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Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory

Part 3 out of 9

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have gone after to have won me worship; and here my younger
brother said he would go after the hart, for he was better knight
than I: and for this cause we fell at debate, and so we thought
to prove which of us both was better knight. This is a simple
cause, said Sir Gawaine; uncouth men ye should
debate withal, and not brother with brother; therefore but if you
will do by my counsel I will have ado with you, that is ye shall
yield you unto me, and that ye go unto King Arthur and yield you
unto his grace. Sir knight, said the two brethren, we are
forfoughten and much blood have we lost through our wilfulness,
and therefore we would be loath to have ado with you. Then do as
I will have you, said Sir Gawaine. We will agree to fulfil your
will; but by whom shall we say that we be thither sent? Ye may
say, By the knight that followeth the quest of the hart that was
white. Now what is your name? said Gawaine. Sorlouse of the
Forest, said the elder. And my name is, said the younger, Brian
of the Forest. And so they departed and went to the king's
court, and Sir Gawaine on his quest.

And as Gawaine followed the hart by the cry of the hounds, even
afore him there was a great river, and the hart swam over; and as
Sir Gawaine would follow after, there stood a knight over the
other side, and said, Sir knight, come not over after this hart
but if thou wilt joust with me. I will not fail as for that,
said Sir Gawaine, to follow the quest that I am in, and so made
his horse to swim over the water. And anon they gat their spears
and ran together full hard; but Sir Gawaine smote him off his
horse, and then he turned his horse and bade him yield him. Nay,
said the knight, not so, though thou have the better of me on
horseback. I pray thee, valiant <87>knight, alight afoot, and
match we together with swords. What is your name? said Sir
Gawaine. Allardin of the Isles, said the other. Then either
dressed their shields and smote together, but Sir Gawaine smote
him so hard through the helm that it went to the brains, and the
knight fell down dead. Ah! said Gaheris, that was a mighty
stroke of a young knight.

How the hart was chased into a castle and there slain, and
how Sir Gawaine slew a lady.

THEN Gawaine and Gaheris rode more than a pace after the white
hart, and let slip at the hart three couple of greyhounds, and so
they chased the hart into a castle, and in the chief place of the
castle they slew the hart; Sir Gawaine and Gaheris followed
after. Right so there came a knight out of a chamber with a
sword drawn in his hand and slew two of the greyhounds, even in
the sight of Sir Gawaine, and the remnant he chased them with his
sword out of the castle. And when he came again, he said, O my
white hart, me repenteth that thou art dead, for my sovereign
lady gave thee to me, and evil have I kept thee, and thy death
shall be dear bought an I live. And anon he went into his
chamber and armed him, and came out fiercely, and there met he
with Sir Gawaine. Why have ye slain my hounds? said Sir Gawaine,
for they did but their kind, and liefer I had ye had wroken your
anger upon me than upon a dumb beast. Thou sayest truth, said
the knight, I have avenged me on thy hounds, and so I will on
thee or thou go. Then Sir Gawaine alighted afoot and dressed his
shield, and struck together mightily, and clave their shields,
and stoned their helms, and brake their hauberks that the blood
ran down to their feet.

At the last Sir Gawaine smote the knight so hard that <88>he fell
to the earth, and then he cried mercy, and yielded him, and
besought him as he was a knight and gentleman, to save his life.
Thou shalt die, said Sir Gawaine, for slaying of my hounds. I
will make amends, said the knight, unto my power. Sir Gawaine
would no mercy have, but unlaced his helm to have stricken off
his head. Right so came his lady out of a chamber and fell over
him, and so he smote off her head by misadventure. Alas, said
Gaheris, that is foully and shamefully done, that shame shall
never from you; also ye should give mercy unto them that ask
mercy, for a knight without mercy is without worship. Sir
Gawaine was so stonied of the death of this fair lady that he
wist not what he did, and said unto the knight, Arise, I will
give thee mercy. Nay, nay, said the knight, I take no force of
mercy now, for thou hast slain my love and my lady that I loved
best of all earthly things. Me sore repenteth it, said Sir
Gawaine, for I thought to strike unto thee; but now thou shalt go
unto King Arthur and tell him of thine adventures, and how thou
art overcome by the knight that went in the quest of the white
hart. I take no force, said the knight, whether I live or I die;
but so for dread of death he swore to go unto King Arthur, and he
made him to bear one greyhound before him on his horse, and
another behind him. What is your name? said Sir Gawaine, or we
depart. My name is, said the knight, Ablamar of the Marsh. So
he departed toward Camelot.


How four knights fought against Gawaine and Gaheris,
and how they were overcome, and their lives saved at
request of four ladies.

AND Sir Gawaine went into the castle, and made him ready to lie
there all night, and would have unarmed him. What will ye do,
said Gaheris, will ye unarm you in this <89>country? Ye may
think ye have many enemies here. They had not sooner said that
word but there came four knights well armed, and assailed Sir
Gawaine hard, and said unto him, Thou new-made knight, thou hast
shamed thy knighthood, for a knight without mercy is dishonoured.
Also thou hast slain a fair lady to thy great shame to the
world's end, and doubt thou not thou shalt have great need of
mercy or thou depart from us. And therewith one of them smote
Sir Gawaine a great stroke that nigh he fell to the earth, and
Gaheris smote him again sore, and so they were on the one side
and on the other, that Sir Gawaine and Gaheris were in jeopardy
of their lives; and one with a bow, an archer, smote Sir Gawaine
through the arm that it grieved him wonderly sore. And as they
should have been slain, there came four fair ladies, and besought
the knights of grace for Sir Gawaine; and goodly at request of
the ladies they gave Sir Gawaine and Gaheris their lives, and
made them to yield them as prisoners. Then Gawaine and Gaheris
made great dole. Alas! said Sir Gawaine, mine arm grieveth me
sore, I am like to be maimed; and so made his complaint

Early on the morrow there came to Sir Gawaine one of the four
ladies that had heard all his complaint, and said, Sir knight,
what cheer? Not good, said he. It is your own default, said the
lady, for ye have done a passing foul deed in the slaying of the
lady, the which will be great villainy unto you. But be ye not
of King Arthur's kin? said the lady. Yes truly, said Sir
Gawaine. What is your name? said the lady, ye must tell it me or
ye pass. My name is Gawaine, the King Lot of Orkney's son, and
my mother is King Arthur's sister. Ah! then are ye nephew unto
King Arthur, said the lady, and I shall so speak for you that ye
shall have conduct to go to King Arthur for his love. And so she
departed and told the four knights how their prisoner was King
Arthur's nephew, and his name is Sir Gawaine, King Lot's son of
Orkney. And they gave him the hart's head because it was in his
quest. Then anon they delivered Sir Gawaine under this promise,
that he should bear the dead lady with him in <90>this manner;
the head of her was hanged about his neck, and the whole body of
her lay before him on his horse's mane. Right so rode he forth
unto Camelot. And anon as he was come, Merlin desired of King
Arthur that Sir Gawaine should be sworn to tell of all his
adventures, and how he slew the lady, and how he would give no
mercy unto the knight, wherethrough the lady was slain. Then the
king and the queen were greatly displeased with Sir Gawaine for
the slaying of the lady. And there by ordinance of the queen
there was set a quest of ladies on Sir Gawaine, and they judged
him for ever while he lived to be with all ladies, and to fight
for their quarrels; and that ever he should be courteous, and
never to refuse mercy to him that asketh mercy. Thus was Gawaine
sworn upon the Four Evangelists that he should never be against
lady nor gentlewoman, but if he fought for a lady and his
adversary fought for another. And thus endeth the adventure of
Sir Gawaine that he did at the marriage of King Arthur. Amen.


How Sir Tor rode after the knight with the brachet, and
of his adventure by the way.

WHEN Sir Tor was ready, he mounted upon his horseback, and rode
after the knight with the brachet. So as he rode he met with a
dwarf suddenly that smote his horse on the head with a staff,
that he went backward his spear length. Why dost thou so? said
Sir Tor. For thou shalt not pass this way, but if thou joust
with yonder knights of the pavilions. Then was Tor ware where
two pavilions were, and great spears stood out, and two shields
hung on trees by the pavilions. I may not tarry, said Sir Tor,
for I am in a quest that I must needs follow. Thou shalt not
pass, said the dwarf, and therewithal he blew his horn. Then
there came one armed on horseback, and dressed his shield,
<91>and came fast toward Tor, and he dressed him against him, and
so ran together that Tor bare him from his horse. And anon the
knight yielded him to his mercy. But, sir, I have a fellow in
yonder pavilion that will have ado with you anon. He shall be
welcome, said Sir Tor. Then was he ware of another knight coming
with great raundon, and each of them dressed to other, that
marvel it was to see; but the knight smote Sir Tor a great stroke
in midst of the shield that his spear all to-shivered. And Sir
Tor smote him through the shield below of the shield that it went
through the cost of the knight, but the stroke slew him not. And
therewith Sir Tor alighted and smote him on the helm a great
stroke, and therewith the knight yielded him and besought him of
mercy. I will well, said Sir Tor, but thou and thy fellow must
go unto King Arthur, and yield you prisoners unto him. By whom
shall we say are we thither sent? Ye shall say by the knight
that went in the quest of the knight that went with the brachet.
Now, what be your two names? said Sir Tor. My name is, said the
one, Sir Felot of Langduk; and my name is, said the other, Sir
Petipase of Winchelsea. Now go ye forth, said Sir Tor, and God
speed you and me. Then came the dwarf and said unto Sir Tor, I
pray you give me a gift. I will well, said Sir Tor, ask. I ask
no more, said the dwarf, but that ye will suffer me to do you
service, for I will serve no more recreant knights. Take an
horse, said Sir Tor, and ride on with me. I wot ye ride after
the knight with the white brachet, and I shall bring you where he
is, said the dwarf. And so they rode throughout a forest, and at
the last they were ware of two pavilions, even by a priory, with
two shields, and the one shield was enewed with white, and the
other shield was red.


How Sir Tor found the brachet with a lady, and how a
knight assailed him for the said brachet.

THEREWITH Sir Tor alighted and took the dwarf his glaive, and so
he came to the white pavilion, and saw three damosels lie in it,
on one pallet, sleeping, and so he went to the other pavilion,
and found a lady lying sleeping therein, but there was the white
brachet that bayed at her fast, and therewith the lady yede out
of the pavilion and all her damosels. But anon as Sir Tor espied
the white brachet, he took her by force and took her to the
dwarf. What, will ye so, said the lady, take my brachet from me?
Yea, said Sir Tor, this brachet have I sought from King Arthur's
court hither. Well, said the lady, knight, ye shall not go far
with her, but that ye shall be met and grieved. I shall abide
what adventure that cometh by the grace of God, and so mounted
upon his horse, and passed on his way toward Camelot; but it was
so near night he might not pass but little further. Know ye any
lodging? said Tor. I know none, said the dwarf, but here beside
is an hermitage, and there ye must take lodging as ye find. And
within a while they came to the hermitage and took lodging; and
was there grass, oats and bread for their horses; soon it was
sped, and full hard was their supper; but there they rested them
all night till on the morn, and heard a mass devoutly, and took
their leave of the hermit, and Sir Tor prayed the hermit to pray
for him. He said he would, and betook him to God. And so
mounted upon horseback and rode towards Camelot a long while.

