” “Verily,” said Owain, “she is the woman that I love best.” “Verily,” said the maiden, “she shall also love thee not a little.”
And with that the maid arose, and kindled a fire, and filled a pot with water, and placed it to warm; and she brought a towel of white linen, and placed it around Owain’s neck; and she took a goblet of ivory, and a silver basin, and filled them with warm water, wherewith she washed Owain’s head 15b. Then she opened a wooden casket, and drew forth a razor, whose haft was of ivory, and upon which were two rivets of gold. And she shaved his beard, and she dried his head, and his throat, with the towel. Then she rose up from before Owain, and brought him to eat. And truly Owain had never so good a meal, nor was he ever so well served.
When he had finished his repast, the maiden arranged his couch. “Come here,” said she, “and sleep, and I will go and woo for thee.” And Owain went to sleep, and the maiden shut the door of the chamber after her, and went towards the Castle. When she came there, she found nothing but mourning, and sorrow; and the Countess in her chamber could not bear the sight of any one through grief. Luned came and saluted her, but the Countess answered her not. And the maiden bent down towards her, and said, “What
aileth thee, that thou answerest no one to-day?” “Luned,” said the Countess, “what change hath befallen thee, that thou hast not come to visit me in my grief? It was wrong in thee, and I having made thee rich; it was wrong in thee that thou didst not come to see me in my distress. That was wrong in thee.” “Truly,” said Luned, “I thought thy good sense was greater than I find it to be. Is it well for thee to mourn after that good man, or for anything else, that thou canst not have?” “I declare to heaven,” said the Countess, “that in the whole world there is not a man equal to him.” “Not so,” said Luned, “for an ugly man would be as good as, or better than he.” “I declare to heaven,” said the Countess, “that were it not repugnant to me to cause to be put to death one whom I have brought up, I would have thee executed, for making such a comparison to me. As it is, I will banish thee.” “I am glad,” said Luned, “that thou hast no other cause to do so, than that I would have been of service to thee where thou didst not know what was to thine advantage. And henceforth evil betide whichever of us shall make the first advance towards reconciliation to the other; whether I should seek an invitation from thee, or thou of thine own accord shouldst send to invite me.”
With that Luned went forth: and the Countess arose and followed her to the door of the chamber, and began coughing loudly. And when Luned looked back, the Countess beckoned to her; and she returned to the Countess. “In truth,” said the Countess, “evil is thy disposition; but if thou knowest what is to my advantage, declare it to me.” “I will do so,” quoth she.
“Thou knowest that except by warfare and arms it is impossible for thee to preserve thy possessions; delay not, therefore, to seek some one who can defend them.” “And how can I do that?” said the Countess. “I will tell thee,” said Luned. “Unless thou canst defend the fountain, thou canst not maintain thy dominions; and no one can defend the fountain, except it be a knight of Arthur’s household;
and I will go to Arthur’s Court, and ill betide me, if I return thence without a warrior who can guard the fountain as well as, or even better than, he who defended it formerly.” “That will be hard to perform,” said the Countess. “Go, however, and make proof of that which thou hast promised.”
Luned set out, under the pretence of going to Arthur’s Court; but she went back to the chamber where she had left Owain; and she tarried there with him as long as it might have taken her to have travelled to the Court of King Arthur. And at the end of that time, she apparelled herself and went to visit the Countess. And the Countess was much rejoiced when she saw her, and inquired what news she brought from the Court. “I bring thee the best of news,” said Luned, “for I have compassed the object of my mission. When wilt thou, that I should present to thee the chieftain who has come with me hither?” “Bring him here to visit me to-morrow, at mid-day,” said the Countess, “and I will cause the town to be assembled by that time.”
And Luned returned home. And the next day, at noon, Owain arrayed himself in a coat, and a surcoat, and a mantle of yellow satin, upon which was a broad band of gold lace; and on his feet were high shoes of variegated leather, which were fastened by golden clasps, in the form of lions. And they proceeded to the chamber of the Countess.
Right glad was the Countess of their coming, and she gazed steadfastly upon Owain, and said, “Luned, this knight has not the look of a traveller.” “What harm is there in that, lady?” said Luned. “I am certain,” said the Countess, “that no other man than this chased the soul from the body of my lord.” “So much the better for thee, lady,” said Luned, “for had he not been stronger than thy lord he could not have deprived him of life. There is no remedy for that which is past, be it as it may.” “Go back to thine abode,” said the Countess, “and I will take counsel.”
The next day the Countess caused all her subjects to assemble, and showed them that her earldom was left defenceless, and that it could not be protected but with horse and
arms, and military skill. “Therefore,” said she, “this is what I offer for your choice: either let one of you take me, or give your consent for me to take a husband from elsewhere to defend my dominions.”
So they came to the determination that it was better that she should have permission to marry some one from elsewhere; and, thereupon, she sent for the bishops and archbishops to celebrate her nuptials with Owain 18a. And the men of the earldom did Owain homage.
And Owain defended the Fountain with lance and sword. And this is the manner in which he defended it: Whensoever a knight came there he overthrew him, and sold him for his full worth, and what he thus gained he divided among his barons and his knights; and no man in the whole world could be more beloved than he was by his subjects. And it was thus for the space of three years.
It befell that as Gwalchmai 18b went forth one day with King Arthur, he perceived him to be very sad and sorrowful. And Gwalchmai was much grieved to see Arthur in this state; and he questioned him, saying, “Oh, my lord! what has befallen thee?” “In sooth, Gwalchmai,” said Arthur, “I am grieved concerning Owain, whom I have lost these three years, and I shall certainly die if the fourth year passes without my seeing him. Now I am sure, that it is through the tale which Kynon the son of Clydno related, that I have lost Owain.” “There is no need for thee,” said Gwalchmai, “to summon to arms thy whole dominions on this account, for thou thyself and the men of thy household will be able to avenge Owain, if he be slain; or to set him free, if he be in prison; and, if alive, to bring him back with thee.” And it was settled according to what Gwalchmai had said.
Then Arthur and the men of his household prepared to go and seek Owain, and their number was three thousand, besides their attendants. And Kynon the son of Clydno acted as their guide. And Arthur came to the Castle where Kynon had been before, and when he came there the youths were
shooting in the same place, and the yellow man was standing hard by. When the yellow man saw Arthur he greeted him, and invited him to the Castle; and Arthur accepted his invitation, and they entered the Castle together. And great as was the number of his retinue, their presence was scarcely observed in the Castle, so vast was its extent. And the maidens rose up to wait on them, and the service of the maidens appeared to them all to excel any attendance they had ever met with; and even the pages who had charge of the horses were no worse served, that night, than Arthur himself would have been in his own palace.
The next morning Arthur set out thence, with Kynon for his guide, and came to the place where the black man was. And the stature of the black man was more surprising to Arthur than it had been represented to him. And they came to the top of the wooded steep, and traversed the valley till they reached the green tree, where they saw the fountain, and the bowl, and the slab. And upon that, Kai came to Arthur and spoke to him. “My lord,” said he, “I know the meaning of all this, and my request is, that thou wilt permit me to throw the water on the slab, and to receive the first adventure that may befall.” And Arthur gave him leave.
Then Kai threw a bowlful of water upon the slab, and immediately there came the thunder, and after the thunder the shower. And such a thunderstorm they had never known before, and many of the attendants who were in Arthur’s train were killed by the shower. After the shower had ceased the sky became clear; and on looking at the tree they beheld it completely leafless. Then the birds descended upon the tree, and the song of the birds was far sweeter than any strain they had ever heard before. Then they beheld a knight on a coal-black horse, clothed in black satin, coming rapidly towards them. And Kai met him and encountered him, and it was not long before Kai was overthrown. And the knight withdrew, and Arthur and his host encamped for the night.
And when they arose in the morning, they perceived the
signal of combat upon the lance of the Knight. And Kai came to Arthur, and spoke to him: “My lord,” said he, “though I was overthrown yesterday, if it seem good to thee, I would gladly meet the Knight again to-day.” “Thou mayst do so,” said Arthur. And Kai went towards the Knight. And on the spot he overthrew Kai, and struck him with the head of his lance in the forehead, so that it broke his helmet and the head-piece, and pierced the skin and the flesh, the breadth of the spear-head, even to the bone. And Kai returned to his companions.
After this, all the household of Arthur went forth, one after the other, to combat the Knight, until there was not one that was not overthrown by him, except Arthur and Gwalchmai. And Arthur armed himself to encounter the Knight. “Oh, my lord,” said Gwalchmai, “permit me to fight with him first.” And Arthur permitted him. And he went forth to meet the Knight, having over himself and his horse a satin robe of honour 20a which had been sent him by the daughter of the Earl of Rhangyw 20b, and in this dress he was not known by any of the host. And they charged each other, and fought all that day until the evening, and neither of them was able to unhorse the other.
The next day they fought with strong lances 20c, and neither of them could obtain the mastery.
And the third day they fought with exceeding strong lances. And they were incensed with rage, and fought furiously, even until noon. And they gave each other such a shock that the girths of their horses were broken, so that they fell over their horses’ cruppers to the ground. And they rose up speedily, and drew their swords, and resumed the combat; and the multitude that witnessed their encounter felt assured that they had never before seen two men so valiant or so powerful. And had it been midnight, it would have been light from the fire that flashed from their weapons. And the Knight gave Gwalchmai a blow that turned his helmet from off his face, so that the Knight knew that it was Gwalchmai. Then Owain said, “My lord Gwalchmai, I did not know thee
for my cousin 21a, owing to the robe of honour that enveloped thee; take my sword and my arms.” Said Gwalchmai, “Thou, Owain, art the victor; take thou my sword.” And with that Arthur saw that they were conversing, and advanced towards them. “My lord Arthur,” said Gwalchmai, “here is Owain, who has vanquished me, and will not take my arms.” “My lord,” said Owain, “it is he that has vanquished me, and he will not take my sword.” “Give me your swords 21b,” said Arthur, “and then neither of you has vanquished the other.” Then Owain put his arms around Arthur’s neck, and they embraced. And all the host hurried forward to see Owain, and to embrace him; and there was nigh being a loss of life, so great was the press.
And they retired that night, and the next day Arthur prepared to depart. “My lord,” said Owain, “this is not well of thee; for I have been absent from thee these three years, and during all that time, up to this very day, I have been preparing a banquet 21c for thee, knowing that thou wouldst come to seek me. Tarry with me, therefore, until thou and thy attendants have recovered the fatigues of the journey, and have been anointed.”
And they all proceeded to the Castle of the Countess of the Fountain, and the banquet which had been three years preparing was consumed in three months. Never had they a more delicious or agreeable banquet. And Arthur prepared to depart. Then he sent an embassy to the Countess, to beseech her to permit Owain to go with him for the space of three months, that he might show him to the nobles and the fair dames of the Island of Britain. And the Countess gave her consent, although it was very painful to her. So Owain came with Arthur to the Island of Britain. And when he was once more amongst his kindred and friends, he remained three years, instead of three months, with them.
And as Owain one day sat at meat, in the city of Caerlleon upon Usk, behold a damsel entered upon a bay horse 21d, with a curling mane and covered with foam, and the bridle and so
much as was seen of the saddle were of gold. And the damsel was arrayed in a dress of yellow satin. And she came up to Owain, and took the ring from off his hand. “Thus,” said she, “shall be treated the deceiver, the traitor, the faithless, the disgraced, and the beardless.” And she turned her horse’s head and departed.
Then his adventure came to Owain’s remembrance, and he was sorrowful; and having finished eating he went to his own abode and made preparations that night. And the next day he arose but did not go to the Court, but wandered to the distant parts of the earth and to uncultivated mountains. And he remained there until all his apparel was worn out, and his body was wasted away, and his hair was grown long. And he went about with the wild beasts and fed with them, until they became familiar with him; but at length he grew so weak that he could no longer bear them company. Then he descended from the mountains to the valley, and came to a park that was the fairest in the world, and belonged to a widowed Countess.
One day the Countess and her maidens went forth to walk by a lake, that was in the middle of the park. And they saw the form of a man. And they were terrified. Nevertheless they went near him, and touched him, and looked at him. And they saw that there was life in him, though he was exhausted by the heat of the sun. And the Countess returned to the Castle, and took a flask full of precious ointment, and gave it to one of her maidens. “Go with this,” said she, “and take with thee yonder horse and clothing, and place them near the man we saw just now. And anoint him with this balsam 22a, near his heart; and if there is life in him, he will arise through the efficacy of this balsam. Then watch what he will do.”
And the maiden departed from her, and poured the whole of the balsam upon Owain, and left the horse and the garments hard by, and went a little way off, and hid herself to watch him. In a short time she saw him begin to move his arms; and he rose up, and looked at his person, and became
ashamed of the unseemliness of his appearance. Then he perceived the horse and the garments that were near him. And he crept forward till he was able to draw the garments to him from off the saddle. And he clothed himself, and with difficulty mounted the horse. Then the damsel discovered herself to him, and saluted him. And he was rejoiced when he saw her, and inquired of her, what land and what territory that was. “Truly,” said the maiden, “a widowed Countess owns yonder Castle; at the death of her husband, he left her two Earldoms, but at this day she has but this one dwelling that has not been wrested from her by a young Earl 23a, who is her neighbour, because she refused to become his wife.” “That is pity,” said Owain. And he and the maiden proceeded to the Castle; and he alighted there, and the maiden conducted him to a pleasant chamber, and kindled a fire and left him.
And the maiden came to the Countess, and gave the flask into her hand. “Ha! maiden,” said the Countess, “where is all the balsam?” “Have I not used it all?” said she. “Oh, maiden,” said the Countess, “I cannot easily forgive thee this; it is sad for me to have wasted seven-score pounds’ worth of precious ointment upon a stranger whom I know not. However, maiden, wait thou upon him, until he is quite recovered.”
And the maiden did so, and furnished him with meat and drink, and fire, and lodging, and medicaments, until he was well again. And in three months he was restored to his former guise, and became even more comely than he had ever been before.
One day Owain heard a great tumult, and a sound of arms in the Castle, and he inquired of the maiden the cause thereof. “The Earl,” said she, “whom I mentioned to thee, has come before the Castle, with a numerous army, to subdue the Countess.” And Owain inquired of her whether the Countess had a horse and arms in her possession. “She has the best in the world,” said the maiden. “Wilt thou go and request the loan of a horse and arms for me,” said Owain, “that
[paragraph continues] I may go and look at this army?” “I will,” said the maiden.
And she came to the Countess, and told her what Owain had said. And the Countess laughed. “Truly,” said she, “I will even give him a horse and arms for ever; such a horse and such arms had he never yet, and I am glad that they should be taken by him to-day, lest my enemies should have them against my will to-morrow. Yet I know not what he would do with them.”
The Countess bade them bring out a beautiful black steed 24a, upon which was a beechen saddle, and a suit of armour, for man and horse. And Owain armed himself, and mounted the horse, and went forth, attended by two pages completely equipped, with horses and arms. And when they came near to the Earl’s army, they could see neither its extent nor its extremity. And Owain asked the pages in which troop the Earl was. “In yonder troop,” said they, “in which are four yellow standards. Two of them are before, and two behind him.” “Now,” said Owain, “do you return and await me near the portal of the Castle.” So they returned, and Owain pressed forward until he met the Earl. And Owain drew him completely out of his saddle, and turned his horse’s head towards the Castle, and though it was with difficulty, he brought the Earl to the portal, where the pages awaited him. And in they came. And Owain presented the Earl as a gift to the Countess. And said to her, “Behold a requital to thee for thy blessed balsam.”
The army encamped around the Castle. And the Earl restored to the Countess the two Earldoms he had taken from her, as a ransom for his life; and for his freedom he gave her the half of his own dominions, and all his gold, and his silver, and his jewels, besides hostages.
And Owain took his departure. And the Countess and all her subjects besought him to remain, but Owain chose rather to wander through distant lands and deserts.
And as he journeyed, he heard a loud yelling in a wood. And it was repeated a second and a third time. And Owain
went towards the spot, and beheld a huge craggy mound, in the middle of the wood; on the side of which was a grey rock. And there was a cleft in the rock, and a serpent was within the cleft. And near the rock stood a black lion, and every time the lion sought to go thence, the serpent darted towards him to attack him. And Owain unsheathed his sword, and drew near to the rock; and as the serpent sprang out, he struck him with his sword, and cut him in two. And he dried his sword, and went on his way, as before 25a. But behold the lion followed him, and played about him, as though it had been a greyhound that he had reared.
They proceeded thus throughout the day, until the evening. And when it was time for Owain to take his rest, he dismounted, and turned his horse loose in a flat and wooded meadow. And he struck fire, and when the fire was kindled, the lion brought him fuel enough to last for three nights. And the lion disappeared. And presently the lion returned, bearing a fine large roebuck. And he threw it down before Owain, who went towards the fire with it.
And Owain took the roebuck, and skinned it, and placed collops of its flesh upon skewers, around the fire. The rest of the buck he gave to the lion to devour. While he was doing this, he heard a deep sigh near him, and a second, and a third. And Owain called out to know whether the sigh he heard proceeded from a mortal; and he received answer that it did. “Who art thou?” said Owain. “Truly,” said the voice, “I am Luned, the handmaiden of the Countess of the Fountain.” “And what dost thou here?” said Owain. “I am imprisoned,” said she, “on account of the knight who came from Arthur’s Court, and married the Countess. And he stayed a short time with her, but he afterwards departed for the Court of Arthur, and has not returned since. And he was the friend I loved best in the world. And two of the pages in the Countess’s chamber traduced him, and called him a deceiver. And I told them that they two were not a match for him alone. So they imprisoned me in the stone vault 25b, and said that I should be put to death,
unless he came himself to deliver me, by a certain day; and that is no further off than the day after to-morrow. And I have no one to send to seek him for me. And his name is Owain the son of Urien.” “And art thou certain that if that knight knew all this, he would come to thy rescue?” “I am most certain of it,” said she.
When the collops were cooked, Owain divided them into two parts, between himself and the maiden; and after they had eaten, they talked together, until the day dawned. And the next morning Owain inquired of the damsel, if there was any place where he could get food and entertainment for that night. “There is, Lord,” said she; “cross over yonder, and go along the side of the river, and in a short time thou wilt see a great Castle, in which are many towers, and the Earl who owns that Castle is the most hospitable man in the world. There thou mayst spend the night.”
Never did sentinel keep stricter watch over his lord, than the lion that night over Owain.
And Owain accoutred his horse, and passed across by the ford, and came in sight of the Castle. And he entered it, and was honourably received. And his horse was well cared for, and plenty of fodder was placed before him. Then the lion went and lay down in the horse’s manger; so that none of the people of the Castle dared to approach him. The treatment which Owain met with there was such as he had never known elsewhere, for every one was as sorrowful as though death had been upon him. And they went to meat; and the Earl sat upon one side of Owain, and on the other side his only daughter. And Owain had never seen any more lovely than she. Then the lion came and placed himself between Owain’s feet, and he fed him with every kind of food that he took himself. And he never saw anything equal to the sadness of the people.
In the middle of the repast the Earl began to bid Owain welcome. “Then,” said Owain, “behold, it is time for thee to be cheerful.” “Heaven knows,” said the Earl, “that it is not thy coming that makes us sorrowful, but we have cause
enough for sadness and care.” “What is that?” said Owain. “I have two sons,” replied the Earl, “and yesterday they went to the mountains to hunt. Now there is on the mountain a monster 27a who kills men and devours them, and he seized my sons; and to-morrow is the time he has fixed to be here, and he threatens that he will then slay my sons before my eyes, unless I will deliver into his hands this my daughter. He has the form of a man, but in stature he is no less than a giant.”
“Truly,” said Owain, “that is lamentable. And which wilt thou do?” “Heaven knows,” said the Earl, “it will be better that my sons should be slain against my will, than that I should voluntarily give up my daughter to him to ill-treat and destroy.” Then they talked about other things, and Owain stayed there that night.
The next morning they heard an exceeding great clamour, which was caused by the coming of the giant with the two youths. And the Earl was anxious both to protect his Castle and to release his two sons. Then Owain put on his armour and went forth to encounter the giant, and the lion followed him. And when the giant saw that Owain was armed, he rushed towards him and attacked him. And the lion fought with the giant much more fiercely than Owain did. “Truly,” said the giant, “I should find no difficulty in fighting with thee, were it not for the animal that is with thee.” Upon that Owain took the lion back to the Castle and shut the gate upon him, and then he returned to fight the giant, as before. And the lion roared very loud, for he heard that it went hard with Owain. And he climbed up till he reached the top of the Earl’s hall, and thence he got to the top of the Castle, and he sprang down from the walls and went and joined Owain. And the lion gave the giant a stroke with his paw, which tore him from his shoulder to his hip, and his heart was laid bare, and the giant fell down dead. Then Owain restored the two youths to their father.
The Earl besought Owain to remain with him, and he would not, but set forward towards the meadow where Luned
was. And when he came there he saw a great fire kindled, and two youths with beautiful curling auburn hair were leading the maiden to cast her into the fire. And Owain asked them what charge they had against her. And they told him of the compact that was between them, as the maiden had done the night before. “And,” said they, “Owain has failed her, therefore we are taking her to be burnt.” “Truly,” said Owain, “he is a good knight, and if he knew that the maiden was in such peril, I marvel that he came not to her rescue; but if you will accept me in his stead, I will do battle with you.” “We will,” said the youths, “by him who made us.”
And they attacked Owain, and he was hard beset by them. And with that the lion came to Owain’s assistance, and they two got the better of the young men. And they said to him, “Chieftain, it was not agreed that we should fight save with thyself alone, and it is harder for us to contend with yonder animal than with thee.” And Owain put the lion in the place where the maiden had been imprisoned, and blocked up the door with stones, and he went to fight with the young men, as before. But Owain had not his usual strength, and the two youths pressed hard upon him. And the lion roared incessantly at seeing Owain in trouble; and he burst through the wall until he found a way out, and rushed upon the young men, and instantly slew them. So Luned was saved from being burned.
Then Owain returned with Luned to the dominions of the Countess of the Fountain. And when he went thence he took the Countess with him to Arthur’s Court, and she was his wife as long as she lived.
