Peronnik was a poor idiot who belonged to nobody, and he would have died of starvation if it had not been for the kindness of the village people, who gave him food whenever he chose to ask for it. And as for a bed, when night came, and he grew sleepy, he looked about for a heap of straw, and making a hole in it, crept in, like a lizard. Idiot though he was, he was never unhappy, but always thanked gratefully those who fed him, and sometimes would stop for a little and sing to them. For he could imitate a lark so well, that no one knew which was Peronnik and which was the bird.
He had been wandering in a forest one day for several hours, and when evening approached, he suddenly felt very hungry. Luckily, just at that place the trees grew thinner, and he could see a small farmhouse a little way off. Peronnik went straight towards it, and found the farmer’s wife standing at the door holding in her hands the large bowl out of which her children had eaten their supper.
‘I am hungry, will you give me something to eat?’ asked the boy.
‘If you can find anything here, you are welcome to it,’ answered she, and, indeed, there was not much left, as everybody’s spoon had dipped in. But Peronnik ate what was there with a hearty appetite, and thought that he had never tasted better food.
‘It is made of the finest flour and mixed with the richest milk and stirred by the best cook in all the countryside,’ and though he said it to himself, the woman heard him.
‘Poor innocent,’ she murmured, ‘he does not know what he is saying, but I will cut him a slice of that new wheaten loaf,’ and so she did, and Peronnik ate up every crumb, and declared that nobody less than the bishop’s baker could have baked it. This flattered the farmer’s wife so much that she gave him some butter to spread on it, and Peronnik was still eating it on the doorstep when an armed knight rode up.
‘Can you tell me the way to the castle of Kerglas?’ asked he.
‘To Kerglas? are you really going to Kerglas?’ cried the woman, turning pale.
‘Yes; and in order to get there I have come from a country so far off that it has taken me three months’ hard riding to travel as far as this.’
‘And why do you want to go to Kerglas?’ said she.
‘I am seeking the basin of gold and the lance of diamonds which are in the castle,’ he answered. Then Peronnik looked up.
‘The basin and the lance are very costly things,’ he said suddenly.
‘More costly and precious than all the crowns in the world,’ replied the stranger, ‘for not only will the basin furnish you with the best food that you can dream of, but if you drink of it, it will cure you of any illness however dangerous, and will even bring the dead back to life, if it touches their mouths. As to the diamond lance, that will cut through any stone or metal.’
‘And to whom do these wonders belong?’ asked Peronnik in amazement.
‘To a magician named Rogear who lives in the castle,’ answered the woman. ‘Every day he passes along here, mounted on a black mare, with a colt thirteen months old trotting behind. But no one dares to attack him, as he always carries his lance.’
‘That is true,’ said the knight, ‘but there is a spell laid upon him which forbids his using it within the castle of Kerglas. The moment he enters, the basin and lance are put away in a dark cellar which no key but one can open. And that is the place where I wish to fight the magician.’
‘You will never overcome him, Sir Knight,’ replied the woman, shaking her head. ‘More than a hundred gentlemen have ridden past this house bent on the same errand, and not one has ever come back.’