Earl Efrawg held an earldom in the North, and seven sons had he. But it was not by his dominion chiefly that Efrawg maintained himself, but by tournament and combats and wars. And as often befalls him who follows the wars, he was slain, both he and his six sons. And his seventh son was called Peredur. And he was youngest of his seven sons. He was not of an age to go to war or combat. Had he been of age he would have been slain as his father and his brothers were slain.
He had a wise, sagacious woman for mother. She gave thought to her son and his dominion. She took counsel with herself to flee with her son into a desert and a wilderness, and to quit inhabited parts. Never a one took she in her company save women and boys, and meek contented folk who were incapable of combats or wars, and for whom such would be unseemly. Never a one would dare mention steeds or arms in a place where her son might overhear, lest He set his heart upon them. And every day the boy would go to the long forest to play and to throw holly darts.
And one day he saw a flock of goats that was his mother's, and two hinds nearby the goats. The boy stood and marvelled to see those two without horns, and horns on each one of the others. And he supposed they had been long lost, and that thereby they had lost their horns. And by strength and fleetness of foot he drove the hinds along with the goats into a house that was for the goats at the far end of the forest. He came back home. 'Mother,' said he, 'a strange thing have I seen nearby: two of thy goats run wild, and having lost their horns for being so long wild in the woods. And never had mortal more trouble than I had, driving them in.' Thereupon every one arose and came to look. And when they saw the hinds they marvelled greatly that any one had strength enough and fleetness of foot as to be able to overtake them.
And one day they saw three knights coming along a bridle-path beside the forest. They were Gwalchmei son of Gwyar, and Gweir son of Gwestyl, and Owein son of Urien, and Owein bringing up the rear, following after the knight who had distributed the apples in Arthur's court. 'Mother,' said he, 'what are those yonder?' 'Angels, my son,' said she. 'I will go as an angel along with them,' said Peredur; and he came to the path to meet the knights. 'Say, friend,' said Owein, 'hast seen a knight go hereby to-day or yesterday?' 'I know not,' he replied, 'what a knight is.' 'Such a thing as I am,' said Owein. 'Wert thou to tell me that which I would ask of thee, I in turn would tell thee that which thou dost ask.' 'I will, gladly said Owein. What is that?' he asked, of the saddle. 'A saddle,' said Owein. Peredur inquired what everything was, and what might be intended and what done therewith. Owein told him in full what everything was, and what might be done therewith. ' Keep on thy way,' said Peredur. ' I have seen such a man as thou dost ask after. And I too will follow thee as a knight this very hour. '
Then Peredur returned to where were his mother and the retinue. 'Mother,' said he, 'those yonder are not angels, but knights.' Then she fell into a dead faint. And Peredur then went off to where the horses were which carried firewood for them and brought meat and drink from inhabited parts to the desert. And he took a wan, piebald, bony nag, the strongest as he thought, and he pressed a pannier on it, as a saddle, and in everything he imitated with withes the trappings he had seen. And back he came to where his mother was.
Thereupon, lo, the countess coming out of her faint. 'Aye,' said she, 'is it depart thou wilt?' 'Aye,' said he. 'Stay for counsel from me ere thou set out.' 'Speak,' said he, 'quickly. I will stay for it.' 'Go thy way,' said she, 'to Arthur's court, where are the best of men and the most generous and bravest. Wherever thou seest a church, recite thy pater thereto. If thou see meat and drink, shouldst thou be in need thereof and it be not given thee of courtesy and good will, take it thyself. If thou hear an outcry, make towards it, and a woman's outcry above any cry in the world. If thou see a fair jewel, take It and give it to another, and thou shalt have fame thereby. If thou see a fair lady, make love to her, even though she desire thee not. A better man and a nobler than before will it make thee.'
And he set out on his way, with a handful of sharp pointed darts in his hand. And two nights and two days was he travelling desert and wilderness, without meat, without drink. And then he came to a great desolate forest; and far into the forest he saw a clearing as of a field, and in the clearing he could see a pavilion, and taking it to be a church he recited his pater to the pavilion. And he came towards the pavilion. And the doorway of the pavilion was open, and a chair of gold near the doorway, and a handsome auburn-haired maiden sitting in the chair, and a frontlet of gold about her forehead, and sparkling stones in the frontlet, and a thick gold ring on her hand.
And Peredur dismounted and came inside. The maiden made him welcome and greeted him, and at the end of the pavilion he could see a table and two flagons full of wine, and two loaves of white bread, and chops of the flesh of sucking pigs. 'My mother,' said Peredur, 'bade me wherever I saw meat and drink, to take it.' 'Go then, chieftain,' said she, 'to the table. And God's welcome to thee.' Peredur went to the table, and Peredur took one half of the meat and drink for himself, and the other half he left for the maiden. And when he had finished eating, he arose and came to where the maiden was. 'My mother,' said he, 'bade me take a fair jewel wherever I might see it.' ''Take it then, friend,' said she. 'Tis not I will begrudge it thee.' Peredur took the ring, and he went down on his knee and gave the maiden a kiss, and took his steed and departed thence.
Thereafter, lo, the knight that owned the pavilion coming: he was the Proud One of the Clearing. And he could see the horse's tracks. 'Say,' said he to the maiden, 'who has been here since myself?' 'A man of odd appearance, lord,' said she, and she described Peredur's appearance and manner. 'Say,' said he? 'has he had to do with thee?' 'He has not, by my faith, said she. 'By my faith, I do not believe thee. And till I meet with him, to wreak my wrath and my shame on him, thou shalt not be two nights together in one and the same place.' And the knight arose to set out and seek for Peredur.
But Peredur proceeded in the direction of Arthur's court. And before he came to Arthur's court, another knight came to the court and gave a thick gold ring to a man at the entrance to hold his horse. And he himself came forward to the hall where were Arthur and his retinue, and Gwenhwyfar and her maidens, and a chamberlain serving Gwenhwyfar from a goblet. And the knight took the goblet from Gwenhwyfar's hand and emptied the liquor that was therein over her face and breast, and gave Gwenhwyfar a great box on the ear. 'If there be,' said he, 'any one who would contend with me for this goblet, and avenge this injury to Gwenhwyfar, let him follow me to the meadow; and I will await him there.' And the knight took his horse and made for the meadow. Then every one hung his head lest he be asked to go and avenge the injury to Gwenhwyfar, and they thinking it likely that none would commit such an outrage as that unless he had with him might and prowess or magic and enchantment, so that none might wreak vengeance on him.
Thereupon, lo, Peredur coming into the hall on a wan, piebald, bony nag, with uncouth slovenly trappings thereon, and a sorry figure in a court so distinguished as that. And Cei was standing in the middle of the hall floor. 'Say,' said Peredur, 'thou tall man yonder, where is Arthur?' 'What wouldst thou,' said Cei, 'with Arthur?' 'My mother bade me come to Arthur to be ordained an ordained knight.' 'By my faith,' said Cei, 'too slovenly hast thou come, in horse and arms.' And thereupon the household caught sight of him, and they began to make fun of him and throw sticks at him, and they feeling pleased that such a one as he should have come, for the other matter to be forgotten.
And thereupon, lo, the dwarf coming in, who had come a year's space before that to Arthur's court, he and his she-dwarf, to seek hospitality of Arthur. And that they received of Arthur, but save for that for the space of a year they spoke not one word to any one. When the dwarf perceived Peredur, 'Ah, ha,' said he, 'God's welcome to thee, fair Peredur son of Efrawg, chief of warriors and flower of knights.' ' Faith, fellow,' said Cei, 'a sorry stroke that, to be a year dumb in Arthur 's court, at liberty to choose thy fellow-talker and to choose thy fellow-drinker, and to call such a man as this, in the presence of the emperor and his household, chief of warriors and flower of knights!' And he gave him a box on the ear till he was headlong to the floor in a dead faint.
Thereupon, lo, the she-dwarf coming. 'Ah, ha,' said she, God's welcome to thee, fair Peredur son of Efrawg, flower of warriors and candle of knights.' 'Aye, wench, said Cei, a sorry stroke that, to be a year dumb in Arthur's court, without saying one word to any one, and to call such a man as this to-day, in the presence of Arthur and his warriors, flower of warriors and candle of knights!' And he fetched her a kick till she was in a dead faint. 'Tall man,' said Peredur then, 'tell me, where is Arthur?' 'Cease thy babble,' said Cei. 'Go after the knight who went hence to the meadow, and take the goblet from him, and overthrow him and take his horse and arms, and after that thou shalt be ordained an ordained knight.' 'Tall man,' said he, 'I will do that.' And he turned his horse's head, and out and to the meadow.
And when he came, the knight was riding his horse in the meadow, greatly presumptuous in his might and prowess. 'Say,' said the knight, 'didst see any one from the court coming after me?' 'The tall man who was there,' said he, 'bade me overthrow thee, and take the goblet and the horse and arms for myself.' 'Hold thy tongue,' said the knight. 'Go back to the court and in my name bid Arthur come, either he or another, to joust with me. And unless he come quickly, I will not wait for him.' 'By my faith,' said Peredur, 'take thy choice: with or without thy leave I will have the horse and arms and the goblet.' And then the knight bore down upon him angrily, and with the butt of his spear dealt him a mighty painful blow between shoulder and neck. 'Fellow,' said Peredur, 'not thus would my mother's servants play with me. I will play with thee even thus!' And he took aim at him with a sharp-pointed spear and hit him in the eye, so that it went out through the nape of the neck, and he stone-dead to the ground.