With that they heard a knight call loud that came after them, and
he said, Knight, abide and yield my brachet that thou took from
my lady. Sir Tor returned again, and beheld him how he was a
seemly knight and well horsed, and well armed at all points; then
Sir Tor dressed his shield, and took his spear in his hands, and
the other came fiercely upon him, and smote both horse and man to
the <93>earth. Anon they arose lightly and drew their swords as
eagerly as lions, and put their shields afore them, and smote
through the shields, that the cantels fell off both parties.
Also they tamed their helms that the hot blood ran out, and the
thick mails of their hauberks they carved and rove in sunder that
the hot blood ran to the earth, and both they had many wounds and
were passing weary. But Sir Tor espied that the other knight
fainted, and then he sued fast upon him, and doubled his strokes,
and gart him go to the earth on the one side. Then Sir Tor bade
him yield him. That will I not, said Abelleus, while my life
lasteth and the soul is within my body, unless that thou wilt
give me the brachet. That will I not do, said Sir Tor, for it
was my quest to bring again thy brachet, thee, or both.


How Sir Tor overcame the knight, and how he lost his head
at the request of a lady.

WITH that came a damosel riding on a palfrey as fast as she might
drive, and cried with a loud voice unto Sir Tor. What will ye
with me? said Sir Tor. I beseech thee, said the damosel, for
King Arthur's love, give me a gift; I require thee, gentle
knight, as thou art a gentleman. Now, said Tor, ask a gift and I
will give it you. Gramercy, said the damosel; now I ask the head
of the false knight Abelleus, for he is the most outrageous
knight that liveth, and the greatest murderer. I am loath, said
Sir Tor, of that gift I have given you; let him make amends in
that he hath trespassed unto you. Now, said the damosel, he may
not, for he slew mine own brother before mine own eyes, that was
a better knight than he, an he had had grace; and I kneeled half
an hour afore him in the mire for to save my brother's life, that
had done him no damage, but fought with him by adventure of arms,
and so for all that I could do he struck off his head; wherefore
I require thee, <94>as thou art a true knight, to give me my
gift, or else I shall shame thee in all the court of King Arthur;
for he is the falsest knight living, and a great destroyer of
good knights. Then when Abelleus heard this, he was more afeard,
and yielded him and asked mercy. I may not now, said Sir Tor,
but if I should be found false of my promise; for while I would
have taken you to mercy ye would none ask, but if ye had the
brachet again, that was my quest. And therewith he took off his
helm, and he arose and fled, and Sir Tor after him, and smote off
his head quite.

Now sir, said the damosel, it is near night; I pray you come and
lodge with me here at my place, it is here fast by. I will well,
said Sir Tor, for his horse and he had fared evil since they
departed from Camelot, and so he rode with her, and had passing
good cheer with her; and she had a passing fair old knight to her
husband that made him passing good cheer, and well eased both his
horse and him. And on the morn he heard his mass, and brake his
fast, and took his leave of the knight and of the lady, that
besought him to tell them his name. Truly, he said, my name is
Sir Tor that was late made knight, and this was the first quest
of arms that ever I did, to bring again that this knight Abelleus
took away from King Arthur's court. O fair knight, said the lady
and her husband, an ye come here in our marches, come and see our
poor lodging, and it shall be always at your commandment. So Sir
Tor departed and came to Camelot on the third day by noon, and
the king and the queen and all the court was passing fain of his
coming, and made great joy that he was come again; for he went
from the court with little succour, but as King Pellinore his
father gave him an old courser, and King Arthur gave him armour
and a sword, and else had he none other succour, but rode so
forth himself alone. And then the king and the queen by Merlin's
advice made him to swear to tell of his adventures, and so he
told and made proofs of his deeds as it is afore rehearsed,
wherefore the king and the queen made great joy. Nay, nay, said
Merlin, these be but japes to that he shall do; for he shall
prove a noble knight of prowess, as good as any is living,
<95>and gentle and courteous, and of good tatches, and passing
true of his promise, and never shall outrage. Wherethrough
Merlin's words King Arthur gave him an earldom of lands that fell
unto him. And here endeth the quest of Sir Tor, King Pellinore's


How King Pellinore rode after the lady and the knight that
led her away, and how a lady desired help of him, and
how he fought with two knights for that lady, of whom
he slew the one at the first stroke.

THEN King Pellinore armed him and mounted upon his horse, and
rode more than a pace after the lady that the knight led away.
And as he rode in a forest, he saw in a valley a damosel sit by a
well, and a wounded knight in her arms, and Pellinore saluted
her. And when she was ware of him, she cried overloud, Help me,
knight; for Christ's sake, King Pellinore. And he would not
tarry, he was so eager in his quest, and ever she cried an
hundred times after help. When she saw he would not abide, she
prayed unto God to send him as much need of help as she had, and
that he might feel it or he died. So, as the book telleth, the
knight there died that there was wounded, wherefore the lady for
pure sorrow slew herself with his sword. As King Pellinore rode
in that valley he met with a poor man, a labourer. Sawest thou
not, said Pellinore, a knight riding and leading away a lady?
Yea, said the man, I saw that knight, and the lady that made
great dole; and yonder beneath in a valley there shall ye see two
pavilions, and one of the knights of the pavilions challenged
that lady of that knight, and said she was his cousin near,
wherefore he should lead her no farther. And so they waged
battle in that quarrel, the one said he would have her by force,
and the other said he would have the rule of her, by cause he was
her kinsman, and would lead her to her kin. For this quarrel he
left them fighting. And if <96>ye will ride a pace ye shall find
them fighting, and the lady was beleft with the two squires in
the pavilions. God thank thee, said King Pellinore.

Then he rode a wallop till he had a sight of the two pavilions,
and the two knights fighting. Anon he rode unto the pavilions,
and saw the lady that was his quest, and said, Fair lady, ye must
go with me unto the court of King Arthur. Sir knight, said the
two squires that were with her, yonder are two knights that fight
for this lady, go thither and depart them, and be agreed with
them, and then may ye have her at your pleasure. Ye say well,
said King Pellinore. And anon he rode betwixt them, and departed
them, and asked them the causes why that they fought? Sir
knight, said the one, I shall tell you, this lady is my kinswoman
nigh, mine aunt's daughter, and when I heard her complain that
she was with him maugre her head, I waged battle to fight with
him. Sir knight, said the other, whose name was Hontzlake of
Wentland, and this lady I gat by my prowess of arms this day at
Arthur's court. That is untruly said, said King Pellinore, for
ye came in suddenly there as we were at the high feast, and took
away this lady or any man might make him ready; and therefore it
was my quest to bring her again and you both, or else the one of
us to abide in the field; therefore the lady shall go with me, or
I will die for it, for I have promised it King Arthur. And
therefore fight ye no more, for none of you shall have no part of
her at this time; and if ye list to fight for her, fight with me,
and I will defend her. Well, said the knights, make you ready,
and we shall assail you with all our power. And as King
Pellinore would have put his horse from them, Sir Hontzlake rove
his horse through with a sword, and said: Now art thou on foot
as well as we are. When King Pellinore espied that his horse was
slain, lightly he leapt from his horse and pulled out his sword,
and put his shield afore him, and said, Knight, keep well thy
head, for thou shalt have a buffet for the slaying of my horse.
So King Pellinore gave him such a stroke upon the helm that he
clave the head down to the chin, that he fell to the earth dead.


How King Pellinore gat the lady and brought her to Camelot
to the court of King Arthur.

AND then he turned him to the other knight, that was sore
wounded. But when he saw the other's buffet, he would not fight,
but kneeled down and said, Take my cousin the lady with you at
your request, and I require you, as ye be a true knight, put her
to no shame nor villainy. What, said King Pellinore, will ye not
fight for her? No, sir, said the knight, I will not fight with
such a knight of prowess as ye be. Well, said Pellinore, ye say
well; I promise you she shall have no villainy by me, as I am
true knight; but now me lacketh an horse, said Pellinore, but I
will have Hontzlake's horse. Ye shall not need, said the knight,
for I shall give you such an horse as shall please you, so that
you will lodge with me, for it is near night. I will well, said
King Pellinore, abide with you all night. And there he had with
him right good cheer, and fared of the best with passing good
wine, and had merry rest that night. And on the morn he heard a
mass and dined; and then was brought him a fair bay courser, and
King Pellinore's saddle set upon him. Now, what shall I call
you? said the knight, inasmuch as ye have my cousin at your
desire of your quest. Sir, I shall tell you, my name is King
Pellinore of the Isles and knight of the Table Round. Now I am
glad, said the knight, that such a noble man shall have the rule
of my cousin. Now, what is your name? said Pellinore, I pray you
tell me. Sir, my name is Sir Meliot of Logurs, and this lady my
cousin hight Nimue, and the knight that was in the other pavilion
is my sworn brother, a passing good knight, and his name is Brian
of the Isles, and he is full loath to do wrong, and full loath to
fight with any man, but if he be sore sought on, so that for
shame he may not leave it. It is marvel, said Pellinore, that he
will not <98>have ado with me. Sir, he will not have ado with no
man but if it be at his request. Bring him to the court, said
Pellinore, one of these days. Sir, we will come together. And
ye shall be welcome, said Pellinore, to the court of King Arthur,
and greatly allowed for your coming. And so he departed with the
lady, and brought her to Camelot.

So as they rode in a valley it was full of stones, and there the
lady's horse stumbled and threw her down, that her arm was sore
bruised and near she swooned for pain. Alas! sir, said the lady,
mine arm is out of lithe, wherethrough I must needs rest me. Ye
shall well, said King Pellinore. And so he alighted under a fair
tree where was fair grass, and he put his horse thereto, and so
laid him under the tree and slept till it was nigh night. And
when he awoke he would have ridden. Sir, said the lady, it is so
dark that ye may as well ride backward as forward. So they abode
still and made there their lodging. Then Sir Pellinore put off
his armour; then a little afore midnight they heard the trotting
of an horse. Be ye still, said King Pellinore, for we shall hear
of some adventure.


How on the way he heard two knights, as he lay by night in
a valley, and of their adventures.

AND therewith he armed him. So right even afore him there met
two knights, the one came froward Camelot, and the other from the
north, and either saluted other. What tidings at Camelot? said
the one. By my head, said the other, there have I been and
espied the court of King Arthur, and there is such a fellowship
they may never be broken, and well-nigh all the world holdeth
with Arthur, for there is the flower of chivalry. Now for this
cause I am riding into the north, to tell our chieftains of the
fellowship that is withholden with King Arthur. <99>As for that,
said the other knight, I have brought a remedy with me, that is
the greatest poison that ever ye heard speak of, and to Camelot
will I with it, for we have a friend right nigh King Arthur, and
well cherished, that shall poison King Arthur; for so he hath
promised our chieftains, and received great gifts for to do it.
Beware, said the other knight, of Merlin, for he knoweth all
things by the devil's craft. Therefore will I not let it, said
the knight. And so they departed asunder. Anon after Pellinore
made him ready, and his lady, [and] rode toward Camelot; and as
they came by the well there as the wounded knight was and the
lady, there he found the knight, and the lady eaten with lions or
wild beasts, all save the head, wherefore he made great sorrow,
and wept passing sore, and said, Alas! her life might I have
saved; but I was so fierce in my quest, therefore I would not
abide. Wherefore make ye such dole? said the lady. I wot not,
said Pellinore, but my heart mourneth sore of the death of her,
for she was a passing fair lady and a young. Now, will ye do by
mine advice? said the lady, take this knight and let him be
buried in an hermitage, and then take the lady's head and bear it
with you unto Arthur. So King Pellinore took this dead knight on
his shoulders, and brought him to the hermitage, and charged the
hermit with the corpse, that service should be done for the soul;
and take his harness for your pain. It shall be done, said the
hermit, as I will answer unto God.


How when he was come to Camelot he was sworn upon a
book to tell the truth of his quest.

