THE LADY OF THE FOUNTAIN 297
he climbed up till he reached the top of the tower, where there was a door on to the roof, and from the tower he sprang on to the walls, and from the walls to the ground. Then with a loud roar he leaped upon the giant, who fell dead under the blow of his paw.
Now the gloom of the castle was turned into rejoicing, and the earl begged Owen to stay with him till he could make him a feast, but the knight said he had other work to do, and rode back to the place where he had left Luned, and the lion followed at his heels. When he came there he saw a great fire kindled, and two youths leading out the maiden to cast her upon the pile.
' Stop !' he cried, dashing up to them. ' What charge have you against her ? '
' She boasted that no man in the world was equal to Owen,' said they, ' and we shut her in a cave, and agreed that none should deliver her but Owen himself, and that if he did not come by a certain day she should die. And now the time has past and there is no sign of him.'
' In truth he is a good knight, and had he but known that the maid was in peril he would have come to save her,' said Owen ; ' but accept me in his stead, I entreat you.'
' We will,' replied they, and the fight began.
The youths fought well and pressed hard on Owen, and when the lion saw that he came to help his master. But the youths made a sign for the fight to stop, and said :
' Chieftain, it was agreed we should give battle to thee alone, and it is harder for us to contend with yonder beast than with thee.'
Then Owen shut up the lion in the cave where the maiden had been in prison, and blocked up the front with stones. But the fight with the giant had sorely tried him, and the youths fought well, and pressed him