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The Book Of Sir Balin Le Savage - XVII

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

THEN afore him he saw come riding out of a castle, a knight, and his horse trapped all in red, and himself in the same colour. And when this knight in the red beheld Balin, him thought that it should be his brother Balin, because of his two swords ; but because he knew not his shield, he deemed that it should not be. And so they couched their spears, and came marvellously fast together, and smote either other in the shields ; but their spears and their course was so big that it bare down horse and man, so that they lay both in a swoon ; but Balin was sore bruised with the fall of his horse, for he was weary of travel. And Balan the first that rose on foot, and drew his sword, and went toward Balin, and he arose and went against him, but Balan smote Balin first, and he put up his shield, and smote him through the shield, and broke his helm ; then Balin smote him again with that unhappy sword, and well nigh had felled his brother Balan ; and so they fought there together till their breaths failed. Then Balin looked up to the castle, and saw the towers stand full of ladies. So they went to battle again, and wounded each other grievously; and then they breathed often-time, and so went to battle; that all the place there as they fought was red of their blood. And, at that time, there was none of them both but they had smitten either other seven great wounds ; so that the least of them might have been the death of the mightiest giant in the world. Then they went to battle again so marvellously, that doubt it was to hear of that battle ; for the great bloodshedding, and their hawberks un-nailed, that naked they were on every side; at the last Balan, the younger brother, withdrew him a little, and laid him down. Then said Balin le Savage, "What knight art thou ? for ere now I found never no knight that matched me." "My name is," said he, "Balan, brother to the good knight Balin." "Alas !" said Balin, "that ever I should see this day." And therewith he fell backward in a swoon. Then Balan went on all four, feet and hands, and put off the helm of his brother, and might not know him by the visage, it was so full hewn and bebled ; but when he awoke, he said, "O Balan, my brother, thou hast slain me, and I thee, wherefore all the wide world shall speak of us both." "Alas !" said Balan, "that ever I saw this day, that through mishap I might not know you ; for I espied well your two swords, but because ye had another shield, I deemed you had been another knight." "Alas !" said Balin, "all that made an unhappy knight in the castle, for he caused me to leave mine own shield to the destruction of us both; and if I might live I would destroy that castle for the ill customs." "That were well done," said Balan, "for I had never grace to depart from them, since that I came hither, for here it happened me to slay a knight that kept this island, and since might I never depart, and no more should ye, brother, and ye might have slain me, as ye have, and escaped yourself with your life." Right so came the lady of the tower with four knights and six ladies, and six yeomen unto them, and there she heard how they made their mourn either to other, and said, "We came both out of one womb, and so shall we lie both in one pit." So Balan prayed the lady of her gentleness, for his true service, that she would bury them both in that place there the battle was done. And she granted them, with weeping cheer, and said, "It should be done richly, and in the best manner." "Now will ye send for a priest, that we may receive the sacrament and blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Yea," said the lady, "it shall be done." And so she sent for a priest, and gave them their rites. "Now," said Balin, "when we are buried in one tomb, and the inscription made over us how two brethren slew each other, there will never good knight, nor good man, see our tomb, but they will pray for our souls." And so all the ladies and gentle-women wept for pity. And anon Balan died, but Balin died not till the midnight after, and so were buried both; and the lady let make an inscription of Balan, how he was there slain by the hands of his own brother; but she knew not Balin's name.

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