AND therewith they departed, and came there as the head of the
lady lay with a fair yellow hair that grieved King Pellinore
passingly sore when he looked on it, for <100>much he cast his
heart on the visage. And so by noon they came to Camelot; and
the king and the queen were passing fain of his coming to the
court. And there he was made to swear upon the Four Evangelists,
to tell the truth of his quest from the one to the other. Ah!
Sir Pellinore, said Queen Guenever, ye were greatly to blame that
ye saved not this lady's life. Madam, said Pellinore, ye were
greatly to blame an ye would not save your own life an ye might,
but, save your pleasure, I was so furious in my quest that I
would not abide, and that repenteth me, and shall the days of my
life. Truly, said Merlin, ye ought sore to repent it, for that
lady was your own daughter begotten on the lady of the Rule, and
that knight that was dead was her love, and should have wedded
her, and he was a right good knight of a young man, and would
have proved a good man, and to this court was he coming, and his
name was Sir Miles of the Launds, and a knight came behind him
and slew him with a spear, and his name is Loraine le Savage, a
false knight and a coward; and she for great sorrow and dole slew
herself with his sword, and her name was Eleine. And because ye
would not abide and help her, ye shall see your best friend fail
you when ye be in the greatest distress that ever ye were or
shall be. And that penance God hath ordained you for that deed,
that he that ye shall most trust to of any man alive, he shall
leave you there ye shall be slain. Me forthinketh, said King
Pellinore, that this shall me betide, but God may fordo well

Thus, when the quest was done of the white hart, the which
followed Sir Gawaine; and the quest of the brachet, followed of
Sir Tor, Pellinore's son; and the quest of the lady that the
knight took away, the which King Pellinore at that time followed;
then the king stablished all his knights, and them that were of
lands not rich he gave them lands, and charged them never to do
outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no
means to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy,
upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King
Arthur for evermore; and always to do <101>ladies, damosels, and
gentlewomen succour, upon pain of death. Also, that no man take
no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, nor for no world's
goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round,
both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high
feast of Pentecost.

Explicit the Wedding of King Arthur.
Sequitur quartus liber.



How Merlin was assotted and doted on one of the ladies of
the lake, and how he was shut in a rock under a stone
and there died.

SO after these quests of Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor, and King
Pellinore, it fell so that Merlin fell in a dotage on the damosel
that King Pellinore brought to court, and she was one of the
damosels of the lake, that hight Nimue. But Merlin would let her
have no rest, but always he would be with her. And ever she made
Merlin good cheer till she had learned of him all manner thing
that she desired; and he was assotted upon her, that he might not
be from her. So on a time he told King Arthur that he should not
dure long, but for all his crafts he should be put in the earth
quick. And so he told the king many things that should befall,
but always he warned the king to keep well his sword and the
scabbard, for he told him how the sword and the scabbard should
be stolen by a woman from him that he most trusted. Also he told
King Arthur that he should miss him,--Yet had ye liefer than all
your lands to have me again. Ah, said the king, since ye know of
your adventure, purvey for it, and put away by your crafts that
misadventure. Nay, said Merlin, it will not be; so he departed
from the king. And within a while the Damosel of the Lake
departed, and Merlin went with her evermore wheresomever she
went. And ofttimes Merlin would have had her privily away by his
subtle crafts; then she made him to swear that he <103>should
never do none enchantment upon her if he would have his will.
And so he sware; so she and Merlin went over the sea unto the
land of Benwick, whereas King Ban was king that had great war
against King Claudas, and there Merlin spake with King Ban's
wife, a fair lady and a good, and her name was Elaine, and there
he saw young Launcelot. There the queen made great sorrow for
the mortal war that King Claudas made on her lord and on her
lands. Take none heaviness, said Merlin, for this same child
within this twenty year shall revenge you on King Claudas, that
all Christendom shall speak of it; and this same child shall be
the most man of worship of the world, and his first name is
Galahad, that know I well, said Merlin, and since ye have
confirmed him Launcelot. That is truth, said the queen, his
first name was Galahad. O Merlin, said the queen, shall I live
to see my son such a man of prowess? Yea, lady, on my peril ye
shall see it, and live many winters after.

And so, soon after, the lady and Merlin departed, and by the way
Merlin showed her many wonders, and came into Cornwall. And
always Merlin lay about the lady to have her maidenhood, and she
was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered
of him, for she was afeard of him because he was a devil's son,
and she could not beskift him by no mean. And so on a time it
happed that Merlin showed to her in a rock whereas was a great
wonder, and wrought by enchantment, that went under a great
stone. So by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under that
stone to let her wit of the marvels there; but she wrought so
there for him that he came never out for all the craft he could
do. And so she departed and left Merlin.


How five kings came into this land to war against King
Arthur, and what counsel Arthur had against them.

AND as King Arthur rode to Camelot, and held there a great feast
with mirth and joy, so soon after he returned unto Cardoile, and
there came unto Arthur new tidings that the king of Denmark, and
the king of Ireland that was his brother, and the king of the
Vale, and the king of Soleise, and the king of the Isle of
Longtains, all these five kings with a great host were entered
into the land of King Arthur, and burnt and slew clean afore
them, both cities and castles, that it was pity to hear. Alas,
said Arthur, yet had I never rest one month since I was crowned
king of this land. Now shall I never rest till I meet with those
kings in a fair field, that I make mine avow; for my true liege
people shall not be destroyed in my default, go with me who will,
and abide who that will. Then the king let write unto King
Pellinore, and prayed him in all haste to make him ready with
such people as he might lightliest rear and hie him after in all
haste. All the barons were privily wroth that the king would
depart so suddenly; but the king by no mean would abide, but made
writing unto them that were not there, and bade them hie after
him, such as were not at that time in the court. Then the king
came to Queen Guenever, and said, Lady, make you ready, for ye
shall go with me, for I may not long miss you; ye shall cause me
to be the more hardy, what adventure so befall me; I will not wit
my lady to be in no jeopardy. Sir, said she, I am at your
commandment, and shall be ready what time so ye be ready. So on
the morn the king and the queen departed with such fellowship as
they had, and came into the north, into a forest beside Humber,
and there lodged them. When the word and tiding came unto the
five kings above said, that Arthur was beside Humber in a forest,
there was a knight, brother unto one of the <105>five kings, that
gave them this counsel: Ye know well that Sir Arthur hath the
flower of chivalry of the world with him, as it is proved by the
great battle he did with the eleven kings; and therefore hie unto
him night and day till that we be nigh him, for the longer he
tarrieth the bigger he is, and we ever the weaker; and he is so
courageous of himself that he is come to the field with little
people, and therefore let us set upon him or day and we shall
slay down; of his knights there shall none escape.


How King Arthur had ado with them and overthrew them,
and slew the five kings and made the remnant to flee.

UNTO this counsel these five kings assented, and so they passed
forth with their host through North Wales, and came upon Arthur
by night, and set upon his host as the king and his knights were
in their pavilions. King Arthur was unarmed, and had laid him to
rest with his Queen Guenever. Sir, said Sir Kay, it is not good
we be unarmed. We shall have no need, said Sir Gawaine and Sir
Griflet, that lay in a little pavilion by the king. With that
they heard a great noise, and many cried, Treason, treason!
Alas, said King Arthur, we be betrayed! Unto arms, fellows, then
he cried. So they were armed anon at all points. Then came
there a wounded knight unto the king, and said, Sir, save
yourself and my lady the queen, for our host is destroyed, and
much people of ours slain. So anon the king and the queen and the
three knights took their horses, and rode toward Humber to pass
over it, and the water was so rough that they were afraid to pass
over. Now may ye choose, said King Arthur, whether ye will abide
and take the adventure on this side, for an ye be taken they will
slay you. It were me liefer, said the queen, to die in the water
than to fall in your enemies' hands and there be slain.

And as they stood so talking, Sir Kay saw the five kings coming
on horseback by themselves alone, with their spears in their
hands even toward them. Lo, said Sir Kay, yonder be the five
kings; let us go to them and match them. That were folly, said
Sir Gawaine, for we are but three and they be five. That is
truth, said Sir Griflet. No force, said Sir Kay, I will
undertake for two of them, and then may ye three undertake for
the other three. And therewithal, Sir Kay let his horse run as
fast as he might, and struck one of them through the shield and
the body a fathom, that the king fell to the earth stark dead.
That saw Sir Gawaine, and ran unto another king so hard that he
smote him through the body. And therewithal King Arthur ran to
another, and smote him through the body with a spear, that he
fell to the earth dead Then Sir Griflet ran unto the fourth king,
and gave him such a fall that his neck brake. Anon Sir Kay ran
unto the fifth king, and smote him so hard on the helm that the
stroke clave the helm and the head to the earth. That was well
stricken, said King Arthur, and worshipfully hast thou holden thy
promise, therefore I shall honour thee while that I live. And
therewithal they set the queen in a barge into Humber; but always
Queen Guenever praised Sir Kay for his deeds, and said, What lady
that ye love, and she love you not again she were greatly to
blame; and among ladies, said the queen, I shall bear your noble
fame, for ye spake a great word, and fulfilled it worshipfully.
And therewith the queen departed.

Then the king and the three knights rode into the forest, for
there they supposed to hear of them that were escaped; and there
he found the most part of his people, and told them all how the
five kings were dead. And therefore let us hold us together till
it be day, and when their host have espied that their chieftains
be slain, they will make such dole that they shall no more help
themselves. And right so as the king said, so it was; for when
they found the five kings dead, they made such dole that they
fell from their horses. Therewithal came King Arthur but with a
few people, and slew on the left hand and on the <107>right hand,
that well-nigh there escaped no man, but all were slain to the
number thirty thousand. And when the battle was all ended, the
king kneeled down and thanked God meekly. And then he sent for
the queen, and soon she was come, and she made great joy of the
overcoming of that battle.


How the battle was finished or he came, and how King
Arthur founded an abbey where the battle was.

THEREWITHAL came one to King Arthur, and told him that King
Pellinore was within three mile with a great host; and he said,
Go unto him, and let him understand how we have sped. So within
a while King Pellinore came with a great host, and saluted the
people and the king, and there was great joy made on every side.
Then the king let search how much people of his party there was
slain; and there were found but little past two hundred men slain
and eight knights of the Table Round in their pavilions. Then
the king let rear and devise in the same place whereat the battle
was done a fair abbey, and endowed it with great livelihood, and
let it call the Abbey of La Beale Adventure. But when some of
them came into their countries, whereof the five kings were
kings, and told them how they were slain, there was made great
dole. And all King Arthur's enemies, as the King of North Wales,
and the kings of the North, [when they] wist of the battle, they
were passing heavy. And so the king returned unto Camelot in

And when he was come to Camelot he called King Pellinore unto
him, and said, Ye understand well that we have lost eight knights
of the best of the Table Round, and by your advice we will choose
eight again of the best we may find in this court. Sir, said
Pellinore, I shall counsel you after my conceit the best: there
are in your court full noble knights both of old and young; and
<108>therefore by mine advice ye shall choose half of the old and
half of the young. Which be the old? said King Arthur. Sir,
said King Pellinore, meseemeth that King Uriens that hath wedded
your sister Morgan le Fay, and the King of the Lake, and Sir
Hervise de Revel, a noble knight, and Sir Galagars, the fourth.
This is well devised, said King Arthur, and right so shall it be.
Now, which are the four young knights? said Arthur. Sir, said
Pellinore, the first is Sir Gawaine, your nephew, that is as good
a knight of his time as any is in this land; and the second as
meseemeth best is Sir Griflet le Fise de Dieu, that is a good
knight and full desirous in arms, and who may see him live he
shall prove a good knight; and the third as meseemeth is well to
be one of the knights of the Round Table, Sir Kay the Seneschal,
for many times he hath done full worshipfully, and now at your
last battle he did full honourably for to undertake to slay two
kings. By my head, said Arthur, he is best worth to be a knight
of the Round Table of any that ye have rehearsed, an he had done
no more prowess in his life days.