And then he took the road that led to the Court of the savage black man, and Owain fought with him, and the lion did not quit Owain until he had vanquished him. And when he reached the Court of the savage black man he entered the hall, and beheld four-and-twenty ladies, the fairest that could be seen. And the garments which they had on were not
worth four-and twenty pence, and they were as sorrowful as death. And Owain asked them the cause of their sadness. And they said, “We are the daughters of Earls, and we all came here with our husbands, whom we dearly loved. And we were received with honour and rejoicing. And we were thrown into a state of stupor 29a, and while we were thus, the demon who owns this Castle slew all our husbands, and took from us our horses, and our raiment, and our gold, and our silver; and the corpses of our husbands are still in this house, and many others with them. And this, Chieftain, is the cause of our grief, and we are sorry that thou art come hither, lest harm should befall thee.”
And Owain was grieved when he heard this. And he went forth from the Castle, and he beheld a knight approaching him, who saluted him in a friendly and cheerful manner, as if he had been a brother. And this was the savage black man. “In very sooth,” said Owain, “it is not to seek thy friendship that I am here.” “In sooth,” said he, “thou shalt not find it then.” And with that they charged each other, and fought furiously. And Owain overcame him, and bound his hands behind his back. Then the black savage besought Owain to spare his life, and spoke thus: “My lord Owain,” said he, “it was foretold that thou shouldst come hither and vanquish me, and thou hast done so. I was a robber here, and my house was a house of spoil; but grant me my life, and I will become the keeper of an Hospice 29b, and I will maintain this house as an Hospice for weak and for strong, as long as I live, for the good of thy soul.” And Owain accepted this proposal of him, and remained there that night.
And the next day he took the four-and-twenty ladies, and their horses, and their raiment, and what they possessed of goods and jewels, and proceeded with them to Arthur’s Court. And if Arthur was rejoiced when he saw him, after he had lost him the first time, his joy was now much greater. And of those ladies, such as wished to remain in Arthur’s Court remained there, and such as wished to depart departed.
And thenceforward Owain dwelt at Arthur’s Court greatly beloved, as the head of his household, until he went away with his followers; and those were the army of three hundred ravens 30a which Kenverchyn had left him. And wherever Owain went with these he was victorious.
And this is the tale of THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN.
PEREDUR THE SON OF EVRAWC 81a
Earl Evrawc owned the Earldom of the North. And he had seven sons. And Evrawc maintained himself not so much by his own possessions as by attending tournaments 81b, and wars, and combats 81c. And, as it often befalls those who join in encounters and wars, he was slain, and six of his sons likewise. Now the name of his seventh son was Peredur, and he was the youngest of them. And he was not of an age to go to wars and encounters, otherwise he might have been slain as well as his father and brothers. His mother was a scheming and thoughtful woman, and she was very solicitous concerning this her only son and his possessions. So she took counsel with herself to leave the inhabited country, and to flee to the deserts and unfrequented wildernesses. And she permitted none to bear her company thither but women and boys, and spiritless men, who were both unaccustomed and unequal to war and fighting. And none dared to bring either horses or arms where her son was, lest he should set his mind upon them. And the youth went daily to divert himself in
the forest, by flinging sticks and staves. And one day he saw his mother’s flock of goats, and near the goats two hinds were standing. And he marvelled greatly that these two should be without horns, while the others had them. And he thought they had long run wild, and on that account they had lost their horns. And by activity and swiftness of foot, he drove the hinds and the goats together into the house which there was for the goats at the extremity of the forest. Then Peredur returned to his mother. “Ah, mother,” said he, “a marvellous thing have I seen in the wood; two of thy goats have run wild, and lost their horns, through their having been so long missing in the wood. And no man had ever more trouble than I had to drive them in.” Then they all arose and went to see. And when they beheld the hinds they were greatly astonished.
And one day they saw three knights coming along the horse-road on the borders of the forest. And the three knights were Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Geneir Gwystyl, and Owain the son of Urien. And Owain kept on the track of the knight who had divided the apples in Arthur’s Court, whom they were in pursuit of. “Mother,” said Peredur, “what are those yonder?” “They are angels, my son 82a,” said she. “By my faith,” said Peredur, “I will go and become an angel with them.” And Peredur went to the road, and met them. “Tell me, good soul,” said Owain, “sawest thou a knight pass this way, either to-day or yesterday?” “I know not,” answered he, “what a knight is.” “Such an one as I am,” said Owain. “If thou wilt tell me what I ask thee, I will tell thee that which thou askest me.” “Gladly will I do so,” replied Owain. “What is this?” demanded Peredur, concerning the saddle. “It is a saddle,” said Owain. Then he asked about all the accoutrements which he saw upon the men, and the horses, and the arms, and what they were for, and how they were used. And Owain shewed him all these things fully, and told him what use was made of them. “Go forward,” said Peredur, “for I saw such an one as thou inquirest for, and I will follow thee.”
Then Peredur returned to his mother and her company,
and he said to her, “Mother, those were not angels, but honourable knights.” Then his mother swooned away. And Peredur went to the place where they kept the horses that carried firewood, and that brought meat and drink from the inhabited country to the desert. And he took a bony piebald horse, which seemed to him the strongest of them. And he pressed a pack into the form of a saddle, and with twisted twigs he imitated the trappings which he had seen upon the horses. And when Peredur came again to his mother, the Countess had recovered from her swoon. “My son,” said she, “desirest thou to ride forth?” “Yes, with thy leave,” said he. “Wait, then, that I may counsel thee before thou goest.” “Willingly,” he answered; “speak quickly.” “Go forward, then,” she said, “to the Court of Arthur, where there are the best, and the boldest, and the most bountiful of men. And wherever thou seest a church, repeat there thy Paternoster unto it. And if thou see meat and drink, and have need of them, and none have the kindness or the courtesy to give them to thee, take them thyself. If thou hear an outcry, proceed towards it, especially if it be the outcry of a woman. If thou see a fair jewel, possess thyself of it, and give it to another 83a, for thus thou shalt obtain praise. If thou see a fair woman, pay thy court to her, whether she will or no; for thus thou wilt render thyself a better and more esteemed man than thou wast before.”
After this discourse, Peredur mounted the horse, and taking a handful of sharp-pointed forks in his hand, he rode forth. And he journeyed two days and two nights in the woody wildernesses, and in desert places, without food and without drink. And then he came to a vast wild wood, and far within the wood he saw a fair even glade, and in the glade he saw a tent, and the tent seeming to him to be a church, he repeated his Paternoster to it. And he went towards it, and the door of the tent was open. And a golden chair was near the door. And on the chair sat a lovely auburn-haired maiden, with a golden frontlet on her forehead, and sparkling stones in the frontlet, and with a large gold ring on her
hand. And Peredur dismounted, and entered the tent. And the maiden was glad at his coming, and bade him welcome. At the entrance of the tent he saw food, and two flasks full of wine, and two loaves of fine wheaten flour, and collops of the flesh of the wild boar. “My mother told me,” said Peredur, “wheresoever I saw meat and drink, to take it.” “Take the meat and welcome, chieftain,” said she. So Peredur took half of the meat and of the liquor himself, and left the rest to the maiden. And when Peredur had finished eating, he bent upon his knee before the maiden. “My mother,” said he, “told me, wheresoever I saw a fair jewel, to take it.” “Do so, my soul,” said she. So Peredur took the ring. And he mounted his horse, and proceeded on his journey.
After this, behold the knight came to whom the tent belonged; and he was the Lord of the Glade. And he saw the track of the horse, and he said to the maiden, “Tell me who has been here since I departed.” “A man,” said she, “of wonderful demeanour.” And she described to him what Peredur’s appearance and conduct had been. “Tell me,” said he, “did he offer thee any wrong?” “No,” answered the maiden, “by my faith, he harmed me not.” “By my faith, I do not believe thee; and until I can meet with him, and revenge the insult he has done me, and wreak my vengeance upon him, thou shalt not remain two nights in the same house.” And the knight arose, and set forth to seek Peredur.
Meanwhile Peredur journeyed on towards Arthur’s Court. And before he reached it, another knight had been there, who gave a ring of thick gold at the door of the gate for holding his horse, and went into the Hall where Arthur and his household, and Gwenhwyvar and her maidens, were assembled. And the page of the chamber was serving Gwenhwyvar with a golden goblet. Then the knight dashed the liquor that was therein upon her face, and upon her stomacher, and gave her a violent blow on the face, and said, “If any have the boldness to dispute this goblet with me, and to revenge the insult to Gwenhwyvar, let him follow me to the meadow, and there I will await him.” So the knight
took his horse, and rode to the meadow. And all the household hung down their heads, lest any of them should be requested to go and avenge the insult to Gwenhwyvar. For it seemed to them, that no one would have ventured on so daring an outrage, unless he possessed such powers, through magic or charms 85a, that none could be able to take vengeance upon him. Then, behold, Peredur entered the Hall, upon the bony piebald horse, with the uncouth trappings upon it; and in this way he traversed the whole length of the Hall. In the centre of the Hall stood Kai. “Tell me, tall man,” said Peredur, “is that Arthur yonder?” “What wouldest thou with Arthur?” asked Kai. “My mother told me to go to Arthur, and receive the honour of knighthood.” “By my faith,” said he, “thou art all too meanly equipped with horse and with arms.” Thereupon he was perceived by all the household, and they threw sticks at him. Then, behold, a dwarf came forward. He had already been a year at Arthur’s Court, both he and a female dwarf. They had craved harbourage of Arthur, and had obtained it; and during the whole year, neither of them had spoken a single word to any one. When the dwarf beheld Peredur, “Haha!” said he, “the welcome of Heaven be unto thee, goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc, the chief of warriors, and flower of knighthood.” “Truly,” said Kai, “thou art ill-taught to remain a year mute at Arthur’s Court, with choice of society; and now, before the face of Arthur and all his household, to call out, and declare such a man as this the chief of warriors, and the flower of knighthood.” And he gave him such a box on the ear that he fell senseless to the ground. Then exclaimed the female dwarf, “Haha! goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc; the welcome of Heaven be unto thee, flower of knights, and light of chivalry.” “Of a truth, maiden,” said Kai, “thou art ill-bred to remain mute for a year at the Court of Arthur, and then to speak as thou dost of such a man as this.” And Kai kicked her with his foot, so that she fell to the ground senseless. “Tall man,” said Peredur, “shew me which is Arthur.” “Hold thy peace,” said Kai, “and go after the knight who
went hence to the meadow, and take from him the goblet, and overthrow him, and possess thyself of his horse and arms, and then thou shalt receive the order of knighthood.” “I will do so, tall man,” said Peredur. So he turned his horse’s head towards the meadow. And when he came there, the knight was riding up and down, proud of his strength, and valour, and noble mien. “Tell me,” said the knight, “didst thou see any one coming after me from the Court?” “The tall man that was there,” said he, “desired me to come, and overthrow thee, and to take from thee the goblet, and thy horse and thy armour for myself.” “Silence!” said the knight; “go back to the Court, and tell Arthur, from me, either to come himself, or to send some other to fight with me; and unless he do so quickly, I will not wait for him.” “By my faith,” said Peredur, “choose thou whether it shall be willingly or unwillingly, but I will have the horse, and the arms, and the goblet.” And upon this the knight ran at him furiously, and struck him a violent blow with the shaft of his spear, between the neck and the shoulder 86a. “Haha! lad,” said Peredur, “my mother’s servants were not used to play with me in this wise; therefore, thus will I play with thee.” And thereupon he struck him with a sharp-pointed fork, and it hit him in the eye, and came out at the back of his neck, so that he instantly fell down lifeless.
“Verily,” said Owain the son of Urien to Kai, “thou wert ill-advised, when thou didst send that madman after the knight. For one of two things must befall him. He must either be overthrown, or slain. If he is overthrown by the knight, he will be counted by him to be an honourable person of the Court, and an eternal disgrace will it be to Arthur and his warriors. And if he is slain, the disgrace will be the same, and moreover, his sin will be upon him; therefore will I go to see what has befallen him.” So Owain went to the meadow, and he found Peredur dragging the man about. “What art thou doing thus?” said Owain. “This iron coat 86b,” said Peredur, “will never come from off him; not by my efforts, at any rate.” And Owain unfastened his armour and his
clothes. “Here, my good soul,” said he, “is a horse and armour better than thine. Take them joyfully, and come with me to Arthur, to receive the order of knighthood, for thou dost merit it.” “May I never shew my face again if I go,” said Peredur; “but take thou the goblet to Gwenhwyvar, and tell Arthur, that wherever I am, I will be his vassal, and will do him what profit and service I am able. And say that I will not come to his Court until I have encountered the tall man that is there, to revenge the injury he did to the dwarf and dwarfess.” And Owain went back to the Court, and related all these things to Arthur and Gwenhwyvar, and to all the household.
And Peredur rode forward. And as he proceeded, behold a knight met him. “Whence comest thou?” said the knight. “I come from Arthur’s Court,” said Peredur. “Art thou one of his men?” asked he. “Yes, by my faith,” he answered. “A good service, truly, is that of Arthur.” “Wherefore sayest thou so?” said Peredur. “I will tell thee,” said he; “I have always been Arthur’s enemy, and all such of his men as I have ever encountered I have slain.” And without further parlance they fought, and it was not long before Peredur brought him to the ground, over his horse’s crupper. Then the knight besought his mercy. “Mercy thou shalt have,” said Peredur, “if thou wilt make oath to me, that thou wilt go to Arthur’s Court, and tell him that it was I that overthrew thee, for the honour of his service; and say, that I will never come to the Court until I have avenged the insult offered to the dwarf and dwarfess.” The knight pledged him his faith of this, and proceeded to the Court of Arthur, and said as he had promised, and conveyed the threat to Kai.
And Peredur rode forward. And within that week he encountered sixteen knights, and overthrew them all shamefully. And they all went to Arthur’s Court, taking with them the same message which the first knight had conveyed from Peredur, and the same threat which he had sent to Kai. And thereupon Kai was reproved by Arthur; and Kai was greatly grieved thereat.
And Peredur rode forward. And he came to a vast and desert wood, on the confines of which was a lake. And on the other side was a fair castle. And on the border of the lake he saw a venerable, hoary-headed man, sitting upon a velvet cushion, and having a garment of velvet upon him. And his attendants were fishing in the lake. When the hoary-headed man beheld Peredur approaching, he arose and went towards the castle. And the old man was lame. Peredur rode to the palace, and the door was open, and he entered the hall. And there was the hoary-headed man sitting on a cushion, and a large blazing fire burning before him. And the household and the company arose to meet Peredur, and disarrayed him. And the man asked the youth to sit on the cushion; and they sat down, and conversed together. When it was time, the tables were laid, and they went to meat. And when they had finished their meal, the man inquired of Peredur if he knew well how to fight with the sword. “I know not,” said Peredur, “but were I to be taught, doubtless I should.” “Whoever can play well with the cudgel and shield, will also be able to fight with a sword.” And the man had two sons; the one had yellow hair, and the other auburn. “Arise, youths,” said he, “and play with the cudgel and the shield.” And so did they. “Tell me, my soul,” said the man, “which of the youths thinkest thou plays best.” “I think,” said Peredur, “that the yellow-haired youth could draw blood from the other, if he chose.” “Arise thou, my life, and take the cudgel and the shield from the hand of the youth with the auburn hair, and draw blood from the yellow-haired youth if thou canst.” So Peredur arose, and went to play with the yellow-haired youth; and he lifted up his arm, and struck him such a mighty blow, that his brow fell over his eye, and the blood flowed forth. “Ah, my life,” said the man, “come now, and sit down, for thou wilt become the best fighter with the sword of any in this island; and I am thy uncle, thy mother’s brother. And with me shalt thou remain a space, in order to learn the manners and customs of different countries, and
courtesy, and gentleness, and noble bearing. Leave, then, the habits and the discourse of thy mother, and I will be thy teacher; and I will raise thee to the rank of knight from this time forward. And thus do thou. If thou seest aught to cause thee wonder, ask not the meaning of it; if no one has the courtesy to inform thee, the reproach will not fall upon thee, but upon me that am thy teacher.” And they had abundance of honour and service. And when it was time they went to sleep. At the break of day, Peredur arose, and took his horse, and with his uncle’s permission he rode forth. And he came to a vast desert wood, and at the further end of the wood was a meadow, and on the other side of the meadow he saw a large castle. And thitherward Peredur bent his way, and he found the gate open, and he proceeded to the hall. And he beheld a stately hoary-headed man sitting on one side of the hall, and many pages around him, who arose to receive and to honour Peredur. And they placed him by the side of the owner of the palace. Then they discoursed together; and when it was time to eat, they caused Peredur to sit beside the nobleman during the repast. And when they had eaten and drunk as much as they desired, the nobleman asked Peredur whether he could fight with a sword? “Were I to receive instruction,” said Peredur, “I think I could.” Now, there was on the floor of the hall a huge staple, as large as a warrior could grasp. “Take yonder sword,” said the man to Peredur, “and strike the iron staple.” So Peredur arose and struck the staple, so that he cut it in two; and the sword broke into two parts also. “Place the two parts together, and reunite them,” and Peredur placed them together, and they became entire as they were before. And a second time he struck upon the staple, so that both it and the sword broke in two, and as before they reunited. And the third time he gave a like blow, and placed the broken parts together, and neither the staple nor the sword would unite as before. “Youth,” said the nobleman, “come now, and sit down, and my blessing be upon thee. Thou fightest best with the sword of any man in
the kingdom. Thou hast arrived at two-thirds of thy strength, and the other third thou hast not yet obtained; and when thou attainest to thy full power, none will be able to contend with thee. I am thy uncle, thy mother’s brother, and I am brother to the man in whose house thou wast last night.” Then Peredur and his uncle discoursed together, and he beheld two youths enter the hall, and proceed up to the chamber, bearing a spear of mighty size 90a, with three streams of blood flowing from the point to the ground. And when all the company saw this, they began wailing and lamenting. But for all that, the man did not break off his discourse with Peredur. And as he did not tell Peredur the meaning of what he saw, he forbore to ask him concerning it. And when the clamour had a little subsided, behold two maidens entered, with a large salver between them, in which was a man’s head, surrounded by a profusion of blood. And thereupon the company of the court made so great an outcry, that it was irksome to be in the same hall with them. But at length they were silent. And when time was that they should sleep, Peredur was brought into a fair chamber.
And the next day, with his uncle’s permission, he rode forth. And he came to a wood, and far within the wood he heard a loud cry, and he saw a beautiful woman with auburn hair, and a horse with a saddle upon it, standing near her, and a corpse by her side. And as she strove to place the corpse upon the horse, it fell to the ground, and thereupon she made a great lamentation. “Tell me, sister,” said Peredur, “wherefore art thou bewailing?” “Oh! accursed Peredur, little pity has my ill-fortune ever met with from thee.” “Wherefore,” said Peredur, “am I accursed?” “Because thou wast the cause of thy mother’s death; for when thou didst ride forth against her will, anguish seized upon her heart, so that she died; and therefore art thou accursed. And the dwarf and the dwarfess that thou sawest at Arthur’s Court were the dwarfs of thy father and mother; and I am thy foster-sister, and this was my wedded husband, and he was slain by the knight that is in the glade in the wood;
and do not thou go near him, lest thou shouldest be slain by him likewise.” “My sister, thou dost reproach me wrongfully; through my having so long remained amongst you, I shall scarcely vanquish him; and had I continued longer, it would, indeed, be difficult for me to succeed. Cease, therefore, thy lamenting, for it is of no avail, and I will bury the body, and then I will go in quest of the knight, and see if I can do vengeance upon him.” And when he had buried the body, they went to the place where the knight was, and found him riding proudly along the glade; and he inquired of Peredur whence he came. “I come from Arthur’s Court.” “And art thou one of Arthur’s men?” “Yes, by my faith.” “A profitable alliance, truly, is that of Arthur.” And without further parlance, they encountered one another, and immediately Peredur overthrew the knight, and he besought mercy of Peredur. “Mercy shalt thou have,” said he, “upon these terms, that thou take this woman in marriage, and do her all the honour and reverence in thy power, seeing thou hast, without cause, slain her wedded husband; and that thou go to Arthur’s Court, and shew him that it was I that overthrew thee, to do him honour and service; and that thou tell him that I will never come to his Court again until I have met with the tall man that is there, to take vengeance upon him for his insult to the dwarf and dwarfess.” And he took the knight’s assurance, that he would perform all this. Then the knight provided the lady with a horse and garments that were suitable for her, and took her with him to Arthur’s Court. And he told Arthur all that had occurred, and gave the defiance to Kai. And Arthur and all his household reproved Kai, for having driven such a youth as Peredur from his Court.
Said Owain the son of Urien, “This youth will never come into the Court until Kai has gone forth from it.” “By my faith,” said Arthur, “I will search all the deserts in the Island of Britain, until I find Peredur, and then let him and his adversary do their utmost to each other.”
Then Peredur rode forward. And he came to a desert wood, where he saw not the track either of men or animals,
and where there was nothing but bushes and weeds. And at the upper end of the wood he saw a vast castle, wherein were many strong towers; and when he came near the gate, he found the weeds taller than he had seen them elsewhere. And he struck the gate with the shaft of his lance, and thereupon behold a lean, auburn-haired youth came to an opening in the battlements. “Choose thou, chieftain,” said he, “whether shall I open the gate unto thee, or shall I announce unto those that are chief, that thou art at the gateway?” “Say that I am here,” said Peredur, “and if it is desired that I should enter, I will go in.” And the youth came back, and opened the gate for Peredur. And when he went into the hall, he beheld eighteen youths, lean and red-headed, of the same height, and of the same aspect, and of the same dress, and of the same age as the one who had opened the gate for him. And they were well skilled in courtesy and in service. And they disarrayed him. Then they sat down to discourse. Thereupon, behold five maidens came from the chamber into the hall. And Peredur was certain that he had never seen another of so fair an aspect as the chief of the maidens. And she had an old garment of satin upon her, which had once been handsome, but was then so tattered, that her skin could be seen through it. And whiter was her skin than the bloom of crystal, and her hair and her two eyebrows were blacker than jet, and on her cheeks were two red spots, redder than whatever is reddest. And the maiden welcomed Peredur, and put her arms about his neck, and made him sit down beside her. Not long after this he saw two nuns enter, and a flask full of wine was borne by one, and six loaves of white bread by the other. “Lady,” said they, “Heaven is witness, that there is not so much of food and liquor as this left in yonder Convent this night.” Then they went to meat, and Peredur observed that the maiden wished to give more of the food and of the liquor to him than to any of the others. “My sister,” said Peredur, “I will share out the food and the liquor.” “Not so, my soul,” said she. “By my faith but I will.” So Peredur took the bread, and he gave an equal portion of it to each
alike, as well as a cup full of the liquor. And when it was time for them to sleep, a chamber was prepared for Peredur, and he went to rest.
