Historical Tales: 13—King Arthur - Charles Morris

How Beaumains Won His Bride

After the ten days of feasting and pleasure that followed the events we have just related, the Red Knight of the Red Lawns set out with his noblest followers to Arthur's court, to make submission as he had covenanted. When he had gone, Beaumains armed himself, took his horse and spear, and rode to the castle of the Lady Lioness. But when he came to the gate he found there many armed men, who pulled up the drawbridge and let fall the portcullis.

Marvelling deeply that he was denied admittance, Beaumains looked up at the window, where he saw the lady of the castle, who called out to him,—

"Go thy way, Sir Beaumains. You shall not yet have my love till you have earned for yourself a name of world-wide honor. I bid you, therefore, go strive for fame and glory this twelvemonth, and when you return you shall hear new tidings."

"Alas, fair lady," said Beaumains, "is this all I have deserved of you? I thought I had bought your love at the price of some of the best blood in my body."

"Fair, courteous knight, be not so hasty," answered Lioness. "Your labor and your love shall not be lost. A twelvemonth will soon pass away; and trust me that I shall be true to you, and to my death shall love no other than you."

With this she turned from the window, and Beaumains rode slowly away from the castle in deep sorrow, and heeding not whither he went till deep night came upon him. The next day he rode in the same heedless fashion, and at night couched in a wayside lodge, bidding the dwarf guard his horse and watch all night.

But near day dawn came a knight in black armor, who, seeing that Beaumains slept soundly, crept slyly behind the dwarf, caught him up under his arm, and rode away with him at full speed. But as he rode, the dwarf called loudly to his master for help, waking the sleeping knight, who sprang to his feet and saw the robber and the dwarf vanishing into the distance.

Then Beaumains armed himself in a fury, and rode straight forward through marshes and dales, so hot upon the chase that he heeded not the road, and was more than once flung by his stumbling horse into the mire. At length he met a country-man, whom he asked for information.

[Illustration] from King Arthur I by Charles Morris


"Sir knight," he answered, "I have seen the rider with the dwarf. But I advise you to follow him no farther. His name is Sir Gringamore; he dwells but two miles from here, and he is one of the most valiant knights of the country round."

With little dread from this warning, Beaumains rode on, with double fury as he came near the robber's castle. Soon he thundered through the gates, which stood wide open, and sword in hand cried, in a voice that rang through the castle,—

"Thou traitor, Sir Gringamore, yield me my dwarf again, or by the faith that I owe to the order of knighthood I will make you repent bitterly your false deed."

Meanwhile, within the castle matters of interest were occurring. For Gringamore was brother to the Lady Lioness, and had stolen the dwarf at her request, that she might learn from him who Beaumains really was. The dwarf, under threat of imprisonment for life, thus answered,—

"I fear to tell his name and kindred. Yet if I must I will say that he is a king's son, that his mother is sister to King Arthur, and that his name is Sir Gareth of Orkney. Now, I pray you, let me go to him again, for he will have me in spite of you, and if he be angry, he will work you much rack and ruin."

"As for that," said Gringamore, "it can wait. Let us go to dinner."

"He may well be a king's son," said Linet to her sister, "for he is the most courteous and long-suffering man I ever met. I tried him with such reviling as never lady uttered before, but he bore it all with meek and gentle answers. Yet to armed knights he was like a lion."

As they thus talked, the challenge of Beaumains rang loud from the castle court. Then Gringamore called loudly to him from a window,—

"Cease your boasting, Gareth of Orkney, you will not get your dwarf again."

"Thou coward knight," cried Beaumains. "Bring him here, and do battle with me. Then if you can win him, keep him."

"So I will when I am ready. But you will not get him by loud words."

"Do not anger him, brother," said Lioness. "I have all I want from the dwarf, and he may have him again. But do not let him know who I am. Let him think me a strange lady."

"Very well," said Gringamore; "if that is your wish, he can have the dwarf." Then he went down to the court and said,—

"Sir, I beg your pardon, and am ready to amend all the harm I have done you. Pray alight, and take such cheer as my poor castle affords."

"Shall I have my dwarf?" said Gareth.

"Yes. Since he told me who you are, and of your noble deeds, I am ready to return him."

Then Gareth dismounted, and the dwarf came and took his horse.

"Oh, my little fellow," said Gareth, "I have had many adventures for your sake."

