The lady of the fountain (Continued)
[Footnote: Amongst all the characters of early British history none is the more interesting, or occupies more conspicuous place, than the hero of this tale. Urien, his father, was prince of Rheged, a district comprising the present Cumberland and part of the adjacent country. His valor, and the consideration in which he was held, are a frequent theme of Bardic song, and form the subject of several very spirited odes by Taliesin. Among the Triads there is one relating to him; it is thus translated:
“Three Knights of Battle were in court of Arthur Cadwr, the Earl of Cornwall, Launcelot du Lac, and Owain, the son of Urien. And this was their characteristic—that they would not retreat from battle, neither for spear, nor for arrow, nor for sword. And Arthur never had shame in battle the day he saw their faces there. And they were called the Knights of Battle.”]
“Now,” quoth Owain, “would it not be well to go and endeavor to discover that place?”
“By the hand of my friend,” said Kay, “often dost thou utter that with thy tongue which thou wouldest not make good with thy deeds.”
“In very truth,” said Guenever, “it were better thou wert hanged, Kay, than to use such uncourteous speech towards a man like Owain.”
“By the hand of my friend, good lady,” said Kay, “thy praise of Owain is not greater than mine.”
With that Arthur awoke, and asked if he had not been sleeping a little.
“Yes, lord,” answered Owain, “thou hast slept awhile.”
“Is it time for us to go to meat?”
“It is, lord,” said Owain.
Then the horn for washing was sounded, and the king and all his household sat down to eat. And when the meal was ended Owain withdrew to his lodging, and made ready his horse and his arms.
On the morrow with the dawn of day he put on his armor, and mounted his charger, and travelled through distant lands, and over desert mountains. And at length he arrived at the valley which Kynon had described to him, and he was certain that it was the same that he sought. And journeying along the valley, by the side of the river, he followed its course till he came to the plain, and within sight of the castle. When he approached the castle he saw the youths shooting with their bows, in the place where Kynon had seen them, and the yellow man, to whom the castle belonged, standing hard by. And no sooner had Owain saluted the yellow man, than he was saluted by him in return.
And he went forward towards the castle, and there he saw the chamber; and when he had entered the chamber, he beheld the maidens working at satin embroidery, in chains of gold. And their beauty and their comeliness seemed to Owain far greater than Kynon had represented to him. And they arose to wait upon Owain, as they had done to Kynon. And the meal which they set before him gave even more satisfaction to Owain than it had done to Kynon.