Chapter 31:

Of the penance which Queen Ginebra and her ladies and damsels commanded to be given to Galvan, for the death he had dealt to the damsel he brought to the court

The king saw that what Merlin said was best, and commanded the queen and her ladies to go apart and determine what penance Galvan merited for the death of the damsel, and that the penance not be criminal, since it was known that she had been killed against his will. Then they went aside, and each one explained how this seemed to her, and they came back before the king, and one damsel spoke before all and said, "Galvan, because you raised your hand to the damsel so cruelly that you killed her, we and my lady agree that you must swear upon the holy Gospels that you will never, while you live, raise your hand against a damsel for anything she says or does to you, if you do not see peril of death in it. And we wish that if a damsel demands succor of you, that you help her and succor her, even if she is a stranger in a strange land, if it be not against your honor; and also we wish that you be given penance before my lord the king, and before two of your knights you be given three blows on the neck, and these inside your room, and that you suffer them with all patience, so that you remember what you committed."

Galvan, when he heard this, thought it good to accept it, although it seemed very grave to him, and he then swore it, and held to it well all his life, so that never afterwards did he fail a damsel who asked him for help. From that time he was called the Knight of the Damsels by the court and in other places, and he could never forget that name as long as he bore arms.

After he had made this oath before the king and his noblemen, Merlin said before everyone, "Galvan, I tell you that you ought to be of the best in spirit of all, and I assure you that if you live long enough, you will be one of the best knights of the world and one of the most renowned, and never will you be able to find a knight in battle who can do you ill, save one alone. This battle will not be in my time; but if you trust yourself so much in this battle that you fight in assurance of it, then you can only die before your days, since here there is no inconstancy, so that anyone can hasten his death, if he pleases. But the villainy you did against the knight who asked you mercy, which you did not grant, I will not speak of again, because you will find pardon from him who asked it of you; and if you do so, you will be taken for courteous and of good society, and you will be prized everywhere."

And Galvan knelt and swore that he would do just so all his life. And Merlin then said to the king, "Lord, know that I will not live with you long after this, and in this time I would most like to serve you in order to see the marvels and adventures which will come afterwards, thickly and often; and because you will not find someone to counsel you very soon, if not the grace of the Holy Spirit, I want you from this hour on to have all the adventures of which the truth is told to you in court put in writing; through this our heirs and successors will know what came in the time of the adventurous king after our deaths. And keep with you some scribes who will write down the adventures of the court, just as they come, familiar and strange alike."

And the king granted it, since he would do it willingly.

Here the recounting of Galvan's adventure leaves off, because there is nothing more to say of it, and turns to tell of Tor's adventure and how he proceeded in it.

When Tor, son of Ares, parted from the court, he traveled very quickly to reach the knight who had taken the brachet, and when he entered the forest, he had not gone a league before he saw two armed tents near the road, and in front of each of the tents, at the door, was a shield and a lance; and he examined the tents, but he did not choose to go there, but instead went by the road on which was the track of the knight after whom he rode. And when he passed by the tents like an arrow from a bow, he saw a dwarf come to him who carried a staff in his hand and gave his horse such a wound on the forehead that it made him turn back more than one lance-length, so that he nearly fell. And the knight marveled at why he struck at him thus and said, "Ah, dwarf! What have you done to my horse? Let me go, and may God send you ill fortune."

The dwarf said: "Certes, you will not go from here until we know how well you can strike with the lance. And you see, in those tents are two new knights, who came here to see how well knights of King Arthur's court could joust; and now turn to them to see a joust. Certes, if you leave this be, you do not seem to me a knight who ought to put himself to any kind of quest."

When Tor heard the words the dwarf said, he did not dare to fear them so as not to fall into cowardice. He responded to the dwarf with the great ire he felt for him and said to him, "Since they came to joust, they will not find that I fail them; except that I need to go on my way, since I am delaying, for I do not know where I shall find what I quest for."

"Do not be grieved," said the dwarf, "since the good man can lose nothing through spending a little time, and you can prove here whether you are worth anything."

And when the dwarf said this, he took a horn he wore on his neck and blew it, and it was not long before an armed knight on a horse left one of the tents with his helmet laced and his shield at his neck and his lance in hand, who told Tor to guard himself from him.

And Tor turned to him, and gave him a great blow on the chest which threw him from his horse, so powerfully that he nearly broke his arm, and Tor went forward so that the other did not see him, and took the horse by the rein and said to the dwarf, "Take this horse, for this is the beginning of my knightly deeds."

And as soon as he had said this, he saw another knight leave the other tent well arrayed for the joust, and he said nothing, but charged at Tor, and Tor turned to him, and the other struck him so hard that he broke his lance on his breast, but did him no other harm. And Tor who struck him full on the chest, gave him such a lance stroke, that his shield and cuirass failed him, and the iron of the lance entered his left side, but it was not in such a place that he could recover, and dashed him to earth, and at his fall he broke the lance and a piece remained in his body. And when Tor saw them on the earth, he put his hand to his sword, because he wanted them to yield to him as prisoners; and he went to the first man who was getting up, and gave him such a great blow on his helmet that he forced him to his knees on the earth, and shoved him with the horse's chest, and brought the horse about him so, that he made him as worthless as a pinch of salt, for he did not wish to hold himself content until they asked mercy of him. And he tied his horse to a tree, and went for him who was humbled under his feet, and took off his helmet and told him that he would be killed, if he did not yield himself as vanquished, and when he saw himself in peril of death, he asked mercy, for he saw that he could not escape any other way.

