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Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory

Part 5 out of 9

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while in a deep forest, where he saw a black brachet, seeking in
manner as it had been in the feute of an hurt deer. And
therewith he rode after the brachet, and he saw lie on the ground
a large feute of blood. And then Sir Launcelot rode after. And
ever the brachet looked behind her, and so she went through a
great marsh, and ever Sir Launcelot followed. And then was he
ware of an old manor, and thither ran the brachet, and so over
the bridge. So Sir Launcelot rode over that bridge that was old
and feeble; and when he came in midst of a great hall, there he
saw lie a dead knight that was a seemly man, and that brachet
licked his wounds. And therewithal came out a lady weeping and
wringing her hands; and then she said, O knight, too much sorrow
hast thou brought me. Why say ye so? said Sir Launcelot, I did
never this knight no harm, for hither by feute of blood <200>this
brachet brought me; and therefore, fair lady, be not displeased
with me, for I am full sore aggrieved of your grievance. Truly,
sir, she said, I trow it be not ye that hath slain my husband,
for he that did that deed is sore wounded, and he is never likely
to recover, that shall I ensure him. What was your husband's
name? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said she, his name was called Sir
Gilbert the Bastard, one of the best knights of the world, and he
that hath slain him I know not his name. Now God send you better
comfort, said Sir Launcelot; and so he departed and went into the
forest again, and there he met with a damosel, the which knew him
well, and she said aloud, Well be ye found, my lord; and now I
require thee, on thy knighthood, help my brother that is sore
wounded, and never stinteth bleeding; for this day he fought with
Sir Gilbert the Bastard and slew him in plain battle, and there
was my brother sore wounded, and there is a lady a sorceress that
dwelleth in a castle here beside, and this day she told me my
brother's wounds should never be whole till I could find a knight
that would go into the Chapel Perilous, and there he should find
a sword and a bloody cloth that the wounded knight was lapped in,
and a piece of that cloth and sword should heal my brother's
wounds, so that his wounds were searched with the sword and the
cloth. This is a marvellous thing, said Sir Launcelot, but what
is your brother's name? Sir, she said, his name was Sir Meliot
de Logres. That me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot, for he is a
fellow of the Table Round, and to his help I will do my power.
Then, sir, said she, follow even this highway, and it will bring
you unto the Chapel Perilous; and here I shall abide till God
send you here again, and, but you speed, I know no knight living
that may achieve that adventure


How Sir Launcelot came into the Chapel Perilous and gat
there of a dead corpse a piece of the cloth and a sword.

RIGHT so Sir Launcelot departed, and when he came unto the Chapel
Perilous he alighted down, and tied his horse unto a little gate.
And as soon as he was within the churchyard he saw on the front
of the chapel many fair rich shields turned up-so-down, and many
of the shields Sir Launcelot had seen knights bear beforehand.
With that he saw by him there stand a thirty great knights, more
by a yard than any man that ever he had seen, and all those
grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot. And when he saw their
countenance he dreaded him sore, and so put his shield afore him,
and took his sword ready in his hand ready unto battle, and they
were all armed in black harness ready with their shields and
their swords drawn. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone
throughout them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave
him the way, and therewith he waxed all bold, and entered into
the chapel, and then he saw no light but a dim lamp burning, and
then was he ware of a corpse hilled with a cloth of silk. Then
Sir Launcelot stooped down, and cut a piece away of that cloth,
and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little;
therewithal he feared. And then he saw a fair sword lie by the
dead knight, and that he gat in his hand and hied him out of the

Anon as ever he was in the chapel yard all the knights spake to
him with a grimly voice, and said, Knight, Sir Launcelot, lay
that sword from thee or else thou shalt die. Whether that I live
or die, said Sir Launcelot, with no great word get ye it again,
therefore fight for it an ye list. Then right so he passed
throughout them, and beyond the chapel yard there met him a fair
damosel, and said, Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee,
or thou wilt die for it. I leave it not, said Sir Launcelot, for
no treaties. No, <202>said she, an thou didst leave that sword,
Queen Guenever should thou never see. Then were I a fool an I
would leave this sword, said Launcelot. Now, gentle knight, said
the damosel, I require thee to kiss me but once. Nay, said Sir
Launcelot, that God me forbid. Well, sir, said she, an thou
hadst kissed me thy life days had been done, but now, alas, she
said, I have lost all my labour, for I ordained this chapel for
thy sake, and for Sir Gawaine. And once I had Sir Gawaine within
me, and at that time he fought with that knight that lieth there
dead in yonder chapel, Sir Gilbert the Bastard; and at that time
he smote the left hand off of Sir Gilbert the Bastard. And, Sir
Launcelot, now I tell thee, I have loved thee this seven year,
but there may no woman have thy love but Queen Guenever. But
sithen I may not rejoice thee to have thy body alive, I had kept
no more joy in this world but to have thy body dead. Then would
I have balmed it and served it, and so have kept it my life days,
and daily I should have clipped thee, and kissed thee, in despite
of Queen Guenever. Ye say well, said Sir Launcelot, Jesu
preserve me from your subtle crafts. And therewithal he took his
horse and so departed from her. And as the book saith, when Sir
Launcelot was departed she took such sorrow that she died within
a fourteen night, and her name was Hellawes the sorceress, Lady
of the Castle Nigramous.

Anon Sir Launcelot met with the damosel, Sir Meliot's sister.
And when she saw him she clapped her hands, and wept for joy.
And then they rode unto a castle thereby where lay Sir Meliot.
And anon as Sir Launcelot saw him he knew him, but he was passing
pale, as the earth, for bleeding. When Sir Meliot saw Sir
Launcelot he kneeled upon his knees and cried on high: O lord
Sir Launcelot, help me! Anon Sir Launcelot leapt unto him and
touched his wounds with Sir Gilbert's sword. And then he wiped
his wounds with a part of the bloody cloth that Sir Gilbert was
wrapped in, and anon an wholer man in his life was he never. And
then there was great joy between them, and they made Sir
Launcelot all <203>the cheer that they might, and so on the morn
Sir Launcelot took his leave, and bade Sir Meliot hie him to the
court of my lord Arthur, for it draweth nigh to the Feast of
Pentecost, and there by the grace of God ye shall find me. And
therewith they departed.


How Sir Launcelot at the request of a lady recovered a
falcon, by which he was deceived.

AND so Sir Launcelot rode through many strange countries, over
marshes and valleys, till by fortune he came to a fair castle,
and as he passed beyond the castle him thought he heard two bells
ring. And then was he ware of a falcon came flying over his head
toward an high elm, and long lunes about her feet, and as she
flew unto the elm to take her perch the lunes over-cast about a
bough. And when she would have taken her flight she hung by the
legs fast; and Sir Launcelot saw how she hung, and beheld the
fair falcon perigot, and he was sorry for her.

The meanwhile came a lady out of the castle and cried on high: O
Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art flower of all knights, help me
to get my hawk, for an my hawk be lost my lord will destroy me;
for I kept the hawk and she slipped from me, and if my lord my
husband wit it he is so hasty that he will slay me. What is your
lord's name? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, she said, his name is Sir
Phelot, a knight that longeth unto the King of Northgalis. Well,
fair lady, since that ye know my name, and require me of
knighthood to help you, I will do what I may to get your hawk,
and yet God knoweth I am an ill climber, and the tree is passing
high, and few boughs to help me withal. And therewith Sir
Launcelot alighted, and tied his horse to the same tree, and
prayed the lady to unarm him. And so when he was unarmed, he put
off all his <204>clothes unto his shirt and breech, and with
might and force he clomb up to the falcon, and tied the lines to
a great rotten boyshe, and threw the hawk down and it withal.

Anon the lady gat the hawk in her hand; and therewithal came out
Sir Phelot out of the groves suddenly, that was her husband, all
armed and with his naked sword in his hand, and said: O knight
Launcelot, now have I found thee as I would, and stood at the
bole of the tree to slay him. Ah, lady, said Sir Launcelot, why
have ye betrayed me? She hath done, said Sir Phelot, but as I
commanded her, and therefore there nis none other boot but thine
hour is come that thou must die. That were shame unto thee, said
Sir Launcelot, thou an armed knight to slay a naked man by
treason. Thou gettest none other grace, said Sir Phelot, and
therefore help thyself an thou canst. Truly, said Sir Launcelot,
that shall be thy shame, but since thou wilt do none other, take
mine harness with thee, and hang my sword upon a bough that I may
get it, and then do thy best to slay me an thou canst. Nay, nay,
said Sir Phelot, for I know thee better than thou weenest,
therefore thou gettest no weapon, an I may keep you therefrom.
Alas, said Sir Launcelot, that ever a knight should die
weaponless. And therewith he waited above him and under him, and
over his head he saw a rownsepyk, a big bough leafless, and
therewith he brake it off by the body. And then he came lower
and awaited how his own horse stood, and suddenly he leapt on the
further side of the horse, fro-ward the knight. And then Sir
Phelot lashed at him eagerly, weening to have slain him. But Sir
Launcelot put away the stroke with the rownsepyk, and therewith
he smote him on the one side of the head, that he fell down in a
swoon to the ground. So then Sir Launcelot took his sword out of
his hand, and struck his neck from the body. Then cried the
lady, Alas ! why hast thou slain my husband? I am not causer,
said Sir Launcelot, for with falsehood ye would have had slain me
with treason, and now it is fallen on you both. And then she
swooned as though she would <205>die. And therewithal Sir
Launcelot gat all his armour as well as he might, and put it upon
him for dread of more resort, for he dreaded that the knight's
castle was so nigh. And so, as soon as he might, he took his
horse and departed, and thanked God that he had escaped that


How Sir Launcelot overtook a knight which chased his wife
to have slain her, and how he said to him.

SO Sir Launcelot rode many wild ways, throughout marches and many
wild ways. And as he rode in a valley he saw a knight chasing a
lady, with a naked sword, to have slain her. And by fortune as
this knight should have slain this lady, she cried on Sir
Launcelot and prayed him to rescue her. When Sir Launcelot saw
that mischief, he took his horse and rode between them, saying,
Knight, fie for shame, why wilt thou slay this lady? thou dost
shame unto thee and all knights. What hast thou to do betwixt me
and my wife? said the knight. I will slay her maugre thy head.
That shall ye not, said Sir Launcelot, for rather we two will
have ado together. Sir Launcelot, said the knight, thou dost not
thy part, for this lady hath betrayed me. It is not so, said the
lady, truly he saith wrong on me. And for because I love and
cherish my cousin germain, he is jealous betwixt him and me; and
as I shall answer to God there was never sin betwixt us. But,
sir, said the lady, as thou art called the worshipfullest knight
of the world, I require thee of true knighthood, keep me and save
me. For whatsomever ye say he will slay me, for he is without
mercy. Have ye no doubt, said Launcelot, it shall not lie in his
power. Sir, said the knight, in your sight I will be ruled as ye
will have me. And so Sir Launcelot rode on the one side and she
on the other: he had not ridden but a while, but the knight bade
Sir Launcelot turn him and <206>look behind him, and said, Sir,
yonder come men of arms after us riding. And so Sir Launcelot
turned him and thought no treason, and therewith was the knight
and the lady on one side, and suddenly he swapped off his lady's

And when Sir Launcelot had espied him what he had done, he said,
and called him, Traitor, thou hast shamed me for ever. And
suddenly Sir Launcelot alighted off his horse, and pulled out his
sword to slay him, and therewithal he fell flat to the earth, and
gripped Sir Launcelot by the thighs, and cried mercy. Fie on
thee, said Sir Launcelot, thou shameful knight, thou mayest have
no mercy, and therefore arise and fight with me. Nay, said the
knight, I will never arise till ye grant me mercy. Now will I
proffer thee fair, said Launcelot, I will unarm me unto my shirt,
and I will have nothing upon me but my shirt, and my sword and my
hand. And if thou canst slay me, quit be thou for ever. Nay,
sir, said Pedivere, that will I never. Well, said Sir Launcelot,
take this lady and the head, and bear it upon thee, and here
shalt thou swear upon my sword, to bear it always upon thy back,
and never to rest till thou come to Queen Guenever. Sir, said
he, that will I do, by the faith of my body. Now, said
Launcelot, tell me what is your name? Sir, my name is Pedivere.
In a shameful hour wert thou born, said Launcelot.

