54 WHAT BEAUMAINS ASKED OF THE KING
' though he might have forced an entrance many a time, but he hoped that Sir Lancelot du Lake or Sir Tristram or Sir Gawaine should come to do battle with him.' ' My Lord Sir Persant of Inde,' said the damsel, 'I bid you knight this gentleman before he fight with the Red Knight.' ' That I will gladly,' replied Sir Persant, ' if it please him to take the order of knighthood from so simple a man as I am.' ' Sir,' answered Beaumains, ' I thank you for your goodwill, but at the beginning of this quest I was made a Knight by Sir Lancelot. My name is Sir Gareth of Orkney and Sir Gawaine is my brother, though neither he nor King Arthur, whose sister is my mother, knows of it. I pray you to keep it close also.'
Now word was brought unto the besieged lady by the dwarf that her sister was coming to her with a Knight sent by King Arthur. And when the lady heard all that Beaumains had done, and how he had overthrown all who stood in his way, she bade her dwarf take baked venison, and fat capons, and two silver flagons of wine and a gold cup, and put them into the hands of a hermit that dwelt in a hermitage close by. The dwarf did so, and the lady then sent him to greet her sister and Sir Beaumains, and to beg them to eat and drink in the hermit's cell, and rest themselves, which they did. When they drew near the besieged castle Sir Beaumains saw full forty Knights, with spurs on their heels and swords in their hands, hanging from the tall trees that stood upon the lawn. 'Fair Sir,' said the damsel, 'these Knights came hither to rescue my sister, dame Lyonesse; and if you cannot overthrow the Knight of the Red Lawn, you will hang there too.'
' Truly,' answered Beaumains, 'it is a marvel that none of King Arthur's Knights has dealt with the Knight of the Red Lawn ere this'; and they rode up to the castle, which had round it high walls and deep ditches, till they came to a great sycamore tree, where hung a