Ipomadon conducted himself so well at court that soon everybody loved him. And everyone called him Dru-la-reine – that is to say, the queen's darling or the queen's favourite. Some were bold enough to call him the queen's lover, for they could see the look in her eye. But unbeknown to them, Ipomadon’s love lay elsewhere. For two months he led this life, catching deer and birds with hawk and hound. But whenever knights spoke of war, Ipomadon spoke of hunting and all the things he had seen in the forest. When knights got ready to joust, to keep their armour from rusting, Ipomadon gathered his hounds together. When knights spoke of fine warhorses, Ipomadon's conversation turned to greyhounds. And for this reason the noblemen at court began to laugh at him behind his back.
This went on until the time came to set off for the tournament. King Meleager had not forgotten it! He crossed the sea with two thousand knights, the finest in his land, and the queen accompanied him. They arrived in Calabria and the queen was given a castle to stay at, about a mile outside Cantanzaro, within the forest that Ipomadon knew and loved so well.
Knights busied themselves with their equipment and Cabanus wondered greatly when he saw his friend leaving early in the morning to hunt. 'Sir,' he said, 'Why do you not ready your armour? You have some fine equipment and some magnificent warhorses!'
'It is neither my desire nor my intention to go to this tournament,' replied Ipomadon.
Cabanus rode off to convey this startling news to the king. They were both astounded, and the queen expressed her disappointment, but everybody else thought it a good joke and quite in keeping with their expectations.
The king made ready his pavilion outside the city. It was a magnificent structure; the material was of silk and on the highest pole was placed a golden bell. If the city watchmen sounded their alarm during the night, the bell would be rung and the sound would carry for a mile, to the comfort of both king and knight. Over this bell was set a precious stone that shone like the moon.
Everywhere were kings and knights from distant lands. The Duke of Brittany was there, the Duke of Normandy also, with more than a thousand knights, the kings of Denmark, Scotland and Norway, of Ireland and Orkney. All who had travelled from the west had pitched their tents near the forest. The King of Spain had arrived with two hundred knights. The Duke of Lorraine, Sir Darius, was there, hoping to win Calabria. The Earl of Flanders intended to enter the field with two hundred men, and he had brought knights from Russia to help him win the lady. Even the Emperor of Germany was there. Some found lodgings within the city, others camped outside. The tournament was due to begin the next morning, at the ringing of the bell.
But let us speak of the 'Queen's darling'. The maidens all threw insults at him and laughed, and he derived great pleasure from this! He fetched the queen's meal and served her when she was ready to eat; and when she had finished he led her up to her bedroom and kissed her.
'Madam,' he said, 'go to see the tournament tomorrow and I will go hunting and bring us back something to roast. I prefer to be amongst the oaks than to suffer blows at a tournament. I have little blood to spare I fear!'
The maidens laughed insultingly and said: 'Madam, your knight speaks of his courage!'
The queen was embarrassed for him. But as the old saying goes: Where love is concerned, shortcomings are rarely an impediment. Ipomadon took his leave and made his way to the castle gate. He stopped to give the porter a gold ring.
'Sir,' he said. 'You know as well as I do that the huntsman who is not out in the forest early will leave it with very little. Therefore I would ask you – let me out before the sun comes up.'
Having received the porter's assurances, Ipomadon retired to his lodgings within the outer environs of the castle, but as soon as first light heralded the dawn chorus, he rose from his bed and saddled his white horse, had his white armour brought to him and all his hounds made ready. Then with a dreadful racket and the blowing of horns, he woke up all the young ladies.
'Madam!' they cried. 'There goes your darling, with his hounds, off to the tournament!'
The queen pretended not to hear this and lay as though she was still asleep. But despite all this, she loved him.
Ipomadon rode to a hermitage in the densest part of the forest. There, he dressed himself quickly in the white armour.