So Pedivere departed with the dead lady and the head, and found
the queen with King Arthur at Winchester, and there he told all
the truth. Sir knight, said the queen, this is an horrible deed
and a shameful, and a great rebuke unto Sir Launcelot; but
notwithstanding his worship is not known in many divers
countries; but this shall I give you in penance, make ye as good
shift as ye can, ye shall bear this lady with you on horseback
unto the Pope of Rome, and of him receive your penance for your
foul deeds; and ye shall never rest one night whereas ye do
another; an ye go to any bed the dead body shall lie with you.
This oath there he made, and so departed. And as it telleth in
the French book, when he came to Rome, <207>the Pope bade him go
again unto Queen Guenever, and in Rome was his lady buried by the
Pope's commandment. And after this Sir Pedivere fell to great
goodness, and was an holy man and an hermit.


How Sir Launcelot came to King Arthur's Court, and how
there were recounted all his noble feats and acts.

NOW turn we unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, that came home two days
afore the Feast of Pentecost; and the king and all the court were
passing fain of his coming. And when Sir Gawaine, Sir Uwaine,
Sir Sagramore, Sir Ector de Maris, saw Sir Launcelot in Kay's
armour, then they wist well it was he that smote them down all
with one spear. Then there was laughing and smiling among them.
And ever now and now came all the knights home that Sir Turquine
had prisoners, and they all honoured and worshipped Sir

When Sir Gaheris heard them speak, he said, I saw all the battle
from the beginning to the ending, and there he told King Arthur
all how it was, and how Sir Turquine was the strongest knight
that ever he saw except Sir Launcelot: there were many knights
bare him record, nigh three score. Then Sir Kay told the king
how Sir Launcelot had rescued him when he should have been slain,
and how he made the knights yield them to me, and not to him.
And there they were all three, and bare record. And by Jesu,
said Sir Kay, because Sir Launcelot took my harness and left me
his I rode in good peace, and no man would have ado with me.

Anon therewithal there came the three knights that fought with
Sir Launcelot at the long bridge. And there they yielded them
unto Sir Kay, and Sir Kay forsook them and said he fought never
with them. But I shall ease your heart, said Sir Kay, yonder is
Sir Launcelot that <208>overcame you. When they wist that they
were glad. And then Sir Meliot de Logres came home, and told the
king how Sir Launcelot had saved him from the death. And all his
deeds were known, how four queens, sorceresses, had him in
prison, and how he was delivered by King Bagdemagus' daughter.
Also there were told all the great deeds of arms that Sir
Launcelot did betwixt the two kings, that is for to say the King
of Northgalis and King Bagdemagus. All the truth Sir Gahalantine
did tell, and Sir Mador de la Porte and Sir Mordred, for they
were at that same tournament. Then came in the lady that knew
Sir Launcelot when that he wounded Sir Belleus at the pavilion.
And there, at request of Sir Launcelot, Sir Belleus was made
knight of the Round Table. And so at that time Sir Launcelot had
the greatest name of any knight of the world, and most he was
honoured of high and low.

Explicit the noble tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake,
which is the vi. book. Here followeth the tale of
Sir Gareth of Orkney that was called Beaumains
by Sir Kay, and is the seventh book.



How Beaumains came to King Arthur's Court and
demanded three petitions of King Arthur.

WHEN Arthur held his Round Table most plenour, it fortuned that
he commanded that the high feast of Pentecost should be holden at
a city and a castle, the which in those days was called Kynke
Kenadonne, upon the sands that marched nigh Wales. So ever the
king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial,
afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat
until he had heard or seen of a great marvel. And for that
custom all manner of strange adventures came before Arthur as at
that feast before all other feasts. And so Sir Gawaine, a little
to-fore noon of the day of Pentecost, espied at a window three
men upon horseback, and a dwarf on foot, and so the three men
alighted, and the dwarf kept their horses, and one of the three
men was higher than the other twain by a foot and an half. Then
Sir Gawaine went unto the king and said, Sir, go to your meat,
for here at the hand come strange adventures. So Arthur went
unto his meat with many other kings. And there were all the
knights of the Round Table, [save] only those that were prisoners
or slain at a recounter. Then at the high feast evermore they
should be fulfilled the whole number of an hundred and fifty, for
then was the Round Table fully complished.

Right so came into the hall two men well beseen and <210>richly,
and upon their shoulders there leaned the goodliest young man and
the fairest that ever they all saw, and he was large and long,
and broad in the shoulders, and well visaged, and the fairest and
the largest handed that ever man saw, but he fared as though he
might not go nor bear himself but if he leaned upon their
shoulders. Anon as Arthur saw him there was made peace and room,
and right so they yede with him unto the high dais, without
saying of any words. Then this much young man pulled him aback,
and easily stretched up straight, saying, King Arthur, God you
bless and all your fair fellowship, and in especial the
fellowship of the Table Round. And for this cause I am come
hither, to pray you and require you to give me three gifts, and
they shall not be unreasonably asked, but that ye may
worshipfully and honourably grant them me, and to you no great
hurt nor loss. And the first don and gift I will ask now, and
the other two gifts I will ask this day twelvemonth, wheresomever
ye hold your high feast. Now ask, said Arthur, and ye shall have
your asking.

Now, sir, this is my petition for this feast, that ye will give
me meat and drink sufficiently for this twelvemonth, and at that
day I will ask mine other two gifts.

My fair son, said Arthur, ask better, I counsel thee, for this is
but a simple asking; for my heart giveth me to thee greatly, that
thou art come of men of worship, and greatly my conceit faileth
me but thou shalt prove a man of right great worship. Sir, he
said, thereof be as it be may, I have asked that I will ask.
Well, said the king, ye shall have meat and drink enough; I never
defended that none, neither my friend nor my foe. But what is
thy name I would wit? I cannot tell you, said he. That is
marvel, said the king, that thou knowest not thy name, and thou
art the goodliest young man that ever I saw. Then the king
betook him to Sir Kay the steward, and charged him that he should
give him of all manner of meats and drinks of the best, and also
that he had all manner of finding as though he were a lord's son.
That shall little need, said Sir Kay, to do such cost upon him;
<211>for I dare undertake he is a villain born, and never will
make man, for an he had come of gentlemen he would have asked of
you horse and armour, but such as he is, so he asketh. And
sithen he hath no name, I shall give him a name that shall be
Beaumains, that is Fair-hands, and into the kitchen I shall bring
him, and there he shall have fat brose every day, that he shall
be as fat by the twelvemonths' end as a pork hog. Right so the
two men departed and beleft him to Sir Kay, that scorned him and
mocked him.


How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine were wroth because
Sir Kay mocked Beaumains, and of a damosel which
desired a knight to fight for a lady.

THEREAT was Sir Gawaine wroth, and in especial Sir Launcelot bade
Sir Kay leave his mocking, for I dare lay my head he shall prove
a man of great worship. Let be said Sir Kay, it may not be by no
reason, for as he is, so he hath asked. Beware, said Sir
Launcelot, so ye gave the good knight Brewnor, Sir Dinadan's
brother, a name, and ye called him La Cote Male Taile, and that
turned you to anger afterward. As for that, said Sir Kay, this
shall never prove none such. For Sir Brewnor desired ever
worship, and this desireth bread and drink and broth; upon pain
of my life he was fostered up in some abbey, and, howsomever it
was, they failed meat and drink, and so hither he is come for his

And so Sir Kay bade get him a place, and sit down to meat; so
Beaumains went to the hall door, and set him down among boys and
lads, and there he ate sadly. And then Sir Launcelot after meat
bade him come to his chamber, and there he should have meat and
drink enough. And so did Sir Gawaine: but he refused them all;
he would do none other but as Sir Kay commanded him, for no
proffer. But as touching Sir Gawaine, he had reason to
<212>proffer him lodging, meat, and drink, for that proffer came
of his blood, for he was nearer kin to him than he wist. But
that as Sir Launcelot did was of his great gentleness and

So thus he was put into the kitchen, and lay nightly as the boys
of the kitchen did. And so he endured all that twelvemonth, and
never displeased man nor child, but always he was meek and mild.
But ever when that he saw any jousting of knights, that would he
see an he might. And ever Sir Launcelot would give him gold to
spend, and clothes, and so did Sir Gawaine, and where there were
any masteries done, thereat would he be, and there might none
cast bar nor stone to him by two yards. Then would Sir Kay say,
How liketh you my boy of the kitchen? So it passed on till the
feast of Whitsuntide. And at that time the king held it at
Carlion in the most royallest wise that might be, like as he did
yearly. But the king would no meat eat upon the Whitsunday,
until he heard some adventures. Then came there a squire to the
king and said, Sir, ye may go to your meat, for here cometh a
damosel with some strange adventures. Then was the king glad and
sat him down.

Right so there came a damosel into the hall and saluted the king,
and prayed him of succour. For whom? said the king, what is the

Sir, she said, I have a lady of great worship and renown, and she
is besieged with a tyrant, so that she may not out of her castle;
and because here are called the noblest knights of the world, I
come to you to pray you of succour. What hight your lady, and
where dwelleth she, and who is she, and what is his name that
hath besieged her? Sir king, she said, as for my lady's name
that shall not ye know for me as at this time, but I let you wit
she is a lady of great worship and of great lands; and as for the
tyrant that besiegeth her and destroyeth her lands, he is called
the Red Knight of the Red Launds. I know him not, said the king.
Sir, said Sir Gawaine, I know him well, for he is one of the
perilloust knights of the world; men say that he hath seven men's
strength, <213>and from him I escaped once full hard with my
life. Fair damosel, said the king, there be knights here would
do their power for to rescue your lady, but because you will not
tell her name, nor where she dwelleth, therefore none of my
knights that here be now shall go with you by my will. Then must
I speak further, said the damosel.


How Beaumains desired the battle, and how it was granted
to him, and how he desired to be made knight of Sir Launcelot.

WITH these words came before the king Beaumains, while the
damosel was there, and thus he said, Sir king, God thank you, I
have been this twelvemonth in your kitchen, and have had my full
sustenance, and now I will ask my two gifts that be behind. Ask,
upon my peril, said the king. Sir, this shall be my two gifts,
first that ye will grant me to have this adventure of the
damosel, for it belongeth unto me. Thou shalt have it, said the
king, I grant it thee. Then, sir, this is the other gift, that
ye shall bid Launcelot du Lake to make me knight, for of him I
will be made knight and else of none. And when I am passed I
pray you let him ride after me, and make me knight when I require
him. All this shall be done, said the king. Fie on thee, said
the damosel, shall I have none but one that is your kitchen page?
Then was she wroth and took her horse and departed. And with
that there came one to Beaumains and told him his horse and
armour was come for him; and there was the dwarf come with all
thing that him needed, in the richest manner; thereat all the
court had much marvel from whence came all that gear. So when he
was armed there was none but few so goodly a man as he was; and
right so as he came into the hall and took his leave of King
Arthur, and Sir Gawaine, and Sir Launcelot, and prayed that he
would hie after him, and so departed and rode after the damosel.


