Seven nights therebefore Baldolf the fair, Colgrim's brother, was gone southward, and lay by the sea-side, and abode Childric. Childric was in those days a kaiser of powerful authority; the land in Alemaine was his own. When Baldolf heard, where he lay by the sea, that Arthur had inclosed Colgrim in York, Baldolf had assembled seven thousand men, bold fellows, who by the sea lay; they took them to counsel, that back they would ride, and leave Childric, and proceed into York, and fight with Arthur, and destroy all his people. Baldolf swore in his anger, that he would be Arthur's bane, and possess all this realm, with Colgrim his brother. Baldolf would not wait for the kaiser Childric, but thence he marched forth, and drew him forth right north, from day to day, with his bold folk, until he came into a wood, into a wilderness, full seven miles from Arthur's host. He had thought by night with seven thousand knights to ride upon Arthur, and fell his folk, and himself kill.
But all it otherwise happened, other than he weened; for Baldolf had in his host a British knight; he was Arthur's relative, named Maurin. Maurin went aside to the wood, through woods and through fields, until he came to Arthur's tents; and thus said soon to Arthur the king: "Hail be thou, Arthur, noblest of kings! I am hither come; I am of thy kindred. Here is Baldolf arrived with warriors most hardy, and thinketh in this night to slay thee and thy knights, to avenge his brother, who is greatly discouraged, but God shall prevent him, through his mickle might, And send now forth Cador, the Earl of Cornwall, and with him bold knights, good and brave, full seven hundred good thanes; and I will counsel them, and I will lead them, how they may Baldolf slay as if a wolf." Forth went Cador and all these knights, so that they came aside where Baldolf lay in tents, they advanced to him on each side; they slew, they captured all that they came nigh;—there were killed nine hundred all out told.
Baldolf was gone aside to save himself, and fled through the wilderness, wondrously fast; and had his dear men with sorrow deserted, and fled him so far north, that he came so forth, where Arthur lay on the weald, with his powerful host, all about York—king most surprising! Colgrim was within with the Saxish men, and Baldulf bethought him what he might do; with what kind of stratagem he might come within, into the burgh, to Colgrim his brother, who was to him the dearest of all men alive. Baldulf caused to be shaved to the bare skin his beard and his chin, and made him as a fool; he caused half his head to be shorn, and took him in hand a long harp. He could harp exceeding well in his childhood; and with his harp he went to the king's host, and gan there to play, and much game to make. Oft men him smote with wands most smart; oft men him struck as men do fool; each man that met him, greeted him with derision; so never any man knew of Baldulf's appearance, but that it were a fool come to the folk! So long he went upward, so long he went downward, that they were aware, who were there within, that it was Baldulf without, Colgrim's brother. They cast out a rope, and Baldulf grasped it fast, and they drew up Baldulf, so that he came within, with such kind of stratagem Baldulf came within. Then was Colgrim blithe, and all his knights with him, and greatly they gan to threaten Arthur the king. Arthur was beside, and saw this game, and wrathed himself wondrously much; and ordered anon all his brave folk to weapon them; he thought to win the burgh with strength.
As Arthur was about to assault the wall, then came there riding Patrick, the rich man, who was a Scottish thane, fair in his land; and thus began to call to the king anon: "Hail be thou, Arthur the king, noblest of Britons! I will tell thee new tiding, of the kaiser Childric, the furious and the powerful, the strong and the bold. He is in Scotland arrived in a haven, and the homes consumeth, and wieldeth all our land in his own hand. He hath a host brave, all the strength of Rome; he saith with his boast, when men pour to him the wine, that thou darest not in any spot his attacks abide, neither in field, nor in wood, nor in ever any place. And if thou him abidest, he will thee bind; destroy thy people, and possess thy land."
Oft was Arthur woe, but never worse than then; and he drew him backward, beside the burgh; called to counsel knights at need, barons and earls, and the holy bishops; and bade that they should him counsel, how he might in the realm with his army his honour maintain, and fight with Childric, the strong and the powerful, who hither would come, to help Colgrim. Then answered the Britons, that were there beside: "Go we right to London, and let him come after; and if he cometh riding, sorrow he shall abide; he himself and his host shall die!" Arthur approved all that his people counselled; forth he gan march until he came to London.
Colgrim was in York, and there he abode Childric. Childric gan proceed over the North end, and took in his hand a great deal of land. All Scotland he gave to a thane of his, and all Northumberland he set in the hand of his brother; Galloway and Orkney he gave to an earl of his; himself he took the land from Humber into London. He thought never more of Arthur to have mercy, unless he would become his man, Arthur, Uther's son.
Arthur was in London, with all the Britons; he summoned his forces over all this land, that every man, that good would grant to him, quickly and full soon to London should come. Then was England filled with harm; here was weeping and here was lament, and sorrow immoderate; mickle hunger and strife at every man's gate! Arthur sent over sea two good knights, to Howel his relation, who was to him dearest of men, who possessed Britanny, knight with the best; and bade him full soon, that he hither should come, sail to land, to help the people; for Childric had in hand much of this land, and Colgrim and Baldulf were come to him, and thought to drive Arthur the king out of the land; take from him his right, and his kingdom;—then were his kindred disgraced with shameful injury; their worship lost in this worlds-realm: then were it better for the king, that he were not born! Howel heard this, the highest of Britanny; and he gan to call his good knights anon, and bade them to horse exceeding speedily, and go into France, to the free knights, and should say to them that they should come, quickly and full soon, to Michael's Mount, with mickle strength, all who would of silver and of gold, win worship in this worlds-realm. To Poitou he sent his good thanes; and some toward Flanders, exceeding quickly; and to Touraine, two there proceeded, and into Gascony, knights eke good, and ordered them to come with strength toward Michael's Mount; and ere they went to flood (embarked), they should have gifts good, that they might the blither depart from their land, and with Howel the fair come to this land, to help Arthur, noblest of kings. Thirteen days were passed since the messengers came there, then advanced they toward the sea, as the hail doth from the welkin; and two hundred ships were there well prepared, men filled them with folk, and forth they voyaged; the wind and the weather stood after their will; and they came to land at Hamtone. Up leapt from the ships the furious men; bare to the land helms and burnies; with spears and with shields they covered all the fields. There was many a bold Briton that threat had raised, they threatened greatly, by their quick life, that they would greet Childric the powerful, the bold kaiser, with much harm there. And if he would not flee away, and toward Alemaine proceed, and if he would in the land with fight resist; with his bold people the barks abide; here they should leave what to them were dearest of all, their heads and hands, and their white helms; "and so they shall in this land lose their friends, and fall into hell—the heathen hounds'"
Arthur was in London, noblest of kings, and heard say sooth relation, that Howel the strong was come to land, forth-right to Hamtone, with thirty thousand knights, and with innumerable folk, that followed the king; Arthur towards him marched, with great bliss; with a mickle host, towards his relation. Together they came—bliss was among the folk—and they kissed and embraced, and spake familiarly; and anon forthright assembled their knights. Then were there together two good armies, of whom Howel should command thirty thousand knights, and Arthur had in land forty thousand in hand. Forth-right they marched toward the North end, toward Lincoln night and day, that Childric the kaiser besieged. But he the yet had nought won; for there were within seven thousand men, brave men and active, by day and night.
Arthur with his forces marched toward the burgh; and Arthur fore-ordered his knights, by day and night, that they should proceed as still, as if they would steal; pass over the country, and cease any noise; horns and trumpets, all should be relinquished. Arthur took a knight, that was a brave man and active; and sent him to Lincoln to his dear men, and he said to them in sooth, with mouth, that Arthur would come, noblest of kings, at the midnight, and with him many a good knight.—"And ye within, then be ye ware, that when ye hear the din, that ye the gates unfasten; and sally out of the burgh, and fell your foes; and smite on Childric, the strong and the powerful; and we shall tell them British tales!"
It was at the midnight, when the moon shone right south, Arthur with his host marched to the burgh; the folk was as still as if they would steal; forth they proceeded until they saw Lincoln. Thus gan he call, Arthur the keen man: "Where be ye, my knights, my dear-worthy warriors? See ye the tents, where Childric lieth on the fields; Colgrim and Baldulf, with bold strength; the Alemainish folk, that us hath harmed, and the Saxish folk, that sorrow to us promiseth; that all hath killed the highest of my kin; Constance and Constantine, and Uther, who was my father, and Aurelie Ambrosie, who was my father's brother, and many thousand men of my noble kindred? Go we out to them, and lay to the ground, and worthily avenge our kin and their realm; and all together forth-right now ride every good knight!" Then Arthur gan to ride, and the army gan to move, as if all the earth would be consumed; and smote in the fields among Childric's tents. That was the first man, that there gan to shout—Arthur the noble man, who was Uther's son—keenly and loud, as becometh a king: "Now aid us, Mary, God's mild mother! And I pray her son, that he be to us in succour!" Even with the words they turned their spears; pierced and slew all that they came nigh. And the knights out of the burgh marched against them (the enemy); if they fled to the burgh, there they were destroyed; if they fled to the wood, there they slaughtered them; come wherever they might come, ever they them slew. It is not in any book indited, that ever any fight were in this Britain, that mischief was so rife; for folk it was most miserable, that ever came to the land! There was mickle blood-shed, mischief was among the folk; death there was rife; the earth there became dun!