Gringamore then led him into the hall and presented him to his wife. And while they stood there conversing Dame Lioness came forth dressed like a princess, and was presented to the knight.

When Gareth saw her his feeling for the Lady Lioness weakened in his heart, and it grew ready to vanish as the day passed, and he conversed much with this strange and lovely lady. There were all manner of games, and sports of dancing and singing, and the more he beheld her the more he loved her, while through his heart ran ever the thought: "Would that the lady of the Castle Dangerous were half so lovely and charming as this beautiful stranger."

When supper came, Gareth could not eat, and hardly knew where he was, so hot had his love grown. All this was noted by Gringamore, who after supper took his sister aside and said,—

"I can well see how matters stand between you and this noble knight. And it seems to me you cannot do better than to bestow your hand upon him."

"I should like to try him further," she replied, "though he has done me noble service, and my heart is warmly turned to him."

Gringamore then went to Gareth and said,—

"Sir, I welcome you gladly to my house, for I can see that you dearly love my sister, and that she loves you as well. With my will she is yours if you wish her."

"If she will accept me," answered Gareth, "there will be no happier man on earth."

"Trust me for that," said Gringamore.

"I fancied I loved the Lady Lioness," said Gareth, "and promised for her sake to return to this country in a twelvemonth. But since I have seen your sister I fear my love for her is gone."

"It was too sudden to be deep," said Gringamore. "She will be consoled, doubt not. Now let me take you to my sister."

Then he led Gareth to his sister and left them together, where they told each other their love, and Gareth kissed her many times, and their hearts were filled with joy.

"But how is it with the Lady Lioness, to whom you vowed your love?" she asked.

"Promised; not vowed," he answered. "And she was not ready to accept it, but gave me a twelvemonth's probation. Moreover, I saw but her face at a window, and that was little to base love upon."

"Did she look like me?"

"Somewhat, but not half so lovely."

"Do you think you could have loved her so well?"

"No, indeed; for I will vow by sword and spear that there is no woman in the world so charming as you."

"I fear that the Lady Lioness loves you, and that her heart will be broken."

"How could she? She saw so little of me."

"I know she loves you; she has told me so. I bid you to forget me and make her happy."

"That I can never do. You do not love me, or you could not say this."

"You are my heart's desire. But I feel deeply for the Lady Lioness, whose love I know. If you cannot love her alone, you may love us both together. I grant you this privilege."

"I will not accept it," said Gareth, looking strangely at her smiling countenance. "I love but you; my heart can hold no more."

"You blind fellow," she answered, with a merry laugh, "you looked not at the Lady Lioness closely, or you would not so easily forget your troth plight. Know, sirrah, that I am the lady of the Castle Dangerous, that my name is Lioness, and that I am she whom you have so lightly thrown aside for the love of a strange lady."

Then Gareth looked into her glowing countenance, and saw there that she spoke the truth and that he had been pleasantly beguiled. With a warm impulse of love he caught her in his arms and kissed her rosy lips, exclaiming,—

"I withdraw it all. I love you both; the lady of the Castle Dangerous a little; but the lady of the Castle Amorous as my heart's mistress, to dwell there while life remains."

Then they conversed long and joyfully, and she told him why she had made her brother steal the dwarf, and why she had deceived him, so as to win his love for herself alone. And they plighted their troth, and vowed that their love for each other should never cease.

Other strange things happened to Gareth in that castle, through the spells of the damsel Linet, who knew something of sorcery. But these we shall not tell, but return to King Arthur's court, in which at the next feast of Pentecost a high festival was held at Carlion.

Hither, during the feast, came all those whom Gareth had overcome, and yielded themselves, saying that they had been sent thither by a knight named Beaumains. But most of all was Arthur surprised by the deeds of his kitchen boy when the Red Knight of the Red Lawns rode up with six hundred followers, and yielded himself as vassal to Beaumains and to the king. Arthur then, charging him strictly that he should do no more deeds of murder, gave to Sir Ironside, which was the knight's name, the greatest honors of his court, and also to the green and the red knights, and to Sir Persant of Inde, who were all present with their followers.

But while the court was at feast there came in the queen of Orkney, with a great following of knights and ladies, seeking her young son Gareth. She was lovingly saluted by her sons Gawaine, Gaheris, and Agravaine, who for fifteen years had not seen her, but she loudly demanded Gareth of her brother King Arthur.