'Faith,' said Owein son of Urien to Cei, 'that was an ill stroke of thine over a fool thou didst send after the knight. And one of two things has come to pass: either he has been overthrown or he has been slain. If he has been overthrown, he will be reckoned a man of rank by the knight, and eternal disgrace to Arthur and his warriors. If he has been slain the disgrace will betide even so, and more than that, the sin of it upon thee. And may I lose all face unless I go and learn how his adventure has befallen.' And then Owein came his way to the meadow, and when he came, Peredur was dragging the man behind him the length of the meadow. 'Stay, chieftain,' said Owein, 'I will take off the armour.' 'Never said Peredur, 'will this iron tunic come away from him. It is part and parcel of him.' Then Owein drew off the armour and the raiment. 'Here at last, friend,' said he, 'are a horse and arms for thee, better than the others. , And take them gladly and come along with me to Arthur, and thou shalt be ordained an ordained knight.' 'May I lose all face,' said Peredur, 'if I go. But take the goblet from me to Gwenhwyfar, and tell Arthur that wherever I may be, I will be his man. And if I can do him good and service, I will do it. And tell him I will never go to his court until I meet the tall man who is there, to avenge the injury to the dwarf and she-dwarf.' Then Owein came his way to the court and told his adventure to Arthur and Gwenhwyfar and each one of the household, and the threat to Cei. And Peredur too went his way.
And as he was going his way, lo, a knight encountering him. 'Whence comest thou?' asked the knight. 'I come from Arthur's court,' said he. 'Art thou Arthur's man?' 'Aye, by my faith,' said he. 'A proper place to acknowledge Arthur!' 'Why?' asked Peredur. 'I will tell thee,' said he. 'A robber and riever on Arthur have I been ever, and what of his men have met with me, I have slain.' It was without more delay they encountered and not long were they ere Peredur threw him so that he was over his horse's crupper to the ground. The knight asked for quarter. 'Quarter thou shalt have,' said Peredur, 'on thy swearing to go to Arthur's court and tell Arthur that it was I who overthrew thee, in service and honour to him. And tell him that never will I set foot in his court till I encounter the tall man who is there, to avenge the injury to the dwarf and she-dwarf.' And the knight, with his oath pledged thereto, set out on his way to Arthur's court and told his adventure in full, and the threat to Cei.
But Peredur went his way. And that same week there met him sixteen knights, and he overthrew them every one, and they made their way to Arthur's court, bearing with them the same tale as the first he overthrew, and the same threat to Cei. And Cei won a rebuke from Arthur and the household, and he was worried then by reason of that.
But Peredur set out on his way. And at last he come to a great desolate forest and at the forest's edge there was a lake, and the other side of the lake there was a great court. and a brave rampart round about it. And on the shore of the lake there was a hoary-headed man seated on a cushion of brocaded silk, and a garment of brocaded silk about him and youths fishing in a boat on the lake. When the hoary headed man saw Peredur coming, he arose and made for the court, and the man was lame. Peredur too came his way to the court, and the gate was open, and he came into the hall. And when he came, the hoary-headed man was seated on a cushion of brocaded silk, and a big blazing fire starting to burn. And a number of the household arose to meet Peredur, and they helped him to alight and drew off his armour. And the man brought down his hand on the end of the cushion, and asked the squire to come and sit on the cushion. And they sat down together and conversed. And when it was time, the tables were set up and they went to meat. And he was placed to sit and eat on the man's one hand. When meat was ended, the man asked Peredur if he knew well how to smite with a sword. 'I know not,' said Peredur, 'but that, were I to receive instruction, I should know.' 'Whoever might know,' said he, 'how to play with a stick and shield, would know how to smite with a sword. Two sons had the hoary-headed man, a yellow-haired youth and an auburn-haired youth. 'Rise up, lads,' said he, 'to play with the sticks and shields.' The youths went to play. 'Say, friend,' said the man, 'which of the youths plays the better?' 'It is my opinion,' said Peredur, 'that the yellow-haired youth could long since have drawn blood from the auburn-haired youth, had he wished it.' 'Take, friend, the stick and shield from the auburn-haired youth's hand, and draw blood from the yellow-haired youth, if thou canst.' Peredur arose and took the stick and shield and raised his hand against the yellow-haired youth until his eyebrow was down over his eye, and the blood running in streams. 'Aye, friend,' said the man, 'come now and sit down and thou wilt be the best man that smites with a sword in this Island. And thy uncle, thy mother's brother, am I. And thou shalt be with me this while, learning manners and etiquette. Leave be now thy mother's words, and I will be thy teacher and will ordain thee an ordained knight. Henceforth this is what thou must do: even though thou see what is strange to thee, ask not after it, unless there be such courtesy that thou be told of it. Not upon thee will the fault be, but upon me, for I am thy teacher.' And they had every kind of honour and service, and when it was time they went to sleep.
As soon as day came Peredur arose and took his horse, and with his uncle's leave he set out on his way, and he came to a great forest, and at the far end of the forest he came to a level meadow, and the other side of the meadow he could see a great rampart and a brave court. And Peredur made towards the court, and he found the door open and made for the hall. And when he came, there was a handsome hoary-headed man seated at the side of the hall, and squires in great numbers about him, and every one arose to meet the squire, and excellent were they in courtesy and service to him. And he was placed to sit one side of the nobleman who owned the court, and they conversed. And when time came to go to meat, he was placed to sit and eat one side of the nobleman. When they had made an end of eating and drinking as long as was pleasing to them, the nobleman asked him if he knew how to smite with a sword. Were I to receive instruction, said Peredur, 'I think I should know.'
There was a great iron column in the hall floor, a warrior's grasp round about. 'Take yonder sword,' said the man to Peredur, 'and smite the iron column.' Peredur arose and smote the column so that it was in two pieces, and the sword in two pieces. 'Place the pieces together and join them.' Peredur placed the pieces together and they were joined as before. And a second time he smote it so that the column broke in two pieces, and the sword in two pieces. And as before they were joined together. And the third time he smote it so that the column broke in two pieces, and the sword in two pieces. 'Place them together again and join them.' Peredur placed them together the third time, but neither the column nor the sword would be joined. 'Aye, lad,' said he, 'come and sit down, and God's blessing be with thee. Thou art the best man that smites with a sword in the kingdom. Two thirds of thy strength hast thou come by, and the third is still to come. And when thou hast come by it all, thou wilt yield to none. And an uncle of thine, thy mother's brother, am I, brother to the man in whose court thou wast last night.' And Peredur sat one side of his uncle, and they conversed.
Thereupon he could see two youths coming into the hall, and from the hall proceeding to a chamber, and with them a spear of exceeding great size, and three streams of blood along it, running from the socket to the floor. And when they all saw the youths coming after that fashion, every one set up a crying and a lamentation, so that it was not easy for any to bear with them. The man did not, for all that, interrupt his conversation with Peredur. The man did not tell Peredur what that was, nor did he ask it of him. After silence for a short while, thereupon, lo, two maidens coming in, and a great salver between them, and a man's head on the salver, and blood in profusion around the head. And then all shrieked and cried out, so that it was hard for any to be in the same house as they. At last they desisted therefrom, and sat as long as they pleased, and drank. Thereafter a room was made ready for Peredur, and they went to sleep.
On the morrow early Peredur arose and with his uncle's leave went on his way. From there he came to a forest, and far into the forest he could hear a shrieking. He came towards the place where the shrieking was. And when he came he could see a handsome auburn-haired woman and a horse with its saddle on it standing beside her, and a man's corpse between the woman's hands, and as she sought to place the corpse in the saddle the corpse would fall to the ground. And then she would utter a shriek. 'Say, sister,' said he, 'what shrieking is this of thine?' 'Alas, thou accursed Peredur,' said she, 'small relief from my affliction did I ever get from thee.' 'Why,' said he, 'should I be accursed?' 'Because thou art the cause of thy mother's death. For when thou didst set out against her will, pain leapt within her, and of that she died. And inasmuch as thou art cause of her death, thou art accursed. And the dwarf and the she-dwarf thou sawest in Arthur's court, that was the dwarf of thy father and thy mother. And I am a foster-sister of thine, and this is my husband whom the knight that is in the clearing in the forest has slain. And go not near him lest thou be slain.' 'Wrongly, sister mine,' said he, 'dost thou blame me. Because I have been with you as long as I have, scarcely will I overcome him; and were I to be longer, never would I overcome him. And as for thee, cease now thy lamentation, for deliverance is nearer to thee than before. And I will bury the man and will go along with thee to where the knight is, and if I can exact vengeance, I will.'
After burying the man, they came to where the knight was in the clearing, riding his horse. Straightway the knight asked Peredur whence he came. 'I come from Arthur's court.' 'Art thou Arthur's man?' 'Aye, by my faith.' 'A proper place for thee to acknowledge fealty to Arthur.' It was without more delay they made for each other, and there and then Peredur overthrew the knight. The knight asked for quarter. 'Quarter thou shalt have, on condition that thou take this woman to wife; and whatever good thou mayst do to woman, that thou do it to her for having slain her husband without cause; and that thou go thy way to Arthur's court and tell him it was I who overthrew thee, in service and honour to Arthur; and that thou tell him I will not go to his court till I encounter the tall man who is there, to avenge the injury to the dwarf and the maiden.' And Peredur took surety of him to that end. And he set the woman on a horse, in array along with himself, and came his way to Arthur's court and told Arthur his adventure, and the threat to Cei. And Cei won a rebuke from Arthur and the household for driving away from Arthur's court a lad as excellent as Peredur. 'That squire will never come to the court,' said Owein, 'nor will Cei go from the court.' 'By my faith,' said Arthur, 'I will search the wilderness of the Island of Britain for him till I find him. And then let each of them do his worst to the other.'
