"Nay," quoth one, "you shall pay for waiting;" and he came running at Havelok, and the two others close behind with him. But Havelok lifted up the door-beam, and at one blow slew all three. Then he turned upon others, and in a moment overthrew four more. But a host of them beset him with swords, and all his skill could not prevent them from wounding him: full twenty wounds had he, from crown to toe. But he began so to mow with the beam that the robbers soon felt how hard he could smite. There was none who could escape him, and in a little while he had felled twenty of them.
Then a great din began to arise, for the rest of the thieves set upon Havelok and Bernard with all their might. But Hugh and his brothers heard the noise, and came running with many other men; and before long there was not one of the thieves left alive.
On the morrow tidings came to Ubbe that Havelok had slain with a club more than a score of stout rogues. He went down to Bernard and asked him what had come to pass; and Bernard, sore wounded from the fight, showed him his wounds, and told him how sixty robbers had attacked his house, and how Havelok had slain great plenty of them; but Havelok also, he said, was grievously wounded.
Others also of Bernard's men told the like true tale; and Ubbe sent for Havelok, and when he had seen his wounds, called for a skilful leech, and took Havelok into his house and cared for him.
The first night that Havelok lay in Ubbe's house, Ubbe slept nigh him in a great chamber, with places boarded off for each man. About midnight he awoke, and saw a great light in the place where Havelok lay, as bright as if it were day. "What may this be?" he thought. "I will go myself and see. Perchance Havelok secretly holds revel with his friends, and has lit many lights. I vow he shall do no such sottishness in my castle."
He stood up, and peeped in between the boards that shut Havelok from him. He saw him sleeping fast, as still as any stone; and he was aware of a great light coming as it were from Havelok's mouth.
He was aghast at that sight, and called secretly to his knights and sergeants and men-at-arms, more than five score of them, and bade them come and see the strange light; and the light continued to issue from Havelok's mouth, and to grow in strength till it was as bright as two hundred wax-candles.
Havelok's right shoulder was towards Ubbe and his men.
Suddenly, as they looked at the light, they saw the king's mark on the shoulder, a bright cross, brighter than gold, sparkling like a carbuncle stone. Then Ubbe knew that Havelok was a king's son, and he guessed that he must be Birkaheyn's son, the rightful king.
When Havelok awoke, he fell at his feet and did obeisance, he and all his men. "Dear lord," he said, "I know you to be Birkabeyn's son. You shall be King of Denmark; right soon shall every lord and baron come and do you homage." Then was Havelok glad and blithe, and gave thanks to God for His goodness.
Before long Ubbe dubbed Havelok knight; and as soon as he was knighted all the barons and lords of those parts came to him and swore fealty; and anon they crowned him King of Denmark, and set themselves in array to attack the false Earl Godard.
But Godard's knights, being weary of his rule, had all gone over to Havelok; and Grim's son, Robert, sufficed to meet him in combat.
Robert wounded him in the right arm, and they bound him and brought him before Havelok.
Sorry now was Godard's lot; all his greatness was gone from him. He came before Havelok and his nobles, and they gave sentence upon him, that he should be flayed alive, and then hanged. And so he came to his end in great misery and torment.
When Godrich in England heard that Havelok was king of all Denmark, and purposed (for Havelok had given out that this was his intent) to come to England and set Goldborough on her throne, he set to work to gather a great host to meet Havelok when he should come; and he spread lying tales to make the English hate and fear Havelok, saying that he would burn and destroy, and oppress them; and by these means he got together many and led them to Grimsby.
Afron came Havelok and his men, and landed at Grimsby; and they fought a great battle. All that day Havelok's men fought with Godrich's men; and on the morrow they fought again, and Godrich came face to face with Havelok himself.
"Godrich," Havelok cried, "you have taken Athelwold's kingdom for yourself; I claim it for his daughter Goldborough. Yield it up, and I will forgive you, for you are a doughty knight."
"Never will I yield," answered Godrich: "I will slay you here."
He gripped his sword, and smote at Havelok, and clove his shield in twain. But Havelok drew his own good sword, and with one blow felled him to the earth. Yet Godrich started up again, and dealt him such a stroke on the shoulder that his armour was broken, and the blade bit into the flesh. Then Havelok heaved up his sword in turn, and struck fiercely, and shore off Godrich's hand, so that he could smite no more, but yielded as best he might.
They seized Godrich and fettered him; and all the English took the oath of fealty to Goldborough, and swore to be her men. Then they passed judgment on Godrich, and sentenced him to be burnt to death.
So Havelok and Goldborough came again into their kingdoms; and Havelok rewarded Grim's sons and made them barons. Havelok was crowned King of England as well as of Denmark; and full sixty winters did he reign with Goldborough in great joy and prosperity.
THE FAIR UNKNOWN
Retold by F. J. H. Darton
Sir Gawain had a son, and he was fair to look on, bright of face and well-favoured in body. He was named Geynleyn. But for love of his fair face his mother called him Beau-fys, and no other name; and he never asked her what he was truly called, for Sir Gawain had wedded this lady secretly, and none knew that he was Geynleyn's father. On a certain day Geynleyn went to the woods to hunt the deer, and there he found a knight in gay armour, lying slain. Geynleyn wondered thereat; but in a little time he took off the knight's garments, and clad himself in the rich armour; and when he had done this, he went to Glastonbury, where King Arthur lay at that time. He came into the hall before the knights and greeted them.
"King Arthur, my lord," he said, "grant that I may speak a word, I pray you. I would fain be made a knight."
"Tell me your name," answered King Arthur, "for since I was born I never saw before me one so fair to look on."