“Behold, sister,” said the youths to the fairest and most exalted of the maidens, “we have counsel for thee.” “What may it be?” she inquired. “Go to the youth that is in the upper chamber, and offer to become his wife, or the lady of his love, if it seem well to him.” “That were indeed unfitting,” said she. “Hitherto I have not been the lady-love of any knight, and to make him such an offer before I am wooed by him, that, truly, can I not do.” “By our confession to Heaven, unless thou actest thus, we will leave thee here to thy enemies, to do as they will with thee.” And through fear of this, the maiden went forth; and shedding tears, she proceeded to the chamber. And with the noise of the door opening, Peredur awoke; and the maiden was weeping and lamenting. “Tell me, my sister,” said Peredur, “wherefore dost thou weep?” “I will tell thee, lord,” said she. “My father possessed these dominions as their chief, and this palace was his, and with it he held the best earldom in the kingdom; then the son of another earl sought me of my father, and I was not willing to be given unto him, and my father would not give me against my will, either to him or any earl in the world. And my father had no child except myself. And after my father’s death, these dominions came into my own hands, and then was I less willing to accept him than before. So he made war upon me, and conquered all my possessions, except this one house. And through the valour of the men whom thou hast seen, who are my foster-brothers, and the strength of the house, it can never be taken while food and drink remain. And now our provisions are exhausted; but, as thou hast seen, we have been fed by the nuns, to whom the country is free. And at length they also are without supply of food or liquor. And at no later date than to-morrow, the earl will come against this place with all his forces; and if I fall into his power, my fate will be no better than to be given over to the grooms of his horses.
[paragraph continues] Therefore, lord, I am come to offer to place myself in thy hands, that thou mayest succour me, either by taking me hence, or by defending me here, whichever may seem best unto thee.” “Go, my sister,” said he, “and sleep; nor will I depart from thee until I do that which thou requirest, or prove whether I can assist thee or not.” The maiden went again to rest; and the next morning she came to Peredur, and saluted him. “Heaven prosper thee, my soul, and what tidings dost thou bring?” “None other, than that the earl and all his forces have alighted at the gate, and I never beheld any place so covered with tents, and thronged with knights challenging others to the combat.” “Truly,” said Peredur, “let my horse be made ready.” So his horse was accoutred, and he arose and sallied forth to the meadow. And there was a knight riding proudly along the meadow, having raised the signal for battle. And they encountered, and Peredur threw the knight over his horse’s crupper to the ground. And at the close of the day, one of the chief knights came to fight with him, and he overthrew him also, so that he besought his mercy. “Who art thou?” said Peredur. “Verily,” said he, “I am Master of the Household to the earl.” “And how much of the countess’s possessions is there in thy power?” “The third part 94a, verily,” answered he. “Then,” said Peredur, “restore to her the third of her possessions in full, and all the profit thou hast made by them, and bring meat and drink for a hundred men, with their horses and arms, to her court this night. And thou shalt remain her captive, unless she wish to take thy life.” And this he did forthwith. And that night the maiden was right joyful, and they fared plenteously.
And the next day Peredur rode forth to the meadow; and that day he vanquished a multitude of the host. And at the close of the day, there came a proud and stately knight, and Peredur overthrew him, and he besought his mercy. “Who art thou?” said Peredur. “I am Steward of the Palace,” said he. “And how much of the maiden’s possessions are under thy control?” “One-third part,” answered
he. “Verily,” said Peredur, “thou shalt fully restore to the maiden her possessions, and, moreover, thou shalt give her meat and drink for two hundred men, and their horses and their arms. And for thyself, thou shalt be her captive.” And immediately it was so done.
And the third day Peredur rode forth to the meadow; and he vanquished more that day than on either of the preceding. And at the close of the day, an earl came to encounter him, and he overthrew him, and he besought his mercy. “Who art thou?” said Peredur. “I am the earl,” said he. “I will not conceal it from thee.” “Verily,” said Peredur, “thou shalt restore the whole of the maiden’s earldom, and shalt give her thine own earldom in addition thereto, and meat and drink for three hundred men, and their horses and arms, and thou thyself shalt remain in her power.” And thus it was fulfilled. And Peredur tarried three weeks in the country, causing tribute and obedience to be paid to the maiden, and the government to be placed in her hands. “With thy leave,” said Peredur, “I will go hence.” “Verily, my brother, desirest thou this?” “Yes, by my faith; and had it not been for love of thee, I should not have been here thus long.” “My soul,” said she, “who art thou?” “I am Peredur the son of Evrawc from the North; and if ever thou art in trouble or in danger, acquaint me therewith, and if I can, I will protect thee.”
So Peredur rode forth. And far thence there met him a lady, mounted on a horse that was lean, and covered with sweat; and she saluted the youth. “Whence comest thou, my sister?” Then she told him the cause of her journey. Now she was the wife of the Lord of the Glade. “Behold,” said he, “I am the knight through whom thou art in trouble, and he shall repent it, who has treated thee thus.” Thereupon, behold a knight rode up, and he inquired of Peredur, if he had seen a knight such as he was seeking. “Hold thy peace,” said Peredur, “I am he whom thou seekest; and by my faith, thou deservest ill of thy household for thy treatment of the maiden, for she is innocent concerning me.” So
they encountered, and they were not long in combat ere Peredur overthrew the knight, and he besought his mercy. “Mercy thou shalt have,” said Peredur, “so thou wilt return by the way thou camest, and declare that thou holdest the maiden innocent, and so that thou wilt acknowledge unto her the reverse thou hast sustained at my hands.” And the knight plighted him his faith thereto.
Then Peredur rode forward. And above him he beheld a castle, and thitherward he went. And he struck upon the gate with his lance, and then, behold, a comely auburn-haired youth opened the gate, and he had the stature of a warrior, and the years of a boy. And when Peredur came into the hall, there was a tall and stately lady sitting in a chair, and many handmaidens around her; and the lady rejoiced at his coming. And when it was time, they went to meat. And after their repast was finished, “It were well for thee, chieftain,” said she, “to go elsewhere to sleep.” “Wherefore can I not sleep here?” said Peredur. “Nine sorceresses are here, my soul, of the sorceresses of Gloucester, and their father and their mother are with them; and unless we can make our escape before daybreak, we shall be slain; and already they have conquered and laid waste all the country, except this one dwelling.” “Behold,” said Peredur, “I will remain here to-night, and if you are in trouble, I will do you what service I can; but harm shall you not receive from me.” So they went to rest. And with the break of day, Peredur heard a dreadful outcry. And he hastily arose, and went forth in his vest and his doublet, with his sword about his neck, and he saw a sorceress overtake one of the watch, who cried out violently. Peredur attacked the sorceress, and struck her upon the head with his sword, so that he flattened her helmet and her head-piece like a dish upon her head. “Thy mercy, goodly Peredur, son of Evrawc, and the mercy of Heaven.” “How knowest thou, hag, that I am Peredur?” “By destiny, and the foreknowledge that I should suffer harm from thee. And thou shalt take a horse and armour of me; and with me thou shalt go to learn
chivalry and the use of thy arms.” Said Peredur, “Thou shalt have mercy, if thou pledge thy faith thou wilt never more injure the dominions of the Countess.” And Peredur took surety of this, and with permission of the Countess, he set forth with the sorceress to the palace of the sorceresses. And there he remained for three weeks, and then he made choice of a horse and arms, and went his way.
And in the evening he entered a valley, and at the head of the valley he came to a hermit’s cell, and the hermit welcomed him gladly, and there he spent the night. And in the morning he arose, and when he went forth, behold a shower of snow had fallen the night before, and a hawk had killed a wild fowl in front of the cell. And the noise of the horse scared the hawk away, and a raven alighted upon the bird. And Peredur stood, and compared the blackness of the raven and the whiteness of the snow, and the redness of the blood, to the hair of the lady that best he loved, which was blacker than jet, and to her skin which was whiter than the snow, and to the two red spots upon her cheeks, which were redder than the blood upon the snow appeared to be.
Now Arthur and his household were in search of Peredur. “Know ye,” said Arthur, “who is the knight with the long spear that stands by the brook up yonder?” “Lord,” said one of them, “I will go and learn who he is.” So the youth came to the place where Peredur was, and asked him what he did thus, and who he was. And from the intensity with which he thought upon the lady whom best he loved, he gave him no answer. Then the youth thrust at Peredur with his lance, and Peredur turned upon him, and struck him over his horse’s crupper to the ground. And after this, four-and-twenty youths came to him, and he did not answer one more than another, but gave the same reception to all, bringing them with one single thrust to the ground. And then came Kai, and spoke to Peredur rudely and angrily; and Peredur took him with his lance under the jaw, and cast him from him with a thrust, so that he broke his arm and his shoulder-blade,
and he rode over him one-and-twenty times. And while he lay thus, stunned with the violence of the pain that he had suffered, his horse returned back at a wild and prancing pace. And when the household saw the horse come back without his rider, they rode forth in haste to the place where the encounter had been. And when they first came there, they thought that Kai was slain; but they found that if he had a skilful physician, he yet might live. And Peredur moved not from his meditation, on seeing the concourse that was around Kai. And Kai was brought to Arthur’s tent, and Arthur caused skilful physicians to come to him. And Arthur was grieved that Kai had met with this reverse, for he loved him greatly.
“Then,” said Gwalchmai 98a, “it is not fitting that any should disturb an honourable knight from his thought unadvisedly; for either he is pondering some damage that he has sustained, or he is thinking of the lady whom best he loves. And through such ill-advised proceeding, perchance this misadventure has befallen him who last met with him. And if it seem well to thee, lord, I will go and see if this knight hath changed from his thought; and if he has, I will ask him courteously to come and visit thee.” Then Kai was wroth, and he spoke angry and spiteful words. “Gwalchmai,” said he, “I know that thou wilt bring him because he is fatigued. Little praise and honour, nevertheless, wilt thou have from vanquishing a weary knight, who is tired with fighting. Yet thus hast thou gained the advantage over many. And while thy speech and thy soft words last, a coat of thin linen were armour sufficient for thee, and thou wilt not need to break either lance or sword in fighting with the knight in the state he is in.” Then said Gwalchmai to Kai, “Thou mightest use more pleasant words, wert thou so minded: and it behoves thee not upon me to wreak thy wrath and thy displeasure. Methinks I shall bring the knight hither with me without breaking either my arm or my shoulder.” Then said Arthur to Gwalchmai, “Thou speakest like a wise and prudent man; go, and take enough of armour
about thee, and choose thy horse.” And Gwalchmai accoutred himself and rode forward hastily to the place where Peredur was.
And Peredur was resting on the shaft of his spear, pondering the same thought, and Gwalchmai came to him without any signs of hostility, and said to him, “If I thought that it would be as agreeable to thee as it would be to me, I would converse with thee. I have also a message from Arthur unto thee, to pray thee to come and visit him. And two men have been before on this errand.” “That is true,” said Peredur, “and uncourteously they came. They attacked me, and I was annoyed thereat, for it was not pleasing to me to be drawn from the thought that I was in, for I was thinking of the lady whom best I love, and thus was she brought to my mind:–I was looking upon the snow, and upon the raven, and upon the drops of the blood of the bird that the hawk had killed upon the snow. And I bethought me that her whiteness was like that of the snow, and that the blackness of her hair and her eyebrows like that of the raven, and that the two red spots upon her cheeks were like the two drops of blood.” Said Gwalchmai, “This was not an ungentle thought, and I should marvel if it were pleasant to thee to be drawn from it.” “Tell me,” said Peredur, “is Kai in Arthur’s Court?” “He is,” said he, “and behold he is the knight that fought with thee last; and it would have been better for him had he not come, for his arm and his shoulder-blade were broken with the fall which he had from thy spear.” “Verily,” said Peredur, “I am not sorry to have thus begun to avenge the insult to the dwarf and dwarfess.” Then Gwalchmai marvelled to hear him speak of the dwarf and the dwarfess; and he approached him, and threw his arms around his neck, and asked him what was his name. “Peredur the son of Evrawc am I called,” said he; “and thou, Who art thou?” “I am called Gwalchmai,” he replied. “I am right glad to meet with thee,” said Peredur, “for in every country where I have been I have heard of thy fame for prowess and uprightness, and I solicit thy fellowship.” “Thou shalt have
it, by my faith, and grant me thine,” said he, “Gladly will I do so,” answered Peredur.
So they rode forth together joyfully towards the place where Arthur was, and when Kai saw them coming, he said, “I knew that Gwalchmai needed not to fight the knight. And it is no wonder that he should gain fame; more can he do by his fair words than I by the strength of my arm.” And Peredur went with Gwalchmai to his tent, and they took off their armour. And Peredur put on garments like those that Gwalchmai wore, and they went together unto Arthur, and saluted him. “Behold, lord,” said Gwalchmai, “him whom thou hast sought so long.” “Welcome unto thee, chieftain,” said Arthur. “With me thou shalt remain; and had I known thy valour had been such, thou shouldst not have left me as thou didst; nevertheless, this was predicted of thee by the dwarf and the dwarfess, whom Kai ill-treated and whom thou hast avenged.” And hereupon, behold there came the Queen and her handmaidens, and Peredur saluted them. And they were rejoiced to see him, and bade him welcome. And Arthur did him great honour and respect, and they returned towards Caerlleon.
And the first night Peredur came to Caerlleon to Arthur’s Court, and as he walked in the city after his repast, behold, there met him Angharad Law Eurawc 100a. “By my faith, sister,” said Peredur, “thou art a beauteous and lovely maiden; and, were it pleasing to thee, I could love thee above all women.” “I pledge my faith,” said she, “that I do not love thee, nor will I ever do so.” “I also pledge my faith,” said Peredur, “that I will never speak a word to any Christian again 100b, until thou come to love me above all men.”
The next day Peredur went forth by the high road, along a mountain-ridge, and he saw a valley of a circular form, the confines of which were rocky and wooded. And the flat part of the valley was in meadows, and there were fields betwixt the meadows and the wood. And in the bosom of the wood he saw large black houses of uncouth workmanship. And he dismounted, and led his horse towards the
wood. And a little way within the wood he saw a rocky ledge, along which the road lay. And upon the ledge was a lion bound by a chain, and sleeping. And beneath the lion he saw a deep pit of immense size, full of the bones of men and animals. And Peredur drew his sword and struck the lion, so that he fell into the mouth of the pit and hung there by the chain; and with a second blow he struck the chain and broke it, and the lion fell into the pit; and Peredur led his horse over the rocky ledge, until he came into the valley. And in the centre of the valley he saw a fair castle, and he went towards it. And in the meadow by the castle he beheld a huge grey man sitting, who was larger than any man he had ever before seen. And two young pages were shooting the hilts of their daggers, of the bone of the sea-horse. And one of the pages had red hair, and the other auburn. And they went before him to the place where the grey man was, and Peredur saluted him. And the grey man said, “Disgrace to the beard of my porter.” Then Peredur understood that the porter was the lion.–And the grey man and the pages went together into the castle, and Peredur accompanied them; and he found it a fair and noble place. And they proceeded to the hall, and the tables were already laid, and upon them was abundance of food and liquor. And thereupon he saw an aged woman and a young woman come from the chamber; and they were the most stately women he had ever seen. Then they washed and went to meat, and the grey man sat in the upper seat at the head of the table, and the aged woman next to him. And Peredur and the maiden were placed together, and the two young pages served them. And the maiden gazed sorrowfully upon Peredur, and Peredur asked the maiden wherefore she was sad. “For thee, my soul; for, from when I first beheld thee, I have loved thee above all men. And it pains me to know that so gentle a youth as thou should have such a doom as awaits thee to-morrow. Sawest thou the numerous black houses in the bosom of the wood? All these belong to the vassals of the grey man yonder, who is my father. And they are all giants.
[paragraph continues] And to-morrow they will rise up against thee, and will slay thee. And the Round Valley is this valley called.” “Listen, fair maiden, wilt thou contrive that my horse and arms be in the same lodging with me to-night?” “Gladly will I cause it so to be, by Heaven, if I can.”
And when it was time for them to sleep rather than to carouse, they went to rest. And the maiden caused Peredur’s horse and arms to be in the same lodging with him. And the next morning Peredur heard a great tumult of men and horses around the castle. And Peredur arose, and armed himself and his horse, and went to the meadow. Then the aged woman and the maiden came to the grey man: “Lord,” said they, “take the word of the youth, that he will never disclose what he has seen in this place, and we will be his sureties that he keep it.” “I will not do so, by my faith,” said the grey man. So Peredur fought with the host, and towards evening he had slain the one-third of them without receiving any hurt himself. Then said the aged woman, “Behold, many of thy host have been slain by the youth; do thou, therefore, grant him mercy.” “I will not grant it, by my faith,” said he. And the aged woman and the fair maiden were upon the battlements of the castle, looking forth. And at that juncture, Peredur encountered the yellow-haired youth and slew him. “Lord,” said the maiden, “grant the young man mercy.” “That will I not do, by Heaven,” he replied; and thereupon Peredur attacked the auburn-haired youth, and slew him likewise. “It were better that thou hadst accorded mercy to the youth before he had slain thy two sons; for now scarcely wilt thou thyself escape from him.” “Go, maiden, and beseech the youth to grant mercy unto us, for we yield ourselves into his hands.” So the maiden came to the place where Peredur was, and besought mercy for her father, and for all such of his vassals as had escaped alive. “Thou shalt have it, on condition that thy father and all that are under him go and render homage to Arthur, and tell him that it was his vassal Peredur that did him this service.” “This will we do willingly, by Heaven.” “And you shall also receive baptism;
and I will send to Arthur, and beseech him to bestow this valley upon thee and upon thy heirs after thee for ever.” Then they went in, and the grey man and the tall woman saluted Peredur. And the grey man said unto him, “Since I have possessed this valley I have not seen any Christian depart with his life, save thyself. And we will go to do homage to Arthur, and to embrace the faith and be baptized.” Then said Peredur, “To Heaven I render thanks that I have not broken my vow to the lady that best I love, which was, that I would not speak one word unto any Christian.”
That night they tarried there. And the next day, in the morning, the grey man, with his company, set forth to Arthur’s Court; and they did homage unto Arthur, and he caused them to be baptized. And the grey man told Arthur that it was Peredur that had vanquished them. And Arthur gave the valley to the grey man and his company, to hold it of him as Peredur had besought. And with Arthur’s permission, the grey man went back to the Round Valley.
Peredur rode forward next day, and he traversed a vast tract of desert, in which no dwellings were. And at length he came to a habitation, mean and small. And there he heard that there was a serpent that lay upon a gold ring, and suffered none to inhabit the country for seven miles around. And Peredur came to the place where he heard the serpent was. And angrily, furiously, and desperately fought he with the serpent; and at last he killed it, and took away the ring. And thus he was for a long time without speaking a word to any Christian. And therefrom he lost his colour and his aspect, through extreme longing after the Court of Arthur, and the society of the lady whom best he loved, and of his companions. Then he proceeded forward to Arthur’s Court, and on the road there met him Arthur’s household going on a particular errand, with Kai at their head. And Peredur knew them all, but none of the household recognized him. “Whence comest thou, chieftain?” said Kai. And this he asked him twice and three times, and he answered him not.
[paragraph continues] And Kai thrust him through the thigh with his lance. And lest he should be compelled to speak, and to break his vow, he went on without stopping. “Then,” said Gwalchmai, “I declare to Heaven, Kai, that thou hast acted ill in committing such an outrage on a youth like this, who cannot speak.”
And Gwalchmai returned back to Arthur’s Court. “Lady,” said he to Gwenhwyvar, “seest thou how wicked an outrage Kai has committed upon this youth who cannot speak; for Heaven’s sake, and for mine, cause him to have medical care before I come back, and I will repay thee the charge.”
And before the men returned from their errand, a knight came to the meadow beside Arthur’s Palace, to dare some one to the encounter. And his challenge was accepted; and Peredur fought with him, and overthrew him. And for a week he overthrew one knight every day.
And one day, Arthur and his household were going to Church, and they beheld a knight who had raised the signal for combat. “Verily,” said Arthur, “by the valour of men, I will not go hence until I have my horse and my arms to overthrow yonder boor.” Then went the attendants to fetch Arthur’s horse and arms. And Peredur met the attendants as they were going back, and he took the horse and arms from them, and proceeded to the meadow; and all those who saw him arise and go to do battle with the knight, went upon the tops of the houses, and the mounds, and the high places, to behold the combat. And Peredur beckoned with his hand to the knight to commence the fight. And the knight thrust at him, but he was not thereby moved from where he stood. And Peredur spurred his horse, and ran at him wrathfully, furiously, fiercely, desperately, and with mighty rage, and he gave him a thrust, deadly-wounding, severe, furious, adroit, and strong, under his jaw, and raised him out of his saddle, and cast him a long way from him. And Peredur went back, and left the horse and the arms with the attendant as before, and he went on foot to the Palace.
Then Peredur went by the name of the Dumb Youth. And behold, Angharad Law Eurawc met him. “I declare to Heaven, chieftain,” said she, “woful is it that thou canst not speak; for couldst thou speak, I would love thee best of all men; and by my faith, although thou canst not, I do love thee above all.” “Heaven reward thee, my sister,” said Peredur, “by my faith I also do love thee.” Thereupon it was known that he was Peredur. And then he held fellowship with Gwalchmai, and Owain the son of Urien, and all the household, and he remained in Arthur’s Court.