'Ptolomy,' said Ipomadon, 'today you must go hunting. If God sends you any deer, wait here for me this evening.'
Between the hermitage and the jousting field outside the city was a deep valley along which wound a little-known path. It was secluded and concealed by undergrowth and if a man protected his head he could ride along it unobserved. Ipomadon followed this path through the thick woodland. He took nobody with him but the child Egyon, his cousin, who had served him often and whom he trusted implicitly.
It was still early in the morning when he followed this secret path, and as the sun rose above the horizon he came up to the city. The watchmen were blowing the morning call. They looked over the wall and saw this white knight with a white pensil waving in the wind – as white as snow – and one of them called: 'Wake up, lady! Over here is the fairest knight that I have ever seen. His horse and he are both white, entirely white. It is a delight to see!'
The lady went to a window and saw this knight; and it put her heart into a turmoil, for she did not know on whom to lay her love, for she had no mind to change her 'Strange young man' for anybody else, if she could possibly help it. So she looked at this white knight and the sight of him brought her no happiness.
But by now, the field was full of knights. The King of Spain saw the white knight standing there in his splendid arms, commanded his men to remain where they were and took up a great lance. Ipomadon became aware of his rapid advance, manoeuvred his horse to meet him and as their lances broke, the King of Spain flew twenty feet through the air and landed heavily onto the ground. Egyon seized his horse and leapt upon it. For all his strength and nobility, the King of Spain had to yield to Ipomadon.
The 'Proud' was happy to see this and told her cousin Jason to go out onto the field and help with his lances the knight who seemed to him to be performing the best, and to do this for the full three days. And as a reward, she promised to knight him on the third day. So Jason carried a lance to Ipomadon, and as though he had never seen him before in his life, Ipomadon asked: 'Sir, who are you?'
'I am my lady's cousin, Sir.'
Jason did not recognise Ipomadon at all, although he had been great friends with him less than three years before. 'Sir,' said the white knight, 'take this prisoner to your lady. I would like her to hold him. And take also this horse, and tell her that I sent it, along with the prisoner.'
The lady was very happy to receive her prisoner, but later she said to Imayne: 'By all that I can see, this whole thing is going terribly badly. I cannot see my love anywhere and if he was here somewhere Jason would have recognised him by now.'
Revenge for the capture of the King of Spain filled one knight's thoughts, but Ipomadon saw him coming. He levelled his lance against him and the blow that Ipomadon gave was so hard that the man would never need a priest again!
The day drew on and many a valiant warrior was brought down by Ipomadon, and no one who was hit by him had any other choice but to fall off his horse onto the ground. Ipomadon shattered mail, rent shields and felled many strong and worthy knights.
The Emperor of Germany gave Cabanus a nasty blow on the helmet that tore away part of the protection and knocked him to the ground. 'What!' cried the emperor, seeing him lying there. 'Do you think you are in Palermo now, drinking wine? Can you not see that you are at a tournament?' Cabanus heard this, quickly raised himself, swung his sword with great force and cut off the emperor's left arm at the elbow. 'So I am!' he cried, derisively.
Sir Darius, the Duke of Lorraine, was inflamed at the sight of his cousin, the Emperor of Germany, receiving such harsh treatment and gave Cabanus a blow on the head that nearly sent him toppling from his saddle. Cabanus's sword fell from his hand. Ipomadon saw this and rode to the rescue. He gave the Duke of Lorraine such a heavy stroke with his sword that he fell like a stone. Knights wondered at this blow, it had cut through so much chain mail! And as the light began to fail, the white knight was acclaimed the most praiseworthy and without doubt the finest knight on the field that day. All agreed that he was the best knight and they awarded him the prize.
The knights all began to retire to the city, or to their tents. Ipomadon caught up with Jason and cried: 'Ah! Jason! Wait a moment if you will!'
'By God's power!' replied Jason. Sir, how do you know my name?'
'Do you remember the 'Strange young man'?'
