Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 118

“Nay, by St. Richard, I will not descend till thou hast put down that pestle. Brother, be no more enraged, and I will make peace with thee. I swear it by the grace of God!”

“I was forced to defend myself,” said Gamelyn, “or your menials would have injured and degraded me: I could not let grooms beat a good knight’s son; but now grant me one boon, and we shall soon be reconciled.”

[Pg 209]

Sir John’s Guile

“Yes, certainly, brother; ask thy boon, and I will grant it readily. But indeed I was only testing thee, for thou art so young that I doubted thy strength and manliness. It was only a pretence of beating that I meant.”

“This is my request,” said the boy: “if there is to be peace between us you must surrender to me all that my father bequeathed me while he was alive.”

To this Sir John consented with apparent willingness, and even promised to repair the decayed mansions and restore the lands and farms to their former prosperity; but though he feigned content with the agreement and kissed his brother with outward affection yet he was inwardly meditating plans of treachery against the unsuspecting youth.

A Wrestling Match

Shortly after this quarrel between the brothers a wrestling competition was announced, the winner of which would become the owner of a fine ram and a ring of gold, and Gamelyn determined to try his powers. Accordingly he begged the loan of “a little courser” from Sir John, who offered him his choice of all the steeds in the stable, and then curiously questioned him as to his errand. The lad explained that he wished to compete in the wrestling match, hoping to win honour by bearing away the prize; then, springing on the beautiful courser that was brought him ready saddled, he spurred his horse and rode away merrily, while the false Sir John locked the gate behind him, praying that he might get his neck broken in the contest. The boy rode along, rejoicing in his youth and strength, singing as he went, till he drew near the [Pg 210] appointed place, and then he suddenly heard a man’s voice lamenting aloud and crying, “Wellaway! Alas!” and saw a venerable yeoman wringing his hands. “Good man,” said Gamelyn, “why art thou in such distress? Can no man help thee?”

A Dreaded Champion

“Alas!” said the yeoman. “Woe to the day on which I was born! The champion wrestler here has overthrown my two stalwart sons, and unless God help them they must die of their grievous hurts. I would give ten pounds to find a man to avenge on him the injuries done to my dear sons.”

“Good man, hold my horse while my groom takes my coat and shoes, and I will try my luck and strength against this doughty champion.”