A Lord of La Roche, having only a daughter, Berthe, as sole heir to his powerful inheritance, staged a grand tournament at his castle. The hand of the wealthy heiress would go to the Knight who could beat all comers in a fair fight.
The first Knight to come forward was the Count of Montaigu, a huge man, proud of his strength, who had never been unhorsed by an adversary’s lance.
So of course no other champions came forward.
Yet Count de Montaigu had already plighted his troth to Countess Alix de Salm.
Just as time was about to run out, a knight entered the courtyard. What an odd contender! He was small, almost a child, and at the sight of this puny champion, the Count de Montaigu was seized by a terrible fit of laughter.
Watched by the Knights and the Ladies, the unequal combat began.
With a terrible thundering from his battle steed’s hooves, Count de Montaigu galloped towards his feeble adversary, armed only with a light weapon, his horse armour-less. With marvellous dexterity, guided by an alert hand, in a single bound this nimble steed avoided the Count’s violent collision.
In an instant, the Count turned around and came back at a walk, slower and more methodically this time, bearing down on his deft rival. But try as he might, he missed him every time. He started to get terribly hot, and the little Knight reined back his steed, stopped, and stood waiting provocatively.
Taking advantage of the moment, the Count sped up. The huge man’s sword swung through the air, and like a steel lightning-bolt, whistled down upon the reckless youngster…
But already the little Knight was no longer there. The heavy Count, carried away by his inertia, lost his balance and was unhorsed. With a crash of breaking steel, he fell to the ground. The little knight inserted the fine blade of his light sword through the join in his helmet and slit the fearsome Count’s throat with a single blow.
Moments later, the happy father led the newly-weds to the nuptial chamber right at the top of the keep.
First thing next morning, the father stood waiting in the castle yard, impatient to witness and share the happiness of the young newlyweds. The sun climbed higher and higher, but still they failed to appear. Tired of this long wait in vain, he climbed the steps of the keep, ran to the nuptial chamber, and knocked at the door. No answer… Unable to suppress his paternal anxiety, the father pushed the door; it opened, but the chamber was empty and the window open. With one bound, the panicking father rushed over to it, peering down into the void in terror: at the bottom of the abyss, on the rocks on the banks of the Ourthe, lay two dots – one black, the other white.
The mysterious Knight was none other than Countess Alix de Salm, who had made a pact with the Devil, then disguised herself to take her vengeance on Count de Montaigu and the beautiful Berthe de La Roche…