How Beaumains departed, and how he gat of Sir Kay a
spear and a shield, and how he jousted with Sir Launcelot.

BUT there went many after to behold how well he was horsed and
trapped in cloth of gold, but he had neither shield nor spear.
Then Sir Kay said all open in the hall, I will ride after my boy
in the kitchen, to wit whether he will know me for his better.
Said Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine, Yet abide at home. So Sir
Kay made him ready and took his horse and his spear, and rode
after him. And right as Beaumains overtook the damosel, right so
came Sir Kay and said, Beaumains, what, sir, know ye not me?
Then he turned his horse, and knew it was Sir Kay, that had done
him all the despite as ye have heard afore. Yea, said Beaumains,
I know you for an ungentle knight of the court, and therefore
beware of me. Therewith Sir Kay put his spear in the rest, and
ran straight upon him; and Beaumains came as fast upon him with
his sword in his hand, and so he put away his spear with his
sword, and with a foin thrust him through the side, that Sir Kay
fell down as he had been dead; and he alighted down and took Sir
Kay's shield and his spear, and stert upon his own horse and rode
his way.

All that saw Sir Launcelot, and so did the damosel. And then he
bade his dwarf stert upon Sir Kay's horse, and so he did. By
that Sir Launcelot was come, then he proffered Sir Launcelot to
joust; and either made them ready, and they came together so
fiercely that either bare down other to the earth, and sore were
they bruised. Then Sir Launcelot arose and helped him from his
horse. And then Beaumains threw his shield from him, and
proffered to fight with Sir Launcelot on foot; and so they rushed
together like boars, tracing, rasing, and foining to the
mountenance of an hour; and Sir Launcelot felt him <215>so big
that he marvelled of his strength, for he fought more liker a
giant than a knight, and that his fighting was durable and
passing perilous. For Sir Launcelot had so much ado with him
that he dreaded himself to be shamed, and said, Beaumains, fight
not so sore, your quarrel and mine is not so great but we may
leave off. Truly that is truth, said Beaumains, but it doth me
good to feel your might, and yet, my lord, I showed not the


How Beaumains told to Sir Launcelot his name, and how he
was dubbed knight of Sir Launcelot, and after overtook
the damosel.

IN God's name, said Sir Launcelot, for I promise you, by the
faith of my body, I had as much to do as I might to save myself
from you unshamed, and therefore have ye no doubt of none earthly
knight. Hope ye so that I may any while stand a proved knight?
said Beaumains. Yea, said Launcelot, do as ye have done, and I
shall be your warrant. Then, I pray you, said Beaumains, give me
the order of knighthood. Then must ye tell me your name, said
Launcelot, and of what kin ye be born. Sir, so that ye will not
discover me I shall, said Beaumains. Nay, said Sir Launcelot,
and that I promise you by the faith of my body, until it be
openly known. Then, sir, he said, my name is Gareth, and brother
unto Sir Gawaine of father and mother. Ah, sir, said Sir
Launcelot, I am more gladder of you than I was; for ever me
thought ye should be of great blood, and that ye came not to the
court neither for meat nor for drink. And then Sir Launcelot
gave him the order of knighthood, and then Sir Gareth prayed him
for to depart and let him go.

So Sir Launcelot departed from him and came to Sir Kay, and made
him to be borne home upon his shield, and so he was healed hard
with the life; and all men scorned <216>Sir Kay, and in especial
Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot said it was not his part to rebuke
no young man, for full little knew he of what birth he is come,
and for what cause he came to this court; and so we leave Sir Kay
and turn we unto Beaumains.

When he had overtaken the damosel, anon she said, What dost thou
here? thou stinkest all of the kitchen, thy clothes be bawdy of
the grease and tallow that thou gainest in King Arthur's kitchen;
weenest thou, said she, that I allow thee, for yonder knight that
thou killest. Nay truly, for thou slewest him unhappily and
cowardly; therefore turn again, bawdy kitchen page, I know thee
well, for Sir Kay named thee Beaumains. What art thou but a lusk
and a turner of broaches and a ladle-washer? Damosel, said
Beaumains, say to me what ye will, I will not go from you
whatsomever ye say, for I have undertaken to King Arthur for to
achieve your adventure, and so shall I finish it to the end,
either I shall die therefore. Fie on thee, kitchen knave, wilt
thou finish mine adventure? thou shalt anon be met withal, that
thou wouldest not for all the broth that ever thou suppest once
look him in the face. I shall assay, said Beaumains.

So thus as they rode in the wood, there came a man flying all
that ever he might. Whither wilt thou? said Beaumains. O lord,
he said, help me, for here by in a slade are six thieves that
have taken my lord and bound him, so I am afeard lest they will
slay him. Bring me thither, said Beaumains. And so they rode
together until they came thereas was the knight bounden; and then
he rode unto them, and struck one unto the death, and then
another, and at the third stroke he slew the third thief, and
then the other three fled. And he rode after them, and he
overtook them; and then those three thieves turned again and
assailed Beaumains hard, but at the last he slew them, and
returned and unbound the knight. And the knight thanked him, and
prayed him to ride with him to his castle there a little beside,
and he should worshipfully reward him for his good deeds. Sir,
said Beaumains, I will no reward have: I was this day made knight
of noble Sir <217>Launcelot, and therefore I will no reward have,
but God reward me. And also I must follow this damosel.

And when he came nigh her she bade him ride from her, For thou
smellest all of the kitchen: weenest thou that I have joy of
thee, for all this deed that thou hast done is but mishapped
thee: but thou shalt see a sight shall make thee turn again, and
that lightly. Then the same knight which was rescued of the
thieves rode after that damosel, and prayed her to lodge with him
all that night. And because it was near night the damosel rode
with him to his castle, and there they had great cheer, and at
supper the knight sat Sir Beaumains afore the damosel. Fie, fie,
said she, Sir knight, ye are uncourteous to set a kitchen page
afore me; him beseemeth better to stick a swine than to sit afore
a damosel of high parage. Then the knight was ashamed at her
words, and took him up, and set him at a sideboard, and set
himself afore him, and so all that night they had good cheer and
merry rest.


How Beaumains fought and slew two knights at a passage.

AND on the morn the damosel and he took their leave and thanked
the knight, and so departed, and rode on their way until they
came to a great forest. And there was a great river and but one
passage, and there were ready two knights on the farther side to
let them the passage. What sayest thou, said the damosel, wilt
thou match yonder knights or turn again? Nay, said Sir
Beaumains, I will not turn again an they were six more. And
therewithal he rushed into the water, and in midst of the water
either brake their spears upon other to their hands, and then
they drew their swords, and smote eagerly at other. And at the
last Sir Beaumains smote the other upon the helm that his head
stonied, and therewithal he fell down in the water, and there was
he drowned. And then he spurred his horse <218>upon the land,
where the other knight fell upon him, and brake his spear, and so
they drew their swords and fought long together. At the last Sir
Beaumains clave his helm and his head down to the shoulders; and
so he rode unto the damosel and bade her ride forth on her way.

Alas, she said, that ever a kitchen page should have that fortune
to destroy such two doughty knights: thou weenest thou hast done
doughtily, that is not so; for the first knight his horse
stumbled, and there he was drowned in the water, and never it was
by thy force, nor by thy might. And the last knight by mishap
thou camest behind him and mishappily thou slew him.

Damosel, said Beaumains, ye may say what ye will, but with
whomsomever I have ado withal, I trust to God to serve him or he
depart. And therefore I reck not what ye say, so that I may win
your lady. Fie, fie, foul kitchen knave, thou shalt see knights
that shall abate thy boast. Fair damosel, give me goodly
language, and then my care is past, for what knights somever they
be, I care not, nor I doubt them not. Also, said she, I say it
for thine avail, yet mayest thou turn again with thy worship; for
an thou follow me, thou art but slain, for I see all that ever
thou dost is but by misadventure, and not by prowess of thy
hands. Well, damosel, ye may say what ye will, but wheresomever
ye go I will follow you. So this Beaumains rode with that lady
till evensong time, and ever she chid him, and would not rest.
And they came to a black laund; and there was a black hawthorn,
and thereon hung a black banner, and on the other side there hung
a black shield, and by it stood a black spear great and long, and
a great black horse covered with silk, and a black stone fast by.


How Beaumains fought with the Knight of the Black Launds,
and fought with him till he fell down and died.

THERE sat a knight all armed in black harness, and his name was
the Knight of the Black Laund. Then the damosel, when she saw
that knight, she bade him flee down that valley, for his horse
was not saddled. Gramercy, said Beaumains, for always ye would
have me a coward. With that the Black Knight, when she came nigh
him, spake and said, Damosel, have ye brought this knight of King
Arthur to be your champion? Nay, fair knight, said she, this is
but a kitchen knave that was fed in King Arthur's kitchen for
alms. Why cometh he, said the knight, in such array? it is shame
that he beareth you company. Sir, I cannot be delivered of him,
said she, for with me he rideth maugre mine head: God would that
ye should put him from me, other to slay him an ye may, for he is
an unhappy knave, and unhappily he hath done this day: through
mishap I saw him slay two knights at the passage of the water;
and other deeds he did before right marvellous and through
unhappiness. That marvelleth me, said the Black Knight, that any
man that is of worship will have ado with him. They know him
not, said the damosel, and for because he rideth with me, they
ween that he be some man of worship born. That may be, said the
Black Knight; howbeit as ye say that he be no man of worship, he
is a full likely person, and full like to be a strong man: but
thus much shall I grant you, said the Black Knight; I shall put
him down upon one foot, and his horse and his harness he shall
leave with me, for it were shame to me to do him any more harm.

When Sir Beaumains heard him say thus, he said, Sir knight, thou
art full large of my horse and my harness; I let thee wit it cost
thee nought, and whether it liketh thee or not, this laund will I
pass maugre thine head. <220>And horse nor harness gettest thou
none of mine, but if thou win them with thy hands; and therefore
let see what thou canst do. Sayest thou that? said the Black
Knight, now yield thy lady from thee, for it beseemeth never a
kitchen page to ride with such a lady. Thou liest, said
Beaumains, I am a gentleman born, and of more high lineage than
thou, and that will I prove on thy body.

Then in great wrath they departed with their horses, and came
together as it had been the thunder, and the Black Knight's spear
brake, and Beaumains thrust him through both his sides, and
therewith his spear brake, and the truncheon left still in his
side. But nevertheless the Black Knight drew his sword, and
smote many eager strokes, and of great might, and hurt Beaumains
full sore. But at the last the Black Knight, within an hour and
an half, he fell down off his horse in swoon, and there he died.
And when Beaumains saw him so well horsed and armed, then he
alighted down and armed him in his armour, and so took his horse
and rode after the damosel.

When she saw him come nigh, she said, Away, kitchen knave, out of
the wind, for the smell of thy bawdy clothes grieveth me. Alas,
she said, that ever such a knave should by mishap slay so good a
knight as thou hast done, but all this is thine unhappiness. But
here by is one shall pay thee all thy payment, and therefore yet
I counsel thee, flee. It may happen me, said Beaumains, to be
beaten or slain, but I warn you, fair damosel, I will not flee
away, a nor leave your company, for all that ye can say; for ever
ye say that they will kill me or beat me, but howsomever it
happeneth I escape, and they lie on the ground. And therefore it
were as good for you to hold you still thus all day rebuking me,
for away will I not till I see the uttermost of this journey, or
else I will be slain, other truly beaten; therefore ride on your
way, for follow you I will whatsomever happen.