How Sir Tor was made knight of the Round Table, and
how Bagdemagus was displeased.

NOW, said King Pellinore, I shall put to you two knights, and ye
shall choose which is most worthy, that is Sir Bagdemagus, and
Sir Tor, my son. But because Sir Tor is my son I may not praise
him, but else, an he were not my son, I durst say that of his age
there is not in this land a better knight than he is, nor of
better conditions and loath to do any wrong, and loath to take
any wrong. By my head, said Arthur, he is a passing good knight
as any ye spake of this day, that wot I well, said the king; for
I have seen him proved, but he saith little and he doth much
more, for I know none in all this court an he were <109>as well
born on his mother's side as he is on your side, that is like him
of prowess and of might: and therefore I will have him at this
time, and leave Sir Bagdemagus till another time. So when they
were so chosen by the assent of all the barons, so were there
found in their sieges every knights' names that here are
rehearsed, and so were they set in their sieges; whereof Sir
Bagdemagus was wonderly wroth, that Sir Tor was advanced afore
him, and therefore suddenly he departed from the court, and took
his squire with him, and rode long in a forest till they came to
a cross, and there alighted and said his prayers devoutly. The
meanwhile his squire found written upon the cross, that
Bagdemagus should never return unto the court again, till he had
won a knight's body of the Round Table, body for body. So, sir,
said the squire, here I find writing of you, therefore I rede you
return again to the court. That shall I never, said Bagdemagus,
till men speak of me great worship, and that I be worthy to be a
knight of the Round Table. And so he rode forth, and there by
the way he found a branch of an holy herb that was the sign of
the Sangreal, and no knight found such tokens but he were a good

So, as Sir Bagdemagus rode to see many adventures, it happed him
to come to the rock whereas the Lady of the Lake had put Merlin
under the stone, and there he heard him make great dole; whereof
Sir Bagdemagus would have holpen him, and went unto the great
stone, and it was so heavy that an hundred men might not lift it
up. When Merlin wist he was there, he bade leave his labour, for
all was in vain, for he might never be holpen but by her that put
him there. And so Bagdemagus departed and did many adventures,
and proved after a full good knight, and came again to the court
and was made knight of the Round Table. So on the morn there
fell new tidings and other adventures.


How King Arthur, King Uriens, and Sir Accolon of Gaul,
chased an hart, and of their marvellous adventures.

THEN it befell that Arthur and many of his knights rode a-hunting
into a great forest, and it happed King Arthur, King Uriens, and
Sir Accolon of Gaul, followed a great hart, for they three were
well horsed, and so they chased so fast that within a while they
three were then ten mile from their fellowship. And at the last
they chased so sore that they slew their horses underneath them.
Then were they all three on foot, and ever they saw the hart
afore them passing weary and enbushed. What will we do? said
King Arthur, we are hard bestead. Let us go on foot, said King
Uriens, till we may meet with some lodging. Then were they ware
of the hart that lay on a great water bank, and a brachet biting
on his throat, and more other hounds came after. Then King
Arthur blew the prise and dight the hart.

Then the king looked about the world, and saw afore him in a
great water a little ship, all apparelled with silk down to the
water, and the ship came right unto them and landed on the sands.
Then Arthur went to the bank and looked in, and saw none earthly
creature therein. Sirs, said the king, come thence, and let us
see what is in this ship. So they went in all three, and found
it richly behanged with cloth of silk. By then it was dark
night, and there suddenly were about them an hundred torches set
upon all the sides of the ship boards, and it gave great light;
and therewithal there came out twelve fair damosels and saluted
King Arthur on their knees, and called him by his name, and said
he was right welcome, and such cheer as they had he should have
of the best. The king thanked them fair. Therewithal they led
the king and his two fellows into a fair chamber, and there was a
cloth laid, richly beseen of all that longed unto a table, and
there <111>were they served of all wines and meats that they
could think; of that the king had great marvel, for he fared
never better in his life as for one supper. And so when they had
supped at their leisure, King Arthur was led into a chamber, a
richer beseen chamber saw he never none, and so was King Uriens
served, and led into such another chamber, and Sir Accolon was
led into the third chamber passing richly and well beseen; and so
they were laid in their beds easily. And anon they fell asleep,
and slept marvellously sore all the night. And on the morrow
King Uriens was in Camelot abed in his wife's arms, Morgan le
Fay. And when he awoke he had great marvel, how he came there,
for on the even afore he was two days' journey from Camelot. And
when King Arthur awoke he found himself in a dark prison, hearing
about him many complaints of woful knights.


How Arthur took upon him to fight to be delivered out of
prison, and also for to deliver twenty knights that were
in prison.

WHAT are ye that so complain? said King Arthur. We be here
twenty knights, prisoners, said they, and some of us have lain
here seven year, and some more and some less. For what cause?
said Arthur. We shall tell you, said the knights; this lord of
this castle, his name is Sir Damas, and he is the falsest knight
that liveth, and full of treason, and a very coward as any
liveth, and he hath a younger brother, a good knight of prowess,
his name is Sir Ontzlake; and this traitor Damas, the elder
brother will give him no part of his livelihood, but as Sir
Ontzlake keepeth thorough prowess of his hands, and so he keepeth
from him a full fair manor and a rich, and therein Sir Ontzlake
dwelleth worshipfully, and is well beloved of all people. And
this Sir Damas, our master is as evil beloved, <112>for he is
without mercy, and he is a coward, and great war hath been
betwixt them both, but Ontzlake hath ever the better, and ever he
proffereth Sir Damas to fight for the livelihood, body for body,
but he will not do; other-else to find a knight to fight for him.
Unto that Sir Damas had granted to find a knight, but he is so
evil beloved and hated, that there is never a knight will fight
for him. And when Damas saw this, that there was never a knight
would fight for him, he hath daily lain await with many knights
with him, and taken all the knights in this country to see and
espy their adventures, he hath taken them by force and brought
them to his prison. And so he took us separately as we rode on
our adventures, and many good knights have died in this prison
for hunger, to the number of eighteen knights; and if any of us
all that here is, or hath been, would have foughten with his
brother Ontzlake, he would have delivered us, but for because
this Damas is so false and so full of treason we would never
fight for him to die for it. And we be so lean for hunger that
unnethe we may stand on our feet. God deliver you, for his
mercy, said Arthur.

Anon, therewithal there came a damosel unto Arthur, and asked
him, What cheer? I cannot say, said he. Sir, said she, an ye
will fight for my lord, ye shall be delivered out of prison, and
else ye escape never the life. Now, said Arthur, that is hard,
yet had I liefer to fight with a knight than to die in prison;
with this, said Arthur, I may be delivered and all these
prisoners, I will do the battle. Yes, said the damosel. I am
ready, said Arthur, an I had horse and armour. Ye shall lack
none, said the damosel. Meseemeth, damosel, I should have seen
you in the court of Arthur. Nay said the damosel, I came never
there, I am the lord's daughter of this castle. Yet was she
false, for she was one of the damosels of Morgan le Fay.

Anon she went unto Sir Damas, and told him how he would do battle
for him, and so he sent for Arthur. And when he came he was well
coloured, and well made of his limbs, that all knights that saw
him said it were pity that such a knight should die in prison.
So Sir Damas and he <113>were agreed that he should fight for him
upon this covenant, that all other knights should be delivered;
and unto that was Sir Damas sworn unto Arthur, and also to do the
battle to the uttermost. And with that all the twenty knights
were brought out of the dark prison into the hall, and delivered,
and so they all abode to see the battle.


How Accolon found himself by a well, and he took upon
him to do battle against Arthur.

NOW turn we unto Accolon of Gaul, that when he awoke he found
himself by a deep well-side, within half a foot, in great peril
of death. And there came out of that fountain a pipe of silver,
and out of that pipe ran water all on high in a stone of marble.
When Sir Accolon saw this, he blessed him and said, Jesus save my
lord King Arthur, and King Uriens, for these damosels in this
ship have betrayed us, they were devils and no women; and if I
may escape this misadventure, I shall destroy all where I may
find these false damosels that use enchantments. Right with that
there came a dwarf with a great mouth and a flat nose, and
saluted Sir Accolon, and said how he came from Queen Morgan le
Fay, and she greeteth you well, and biddeth you be of strong
heart, for ye shall fight to morrow with a knight at the hour of
prime, and therefore she hath sent you here Excalibur, Arthur's
sword, and the scabbard, and she biddeth you as ye love her, that
ye do the battle to the uttermost, without any mercy, like as ye
had promised her when ye spake together in privity; and what
damosel that bringeth her the knight's head, which ye shall fight
withal, she will make her a queen. Now I understand you well,
said Accolon, I shall hold that I have promised her now I have
the sword: when saw ye my lady Queen Morgan le Fay? Right late,
said the dwarf. Then Accolon took him in his arms and said,
Recommend <114>me unto my lady queen, and tell her all shall be
done that I have promised her, and else I will die for it. Now I
suppose, said Accolon, she hath made all these crafts and
enchantments for this battle. Ye may well believe it, said the
dwarf. Right so there came a knight and a lady with six squires,
and saluted Accolon, and prayed him for to arise, and come and
rest him at his manor. And so Accolon mounted upon a void horse,
and went with the knight unto a fair manor by a priory, and there
he had passing good cheer.

Then Sir Damas sent unto his brother Sir Ontzlake, and bade make
him ready by to-morn at the hour of prime, and to be in the field
to fight with a good knight, for he had found a good knight that
was ready to do battle at all points. When this word came unto
Sir Ontzlake he was passing heavy, for he was wounded a little
to-fore through both his thighs with a spear, and made great
dole; but as he was wounded, he would have taken the battle on
hand. So it happed at that time, by the means of Morgan le Fay,
Accolon was with Sir Ontzlake lodged; and when he heard of that
battle, and how Ontzlake was wounded, he said that he would fight
for him. Because Morgan le Fay had sent him Excalibur and the
sheath for to fight with the knight on the morn: this was the
cause Sir Accolon took the battle on hand. Then Sir Ontzlake was
passing glad, and thanked Sir Accolon with all his heart that he
would do so much for him. And therewithal Sir Ontzlake sent word
unto his brother Sir Damas, that he had a knight that for him
should be ready in the field by the hour of prime.

So on the morn Sir Arthur was armed and well horsed, and asked
Sir Damas, When shall we to the field? Sir, said Sir Damas, ye
shall hear mass. And so Arthur heard a mass, and when mass was
done there came a squire on a great horse, and asked Sir Damas if
his knight were ready, for our knight is ready in the field.
Then Sir Arthur mounted upon horseback, and there were all the
knights and commons of that country; and so by all advices there
were chosen twelve good men of the country for to wait upon the
two knights. And right as Arthur was on horse<115>back there
came a damosel from Morgan le Fay, and brought unto Sir Arthur a
sword like unto Excalibur, and the scabbard, and said unto
Arthur, Morgan le Fay sendeth here your sword for great love.
And he thanked her, and weened it had been so, but she was false,
for the sword and the scabbard was counterfeit, and brittle, and


Of the battle between King Arthur and Accolon.

