BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
alays of Carsante followed the knight who had driven Galaor's horse astray, so fast as possibly he could. The darkness overtook him, nevertheless he rode on till midnight, when he heard voices by a river side, and shaping his course thither he found five thieves dragging a damsel by the hair, with design to force her, and they were all armed in corslets and with hatchets. Balays crying out upon their villainy, ran at them and broke his spear in the body of one, so that he fell down dead. Then the other four beset him sharply, and slew his horse; but he lightly clearing himself, cleft one to the neck with a sword stroke, and suffering his sword to hang by the chain, caught at the fellow's hatchet and pursued the others, who fled before him along a narrow path into a quagmire, where they had a great fire, and there they turned upon him, for they could fly no farther. He drove his hatchet through the ribs of one, and with another blow made the fourth fall into the fire ; the other one fell upon his knees, Mercy, for God's sake, and do not destroy me body and soul! Since thou seest thy crime, repent it, and amend thy life! said Balays; and the thief performed his promise, for from that time he was a good man, and led a good life, and became a hermit.
Balays then returned to the damsel, and when he saw how fair she was, he said to her, Certes, fair lady, had your beauty so taken these fellows as it hath me, they would never have suffered you to depart. Sir knight, replied the damsel, had those thieves forced me to their desires, both God and the world might hold me excused; contrariwise, if I should willingly grant your unhonourable request, I neither could nor ought to be pardoned: hitherto you have shown yourself a good knight, let me entreat you to accompany prowess in arms with continence and virtue, as by duty you are bound. My good lady, Balays answered, think no more of what I said : it becomes knights to serve damsels, and to woo their love, and it becomes them to deny as you have done; and albeit at the first we think it much to obtain of them what we desire, yet when wisely and discreetly they resist our inordinate appetites, keeping that, without which they are worthy of no praise, they be even of ourselves more reverenced and commended. She kissed his hand, and answered, For this reason I thank you more for saving my honour than my life. Then they left that place where the dead men lay, and coming to a pleasant meadow rested there till it was day; and then Balays armed himself, and mounted the damsel's palfrey, because his own horse was slain, and taking her behind him, rode on, for she had desired him to leave her in some habitation, as he could by no means abandon his quest.
As thus they rode on communing together, they saw a knight coming towards them having one leg upon the horse's neck, but drawing nearer he put foot in stirrup, and couched his lance against Balays, and threw him and the damsel from the palfrey. Mistress, said he then to the damsel, I am sorry for your fall, but I will take you where amends shall be made: this fellow is not worthy to carry you. By this Balays had risen and recognized the knight, and making at him shield and sword in hand, he cried, Don Cavalier, you rode on more than apace after driving my horse astray: by God's help you shall pay by daylight, for your night-knavery! What! quoth the other, you are one of those who laughed at me: it is my turn now! And he drove at him with his spear so fiercely that the shield was pierced; but Balays with one blow cut the spear from his hand. The knight then drew his sword, and struck upon his helmet, and the sword went in two fingers' depth. Balays took the occasion, and caught his enemy's shield, and drew him with such force toward him that the saddle came round and he fell, and he cut the laces of his helmet, and buffetted his head with the sword-hilt till he stunned him, and taking his sword broke it against a stone. Then he placed the damsel on her palfrey, and mounted the knight's horse, and rode toward the tree at the cross-way.
That night they were lodged by two women of holy life, who gave them such poor cheer as they could, and blessed Sir Balays for ridding the country of the thieves who had long infested it. Thence they proceeded to the cross-way, where they found Amadis, and had not tarried long before Galaor came up. So having conducted the damsel to her father's castle, where they were honourably entreated, they continued their way to Windsor.