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I would know your
name."

"You shall have it for yours in return."

"I agree to that."

"Then, sir, my name is Safere. I am son of King Astlobar, and brother to
Palamides and Segwarides."

"Then heaven defend me for having fought you, for I am your brother
Palamides."

At these words Safere fell upon his knees and begged his brother's
pardon; and then they unlaced their helms and kissed each other with
tears of joy.

As they stood thus, Epinegris advanced towards them, for he had heard
the sounds of fighting, and, wounded as he was, he came to help
Palamides if he should stand in need.

Palamides, seeing him approach, took the lady by the hand and led her to
him, and they embraced so tenderly that all hearts there were touched.

"Fair knight and lady," said Safere, "it would be a cruel pity to part
you, and I pray heaven to send you joy of each other."

"You have my sincere thanks," said Epinegris. "And deeper thanks has Sir
Palamides for what he has done for me this day. My castle is near by;
will you not ride there with me as a safeguard?"

"That we gladly will," they said, and when Epinegris had got his horse
they rode with him and the lady to the castle, where they were nobly
received and treated with the highest honor. They had such good cheer
and such enjoyment as they had rarely before known. And never burned the
flame of love more warmly than that between Epinegris and his rescued
lady.




CHAPTER VIII.

THE RIVALRY OF TRISTRAM AND PALAMIDES.


When morning again dawned over the forest and the smiling fields that
surrounded the castle of Epinegris, the two brothers rode out, taking
with them the blessings and prayers for good fortune of those they left
behind. But had they known into what deadly peril they ventured they
would not for days have left those hospitable gates.

For they rode on hour by hour, until afternoon came, and then found
themselves in front of a noble manor-house from which came to their ears
doleful sounds of woe and lamentation.

"What means this woful noise? Shall we enter and see?" said Safere.

"Willingly," answered Palamides.

Leaving their horses at the gates, they entered the court-yard, where
they saw an old man tremblingly fumbling his beads. But when they came
within the hall they beheld many men weeping and lamenting.

"Fair sirs, why make you such a moaning?" asked Palamides.

"We weep for our lord, who is slain," they dolefully replied.

But one of the knights observed the new-comers closely, and said
secretly to his fellows,--

"Know you not this man? Fortune has thrown into our hands the knight who
slew our lord at Lonazep. That tall fellow is Palamides. Let him not go
as easily as he came."

Hearing this, most of them quietly withdrew and armed themselves, and
then came suddenly upon their visitors to the number of threescore,
crying,--

"Defend yourself, if you can, Sir Palamides. We know you for the
murderer of our lord, and it is our duty to revenge him. Die you shall,
though you had the might of a giant."

Palamides and his brother, finding themselves in this desperate strait,
set themselves back to back in the midst of their assailants, and fought
like very giants, keeping their ground for two hours, though they were
attacked by twenty knights and forty gentlemen and yeomen. But strength
cannot hold out forever against odds, and at the end they were forced to
yield, and were locked up in a strong prison.

Within three days thereafter a court of twelve knights sat upon the
charge against them, and found Sir Palamides guilty of their lord's
death.

Sir Safere, who was adjudged not guilty, was given his liberty, and
bidden to depart from the castle. He parted with his brother in the
deepest woe.

"Dear brother, grieve not so greatly," said Palamides. "If die I must, I
shall meet death bravely. But had I dreamed of such a doom as this, they
should never have taken me alive."

[Illustration: Copyright 1895 by E. A. Abbey; from a Copely print
copyright 1896 by Curtis and Cameron.

THE DEPARTURE.]

Then Safere departed in untold sorrow, though not without hope of rescue
if he could raise a force to storm the castle. This he had no chance to
do, for on the next morning Palamides was sent under an escort of twelve
knights to the father of the dead knight, who dwelt in a strong castle
by the sea-side, named Pelownes, where it had been decided that the
sentence should be put into execution.

Palamides was placed on a sorry old steed with his feet bound beneath
it, and, surrounded by the guard of twelve armed knights, was taken
towards the place of death.

But through the favor of fortune their route lay by the castle of Joyous
Gard, and here they were seen by one who knew Palamides, and who asked
him whither he was borne.

"To my death," he answered, "for the slaying of a knight at the
tournament. Had I not left Sir Tristram this would not have happened to
me. I pray you, recommended me to your lord and to my lady Isolde, and
beg them to forgive me my trespasses against them. And also to my lord
King Arthur, and to all my fellows of the Round Table."