"He was here among you a twelvemonth, and you made a kitchen knave of him, which I hold to be a shame to you all. What have you done to the dear son who was my joy and bliss?"

These words filled all hearts with a strange sensation, and most of all that of Gawaine, who thought it marvellous that he should have made so much of his brother and not known him. Then Arthur told his sister of all that had happened, and cheered her heart with a recital of her son's great deeds, and promised to have the whole realm searched till he should be found.

"You shall not need," said Lancelot. "My advice is that you send a messenger to Dame Lioness, and request her to come in all haste to court. Let her give you counsel where to find him. I doubt not she knows where he is."

This counsel seemed judicious to the king, and he sent the messenger as requested, who came in due time to the Castle Dangerous, and delivered his letters to Lioness.

She brought these to her brother and Gareth, and asked what she should do.

"My lady and love," said Gareth, "if you go to Arthur's court I beg that you will not let them know where I am. But give this advice to the king, that he call a great tournament, to be held at your castle at the feast of the Assumption, and announce that whatever knight proves himself best shall wed you and win your lands. Be sure that I will be there to do my best in your service."

This advice pleased the lady, whose warm faith in the prowess of her lover told her that he would win in the tournament. She therefore set out with a noble escort and rode to King Arthur's court, where she was received with the highest honors. The king closely questioned her about Sir Gareth, desiring particularly to know what had become of him. She answered that where he was she was not at liberty to tell, and said further to the king,—

"Sir, there is a way to find him. It is my purpose to call a tournament, which shall be held before my castle at the feast of the Assumption. You, my lord Arthur, must be there with your knights, and my knights shall be against you. I doubt me not that then you shall hear of Sir Gareth."

"That is well advised," said the king.

"It shall be announced," she continued, "that the knight who proves the best shall wed me and be lord of my lands. If he be already wedded, his wife shall have a coronal of gold, set with precious stones to the value of a thousand pounds, and a white jerfalcon."

"It is well," said the king. "That will bring Sir Gareth, if he be alive and able to come. If he would win you, he must do his duty nobly."

Soon after the Lady Lioness departed and returned to her castle, where she told all that had passed, and began preparations for the tournament, which was to be held two months from that day.

Gareth sent for Sir Persant of Inde, and for Sir Ironside, the Red Knight of the Red Lawns, bidding them be ready with all their followers, to fight on his side against King Arthur and his knights. And the cry for the tournament was made in England, Wales and Scotland, Ireland, and Cornwall, and in all the out islands, and in Brittany and other countries. Many good knights came from afar, eager to win honor in the lists, the most of whom held with the party of the castle against King Arthur and his knights.

In due time King Arthur and his following appeared at the Castle Dangerous, there being with him Gawaine and the other brothers of Gareth, Lancelot with his nephews and cousins, and all the most valiant Knights of the Round Table, with various kings who owed him knightly service, as noble a band of warriors as had ever been seen in the land.

Meanwhile Dame Lioness had hospitably entertained the knights of her party, providing ample lodging and food, though abundance was left to be had for gold and silver by King Arthur and his knights.

But Gareth begged her and all who knew him in no manner to make known his name, but to deal with him as if he were the least of their company, as he wished to fight in secret and bide his own time to declare himself.

"Sir," said Dame Lioness to him, "if such be your desire, I will lend you a ring, whose virtue is such that it will turn that which is green to red, and that which is red to green; and also turn blue to white, and white to blue, and so with all colors. And he who wears it will lose no blood, however desperately he fights. For the great love I bear you I lend you this ring; but as you love me heartily in return, let me have it again when the tournament is done, for this ring increases my beauty more than it is of itself."

"My own dear lady," cried Gareth, "now indeed you prove your love for me. Gladly shall I wear that ring, for I much desire not to be known."

Then Sir Gringamore gave Gareth a powerful bay courser, and a suit of the best of armor; and with them a noble sword which his father had long before won from a heathen tyrant. And so the lover made ready for the tournament, of which his lady-love was to be the prize.

Two days before the Assumption of our Lady, King Arthur reached the castle, and for those two days rich feasting was held, while royal minstrelsy and merry-making of all kinds filled every soul with joy. But when came the morning of the Assumption all was restless bustle and warlike confusion. At an early hour the heralds were commanded to blow to the field, and soon from every side a throng of knights was to be seen riding gayly to the lists, while a goodly host of spectators made haste to take their seats, all eager to behold that noble passage-at-arms.

