The Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton
12th century Anglo-Norman Boeuve de Haumton | 14th century Middle English: National Library of Scotland, Cambridge, Manchester, Naples.
Once in the water, Bevis and Trenchefis made good progress over the sea. In the space of a day and a night, the horse carried Bevis across.
King Bradmond soon arrived with his host of followers and they all gave pursuit, certain that they would be able to catch up with Bevis. They chased and chased until they trapped Bevis on the seashore. Now listen to a marvellous thing that happened; for Bevis had two choices: either to plunge into the sea or turn and face his enemies. He asked Jesus Christ for help, and it was granted at once!
‘Lord,’ he said, ‘you are the king of heaven and maker of all things, you made fish as well as mankind and fish can do no sin, but these heathen dogs tied you up and beat you and had you killed. And now I may just as easily go into the water with the fishes, who have never committed any sin, than stay here on dry land and suffer death at the hands of the ungodly.’
Bevis spurred his horse so that it leapt into the deep sea.
Once in the water, Bevis and Trenchefis made good progress over the sea. In the space of a day and a night, the horse carried Bevis across. When at last they had crossed that great stream, the horse stumbled ashore and shook itself, and Bevis fell to the ground, overcome by exhaustion and hunger.
‘Alas!’ he exclaimed when he’d recovered his senses. ‘I once had an earldom, I’ve got this fine warhorse, but even if I had Arundel as well, I’d give it all away at once for a slice of bread!’
Bevis was so hungry that he didn’t know what to do. But he leapt back onto Trenchefis and they rode over dale and down until he came to a settlement, and there was a castle nearby and in a turret he could see a fair lady. He thought there might be a good chance of getting some food here – but he’ll have to pay a high price for it first!
It is the castle of a giant.