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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on the soft ground, and added: ' As long as this foot­mark remains sharp and clear, I shall be safe. If it is rilled with water, I shall be drowned; if with blood, I shall have fallen in battle. But if it is rilled with earth, an illness will have killed me, and I shall lie under the ground.' Thus he did, and Eigil did likewise. Then they cut stout sticks to aid their journeys, and went their ways.
Way laud stood gazing after them as long as they were in sight, then he went sadly home.
Slagfid and Eigil walked steadily on through the day, and when evening came they reached a stream bordered with trees, where they took off their golden helmets and sat down to rest and eat. They had gone far that day and were tired, and drank somewhat heavily, so that they knew not what they did. 'If I lose my Swan-vite,' said Slagfid, ' I am undone. She is the fairest woman that sun ever looked on, or that man ever loved.'
' It is a lie,' answered Eigil. ' I know one lovelier still, and her name is Alruna. Odin does not love Freya so fondly as Eigil adores her.'
' It is no lie,' cried Slagfid,' and may shame fall on him who slanders me.'
' And I,' answered Eigil, ' stand to what I have said, and declare that you are the liar.' At this they both drew their swords and fell fighting, till Slagfid struck Eigil's helmet so hard that the jewel flew into a thou­sand pieces, while Eigil himself fell backwards into the river.
Slagfid stood still, leaning on his sword and looking at the river into which his brother had fallen. Suddenly the trees behind him rustled, and a voice came out of them, saying,' A time of weal, a time of woe, a time of tears, a time of death'; and though he could see nothing he remembered the mountain elves, and thought how true their prophecy had been. ' I have slain my brother,' he said to himself, ' my wife has forsaken me; I am miserable and alone. What shall I do ? Go back to
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