AND then they dressed them on both parties of the field, and let
their horses run so fast that either smote other in the midst of
the shield with their spear-heads, that both horse and man went
to the earth; and then they started up both, and pulled out their
swords. The meanwhile that they were thus at the battle, came
the Damosel of the Lake into the field, that put Merlin under the
stone; and she came thither for love of King Arthur, for she knew
how Morgan le Fay had so ordained that King Arthur should have
been slain that day, and therefore she came to save his life.
And so they went eagerly to the battle, and gave many great
strokes, but always Arthur's sword bit not like Accolon's sword;
but for the most part, every stroke that Accolon gave he wounded
sore Arthur, that it was marvel he stood, and always his blood
fell from him fast.

When Arthur beheld the ground so sore be-bled he was dismayed,
and then he deemed treason that his sword was changed; for his
sword bit not steel as it was wont to do, therefore he dreaded
him sore to be dead, for ever him seemed that the sword in
Accolon's hand was Excalibur, for at every stroke that Accolon
struck he drew blood on Arthur. Now, knight, said Accolon unto
Arthur, keep thee well from me; but Arthur answered not again,
and gave him such a buffet on the helm that it made him to stoop,
nigh falling down to the earth. Then <116>Sir Accolon withdrew
him a little, and came on with Excalibur on high, and smote Sir
Arthur such a buffet that he fell nigh to the earth. Then were
they wroth both, and gave each other many sore strokes, but
always Sir Arthur lost so much blood that it was marvel he stood
on his feet, but he was so full of knighthood that knightly he
endured the pain. And Sir Accolon lost not a deal of blood,
therefore he waxed passing light, and Sir Arthur was passing
feeble, and weened verily to have died; but for all that he made
countenance as though he might endure, and held Accolon as short
as he might. But Accolon was so bold because of Excalibur that
he waxed passing hardy. But all men that beheld him said they
saw never knight fight so well as Arthur did considering the
blood that he bled. So was all the people sorry for him, but the
two brethren would not accord. Then always they fought together
as fierce knights, and Sir Arthur withdrew him a little for to
rest him, and Sir Accolon called him to battle and said, It is no
time for me to suffer thee to rest. And therewith he came
fiercely upon Arthur, and Sir Arthur was wroth for the blood that
he had lost, and smote Accolon on high upon the helm, so
mightily, that he made him nigh to fall to the earth; and
therewith Arthur's sword brast at the cross, and fell in the
grass among the blood, and the pommel and the sure handles he
held in his hands. When Sir Arthur saw that, he was in great
fear to die, but always he held up his shield and lost no ground,
nor bated no cheer.


How King Arthur's sword that he fought with brake, and
how he recovered of Accolon his own sword Excalibur,
and overcame his enemy.

THEN Sir Accolon began with words of treason, and said, Knight,
thou art overcome, and mayst not endure, and <117>also thou art
weaponless, and thou hast lost much of thy blood, and I am full
loath to slay thee, therefore yield thee to me as recreant. Nay,
said Sir Arthur, I may not so, for I have promised to do the
battle to the uttermost by the faith of my body, while me lasteth
the life, and therefore I had liefer to die with honour than to
live with shame; and if it were possible for me to die an hundred
times, I had liefer to die so oft than yield me to thee; for
though I lack weapon, I shall lack no worship, and if thou slay
me weaponless that shall be thy shame. Well, said Accolon, as
for the shame I will not spare, now keep thee from me, for thou
art but a dead man. And therewith Accolon gave him such a stroke
that he fell nigh to the earth, and would have had Arthur to have
cried him mercy. But Sir Arthur pressed unto Accolon with his
shield, and gave him with the pommel in his hand such a buffet
that he went three strides aback.

When the Damosel of the Lake beheld Arthur, how full of prowess
his body was, and the false treason that was wrought for him to
have had him slain, she had great pity that so good a knight and
such a man of worship should so be destroyed. And at the next
stroke Sir Accolon struck him such a stroke that by the damosel's
enchantment the sword Excalibur fell out of Accolon's hand to the
earth. And therewithal Sir Arthur lightly leapt to it, and gat
it in his hand, and forthwithal he knew that it was his sword
Excalibur, and said, Thou hast been from me all too long, and
much damage hast thou done me; and therewith he espied the
scabbard hanging by his side, and suddenly he sterte to him and
pulled the scabbard from him, and threw it from him as far as he
might throw it. O knight, said Arthur, this day hast thou done
me great damage with this sword; now are ye come unto your death,
for I shall not warrant you but ye shall as well be rewarded with
this sword, or ever we depart, as thou hast rewarded me; for much
pain have ye made me to endure, and much blood have I lost. And
therewith Sir Arthur rushed on him with all his might and pulled
him to the earth, and then rushed off <118>his helm, and gave him
such a buffet on the head that the blood came out at his ears,
his nose, and his mouth. Now will I slay thee, said Arthur.
Slay me ye may well, said Accolon, an it please you, for ye are
the best knight that ever I found, and I see well that God is
with you. But for I promised to do this battle, said Accolon, to
the uttermost, and never to be recreant while I lived, therefore
shall I never yield me with my mouth, but God do with my body
what he will. Then Sir Arthur remembered him, and thought he
should have seen this knight. Now tell me, said Arthur, or I
will slay thee, of what country art thou, and of what court? Sir
Knight, said Sir Accolon, I am of the court of King Arthur, and
my name is Accolon of Gaul. Then was Arthur more dismayed than
he was beforehand; for then he remembered him of his sister
Morgan le Fay, and of the enchantment of the ship. O sir knight,
said he, I pray you tell me who gave you this sword, and by whom
ye had it.


How Accolon confessed the treason of Morgan le Fay, King
Arthur's sister, and how she would have done slay him.

THEN Sir Accolon bethought him, and said, Woe worth this sword,
for by it have I got my death. It may well be, said the king.
Now, sir, said Accolon, I will tell you; this sword hath been in
my keeping the most part of this twelvemonth; and Morgan le Fay,
King Uriens' wife, sent it me yesterday by a dwarf, to this
intent, that I should slay King Arthur, her brother. For ye
shall understand King Arthur is the man in the world that she
most hateth, because he is most of worship and of prowess of any
of her blood; also she loveth me out of measure as paramour, and
I her again; and if she might bring about to slay Arthur by her
crafts, she would slay her husband King Uriens lightly, and then
had she me devised <119>to be king in this land, and so to reign,
and she to be my queen; but that is now done, said Accolon, for I
am sure of my death. Well, said Sir Arthur, I feel by you ye
would have been king in this land. It had been great damage to
have destroyed your lord, said Arthur. It is truth, said
Accolon, but now I have told you truth, wherefore I pray you tell
me of whence ye are, and of what court? O Accolon, said King
Arthur, now I let thee wit that I am King Arthur, to whom thou
hast done great damage. When Accolon heard that he cried aloud,
Fair, sweet lord, have mercy on me, for I knew not you. O Sir
Accolon, said King Arthur, mercy shalt thou have, because I feel
by thy words at this time thou knewest not my person; but I
understand well by thy words that thou hast agreed to the death
of my person, and therefore thou art a traitor; but I wite thee
the less, for my sister Morgan le Fay by her false crafts made
thee to agree and consent to her false lusts, but I shall be sore
avenged upon her an I live, that all Christendom shall speak of
it; God knoweth I have honoured her and worshipped her more than
all my kin, and more have I trusted her than mine own wife and
all my kin after.

Then Sir Arthur called the keepers of the field, and said, Sirs,
come hither, for here are we two knights that have fought unto a
great damage unto us both, and like each one of us to have slain
other, if it had happed so; and had any of us known other, here
had been no battle, nor stroke stricken. Then all aloud cried
Accolon unto all the knights and men that were then there
gathered together, and said to them in this manner, O lords, this
noble knight that I have fought withal, the which me sore
repenteth, is the most man of prowess, of manhood, and of worship
in the world, for it is himself King Arthur, our alther liege
lord, and with mishap and with misadventure have I done this
battle with the king and lord that I am holden withal.


How Arthur accorded the two brethren, and delivered the
twenty knights, and how Sir Accolon died.

THEN all the people fell down on their knees and cried King
Arthur mercy. Mercy shall ye have, said Arthur: here may ye see
what adventures befall ofttime of errant knights, how that I have
fought with a knight of mine own unto my great damage and his
both. But, sirs, because I am sore hurt, and he both, and I had
great need of a little rest, ye shall understand the opinion
betwixt you two brethren: As to thee, Sir Damas, for whom I have
been champion and won the field of this knight, yet will I judge
because ye, Sir Damas, are called an orgulous knight, and full of
villainy, and not worth of prowess your deeds, therefore I will
that ye give unto your brother all the whole manor with the
appurtenance, under this form, that Sir Ontzlake hold the manor
of you, and yearly to give you a palfrey to ride upon, for that
will become you better to ride on than upon a courser. Also I
charge thee, Sir Damas, upon pain of death, that thou never
distress no knights errant that ride on their adventure. And
also that thou restore these twenty knights that thou hast long
kept prisoners, of all their harness, that they be content for;
and if any of them come to my court and complain of thee, by my
head thou shalt die therefore. Also, Sir Ontzlake, as to you,
because ye are named a good knight, and full of prowess, and true
and gentle in all your deeds, this shall be your charge I will
give you, that in all goodly haste ye come unto me and my court,
and ye shall be a knight of mine, and if your deeds be thereafter
I shall so prefer you, by the grace of God, that ye shall in
short time be in ease for to live as worshipfully as your brother
Sir Damas. God thank your largeness of your goodness and of your
bounty, I shall be from henceforward at all times at your
commandment; for, sir, said Sir Ontzlake, <121>as God would, as I
was hurt but late with an adventurous knight through both my
thighs, that grieved me sore, and else had I done this battle
with you. God would, said Arthur, it had been so, for then had
not I been hurt as I am. I shall tell you the cause why: for I
had not been hurt as I am, had it not been mine own sword, that
was stolen from me by treason; and this battle was ordained
aforehand to have slain me, and so it was brought to the purpose
by false treason, and by false enchantment. Alas, said Sir
Ontzlake, that is great pity that ever so noble a man as ye are
of your deeds and prowess, that any man or woman might find in
their hearts to work any treason against you. I shall reward
them, said Arthur, in short time, by the grace of God. Now, tell
me, said Arthur, how far am I from Camelot? Sir, ye are two
days' journey therefrom. I would fain be at some place of
worship, said Sir Arthur, that I might rest me. Sir, said Sir
Ontzlake, hereby is a rich abbey of your elders' foundation, of
nuns, but three miles hence. So the king took his leave of all
the people, and mounted upon horseback, and Sir Accolon with him.
And when they were come to the abbey, he let fetch leeches and
search his wounds and Accolon's both; but Sir Accolon died within
four days, for he had bled so much blood that he might not live,
but King Arthur was well recovered. So when Accolon was dead he
let send him on an horse-bier with six knights unto Camelot, and
said: Bear him to my sister Morgan le Fay, and say that I send
her him to a present, and tell her I have my sword Excalibur and
the scabbard; so they departed with the body.


How Morgan would have slain Sir Uriens her husband,
and how Sir Uwaine her son saved him.

