But the tall man answered nothing, as followed by the weeping Marie and the prince Hassan, he led her to the boat.
Soon they reached the shore, and here they tore Marie from her, nor did Rosamund ever learn what became of her, or whether or no this poor woman found her husband whom she had dared so much to seek.
“I pray you have done,” said Godwin, “it is but a scratch from the beast’s claws. I am ashamed that you should put your hair to such vile uses. Give me a little water.”
He asked it of Wulf, but Masouda rose without a word and fetched the water, in which she mingled wine. Godwin drank of it and his faintness left him, so that he was able to stand up and move his arms and legs.
“Why,” he said, “it is nothing; I was only shaken. That lioness did not hurt me at all.”
“But you hurt the lioness,” said Wulf, with a laugh. “By St. Chad a good thrust!” and he pointed to the long sword driven up to the hilt in the brute’s breast. “Why, I swear I could not have made a better myself.”
“I think it was the lion that thrust,” answered Godwin. “I only held the sword straight. Drag it out, brother, I am still too weak.”
So Wulf set his foot upon the breast of the lion and tugged and tugged until at length he loosened the sword, saying as he strained at it:
“Oh! what an Essex hog am I, who slept through it all, never waking until Masouda seized me by the hair, and I opened my eyes to see you upon the ground with this yellow beast crouched on the top of you like a hen on a nest egg. I thought that it was alive and smote it with my sword, which, had I been fully awake, I doubt if I should have found the courage to do. Look,” and he pushed the lioness’s head with his foot, whereon it twisted round in such a fashion that they perceived for the first time that it only hung to the shoulders by a thread of skin.
“I am glad you did not strike a little harder,” said Godwin, “or I should now be in two pieces and drowned in my own blood, instead of in that of this dead brute,” and he looked ruefully at his burnous and hauberk, that were soaked with gore.
“Yes,” said Wulf, “I never thought of that. Who would, in such a hurry?”
“Lady Masouda,” asked Godwin, “when last I saw you you were hanging from those jaws. Say, are you hurt?”
“Nay,” she answered, “for I wear mail like you, and the teeth glanced on it so that she held me by the cloak only. Come, let us skin the beast, and take its pelt as a present to the lord Al-je-bal.”
“Good,” said Godwin, “and I give you the claws for a necklace.”
“Be sure that I will wear them,” she answered, and helped Wulf to flay the lioness while he sat by resting. When it was done Wulf went to the little cave and walked into it, to come out again with a bound.