The man soon reached Sir Guyon and the Palmer, hot, panting, and breathless. He was a bold-looking fellow, not in the least abashed by Sir Guyon, but casting scornful glances at him.
Behind his back he bore a brazen shield, which looked as if it belonged to some famous knight. On it was drawn the picture of a flaming fire, round which were the words "Burnt, I do burn." In his hand the man carried two sharp and slender darts, tipped with poison.
When he came near, he said boldly to Guyon, "Sir Knight--if you be a knight--I advise you to leave this place at once, in case of further harm. If you choose to stay, you do so at your own peril!"
Sir Guyon wondered at the fellow's boldness, though he scorned his idle vanity. He asked him mildly why any harm should come to him if he remained.
"Because," replied the man, "there is now coming, and close at hand, a knight of wondrous power, who never yet met an enemy without doing him deadly harm, or frightening him dreadfully. You need not hope for any better fate, if you choose to stay."
"What is his name?" said Sir Guyon, "and where does he come from?"
"His name is Pyrocles, which means the Anger of Fire," was the answer, "and he is called so from his hot and cruel temper. He is the brother of Cymocles, which means the Anger of the Sea-Waves, for Cymocles is wild and revengeful. They are the sons of Malice and Intemperance. I am Strife, the servant of Pyrocles, and I find work for him to do and stir him up to mischief. Fly, therefore, from this dreadful place, or your foolhardiness may bring you into danger."
"Never mind about that," said Sir Guyon, "but tell me whither you are now bound. For it must be some great reason that makes you in such a hurry."
"My master has sent me to seek out Occasion," said Strife. "He is furious to fight, and woe betide the man who first falls in his way."
"You must be mad," said the Palmer, "to seek out Occasion and cause for strife. She comes unsought, and follows even when shunned. Happy the man who can keep away from her."
"Look," said Sir Guyon, "yonder she sits, bound. Take that message to your master."
At this Strife grew very angry, and seizing one of his darts, he hurled it at Sir Guyon. The Knight caught it on his shield, whereupon Strife fled away, and was soon lost to sight.
Not long after, Sir Guyon saw a fierce-looking knight riding swiftly towards him. His armour sparkled like fire, and his horse was bright red, and champed and chafed at his bit as his master spurred him roughly forward. This was Pyrocles.
Not waiting to speak, he furiously attacked Sir Guyon, but after a sharp battle he was utterly defeated, and obliged to beg for mercy.
This Sir Guyon courteously granted, and asked the reason why Pyrocles had attacked him so fiercely.
The knight replied it was because he heard that Sir Guyon had taken captive a poor old woman, and chained her up. He demanded that she and her son Fury should be set free.
"And is that all that has so sorely displeased you?" said Sir Guyon, smiling. "There they are; I hand them over to you."
Pyrocles, delighted, rushed to set free the captives,
Click to enlarge
Abandon this forestalled place at erst,
For fear of further harme, I counsell thee,
Or bide the chaunce at thine owne jeopardie.'''
but they were scarcely untied before their rage and spite burst forth with double fury. They did everything they could to make Pyrocles and Sir Guyon fight again. They not only railed against Sir Guyon for being the conqueror, but also against Pyrocles for allowing himself to be conquered.
Sir Guyon stood apart and refused to be drawn into the quarrel; but Pyrocles could not help getting enraged, and he and Fury were soon in the midst of a terrible fight.
Seeing that Pyrocles was getting the worst Of it, Sir Guyon would have gone to his help, but the Palmer held him back, and refused to let him interfere.
"No," he said firmly, "it is idle for you to pity him. He has brought this trouble upon himself by his own folly and wilfulness, and he must now bear the punishment."
So, as there was nothing more to be done, Sir Guyon and the Palmer started again on their journey.