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As they rode on the morrow, the damsel said to the knight, "You shall soon meet one that is the most honorable knight in all the world save King Arthur only. He will pay you your wages." Then answered Sir Fairhands: "You say ever that I shall be conquered by the knights 5 that I meet, but it ever falls out otherwise, for they lie in the dust before me. Henceforward, I pray you, rebuke me only if you see me base or a coward."
In a short space they came within sight of a fair city, and before the city there lay a great meadow, and in the 10 meadow many pavilions.
"See," said the damsel," yonder pavilion that is of the color of gold of India, and the knight whose armor and clothing are of the same. That is the dwelling of Sir Persaunt of India, the lordliest knight that ever you saw. 15 You had better flee while it is yet time." "Not so,” he made answer," for if he be a noble knight, he will not set on me with all his company; and if he come against me alone, I will not refuse to meet him so long as I live."
Then the damsel said: "Sir, I marvel much who and 20 what you are. You speak boldly, and you do boldly, as I myself have seen. But in truth, I fear for you, for you and your horse are wearied with much journeying. So far you have come safely, but now I am sore afraid, for this Persaunt is a stout knight, and though you overcome 25 him, yet you may well get some hurt in so doing. And, if it so befall, how will you fare with the knight that
besieges my lady, for I warrant you that he is a stouter knight by far than even Persaunt." "Have no care, fair lady," said the knight, "for now that I am come so near to this knight, I must needs make trial of him, how 5 stout soever he be. Verily I should be ashamed to draw back."
Then the damsel cried out: "Oh, sir, I marvel much at you. Ever I have used most ungentle words to you, and you have answered me ever most gently; this you 10 could not have done had you not been of gentle blood." Damsel," said Sir Fairhands, "trouble not yourself. You harmed me not with your words; nay, you helped me, for the more you angered me, the more I spent my anger on the knights that came against me. But surely, whether 15 or no I be a gentleman born, I have done you a gentleman's service, and shall do you yet more before I depart from you." "I pray you, sir, to pardon me," said she. "With all my heart," he answered; "and now that you speak me fair, I think that there is nothing upon the 20 earth that I cannot do."
By this time Sir Persaunt had perceived the knight and the damsel, and sent to know whether they came for war or for peace. "That," answered Sir Fairhands, "shall be as it pleases him." "Then," said Sir Persaunt, "I will 25 make trial of him." So they ran together with their spears, and fought long and stoutly with their swords. But in the end Sir Persaunt fared no better than they
who had gone before him, for Sir Fairhands smote him to the earth with a great blow upon his helmet, and then, standing over him, began to unlace his helmet, as though he would have slain him. But the damsel begged his life, 5 which Sir Fairhands readily granted, saying, ""Twere a pity so good a knight should die." Then Sir Persaunt swore obedience to him for himself and for the hundred knights that served him.
On the morrow, when they would depart, Sir Persaunt 10 demanded of the damsel, "Whither go you with this knight?" "I go," said she, "to the Castle Dangerous, where my sister is besieged." "Say you so?" said he; "the knight that makes that siege is the most dangerous upon the earth. He has besieged the castle now two 15 years, and might have taken it long since, but he would not, for he waits to see whether Sir Lancelot, or Sir Tristram, or Sir Lamorack, will not come to the help of the lady, having a great desire to do battle with one of these; for of all knights in the world, the three best are 20 these Sir Lancelot, Sir Tristram, and Sir Lamorack;
and if you, valiant knight, match him of the siege, who is called the Knight of the Marshes, you may be put as a fourth with them."
The lady of the castle had word of her sister's coming, 25 and of the knight whom she brought with her, by the dwarf. "What manner of man is he?" said the lady, who was called the Dame Lyones. "He is a very noble
knight," said the dwarf, "and though he be young, you never saw a finer man." "And what is his name?" said she. The dwarf answered, "That I may not tell you, but he is the son of the King of Orkney, and Sir Lancelot made him knight." And he told her how he had slain 5 the two knights at the ford—"they were stout knights," said she, "but murderers"- and the black knight also, and had overcome the green knight, and the red, and the gold. "These are good tidings," said the Dame. “Take my greeting to him, and say that he will have to do with 10 a very valiant knight, but one who has no courtesy or gentleness and thinks only of murder."
Meanwhile Sir Fairhands and the damsel came near to the castle, and the knight spied great trees, as they rode, and forty knights, richly armed, hanging thereon, 15 with gilded spurs upon their heels. "What means this?" said he. "Keep a brave heart," said she, "or you are lost. These all are knights who came to rescue my sister, and this man who besieges her overcame them and put them to a shameful death without mercy. And so you 20 will fare, if you show not yourself better than he.” "Verily," said he, "I had sooner .die in battle. But though you say he is a valiant knight, he keeps a very shameful custom, and I marvel much that none of my Lord Arthur's knights have dealt with him after his 25 deserts."
As they rode on they came to a sycamore tree, whereon