But Peredur went on his way and came to a great desolate forest. In the forest he saw the tracks of neither man nor herd, but thick growth and vegetation. And when he came to the far end of the forest he could see a great ivy-clad rampart, and numerous strong towers thereon. And near to the gate the vegetation was taller than elsewhere. With the butt of his spear he struck on the gate. Thereupon, lo, a lean tawny-haired youth in the embrasure above him. 'Take thy choice, chieftain,' said he, 'whether I open the gate to thee or make known to whoever is master that thou art in the gateway.' 'Make known that I am here. And if it is desired that I come inside, come I will.' The squire came back quickly and opened the gate to Peredur, and he came into the hall. And when he came into the hall he could see eighteen lean red-headed youths of the same growth and the same mien and the same age and the same garb as the youth that opened the gate to him. And excellent was their courtesy and their service. They helped him to alight and drew off his armour. And they sat and conversed.
Thereupon, lo, five maidens coming from a chamber into the hall. And the chiefest maiden of them, certain was he that he had never seen in any other a sight as fair as she. An old garment of torn brocaded silk about her that had once been good. Where her flesh might be seen through it, whiter was it than flowers of the whitest crystal; but her hair and her eyebrows, blacker were they than jet. Two small red spots on her cheeks, redder were they than aught reddest. The maiden greeted Peredur and embraced him, and sat down one side of him. It was not long thereafter that he could see two nuns coming in, and a flagon full of wine with the one and six loaves of wheaten bread with the other. 'Lady,' said they, 'God knows that there was not save as much again of meat and drink for the convent yonder to-night.' Then they went to meat. And Peredur saw by the maiden that she was wishing to give him more than another of the meat and drink. 'Sister mine,' said he, 'I will share out the meat and drink.' 'Not so, friend,' said she. 'If not, shame on my beard,' said he. Peredur took the bread and gave to each as good as his fellow, and so likewise with the drink to the measure of a cupful.
When meat was ended 'It would please me,' said Peredur, 'were I to have a comfortable place to sleep.' A chamber was made ready for him, and Peredur went to sleep. 'Sister,' said the youths to the maiden, 'this is our counsel to thee.' 'What is that?' she asked. 'That thou go to the squire, to the chamber close by thee, to offer thyself to him in the way that may seem good to him, either as his wife or as his paramour.' 'That,' said she, is a thing which is unseemly. I have never had to do with a man, and to offer myself to him before being wooed by him, that I cannot do for any thing.' 'By our confession to God,' said they, 'unless thou do that, we will leave thee here to thy enemies' Thereupon the maiden arose, shedding tears, and came straight to the chamber. And with the noise of the door opening, Peredur awoke. And the maiden had tears running down her cheeks. 'Say, sister,' said Peredur, 'what weeping is this of thine?' 'I will tell thee, lord,' said she. 'My father owned this court, and the best earldom in the world under it. Now there was a son of another earl asking me of my father. I would not go to him of my own free will, nor would my father give me against my will to him or any one else. And my father had no children save me. And after my father's death the dominion fell into my hand. Still less eager was I then to have him than before. So he made war on me and conquered my dominion save for this one house. And so exceeding doughty the men thou hast seen, they my foster-brothers, and so exceeding strong the house, it would never be taken, and we in it, so long as meat and drink remained. But those have come to an end, save for the way the nuns thou didst see were succouring us, because the country and the dominion are open to them. But now they too have neither meat nor drink. And there is no respite beyond to-morrow before the earl comes with all his power against this place. And if he take me, my fate will be no better than to be given to the grooms of his horses. And I am come to offer myself to thee, lord, in the way that may seem good to thee, in return for thy being a help to us to carry us hence or to defend us here.' 'Go, my sister, and sleep,' said he, 'and I shall not leave thee without doing one or the other.'
Back came the maiden, and she went to sleep. On the morrow early the maiden arose and came to where Peredur was and greeted him. 'God prosper thee, friend. And hast thou news?' 'There is nothing save good, lord, so long as thou art well--and that the earl and all his power have beset the house. And no one has seen a place with more tents or knights calling on another to joust.' 'Aye,' said Peredur, 'let my horse be made ready for me too, and I will arise.' His horse was accoutred for him, and he too arose and made for the meadow. And when he came, there was a knight riding his horse, having raised the signal for combat. Peredur threw him over his horse's crupper to the ground. And many did he overthrow that day, and in the afternoon towards the close of day there came a knight in special to encounter him, and him he overthrew. He asked for quarter. 'Who art thou then?' asked Peredur. 'Faith,' said he, 'captain of the earl's war-band.' 'What of the countess's dominion is there in thy power?' 'Faith,' said he, 'a third.' 'Aye,' said he, 'restore to her the third of her dominion in full, and what profit thou hast had of it in full, and meat for a hundred men, and their drink, and their horses and their arms to-night to her in her court, and thou thyself her prisoner, save that thou forfeit not thy life.' That was had forthwith. The maiden was joyously happy that night, a third of her dominion hers, and abundance of horses and arms and meat and drink in her court. They took their ease so long as it pleased them, and they went to sleep.
On the morrow early Peredur made for the meadow, and he overthrew hosts that day. And at the close of day there came an arrogant knight in special, and him he overthrew, and he asked for quarter. 'Who art thou then?' asked Peredur. 'Court steward,' said he. 'What is there in thy hand of the maiden's dominion?' 'The third,' said he. 'The third of her dominion to the maiden, and what profit thou hast had of it in full and meat for two hundred men, and their drink, and their horses and their arms, and thou thyself her prisoner.' That was had forthwith. And the third day Peredur came to the meadow, and he overthrew more that day than any day else. And at last the earl came to encounter him, and he threw him to the ground, and the earl asked for quarter. 'Who art thou then?' asked Peredur. 'I will not conceal myself,' said he, 'I am the earl.' 'Aye,' said he, 'the whole of her earldom to the maiden, and further, thine own earldom too, and meat for three hundred men, and their drink, and their horses and their arms, and thou thyself in her power.'
And Peredur was thus enforcing tribute and submission to the maiden three weeks. And after establishing and settling her into her dominion, 'With thy leave,' said Peredur, 'I will set out on my way.' 'Is that, my brother, what thou desirest?' 'Aye, by my faith, and had it not been for love of thee I had not been here long since.' 'Friend,' said she, 'who art thou then?' 'Peredur son of Efrawg, out of the North. And if either affliction or peril come upon thee, send to let me know, and I will defend thee if I can.' Then Peredur set out, and far from thence there met him a lady riding, and a lean sweaty horse under her; and she greeted the knight. 'Whence comest thou, my sister?' asked Peredur. She told him of the plight she was in and that journey. She was the wife of the Proud One of the Clearing. 'Aye,' said Peredur, 'I am the knight because of whom thou hast had that affliction. And he that brought it upon thee shall repent it.' And thereupon, lo, a knight coming and asking Peredur if he had seen such a knight as he was after. 'Cease thy prattle,' said Peredur. 'I am he thou dost seek, and by my faith the maiden is innocent for me.' Nevertheless they encountered, and Peredur overthrew the knight. He asked for quarter. 'Quarter thou shalt have, on condition thou return the way thou hast been, to make it known that the maiden has been found innocent, and that in her redress I overthrew thee.' The knight pledged his word thereto.
And Peredur went on his way. And on a mountain ahead of him he could see a castle. And he come towards the castle and hammered the door of the gateway with the butt of his spear. Thereupon, lo, a handsome auburn-haired youth opening the gate, in stature and girth a warrior, but in age a lad. When Peredur come into the hall, there was a big handsome woman seated in a chair, and numerous handmaidens about her. And the good lady made him welcome. And when it was time to go to meat they went. And after meat, 'Twere well for thee, chieftain,' said the woman, 'to go elsewhere to sleep.' 'May I not sleep here?' 'Nine witches, friend,' said she, 'are there here, and their father and mother with them. They are the witches of Caer Loyw. And by daybreak we shall be no nearer to escaping than to being slain. And they have overrun and laid waste the dominion save for this one house.' 'Aye,' said Peredur, 'here would I be to-night. And if trouble comes, if I can do good, that I will. Harm, however, I will not do.' They went to sleep.
And at daybreak Peredur could hear a shrieking, and quickly Peredur arose in his shirt and trousers, and his sword about his neck, and out he came. And when he came, there was a witch overtaking the watchman and he shrieking. Peredur fell upon the witch and struck her on the head with his sword until her helm and headpiece spread like a salver on her head. 'Thy mercy, fair Peredur son of Efrawg, and the mercy of God!' 'How knowest thou, hag, that I am Peredur?' 'It was fated and foreseen that I should suffer affliction from thee, and that thou shouldst take horse and arms from me. And thou shalt be with me awhile, being taught to ride thy horse and handle thy weapons. 'On these terms,' he replied, 'shalt thou have mercy: thy pledge that thou never do hurt to this countess's dominion. Peredur took assurance thereof, and by leave of the countess he set off with the witch to the Witches' Court. And he was there three weeks on end. And then Peredur took his choice of horse and arms, and set out on his way.