Childric the kaiser had a castle here, in Lincoln's field, where he lay within, that was newly wrought, and exceeding well guarded; and there were with him Baldulf and Colgrim, and saw that their folk suffered death. And they anon forth-right, on with their burnies, and fled out of the castle, of courage bereft; and fled forth-right anon to the wood of Calidon. They had for companions seven hundred riders; and they left forty thousand slain, and deprived of life-day, felled to the ground; Alemainish men, with mischief destroyed, and the Saxish men, brought to the ground! Then saw Arthur, noblest of kings, that Childric was flown, and into Calidon gone, and Colgrim and Baldulf with him were gone into the high wood, into the high holm. And Arthur pursued after with sixty thousand knights of British people; the wood he all surrounded; and on one side they it felled, full seven miles, one tree upon another, truly fast; on the other side he surrounded it with his army, three days and three nights;—that was to them mickle harm.
Then saw Colgrim, as he lay therein, that there was without meat sharp hunger, and strife; nor they nor their horses help had any. And thus called Colgrim to the kaiser: "Say me, Lord Childric, sooth words; for what kind of thing lie we thus herein? Why should we not go out, and assemble our host, and begin fight with Arthur and with his knights? For better it is for us on land with honour to lie, than that we thus here perish for hunger; it grieveth us sore, to the destruction of the folk. Either send we again and again, and yearn Arthur's peace, and pray thus his mercy, and hostages deliver him, and make friendship with the free king." Childric heard this, where he lay within the dyke, and he answered with sorrowful voice: "If Baldulf it will, who is thine own brother, and more of our comrades, who with us are here, that we pray Arthur's peace, and make amity with him, after your will I will do it. For Arthur is esteemed very noble man in land; dear to all his men, and of royal kindred, all come of kings; he was Uther's son. And oft it befalleth, in many kind of land, where the good knights come to stern fight, that they who first gain, afterwards they it lose. And thus to us now is befallen here, and eft to us better will happen, if we may live." Soon forth-right answered all the knights: "We all praise this counsel, for thou hast well said!"
They took twelve knights, and sent forth-right, where he was in tent, by the wood's end; and the one called anon with quick voice: "Lord Arthur, thy peace! We would speak with thee; hither the kaiser sent us, who is named Childric, and Colgrim and Baldulf, both together. Now and evermore they pray thy mercy; thy men they will become, and thy honour advance, and they will give to thee hostages enow, and hold thee for lord, as to thee shall be liefest of all, if they may depart hence with life into their land; and bring evil tidings. For here we have found sorrows of many kind; at Lincoln left our dear relatives; sixty thousand men, that there are slain. And if it were to thee will in heart, that we might pass over sea with sail, we would nevermore eft come here; for here we have lost our dear relatives. So long as is ever, here come we back never!" Then laughed Arthur, with loud voice:—"Thanked be the Lord, that all dooms wieldeth, that Childric the strong is tired of my land! My land he hath divided to all his knights; myself he thought to drive out of my country; hold me for base, and have my realm, and my kin all put to death, my folk all destroy. But of him it is happened, as it is of the fox, when he is boldest over the weald, and hath his full play, and fowls enow; for wildness he climbeth, and rocks he seeketh; in the wilderness holes to him worketh. Fare whosoever shall fare, he hath never any care; he weeneth to be of power the boldest of all animals. But when come to him the men under the hills, with horns, with hounds, with loud cries; the hunters there hollow, the hounds there give tongue, they drive the fox over dales and over downs, he fleeth to the holm, and seeketh his hole; in the furthest end in the hole he goeth; then is the bold fox of bliss all deprived, and men dig to him on each side; then is there most wretched the proudest of all animals! So was it with Childric, the strong and the rich; he thought all my kingdom to set in his own hand, but now I have driven him to the bare death, whether so (whatsoever) I will do, either slay or hang. Now will I give him peace, and let him speak with me; I will not him slay, nor hang, but his prayer I will receive. Hostages I will have of the highest of his men; their horses and weapons, ere they hence depart; and so they shall as wretches go to their ships; sail over sea to their good land, and there worthily dwell in their realm, and tell tidings of Arthur the king, how I them have freed, for my father's soul, and for my freedom solaced the wretches." Hereby was Arthur the king of honour deprived, was there no man so bold that durst him advise;—that repented him sore, soon thereafter!
Childric came from covert to Arthur the king; and he there became his man, with all his knights. Four-and-twenty hostages Childric there delivered, all they were chosen, and noble men born; they delivered their horses, and their burnies, spears and shields, and their long swords; all they relinquished that they there had. Forth they gan to march until they came to the sea, where their good ships by the sea stood. The wind stood at will, the weather most favourable, and they shoved from the strand ships great and long; the land they all left, and floated with the waves, that no sight of land they might see. The water was still, after their will; they let together their sails glide, board against board, the men there discoursed and said that they would return eft to this land, and avenge worthily their relatives, and waste Arthur's land, and kill his folk, and win the castles, and work their pleasure.
So they voyaged on the sea even so long, that they came between England and Normandy; they veered their luffs, and came toward land, so that they came full surely to Dartmouth at Totnes; with much bliss they approached to the land. So soon as they came on land, the folk they slew; the churls they drove off, that tilled the earth there; the knights they hung, that defended the land, all the good wives they sticked with knives; all the maidens they killed with murder; and all the learned men (clerics) they laid on embers. All the domestics (or baser sort) they killed with clubs; they felled the castles, the land they ravaged; the churches they consumed—grief was among the folk!—the sucking children they drowned in the water. The cattle that they took, all they slaughtered; to their inns they carried it, and boiled it and roasted; all they it took, that they came nigh. All day they sung of Arthur the king, and said that they had won homes, that they should hold in their power; and there they would dwell winter and summer. And if Arthur were so keen, that he would come to fight with Childric, the strong and the rich, they would of his back make a bridge, and take all the bones of the noble king, and tie them together with golden ties, and lay them in the hall door, where each man should go forth, to the worship of Childric, the strong and the rich! This was all their game, for Arthur the king's shame; but all it happened in otherwise, soon thereafter; their boast and their game befell to themselves to shame; and so doth well everywhere the man that so acteth.
Childric the kaiser won all that he looked on with eyes; he took Somerset, and he took Dorset, and in Devonshire the folk all destroyed, and Wiltshire with hostility he greeted, he took all the lands unto the sea strand. Then at the last, then caused he horns and trumpets to be blown, and his host to be assembled, and forth he would march, and Bath all besiege, and eke Bristol about berow. This was their threat, ere they to Bath came. To Bath came the kaiser, and belay the castle there; and the men within bravely began; they mounted upon the stone walls, well weaponed over all, and defended the place against Childric the strong. There lay the kaiser, and Colgrim his companion, and Baldulf his brother, and many another.
Arthur was by the North, and knew nought hereof; he proceeded over all Scotland, and set it in his own hand; Orkney and Galloway, Man and Moray, and all the lands that lay thereto. Arthur it weened to be certain thing, that Childric had departed to his own land, and that he never more would come here. When the tidings came to Arthur the king, that Childric the kaiser was come to land, and in the South end sorrow there wrought, then said Arthur, noblest of kings: "Alas! alas! that I spared my foe! that I had not with hunger destroyed him in the wood, or with sword cut him all to pieces! Now he yields to me meed for my good deeds. But so held me the Lord, who formed the daylight, he shall therefore abide bitterest of all bales—hard games;—his bane I will be! And Colgrim and Baldulf both I will kill, and all their people shall suffer death. If the Ruler of Heaven will grant it, I will worthily avenge all his hostile deeds; if the life in my breast may last to me, and the Power that formed moon and sun will grant it to me, never shall Childric eft deceive me!"
Now called Arthur, noblest of kings:—"Where be ye, my knights, brave men and active! To horse, to horse, good warriors; and we shall march toward Bath speedily! Let high gallows be up raised, and bring here the hostages before our knights, and they shall hang on high trees!" There he caused to be destroyed four-and-twenty children, Alemainish men of very noble race.
