GEIRALD THE COWARD 115
As soon as the business was finished, Kosald hastened home. His parents were delighted to hear of his good fortune, and his father gave him his own sword, which was growing rusty for want of use, while his mother saw that his leather jerkin was in order.
' Be sure you keep the promise you made to Geirald,' said she, as she bade him good-bye, ' and, come what may, see that you never betray him.'
Full of joy Rosald rode off, and the next day he and Geirald started off to seek adventures. To their disappointment their own land was so well governed that nothing out of the common was very likely to happen, but directly they crossed the border into another kingdom all seemed lawlessness and confusion.
They had not gone very far, when, riding across a mountain, they caught a glimpse of several armed men hiding amongst some trees in their path, and remembered suddenly some talk they had heard of a band of twelve robbers who lay in wait for rich travellers. The robbers were more like savage beasts than men, and lived somewhere at the top of the mountain in caves and holes in the ground. They were all called ' Hankur,' and were distinguished one from another by the name of a colour —blue, grey, red, and so on, except their chief, who was known as Hankur the Tall. All this and more rushed into the minds of the two young men as they saw the flash of their swords in the moonlight.
' It is impossible to fight them—they are twelve to two,' whispered Geirald, stopping his horse in the path. ' We had much better ride back and take the lower road. It would be stupid to throw away our lives like this.'
' Oh, we can't turn back,' answered Rosald,' we should be ashamed to look anyone in the face again! And, besides, it is a grand opportunity to show what we are made of. Let us tie up our horses here, and climb up the rocks so that we can roll stones down on them.'
'Well, we might try that, and then we shall always