Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 12

How Sir Halewyn jousted with a knight of England

It so happened that at about this time My Lord of Flanders let call a tournament.

And sent out to all his lords and barons to come to Ghent for that purpose.

Halewyn went thither and set up his shield among the others.

But the barons and lords, seeing the arrogant device and the great size of the shield, were greatly put to offence thereat.

And all of them jousted with him, but each was overthrown in turn.

Among them was present an English knight of much prowess, who rode out to the middle of the tourney-field and stood straight and proud before Sir Halewyn.

“Well,” quoth he, “My Lord the Invincible, it displeases me to see thee planted there so arrogantly and unhorsing us all in this fashion. Wilt thou fight with me?”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

“If I overcome thee, thou shalt be my servant and I shall take thee with me into Cornwall.”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

“And cause thee to grease my horses’ hooves, and empty the dung from the stable; and find out whether thou art invincible at such work also.”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

“And if thou art not invincible, the invincible stick shall thrash thee invincibly.”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

“But if thou overcome me, this shall be thy guerdon:

“Five-and-twenty bezants which are in the house of thy Lord, the noble Count of Flanders; all the accoutrement of my horse, which is of fine mail; his fair saddle of pear-wood, covered with leather, and saddle-bows richly figured with ten horsemen lustily fighting and with Our Lord driving out the devil from one possessed; furthermore my helm of fine wrought steel, and on it a crest of silver, gilt over, with spread wings, which may very well, notwithstanding thy device, stand against thy bleeding heart, thy gaping sickle, and thy miserable crow. Well, My Lord the Invincible, dost think thou shalt win invincibly the five-and-twenty bezants, the helm of my head, and the trappings of my horse?”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

Then, after My Lord himself had given the signal, they ran together with a great clatter.

And the English knight was overthrown like the rest.

Then all the ladies acclaimed and applauded the Miserable, crying out: “Worship to Siewert Halewyn the noble, Siewert Halewyn the Fleming, Siewert Halewyn the Invincible.”

And on his way back to the house of My Lord, there to feast with him, he was by these ladies kissed, fondled, and made much of without stint.

And, putting on the gear of the English knight, he went off to the towns of Bruges, Lille, and Ghent, thieving and ravishing everywhere.

And came back from each expedition with much booty.

And felt the heart all the while pouring live strength into his breast and beating against his skin.

Then he went back to his own castle with the five-and-twenty bezants and the arms of the knight of England.

When he sounded the horn there came to him his mother, who, seeing him so gilt over, was overcome with joy, and cried: “He brings us riches, as he promised.”

“Yes,” said Sir Halewyn.

And she fell at his feet and kissed them.

As also did the younger brother, saying: “Sir Brother thou hast lifted us up from poverty, I will willingly serve thee.”

“So shouldst thou, indeed,” said Halewyn. Then, going into the hall: “I would sup,” he said, “thou, woman, fetch me meat, and thou, fellow, drink.”

And on the morrow, and every day thereafter, he made to serve him at table, as if they had been his private servants, his father, mother, brother, and sister, turn by turn.