Then came tidings to Arthur the king, that Howel, his relation, was sick lying in Clud—therefore he was sorry—and there he left him. Forth he gan to push exceeding hastily, until he beside Bath approached to a plain; there he alighted, and all his knights; and on with their burnies the stern men, and he in five divisions separated his army.
When he had duly set all, and it all beseemed, then he put on his burny, fashioned of steel, that an elvish smith made, with his excellent craft; he was named Wygar, the witty wright. His shanks he covered with hose of steel. Caliburn, his sword, he hung by his side; it was wrought in Avalon, with magic craft. A helm he set on his head, high of steel; thereon was many gemstone, all encompassed with gold; it was Uther's, the noble king's; it was named Goswhit, each other unlike. He hung on his neck a precious shield; its name was in British called Pridwen; therein was engraved with red gold tracings a precious image of God's mother. His spear he took in hand, that was named Ron. When he had all his weeds, then leapt he on his steed. Then might he behold, who stood beside, the fairest knight, that ever host should lead; never saw any man better knight none, than Arthur he was, noblest of race! Then called Arthur with loud voice: "Lo! where here before us the heathen hounds, who slew our ancestors with their wicked crafts; and they are to us in land loathest of all things. Now march we to them, and starkly lay on them, and avenge worthily our kindred, and our realm, and avenge the mickle shame by which they have disgraced us, that they over the waves should have come to Dartmouth. And all they are forsworn, and all they shall be destroyed; they shall be all put to death, with the Lord's assistance! March we now forward, fast together, even all as softly as if we thought no evil; and when we come to them, myself I will commence; foremost of all the fight I will begin. Now we shall ride, and over the land glide; and no man on pain of his life make noise, but fare quickly; the Lord us aid!" Then Arthur the rich man gan to ride; he proceeded over the weald, and Bath would seek.
The tiding came to Childric, the strong and the rich, that Arthur came with host all ready to fight. Childric and his brave men leapt them to horse, and grasped their weapons—they knew themselves to be hateful!
Arthur saw this, noblest of kings; he saw a heathen earl advance against him, with seven hundred knights, all ready to fight. The earl himself approached before all his troop, and Arthur himself rode before all his host. Arthur the bold took Ron in hand; he extended (couched) the stark shaft, the stiff-minded king; his horse he let run, so that all the earth dinned. His shield he drew to his breast— the king was incensed—he smote Borel the earl throughout the breast, so that the heart sundered. And the king called anon, "The foremost is dead! Now help us the Lord, and the heavenly queen, who the Lord bore!" Then called Arthur, noblest of kings: "Now to them! now to them! The commencement is well done!" The Britons laid on them, as men should do on the wicked; they gave bitter strokes with axes and with swords. There fell of Childric's men full two thousand, so that never Arthur lost ever one of his men; there were the Saxish men of all folk most wretched, and the Alemainish men most miserable of all people! Arthur with his sword wrought destruction; all that he smote at, it was soon destroyed! The king was all enraged as is the wild boar, when he in the beech-wood meeteth many swine. Childric saw this, and gan him to turn, and bent him over the Avon, to save himself. And Arthur approached to him, as if it were a lion, and drove them to the flood, there many were slain; they sunk to the bottom five-and-twenty hundred, so that all Avon's stream was bridged with steel! Childric over the water fled, with fifteen hundred knights; he thought forth to push, and sail over the sea. Arthur saw Colgrim climb to the mount, retreat to the hill that standeth over Bath; and Baldulf went after him, with seven thousand knights; they thought on the hill to withstand nobly, defend them with weapons, and do injury to Arthur.
When Arthur saw, noblest of kings, where Colgrim withstood, and eke battle wrought, then called the king, keenly loud: "My bold thanes, advance to the hills! For yesterday was Colgrim of all men keenest, but now it is to him all as to the goat, where he guards the hill; high upon the hill he fighteth with horns, when the wild wolf approacheth toward him. Though the wolf be alone, without each herd, and there were in a fold five hundred goats, the wolf to them goeth, and all them biteth. So will I now to-day Colgrim all destroy; I am the wolf and he is the goat; the man shall die!" The yet called Arthur, noblest of kings: "Yesterday was Baldulf of all knights boldest, but now he standeth on the hill, and beholdeth the Avon, how the steel fishes lie in the stream! Armed with sword, their life is destroyed; their scales float like gold-dyed shields; there float their fins, as if it were spears. These are marvellous things come to this land; such beasts on the hill, such fishes in the stream! Yesterday was the kaiser keenest of all kings; now is he become a hunter, and horns him follow; he flieth over the broad weald; his hounds bark; he hath beside Bath his hunting deserted; from his deer he flieth, and we it shall fell, and his bold threats bring to nought; and so we shall enjoy our rights gained." Even with the words that the king said, he drew his shield high before his breast; he grasped his long spear, his horse he gan spur. Nigh all so swift as the fowl flieth, five-and-twenty thousand of brave men, mad under arms, followed the king; they proceeded to the hill with great strength, and smote upon Colgrim with exceeding smart strokes. And Colgrim them there received, and felled the Britons to ground; in the foremost attack fell five hundred.
Arthur saw that, noblest of kings, and wrathed him wondrously much, and thus gan to call Arthur, the noble man: "Where be ye, Britons, my bold men! Here stand before us our foes all chosen; my good warriors, lay we them to the ground!" Arthur grasped his sword right, and he smote a Saxish knight, so that the sword that was so good at the teeth stopt; and he smote another, who was this knight's brother, so that his helm and his head fell to the ground, the third blow he soon gave, and a knight in two clave. Then were the Britons greatly emboldened, and laid on the Saxons laws (blows) most strong with their long spears and with swords most strong; so that the Saxons there fell, and made their death-time, by hundreds and hundreds sank to the ground, by thousands and thousands fell there ever on the ground! When Colgrim saw where Arthur came toward him, Colgrim might not for the slaughtered flee on any side; there fought Baldulf beside his brother. Then called Arthur with loud voice: "Here I come, Colgrim! to the realm we two shall reach; now we shall divide this land, as shall be to thee loathest of all!" Even with the words that the king said, his broad sword he up heaved, and hardily down struck, and smote Colgrim's helm, so that he clove it in the midst, and clove asunder the burny's hood, so that it (the sword) stopt at the breast. And he smote toward Baldulf with his left hand, and struck off the head, forth with the helm.
Then laughed Arthur, the noble king, and thus gan to speak with gameful words: "Lie thou there, Colgrim; thou wert climbed too high; and Baldulf, thy brother, he by thy side; now set I all this kingdom in your own hands; dales and downs, and all my good folk! Thou climbed on this hill wondrously high, as if thou wouldst ascend to heaven; but now thou shalt to hell, and there thou mayest know much of thy kindred. And greet thou there Hengest, that was fairest of knights, Ebissa, and Ossa, Octa, and more of thy kin, and bid them there dwell winter and summer; and we shall here in land live in bliss, pray for your souls, that happiness never come to them; and here shall your yones lie, beside Bath!"
Arthur, the king, called Cador, the keen;—of Cornwall he was earl, the knight was most keen:—"Hearken to me, Cador, thou art mine own kin. Now is Childric flown, and awayward gone; he thinketh with safety again to come hither. But take of my host five thousand men, and go forth-right, by day and by night, until thou come to the sea, before Childric; and all that thou mayest win, possess it with joy; and if thou mayest with evil kill there the kaiser, I will give thee all Dorset to meed." All as the noble king these words had said, Cador sprang to horse, as spark it doth from fire; full seven thousand followed the earl. Cador the keen, and much of his kindred, proceeded over wealds, and over wilderness, over dales and over downs, and over deep waters. Cador knew the way that toward his country lay, by the nearest he proceeded full surely right toward Totnes, day and night, until he came there forth-right, so that Childric never knew any manner of his coming. Cador came to the country before Childric, and caused to advance before him all the folk of the land, churls full sagacious, with clubs exceeding great, with spears and with great staves, chosen for the purpose, and placed them all clean into the ships' holds, and ordered them there to stoop low, that Childric were not aware of them, and when his folk came, and in would climb, to grasp their bats, and bravely on smite; with their staves and with their spears to murder Childric's host. The churls did all, as Cador them taught. To the ships proceeded the valiant churls; in every ship a hundred and half. And Cador the keen withdrew, in toward a wood high, five miles from the place where the ships stood, and hid him a while, wondrously still. And Childric soon approached, over the weald, and would flee to the ships, and push from land. So soon as Cador saw this, who was the earl keen, that Childric was in land, between him and the churls, then called Cador, with loud voice: "Where be ye, knights, brave men and active? Bethink ye what Arthur, who is our noble king, at Bath besought us, ere we went from the host. Lo! where Childric wendeth, and will flee from the land, and thinketh to pass to Alemaine, where his ancestors are, and will obtain an army, and eft come hither, and will fare in hither; and thinketh to avenge Colgrim, and Baldulf, his brother, who rest at Bath. But he never shall abide the day, he shall not, if we may prevent him!"
