290 THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN
' What harm is there in that, lady ? ' answered Luned.
' I am persuaded,' said the countess, ' that this man and no other chased the soul from the body of my lord.'
' Had he not been stronger than thy lord,' replied the damsel, ' he could not have taken his life, and for that, and for all things that are past, there is no remedy.'
' Leave me, both of you,' said the countess, ' and I will take counsel.'
Then they went out.
The next morning the countess summoned her subjects to meet in the courtyard of the castle, and told them that now that her husband was dead there was none to defend her lands.
' So choose you which it shall be,' she said. ' Either let one of you take me for a wife, or give me your consent to take a new lord for myself, that my lands be not without a master.'
At her words the chief men of the city withdrew into one corner and took counsel together, and after a while the leader came forward and said that they had decided that it was best, for the peace and safety of all, that she should choose a husband for herself. Thereupon Owen was summoned to her presence, and he accepted with joy the hand that she offered him, and thejr were married forthwith, and the men of the earldom did him homage.
From that day Owen defended the fountain as the earl before him had done, and every knight that came by was overthrown by him, and his ransom divided among his barons. In this way three years passed, and no man in the world was more beloved than Owen.
Now at the end of the three years it happened that Gwalchmai the knight was with Arthur, and he perceived the king to be very sad.