THE meanwhile Morgan le Fay had weened King Arthur had been dead.
So on a day she espied King Uriens lay <122>in his bed sleeping.
Then she called unto her a maiden of her counsel, and said, Go
fetch me my lord's sword, for I saw never better time to slay him
than now. O madam, said the damosel, an ye slay my lord ye can
never escape. Care not you, said Morgan le Fay, for now I see my
time in the which it is best to do it, and therefore hie thee
fast and fetch me the sword. Then the damosel departed, and
found Sir Uwaine sleeping upon a bed in another chamber, so she
went unto Sir Uwaine, and awaked him, and bade him, Arise, and
wait on my lady your mother, for she will slay the king your
father sleeping in his bed, for I go to fetch his sword. Well,
said Sir Uwaine, go on your way, and let me deal. Anon the
damosel brought Morgan the sword with quaking hands, and she
lightly took the sword, and pulled it out, and went boldly unto
the bed's side, and awaited how and where she might slay him
best. And as she lifted up the sword to smite, Sir Uwaine leapt
unto his mother, and caught her by the hand, and said, Ah, fiend,
what wilt thou do? An thou wert not my mother, with this sword I
should smite off thy head. Ah, said Sir Uwaine, men saith that
Merlin was begotten of a devil, but I may say an earthly devil
bare me. O fair son, Uwaine, have mercy upon me, I was tempted
with a devil, wherefore I cry thee mercy; I will never more do
so; and save my worship and discover me not. On this covenant,
said Sir Uwaine, I will forgive it you, so ye will never be about
to do such deeds. Nay, son, said she, and that I make you


How Queen Morgan le Fay made great sorrow for the
death of Accolon, and how she stole away the scabbard
from Arthur.

THEN came tidings unto Morgan le Fay that Accolon was dead, and
his body brought unto the church, and how <123>King Arthur had
his sword again. But when Queen Morgan wist that Accolon was
dead, she was so sorrowful that near her heart to-brast. But
because she would not it were known, outward she kept her
countenance, and made no semblant of sorrow. But well she wist
an she abode till her brother Arthur came thither, there should
no gold go for her life.

Then she went unto Queen Guenever, and asked her leave to ride
into the country. Ye may abide, said Queen Guenever, till your
brother the king come home. I may not, said Morgan le Fay, for I
have such hasty tidings, that I may not tarry. Well, said
Guenever, ye may depart when ye will. So early on the morn, or
it was day, she took her horse and rode all that day and most
part of the night, and on the morn by noon she came to the same
abbey of nuns whereas lay King Arthur; and she knowing he was
there, she asked where he was. And they answered how he had laid
him in his bed to sleep, for he had had but little rest these
three nights. Well, said she, I charge you that none of you
awake him till I do, and then she alighted off her horse, and
thought for to steal away Excalibur his sword, and so she went
straight unto his chamber, and no man durst disobey her
commandment, and there she found Arthur asleep in his bed, and
Excalibur in his right hand naked. When she saw that she was
passing heavy that she might not come by the sword without she
had awaked him, and then she wist well she had been dead. Then
she took the scabbard and went her way on horseback. When the
king awoke and missed his scabbard, he was wroth, and he asked
who had been there, and they said his sister, Queen Morgan had
been there, and had put the scabbard under her mantle and was
gone. Alas, said Arthur, falsely ye have watched me. Sir, said
they all, we durst not disobey your sister's commandment. Ah,
said the king, let fetch the best horse may be found, and bid Sir
Ontzlake arm him in all haste, and take another good horse and
ride with me. So anon the king and Ontzlake were well armed, and
rode after this lady, and so they came by a cross and found a
cowherd, and they asked the <124>poor man if there came any lady
riding that way. Sir, said this poor man, right late came a lady
riding with a forty horses, and to yonder forest she rode. Then
they spurred their horses, and followed fast, and within a while
Arthur had a sight of Morgan le Fay; then he chased as fast as he
might. When she espied him following her, she rode a greater
pace through the forest till she came to a plain, and when she
saw she might not escape, she rode unto a lake thereby, and said,
Whatsoever come of me, my brother shall not have this scabbard.
And then she let throw the scabbard in the deepest of the water
so it sank, for it was heavy of gold and precious stones.

Then she rode into a valley where many great stones were, and
when she saw she must be overtaken, she shaped herself, horse and
man, by enchantment unto a great marble stone. Anon withal came
Sir Arthur and Sir Ontzlake whereas the king might know his
sister and her men, and one knight from another. Ah, said the
king, here may ye see the vengeance of God, and now am I sorry
that this misadventure is befallen. And then he looked for the
scabbard, but it would not be found, so he returned to the abbey
where he came from. So when Arthur was gone she turned all into
the likeliness as she and they were before, and said, Sirs, now
may we go where we will.


How Morgan le Fay saved a knight that should have been
drowned, and how King Arthur returned home again.

THEN said Morgan, Saw ye Arthur, my brother? Yea, said her
knights, right well, and that ye should have found an we might
have stirred from one stead, for by his armyvestal countenance he
would have caused us to have fled. I believe you, said Morgan.
Anon after as she rode she met a knight leading another knight on
his horse before him, bound hand and foot, blindfold, to have
<125>drowned him in a fountain. When she saw this knight so
bound, she asked him, What will ye do with that knight? Lady,
said he, I will drown him. For what cause? she asked. For I
found him with my wife, and she shall have the same death anon.
That were pity, said Morgan le Fay. Now, what say ye, knight, is
it truth that he saith of you? she said to the knight that should
be drowned. Nay truly, madam, he saith not right on me. Of
whence be ye, said Morgan le Fay, and of what country? I am of
the court of King Arthur, and my name is Manassen, cousin unto
Accolon of Gaul. Ye say well, said she, and for the love of him
ye shall be delivered, and ye shall have your adversary in the
same case ye be in. So Manassen was loosed and the other knight
bound. And anon Manassen unarmed him, and armed himself in his
harness, and so mounted on horseback, and the knight afore him,
and so threw him into the fountain and drowned him. And then he
rode unto Morgan again, and asked if she would anything unto King
Arthur. Tell him that I rescued thee, not for the love of him
but for the love of Accolon, and tell him I fear him not while I
can make me and them that be with me in likeness of stones; and
let him wit I can do much more when I see my time. And so she
departed into the country of Gore, and there was she richly
received, and made her castles and towns passing strong, for
always she dreaded much King Arthur.

When the king had well rested him at the abbey, he rode unto
Camelot, and found his queen and his barons right glad of his
coming. And when they heard of his strange adventures as is
afore rehearsed, then all had marvel of the falsehood of Morgan
le Fay; many knights wished her burnt. Then came Manassen to
court and told the king of his adventure. Well, said the king,
she is a kind sister; I shall so be avenged on her an I live,
that all Christendom shall speak of it. So on the morn there
came a damosel from Morgan to the king, and she brought with her
the richest mantle that ever was seen in that court, for it was
set as full of precious stones as one might stand by another, and
there were the richest stones <126>that ever the king saw. And
the damosel said, Your sister sendeth you this mantle, and
desireth that ye should take this gift of her; and in what thing
she hath offended you, she will amend it at your own pleasure.
When the king beheld this mantle it pleased him much, but he said
but little.


How the Damosel of the Lake saved King Arthur from
mantle that should have burnt him.

WITH that came the Damosel of the Lake unto the king, and said,
Sir, I must speak with you in privity. Say on, said the king,
what ye will. Sir, said the damosel, put not on you this mantle
till ye have seen more, and in no wise let it not come on you,
nor on no knight of yours, till ye command the bringer thereof to
put it upon her. Well, said King Arthur, it shall be done as ye
counsel me. And then he said unto the damosel that came from his
sister, Damosel, this mantle that ye have brought me, I will see
it upon you. Sir, she said, It will not beseem me to wear a
king's garment. By my head, said Arthur, ye shall wear it or it
come on my back, or any man's that here is. And so the king made
it to be put upon her, and forth withal she fell down dead, and
never more spake word after and burnt to coals. Then was the
king wonderly wroth, more than he was to-forehand, and said unto
King Uriens, My sister, your wife, is alway about to betray me,
and well I wot either ye, or my nephew, your son, is of counsel
with her to have me destroyed; but as for you, said the king to
King Uriens, I deem not greatly that ye be of her counsel, for
Accolon confessed to me by his own mouth, that she would have
destroyed you as well as me, therefore I hold you excused; but as
for your son, Sir Uwaine, I hold him suspect, therefore I charge
you put him out of my court. So Sir Uwaine was discharged. And
when Sir Gawaine wist that, he made him ready to <127>go with
him; and said, Whoso banisheth my cousin-germain shall banish me.
So they two departed, and rode into a great forest, and so they
came to an abbey of monks, and there were well lodged. But when
the king wist that Sir Gawaine was departed from the court, there
was made great sorrow among all the estates. Now, said Gaheris,
Gawaine's brother, we have lost two good knights for the love of
one. So on the morn they heard their masses in the abbey, and so
they rode forth till that they came to a great forest. Then was
Sir Gawaine ware in a valley by a turret [of] twelve fair
damosels, and two knights armed on great horses, and the damosels
went to and fro by a tree. And then was Sir Gawaine ware how
there hung a white shield on that tree, and ever as the damosels
came by it they spit upon it, and some threw mire upon the


How Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine met with twelve fair
damosels, and how they complained on Sir Marhaus.

THEN Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine went and saluted them, and asked
why they did that despite to the shield. Sir, said the damosels,
we shall tell you. There is a knight in this country that owneth
this white shield, and he is a passing good man of his hands, but
he hateth all ladies and gentlewomen, and therefore we do all
this despite to the shield. I shall say you, said Sir Gawaine,
it beseemeth evil a good knight to despise all ladies and
gentlewomen, and peradventure though he hate you he hath some
certain cause, and peradventure he loveth in some other places
ladies and gentlewomen, and to be loved again, an he be such a
man of prowess as ye speak of. Now, what is his name? Sir, said
they, his name is Marhaus, the king's son of Ireland. I know him
well, said Sir Uwaine, he is a passing good knight as any is
alive, for I saw him once proved at a jousts where many knights
were gathered, and <128>that time there might no man withstand
him. Ah! said Sir Gawaine, damosels, methinketh ye are to blame,
for it is to suppose, he that hung that shield there, he will not
be long therefrom, and then may those knights match him on
horseback, and that is more your worship than thus; for I will
abide no longer to see a knight's shield dishonoured. And
therewith Sir Uwaine and Gawaine departed a little from them, and
then were they ware where Sir Marhaus came riding on a great
horse straight toward them. And when the twelve damosels saw Sir
Marhaus they fled into the turret as they were wild, so that some
of them fell by the way. Then the one of the knights of the
tower dressed his shield, and said on high, Sir Marhaus, defend
thee. And so they ran together that the knight brake his spear
on Marhaus, and Marhaus smote him so hard that he brake his neck
and the horse's back. That saw the other knight of the turret,
and dressed him toward Marhaus, and they met so eagerly together
that the knight of the turret was soon smitten down, horse and
man, stark dead.


How Sir Marhaus jousted with Sir Gawaine and Sir
Uwaine, and overthrew them both.

AND then Sir Marhaus rode unto his shield, and saw how it was
defouled, and said, Of this despite I am a part avenged, but for
her love that gave me this white shield I shall wear thee, and
hang mine where thou wast; and so he hanged it about his neck.
Then he rode straight unto Sir Gawaine and to Sir Uwaine, and
asked them what they did there? They answered him that they came
from King Arthur's court to see adventures. Well, said Sir
Marhaus, here am I ready, an adventurous knight that will fulfil
any adventure that ye will desire; and so departed from them, to
fetch his range. Let him go, said <129>Sir Uwaine unto Sir
Gawaine, for he is a passing good knight as any is living; I
would not by my will that any of us were matched with him. Nay,
said Sir Gawaine, not so, it were shame to us were he not
assayed, were he never so good a knight. Well, said Sir Uwaine,
I will assay him afore you, for I am more weaker than ye, and if
he smite me down then may ye revenge me. So these two knights
came together with great raundon, that Sir Uwaine smote Sir
Marhaus that his spear brast in pieces on the shield, and Sir
Marhaus smote him so sore that horse and man he bare to the
earth, and hurt Sir Uwaine on the left side.