Arthur was in Caerlleon upon Usk; and he went to hunt, and Peredur went with him. And Peredur let loose his dog upon a hart, and the dog killed the hart in a desert place. And a short space from him he saw signs of a dwelling, and towards the dwelling he went, and he beheld a hall, and at the door of the hall he found bald swarthy youths playing at chess. And when he entered, he beheld three maidens sitting on a bench, and they were all clothed alike, as became persons of high rank. And he came, and sat by them upon the bench; and one of the maidens looked steadfastly upon Peredur, and wept. And Peredur asked her wherefore she was weeping. “Through grief, that I should see so fair a youth as thou art, slain.” “Who will slay me?” inquired Peredur. “If thou art so daring as to remain here to-night, I will tell thee.” “How great soever my danger may be from remaining here, I will listen unto thee.” “This Palace is owned by him who is my father,” said the maiden, “and he slays every one who comes hither without his leave.” “What sort of a man is thy father, that he is able to slay every one thus?” “A man who does violence and wrong unto his neighbours, and who renders justice unto none.” And hereupon he saw the youths arise and clear the chessmen from the board. And he heard a great tumult; and after the tumult there came in a huge black one-eyed man, and the maidens arose to meet him. And they disarrayed him, and he went and sat down; and after he had
rested and pondered awhile, he looked at Peredur, and asked who the knight was. “Lord,” said one of the maidens, “he is the fairest and gentlest youth that ever thou didst see. And for the sake of Heaven, and of thine own dignity, have patience with him.” “For thy sake I will have patience, and I will grant him his life this night.” Then Peredur came towards them to the fire, and partook of food and liquor, and entered into discourse with the ladies. And being elated with the liquor, he said to the black man, “It is a marvel to me, so mighty as thou sayest thou art, who could have put out thine eye.” “It is one of my habits,” said the black man, “that whosoever puts to me the question which thou hast asked, shall not escape with his life, either as a free gift or for a price.” “Lord,” said the maiden, “whatsoever he may say to thee in jest, and through the excitement of liquor, make good that which thou saidst and didst promise me just now.” “I will do so, gladly, for thy sake,” said he. “Willingly will I grant him his life this night.” And that night thus they remained.
And the next day the black man got up, and put on his armour, and said to Peredur, “Arise, man, and suffer death.” And Peredur said unto him, “Do one of two things, black man; if thou wilt fight with me, either throw off thy own armour, or give arms to me, that I may encounter thee.” “Ha, man,” said he, “couldst thou fight, if thou hadst arms? Take, then, what arms thou dost choose.” And thereupon the maiden came to Peredur with such arms as pleased him; and he fought with the black man, and forced him to crave his mercy. “Black man, thou shalt have mercy, provided thou tell me who thou art, and who put out thine eye.” “Lord, I will tell thee; I lost it in fighting with the Black Serpent of the Carn. There is a mound, which is called the Mound of Mourning; and on the mound there is a carn, and in the carn there is a serpent, and on the tail of the serpent there is a stone, and the virtues of the stone are such, that whosoever should hold it in one hand, in the other he will have as much gold as he may desire. And in fighting with this
serpent was it that I lost my eye. And the Black Oppressor am I called. And for this reason I am called the Black Oppressor, that there is not a single man around me whom I have not oppressed, and justice have I done unto none.” “Tell me,” said Peredur, “how far is it hence?” “The same day that thou settest forth, thou wilt come to the Palace of the Sons of the King of the Tortures.” “Wherefore are they called thus?” “The Addanc 107a of the Lake slays them once every day. When thou goest thence, thou wilt come to the Court of the Countess of the Achievements.” “What achievements are there?” asked Peredur. “Three hundred men there are in her household, and unto every stranger that comes to the Court, the achievements of her household are related. And this is the manner of it,–the three hundred men of the household sit next unto the Lady; and that not through disrespect unto the guests, but that they may relate the achievements of the household. And the day that thou goest thence, thou wilt reach the Mound of Mourning, and round about the mound there are the owners of three hundred tents guarding the serpent.” “Since thou hast, indeed, been an oppressor so long,” said Peredur, “I will cause that thou continue so no longer.” So he slew him.
Then the maiden spoke, and began to converse with him. “If thou wast poor when thou camest here, henceforth thou wilt be rich through the treasure of the black man whom thou hast slain. Thou seest the many lovely maidens that there are in this Court; thou shalt have her whom thou best likest for the lady of thy love.” “Lady, I came not hither from my country to woo; but match yourselves as it liketh you with the comely youths I see here; and none of your goods do I desire, for I need them not.” Then Peredur rode forward, and he came to the Palace of the Sons of the King of the Tortures; and when he entered the Palace, he saw none but women; and they rose up, and were joyful at his coming; and as they began to discourse with him, he beheld a charger arrive, with a saddle upon it, and a corpse in the saddle. And one of the women arose, and took the corpse from the saddle,
and anointed it in a vessel of warm water, which was below the door, and placed precious balsam upon it; and the man rose up alive, and came to the place where Peredur was, and greeted him, and was joyful to see him. And two other men came in upon their saddles, and the maiden treated these two in the same manner as she had done the first. Then Peredur asked the chieftain wherefore it was thus. And they told him, that there was an Addanc in a cave, which slew them once every day. And thus they remained that night.
And next morning the youths arose to sally forth, and Peredur besought them, for the sake of the ladies of their love, to permit him to go with them; but they refused him, saying, “If thou shouldst be slain there, thou hast none to bring thee back to life again.” And they rode forward, and Peredur followed after them; and, after they had disappeared out of his sight, he came to a mound, whereon sat the fairest lady he had ever beheld. “I know thy quest,” said she; “thou art going to encounter the Addanc, and he will slay thee, and that not by courage, but by craft. He has a cave, and at the entrance of the cave there is a stone pillar, and he sees every one that enters, and none see him; and from behind the pillar he slays every one with a poisonous dart. And if thou wouldst pledge me thy faith to love me above all women, I would give thee a stone, by which thou shouldst see him when thou goest in, and he should not see thee.” “I will, by my troth,” said Peredur, “for when first I beheld thee I loved thee; and where shall I seek thee?” “When thou seekest me, seek towards India.” And the maiden vanished, after placing the stone in Peredur’s hand.
And he came towards a valley, through which ran a river; and the borders of the valley were wooded, and on each side of the river were level meadows. And on one side of the river he saw a flock of white sheep, and on the other a flock of black sheep. And whenever one of the white sheep bleated, one of the black sheep would cross over and
become white; and when one of the black sheep bleated, one of the white sheep would cross over and become black. And he saw a tall tree by the side of the river, one half of which was in flames from the root to the top, and the other half was green and in full leaf. And nigh thereto he saw a youth sitting upon a mound, and two greyhounds, white-breasted and spotted, in leashes, lying by his side. And certain was he that he had never seen a youth of so royal a bearing as he. And in the wood opposite he heard hounds raising a herd of deer. And Peredur saluted the youth, and the youth greeted him in return. And there were three roads leading from the mound; two of them were wide roads, and the third was more narrow. And Peredur inquired where the three roads went. “One of them goes to my palace,” said the youth; “and one of two things I counsel thee to do; either to proceed to my palace, which is before thee, and where thou wilt find my wife, or else to remain here to see the hounds chasing the roused deer from the wood to the plain. And thou shalt see the best greyhounds thou didst ever behold, and the boldest in the chase, kill them by the water beside us; and when it is time to go to meat, my page will come with my horse to meet me, and thou shalt rest in my palace to-night.” “Heaven reward thee; but I cannot tarry, for onward must I go.” “The other road leads to the town, which is near here, and wherein food and liquor may be bought; and the road which is narrower than the others goes towards the cave of the Addanc.” “With thy permission, young man, I will go that way.”
And Peredur went towards the cave. And he took the stone in his left hand, and his lance in his right. And as he went in he perceived the Addanc, and he pierced him through with his lance, and cut off his head. And as he came from the cave, behold the three companions were at the entrance; and they saluted Peredur, and told him that there was a prediction that he should slay that monster. And Peredur gave the head to the young men, and they offered
him in marriage whichever of the three sisters he might choose, and half their kingdom with her. “I came not hither to woo,” said Peredur, “but if peradventure I took a wife, I should prefer your sister to all others.” And Peredur rode forward, and he heard a noise behind him. And he looked back, and saw a man upon a red horse, with red armour upon him; and the man rode up by his side, and saluted him, and wished him the favour of Heaven and of man. And Peredur greeted the youth kindly. “Lord, I come to make a request unto thee.” “What wouldest thou?” “That thou shouldest take me as thine attendant.” “Whom then should I take as my attendant, if I did so?” “I will not conceal from thee what kindred I am of. Etlym Gleddyv Coch 110a am I called, an Earl from the East Country.” “I marvel that thou shouldest offer to become attendant to a man whose possessions are no greater than thine own; for I have but an earldom like thyself. But since thou desirest to be my attendant, I will take thee joyfully.”
And they went forward to the Court of the Countess, and all they of the Court were glad at their coming; and they were told it was not through disrespect they were placed below the household, but that such was the usage of the Court. For, whoever should overthrow the three hundred men of her household, would sit next the Countess, and she would love him above all men. And Peredur having overthrown the three hundred men of her household, sat down beside her, and the Countess said, “I thank Heaven that I have a youth so fair and so valiant as thou, since I have not obtained the man whom best I love.” “Who is he whom best thou lovest?” “By my faith, Etlym Gleddyv Coch is the man whom I love best, and I have never seen him.” “Of a truth, Etlym is my companion; and behold here he is, and for his sake did I come to joust with thy household. And he could have done so better than I, had it pleased him. And I do give thee unto him.” “Heaven reward thee, fair youth, and I will take the man whom I love above all others.” And the Countess became Etlym’s bride from that moment.
And the next day Peredur set forth towards the Mound of Mourning. “By thy hand, lord, but I will go with thee,” said Etlym. Then they went forwards till they came in sight of the mound and the tents. “Go unto yonder men,” said Peredur to Etlym, “and desire them to come and do me homage.” So Etlym went unto them, and said unto them thus,–“Come and do homage to my lord.” “Who is thy lord?” said they. “Peredur with the long lance is my lord,” said Etlym. “Were it permitted to slay a messenger, thou shouldest not go back to thy lord alive, for making unto Kings, and Earls, and Barons so arrogant a demand as to go and do him homage.” Peredur desired him to go back to them, and to give them their choice, either to do him homage, or to do battle with him. And they chose rather to do battle. And that day Peredur overthrew the owners of a hundred tents; and the next day he overthrew the owners of a hundred more; and the third day the remaining hundred took counsel to do homage to Peredur. And Peredur inquired of them, wherefore they were there. And they told him they were guarding the serpent until he should die. “For then should we fight for the stone among ourselves, and whoever should be conqueror among us would have the stone.” “Await here,” said Peredur, “and I will go to encounter the serpent.” “Not so, lord,” said they; “we will go altogether to encounter the serpent.” “Verily,” said Peredur, “that will I not permit; for if the serpent be slain, I shall derive no more fame therefrom than one of you.” Then he went to the place where the serpent was, and slew it, and came back to them, and said, “Reckon up what you have spent since you have been here, and I will repay you to the full.” And he paid to each what he said was his claim. And he required of them only that they should acknowledge themselves his vassals. And he said to Etlym, “Go back unto her whom thou lovest best, and I will go forwards, and I will reward thee for having been my attendant.” And he gave Etlym the stone. “Heaven repay thee and prosper thee,” said Etlym.
And Peredur rode thence, and he came to the fairest valley
he had ever seen, through which ran a river; and there he beheld many tents of various colours. And he marvelled still more at the number of water-mills and of wind-mills that he saw. And there rode up with him a tall auburn-haired man, in workman’s garb, and Peredur inquired of him who he was. “I am the chief miller,” said he, “of all the mills yonder.” “Wilt thou give me lodging?” said Peredur. “I will, gladly,” he answered. And Peredur came to the miller’s house, and the miller had a fair and pleasant dwelling. And Peredur asked money as a loan from the miller, that he might buy meat and liquor for himself and for the household, and he promised that he would pay him again ere he went thence. And he inquired of the miller, wherefore such a multitude was there assembled. Said the miller to Peredur, “One thing is certain: either thou art a man from afar, or thou art beside thyself. The Empress of Cristinobyl the Great is here; and she will have no one but the man who is most valiant; for riches does she not require. And it was impossible to bring food for so many thousands as are here, therefore were all these mills constructed.” And that night they took their rest.
And the next day Peredur arose, and he equipped himself and his horse for the tournament. And among the other tents he beheld one, which was the fairest he had ever seen. And he saw a beauteous maiden leaning her head out of a window of the tent, and he had never seen a maiden more lovely than she. And upon her was a garment of satin. And he gazed fixedly on the maiden, and began to love her greatly. And he remained there, gazing upon the maiden from morning until mid-day, and from mid-day until evening; and then the tournament was ended and he went to his lodging and drew off his armour. Then he asked money of the miller as a loan, and the miller’s wife was wroth with Peredur; nevertheless, the miller lent him the money. And the next day he did in like manner as he had done the day before. And at night he came to his lodging, and took money as a loan from the miller. And the third day, as he was in the same place, gazing upon the maiden, he felt a hard blow
between the neck and the shoulder, from the edge of an axe. And when he looked behind him, he saw that it was the miller; and the miller said to him, “Do one of two things: either turn thy head from hence, or go to the tournament.” And Peredur smiled on the miller, and went to the tournament; and all that encountered him that day he overthrew. And as many as he vanquished he sent as a gift to the Empress, and their horses and arms he sent as a gift to the wife of the miller, in payment of the borrowed money. Peredur attended the tournament until all were overthrown, and he sent all the men to the prison of the Empress, and the horses and arms to the wife of the miller, in payment of the borrowed money. And the Empress sent to the Knight of the Mill, to ask him to come and visit her. And Peredur went not for the first nor for the second message. And the third time she sent a hundred knights to bring him against his will, and they went to him and told him their mission from the Empress. And Peredur fought well with them, and caused them to be bound like stags, and thrown into the mill-dyke. And the Empress sought advice of a wise man who was in her counsel; and he said to her, “With thy permission, I will go to him myself.” So he came to Peredur, and saluted him, and besought him, for the sake of the lady of his love, to come and visit the Empress. And they went, together with the miller. And Peredur went and sat down in the outer chamber of the tent, and she came and placed herself by his side. And there was but little discourse between them. And Peredur took his leave, and went to his lodging.
And the next day he came to visit her, and when he came into the tent there was no one chamber less decorated than the others. And they knew not where he would sit. And Peredur went and sat beside the Empress, and discoursed with her courteously. And while they were thus, they beheld a black man enter with a goblet full of wine in his hand. And he dropped upon his knee before the Empress, and besought her to give it to no one who would not fight with him for it. And she looked upon Peredur. “Lady,” said he,
[paragraph continues] “bestow on me the goblet.” And Peredur drank the wine, and gave the goblet to the miller’s wife. And while they were thus, behold there entered a black man of larger stature than the other, with a wild beast’s claw in his hand, wrought into the form of a goblet and filled with wine. And he presented it to the Empress, and besought her to give it to no one but the man who would fight with him. “Lady,” said Peredur, “bestow it on me.” And she gave it to him. And Peredur drank the wine, and sent the goblet to the wife of the miller. And while they were thus, behold a rough-looking, crisp-haired man, taller than either of the others, came in with a bowl in his hand full of wine; and he bent upon his knee, and gave it into the hands of the Empress, and he besought her to give it to none but him who would fight with him for it; and she gave it to Peredur, and he sent it to the miller’s wife. And that night Peredur returned to his lodging; and the next day he accoutred himself and his horse, and went to the meadow and slew the three men. Then Peredur proceeded to the tent, and the Empress said to him, “Goodly Peredur, remember the faith thou didst pledge me when I gave thee the stone, and thou didst kill the Addanc.” “Lady,” answered he, “thou sayest truth, I do remember it.” And Peredur was entertained by the Empress fourteen years, as the story relates.
Arthur was at Caerlleon upon Usk, his principal palace; and in the centre of the floor of the hall were four men sitting on a carpet of velvet, Owain the son of Urien, and Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Howel the son of Emyr Llydaw 114a, and Peredur of the long lance. And thereupon they saw a black curly-headed maiden enter, riding upon a yellow mule, with jagged thongs in her hand to urge it on; and having a rough and hideous aspect. Blacker were her face and her two hands than the blackest iron covered with pitch; and her hue was not more frightful than her form. High cheeks had she, and a face lengthened downwards, and a short nose with distended nostrils. And one eye was of
a piercing mottled grey, and the other was as black as jet, deep-sunk in her head. And her teeth were long and yellow, more yellow were they than the flower of the broom. And her stomach rose from the breast-bone, higher than her chin. And her back was in the shape of a crook, and her legs were large and bony. And her figure was very thin and spare, except her feet and her legs, which were of huge size. And she greeted Arthur and all his household except Peredur. And to Peredur she spoke harsh and angry words. “Peredur, I greet thee not, seeing that thou dost not merit it. Blind was fate in giving thee fame and favour. When thou wast in the Court of the Lame King, and didst see there the youth bearing the streaming spear, from the points of which were drops of blood flowing in streams, even to the hand of the youth, and many other wonders likewise, thou didst not inquire their meaning nor their cause. Hadst thou done so, the King would have been restored to health, and his dominions to peace. Whereas from henceforth, he will have to endure battles and conflicts, and his knights will perish, and wives will be widowed, and maidens will be left portionless, and all this is because of thee.” Then said she unto Arthur, “May it please thee, lord, my dwelling is far hence, in the stately castle of which thou hast heard, and therein are five hundred and sixty-six knights of the order of Chivalry, and the lady whom best he loves with each; and whoever would acquire fame in arms, and encounters, and conflicts, he will gain it there, if he deserve it. And whoso would reach the summit of fame and of honour, I know where he may find it. There is a castle on a lofty mountain, and there is a maiden therein, and she is detained a prisoner there, and whoever shall set her free will attain the summit of the fame of the world.” And thereupon she rode away.
Said Gwalchmai, “By my faith, I will not rest tranquilly until I have proved if I can release the maiden.” And many of Arthur’s household joined themselves with him. Then, likewise, said Peredur, “By my faith, I will not rest tranquilly until I know the story and the meaning of the lance
whereof the black maiden spoke.” And while they were equipping themselves, behold a knight came to the gate. And he had the size and the strength of a warrior, and was equipped with arms and habiliments. And he went forward, and saluted Arthur and all his household, except Gwalchmai. And the knight had upon his shoulder a shield, ingrained with gold, with a fesse of azure blue upon it, and his whole armour was of the same hue. And he said to Gwalchmai, “Thou didst slay my lord by thy treachery and deceit, and that will I prove upon thee.” Then Gwalchmai rose up. “Behold,” said he, “here is my gage against thee, to maintain, either in this place or wherever else thou wilt, that I am not a traitor or deceiver.” “Before the King whom I obey, will I that my encounter with thee take place,” said the knight. “Willingly,” said Gwalchmai; “go forward, and I will follow thee.” So the knight went forth, and Gwalchmai accoutred himself, and there was offered unto him abundance of armour, but he would take none but his own. And when Gwalchmai and Peredur were equipped, they set forth to follow him, by reason of their fellowship and of the great friendship that was between them. And they did not go after him in company together, but each went his own way.
At the dawn of day Gwalchmai came to a valley, and in the valley he saw a fortress, and within the fortress a vast palace and lofty towers around it. And he beheld a knight coming out to hunt from the other side, mounted on a spirited black snorting palfrey, that advanced at a prancing pace, proudly stepping, and nimbly bounding, and sure of foot; and this was the man to whom the palace belonged. And Gwalchmai saluted him. “Heaven prosper thee, chieftain,” said he, “and whence comest thou?” “I come,” answered Gwalchmai, “from the Court of Arthur.” “And art thou Arthur’s vassal?” “Yes, by my faith,” said Gwalchmai. “I will give thee good counsel,” said the knight. “I see that thou art tired and weary; go unto my palace, if it may please thee, and tarry there to-night.” “Willingly, lord,” said he, “and Heaven reward thee.” “Take this ring as a token to the
porter, and go forward to yonder tower, and therein thou wilt find my sister.” And Gwalchmai went to the gate, and showed the ring, and proceeded to the tower. And on entering he beheld a large blazing fire, burning without smoke and with a bright and lofty flame, and a beauteous and stately maiden was sitting on a chair by the fire. And the maiden was glad at his coming, and welcomed him, and advanced to meet him. And he went and sat beside the maiden, and they took their repast. And when their repast was over, they discoursed pleasantly together. And while they were thus, behold there entered a venerable hoary-headed man. “Ah! base girl,” said he, “if thou didst think it was right for thee to entertain and to sit by yonder man, thou wouldest not do so.” And he withdrew his head, and went forth. “Ah! chieftain,” said the maiden, “if thou wilt do as I counsel thee, thou wilt shut the door, lest the man should have a plot against thee.” Upon that Gwalchmai arose, and when he came near unto the door, the man, with sixty others, fully armed, were ascending the tower. And Gwalchmai defended the door with a chessboard, that none might enter until the man should return from the chase. And thereupon, behold the Earl arrived. “What is all this?” asked he. “It is a sad thing,” said the hoary-headed man; “the young girl yonder has been sitting and eating with him who slew your father. He is Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar.” “Hold thy peace, then,” said the Earl, “I will go in.” And the Earl was joyful concerning Gwalchmai. “Ha! chieftain,” said he, “it was wrong of thee to come to my court, when thou knewest that thou didst slay my father; and though we cannot avenge him, Heaven will avenge him upon thee.” “My soul,” said Gwalchmai, “thus it is: I came not here either to acknowledge or to deny having slain thy father; but I am on a message from Arthur, and therefore do I crave the space of a year until I shall return from my embassy, and then, upon my faith, I will come back unto this palace, and do one of two things, either acknowledge it, or deny it.” And the time was granted him willingly; and he remained
there that night. And the next morning he rode forth. And the story relates nothing further of Gwalchmai respecting this adventure.
