Chapter 21:

How the knight of the tent and Griflet fought, and Griflet was wounded

The knight charged against Griflet, and Griflet against him as well, as fast as they could, and Griflet's lance flew in pieces. The knight gave him a blow as one used to arms, and wounded him so badly that his shield and cuirass failed him, and the lance pierced his left side, so that it transfixed him with a great part of its length and dashed him to earth, and in the fall he took, the lance broke and a piece remained in his body; and the knight passed by him on foot, and upon returning, found that he could not arise and dismounted, for he feared that he would kill him, and he felt great grief and said that it would be a great shame.

Then he took off Griflet's helmet to let him feel the wind on his face. And after remaining thus a while, he returned to awareness and arose as vigorously as if he were healthy, and went to his horse, which a squire held, and mounted it, and took his shield and put on his helmet and said to the knight, "Certes, I cannot say that you are not a good man and more courteous than any I have ever seen, but although I am wounded I ought not to wait to have you teach my sword, but I will not fight you now."

The knight said, "Certes, knight, you have a great heart to begin such great deeds."

And Griflet rode badly wounded until he arrived at the tower at the hour of vespers, and entered the palace on horseback. And when the king saw him so bloody, he said with great grief, "Griflet, it would have been better for you had you stayed, and I told you so. But, what do you think of the knight?"

"Lord, he is the best and hardiest knight that I have ever seen, and he could have killed me if he chose; but he did not choose to, and he said that it grieved him that I was hurt."

"By God," said the king, "he is a good knight, as much in battle as in courtesy, and now may it please God that I be like him."

And then he sent for doctors, and they examined him, and told the king he was in no danger, but that they would soon cure him. All that day and all that night the king thought about the knight of the mountain, and that, if he could go there so that none of his men should know it, he would do so willingly; and a little before the sun rose, he called one of his servants and said to him, "Look, get arms and a horse for me and all that an armed knight needs, and do it so secretly, that no one knows it save you and I."

"Lord, what are you going to do?"

"You do not need to know," said the king, "and do not be afraid, for I will be back here by the hour of prime."

And the servant did not dare not to do it, and sought what his lord demanded, and when he returned, he found him already dressed and shod, and said to him, "You will find here all you demanded."

And the king armed himself, and had the horse taken out by a gate next to an orchard which was near the room, and mounted it and took his lance and shield, and said to the servant, "I want you to wait for me under that tree."

And the servant stayed there, and the king went to where the knight was, and when he entered the mountain it was already day. And he found Merlin fleeing from three peasants who chased him, and each one carried at his neck a great axe with which to kill him. And when the king saw Merlin, he marveled greatly, and shouted to one of those who was catching up to him, and said, "Leave be, rascal; do not hurt him, for I will kill you for his sake."

And when the peasant saw the armed knight who threatened him, he began to flee and went into a grove there where he thought best to save himself, and the other two did the same.

And the king went to Merlin and said to him, "You would have been close to death, if God had not brought me here in this hour."

"Do not be afraid for me," said Merlin, "for you are closer to your death than I to mine."

The king said to him, "What do you know of it?"

"What?" said Merlin. "Are you not going to fight the knight of the tent?"

"Yes," said the king.

"Know," said Merlin, "that you cannot endure him, for he is a strong knight, well used to arms, and you are young and tender, and do not yet have half the strength you will have five years from now; and you are not used to arms, nor have you a good sword; he has the best arms in all this land, such that he will not be damaged by the sword and lance you have, and he has a sword which well befits a knight such as he. Now look to how you may preserve yourself against him; I see nothing which will be worth anything against him, save the great heart and hardihood you have. Therefore I want you to return, for, certes, it will be a great harm if you choose to attempt such a great deed."

The king said, "Merlin, you could not say anything to make me go back, until I test myself with him."

Merlin said, "Go, for I will tell you no more."

Then the king said to Merlin, "Why were the peasants running after you?"

Merlin said, "They ran after me because of an item of truth I told them."

"And why?" said the king.

Merlin said, "I was walking through this mountain alone, as you see, and adventure led me to where those peasants were cutting oaks, and they went through great travail to cut them. And I said to them: 'Why are you taking so much trouble now?' And they said: 'Because we need them.' And I said to them: 'In an evil time you took such trouble for your ill-luck, for, certes, it is madness; for you know that the more you trouble yourselves to get them home, the sooner you will die, for two of you will be overcome by these same oaks, and the third will be killed by your axes.' And when they heard this, they were very angry and ran after me to kill me, and would have done me harm if they could have."

"Tell me," said the king, "if what you say will come true."

"Certes," said Merlin, "so it will be from beginning to end, since when they leave here, they will fight for an oak which they will buy in the street, because it seems a fair price to them, and each one will want it for himself; and in the fight, two of them, who are brothers, will kill the third, who is the cousin of both. And the justice of the town will come upon them, and will find the oaks which they were carrying away from here, and take them away from them."