And at the close of day he came to a valley, and at the far end of the valley he came to a hermit's cell. And the hermit made him welcome, and he was there that night. On the morrow early he arose, and when he came outside, a fall of snow had come down the night before. And a wild she-hawk had killed a duck alongside the cell, and what with the horse's clatter the she-hawk rose up, and a raven alighted on the bird's flesh. Peredur stood and likened the exceeding blackness of the raven, and the whiteness of the snow, and the redness of the blood, to the hair of the woman he loved best, which was black as jet, and her flesh to the whiteness of the snow, and the redness of the blood in the white snow to the two red spots in the cheeks of the woman he loved best.
Meantime Arthur and his retinue were searching for Peredur. 'Know ye,' asked Arthur, 'who is the knight with the long spear who is standing in the valley above?' 'Lord,' said one, 'I will go to discover who he is.' Then the squire came to where Peredur was and asked him what he was doing there and who he was. And so fixed were Peredur's thoughts on the woman he loved best, he gave him no answer. He then struck at Peredur with a spear, but Peredur turned on the squire and hurled him over his horse's crupper to the ground. And one after another there came four-and-twenty knights, but he would make answer to one no more than to his fellow, save the same play with each one, to hurl him with one thrust over his horse to the ground. Then Cei came to him, and spoke to Peredur rudely and harshly. And Peredur took him with a spear under his jaws and threw him a great fall away from him, so that his arm and his shoulder-blade were broken, and he rode over him one-and-twenty times. And while he was in a dead faint, so exceeding great was the hurt he had received, his horse returned, careering wildly. And when each of the retinue saw the horse coming without the man upon him, they came in haste to where the encounter had been. And when they came thither they thought that Cei had been slain. Yet they saw that were he to have a physician who might join the bone, and bandage his joints well, he would be none the worse. Peredur moved not from his meditation more than before, despite seeing the press around Cei. And Cei was brought to Arthur's pavilion, and Arthur had skilful physicians brought to him. Arthur was grieved that Cei had met with that hurt, for he had great love for him.
And then Gwalchmei said, 'No one ought unmannerly to disturb an ordained knight from the meditation he might be in; for it may be either that loss has come upon him or that he is thinking of the woman he loved best. And that unmannerliness, it may be, was shown by the man who met him last. And if it please thee, lord, I will go and see whether the knight has moved from that meditation. And if he has so, I will ask him lovingly to come and see thee.' And then Cei sulked and spoke bitter, jealous words. 'Gwalchmei,' said he, 'well do I know thou wilt lead him by the reins. Yet small renown and honour is it for thee to overcome the tired knight, fatigued with battle. Even so, however, hast thou overcome many of them. And so long as thy tongue and thy fair words last thee, a tunic of thin bliant around thee will be armour enough for thee. And thou wilt not need to break spear or sword fighting with the knight thou mayest find in that condition.' And then Gwalchmei said to Cei, 'Thou couldst have spoken what would be more pleasing, hadst thou wished it. And it is not on me it befits thee to vent thy wrath and indignation. I think it likely, even so, that I shall bring the knight along with me without breaking arm or shoulder of mine.' Then Arthur said to Gwalchmei, 'Thou speakest like a wise and prudent man. And go thou on, and take arms enough about thee, and choose thy horse.'
Gwalchmei arrayed himself, and went forward quickly at his horse's pace to where Peredur was. And he was resting upon his spear shaft and thinking the same thoughts. Gwalchmei came to him with no sign of hostility about him, and said to him, 'If I knew it would please thee as it pleases me, I should converse with thee. Yet am I a messenger to thee from Arthur, to beg thee come and see him. And two men have come before me on that same errand.' 'That is true,' said Peredur, 'and ungraciously they came. They fought with me, and I disliked that in so far as I disliked being disturbed in the meditation I was in. Thinking was I of the woman I loved best. This is the reason why remembrance thereof came to me: I was looking on the snow and the raven, and the blood-drops of the duck which the she-hawk had killed in the snow. And I was thinking that similar was the exceeding whiteness of her flesh to the snow, and the exceeding blackness of her hair and her brows to the raven, and the two red spots that were in her cheeks to the two drops of blood.' Said Gwalchmei, 'Those were not ungentle thoughts, nor was it strange though thou disliked to be drawn from them.' Said Peredur, 'Wilt thou tell me if Cei is in Arthur's court?' 'He is,' he replied. 'He was the last knight that encountered thee. And no good came to him from the encounter: he broke his right arm and shoulder-blade with the fall he got from the thrust of thy spear.' 'Aye,' said Peredur, 'I mind not beginning thus to avenge the injury to the dwarf and she-dwarf.' Gwalchmei marvelled to hear him speak of the dwarf and she-dwarf. And he drew near him and embraced him and asked what was his name. 'Peredur son of Efrawg am I called,' said he, 'and thou, who art thou?' 'Gwalchmei am I called,' he replied. 'Glad am I to see thee,' said Peredur. 'In every land I have been in I have heard of thy fame for prowess and good faith. And I request thy fellowship.' 'Thou shalt have it, by my faith, and do thou grant me thine.' 'Thou shalt have it, gladly,' said Peredur.
They set off together in joy and amity towards the place where Arthur was. And when Cei heard that they were coming, he said, 'I knew Gwalchmei would not need to fight with the knight. Nor is it to be wondered at that he has won renown. He does more with his fair words than we by dint of our arms.' And Peredur and Gwalchmei went to Gwalchmei's tent to take off their armour. And Peredur took just such a garment as was on Gwalchmei, and they went hand in hand to where Arthur was, and greeted him. 'See, lord,' said Gwalchmei, the man thou hast been a long while seeking.' 'Welcome to thee, chieftain,' said Arthur, 'and thou shalt stay with me. And had I known that thy progress would be as it has been, thou hadst not left me when thou didst. Yet the dwarf and she-dwarf, to whom Cei did hurt, foretold it of thee-and them thou hast avenged.' And thereupon the queen and her handmaidens coming, and Peredur greeted them, and they too saluted him and made him welcome. Great respect and honour did Arthur show Peredur, and they returned to Caer Llion.
And the first night Peredur came to Caer Llion to Arthur's court, he happened to be walking to and fro within the castle after meat. Lo, Angharad Golden-hand meeting him. 'By my faith, sister,' said Peredur, 'a gracious, lovable maiden art thou, and I could bring myself to love thee best of women, would it please thee.' 'I pledge my faith thus,' said she, 'that I will neither love thee, nor have thee, to all eternity.' 'I too pledge my faith,' said Peredur, 'that I will never speak word to a Christian till thou confess to loving me most of men.'
On the morrow Peredur departed, and he followed the high road along the ridge of a great mountain. And at the far end of the mountain he could see a round valley, and the bounds of the valley wooded and craggy, and the floor of the valley was meadows, and ploughed lands between the meadows and the forest. And in the heart of the forest he could see big black houses, of uncouth workmanship. And so dismounted and led his horse towards the forest, and a distance into the forest he could see the side of a sharp rock, and the path leading towards the side of the rock, and a lion tied to a chain and sleeping at the side of the rock. And he could see a deep pit of dreadful size below the lion, and within it its fill of the bones of men and beasts. And Peredur drew his sword and smote the lion so that it fell hanging by the chain over the pit. And with a second blow he smote the chain so that it was broken and the lion fell into the pit. And Peredur led his horse across the side of the rock till he came to the valley. And about the centre of the valley he could see a fair castle, and he came towards the castle. And in a meadow by the castle he could see a big grey-headed man (bigger was he than any man he had ever seen), and two young lads throwing knives, and the hafts of their knives of walrus-ivory; the one of them an auburn- haired youth, the other a yellow-haired youth. And he came on to where the grey-headed man was, and Peredur greeted him. And the grey-headed man said, 'Shame on my porter's beard!' And then Peredur understood that the lion was the porter. And then the grey-headed man and the youths along with him went to the castle, and Peredur went with them; and a fair noble place could he see there. And they made for the hall, and the tables had been set up and meat and drink in abundance upon them.
And thereupon he could see coming from the chamber an aged woman and a young woman. And they were the biggest women of all he had ever seen. And they washed and went to eat. And the grey-headed man went to the highest place at the head of the table, and the aged woman next to him. And Peredur and the maiden were placed together, and the two young lads waiting upon them. And the maiden looked on Peredur and was sad. And Peredur asked the maiden why she was sad. 'Friend, since first I saw thee, 'tis thou I have loved best of men. And it grieves me to see for a youth as noble as thou the doom that will be thine to-morrow. Didst thou see the many black houses in the heart of the forest? A1l those are vassals of my father's, the grey-headed man yonder, and giants are they all. And to-morrow they will rise up against thee and slay thee. And the Round Valley is this valley called.' 'Alas, fair maiden, wilt thou see that my horse and arms are in the same lodging as myself to-night?' 'I will, between me and God, if I can, gladly.'