Even with the speech, that the powerful earl spake, and promptly he gan ride, that was stern in mood, the warriors most keen advanced out of the wood-shaw, and after Childric pursued, the strong and the rich Childric's knights looked behind them; they saw over the weald the standards wind, approach over the fields five thousand shields. Then became Childric careful in heart, and these words said the powerful kaiser: "This is Arthur the king, who will us all kill, flee we now quickly, and into ship go, and voyage forth with the water, reck we never whither!" When Childric the kaiser had said these words, then gan he to flee exceeding quickly, and Cador the keen came soon after him. Childric and his knights came to ship forthright; they weened to shove the strong ships from the land. The churls with their bats were there within, the bats they up heaved, and adown right swung, there was soon slain many a knight with their clubs; with their pitch-forks they felled them to ground, and Cador and his knights slew them behind. Then saw Childric, that it befell to them evilly; that all his mickle folk fell to the ground, now saw he there beside a hill exceeding great, the water floweth there under, that is named Teine, the hill is named Teinewic, thitherward fled Childric, as quickly as he might, with four-and-twenty knights. Then Cador saw, how it then fared there, that the kaiser fled, and toward the hill retreated, and Cador pursued after him, as speedily as he might, and came up to him, and overtook him soon. Then said Cador, the earl most keen: "Abide, abide, Childric! I will give thee Teinewic!" Cador heaved up his sword, and he Childric slew. Many that there fled, to the water they drew, in Teine the water, there they perished; Cador killed all that he found alive; and some they crept into the wood, and all he them there destroyed. When Cador had overcome them all, and eke all the land taken, he set peace most good, that thereafter long stood, though each man bare in hand rings of gold, durst never any man greet another evilly.
Arthur was forth marched into Scotland; for Howel lay in Clud, fast inclosed. The Scots had besieged him with their wicked crafts, and if Arthur were not the earlier come, then were Howel taken, and all his folk there slain, and deprived of life day. But Arthur came soon, with good strength, and the Scots gan to flee far from the land, into Moray, with a mickle host. And Cador came to Scotland, where he Arthur found. Arthur and Cador proceeded into Clud, and found Howel there, with great bliss in health, of all his sickness whole he was become; great was the bliss that then was in the burgh! The Scots were in Moray, and there thought to dwell, and with their bold words made their boast, and said that they would rule the realm, and Arthur there abide, with bold strength, for Arthur durst never for his life come there. When Arthur heard, void of fear, what the Scots had said with their scornful words, then said Arthur, noblest of kings: "Where art thou, Howel, highest of my kindred, and Cador the keen, out of Cornwall? Let the trumpets blow, and assemble our host, and at the midnight we shall march forth right toward Moray, our honour to win. If the Lord will it, who shaped the daylight, we shall them tell sorrowful tales, and fell their boast, and themselves kill." At the midnight Arthur forth-right arose; horns men gan to blow with loud sound; knights gan arise, and stern words to speak. With a great army he marched into Moray; forth gan press thirteen thousand in the foremost flock, men exceeding keen. Afterwards came Cador, the Earl of Cornwall, with seventeen thousand good thanes. Next came Howel, with his champions exceeding well, with one-and-twenty thousand noble champions. Then came Arthur himself, noblest of kings; with seven-and-twenty thousand followed them afterward; the shields there glistened, and light it gan to dawn.
The tidings came to the Scots, there where they dwelt, how Arthur the king came toward their land, exceeding quickly, with innumerable folk. Then were they fearfullest, who ere were boldest, and gan to flee exceeding quickly into the water, where wonders are enow! That is a marvellous lake, set in middle-earth, with fen, and with reed, and with water exceeding broad; with fish, and with fowl, with evil things! The water is immeasurably broad; nikers therein bathe; there is play of elves in the hideous pool. Sixty islands are in the long water; in each of the islands is a rock high and strong; there nest eagles, and other great fowls. The eagles have a law by every king's day; whensoever any army cometh to the country, then fly the fowls far into the sky, many hundred thousands, and mickle fight make. Then is the folk without doubt, that sorrow is to come to them from people of some kind, that will seek the land. Two days or three thus shall this token be, ere foreign men approach to the land. Yet there is a marvellous thing to say of the water; there falleth in the lake, on many a side, from dales and from downs, and from deep valleys, sixty streams, all there collected; yet never out of the lake any man findeth that thereout they flow, except a small brook at one end, that from the lake falleth, and wendeth very stilly into the sea. The Scots were dispersed with much misery, over all the many mounts that were in the water. And Arthur sought ships, and gan to enter them; and slew there without number, many and enow; and many a thousand there was dead, because all bread failed them. Arthur the noble was on the east side; Howel the good was on the south half; and Cador the keen guarded them by the north; and his inferior folk he set all by the west side. Then were the Scots accounted for sots, where they lay around the cliffs, fast inclosed; there were sixty thousand with sorrow destroyed.
Then was come into haven the King of Ireland; twelve miles from Arthur, where he lay with an army, to help the Scots, and Howel to destroy. Arthur heard this, noblest of kings, and took one host of his, and thitherward marched; and found the King Gillomar, who was come there to land. And Arthur fought with him, and would give him no peace (quarter), and felled the Irish men exceedingly to the ground. And Gillomar with twelve ships departed from the land, and proceeded to Ireland, with harm most strong. And Arthur in the land slew all that he found; and afterwards he went to the lake, where he left his relation Howel the fair, noblest of Britain, except Arthur, noblest of kings. Arthur found Howel, where he was by the haven, by the broad lake, where he had abode. Then rejoiced greatly the folk in the host, of Arthur's arrival, and of his noble deeds; there was Arthur forth-right, two days and two nights. The Scots lay over the rocks, many thousands dead, with hunger destroyed, most miserable of all folk!
On the third day, it gan to dawn fair; then came toward the host all that were hooded, and three wise bishops, in book well learned; priests and monks, many without number; canons there came, many and good, with all the reliques that were noblest in the land, and yearned Arthur's peace, and his compassion. Thither came the women, that dwelt in the land; they carried in their arms their miserable children; they wept before Arthur wondrously much, and their fair hair threw to the earth; cut off their locks, and there down laid at the king's feet, before all his people; set their nails to their face, so that afterwards it bled. They were naked nigh (nearly) all clean; and sorrowfully they gan to call to Arthur the king, and together thus said, where they were in affliction: "King, we are on earth most wretched of all folk; we yearn thy mercy, through the mild God! Thou hast in this land our people slain, with hunger and with strife, and with many kind of harms; with weapon, with water, and with many mischiefs our children made fatherless and deprived of comfort. Thou art a Christian man, and we are also; the Saxish men are heathen hounds. They came to this land, and this folk here killed; if we obeyed them, that was because of our harm, for we had no man that might accord us with them. They did us much woe, and thou dost to us also; the heathens us hate, and the Christians make us sorrowful;— whereto and what shall become of us!"—quoth the women to the king. "Give us yet the men alive, who lie over these rocks; and if thou givest grace to this multitude, thy honour will be the greater, now and evermore. Lord Arthur our king, loosen our bonds! Thou has taken (conquered) all this land, and all this folk is overcome; we are under thy foot; in thee is all the remedy."
Arthur heard this, noblest of kings; this weeping and this lament, and immoderate sorrow; then took he to counsel, and had pity in heart; he found in his counsel to do what they him prayed, he gave them life, he gave them limb, and their land to hold. He caused the trumpets to be blown, and the Scots to be summoned; and they came out of the rocks to the ships; on every side approached toward land. They were greatly harmed by the sharp hunger; and oaths they swore, that they would not deceive; and they then gave hostages to the king, and all full soon became the king's men. And then they gan depart; the folk there separated, each man to the end, where he was dwelling, and Arthur there set peace, good with the best.
