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The Knight with the Hempen Rope

When the two Knights and the Lady Una had rested awhile in the castle of Giant Pride, they set out again on their journey. Before they parted, Prince Arthur and the Red Cross Knight gave each other beautiful gifts--tokens of love and friendship. Prince Arthur gave a box of adamant, embossed with gold, and richly ornamented; in it were enclosed a few drops of a precious liquid of wonderful power, which would immediately heal any wound. In return the Red Cross Knight gave the Prince a Bible, all written with golden letters, rich and beautiful.

Thus they parted, Prince Arthur to go about his own work, and the Knight to fight the terrible Dragon that was laying waste the kingdom that belonged to Una's father and mother. But she, seeing how thin and ill her champion looked, and knowing that he was still weak and weary, would not hasten forward, nor

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let him run the chance of any further fighting, until he had recovered his former strength.

As they travelled, they presently saw an armed knight galloping towards them. It seemed as though he were flying from a dreaded foe, or some other grisly thing. As he fled, his eyes kept looking backwards as if the object of his terror were pursuing him, and his horse flew as if it had wings to its feet.

When he came nearer they saw that his head was bare, his hair almost standing on end with fright, and his face very pale. Round his neck was a hempen rope, suiting ill with his glittering armour.

The Red Cross Knight rode up to him, but could scarcely prevail upon him to stop.

"Sir Knight," he said, "pray tell us who hath arrayed you like this, and from whom you are flying, for never saw I warrior in so unseemly a plight."

The stranger seemed dazed with fear, and at first answered nothing; but after the gentle Knight had spoken to him several times, at last he replied with faltering tongue, and trembling in every limb: "I beseech you, Sir Knight, do not stop me, for lo! he comes--he comes fast after me!"

With that he again tried to run away, but the Red Cross Knight prevented him, and tried to persuade him to say what was the matter.

"Am I really safe from him who would have forced me to die?" said the stranger. "May I tell my luckless story?"

"Fear nothing," said the Knight; "no danger is near now.

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''So as they traveild, lo! they can espy<BR>
An armed knight towards them gallop fast,<BR>
That seemed from some feared foe to fly,<BR>
Or other griesly thing that him aghast.''
Click to enlarge

''So as they traveild, lo! they can espy
An armed knight towards them gallop fast,
That seemed from some feared foe to fly,
Or other griesly thing that him aghast.''


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Then the stranger told how he and another knight had lately been companions. The name of his friend was Sir Terwin. He was bold and brave, but because everything did not go exactly as he wished, he was not happy. One day when they were feeling very sad and comfortless, they met a man whose name was Despair. Greeting them in a friendly fashion, Despair soon contrived to find out from them what they were feeling, and then he went on to make the worst of everything. He told them there was no hope that things would get any better, and tried to persuade them to put an end to all further trouble by killing themselves. To Sir Terwin he lent a rusty knife, and to the other knight a rope. Sir Terwin, who was really very unhappy, killed himself at once; but Sir Trevisan, dismayed at the sight, fled fast away, with the rope still round his neck, half dead with fear.

"May you never hear the tempting speeches of Despair," he ended.

"How could idle talking persuade a man to put an end to his life?" said the Red Cross Knight. He was ready to despise the danger, and he trusted in his own strength to withstand it.

"I know," said the stranger, "for trial has lately taught me; nor would I go through the like again for the world's wealth. His cunning, like sweetest honey, drops into the heart, and all else is forgotten. Before one knows it, all power is secretly stolen, and only weakness remains. Oh, sir, do not wish ever to meet with Despair."

"Truly," said the Red. Cross Knight, "I shall

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never rest till I have heard what the traitor has to say for himself. And, Sir Knight, I beg of you, as a favour, to guide me to his cabin."

"To do you a favour, I will ride back with you against my will," said Sir Trevisan; " but not for gold, nor for anything else will I remain with you when you arrive at the place. I would rather die than see his deadly face again."

Next: In the Cave of Despair