Valorous and worthy were the deeds that followed, for hosts of the best knights in the world had gathered in the lists, and there was wondrous breaking of spears and unhorsing of knights, while many who boasted of their firm seat in the saddle went headlong to the earth.

At length there rode into the lists Sir Gareth and Sir Ironside from the castle, each of whom smote to the ground the first knights that encountered them, and before long time had passed Gareth had with one spear unhorsed seven knights of renown.

When King Agwisance of Ireland saw this new-comer fare so nobly, he marvelled much who he might be, for at one time he seemed green and at another blue, his color appearing to change at every course as he rode to and fro, so that no eye could readily follow him.

"I must try this strange turn-color knight myself," said Sir Agwisance, and he spurred his horse vigorously on Gareth.

But with a mighty stroke of his spear Gareth thrust him from his horse, saddle and all. Then King Carados of Scotland rode against him, and was hurled to the earth, horse and man. King Uriens of Gore, King Bagdemagus, and others who tried their fortune, were served in the same manner. Then Sir Galahalt, the high prince, cried loudly,—

"Knight of the many colors, well hast thou jousted; now make ready, that I may joust with thee."

Gareth heard him, and got a great spear, and quickly the two knights encountered, the prince breaking his spear. But Gareth smote him on the left side of the helm so that he reeled in his saddle, and would have fallen had not his men supported him.

"Truly," said King Arthur, "that knight with the many colors is a lusty fighter. Lancelot, do you try his mettle, before he beats all our best men."

"Sir," said Lancelot, "I should hold it unjust to meet him fresh after his hard labors. It is not the part of a good knight to rob one of the honor for which he has worked so nobly. It may be that he is best beloved of the lady of all that are here, for I can see that he enforces himself to do great deeds. Therefore, for me, he shall have what honor he has won; though it lay in my power to put him from it, I would not."

And now, in the lists, the breaking of spears was followed by drawing of swords; and then there began a sore tournament. There did Sir Lamorak marvellous deeds of arms, and betwixt him and Sir Ironside there was a strong battle, and one also between Palamides and Bleoberis. Then came in Lancelot, who rode against Sir Turquine and his brother Carados, fighting them both together.

Seeing Lancelot thus hard pressed, Gareth pushed his horse between him and his opponents, and hurtled them asunder, but no stroke would he smite Sir Lancelot, but rode briskly on, striking to right and left, so that his path was marked by the knights he overturned.

Afterward Gareth rode out of the press of knights to adjust his helm, which had become loosened. Here his dwarf came briskly up with drink, and said to him,—

"Let me hold your ring, that you lose it not while you drink."

Gareth gave it to him, and quaffed deeply of the refreshing draught, for he was burning with thirst. This done, his eagerness to return to the fray was so great that he forgot the ring, which he left in the keeping of the dwarf, while he replaced his helm, mounted his horse, and rode briskly back to the lists.

When he reached the field again he was in yellow armor, and there he rashed off helms and pulled down knights till King Arthur marvelled more than ever what knight this was, for though his color changed no more, the king saw by his hair that he was the same knight.

"Go and ride about that yellow knight," said the king to several heralds, "and see if you can learn who he is. I have asked many knights of his party to-day, and none of them know him."

So a herald rode as near Gareth as he could, and there he saw written about his helm in letters of gold, "This helm is Sir Gareth's of Orkney."

Then the herald cried out as if he were mad, and many others echoed his words, "The knight in the yellow arms is Sir Gareth of Orkney, King Lot's son!"

When Gareth saw that he was discovered he doubled his strokes in his anger, and smote down Sir Sagramore, and his brother Gawaine.

"Oh, brother!" cried Gawaine, "I did not deem that you would strike me. Can you not find food enough for your sword, without coming so near home?"

On hearing this, Gareth was troubled in soul, and with great force made his way out of the press, meeting his dwarf outside.

"Faithless boy!" he cried; "you have beguiled me foully to-day by keeping my ring. Give it to me again; I am too well known without it."

He took the ring, and at once he changed color again, so that all lost sight of him but Gawaine, who had kept his eyes fixed upon him. Leaving the lists, Gareth now rode into the forest, followed at a distance by his brother, who soon lost sight of him in the woodland depths.

