Medieval Arthurian Legend
Thomas Chestre: The Fair Unknown
14th century, Middle English, British Museum, Lambeth Palace Library London, Bodleian Library Oxford, Biblioteca Nazionale Naples.
When the Fair Unknown approached a fire in a forest clearing, he saw two giants.
Lybeus and that may rydden in her jornaye – For three days they rode onwards with light hearts, the Fair Unknown, the damsel Elaine and her dwarf.
They reden ever weste jn-to the wilde forest – and ever westwards they rode, through dark and ancient forests, towards Segontium.
A makeshift bower of branches and leaves gave them shelter for one night, keeping them dry while the dwarf remained outside to keep a watchful eye open, so that no thief should take their horses. But fear gripped him; the smell of fire, the sounds of violence.
‘Arise, young knight!’ he whispered. ‘Get on your horse and be on your guard.’
The Fair Unknown leapt onto his horse, took his shield and lance in his hands and rode towards the fire. And when he got near, he saw two giants –
two gyauntes he sawe there.