Holiness Fights Faithless, and Makes Friends with False Religion
T HE true St. George, meanwhile, had wandered far away. Now that he had left the Lady Una, he had nothing but his own will to guide him, and he no longer followed any fixed purpose.
Presently he saw coming to meet him another warrior, fully armed. He was a great, rough fellow, who cared nothing for God or man; across his shield, in gay letters, was written "Sans Foy," which means Faithless.
He had with him a companion, a handsome lady, dressed all in scarlet, trimmed with gold and rich pearls. She rode a beautiful palfrey, with gay trappings, and little gold bells tinkled on her bridle. The two came along laughing and talking, but when the lady saw the Red Cross Knight, she left off her mirth at once, and bade her companion attack him.
Then the two knights levelled their spears, and rushed at each other. But when Faithless saw the red cross graven on the breastplate of the other, he knew that he could never prevail against that safeguard. However, he fought with great fury, and the Red Cross Knight had a hard battle before he overcame him. At last he managed to kill him, and he told to carry away the shield of Faithless in token of victory.
When the lady saw her champion fall, she fled in terror; but the Red Cross Knight hurried after her, and bade her stay, telling her that she had nothing now to fear. His brave and gentle heart was full of pity to see her in so great distress, and he asked her to tell him who she was, and who was the man that had been with her.
Melting into tears, she then told him the following sad story:—She said that she was the daughter of an emperor, and had been engaged to marry a wise and good prince. Before the wedding-day, however, the prince fell into the hands of his foes, and was cruelly slain. She went out to look for his dead body, and in the course of her wandering met the Saracen knight; who took her captive. "Sans Foy" was one of three bad brothers. The names of the others were "Sans Loy," which means Lawless, and "Sans Joy," which means Joyless. She further said that her own name was "Fidessa," or True Religion, and she besought the Knight to have compassion on her, because she was so friendless and unhappy.
"Fair lady," said the Knight, "a heart of flint would grieve to hear of your sorrows. But henceforth rest safely assured that you have found a new friend to help you, and lost an old foe to hurt you. A new friend is better than an old foe."
Then the seemingly simple maiden pretended to look comforted, and the two rode on happily together.
But what the lady had told about herself was quite untrue. Her name was not "Fidessa" at all, but "Duessa," which means False Rellkion. If Una had still been with the Knight, he would never have been led astray; but when he parted from her he had nothing but his own feelings to guide him. He still meant to do right, but he was deceived by his false companion, who brought him into much trouble and danger.