Flemish Legend Sir Halewyn by Charles de Coster Chapter 25

Of the sword of the Lion

At sun-up she went to Sir Roel, who was still in bed, on account of the cold.

Seeing her come in and fall on her knees before him, he said: “What wilt thou, little one?”

“My lord father,” she said, “may I go to Halewyn?”

At this he became afraid, and saw well enough that Magtelt, unable to rid her heart of the thought of Anne-Mie, was minded to avenge her. And he said with love and anger:

“No, my daughter, no, not thou; who goes there will not come again!”

But seeing her go out of the room he never supposed that she would fail in her obedience.

And Magtelt went thence to the lady Gonde, who was praying in the chapel for the repose of Anne-Mie’s soul; and she pulled at her mother’s dress, to show that she was there.

When the lady Gonde turned her head, Magtelt fell on her knees before her:

“Mother,” said she, “may I go to Halewyn?”

But her lady mother: “Oh no, child, no, not thou; who goes there will not come again!”

And so saying, she opened her arms and let fall the golden ball wherewith she warmed her hands, so that the embers spread this way and that on the floor. Then she fell to moaning, weeping, trembling, and chattering with her teeth, and embraced the girl tightly as if she would never let her go.

But she never supposed that she could fail in her obedience.

And Magtelt went thence to Toon, who, despite his wounds, was already out of bed, and seated on his coffer, warming himself before a new-lit fire.

“Brother,” she said, “may I go to Halewyn?”

Saying this she held herself straight before him.

The Silent lifted his head and looked at her severely, waiting for her to speak further.

“Brother,” she said, “Siewert Halewyn has killed this sweet maid whom I loved; and has done the same to fifteen other pitiful virgins, who are hanging in the Gallows-field shamefully; he is for this country a greater evil than war, death, and pestilence; brother, I would kill him.”

But Toon looked at Magtelt and answered nothing.

“Brother,” said she, “thou must not refuse me, for my heart bids me go.

Canst thou not see how sad and downcast I am in this house, and how I shall die of sorrow if I do not that which I should. But having been to him I shall come back joyous and singing as before.”
But the Silent said not a word.

“Ah,” she said, “dost fear for me, seeing how many good knights have assailed him and been by him shamefully overthrown, even thyself, my brave brother, who carriest even now his marks? I am not ignorant that on his shield is written: ‘None can stand against me.’ But what others could not, one may do. He goes glorying in his strength, more terrible than an oliphant, prouder than a lion, thinking himself invincible, but when the beast goes with assurance the hunter follows the more easily. Brother, may I go to Halewyn?”

When Magtelt had reached so far in her speech, suddenly there fell from the wall whereon it was fastened a fair sword well set and sharpened, and with the blade stout to the hilt. The handpiece was of cedar of Lebanon, set out with golden cresslets, and in the castle this sword was held to be of marvellous virtue and holiness, because it had been brought from the crusade by Roeland de Heurne, the Lion. And none dared use it.

The sword, falling, lay at the feet of Magtelt.

“Brother,” said Magtelt, crossing herself, “the good sword of the Lion has fallen at my feet; ’tis the very strong God showing thus his will. He must be obeyed, brother; let me go to Halewyn.”

And Toon the Silent, crossing himself as Magtelt had done, answered:

“’Tis all one to me where thou go, if thou cherish thine honour and carry thy crown straight.”

“Brother,” she said, “I thank you.” And the noble maid began to tremble mightily from head to foot; and she who had not shed a tear on hearing of Anne-Mie’s death and her brother’s dishonour, fell to weeping abundantly, whereby her bitter anger was melted, and bursting into tears by reason of her great joy she said again: “Brother, brother, ’tis the hour of God! I go to the reckoning!”

And she took the good sword.

The Silent, seeing her so brave, lifted himself straight before her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Go,” said he.

And she went out.