How the "Savage Knight" met the "Knight with the Ebony Spear"
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The day after Sir Scudamour left the House of Care, as he rode sadly on his way, he unexpectedly saw an armed Knight sitting in the shade on the edge of a forest while his steed grazed beside him. Directly this Knight saw Scudamour, he mounted and rode eagerly towards him, as if he intended mischie but, as soon as he saw the arms borne by him, he lowered his spear and turned aside. Sir Scudamour wondered at this, but the other said, "Ah, gentle Scudamour, I submit myself to your grace and ask pardon of you for having this day almost done you an injury."
Whereupon Scudamour replied, "Small harm is it for any warrior to prove his spear, without malice, on a venturous knight. But, sir, since you know my name, pray tell me what is your own?"
"Truly, you must excuse me from making known my right name now, for the time has not yet come for it," was the reply, "but call me the Savage Knight, as others do."
"Then tell me, Sir Savage Knight," said Scudamour, "do you dwell here, within the forest, which would answer well with your array? Or have you put it on for some special occasion, as seems more likely, as you shun known arms?
"The other day a stranger Knight brought shame and dishonour on me," replied the Savage Knight. "I am waiting to revenge the disgrace whenever he shall pass this way, by day or night."
"Shame be his reward who purposes shame!" said Scudamour. "But what is he by whom you were shamed?"
"A stranger Knight, unknown by name, but known by fame and by an ebony spear, with which he bore down all who met him. He, in an open tourney lately held, stole away from me the honour of the game, and having felled me (already weary), reft me of the fairest lady, whom he has ever since withheld."
When Scudamour heard mention of the spear, he knew right well it was Britomart, who also, as he imagined, had taken Amoret from himself. Then his jealous heart swelled with rage, and he said sharply, "And that is not the first unknightly act which that same knight has done to other noble warriors for he has lately stolen my lady from me, for which he shall pay dearly before long, and if to the vengeance decreed by you this hand can supply any help or succour, it shall not fail whensoever you need it."
So they both agreed to wreak their wrath on Britomart.
While they thus talked together, lo! far away they saw a Knight gently riding towards them. He was attired in foreign armour and strange array, and when he came near, they saw plainly he was the same for whom they waited.
Then said Scudamour, "Sir Savage Knight, let me beg this: that since I was the first to be wronged, let me be the first to requite it, and if I happen to fail, you shall recover my right."
This being yielded, Sir Scudamour prepared his spear for battle and ran fiercely against Britomart. But she gave him so rude a welcome that she smote both man and horse to the ground, from which they were in no hurry to rise. The sight of his mischance added fresh fuel to Artegall's burning rage and, thrusting forward his steel-headed lance at a venture, he rode against Britomart, but his evil intention recoiled on himself, for unawares he suddenly left his saddle and, in great amazement, found himself on the ground.
Starting up lightly, he snatched forth his deadly blade and assailed Britomart with such vigour that, although she was mounted and he on foot, she was forced to give ground. As they darted here and there, it chanced in her wheeling round that one stroke fell on her horse and wounded him so badly that Britomart was forced to alight.
Now she could no longer use her enchanted spear. Casting it from her, she betook herself to her sword and shield, and fought so valiantly that even now she was almost a match for Sir Artegall, but towards the end, while his strength seemed to get greater, hers grew less. At last, he raised his hand and, gathering all his force, struck such a terrible blow that it seemed as if nothing but death could be her fate.
The stroke fell on her helmet and with its force sheared off the visor, and from there glanced harmlessly downwards, and did her no more injury.
With that, her angel face, unseen before, shone forth radiant as the dawn, and round about it her yellow hair, loosed from its usual bands, appeared like a golden border, cunningly framed in a goldsmith's forge. Yet goldsmith's cunning never knew how to fashion such subtle wire, so clear and shining, for it glistened like the golden sand which the bright water of Pactolus throws forth on the shore around him.
As Sir Artegall again lifted up his hand, thinking to work his utmost vengeance on her, his powerless arm, benumbed with secret fear, shrunk back from his revengeful purpose, and his cruel sword fell from his slack fingers to the ground as if the steel had sense and felt some compassion that his hand lacked, or as if both of them thought to do obedience to such divine beauty. And Artegall himself, gazing long thereon, at last fell humbly down upon his knee and, imagining he saw some angelic being — for he did not know what else it could be — he besought her to pardon his error, which had done her such infinite wrong, while trembling horror seized him and made every limb quake and his brave heart quail.
Britomart, nevertheless, full of wrath for that last stroke, kept her angry hand uplifted all the while; she stood over him, with a stern look, threatening to strike, unless he prevented her, and bidding him rise, or he should surely die. But die or live, nothing would make Sir Artegall stand up. He prayed more earnestly that the warrior-maiden would either pardon him or do with him as she chose because of the great wrong he had done her.
When Scudamour saw this where he stood not far away, he was wondrously dismayed, and, drawing near and seeing plainly this peerless image of perfection, he too was terrified and did homage to Britomart as to some celestial vision.
But Glaucé, seeing all that happened, knew well how to put right their error. Glad at such a good ending and rejoiced to see Britomart safe after her long toll, she advanced and saluted her with a hearty greeting. Then she besought her, as she was dear to her, to grant truce for a while to these warriors, which being yielded, they lifted their beavers and showed themselves to her such as indeed they were.