Page:Marie de France Lays Mason.djvu/168

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144
French Legends

bestrode a horse white of body, save for his two ears, which were red as the rider's mail. Slender of girdle was this knight, and he made no effort to enter the river, but drew rein upon the other side of the passage, and watched. The varlet said to his friend that it became his honour to essay some feats of arms with this adversary. He got to horse, and rode to the river, leaving the maiden beneath the thorn. Had she but found another horse at need, very surely would she have ridden to his aid. The two knights drew together as swiftly as their steeds could bear them. They thrust so shrewdly with the lance, that their shields were split and broken. The spears splintered in the gauntlet, and both champions were unhorsed by the shock, rolling on the sand; but nothing worse happened to them. Since they had neither squire nor companion to help them on their feet, they pained them grievously to get them from the ground. When they might climb upon their steeds, they hung again the buckler about the neck, and lowered their ashen spears. Passing heavy was the varlet, for shame that his friend had seen him thrown. The two champions met together in the onset, but the prince struck his adversary so cunningly with the lance, that the laces of his buckler were broken, and the shield fell from his body. When the varlet saw this he rejoiced greatly, for he knew that the eyes of his friend were upon him. He pressed his quarrel right fiercely, and tumbling his foe from the saddle, seized his horse by the bridle.[1]

The two knights passed the ford, and the prince feared sorely because of the skill and mightiness of his adversary. He could not doubt that if they fell upon him together he would perish at their hands. He put the thought from mind, for he would not suspect them of conduct so unbecoming to gentle knight, and so

  1. There is here some omission in the manuscript.