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lovely lady now with joy assured him that she should change no more; but as she now was, so would she remain by night as well as by day.
“Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek,
Her eyen were black as sloe,
And all her neck was snow.
Lying upon the sheete,
The spice was never so swete."
The dissolution of the charm which had held the lady also released her brother, the “grim baron," for he too had been implicated in it. He ceased to be a churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and generous knight as any at Arthur's court.
CARADOC BRIEFBRAS; OR, CARADOC WITH THE
CARADOC was the son of Y senne, the beautiful niece of Arthur. He was ignorant who his father was, till it was discovered in the following manner. When the youth was of proper years to receive the honors of knighthood, King Arthur held a grand court for the purpose of knighting him. On this occasion a strange knight presented himself, and challenged the knights of Arthur's court to exchange blow for blow with him. His proposal was this, - to lay his neck on a block for any knight to strike, on condition that, if he survived the blow, the knight should submit in turn to the same experiment. Sir Kay, who was usually ready to accept all challenges, pronounced this wholly unreasonable, and declared that he would not accept it for all the wealth in the world. And when the knight offered his sword, with which the operation was to be performed, no person ventured to accept it, till Caradoc, growing angry at the disgrace which was thus incurred by the Round Table, threw aside his mantle and took it. “Do you do this as one of the best knights ?” said the stranger. “No,” he replied, “but as one of the most foolish.” The stranger lays his head upon the block, receives a blow which sends it rolling from his shoulders, walks after it, picks it up, replaces it with great success, and says he will return when the court shall be assembled next year, and claim his turn. When the anniversary arrived, both parties were punctual to their engagement. Great entreaties were used by the king and queen, and the whole court, in behalf of Caradoc, but the stranger was inflexible. The young knight laid his head upon the block, and more than once desired him to make an end of the business, and not keep him longer in so disagreeable a state of expectation. At last the stranger strikes him gently with the side of the sword, bids him rise, and reveals to him the fact that he is his father, the enchanter Eliaures, and that he gladly owns him for a son, having proved his courage and fidelity to his word.
But the favor of enchanters is short-lived and uncertain. Eliaures fell under the influence of a wicked woman, who, to satisfy her pique against Caradoc, persuaded the enchanter to fasten on his arm a serpent, which remained there sucking at his flesh and blood, no human skill sufficing either to remove the reptile, or alleviate the torments which Caradoc endured.
Caradoc was betrothed to Guimier, sister to his bosom friend Cador, and daughter to the king of Cornwall. As soon as they were informed of his deplorable condition, they set out for Nantes, where Caradoc's castle was, that Guimier might attend upon him. When Caradoc heard of their coming, his first emotion was that of joy and love. But soon he began to fear that the sight of his emaciated form, and of his sufferings, would disgust Guimier; and this apprehension became so strong, that he departed secretly from Nantes, and hid himself in a hermitage. He was sought far and near by the knights of Arthur's court, and Cador made a vow never to desist from the quest till he should have found him. After long wandering, Cador discovered his friend in the hermitage, reduced almost to a skeleton, and apparently near his death. All other means of relief having already been tried in vain, Cador at last prevailed on the enchanter Eliaures to disclose the only method which could avail for his rescue. A maiden must be found, his equal in birth and beauty, and loving him better than herself, so that she would expose herself to the same torment to deliver him. Two vessels were then to be provided, the one filled with sour wine, and the other with milk. Caradoc must enter the first, so that the wine should reach his neck, and the maiden must get into the other, and, exposing her bosom upon the edge of the vessel, invite the serpent to forsake the withered flesh of his victim for this fresh and inviting food. The vessels were to be placed three feet apart, and as the serpent crossed from one to the other, a knight was to cut him in two. If he failed in his blow, Caradoc would indeed be delivered, but it would be only to see his fair champion suffering the same cruel and hopeless torment. The sequel may be easily foreseen. Guimier willingly exposed herself to the perilous adventure, and Cador, with a lucky blow, killed the serpent. The arm, in which Caradoc had suffered so long, recovered its strength, but not its shape, in consequence of which he was called Caradoc Brief bras, Caradoc of the Shrunken Arm.
Caradoc and Guimier are the hero and heroine of the ballad of the Boy and the Mantle, which follows.
THE BOY AND THE MANTLE.
In Carlisle dwelt King Arthur,
A prince of passing might,
Beset with many a knight.
And there he kept his Christmas,
With mirth and princely cheer,
Before him did appear.
A kirtle and a mantle
This boy had him upon,
Full daintily bedone.
He had a sash of silk
About his middle meet;
He did King Arthur greet: