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he sopped bread and ate it.

"How is this?" asked the lady in surprise. "Like you not my meat?"

"Truly I do, madam; yet I may eat no other food this day."

Then the lady was silent, for she feared to displease him by
questioning. After supper, while they sat talking, a squire came, who
said,--

"Madam, you know well what is set for to-morrow. You must provide a
champion to fight in your quarrel against Pridam le Noire, or your
sister will have this castle and all your lands."

"I know that," she said, with a deep sigh. "May God save me from being
robbed, for I see no earthly aid."

Her sorrow touched Bors, who asked,--

"What means this, madam?"

"Sir," she said, "I shall tell you. There was formerly a king named
Aniause, who owned all these lands. By chance he loved my sister, who is
much older than I,--and much wickeder also, I fear. He gave her this
land to govern; but she brought into it many evil customs, and caused
the death of many of his kinsmen. When the king saw how vilely she
governed, he drove her away, and put me over this district. But he is
now dead, and she is making war on me, and has destroyed many of my
men, and turned others from me, so that I have little left but this
tower, and the few men that guard it. Even this she now threatens to
take from me, unless I can find a knight to fight her champion, who will
appear before my gates to-morrow."

"Is it so?" said Bors. "Who is this Pridam le Noire?"

"He is the most stalwart knight in this country, and has no equal among
us."

"Madam," said Bors, "you have given me shelter; in return I shall aid
you as far as I can in your trouble. You may send word that you have
found a knight who will fight with this Pridam the Black, in God's
quarrel and yours."

"Then may God's blessing rest upon you," she cried, gladly. And word was
sent out that she had found a champion who would take on himself her
quarrel.

That evening she did what lay in her power to make Bors welcome, and
sent him at bedtime to a chamber whose bed was soft as down, and spread
with silken coverings.

But in no bed would he rest, but laid himself on the floor, as he had
vowed to do till he found the Sangreal.

As he lay there asleep there came to him a vision. He seemed to see two
birds, one white as a swan, the other of smaller size, and shaped like a
raven, with plumage of inky blackness. The white bird came to him and
said, "If thou wilt give me meat and serve me, I shall give thee all the
riches of the world, and make thee as fair and white as I am." Then the
white bird departed, and the black bird came and said, "I beg that you
will serve me to-morrow, and hold me in no despite; for this I tell you,
that my blackness will avail you more than the other's whiteness." And
this bird, too, departed.

But his dream continued, and he seemed to come to a great place, that
looked like a chapel. Here he saw on the left side a chair, which was
worm-eaten and feeble. And on the right hand were two flowers of the
shape of a lily, and one would have taken the whiteness from the other
but that a good man separated them, and would not let them touch. And
out of each came many flowers and plentiful fruit. Then the good man
said, "Would not he act with great folly that should let these two
flowers perish to succor the rotten tree, and keep it from falling?"
"Sir," said the dreamer, "it seems to me that the flower is of more
value than the wood." "Then take heed that you never choose the false
for the true."

With this Bors awoke, and made the sign of the cross on his forehead,
and then rose and dressed. When he had come to the lady she saluted him,
and led him to a chapel, where they heard the morning service. Quickly
afterwards there came a company of knights that the lady had sent for,
to lead her champion to battle. After he had armed, she begged him to
take some strengthening food.

"Nay, madam," he answered, "that I shall not do till I have fought this
battle, in which I ask but God's grace to aid me."

This said, he sprang upon his horse, and set out with the knights and
men, closely followed by the lady and her train. They soon came to where
the other party were encamped, and with them the lady of their choice.

"Madam," said the lady of the tower, "you have done me great wrong to
take from me the lands which King Aniause gave me. And I am sorry that
there should be any battle."

"You shall not choose," said the other, "unless you withdraw your knight
and yield the tower."

"That I shall not do. You have robbed me enough already."

Then was the trumpet sounded, and proclamation was made that whichever
champion won the battle, the lady for whom he fought should enjoy all
the land. This done, the two champions drew aside, and faced each other
grimly in their armor of proof.

But when the sound for the onset was blown they put spurs to their
steeds, which rushed together like two lions, and the knights struck
each other with such force that their spears flew to pieces and both
fell to the earth.

