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The Book Of Sir Balin Le Savage - VIII

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

THEN Merlin lodged them in a wood amongst leaves, beside the highway, and took off the bridles of their horses, and put them to grass, and laid them down to rest them till it was nigh midnight. Then Merlin bade them arise and make them ready; for the king was nigh them that was stolen away from his host, with threescore of his best knights; and twenty of them rode before, to warn the Lady de Vance that the king was coming; for that night King Rience should have been with her. "Which is the king?" said Balin. "Abide," said Merlin; "here in a straight way ye shall meet with him." And therewith he showed Balin and his brother where he rode. Anon Balin and his brother met with the king, and smote him down, and wounded him fiercely, and laid him to the ground; and there they slew on the right hand and on the left, and slew more than forty of his men, and the remnant fled. Then went they again to King Rience, and would have slain him, if he had not yielded him to their grace. Then said the king again, "Knights, full of prowess, slay me not; for by my life ye may win, and by my death shall ye win nothing." Then said these two knights, "Ye say sooth and troth ;" and so laid him on a horse-litter. With that Merlin vanished, and came to King Arthur aforehand, and told him how his most enemy was taken and discomfited. "By whom?" said King Arthur. "By two knights," said Merlin, "that would please your lordship, and to-morrow ye shall know what they be." Anon after came the knight with the two swords, and Balan, his brother, and brought with them King Rience, and there delivered him to the porters, and charged them with him, and so they two returned again in the springing of the day. King Arthur came to King Rience and said, "Sir king, you are welcome ; by what adventure came ye hither ?" "Sir," said King Rience, "I came hither by a hard ad-venture." "Who won you?" said King Arthur. "Sir," said Rience, "the knight with the two swords and his brother, which are two marvellous knights of prowess." "I know them not," said King Arthur; "but much I am beholden unto them." "Ah!" said Merlin, "I shall tell you it is Balin that achieved the sword, and his brother, Balan, a good knight; there liveth not a better in prowess and worthiness, and it shall be the greatest dole of him that ever was of knight, for he shall not long endure." "Alas !" said King Arthur, "that is a great pity; for I am greatly beholden unto him, and I have full evil deserved it unto him for his kindness." "Nay," said Merlin, "he shall do much more for you, and that shall ye know ere it be long. But, sir, are ye purveyed ?" said Merlin ; "for to-morrow the host of Nero, King Rience's brother, will set upon you afore dinner with a mighty host; therefore, make you ready, for I will depart from you."

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