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SEVEN CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTENDOM
N former times, a very great while since, when there were giants, enchanters, and magicians, who had the power to do wicked actions, it was foretold that seven worthy champions would arise in Christendom, whose renown for good and valiant deeds, should be spread through the whole earth. The first of these heroes was to be St. Denis, of France; — the second, St. James, of Spain; — the third, St. Anthony, of Italy; — the fourth, St. Andrew, of Scotland; — the fifth, St. Patrick, of Ireland; — the sixth, St. David, of Wales; — and the seventh and most famous of all, the valiant St. George, of England.
Calyba, a great and most wicked enchantress, now trembled for the downfall of her power, so she sent the evil spirits under her command, to steal six of these heroes while they were yet in their cradles, and bring them to her brazen castle. But she thought she would herself make sure of St. George, who was born in Coventry, and son of the lord high steward of England; for she was much more afraid of him than of the others, as St. George had at the time of his birth, the marks of a green dragon on his breast, a red cross on his right arm, and a golden garter on his left leg. Calyba then made herself invisible, entered the nursery of the lord high steward, and bore away the lovely sleeping babe, leaving his parents to die of grief for the loss of him. Calyba kept all these youths in her castle till they grew to be men, and then the beauty of St. George’s person, his manly figure, and pleasing manners, won the heart of Calyba, and she used all her arts to make him marry her. One day she led him into a lofty stable, almost grand enough to be taken for a palace, where seven of the grandest horses that ever were seen, stood in seven stalls made of cedar-wood, inlaid with silver; one of them was even finer and larger than the rest; his hoofs were of pure gold, and his saddle and bridle were adorned with precious stones. Calyba led this one from the stall, and gave it to St. George: its name was Bucephalus. She then led St. George into an armory, where she buckled a noble breastplate upon him, placed a helmet with a lofty plume of waving feathers upon his head, and gave him a fine and sharp sword. When the young champion was thus armed for battle, he looked so very handsome, that Calyba could set no bounds to her love for him; so at last she put into his hand the silver wand which gave her all her power, and told him to use it just as he pleased.
St. George knew and hated the wicked actions of Calyba, so he took the wand with a pleasure which he could hardly conceal. It was then about the hour that Calyba used to retire to a cave dug in the solid rock, to feast upon the bodies of children that she had killed. St. George watched her, and when he saw her enter the cave, he waved his wand three times, and the rock shut upon the wicked wretch forever. He then set out for Coventry along with the other six champions; and in that town he built a grand monument to the memory of his beloved parents.
Early in the next spring, the seven heroes bade each other farewell, and they all took different roads in search of adventures, and St. George of England, after some tiresome voyages and travels, came into Egypt. That country was then in a most wretched state, on account of a dreadful fiery dragon, which tainted the air with his breath in such a manner, that a plague raged through all the land, and there were hardly people enough left alive to bury the dead. For this reason the king had made it known, that if any valiant knight would come forward to fight with the fiery dragon, and kill him, he should receive the hand of the princess royal in marriage, and on the king’s death should reign over Egypt. When St. George heard this, he declared that he would himself fight the dragon, for the sake of the princess and the whole kingdom. Early the next morning, St. George set out to find the fiery dragon. He had not gone far before he saw the princess Sabra, with some of her women, who were loudly weeping forthe cruel state of the country. Our hero rode up to them, and told them, he was resolved either to kill the dragon or to perish in the trial. The fair Sabra was struck with surprise on finding that a stranger would engage in an attempt of so much danger, which the stoutest of the Egyptian champions had shrunk from with fear: but she thanked him in a proper manner, and, by St. George’s advice, she went back to her father’s palace, to wait for the issue of the great event. As soon as our hero had reached the cave, the dragon sent forth such a dreadful roaring as seemed to shake the earth; and at the first onset St. George’s spear was broken to pieces, and he himself was thrown from his horse. He then boldly drew his sword, and though almost stifled by the monster’s noisome breath, he fought with such fury, that he soon felled his enemy beneath his feet. At this moment the dragon spread his wings in order to take flight; but by so doing, he showed a soft part of his skin, and St. George at once stabbed him to the heart. The monster died with a horrid groan; and St. George having cut off his head, rode back in triumph towards the palace.
