The Brown Fairy Book
How Geirald The Coward Was Punished
Once upon a time there lived a poor knight who had a great many children, and found it
very hard to get enough for them to eat. One day he sent his eldest son, Rosald, a brave
and honest youth, to the neighbouring town to do some business, and here Rosald met a
young man named Geirald, with whom he made friends.
Now Geirald was the son of a rich man, who was proud of the boy, and had all his life
allowed him to do whatever he fancied, and, luckily for the father, he was prudent and
sensible, and did not waste money, as many other rich young men might have done. For
some time he had set his heart on travelling into foreign countries, and after he had been
talking for a little while to Rosald, he asked if his new friend would be his companion on
'There is nothing I should like better,' answered Rosald, shaking his head sorrowfully;
'but my father is very poor, and he could never give me the money.'
'Oh, if that is your only difficulty, it is all right,' cried Geirald. 'My father has more
money than he knows what to do with, and he will give me as much as I want for both of
us; only, there is one thing you must promise me, Rosald, that, supposing we have any
adventures, you will let the honour and glory of them fall to me.'
'Yes, of course, that is only fair,' answered Rosald, who never cared about putting himself
forward. 'But I cannot go without telling my parents. I am sure they will think me lucky
to get such a chance.'
As soon as the business was finished, Rosald hastened home. His parents were delighted
to hear of his good fortune, and his father gave him his own sword, which was growing
rusty for want of use, while his mother saw that his leather jerkin was in order.
'Be sure you keep the promise you made to Geirald,' said she, as she bade him good-bye,
'and, come what may, see that you never betray him.'
Full of joy Rosald rode off, and the next day he and Geirald started off to seek
adventures. To their disappointment their own land was so well governed that nothing out
of the common was very likely to happen, but directly they crossed the border into
another kingdom all seemed lawlessness and confusion.
They had not gone very far, when, riding across a mountain, they caught a glimpse of
several armed men hiding amongst some trees in their path, and remembered suddenly
some talk they had heard of a band of twelve robbers who lay in wait for rich travellers.
The robbers were more like savage beasts than men, and lived somewhere at the top of
the mountain in caves and holes in the ground. They were all called 'Hankur,' and were
distinguished one from another by the name of a colour--blue, grey, red, and so on,