When they thought it more timely to take sleep than to carouse, to sleep they went. And the maiden saw to it that Peredur's horse and arms were in the same lodging as himself. And on the morrow Peredur could hear the clamour of men and horses around the castle. And Peredur arose, and armed himself and his horse, and he came to the meadow. And the aged woman and the maiden came to the grey-headed man. 'Lord,' said they, 'take a pledge of the squire that he will say nothing of what he has seen here, and we will vouch for him that he keep to it.' 'I will not, by my faith,' said the grey-headed man. And Peredur fought against the host, and by evening he had slain a third of the host without any doing him hurt. And then the aged woman said, 'Now, the squire has slain many of thy host. And show him mercy.' 'I will not by my faith,' he replied. And the aged woman and the fair maiden were watching from the castle embrasure. And with that Peredur encount- ered the yellow-haired youth and slew him. 'Lord,' said the maiden, 'show mercy to the squire.' 'I will not, between me and 'God,' said the grey-headed man. And thereupon Peredur encountered the auburn-haired youth and slew him. 'It were better for thee hadst thou shown mercy to the squire before thy two sons were slain. And hard will it be for thee thyself to escape--if escape thou dost.' 'Go then, maiden, and request the squire to show us mercy, though we have not shown it to him.' And the maiden came to where Peredur was, and she asked for mercy for her father and for all who had escaped alive of his men. 'Thou shalt have it on condition that thy father and each one of those who are under him go to do homage to the emperor Arthur, and to tell him that it was Peredur his man did this service.' We will, between me and God, gladly.' 'And that you recieve baptism, and I will send to Arthur to ask him to bestow this valley upon thee and thy heirs after thee for ever.' And then they came inside, and the grey-headed man and the big woman greeted Peredur. And then the grey- headed man said, 'Since I have had authority over this valley, I have not seen a Christian who might depart with his life, save for thyself. And we will go to do homage to Arthur, and to receive faith and baptism.' And then Peredur said, 'For me, I thank God that I have not broken my oath to the woman I love best, that I would not speak one word to a Christian.' They tarried there that night.
On the morrow early the grey-headed man and his followers with him went to Arthur's court. And they did homage to Arthur, and Arthur had them baptized. And the grey-headed man told Arthur that it was Peredur who had overcome him. And Arthur bestowed the valley on the grey- headed man and his followers, to hold it subject to him, as Peredur bade. And with leave of Arthur the grey-headed man departed for the Round Valley.
But Peredur went his way on the morrow early, through a long tract of wilderness, without meeting a dwelling. But at last he came to a small mean dwelling, and there he heard how there was a serpent lying upon a ring of gold, without leaving a dwelling seven miles any side thereof. And Peredur went to where he heard the serpent was, and he fought against the serpent with passion, valour and desperation, and at last he slew it and took the ring for himself. And he was wandering thus for a long time, without speaking one word to any Christian, and till he was losing his colour and his mien by reason of an exceeding longing for Arthur's court and the woman he loved best and his companions.
Then he went his way to Arthur's court, and on the way there met him Arthur's retinue, and Cei ahead of it going an errand for them. Peredur knew each one of them, but not one of the retinue knew him. 'Whence comest thou, chieftain?' asked Cei, and a second time, and a third; but no answer would he give. Cei pierced him with a spear through his thigh-bone, and lest he be compelled to speak and break his vow he passed on without taking vengeance on him. And then Gwalchmei said, between me and God, Cei, that was a sorry stroke of thine, to assault a squire such as this for that he was unable to speak.' And he returned to Arthur's court. 'Lady' said he to Gwenhwyfar, 'see how grievous an assault Cei made upon this squire for that he was unable to speak. And for God's sake, and for mine, have him made whole against my return, and I will repay it thee.'
And before the men came from their errand, there came a knight to the meadow beside Arthur's court, to seek a man to do battle. And that he got. And he overthrew him, and for a week he was overthrowing a man daily. And one day Arthur and his retinue were coming to the church. They could see the knight, with the signal raised for combat. 'Men,' said Arthur, by the valour of men I shall not go hence till I have my horse and arms, to overthrow yonder springald.' Then attendants went to fetch Arthur his horse and arms. And Peredur met the attendants going by, and he took the horse and arms, and made for the meadow. Seeing him arise and go to encounter the knight, every one went upon the tops of the houses and the hills and the high places to watch the encounter. Peredur beckoned with his hand to the knight, to bid him start against him. And the knight charged against him, but for all that he did not budge from the spot. And then Peredur spurred on his horse and bore down on him with passion and wrath, terrible-bitter, proudly eager, and struck him a blow venomous-keen, bitter-sharp, and valorous-strong, under his jaws, and lifted him out of his saddle and hurled him a great distance away from him. And he returned and left the horse and arms with the attendants even as before. And himself on foot he made for the court. And the Dumb Knight was Peredur called then.
Lo, Angharad Golden-hand meeting him. 'Between me and God, chieftain, 'twere pity thou couldst not speak. And couldst thou speak, I would love thee most of men. And by my faith, even though thou canst not, I will love thee most.' 'God repay thee, sister. By my faith, I too will love thee.' And then it was known that he was Peredur. And then he held fellowship with Gwalchmei and Owein son of Urien and all the household, and he tarried in Arthur's court.
Arthur was at Caer Llion on Usk, and he went to hunt, and Peredur along with him. And Peredur loosed his dog upon a stag, and the dog killed the stag in a wilderness. And some way off from him he could see signs of habitation, and he came towards the habitation. And he could see a hall, and at the hall door he could see three bald-headed swarthy youths playing gwyddbwyll. And when he came inside he could see three maidens seated on a couch, and royal apparel about them as was meet for folk of noble birth. And he went to sit with them on the couch, and one of the maidens looked closely at Peredur, and she wept. And Peredur asked her why she was weeping. 'Because it is so grievous to me to see slain a youth as fair as thou.' 'Who would slay me?' 'Were it not perilous for thee to stay in this place, I would tell thee.' 'However great my danger be, staying, I will hear it.' 'He who is our father owns this court and he slays every one that comes to this court with out his leave. What kind of man is your father, that he can so slay every one?' 'A man who does treachery and malice to his neighbours, and he makes no redress to any for it.'
And then he could see the young men arising and clearing the board of the pieces. And he could hear a great clatter, and after the clatter he could see a big black one-eyed man coming in. And the maidens arose to meet him, and they drew off his garb from about him. And he went to sit down. After he had recovered himself and was at his ease, he looked upon Peredur and asked, 'Who is the knight?' 'Lord,' she replied, 'the fairest and noblest young man thou hast ever seen, and for God's sake, and the sake of thine own pride, deal gently with him.' 'For thy sake I will deal gently with him, and will grant him his life for to-night.' And then Peredur came to them near the fire, and took meat and drink, and conversed with the maidens. And then Peredur, having grown tipsy, said to the black man, 'I marvel how exceeding mighty thou reckonest thou art. Who put out thine eye?' 'It has been one of my peculiarities that whoever should ask me what thou dost ask should not have his life at my hand, neither for gift nor for fee.' 'Lord,' said the maiden, 'even though he speak foolish things regarding thee, in drunkenness and elation, make good the word thou didst speak just now and promised me.' 'And I will do that gladly, for thy sake. I will grant him his life gladly, for to-night.' And they left it at that that night.
And on the morrow the black man arose and donned his armour, and bade Peredur, 'Get up, man, to suffer death,' said the black man. Peredur said to the black man, 'Do one of two things, black man, if thou art thinking to fight with me: either put off thine armour from about thee, or give me other armour to fight with thee.' 'Why man,' said he, 'coudest fight, wert thou to have arms? Take what arms thou wilt.' And thereupon the maiden came to Peredur with arms which he approved. And he did battle with the black man until the black man must needs ask quarter of Peredur. 'Black man, thou shalt have quarter for as long as thou art telling me who thou art and who plucked out thine eye.' 'Lord, I will tell: fighting against the Black Worm of the Barrow. There is a mound that is called the Dolorous Mound, and in the mound there is a barrow, and in the barrow there is a Worm, and in the Worm's tail there is a stone, and the virtues of the stone are that whosoever should, have it in the one hand, what he would desire of gold he should have in his other hand; and it was fighting against that Worm I lost my eye. And my name is the Black Oppressor. The reason why I was called the Black Oppressor is that I would not leave one man around me to whom I would not do violence; and I would make redress to none.' 'Aye,' said Peredur, 'how far from here is the mound thou tellest of?' 'I will recount for thee the stages of thy journey thither, and I will tell thee how far it is. The day thou settest out hence thou wilt come to the court of the Sons of the King of Suffering.' 'Why are they so called?' 'An Addanc of the Lake kills them once each day. When thou goest thence thou wilt come to the court of the Lady of the Feats.' 'What feats are hers?' 'A war-band of three hundred men has she. Every stranger who comes to the court, the feats of her war-band are told him. The reason for this is that the three hundred of the war-band sit next to the lady, and not out of disrespect to the guests, but in order to tell the feats of her war-band. The day thou settest out thence thou wilt go as far as the Dolorous Mound, and there are there the owners of three hundred pavilions around the Mound, guarding the Worm.' 'Since thou hast been a plague so long, I shall bring it about that thou wilt never be such henceforth.' And Peredur slew him.
And then the maiden who had started to converse with him said, 'Hadst thou been poor coming here, henceforth thou wouldst be rich, by reason of the treasure of the black man thou hast slain. And thou seest the many pleasant maidens who are in this court: thou couldst woo whichever of them thou wouldst desire.' 'I came not from my country hither, lady, to take a wife. But pleasant young men do I see there. Let each one of you match with the other, according to his desire. And I want nothing of your goods. I have no need thereof.'