He had hardly reached the city, when he was basely set upon by twelve armed men, whom the king of Morocco, (who courted the princess Sabra) had hired to kill him. St. George soon put these villains to flight; and when he came to the court he was treated with all sorts of honours, and the lovely Sabra gave him a diamond ring as a small mark of her esteem. In spite of this failure, the Moorish prince still vowed to destroy or ruin St. George. For this purpose he asked a private audience with the king, and told him, that St. George was an open foe to the religion of Egypt, and had tried to make the princess a Christian. The king was so angry when he heard this, that he declared St. George should not live any longer: but as it might not have been safe to put him to death in Egypt, where he had done such a great service to the people in killing the dragon, he wrote a letter to the sultan of Persia, begging him to put the bearer, St. George, to death, as he was an enemy to the religion of Persia and Egypt.
St. George little thought of this deceit, so he took the letter to the sultan; but as soon as he came into Persia, he was taken up before the sultan, who had him thrown into a deep dungeon, till a day should be fixed for his death. At the end of three days, two fierce and hungry lions were put into the dungeon; but St. George, having prayed to heaven for strength, burst the cords which he was bound with, and finding an old broken rusty sword in a corner of the dungeon, he laid the lions dead at his feet. The sultan of Persia was amazed at this; and was afraid that if he ordered him to be put to death in public, the people might rise in defence of the noble champion, whose fame had already spread through Persia; so he kept him close in prison, where we will leave him at present, to look after the other champions of Christendom.
St. Denis of France took his journey through Arabia. One day when he was tired, he sat down to refresh himself under a mulberry-tree, and being very hungry, he plucked some of the fruit; as soon as he tasted it he became very faint, dropped on his hands and knees, and in a few minutes found himself turned into a stag. This dreadful change filled him with great trouble, and when he saw his figure in a stream of water nigh at hand, he burst into a flood of tears, and lifted his eyes to heaven, as if to beg relief in this bitter distress. He then threw himself on the grass, thinking he should never get his proper shape again; when a mournful voice, like that of a woman, came from the mulberry-tree and spoke to him in this manner: —
‘Brave knight, like mine, your ease is hard,
Yet patiently endure;
Oh! trust in heaven, who will regard,
And send at length a cure.
'Seven years are numbered as your doom,
All full of bitter woes;
Then shall you human shape resume
By eating of a rose.’
The champion of France was amazed at this strange voice, and felt his hopes and his courage return. He listened some time longer, but the voice spoke no more; and when he thought of the long period of seven years that must pass before he should have his own form again, deep sighs and groans burst from his bosom. His faithful horse seemed to share his sorrow; he walked round and round his grieving master, and even tore down some branches of the trees, to shield him from the heat of the noon-day sun. In this manner, seven tiresome years passed away; and on the morning when the seventh was ended, St. Denis saw his horse climb a steep rock, and bring down from the top three full blown roses in his mouth. His master now thought of the voice that had come from the mulberry-tree, and he straight ate one of the roses: and he found himself in his proper shape. While he was giving thanks to heaven for this happy change, he heard the mournful voice in the mulberry-tree, begging for liberty. St. Denis seized his sword, and with one blow cut the tree to the ground, when he saw a handsome young lady there, who told him she was daughter to the king of Thessaly, and that an enchanter had kept her in that place. St. Denis placed her behind him on horseback, and took her to her father’s court, where she was treated with every mark of gladness and love.
St. James of Spain, in the meantime, passed through Sicily, where he had a dreadful fight with a fiery griffin, which lasted seven days and seven nights, but at last he killed it. He then went further on in his way by sea and land, till he came to Jerusalem. As he drew nigh, he heard the sound of horns, drums, and trumpets; and learned that the king and all his nobles were making ready to hunt the wild beasts, with which the country was troubled; and the king had said that he would give a noble reward to him who should kill the first boar.
