HEN SHE HEARD that, she recovered herself and said, "Take my ring here to Master Athelbrus, and bid him from me ask the King to make you a knight."
So Horn went and told all to Athelbrus, who sought the King forthwith, and said, "To-morrow is a festival; I counsel thee to admit Horn to knighthood." And the King was pleased, and said, "Good! Horn is well worthy of it. I will create him a knight to-morrow, and he himself shall confer it on his twelve companions."
The next day the newly knighted one went to Riminild's bower, and told her that now he was her own true knight, and must go forth to do brave deeds in her name, and she said she would trust him evermore, and she gave him a gold ring with her name graven on it, which would preserve him from all evil. "Let this remind thee of me early and late," she said, "and thou canst never fall by treachery." And then they kissed each other, and she closed the door behind him, with tears.
The other knights were feasting and shouting in the King's hall, but Horn went to the stable, armed from head to foot. He stroked his coal-black steed, then sprang upon his back and rode off, his armour ringing as he went. Down to the seashore he galloped, singing joyously and praying God soon to send him the chance to do some deed of knightly daring, and there he met a band of pagen marauders, who had just landed from their pirate-ship. Horn asked them civilly what they wanted there, and one of the pagans answered insolently, "To conquer the land and slay all that dwell in it, as we did to King Altof, whose son now serves a foreign lord."
Horn, on hearing this, drew his sword and struck off the fellow's head; then he thought of his dead father and of his mother in her lonely cave; he looked on his ring and thought of Riminild, and dashed among the pirates, laying about him right and left, till, I warrant you, there were few of them left to tell the tale. "This," he cried, "is but the foretaste of what will be when I return to my own land and avenge my father's death!"
Then he rode back to the palace and told the King how he had slain the invaders, and "Here," he said, "is the head of the leader, to requite thee, O King, for granting me knighthood."
The next day the King went a-hunting in the forest, and the false Figold rode at his side, but Horn stayed at home. And Figold spoke to the King out of his wicked heart and said, "I warn thee, King Aylmer, Horn is plotting to dishonour thee--to rob thee of thy daughter and of thy kingdom to boot. He is even now plotting with her in her bower."
Then the King galloped home in a rage, and burst into Riminild's bower, and there, sure enough, he found Horn, as Figold had said. "Out of my land, base foundling!" he cried. "What have you to do with the young Queen here?"
And Horn departed without a word. He went to the stable, saddled his horse, then he girded on his sword and returned to the palace; he crossed the hall and entered Riminild's apartments for the last time. "Lady," he said, "I must go forth to strange lands for seven years; at the end of that time I will either return or send a messenger; but if I do neither, you may give yourself to another, nor wait longer for me. Now kiss me a long farewell."
Riminild promised to be true to him, and she took a gold ring from her finger, saying, "Wear this above the other which I gave you, or if you grow weary of them, fling them both away, and watch to see if its two stones change colour; for if I die, the one will turn pale, and if I am false, the other will turn red."
"Riminild," said Childe Horn, "I am yours for evermore! There is a pool of clear water under a tree in the garden--go there daily and look for my shadow in the water. If you see it not, know that I am unaltered; and if you see it, know that I no longer love thee."
Then they embraced and kissed each other, and Horn parted from her, and rode down to the coast, and took passage on a ship bound for Ireland. When he landed there, two of its King's sons met him, and took him to their father, good King Thurstan, before whom Horn bowed low, and the King bade him welcome, and praised his beauty, and asked his name.
"My name is Good Courage," said Horn boldly, and the King was well pleased.
Now, at Christmas, King Thurstan made a great feast, and in the midst of it one rushed in crying, "Guests, O King! We are besieged by five heathen chiefs, and one of them proclaims himself ready to fight any three of our knights single handed to-morrow at sunrise."
"That would be but a sorry Christmas service," said King Thurstan; "who can advise me how best to answer them?" Then Horn spoke up from his seat at the table, "If these pagans are ready to fight, one against three, what may not a Christian dare? I will adventure myself against them all, and one after another they shall go down before my good sword."
Heavy of heart was King Thurstan that night, and little did he sleep. But "Sir Good Courage" rose early and buckled on his armour. Then he went to the King and said, "Now, Sir King, come with me to the field, and I will show you in what coin to pay the demands of these heathen." So they rode on together in the twilight, till they came to the green meadow, where a giant was waiting for them. Horn greeted him with a blow that brought him to the ground at once, and ran another giant through the heart with his sword; and when their followers saw that their leaders were slain, they turned and fled back to the shore, but Horn tried to cut them off from their ships, and in the scrimmage the King's two sons fell. At this Horn was sore grieved, and he fell upon the pagans in fury, and slew them right and left, to avenge the King and himself.
Bitterly wept King Thurstan when his sons were brought home to him on their biers; there was great mourning for the young princes, who were buried with high honours in the vault under the church. Afterwards the King called his knights together and said to Horn, "Good Courage, but for you we were all dead men. I will make you my heir; you shall wed my daughter Swanhild, who is bright and beautiful as the sunshine, and shall reign here after me."
So Horn lived there for six years, always under the name of Good Courage, but he sent no messenger to Riminild, not wishing any man to know his secret, and consequently Riminild was in great sorrow on his account, not knowing whether he was true to her or not. Moreover, the King of a neighbouring country sought her hand in marriage, and her father now fixed a day for the wedding.
One morning, as Horn was riding to the forest, he saw a stranger standing in the wayside, who, on being questioned said, "I come from Westland, and I seek the Knight Sir Horn. Riminild the maiden is in sore heaviness of spirit, bewailing herself day and night, for on Sunday next she is to be married to a King."
Then was Horn's grief as great as that of Riminild. His eyes overflowed with tears. He looked at his ring with its colored stones; the one had not turned red, but it seemed to him that the other was turning pale. "Well knew my heart that you would keep your troth with me, Riminild," said he to himself, "and that never would that stone grow red; but this paling one bodes ill. And you doubtless have often looked in the garden pool for my shadow, and have seen naught there but your own lovely image. _That_ shadow shall never come, O sweet love, Riminild, to prove to you that your love is false, but he himself shall come and drive all shadows away.
"And you, my trusty messenger," he said aloud, "go back to maid Riminild and tell her that she shall indeed wed a King next Sunday, for before the church bells ring for service I will be with her."
The Princess Riminild stood on the beach and looked out to sea, hoping to see Horn coming in his helmet and shield to deliver her; but none came, save her own messenger, who was washed up on the shore--drowned! And she wrung her hands in her anguish.
Horn had gone immediately to King Thurstan, and, after saluting him, told him his real name and his present trouble. "And now, O King," said he, "I pray you to reward me for all my services by helping me to get possession of Riminild. Your daughter, Swanhild, will I give to a man the best and faithfullest ever called to the ranks of knighthood."