Short summary - The Mule Without a Bridle - Paien de Maisieres

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Mule Without a Bridle
Paien de Maisieres

So, the story begins: a girl on a mule appears to the court of the legendary King Arthur, where brave and noble knights gather. The beauty rides "without a bridle at all" and cries bitterly. Noble ladies and knights send Seneschal Kay to find out what is the matter. Soon Kei returns and reports: the girl is sad that her mule has no bridle, and she is looking for a brave knight who will agree to find this bridle and return it to her. And if there is such a person and will fulfill her request, she is ready to become his obedient wife.

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Admired by the beauty of the lady, Kay asks to allow him to perform this feat. Ready to follow the bridle to the ends of the world, Kay wants to get a kiss from the lady before the road. However, she refuses him: first a bridle, and then a kiss. Without wasting more precious time, Kay sits on the mule, and he confidently trots along the familiar path. Soon the mule turns into a forest full of lions, leopards and tigers; with a loud roar, the beast rushes "to where the knight's path went." Cursing everything in the world, the hapless seneschal thinks only about how to get his feet out of here as soon as possible. Out of respect for the mistress of the mule, the predators, after seeing the rider, retreat into the thicket.

The forest ended, the mule rode out onto the plain, and Kay perked up. However, he is not happy for long: the mule enters the gorge, where “snakes, tarantulas and spiders” swarm at the bottom, whose stinking, fetid breath, swirling like black smoke, so frightens Kay that he is in horror ready to return to the forest to the wild animals. Finally, this obstacle is behind, now Kei is waiting for a stormy stream, which can only be crossed by the bridge. The Seneschal breaks down and turns back; thanks to the mule, he passes all the reptiles and beasts unharmed and finally drives up to the Artur's palace.

Upon learning that he did not bring the bridle, the girl tears her hair out in grief. Touched by her grief, the knight Gauvin asks to allow him to bring her a bridle. Hearing his words, the girl happily kisses the knight: her heart tells her that he will bring the bridle. Meanwhile Seneschal Kay, "grieving at heart," leaves the yard; not having performed the knightly feat undertaken upon himself, he does not dare to appear before King Arthur.

The mule takes Govin along the same paths as Kei. Seeing a familiar mule and his rider, the brave Govin, the animals run out to meet them. Gauvin guesses that, frightened by the beast, Kay broke his word given to the lady. Gauvin himself fearlessly drives on and with a smile on his lips passes the gorge of horror and stench, at the bottom of which the reptiles swirl.

Along a narrow plank, the knight fearlessly crosses the seething stream and drives up to the castle, which revolves like a mill wheel. The castle is surrounded by a deep moat with water, around the moat there is a palisade decorated with human heads; one pole of this terrible fence is still free. But the knight is not shy at heart. Having entered the bridge, Gauvin courageously rushes forward and penetrates the castle at the cost of only half of the mule's tail, which "remained hanging at the gate." All around is empty and quiet. A silent dwarf meets him in the courtyard; following him, Govin encounters a huge hairy villan with an ax around his neck. Willan warns the knight that it will not be easy to reach the cherished bridle; but this warning only inflames the hero's courage. Then Villan fusses about the knight, takes him into the house, serves dinner, makes the bed, and before going to bed offers a game: first Gauvin will cut his head off, and then he will Gauvin. The knight agrees, cuts off Villan's head, he takes it under his arm and leaves, promising to come tomorrow for Govin's head.

In the morning, true to his word, Gauvin puts his head on the block. But it turns out that the shaggy giant only wanted to scare him. A terrifying-looking villan becomes a loyal servant of the knight and equips him to fight the fierce lions. Seven shields are broken by predators, but the knight still defeats them. Govin is ready to get the bridle, but this is only the first test. When the knight has rested and changed his armor, the villean leads him into the hall where the wounded knight lies. According to custom, this knight fights with everyone who comes to the castle for the bridle. The knight defeats the alien, cuts off his head and impales it near the moat. If the alien defeats the knight, then he will have to chop off his head and take his place himself. Goven, of course, defeats the knight of the castle, but generously keeps his head on his shoulders. Now the shaggy villan will bring him the bridle, Govin thinks. But a new test awaits Arturov the knight: Villan brings two fire-breathing snakes to him. With a mighty blow, Govin cuts off the heads of both reptiles.

Then the former dwarf comes to Gauvin and, on behalf of his mistress, invites the knight to share a meal with her. Gauvin accepts the invitation, but, not trusting the dwarf, demands that he be accompanied by a faithful villain. Following his guides, the knight comes to a beautiful lady. Admiring his courage, the lady invites Gauvin to the table. Villan and the dwarf serve them, the lady hospitably treats the hero. When the meal is over and the servants have taken away the water to wash their hands, Govin asks the lady to give him the bridle. In response, she declares that he fought for her sister, and therefore she is ready to give him all of herself in order for him to become the master of both her and her fifty castles. But the knight politely replies that “about the news that happened” he is obliged “to bring it to the king as soon as possible,” and therefore he must immediately set off on his way back. Then the lady points him to the silver nail where the precious bridle hangs. Gauvin removes the bridle, says goodbye to the lady, and Villan brings his mule. The lady asks the villain to stop the rotation of the castle so that the knight can easily leave its walls, and he willingly fulfills her request.

Passing by the gate, Gauvin looks with surprise at the cheering crowd: when he entered the castle, there was not a soul in it. Villan explains to him: earlier all these people were hiding in a cave because they were afraid of wild animals. Only those who are braver sometimes went to work. Now that Gauvin has killed all the predators, they rejoice in the light, and their joy has no limit. Villan's speeches are a great joy for Gauvin.

Here the mule again runs across the narrow board, turns into a stinking gorge, enters a dense forest, where all the animals again jump out to meet him - to kneel before the valiant knight. But Gauvin has no time - he hurries to Arthur's castle.

Gauvin enters the meadow in front of the castle, the Queen and her retinue notices him from the windows. Everyone rushes towards the brave knight, and most of all the lady arrives rejoices: she knows that Govin brought her a bridle. Having rewarded the knight with a kiss, she thanks him for the feat. "And then Govin told her his adventures without embarrassment": about the forest, about the furious stream, about the wonderful palace, about the dwarf and about the villain, about how the lions were killed, how the famous knight was defeated, how two snakes were hit at once, about the meal and conversation with her sister, about the jubilation of the people in the castle.

After listening to Govin's story, the lady asks to allow her to leave, although everyone, including the king himself, persuades her to stay and choose a lord among the knights of the Round Table. But the lady stands her ground: she is not free to stay, no matter how much she wants. Sitting on a mule, she, abandoning the escorts, gallops back into the forest. This is where the story "about a girl on a mule, who suddenly left the palace, here finds its end."