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    Chapter 31

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    Chapter 31
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    ARTHUR was in Caerleon upon the Usk; and he went to hunt, and
    Peredur* went with him. And Peredur let loose his dog upon a hart, and
    the dog killed the hart in a desert place. And a short space from
    him he saw signs of a dwelling, and towards the dwelling he went,
    and he beheld a hall, and at the door of the hall he found bold
    swarthy youths playing at chess. And when he entered he beheld three
    maidens sitting on a bench, and they were all clothed alike, as became
    persons of high rank. And he came and sat by them on the bench; and
    one of the maidens looked steadfastly at Peredur and wept. And Peredur
    asked her wherefore she was weeping. "Through grief that I shall see
    so fair a youth as thou art slain." "Who will slay me?" inquired
    Peredur. "If thou art so daring as to remain here to-night I will tell
    thee." "How great soever my danger may be from remaining here I will
    listen unto thee." "This palace is owned by him who is my father,"
    said the maiden, "and he slays every one who comes hither without
    his leave." "What sort of a man is thy father that he is able to
    slay every one thus?" "A man who does violence and wrong unto his
    neighbors, and who renders justice unto none." And hereupon he saw the
    youths arise and clear the chessmen from the board. And he heard a
    great tumult; and after the tumult there came in a huge black one-eyed
    man, and the maidens arose to meet him. And they disarrayed him, and
    he went and sat down; and after he had rested and pondered awhile,
    he looked at Peredur, and asked who the knight was. "Lord," said one
    of the maidens, "he is the fairest and gentlest youth that ever thou
    didst see. And for the sake of Heaven, and thine own dignity, have
    patience with him." "For thy sake I will have patience, and I will
    grant him his life this night." Then Peredur came towards them to
    the fire, and partook of food and liquor, and entered into discourse
    with the ladies. And being elated with the liquor, he said to the
    black man, "It is a marvel to me, so mighty as thou sayest thou art,
    who could have put out thine eye?" "It is one of my habits," said
    the black man, "that whosoever puts to me the question which thou hast
    asked shall not escape with his life, either as a free gift, or for
    a price." "Lord," said the maiden, "whatsoever he may say to thee in
    jest, and through the excitement of liquor, make good that which
    thou saidest and didst promise me just now." "I will do so, gladly,
    for thy sake," said he. "Willingly will I grant him his life this
    night." And that night thus they remained.

    * Peredur, the son of Evrawc, is the Welsh for Perceval, a part of
    whose story in the preceding pages is taken from the Mabinogeon.

    And the next day the black man got up and put on his armor, and said
    to Peredur, "Arise, man, and suffer death." And Peredur said unto him,
    "Do one of two things, black man; if thou wilt fight with me, either
    throw off thy own armor, or give arms to me that I may encounter
    thee." "Ha! man," said he, "couldst thou fight if thou hadst arms?
    Take then what arms thou dost choose." And thereupon the maiden came
    to Peredur with such arms as pleased him; and he fought with the black
    man and forced him to crave his mercy. "Black man, thou shalt have
    mercy, provided thou tell me who thou art, and who put out thine eye."
    "Lord, I will tell thee. I lost it in fighting with the Black
    Serpent of the Carn. There is a mound which is called the Mound of
    Mourning; and on the mound there is a carn, and in the carn there is a
    serpent, and on the tail of the serpent there is a stone, and the
    virtues of the stone are such that whosoever should hold it in one
    hand, in the other he will have as much gold as he may desire. And
    in fighting with this serpent was it that I lost my eye. And the Black
    Oppressor am I called. And for this reason I am called the Black
    Oppressor, that there is not a single man around me whom I have not
    oppressed, and justice have I done unto none." "Tell me," said
    Peredur, "how far is it hence?" "The same day that thou settest
    forth thou wilt come to the Palace of the Sons of the King of the
    Tortures." "Wherefore are they called thus?" "The Addanc* of the
    Lake slays them once every day. When thou goest thence thou wilt
    come to the Court of the Countess of Achievements." "What achievements
    are these?" said Peredur. "Three hundred men are there in her
    household, and unto every stranger that comes to the Court the
    achievements of her household are related. And this is the manner of
    it,- the three hundred men of the household sit next unto the Lady;
    and that not through disrespect unto the guests, but that they may
    relate the achievements of the household. And the day that thou
    goest there thou wilt reach the Mound of Mourning, and round about the
    mound there are the owners of three hundred tents guarding the
    serpent." "Since thou hast indeed been an oppressor so long," said
    Peredur, "I will cause that thou continue so no longer." So he slew

    * The Addanc was a mighty aquatic monster.

