Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 119

“Thank God!” said the yeoman. “I will do it at once; I will guard thy coat and shoes and good steed safely—and may Jesus Christ speed thee well!”

Gamelyn Enters

When Gamelyn entered the ring, barefooted and stripped for wrestling, all men gazed curiously at the rash youth who dared to challenge the stalwart champion, and the great man himself, rising from the ground, strolled across to meet Gamelyn and said haughtily: “Who is thy father, and what is thy name? Thou art, forsooth, a young fool to come here!”

Gamelyn answered equally haughtily: “Thou knewest well my father while he lived: he was Sir John of the Marches, and I am his youngest son, Gamelyn.”

The champion replied: “Boy, I knew thy father well in his lifetime, and I have heard of thee, and nothing good: thou hast always been in mischief.”

[Pg 211] “Now I am older thou shalt know me better,” said Gamelyn.

Defeats the Champion

The wrestling had lasted till late in the evening, and the moon was shining on the scene when Gamelyn and the champion began their struggle. The wrestler tried many wily tricks, but the boy was ready for them all, and stood steady against all that his opponent could do. Then, in his turn, he took the offensive, grasped his adversary round the waist, and cast him so heavily to the ground that three ribs were broken, and his left arm. Then the victor said mockingly:

“Shall we count that a cast, or not reckon it?”

“By heaven! whether it be one or no, any man in thy hand will never thrive,” said the champion painfully.

The yeoman, who had watched the match with great anxiety, now broke out with blessings: “Blessed be thou, young sir, that ever thou wert born!” and now taunting the fallen champion, said: “It was young ‘Mischief’ who taught thee this game.”

“He is master of us all,” said the champion. “In all my years of wrestling I have never been mishandled so cruelly.”

Now the victor stood in the ring, ready for more wrestling, but no man would venture to compete with him, and the two judges who kept order and awarded the prizes bade him retire, for no other competitor could be found to face him.

But he was a little disappointed at this easy victory. “Is the fair over? Why, I have not half sold my wares,” he said.

The champion was still capable of grim jesting. “Now, as I value my life, any purchaser of your wares is a fool; you sell so dearly.”

[Pg 212] “Not at all,” broke in the yeoman; “you have bought your share full cheap, and made a good bargain.”

He Wins the Prizes

While this short conversation had been going on the judges had returned to their seats, and formally awarded the prize to Gamelyn, and now came to him, bearing the ram and the ring for his acceptance.