'Sir! My lady has chosen you above all other men to love!'
'Jason, that cannot be. I must return to my own country. I can stay no longer. But greet her a thousand times for me.'
Ipomadon met his cousin Egyon at the hermitage. Ptolemy had hunted all day in the forest and killed three great harts. Ipomadon was delighted; he cast off his armour, dressed himself as a hunter, all in green, and then with his horn about his neck he led Egyon back to the castle.
He blew a loud call before the castle gates. 'Madam,' said all the maidens inside, 'here comes your darling, straight from the tournament. Soon you will receive all the horses he has won!'
The queen endured this ridicule and let them say what they liked. Ipomadon came into the hall and presented the three heads to her, since it was the correct thing to do. The queen sat down to supper and he served her with every effort and attention. Soon the king's chamberlain arrived from the tournament. He knelt before the table.
'Madam,' he said, 'the king greets you.'
'You are welcome,' replied the queen. 'Tell me, how has the tournament gone? Who has taken the prize?'
'In faith, Madam, I could not tell you.'
'For shame! What is the point of you coming all this way if you have no news of the tournament?'
'Madam, never, since the beginning of the world, has there ever been a tournament to match this one. My lord has won a great deal of honour today. He cast down knights in the field such that it was a joy to watch! Cabanus conducted himself bravely as well. But there was a knight in white who was better able to wield his equipment than any others. Everyone has said that he is the finest knight they have ever seen. He killed the Duke of Lorraine!'
'Who is this white knight?'
'Nobody knows! The king is looking far and wide for him...'
'Greet the king well on my behalf,' interrupted Ipomadon, 'and tell him that all my hounds performed marvellously. Blokan and Nobillet ran magnificently, and also Redal. But of all the hounds I set after deer today, the white one was by far the best.'
Everybody laughed, maidens, knights and servants, and the queen blushed scarlet for shame and tried to change the subject.
'I beg you, Madam,' interrupted Ipomadon again, 'of the venison that I brought home, let us send some to the king. Then he will see that I am looking after you properly, with all my strength and energy – in all sorts of ways!'
The chamberlain laughed loudly at this, then took his leave.
When the queen had eaten, Ipomadon led her to her chamber and kissed her. Then he went to his own lodgings in the outer environs of the castle. He had a great need to rest, for he was bruised all over.
Ipomadon rose before dawn, selected his red horse and made his red armour ready; then he quickly set off with his hounds. Everyone who heard him laughed loudly. 'There goes the queen's favourite,' they called, 'off to the jousting!'
When he came below the queen's window he blew a loud blast on his hunting horn, waking all the maidens. 'Madam!' they cried. 'Because of all the noise your lover makes, we can get no sleep!'
The queen lay as still as a stone, pretending not to be awake.
Ipomadon rode straight for the hermitage, then armed himself and took the secret path through the valley so that nobody would see him. On the first day he had fought on the inner side so today he chose the outer, for his efforts of the previous day had given the knights of the outer side many painful wounds and had shattered their confidence. He stood and raised his lance, and his red pensil waved in the wind. The watchmen on the walls of Cantanzaro saw this knight and one cried: 'Lady, awake! Awake! The tournament is about to continue, and the first knight to enter the field is wearing a marvellous suit of red armour.'
'Can you see the white knight who jousted here yesterday?' she asked in reply, for Jason had told her all that had taken place the evening before.
'No,' he replied, 'but this knight in red seems powerful enough!'
The lady went to watch from the walls, hoping to see her white knight, but when she couldn’t see him, she returned to her chamber.
Jason went up to the wall and saw the field covered in standards. Then he went to his lady's room and urged her to come and watch the jousting.
'Go away, Jason!' she cried. 'I have no interest in the fighting. My love is not there.'
But nonetheless, he persuaded her.
