THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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18              THE STORY OF SIR BALIN
looked at him, and answered, ' Sir, it is not needful to put you to such trouble, for where so many have failed it is hardly likely that you will succeed.' 'Ah! fair damsel,' said Balin, ' it is not fine clothes that make good deeds.' ' You speak truly,' replied the damsel,' therefore do what you can.' Then Balin took the sword by the girdle and sheath, and pulled it out easily, and when he looked at the sword he was greatly pleased with it. The King and the Knights were dumb with surprise that it was Balin who had triumphed over them, and many of them envied him and felt anger towards him. ' In truth,' said the damsel, ' this is the best Knight that I ever found, but, Sir, I pray you give me the sword again.'
' No,' answered Balin, ' I will keep it till it is taken from me by force.' ' It is for your sake, not mine, that I ask for it,' said the damsel,' for with that sword you shall slay the man you love best, and it shall bring about your own ruin.' ' I will take what befalls me,' replied Balin, ' but the sword I will not give up, by the faith of my body.' So the damsel departed in great sorrow. The next day Sir Balin left the Court, and, armed with his sword, set forth in search of adventures, which he found in many places where he had not thought to meet with them. In all the fights that he fought, Sir Balin was the victor, and Arthur, and Merlin his friend, knew that there was no Knight living of greater deeds, or more worthy of worship. And he was known to all as Sir Balin le Savage, the Knight of the two swords.
One day he was riding forth when at the turning of a road he saw a cross, and on it was written in letters of gold, ' Let no Knight ride towards this castle.' Sir Balin was still reading the writing when there came towards him an old man with white hair, who said, ' Sir Balin le Savage, this is not the way for you, so turn again and choose some other path.' And so he vanished, and a horn blew loudly, as a horn is blown at the death of a beast. ' That blast,' said Balin, ' is for me, but I am still
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