On another day a young merchant happened to leave
p.25his ship to seek tidings in the island, and he chanced on the cave and the castle; and when he went the length of the cave he saw a damsel, the most lovely he had ever seen till then, combing her head and much treasure and precious stones and other jewels around her. He drew near her and saluted her, and she turned her face to him and asked him what was his pleasure. He answered that he wished her to be with him as his wife, for he thought that she was a woman who used to sell herself publicly. She asked him was he a knight. He said that he was not. She answered thou shalt not be my leman until thou art a knight, and whence hast thou come? says she, or who art thou? A merchant, says he, and a gentleman, and I have come ashore from my ship into this island. If so, quoth she, go to thy companions and let them make thee a knight, and come to me tomorrow to the door of the cave and await me, and I will come forth to thee as a dragon, and kiss me on my mouth, and I undertake that thou shalt have no fear of my doing evil or harm to thee, for whatsoever knight shall so kiss me shall be my husband. And give a kiss to me, and if thou give it, thou shalt get all the wealth that thou hast seen with me, and myself, and the kingship of all these islands. And she told all her tales to him. Then he bade her farewell, and went to his vessel, and told his companions this story from beginning to end. On the morrow, having been made a knight, he came as he had promised; but when he saw the dragon in front of the cave he fled to his ship, and she followed him. And when she saw that he turned not again to her, she went back to the castle and cried loudly and sadly, and on reaching his ship the knight died. And thenceforward no knight has dared to see her, and none will dare until the knight shall come, whose fate it is to give the kiss and be king over the islands, and have her to wife with all her wealth. And 'tis thus that I have heard; but I myself have not seen it.