When Gareth saw that he had thus distanced his pursuer, he turned to the dwarf and asked his counsel as to what should now be done.

"Sir," said the dwarf, "it seems best to me, now that you are free from danger of spying, that you send my lady, Dame Lioness, her ring. It is too precious a thing to keep from her."

"That is well advised," said Gareth. "Take it to her, and say that I recommend myself to her good grace, and will come when I may; and pray her to be true and faithful to me, as I will be to her."

"It shall be done as you command," said the dwarf, and, receiving the ring, he rode on his errand.

The Lady Lioness received him graciously, and listened with beaming eyes to Gareth's message.

"Where is my knight?" she asked.

"He bade me say that he would not be long from you," answered the dwarf.

Then, bearing a tender reply from the lady, the dwarf sought his master again, and found him impatiently waiting, for he was weary and needed repose.

As they rode forward through the forest a storm of thunder and lightning came up suddenly, and it rained as if heaven and earth were coming together. On through this conflict of the elements rode the weary knight and the disconsolate dwarf, under the drenching leaves of the forest, until night was near at hand. And still it thundered and lightened as if all the spirits of the air had gone mad.

At last, through an opening in the trees, Gareth to his delight beheld the towers of a castle, and heard the watchman's call upon its walls.

"Good luck follows bad, my worthy dwarf," he cried. "Here is shelter; let us to it."

He rode to the barbican of the castle and called to the porter, praying him in courteous language to let him in from the storm.

"Go thy way," cried the porter, surlily; "thou gettest no lodging here."

"Say not so, fair sir. I am a knight of King Arthur's, and pray the lord or lady of this castle to give me harbor for love of the king."

Then the porter went to the duchess, and told her that a knight of King Arthur's sought shelter.

"I will see him," said the duchess; "for King Arthur's sake he shall not go harborless."

Then she went up into a tower over the gate, with great torch-light, that she might behold the storm-stayed wayfarer. When Gareth saw the light, he cried loudly,—

"Whether thou be lord or lady, giant or champion, I pray for harbor this night. If it be that I must fight for my lodging, spare me that till morning, when I have rested, for I and my horse are both weary."

"Sir knight," said the lady, "you speak like a bold knight errant. This you must know, that the lord of this castle loves not King Arthur nor any of his court. Therefore, it were better for you not to enter here. If you come in it must be under this contract, that wherever you meet my lord, by road, by lane, or by street, you shall yield to him as his prisoner."

"Madam," asked Gareth, "what is your lord's name?"

"He is the Duke de la Rowse," she answered.

"Well, madam, it shall be as you say. I promise that wherever I meet your lord I shall yield me to his good grace, with the covenant that he will do me no harm. If I understand that he will, then shall I release myself as best I can with sword and spear."

"You speak well and wisely," answered the duchess, and she ordered that the drawbridge be lowered.

Gareth rode into the court-yard, where he alighted and gave his horse to a stableman. Then he was led to the hall, where his dwarf removed his armor.

"Madam," he said, "I shall not leave this hall to-night. When it comes daylight if any one wants to fight me he will find me ready."

Supper was now prepared, the table being garnished with many goodly dishes, and the duchess and other fair ladies sat by while Gareth ate, some of them saying that they never saw a man of nobler carriage or aspect. Shortly after he had supped, his bed was made in the hall, and there he rested all night.

In the morning he heard mass and took his leave of the duchess and her lady attendants, thanking her warmly for his lodging and the good cheer she had set before him. She now asked him his name.

"Madam," he replied, "my name is Gareth of Orkney, though some men call me Beaumains."

Hearing this, she bade him adieu with great courtesy, for she now knew that she had entertained the knight who had rescued Dame Lioness, and the victor at the tournament.

As for Gareth, he rode onward mile after mile, till he found himself on a mountain side, where he was confronted by a knight named Sir Bendelaine, who demanded that he should joust or yield himself prisoner. Gareth, angry at this demand, rode against the freebooter and smote him so furiously that his spear pierced his body, so that he died on reaching his castle.

Quickly a throng of his knights and servants, furious at their lord's death, rode after the victor and assailed him fiercely. When they saw how well he defended himself, they attacked his horse and killed it with spear-thrusts, and then rushed in a body on the dismounted knight. But they found him still more than their match, for one after another of them fell beneath his sword till only four were left. These fled in terror to the castle, and Gareth, taking the best of their horses, rode leisurely on his way.