How the brother of the knight that was slain met with
Beaumains, and fought with Beaumains till he was yielden.

THUS as they rode together, they saw a knight come driving by
them all in green, both his horse and his harness; and when he
came nigh the damosel, he asked her, Is that my brother the Black
Knight that ye have brought with you? Nay, nay, she said, this
unhappy kitchen knave hath slain your brother through
unhappiness. Alas, said the Green Knight, that is great pity,
that so noble a knight as he was should so unhappily be slain,
and namely of a knave's hand, as ye say that he is. Ah! traitor,
said the Green Knight, thou shalt die for slaying of my brother;
he was a full noble knight, and his name was Sir Perard. I defy
thee, said Beaumains, for I let thee wit I slew him knightly and
not shamefully.

Therewithal the Green Knight rode unto an horn that was green,
and it hung upon a thorn, and there he blew three deadly motes,
and there came two damosels and armed him lightly. And then he
took a great horse, and a green shield and a green spear. And
then they ran together with all their mights, and brake their
spears unto their hands. And then they drew their swords, and
gave many sad strokes, and either of them wounded other full ill.
And at the last, at an overthwart, Beaumains with his horse
struck the Green Knight's horse upon the side, that he fell to
the earth. And then the Green Knight avoided his horse lightly,
and dressed him upon foot. That saw Beaumains, and therewithal
he alighted, and they rushed together like two mighty kemps a
long while, and sore they bled both. With that came the damosel,
and said, My lord the Green Knight, why for shame stand ye so
long fighting with the kitchen knave? Alas, it is shame that
ever ye were made knight, to see such a lad to match <222>such a
knight, as the weed overgrew the corn. Therewith the Green
Knight was ashamed, and therewithal he gave a great stroke of
might, and clave his shield through. When Beaumains saw his
shield cloven asunder he was a little ashamed of that stroke and
of her language; and then he gave him such a buffet upon the helm
that he fell on his knees. And so suddenly Beaumains pulled him
upon the ground grovelling. And then the Green Knight cried him
mercy, and yielded him unto Sir Beaumains, and prayed him to slay
him not. All is in vain, said Beaumains, for thou shalt die but
if this damosel that came with me pray me to save thy life. And
therewithal he unlaced his helm like as he would slay him. Fie
upon thee, false kitchen page, I will never pray thee to save his
life, for I will never be so much in thy danger. Then shall he
die, said Beaumains. Not so hardy, thou bawdy knave, said the
damosel, that thou slay him. Alas, said the Green Knight, suffer
me not to die for a fair word may save me. Fair knight, said the
Green Knight, save my life, and I will forgive thee the death of
my brother, and for ever to become thy man, and thirty knights
that hold of me for ever shall do you service. In the devil's
name, said the damosel, that such a bawdy kitchen knave should
have thee and thirty knights' service.

Sir knight, said Beaumains, all this availeth thee not, but if my
damosel speak with me for thy life. And therewithal he made a
semblant to slay him. Let be, said the damosel, thou bawdy
knave; slay him not, for an thou do thou shalt repent it.
Damosel, said Beaumains, your charge is to me a pleasure, and at
your commandment his life shall be saved, and else not. Then he
said, Sir knight with the green arms, I release thee quit at this
damosel's request, for I will not make her wroth, I will fulfil
all that she chargeth me. And then the Green Knight kneeled
down, and did him homage with his sword. Then said the damosel,
Me repenteth, Green Knight, of your damage, and of your brother's
death, the Black Knight, for of your help I had great mister, for
I dread me sore to pass this forest. Nay, dread you not, said
the <223>Green Knight, for ye shall lodge with me this night, and
to-morn I shall help you through this forest. So they took their
horses and rode to his manor, which was fast there beside.


How the damosel again rebuked Beaumains, and would not
suffer him to sit at her table, but called him kitchen boy.

AND ever she rebuked Beaumains, and would not suffer him to sit
at her table, but as the Green Knight took him and sat him at a
side table. Marvel methinketh, said the Green Knight to the
damosel, why ye rebuke this noble knight as ye do, for I warn
you, damosel, he is a full noble knight, and I know no knight is
able to match him; therefore ye do great wrong to rebuke him, for
he shall do you right good service, for whatsomever he maketh
himself, ye shall prove at the end that he is come of a noble
blood and of king's lineage. Fie, fie, said the damosel, it is
shame for you to say of him such worship. Truly, said the Green
Knight, it were shame for me to say of him any disworship, for he
hath proved himself a better knight than I am, yet have I met
with many knights in my days, and never or this time have I found
no knight his match. And so that night they yede unto rest, and
all that night the Green Knight commanded thirty knights privily
to watch Beaumains, for to keep him from all treason.

And so on the morn they all arose, and heard their mass and brake
their fast; and then they took their horses and rode on their
way, and the Green Knight conveyed them through the forest; and
there the Green Knight said, My lord Beaumains, I and these
thirty knights shall be always at your summons, both early and
late, at your calling and whither that ever ye will send us. It
is well said, said Beaumains; when that I call upon you ye must
yield you unto King Arthur, and all your knights. If <224>that
ye so command us, we shall be ready at all times, said the Green
Knight. Fie, fie upon thee, in the devil's name, said the
damosel, that any good knights should be obedient unto a kitchen
knave. So then departed the Green Knight and the damosel. And
then she said unto Beaumains, Why followest thou me, thou kitchen
boy? Cast away thy shield and thy spear, and flee away; yet I
counsel thee betimes or thou shalt say right soon, alas; for wert
thou as wight as ever was Wade or Launcelot, Tristram, or the
good knight Sir Lamorak, thou shalt not pass a pass here that is
called the Pass Perilous. Damosel, said Beaumains, who is afeard
let him flee, for it were shame to turn again sithen I have
ridden so long with you. Well, said the damosel, ye shall soon,
whether ye will or not.


How the third brother, called the Red Knight, jousted and
fought against Beaumains,and how Beaumains overcame him.

SO within a while they saw a tower as white as any snow, well
matchecold all about, and double dyked. And over the tower gate
there hung a fifty shields of divers colours, and under that
tower there was a fair meadow. And therein were many knights and
squires to behold, scaffolds and pavilions; for there upon the
morn should be a great tournament: and the lord of the tower was
in his castle and looked out at a window, and saw a damosel, a
dwarf, and a knight armed at all points. So God me help, said
the lord, with that knight will I joust, for I see that he is a
knight-errant. And so he armed him and horsed him hastily. And
when he was on horseback with his shield and his spear, it was
all red, both his horse and his harness, and all that to him
longeth. And when that he came nigh him he weened it had been
his brother the Black Knight; and then he cried aloud, Brother,
what do ye in <225>these marches? Nay, nay, said the damosel, it
is not he; this is but a kitchen knave that was brought up for
alms in King Arthur's court. Nevertheless, said the Red Knight,
I will speak with him or he depart. Ah, said the damosel, this
knave hath killed thy brother, and Sir Kay named him Beaumains,
and this horse and this harness was thy brother's, the Black
Knight. Also I saw thy brother the Green Knight overcome of his
hands. Now may ye be revenged upon him, for I may never be quit
of him.

With this either knights departed in sunder, and they came
together with all their might, and either of their horses fell to
the earth, and they avoided their horses, and put their shields
afore them and drew their swords, and either gave other sad
strokes, now here, now there, rasing, tracing, foining, and
hurling like two boars, the space of two hours. And then she
cried on high to the Red Knight, Alas, thou noble Red Knight,
think what worship hath followed thee, let never a kitchen knave
endure thee so long as he doth. Then the Red Knight waxed wroth
and doubled his strokes, and hurt Beaumains wonderly sore, that
the blood ran down to the ground, that it was wonder to see that
strong battle. Yet at the last Sir Beaumains struck him to the
earth, and as he would have slain the Red Knight, he cried mercy,
saying, Noble knight, slay me not, and I shall yield me to thee
with fifty knights with me that be at my commandment. And I
forgive thee all the despite that thou hast done to me, and the
death of my brother the Black Knight. All this availeth not,
said Beaumains, but if my damosel pray me to save thy life. And
therewith he made semblant to strike off his head. Let be, thou
Beaumains, slay him not, for he is a noble knight, and not so
hardy, upon thine head, but thou save him.

Then Beaumains bade the Red Knight, Stand up, and thank the
damosel now of thy life. Then the Red Knight prayed him to see
his castle, and to be there all night. So the damosel then
granted him, and there they had merry cheer. But always the
damosel spake many foul words unto Beaumains, whereof the Red
Knight had great <226>marvel; and all that night the Red Knight
made three score knights to watch Beaumains, that he should have
no shame nor villainy. And upon the morn they heard mass and
dined, and the Red Knight came before Beaumains with his three
score knights, and there he proffered him his homage and fealty
at all times, he and his knights to do him service. I thank you,
said Beaumains, but this ye shall grant me: when I call upon you,
to come afore my lord King Arthur, and yield you unto him to be
his knights. Sir, said the Red Knight, I will be ready, and my
fellowship, at your summons. So Sir Beaumains departed and the
damosel, and ever she rode chiding him in the foulest manner.


How Sir Beaumains suffered great rebukes of the damosel,
and he suffered it patiently.

DAMOSEL, said Beaumains, ye are uncourteous so to rebuke me as ye
do, for meseemeth I have done you good service, and ever ye
threaten me I shall be beaten with knights that we meet, but ever
for all your boast they lie in the dust or in the mire, and
therefore I pray you rebuke me no more; and when ye see me beaten
or yielden as recreant, then may ye bid me go from you
shamefully; but first I let you wit I will not depart from you,
for I were worse than a fool an I would depart from you all the
while that I win worship. Well, said she, right soon there shall
meet a knight shall pay thee all thy wages, for he is the most
man of worship of the world, except King Arthur. I will well,
said Beaumains, the more he is of worship, the more shall be my
worship to have ado with him.

Then anon they were ware where was afore them a city rich and
fair. And betwixt them and the city a mile and an half there was
a fair meadow that seemed new mown, and therein were many
pavilions fair to behold. <227>Lo, said the damosel, yonder is a
lord that owneth yonder city, and his custom is, when the weather
is fair, to lie in this meadow to joust and tourney. And ever
there be about him five hundred knights and gentlemen of arms,
and there be all manner of games that any gentleman can devise.
That goodly lord, said Beaumains, would I fain see. Thou shalt
see him time enough, said the damosel, and so as she rode near
she espied the pavilion where he was. Lo, said she, seest thou
yonder pavilion that is all of the colour of Inde, and all manner
of thing that there is about, men and women, and horses trapped,
shields and spears were all of the colour of Inde, and his name
is Sir Persant of Inde, the most lordliest knight that ever thou
lookedst on. It may well be, said Beaumains, but be he never so
stout a knight, in this field I shall abide till that I see him
under his shield. Ah, fool, said she, thou wert better flee
betimes. Why, said Beaumains, an he be such a knight as ye make
him, he will not set upon me with all his men, or with his five
hundred knights. For an there come no more but one at once, I
shall him not fail whilst my life lasteth. Fie, fie, said the
damosel, that ever such a stinking knave should blow such a
boast. Damosel, he said, ye are to blame so to rebuke me, for I
had liefer do five battles than so to be rebuked, let him come
and then let him do his worst.

