WHAT BEAUMAINS ASKED OF THE KING 51
was a noble Knight, and his name was Sir Percard.' ' I defy you,' said Beaumains, ' for I slew him as a good Knight should.'
Then the Green Knight seized a horn which hung from a horn tree, and blew three notes upon it, and two damsels came and armed him, and fastened on him a green shield and a green spear. So the fight began and raged long, first on horseback and then on foot, till both were sore wounded. At last the damsel came and stood beside them, and said, ' My lord the Green Knight, why for very shame do you stand so long fighting a kitchen knave ? You ought never to have been made a Knight at all!' These scornful words stung the heart of the Green Knight, and he dealt a mighty stroke which cleft asunder the shield of Beaumains. And when Beaumains saw this, he struck a blow upon the Knight's helmet which brought him to his knees, and Beaumains leapt on him, and dragged him to the ground. Then the Green Knight cried for mercy, and offered to yield himself prisoner unto Beaumains. ' It is all in vain,' answered Beaumains, ' unless the damsel prays me for your life,' and therewith he unlaced his helmet as though he would slay him. ' Fie upon thee, false kitchen page !' said the damsel, ' I will never pray to save his life, for I am sure he is in no danger.' ' Suffer me not to die,' entreated the Knight, ' when a word may save me!' ' Fair Knight,' he went on, turning to Beaumains, 'save my life, and I will forgive you the death of my brother, and will do you service for ever, and will bring thirty of my Knights to serve you likewise.' ' It is a shame,' cried the damsel, 'that such a kitchen knave should have you and thirty Knights besides.' ' Sir Knight,' said Beaumains, ' I care nothing for all this, but if I am to spare your life the damsel must ask for it,' and he stepped forward as if to slay him. ' Let be, foul knave,' then said the damsel, ' do not slay him. If you do, you will repent it.' ' Damsel,' answered Beaumains, ' it is a