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You are in God's hands;
to God commend yourself."

With these words the white knight vanished away, and in the place where
he had stood was seen but empty air.

Then the squire, who had heard these words, alighted and kneeled at
Galahad's feet, praying that he would make him a knight.

"That I shall consider," said Galahad. "But now let us return to the
abbey."

Here Galahad drove away a fiend that had long dwelt in a tomb near by,
where it made such noise that none could venture near it. But the
virtue of the shield protected him from all harm from this evil shape,
which was forced to depart.

When morning came, he asked the young squire his name.

"Sir," he answered, "men call me Melias de Lile, and I am the son of the
king of Denmark."

"Then, fair sir, since you come of kings and queens, I shall make you a
knight; and look you that knighthood sit well on you, for you should be
a mirror of chivalry."

"That shall I seek to be," said Melias.

Then Galahad gave him the accolade as he kneeled before him, and bade
him rise a knight.

"Now, dear sir," said Melias, "since you have done me this high honor,
it is but right that you grant me my first request, so that it be in
reason."

"You speak justly," said Galahad.

"I beg, then, that you let me ride with you in the quest of the Sangreal
till some adventure shall part us."

"That I grant willingly."

Armor was now brought to Melias, and when it had been girded upon him he
and Galahad rode away, and passed onward all that week without an
adventure. But on the Monday next, as they set out from an abbey, they
came to where a cross marked a parting of the road. On the cross was
written,--

"Ye knights-errant, that ride in quest of adventures, here lie two ways.
He that takes the right-hand road shall not leave it again, if he be a
good man and a worthy knight. He that takes the left-hand shall not
lightly win fortune, for his strength and endurance will be soon tried."

"If you will suffer me to take the left-hand road I should like it
greatly," said Melias. "My strength and skill need trial."

"It were better not. I fancy that I only should face the danger that
there confronts us."

"Nay, my lord, I pray you let me have this adventure."

"Take it, then, in God's name," said Galahad; "and do your duty
worthily."

So Melias rode forward and soon found himself in a forest, through which
he passed for two days, seeing there neither man, woman, nor child. Then
he came from the forest into a broad meadow, where stood a lodge built
of green boughs. And in that lodge was a chair, on which lay a crown of
gold wrought with rich and subtle skill. Also there were cloths spread
upon the earth, upon which delicious meats were laid.

Melias beheld all this and thought it marvellous. He felt no hunger, but
the crown of gold roused his covetousness, and he took it up and rode
away with it. But not far had he ridden when a knight came after him,
who said,--

"Sir knight, why have you taken that crown? It is not yours; therefore
defend yourself."

Then Melias blessed himself, and said,--

"Fair Lord of Heaven, help and save thy new made knight."

Then they rode together at full speed, but Melias's prayer availed him
naught, for the spear-head of the other went through his hauberk, and
wounded him so deeply in the left side that he fell to the earth like a
dead man. Then the victor knight took the crown and rode away.

But with wise forethought Galahad had followed Melias, and now rode into
the valley, where he found him in peril of death.

"Ah, Melias!" he cried, "better for you had you taken the other way. Who
has done you this harm?"

"For God's love, let me not die in this place!" said Melias in reply.
"Bear me to some abbey near by, where I may be confessed and have the
rites of the church."

"It shall be done," said Galahad. "But where is he who has wounded you?"

The reply came from the edge of the forest, where Galahad heard a voice
cry in stirring tones,--

"Knight, defend yourself from me."

"Beware, sir," warned Melias. "He it is that has left me thus."

"Sir knight," said Galahad, "come on at your peril."

Then they rode together as fast as their horses could run, and Galahad
drove his spear through the shoulder of his opponent, hurling him from
his horse. But in his fall the spear broke. Then, before the young
knight could turn, another knight rode from under the leaves and broke
his spear upon him.

At this treacherous act Galahad drew his sword in wrath, and with a keen
blow smote off the left arm of his antagonist, whom he pursued into the
forest.

He soon returned, however, and took up Melias gently, for the truncheon
of the spear was in his body, and bore him on his horse in his arms to
an abbey near at hand. Here the wounded knight was unarmed and laid upon
a bed, where the rites of the church were administered to him.

"Sir Galahad," he then said, "let death come when it will, I am at peace
with God." And he drew the truncheon of the spear from his body, and
swooned away.