Sir, she said, I marvel what thou art and of what kin thou art
come; boldly thou speakest, and boldly thou hast done, that have
I seen; therefore I pray thee save thyself an thou mayest, for
thy horse and thou have had great travail, and I dread we dwell
over long from the siege, for it is but hence seven mile, and all
perilous passages we are passed save all only this passage; and
here I dread me sore lest ye shall catch some hurt, therefore I
would ye were hence, that ye were not bruised nor hurt with this
strong knight. But I let you wit that Sir Persant of Inde is
nothing of might nor strength unto the knight that laid the siege
about my lady. As for that, said Sir Beaumains, be it as it be
may. For sithen I am come so nigh this knight I will prove his
might or I depart <228>from him, and else I shall be shamed an I
now withdraw me from him. And therefore, damosel, have ye no
doubt by the grace of God I shall so deal with this knight that
within two hours after noon I shall deliver him. And then shall
we come to the siege by daylight. O Jesu, marvel have I, said
the damosel, what manner a man ye be, for it may never be
otherwise but that ye be come of a noble blood, for so foul nor
shamefully did never woman rule a knight as I have done you, and
ever courteously ye have suffered me, and that came never but of
a gentle blood.

Damosel, said Beaumains, a knight may little do that may not
suffer a damosel, for whatsomever ye said unto me I took none
heed to your words, for the more ye said the more ye angered me,
and my wrath I wreaked upon them that I had ado withal. And
therefore all the missaying that ye missaid me furthered me in my
battle, and caused me to think to show and prove myself at the
end what I was; for peradventure though I had meat in King
Arthur's kitchen, yet I might have had meat enough in other
places, but all that I did it for to prove and assay my friends,
and that shall be known another day; and whether that I be a
gentleman born or none, I let you wit, fair damosel, I have done
you gentleman's service, and peradventure better service yet will
I do or I depart from you. Alas, she said, fair Beaumains,
forgive me all that I have missaid or done against thee. With
all my heart, said he, I forgive it you, for ye did nothing but
as ye should do, for all your evil words pleased me; and damosel,
said Beaumains, since it liketh you to say thus fair unto me, wit
ye well it gladdeth my heart greatly, and now meseemeth there is
no knight living but I am able enough for him.


How Beaumains fought with Sir Persant of Inde, and made
him to be yielden.

WITH this Sir Persant of Inde had espied them as they hoved in
the field, and knightly he sent to them whether he came in war or
in peace. Say to thy lord, said Beaumains, I take no force, but
whether as him list himself. So the messenger went again unto
Sir Persant and told him all his answer. Well then will I have
ado with him to the utterance, and so he purveyed him and rode
against him. And Beaumains saw him and made him ready, and there
they met with all that ever their horses might run, and brast
their spears either in three pieces, and their horses rushed so
together that both their horses fell dead to the earth; and
lightly they avoided their horses and put their shields afore
them, and drew their swords, and gave many great strokes that
sometime they hurtled together that they fell grovelling on the
ground. Thus they fought two hours and more, that their shields
and their hauberks were all forhewen, and in many steads they
were wounded. So at the last Sir Beaumains smote him through the
cost of the body, and then he retrayed him here and there, and
knightly maintained his battle long time. And at the last,
though him loath were, Beaumains smote Sir Persant above upon the
helm, that he fell grovelling to the earth; and then he leapt
upon him overthwart and unlaced his helm to have slain him.

Then Sir Persant yielded him and asked him mercy. With that came
the damosel and prayed to save his life. I will well, for it
were pity this noble knight should die. Gramercy, said Persant,
gentle knight and damosel. For certainly now I wot well it was
ye that slew my brother the Black Knight at the black thorn; he
was a full noble knight, his name was Sir Percard. Also I am
sure that ye are he that won mine other brother the Green Knight,
<230>his name was Sir Pertolepe. Also ye won my brother the Red
Knight, Sir Perimones. And now since ye have won these, this
shall I do for to please you: ye shall have homage and fealty of
me, and an hundred knights to be always at your commandment, to
go and ride where ye will command us. And so they went unto Sir
Persant's pavilion and drank the wine, and ate spices, and
afterward Sir Persant made him to rest upon a bed until supper
time, and after supper to bed again. When Beaumains was abed,
Sir Persant had a lady, a fair daughter of eighteen year of age,
and there he called her unto him, and charged her and commanded
her upon his blessing to go unto the knight's bed, and lie down
by his side, and make him no strange cheer, but good cheer, and
take him in thine arms and kiss him, and look that this be done,
I charge you, as ye will have my love and my good will. So Sir
Persant's daughter did as her father bade her, and so she went
unto Sir Beaumains' bed, and privily she dispoiled her, and laid
her down by him, and then he awoke and saw her, and asked her
what she was. Sir, she said, I am Sir Persant's daughter, that
by the commandment of my father am come hither. Be ye a maid or
a wife? said he. Sir, she said, I am a clean maiden. God
defend, said he, that I should defoil you to do Sir Persant such
a shame; therefore, fair damosel, arise out of this bed or else I
will. Sir, she said, I came not to you by mine own will, but as
I was commanded. Alas, said Sir Beaumains, I were a shameful
knight an I would do your father any disworship; and so he kissed
her, and so she departed and came unto Sir Persant her father,
and told him all how she had sped. Truly, said Sir Persant,
whatsomever he be, he is come of a noble blood. And so we leave
them there till on the morn.


Of the goodly communication between Sir Persant and
Beaumains, and how he told him that his name was Sir Gareth.

AND so on the morn the damosel and Sir Beaumains heard mass and
brake their fast, and so took their leave. Fair damosel, said
Persant, whitherward are ye way-leading this knight? Sir, she
said, this knight is going to the siege that besiegeth my sister
in the Castle Dangerous. Ah, ah, said Persant, that is the
Knight of the Red Laund, the which is the most perilous knight
that I know now living, and a man that is without mercy, and men
say that he hath seven men's strength. God save you, said he to
Beaumains, from that knight, for he doth great wrong to that
lady, and that is great pity, for she is one of the fairest
ladies of the world, and meseemeth that your damosel is her
sister: is not your name Linet? said he. Yea, sir, said she, and
my lady my sister's name is Dame Lionesse. Now shall I tell you,
said Sir Persant, this Red Knight of the Red Laund hath lain long
at the siege, well-nigh this two years, and many times he might
have had her an he had would, but he prolongeth the time to this
intent, for to have Sir Launcelot du Lake to do battle with him,
or Sir Tristram, or Sir Lamorak de Galis, or Sir Gawaine, and
this is his tarrying so long at the siege.

Now my lord Sir Persant of Inde, said the damosel Linet, I
require you that ye will make this gentleman knight or ever he
fight with the Red Knight. I will with all my heart, said Sir
Persant, an it please him to take the order of knighthood of so
simple a man as I am. Sir, said Beaumains, I thank you for your
good will, for I am better sped, for certainly the noble knight
Sir Launcelot made me knight. Ah, said Sir Persant, of a more
renowned knight might ye not be made knight; for of all knights
he may be called chief of knighthood; and so <232>all the world
saith, that betwixt three knights is departed clearly knighthood,
that is Launcelot du Lake, Sir Tristram de Liones, and Sir
Lamorak de Galis: these bear now the renown. There be many other
knights, as Sir Palamides the Saracen and Sir Safere his brother;
also Sir Bleoberis and Sir Blamore de Ganis his brother; also Sir
Bors de Ganis and Sir Ector de Maris and Sir Percivale de Galis;
these and many more be noble knights, but there be none that pass
the three above said; therefore God speed you well, said Sir
Persant, for an ye may match the Red Knight ye shall be called
the fourth of the world.

Sir, said Beaumains, I would fain be of good fame and of
knighthood. And I let you wit I came of good men, for I dare say
my father was a noble man, and so that ye will keep it in close,
and this damosel, I will tell you of what kin I am. We will not
discover you, said they both, till ye command us, by the faith we
owe unto God. Truly then, said he, my name is Gareth of Orkney,
and King Lot was my father, and my mother is King Arthur's
sister, her name is Dame Morgawse, and Sir Gawaine is my brother,
and Sir Agravaine and Sir Gaheris, and I am the youngest of them
all. And yet wot not King Arthur nor Sir Gawaine what I am.


How the lady that was besieged had word from her sister
how she had brought a knight to fight for her, and
what battles he had achieved.

SO the book saith that the lady that was besieged had word of her
sister's coming by the dwarf, and a knight with her, and how he
had passed all the perilous passages. What manner a man is he?
said the lady. He is a noble knight, truly, madam, said the
dwarf, and but a young man, but he is as likely a man as ever ye
saw any. What is he? said the damosel, and of what kin is he
come, and <233>of whom was he made knight? Madam, said the
dwarf, he is the king's son of Orkney, but his name I will not
tell you as at this time; but wit ye well, of Sir Launcelot was
he made knight, for of none other would he be made knight, and
Sir Kay named him Beaumains. How escaped he, said the lady, from
the brethren of Persant? Madam, he said, as a noble knight
should. First, he slew two brethren at a passage of a water.
Ah! said she, they were good knights, but they were murderers,
the one hight Gherard le Breuse, and the other knight hight Sir
Arnold le Breuse. Then, madam, he recountered with the Black
Knight, and slew him in plain battle, and so he took his horse
and his armour and fought with the Green Knight and won him in
plain battle, and in like wise he served the Red Knight, and
after in the same wise he served the Blue Knight and won him in
plain battle. Then, said the lady, he hath overcome Sir Persant
of Inde, one of the noblest knights of the world, and the dwarf
said, He hath won all the four brethren and slain the Black
Knight, and yet he did more to-fore: he overthrew Sir Kay and
left him nigh dead upon the ground; also he did a great battle
with Sir Launcelot, and there they departed on even hands: and
then Sir Launcelot made him knight.

Dwarf, said the lady, I am glad of these tidings, therefore go
thou in an hermitage of mine hereby, and there shalt thou bear
with thee of my wine in two flagons of silver, they are of two
gallons, and also two cast of bread with fat venison baked, and
dainty fowls; and a cup of gold here I deliver thee, that is rich
and precious; and bear all this to mine hermitage, and put it in
the hermit's hands. And sithen go thou unto my sister and greet
her well, and commend me unto that gentle knight, and pray him to
eat and to drink and make him strong, and say ye him I thank him
of his courtesy and goodness, that he would take upon him such
labour for me that never did him bounty nor courtesy. Also pray
him that he be of good heart and courage, for he shall meet with
a full noble knight, but he is neither of bounty, courtesy, nor
<234>gentleness; for he attendeth unto nothing but to murder, and
that is the cause I cannot praise him nor love him.

So this dwarf departed, and came to Sir Persant, where he found
the damosel Linet and Sir Beaumains, and there he told them all
as ye have heard; and then they took their leave, but Sir Persant
took an ambling hackney and conveyed them on their ways, and then
beleft them to God; and so within a little while they came to
that hermitage, and there they drank the wine, and ate the
venison and the fowls baken. And so when they had repasted them
well, the dwarf returned again with his vessel unto the castle
again; and there met with him the Red Knight of the Red Launds,
and asked him from whence that he came, and where he had been.
Sir, said the dwarf, I have been with my lady's sister of this
castle, and she hath been at King Arthur's court, and brought a
knight with her. Then I account her travail but lost; for though
she had brought with her Sir Launcelot, Sir Tristram, Sir
Lamorak, or Sir Gawaine, I would think myself good enough for
them all.