Peredur set out on his way thence, and he came to the court of the Sons of the King of Suffering. And when he came to the court, he could see none but women. And the women rose before him and made him welcome. And at the beginning of their converse he could see a horse coming, and a saddle on him, and a corpse in the saddle. And one of the women rose up and took the corpse from the saddle, and bathed it in a tub that was below the door with warm water therein, and applied precious ointment to it. And the man rose up alive, and came to where Peredur was and saluted him and made him welcome. And two other men came inside in their saddles, and the woman gave those two the same treatment as the one before. Then Peredur asked the chieftain why they were thus. And they said that there was an Addanc in a cave, and it slew them each day. And they left it at that that night.
And on the morrow the squires set off, and Peredur asked them for the sake of their lady-loves to be allowed along with them. They refused him. 'Wert thou to be slain there, thou wouldst have none who might make thee alive again.' And then they, journeyed on, and Peredur journeyed after them. And when they had disappeared, so that he might not see them there then met him, seated on top of a mound, the fairest woman he had ever seen. 'I know thy journey said she. Thou art going to fight with the Addanc, and he will slay thee, yet not through his might but through guile. He has a cave, and there is a stone pillar in the entrance of the cave, and he sees all those who come inside, but never a one sees him. And with a poisoned stone-spear from the shelter of the pillar he kills every one. And wert thou to pledge thy word to love me best of women, I would give thee a stone so that thou shouldst see him when thou went inside, but he not see thee.' 'I will, by my faith,' said Peredur. 'Since first I saw thee I have loved thee, and where should I seek for thee?' 'When thou seekest for me, seek in the direction of India.' And then the maiden disappeared, after placing the stone in Peredur's hand.
And he came his way towards a river valley, and the bounds of the valley were forest, and on either side of the river, level meadows. And one side of the river he could see a flock of white sheep, and on the other side he could see a flock of black sheep. And as one of the white sheep bleated, one of the black sheep would come across, and would be white; and as one of the black sheep bleated, one of the white sheep would come across, and would be black.
And he could see a tall tree on the river bank, and the one half of it was burning from its roots to its tip, and the other half with green leaves on it. And beyond that he could see a squire seated on top of a mound, and two greyhounds, whitebreasted, brindled, on a leash, lying beside him. And he felt certain that he had never seen a squire of such princely mien as he. And in the forest fronting him he could hear staghounds raising a herd of stags. And he greeted the squire. And the squire greeted Peredur. And Peredur could see three paths leading away from the mound, two paths wide, and the third narrower. And Peredur asked where the three paths went 'One of these paths goes to my court, and I advise thee 'One of two things: either to go on ahead to the court, to my wife who is there, or that thou wait here and thou shalt see the staghounds driving the tired stags from the forest into the open. And thou shalt see the best greyhounds thou hast ever seen, and the strongest for stags, killing them by the water near at hand. And when it is time for us to go to our meat, my groom will bring my horse to meet me, and thou shalt be made welcome there to-night.' ' God repay thee. I will not bide but will go on my way.' 'The second path goes to the town that is there nearby, and therein meat and drink will be found for sale. And the path that is narrower than the others goes towards the Addanc's cave.' 'By thy leave, squire, towards that place will I go.'
And Peredur came towards the cave, and took the stone in his left hand and his spear in his right hand. And as he came inside, he caught sight of the Addanc and thrust him through with a spear, and cut off his head. And when he came out of the cave, lo, in the entrance of the cave his three companions. And they greeted Peredur and said it was of him there was a prophecy that he should slay that plague. And Peredur gave the head to the squires, and they in return offered him the one he might choose to wife of their three sisters, and half their kingdom along with her. 'I came not hither to take a wife' said Peredur, 'but if I desired any woman, maybe it is your sister whom I would desire the first.'
And Peredur went on his way. And he could hear a commotion behind him, and he looked behind him and could see a man on a red horse, and red armour upon him. And the man came level with him and greeted Peredur in the name of God and man. And Peredur too greeted the squire kindly. 'Lord, 'tis to make a request of thee that I am come.' 'What is thy request?' asked Peredur. 'That thou take me for thy man.' 'And whom would I take for my man, were I to take thee?' 'I will hide not my identity from thee. Edlym Red-sword am I called. an earl from Eastern parts.' 'I marvel thou dost offer thyself as man to a man whose dominion is no greater than thine own. For I too have but an earldom. But since thou seest fit to come as my man, I will take thee, gladly.'
And they came towards the countess's court. And they were made welcome in the court, and were told how it was not out of disrespect to them that they were placed below the war-band, but such was the custom of the court. For whoever overthrew the three hundred of her war-band Would be allowed to eat next to her, and she would love him best of men. And after Peredur had thrown the three hundred of her war-band to the ground and sat at her one hand, the countess said, 'I thank God I have had a youth, so fair and brave as thou, since I have not had the man I loved best.' 'Who was the man thou didst love best?' 'By my faith, Edlym Red-sword was the man I loved best, but I have never seen him. 'Faith,' said he, Edlym is my comrade, and here he is. And for his sake I came to play with thy war-band. And he could have done it better than I, had he so wished. And I will bestow thee upon him.' 'God thank thee, fair squire, and I will take the man I love. best.' And that night Edlym and the countess slept together.
And on the morrow Peredur set out towards the Dolorous Mound. 'By thy hand, lord, I will go along with thee, said Edlym. They came their way to where they might see the Mound and the pavilions. 'Go,' said Peredur to Edlym, 'to yonder men, and bid them come to do me homage.' Edlym came to them, and said to them thus, Come ye to do. homage to my lord.' 'Who is thy lord?' they asked. 'Peredur Longspear is my lord,' said Edlym. 'Were it permitted to, put an envoy to death, thou shouldst not return alive to thy lord, for making so arrogant a request to kings and earls and barons as to come to do homage to thy lord.' Edlym came back to Peredur. Peredur bade him go back to them and give them the choice: either to do him homage or to fight with him. They chose to fight with him. And Peredur threw the owners of a hundred pavilions that day to the ground. And on the morrow he threw the owners of another hundred to the ground. And the third hundred resolved in council to do homage to Peredur. And Peredur asked them what they were doing there. And they said that they were guarding the Worm until it were dead. 'And then we would fight for the stone, and whoever would be uppermost of us should have the stone.' 'Wait for me here,' said Peredur, 'I will go to encounter the Worm.' 'Not so, lord,' said they let us go together to fight with the Worm. Why, said Peredur, 'I will not have that. Should the Worm be slain I would have no more fame than any one of you.' And he went to where the Worm was and slew it, and came to them. 'Count your charges since you came here, and I will repay it thee in gold,' said Peredur. He paid them as much as each one said was owing him. And he asked nothing of them save to acknowledge that they were his men. And he said to Edlym, 'To the woman thou lovest best shalt thou go, and I will go on my way, and will requite thee for becoming my man.' And then he gave the stone to Edlym. God repay thee, and may God speed thee.' And away went Peredur.
And he came to a river valley, the fairest he had ever seen, and many pavilions of divers colours could he see there. And more wondrous to him than that was to see as many as he saw of waterfalls and windmills. There met him a big auburn-haired man, and the look of a craftsman about him. And Peredur asked who he was. 'Head miller am I over all the mills yonder.' 'Shall I have lodging of thee?' asked Peredur. 'Thou shalt,' he replied, 'gladly.' He came to the miller's house, and he saw that the miller's was a pleasant, fair dwelling. And Peredur asked the miller for money on loan, to buy meat and drink for himself and the people of the house; and he would pay it him before he went away thence. He asked the miller what was the reason for that muster. The miller said to Peredur, 'It is one of two things either thou art a man from afar or thou art a fool. The Empress of great Constantinople is there, and she has no desire save for the bravest man, for she has no need of wealth. And food might not be brought to all the thousands that are here, and it is for that reason there are all these mills.' And that night they took their ease.
And on the morrow Peredur arose and equipped himself and his horse to go to the tournament. And he could see a pavilion amongst the other pavilions, the fairest he had ever seen. And he could see a fair maiden craning her head through a window of the pavilion. And he had never seen a fairer maiden, and a robe of gold brocaded silk about her. And he looked hard at the maiden, and great love of her entered into him. And he was thus gazing at the maiden from the morning till mid-day, and from mid-day till it was afternoon. And the tournament had then come to an end, and he came to his lodging. And he put off his armour from about him, and asked the miller for money on loan. and the miller's wife was indignant with Peredur, but nevertheless the miller gave him money on loan. And on the morrow he did even as he had done the day before. And that night he came to his lodging and took money on loan from the miller. And the third day, when he was in the same place gazing at the maiden, he felt a mighty blow between shoulder and neck, from an axe-haft. And when he looked behind him upon the miller the miller said to him 'Do one of two things' said the miller, 'either turn away thy head or go to the tournament.' And Peredur smiled at the miller and went to the tournament. And those who encountered him that day, he threw them all to the ground. And as many as he threw, he sent the man as a gift to the empress, and the horses and suits of armour as a gift to the miller's wife, in earnest of her money lent. Peredur followed the tournament until he threw every one to the ground, and those whom he threw to the ground, he sent the men to the empress's prison and the horses and suits of armour to the miller's wife, in earnest of the money lent.
The empress sent to the Knight of the Mill to bid him come and see her. And he denied the first messenger, and the second went to him. And the third time she sent a hundred knights to bid him come and see her. And if he came not of his own free will, she bade them bring him against his will. And they came to him and declared their message from the empress. He played with them well. He had them tied as one ties a roebuck and thrown into the mill-dyke. And the empress sought counsel of a wise man who was in her council. And he told her, 'I will go to him on thy errand.' And he came to Peredur and greeted him and bade him for the sake of his lady-love come and see the empress. And he came, he and the miller. And the first place he came to in the pavilion, there he sat; and she came one side of him, and there was brief converse between them. And Peredur took leave and went to his lodging.