St. James straight rode off to the forest; and before the king and his nobles came, he had slain one of the largest boars that was ever seen in that forest. The king got down from his horse to salute him, and owned him worthy of the reward; but when he heard that the stranger was both a Spaniard and a Christian, he said he should surely die; yet to make some amends for his great service, the king gave him leave to choose his own death. He chose to be shot by the hands of a virgin. The Spanish champion was then bound to a tree, and his breast laid bare to receive the blow; but none of the virgins who were called forward would do the cruel deed. The princess royal above all was so much moved by the courage of the gallant stranger. that she threw herself at her father’s feet, and begged him to repeal his dreadful sentence. The king granted her request, but declared that if he ever should attempt to enter Palestine again he should suffer death. The princess then untied St. James; and gave him a rich diamond ring, as a token of her esteem. He took it with thanks, and got ready to leave the kingdom of her cruel father. After riding some miles, he got off his horse to rest in a shady forest, and there began to think that he ought not to have left a princess who had saved his life. He at length resolved to return, and to enter the palace as a stranger in want of employ. He did so, and was straight taken into the service of the princess: and while rival princes were trying which of them should get her for a wife, he found means to make himself known to her, and to persuade her to go away with him to Spain, where these faithful lovers arrived in safety. Meantime, St. Anthony of Italy pursued his journey till he came to a strong castle, in which a giant lived whom no man had ever dared to attack. In this castle were seven daughters of the king of Thrace, six of whom were changed into swans, and the other was forced to sing the giant to sleep. St. Anthony killed the giant, and then made haste to Thrace, to give the king news about his daughters.
St. Andrew of Scotland, in the course of his travels, came at length to this castle, and found the king of Thrace calling to heaven in behalf of his daughters. St. Andrew told the king, that if he would become a Christian, his daughters should again appear in their own forms. The king was in a rage at this offer, and ordered his knights to attack the stranger; but he showed such valour that he made them all submit to him. On this the king agreed to become a Christian, and his daughters got their own shapes again. When the king went back to his palace, St. Andrew left the country, and the six young ladies set out to follow him, out of respect for the service that he had done to them. These royal ladies came to Ireland, where they met with thirty cruel wild men, who dragged them through thorns and briars, till the woods rung with their cries. St. Patrick. who happened to be in this part of the country, rushed upon the wild men with such fury, that he killed many of them, and forced the others to save their lives by flight. He then listened to the account which the ladies gave of their travels, and offered to assist them in searching for the brave champion of Scotland.
St. David of Wales went to the court of Tartary; and showed such proofs of his strength and courage, that the emperor made him his champion, and gave several feasts and public games in honour of him. The Emperor’s son at length happened to be killed by the Welsh champion in one of the war-like games, which put the emperor into such a rage against St. David, that he resolved to contrive somehow to destroy him: but he thought it would be safest to do this slily, so he told him to go into the enchanted garden, and bring the head of Ormandine the enchanter. St. David went boldly to the enchanted garden, where he found a sword chained to a rock, and on its handle was written, He that can lift me up shall conquer all.’ St. David at once grasped the sword, but in a moment he sunk upon the ground, and by the art of the enchanter was thrown into a sleep. While the other champions were doing these great exploits, St. George of England, after being kept seven years in prison, found means one night to break out of his dungeon, and then went onward till he arrived at a castle, where he stopped, and asked for leave to refresh himself. The lady of the castle told him that her husband was a dreadful giant, who would show him no mercy; and soon after the giant himself came out with a frightful look. St. George boldly drew his sword, and after a fierce battle he split the giant’s head in pieces. He then went further on his travels, till he came to the garden of Ormandine, where St. David had at that time slept seven years. When St. George saw the enchanted sword, he seized it, and pulled it up; the castle then sunk into the ground, and the wicked enchanter was carried away with it. After this, St. David and St. George set out different ways; St. David went back to the court of Tartary, and St. George went back to Barbary, where he heard that his beloved Sabra had been put into prison by the king of Morocco.
