“I will seek refuge in a cloister.”—“Will you fly with me, Bertha, to some sequestered spot, where we can live in each others society?”
“Yes,” said Bertha, “anything, save marriage with Guthrie de Beaumont.”—“Then await the tournament of to-morrow,” said Sir Arthur, “and then this may be avoided; in the meantime, keep up a good heart and remember I am at hand.”
* * * * *
These two lovers parted for the present, after a protracted interview, Bertha to her chamber, and the Knight of the Green Shield to his tent.
The following morning was one of great preparation; the lists had been enlarged, and the seats made more commodious, for the influx of visitors appeared to be much greater than had been anticipated.
Moreover, there were many old warriors of distinction to be present, which made the bridegroom look pale and feel uncomfortable as to the results of the tournament. The tilting was to begin at an early hour, and then the feasting and revelry would begin early in the evening, after the tilting had all passed off.
In that day’s work there were many thrown from their saddles, and many broke their lances. The bridegroom tilted with several knights, and came off victorious, or without disadvantage to either.
The green knight, on the contrary, tilted with but few, and always victorious, and such matches were with men who had been men of some name in the wars, or at least in the tilt yard.
The sports drew to a close, and when the bridegroom became the challenger, the Knight of the Green Shield at once rode out quietly to meet him. The encounter could not well be avoided, and the bridegroom would willingly have declined the joust with a knight who had disposed of his enemies so easily, and so unceremoniously as he had.
The first encounter was enough; the bridegroom was thrown to a great distance, and lay insensible on the ground, and was carried out of the field. There was an immediate sensation among the friends of the bridegroom, several of whom rode out to challenge the stranger knight for his presumption.
In this, however, they had misreckoned the chances, for the challenged accepted their challenges with alacrity and disposed of them one by one with credit to himself until the day was concluded. The stranger was then asked to declare who he was, upon which he lifted his visor, and said,
“I am Sir Arthur Home, and claim the Lady Bertha as my bride, by the laws of arms, and by those of love.”
* * * * *
Again the tent was felled, and again the hostelry was tenanted by the soldier, who declared for one side and then for the other, as the cups clanged and jingled together.
“Said I not,” exclaimed one of the troopers, “that the knight with a green shield was a good knight?”—“You did,” replied the other.
“And you knew who he was?” said another of the troopers.—“Not I, comrades; I had seen him fight in battle, and, therefore, partly guessed how it would be if he had any chance with the bridegroom. I’m glad he has won the lady.”