The son of the King of Ireland leapt upon his bay steed and rode out of a pavilion. Ipomadon stood still, showing no inclination to joust. Over on the city wall he spotted the lady he loved – then he was fired with a passion to joust! He struck the Irish knight so hard that both horse and man tumbled to the ground. By this time Jason had come onto the field with nine or ten lances. Ipomadon recognised him, but said: 'Good Sir, where are you from?'
'I am a close cousin of the 'Proud',' replied Jason.
'You have some fine spears there. For God's love, lend me one.'
'Sir,' replied Jason, 'take the best! You have beaten the son of the King of Ireland who has made advances to my lady, although she does not love him. She is too sensible for that!'
'Sir, if this is the case, lead him to your lady at once.'
Ipomadon defeated the Duke of Normandy, then saw the Earl of Flanders lying on the ground and galloped angrily over to where Cabanus was trotting away with the earl's charger.
'Let go of that steed, Sir!' he cried. As Ipomadon drew alongside, Cabanus turned and drew his sword. Ipomadon drew his own and gave Cabanus such a blow with it that he fell off his horse to the ground and lay there unconscious.
When Cabanus had recovered, he got to his feet and swore: 'By God and Saint Michael! I shall avenge this act, if God will lend me the strength to!' But he did not know where the red knight had gone.
Ipomadon had ridden off to deliver mighty and skilful blows to left and to right, and soon all were agreed that there was no better knight on the field.
The 'Proud' saw this and called Imayne to her.
'Do you see what the knight over there in red arms is doing? she asked. 'Yesterday I can remember nothing at all to match it.'
She sent Jason out with a lance carrying a pensil that she herself had made. Ipomadon was very happy to receive it and used it to the full, knowing that she would be watching. He brought many knights to the ground with it.
King Meleager of Sicily saw this, gathered his arms and leapt upon his finest horse, Lyard. The king was mad with anger to see all his knights being beaten down and rode fiercely towards the red knight. He hit him in the middle of the shield – the lance drove through and caught Ipomadon in the side. Ipomadon blushed for shame, galloped at the king again and knocked him clean off his horse.
Ipomadon's shield was broken and his armour damaged. The lance had pierced his naked flesh, but not seriously. Ipomadon led the horse Lyard away into the forest where Egyon was waiting to receive all the booty. But by now the jousting had lasted for so long that the afternoon was drawing to a close. The inner side had won the day and by unanimous agreement, the red knight was given the prize.
As Ipomadon returned to the forest, he met with Jason.
'Jason! Here is the lance you gave to me. See, the pensil is still intact. Greet your lady for me and tell her that I shall take it with me into my own country. For her sake I shall carry this lance into some fierce fighting! Tell her this from me.'
'Sir, how do you know my name?'
'We were once friends,' replied Ipomadon. 'Yesterday I jousted here in white and today I am in red.'
'Ah! Sir! For Christ's pity! My lady dies for love of you! And you will leave her?'
'Jason, I cannot stay. All my people at the bottom of the hill over there are waiting for my return. Word has come to me just now that I must go back home. Goodbye! Greet your lady well for me. Greet her a thousand times and tell her that I shall speak with her when I can.'
Ipomadon rode off and Jason lost him in the crowd, so he made his way wearily back to his lady. 'Madam,' he said, 'I cannot help but weep, for today we have lost the best knight that has ever been born!'
'Which, cousin? The red knight?'
'Did you learn who he was?'
'He is the same knight who fought in white yesterday, and he is your 'Strange young man''.
'In faith, the same? Alas! He can be no Earthly man, by God!'
Ptolemy had hunted well that day and bagged some fine deer. Ipomadon cast off his red armour, dressed himself in green and made his way back to the queen's castle amidst loud calls on his hunting horn. All who heard it laughed and said: 'Here comes the 'Queen's darling' with many fine horses and noble knights he has captured at the tournament! He has given so many hard blows amongst the oaks that he must be exhausted.'
