GEIRALD THE COWARD 123
to slip away and return Geirald his proper clothes. And in these, torn and dusty with the fight, Geirald answered the king's summons to come before him.
' You have done what I expected you to do,' said he, ' and now, choose your reward.'
' Grant me, sire, the hand of the queen, your niece,' replied the young man, bowing low, ' and I will defend her kingdom against all her enemies.'
' She could choose no better husband,' said the king, ' and if she consents I do.' And he turned towards the queen, who had not been present during the fight, but had just slipped into a seat by his right hand. Now the queen's eyes were very sharp, and it seemed to her that the man who stood before her, tall and handsome though he might be, was different in many slight ways, and in one in particular, from the man who had fought the tourney. How there could be any trickery she could not understand, and why the real victor should be willing to give up his prize to another was still stranger; but something in her heart warned her to be careful. She answered : ' You may be satisfied, uncle, but / am not. One more proof I must have ; let the two young men now fight against each other. The man I marry must be the man who killed the robbers and the giant, and overcame my page.' Geirald's face grew pale as he heard these words. He knew there was no escape for him now, though he did not doubt for one moment that Rosald would keep his compact loyally to the last. But how would it be possible that even Eosald should deceive the watchful eyes of the king and his court, and still more those of the young queen whom he felt uneasily had suspected him from the first ?
The tourney was fought, and in spite of Geirald's fears Rosald managed to hang back to make attacks which were never meant to succeed, and to allow strokes which he could easily have parried to attain their end. At length, after a great show of resistance, he fell heavily to the