Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK VII CHAPTER X

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How the third brother, called the Red Knight, jousted and
fought against Beaumains,and how Beaumains overcame him.

SO within a while they saw a tower as white as any snow, well
matchecold all about, and double dyked.  And over the tower gate
there hung a fifty shields of divers colours, and under that
tower there was a fair meadow.  And therein were many knights and
squires to behold, scaffolds and pavilions; for there upon the
morn should be a great tournament: and the lord of the tower was
in his castle and looked out at a window, and saw a damosel, a
dwarf, and a knight armed at all points.  So God me help, said
the lord, with that knight will I joust, for I see that he is a
knight-errant.  And so he armed him and horsed him hastily.  And
when he was on horseback with his shield and his spear, it was
all red, both his horse and his harness, and all that to him
longeth.  And when that he came nigh him he weened it had been
his brother the Black Knight; and then he cried aloud, Brother,
what do ye in <225>these marches?  Nay, nay, said the damosel, it
is not he; this is but a kitchen knave that was brought up for
alms in King Arthur's court.  Nevertheless, said the Red Knight,
I will speak with him or he depart.  Ah, said the damosel, this
knave hath killed thy brother, and Sir Kay named him Beaumains,
and this horse and this harness was thy brother's, the Black
Knight.  Also I saw thy brother the Green Knight overcome of his
hands.  Now may ye be revenged upon him, for I may never be quit
of him.

With this either knights departed in sunder, and they came
together with all their might, and either of their horses fell to
the earth, and they avoided their horses, and put their shields
afore them and drew their swords, and either gave other sad
strokes, now here, now there, rasing, tracing, foining, and
hurling like two boars, the space of two hours.  And then she
cried on high to the Red Knight, Alas, thou noble Red Knight,
think what worship hath followed thee, let never a kitchen knave
endure thee so long as he doth.  Then the Red Knight waxed wroth
and doubled his strokes, and hurt Beaumains wonderly sore, that
the blood ran down to the ground, that it was wonder to see that
strong battle.  Yet at the last Sir Beaumains struck him to the
earth, and as he would have slain the Red Knight, he cried mercy,
saying, Noble knight, slay me not, and I shall yield me to thee
with fifty knights with me that be at my commandment.  And I
forgive thee all the despite that thou hast done to me, and the
death of my brother the Black Knight.  All this availeth not,
said Beaumains, but if my damosel pray me to save thy life.  And
therewith he made semblant to strike off his head.  Let be, thou
Beaumains, slay him not, for he is a noble knight, and not so
hardy, upon thine head, but thou save him.

Then Beaumains bade the Red Knight, Stand up, and thank the
damosel now of thy life.  Then the Red Knight prayed him to see
his castle, and to be there all night.  So the damosel then
granted him, and there they had merry cheer.  But always the
damosel spake many foul words unto Beaumains, whereof the Red
Knight had great <226>marvel; and all that night the Red Knight
made three score knights to watch Beaumains, that he should have
no shame nor villainy.  And upon the morn they heard mass and
dined, and the Red Knight came before Beaumains with his three
score knights, and there he proffered him his homage and fealty
at all times, he and his knights to do him service.  I thank you,
said Beaumains, but this ye shall grant me: when I call upon you,
to come afore my lord King Arthur, and yield you unto him to be
his knights.  Sir, said the Red Knight, I will be ready, and my
fellowship, at your summons.  So Sir Beaumains departed and the
damosel, and ever she rode chiding him in the foulest manner.