WHAT BEAUMAINS ASKED OF THE KING 49
So he left him dead, and rode after the damsel. ' Alas !' she cried, ' that even a kitchen page should have power to destroy two such Knights ! You think you have done mighty things, but you are wrong! As to the first Knight, his horse stumbled, and he was drowned before you ever touched him. And the other you took from behind, and struck him when he was defenceless.' ' Damsel!' answered Beaumains, 'you may say what you will, I care not what it is, so I may deliver this lady.' ' Fie, foul kitchen knave, you shall see Knights that will make you lower your crest.' ' I pray you be more civil in your language,' answered Beaumains, ' for it matters not to me what Knights they be, I will do battle with them.' ' I am trying to turn you back for your own good,' answered she, 'for if you follow me you are certainly a dead man, as well I know all you have won before has been by luck.' ' Say what you will, damsel,' said he, ' but where you go I will follow you,' and they rode together till eventide, and all the way she chid him and gave him no rest.
At length they reached an open space where there was a black lawn, and on the lawn a black hawthorn, whereon hung a black banner on one side, and a black shield and spear, big and long, on the other. Close by stood a black horse covered with silk, fastened to a black stone. A Knight, covered with black armour, sat on the horse, and when she saw him the damsel bade him ride away, as his horse was not saddled. But the Knight drew near and said to her, 'Damsel, have you brought this Knight from King Arthur's Court to be your champion?' 'No, truly,' answered she, 'this is but a kitchen boy, fed by King Arthur for charity.' ' Then why is he clad in armour ? ' asked the Knight; ' it is a shame that he should even bear you company.' 'I cannot be rid of him,' said she,' he rides with me against my will. I would that you were able to deliver me from him ! Either slay him or frighten him off, for by ill fortune he has this 4