Then said Arthur: "Where art thou, Howel, my relation, dearest of men to me? Seest thou this great lake, where the Scots are harmed, seest thou these high trees, and seest thou these eagles fly? In this fen is fish innumerable. Seest thou these islands, that stand over this water?" Marvellous it seemed to Howel, of such a sight, and he wondered greatly by the water-flood, and thus there spake Howel, of noble race: "Since I was born man of my mother's bosom, saw I in no land things thus wonderful, as I here before me behold with eyes!" The Britons wondered wondrously much. Then spake Arthur, noblest of kings: "Howel, mine own relative, dearest to me of men, listen to my words, of a much greater wonder that I will tell to thee in my sooth speech. By this lake's end, where this water floweth, is a certain little lake, to the wonder of men! It is in length four-and-sixty palms; it is in measure in breadth five-and-twenty feet; five feet it is deep, elves it dug! Four-cornered it is, and therein is fish of four kinds, and each fish in his end where he findeth his kind, may there none go to other, except all as belongeth to his kind. Was never any man born, nor of so wise craft chosen, live he ever so long, that may understand it, what letteth (hindereth) the fish to swim to the others; for there is nought between but water clean!" The yet spake Arthur, noblest of kings: "Howel, in this land's end, nigh the sea-strand, is a lake exceeding great—the water is evil—and when the sea floweth, as if it would rage, and falleth in the lake exceeding quickly, the lake is never the more increased in water. But when the sea falleth in (ebbs), and the ground becomes fair, and in it is all in its old seat, then swelleth the lake, and the waves darken; out the waves there leap, exceeding great, flow out on the land, and the people soon terrify. If any man cometh there, that knoweth nought thereof, to behold the marvel by the sea strand, if he turneth his face toward the lake, be he nought (never) so low born, full well he shall be saved, the water glideth him beside, and the man there remaineth easy, after his will he dwelleth there full still, so that he is not because of the water anything injured!" Then said Howel, noble man of Brittany: "Now I hear tell a wonderful story, and marvellous is the Lord that it all made!"
Then said Arthur, noblest of kings. "Blow ye my horns with loud noise, and say ye to my knights, that I will march forth-right." Trumpets there were blown, horns there resounded; bliss was in the host with the busy king, for each was solaced, and proceeded toward his land. And the king forbade them, by their bare life, that no man in the world should be so mad, nor person so unwise, that he should break his peace; and if any man did it, he should suffer doom. Even with the words the army marched, there sung warriors marvellous songs of Arthur the king, and of his chieftains, and said in song, to this world's end never more would be such a king as Arthur, through all things, king nor caiser, in ever any realm!
Arthur proceeded to York, with folk very surprising (numerous), and dwelt there six weeks with much joy. The burgh walls were broken and fallen down, that Childric all consumed, and the halls all clean. Then called the king a distinguished priest, Pirai,—he was an exceeding wise man, and learned in book:—"Pirai, thou art mine own priest, the easier it shall be for thee." The king took a rood, holy and most good, and gave to Pirai in hand, and therewith very much land, and the archbishop's staff he there gave to Pirai;—ere was Pirai a good priest, now is he archbishop! Then bade him Arthur, noblest of kings, that he should arear churches, and restore the hymns, and take charge of God's folk, and rule them fair. And he bade all his knights to deem right (just) dooms, and the earth-tillers to take to their craft, and every man to greet other. And what man soever did worse than the king had ordered, he would drive him to a bare burning, and if it were a base man, he should for that hang. The yet spake Arthur, noblest of kings, ordered that each man who had lost his land by whatsoever kind of punishment he were bereaved, that he should come again, full quickly and full soon—the rich and the low—and should have eft his own, unless he were so foully conditioned, that he were traitor to his lord, or toward his lord forsworn, whom the king should deem lost (beyond the limit of pardon). There came three brethren, that were royally born, Loth, and Angel, and Urien;—well are such three men! These three chieftains came to the king, and set on their knees before the caiser:—"Hail be thou, Arthur, noblest of kings, and thy people with thee; ever may they well be! We are three brethren, born of kings. All our rightful land is gone out of our hand; for the heathen men have made us poor, and wasted us all Leoneis, Scotland, and Moray. And we pray thee, for God's love, that thou be to us in aid, and for thy great honour, that thou be mild to us, and give us our rightful land; and we shall love thee, and hold thee for lord, in each land-wise." Arthur heard this, noblest of kings, how these three knights fair besought him; he had compassion in heart, and began speak, and said these words—best of all kings:—"Urien, become my man; thou shalt to Moray again; thereof thou shalt be called king of the land, and high in my court (or host), with thy forces. And to Angel I set in hand Scotland altogether; to have it in hand, and be king of the land, from the father to the son; thereof thou shalt my man become. And thou, Loth, my dear friend—God be to thee mild!—thou hast my sister to wife; the better it shall be for thee. I give thee Leoneis, that is a land fair; and I will lay (add) thereto lands most good, beside the Humber, worth an hundred pounds. For my father Uther, the while that he was king here, loved well his daughter, who was his desire esteemed; and she is my sister, and sons she hath twain; they are to me in land dearest of all children." Thus spake Arthur the king. Then was Walwain a little child; so was the other, Modred his brother. But alas! that Modred was born; much harm therefore came! Arthur proceeded to London, and with him his people; he held in the land a mickle husting, and established all the laws that stood in his elders' days; all the good laws that era here stood; he set peace, he set protection, and all freedoms.
From thence he marched to Cornwall, to Cador's territory; he found there a maid extremely fair. This maiden's mother was of Romanish men, Cador's relative; and the maid Cador on him bestowed, and he received her fair, and softly her fed. She was of noble race, of Romanish men; was in no land any maid so fair, of speech and of deeds, and of manners most good; she was named Wenhaver, fairest of women. Arthur took her to wife, and loved her wondrously much; this maiden he gan wed, and took her to his bed. Arthur was in Cornwall all the winter there; and all for Wenhaver's love, dearest of women to him.
When the winter was gone, and summer came there anon, Arthur bethought him what he might do, that his good folk should not lie there inert. He marched to Exeter, at the midfeast (St. John Baptist?), and held there his husting of his noble folk, and said that he would go into Ireland, and win all the kingdom to his own hand; unless the King Gillomar the sooner came ere to him, and spake with him with good will, and yearned Arthur's peace, he would waste his land, and go to him evilly in hand, with fire and with steel work hostile game, and the land-folk slay, who would stand against him. Even with the words that the king said, then answered the folk, fair to the king: "Lord king, hold thy word, for we are all ready, to go and to ride over all at thy need." There was many a bold Briton that had boar's glances; heaved up their brows, enraged in their thought. They went toward their inns, knights with their men: they got ready burnies, prepared helms, they wiped their dear horses with linen cloths; they sheared, they shod—the men were bold! Some shaped (or shaved) horn; some shaped bone; some prepared steel darts; some made thongs, good and very strong; some bent spears, and made ready shields. Arthur caused to be bidden over all his kingdom, that every good knight should come to him forth-right, and every brave man should come forth-right anon; and whoso should remain behind, his limbs he should lose, and whoso should come gladly, he should become rich.
Seven nights after Easter, when men had fasted, then came all the knights to ship forth-right; the wind stood to them in hand (favourably), that drove them to Ireland. Arthur marched in the land, and the people destroyed; much folk he there slew, and he took cattle enow; and ever he ordered each man church-peace to hold. The tiding came to the king, who was lord of the land, that Arthur the king was come there, and much harm there wrought. He assembled all his people, over his kingdom; and his Irish folk marched to the fight, against Arthur the noble king. Arthur and his knights they weaponed them forth-right, and advanced against them, a numerous folk. Arthur's men were with arms all covered, the Irish men were nearly naked, with spears and with axes, and with saexes exceeding sharp. Arthur's men let fly at them numerous darts, and killed the Irish folk; and greatly it felled; they might not this sustain, through any kind of thing, but fled away quickly, very many thousands. And Gillomar the king fled, and awayward drew, and Arthur pursued after him, and caught the king; he took by the hand the king of the land.
Arthur the noble sought lodging; in his mood it was the easier to him, that Gillomar was so nigh him. Now did Arthur, noblest of kings, very great friendship before all his folk, he caused the king to be clothed with each pride (richly), and eke by Arthur he sate, and eke with himself ate; with Arthur he drank wine—that to mm was mickle unthank. Nevertheless when he saw that Arthur was most glad, then said Gillomar to him—in his heart he was sore: "Lord Arthur, thy peace! Give me limb and give me life, and I will become thy man, and deliver thee my three sons, my dear sons, to do all thy will. And yet I will do more, if thou wilt give me grace; I will deliver thee hostages exceeding rich, children some sixty, noble and most mighty. And yet I will more, if thou givest me grace; each year of my land seven thousand pounds, and send them to thy land, and sixty marks of gold. And yet I will more, if thou wilt give me grace; and all the steeds, with all their trappings, the hawks, and the hounds, and my rich treasures I give thee in hand, of all my land. And when thou hast this done, I will take the reliques of Saint Columkille, who did God's will, and Saint Brandan's head, that God himself hallowed, and Saint Bride's right foot, that is holy and most good, and reliques enow, that came out of Rome, and swear to thee in sooth, that I will thee not deceive; but I will love thee, and hold thee for lord, hold thee for high king, and myself be thy underling."
