Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

“ Buskins he wore of costliest cordawayne,
Pinckt upon gold, and paled part per part,*
As then the guize was for each gentle swayne
In his right hand he held a trembling dart,
Whose fellow he before had sent apart;
And in his left he held a sharp bore-speare,
With which he wont to launch the salvage heart

Of many a lyon, and of many a beare,
That first unto his hand in chase did happen neare.”

* Pinckt upon gold, foc., adorned with golden points, or eyelets, and regularly intersected with stripes. Paled, (in heraldry,) striped. CHAPTER XVIII.

PERCEVAL.

THE father and two elder brothers of Perceval had fallen in battle or tournaments, and hence, as the last hope of his family, his mother retired with him into a solitary region, where he was brought up in total ignorance of arms and chivalry. He was allowed no weapon but “a lyttel Scots spere,” which was the only thing of all “her lordes faire gere" that his mother carried to the wood with her. In the use of this he became so skilful, that he could kill with it not only the animals of the chase for her table, but even birds on the wing. At length, however, Perceval was roused to a desire of military renown by seeing in the forest five knights who were in complete armor. He said to his mother,

66 Mother, what are those yonder ?” “ They are angels, my son,” said she. “By my faith, I will go and become an angel with them." And Perceval went to the road and met them. “Tell me good lad,said one of them, “sawest thou a knight pass this way either to-day or yesterday?” “I know not,”

[ocr errors]

said he, “what a knight is.”

66 Such an one as I am," said the knight. “If thou wilt tell me what I ask thee, I will tell thee what thou askest me."

Gladly will I do so,” said Sir Owain, for that was the knight's name. " What is this?" demanded Perceval, touching the saddle. “It is a saddle," said Owain. Then he asked about all the accoutrements which he saw upon the men and the horses, and about the arms, and what they were for, and how they were used. And Sir Owain showed him all those things fully. And Perceval in return gave him such information as he had.

Then Perceval returned to his mother, and said to her, “Mother, those were not angels, but honorable knights.” Then his mother swooned away. And Perceval went to the place where they kept the horses that carried firewood and provisions for the castle, and he took a bony, piebald horse, which seemed to him the strongest of them. And he pressed a pack into the form of a saddle, and with twisted twigs he imitated the trappings which he had seen upon the horses. When he came again to his mother, the countess had recovered from her

“My son,” said she, “ desirest thou to ride forth ?” “Yes, with thy leave,” said he. “Go forward then," she said, “ to the court of Arthur, where there are the best and the noblest and the most bountiful of men, and tell him thou art Perceval, the son of Pelenore, and ask of him to bestow knighthood on thee. And whenever thou seest a

Swoon.

church, repeat there thy pater-noster; and if thou see meat and drink, and hast need of them, thou mayest take them. If thou hear an outcry of one in distress, proceed toward it, especially if it be the cry of a woman, and render her what service thou canst. If thou see a fair jewel, win it, for thus shalt thou acquire fame; yet freely give it to another, for thus thou shalt obtain praise. If thou see a fair woman, pay court to her, for thus thou wilt obtain love."

After this discourse Perceval mounted the horse, and, taking a number of sharp-pointed sticks in his hand, he rode forth. And he rode far in the woody wilderness without food or drink. At last he came to an opening in the wood, where he saw a tent, and as he thought it might be a church he said his paternoster to it. And he went towards it; and the door of the tent was open. And Perceval dismounted and entered the tent. In the tent he found a maiden sitting, with a golden frontlet on her forehead and a gold ring on her hand. And Perceval said, “ Maiden, I salute you, for my mother told me whenever I met a lady I must respectfully salute her.” Perceiving in one corner of the tent some food, two flasks full of wine, and some boar's-flesh roasted, he said, “My mother told me, wherever I saw meat and drink, to take it." And he ate greedily, for he was very hungry. The maiden said, “Sir, thou hadst best go quickly from here, for fear that my friends should come, and evil should befall you.” But Perceval said, “My mother told me, wheresoever I saw a fair jewel, to take it," and he took the gold ring from her finger, and put it on his own; and he gave the maiden his own ring in exchange for her's; then he mounted his horse and

rode away

Perceval journeyed on till he arrived at Arthur's court. And it so happened that just at that time an uncourteous knight had offered Queen Guenever a gross insult. For when her page was serving the queen with a golden goblet, this knight struck the arm of the page and dashed the wine in the queen's face and over her stomacher. Then he said, any have boldness to avenge this insult to Guenever, let him follow me to the meadow.” So the knight took his horse and rode to the meadow, carrying away the golden goblet. And all the household hung down their heads, and no one offered to follow the knight to take vengeance upon him. For it seemed to them that no one would have ventured on so daring an outrage unless he possessed such powers, through magic or charms, that none could be able to punish him. Just then, behold, Perceval entered the hall upon the bony, piebald horse, with his uncouth trappings. In the centre of the hall stood Kay the Seneschal. “ Tell me, tall man,' said Perceval, “is that Arthur yonder ?” wouldst thou with Arthur?” asked Kay. “My. mother told me to go to Arthur and receive knighthood from him.” “By my faith," said he, “thou

66 If

66 What

« ForrigeFortsett »