Then Sir Marhaus turned his horse and rode toward Gawaine with
his spear, and when Sir Gawaine saw that he dressed his shield,
and they aventred their spears, and they came together with all
the might of their horses, that either knight smote other so hard
in midst of their shields, but Sir Gawaine's spear brake, but Sir
Marhaus' spear held; and therewith Sir Gawaine and his horse
rushed down to the earth. And lightly Sir Gawaine rose on his
feet, and pulled out his sword, and dressed him toward Sir
Marhaus on foot, and Sir Marhaus saw that, and pulled out his
sword and began to come to Sir Gawaine on horseback. Sir knight,
said Sir Gawaine, alight on foot, or else I will slay thy horse.
Gramercy, said Sir Marhaus, of your gentleness ye teach me
courtesy, for it is not for one knight to be on foot, and the
other on horseback. And therewith Sir Marhaus set his spear
against a tree and alighted and tied his horse to a tree, and
dressed his shield, and either came unto other eagerly, and smote
together with their swords that their shields flew in cantels,
and they bruised their helms and their hauberks, and wounded
either other. But Sir Gawaine from it passed nine of the clock
waxed ever stronger and stronger, for then it came to the hour of
noon, and thrice his might was increased. All this espied Sir
Marhaus and had great wonder how his might increased, and so they
wounded other passing sore. And then when it was past noon, and
when it drew toward evensong, Sir Gawaine's strength feebled, and
waxed passing faint that unnethes he might dure any <130>longer,
and Sir Marhaus was then bigger and bigger. Sir knight, said Sir
Marhaus, I have well felt that ye are a passing good knight and a
marvellous man of might as ever I felt any, while it lasteth, and
our quarrels are not great, and therefore it were pity to do you
hurt, for I feel ye are passing feeble. Ah, said Sir Gawaine,
gentle knight, ye say the word that I should say. And therewith
they took off their helms, and either kissed other, and there
they swore together either to love other as brethren. And Sir
Marhaus prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night. And so
they took their horses, and rode toward Sir Marhaus' house. And
as they rode by the way, Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, I have
marvel that so valiant a man as ye be love no ladies nor
damosels. Sir, said Sir Marhaus, they name me wrongfully those
that give me that name, but well I wot it be the damosels of the
turret that so name me, and other such as they be. Now shall I
tell you for what cause I hate them: for they be sorceresses and
enchanters many of them, and be a knight never so good of his
body and full of prowess as man may be, they will make him a
stark coward to have the better of him, and this is the principal
cause that I hate them; and to all good ladies and gentlewomen I
owe my service as a knight ought to do.

As the book rehearseth in French, there were many knights that
overmatched Sir Gawaine, for all the thrice might that he had:
Sir Launcelot de Lake, Sir Tristram, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir
Percivale, Sir Pelleas, and Sir Marhaus, these six knights had
the better of Sir Gawaine. Then within a little while they came
to Sir Marhaus' place, which was in a little priory, and there
they alighted, and ladies and damosels unarmed them, and hastily
looked to their hurts, for they were all three hurt. And so they
had all three good lodging with Sir Marhaus, and good cheer; for
when he wist that they were King Arthur's sister's sons he made
them all the cheer that lay in his power, and so they sojourned
there a sennight, and were well eased of their wounds, and at the
last departed. Now, said Sir Marhaus, we will not depart so
lightly, for I will <131>bring you through the forest; and rode
day by day well a seven days or they found any adventure. At the
last they came into a great forest, that was named the country
and forest of Arroy, and the country of strange adventures. In
this country, said Sir Marhaus, came never knight since it was
christened but he found strange adventures; and so they rode, and
came into a deep valley full of stones, and thereby they saw a
fair stream of water; above thereby was the head of the stream a
fair fountain, and three damosels sitting thereby. And then they
rode to them, and either saluted other, and the eldest had a
garland of gold about her head, and she was three score winter of
age or more, and her hair was white under the garland. The
second damosel was of thirty winter of age, with a circlet of
gold about her head. The third damosel was but fifteen year of
age, and a garland of flowers about her head. When these knights
had so beheld them, they asked them the cause why they sat at
that fountain? We be here, said the damosels, for this cause: if
we may see any errant knights, to teach them unto strange
adventures; and ye be three knights that seek adventures, and we
be three damosels, and therefore each one of you must choose one
of us; and when ye have done so we will lead you unto three
highways, and there each of you shall choose a way and his
damosel with him. And this day twelvemonth ye must meet here
again, and God send you your lives, and thereto ye must plight
your troth. This is well said, said Sir Marhaus.


[*1] Misnumbered xx. by Caxton.

How Sir Marhaus, Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine met
three damosels, and each of them took one.

NOW shall everych of us choose a damosel. I shall tell you, said
Sir Uwaine, I am the youngest and most weakest of you both,
therefore I will have the eldest damosel, for <132>she hath seen
much, and can best help me when I have need, for I have most need
of help of you both. Now, said Sir Marhaus, I will have the
damosel of thirty winter age, for she falleth best to me. Well,
said Sir Gawaine, I thank you, for ye have left me the youngest
and the fairest, and she is most liefest to me. Then every
damosel took her knight by the reins of his bridle, and brought
him to the three ways, and there was their oath made to meet at
the fountain that day twelvemonth an they were living, and so
they kissed and departed, and each knight set his lady behind
him. And Sir Uwaine took the way that lay west, and Sir Marhaus
took the way that lay south, and Sir Gawaine took the way that
lay north. Now will we begin at Sir Gawaine, that held that way
till that he came unto a fair manor, where dwelled an old knight
and a good householder, and there Sir Gawaine asked the knight if
he knew any adventures in that country. I shall show you some
to-morn, said the old knight, and that marvellous. So, on the
morn they rode into the forest of adventures to a laund, and
thereby they found a cross, and as they stood and hoved there
came by them the fairest knight and the seemliest man that ever
they saw, making the greatest dole that ever man made. And then
he was ware of Sir Gawaine, and saluted him, and prayed God to
send him much worship. As to that, said Sir Gawaine, gramercy;
also I pray to God that he send you honour and worship. Ah, said
the knight, I may lay that aside, for sorrow and shame cometh to
me after worship.


How a knight and a dwarf strove for a lady.

AND therewith he passed unto the one side of the laund; and on
the other side saw Sir Gawaine ten knights that hoved still and
made them ready with their shields and spears against that one
knight that came by Sir Gawaine.

Then this one knight aventred a great spear, and one <133>of the
ten knights encountered with him, but this woful knight smote him
so hard that he fell over his horse's tail. So this same
dolorous knight served them all, that at the leastway he smote
down horse and man, and all he did with one spear; and so when
they were all ten on foot, they went to that one knight, and he
stood stone still, and suffered them to pull him down off his
horse, and bound him hand and foot, and tied him under the
horse's belly, and so led him with them. O Jesu! said Sir
Gawaine, this is a doleful sight, to see the yonder knight so to
be entreated, and it seemeth by the knight that he suffereth them
to bind him so, for he maketh no resistance. No, said his host,
that is truth, for an he would they all were too weak so to do
him. Sir, said the damosel unto Sir Gawaine, meseemeth it were
your worship to help that dolorous knight, for methinketh he is
one of the best knights that ever I saw. I would do for him,
said Sir Gawaine, but it seemeth he will have no help. Then,
said the damosel, methinketh ye have no lust to help him.

Thus as they talked they saw a knight on the other side of the
laund all armed save the head. And on the other side there came
a dwarf on horseback all armed save the head, with a great mouth
and a short nose; and when the dwarf came nigh he said, Where is
the lady should meet us here? and therewithal she came forth out
of the wood. And then they began to strive for the lady; for the
knight said he would have her, and the dwarf said he would have
her. Will we do well? said the dwarf; yonder is a knight at the
cross, let us put it both upon him, and as he deemeth so shall it
be. I will well, said the knight, and so they went all three
unto Sir Gawaine and told him wherefore they strove. Well, sirs,
said he, will ye put the matter in my hand? Yea, they said both.
Now damosel, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall stand betwixt them both,
and whether ye list better to go to, he shall have you. And when
she was set between them both, she left the knight and went to
the dwarf, and the dwarf took her and went his way singing, and
the knight went his way with great mourning.

Then came there two knights all armed, and cried on high, Sir
Gawaine! knight of King Arthur's, make thee ready in all haste
and joust with me. So they ran together, that either fell down,
and then on foot they drew their swords, and did full actually.
The meanwhile the other knight went to the damosel, and asked her
why she abode with that knight, and if ye would abide with me, I
will be your faithful knight. And with you will I be, said the
damosel, for with Sir Gawaine I may not find in mine heart to be
with him; for now here was one knight discomfited ten knights,
and at the last he was cowardly led away; and therefore let us
two go whilst they fight. And Sir Gawaine fought with that other
knight long, but at the last they accorded both. And then the
knight prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night. So as
Sir Gawaine went with this knight he asked him, What knight is he
in this country that smote down the ten knights? For when he had
done so manfully he suffered them to bind him hand and foot, and
so led him away. Ah, said the knight, that is the best knight I
trow in the world, and the most man of prowess, and he hath been
served so as he was even more than ten times, and his name hight
Sir Pelleas, and he loveth a great lady in this country and her
name is Ettard. And so when he loved her there was cried in this
country a great jousts three days, and all the knights of this
country were there and gentlewomen, and who that proved him the
best knight should have a passing good sword and a circlet of
gold, and the circlet the knight should give it to the fairest
lady that was at the jousts. And this knight Sir Pelleas was the
best knight that was there, and there were five hundred knights,
but there was never man that ever Sir Pelleas met withal but he
struck him down, or else from his horse; and every day of three
days he struck down twenty knights, therefore they gave him the
prize, and forthwithal he went thereas the Lady Ettard was, and
gave her the circlet, and said openly she was the fairest lady
that there was, and that would he prove upon any knight that
would say nay.


How King Pelleas suffered himself to be taken prisoner
because he would have a sight of his lady, and how
Sir Gawaine promised him to get to him the love of
his lady.

AND so he chose her for his sovereign lady, and never to love
other but her, but she was so proud that she had scorn of him,
and said that she would never love him though he would die for
her. Wherefore all ladies and gentlewomen had scorn of her that
she was so proud, for there were fairer than she, and there was
none that was there but an Sir Pelleas would have proffered them
love, they would have loved him for his noble prowess. And so
this knight promised the Lady Ettard to follow her into this
country, and never to leave her till she loved him. And thus he
is here the most part nigh her, and lodged by a priory, and every
week she sendeth knights to fight with him. And when he hath put
them to the worse, then will he suffer them wilfully to take him
prisoner, because he would have a sight of this lady. And always
she doth him great despite, for sometime she maketh her knights
to tie him to his horse's tail, and some to bind him under the
horse's belly; thus in the most shamefullest ways that she can
think he is brought to her. And all she doth it for to cause him
to leave this country, and to leave his loving; but all this
cannot make him to leave, for an he would have fought on foot he
might have had the better of the ten knights as well on foot as
on horseback. Alas, said Sir Gawaine, it is great pity of him;
and after this night I will seek him to-morrow, in this forest,
to do him all the help I can. So on the morn Sir Gawaine took
his leave of his host Sir Carados, and rode into the forest; and
at the last he met with Sir Pelleas, making great moan out of
measure, so each of them saluted other, and asked him why he made
such sorrow. And as it is above rehearsed, <136>Sir Pelleas told
Sir Gawaine: But always I suffer her knights to fare so with me
as ye saw yesterday, in trust at the last to win her love, for
she knoweth well all her knights should not lightly win me, an me
list to fight with them to the uttermost. Wherefore an I loved
her not so sore, I had liefer die an hundred times, an I might
die so oft, rather than I would suffer that despite; but I trust
she will have pity upon me at the last, for love causeth many a
good knight to suffer to have his entent, but alas I am
unfortunate. And therewith he made so great dole and sorrow that
unnethe he might hold him on horseback.