When the yeoman heard this he rode in all haste to Joyous Gard, where he
told Tristram of what he had seen and heard.

"To his death, you say?" cried Tristram. "And for an accident of the
tournament? Why, I and twenty others might be served in the same manner.
I have reason to be angry with Palamides, but he shall not die the death
of a dog if I can rescue him."

This said, he armed in all haste, and taking two squires with him, he
rode at a fast gallop towards the castle of Pelownes, hoping to overtake
the party before they could pass its gates.

But fortune had decreed that the prisoner should be otherwise rescued.
For as the guard of knights rode on their way they passed by a well
where Lancelot had alighted to drink of the refreshing waters.

When he saw the cavalcade approach he put on his helmet and stood
watching them as they passed. But his heart swelled with anger when he
saw Palamides disarmed and bound in their midst, and seemingly led to
his death.

"What means this?" he cried. "What has this knight done that deserves a
shameful death? Whatever it be, I cannot suffer him to be foully dealt
with."

Then he mounted and rode after the twelve knights, soon overtaking them.

"Sir knights," he said, "whither take you that gentleman? To ride thus
bound is not befitting for a man of his metal."

At this the guard of knights turned their horses and faced Lancelot.

"We counsel you not to meddle with us," they said, sternly. "This man
has deserved death, and to death he is adjudged."

"I tell you, sirs, it shall not be. He is too good a knight to die a
shameful death. Defend yourselves, then, for I will try my one hand
against your twelve, and rescue him or die in the effort."

The knights of the guard now put their spears in rest, and Lancelot rode
upon them with such fury that the foremost and three of those behind him
were hurled to the ground before his spear broke. Then he drew his sword
and laid about him so shrewdly that in a little time the whole twelve of
them were stretched upon the earth, most of them being sorely wounded.
Lancelot now cut the bonds of Palamides, mounted him upon the best of
their horses, and rode back with him towards Joyous Gard.

As they went forward they saw Sir Tristram approaching. Lancelot knew
him at sight, but was himself unknown, because he bore a golden shield
which neither Tristram nor Palamides recognized. He therefore mystified
them for a time, and declined to enter Joyous Gard on the plea that he
had other pressing business on hand. But when strongly entreated, he at
length consented, and entered the castle with them.

Great was their surprise and joy when he had unhelmed, to find that they
had their host for guest. Tristram took him in his arms, and so did
Isolde, while Palamides kneeled before him and thanked him for his life.
When Lancelot saw this he took him by the hand and made him rise.

"Good sirs," he said, "could I, or any knight of worship in this land,
hesitate to rescue from an ignoble death such a knight as Palamides? Had
there been fifty instead of twelve, I fear I should have braved them
all."

Much joy was there in Joyous Gard at the visit of the lord of the
castle, but Lancelot stayed there but four days. Palamides, however,
remained for two months and more, his love and grief growing deeper,
till he faded away to a shadow of himself.

One day, at the end of this time, he wandered far into the neighboring
forest, and here by chance saw the reflection of his face in a clear
pool. The wasted visage disturbed and affrighted him.

"What does this mean?" he asked himself. "Am I, who was called one of
the handsomest knights in the world, wasted to such a frightful figure?
I must leave this life, for it is idle to grieve myself to death for
that which I can never possess."

Then he threw himself beside the well, and from the fulness of his heart
began to make a song about La Belle Isolde and himself, a rhyme made up
of music, love, and grief.

As chance would have it, Tristram had ridden into the forest that day in
chase of the hart. And as he rode up and down under the green leaves the
summer air brought to his ears the sound of a voice singing loud and
clear. He rode softly towards the sound, for he deemed that some
knight-errant lay there solacing himself with song.

When he came nigh he tied his horse to a tree and advanced on foot. Then
he became aware that the singer was his guest Palamides, and that his
song was about La Belle Isolde, a doleful and piteous, yet marvellously
well-made song, which the singer sang loudly and in a clear voice.
Tristram stood listening till he had heard it from beginning to end. But
at the last his anger grew so high that he needed to restrain himself
from slaying the singer where he lay.

Remembering that Palamides was unarmed, he resisted this impulse, and
advanced slowly towards him.

"Sir Palamides," he said, in a gentle voice, "I have heard your song,
and learned your treason to your host.



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