20 THE STORY OF SIR BALIN
Knight that guards an island, for it is our law that no man may leave us without he first fight a tourney.'
' That is a bad custom,' said Balin, ' but if I must I am ready; for though my horse is weary my heart is strong.'
' Sir,' said a Knight to him, ' your shield does not look whole to me ; I will lend you another'; so Balin listened to him and took the shield that was offered, and left his own with his own coat of arms behind him. He rode down to the shore, and led his horse into a boat, which took them across. When he reached the other side, a damsel came to him crying, ' 0 Knight Balin, why have you left your own shield behind you ? Alas ! you have put yourself in great danger, for by your shield you should have been known. I grieve over your doom, for there is no man living that can rival you for courage and bold deeds.'
' I repent,' answered Balin, ' ever having come into this country, but for very shame I must go on. Whatever befalls me, either for life or death, I am ready to take it.' Then he examined his armour, and saw that it was whole, and mounted his horse.
As he went along the path he beheld a Knight come out of a castle in front, clothed in red, riding a horse with red trappings. When this red Knight looked on the two swords, he thought for a moment it was Balin, but the shield did not bear Balin's device. So they rode at each other with their spears, and smote each other's shields so hard that both horses and men fell to the ground with the shock, and the Knights lay unconscious on the ground for some minutes. But soon they rose up again and began the fight afresh, and they fought till the place was red with their blood, and they had each seven great wounds. c What Knight are you ? ' asked Balin le Savage, pausing for breath, ' for never before have I found any Knight to match me.' ' My name,' said he, ' is Balan, brother to the good Knight Balin.'