    Then the maiden spoke, and began to converse with him. "If thou wast
    poor when thou camest here henceforth thou wilt be rich through the
    treasure of the black man whom thou hast slain. Thou seest the many
    lovely maidens that there are in this court, thou shalt have her
    whom thou likest best for the lady of thy love." "Lady, I came not
    hither from my country to woo; but match yourselves as it liketh you
    with the comely youths I see here; and none of your goods do I desire,
    for I need them not." Then Peredur rode forward, and he came to the
    Palace of the Sons of the King of the Tortures; and when he entered
    the palace he saw none but women; and they rose up and were joyful
    at his coming; and as they began to discourse with him he beheld a
    charger arrive, with a saddle upon it, and a corpse in the saddle. And
    one of the women arose, and took the corpse from the saddle and
    anointed it in a vessel of warm water, which was below the door, and
    placed precious balsam upon it; and the man rose up alive, and came to
    the place where Peredur was, and greeted him, and was joyful to see
    him. And two other men came in upon their saddles, and the maiden
    treated these two in the same manner as she had done the first. Then
    Peredur asked the chieftain wherefore it was thus. And they told him
    there was an Addanc in a cave, which slew them once every day. And
    thus they remained one night.
    And next morning the youths arose to sally forth, and Peredur
    besought them, for the sake of the ladies of their love, to permit him
    to go with them; but they refused him, saying, "If thou shouldst be
    slain thou hast none to bring thee back to life again." And they
    rode forward and Peredur followed after them; and after they had
    disappeared out of his sight he came to a mound, whereon sat the
    fairest lady he had ever beheld. "I know thy quest," said she; "thou
    art going to encounter the Addanc, and he will slay thee, and that not
    by courage but by craft. He has a cave, and at the entrance of the
    cave there is a stone pillar, and he sees every one that enters, and
    none sees him; and from behind the pillar he slays every one with a
    poisonous dart. And if thou wouldst pledge me thy faith, to love me
    above all women, I would give thee a stone, by which thou shouldst see
    him when thou goest in, and he should not see thee." "I will, by my
    faith," said Peredur, "for when first I beheld thee I loved thee;
    and where shall I seek thee?" "When thou seekest me seek towards
    India." And the maiden vanished after placing the stone in Peredur's
    And he came towards a valley, through which ran a river; and the
    borders of the valley were wooded, and on each side of the river
    were level meadows. And on one side of the river he saw a flock of
    white sheep, and on the other side a flock of black sheep. And
    whenever one of the white sheep bleated one of the black sheep would
    cross over and become white; and when one of the black sheep bleated
    one of the white sheep would cross over and become black. And he saw a
    tall tree by the side of the river, one-half of which was in flames
    from the root to the top, and the other half was green and in full
    leaf. And nigh thereto he saw a youth sitting upon a mound, and two
    greyhounds, white-breasted and spotted, in leashes, lying by his side.
    And certain was he that he had never seen a youth of so royal a
    bearing as he. And in the wood opposite he heard hounds raising a herd
    of deer. And Peredur saluted the youth, and the youth greeted him in
    return. And there were three roads leading from the mound; two of them
    were wide roads and the third was more narrow. And Peredur inquired
    where the three roads went. "One of them goes to my palace," said
    the youth. "And one of two things I counsel thee to do, either to
    proceed to my palace, which is before thee, and where thou wilt find
    my wife, or else to remain here to see the hounds chasing the roused
    deer from the wood to the plain. And thou shalt see the best
    greyhounds thou didst ever behold, and the boldest in the chase,
    kill them by the water beside us; and when it is time to go to meat my
    page will come with my horse to meet me, and thou shalt rest in my
    palace to-night." "Heaven reward thee; but I cannot tarry, and
    onward must I go." "The other road leads to the town, which is near
    here, wherein food and liquor may be bought; and the road which is
    narrower than the other goes towards the cave of the Addanc." "With
    thy permission, young man, I will go that way."