But an old monk who stood there, and who was a skilful leech, examined
the wound, and said, "He need not die. By the grace of God I hope to
heal him of this wound within seven weeks."

This gladdened Galahad, and he remained at the abbey three days to see
how Melias should fare. Then he asked him how it stood with him.

"I feel now as if I may live," he answered.

"God be thanked for that," said Galahad. "Now must I depart, for I have
much to do, and the quest of the Sangreal will not permit long leisure
and delay."

"Sir," said the monk, "it is for his sin this knight is so bitterly
wounded. He took on him the high order of knighthood without clean
confession, which was a sinful thing to do. As for the two ways to which
you came, the way on the right betokens the highway of righteousness,
and the way on the left, which he chose, betokens that of sinners and
infidels. And when the devil saw his presumption in taking the quest of
the Sangreal without being worthy of it, he caused his overthrow. And
when he took the crown of gold he sinned in covetousness and theft. As
for you, Sir Galahad, the two knights with whom you fought signify the
two deadly sins which abide in Sir Melias. But they could not withstand
you, for you are without deadly sin."

"God send I may keep so," said Galahad. "Now must I depart. I pray you
do your utmost for this knight."

"My Lord Galahad," said Melias, "I shall get well, and shall seek you as
soon as I can ride."

"God grant you speedy health," said Galahad, and he left the room and
sought his horse, and rode away alone.

After he had ridden for days in various directions, it chanced that he
departed from a place called Abblasoure, where he had heard no mass, as
was his daily custom. But ere the day was old, he came to a mountain, on
which he found a ruined chapel, and here he kneeled before the altar,
and besought God's counsel. And as he prayed he heard a voice that said,
"Go now, thou adventurous knight, to the Castle of Maidens, and do away
with the wicked customs which there are kept."

When Galahad heard this he took his horse and rode away, full of
gladness that he might thus serve God. And not long nor far had he
ridden before he saw in a valley before him a strong castle, with high
towers and battlements and deep ditches; and beside it ran a broad
river, named the Severn.

Here he met an aged man, whom he saluted, and asked the castle's name.

"It is the Castle of Maidens," said the old man.

"Then it is a cursed castle, and an abode of sin," said Galahad. "All
pity is wanting within those walls, and evil and hardness of heart there
have their abode."

"Then, sir knight, you would do well to turn and leave it."

"That shall I not," said Galahad. "I have come here to punish the
evil-doers that there abide."

Leaving the old man, he rode forward, and soon met with seven fair
maidens, who said to him,--

"Sir knight, you ride in folly, for you have the water to pass."

"And why should I not pass the water?" asked Galahad.

He continued his ride, and next met a squire, who said,--

"Sir knight, I bring you defiance from the knights in the castle, who
forbid you to go farther till they learn your purpose."

"You may tell it to them, if you will. I come to destroy the wicked
customs of this castle."

"Sir, if you abide by that, you will have enough to do."

"Go now and bear them my answer."

Then the squire returned to the castle, from which there soon after rode
seven knights, in full armor. When they saw Galahad they cried,--

"Knight, be on your guard, for you have come to your death."

"What!" asked Galahad, "will you all assail me at once?"

"That shall we; so defend yourself."

Then Galahad rode against them and smote the foremost such a blow that
he nearly broke his neck. The others rode on him together, each
striking his shield with might. But their spears broke and he still held
his seat.

He now drew his sword, and set upon them with such energy that, many as
they were, he put them all to flight, chasing them until they entered
the castle, and following them within its walls till they fled from the
castle by another gate.

Galahad was now met by an old man, clad in religious costume, who said
to him,--

"Sir, here are the keys of the castle."

Then the victor ordered that all the gates should be thrown open, and in
the streets of the neighboring town were crowds of people, crying
gladly,--

"Sir knight, you are heartily welcome. Long have we waited for the
deliverance which you bring us."

And a gentlewoman came, who said to him,--

"These knights are fled, but they will come again. Therefore, sir, I
counsel you to send for all the knights that hold their lands of this
castle, and make them swear to restore the old customs, and do away with
the evil practices which these villanous knights have fostered."

"That is good counsel," said Galahad.

Then she brought him a horn of ivory, richly adorned with gold, and
said,--

"Blow this horn loudly. It will be heard two miles and more from the
castle, and all that hear it will come."

[Illustration: Copyright 1901 by E.



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