And Peredur rode forward. And he wandered over the whole island, seeking tidings of the black maiden, and he could meet with none. And he came to an unknown land, in the centre of a valley, watered by a river. And as he traversed the valley he beheld a horseman coming towards him, and wearing the garments of a priest; and he besought his blessing. “Wretched man,” said he, “thou meritest no blessing, and thou wouldest not be profited by one, seeing that thou art clad in armour on such a day as this.” “And what day is to-day?” said Peredur. “To-day is Good Friday,” he answered. “Chide me not that I knew not this, seeing that it is a year to-day since I journeyed forth from my country.” Then he dismounted, and led his horse in his hand. And he had not proceeded far along the high road before he came to a cross road, and the cross road traversed a wood. And on the other side of the wood he saw an unfortified castle, which appeared to be inhabited. And at the gate of the castle there met him the priest whom he had seen before, and he asked his blessing. “The blessing of Heaven be unto thee,” said he, “it is more fitting to travel in thy present guise than as thou wast erewhile; and this night thou shalt tarry with me.” So he remained there that night.
And the next day Peredur sought to go forth. “To-day may no one journey. Thou shalt remain with me to-day and to-morrow, and the day following, and I will direct thee as best I may to the place which thou art seeking.” And the fourth day Peredur sought to go forth, and he entreated the priest to tell him how he should find the Castle of Wonders. “What I know thereof I will tell thee,” he replied. “Go over yonder mountain, and on the other side of the mountain thou wilt come to a river, and in the valley wherein the river runs is a King’s palace, wherein the King sojourned during Easter. And if thou mayest have tidings anywhere of the Castle of Wonders, thou wilt have them there.”
Then Peredur rode forward. And he came to the valley in which was the river, and there met him a number of men going to hunt, and in the midst of them was a man of exalted rank, and Peredur saluted him. “Choose, chieftain,” said the man, “whether thou wilt go with me to the chase, or wilt proceed to my palace, and I will dispatch one of my household to commend thee to my daughter, who is there, and who will entertain thee with food and liquor until I return from hunting; and whatever may be thine errand, such as I can obtain for thee thou shalt gladly have.” And the King sent a little yellow page with him as an attendant; and when they came to the palace the lady had arisen, and was about to wash before meat. Peredur went forward, and she saluted him joyfully, and placed him by her side. And they took their repast. And whatsoever Peredur said unto her, she laughed loudly, so that all in the palace could hear. Then spoke the yellow page to the lady. “By my faith,” said he, “this youth is already thy husband; or if he be not, thy mind and thy thoughts are set upon him.” And the little yellow page went unto the King, and told him that it seemed to him that the youth whom he had met with was his daughter’s husband, or if he were not so already that he would shortly become so unless he were cautious. “What is thy counsel in this matter, youth?” said the King. “My counsel is,” he replied, “that thou set strong men upon him, to seize him, until thou hast ascertained the truth respecting this.” So he set strong men upon Peredur, who seized him and cast him into prison. And the maiden went before her father, and asked him wherefore he had caused the youth from Arthur’s Court to be imprisoned. “In truth,” he answered, “he shall not be free to-night, nor to-morrow, nor the day following, and he shall not come from where he is.” She replied not to what the King had said, but she went to the youth. “Is it unpleasant to thee to be here?” said she. “I should not care if I were not,” he replied. “Thy couch and thy treatment shall be in no wise inferior to that of the King himself, and thou shalt have the best entertainment that the palace affords. And if
it were more pleasing to thee that my couch should be here, that I might discourse with thee, it should be so, cheerfully.” “This can I not refuse,” said Peredur. And he remained in prison that night. And the maiden provided all that she had promised him.
And the next day Peredur heard a tumult in the town. “Tell me, fair maiden, what is that tumult?” said Peredur. “All the King’s hosts and his forces have come to the town to-day.” “And what seek they here?” he inquired. “There is an Earl near this place who possesses two Earldoms, and is as powerful as a King; and an engagement will take place between them to-day.” “I beseech thee,” said Peredur, “to cause a horse and arms to be brought, that I may view the encounter, and I promise to come back to my prison again.” “Gladly,” said she, “will I provide thee with horse and arms.” So she gave him a horse and arms, and a bright scarlet robe of honour over his armour, and a yellow shield upon his shoulder. And he went to the combat; and as many of the Earl’s men as encountered him that day he overthrew; and he returned to his prison. And the maiden asked tidings of Peredur, and he answered her not a word. And she went and asked tidings of her father, and inquired who had acquitted himself best of the household. And he said that he knew not, but that it was a man with a scarlet robe of honour over his armour, and a yellow shield upon his shoulder. Then she smiled, and returned to where Peredur was, and did him great honour that night. And for three days did Peredur slay the Earl’s men; and before any one could know who he was, he returned to his prison. And the fourth day Peredur slew the Earl himself. And the maiden went unto her father, and inquired of him the news. “I have good news for thee,” said the King; “the Earl is slain, and I am the owner of his two Earldoms.” “Knowest thou, lord, who slew him?” “I do not know,” said the King. “It was the knight with the scarlet robe of honour and the yellow shield.” “Lord,” said she, “I know who that is.” “By Heaven!” he exclaimed, “who is he?” “Lord,” she replied, “he is the knight whom
thou hast imprisoned.” Then he went unto Peredur, and saluted him, and told him that he would reward the service he had done him, in any way he might desire. And when they went to meat, Peredur was placed beside the King, and the maiden on the other side of Peredur. “I will give thee,” said the King, “my daughter in marriage, and half my kingdom with her, and the two Earldoms as a gift.” “Heaven reward thee, lord,” said Peredur, “but I came not here to woo.” “What seekest thou then, chieftain?” “I am seeking tidings of the Castle of Wonders.” “Thy enterprise is greater, chieftain, than thou wilt wish to pursue,” said the maiden, “nevertheless, tidings shalt thou have of the Castle, and thou shalt have a guide through my father’s dominions, and a sufficiency of provisions for thy journey, for thou art, O chieftain, the man whom best I love.” Then she said to him, “Go over yonder mountain, and thou wilt find a lake, and in the middle of the lake there is a Castle, and that is the Castle that is called the Castle of Wonders; and we know not what wonders are therein, but thus is it called.”
And Peredur proceeded towards the Castle, and the gate of the Castle was open. And when he came to the hall, the door was open, and he entered. And he beheld a chessboard in the hall, and the chessmen were playing 121a against each other, by themselves. And the side that he favoured lost the game, and thereupon the others set up a shout, as though they had been living men. And Peredur was wroth, and took the chessmen in his lap, and cast the chessboard into the lake. And when he had done thus, behold the black maiden came in, and she said to him, “The welcome of Heaven be not unto thee. Thou hadst rather do evil than good.” “What complaint hast thou against me, maiden?” said Peredur. “That thou hast occasioned unto the Empress the loss of her chessboard, which she would not have lost for all her empire. And the way in which thou mayest recover the chessboard is, to repair to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl, where is a black man, who lays waste the dominions of the
[paragraph continues] Empress; and if thou canst slay him, thou wilt recover the chessboard. But if thou goest there, thou wilt not return alive.” “Wilt thou direct me thither?” said Peredur. “I will show thee the way,” she replied. So he went to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl, and he fought with the black man. And the black man besought mercy of Peredur. “Mercy will I grant thee,” said he, “on condition that thou cause the chessboard to be restored to the place where it was when I entered the hall.” Then the maiden came to him, and said, “The malediction of Heaven attend thee for thy work, since thou hast left that monster alive, who lays waste all the possessions of the Empress.” “I granted him his life,” said Peredur, “that he might cause the chessboard to be restored.” “The chessboard is not in the place where thou didst find it; go back, therefore, and slay him,” answered she. So Peredur went back, and slew the black man. And when he returned to the palace, he found the black maiden there. “Ah! maiden,” said Peredur, “where is the Empress?” “I declare to Heaven that thou wilt not see her now, unless thou dost slay the monster that is in yonder forest.” “What monster is there?” “It is a stag that is as swift as the swiftest bird; and he has one horn in his forehead, as long as the shaft of a spear, and as sharp as whatever is sharpest. And he destroys the branches of the best trees in the forest, and he kills every animal that he meets with therein; and those that he doth not slay perish of hunger. And what is worse than that, he comes every night, and drinks up the fish-pond, and leaves the fishes exposed, so that for the most part they die before the water returns again.” “Maiden,” said Peredur, “wilt thou come and show me this animal?” “Not so,” said the maiden, “for he has not permitted any mortal to enter the forest for above a twelvemonth. Behold, here is a little dog belonging to the Empress, which will rouse the stag, and will chase him towards thee, and the stag will attack thee.” Then the little dog went as a guide to Peredur, and roused the stag, and brought him towards the place where Peredur
was. And the stag attacked Peredur, and he let him pass by him, and as he did so, he smote off his head with his sword. And while he was looking at the head of the stag, he saw a lady on horseback coming towards him. And she took the little dog in the lappet of her cap, and the head and the body of the stag lay before her. And around the stag’s neck was a golden collar. “Ha! chieftain,” said she, “uncourteously hast thou acted in slaying the fairest jewel that was in my dominions.” “I was entreated so to do; and is there any way by which I can obtain thy friendship?” “There is,” she replied. “Go thou forward unto yonder mountain, and there thou wilt find a grove; and in the grove there is a cromlech; do thou there challenge a man three times to fight, and thou shalt have my friendship.”
So Peredur proceeded onward, and came to the side of the grove, and challenged any man to fight. And a black man arose from beneath the cromlech, mounted upon a bony horse, and both he and his horse were clad in huge rusty armour. And they fought. And as often as Peredur cast the black man to the earth, he would jump again into his saddle. And Peredur dismounted, and drew his sword; and thereupon the black man disappeared with Peredur’s horse and his own, so that he could not gain sight of him a second time. And Peredur went along the mountain, and on the other side of the mountain he beheld a castle in the valley, wherein was a river. And he went to the castle; and as he entered it, he saw a hall, and the door of the hall was open, and he went in. And there he saw a lame grey-headed man sitting on one side of the hall, with Gwalchmai beside him. And Peredur beheld his horse, which the black man had taken, in the same stall with that of Gwalchmai. And they were glad concerning Peredur. And he went and seated himself on the other side of the hoary-headed man. Then, behold a yellow-haired youth came, and bent upon the knee before Peredur, and besought his friendship. “Lord,” said the youth, “it was I that came in the form of the black maiden to Arthur’s Court, and when thou didst throw down
the chessboard, and when thou didst slay the black man of Ysbidinongyl, and when thou didst slay the stag, and when thou didst go to fight the black man of the cromlech. And I came with the bloody head in the salver, and with the lance that streamed with blood from the point to the hand, all along the shaft; and the head was thy cousin’s, and he was killed by the sorceresses of Gloucester, who also lamed thine uncle; and I am thy cousin. And there is a prediction that thou art to avenge these things.” Then Peredur and Gwalchmai took counsel, and sent to Arthur and his household, to beseech them to come against the sorceresses. And they began to fight with them; and one of the sorceresses slew one of Arthur’s men before Peredur’s face, and Peredur bade her forbear. And the sorceress slew a man before Peredur’s face a second time, and a second time he forbad her. And the third time the sorceress slew a man before the face of Peredur; and then Peredur drew his sword, and smote the sorceress on the helmet; and all her head-armour was split in two parts. And she set up a cry, and desired the other sorceresses to flee, and told them that this was Peredur, the man who had learnt Chivalry with them, and by whom they were destined to be slain. Then Arthur and his household fell upon the sorceresses, and slew the sorceresses of Gloucester every one. And thus is it related concerning the Castle of Wonders.
GERAINT THE SON OF ERBIN
Arthur was accustomed to hold his Court at Caerlleon upon Usk. And there he held it seven Easters and five Christmases 141a. And once upon a time he held his Court there at Whitsuntide. For Caerlleon was the place most easy of access in his dominions, both by sea and by land. And there were assembled nine crowned kings, who were his tributaries, and likewise earls and barons. For they were his invited guests at all the high festivals, unless they were prevented by any great hindrance. And when he was at Caerlleon, holding his Court, thirteen churches were set apart for mass 141b. And thus were they appointed: one church for Arthur, and his kings, and his guests; and the second for Gwenhwyvar and her ladies; and the third for the Steward of the Household 141c and the suitors; and the fourth for the Franks and the other officers; and the other nine churches were for the nine Masters of the Household 141d and chiefly for Gwalchmai; for he, from the
eminence of his warlike fame, and from the nobleness of his birth, was the most exalted of the nine. And there was no other arrangement respecting the churches than that which we have mentioned above.
Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr was the chief porter; but he did not himself perform the office, except at one of the three high festivals, for he had seven men to serve him, and they divided the year amongst them. They were Grynn, and Pen Pighon, and Llaes Cymyn, and Gogyfwlch, and Gwrdnei with cat’s eyes, who could see as well by night as by day, and Drem the son of Dremhitid, and Clust the son of Clustveinyd; and these were Arthur’s guards 142a. And on Whit-Tuesday, as the King sat at the banquet, lo! there entered a tall, fair-headed youth, clad in a coat and a surcoat of diapered satin 142b, and a golden-hilted sword about his neck, and low shoes of leather upon his feet. And he came, and stood before Arthur. “Hail to thee, Lord!” said he. “Heaven prosper thee,” he answered, “and be thou welcome. Dost thou bring any new tidings?” “I do, Lord,” he said. “I know thee not,” said Arthur. “It is a marvel to me that thou dost not know me. I am one of thy foresters, Lord, in the Forest of Dean 142c, and my name is Madawc, the son of Twrgadarn.” “Tell me thine errand,” said Arthur. “I will do so, Lord,” said he. “In the Forest I saw a stag, the like of which beheld I never yet.” “What is there about him,” asked Arthur, “that thou never yet didst see his like?” “He is of pure white, Lord, and he does not herd with any other animal through stateliness and pride, so royal is his bearing. And I come to seek thy counsel, Lord, and to know thy will concerning him.” “It seems best to me,” said Arthur, “to go and hunt him to-morrow at break of day; and to cause general notice thereof to be given to-night in all quarters of the Court.” And Arryfuerys was Arthur’s chief huntsman 142d, and Arelivri was his chief page 142e. And all received notice; and thus it was arranged. And they sent the youth before them. Then Gwenhwyvar said to Arthur 142f, “Wilt thou permit me, Lord,” said she, “to go to-morrow to see and hear the hunt of the
stag of which the young man spoke?” “I will gladly,” said Arthur. “Then will I go,” said she. And Gwalchmai said to Arthur, “Lord, if it seem well to thee, permit that into whose hunt soever the stag shall come, that one, be he a knight, or one on foot, may cut off his head, and give it to whom he pleases 143a, whether to his own lady-love, or to the lady of his friend.” “I grant it gladly,” said Arthur, “and let the Steward of the Household be chastised, if all are not ready to-morrow for the chase.”
And they passed the night with songs, and diversions, and discourse, and ample entertainment. And when it was time for them all to go to sleep, they went. And when the next day came, they arose; and Arthur called the attendants, who guarded his couch. And these were four pages, whose names were Cadyrnerth the son of Porthawr Gandwy 143b, and Ambreu the son of Bedwor, and Amhar the son of Arthur, and Goreu the son of Custennin 143c. And these men came to Arthur and saluted him, and arrayed him in his garments. And Arthur wondered that Gwenhwyvar did not awake, and did not move in her bed; and the attendants wished to awaken her. “Disturb her not,” said Arthur, “for she had rather sleep than go to see the hunting.”
Then Arthur went forth, and he heard two horns sounding, one from near the lodging of the chief huntsman, and the other from near that of the chief page. And the whole assembly of the multitudes came to Arthur, and they took the road to the Forest.
And after Arthur had gone forth from the palace, Gwenhwyvar awoke, and called to her maidens, and apparelled herself. “Maidens,” said she, “I had leave last night to go and see the hunt. Go one of you to the stable, and order hither a horse such as a woman may ride.” And one of them went, and she found but two horses in the stable, and Gwenhwyvar and one of her maidens mounted them, and went through the Usk, and followed the track of the men and the horses. And as they rode thus, they heard a loud and rushing sound; and they looked behind them, and beheld a knight
upon a hunter foal of mighty size; and the rider was a fair-haired youth, bare-legged, and of princely mien, and a golden-hilted sword was at his side, and a robe and a surcoat of satin were upon him, and two low shoes of leather upon his feet; and around him was a scarf of blue purple, at each corner of which was a golden apple. And his horse stepped stately, and swift, and proud; and he overtook Gwenhwyvar, and saluted her. “Heaven prosper thee, Geraint,” 144a said she, “I knew thee when first I saw thee just now. And the welcome of Heaven be unto thee. And why didst thou not go with thy lord to hunt?” “Because I knew not when he went,” said he. “I marvel, too,” said she, “how he could go unknown to me.” “Indeed, lady,” said he. “I was asleep, and knew not when he went; but thou, O young man, art the most agreeable companion I could have in the whole kingdom; and it may be, that I shall be more amused with the hunting than they; for we shall hear the horns when they sound, and we shall hear the dogs when they are let loose, and begin to cry.” So they went to the edge of the Forest, and there they stood. “From this place,” said she, “we shall hear when the dogs are let loose.” And thereupon, they heard a loud noise, and they looked towards the spot whence it came, and they beheld a dwarf riding upon a horse, stately, and foaming, and prancing, and strong, and spirited. And in the hand of the dwarf was a whip. And near the dwarf they saw a lady upon a beautiful white horse, of steady and stately pace; and she was clothed in a garment of gold brocade. And near her was a knight upon a warhorse of large size, with heavy and bright armour both upon himself and upon his horse. And truly they never before saw a knight, or a horse, or armour, of such remarkable size. And they were all near to each other.
“Geraint,” said Gwenhwyvar, “knowest thou the name of that tall knight yonder?” “I know him not,” said he, “and the strange armour that he wears prevents my either seeing his face or his features.” “Go, maiden,” said Gwenhwyvar, “and ask the dwarf who that knight is.” Then the
maiden went up to the dwarf; and the dwarf waited for the maiden, when he saw her coming towards him. And the maiden inquired of the dwarf who the knight was. “I will not tell thee,” he answered. “Since thou art so churlish as not to tell me,” said she, “I will ask him himself.” “Thou shalt not ask him, by my faith,” said he. “Wherefore?” said she. “Because thou art not of honour sufficient to befit thee to speak to my Lord.” Then the maiden turned her horse’s head towards the knight, upon which the dwarf struck her with the whip that was in his hand across the face and the eyes, until the blood flowed forth. And the maiden, through the hurt she received from the blow, returned to Gwenhwyvar, complaining of the pain. “Very rudely has the dwarf treated thee,” said Geraint. “I will go myself to know who the knight is.” “Go,” said Gwenhwyvar. And Geraint went up to the dwarf. “Who is yonder knight?” said Geraint. “I will not tell thee,” said the dwarf. “Then will I ask him himself,” said he. “That wilt thou not, by my faith,” said the dwarf, “thou art not honourable enough to speak with my Lord.” Said Geraint, “I have spoken with men of equal rank with him.” And he turned his horse’s head towards the knight; but the dwarf overtook him, and struck him as he had done the maiden, so that the blood coloured the scarf that Geraint wore. Then Geraint put his hand upon the hilt of his sword, but he took counsel with himself, and considered that it would be no vengeance for him to slay the dwarf, and to be attacked unarmed by the armed knight, so he returned to where Gwenhwyvar was.
“Thou hast acted wisely and discreetly,” said she. “Lady,” said he, “I will follow him yet, with thy permission; and at last he will come to some inhabited place, where I may have arms either as a loan or for a pledge, so that I may encounter the knight.” “Go,” said she, “and do not attack him until thou hast good arms, and I shall be very anxious concerning thee, until I hear tidings of thee.” “If I am alive,” said he, “thou shalt hear tidings of me by to-morrow afternoon;” and with that he departed.
And the road they took was below the palace of Caerlleon, and across the ford of the Usk; and they went along a fair, and even, and lofty ridge of ground, until they came to a town, and at the extremity of the town they saw a Fortress and a Castle. And they came to the extremity of the town. And as the knight passed through it, all the people arose, and saluted him, and bade him welcome. And when Geraint came into the town, he looked at every house, to see if he knew any of those whom he saw. But he knew none, and none knew him to do him the kindness to let him have arms either as a loan or for a pledge. And every house he saw was full of men, and arms, and horses. And they were polishing shields, and burnishing swords, and washing armour, and shoeing horses. And the knight, and the lady, and the dwarf rode up to the Castle that was in the town, and every one was glad in the Castle. And from the battlements and the gates they risked their necks, through their eagerness to greet them, and to show their joy.
Geraint stood there to see whether the knight would remain in the Castle; and when he was certain that he would do so, he looked around him; and at a little distance from the town he saw an old palace in ruins, wherein was a hall that was falling to decay. And as he knew not any one in the town, he went towards the old palace; and when he came near to the palace, he saw but one chamber, and a bridge of marble-stone leading to it. And upon the bridge he saw sitting a hoary-headed man, upon whom were tattered garments. And Geraint gazed steadfastly upon him for a long time. Then the hoary-headed man spoke to him. “Young man,” he said, “wherefore art thou thoughtful?” “I am thoughtful,” said he, “because I know not where to go to-night.” “Wilt thou come forward this way, chieftain?” said he, “and thou shalt have of the best that can be procured for thee.” So Geraint went forward. And the hoary-headed man preceded him into the hall. And in the hall he dismounted, and he left there his horse. Then he went on to the upper chamber with the hoary-headed man. And in the chamber he beheld
an old decrepit woman, sitting on a cushion, with old, tattered garments of satin upon her; and it seemed to him that he had never seen a woman fairer than she must have been, when in the fulness of youth. And beside her was a maiden, upon whom were a vest and a veil, that were old, and beginning to be worn out. And truly, he never saw a maiden more full of comeliness, and grace, and beauty than she. And the hoary-headed man said to the maiden, “There is no attendant for the horse of this youth but thyself.” “I will render the best service I am able,” said she, “both to him and to his horse.” And the maiden disarrayed the youth, and then she furnished his horse with straw and with corn. And she went to the hall as before, and then she returned to the chamber. And the hoary-headed man said to the maiden, “Go to the town,” said he, “and bring hither the best that thou canst find both of food and of liquor.” “I will, gladly, Lord,” said she. And to the town went the maiden. And they conversed together while the maiden was at the town. And, behold! the maiden came back, and a youth with her, bearing on his back a costrel full of good purchased mead, and a quarter of a young bullock. And in the hands of the maiden was a quantity of white bread, and she had some manchet bread in her veil, and she came into the chamber. “I could not obtain better than this,” said she, “nor with better should I have been trusted.” “It is good enough,” said Geraint. And they caused the meat to be boiled; and when their food was ready, they sat down. And it was on this wise; Geraint sat between the hoary-headed man and his wife, and the maiden served them. And they ate and drank.
