284 THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN
soon overcame me, and I was thrown to the ground, while the knight S3ized the bridle of my horse, and rode away with it, leaving me where I was, without even despoiling me of my armour.
' Sadly did I go down the hill again, and when I reached the glade where the black man was, I confess to thee, Kai, it wTas a marvel that I did not melt into a liquid pool, so great was my shame. That night I slept at the castle where I had been before, and I was bathed and feasted, and none asked me how I had fared. The next morning when I arose I found a bay horse saddled for me, and, girding on my armour, I returned to my own court. The horse is still in the stable, and I would not part with it for any in Britain.
' But of a truth, Kai, no man ever confessed an adventure so much to his own dishonour, and strange indeed it seems that none other man have I ever met that knew of the black man, and the knight, and the shower.'
' Would it not be well,' said Owen, ' to go and discover the place ? '
' By the hand of my friend,' answered Kai, ' often dost thou utter that with thy tongue which thou wouldest not make good with thy deeds.'
' In truth,' said Guenevere the queen, who had listened to the tale, ' thou wert better hanged, Kai, than use such speech towards a man like Owen.'
' I meant nothing, lady,' replied Kai; ' thy praise of Owen is not greater than mine.' And as he spoke Arthur awoke, and asked if he had not slept for a little.
'Yes, lord,' answered Owen, 'certainly thou hast slept.'
' Is it time for us to go to meat ? '
' It is, lord,' answered Owen.
Then the horn for washing themselves was sounded, and after that the king and his household sat down to eat. And when they had finished, Owen left them, and made ready his horse and his arms.