While the army was encamped in Brittany, awaiting the arrival of the kings, there came a countryman to Arthur, and told him that a giant, whose cave was on a neighboring mountain, called St. Michael’s Mount, had for a long time been accustomed to carry off the children of the peasants to devour them. “And now he hath taken the Duchess of Brittany, as she rode with her attendants, and hath carried her away in spite of all they could do.” “Now, fellow,” said King Arthur, “canst thou bring me there where this giant haunteth?” “Yea, sure,” said the good man; “lo, yonder where thou seest two great fires, there shalt thou find him, and more treasure than I suppose is in all France beside.” Then the king called to him Sir Bedver and Sir Kay, and commanded them to make ready horse and harness for himself and them; for after evening he would ride on pilgrimage to St. Michael’s Mount.
So they three departed, and rode forth till they came to the foot of the mount. And there the king commanded them to tarry, for he would himself go up into that mount. So he ascended the hill till he came to a great fire, and there he found an aged woman sitting by a new-made grave, making great sorrow. Then King Arthur saluted her, and demanded of her wherefore she made such lamentation; to whom she answered: “Sir knight, speak low, for yonder is a devil, and if he hear thee speak, he will come and destroy thee. For ye cannot make resistance to him, he is so fierce and so strong. He hath murdered the Duchess, which here lieth, who was the fairest of all the world, wife to Sir Hoel, Duke of Brittany.” “Dame,” said the king, “I come from the noble conqueror, King Arthur, to treat with that tyrant.” “Fie on such treaties,” said she; “he setteth not by the king, nor by no man else.” “Well,” said Arthur, “I will accomplish my message for all your fearful words.” So he went forth by the crest of the hill, and saw where the giant sat at supper, gnawing on the limb of a man, and baking his broad limbs at the fire, and three fair damsels lying bound, whose lot it was to be devoured in their turn. When King Arthur beheld that, he had great compassion on them, so that his heart bled for sorrow. Then he hailed the giant, saying, “He that all the world ruleth give thee short life and shameful death. Why hast thou murdered this Duchess? Therefore come forth, for this day thou shalt die by my hand.” Then the giant started up, and took a great club, and smote at the king, and smote off his coronal; and then the king struck him in the belly with his sword, and made a fearful wound. Then the giant threw away his club, and caught the king in his arms, so that he crushed his ribs. Then the three maidens kneeled down and prayed for help and comfort for Arthur. And Arthur weltered and wrenched, so that he was one while under, and another time above. And so weltering