GEIRALD THE COWARD 117
you to do: In the north-east part of my kingdom there dwells a giant, who has an iron staff twenty yards long, and he is so quick in using it, that even fifty knights have no chance against him. The bravest and strongest young men of my court have fallen under the blows of that staff; but, as you overcame the twelve robbers so easily, I feel that I have reason to hope that you may be able to conquer the giant. In three days from this you will set out.'
' We will be ready, your Majesty,' answered Eosald ; but Geirald remained silent.
' How can we possibly fight against a giant that has killed fifty knights ? ' cried Geirald, when they were outside the castle. ' The king only wants to get rid of us ! He won't think about us for the next three days—that is one comfort—so we shall have plenty of time to cross the borders of the kingdom and be out of his reach.'
' We mayn't be able to kill the giant, but we certainly can't run away till we have tried,' answered Eosald. ' Besides, think how glorious it will be if we do manage to kill him ! I know what sort of weapon I shall use. Come with me now, and I will see about it.' And, taking his friend by the arm, he led him into a shop where he bought a huge lump of solid iron, so big that they could hardly lift it between them. However, they just managed to carry it to a blacksmith's where Eosald directed that it should be beaten into a thick club, with a sharp spike at one end. When this was done to his liking he took it home under his arm.
Very early on the third morning the two young men started on their journey, and on the fourth day they reached the giant's cave before he was out of bed. Hearing the sound of footsteps, the giant got up and went to the entrance to see who was coming, and Eosald, expecting something of the sort, struck him such a blow