They quickly rose and drew their swords, and hewed at each other like
two woodmen, so that soon each was sorely wounded and bleeding
profusely. Bors quickly found that he had a sturdier antagonist than he
expected, for Pridam was a strong and hardy fighter, who stood up
lustily to his work, and gave his opponent many a sturdy blow.

Bors, perceiving this, took a new course, and played with his antagonist
till he saw that he was growing weary with his hard work. Then he
advanced upon him fiercely, and drove him step by step backward, till
in the end Pridam fell. Bors now leaped upon him and pulled so strongly
upon his helm as to rend it from his head. Then he struck him with the
flat of his sword upon the cheek, and bade him yield, or he would kill
him.

"For God's love, slay me not!" cried the knight. "I yield me to thy
mercy. I shall swear never to war against thy lady, but be henceforth
her friend and protector."

With this assurance, Bors let him live; while the covetous old lady fled
in fear, followed by all her knights. The victorious champion now called
to him all those who held lands in that estate, and threatened to
destroy them unless they would do the lady such service as belonged to
their holdings. This they swore to do, and there and then paid homage to
the lady, who thus came to her own again through the mighty prowess of
Sir Bors de Ganis.

Not until the country was well in peace did he take his leave, refusing
the offers of wealth which the grateful lady pressed upon him, and
receiving her warm thanks with a humility that well became him.

Hardly would she let him go; but at length he bade her farewell, and
rode away from her tears and thanks. On he journeyed for all that day,
and till midday of the next, when he found himself in a forest, where a
strange adventure befell him.

For at the parting of two ways he met two knights who had taken prisoner
his brother Lionel, whom they had bound all naked upon a hackney, while
they beat him with thorns till the blood flowed from every part of his
body. Yet so great of heart was he that no word came from his lips, and
he made no sign of pain.

Bors, seeing this, was on the point of rushing to his rescue, when he
beheld on the other side a knight who held as prisoner a fair lady, whom
he was taking into the thickest part of the forest to hide her from
those who sought her. And as they went she cried in a lamentable
voice,--

"Saint Mary, rescue me! Holy mother, succor your maid!"

When she saw Bors she cried out to him grievously for aid and rescue.

"By the faith you owe to the high order of knighthood, and for the noble
King Arthur's sake, who I suppose made you knight, help me, gracious
sir, and suffer me not to come to shame through this felon knight!"

On hearing this appeal the distracted knight knew not what to do. On one
side his brother in danger of his life; on the other a maiden in peril
of her honor.

"If I rescue not my brother he will be slain; and that I would not have
for the earth. Yet if I help not the maiden, I am recreant to my vows of
knighthood, and to my duty to the high order of chivalry."

Tears ran from his eyes as he stood in cruel perplexity. Then, with a
knightly resolution, he cried,--

"Fair sweet Lord Jesus, whose liegeman I am, keep Lionel my brother
that these knights slay him not; since for your service, and for Mary's
sake, I must succor this maid."

Then he turned to the knight who had the damsel, and loudly cried,--

"Sir knight, take your hands from that maiden and set her free, or you
are a dead man."

On hearing this the knight released the maiden as bidden, but drew his
sword, as he had no spear, and rode fiercely at the rescuer. Bors met
him with couched spear, and struck him so hard a blow as to pierce his
shield and his hauberk on the left shoulder, beating him down to the
earth. On pulling out the spear the wounded knight swooned.

"You are delivered from this felon. Can I help you further?" said Bors
to the maiden.

"I beg you to take me to the place whence he carried me away."

"That shall I do as my duty."

Then he seated her on the knight's horse, and conducted her back towards
her home.

"You have done nobly, sir knight," she said. "If you had not rescued me,
five hundred men might have died for this. The knight you wounded is my
cousin, who yesterday stole me away from my father's house, no one
mistrusting him. But if you had not overcome him, there would soon have
been others on his track."

Even as she spoke there came a troop of twelve knights riding briskly
forward in search of her. When they found her delivered their joy was
great, and they thanked Bors profusely, begging him to accompany them
to her father, who was a great lord, and would welcome him with
gladness.

"That I cannot do," said Bors, "much as I should like to; for I have
another matter of high importance before me. I can but say, then,
farewell, and God be with you and this fair maiden."

So saying, he turned and rode briskly away, followed by their earnest
thanks.



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