St. George heard, on his journey, that the king of Morocco and his nobles were gone to enjoy the pleasure of hunting. He then laid aside his armour, and putting on a hermit’s gown, made haste to the palace, where a number of beggars were waiting to receive alms from the fair Sabra. St. George mixed with the crowd; and when he saw the princess, he slipped the diamond ring, which she had given him into her hand; she then led him into the hall, and gladly agreed to escape from her prison before the tyrant should come back, who had long tried to force her to marry him. Towards the evening of the same day, the princess and a Moorish servant contrived to meet St. George at the hermit’s cave, where our champion put on his armour, and gave the good man a reward for his trouble. Then taking the fair Sabra behind him, and being attended by the Moor, he galloped off as quickly as he could through deserts, woods, and many lonely places, till he had got quite out of the kingdom of Barbary. After a tiresome journey, they found themselves near a large forest; and as they were faint with hunger, St. George left his lady with the Moor, and went boldly into the forest to procure some food. He had the good fortune soon to kill a deer, and returned with a haunch of venison; but how greatly was he shocked to find the Moor torn in pieces by two lions, and the creatures asleep on Sabra’s lap. After getting the better of his first alarm, he ran them through with his sword, and gave thanks to heaven for the safety of his beloved princess. He then made a fire to roast his venison by. St. George and his lady at length came to Constantinople, where a great feast was held in honour of the emperor’s marriage. In this city they had the good fortune to meet the other six champions of Christendom, who, after many strange adventures, had also arrived at Constantinople with their ladies. Here the Christian champions showed wonders of courage in warlike games, with the knights of Greece, Hungary, and Bohemia. On the last day of these sports, St. George of England came into the field on a beautiful black steed, adorned in a grand style. The champion was dressed in a suit of armour of the brightest steel; his helmet shone with a vast number of pearls, diamonds, and gold, and had at its top a plume of purple feathers; and from his breast was hung a plate of gold, bearing the figure of a lion; while the lovely Sabra sat in a car of triumph, to be a witness of his noble exploits. There was hardly any knight to be found, who would engage against the hero of England; and when at last some of them did resolve to make trial of his strength, he threw down both men and horses with such ease, that the field was soon cleared. The heralds crowned him with the garland of victory, and Sabra felt the highest pleasure in hearing the shouts of all the people.
But while the Christian champions were happy at Constantinople in the enjoyment of their charming brides, the king of Morocco, and all the pagan princes, whose daughters had followed these champions, declared war against Christendom. On this the emperor of Constantinople made peace with his other foes, and then begged the champions to depart from his country. The Christian heroes and their ladies now left Constantinople, and agreed that every one should repair to his own land, and try to raise forces to subdue the power of their enemies, and to make their own names famous in defence of their honour and religion. When the cause of their return was made known, such vast numbers of people flocked to join them, that by the next spring they had an army of five hundred thousand men, who, with one voice chose St. George of England to be their leader, and then were eager to press on against their foes. The pagans got together an army still greater, in point of numbers, than that of the Christians; but when they came to choose a general, they could not agree among themselves, and the dispute rose to such a height, that the kings of Persia, Egypt, and Jerusalem, soon drew off their armies, and went back into their own countries. Those who staid with the king of Morocco, split into parties, and fought a dreadful battle among themselves, which lasted three days, with such fury, that the fields were covered with dead bodies, and the rivers were stained with blood. The Christian army at length came to the borders of Egypt, and when they marched into the inner parts of that country, they found the villages and most of the towns empty. St. George was fearful that this was only a plan laid to deceive him; so he told his soldiers to remain in their ranks, and to have their arms ready in case of a sudden attack. They then marched on to the capital in perfect order, till they came near the palace, when the gates were thrown open on a sudden, and the king of Egypt, in deep mourning, walked forth at the head of his nobles, and the great officers of the kingdom, with broken swords and lances. On their coming near the Christian champions, they all fell upon their knees, while their king, in humble terms, begged for peace. St. George was much moved at the speech and tears of the aged speaker. He straight raised the king from his knees, and said he would freely forgive him, if he and all his nobles would become Christians. The king gladly agreed to this; and made a promise of his own free will, that the crown of Egypt should belong to St. George and Sabra after his death.