Arthur heard this, noblest of kings, and he gan laugh with loud voice, and he gan answer with gracious words: "Be now glad, Gillomar; be not thy heart sore; for thou art a wise man—the better therefore shall it be to thee, for ever one ought worthily a wise man to greet,—for thy wisdom shall it not be the worse for thee, much thou me offerest, the better it shall be to thee. Here forth right, before all my knights, I forgive thee the more, all the half-part, of gold and of treasure; but thou shalt become my man, and half the tribute send each year into my land. Half the steeds, and half the weeds (garments), half the hawks, and half the hounds, that thou me offerest, I will relinquish to thee, but I will have the children of thy noble men, who are to them dearest of all; I may the better believe thee. And so thou shalt dwell in thy honour in thy kingdom, in thy right territory; and I will give to thee, that the king shall not do wrong to thee, unless he pay for it with his bare back!" Thus it said Arthur, noblest of kings. Then had he all Ireland all together in his own hand, and the king became his man, and delivered him his three sons.
Then spake Arthur to his good knights: "Go we to Iceland, and take we it in our hand." The host there marched, and to Iceland came. The king was named AElcus, high man of the land, he heard the tiding of Arthur the king; he did all as a wiseman, and marched against him anon; anon forth-right, with sixteen knights; he bare in his hand a mickle wand (sceptre) of gold. So soon as he saw Arthur, he bent him on his knees, and quoth these words to him—the king was afraid:—"Welcome, sir Arthur! welcome, lord' Here I deliver thee in hand all together Iceland, thou shalt be my high king, and I will be thy underling. I will obey thee, as man shall do his master, and I will become here thy man, and deliver thee my dear son, who is named Escol; and thou shalt him honour (or reward), and dub him to knight, as thine own man. His mother I have to wife, the king's choice daughter of Russia. And eke each year I will give thee money, seven thousand pounds of silver and gold, and in every counsel be ready at thy need. This I will swear to thee, upon my sword; the relique is in the hilt, the noblest of this land; like as me shall like, will I never be false to thee!"
Arthur heard this noblest of kings. Arthur was winsome where he had his will, and he was exceeding stern with his enemies. Arthur heard the mild words of the monarch; he granted him all that he yearned; hostages and oaths, and all his proffers. Then heard say sooth words the King of Orkney, exceeding keen, who was named Gonwais, a heathen warrior, that Arthur the king would come to his land; with a mickle fleet sail to his country. Gonwais proceeded towards him, with his wise thanes, and set to Arthur in hand all Orkney's land, and two-and-thirty islands, that thither in heth, and his homage, with much reverence. And he had (made) to him in covenant, before all his people, each year to wit, full sixty ships at his own cost to bring them to London, filled truly with good sea-fish. This covenant he confirmed, and hostages he found, and oaths he swore good, that he would not deceive. And afterwards he took leave, and forth he gan wend:—"Lord, have well good day! I will come when I may, for now thou art my lord, dearest of all kings." When Arthur had done this, the yet he would more undertake; he took his good writs, and sent to Gutlond; and greeted the King Doldanim, and bade him soon come to him, and himself become his man, and bring with him his two sons.—"And if thou wilt not that, do what thou wilt, and I will send thee sixteen thousand noble warriors, to thy mickle harm, who shall waste thy land, and slay thy people, and set the land as to them best seemeth, and thyself bind, and to me bring." The king heard this, the threat of the kaiser, and he speedily took his fair weeds, hounds and hawks, and his good horses, much silver, much gold; his two sons in his hand. And forth he gan wend to Arthur the king, and said these words Doldanim the good: "Hail be thou, Arthur, noblest of kings' Here I bring twain, my sons both; their mother is of king's race, she is mine own queen; I won her with spoil, out of Russia. Here I deliver thee my dear sons, and myself I will become thy man. And I will send thee tribute of my land, every year as thin? bestowed, I will send thee into London seven thousand pounds. That I will swear, that I will never be false, but here I will become thy man—thy honour is the greater—so long as is ever, I will deceive thee never!"
Arthur took his messengers, and sent to Winetland, to Rumareth the king, and bade him know in haste, that he had in his hand Britain and Scotland, Gutland and Ireland, Orcany and Iceland. He ordered Rumareth to come, and bring him his eldest son; and if he would not do that, he would drive him from land, and if he might him capture, he would slay him or hang, and destroy all his land, his people exterminate. Rumareth heard this, the rich King of Winet; greatly he was afraid, all as the others were ere; loath to him were the tidings from Arthur the king. Nevertheless the King Rumareth hearkened counsels; he took his eldest son, and twelve good earls, and proceeded to Arthur the noble king, and sate at his feet, and gan him fair greet: "Hail be thou, Arthur, noblest of Britons' I hight Rumareth, the King of Winetland, enow I have heard declared of thy valour; that thou art wide known, keenest of all kings. Thou hast won many kingdom all to thine own hand, there is no king in land that may thee withstand, king nor kaiser, in ever any combat; of all that thou beginnest, thou dost thy will. Here am I to thee come, and brought thee my eldest son; here I set thee in hand myself and my kingdom, and my dear son, and all my people, my wife and my weeds, and all my possessions, on condition that thou give me protection against thy fierce attacks. And be thou my high king, and I will be thy underling, and send thee to hand five hundred pounds of gold; these gifts I will thee find, every year."
Arthur granted him all that the king yearned, and afterwards he held communing with his good thanes, and said that he would return again into this land, and see Wenhaver, the comely queen of the country. Trumpets he caused to be blown, and his army to assemble; and to ship marched the thanes wondrous blithe. The wind still stood them at will; weather as they would; blithe they were all therefore; up they came to Grumesby. That heard soon the highest of this land, and to the queen came tiding of Arthur the king, that he was come in safety, and his folk in prosperity. Then were in Britain joys enow! Here was fiddling and song, here was harping among, pipes and trumps sang there merrily. Poets there sung of Arthur the king, and of the great honour, that he had won. Folk came in concourse of many kind of land; wide and far the folk was in prosperity. All that Arthur saw, all it submitted to him, rich men and poor, as the hail that falleth; was there no Briton so wretched, that he was not enriched!
Here man may tell of Arthur the king, how he afterwards dwelt here twelve years, in peace and in amity, in all fairness. No man fought with him, nor made he any strife; might never any man bethink of bliss that were greater in any country than in this; might never man know any so mickle joy, as was with Arthur, and with his folk here!
I may say how it happened, wondrous though it seem. It was on a yule-day, that Arthur lay in London; then were come to him men of all his kingdoms, of Britain, of Scotland, of Ireland, of Iceland, and of all the lands that Arthur had in hand; and all the highest thanes, with horses and with swains. There were come seven kings' sons, with seven hundred knights; without the folk that obeyed Arthur. Each had in heart proud thoughts, and esteemed that he were better than his companion. The folk was of many a land; there was mickle envy; for the one accounted himself high, the other much higher. Then blew men the trumpets, and spread the tables; water men brought on floor, with golden bowls; next soft clothes, all of white silk. Then sate Arthur down, and by him Wenhaver the queen; next sate the earls, and thereafter the barons; next the knights, all as men them disposed. And the high-born men bare the meat even forth-right then to the knights; then toward the thanes, then toward the swains, then toward the porters, forth at the board. The people became angered, and blows there were rife; at first they threw the loaves, the while that they lasted, and the silver bowls, filled with wine, and afterwards with the fists approached to necks. Then leapt there forth a young man, who came out of Winetland; he was given to Arthur to hold as hostage; he was Rumareth's son, the King of Winet. Thus said the knight there to Arthur the king: "Lord Arthur, go quickly into thy chamber, and thy queen with thee, and thy known relatives, and we shall decide this combat against these foreign warriors." Even with the words he leapt to the board where lay the knives before the sovereign; three knives he grasped, and with the one he smote the knight in the neck, that first began the same fight, so that his head on the floor fell to the ground. Soon he slew another, this same thane's brother; ere the swords came, seven he felled. There was fight exceeding great; each man smote other; there was much blood shed, mischief was among the folk!