    And Peredur went towards the cave. And he took the stone in his left
    hand, and his lance in his right. And as he went in he perceived the
    Addanc, and he pierced him through with his lance, and cut off his
    head. And as he came forth from the cave, behold the three
    companions were at the entrance; and they saluted Peredur, and told
    him that there was a prediction that he should slay the monster.
    And Peredur gave the head to the young man, and they offered him
    in marriage which ever of the three sisters he might choose, and
    half their kingdom with her. "I came not hither to woo," said Peredur,
    "but if peradventure I took a wife, I should prefer your sister to all
    others." And Peredur rode forward, and he heard a noise behind him.
    And he looked back, and saw a man upon a red horse, and red armor upon
    him; and the man rode up by his side, and wished him the favor of
    Heaven and of man. And Peredur greeted the youth kindly. "Lord, I come
    to make a request unto thee." "What wouldst thou?" "That thou shouldst
    take me as thy attendant." "Who should I take as my attendant if I did
    so?" "I will not conceal from thee what kindred I am of. Etlym Gleddyv
    Coch am I called, an Earl from the East Country." "I marvel that
    thou shouldst offer to become attendant to a man whose possessions are
    no greater than thine own; for I have but an earldom like thyself. But
    now thou desirest to be my attendant, I will take thee joyfully."
    And they went forward to the Court of the Countess, and all they
    of the Court were glad at their coming; and they were told it was
    not through disrespect they were placed below the household, but
    that such was the usage of the Court. For whoever should overthrow the
    three hundred men of her household would sit next the Countess, and
    she would love him above all other men. And Peredur, having overthrown
    the three hundred of her household, sat down beside her, and the
    Countess said, "I thank Heaven that I have a youth so fair and so
    radiant as thou, since I have not obtained the man whom best I
    love." "Whom is he whom best thou lovest? By my faith, Etlym Gleddyv
    Coch is the man whom I love best, and I have never seen him." "Of a
    truth, Etlym is my companion; and behold here he is, and for his
    sake did I come to joust with thy household. And he would have done so
    better than I had it pleased him." "Heaven reward thee, fair youth,
    and I will take the man whom I love above all others." And the
    Countess became Etlym's bride from that moment.
    And the next day Peredur set forth toward the Mound of Mourning. "By
    thy hand, lord, but I will go with thee," said Etlym. Then they went
    forward till they came in sight of the mound and the forts. "Go unto
    yonder men," said Peredur to Etlym, "and desire them to come and do me
    homage." So Etlym went unto them, and said unto them thus: "Come and
    do homage to my lord." "Who is thy lord?" said they. "Peredur, with
    the long lance, is my lord," said Etlym. "Were it permitted to slay
    a messenger, thou shouldst not go back to thy lord alive, for making
    unto kings and earls and barons so arrogant a demand as to go and do
    him homage." On this Peredur desired him to go back to them, and to
    give them their choice, either to do him homage or to do battle with
    him. And they chose rather to do battle. And that day Peredur
    overthrew the owners of a hundred tents. And the next day he overthrew
    the owners of a hundred more; and the third day the remaining third
    took counsel, to do homage to Peredur. And Peredur inquired of them
    wherefore they were there. And they told him they were guarding the
    serpent until he should die. "For then should we fight for the stone
    among ourselves, and whoever should be conqueror among us would have
    the stone." "Wait here," said Peredur, "and I will go to encounter the
    serpent." "No, no, lord," said they; "we will go all together to
    encounter the serpent." "Verily," said Peredur, "that will I not
    permit; for if the serpent be slain, I shall derive no more fame
    therefrom than one of you." Then he went to the place where the
    serpent was, and slew it, and came back to them, and said, "Reckon
    up what you have spent since you have been here, and I will repay
    you to the full." And he paid to each what he said was his claim.
    And he required of them only that they should acknowledge themselves
    his vassals. And he said to Etlym, "Go back unto her whom thou
    lovest best, and I will go forwards, and I will reward thee for having
    been my attendant." And he gave Etlym the stone. "Heaven repay thee
    and prosper thee," said Etlym.
