296 THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN
have none to send to tell him of my danger, or of a surety he would deliver me.'
Owen held his peace, but gave the maiden some of the meat, and bade her be of good cheer. Then, followed by the lion, he set out for a great castle on the other side of the plain, and men came and took his horse and placed it in a manger, and the lion went after and lay down on the straw. Hospitable and kind were all within the castle, but so full of sorrow that it might have been thought death was upon them. At length, when they had eaten and drunk, Owen prayed the earl to tell him the reason of their grief.
' Yesterday,' answered the earl, ' my two sons were seized, while they were hunting, by a monster who dwells on those mountains yonder, and he vows that he will not let them go unless I will give him my daughter to wife.'
' That shall never be,' said Owen ; ' but what form hath this monster ? '
' In shape he is a man, but in stature he is a giant,' replied the earl, ' and it were better by far that he should slay my sons than that I should give up my daughter.'
Early next morning the dwellers in the castle were awakened by a great clamour, and they found that the giant had arrived with the two young men. Swiftly Owen put on his armour and went forth to meet the giant, and the lion followed at his heels. And when the great beast beheld the hard blows which the giant dealt his master he flew at his throat, and much trouble had the monster in beating him off.
' Truly,' said the giant, ' I should find no difficulty in fighting thee, if it were not for that lion.' When he heard that Owen felt shame that he could not overcome the giant with his own sword, so he took the lion and shut him up in one of the towers of the castle, and returned to the fight. But from the sound of the blows the lion knew that the combat was going ill for Owen, so