Now in all parts of the kingdom there was nothing heard but music and other tokens of joy. But while this mirth reigned in Egypt, an English knight arrived at the court, and told St. George that his princess Sabra, who had been left in England, was condemned to be burned at a stake, unless some one should appear to take her part against her false accuser, the proud baron of Chester. When he heard this sad story, St. George threw out many a bitter reproach against the ungrateful king and people of England. He then gave the command of the army to St. David, and straight set out for England; while the king of Egypt was so much grieved at the thought of his daughter’s danger, that he went raving mad, threw himself off the walls of his palace, and was killed on the spot. The dreadful day fixed for Sabra’s death came, and no champion had yet been found to take her part. She therefore made herself ready to meet her sad fate, and walked with a firm step to the stake, to which she was made fast by a chain. Every eye was bathed in tears, while the lovely victim lifted her hands towards heaven, and prayed for the mercy of God, who always makes the good his chief care. The king of England being seated on his throne, caused the heralds to summon the accuser, who came forward on a proud steed, adorned with gold and precious stones. The lady’s champion was then called by sound of trumpet; but no person came, and orders were given to light the fatal fire. At this moment a banner of defiance was seen waving in the air, and in an instant St. George rushed through the crowd, and asked the release of the princess; or that he might fight unto death in her defence. The heralds sounded a charge, and the two knights engaged one another. At the very first onset, their spears were broken into a thousand pieces, and both horses and men were thrown to the ground. The baron of Chester leaped up, and struck so fiercely with his falchion, that he cleft his enemy’s shield in two. The champion of England now put forth his strength, cut quite through the baron’s armour, and smote off his right arm, so that he sunk to the earth, and died with a dreadful groan. All the people now burst out into loud shouts of applause; and when the fair princess found that the strange knight was St. George of England, she fainted with a transport of joy. The king gave orders for fireworks and other marks of public joy through all the kingdom. After St. George had staid about twenty days in England, he set sail with his beloved Sabra for Greece, and from thence went towards Persia; but having lost their way, they sat down by the side of a fountain, where they saw an old hermit who was in search of herbs and fruits. The hermit told them they must cross over the mountains, and pass through part of the Amazons’ country, to the borders of Persia. When they had crossed the steep mountains they came into an open country, but were amazed to find the trees withered, the fruits of the earth spoiled, and all the houses empty of people. While they were thinking on this strange sight, they drew nigh a noble tent, in which sat a beautiful virgin with a crown upon her head, a silver bow in her hand, and a golden quiver of arrows by her side. Several lovely virgins were standing round her chair, but sorrow was seen in every face.