It may well be, said the dwarf, but this knight hath passed all
the perilous passages, and slain the Black Knight and other two
more, and won the Green Knight, the Red Knight, and the Blue
Knight. Then is he one of these four that I have afore
rehearsed. He is none of those, said the dwarf, but he is a
king's son. What is his name? said the Red Knight of the Red
Launds. That will I not tell you, said the dwarf, but Sir Kay
upon scorn named him Beaumains. I care not, said the knight,
what knight so ever he be, for I shall soon deliver him. And if
I ever match him he shall have a shameful death as many other
have had. That were pity, said the dwarf, and it is marvel that
ye make such shameful war upon noble knights.


How the damosel and Beaumains came to the siege; and came
to a sycamore tree, and there Beaumains blew a horn,
and then the Knight of the Red Launds came to fight with him.

NOW leave we the knight and the dwarf, and speak we of Beaumains,
that all night lay in the hermitage; and upon the morn he and the
damosel Linet heard their mass and brake their fast. And then
they took their horses and rode throughout a fair forest; and
then they came to a plain, and saw where were many pavilions and
tents, and a fair castle, and there was much smoke and great
noise; and when they came near the siege Sir Beaumains espied
upon great trees, as he rode, how there hung full goodly armed
knights by the neck, and their shields about their necks with
their swords, and gilt spurs upon their heels, and so there hung
nigh a forty knights shamefully with full rich arms.

Then Sir Beaumains abated his countenance and said, What meaneth
this? Fair sir, said the damosel, abate not your cheer for all
this sight, for ye must courage yourself, or else ye be all
shent, for all these knights came hither to this siege to rescue
my sister Dame Lionesse, and when the Red Knight of the Red
Launds had overcome them, he put them to this shameful death
without mercy and pity. And in the same wise he will serve you
but if you quit you the better.

Now Jesu defend me, said Beaumains, from such a villainous death
and shenship of arms. For rather than I should so be faren
withal, I would rather be slain manly in plain battle. So were
ye better, said the damosel; for trust not, in him is no
courtesy, but all goeth to the death or shameful murder, and that
is pity, for he is a full likely man, well made of body, and a
full noble knight of prowess, and a lord of great lands and
possessions. Truly, <236>said Beaumains, he may well be a good
knight, but he useth shameful customs, and it is marvel that he
endureth so long that none of the noble knights of my lord
Arthur's have not dealt with him.

And then they rode to the dykes, and saw them double dyked with
full warlike walls; and there were lodged many great lords nigh
the walls; and there was great noise of minstrelsy; and the sea
beat upon the one side of the walls, where were many ships and
mariners' noise with ``hale and how.'' And also there was fast
by a sycamore tree, and there hung an horn, the greatest that
ever they saw, of an elephant's bone; and this Knight of the Red
Launds had hanged it up there, that if there came any errant-
knight, he must blow that horn, and then will he make him ready
and come to him to do battle. But, sir, I pray you, said the
damosel Linet, blow ye not the horn till it be high noon, for now
it is about prime, and now increaseth his might, that as men say
he hath seven men's strength. Ah, fie for shame, fair damosel,
say ye never so more to me; for, an he were as good a knight as
ever was, I shall never fail him in his most might, for either I
will win worship worshipfully, or die knightly in the field. And
therewith he spurred his horse straight to the sycamore tree, and
blew so the horn eagerly that all the siege and the castle rang
thereof. And then there leapt out knights out of their tents and
pavilions, and they within the castle looked over the walls and
out at windows.

Then the Red Knight of the Red Launds armed him hastily, and two
barons set on his spurs upon his heels, and all was blood red,
his armour, spear and shield. And an earl buckled his helm upon
his head, and then they brought him a red spear and a red steed,
and so he rode into a little vale under the castle, that all that
were in the castle and at the siege might behold the battle.


How the two knights met together, and of their talking, and
how they began their battle.

SIR, said the damosel Linet unto Sir Beaumains, look ye be glad
and light, for yonder is your deadly enemy, and at yonder window
is my lady, my sister, Dame Lionesse. Where? said Beaumains.
Yonder, said the damosel, and pointed with her finger. That is
truth, said Beaumains. She beseemeth afar the fairest lady that
ever I looked upon; and truly, he said, I ask no better quarrel
than now for to do battle, for truly she shall be my lady, and
for her I will fight. And ever he looked up to the window with
glad countenance, and the Lady Lionesse made curtsey to him down
to the earth, with holding up both their hands.

With that the Red Knight of the Red Launds called to Sir
Beaumains, Leave, sir knight, thy looking, and behold me, I
counsel thee; for I warn thee well she is my lady, and for her I
have done many strong battles. If thou have so done, said
Beaumains, meseemeth it was but waste labour, for she loveth none
of thy fellowship, and thou to love that loveth not thee is but
great folly. For an I understood that she were not glad of my
coming, I would be advised or I did battle for her. But I
understand by the besieging of this castle she may forbear thy
fellowship. And therefore wit thou well, thou Red Knight of the
Red Launds, I love her, and will rescue her, or else to die.
Sayst thou that? said the Red Knight, meseemeth thou ought of
reason to be ware by yonder knights that thou sawest hang upon
yonder trees. Fie for shame, said Beaumains, that ever thou
shouldest say or do so evil, for in that thou shamest thyself and
knighthood, and thou mayst be sure there will no lady love thee
that knoweth thy wicked customs. And now thou weenest that the
sight of these hanged knights should fear me. Nay truly,
<238>not so; that shameful sight causeth me to have courage and
hardiness against thee, more than I would have had against thee
an thou wert a well-ruled knight. Make thee ready, said the Red
Knight of the Red Launds, and talk no longer with me.

Then Sir Beaumains bade the damosel go from him; and then they
put their spears in their rests, and came together with all their
might that they had both, and either smote other in midst of
their shields that the paitrelles, surcingles, and cruppers
brast, and fell to the earth both, and the reins of their bridles
in their hands; and so they lay a great while sore astonied, that
all that were in the castle and in the siege weened their necks
had been broken; and then many a stranger and other said the
strange knight was a big man, and a noble jouster, for or now we
saw never no knight match the Red Knight of the Red Launds: thus
they said, both within the castle and without. Then lightly they
avoided their horses and put their shields afore them, and drew
their swords and ran together like two fierce lions, and either
gave other such buffets upon their helms that they reeled
backward both two strides; and then they recovered both, and
hewed great pieces off their harness and their shields that a
great part fell into the fields.


How after long fighting Beaumains overcame the knight and
would have slain him, but at the request of the lords
he saved his life, and made him to yield him to the lady.

AND then thus they fought till it was past noon, and never would
stint, till at the last they lacked wind both; and then they
stood wagging and scattering, panting, blowing and bleeding, that
all that beheld them for the most part wept for pity. So when
they had rested them a while they yede to battle again, tracing,
racing, foining as two boars. And <239>at some time they took
their run as it had been two rams, and hurtled together that
sometime they fell grovelling to the earth: and at some time they
were so amazed that either took other's sword instead of his own.

Thus they endured till evensong time, that there was none that
beheld them might know whether was like to win the battle; and
their armour was so forhewn that men might see their naked sides;
and in other places they were naked, but ever the naked places
they did defend. And the Red Knight was a wily knight of war,
and his wily fighting taught Sir Beaumains to be wise; but he
abought it full sore or he did espy his fighting.

And thus by assent of them both they granted either other to
rest; and so they set them down upon two mole-hills there beside
the fighting place, and either of them unlaced his helm, and took
the cold wind; for either of their pages was fast by them, to
come when they called to unlace their harness and to set them on
again at their commandment. And then when Sir Beaumains' helm
was off, he looked up to the window, and there he saw the fair
lady Dame Lionesse, and she made him such countenance that his
heart waxed light and jolly; and therewith he bade the Red Knight
of the Red Launds make him ready, and let us do the battle to the
utterance. I will well, said the knight, and then they laced up
their helms, and their pages avoided, and they stepped together
and fought freshly; but the Red Knight of the Red Launds awaited
him, and at an overthwart smote him within the hand, that his
sword fell out of his hand; and yet he gave him another buffet
upon the helm that he fell grovelling to the earth, and the Red
Knight fell over him, for to hold him down.

Then cried the maiden Linet on high: O Sir Beaumains, where is
thy courage become? Alas, my lady my sister beholdeth thee, and
she sobbeth and weepeth, that maketh mine heart heavy. When Sir
Beaumains heard her say so, he abraid up with a great might and
gat him upon his feet, and lightly he leapt to his sword and
gripped it in his hand, and doubled his pace unto the Red Knight,
<240>and there they fought a new battle together. But Sir
Beaumains then doubled his strokes, and smote so thick that he
smote the sword out of his hand, and then he smote him upon the
helm that he fell to the earth, and Sir Beaumains fell upon him,
and unlaced his helm to have slain him; and then he yielded him
and asked mercy, and said with a loud voice: O noble knight, I
yield me to thy mercy.

Then Sir Beaumains bethought him upon the knights that he had
made to be hanged shamefully, and then he said: I may not with
my worship save thy life, for the shameful deaths that thou hast
caused many full good knights to die. Sir, said the Red Knight
of the Red Launds, hold your hand and ye shall know the causes
why I put them to so shameful a death. Say on, said Sir
Beaumains. Sir, I loved once a lady, a fair damosel, and she had
her brother slain; and she said it was Sir Launcelot du Lake, or
else Sir Gawaine; and she prayed me as that I loved her heartily,
that I would make her a promise by the faith of my knighthood,
for to labour daily in arms unto I met with one of them; and all
that I might overcome I should put them unto a villainous death;
and this is the cause that I have put all these knights to death,
and so I ensured her to do all the villainy unto King Arthur's
knights, and that I should take vengeance upon all these knights.
And, sir, now I will thee tell that every day my strength
increaseth till noon, and all this time have I seven men's


How the knight yielded him, and how Beaumains made him
to go unto King Arthur's court, and to cry Sir Launcelot mercy.

THEN came there many earls, and barons, and noble knights, and
prayed that knight to save his life, and take him to your
prisoner. And all they fell upon their knees, <241>and prayed
him of mercy, and that he would save his life; and, Sir, they all
said, it were fairer of him to take homage and fealty, and let
him hold his lands of you than for to slay him; by his death ye
shall have none advantage, and his misdeeds that be done may not
be undone; and therefore he shall make amends to all parties, and
we all will become your men and do you homage and fealty. Fair
lords, said Beaumains, wit you well I am full loath to slay this
knight, nevertheless he hath done passing ill and shamefully; but
insomuch all that he did was at a lady's request I blame him the
less; and so for your sake I will release him that he shall have
his life upon this covenant, that he go within the castle, and
yield him there to the lady, and if she will forgive and quit
him, I will well; with this he make her amends of all the
trespass he hath done against her and her lands. And also, when
that is done, that ye go unto the court of King Arthur, and there
that ye ask Sir Launcelot mercy, and Sir Gawaine, for the evil
will ye have had against them. Sir, said the Red Knight of the
Red Launds, all this will I do as ye command, and siker assurance
and borrows ye shall have. And so then when the assurance was
made, he made his homage and fealty, and all those earls and
barons with him.

