THE CASTLE OF KERGLAS 247
along here, mounted on a black mare, with a colt thirteen months old trotting behind. But no one dares to attack him, as he always carries his lance.'
' That is true,' said the knight, ' but there is a spell laid upon him which forbids his using it within the castle of Kerglas. The moment he enters, the basin and lance are put away in a dark cellar which no key but one can open. And that is the place where I wish to fight the magician.'
' You will never overcome him, Sir Knight,' replied the woman, shaking her head. ' More than a hundred gentlemen have ridden past this house bent on the same errand, and not one has ever come back.'
' I know that, good woman,' returned the knight, ' but then they did not have, like me, instructions from the hermit of Blavet.'
' And what did the hermit tell you ? ' asked Peron-nik.
' He told me that I should have to pass through a wood full of all sorts of enchantments and voices, which would try to frighten me and make me lose my way. Most of those who have gone before me have wandered they know not where, and perished from cold, hunger, or fatigue.'
' Well, suppose you get through safely ? ' said the idiot.
' If I do,' continued the knight, ' I shall then meet a sort of fairy armed with a needle of fire which burns to ashes all it touches. This dwarf stands guarding an apple-tree, from which I am bound to pluck an apple.'
' And next ? ' inquired Peronnik.
' Next I shall find the flower that laughs, protected by a lion whose mane is formed of vipers. I must pluck that flower, and go on to the lake of the dragons and fight the black man who holds in his hand the iron ball which never misses its mark and returns of its own accord to its master. After that, I enter the valley of