    And Peredur rode thence, and he came to the fairest valley he had
    ever seen, through which ran a river; and there he beheld many tents
    of various colors. And he marvelled still more at the number of
    windmills and of water-mills that he saw. And there rode up with him a
    tall, auburn-haired man, in a workman's garb, and Peredur inquired
    of him who he was. "I am the chief miller," said he, "of all the mills
    yonder." "Wilt thou give me lodging?" said Peredur. "I will,
    gladly," he answered. And Peredur came to the miller's house, and
    the miller had a fair and pleasant dwelling. And Peredur asked money
    as a loan from the miller, that he might buy meat and liquor for
    himself, and for the household, and he promised him that he would
    pay him ere he went thence. And he inquired of the miller wherefore
    such a multitude were there assembled. Said the miller to Peredur,
    "One thing is certain; either thou art a man from afar, or thou art
    beside thyself. The Empress of Cristonobyl the Great is here; and
    she will have no one but the man who is most valiant; for riches she
    does not require. And it was impossible to bring food for so many
    thousands as are here, therefore were all these mills constructed."
    And that night they took their rest.
    And the next day Peredur arose, and he equipped himself and his
    horse for the tournament. And among other tents he beheld one which
    was the fairest he had ever seen. And saw a beauteous maiden leaning
    her head out of a window of a tent, and he had never seen a maiden
    more lovely than she. And upon her was a garment of satin. And he
    gazed fixedly on the maiden and began to love her greatly. And he
    remained there, gazing upon the maiden from morning until midday,
    and from midday until evening; and then the tournament was ended;
    and he went to his lodging and drew off his armor. Then he asked money
    of the miller as a loan, and the miller's wife was wroth with Peredur;
    nevertheless the miller lent him the money. And the next day he did in
    like manner as he had done the day before. And at night he came to his
    lodging, and took money as a loan from the miller. And the third
    day, as he was in the same place, gazing upon the maiden, he felt a
    hard blow between the neck and the shoulder from the edge of an axe.
    And when he looked behind he saw that it was the miller; and the
    miller said unto him, "Do one of two things; either turn thy head from
    hence or go to the tournament." And Peredur smiled on the miller,
    and went to the tournament; and all that encountered him that day he
    overthrew. And as many as he vanquished he sent as a gift to the
    Empress, and their horses and arms he sent as a gift to the wife of
    the miller, in payment of the borrowed money. And the Empress sent
    to the Knight of the Mill, to ask him to come and visit her. And
    Peredur went not for the first nor for the second message. And the
    third time she sent one hundred knights to bring him against his will,
    and they went to him, and told him their mission from the Empress. And
    Peredur fought well with them, and caused them to be bound like stags,
    and thrown into the mill dyke. And the Empress sought advice of a wise
    man. "With thy permission, I will go to him myself." So he came to
    Peredur and besought him, for the sake of the lady of his love, to
    come and visit the Empress. And they went together with the miller.
    And Peredur went and sat down in the outer chamber of the tent, and
    she came and placed herself at his side. And there was but little
    discourse between them. And Peredur took his leave, and went to his
    And the next day he came to visit her, and when he came into the
    tent there was no one chamber less decorated than the others. And they
    knew not where he would sit. And Peredur went and sat beside the
    Empress, and discoursed with her courteously. And while they were
    there they beheld a black man enter with a goblet full of wine in
    his hand. And he dropped upon his knee before the Empress, and
    besought her to give it to no one who would not fight him for it.
    And she looked upon Peredur. "Lady," said he, "bestow upon me the
    goblet." And Peredur drank the wine, and gave the goblet to the
    miller's wife. And while they were thus, behold there entered a
    black man, of larger stature than the other, with a wild beast's
    claw in his hand, wrought into the form of a goblet, and filled with
    wine. And he presented it to the Empress, and besought her to give
    it to no one but the man who would fight with him. "Lady," said
    Peredur, "bestow it upon me." And she gave it to him. And Peredur
    drank the wine, and sent the goblet to the wife of the miller. And
    when they were thus, behold a rough-looking crisp-haired man, taller
    than either of the others, came in with a bowl in his hands full of
    wine; and he bent upon his knee, and gave it into the hands of the
    Empress, and he besought her to give it to none but him who would
    fight with him for it; and she gave it to Peredur, and he sent it to
    the miller's wife. And that night Peredur returned to his lodging; and
    the next day he accoutred himself and his horse, and went to the
    meadow, and slew the three men. Then Peredur proceeded to the tent,
    and the Empress said to him, "Goodly Peredur, remember the faith
    thou didst pledge me when I gave thee the stone, and thou didst kill
    the Addanc." "Lady," answered he, "thou sayest truth, I do remember
    it." For she was the maiden who had been sitting on the mound when
    Peredur had gone in search of the Addanc.

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