And then the maiden Linet came to Sir Beaumains, and unarmed him
and searched his wounds, and stinted his blood, and in likewise
she did to the Red Knight of the Red Launds. And there they
sojourned ten days in their tents; and the Red Knight made his
lords and servants to do all the pleasure that they might unto
Sir Beaumains. And so within a while the Red Knight of the Red
Launds yede unto the castle, and put him in her grace. And so
she received him upon sufficient surety, so all her hurts were
well restored of all that she could complain. And then he
departed unto the court of King Arthur, and there openly the Red
Knight of the Red Launds put him in the mercy of Sir Launcelot
and Sir Gawaine, and there he told openly how he was overcome and
by whom, and also he told all the battles from the beginning unto
the <242>ending. Jesu mercy, said King Arthur and Sir Gawaine,
we marvel much of what blood he is come, for he is a noble
knight. Have ye no marvel, said Sir Launcelot, for ye shall
right well wit that he is come of a full noble blood; and as for
his might and hardiness, there be but few now living that is so
mighty as he is, and so noble of prowess. It seemeth by you,
said King Arthur, that ye know his name, and from whence he is
come, and of what blood he is. I suppose I do so, said
Launcelot, or else I would not have given him the order of
knighthood; but he gave me such charge at that time that I should
never discover him until he required me, or else it be known
openly by some other.

How Beaumains came to the lady, and when he came to the
castle the gates were closed against him, and of the
words that the lady said to him.

NOW turn we unto Sir Beaumains that desired of Linet that he
might see her sister, his lady. Sir, she said, I would fain ye
saw her. Then Sir Beaumains all armed him, and took his horse
and his spear, and rode straight unto the castle. And when he
came to the gate he found there many men armed, and pulled up the
drawbridge and drew the port close.

Then marvelled he why they would not suffer him to enter. And
then he looked up to the window; and there he saw the fair
Lionesse that said on high: Go thy way, Sir Beaumains, for as
yet thou shalt not have wholly my love, unto the time that thou
be called one of the number of the worthy knights. And therefore
go labour in worship this twelvemonth, and then thou shalt hear
new tidings. Alas, fair lady, said Beaumains, I have not
deserved that ye should show me this strangeness, and I had
weened that I should have right good cheer with you, <243>and
unto my power I have deserved thank, and well I am sure I have
bought your love with part of the best blood within my body.
Fair courteous knight, said Dame Lionesse, be not displeased nor
over-hasty; for wit you well your great travail nor good love
shall not be lost, for I consider your great travail and labour,
your bounty and your goodness as me ought to do. And therefore
go on your way, and look that ye be of good comfort, for all
shall be for your worship and for the best, and perdy a
twelvemonth will soon be done, and trust me, fair knight, I shall
be true to you, and never to betray you, but to my death I shall
love you and none other. And therewithal she turned her from the
window, and Sir Beaumains rode awayward from the castle, making
great dole, and so he rode here and there and wist not where he
rode, till it was dark night. And then it happened him to come
to a poor man's house, and there he was harboured all that night.

But Sir Beaumains had no rest, but wallowed and writhed for the
love of the lady of the castle. And so upon the morrow he took
his horse and rode until underne, and then he came to a broad
water, and thereby was a great lodge, and there he alighted to
sleep and laid his head upon the shield, and betook his horse to
the dwarf, and commanded him to watch all night.

Now turn we to the lady of the same castle, that thought much
upon Beaumains, and then she called unto her Sir Gringamore her
brother, and prayed him in all manner, as he loved her heartily,
that he would ride after Sir Beaumains: And ever have ye wait
upon him till ye may find him sleeping, for I am sure in his
heaviness he will alight down in some place, and lie him down to
sleep; and therefore have ye your wait upon him, and in the
priviest manner ye can, take his dwarf, and go ye your way with
him as fast as ever ye may or Sir Beaumains awake. For my sister
Linet telleth me that he can tell of what kindred he is come, and
what is his right name. And the meanwhile I and my sister will
ride unto your castle to await when ye bring with you the dwarf.
And then when ye <244>have brought him unto your castle, I will
have him in examination myself. Unto the time that I know what
is his right name, and of what kindred he is come, shall I never
be merry at my heart. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, all this
shall be done after your intent.

And so he rode all the other day and the night till that he found
Sir Beaumains lying by a water, and his head upon his shield, for
to sleep. And then when he saw Sir Beaumains fast asleep, he
came stilly stalking behind the dwarf, and plucked him fast under
his arm, and so he rode away with him as fast as ever he might
unto his own castle. And this Sir Gringamore's arms were all
black, and that to him longeth. But ever as he rode with the
dwarf toward his castle, he cried unto his lord and prayed him of
help. And therewith awoke Sir Beaumains, and up he leapt
lightly, and saw where Sir Gringamore rode his way with the
dwarf, and so Sir Gringamore rode out of his sight.


How Sir Beaumains rode after to rescue his dwarf, and came
into the castle where he was.

THEN Sir Beaumains put on his helm anon, and buckled his shield,
and took his horse, and rode after him all that ever he might
ride through marshes, and fields, and great dales, that many
times his horse and he plunged over the head in deep mires, for
he knew not the way, but took the gainest way in that woodness,
that many times he was like to perish. And at the last him
happened to come to a fair green way, and there he met with a
poor man of the country, whom he saluted and asked him whether he
met not with a knight upon a black horse and all black harness, a
little dwarf sitting behind him with heavy cheer. Sir, said the
poor man, here by me came Sir Gringamore the knight, with such a
dwarf mourning as ye say; and <245>therefore I rede you not
follow him, for he is one of the periloust knights of the world,
and his castle is here nigh hand but two mile; therefore we
advise you ride not after Sir Gringamore, but if ye owe him good

So leave we Sir Beaumains riding toward the castle, and speak we
of Sir Gringamore and the dwarf. Anon as the dwarf was come to
the castle, Dame Lionesse and Dame Linet her sister, asked the
dwarf where was his master born, and of what lineage he was come.
And but if thou tell me, said Dame Lionesse, thou shalt never
escape this castle, but ever here to be prisoner. As for that,
said the dwarf, I fear not greatly to tell his name and of what
kin he is come. Wit you well he is a king's son, and his mother
is sister to King Arthur, and he is brother to the good knight
Sir Gawaine, and his name is Sir Gareth of Orkney. And now I
have told you his right name, I pray you, fair lady, let me go to
my lord again, for he will never out of this country until that
he have me again. And if he be angry he will do much harm or
that he be stint, and work you wrack in this country. As for
that threatening, said Sir Gringamore, be it as it be may, we
will go to dinner. And so they washed and went to meat, and made
them merry and well at ease, and because the Lady Lionesse of the
castle was there, they made great joy. Truly, madam, said Linet
unto her sister, well may he be a king's son, for he hath many
good tatches on him, for he is courteous and mild, and the most
suffering man that ever I met withal. For I dare say there was
never gentlewoman reviled man in so foul a manner as I have
rebuked him; and at all times he gave me goodly and meek answers

And as they sat thus talking, there came Sir Gareth in at the
gate with an angry countenance, and his sword drawn in his hand,
and cried aloud that all the castle might hear it, saying: Thou
traitor, Sir Gringamore, deliver me my dwarf again, or by the
faith that I owe to the order of knighthood, I shall do thee all
the harm that I can. Then Sir Gringamore looked out at a window
and said, Sir <246>Gareth of Orkney, leave thy boasting words,
for thou gettest not thy dwarf again. Thou coward knight, said
Sir Gareth, bring him with thee, and come and do battle with me,
and win him and take him. So will I do, said Sir Gringamore, an
me list, but for all thy great words thou gettest him not. Ah!
fair brother, said Dame Lionesse, I would he had his dwarf again,
for I would he were not wroth, for now he hath told me all my
desire I keep no more of the dwarf. And also, brother, he hath
done much for me, and delivered me from the Red Knight of the Red
Launds, and therefore, brother, I owe him my service afore all
knights living. And wit ye well that I love him before all
other, and full fain I would speak with him. But in nowise I
would that he wist what I were, but that I were another strange

Well, said Sir Gringamore, sithen I know now your will, I will
obey now unto him. And right therewithal he went down unto Sir
Gareth, and said: Sir, I cry you mercy, and all that I have
misdone I will amend it at your will. And therefore I pray you
that ye would alight, and take such cheer as I can make you in
this castle. Shall I have my dwarf? said Sir Gareth. Yea, sir,
and all the pleasaunce that I can make you, for as soon as your
dwarf told me what ye were and of what blood ye are come, and
what noble deeds ye have done in these marches, then I repented
of my deeds. And then Sir Gareth alighted, and there came his
dwarf and took his horse. O my fellow, said Sir Gareth, I have
had many adventures for thy sake. And so Sir Gringamore took him
by the hand and led him into the hall where his own wife was.


How Sir Gareth, otherwise called Beaumains, came to the
presence of his lady, and how they took acquaintance,
and of their love.

AND then came forth Dame Lionesse arrayed like a princess, and
there she made him passing good cheer, and he her again; and they
had goodly language and lovely countenance together. And Sir
Gareth thought many times, Jesu, would that the lady of the
Castle Perilous were so fair as she was. There were all manner
of games and plays, of dancing and singing. And ever the more
Sir Gareth beheld that lady, the more he loved her; and so he
burned in love that he was past himself in his reason; and forth
toward night they yede unto supper, and Sir Gareth might not eat,
for his love was so hot that he wist not where he was.

All these looks espied Sir Gringamore, and then at-after supper
he called his sister Dame Lionesse into a chamber, and said:
Fair sister, I have well espied your countenance betwixt you and
this knight, and I will, sister, that ye wit he is a full noble
knight, and if ye can make him to abide here I will do him all
the pleasure that I can, for an ye were better than ye are, ye
were well bywaryd upon him. Fair brother, said Dame Lionesse, I
understand well that the knight is good, and come he is of a
noble house. Notwithstanding, I will assay him better, howbeit I
am most beholden to him of any earthly man; for he hath had great
labour for my love, and passed many a dangerous passage.

Right so Sir Gringamore went unto Sir Gareth, and said, Sir, make
ye good cheer, for ye shall have none other cause, for this lady,
my sister, is yours at all times, her worship saved, for wit ye
well she loveth you as well as ye do her, and better if better
may be. An I wist that, said Sir Gareth, there lived not a
gladder man than I <248>would be. Upon my worship, said Sir
Gringamore, trust unto my promise; and as long as it liketh you
ye shall sojourn with me, and this lady shall be with us daily
and nightly to make you all the cheer that she can. I will well,
said Sir Gareth, for I have promised to be nigh this country this
twelvemonth. And well I am sure King Arthur and other noble
knights will find me where that I am within this twelvemonth.
For I shall be sought and found, if that I be alive. And then
the noble knight Sir Gareth went unto the Dame Lionesse, which he
then much loved, and kissed her many times, and either made great
joy of other. And there she promised him her love certainly, to
love him and none other the days of her life. Then this lady,
Dame Lionesse, by the assent of her brother, told Sir Gareth all
the truth what she was, and how she was the same lady that he did
battle for, and how she was lady of the Castle Perilous, and
there she told him how she caused her brother to take away his
dwarf, [*2]for this cause, to know the certainty what was your
name, and of what kin ye were come.

[*2] Printed by Caxton as part of chap. xxii.


How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir
Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the
knight's head.

AND then she let fetch to-fore him Linet, the damosel that had
ridden with him many wildsome ways. Then was Sir Gareth more
gladder than he was to-fore. And then they troth-plight each
other to love, and never to fail whiles their life lasteth. And
so they burnt both in love, that they were accorded to abate
their lusts secretly. And there Dame Lionesse counselled Sir
Gareth to sleep in none other place but in the hall. And there
she promised him to come to his bed a little afore midnight.