When Ipomadon arrived at the main castle gates he blew his horn loudly, then made his way into the hall and presented the queen with another three deers' heads. The lady gazed disapprovingly at the long antlers, and her maidens made some pointed remarks. The queen saw how pale Ipomadon was.
'Sir,' she remarked, 'it is clear that you are doing too much. You were out very early this morning. Leave off hunting for a bit. You derive too much pleasure from it, if only you could see this.'
'I cannot,' replied Ipomadon. 'I dare not! It would be cowardly to do so.'
The maidens all burst into laughter.
The king's chamberlain arrived with news of the day's fighting. He knelt before the queen.
'Welcome,' she said. 'Sir, tell me, who performed the best today?'
'Madam, so God help me, yesterday's feats of arms were nothing compared with today's. Today there was a knight in red who put the fear of God into everybody! He sent the son of the King of Ireland to the 'Proud'. And madam, this knight defeated my lord the king and led Lyard away.' The queen asked if the king was hurt.
'No,' said the chamberlain.
'Sir, who is this knight who dares to knock down my lord the king?'
'I do not know! The king has searched everywhere for him, and so has the 'Proud', but nobody can find him.'
The queen looked at her knight sitting beside her and all thoughts of the red knight evaporated from her mind.
Ipomadon said loudly: 'Madam, let us send some of the venison to the king and chamberlain, and you may tell him, Sir, that today my red hound, Redal, won the prize.'
The chamberlain laughed, took his leave and went away carrying a large deer.
When supper was over, Ipomadon led the queen up to her bedroom, kissed her – and then she went to rest, I believe.
Before dawn, Ipomadon rose, went out of his lodgings and made ready his black horse and his black armour. Soon he had all his hounds on the leash. And as he left the castle he made such a hideous noise that there was nobody so soundly asleep that they did not wake up at once and cry out: 'There goes the queen's darling, curse him!'
Now it happened that there was a duke in Greece, a powerful lord who had an astrologer who knew how to read the stars. And when news of the tournament had reached this part of the world, this astrologer had gone to look at the sky that night and saw that a man would win great honour; but as to which knight it was, he must have got all his planets wrong. He told his lord all that he had observed and the duke had quickly made arrangements to set sail for Calabria.
Ipomadon stood in front of the city. 'Awake, bright lady!' called a watchman. 'There is a black knight in magnificent armour outside.'
'Can you see the red knight?' called back the 'Proud'.
'No, madam, but that is no matter. Just look at this!'
The Greek duke was making great boasts elsewhere about his destiny and instructed his men not to come to his aid unless he had at least two or three assailants at once. Then he rode hard towards the black knight. His horse was red, his saddle was red, his shield and lance were both red, and all his other equipment was red as well. He was a red knight and he shone like the sun!
Imayne shouted to her lady: 'Madam! Come and look! There is the red knight attacking that black knight over there.'
The 'Proud' was delighted.
The red knight and the black knight galloped together, and the duke struck Ipomadon so fiercely that the shield flew from his neck. Ipomadon, however, did not fail with his blow; he had just seen the lady on the wall and with inflamed intensity he cast the duke clean off his horse onto the ground. Egyon collected the loose horse and leapt upon its back. The lady nearly fainted. She thought her love had fallen in the field!
The Greek duke yielded his sword to Ipomadon and offered ransom – castles, towns, gold, anything!
'Sir,' replied Ipomadon, 'I have no desire for anything of your wealth, but you shall swear to me upon your honour that you will not wear arms again on this field today.'
'Gentle mercy, Sir. I have come from a distant country. It has cost me a fortune to be here! If I was to waste all this expenditure it would be a source of great shame to me.'
The knight agreed to take off his red armour, and went back to his tent to do so. Just then, Ipomadon saw Jason approaching him with a new lance. Jason didn’t recognise him.
