So she spake, and Ralph yet lay on the grass and heard nought. But the Knight’s face was dark and swollen with anger as he answered: “My sworn friend! yea, I understand thy gibe. I need not thy words to bring to my mind how I have slain one sworn friend for thy sake.”
“Nay,” she said, “not for my sake, for thine own folly’s sake.” He heeded her not, but went on: “And as for this one, I say again of him, if he be not thy devil, then thou meanest him for thy lover. And now I deem that I will verily slay him, ere he wake again; belike it were his better luck.”
She said: “I wot not why thou hagglest over the price of that thou wouldest have. If thou have him along with thee, shall he not be in thy power—as I shall be? and thou mayst slay him—or me— when thou wilt.”
“Yea,” he said, grimly, “when thou art weary of him. O art thou not shameless amongst women! Yet must I needs pay thy price, though my honour and the welfare of my life go with it. Yet how if he have no will to fare with us?” She laughed and said: “Then shalt thou have him with thee as thy captive and thrall. Hast thou not conquered him in battle?” He stood silent a moment and then he said: “Thou sayest it; he shall come with me, will he, nill he, unarmed, and as a prisoner, and the spoil of my valiancy.” And he laughed, not altogether in bitterness, but as if some joy were rising in his heart. “Now, my Queen,” said he, “the bargain is struck betwixt us, and thou mayest light down off Silverfax; as for me, I will go fetch water from the lake, that we may wake up this valiant and mighty youth, this newfound jewel, and bring him to his wits again.”
She answered nought, but rode her horse close to him and lighted down nimbly, while his greedy eyes devoured her beauty. Then he took her hand and drew her to him, and kissed her cheek, and she suffered it, but kissed him not again. Then he took off his helm, and went down to the lake to fetch up water therein.
The Leechcraft of the Lady
Meanwhile she went to Ralph and stood by him, who now began to stir again; and she knelt down by him and kissed his face gently, and rose up hastily and stood a little aloof again.
Now Ralph sat up and looked about him, and when he saw the Lady he first blushed red, and then turned very pale; for the full life was in him again, and he knew her, and love drew strongly at his heart-strings. But she looked on him kindly and said to him: “How fares it with thee? I am sorry of thy hurt which thou hast had for me.” He said: “Forsooth, Lady, a chance knock or two is no great matter for a lad of Upmeads. But oh! I have seen thee before.” “Yea,” she said, “twice before, fair knight.” “How is that?” he said; “once I saw thee, the fairest thing in the world, and evil men would have led thee to slaughter; but not twice.”