And when they had finished eating, Geraint talked with the hoary-headed man, and he asked him in the first place, to whom belonged the palace that he was in. “Truly,” said he, “it was I that built it, and to me also belonged the city and the castle which thou sawest.” “Alas!” said Geraint, “how is it that thou hast lost them now?” “I lost a great Earldom as well as these,” said he; “and this is how I lost
them. I had a nephew, the son of my brother, and I took his possessions to myself; and when he came to his strength, he demanded of me his property, but I withheld it from him. So he made war upon me, and wrested from me all that I possessed.” “Good Sir,” said Geraint, “wilt thou tell me wherefore came the knight, and the lady, and the dwarf, just now into the town, and what is the preparation which I saw, and the putting of arms in order?” “I will do so,” said he. “The preparations are for the game that is to be held to-morrow by the young Earl, which will be on this wise. In the midst of a meadow which is here, two forks will be set up, and upon the two forks a silver rod, and upon the silver rod a Sparrow-Hawk 148a, and for the Sparrow-Hawk there will be a tournament. And to the tournament will go all the array thou didst see in the city, of men, and of horses, and of arms. And with each man will go the lady he loves best; and no man can joust for the Sparrow-Hawk, except the lady he loves best be with him. And the knight that thou sawest has gained the Sparrow-Hawk these two years; and if he gains it the third year, they will, from that time, send it every year to him, and he himself will come here no more. And he will be called the Knight of the Sparrow-Hawk from that time forth.” “Sir,” said Geraint, “what is thy counsel to me concerning this knight, on account of the insult which I received from the dwarf, and that which was received by the maiden of Gwenhwyvar, the wife of Arthur?” And Geraint told the hoary-headed man what the insult was that he had received. “It is not easy to counsel thee, inasmuch as thou hast neither dame nor maiden belonging to thee, for whom thou canst joust. Yet, I have arms here, which thou couldest have; and there is my horse also, if he seem to thee better than thine own.” “Ah! Sir,” said he, “Heaven reward thee. But my own horse, to which I am accustomed, together with thy arms, will suffice me. And if, when the appointed time shall come to-morrow, thou wilt permit me, Sir, to challenge for yonder maiden that is thy daughter, I will engage, if I escape from the tournament, to love the maiden as long as I
live; and if I do not escape, she will remain unsullied as before.” “Gladly will I permit thee,” said the hoary-headed man, “and since thou dost thus resolve, it is necessary that thy horse and arms should be ready to-morrow at break of day. For then the Knight of the Sparrow-Hawk will make proclamation, and ask the lady he loves best to take the Sparrow-Hawk. ‘For,’ will he say to her, ‘thou art the fairest of women, and thou didst possess it last year, and the year previous; and if any deny it thee to-day, by force will I defend it for thee.’ And therefore,” said the hoary-headed man, “it is needful for thee to be there at daybreak; and we three will be with thee.” And thus was it settled.
And at night, lo! they went to sleep; and before the dawn they arose, and arrayed themselves; and by the time that it was day, they were all four in the meadow. And there was the Knight of the Sparrow-Hawk making the proclamation, and asking his lady-love to fetch the Sparrow-Hawk. “Fetch it not,” said Geraint, “for there is here a maiden, who is fairer, and more noble, and more comely, and who has a better claim to it than thou.” “If thou maintainest the Sparrow-Hawk to be due to her, come forward, and do battle with me.” And Geraint went forward to the top of the meadow, having upon himself and upon his horse armour which was heavy, and rusty, and worthless, and of uncouth shape. Then they encountered each other, and they broke a set of lances, and they broke a second set, and a third. And thus they did at every onset, and they broke as many lances as were brought to them. And when the Earl and his company saw the Knight of the Sparrow-Hawk gaining the mastery, there was shouting, and joy, and mirth amongst them. And the hoary-headed man, and his wife, and his daughter were sorrowful. And the hoary-headed man served Geraint lances as often as he broke them, and the dwarf served the Knight of the Sparrow-Hawk. Then the hoary-headed man came to Geraint. “Oh! chieftain,” said he, “since no other will hold with thee, behold, here is the lance
which was in my hand on the day when I received the honour of knighthood; and from that time to this I never broke it. And it has an excellent point.” Then Geraint took the lance, thanking the hoary-headed man. And thereupon the dwarf also brought a lance to his lord. “Behold, here is a lance for thee, not less good than his,” said the dwarf. “And bethink thee, that no knight ever withstood thee before so long as this one has done.” “I declare to Heaven,” said Geraint, “that unless death takes me quickly hence, he shall fare never the better for thy service.” And Geraint pricked his horse towards him from afar, and warning him, he rushed upon him, and gave him a blow so severe, and furious, and fierce, upon the face of his shield, that he cleft it in two, and broke his armour, and burst his girths, so that both he and his saddle were borne to the ground over the horse’s crupper. And Geraint dismounted quickly. And he was wroth, and he drew his sword, and rushed fiercely upon him. Then the knight also arose, and drew his sword against Geraint. And they fought on foot with their swords until their arms struck sparks of fire like stars from one another; and thus they continued fighting until the blood and sweat obscured the light from their eyes. And when Geraint prevailed, the hoary-headed man, and his wife, and his daughter were glad; and when the knight prevailed, it rejoiced the Earl and his party. Then the hoary-headed man saw Geraint receive a severe stroke, and he went up to him quickly, and said to him, “Oh, chieftain, remember the treatment which thou hadst from the dwarf; and wilt thou not seek vengeance for the insult to thyself, and for the insult to Gwenhwyvar the wife of Arthur!” And Geraint was roused by what he said to him, and he called to him all his strength, and lifted up his sword, and struck the knight upon the crown of his head, so that he broke all his head-armour, and cut through all the flesh and the skin, even to the skull, until he wounded the bone.
Then the knight fell upon his knees, and cast his sword from his hand, and besought mercy of Geraint. “Of a truth,”
said he, “I relinquish my overdaring and my pride in craving thy mercy; and unless I have time to commit myself to Heaven for my sins, and to talk with a priest, thy mercy will avail me little.” “I will grant thee grace upon this condition,” said Geraint, “that thou wilt go to Gwenhwyvar 151a the wife of Arthur, to do her satisfaction for the insult which her maiden received from thy dwarf. As to myself, for the insult which I received from thee and thy dwarf, I am content with that which I have done unto thee. Dismount not from the time thou goest hence until thou comest into the presence of Gwenhwyvar, to make her what atonement shall be adjudged at the Court of Arthur.” “This will I do gladly. And who art thou?” said he. “I am Geraint the son of Erbin. And declare thou also who thou art.” “I am Edeyrn the son of Nudd 151b.” Then he threw himself upon his horse, and went forward to Arthur’s Court, and the lady he loved best went before him and the dwarf, with much lamentation. And thus far this story up to that time.
Then came the little Earl and his hosts to Geraint, and saluted him, and bade him to his castle. “I may not go,” said Geraint, “but where I was last night, there will I be to-night also.” “Since thou wilt none of my inviting, thou shalt have abundance of all that I can command for thee, in the place thou wast last night. And I will order ointment for thee, to recover thee from thy fatigues, and from the weariness that is upon thee.” “Heaven reward thee,” said Geraint, “and I will go to my lodging.” And thus went Geraint, and Earl Ynywl, and his wife, and his daughter. And when they reached the chamber, the household servants and attendants of the young Earl had arrived at the Court, and they arranged all the houses, dressing them with straw and with fire; and in a short time the ointment was ready, and Geraint came there, and they washed his head. Then came the young Earl, with forty honourable knights from among his attendants, and those who were bidden to the
tournament. And Geraint came from the anointing. And the Earl asked him to go to the hall to eat. “Where is the Earl Ynywl,” said Geraint, “and his wife, and his daughter?” “They are in the chamber yonder,” said the Earl’s chamberlain, “arraying themselves in garments which the Earl has caused to be brought for them.” “Let not the damsel array herself,” said he, “except in her vest and her veil, until she come to the Court of Arthur, to be clad by Gwenhwyvar in such garments as she may choose.” So the maiden did not array herself.
Then they all entered the hall, and they washed, and went, and sat down to meat. And thus were they seated. On one side of Geraint sat the young Earl, and Earl Ynywl beyond him; and on the other side of Geraint were the maiden and her mother. And after these all sat according to their precedence in honour 152a. And they ate. And they were served abundantly, and they received a profusion of divers kind of gifts. Then they conversed together. And the young Earl invited Geraint to visit him next day. “I will not, by Heaven,” said Geraint. “To the Court of Arthur will I go with this maiden to-morrow. And it is enough for me, as long as Earl Ynywl is in poverty and trouble; and I go chiefly to seek to add to his maintenance.” “Ah, chieftain,” said the young Earl, “it is not by my fault that Earl Ynywl is without his possessions.” “By my faith,” said Geraint, “he shall not remain without them, unless death quickly takes me hence.” “Oh, chieftain,” said he, “with regard to the disagreement between me and Ynywl, I will gladly abide by thy counsel, and agree to what thou mayest judge right between us.” “I but ask thee,” said Geraint, “to restore to him what is his, and what he should have received from the time he lost his possessions, even until this day.” “That I will do gladly, for thee,” answered he. “Then,” said Geraint, “whosoever is here who owes homage to Ynywl, let him come forward, and perform it on the spot.” And all the men did so. And by that treaty they abided. And his castle, and his town, and all his possessions were restored to Ynywl. And
he received back all that he had lost, even to the smallest jewel.
Then spoke Earl Ynywl to Geraint. “Chieftain,” said he, “behold the maiden for whom thou didst challenge at the tournament, I bestow her upon thee.” “She shall go with me,” said Geraint, “to the Court of Arthur; and Arthur and Gwenhwyvar they shall dispose of her as they will.” And the next day they proceeded to Arthur’s Court. So far concerning Geraint.
Now, this is how Arthur hunted the stag 153a. The men and the dogs were divided into hunting parties, and the dogs were let loose upon the stag. And the last dog that was let loose was the favourite dog of Arthur. Cavall was his name 153b. And he left all the other dogs behind him, and turned the stag. And at the second turn, the stag came towards the hunting party of Arthur. And Arthur set upon him. And before he could be slain by any other, Arthur cut off his head. Then they sounded the death horn for slaying 153c, and they all gathered round.
Then came Kadyrieith to Arthur, and spoke to him. “Lord,” said he, “behold, yonder is Gwenhwyvar, and none with her save only one maiden.” “Command Gildas the son of Caw 153d, and all the scholars of the Court,” said Arthur, “to attend Gwenhwyvar to the palace.” And they did so.
Then they all set forth, holding converse together concerning the head of the stag, to whom it should be given. One wished that it should be given to the lady best beloved by him, and another to the lady whom he loved best. And all they of the household, and the knights, disputed sharply concerning the head. And with that they came to the palace. And when Arthur and Gwenhwyvar heard them disputing about the head of the stag, Gwenhwyvar said to Arthur, “My lord, this is my counsel concerning the stag’s head; let it not be given away until Geraint the son of Erbin shall return from the errand he is upon.” And Gwenhwyvar
told Arthur what that errand was. “Right gladly shall it be so,” said Arthur. And thus it was settled. And the next day Gwenhwyvar caused a watch to be set upon the ramparts for Geraint’s coming. And after mid-day they beheld an unshapely little man upon a horse, and after him, as they supposed, a dame or a damsel, also on horseback, and after her a knight of large stature, bowed down, and hanging his head low and sorrowfully, and clad in broken and worthless armour.
And before they came near to the gate, one of the watch went to Gwenhwyvar, and told her what kind of people they saw, and what aspect they bore. “I know not who they are,” said he. “But I know,” said Gwenhwyvar; “this is the knight whom Geraint pursued, and methinks that he comes not here by his own free will. But Geraint has overtaken him, and avenged the insult to the maiden to the uttermost.” And thereupon, behold a porter came to the spot where Gwenhwyvar was. “Lady,” said he, “at the gate there is a knight, and I saw never a man of so pitiful an aspect to look upon as he. Miserable and broken is the armour that he wears, and the hue of blood is more conspicuous upon it than its own colour.” “Knowest thou his name?” said she. “I do,” said he; “he tells me that he is Edeyrn the son of Nudd.” Then she replied, “I know him not.”
So Gwenhwyvar went to the gate to meet him, and he entered. And Gwenhwyvar was sorry when she saw the condition he was in, even though he was accompanied by the churlish dwarf. Then Edeyrn saluted Gwenhwyvar. “Heaven protect thee,” said she. “Lady,” said he, “Geraint the son of Erbin, thy best and most valiant servant, greets thee.” “Did he meet thee?” she asked. “Yes,” said he, “and it was not to my advantage; and that was not his fault, but mine, Lady. And Geraint greets thee well; and in greeting thee he compelled me to come hither to do thy pleasure for the insult which thy maiden received from the dwarf. He forgives the insult to himself, in consideration of his having put me in peril of my life. And he imposed on me a condition,
manly, and honourable, and warrior-like, which was to do thee justice, Lady.” “Now, where did he overtake thee?” “At the place where we were jousting, and contending for the Sparrow-Hawk, in the town which is now called Cardiff 155a. And there were none with him save three persons, of a mean and tattered condition. And these were an aged, hoary-headed man, and a woman advanced in years, and a fair young maiden, clad in worn-out garments. And it was for the avouchment of the love of that maiden that Geraint jousted for the Sparrow-Hawk at the tournament, for he said that that maiden was better entitled to the Sparrow-Hawk than this maiden who was with me. And thereupon we encountered each other, and he left me, Lady, as thou seest.” “Sir,” said she, “when thinkest thou that Geraint will be here?” “To-morrow, Lady, I think he will be here with the maiden.”
Then Arthur came to him, and he saluted Arthur; and Arthur gazed a long time upon him, and was amazed to see him thus. And thinking that he knew him, he inquired of him, “Art thou Edeyrn the son of Nudd?” “I am, Lord,” said he, “and I have met with much trouble, and received wounds unsupportable.” Then he told Arthur all his adventure. “Well,” said Arthur, “from what I hear, it behoves Gwenhwyvar to be merciful towards thee.” “The mercy which thou desirest, Lord,” said she, “will I grant to him, since it is as insulting to thee that an insult should be offered to me as to thyself.” “Thus will it be best to do,” said Arthur; “let this man have medical care until it be known whether he may live. And if he live, he shall do such satisfaction as shall be judged best by the men of the Court; and take thou sureties to that effect. And if he die, too much will be the death of such a youth as Edeyrn for an insult to a maiden.” “This pleases me,” said Gwenhwyvar. And Arthur became surety for Edeyrn 155b, and Caradawc the son of Llyr, Gwallawg the son of Llenawg 155c and Owain the son of Nudd, and Gwalchmai, and many others with them. And Arthur caused Morgan Tud 155d to be called to him. He was the chief physician155e. “Take
with thee Edeyrn the son of Nudd, and cause a chamber to be prepared for him, and let him have the aid of medicine as thou wouldst do unto myself, if I were wounded, and let none into his chamber to molest him, but thyself and thy disciples, to administer to him remedies.” “I will do so gladly, Lord,” said Morgan Tud. Then said the steward of the household, “Whither is it right, Lord, to order the maiden?” “To Gwenhwyvar and her handmaidens,” said he. And the steward of the household so ordered her. Thus far concerning them.
The next day came Geraint towards the Court; and there was a watch set on the ramparts by Gwenhwyvar, lest he should arrive unawares. And one of the watch came to the place where Gwenhwyvar was. “Lady,” said he, “methinks that I see Geraint, and the maiden with him. He is on horseback, but he has his walking gear upon him, and the maiden appears to be in white, seeming to be clad in a garment of linen.” “Assemble all the women,” said Gwenhwyvar, “and come to meet Geraint, to welcome him, and wish him joy.” And Gwenhwyvar went to meet Geraint and the maiden. And when Geraint came to the place where Gwenhwyvar was, he saluted her. “Heaven prosper thee,” said she, “and welcome to thee. And thy career has been successful, and fortunate, and resistless, and glorious. And Heaven reward thee, that thou hast so proudly caused me to have retribution.” “Lady,” said he, “I earnestly desired to obtain thee satisfaction according to thy will; and, behold, here is the maiden through whom thou hadst thy revenge.” “Verily,” said Gwenhwyvar, “the welcome of Heaven be unto her; and it is fitting that we should receive her joyfully.” Then they went in, and dismounted. And Geraint came to where Arthur was, and saluted him. “Heaven protect thee,” said Arthur, “and the welcome of Heaven be unto thee. And since Edeyrn the son of Nudd has received his overthrow and wounds from thy hands, thou hast had a prosperous career.” “Not upon me be the blame,” said Geraint, “it was through
the arrogance of Edeyrn the son of Nudd himself that we were not friends. I would not quit him until I knew who he was, and until the one had vanquished the other.” “Now,” said Arthur, “where is the maiden for whom I heard thou didst give challenge?” “She is gone with Gwenhwyvar to her chamber.”
Then went Arthur to see the maiden. And Arthur, and all his companions, and his whole Court, were glad concerning the maiden. And certain were they all, that had her array been suitable to her beauty, they had never seen a maid fairer than she. And Arthur gave away the maiden to Geraint. And the usual bond made between two persons was made between Geraint and the maiden, and the choicest of all Gwenhwyvar’s apparel was given to the maiden; and thus arrayed, she appeared comely and graceful to all who beheld her. And that day and that night were spent in abundance of minstrelsy, and ample gifts of liquor, and a multitude of games. And when it was time for them to go to sleep, they went. And in the chamber where the couch of Arthur and Gwenhwyvar was, the couch of Geraint and Enid was prepared. And from that time she became his bride. And the next day Arthur satisfied all the claimants upon Geraint with bountiful gifts. And the maiden took up her abode in the palace; and she had many companions, both men and women, and there was no maiden more esteemed than she in the Island of Britain.
Then spake Gwenhwyvar. “Rightly did I judge,” said she, “concerning the head of the stag, that it should not be given to any until Geraint’s return; and, behold, here is a fit occasion for bestowing it. Let it be given to Enid the daughter of Ynywl 157a, the most illustrious maiden. And I do not believe that any will begrudge it her, for between her and every one here there exists nothing but love and friendship.” Much applauded was this by them all, and by Arthur also. And the head of the stag was given to Enid. And thereupon her fame increased, and her friends thenceforward became more in number than before. And Geraint from
that time forth loved the stag, and the tournament, and hard encounters; and he came victorious from them all. And a year, and a second, and a third, he proceeded thus, until his fame had flown over the face of the kingdom.
And once upon a time Arthur was holding his Court at Caerlleon upon Usk, at Whitsuntide. And, behold, there came to him ambassadors, wise and prudent, full of knowledge, and eloquent of speech, and they saluted Arthur. “Heaven prosper you,” said Arthur, “and the welcome of Heaven be unto you. And whence do you come?” “We come, Lord,” said they, “from Cornwall; and we are ambassadors from Erbin the son of Custennin, thy uncle, and our mission is unto thee. And he greets thee well, as an uncle should greet his nephew, and as a vassal should greet his lord. And he represents unto thee that he waxes heavy and feeble, and is advancing in years. And the neighbouring chiefs, knowing this, grow insolent towards him, and covet his land and possessions. And he earnestly beseeches thee, Lord, to permit Geraint his son to return to him, to protect his possessions, and to become acquainted with his boundaries. And unto him he represents that it were better for him to spend the flower of his youth and the prime of his age in preserving his own boundaries, than in tournaments, which are productive of no profit, although he obtains glory in them.”
“Well,” said Arthur, “go, and divest yourselves of your accoutrements, and take food, and refresh yourselves after your fatigues; and before you go forth hence you shall have an answer.” And they went to eat. And Arthur considered that it would go hard with him to let Geraint depart from him and from his Court; neither did he think it fair that his cousin should be restrained from going to protect his dominions and his boundaries, seeing that his father was unable to do so. No less was the grief and regret of Gwenhwyvar, and all her women, and all her damsels, through fear that the maiden would leave them. And that day and that
night were spent in abundance of feasting. And Arthur showed Geraint the cause of the mission, and of the coming of the ambassadors to him out of Cornwall. “Truly,” said Geraint, “be it to my advantage or disadvantage, Lord, I will do according to thy will concerning this embassy.” “Behold,” said Arthur, “though it grieves me to part with thee, it is my counsel that thou go to dwell in thine own dominions, and to defend thy boundaries, and to take with thee to accompany thee as many as thou wilt of those thou lovest best among my faithful ones, and among thy friends, and among thy companions in arms.” “Heaven reward thee; and this will I do,” said Geraint. “What discourse,” said Gwenhwyvar, “do I hear between you? Is it of those who are to conduct Geraint to his country?” “It is,” said Arthur. “Then it is needful for me to consider,” said she, “concerning companions and a provision for the lady that is with me?” “Thou wilt do well,” said Arthur.
