120 GEIBALD THE COWARD
asked the king, her guardian, if he would allow the two heroes who had killed the robbers and slain the giant to fight a tourney the next day with one of her pages. The king gladly gave his consent, and ordered the lists to be made ready, never doubting that two great champions would be eager for such a chance of adding to their fame. Little did he guess that Geirald had done all he could to persuade Eosald to steal secretly out of the castle during the night, ' for/ said he, ' I don't believe they are pages at all, but well-proved knights, and how can we, so young and untried, stand up against them ?'
' The honour will be all the higher if we gain the day,' answered Eosald; but Geirald would listen to nothing, and only declared that he did not care about honour, and would rather be alive than have every honour in the world heaped on him. Go he would, and as Rosald had sworn to give him his company, he must come with him.
Rosald was much grieved when he heard these words, but he knew that it was useless attempting to persuade Geirald, and turned his thoughts to forming some plan to prevent this disgraceful flight. Suddenly his face brightened. ' Let us change clothes,' he said, ' and /will do the fighting, while you shall get the glory. Nobody will ever know.' And to this Geirald readily consented.
Whether Geirald was right or not in thinking that the so-called page was really a well-proved knight, it is certain that Rosald's task was a very hard one. Three times they came together with a crash which made their horses reel; once Rosald knocked the helmet off his foe, and received in return such a blow that he staggered in his saddle. Shouts went up from the lookers-on, as first one and then the other seemed gaining the victory ; but at length Rosald planted his spear in the armour which covered his adversary's breast and bore him steadily backward. ' Unhorsed ! unhorsed ! ' cried the people ; and Rosald then himself dismounted and helped his adversary to rise.
In the confusion that followed it was easy for Rosald