156 THE GREEN KNIGHT
He inquired of everyone he saw, ' Do you know the Green Knight ? ' but the only answer he got was :
' No, your majesty, we have never heard of him.'
At length he began to believe that the princess was mistaken, and that there was no such person ; and he started on his homeward journey sorrowfully enough, for this wras the first time for many months that the princess had asked him to do anything for her and he could not do it. He thought so much about it that he did not notice the direction his horse was taking, and presently he found himself in the midst of a dense forest where he had never been before. He rode on and on, looking for the path, but as the sun began to set he realised that he was lost. At last, to his delight, he saw a man driving some pigs, and riding up to him, he said:
' I have lost my way. Can you tell me where I am ? '
' You are in the Green Knight's forest,' answered the man, ' and these are his pigs.'
At that the king's heart grew light. ' Where does the Green Knight live ?' he asked.
'It is a very long way from here,' said the swineherd ; ' but I will show you the path.' So he went a little farther with the king and put him on the right road, and the king bade him farewell.
Presently he came to a second forest, and there he met another swineherd driving pigs.
' Whose beasts are those, my man ? ' he asked.
' They are the Green Knight's,' said the man.
' And where does he live ?' inquired the king.
' Oh, not far from here,' was the reply.
Then the king rode on, and about midday he reached a beautiful castle standing in the midst of the loveliest garden you can possibly imagine, where fountains played in marble basins, and peacocks walked on the smooth lawns. On the edge of a marble basin sat a young and handsome man, who was dressed from head to foot in a