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Le Morte Darthur

Part 9 out of 11

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I know him or know him not, ye shall not know for me
what man he is, but Almighty Jesu send me good tidings
of him. And so said they all. By my head, said Sir
Gawaine, if it so be that the good knight be so sore hurt,
it is great damage and pity to all this land, for he is one
of the noblest knights that ever I saw in a field handle a
spear or a sword; and if he may be found I shall find
him, for I am sure he nis not far from this town. Bear
you well, said King Arthur, an ye may find him, unless
that he be in such a plight that he may not wield himself.
Jesu defend, said Sir Gawaine, but wit I shall what he is,
an I may find him.

Right so Sir Gawaine took a squire with him upon
hackneys, and rode all about Camelot within six or seven
mile, but so he came again and could hear no word of
him. Then within two days King Arthur and all the
fellowship returned unto London again. And so as they
rode by the way it happed Sir Gawaine at Astolat to
lodge with Sir Bernard thereas was Sir Launcelot lodged.
And so as Sir Gawaine was in his chamber to repose him
Sir Bernard, the old baron, came unto him, and his
daughter Elaine, to cheer him and to ask him what
tidings, and who did best at that tournament of Winchester.
So God me help, said Sir Gawaine, there were
two knights that bare two white shields, but the one of
them bare a red sleeve upon his head, and certainly he
was one of the best knights that ever I saw joust in field.
For I dare say, said Sir Gawaine, that one knight with the
red sleeve smote down forty knights of the Table Round,
and his fellow did right well and worshipfully. Now
blessed be God, said the Fair Maiden of Astolat, that that
knight sped so well, for he is the man in the world that
I first loved, and truly he shall be last that ever I shall
love. Now, fair maid, said Sir Gawaine, is that good
knight your love? Certainly sir, said she, wit ye well he
is my love. Then know ye his name? said Sir Gawaine.
Nay truly, said the damosel, I know not his name nor
from whence he cometh, but to say that I love him, I
promise you and God that I love him. How had ye
knowledge of him first? said Sir Gawaine.


How Sir Gawaine was lodged with the lord of Astolat, and
there had knowledge that it was Sir Launcelot that bare
the red sleeve.

THEN she told him as ye have heard to-fore, and how her
father betook him her brother to do him service, and how
her father lent him her brother's, Sir Tirre's, shield: And
here with me he left his own shield. For what cause did
he so? said Sir Gawaine. For this cause, said the damosel,
for his shield was too well known among many noble
knights. Ah fair damosel, said Sir Gawaine, please it you
let me have a sight of that shield. Sir, said she, it is
in my chamber, covered with a case, and if ye will come
with me ye shall see it. Not so, said Sir Bernard till his
daughter, let send for it.

So when the shield was come, Sir Gawaine took off the
case, and when he beheld that shield he knew anon that it
was Sir Launcelot's shield, and his own arms. Ah Jesu
mercy, said Sir Gawaine, now is my heart more heavier
than ever it was to-fore. Why? said Elaine. For I have
great cause, said Sir Gawaine. Is that knight that oweth
this shield your love? Yea truly, said she, my love he is,
God would I were his love. So God me speed, said Sir
Gawaine, fair damosel ye have right, for an he be your
love ye love the most honourable knight of the world, and
the man of most worship. So me thought ever, said the
damosel, for never or that time, for no knight that ever
I saw, loved I never none erst. God grant, said Sir
Gawaine, that either of you may rejoice other, but that
is in a great adventure. But truly, said Sir Gawaine unto
the damosel, ye may say ye have a fair grace, for why
I have known that noble knight this four-and-twenty year,
and never or that day, I nor none other knight, I dare
make good, saw nor heard say that ever he bare token or
sign of no lady, gentlewoman, ne maiden, at no jousts nor
tournament. And therefore fair maiden, said Sir Gawaine,
ye are much beholden to him to give him thanks. But
I dread me, said Sir Gawaine, that ye shall never see him
in this world, and that is great pity that ever was of
earthly knight. Alas, said she, how may this be, is he
slain? I say not so, said Sir Gawaine, but wit ye well
he is grievously wounded, by all manner of signs, and by
men's sight more likelier to be dead than to be alive;
and wit ye well he is the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, for
by this shield I know him. Alas, said the Fair Maiden
of Astolat, how may this be, and what was his hurt?
Truly, said Sir Gawaine, the man in the world that loved
him best hurt him so; and I dare say, said Sir Gawaine,
an that knight that hurt him knew the very certainty that
he had hurt Sir Launcelot, it would be the most sorrow
that ever came to his heart.

