What happened to Balais, who went in search of the knight who set loose Sir Galaor's horse.
[The knight Godfrey of Bouillon, a leader of the First Crusade, depicted in a fresco painted in about 1420 by Giacomo Jaquerio in Castello della Manta, in Saluzzo, Italy.]
Balais of Carsante went after the knight who had set loose Sir Galaor's horse. The knight had gotten far ahead, and although Balais hurried to catch him, night fell and it grew very dark. He traveled until midnight, and then he heard shouting ahead of him on a riverbank. He went there and found five thieves who had a damsel they wanted to force themselves on. One of them was taking her by the hair to put her between some rocks. They were all armed with battleaxes and coats of mail.
When Balais saw them, he shouted:
"Villains, evildoers, traitors! What do ye wish with the damsel? Let her go. If not, ye are all dead!"
He came at them and they at him. He struck one with his lance in the chest, and the iron tip came out of his back. The lance broke, and the thief was dead. But the other four attacked him and immediately made his horse fall dead among them. He got off it as fast as he could, as one who was a brave and skilled knight.
He put his hand on his sword, and the thieves came at him and attacked on all sides where they best could. He struck the one who was closest on top of his head. His sword sunk to the back of his neck, and Balais threw him dead on the ground. He left his sword hang from its chain, quickly took the axe that the villain had dropped, and went at the others.
When they saw what great blows he could give, they fled toward a bog with a narrow entrance, but first he struck one with the axe on the back and cut flesh and bones to his loins. He ran past him toward the two who were in the bog, where there was a large fire. The thieves hurried behind it and turned toward Balais, for they had nowhere else to go. Balais raised his shield and came at them, and the thieves struck great blows on top of his helmet and made him fall onto one hand on the ground. But he jumped up, as one who has great courage, and gave one of the thieves such a wound with the axe that half his head was cut off. Balais threw his body into the fire.
The other thief, when he saw himself alone, let the axe fall from his hands, knelt before him, and said:
"Oh, my lord, by God, mercy! Do not kill me, for I have so long taken part in this evil work that with the loss of my body, I would lose my soul to hell."
"I shall let thee go," Balais said, "for if thy discretion is sufficient to see that thou art lost with such a life, thou shalt turn it around and that way thou wilt be saved."
Thus the thief did, and after that he was a holy man with a blessed life, and he became a hermit.
That done, Balais left the bog and went where the damsel waited, who was very happy to see him safe, and thanked him greatly for what he had done for her to save her from the evil men who had wished to abuse her. He asked her how she had been taken by them.
"They waited in a mountain pass above this forest," she said. "There they killed my two squires who were with me, and they brought me here to hold me prisoner and do their will."
Balais saw that the damsel was very beautiful, and he felt greatly taken by her and said:
"Truly, my lady, if they held ye prisoner as your beauty holds me, ye would never have escaped."
"My lord knight," she said, "if I had lost my chastity by force the way the thieves meant to take it, I would have no guilt, but if I were to give it to you freely, how could I be excused? What ye have done so far ye did as a proper knight, and I beg you that your force of arms be accompanied by the courtesy and virtue that ye are obliged to practice."
"My good lady," he said, "do not take the words I said to you seriously, for knights wish to serve and appreciate damsels and want them as ladies and lovers, but damsels must avoid error as ye wish to do. No matter how much at first we hope to obtain what we want from them, even more we value and esteem them when they protect themselves with discretion and goodness, resisting our low appetites, and maintaining that which, if it were lost, they would have nothing praiseworthy left."
The damsel bowed to kiss his hands, and said:
"To so much more I owe the rescue of my honor than of my life as ye have done, for so much greater is the difference between one and the other."
"Well, now," Balais said, "what do ye order me to do?"
"Let us get away from these dead men before daylight comes," she said.
"How shall we do this?" he said. "They have killed my horse."
"We shall go on my palfrey," she said.
Then Balais mounted and set the damsel behind him on the horse, and they rode until they found a field within the flight of an arrow from a road, and there they rested, speaking of various things. Balais told why he was chasing the knight, and when morning came, he armed himself and mounted the palfrey, and they went to the road, but there was no trace of anyone having passed on it. He said to the damsel:
"My dear, what shall I do with you, since I can in no way cease my search?"
"My lord," she said, "let us go on this road until we find some place, and I shall stay there while ye go on with the palfrey."
Continuing on, as ye hear, soon they saw a knight coming toward them who rode with his leg on the neck of his horse. When they neared, he put it in its stirrup, spurred his horse, and charged at them. He struck his lance on Balais's shield and knocked both him and the damsel to the ground, then he said to her:
"My dear, I am sorry that ye fell, and I ought to take you somewhere to make amends, for this man is not fit to carry you off."
Balais got up quickly and saw that he was the knight whom he sought. He raised up his shield, took his sword in his hand, and said:
"Lowly knight, ye are lucky that I lost my horse, and may God help me, I shall make you pay for the villainy ye did last night."
"What!" said the knight. "Are ye one of the ones who laughed at me? Truly, I shall turn your jest back on you."
He charged at Balais with his lance pointed straight ahead, and it passed through his shield. Balais cut the lance close to its hilt. The knight put his hand on his sword and dealt Balais a blow on the top of his helmet that made the blade sink fully two fingers deep into it. Balais leaned toward him, grabbed his shield, and pulled on it so hard that the saddle twisted and the knight fell in front of him. Balais bent down, cut the laces on his helmet, and struck him on the face and the head with the pommel of his sword so hard that the knight was left stunned.
When Balais saw that the knight could no longer defend himself, he took his sword and struck it on a rock until he had broken it to pieces, then put his in its scabbard. He took the knight's horse, put the damsel on her palfrey, and went on his way toward the tree at the crossroads. On the way, they found the house of two women who had taken holy vows, where within their poverty they found something to give them to eat. They blessed Balais many times for killing the thieves, who had done great evil in those lands.
Thus they continued their travels until they came to the tree at the crossroads, where they found Amadis, who had just arrived, and they did not wait long before they saw Galaor coming. When all three were together, they felt great pleasure to have concluded their adventures with such honor, and they agreed to spend the night in a nearby castle of a very honorable knight who was the father of the damsel whom Balais had brought there.
Thus they did, and at their arrival, they were very well received and served with everything they needed. The next day, after hearing Mass, they armed themselves, mounted their horses, left the damsel with her father, and took the most direct road to Windsor. Balais tried to gave the horse to Sir Galaor, as he had promised, but Galaor did not wish to take it because Balais's had been lost in the effort, and because Galaor had won another one himself.