St. George felt deep concern at the fate of these ladies, and spoke to her who appeared to be the chief, begging she would tell him the cause of her sorrow. The fair lady bowed her head with great grace, and made this reply: ‘Brave knight, I am queen of the Amazons, and because I would not marry a wicked necromancer, he has raised an enchanted castle out of the earth, and placed a number of wicked spirits in it, who cast hurtful vapours, with hail and fire, to the farthest borders of my country, which has been thus made quite desolate.’ — ‘Where is the castle,’ said St. George, ‘I will hurl such vengeance on his head, as shall soon make him repent.’ — ‘Alas!’ answered the mournful queen, ‘he is safe from human vengeance; for though he is now absent himself, he has left behind him a monstrous giant, who has already overcome many knights, and thrown them into a dungeon.’ The brave St. George told the queen that he would venture both his life and honour to finish the enchantment. Then leaving Sabra to her care, he rode boldly towards the enchanted castle. As soon as he entered the dark mist round the castle, he was attacked by a vast number of snakes and other venomous creatures; but he used his sword so well, that most of them were soon cut to pieces, and the rest forced to leave him. He next came nigh a black river, over which there was a narrow bridge, guarded by the monstrous giant. St. George pushed forward, smote him to the ground, and was going to strike off his head; but the giant begged for mercy, and promised to reveal the secret of the enchantment; so that he agreed to spare his life. The giant now told him, that in a cave below the bottom of the castle there was a magic fire springing out of the earth, which made the country of the Amazons desolate; and this fire could never be quenched except by a fountain of black water, that was guarded by many evil spirits. When St. George heard this, he went down a dark flight of stairs, where he heard dreadful shrieks and groans. He opened a door, on which there came out such a smoke and heat that he was almost stifled; but when the smoke cleared away, he saw a fire spouting out of the ground. Close by he beheld the black water, guarded by many ugly fiends, and found himself fiercely attacked; but he drove them back, and put out the magic fire: upon which the castle vanished in a storm of thunder and lightning, and the sun broke out from the clouds with great brightness. The champion then went back to the tent, and spent some days with the queen of the Amazons in mirth and feasting, after which St. George and his faithful Sabra went forward again on their journey. After passing many desert countries, they came to Egypt, and received the compliments of all the nobles, and every thing was made ready for them to be crowned.
While St. George was employed in Egypt, the other six champions had laid waste most of Persia, and the sultan was forced to take shelter in a strong city. Osmond, the necromancer, who had done so much mischief to the country of the Amazons, now came and told the sultan to sally out the next day with all his forces; and while the two armies were engaged, he went into a dark valley, and used his horrid charms; on which the sky was covered with blackness; lightning flashed around them; and from a pitchy cloud, which descended in front of the Christians, there flew out a number of evil spirits, which threw down both men and horses. But on the banner of the cross being displayed, these spirits all vanished, and the Christians drove the Persian troops from the field of battle. When Osmond found he could not succeed by force, he raised an enchanted tent, and changed several of the spirits into the shapes of beautiful virgins, that they might entice the six champions by their charms. This would have proved the ruin of the Christian army, had not St. George, by good fortune, arrived on the day of battle. He rushed into the enchanted tent, and cut it in pieces with his sword, on which the seeming virgins vanished with a dreadful noise. Osmond was bound to a withered oak with fetters of adamant, his magic power left him, and he remained mourning and gnawing his flesh, till some evil spirits carried him away. After making die conquest of Persia complete, the seven champions took shipping for England, where they were received with every demonstration of joy.
But an accident soon turned the public joy into sorrow and mourning. A stag-hunt being proposed by St. George and the other champions, Sabra went with them, mounted on a fine Spanish courser, with a silver bow, quiver, and breast-plate; and, straining her horse to keep pace with the foremost, he started suddenly, upon the turn of the stag, and threw her with such force to the ground, that all attempts to recover her were in vain. She was buried with the utmost pomp, and a grand tomb was raised over her, on which were engraved many curious devices, as emblems of her graces and virtues. After the burial, St. George and the other six champions went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After a tiresome journey, they came nigh Damascus; and seeing a very noble house, they asked for lodging till the morning. An old man welcomed them in, and after letting them refresh themselves, he led them to see the inside of his house, which seemed rather like a palace than a dwelling of a private man, it being adorned with a vast deal of gold, silver, and precious stones. The champions were charmed with the beauty of the house, and the curious works of art, and asked him if he was the only person that lived in it. The old man heaved a deep sigh, and said, ‘I once had many sons; fourteen of them have I lost, and only six of the youngest remain with me.’ He then called these youths out of a room, from which they came, playing finely on silver lutes. The champions now wished very much to know what had become of the other brothers, and at their desire the old man told them his whole history, as follows:
