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How Sir Artegall threw away his Sword

As soon as day dawned, the noble warriors, mindful of the fight before them, duly prepared themselves, the Knight as beseemed a knight, and the Amazon in the way she liked best to dress.

She wore a light loose robe of purple silk, woven with silver, quilted upon white satin, and plentifully trimmed with ribbons; not to hinder her movements it was tucked up to her knee, but could when she liked be lowered to her heel, Over that she wore for defence a small coat of mail. Oil her legs were painted buskins, laced with bands of gold; her scimitar was lashed at her thigh in an embroidered belt; and on her shoulder hung her shield, decked with glittering stones, so that it shone like the full moon.

Thus she came forth, stately and magnificent, from the city gate, guarded with many damsels who waited

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on her to defend her, playing on shalms and trumpets, the sound of which reached high into heaven; and so she marched into the field, where there was a rich pavilion ready prepared to receive her, until it was time to begin the fight.

Then forth from his tent came Artegall, armed from head to foot, and first entered the lists. Radigund soon followed, cruel of mind, and with a fierce countenance, fully bent on daring the utmost trial of battle. The lists were shut fast, to prevent the mob from rudely pressing to the centre, and they circled round in huge crowds to see how fortune would decide the dangerous problem.

The trumpets sounded, and the fight began--bitterly it began and ended. The Amazon flew at Sir Artegall frantic with fury, but the more she raged the more resolute he stood. She hewed, she thrust, she lashed, she laid on every side. At first the Knight bore her blows, and forbore to return them; but presently in his turn he began to attack, and so mightily did his strokes fall on her steel armour, that flakes of flame were seen flashing all round her as if she had been on fire. But Radigund with her shield so well warded off the danger of his keen weapon that she safely guarded her life, until at last, with one stroke of his blade, Sir Artegall cut away half her shield.

This so enraged Radigund that she flew at Artegall with her sharp scimitar, like a bear on her prey, and wounded him badly in the thigh. Thereupon she began to boast of her triumph, and taunt the Knight with spiteful speeches, as if she had already got the prize.

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Indignant at her idle vaunting, Sir Artegall struck at her again with such power that he shattered the other

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half of her shield, and then he smote on her helmet so that she sank senseless on the grassy field.

When he saw her lying on the ground, he sprang towards her, and unlaced her helmet, thinking to cut

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off her head; but when he had uncovered her face such a miracle of loveliness shone forth that he was dazzled with astonishment. His heart was so pierced with pity that he threw away his sharp sword, reviling his hand that had done injury to such a vision of beauty.

Radigund meanwhile awakened from her swoon, and stared about her in confusion. As soon as she saw the Knight standing there beside her with no weapon in his empty hands, she flew at him with fresh cruelty, and though he kept retiring she laid on him huge redoubled strokes. The more he meekly entreated her to stay her hand from greedy vengeance, the more she increased her merciless attack.

Sir Artegall could do nothing but shun her angry onslaught, and ward off with his shield alone, as well as he could, the fierceness of her rage. He begged her to stay her strokes, and said that he would yield himself; yet she would not hearken, nor give him time to breathe, till he had delivered to her his shield, and submitted himself to her mercy in the open field.

Thus was Sir Artegall overcome--though indeed he was not overcome, but yielded of his own accord. Yet was he justly doomed by his own judgment when he had said unwarily that he would be her thrall and do her service. For though he first gained the victory, yet afterwards, by abandoning his sword, he wilfully lost that which before he had attained.

Then Radigund struck him with the flat of her sword, in token of true subjection to her power, and as a vassal took him to thraldom. But the more hapless Terpin she caused to be pinioned and led away

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to the cruel fate from which he had but lately been rescued.

But when the Amazons thought to lay hands on Talus, he thundered amongst them with his iron flail, so that they were glad to let him escape, for the heaps of those he stew and wounded, besides the rest which he dismayed, were too many to number. But all this while he did not once attempt to rescue his own lord, for he thought it just to obey.

Then Radigund took this noble Knight, left at her disposal by his own wilful blame, and caused him to be disarmed of all the knightly ornaments with which he had formerly won great fame. In place of these she had him shamefully dressed in woman's clothes, and put on him a white apron instead of a cuirass.

Thus clad, she brought him from the battlefield into a long, large chamber, decked with memorials of the ruin of many knights whom she had subdued; amongst these she caused his armour to be hung on high, to betray his shame, and she broke his sword for fear of further harm.

Entering, he saw round about him many brave knights whose names he knew well, who were there bound to obey the Amazon's arrogant law, all spinning and carding in an orderly row, so that Sir Artegall's brave heart loathed the unseemly sight. But the captive knights were forced through hunger and want of food to do the work appointed them, for nothing was given them to eat or drink, but what their hands could earn by twisting linen twine.

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Radigund placed Sir Artegall the lowest among them all, and gave a distaff into his hand, that he should spin thereon flax and tow--a sordid office for so brave a mind; thus hard is it to be the slave of a woman!

Yet Sir Artegall took it even in his own despite, and obeyed her without murmuring, since he had plighted his faith to become her vassal if she won him in fight.

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