Now fair father, said then Elaine, I require you
give me leave to ride and to seek him, or else I wot well
I shall go out of my mind, for I shall never stint till that
I find him and my brother, Sir Lavaine. Do as it liketh
you, said her father, for me sore repenteth of the hurt of
that noble knight. Right so the maid made her ready,
and before Sir Gawaine, making great dole.

Then on the morn Sir Gawaine came to King Arthur,
and told him how he had found Sir Launcelot's shield in
the keeping of the Fair Maiden of Astolat. All that
knew I aforehand, said King Arthur, and that caused me
I would not suffer you to have ado at the great jousts,
for I espied, said King Arthur, when he came in till his
lodging full late in the evening in Astolat. But marvel
have I, said Arthur, that ever he would bear any sign of
any damosel, for or now I never heard say nor knew that
ever he bare any token of none earthly woman. By my
head, said Sir Gawaine, the Fair Maiden of Astolat loveth
him marvellously well; what it meaneth I cannot say, and
she is ridden after to seek him. So the king and all came
to London, and there Sir Gawaine openly disclosed to all
the court that it was Sir Launcelot that jousted best.


Of the sorrow that Sir Bors had for the hurt of Launcelot;
and of the anger that the queen had because Launcelot
bare the sleeve.

AND when Sir Bors heard that, wit ye well he was an
heavy man, and so were all his kinsmen. But when
Queen Guenever wist that Sir Launcelot bare the red
sleeve of the Fair Maiden of Astolat she was nigh out of
her mind for wrath. And then she sent for Sir Bors de
Ganis in all the haste that might be. So when Sir Bors
was come to-fore the queen, then she said: Ah Sir Bors,
have ye heard say how falsely Sir Launcelot hath betrayed
me? Alas madam, said Sir Bors, I am afeard he hath
betrayed himself and us all. No force, said the queen,
though he be destroyed, for he is a false traitor-knight.
Madam, said Sir Bors, I pray you say ye not so, for wit
you well I may not hear such language of him. Why Sir
Bors, said she, should I not call him traitor when he bare
the red sleeve upon his head at Winchester, at the great
jousts? Madam, said Sir Bors, that sleeve-bearing
repenteth me sore, but I dare say he did it to none evil
intent, but for this cause he bare the red sleeve that none
of his blood should know him. For or then we, nor none of
us all, never knew that ever he bare token or sign of maid,
lady, ne gentlewoman. Fie on him, said the queen, yet
for all his pride and bobaunce there ye proved yourself his
better. Nay madam, say ye never more so, for he beat
me and my fellows, and might have slain us an he had
would. Fie on him, said the queen, for I heard Sir
Gawaine say before my lord Arthur that it were marvel to
tell the great love that is between the Fair Maiden of
Astolat and him. Madam, said Sir Bors, I may not warn
Sir Gawaine to say what it pleased him; but I dare say,
as for my lord, Sir Launcelot, that he loveth no lady,
gentlewoman, nor maid, but all he loveth in like much.
And therefore madam, said Sir Bors, ye may say what
ye will, but wit ye well I will haste me to seek him, and
find him wheresomever he be, and God send me good
tidings of him. And so leave we them there, and speak
we of Sir Launcelot that lay in great peril.