And that night they went to sleep. And the next day the ambassadors were permitted to depart, and they were told that Geraint should follow them. And on the third day Geraint set forth, and many went with him. Gwalchmai the son of Gwyar, and Riogonedd the son of the king of Ireland, and Ondyaw the son of the duke of Burgundy, Gwilim the son of the ruler of the Franks, Howel the son of Emyr of Brittany, Elivry, and Nawkyrd, Gwynn the son of Tringad, Goreu the son of Custennin, Gweir Gwrhyd Vawr 159a, Garannaw the son of Golithmer, Peredur the son of Evrawc, Gwynnllogell, Gwyr a judge in the Court of Arthur, Dyvyr the son of Alun of Dyved, Gwrei Gwalstawd Ieithoedd 159b, Bedwyr the son of Bedrawd 159c, Hadwry the son of Gwryon, Kai the son of Kynyr, Odyar the Frank, the Steward of Arthur’s Court, and Edeyrn the son of Nudd. Said Geraint, “I think that I shall have enough of knighthood with me.” “Yes,” said Arthur, “but it will not be fitting for thee to take Edeyrn with thee, although he is well, until peace shall be made between him and Gwenhwyvar.” “Gwenhwyvar can permit him to go with me, if he give sureties.” “If she please, she can
let him go without sureties, for enough of pain and affliction has he suffered for the insult which the maiden received from the dwarf.” “Truly,” said Gwenhwyvar, “since it seems well to thee and to Geraint, I will do this gladly, Lord.” Then she permitted Edeyrn freely to depart. And many there were who accompanied Geraint, and they set forth; and never was there seen a fairer host journeying towards the Severn 160a. And on the other side of the Severn were the nobles of Erbin the son of Custennin, and his foster-father at their head, to welcome Geraint with gladness; and many of the women of the Court, with his mother, came to receive Enid the daughter of Ynywl, his wife. And there was great rejoicing and gladness throughout the whole Court, and throughout all the country, concerning Geraint, because of the greatness of their love towards him, and of the greatness of the fame which he had gained since he went from amongst them, and because he was come to take possession of his dominions and to preserve his boundaries 160b. And they came to the Court. And in the Court they had ample entertainment, and a multitude of gifts and abundance of liquor, and a sufficiency of service, and a variety of minstrelsy and of games 160c. And to do honour to Geraint, all the chief men of the country were invited that night to visit him. And they passed that day and that night in the utmost enjoyment. And at dawn next day Erbin arose, and summoned to him Geraint, and the noble persons who had borne him company. And he said to Geraint, “I am a feeble and aged man, and whilst I was able to maintain the dominion for thee and for myself, I did so. But thou art young, and in the flower of thy vigour and of thy youth; henceforth do thou preserve thy possessions.” “Truly,” said Geraint, “with my consent thou shalt not give the power over thy dominions at this time into my hands, and thou shalt not take me from Arthur’s Court.” “Into thy hands will I give them,” said Erbin, “and this day also shalt thou receive the homage of thy subjects.”
Then said Gwalchmai, “It were better for thee to satisfy those who have boons to ask, to-day, and to-morrow thou
canst receive the homage of thy dominions.” So all that had boons to ask were summoned into one place. And Kadyrieith came to them, to know what were their requests. And every one asked that which he desired. And the followers of Arthur began to make gifts, and immediately the men of Cornwall came, and gave also. And they were not long in giving, so eager was every one to bestow gifts. And of those who came to ask gifts, none departed unsatisfied. And that day and that night were spent in the utmost enjoyment.
And the next day, at dawn, Erbin desired Geraint to send messengers to the men, to ask them whether it was displeasing to them that he should come to receive their homage, and whether they had anything to object to him. Then Geraint sent ambassadors to the men of Cornwall, to ask them this. And they all said that it would be the fulness of joy and honour to them for Geraint to come and receive their homage. So he received the homage of such as were there. And they remained with him till the third night. And the day after the followers of Arthur intended to go away. “It is too soon for you to go away yet,” said he, “stay with me until I have finished receiving the homage of my chief men, who have agreed to come to me.” And they remained with him until he had done so. Then they set forth towards the Court of Arthur; and Geraint went to bear them company, and Enid also, as far as Diganhwy 161a: there they parted. Then Ondyaw the son of the duke of Burgundy said to Geraint, “Go first of all and visit the uppermost parts of thy dominions, and see well to the boundaries of thy territories; and if thou hast any trouble respecting them, send unto thy companions.” “Heaven reward thee,” said Geraint, “and this will I do.” And Geraint journeyed to the uttermost part of his dominions. And experienced guides, and the chief men of his country, went with him. And the furthermost point that they showed him he kept possession of.
And, as he had been used to do when he was at Arthur’s Court, he frequented tournaments. And he became acquainted with valiant and mighty men, until he had gained as
much fame there as he had formerly done elsewhere. And he enriched his Court, and his companions, and his nobles, with the best horses and the best arms, and with the best and most valuable jewels, and he ceased not until his fame had flown over the face of the whole kingdom. And when he knew that it was thus, he began to love ease and pleasure, for there was no one who was worth his opposing. And he loved his wife, and liked to continue in the palace, with minstrelsy and diversions. And for a long time he abode at home. And after that he began to shut himself up in the chamber of his wife, and he took no delight in anything besides, insomuch that he gave up the friendship of his nobles, together with his hunting and his amusements, and lost the hearts of all the host in his Court; and there was murmuring and scoffing concerning him among the inhabitants of the palace, on account of his relinquishing so completely their companionship for the love of his wife. And these tidings came to Erbin. And when Erbin had heard these things, he spoke unto Enid, and inquired of her whether it was she that had caused Geraint to act thus, and to forsake his people and his hosts. “Not I, by my confession unto Heaven,” said she, “there is nothing more hateful to me than this.” And she knew not what she should do, for, although it was hard for her to own this to Geraint, yet was it not more easy for her to listen to what she heard, without warning Geraint concerning it. And she was very sorrowful.
And one morning in the summer time, they were upon their couch, and Geraint lay upon the edge of it. And Enid was without sleep in the apartment, which had windows of glass 162a. And the sun shone upon the couch. And the clothes had slipped from off his arms and his breast, and he was asleep. Then she gazed upon the marvellous beauty of his appearance, and she said, “Alas, and am I the cause that these arms and this breast have lost their glory and the warlike fame which they once so richly enjoyed!” And as she said this, the tears dropped from her eyes, and they fell upon his breast. And the tears she shed, and the words she had
spoken, awoke him; and another thing contributed to awaken him, and that was the idea that it was not in thinking of him that she spoke thus, but that it was because she loved some other man more than him, and that she wished for other society, and thereupon Geraint was troubled in his mind, and he called his squire; and when he came to him, “Go quickly,” said he, “and prepare my horse and my arms, and make them ready. And do thou arise,” said he to Enid, “and apparel thyself; and cause thy horse to be accoutred, and clothe thee in the worst riding-dress that thou hast in thy possession. And evil betide me,” said he, “if thou returnest here until thou knowest whether I have lost my strength so completely as thou didst say. And if it be so, it will then be easy for thee to seek the society thou didst wish for of him of whom thou wast thinking.” So she arose, and clothed herself in her meanest garments. “I know nothing, Lord,” said she, “of thy meaning.” “Neither wilt thou know at this time,” said he.
Then Geraint went to see Erbin. “Sir,” said he, “I am going upon a quest, and I am not certain when I may come back. Take heed, therefore, unto thy possessions, until my return.” “I will do so,” said he, “but it is strange to me that thou shouldest go so suddenly. And who will proceed with thee, since thou art not strong enough to traverse the land of Lloegyr 163a alone?” “But one person only will go with me.” “Heaven counsel thee, my son,” said Erbin, “and may many attach themselves to thee in Lloegyr.” Then went Geraint to the place where his horse was, and it was equipped with foreign armour, heavy and shining. And he desired Enid to mount her horse, and to ride forward, and to keep a long way before him. “And whatever thou mayest see, and whatever thou mayest hear concerning me,” said he, “do thou not turn back. And unless I speak unto thee, say not thou one word either.” And they set forward. And he did not choose the pleasantest and most frequented road, but that which was the wildest and most beset by thieves, and robbers, and venomous animals. And they came to a high
road, which they followed till they saw a vast forest, and they went towards it, and they saw four armed horsemen come forth from the forest. When the horsemen had beheld them, one of them said to the others, “Behold, here is a good occasion for us to capture two horses and armour, and a lady likewise; for this we shall have no difficulty in doing against yonder single knight, who hangs his head so pensively and heavily.” And Enid heard this discourse, and she knew not what she should do through fear of Geraint, who had told her to be silent. “The vengeance of Heaven be upon me,” she said, “if I would not rather receive my death from his hand than from the hand of any other; and though he should slay me yet will I speak to him, lest I should have the misery to witness his death.” So she waited for Geraint until he came near to her. “Lord,” said she, “didst thou hear the words of those men concerning thee?” Then he lifted up his eyes, and looked at her angrily. “Thou hadst only,” said he, “to hold thy peace as I bade thee. I wish but for silence, and not for warning. And though thou shouldest desire to see my defeat and my death by the hands of those men, yet do I feel no dread.” Then the foremost of them couched his lance, and rushed upon Geraint. And he received him, and that not feebly. But he let the thrust go by him, while he struck the horseman upon the centre of his shield in such a manner that his shield was split, and his armour broken, and so that a cubit’s length of the shaft of Geraint’s lance passed through his body, and sent him to the earth, the length of the lance over his horse’s crupper. Then the second horseman attacked him furiously, being wroth at the death of his companion. But with one thrust Geraint overthrew him also, and killed him as he had done the other. Then the third set upon him, and he killed him in like manner. And thus also he slew the fourth. Sad and sorrowful was the maiden as she saw all this. Geraint dismounted from his horse, and took the arms of the men he had slain, and placed them upon their saddles, and tied together the reins of their horses, and he mounted his horse again. “Behold what thou must do,”
said he; “take the four horses, and drive them before thee, and proceed forward, as I bade thee just now. And say not one word unto me, unless I speak first unto thee. And I declare unto Heaven,” said he, “if thou doest not thus, it will be to thy cost.” “I will do, as far as I can, Lord,” said she, “according to thy desire.” Then they went forward through the forest; and when they left the forest, they came to a vast plain, in the centre of which was a group of thickly tangled copse-wood; and from out thereof they beheld three horsemen coming towards them, well equipped with armour, both they and their horses. Then the maiden looked steadfastly upon them; and when they had come near, she heard them say one to another, “Behold, here is a good arrival for us; here are coming for us four horses and four suits of armour. We shall easily obtain them spite of yonder dolorous knight, and the maiden also will fall into our power.” “This is but too true,” said she to herself, “for my husband is tired with his former combat. The vengeance of Heaven will be upon me, unless I warn him of this.” So the maiden waited until Geraint came up to her. “Lord,” said she, “dust thou not hear the discourse of yonder men concerning thee?” “What was it?” asked he. “They say to one another, that they will easily obtain all this spoil.” “I declare to Heaven,” he answered, “that their words are less grievous to me than that thou wilt not be silent, and abide by my counsel.” “My Lord,” said she, “I feared lest they should surprise thee unawares.” “Hold thy peace, then,” said he, “do not I desire silence?” And thereupon one of the horsemen couched his lance, and attacked Geraint. And he made a thrust at him, which he thought would be very effective; but Geraint received it carelessly, and struck it aside, and then he rushed upon him, and aimed at the centre of his person, and from the shock of man and horse, the quantity of his armour did not avail him, and the head of the lance and part of the shaft passed through him, so that he was carried to the ground an arm and a spear’s length over the crupper of his horse. And both the other horsemen came forward in their turn, but their
onset was not more successful than that of their companion. And the maiden stood by, looking at all this; and on the one hand she was in trouble lest Geraint should be wounded in his encounter with the men, and on the other hand she was joyful to see him victorious. Then Geraint dismounted, and bound the three suits of armour upon the three saddles, and he fastened the reins of all the horses together, so that he had seven horses with him. And he mounted his own horse, and commanded the maiden to drive forward the others. “It is no more use for me to speak to thee than to refrain, for thou wilt not attend to my advice.” “I will do so, as far as I am able, Lord,” said she; “but I cannot conceal from thee the fierce and threatening words which I may hear against thee, Lord, from such strange people as those that haunt this wilderness.” “I declare to Heaven,” said he, “that I desire nought but silence; therefore, hold thy peace.” “I will, Lord, while I can.” And the maiden went on with the horses before her, and she pursued her way straight onwards. And from the copse-wood already mentioned, they journeyed over a vast and dreary open plain. And at a great distance from them they beheld a wood, and they could see neither end nor boundary to the wood, except on that side that was nearest to them, and they went towards it. Then there came from out the wood five horsemen, eager, and bold, and mighty, and strong, mounted upon chargers that were powerful, and large of bone, and high-mettled, and proudly snorting, and both the men and the horses were well equipped with arms. And when they drew near to them, Enid heard them say, “Behold, here is a fine booty coming to us, which we shall obtain easily and without labour, for we shall have no trouble in taking all those horses and arms, and the lady also, from yonder single knight, so doleful and sad.”
Sorely grieved was the maiden upon hearing this discourse, so that she knew not in the world what she should do. At last, however, she determined to warn Geraint; so she turned her horse’s head towards him. “Lord,” said she, “if thou hadst heard as I did what yonder horsemen said concerning
thee, thy heaviness would be greater than it is.” Angrily and bitterly did Geraint smile upon her, and he said, “Thee do I hear doing everything that I forbade thee; but it may be that thou will repent this yet.” And immediately, behold, the men met them, and victoriously and gallantly did Geraint overcome them all five. And he placed the five suits of armour upon the five saddles, and tied together the reins of the twelve horses, and gave them in charge to Enid. “I know not,” said he, “what good it is for me to order thee; but this time I charge thee in an especial manner.” So the maiden went forward towards the wood, keeping in advance of Geraint, as he had desired her; and it grieved him as much as his wrath would permit, to see a maiden so illustrious as she having so much trouble with the care of the horses. Then they reached the wood, and it was both deep and vast; and in the wood night overtook them. “Ah, maiden,” said he, “it is vain to attempt proceeding forward!” “Well, Lord,” said she, “whatsoever thou wishest, we will do.” “It will be best for us,” he answered, “to turn out of the wood, and to rest, and wait for the day, in order to pursue our journey.” “That will we, gladly,” said she. And they did so. Having dismounted himself, he took her down from her horse. “I cannot, by any means, refrain from sleep, through weariness,” said he. “Do thou, therefore, watch the horses, and sleep not.” “I will, Lord,” said she. Then he went to sleep in his armour, and thus passed the night, which was not long at that season. And when she saw the dawn of day appear, she looked around her, to see if he were waking, and thereupon he woke. “My Lord,” she said, “I have desired to awake thee for some time.” But he spake nothing to her about fatigue, as he had desired her to be silent. Then he arose, and said unto her, “Take the horses, and ride on; and keep straight on before thee as thou didst yesterday.” And early in the day they left the wood, and they came to an open country, with meadows on one hand, and mowers mowing the meadows. And there was a river before them, and the horses bent down, and drank the water. And they went up out of the river by
a lofty steep; and there they met a slender stripling, with a satchel about his neck, and they saw that there was something in the satchel, but they knew not what it was. And he had a small blue pitcher in his hand, and a bowl on the mouth of the pitcher. And the youth saluted Geraint. “Heaven prosper thee,” said Geraint, “and whence dost thou come?” “I come,” said he, “from the city that lies before thee. My Lord,” he added, “will it be displeasing to thee if I ask whence thou comest also?” “By no means–through yonder wood did I come.” “Thou camest not through the wood to-day.” “No,” he replied, “we were in the wood last night.” “I warrant,” said the youth, “that thy condition there last night was not the most pleasant, and that thou hadst neither meat nor drink.” “No, by my faith,” said he. “Wilt thou follow my counsel,” said the youth, “and take thy meal from me?” “What sort of meal?” he inquired. “The breakfast which is sent for yonder mowers, nothing less than bread and meat and wine; and if thou wilt, Sir, they shall have none of it.” “I will,” said he, “and Heaven reward thee for it.”
So Geraint alighted, and the youth took the maiden from off her horse. Then they washed, and took their repast. And the youth cut the bread in slices, and gave them drink, and served them withal. And when they had finished, the youth arose, and said to Geraint, “My Lord, with thy permission, I will now go and fetch some food for the mowers.” “Go, first, to the town,” said Geraint, “and take a lodging for me in the best place that thou knowest, and the most commodious one for the horses, and take thou whichever horse and arms thou choosest in payment for thy service and thy gift.” “Heaven reward thee, Lord,” said the youth, “and this would be ample to repay services much greater than those I have rendered unto thee.” And to the town went the youth, and he took the best and the most pleasant lodgings that he knew; and after that he went to the palace, having the horse and armour with him, and proceeded to the place where the Earl was, and told him all his adventure. “I go now, Lord,” said
he, “to meet the young man, and to conduct him to his lodging.” “Go, gladly,” said the Earl, “and right joyfully shall he be received here, if he so come.” And the youth went to meet Geraint, and told him that he would be received gladly by the Earl in his own palace; but he would go only to his lodgings. And he had a goodly chamber, in which was plenty of straw, and drapery, and a spacious and commodious place he had for the horses; and the youth prepared for them plenty of provender. And after they had disarrayed themselves, Geraint spoke thus to Enid: “Go,” said he, “to the other side of the chamber, and come not to this side of the house; and thou mayest call to thee the woman of the house, if thou wilt.” “I will do, Lord,” said she, “as thou sayest.” And thereupon the man of the house came to Geraint, and welcomed him. “Oh, chieftain,” he said, “hast thou taken thy meal?” “I have,” said he. Then the youth spoke to him, and inquired if he would not drink something before he met the Earl. “Truly I will,” said he. So the youth went into the town, and brought them drink. And they drank. “I must needs sleep,” said Geraint. “Well,” said the youth; “and whilst thou sleepest, I will go to see the Earl.” “Go, gladly,” he said, “and come here again when I require thee.” And Geraint went to sleep; and so did Enid also.
And the youth came to the place where the Earl was, and the Earl asked him where the lodgings of the knight were, and he told him. “I must go,” said the youth, “to wait on him in the evening.” “Go,” answered the Earl, “and greet him well from me, and tell him that in the evening I will go to see him.” “This will I do,” said the youth. So he came when it was time for them to awake. And they arose, and went forth. And when it was time for them to take their food, they took it. And the youth served them. And Geraint inquired of the man of the house, whether there were any of his companions that he wished to invite to him, and he said that there were. “Bring them hither, and entertain them at my cost with the best thou canst buy in the town.”
And the man of the house brought there those whom he chose, and feasted them at Geraint’s expense. Thereupon, behold, the Earl came to visit Geraint, and his twelve honourable knights with him. And Geraint rose up, and welcomed him. “Heaven preserve thee,” said the Earl. Then they all sat down according to their precedence in honour. And the Earl conversed with Geraint, and inquired of him the object of his journey. “I have none,” he replied, “but to seek adventures, and to follow my own inclination.” Then the Earl cast his eye upon Enid, and he looked at her steadfastly. And he thought he had never seen a maiden fairer or more comely than she. And he set all his thoughts and his affections upon her. Then he asked of Geraint, “Have I thy permission to go and converse with yonder maiden, for I see that she is apart from thee?” “Thou hast it gladly,” said he. So the Earl went to the place where the maiden was, and spake with her. “Ah, maiden,” said he, “it cannot be pleasant to thee to journey thus with yonder man!” “It is not unpleasant to me,” said she, “to journey the same road that he journeys.” “Thou hast neither youths nor maidens to serve thee,” said he. “Truly,” she replied, “it is more pleasant for me to follow yonder man, than to be served by youths and maidens.” “I will give thee good counsel,” said he. “All my Earldom will I place in thy possession, if thou wilt dwell with me.” “That will I not, by Heaven,” she said; “yonder man was the first to whom my faith was ever pledged; and shall I prove inconstant to him!” “Thou art in the wrong,” said the Earl; “if I slay the man yonder, I can keep thee with me as long as I choose; and when thou no longer pleasest me I can turn thee away. But if thou goest with me by thine own good will, I protest that our union shall continue eternal and undivided as long as I remain alive.” Then she pondered these words of his, and she considered that it was advisable to encourage him in his request. “Behold, then, chieftain, this is most expedient for thee to do to save me any needless imputation; come here to-morrow, and take me away as though I knew nothing thereof.” “I
will do so,” said he. So he arose, and took his leave, and went forth with his attendants. And she told not then to Geraint any of the conversation which she had had with the Earl, lest it should rouse his anger, and cause him uneasiness and care.
And at the usual hour they went to sleep. And at the beginning of the night Enid slept a little; and at midnight she arose, and placed all Geraint’s armour together, so that it might be ready to put on. And although fearful of her errand, she came to the side of Geraint’s bed; and she spoke to him softly and gently, saying, “My Lord, arise, and clothe thyself, for these were the words of the Earl to me, and his intention concerning me.” So she told Geraint all that had passed. And although he was wroth with her, he took warning, and clothed himself. And she lighted a candle, that he might have light to do so. “Leave there the candle,” said he, “and desire the man of the house to come here.” Then she went, and the man of the house came to him. “Dost thou know how much I owe thee?” asked Geraint. “I think thou owest but little.” “Take the eleven horses and the eleven suits of armour.” “Heaven reward thee, lord,” said he, “but I spent not the value of one suit of armour upon thee.” “For that reason,” said he, “thou wilt be the richer. And now, wilt thou come to guide me out of the town?” “I will, gladly,” said he, “and in which direction dost thou intend to go?” “I wish to leave the town by a different way from that by which I entered it.” So the man of the lodgings accompanied him as far as he desired. Then he bade the maiden to go on before him; and she did so, and went straight forward, and his host returned home. And he had only just reached his house, when, behold, the greatest tumult approached that was ever heard. And when he looked out, he saw fourscore knights in complete armour around the house, with the Earl Dwrm at their head. “Where is the knight that was here?” said the Earl. “By thy hand,” said he, “he went hence some time ago.” “Wherefore, villain,” said he, “didst thou let him go without informing
me?” “My Lord, thou didst not command me to do so, else would I not have allowed him to depart.” “What way dost thou think that he took?” “I know not, except that he went along the high road.” And they turned their horses’ heads that way, and seeing the tracks of the horses upon the high road, they followed. And when the maiden beheld the dawning of the day, she looked behind her, and saw vast clouds of dust coming nearer and nearer to her. And thereupon she became uneasy, and she thought that it was the Earl and his host coming after them. And thereupon she beheld a knight appearing through the mist. “By my faith,” said she, “though he should slay me, it were better for me to receive my death at his hands, than to see him killed without warning him. My Lord,” she said to him, “seest thou yonder man hastening after thee, and many others with him?” “I do see him,” said he; “and in despite of all my orders, I see that thou wilt never keep silence.” Then he turned upon the knight, and with the first thrust he threw him down under his horse’s feet. And as long as there remained one of the fourscore knights, he overthrew every one of them at the first onset. And from the weakest to the strongest, they all attacked him one after the other, except the Earl: and last of all the Earl came against him also. And he broke his lance, and then he broke a second. But Geraint turned upon him, and struck him with his lance upon the centre of his shield, so that by that single thrust the shield was split, and all his armour broken, and he himself was brought over his horse’s crupper to the ground, and was in peril of his life. And Geraint drew near to him; and at the noise of the trampling of his horse the Earl revived. “Mercy, Lord,” said he to Geraint. And Geraint granted him mercy. But through the hardness of the ground where they had fallen, and the violence of the stroke which they had received, there was not a single knight amongst them that escaped without receiving a fall, mortally severe, and grievously painful, and desperately wounding, from the hand of Geraint.