On the morrow he went to see her, and when he came to the pavilion there was no part of the pavilion which was in poorer state than the rest, for they knew not where he would sit. Peredur sat one side of the empress, and he con- versed graciously. When they were thus, they could see coming inside a black man, and a goblet of gold in his hand, full of wine, and he went down on his knee before the empress and bade her give it not save to one who would come to fight with him for her. And she looked at Peredur. 'Lady,' said he, 'give me the goblet.' And he drank the wine and gave the goblet to the miller's wife. And when they were thus, lo, a black man who was bigger than the other, and a beast's claw in his hand, in the shape of a goblet, with its fill of wine. And he gave it to the empress and bade her give it not save to one who would fight with him. 'Lady, ' said Peredur, 'give it me.' And she gave it to Peredur. And Peredur drank the wine and gave the goblet to the miller's wife. When they were thus, lo, a red curly-headed man who was bigger than either of the other men, and a goblet of crystal stone in his hand, with its fill of wine therein. And he sank down on his knee and gave it into the empress's hand, and bade her give it not save to one who would fight with him for her. And she gave it to Peredur, and he then sent it to the miller's wife. That night Peredur went to his lodging. And on the morrow he equipped himself and his horse and came to the meadow; and Peredur killed the three men, and then he came to the pavilion. And she said to him, 'Fair Peredur, remember the pledge thou gavest me when I gave thee the stone, when thou didst slay the Addanc.' 'Lady,' he replied 'thou sayest truth, and I will remember it.' And Peredur ruled with the empress fourteen years, as the story tells.
Arthur was at Caer Llion on Usk, a main court of his. And in the middle of the hall floor there were four men seated upon a mantle of brocaded silk; Owein son of Urien, and Gwalchmei son of Gwyar, and Hywel son of Emyr Llydaw, and Peredur Longspear. And thereupon they could see coming in a black curly-headed maiden on a yellow mule, and rough thongs in her hand, urging on the mule; and a rough unlovely look about her. Blacker were her face and her hands than the blackest iron that had been steeped in pitch; and it was not her colour that was ugliest, but her shape: high cheeks and hanging, baggy-fleshed face, and a stub wide-nostrilled nose, and the one eye mottled green, most piercing, and the other black like jet deep sunk in her head. Long yellow teeth, yellower than the flowers of the broom, and her belly swelling from her breastbone higher than her chin. Her backbone was shaped like a crutch; her two hips were broad in the bone, but everything narrow thence downwards, save that her feet and knees were clumped. She greeted Arthur and all his household save Peredur. And to Peredur she spoke wrothful ugly words. 'Peredur, I greet thee not, for thou dost not merit it. Blind was fate when she bestowed favour and fame upon thee. When thou camest to the court of the Lame King? and when thou sawest there the squire bearing the sharpened spear, and from the tip of the spear a drop of blood, and that running as it were a torrent as far as the squire's grip--and other marvels besides thou sawest there, but thou didst not ask after their meaning nor the cause of them. And hadst thou so asked, the king would have had health and his kingdom in peace. But henceforth strife and battle, and the loss of knights, and women left widowed, and maidens without succour, and that all because of thee.' And then she said to Arthur, 'With thy leave, lord, far off is my lodging from hence, not other than in Proud Castle. I know not whether thou hast heard tell of it. And therein there are five hundred and sixty-six ordained knights, and the woman each one loves best along with him; and whoever desires to win fame at arms and in jousting and fighting , he will get it there if he deserve it. And yet he who would have pre-eminence in fame and renown, I know where he would get it. There is a castle on a prominent mountain, and therein is a maiden, and it is being besieged, and who- ever might relieve it would win the highest renown in the world.' And thereupon she departed on her way.
Said Gwalchmei, 'By my faith, I will not sleep in peace till I know whether I can set the maiden free.' And many of Arthur's household were of one mind with him. Yet Peredur spoke otherwise. 'By my faith, I will not sleep in peace till I know the story and the meaning of the spear the black maiden told of.' And as everyone was making ready, lo, a knight coming to the gate, and the size and strength of a warrior in him. equipped with horse and arms, and he came on and greeted Arthur and all his household save Gwalchmei. And on the knight's shoulder there was a gold- chased shield, and a bar of blue-azure thereon, and all his armour was of that same colour. And he said to Gwalchmei, 'Thou slewest my lord through thy deceit and treachery, and that will I prove upon thee.' Gwalchmei arose. 'This,' said he, 'my gage against thee, either here or where thou wilt, that I am neither deceiver nor traitor.' 'In the presence of the king who is over me I would have the combat between thee and me.' 'Gladly,' said Gwalchmei, 'go thy way. I will follow thee.' The knight went his way, and Gwalchmei made ready; and many a suit of armour was offered him, but he would have none save his own. Gwalchmei and Peredur accoutred themselves and followed after him, because of their fellowship and the great love bore one another. But they kept not together, but they each on his own.
Gwalchmei in the young of the day came to a valley, and in the valley he could see a rampart, and a great court within the rampart, and proud lofty towers round about it. And he could see a knight coming out to the gate to hunt, on a gleaming-black, wide-nostrilled, easy-paced palfrey, of proud and even tread, fast-stepping and unfaltering. He was the man who owned the court. Gwalchmei greeted him. 'God prosper thee, chieftain, and whence comest thou?' 'I come,' said he, from Arthur's court.' 'Art thou Arthur's man?' 'Aye, by my faith,' said Gwalchmei. 'I know good counsel for thee,' said the knight. 'I see thee tired and worn. Go to the court, and there shalt thou stay to-night if it seem good to thee.' 'Even so, lord, and God repay thee.' 'Take a ring as a token to the porter, and go on to the tower yonder. And there is a sister of mine there.'
And Gwalchmei came to the gate and showed the ring and made for the tower. And when he came, there was a big blazing fire alight, and a bright high smokeless flame from it, and a handsome majestic maiden sitting in a chair near the fire. And the maiden was glad to see him and made him welcome, and arose to meet him. And he went to sit one side of the maiden. They took their dinner, and after their dinner they turned to pleasant converse. And when they were thus, behold, a handsome hoary-headed man coming in to them. 'Alas, vile whore,' said he, 'didst thou but know how fitting it is for thee to play and sit with that man, thou wouldst not sit, and thou wouldst not play.' And he withdrew his head and away. 'Chieftain,' said the maiden, 'if thou wouldst do my counsel, for fear lest the man has a trap for thee, thou wouldst fasten the door,' said she. Gwalchmei arose, and when he came towards the door, the man, one of sixty, fully-armed, was making upwards for the tower. Gwalchmei made a defence with a gwyddbwyll board, lest any should come up, until the man came from hunting.
Thereupon, behold, the earl coming. 'What is this?' said he. 'An ugly thing,' said the hoary-headed man, 'that yonder vile woman is sitting and drinking till evening with the man who slew your father. And he is Gwalchmei son of Gwyar.' 'Leave off now,' said the earl, 'I will go inside.' The earl made Gwalchmei welcome. ' Chieftain,' said he, 'it was wrong of thee to come to our court if thou knewest thou hadst slain our father. Even though we cannot avenge it, God will avenge it upon thee.' 'Friend,' said Gwalchmei, 'as for that, this is how it is: it was neither to confess to killing your father, nor to deny it, that I came. I am going on a quest for Arthur and myself. Nevertheless, I ask a year's respite until I come from my quest, and that then, upon my oath, I come to this court to do one of two things: admit it or deny it.' The respite he got willingly. And he was there that night. On the morrow he set forth, but under that head the story says no more of Gwalchmei than that.
And Peredur went on his way. Peredur wandered the Island to seek tidings of the black maiden, but he found them not. And he came to a land he knew not in a river, valley. And as he was traversing the valley he could see a rider coming towards him, with the mark of a priest upon. him. And he asked for his blessing. 'Alas, poor wretch,' said he, 'thou hast no right to receive blessing, and it will avail thee nothing, for donning arms on a day as exalted as this day.' 'And what day is to-day?' asked Peredur. 'To-day is Good Friday.' 'Blame me not. I did not know that. A year from to-day I departed my country.' And then, he dismounted and led his horse in his hand. And he travelled a length of the high road until a by-way met him, and along the by-way through the forest. And the far side of the forest he could see a towerless castle, and he could see signs of habitation about the castle. And he came towards the castle, and at the castle gate there met him the. priest who had met with him earlier. And he asked for his blessing. 'God's blessing upon thee,' said he, 'and it is more fitting to journey thus. And thou shalt be with me to-night.' And Peredur tarried that night.
On the morrow Peredur sought leave to depart. 'It is no day to-day for any to journey. Thou shalt be with me to-day and to-morrow and the day after. And I will give thee the best guidance I can concerning that which thou seekest.' And the fourth day Peredur sought leave to depart and asked the priest to give him guidance concerning the Castle of Wonders. 'As much as I know, I will tell thee. Cross the mountain yonder, and the far side of the mountain there is a river, and in the river valley there is a king's court; and the king was there at Eastertide. And if thou art to get tidings anywhere of the Castle of Wonders, thou wilt get them there.'