"Now swear to me," said Tor, "to put yourself in the prison I will tell you of."

And he swore that he would do it. And Tor then ran to the other who was broken from the fall, and gave him such a blow on the helmet with both hands, that he made great tears flow from his eyes, like flames of fire, in such a manner that he fell on his face to the earth, and could not rise from it, and Tor took him by the helmet, but could not break its laces, which were strong. Then he cut them with his sword, and when the other saw his head disarmed he felt great terror of death and asked Tor for mercy. And Tor told him, "You will not have mercy, if you do not swear to me that you will go as prisoner where I shall command you."

And he promised it. And Tor said to him and the other, "Now you are my prisoners."

"It is true," they said.

"Then I command you," he said, "to go to Camelot, and to render yourselves prisoner to King Arthur, on the part of Tor son of Ares."

And they yielded themselves thus. Then Tor mounted his horse, and took his shield and asked for a lance from the dwarf, and the dwarf gave him a good and strong one, from those which were in the tent. And after he had commended the two knights to God and wished to go, the dwarf said to him, "Ah, good knight! I beg you by the faith you owe to all knighthood, to grant me a boon, from which a better advantage, and no harm, will come to you."

"Dwarf," he said, "I give it to you, for this is the first boon that any man has asked of me since I was chosen knight. Now say all that will please you."

"I beg you," said the dwarf, "to let me go with you in place of a squire, since I tell you that I will be worth more to you on this road, and that I will serve you better, than the best squire in all King Arthur's court. And do you know why I want to come with you? Because I do not want to live with these bad knights any more, for no honor will come to me from serving them."

"I grant it," said Tor. "Now come with me, since it pleases you."

And the dwarf mounted the horse Tor gave him, and said to him, "Sir, now you may go where you choose, for I will follow you."

And Tor entered on his way, very happy at this good fortune which God had given him at the beginning of his knighthood, and when he had distanced himself a little from the tents, he said to the dwarf, "And you, did you see the knight?"

"Yes, sir," he said.

"And you know what his name was?"

"Sir, his name is Abelin, one of the best knights in this land, but he is one of the most arrogant men in the world. And, certes, he has the brachet and is very happy because of it."

"Truly," said Tor, "it was not courteous to take it, and if I can find him, I believe he will render it up."

"And I will take you," said the dwarf, "straight to where he is."

"Then let us go," said Tor, "since I have greatly delayed my arrival there."

So they rode speaking, until they arrived at a shore where there were many armed tents, lovely and rich, and in each one of them there was a shield, and all the shields were scarlet, save for one which was white, and that white one was before the richest tent. Then the dwarf said to the knight, "Sir, in that tent where the white shield is, you will find your brachet, and the knight with it, as I believe, and know that he is the lord of all those who are in the tents."

And Tor said that he asked no more than to find the brachet, and he dismounted then, for he could not enter the tent on horseback, and he gave his horse and lance to the dwarf, and entered there where he hoped to find what he sought. And when he entered, he saw a lady alone and asleep in a very rich bed, and the brachet near here, and both were sleeping. And when the brachet felt that the knight was coming toward him, it got out of the bed and began to bark very loudly, for it did not know him, and the lady awoke in the tumult which the brachet made, and when she saw the armed knight, she was very frightened and went out of the tent then. The knight knew that that was the brachet he sought and he took it and left the tent with it and gave it to the dwarf and said to him, "You see here the brachet for whom I left the court. Let whoever wishes come to ask for it, for I will give it to no one while I can defend it until I arrive at court."

And the dwarf took it, and Tor mounted his horse and wished to go, and a damsel came out of a tent and said to him, "Ah, sir knight! Do not take our brachet, for you will do a villainy, and know in truth that you will find ill in it; and the knight whose it is will not let you take it, but will come after you and take it from you, for so he did before King Arthur himself."

"Damsel," said Tor, "the brachet was taken in arrogance and in wrong, which was done in the court of my lord King Arthur, and I came here by his command and I will take it by right. And if this grieves the knight who took it at all, let him come after me to take it back."

"What?" she said. "So you take it from us, who are damsels, and do not seek any sort of permission from us?"

He said: "I take what is mine."

"Let it be," said the damsel, "since it pleases you; but I do not think that you will take it to Camelot, however."

He said: "I will take it in spite of whomever it may grieve."

Then they went straight toward Camelot, and before they had gone half a league, it was such a dark night that they could not tell where the road was. And Tor asked the dwarf where they could go to sleep, "for now it is late," and they could not go to Camelot.

"Certes," said the dwarf, "I do not know, sir, if we do not go to a hermit who dwells in this mountain; and I will guide you there, if it please you."

"Then go forward," he said, "and I will go after you, for I already wish I were there."

Then the dwarf went forward, and guided him to the hermitage, which was in a very narrow place, in a great and deep valley full of rocks and boulders. And before they arrived there, the clear moon rose, so that they saw the hermitage which was nearby, and they saw that it was a very small and poor house. And the dwarf, who had already been there another time, went straight to the door and knocked, and the hermit came to a small window and opened it, and received them very well, and the knight disarmed, and the dwarf cared for the horses as best he could and gave them grass, for they were very tired, and in the morning they heard the hermit say mass, and Tor armed and mounted his horse, and begged the hermit to pray to God for him. And the good man agreed to do so.