Peredur, son of Efrawc
And the next day, with his uncle's permission, he rode forth. And he came to a wood, and far within the wood he heard a loud cry, and he saw a beautiful woman with auburn hair, and a horse with a saddle upon it, standing near her, and a corpse by her side. And as she strove to place the corpse upon the horse, it fell to the ground, and thereupon she made a great lamentation.
"Tell me, sister," said Peredur, "wherefore art thou bewailing?"
"Oh, accursed Peredur, little pity has my ill fortune ever met with from thee."
"Wherefore," said Peredur, "am I accursed?"
"Because thou wast the cause of thy mother's death; for when thou didst ride forth against her will, anguish seized upon her heart, so that she died; and therefore art thou accursed. And the dwarf and the dwarfess that thou sawest at Arthur's Court, were the dwarfs of thy father and mother; and I am thy foster-sister, and this was my wedded husband, and he was slain by the knight that is in the glade in the wood; and do not thou go near him, lest thou shouldest be slain by him likewise."
"My sister, thou dost reproach me wrongfully; through my having so long remained amongst you, I shall scarcely vanquish him; and had I continued longer it would, indeed, be difficult for me to succeed. Cease, therefore, thy lamenting, for it is of no avail, and I will bury the body, and then I will go in quest of the knight, and see if I can do vengeance upon him."
And when he had buried the body, they went to the place where the knight was, and found him riding proudly along the glade; and he enquired of Peredur whence he came.
"I come from Arthur's Court."
"And art thou one of Arthur's men?"
"Yes, by my faith."
"A profitable alliance, truly, is that of Arthur."
And without further parlance, they encountered one another, and immediately Peredur overthrew the knight, and he besought mercy of Peredur.
"Mercy shalt thou have," said he, "upon these terms, that thou take this woman in marriage, and do her all the honour and reverence in thy power, seeing thou hast, without cause, slain her wedded husband; and that thou go to Arthur's Court, and shew him that it was I that overthrew thee, to do him honour and service; and that thou tell him that I will never come to his Court again until I have met with the tall man that is there, to take vengeance upon him for his insult to the dwarf and dwarfess."
And he took the knight's assurance, that he would perform all this. Then the knight provided the lady with a horse and garments that were suitable for her, and took her with him to Arthur's Court. And he told Arthur all that had occurred, and gave the defiance to Kai. And Arthur and all his household reproved Kai, for having driven such a youth as Peredur from his Court.
Said Owain the son of Urien, "This youth will never come into the Court until Kai has gone forth from it."
"By my faith," said Arthur, "I will search all the deserts in the island of Britain, until I find Peredur, and then let him and his adversary do their utmost to each other."
Then Peredur rode forward. And he came to a desert wood, where he saw not the track either of men or animals, and where there was nothing but bushes and weeds. And at the upper end of the wood he saw a vast castle, wherein were many strong towers; and when he came near the gate, he found the weeds taller than he had done elsewhere. And he struck the gate with the shaft of his lance, and thereupon behold a lean auburn-haired youth came to an opening in the battlements.
"Choose thou, chieftain," said he. "Whether I shall open the gate unto thee, or shall I announce unto those that are chief, that thou art at the gateway?"
"Say that I am here," said Peredur, "and if it is desired that I should enter, I will go in."
And the youth came back, and opened the gate for Peredur. And when he went into the hall, he beheld eighteen youths, lean and red-headed, of the same height and of the same aspect, and of the same dress, and of the same age as the one who had opened the gate for him. And they were well skilled in courtesy and in service. And they disarrayed him. Then they sat down to discourse. Thereupon, behold five maidens came from the chamber into the hall. And Peredur was certain that he had never seen another of so fair an aspect as the chief of the maidens. And she had an old garment of satin upon her, which had once been handsome, but was then so tattered, that her skin could be seen through it. And whiter was her skin than the bloom of crystal, and her hair and her two eyebrows were blacker than jet, and on her cheeks were two red spots, redder than whatever is reddest. And the maiden welcomed Peredur, and put her arms about his neck, and made him sit down beside her. Not long after this he saw two nuns enter and a flask full of wine was borne by one, and six loaves of white bread by the other.