'Sir, take this red horse to your lady, as quickly as you can,' called Ipomadon. 'Tell her that neither the white knight nor the red knight would have gone anywhere had I arrived sooner. Her love is stricken down. He is not able to make it to her prison and certainly, she will not be seeing him again today. He shall very soon be journeying far into the west. Tell her that if he had won the prize before, he has found his equal now, and show her the patch of ground where he lay. I believe her darling has had a fall! Go quickly and tell her all this.'
The young man did as he had been told, and when the lady heard it, she fell in a swoon.
'Oh God!' she groaned. 'My love is dead!'
Outside on the battlefield the fighting had intensified. Ipomadon threw himself into the thickest fighting and performed magnificently. Many horses were captured and many knights were thrown to the ground.
The King of Scotland struck Ipomadon hard, nearly knocking him off his horse. Ipomadon thought to return a blow with interest – he swung his sword and cut the man in half! The blade ended up in the man's saddle!
The battle continued all day and many a worthy knight was cast to the ground. Warriors of great renown were thrown from their horses and many a shield was shattered. Everybody witnessed the martial feats of the black knight and saw how every other knight on the field fell before his blows, they were so strong and the injuries they inflicted so grievous. At last the daylight began to fade, and the inner side appeared to be on the point of defeat. Ipomadon was at the forefront of the pursuit, but Cabanus turned and Ipomadon well knew that it was not in his nature to flee.
Cabanus's blow drove through Ipomadon's shield casting him from his horse and wounding him in the side. Ipomadon's heart nearly burst with anger. But Egyon caught the black horse and helped Ipomadon back onto it, then he captured Cabanus's loose horse and happily led it into the forest.
King Meleager saw all this and galloped towards the fray, giving Ipomadon a nasty blow on the right arm. Blood flowed down onto the knight's hand.
The black knight drew his sword and lifted it as if to deliver a mighty blow. The king did not waste any time – the inner side were dismayed to see him retreating so fast! Quickly it became a general rout.
And so ended the tournament.
The black knight had been far and away the best knight there, but as evening closed in he rode towards the forest as fast as he could. He looked around and saw Jason.
'Jason! Come and speak with me!' he cried.
'How do you know my name?' asked the other.
'We were once friends! I have jousted here for three days and each day in a different colour. And I thank God that I have achieved so much and performed so well. Greet your lady for me and tell her that you have spoken to me when I was a white knight, then a red knight, and now a black knight. For I must go. Greet that beautiful lady a thousand times for me. Do this for me, my friend, and tell her that I shall speak with her at leisure sometime, if God wills it. Tell her this from me.'
'Sir!' exclaimed Jason. 'If you leave her like this she will be destroyed!'
Ipomadon rode into the crowd and Jason lost him.
Soon Ipomadon came to the hermitage where he found Ptolemy waiting for him. He cast off his armour and Ptolemy dressed his wounds and stopped them from bleeding. They were very painful. Then Ipomadon dressed in green and rode home with a dreadful noise of hounds and hunting horns. When he came to the castle gate he blew a loud call and gave his hounds their portion of the kill. The maidens all cried out with laughter and the queen was very upset, for in her heart she loved him no less for it. She met him at the door, took him by the hand and led him to the table for supper.
As they sat eating, the king's chamberlain entered the hall. He knelt.
'Welcome,' said the queen. 'Tell me, who won the prize today?'
'Madam, by my faith, a knight in black has surpassed anything I have ever seen! Of all the knights on the field today, a black knight proved himself to be by far and away the best. My lady, the king has asked me to inform you that there will be a great assembly tomorrow morning in Cantanzaro and that you may wish to make your way there as early as you can, to hear the lady announce whom she has decided to marry.'
Ipomadon was sitting beside the queen and called to the chamberlain: 'Sir, remind the king, please, that he has not been deprived of venison for the last three days! He may have jousted all day, but I have not been idle either. Take some venison with you and tell him that today my hounds performed magnificently, but none better than Belmond, my black hound.'