Then approached the king out of his chamber; with him an hundred nobles, with helms and with burnies; each bare in his right hand a white steel brand. Then called Arthur, noblest of kings: "Sit ye, sit ye quickly, each man on his life! And whoso will not that do, he shall be put to death. Take ye me the same man, that this fight first began, and put withy on his neck, and draw him to a moor, and put him in a low fen, there he shall lie. And take ye all his dearest kin, that ye may find, and strike off the heads of them with your broad swords, the women that ye may find of his nearest kindred, carve ye off their noses, and let their beauty go to destruction; and so I will all destroy the race that he of came. And if I evermore subsequently hear, that any of my folk, of high or of low, eft arear strife on account of this same slaughter, there shall ransom him neither gold nor any treasure, fine horse nor war-garment, that he should not be dead, or with horses drawn in pieces—that is of each traitor the law! Bring ye the reliques, and I will swear thereon; and so, knights, shall ye, that were at this fight, earls and barons, that ye will not it break." First swore Arthur, noblest of kings; then swore earls, then swore barons; then swore thanes, then swore swains, that they nevermore the strife would arear. Men took all the dead, and carried them to burial-place. Afterwards men blew the trumpets, with noise exceeding merry; were he lief, were he loath, each there took water and cloth, and then sate down reconciled to the board, all for Arthur's dread, noblest of kings. Cupbearers there thronged, gleemen there sung; harps gan resound, the people was in joy. Thus full seven nights was all the folk treated.
Afterwards it saith in the tale, that the king went to Cornwall; there came to him anon one that was a crafty workman, and met the king, and fair him greeted:—"Hail be thou, Arthur, noblest of kings' I am thine own man; through many land I have gone; I know of tree-works (carpentry) wondrous many crafts. I heard say beyond the sea new tidings, that thy knights gan to fight at thy board, on a midwinter's day many there fell; for their mickle mood wrought murderous play, and for their high lineage each would be within. But I will thee work a board exceeding fair, that thereat may sit sixteen hundred and more, all turn about, so that none be without; without and within, man against man. And when thou wilt ride, with thee thou mightest it carry, and set it where thou wilt, after thy will, and then thou needest never fear, to the world's end, that ever any moody knight at thy board may make fight, for there shall the high be even with the low." Timber was caused to be brought, and the board to be begun; in four weeks' time the work was completed.
At a high day the folk was assembled, and Arthur himself approached soon to the board, and ordered all his knights to the board forth-right. When all were seated, knights to their meat, then spake each with other, as if it were his brother; all they sate about; was there none without. Every sort of knight was there exceeding well disposed, all they were one by one (seated), the high and the low, might none there boast of other kind of drink other than his comrades, that were at the board. This was the same board that Britons boast of, and say many sorts of leasing, respecting Arthur the king. So doth every man, that another can love; if he is to him too dear, then will he lie, and say of him more honour than he is worth; no man is he so wicked, that his friend will not act well to him. Eft if among folk enmity areareth, in ever any time between two men, men can say leasing of the hateful one, though he were the best man that ever ate at board, the man that to him were loath, he can him last find! It is not all sooth nor all falsehood that minstrels sing; but this is the sooth respecting Arthur the king. Was never ere such king, so doughty through all things! For the sooth stands in the writings how it is befallen, from beginning to the end, of Arthur the king, no more nor less but as his laws (or acts) were.
But Britons loved him greatly, and oft of him lie, and say many things respecting Arthur the king that never was transacted in this worlds-realm! Enow may he say, who the sooth will frame, marvellous things respecting Arthur the king. Then was Arthur most high, his folk most fair, so that there was no knight well esteemed, nor of his manners (or deeds) much assured, in Wales nor in England, in Scotland nor in Ireland, in Normandy nor in France, in Flanders nor in Denmark, nor in ever any land, that on this side of Muntgiu standeth, that were esteemed good knight, nor his deeds accounted (brave or aught), unless he could discourse of Arthur, and of his noble court, his weapons, and his garments, and his horsemen, say and sing of Arthur the young, and of his strong knights, and of their great might, and of their wealth, and how well it them became. Then were he welcome in this worlds-realm, come whereso he came, and though he were at Rome, all that heard of Arthur tell, it seemed to them great marvel of the good king!
And so it was foreboded, ere he were born; so said him Merlin, that was a prophet great, that a king should come of Uther Pendragon, that gleemen should make a board of this king's breast, and thereto should sit poets most good, and eat their will, ere they thence departed, and wine-draughts out draw from this king's tongue, and drink and revel day and night; this game should last them to the world's end.
And yet said him Merlin more that was to come, that all that he looked on to his feet to him should bow. The yet said him Merlin, a marvel that was greater, that there should be immoderate care (sorrow) at this king's departure. And of this king's end will no Briton believe it, except it be the last death, at the great doom, when our Lord judgeth all folk. Else we cannot deem of Arthur's death, for he himself said to his good Britons, south in Cornwall, where Walwain was slain, and himself was wounded wondrously much, that he would fare into Avalon, into the island, to Argante the fair, for she would with balm heal his wounds,—and when he were all whole, he would soon come to them. This believed the Britons, that he will thus come, and look ever when he shall come to his land, as he promised them, ere he hence went.
Arthur was in the world wise king and powerful, good man and peaceful, his men him loved. Knights he had proud, and great in their mood, and they spake to the king of marvellous thing, and thus the assemblage said to the high king: "Lord Arthur, go we to the realm of France, and win all the land to thine own hand, drive away all the French, and their king slay; all the castles occupy, and set (garrison) them with Britons, and rule in the realm with fierce strength" Then answered Arthur, noblest of kings "Your will I will do, but ere (previously) I will go to Norway, and I will lead with me Loth my brother-in-law, he who is Walwain's father, whom I well love. For new tidings are come from Norway, that Sichelm the king is there dead, his people has left, and he hath ere bequeathed all his kingdom to Loth. For the king is of all bereaved, son and eke daughter, and Loth is his sister's son—the better to him shall it befall—for I will make him new king in Norway, and well instruct him to govern well the people. And when I have done thus, I will afterwards come home, and get ready my army, and pass into France, and if the king withstandeth me, and will not yearn my peace, I will fell him with fight to the ground"
Arthur caused to be blown horns and trumpets, and caused to be summoned to the sea the Britons most bold. Ships he had good by the sea-flood, fifteen hundred pushed from the land, and flew along the sea, as if they had flight (wings), and bent their course into Norway, with bold strength. So soon as they came, they took haven, with mickle strength they stept (disembarked) on the realm Arthur sent his messengers wide over the land, and ordered them to come soon, and have Loth for king, and if they would not that, he would slay them all. Then they took their messengers, the Norwegian earls, and sent to the king, and bade him back go—"And if thou wilt not depart, thou shalt have here sorrow and care; for so long as is ever, that shall never come to pass, that we shall raise a foreign man for king. For if Sichelm is departed (dead), here are others choice, whom we may by our will raise to be king. And this is the sooth; there is no other, either move thee awayward, and turn thee right homeward, either to-day a se'nnight, thou shalt have great fight."
The Norwegian earls betook them to counsel, that a king they would have of their own race, for all Sichelm's words they held to be folly.—"And so long as is ever, it shall not ever stand! But we shall take Riculf, who is an earl exceeding powerful, and raise him to be king—this is to us pleasing—and assemble our forces over all this country, and march towards Arthur, and defeat him with fight, and Loth we shall chase, and drive from land, or else we shall fell him with fight." They took Riculf, the Earl of Norway, and raised him to be king, though it were not to him by right, and they assembled their host over Norway's land. And Arthur on his part, over the land gan march; the land he through passed, and the burghs he consumed, goods he took enow, and much folk he there slew. And Riculf gan him ride against Arthur anon; together they came, and fight they began. The Britons advanced to them—woe there was rife! Swords exceeding long they plucked out of sheath; heads flew on the field, faces paled; man against man set shaft to breast; burnies there brake; the Britons were busy, shivered shields, warriors there fell! And so all the daylight lasted this great fight; moved they east, moved they west, there was it the worse to the Norwegians; moved they south, moved they north the Norwegians there fell. The Britons were bold, the Norwegians they killed; the Norwegian men there fell, five-and-twenty thousand, and Riculf the king was there slain, and deprived of life day; little there remained of the folk; whoso had the wretched life, they yearned Arthur's peace. Arthur looked on Loth, who was to him well dear, and thus gan to him to call, Arthur the rich man: "Loth, wend hither to me, thou art my dear relative. Here I give to thee all this kingdom; of me thou shalt it hold, and have me for protector."
Then was Walwain thither come, Loth's eldest son; from the pope of Rome, who was named Supplice, who long had him brought up, and made him knight. Full well was it bestowed, that Walwain was born to be man, for Walwain was full noble-minded, in each virtue he was good; he was liberal, and knight with the best. All Arthur's folk was greatly emboldened, for Walwain the keen, that was come to the host; and for his father Loth, who was chosen to be king. Then spake Arthur with him, and bade him hold good peace, and bade him love his peaceful people, and those that would not hold peace, to fell them to ground.
