BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
ing Lisuarte was so content with the tidings of Amadis and Galaor, which the dwarf had brought him, that he determined to hold the most honourable court that ever had been held in Great Britain. At this time Olivas made his appeal of treason against the Duke of Bristol, for the death of his cousin; and the king, with the advice of those who were best versed in these forms, summoned the duke to answer within a month, and if he would justify his cause with two knights beside himself, Olivas should produce other two their equals to maintain his accusation. This done, the court was pro claimed for the day of our Lady in September.
One day when they were all assembled in the palace, and devising together of the festival, a strange damsel, well attired and accompanied by a gentle page, entered, and dismounted from her palfrey, and asked which was the king. Lisuarte answered, he was the man. In sooth, my lord, she replied, you seem like a king in your port and countenance, but I know not whether you be so in heart. Damsel, quoth he, you see the one, and shall be satisfied when you prove the other. She answered, You speak as I desire; remember, therefore, what you have promised before so many great persons, for when you hold your court in London, on St. Mary's day, I shall put you to the proof. So took she leave of him, returning the way she came. All present were much troubled at the rash promise which he had made to a strange damsel, knowing that for no fear would he leave to perform it, and doubting that some ill was designed him.
Presently three knights came through the gate, two of them armed at all points, the third unarmed, of good stature and well proportioned, his hair grey, but of a green and comely old age. He held in his hand a coffer, and having enquired which was the king, dismounted from his palfrey and knelt before him, saying, God preserve you, sir ! for you have made the noblest promise that ever king did, if you hold it. What promise was that? quoth Lisuarte- To maintain chivalry in its highest honour and degree: few princes now a days labour to that end, therefore are you to be commended above all other. Certes, knight, that promise shall I hold while I live. God grant you life to compleat it! quoth the old man, and because you have summoned a great court to London, I have brought something here which becomes such a person for such an occasion. Then he opened the coffer, and took out a crown of gold, so curiously wrought and set with pearls and gems, that all were amazed at its beauty, and it well appeared that it was only fit for the brow of some mighty lord. Is it not a work which the most cunning artists would wonder at? said the old knight. Lisuarte answered, In truth it is. Yet, said the knight, it hath a virtue more to be esteemed than its rare work and richness; whatever king hath it on his head, shall always increase his honour; this it did for him for whom it was made till the day of his death, since then no king hath worn it: I will give it you, sir, for one boon, which will save my head that is now in danger to be lost. The queen hearing this, exclaimed, Truly, my lord, such a jewel well becomes you: give any thing for it that the knight may ask. You also, lady, said the knight, should purchase a rich mantle that I bring;- and he took from the coffer the richest and most beautiful mantle that ever was seen for, besides the pearls and precious stones wherewith it was beautified, there were figured upon it all the birds and beasts in nature, so that it looked like a miracle. On my faith, exclaimed the queen, this cloth can only have been made by that Lord who can do everything. It is the work of man, said the old knight, but rarely will one be found to make its fellow: it should belong to wife rather than maiden, for she that weareth it shall never have dispute with her husband. Brisena answered, If that be true, it is above all price ; I will give you for it whatever you ask: and Lisuarte bade him demand what he would for the mantle and the crown. The old man answered, I must go, to my sorrow, to him whose prisoner I am, and have now no time to stay, nor to consider what their worth should be, but I will be with you at your court in London; till then, keep you the crown, and you my lady queen the mantle : if you do not accept my terms, you shall restore them; but, having proved their virtue, you will be ready to pay me more than now. Lisuarte replied, We will either give you what you ask, or restore the crown and mantle. Knights and ladies all! quoth the old man, you hear what the king and queen promise ! that they will restore to me my crown and mantle, or give me what I shall ask! They answered, we all hear ! The old man then took his leave, saying, I go to the worst prison that ever man had! One of the armed knights took off his helmet while he was there, and appeared young and sufficiently comely ; the other would not unhelm him self, but held down his head, and he was of such over-great stature that no knight in court could equal him by a foot. So they three departed, and the crown and mantle were left with the king.