"I know not what is my true name," answered the lad. "While I was at home, my mother, jesting, called me Beau-fys, and nought else."
Then said Arthur the king, "This is a wondrous thing, that the boy should know not his name when he would become a knight; and yet he is full fair of face. Now will I give him a name before you all. Let him be called Le Beau Disconus, which is to say, 'The fair unknown': so is he to be named." Thereupon King Arthur made him a knight, and gave him bright arms, and girt him with a sword, and hung round him a shield wrought with the design of a griffin. Sir Gawain took charge of him to teach him knightly ways.
When Le Beau Disconus had been made a knight, he asked yet another boon of the king. "My lord," he said, "I should be right glad in heart if I might have the first fight that is asked of you."
"I grant your asking," answered Arthur the king, "whatsoever the combat be. But you seem too young to do well in a great fight."
Then they sat down to feast. Not long had they feasted ere there came a maiden riding, and a dwarf beside her, in a great heat as though with haste. This maid was called Elene the bright and gentle; no countess or queen could be her equal in loveliness. She was richly clad, and the saddle and bridle of her milk-white steed were full of diamonds. Her dwarf wore silk of India; a stout and bold man was he, and his beard, yellow as wax, hanged down to his girdle. His shoes were decked with gold, and truly seemed a knight that felt no poverty.
His name was Teondelayn; he was skilled in playing all musical instruments.
The dwarf spoke to the maiden, and bade her tell her errand, and lose no time. She knelt in the hall before all the knights, and greeted them with honour, and said, "Never was sadder tidings than I bring. My lady of Synadown is brought into a strong prison; she prays King Arthur to send her a knight of stout courage, to win her out of prison."
Up started the young knight Le Beau Disconus; his courage was stout and high. "Arthur, my lord," he said, "I shall take up this combat, and win the lady bright, if you are true to your word."
"Certain it is that I have promised even so," said King Arthur. "God grant you grace and might."
Then Elene began to complain, and said, "Alas that I was ever sent hither! Now will the word go forth that Arthur's manhood is lost, if you send a witless and wild child to deal doughty blows, when there are here knights of proved valour, Launcelot, Percevale, and Gawain."
Le Beau Disconus answered, "Never yet was I afraid of any man; I have learned to fight with spear and sword. I will take the battle, and never forsake it, as is Arthur's law."
Then said Arthur, "Maiden, you get no other knight of me. If you think him not man enough, go get another of greater might where you can."
The maid said no more; but for wrath she would neither drink nor eat at their feast, but sat down with her dwarf till the tables were taken away.
King Arthur bade four of the best knights of the Round Table arm Le Beau Disconus straightway in arms true and perfect. "Through the help of Christ, he shall hold to his word, and be a good champion to the lady of Synadown, and uphold all her rights," he said.
When he was armed Sir Le Beau Disconus sprang on his horse and received the king's blessing, and set forth a-riding with the maiden and the dwarf. Till the third day she railed at the young knight continually; and on the third day, when they came to a certain place, she said, "Caitiff, now is your pride undone. This vale before us is kept by a knight who will fight every man that comes; and his fame is gone far abroad. William Selebranche is he named, and he is a mighty warrior. Through heart or thigh of all those who come against him he thrusts his spear."
"Does he fight so mightily then?" asked Le Beau Disconus. "Has he never been hit? Whatsoever betides me, against him will I ride and prove how he fights."
On they rode all three till they came to a castle in a vale. There they saw a knight in bright armour. He bore a shield of green, with a device of three lions: and he was that William Selebranche of whom maid Elene had spoken. When the knight had sight of them he rode towards them, and said, "Welcome, fair brother. He that rides here, day or night, must fight with me, or leave his arms here shamefully."
"Now let us pass," said Sir Le Beau Disconus, "We have far to go to our friends, I and this maid; we must needs speed on our way."
"You shall not escape so," answered William. "Ere you go we will fight."
Then said Le Beau Disconus, "Now I see that it must be so. Make ready quickly and do your best. Take a course with the spear, if you are a knight of skill, for I am in haste."
No longer did they wait, but rode together in arms. Le Beau Disconus smote William in the side with his spear; but William sat firm in his saddle. Nevertheless so mightily was he struck that his stirrup leathers were broken, and he swayed over the horse's crupper and fell to the ground. His steed galloped away, but William started up speedily. "By my faith, never met I so stout a man," he said. "Now that my steed is gone, let us fight on foot." They fell to on foot with falchions. [Footnote: Broad, short swords.] So hard they struck that sparks flew from their helmets. But William drove his sword through Le Beau Disconus's shield, and a piece of it fell to the ground; and thereat Le Beau Disconus was wroth. He smote with his sword downwards from the crest of William's helmet even to his hawberk, and shaved off with the point of his blade the knight's beard, and well-nigh cut the flesh also. Then William smote back so great a blow that his sword brake in two.
"Let me go alive," cried William at that, seeing himself reft of his arms. "It were great villainy to do to death an unarmed knight."
"I will spare you," said Le Beau Disconus, "if you swear a vow ere we go from one another. Kneel down, and swear on my sword to go to King Arthur, and say to him, 'Lord of renown, a knight sent me hither, defeated and a prisoner: his name is Le Beau Disconus, of unknown kith and kin.'"
William went upon his knees and took a vow as Le Beau Disconus bade him, and thus they departed each on his way. William took the road to Arthur's court; and it chanced that as he went, he met, on that self-same day, three proud knights, his own sister's sons. "William our uncle," said they when they saw his wounds and his sorry array, "who has done you this shame?"