Now, said Sir Gawaine, leave your mourning and I shall promise
you by the faith of my body to do all that lieth in my power to
get you the love of your lady, and thereto I will plight you my
troth. Ah, said Sir Pelleas, of what court are ye? tell me, I
pray you, my good friend. And then Sir Gawaine said, I am of the
court of King Arthur, and his sister's son, and King Lot of
Orkney was my father, and my name is Sir Gawaine. And then he
said, My name is Sir Pelleas, born in the Isles, and of many
isles I am lord, and never have I loved lady nor damosel till now
in an unhappy time; and, sir knight, since ye are so nigh cousin
unto King Arthur, and a king's son, therefore betray me not but
help me, for I may never come by her but by some good knight, for
she is in a strong castle here, fast by within this four mile,
and over all this country she is lady of. And so I may never
come to her presence, but as I suffer her knights to take me, and
but if I did so that I might have a sight of her, I had been dead
long or this time; and yet fair word had I never of her, but when
I am brought to-fore her she rebuketh me in the foulest manner.
And then they take my horse and harness and put me out of the
gates, and she will not suffer me to eat nor drink; and always I
offer me to be her prisoner, but that she will not suffer me, for
I would desire no more, what pains so ever I had, so that I might
have a sight of her daily. Well, said Sir Gawaine, all this
shall I amend an ye will do as I shall devise: I will have your
horse and <137>your armour, and so will I ride unto her castle
and tell her that I have slain you, and so shall I come within
her to cause her to cherish me, and then shall I do my true part
that ye shall not fail to have the love of her.


How Sir Gawaine came to the Lady Ettard, and how
Sir Pelleas found them sleeping.

AND therewith Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir Pelleas to be
true and faithful unto him; so each one plight their troth to
other, and so they changed horses and harness, and Sir Gawaine
departed, and came to the castle whereas stood the pavilions of
this lady without the gate. And as soon as Ettard had espied Sir
Gawaine she fled in toward the castle. Sir Gawaine spake on
high, and bade her abide, for he was not Sir Pelleas; I am
another knight that have slain Sir Pelleas. Do off your helm,
said the Lady Ettard, that I may see your visage. And so when
she saw that it was not Sir Pelleas, she bade him alight and led
him unto her castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had
slain Sir Pelleas. And he said her yea, and told her his name
was Sir Gawaine of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's
son. Truly, said she, that is great pity, for he was a passing
good knight of his body, but of all men alive I hated him most,
for I could never be quit of him; and for ye have slain him I
shall be your woman, and to do anything that might please you.
So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer. Then Sir Gawaine said that
he loved a lady and by no means she would love him. She is to
blame, said Ettard, an she will not love you, for ye that be so
well born a man, and such a man of prowess, there is no lady in
the world too good for you. Will ye, said Sir Gawaine, promise
me to do all that ye may, by the faith of your body, to get me
the love of my lady? Yea, sir, said she, and that I promise you
by the <138>faith of my body. Now, said Sir Gawaine, it is
yourself that I love so well, therefore I pray you hold your
promise. I may not choose, said the Lady Ettard, but if I should
be forsworn; and so she granted him to fulfil all his desire.

So it was then in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine went
out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and there was made a
bed, and there Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ettard went to bed
together, and in another pavilion she laid her damosels, and in
the third pavilion she laid part of her knights, for then she had
no dread of Sir Pelleas. And there Sir Gawaine lay with her in
that pavilion two days and two nights. And on the third day, in
the morning early, Sir Pelleas armed him, for he had never slept
since Sir Gawaine departed from him; for Sir Gawaine had promised
him by the faith of his body, to come to him unto his pavilion by
that priory within the space of a day and a night.

Then Sir Pelleas mounted upon horseback, and came to the
pavilions that stood without the castle, and found in the first
pavilion three knights in three beds, and three squires lying at
their feet. Then went he to the second pavilion and found four
gentlewomen lying in four beds. And then he yede to the third
pavilion and found Sir Gawaine lying in bed with his Lady Ettard,
and either clipping other in arms, and when he saw that his heart
well-nigh brast for sorrow, and said: Alas! that ever a knight
should be found so false; and then he took his horse and might
not abide no longer for pure sorrow. And when he had ridden nigh
half a mile he turned again and thought to slay them both; and
when he saw them both so lie sleeping fast, unnethe he might hold
him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself, Though
this knight be never so false, I will never slay him sleeping,
for I will never destroy the high order of knighthood; and
therewith he departed again. And or he had ridden half a mile he
returned again, and thought then to slay them both, making the
greatest sorrow that ever man made. And when he came to the
pavilions, he tied his <139>horse unto a tree, and pulled out his
sword naked in his hand, and went to them thereas they lay, and
yet he thought it were shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the
naked sword overthwart both their throats, and so took his horse
and rode his way.

And when Sir Pelleas came to his pavilions he told his knights
and his squires how he had sped, and said thus to them, For your
true and good service ye have done me I shall give you all my
goods, for I will go unto my bed and never arise until I am dead.
And when that I am dead I charge you that ye take the heart out
of my body and bear it her betwixt two silver dishes, and tell
her how I saw her lie with the false knight Sir Gawaine. Right
so Sir Pelleas unarmed himself, and went unto his bed making
marvellous dole and sorrow.

When Sir Gawaine and Ettard awoke of their sleep, and found the
naked sword overthwart their throats, then she knew well it was
Sir Pelleas' sword. Alas! said she to Sir Gawaine, ye have
betrayed me and Sir Pelleas both, for ye told me ye had slain
him, and now I know well it is not so, he is alive. And if Sir
Pelleas had been as uncourteous to you as ye have been to him ye
had been a dead knight; but ye have deceived me and betrayed me
falsely, that all ladies and damosels may beware by you and me.
And therewith Sir Gawaine made him ready, and went into the
forest. So it happed then that the Damosel of the Lake, Nimue,
met with a knight of Sir Pelleas, that went on his foot in the
forest making great dole, and she asked him the cause. And so
the woful knight told her how his master and lord was betrayed
through a knight and lady, and how he will never arise out of his
bed till he be dead. Bring me to him, said she anon, and I will
warrant his life he shall not die for love, and she that hath
caused him so to love, she shall be in as evil plight as he is or
it be long to, for it is no joy of such a proud lady that will
have no mercy of such a valiant knight. Anon that knight brought
her unto him, and when she saw him lie in his bed, she thought
she saw never so likely a knight; and therewith she threw an
enchantment upon <140>him, and he fell asleep. And therewhile
she rode unto the Lady Ettard, and charged no man to awake him
till she came again. So within two hours she brought the Lady
Ettard thither, and both ladies found him asleep: Lo, said the
Damosel of the Lake, ye ought to be ashamed for to murder such a
knight. And therewith she threw such an enchantment upon her
that she loved him sore, that well-nigh she was out of her mind.
O Lord Jesu, said the Lady Ettard, how is it befallen unto me
that I love now him that I have most hated of any man alive?
That is the righteous judgment of God, said the damosel. And
then anon Sir Pelleas awaked and looked upon Ettard; and when he
saw her he knew her, and then he hated her more than any woman
alive, and said: Away, traitress, come never in my sight. And
when she heard him say so, she wept and made great sorrow out of


How Sir Pelleas loved no more Ettard by means of the
Damosel of the Lake, whom he loved ever after.

SIR KNIGHT PELLEAS, said the Damosel of the Lake, take your horse
and come forth with me out of this country, and ye shall love a
lady that shall love you. I will well, said Sir Pelleas, for
this Lady Ettard hath done me great despite and shame, and there
he told her the beginning and ending, and how he had purposed
never to have arisen till that he had been dead. And now such
grace God hath sent me, that I hate her as much as ever I loved
her, thanked be our Lord Jesus! Thank me, said the Damosel of
the Lake. Anon Sir Pelleas armed him, and took his horse, and
commanded his men to bring after his pavilions and his stuff
where the Damosel of the Lake would assign. So the Lady Ettard
died for sorrow, and the Damosel of the Lake rejoiced Sir
Pelleas, and loved together during their life days.


How Sir Marhaus rode with the damosel, and how he
came to the Duke of the South Marches.

NOW turn we unto Sir Marhaus, that rode with the damosel of
thirty winter of age, southward. And so they came into a deep
forest, and by fortune they were nighted, and rode long in a deep
way, and at the last they came unto a courtelage, and there they
asked harbour. But the man of the courtelage would not lodge
them for no treatise that they could treat, but thus much the
good man said, An ye will take the adventure of your lodging, I
shall bring you where ye shall be lodged. What adventure is that
that I shall have for my lodging? said Sir Marhaus. Ye shall wit
when ye come there, said the good man. Sir, what adventure so it
be, bring me thither I pray thee, said Sir Marhaus; for I am
weary, my damosel, and my horse. So the good man went and opened
the gate, and within an hour he brought him unto a fair castle,
and then the poor man called the porter, and anon he was let into
the castle, and so he told the lord how he brought him a knight
errant and a damosel that would be lodged with him. Let him in,
said the lord, it may happen he shall repent that they took their
lodging here.

So Sir Marhaus was let in with torchlight, and there was a goodly
sight of young men that welcomed him. And then his horse was led
into the stable, and he and the damosel were brought into the
hall, and there stood a mighty duke and many goodly men about
him. Then this lord asked him what he hight, and from whence he
came, and with whom he dwelt. Sir, he said, I am a knight of
King Arthur's and knight of the Table Round, and my name is Sir
Marhaus, and born I am in Ireland. And then said the duke to
him, That me sore repenteth: the cause is this, for I love not
thy lord nor none of thy <142>fellows of the Table Round; and
therefore ease thyself this night as well as thou mayest, for as
to-morn I and my six sons shall match with you. Is there no
remedy but that I must have ado with you and your six sons at
once? said Sir Marhaus. No, said the duke, for this cause I made
mine avow, for Sir Gawaine slew my seven sons in a recounter,
therefore I made mine avow, there should never knight of King
Arthur's court lodge with me, or come thereas I might have ado
with him, but that I would have a revenging of my sons' death.
What is your name? said Sir Marhaus; I require you tell me, an it
please you. Wit thou well I am the Duke of South Marches. Ah,
said Sir Marhaus, I have heard say that ye have been long time a
great foe unto my lord Arthur and to his knights. That shall ye
feel to-morn, said the duke. Shall I have ado with you? said Sir
Marhaus. Yea, said the duke, thereof shalt thou not choose, and
therefore take you to your chamber, and ye shall have all that to
you longeth. So Sir Marhaus departed and was led to a chamber,
and his damosel was led unto her chamber. And on the morn the
duke sent unto Sir Marhaus and bade make him ready. And so Sir
Marhaus arose and armed him, and then there was a mass sung afore
him, and brake his fast, and so mounted on horseback in the court
of the castle where they should do the battle. So there was the
duke all ready on horseback, clean armed, and his six sons by
him, and everych had a spear in his hand, and so they
encountered, whereas the duke and his two sons brake their spears
upon him, but Sir Marhaus held up his spear and touched none of

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