The Knight and the Lion

"Yvain's Cure"

In no time the girl is back by Yvain's side and sets about rubbing the ointment on his forehead. Yet she is so eager to make sure that he will completely recover that she forgets all about what her mistress said and rubs the ointment all over him from top to toe until there is none left in the box. If there had been five times as much, she'd still have used it all.

Anyway, the ointment does its work. For as the bright, warm sunshine splashes through the trees and falls on Yvain, the madness slips out of his brain and glides away.

Leaving the clothes she has brought, the girl runs to hide behind an oak tree as Yvain wakes. His mind is clear, and seeing that his body is white and naked as ivory he is ashamed. What if someone should find him here? And what are these clothes doing lying beside him? He puts them on, but when he tries to walk he cannot do it, he is too weak.

Just then the girl rides by, a little way off, as if she has not seen him. He calls out to her for help, and she turns her head as though noticing him for the first time. She does this out of courtesy for she does not want to embarrass him.

'Wise young girl,' Yvain cried, 'by some bad luck I find myself in this wood. Can you help me to get out?'

'Willingly,' she replied. 'Come with me to my mistress's castle.'

'Has your mistress need of a knight?'

'Yes indeed, but first you must rest. You are not well.'

So Yvain mounts the horse behind the girl and they ride off. As they cross the bridge over a fast-flowing stream, the girl drops the empty box she is carrying into the water. She means to tell her mistress that the horse stumbled and the box fell in by mistake - for she is too scared to admit that she used up all the ointment herself.

The girl's mistress is very angry when she hears the ointment is lost. Still, there is no use making two bad things out of one and she sets about seeing that everything is done for Yvain's comfort. His beard is so thick you could grab it by handfuls, but soon he is washed and shaved. He is well fed and rested, and given new clothes and armour, not to mention a strong and handsome horse.

What does the lady want Yvain to do for her in return?