Ipomadon sent Egyon to his niece to tell her to be ready to leave before dawn. He warned her to say goodbye to nobody. And in the middle of the night he rose from his bed, gathered all his horses, the red, the white and the black, and everything that he had won at the tournament, and then called the gatekeeper to come and speak with him in private.
'I wish to tell you something,' he said, 'but you must agree first, upon your honour, that it is told to you in confidence. I have been here for a number of days, serving the queen, as you know, but nobody knows who I am, and no one shall until I have gone out of this country.'
'Are you going, Sir?'
'Yes, my friend, I have to. I have jousted upon these horses for the past three days – the white, the red and the black. I make no boast about it. I jousted all day, and in the evening I returned as a hunter, to serve the queen.'
The gatekeeper laughed. 'Sir, no man could have done better than you have done!'
'This tournament is now finished,' said Ipomadon, 'and so I will leave. I have no plans to take a wife. In the morning you must go to the city of Cantanzaro. There you will find my lord the king, the queen and also the young lady for whose sake all this fighting has taken place. Give to the king this white steed, and to my lady the queen present this red horse, for she has been a good friend to me and it is good to keep one's friends. Say that her favourite sends her this horse, and tell her that were it made of red gold he would still send it to her. This black horse give to Cabanus and tell him that the animal has never lacked for any courage. And say that I know of no knight who will sit more fittingly upon him.
'And Sir, here is Lyard, who was the king's own horse. Give him to the 'Proud'. Ask the king to take it in good part, for he knows well that the horse was won fairly from him – a thousand people witnessed this, in broad daylight. Ask her to accept him for my sake, and say that the 'Strange young man' greets her a thousand times and asks that she remains true to the vow that she once made - that she takes as her husband only the man who is held to be the worthiest of all. Say this to that fair lady, whose beauty surpasses that of sunlight through stained glass.'
'Alas! Sir! What are you thinking of? For God's love, stay here and marry this fair lady! Then you will be the lord of all Calabria.'
'No, Sir, I have no plans to marry just yet. I may one day take a wife, but not now. For my friendship, take these horses into Cantanzaro, for I know that you are known there and will be given an audience.'
The royal court the next morning was full of lords and ladies; the king was there and the queen, and the 'Proud'. Some brightly dressed children led the horses that Ipomadon had given to the gatekeeper, and many wondered what was happening when they saw the castle gatekeeper himself, whom they all knew. The lady looked at the horses and her heart jumped in fear, and trembled. She blushed, then as quickly went pale. The king was intrigued. He recognised his own horse Lyard and Cabanus's steed, but not the others. He called the gatekeeper to him.
'Sir, where did you get these horses?'
The gatekeeper knelt. 'In faith, Sir, he who was known as the 'Queen's darling' has instructed me to give them to you.'
When they heard this, the maidens hid their heads under their hoods.
'In faith, Sir,' continued the gatekeeper, 'it was he who performed so magnificently at the tournament. But he has left this land now. Sir King, he sends you this white horse. He rode him on the first day, though how well he did I could not say.'
The king laughed and stared into space for a moment.
'In faith, Sir, he rode well enough!'
The castle gatekeeper completed his errand, said all that he had been instructed to, then knelt at the feet of the 'Proud'.
'Madam,' he said. 'The 'Queen's favourite' greets you a thousand times and wishes you to know that he was the 'Strange young man' who was at your court three years ago. He knows of the vow you once made and asks that you keep it.'
The lady went pale and moaned.
'Sir,' she replied, 'as I may have happiness, he sends me good advice.'
'Lords,' she said, 'you know well enough why this tournament was called! I made a binding promise to you that whoever bore himself best in the jousting would take control of my lands and of me. Now you have heard who it was who won the prize on each successive day of the tournament, but where is he? You don’t know? Find him, then! And I assure you that there will be no further delay. I will willingly marry him!'