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How the Young Martimor would Become a Knight and Assay Great Adventure

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But in the land of Beausejour there were no arms of war save such as Sir Lancelot had brought with him. Wherefore they made shift to fashion a harness out of kitchen gear, with a brazen platter for a breast-plate, and the cover of the greatest of all kettles for a shield, and for a helmet a round pot of iron, whereof the handle stuck down at Martimor's back like a tail. And for spear he got him a stout young fir-tree, the point hardened in the fire, and Sir Lancelot lent to him the sword that he had taken from the false knight that distressed all ladies.

Thus was Martimor accoutred for the jousting, and when he had climbed upon his horse, there arose much laughter and mockage. Sir Lancelot laughed a little, though he was ever a grave man, and said, "Now must we call this knight, La Queue de Fer, by reason of the tail at his back."

But Martimor was half merry and half wroth, and crying "'Ware!" he dressed his spear beneath his arm. Right so he rushed upon Sir Lancelot, and so marvellously did his harness jangle and smite together as he came, that the horse of Sir Lancelot was frighted and turned aside. Thus the point of the fir-tree caught him upon the shoulder and came near to unhorse him. Then Martimor drew rein and shouted: "Ha! ha! has Iron-Tail done well?"

"Nobly hast thou done," said Lancelot, laughing, the while he amended his horse, "but let not the first stroke turn thy head, else will the tail of thy helmet hang down afore thee and mar the second stroke!"

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So he kept his horse in hand and guided him warily, making feint now on this side and now on that, until he was aware that the youth grew hot with the joy of fighting and sought to deal with him roughly and bigly. Then he cast aside his spear and drew sword, and as Martimor walloped toward him, he lightly swerved, and with one stroke cut in twain the young fir-tree, so that not above an ell was left in the youth's hand.

Then was the youth full of fire, and he also drew sword and made at Sir Lancelot, lashing heavily as, he would hew down a tree. But the knight guarded and warded without distress, until the other breathed hard and was blind with sweat. Then Lancelot smote him with a mighty stroke upon the head, but with the flat of his sword, so that Martimor's breath went clean out of him, and the blood gushed from his mouth, and he fell over the croup of his horse as he were a man slain.

Then Sir Lancelot laughed no more, but grieved, for he weened that he had harmed the youth, and he liked him passing well. So he ran to him and held him in his arms fast and tended him. And when the breath came again into his body, Lancelot was glad, and desired the youth that he would pardon him of that unequal joust and of the stroke too heavy.

At this Martimor sat up and took him by the hand. "Pardon?" he cried. "No talk of pardon between thee and me, my Lord Lancelot! Thou hast given me such joy of my life as never I had before. It made me glad to feel thy might. And now am I delibred and fully concluded that I also will become a knight, and thou shalt instruct me how and in what land I shall seek great adventure."

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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