Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 4

How Sir Halewyn wished to take himself a wife, and what the ladies and gentlewomen said to it

Then, since he was the oldest of the family, he was sent off to the court of the Count, there to find himself a wife. But every one laughed at him, on account of his marvellous ugliness, more particularly the ladies and gentlewomen, who made fun of him among themselves, saying:

“Look at this fine knight! What is he doing here? He has come to marry us, I suppose. – Who would have him, for four castles, as many manors, ten thousand peasants and half the gold in the province? None. – And that is a pity, for between them they would get fine children, if they were to be like their father! – Ho, what fine hair he has, the devil must have limned it with an old nail; what a fine nose, ’tis like a withered plum, and what fair blue eyes, so marvellously ringed round with red. – See, he is going to cry! That will be pretty music.”

And Sir Halewyn, hearing the ladies talk after this fashion, could not find a word to answer them with, for between anger, shame, and sorrow his tongue was fast stuck to the roof of his mouth.

Nevertheless he would take a lance at every tournament, and every time would be shamefully overcome, and the ladies, seeing him fall, would applaud loudly, crying out: “Worship to the ill-favoured one! The old crow has lost his beak.” Thus they compared him, for his shame, with Dirk, the old stock of the Halewyns, who had been so mighty in his day. And, acclaimed in this fashion every time he jousted, Sir Halewyn would go back from the field in sorrow to his pavilion.