‘Having given myself up from my youth to the study of alchymy, I at last found the means of turning any baser metal into gold, in the space of twenty-four hours. I then built a noble castle, and lived happy: but my secret being made known, a mighty giant came from Arabia, and after an obstinate combat, took my eldest sons prisoners, and seized my castle; while I and my younger sons, being unable to resist him, retired to this place, where I pass my days in sorrow for the misery of my children, who are chained down in a dungeon of the castle, and must remain there till some brave knight shall destroy their monstrous jailer.’ Moved by the tears of the old man, the champions sallied forth against the giant. As they wished that he should fall by only one of them, they cast lots, and the lot fell upon St. Denis; but he was soon overcome, and with five more of them was thrown into a dungeon. St. George having seen that the giant’s skin was too hard to be pierced by a sword, armed himself with a heavy iron bar, and, after an obstinate conflict, struck him on the head with such force, that he fell to the ground, and died. St. George then rushed into the castle, and set the prisoners free. The old man, being now made happy, feasted the champions, and then sent them away with many rich presents. After passing the deserts of Arabia, on a sudden they saw some smoke on the side of a mountain, and St. George rode forward to make inquiries. On his coming near the spot, a huge giant rushed out of a cave, and put himself into a threatening posture; but St. George cleft the monster’s head with his battle-axe. The other champions now came up, and in the cave they set many unhappy captives free. These prisoners told them of the cruel deeds of a knight called Leoger, who was protected by magicians, and who made it a practice to send part of those he seized on, to be eaten by the giant that was just killed. The champions straight set off to seek the castle of Leoger.
The approach to Leoger’s castle was very hard; there was a deep moat round it, and the drawbridge was always drawn up. Before the gate of the drawbridge stood a pillar, to which a silver trumpet was made fast, and over it were placed these words: —
‘Who sounds this trumpet, shortly will behold
The drawbridge fall, and yonder doors unfold;
Yet of your entering here you must take heed,
Lest, for presuming, it, you chance to bleed.’
As soon as St. George had read this he put the trumpet to his mouth, and blew it so loud, that the very castle seemed to shake. The bridge now dropped, and the gates flew open. The champions tied their horses at the foot of the bridge, and resolved to force their passage into the castle. On entering, the champions found themselves in darkness; but on their coming to the top of a flight of stairs, the darkness vanished, and they beheld Leoger, with his necromancer, and several giants, standing on the roof of the palace. Twelve giants now came down to attack the strangers, but, after a bloody battle, they were all killed or wounded. The necromancer then had recourse to magic; and formed a phantom in the shape of a beautiful woman, who seemed to stand in a mournful posture, within an iron grate, with her face bathed in tears. While the knights were looking at this lady, they felt several heavy blows; and turning to see from whence they came, they saw armed men running into the castle at a little wicket. Being resolved to avenge themselves on these cowardly enemies, they pursued them, but as soon as they entered the wicket, they all fell into a dungeon paved with human bones. After groping about for some time, they found a bed, upon which six of them lay down in order to rest themselves; but the bed being enchanted, they fell into a sound sleep, from which St. George could not awake them. Soon after this, the magician came into the dungeon in a most dreadful form, his hair looking like a number of snakes, and his breath being like flames of fire. St. George drew his sword, and soon forced him to retire. As soon as this foe was gone, a new one came, in the shape of a monstrous dragon; but the English champion attacked it with such fury, that it soon took to flight. St. George ran after the dragon through vaults and arched passages, till on a sudden he found himself at the entrance of a large hall, lighted up by seven crystal lamps, and on a pillar of jasper were engraven these words: ‘While seven lamps burn day and night within this hall, no power can end the enchantment.’ St. Georg e in a moment seized a golden goblet that stood filled with some precious liquor, and poured it on the lamps. A loud, hissing noise followed, and after that, thunder and an earthquake. The castle tumbled into ruins, and Leoger and his necromancer were buried beneath its walls. The other six champions being now restored to light and liberty, embraced St. George; and they all set out together to return to their native countries, where they lived honoured and beloved; and after their deaths, their names were enrolled among the saints of Christendom.