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Main > Iceland folktales > Fairy tale "Stéfan and Geirard"

Stéfan and Geirard

" cried the people. St�fan then dismounted and helped the page to rise.

In the confusion that followed it was easy for St�fan to sIip away and return to Geirald his proper clothes. And in these, torn and dusty with the fight, Geirald was the one who answered the king's summons to come before him.

"You have done what I expected you to do," said he. "Now, choose your reward."

"Grant me, sire, the hand of the queen, your niece," replied the young man, bowing low, "and I will defend her kingdom against all her enemies."

"She could choose no better husband," said the king. "If she consents I do, too." The king turned towards the queen, who had not been present during the fight, but had just slipped into a seat by his right hand. Now the queen's eyes were very sharp, and it seemed to her that the man who stood before her, tall and handsome though he might be, was different in many slight ways, and in one in particular, from the man who had fought the tournament. How there could be any trickery she could not understand, and why the real victor should be willing to give up his prize to another was stranger still; but something in her heart warned her to be careful. She answered, "You may be satisfied, uncle, but I am not. One more proof I must have; let the two young men now fight against each other. The man I marry must be the man who killed the robbers and the giant, and the man who overcame my page."

Geirald's face grew pale as he heard these words. He knew there was no escape for him now.

The tournament was fought. In spite of Geirald's fears, St�fan managed to hang back to make attacks which were never meant to succeed, and to allow strokes which he could easily have parried to attain their end. At last, after a great show of resistance, St�fan fell heavily to the ground. And as he fell, he knew that it was not alone the glory that he gave up, but the hand of the queen that was more precious still.

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