The yet called Arthur, noblest of kings: "Where be ye, my Britons? March ye now forth-right; prepare ye by the flood my good ships." All did the knights as Arthur them ordered. When the ships were ready, Arthur gan to the sea fare; with him he took his knights, his Norwegian thanes, and his bold Britons, and proceeded forth with the waves; and the doughty king came into Denmark; he caused his tents to be pitched, wide over the fields; trumpets he caused to be blown, and his coming to be announced.
Then was in Denmark a king of much might; he was named AEscil, the highest over the Danes; he saw that Arthur won all that was to him in will. AEscil the king bethought him what he might do; loath it was to him to lose his dear people. He saw that with strength he might not stand against Arthur, with ever any combat. He sent greeting to Arthur the king; hounds and hawks, and horses exceeding good; silver and red gold, with prudent words. And yet he did more, AEscil the great; he sent to the highest of Arthur's folk, and prayed them to intercede for him with the noble king; that he might his man become, and deliver his son for hostage, and each year send him tribute of his land, a boat of gold and of treasure, and of rich garments, filled from the top to the bottom, in safety. And afterwards he would swear, that he would not prove false. Arthur heard this, noblest of kings, that AEscil, King of the Danes, would be his underling, without any fight, he and all his knights. Then was gladdened Arthur the rich, and thus answered with mild words: "Well worth the man, that with wisdom obtaineth to him peace and amity, and friendship to hold! When he seeth that he is bound with strength, and his dear realm ready all to destruction, with art he must slacken his odious bonds." Arthur ordered the king to come, and bring his eldest son; and he so did soon, the King of Denmark. Arthur's will soon he gan to fulfill; together they came, and were reconciled.
The yet said Arthur, noblest of kings: "Fare I will to France, with my mickle host. I will have of Norway nine thousand knights; and of Denmark I will lead nine thousand of the people; and of Orkney eleven hundred; and of Moray three thousand men; and of Galloway five thousand of the folk; and of Ireland eleven thousand, and of Britain my knights bold shall march before me, thirty thousand; and of Gutland I will lead ten thousand of the people; and of Frisland five thousand men; and of Little Britain Howel the bold, and with such folk France I will seek. And as I expect God's mercy, yet I will promise more; that of all the lands, that stand in my hand, I will order each brave man, that can bear his weapons, as he would wish to live, and have his limbs, that he go with me, to fight with Frolle, who is King of the French—slain he shall be!—he was born in Rome, of Romanish kin." Forth proceeded Arthur, until he came to Flanders, the land he gan conquer, and set it with his men. And next he marched thence, into Boulogne, and all Boulogne's land took it in his own hand.
And afterwards he took the way that in toward France lay. Then bade he his command to all his men, that fare wheresoever they should fare, they should take no whit, unless they might it obtain with right; with just purchase, in the king's host. Frolle heard that, where he was in France, of Arthur's speed (success), and of all his deeds; and how he all won that he looked on, and how it all to him submitted that he saw with eyes, then was the King Frolle horribly afraid! At the same time that this was transacted, the land of the French was named Gaul; and Frolle was from Rome come into France, and each year sent tribute of the land, ten hundred pounds of silver and of gold. Now heard Frolle, who was chief of France, of the great sorrow that Arthur did in the land. He sent messengers soon the nearest way toward Rome, and bade the Romanish folk advise them between, how many thousand knights they thither would send, that he might the easier fight with Arthur, and drive from the land Arthur the strong. Knights gan to ride out of Rome-land; five-and-twenty thousand proceeded toward France. Frolle heard this, with his mickle host, that the Romanish folk rode toward the land. Frolle and his host marched against them, so that they came together, keen men and brave, of all the earth an immense force.
Arthur heard that, noblest of kings, and assembled his army, and advanced against them. But never was there any king, that was alive on earth, that ever ere on land such folk (multitude) commanded; for from all the kingdoms that Arthur had in hand, forth he led with him all the keenest men, so that he knew never in the world how many thousands there were. So soon as they came together, Arthur and Frolle; hardily they greeted all that they met. Knights most strong grasped long spears, and rushed them together, with fierce strength. All day there were blows most rife; the folk fell to ground, and wrought destruction; the angry warriors sought the grass-bed; the helms resounded, murmured earls; shields there shivered, warriors gan fall. Then called Arthur, noblest of kings: "Where be ye, my Britons, my bold thanes? The day it forth goeth; this folk against us standeth. Cause we to glide to them sharp darts enow, and teach them to ride the way toward Rome!" Even with the words that Arthur then said, he sprang forth on steed, as spark doth of fire. Fifty thousand were following him; the hardy warriors rushed to the fight, and smote upon Frolle, where he was in the flock, and brought him to flight, with his mickle folk; there slew Arthur much folk and innumerable.
Then fled into Paris Frolle the powerful, and fastened the gates, with grief enow; and these words said, sorrowful in heart: "Liefer were it to me, that I were not born!" Then were in Paris grievous speeches, full surely, sorrowful cries; burghmen gan to tremble; the walls they gan repair, the gates they gan to form; meat they took, all that they came nigh; on each side they carried it to the burgh; thither came they all, that held with Frolle. Arthur heard that, noblest of kings, that Frolle dwelt in Paris, with an immense force, and said that he would Arthur withstand. To Paris marched Arthur, of fear void, and belay the walls, and areared his tents; on four sides he belay it (the city), four weeks and a day. The people that were there within were sore afraid, the burgh was within filled with men; and they ate soon the meat that was there gathered.
When four weeks were gone, that Arthur was there stationed, then was in the burgh sorrow extreme, with the wretched folk that lay there in hunger, there was weeping, there was lament, and distress great. They called to Frolle, and bade him make peace; become Arthur's man, and his own honour enjoy, and hold the kingdom of Arthur the keen; and let not the wretched folk perish all with hunger. Then answered Frolle—free he was in heart:—"Nay, so help me God, that all dooms wieldeth, shall I never his man become, nor he my sovereign! Myself I will fight; in God is all the right!"
The yet spake Frolle, free man in heart: "Nay, so help me the Lord that shaped the daylight, will I nevermore yearn Arthur's grace; but fight I will, without any knight's aid, body against body, before my people; hand against hand, with Arthur the king! Whetherso of us is the weaker, soon he will be the leather; whetherso of us there may live, to his friends he will be the liefer; and whether of us that may of the other obtain the better (superiority), have he all this other's land, and set it in his own hand. This I will yearn, if Arthur will it grant; and this I will swear upon my sword. And hostages I will find, three kings' sons, that I will hold firmly this covenant; that I will it not violate, by my quick life! For liefer it is to me to lie dead, before my people, than that I should see them on the ground perish with hunger. For we have with fight destroyed our knights—men felled fifty thousand; and many a good woman have made miserable widow, many a child fatherless, and bereaved of comfort; and now this folk with hunger have wondrously harmed. It is better therefore betwixt ourselves to deal and to dispose of this kingdom with fight; and have it the better man, and possess it in joy!" Frolle took twelve knights, with these words forth-right, and sent them in message to Arthur the king, to know if he would hold this covenant, and with his own hand win the kingdom, or lie dead before, to the harm of his people; and if he it won, should have it in his power.
Arthur heard that, noblest of kings; was he never so blithe ere in his life, for the tiding liked to him from Frolle the king; and these words said Arthur the good: "Well saith Frolle, who is King of France; better it is that we two contest this realm, than there should be slain our brave thanes. This covenant I approve, before my people, at an appointed day to do what he me biddeth; that shall be to-morrow, before our men, that fight we shall by ourselves, and fall the worst of us! And whether (which) of us that goeth aback, and this fight will forsake, be he in each land proclaimed for a recreant! Then may men sing of one such king, that his brag (or threat) hath made, and his knighthood forsaken!"
Frolle heard that, who was King of France, that Arthur would fight himself, without any knight. Strong man was Frolle, and stark man in mood; and his boast he had made, before all his people, and he might not for much shame disgrace himself; quit his bold bragging that he had said in the burgh. But said he whatever he said, in sooth he it weened, that Arthur would it forsake, and no whit take to (accept) the fight. For if Frolle, who was King in France, had it known, that Arthur would grant him that he had yearned, he would not have done it for a shipful of gold! Nevertheless was Frolle to the fight exceeding keen; tall knight and strong man, and moody in heart; and said that he would hold the day, in the island that with water is surrounded—the island standeth full truly in the burgh of Paris.—"There I will with fight obtain my rights, with shield, and with steel, and with knight's weed; now to-morrow is the day; have it he that may it win!"