And Geraint journeyed along the high road that was before
him, and the maiden went on first; and near them they beheld a valley which was the fairest ever seen, and which had a large river running through it; and there was a bridge over the river, and the high road led to the bridge. And above the bridge upon the opposite side of the river, they beheld a fortified town, the fairest ever seen. And as they approached the bridge, Geraint saw coming towards him from a thick copse a man mounted upon a large and lofty steed, even of pace and spirited though tractable. “Ah, knight,” said Geraint, “whence comest thou?” “I come,” said he, “from the valley below us.” “Canst thou tell me,” said Geraint, “who is the owner of this fair valley and yonder walled town?” “I will tell thee, willingly,” said he. “Gwiffert Petit he is called by the Franks, but the Cymry call him the Little King.” “Can I go by yonder bridge,” said Geraint, “and by the lower highway that is beneath the town?” Said the knight, “Thou canst not go by his tower on the other side of the bridge, unless thou dost intend to combat him; because it is his custom to encounter every knight that comes upon his lands.” “I declare to Heaven,” said Geraint, “that I will, nevertheless, pursue my journey that way.” “If thou dost so,” said the knight, “thou wilt probably meet with shame and disgrace in reward for thy daring.” Then Geraint proceeded along the road that led to the town, and the road brought him to a ground that was hard, and rugged, and high, and ridgy. And as he journeyed thus, he beheld a knight following him upon a warhorse, strong, and large, and proudly-stepping, and wide-hoofed, and broad-chested. And he never saw a man of smaller stature than he who was upon the horse. And both he and his horse were completely armed. When he had overtaken Geraint, he said to him, “Tell me, chieftain, whether it is through ignorance or through presumption that thou seekest to insult my dignity, and to infringe my rules.” “Nay,” answered Geraint, “I knew not this road was forbid to any.” “Thou didst know it,” said the other; “come with me to my Court, to give me satisfaction.” “That will I not, by my
faith,” said Geraint; “I would not go even to thy Lord’s Court, excepting Arthur were thy Lord.” “By the hand of Arthur himself,” said the knight, “I will have satisfaction of thee, or receive my overthrow at thy hands.” And immediately they charged one another. And a squire of his came to serve him with lances as he broke them. And they gave each other such hard and severe strokes that their shields lost all their colour 174a. But it was very difficult for Geraint to fight with him on account of his small size, for he was hardly able to get a full aim at him with all the efforts he could make. And they fought thus until their horses were brought down upon their knees; and at length Geraint threw the knight headlong to the ground; and then they fought on foot, and they gave one another blows so boldly fierce, so frequent, and so severely powerful, that their helmets were pierced, and their skullcaps were broken, and their arms were shattered, and the light of their eyes was darkened by sweat and blood. At the last Geraint became enraged, and he called to him all his strength; and boldly angry, and swiftly resolute, and furiously determined, he lifted up his sword, and struck him on the crown of his head a blow so mortally painful, so violent, so fierce, and so penetrating, that it cut through all his head armour, and his skin, and his flesh, until it wounded the very bone, and the sword flew out of the hand of the Little King to the furthest end of the plain, and he besought Geraint that he would have mercy and compassion upon him. “Though thou hast been neither courteous nor just,” said Geraint, “thou shalt have mercy, upon condition that thou wilt become my ally, and engage never to fight against me again, but to come to my assistance whenever thou hearest of my being in trouble.” “This will I do, gladly, Lord,” said he. So he pledged him his faith thereof. “And now, Lord, come with me,” said he, “to my Court yonder, to recover from thy weariness and fatigue.” “That will I not, by Heaven,” said he.
Then Gwiffert Petit beheld Enid where she stood, and it grieved him to see one of her noble mien appear so deeply
afflicted. And he said to Geraint, “My Lord, thou doest wrong not to take repose, and refresh thyself awhile; for, if thou meetest with any difficulty in thy present condition, it will not be easy for thee to surmount it.” But Geraint would do no other than proceed on his journey, and he mounted his horse in pain, and all covered with blood. And the maiden went on first, and they proceeded towards the wood which they saw before them.
And the heat of the sun was very great, and through the blood and sweat, Geraint’s armour cleaved to his flesh; and when they came into the wood, he stood under a tree, to avoid the sun’s heat; and his wounds pained him more than they had done at the time when he received them. And the maiden stood under another tree. And lo! they heard the sound of horns, and a tumultuous noise; and the occasion of it was, that Arthur and his company had come down to the wood. And while Geraint was considering which way he should go to avoid them, behold, he was espied by a foot-page, who was an attendant on the Steward of the Household; and he went to the Steward, and told him what kind of man he had seen in the wood. Then the Steward caused his horse to be saddled, and he took his lance and his shield, and went to the place where Geraint was. “Ah, knight!” said he, “what dost thou here?” “I am standing under a shady tree, to avoid the heat and the rays of the sun.” “Wherefore is thy journey, and who art thou?” “I seek adventures, and go where I list.” “Indeed,” said Kai; “then come with me to see Arthur, who is here hard by.” “That will I not, by Heaven,” said Geraint. “Thou must needs come,” said Kai. Then Geraint knew who he was, but Kai did not know Geraint. And Kai attacked Geraint as best he could. And Geraint became wroth, and he struck him with the shaft of his lance, so that he rolled headlong to the ground. But chastisement worse than this would he not inflict on him.
Scared and wildly Kai arose, and he mounted his horse, and went back to his lodging. And thence he proceeded to
Gwalchmai’s tent. “Oh, Sir,” said he to Gwalchmai, “I was told by one of the attendants, that he saw in the wood above a wounded knight, having on battered armour; and if thou dost right, thou wilt go and see if this be true.” “I care not if I do so,” said Gwalchmai. “Take, then, thy horse, and some of thy armour,” said Kai; “for I hear that he is not over courteous to those who approach him.” So Gwalchmai took his spear and his shield, and mounted his horse, and came to the spot where Geraint was. “Sir Knight,” said he, “wherefore is thy journey?” “I journey for my own pleasure, and to seek the adventures of the world.” “Wilt thou tell me who thou art; or wilt thou come and visit Arthur, who is near at hand?” “I will make no alliance with thee, nor will I go and visit Arthur,” said he. And he knew that it was Gwalchmai, but Gwalchmai knew him not. “I purpose not to leave thee,” said Gwalchmai, “till I know who thou art.” And he charged him with his lance, and struck him on his shield, so that the shaft was shivered into splinters, and their horses were front to front. Then Gwalchmai gazed fixedly upon him, and he knew him. “Ah, Geraint,” said he, “is it thou that art here?” “I am not Geraint,” said he. “Geraint thou art, by Heaven,” he replied, “and a wretched and insane expedition is this.” Then he looked around, and beheld Enid, and he welcomed her gladly. “Geraint,” said Gwalchmai, “come thou and see Arthur; he is thy lord and thy cousin.” “I will not,” said he, “for I am not in a fit state to go and see any one.” Thereupon, behold, one of the pages came after Gwalchmai to speak to him. So he sent him to apprise Arthur that Geraint was there wounded, and that he would not go to visit him, and that it was pitiable to see the plight that he was in. And this he did without Geraint’s knowledge, inasmuch as he spoke in a whisper to the page. “Entreat Arthur,” said he, “to have his tent brought near to the road, for he will not meet him willingly, and it is not easy to compel him in the mood he is in.” So the page came to Arthur, and told him this. And he caused his tent to be removed unto the side of the road. And the maiden rejoiced
in her heart. And Gwalchmai led Geraint onwards along the road, till they came to the place where Arthur was encamped, and the pages were pitching his tent by the roadside. “Lord,” said Geraint, “all hail unto thee.” “Heaven prosper thee; and who art thou?” said Arthur. “It is Geraint,” said Gwalchmai, “and of his own free will would he not come to meet thee.” “Verily,” said Arthur, “he is bereft of his reason.” Then came Enid, and saluted Arthur. “Heaven protect thee,” said he. And thereupon he caused one of the pages to take her from her horse. “Alas! Enid,” said Arthur, “what expedition is this?” “I know not, Lord,” said she, “save that it behoves me to journey by the same road that he journeys.” “My Lord,” said Geraint, “with thy permission we will depart.” “Whither wilt thou go?” said Arthur. “Thou canst not proceed now, unless it be unto thy death.” “He will not suffer himself to be invited by me,” said Gwalchmai. “But by me he will,” said Arthur; “and, moreover, he does not go from here until he is healed.” “I had rather, Lord,” said Geraint, “that thou wouldest let me go forth.” “That will I not, I declare to Heaven,” said he. Then he caused a maiden to be sent for to conduct Enid to the tent where Gwenhwyvar’s chamber was. And Gwenhwyvar and all her women were joyful at her coming; and they took off her riding-dress, and placed other garments upon her. Arthur also called Kadyrieith, and ordered him to pitch a tent for Geraint and the physicians; and he enjoined him to provide him with abundance of all that might be requisite for him. And Kadyrieith did as he had commanded him. And Morgan Tud and his disciples were brought to Geraint.
And Arthur and his hosts remained there nearly a month, whilst Geraint was being healed. And when he was fully recovered, Geraint came to Arthur, and asked his permission to depart. “I know not if thou art quite well.” “In truth I am, Lord,” said Geraint. “I shall not believe thee concerning that, but the physicians that were with thee.” So Arthur caused the physicians to be summoned to him, and asked them if it were true. “It is true, Lord,” said Morgan
[paragraph continues] Tud. So the next day Arthur permitted him to go forth, and he pursued his journey. And on the same day Arthur removed thence. And Geraint desired Enid to go on, and to keep before him, as she had formerly done. And she went forward along the high road. And as they journeyed thus, they heard an exceeding loud wailing near to them. “Stay thou here,” said he, “and I will go and see what is the cause of this wailing.” “I will,” said she. Then he went forward unto an open glade that was near the road. And in the glade he saw two horses, one having a man’s saddle, and the other a woman’s saddle 178a upon it. And, behold, there was a knight lying dead in his armour, and a young damsel in a riding-dress standing over him, lamenting. “Ah! Lady,” said Geraint, “what hath befallen thee?” “Behold,” she answered, “I journeyed here with my beloved husband, when, lo! three giants came upon us, and without any cause in the world, they slew him.” “Which way went they hence?” said Geraint. “Yonder by the high road,” she replied. So he returned to Enid. “Go,” said he, “to the lady that is below yonder, and await me there till I come.” She was sad when he ordered her to do thus, but nevertheless she went to the damsel, whom it was ruth to hear, and she felt certain that Geraint would never return. Meanwhile Geraint followed the giants, and overtook them. And each of them was greater of stature than three other men, and a huge club was on the shoulder of each. Then he rushed upon one of them, and thrust his lance through his body. And having drawn it forth again, he pierced another of them through likewise. But the third turned upon him, and struck him with his club, so that he split his shield, and crushed his shoulder, and opened his wounds anew, and all his blood began to flow from him. But Geraint drew his sword, and attacked the giant, and gave him a blow on the crown of his head so severe, and fierce, and violent, that his head and his neck were split down to his shoulders, and he fell dead. So Geraint left him thus, and returned to Enid. And when he saw her, he fell down lifeless from his horse. Piercing, and loud, and thrilling was the cry
that Enid uttered. And she came and stood over him where he had fallen. And at the sound of her cries came the Earl of Limours, and the host that journeyed with him, whom her lamentations brought out of their road. And the Earl said to Enid, “Alas, Lady, what hath befallen thee?” “Ah! good Sir,” said she, “the only man I have loved, or ever shall love, is slain.” Then he said to the other, “And what is the cause of thy grief?” “They have slain my beloved husband also,” said she. “And who was it that slew them?” “Some giants,” she answered, “slew my best-beloved, and the other knight went in pursuit of them, and came back in the state thou seest, his blood flowing excessively; but it appears to me that he did not leave the giants without killing some of them, if not all.” The Earl caused the knight that was dead to be buried, but he thought that there still remained some life in Geraint; and to see if he yet would live, he had him carried with him in the hollow of his shield, and upon a bier. And the two damsels went to the Court; and when they arrived there, Geraint was placed upon a litter-couch in front of the table that was in the hall. Then they all took off their travelling gear, and the Earl besought Enid to do the same, and to clothe herself in other garments. “I will not, by Heaven,” said she. “Ah! Lady,” said he, “be not so sorrowful for this matter.” “It were hard to persuade me to be otherwise,” said she. “I will act towards thee in such wise, that thou needest not be sorrowful, whether yonder knight live or die. Behold, a good Earldom, together with myself, will I bestow on thee; be, therefore, happy and joyful.” “I declare to Heaven,” said she, “that henceforth I shall never be joyful while I live.” “Come, then,” said he, “and eat.” “No, by Heaven, I will not,” she answered. “But, by Heaven, thou shalt,” said he. So he took her with him to the table against her will, and many times desired her to eat. “I call Heaven to witness,” said she, “that I will not eat until the man that is upon yonder bier shall eat likewise.” “Thou canst not fulfil that,” said the Earl, “yonder man is dead already.” “I will prove that I can,” said she. Then
he offered her a goblet of liquor. “Drink this goblet,” he said, “and it will cause thee to change thy mind.” “Evil betide me,” she answered, “if I drink aught until he drink also.” “Truly,” said the Earl, “it is of no more avail for me to be gentle with thee than ungentle.” And he gave her a box on the ear. Thereupon she raised a loud and piercing shriek, and her lamentations were much greater than they had been before, for she considered in her mind that had Geraint been alive, he durst not have struck her thus. But, behold, at the sound of her cry, Geraint revived from his swoon, and he sat up on the bier, and finding his sword in the hollow of his shield, he rushed to the place where the Earl was, and struck him a fiercely-wounding, severely-venomous, and sternly-smiting blow upon the crown of his head, so that he clove him in twain, until his sword was stayed by the table. Then all left the board, and fled away. And this was not so much through fear of the living as through the dread they felt at seeing the dead man rise up to slay them. And Geraint looked upon Enid, and he was grieved for two causes; one was, to see that Enid had lost her colour and her wonted aspect, and the other, to know that she was in the right. “Lady,” said he, “knowest thou where our horses are?” “I know, Lord, where thy horse is,” she replied, “but I know not where is the other. Thy horse is in the house yonder.” So he went to the house, and brought forth his horse, and mounted him, and took up Enid from the ground, and placed her upon the horse with him. And he rode forward. And their road lay between two hedges. And the night was gaining on the day. And lo! they saw behind them the shafts of spears betwixt them and the sky, and they heard the trampling of horses, and the noise of a host approaching. “I hear something following us,” said he, “and I will put thee on the other side of the hedge.” And thus he did. And thereupon, behold, a knight pricked towards him, and couched his lance. When Enid saw this, she cried out, saying, “Oh! chieftain, whoever thou art, what renown wilt thou gain by slaying a dead man?” “Oh! Heaven,” said
he, “is it Geraint?” “Yes, in truth,” said she. “And who art thou?” “I am the Little King,” he answered, “coming to thy assistance, for I heard that thou wast in trouble. And if thou hadst followed my advice, none of these hardships would have befallen thee.” “Nothing can happen,” said Geraint, “without the will of Heaven, though much good results from counsel.” “Yes,” said the Little King, “and I know good counsel for thee now. Come with me to the court of a son-in-law of my sister, which is near here, and thou shalt have the best medical assistance in the kingdom.” “I will do so gladly,” said Geraint. And Enid was placed upon the horse of one of the Little King’s squires, and they went forward to the Baron’s palace. And they were received there with gladness, and they met with hospitality and attention. And the next morning they went to seek physicians; and it was not long before they came, and they attended Geraint until he was perfectly well. And while Geraint was under medical care, the Little King caused his armour to be repaired, until it was as good as it had ever been. And they remained there a fortnight and a month.
Then the Little King said to Geraint, “Now will we go towards my own Court, to take rest, and amuse ourselves.” “Not so,” said Geraint, “we will first journey for one day more, and return again.” “With all my heart,” said the Little King, “do thou go then.” And early in the day they set forth. And more gladly and more joyfully did Enid journey with them that day than she had ever done. And they came to the main road. And when they reached a place where the road divided in two, they beheld a man on foot coming towards them along one of these roads, and Gwiffert asked the man whence he came. “I come,” said he, “from an errand in the country.” “Tell me,” said Geraint, “which is the best for me to follow of these two roads?” “That is the best for thee to follow,” answered he, “for if thou goest by this one, thou wilt never return. Below us,” said he, “there is a hedge of mist, and within it are enchanted games 181a, and no one who has gone there has ever returned. And
the Court of the Earl Owain is there, and he permits no one to go to lodge in the town, except he will go to his Court.” “I declare to Heaven,” said Geraint, “that we will take the lower road.” And they went along it until they came to the town. And they took the fairest and pleasantest place in the town for their lodging. And while they were thus, behold, a young man came to them, and greeted them. “Heaven be propitious to thee,” said they. “Good Sirs,” said he, “what preparations are you making here?” “We are taking up our lodging,” said they, “to pass the night.” “It is not the custom with him who owns the town,” he answered, “to permit any of gentle birth, unless they come to stay in his Court, to abide here; therefore, come ye to the Court.” “We will come, gladly,” said Geraint. And they went with the page, and they were joyfully received. And the Earl came to the hall to meet them, and he commanded the tables to be laid. And they washed, and sat down. And this is the order in which they sat: Geraint on one side of the Earl, and Enid on the other side, and next to Enid the Little King, and then the Countess next to Geraint; and all after that as became their rank. Then Geraint recollected the games, and thought that he should not go to them; and on that account he did not eat. Then the Earl looked upon Geraint, and considered, and he bethought him that his not eating was because of the games, and it grieved him that he had ever established those games, were it only on account of losing such a youth as Geraint. And if Geraint had asked him to abolish the games, he would gladly have done so. Then the Earl said to Geraint, “What thought occupies thy mind, that thou dost not eat? If thou hesitatest about going to the games, thou shalt not go, and no other of thy rank shall ever go either.” “Heaven reward thee,” said Geraint, “but I wish nothing better than to go to the games, and to be shown the way thither.” “If that is what thou dost prefer, thou shalt obtain it willingly.” “I do prefer it, indeed,” said he. Then they ate, and they were amply served, and they had a variety of gifts, and abundance of liquor. And when they had finished
eating they arose. And Geraint called for his horse and his armour, and he accoutred both himself and his horse. And all the hosts went forth until they came to the side of the hedge, and the hedge was so lofty, that it reached as high as they could see in the air, and upon every stake in the hedge, except two, there was the head of a man, and the number of stakes throughout the hedge was very great. Then said the Little King, “May no one go in with the chieftain?” “No one may,” said Earl Owain. “Which way can I enter?” inquired Geraint. “I know not,” said Owain, “but enter by the way that thou wilt, and that seemeth easiest to thee.”
Then fearlessly and unhesitatingly Geraint dashed forward into the mist. And on leaving the mist, he came to a large orchard; and in the orchard he saw an open space, wherein was a tent of red satin; and the door of the tent was open, and an apple-tree stood in front of the door of the tent; and on a branch of the apple-tree hung a huge hunting-horn. Then he dismounted, and went into the tent; and there was no one in the tent save one maiden sitting in a golden chair, and another chair was opposite to her, empty. And Geraint went to the empty chair, and sat down therein. “Ah! chieftain,” said the maiden, “I would not counsel thee to sit in that chair.” “Wherefore?” said Geraint. “The man to whom that chair belongs has never suffered another to sit in it.” “I care not,” said Geraint, “though it displease him that I sit in the chair.” And thereupon they heard a mighty tumult around the tent. And Geraint looked to see what was the cause of the tumult. And he beheld without a knight mounted upon a warhorse, proudly snorting, high-mettled, and large of bone; and a robe of honour in two parts was upon him and upon his horse, and beneath it was plenty of armour. “Tell me, chieftain,” said he to Geraint, “who it was that bade thee sit there?” “Myself,” answered he. “It was wrong of thee to do me this shame and disgrace. Arise, and do me satisfaction for thine insolence.” Then Geraint arose; and they encountered immediately; and they broke a set of lances, and a second set, and a third; and they gave each
other fierce and frequent strokes; and at last Geraint became enraged, and he urged on his horse, and rushed upon him, and gave him a thrust on the centre of his shield, so that it was split, and so that the head of his lance went through his armour, and his girths were broken, and he himself was borne headlong to the ground the length of Geraint’s lance and arm, over his horse’s crupper. “Oh, my Lord!” said he, “thy mercy, and thou shalt have what thou wilt.” “I only desire,” said Geraint, “that this game shall no longer exist here, nor the hedge of mist, nor magic, nor enchantment.” “Thou shalt have this gladly, Lord,” he replied. “Cause, then, the mist to disappear from this place,” said Geraint. “Sound yonder horn,” said he, “and when thou soundest it, the mist will vanish; but it will not go hence unless the horn be blown by the knight by whom I am vanquished.” And sad and sorrowful was Enid where she remained, through anxiety concerning Geraint. Then Geraint went and sounded the horn. And at the first blast he gave, the mist vanished. And all the hosts came together, and they all became reconciled to each other. And the Earl invited Geraint and the Little King to stay with him that night. And the next morning they separated. And Geraint went towards his own dominions; and thenceforth he reigned prosperously, and his warlike fame and splendour lasted with renown and honour both to him and to Enid from that time forth.