And then he went on his way and came to the river valley, and there met him a company of men going to hunt, and he. could see amongst the company a man of high rank. And Peredur greeted him. 'Choose, chieftain, whether thou go to the court or whether thou come along with me to hunt. And I will send one of the retinue to give thee in keeping. to a daughter of mine that is there, to take meat and drink. until I come from hunting. And if thy errands be such as I can obtain, thou shalt obtain them gladly.' And the king sent a short yellow-haired youth along with him. And when they came to the court the lady had arisen and was going to wash. And Peredur came forward, and she greeted Peredur joyfully and made room for him at her side. And they took their dinner. And whatever Peredur said to her, she would laugh loudly, so that every one in the court might hear. And then the short yellow-haired youth said to the lady, 'By my faith,' said he, 'if thou hadst ever a man, 'tis this squire thou hadst. And if thou hast not had a man, thy mind and heart are set on him.'
And the short yellow-haired youth made after the king, and said that he thought it most likely that the squire who had met with him was his daughter's man. 'And if not her man, I think it likely he will be her man here and now, unless thou guard against him.' 'What is thy counsel, youth?' 'My counsel is that brave men be set upon him and that he be held until thou know of that for certain.' And he set men upon Peredur to seize him and to put him in gaol. And the maiden came to meet her father, and asked him why he had had the squire from Arthur's court imprisoned. 'Faith,' he replied, 'he will not be free to-night or tomorrow or the day after, and he shall not come from where he is.' She made no demur to the king at what he said, and came to the squire. 'Is it tiresome for thee, to be here?' 'I should not mind though I were not.' 'Thy bed and thy state shall be no worse than the king's, and the best songs in the court thou shalt have at thy command. And were it more pleasant for thee than before that my bed be here for conversing with thee, thou shouldst have it gladly.' 'I will not gainsay that.' He was in prison that night. And the maiden held by what she had promised him.
And on the morrow Peredur could hear an uproar in the town. 'Alas, fair maiden, what uproar is this?' 'The king's host and his power are coming to this town to-day.' ' What would they then?' 'There is an earl near here, with two earldoms to his name, and he is as powerful as a king. And there will be an encounter between them to-day.' 'I beg thee,' said Peredur, 'to get me a horse and arms to go and look upon the encounter, on my pledge to return to my prison.' 'Gladly,' she replied, 'I will get for thee a horse and arms And she provided him with a horse and arms, and a pure red surcoat over his armour, and a yellow shield on his shoulder. And he came to the encounter, and those of the earl's men that met with him that day he threw them all to the ground. And he came back to his prison. She asked tidings of Peredur, but he spoke not one word to her. And so she went to ask tidings of her father, and she asked who had been best of his following. He replied that he knew him not: he was a man with a red surcoat over his armour and a yellow shield on his shoulder. And she smiled and came to where Peredur was. And in high regard was he held that night.
And three days on end Peredur slew the earl's men, and or ever any one might know who he was he would come back to his prison. And on the fourth day Peredur slew the earl himself. And the maiden came to meet her father and asked tidings of him. 'Good tidings said the king. 'The earl has been slain,' said he, 'and the two earldoms are now mine.' 'Dost know, lord, who slew him?' 'I do,' said the king. 'The knight of the red surcoat and the yellow shield slew him.' 'Lord,' said she, 'I know who that is.' 'For God's sake,' he replied, who is he?' 'Lord, he is the knight thou hast in prison.' Then he came to where Peredur was, and greeted him, and told him he would repay him the service he had done even as he himself would wish. And when they went to meat, Peredur was placed on the king's one hand, and the maiden on the other side of Peredur. And after meat the king said to Peredur, 'I will give thee my daughter to wife, and half my kingdom with her; and the two earldoms I will bestow on thee as a gift to thee.' 'May the Lord God repay thee. I came not hither to take a wife.' 'What dost thou seek then, chieftain?' 'Tis seeking tidings I am of the Castle of Wonders.' 'Loftier are the chieftain's thoughts than we expect to find,' said the maiden. 'Tidings of the castle thou shalt have, and men to guide thee through my father's dominion, and ample provision. And thou, chieftain, art the man I love best.' And then she said to him, 'Cross yonder mountain and thou wilt see a lake, and a castle within the lake, and that is called the Castle of Wonders. But we know naught of its wonders, save that it is so called.'
And Peredur came towards the castle, and the gate of the castle was open. And when he came to the hall, the door was open. And as he came inside he could see gwyddbwyll in the hall, and each of the two sets playing against the other. And the one he would support lost the game, and the other set up a shout just as though they were men. He grew angry, and caught up the pieces in his lap, and threw the board into the lake.
And as he was thus, lo, the black maiden coming in and saying to Peredur, 'God's welcome be not to thee. Thou dost oftener harm than good.' 'What is thy charge against me, black maiden?' asked Peredur. 'That thou hast made the. empress lose her board, and she would not wish that for her empire.' 'Is there a means whereby the board might be recovered?' 'There is, wert thou to go to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl. There is a black man there laying waste much of the empress's dominion; and kill him, thou wouldst recover the board. But if thou go there, thou wilt not come back alive.' 'Wilt thou be a guide to me there?' asked Peredur. 'I will show thee a way there,' said she.
He came to the Castle of Ysbidinongyl and fought with the black man. And the black man asked quarter of Peredur. 'I will grant thee quarter. See that the board is in the place where it was when I came to the hall.' And then the black maiden came and said to him, 'Aye,' said she, 'God's curse upon thee for thy pains, for leaving alive the plague that is laying waste the empress's dominion.' 'I left him his life,' said Peredur, 'in order to get the board.' 'The board is not where thou didst first find it. Go back and slay him.'
Peredur went and slew the black man. And when he came to the court the black maiden was at the court. 'Maiden,' said Peredur, 'where is the empress?' 'Betwecn me and God, thou wilt not see her now unless thou kill a plague that is in the forest yonder.' 'What kind of plague is it?' 'A stag is there, and it is swift as the swiftest bird, and there is one horn in its forehead, the length of a spear-shaft, and it is as sharp of point as aught sharpest-pointed. And it browses the tops of the trees and what herbage there is in the forest. And it kills every animal it finds therein. And those it does not kill, die of hunger. And worse than that, it comes every night and drains the fish pond in its drinking, and leaves the fish exposed, and most of them die before water comes thereto again.' 'Maiden,' said Peredur, 'wilt thou come and show me that animal?' 'Not so. No mortal has dared go to the forest for a year. There is the empress's lapdog, and that will raise the stag and bring it to thee. And the stag will make a rush at thee.'
The lapdog went as a guide to Peredur and raised the stag, and brought it to the place where Peredur was. And the stag made a rush at Peredur, and he let its charge go past him, and struck off its head with a sword. And as he was gazing at the stag's head, he could see a lady on horseback corning towards him, and taking up the lapdog in the sleeve of her cape, and the head between her and her saddlebow and the collar of red gold that was about the stag's neck. Chieftain,' said she, 'discourteously hast thou acted, slaying the fairest jewel that was in my dominion.' 'That was requested of me. And is there a way I might win thy friendship?' 'There is. Go to the breast of yonder mountain, and there thou wilt see a bush. And at the foot of the bush there is a stone slab, and do thou there ask for a man to joust, three times. Thou wouldst then have my friendship.'
Peredur went on his way and came to beside the bush and asked for a man to joust. And a black man rose up from under the slab, and a bony horse under him, and huge rusty armour upon him and upon his horse, and they fought. And as Peredur would throw the black man to the ground, he would leap back into his saddle. And Peredur dismounted and drew his sword. And thereupon the black man disappeared, and Peredur's horse and his own horse with him, so that he got no second glimpse of them.
And Peredur walked along the mountain. And the far side of the mountain he could see a castle in a river valley, and he came towards the castle. And as he came inside the castle, he could see a hall, and the hall door open. And in he came, and he could see a lame grey-headed man sitting at the end of the hall, and Gwalchmei sitting on his one hand, and Peredur's horse he could see in the same stall as Gwalchmei's horse. And they made Peredur welcome, and he went to sit the other side of the grey-headed man. And a yellow-haired youth went on his knee before Peredur and besought Peredur's friendship. 'Lord,' said the youth, 'I came in the guise of the black maiden to Arthur's court, and when thou didst throw away the board, and when thou slewest the black man from Ysbidinongyl, and when thou slewest the stag, and when thou didst fight against the black man of the slab; and I came with the head all bloody on the salver, and with the spear that had the stream of blood from its tip to the handgrip along the spear. And the head was thy cousin's, and it was the witches of Caer Loyw that had slain him. And 'twas they that lamed thy uncle. And thy cousin am I, and it is prophesied that thou wilt avenge that.'
And Peredur and Gwalchmei resolved to send to Arthur and his war-band, to ask him to come against the witches. And they began to fight with the witches. And one of the witches slew a man of Arthur's before Peredur's eyes, and Peredur bade her desist. And a second time the witch slew a man before Peredur's eyes, and a second time Peredur bade her desist. And the third time the witch slew a man before Peredur's eyes, and Peredur drew his sword and smote the witch on the crest of her helm, so that the helm and all the armour and the head were split in two. And she raised a shout, and bade the other witches flee, and said that it was Peredur, the man who had been with them learning knighthood, and who was destined to slay them. And then Arthur and his war-band fell upon the witches, and the witches of Caer Loyw were all slain.
And thus is it told of the Castle of Wonders.