Many miles farther had he gone when he found himself near a roadside castle, from whose walls there came to his ears dismal lamentations in ladies' voices. While he stood wondering at this there came by a page.

"What noise is that within the castle?" asked Gareth.

"Sir knight," answered the page, "within this castle there are thirty ladies, all widows, for their husbands have been slain by the lord of the castle, who is called the brown knight without pity, and there is no more perilous knight now living. Therefore," continued the page, "I bid you flee."

"You may be afraid of him," said Gareth; "but I shall not flee for that."

Then the page saw the brown knight coming.

"Lo! yonder he cometh," he said.

"Let me deal with him," said Gareth.

When the brown knight saw a champion in the road, with spear in rest, awaiting him, he prepared quickly for the combat, and spurring his strong war-horse, rode furiously upon Gareth, breaking his spear in the middle of his shield. But Gareth struck him a fatal blow in return, for his spear went through his body, so that he fell to the ground stark dead.

Then the victor rode into the castle, and prayed the ladies that he might find repose there for the night.

"Alas!" they cried, "that cannot be."

"Give him your best cheer," said the page, "for this knight has killed your enemy."

Hearing this, they joyfully did their utmost to make him comfortable. In the morning, when he was ready to depart, he went to mass, and there saw the thirty ladies kneeling, and some of them grovelling upon the tombs, with the greatest sorrow and lamentation.

"Fair ladies, you have my pity," he said. "Grieve no more, I pray you; your enemy is justly punished for his crimes."

So with few words he departed, and rode onward till fortune brought him into another mountain. Not far up its slope had he gone when he saw before him a sturdy knight, who bade him stand and joust.

"Who are you?" asked Gareth.

"I am the Duke de la Rowse."

"Then I lodged lately in your castle, and promised your lady that I should yield unto you."

"Ah!" said the duke, "are you that proud knight who proffered to fight with any of my followers? Make ready, sirrah; I must have a passage-at-arms with you, for I would know which of us is the better man."

So they spurred together, and Gareth smote the duke from his horse. But in a moment he was on his feet, sword in hand, and bidding his antagonist to alight and continue the battle on foot. Nothing loath, Gareth obeyed, and for more than an hour they fought, until both were sorely hurt. But in the end Gareth got the duke to the earth, and bade him yield if he would save his life. At this the duke lost no time in yielding.

"Then must you go," said Gareth, "unto my lord King Arthur at the next feast, and say that I, Sir Gareth of Orkney, sent you."

"It shall be done," said the duke. "And I am at your command all the days of my life, with a hundred knights in my train."

This said, the duke departed, leaving Gareth there alone. But not long had he stood when he saw another armed knight approaching. Then Gareth took the duke's shield, and mounted, waiting the new-comer, who rode upon him without a word of greeting. And now, for the first time, Gareth met his match, for the stranger knight held his seat unharmed, and wounded him in the side with his spear.

Then they alighted and drew their swords, and for two hours they fought, till the blood flowed freely from them both.

As they thus fought there came that way the damsel Linet, riding on an ambling mule. When she saw them, she cried,—

"Sir Gawaine, Sir Gawaine, leave off fighting with thy brother Gareth."

When Gawaine, for it was indeed he, heard this, he threw down his shield and sword and ran to Gareth, whom he took in his arms, and then kneeled down and asked his mercy.

"Who are you," asked Gareth, "that one minute fight me so strongly and yield the next?"

"Oh, Gareth, I am your brother Gawaine."

Then Gareth unlaced his helm, and kneeled to him and asked his mercy. Both now rose and embraced each other, weeping so that it was long before they could speak. When their voices returned they entered into a brotherly contest, for each insisted that the other had won the battle. As they thus stood in loving converse, the damsel Linet came up to them, and stanched their wounds, from which the blood was flowing freely.

"What will you do now?" she asked. "It seems to me that my lord Arthur should have news of you, for your horses are too bruised to carry you."

"It is well said," answered Gawaine. "Will you, fair damsel, bear word to him?"

Then she took her mule and rode to where the king abode, he then being at a castle scarcely two miles distant. The tidings she brought him cheered his heart wonderfully, for much had the disappearance of Gareth troubled him. Turning to his attendants, he ordered that a palfrey should be saddled in all haste.

