THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN 291
' My lord, has anything befallen thee ? ' he asked.
' Oh, Gwalchmai, I am grieved concerning Owen, whom I have lost these three years, and if a fourth year passes without him I can live no longer. And sure am I that the tale told by Kynon the son of Clydno caused me to lose him. I will go myself writh the men of my household to avenge him if he is dead, to free him if he is in prison, to bring him back if he is alive.'
Then Arthur and three thousand men of his household set out in quest of Owen, and took Kynon for their guide. When Arthur reached the castle, the youths wrere shooting in the same place, and the same yellow man was standing by, and as soon as he beheld Arthur he greeted him and invited him in, and they entered together. So vast was the castle that the king's three thousand men were of no more account than if they had been twenty.
At sunrise Arthur departed thence, with Kynon for his guide, and reached the black man first, and afterwards the top of the wooded hill, with the fountain and the bowl and the tree.
' My lord,' said Kai, ' let me throw the water on the slab and receive the first adventure that may befall.'
' Thou mayest do so,' answered Arthur, and Kai threw the water.
Immediately all happened as before ; the thunder and the shower of hail which killed many of Arthur's men ; the song of the birds and the appearance of the black knight. And Kai met him and fought him, and was overthrown by him. Then the knight rode away, and Arthur and his men encamped where they stood.
In the morning Kai again asked leave to meet the knight and to try to overcome him, which Arthur granted. But once more he was unhorsed, and the black knight's lance broke his helmet and pierced the skin even to the bone, and humbled in spirit he returned to the camp.