This counsel was not so privily kept but it was understood; for
they were but young both, and tender of age, and had not used
none such crafts to-fore. Wherefore the damosel Linet was a
little displeased, and she thought her sister Dame Lionesse was a
little over-hasty, that she might not abide the time of her
marriage; and for saving their worship, she thought to abate
their hot lusts. And so she let ordain by her subtle crafts that
they had not their intents neither with other, as in their
delights, until they were married. And so it passed on. At-
after supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady
should go unto his rest. But Sir Gareth said plainly he would go
no farther than the hall, for in such places, he said, was
convenient for an errant-knight to take his rest in; and so there
were ordained great couches, and thereon feather beds, and there
laid him down to sleep; and within a while came Dame Lionesse,
wrapped in a mantle furred with ermine, and laid her down beside
Sir Gareth. And therewithal he began to kiss her. And then he
looked afore him, and there he apperceived and saw come an armed
knight, with many lights about him; and this knight had a long
gisarm in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him. When
Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he leapt out of his bed,
and gat in his hand his sword, and leapt straight toward that
knight. And when the knight saw Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon
him, he smote him with a foin through the thick of the thigh that
the wound was a shaftmon broad and had cut a-two many veins and
sinews. And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the helm such
a buffet that he fell grovelling; and then he leapt over him and
unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from the body. And then
he bled so fast that he might not stand, but so he laid him down
upon his bed, and there he swooned and lay as he had been dead.

Then Dame Lionesse cried aloud, that her brother Sir Gringamore
heard, and came down. And when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully
wounded he was sore displeased, and said: I am shamed that this
noble knight is thus <250>honoured. Sir, said Sir Gringamore,
how may this be, that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded?
Brother, she said, I can not tell you, for it was not done by me,
nor by mine assent. For he is my lord and I am his, and he must
be mine husband; therefore, my brother, I will that ye wit I
shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the pleasure that
I can. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will that ye wit it,
and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by me, nor by my
assent that this unhappy deed was done. And there they staunched
his bleeding as well as they might, and great sorrow made Sir
Gringamore and Dame Lionesse.

And forthwithal came Dame Linet, and took up the head in the
sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment thereas it
was smitten off; and in the same wise she did to the other part
thereas the head stuck, and then she set it together, and it
stuck as fast as ever it did. And the knight arose lightly up,
and the damosel Linet put him in her chamber. All this saw Sir
Gringamore and Dame Lionesse, and so did Sir Gareth; and well he
espied that it was the damosel Linet, that rode with him through
the perilous passages. Ah well, damosel, said Sir Gareth, I
weened ye would not have done as ye have done. My lord Gareth,
said Linet, all that I have done I will avow, and all that I have
done shall be for your honour and worship, and to us all. And so
within a while Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and
jocund, and sang, danced, and gamed; and he and Dame Lionesse
were so hot in burning love that they made their covenant at the
tenth night after, that she should come to his bed. And because
he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his sword nigh his
bed's side.


How the said knight came again the next night and was beheaded
again, and how at the feast of Pentecost all the
knights that Sir Gareth had overcome came and yielded
them to King Arthur.

RIGHT as she promised she came; and she was not so soon in his
bed but she espied an armed knight coming toward the bed:
therewithal she warned Sir Gareth, and lightly through the good
help of Dame Lionesse he was armed; and they hurtled together
with great ire and malice all about the hall; and there was great
light as it had been the number of twenty torches both before and
behind, so that Sir Gareth strained him, so that his old wound
brast again a-bleeding; but he was hot and courageous and took no
keep, but with his great force he struck down that knight, and
voided his helm, and struck off his head. Then he hewed the head
in an hundred pieces. And when he had done so he took up all
those pieces, and threw them out at a window into the ditches of
the castle; and by this done he was so faint that unnethes he
might stand for bleeding. And by when he was almost unarmed he
fell in a deadly swoon on the floor; and then Dame Lionesse cried
so that Sir Gringamore heard; and when he came and found Sir
Gareth in that plight he made great sorrow; and there he awaked
Sir Gareth, and gave him a drink that relieved him wonderly well;
but the sorrow that Dame Lionesse made there may no tongue tell,
for she so fared with herself as she would have died.

Right so came this damosel Linet before them all, and she had
fetched all the gobbets of the head that Sir Gareth had thrown
out at a window, and there she anointed them as she had done to-
fore, and set them together again. Well, damosel Linet, said Sir
Gareth, I have not deserved all this despite that ye do unto me.
Sir knight, she said, I have nothing done but I will avow, and
all that I have <252>done shall be to your worship, and to us
all. And then was Sir Gareth staunched of his bleeding. But the
leeches said that there was no man that bare the life should heal
him throughout of his wound but if they healed him that caused
that stroke by enchantment.

So leave we Sir Gareth there with Sir Gringamore and his sisters,
and turn we unto King Arthur, that at the next feast of Pentecost
held his feast; and there came the Green Knight with fifty
knights, and yielded them all unto King Arthur. And so there
came the Red Knight his brother, and yielded him to King Arthur,
and three score knights with him. Also there came the Blue
Knight, brother to them, with an hundred knights, and yielded
them unto King Arthur; and the Green Knight's name was Pertolepe,
and the Red Knight's name was Perimones, and the Blue Knight's
name was Sir Persant of Inde. These three brethren told King
Arthur how they were overcome by a knight that a damosel had with
her, and called him Beaumains. Jesu, said the king, I marvel
what knight he is, and of what lineage he is come. He was with
me a twelvemonth, and poorly and shamefully he was fostered, and
Sir Kay in scorn named him Beaumains. So right as the king stood
so talking with these three brethren, there came Sir Launcelot du
Lake, and told the king that there was come a goodly lord with
six hundred knights with him.

Then the king went out of Carlion, for there was the feast, and
there came to him this lord, and saluted the king in a goodly
manner. What will ye, said King Arthur, and what is your errand?
Sir, he said, my name is the Red Knight of the Red Launds, but my
name is Sir Ironside; and sir, wit ye well, here I am sent to you
of a knight that is called Beaumains, for he won me in plain
battle hand for hand, and so did never no knight but he, that
ever had the better of me this thirty winter; the which commanded
to yield me to you at your will. Ye are welcome, said the king,
for ye have been long a great foe to me and my court, and now I
trust to God I shall so entreat you that ye shall be my friend.
Sir, both <253>I and these five hundred knights shall always be
at your summons to do you service as may lie in our powers. Jesu
mercy, said King Arthur, I am much beholden unto that knight that
hath put so his body in devoir to worship me and my court. And
as to thee, Ironside, that art called the Red Knight of the Red
Launds, thou art called a perilous knight; and if thou wilt hold
of me I shall worship thee and make thee knight of the Table
Round; but then thou must be no more a murderer. Sir, as to
that, I have promised unto Sir Beaumains never more to use such
customs, for all the shameful customs that I used I did at the
request of a lady that I loved; and therefore I must go unto Sir
Launcelot, and unto Sir Gawaine, and ask them forgiveness of the
evil will I had unto them; for all that I put to death was all
only for the love of Sir Launcelot and of Sir Gawaine. They be
here now, said the king, afore thee, now may ye say to them what
ye will. And then he kneeled down unto Sir Launcelot, and to Sir
Gawaine, and prayed them of forgiveness of his enmity that ever
he had against them.


How King Arthur pardoned them, and demanded of them
where Sir Gareth was.

THEN goodly they said all at once, God forgive you, and we do,
and pray you that ye will tell us where we may find Sir
Beaumains. Fair lords, said Sir Ironside, I cannot tell you, for
it is full hard to find him; for such young knights as he is one,
when they be in their adventures be never abiding in no place.
But to say the worship that the Red Knight of the Red Launds, and
Sir Persant and his brother said of Beaumains, it was marvel to
hear. Well, my fair lords, said King Arthur, wit you well I
shall do you honour for the love of Sir Beaumains, and as soon as
ever I meet with him I shall make you all upon one <254>day
knights of the Table Round. And as to thee, Sir Persant of Inde,
thou hast been ever called a full noble knight, and so have ever
been thy three brethren called. But I marvel, said the king,
that I hear not of the Black Knight your brother, he was a full
noble knight. Sir, said Pertolepe, the Green Knight, Sir
Beaumains slew him in a recounter with his spear, his name was
Sir Percard. That was great pity, said the king, and so said
many knights. For these four brethren were full well known in
the court of King Arthur for noble knights, for long time they
had holden war against the knights of the Round Table. Then said
Pertolepe, the Green Knight, to the king: At a passage of the
water of Mortaise there encountered Sir Beaumains with two
brethren that ever for the most part kept that passage, and they
were two deadly knights, and there he slew the eldest brother in
the water, and smote him upon the head such a buffet that he fell
down in the water, and there he was drowned, and his name was Sir
Gherard le Breusse; and after he slew the other brother upon the
land, his name was Sir Arnold le Breusse.


[*3] In Caxton's edition this chapter is misnumbered XXVI.,
setting the numeration wrong to the end of the book.

How the Queen of Orkney came to this feast of Pentecost, and
Sir Gawaine and his brethren came to ask her blessing.

So then the king and they went to meat, and were served in the
best manner. And as they sat at the meat, there came in the
Queen of Orkney, with ladies and knights a great number. And
then Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine, and Gaheris arose, and went to
her and saluted her upon their knees, and asked her blessing; for
in fifteen year they had not seen her. Then she spake on high to
her brother King Arthur: Where have ye done my young son Sir
Gareth? He was here amongst you a twelvemonth, and <255>ye made
a kitchen knave of him, the which is shame to you all. Alas,
where have ye done my dear son that was my joy and bliss? O dear
mother, said Sir Gawaine, I knew him not. Nor I, said the king,
that now me repenteth, but thanked be God he is proved a
worshipful knight as any is now living of his years, and I shall
never be glad till I may find him.

Ah, brother, said the Queen unto King Arthur, and unto Sir
Gawaine, and to all her sons, ye did yourself great shame when ye
amongst you kept my son in the kitchen and fed him like a poor
hog. Fair sister, said King Arthur, ye shall right well wit I
knew him not, nor no more did Sir Gawaine, nor his brethren; but
sithen it is so, said the king, that he is thus gone from us all,
we must shape a remedy to find him. Also, sister, meseemeth ye
might have done me to wit of his coming, and then an I had not
done well to him ye might have blamed me. For when he came to
this court he came leaning upon two men's shoulders, as though he
might not have gone. And then he asked me three gifts; and one
he asked the same day, that was that I would give him meat enough
that twelvemonth; and the other two gifts he asked that day a
twelvemonth, and that was that he might have the adventure of the
damosel Linet, and the third was that Sir Launcelot should make
him knight when he desired him. And so I granted him all his
desire, and many in this court marvelled that he desired his
sustenance for a twelvemonth. And thereby, we deemed, many of
us, that he was not come of a noble house.

Sir, said the Queen of Orkney unto King Arthur her brother, wit
ye well that I sent him unto you right well armed and horsed, and
worshipfully beseen of his body, and gold and silver plenty to
spend. It may be, said the King, but thereof saw we none, save
that same day as he departed from us, knights told me that there
came a dwarf hither suddenly, and brought him armour and a good
horse full well and richly beseen; and thereat we all had marvel
from whence that riches came, that we deemed all that he was come
of men of worship. Brother, said the <256>queen, all that ye say
I believe, for ever sithen he was grown he was marvellously
witted, and ever he was faithful and true of his promise. But I
marvel, said she, that Sir Kay did mock him and scorn him, and
gave him that name Beaumains; yet, Sir Kay, said the queen, named
him more righteously than he weened; for I dare say an he be
alive, he is as fair an handed man and well disposed as any is
living. Sir, said Arthur, let this language be still, and by the
grace of God he shall be found an he be within this seven realms,

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