When he was in the saddle he turned to the wondering lords and ladies and told them whither he went, bidding all who wished to greet Sir Gareth to follow. Then was there hasty saddling and bridling of queens' horses and princes' horses, and happiest were they who soonest got ready.

But the king rode on till he came where Gawaine and Gareth sat upon a little hill-side, and here he sprang from his horse and embraced Gareth as though he were his own son. Quickly behind him came his sister Morgause, who fell into a swoon when she saw her dear young son. And the other knights and ladies came up in all haste, and great was the joy that all felt. After congratulations had passed, and the two brothers been removed to a place where their wounds could be attended to, the Dame Lioness was sent for, and came at the utmost speed, with her brother Sir Gringamore and forty knights.

Among all the ladies there she was the fairest and peerless. And when Gareth saw her, so loving were the looks and joyous the words between them, that all who beheld it were filled with delight.

Eight days passed before Gareth and his brother recovered from their wounds. Then Arthur came to him, with Guenever, and Morgause, and others of high degree, and asked him if he would have the Lady Lioness for his wife.

"My lord, I love her above all ladies living."

"Now, fair lady, what say you?" asked the king.

"Most noble king," replied Lioness, with blushing face, "my lord Gareth is more to me than any king or prince that was ever christened. If I may not have him, none will I ever have. My first love is he, and my last he shall be."

"And if I have you not as my wife," broke in Gareth, "never shall lady living give joy to my heart."

"What, nephew," said the king, "is the wind in that door? Then not for my crown would I sever two such loving hearts, but would much prefer to increase than to distress your love."

And words to the same effect said Gareth's mother.

Then provision was made for a brilliant and joyous wedding, the king advising that it should take place on the Michaelmas following, at Kinkenadon by the seaside, where is a plentiful country. And so it was cried in all places through the realm.

Dame Lioness and the damsel Linet, with Sir Gringamore, now rode to their castle, where she gave Gareth a jewelled ring and received one from him, while Arthur gave her a rich bee of gold. Then Arthur and his following rode towards Kinkenadon. Gareth soon followed, and joined Arthur on his way.

Oh, the great cheer that Lancelot now made of Gareth, and Gareth of him; for there was never knight that Gareth loved as he did Lancelot. But he cared less for his brother Gawaine, who was revengeful, and disposed to murder where he hated, a feeling which the young knight abhorred.

When Michaelmas came near, Dame Lioness with her brother and sister rode to Kinkenadon, where they were lodged at the expense of King Arthur, who had prepared for them royally.

And upon Michaelmas day the bishop of Canterbury performed the wedding ceremony between Gareth and the Lady Lioness with all solemnity, and in the presence of a noble and splendid gathering of the greatest lords and highest ladies of England's realm.

And here other weddings took place, for King Arthur devised that Gaheris should wed the damsel Linet, and that Agravaine should wed Dame Laurel, a fair lady, niece to the Lady Lioness.

[Illustration] from King Arthur I by Charles Morris


When these weddings were done another solemnity took place; for there came into the church the various knights whom Gareth had overcome, each with his knightly followers, and with them the thirty ladies whom he had delivered from the brown knight, attended by many gentlewomen. All the knights did homage and fealty to Gareth, and the ladies kneeled and prayed heartily that happiness might be his lot throughout his life.

Afterwards there was high feasting, and all manner of games and revels, with the richest minstrelsy, and jousts that lasted three days. But the king would not suffer Sir Gareth to joust because of his new bride; for the Dame Lioness had desired that none who were newly married should joust at that feast.

On the first day Sir Lamorak won the honor of the lists, for he overthrew thirty knights and did marvellous feats of arms. And that day King Arthur made Sir Persant of Inde and his two brothers, Knights of the Round Table, and gave them great lands.

On the second day Sir Tristram jousted best, and overthrew forty knights. And on that day the king made Sir Ironside, the Red Knight of the Red Lawns, a Knight of the Round Table, and gave him great lands.

On the third day the prize of valor fell to Sir Lancelot, who overthrew fifty knights and did such marvellous deeds that all men wondered at him. And now King Arthur made the Duke de la Rowse a Knight of the Round Table, and gave him great lands to spend.

Thus ended the festivities at the marriage of Sir Gareth of Orkney and the Lady Lioness. But Gareth and his lovely bride lived long and happily together afterwards, and much knightly renown he won, and great honor from all men.