BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
alaor rode on after the king so fast as his horse could carry him; still following the track of the horsemen. About vespers he met a knight who cried out to him, Whither so fast? stop and tell me! I have no time, quoth he.- By St. Mary, you pass not so! tell me, or fight me! But Galaor still rode on.- Certes, knight, cried the stranger, you have committed some villainy that you fly so fast: defend yourself! Galaor turned as if to meet him in his career, but dextrously moved aside, so that the knight's horse in his speed carried him a good way on. Ah, coward! cried the knight, when at last he turned, thou shalt answer me or die! and he ran at him again full tilt. Again Galaor avoided the encounter, and rode on as fast as he could. When the knight saw him far before, he said, As God shall help me, he shall not escape so! and knowing the country well, he struck across by a nearer way, and took possession of a pass. Faint-hearted coward! quoth he, chuse now of three things : fight, or turn back', or answer me! I like neither, replied Galaor, and you are discourteous: if you want to know why I go so fast, follow me and see; I should lose time in telling you, and you would not believe me, it is for so great an evil. The knight answered, in God's name then go on, and I will follow thee though for these three days.
In about half a league's time they saw one knight running after his horse, and another gallopping away from him. He who was with Galaor knew him on foot, for he was his cousin, and he caught the horse for him, and asked him, How is this? He replied, I was riding along thinking upon you know what, when that knight yonder gave me such a thrust on my shield that the horse fell upon his knees and threw me. I drew my sword, and called to him to do battle; but he only cried out, Remember to answer another time when you are spoken to! and so he rode away. By my faith in God, let us follow him, and see you how I will avenge myself. I cannot, said his cousin, now, for I must keep this knight company for three days; and then he related what had befallen him with Galaor. Quoth the other, Certes either he is the greatest coward in the world, or he goes upon some great adventure : I will forego my own vengeance to see the end of this.- By this Galaor was far before them, for he did not tarry a whit, and they rode after him. It was now drawing towards night. Galaor entered a forest, and soon lost the track, for it was dark, so that he knew not which way to take. Then he began to pray to God to guide him that he might be the first to succour the king ; and thinking that those horsemen might have led the king apart from the road to rest themselves, he went along the bottoms listening every where if he might hear them. The knights thinking he had kept the road, rode straight forward about a league till they came through the forest, and not seeing him there they imagined he had hidden himself, and they turned aside to lodge in the house of a dame hard by.
When Galaor had searched the forest throughout, and found nothing, he resolved to proceed, and ascend some eminence the next day to look about. So recovering the road, he went on till he came into the open country, and there he saw before him in a valley a little fire. Thither he went; it was some forgemen, and they seeing him come among them in arms, took up lances and hatchets to defend themselves ; but he bidding them not fear, besought them to give him some barley for his horse. The which they did, and he gave the beast his supper. They would have given him also to eat, but he would not; only he lay down to sleep, requesting them to wake him before day break. The night was two parts gone, and Galaor lay down by the fire, completely armed. At dawn he rose, for he had not slept much for pure vexation, and, commending them to God, he took his leave. His squire had not been able to keep pace with him, and thenceforth he vowed if God prospered him, to give his squire the better horse. So he rode to a high hill, and from thence began to look all round him.
The two cousins had now left the lady's house, and it being now day they saw Galaor on the eminence, and knowing him by his shield rode towards him. As they drew nigh they saw him descend the hill as fast as horse could carry him. Certes, quoth the one, he is flying and concealing himself for some mischief: if I come up with him, God never help me if I do not learn from him what he hath deserved. But Galaor, thinking nothing of them, had just seen ten knights passing a strait at the entrance of the forest, of whom five rode first and five behind, and some unarmed men went in the middle. These he thought to be the villains with the king, and went towards them like a man who has devoted his own life to save another. Coming near, he saw Lisuarte with the chain about his neck ; and then, with grief and rage that defied danger, he ran at the first five, exclaiming, Ah, traitors ! to your own misfortune have you laid hands upon the best man in the world! The five at once ran at him; he smote the first so sternly, that the wood of his lance appeared through his back, and he fell dead; the others smote him with such force that his horse fell upon his knees, and one of them drove his spear between Galaor's shield and breastplate. Galaor forced it from him, and striking at another with it, nailed his leg to the horse, and left the broken lance in them; then putting hand to sword, the others all came at him, and he defended himself so bravely that every one wondered how he could bear up against such blows. But being in this great press of danger, it pleased God to succour him with the two cousins who were in his pursuit, who seeing his great chivalry, exclaimed, Of a truth we wrongly called him coward: let us go help the best knight in the world! With that they ran full tilt to his assistance, like men who knew their business, for they had each been errant knights for ten years, and the one was called Ladasin, the sword-player, and the other Don Guilan the pensive, the good knight. At this time Galaor had great need of their aid, for his helmet was hacked and battered, his harness open in many places, and his horse tottering with loss of blood; yet he felt assured that, if his horse did not fail him, he should bring it to a good end. But when the two cousins came to his help, then he bestirred himself more hopefully, for he marvelled at their prowess. The load of blows was lightened, and he had room for action. When the cousin of Arcalaus saw how things were going, for his knights were falling on all sides, he ran to Lisuarte to slay him. Those who were with the king had fled, and he got from off the palfrey with the chain about his neck, and caught up a shield and sword from the ground, and received upon the shield the blow that was meant for his death. The sword passed a palm's length through the rim of the shield, and with its point reaching the head made a slant wound to the skull; but the king smote at his enemy's horse in the face, so that the traitor could not repeat the blow, and the horse reared and fell back upon the rider. Galaor now on foot, for his horse could not move, ran to him to smite off his head; but the king called out not to slay him. By this the two cousins had made an end of their last enemy, and then turning round they knew the king, to their great wonder, for they knew nothing of what had happened and they took off their helmets, and knelt before him. He raised them up, saying, By my God, friends, you have succoured me in time! great wrong, Don Guilan, hath your mistress done me in withdrawing you from my company, and for your sake I lose Ladasin also. Guilan was ashamed at these words, and his cheeks crimsoned, for he loved the Duchess of Bristol and she loved him, and the duke always suspected it was he who had entered his castle when Galaor was there.
Galaor had now taken the chain from Lisuarte, and fastened it round the cousin of Arcalaus; they took the horses of the dead, one for the king, and one for Galaor, and rode towards London. They halted at the dwelling of Ladasin, and there found Galaor's squire and Ardian the dwarf, who thought his master had taken that way. A squire was sent forthwith to inform the queen of Lisuarte's safety. They rested that night; and, as they set forth on the morning, their prisoners confessed how all that had passed had been concerted with Barsinan, that he might make himself king of Great Britain; which, when Lisuarte heard, he spurred on in greater haste.