fought for the better part of an hou

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And so Fair-hands, the kitchen boy, continued[Pg 90] in service for a year. At the close of the year came a lady to the court and told about her sister who was besieged in a castle by a tyrant who was called the Red Knight of the Red Laundes. But she would not tell her name, and therefore the King would not permit any of his knights to go with her to rescue her sister from the Red Knight, who was one of the worst knights in the world.

But at the King’s refusal, Beaumains, or Fair-hands, as he was called, spoke, “Sir King, God thank you, I have been this twelvemonth in your kitchen, and have had my full sustenance, and now I will ask my two gifts that be behind.”

“Ask, upon my peril,” said the King.

“Sir, this shall be my two gifts: first, that you will permit me to go with this maiden that I may rescue her sister. And second, that Sir Launcelot shall ride after me and make me knight when I require it of him.”

And both these requests the King granted. But the maiden was angry because, she said, he had given her naught but his kitchen page.

Then came one to Fair-hands and told him that his horse and armor were come for him. And there was a dwarf with everything that Beaumains needed, and all of it the richest and best it was possible for man to have. But though he was horsed and trapped in cloth of gold, he had neither shield nor spear.

[Pg 91]

Then said Sir Kay openly before all, “I will ride after my boy of the kitchen.”

Just as Beaumains overtook the maiden, so did Sir Kay overtake his former kitchen page.

“Sir, know you not me?” he demanded.

“Yea,” said Beaumains, “I know you for an ungentle knight of the court. Therefore beware of me.”

Thereupon Sir Kay put his spear in the rest and ran straight upon him, and Beaumains came fast upon him with his sword in his hand. And Beaumains knocked the spear out of the knight’s hand and Sir Kay fell down as he had been dead. Beaumains took Sir Kay’s shield and spear and rode away upon his own horse. The dwarf took Sir Kay’s horse.

Just then along came Sir Launcelot, and Beaumains challenged him to a joust. And so they r, rushing together like infuriated boars. And Sir Launcelot marveled at the young man’s strength, for he fought more like a giant than like a knight. At last he said, “Fight not so sore; your quarrel and mine is not so great but we may leave off.”

“Truly that is truth,” said Beaumains, “but it doth me good to feel your strength, and yet, my lord, I showed not the most I could do.”

Then Sir Launcelot confessed to Beaumains that he had much ado to save himself, and that Beaumains need fear no earthly knight. And[Pg 92] then Beaumains confessed to Sir Launcelot that he was the brother of Sir Gawaine and the youngest son of King Lot; that his mother, Dame Morgawse, was sister to King Arthur, and that his name was Gareth.

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