So as fair Elaine came to Winchester she sought there
all about, and by fortune Sir Lavaine was ridden to play
him, to enchafe his horse. And anon as Elaine saw him
she knew him, and then she cried aloud until him. And
when he heard her anon he came to her, and then she asked
her brother how did my lord, Sir Launcelot. Who told
you, sister, that my lord's name was Sir Launcelot? Then
she told him how Sir Gawaine by his shield knew him.
So they rode together till that they came to the hermitage,
and anon she alighted.

So Sir Lavaine brought her in to Sir Launcelot; and
when she saw him lie so sick and pale in his bed she might
not speak, but suddenly she fell to the earth down suddenly
in a swoon, and there she lay a great while. And when
she was relieved, she shrieked and said: My lord, Sir
Launcelot, alas why be ye in this plight? and then she
swooned again. And then Sir Launcelot prayed Sir
Lavaine to take her up: And bring her to me. And
when she came to herself Sir Launcelot kissed her, and
said: Fair maiden, why fare ye thus? ye put me to pain;
wherefore make ye no more such cheer, for an ye be come
to comfort me ye be right welcome; and of this little hurt
that I have I shall be right hastily whole by the grace of
God. But I marvel, said Sir Launcelot, who told you my
name? Then the fair maiden told him all how Sir
Gawaine was lodged with her father: And there by your
shield he discovered your name. Alas, said Sir Launcelot,
that me repenteth that my name is known, for I am sure
it will turn unto anger. And then Sir Launcelot compassed
in his mind that Sir Gawaine would tell Queen
Guenever how he bare the red sleeve, and for whom; that
he wist well would turn into great anger.

So this maiden Elaine never went from Sir Launcelot,
but watched him day and night, and did such attendance
to him, that the French book saith there was never woman
did more kindlier for man than she. Then Sir Launcelot
prayed Sir Lavaine to make aspies in Winchester for Sir
Bors if he came there, and told him by what tokens he
should know him, by a wound in his forehead. For well
I am sure, said Sir Launcelot, that Sir Bors will seek me,
for he is the same good knight that hurt me.


How Sir Bors sought Launcelot and found him in the
hermitage, and of the lamentation between them.

NOW turn we unto Sir Bors de Ganis that came unto
Winchester to seek after his cousin Sir Launcelot. And
so when he came to Winchester, anon there were men
that Sir Lavaine had made to lie in a watch for such a
man, and anon Sir Lavaine had warning; and then Sir
Lavaine came to Winchester and found Sir Bors, and
there he told him what he was, and with whom he was,
and what was his name. Now fair knight, said Sir Bors,
I require you that ye will bring me to my lord, Sir
Launcelot. Sir, said Sir Lavaine, take your horse, and
within this hour ye shall see him. And so they departed,
and came to the hermitage.

And when Sir Bors saw Sir Launcelot lie in his bed
pale and discoloured, anon Sir Bors lost his countenance,
and for kindness and pity he might not speak, but wept
tenderly a great while. And then when he might speak
he said thus: O my lord, Sir Launcelot, God you bless,
and send you hasty recover; and full heavy am I of my
misfortune and of mine unhappiness, for now I may call
myself unhappy. And I dread me that God is greatly
displeased with me, that he would suffer me to have such
a shame for to hurt you that are all our leader, and all our
worship; and therefore I call myself unhappy. Alas that
ever such a caitiff-knight as I am should have power by
unhappiness to hurt the most noblest knight of the world.
Where I so shamefully set upon you and overcharged you,
and where ye might have slain me, ye saved me; and so
did not I, for I and your blood did to you our utterance.
I marvel, said Sir Bors, that my heart or my blood would
serve me, wherefore my lord, Sir Launcelot, I ask your
mercy. Fair cousin, said Sir Launcelot, ye be right
welcome; and wit ye well, overmuch ye say for to please
me, the which pleaseth me not, for why I have the same I
sought; for I would with pride have overcome you all,
and there in my pride I was near slain, and that was in
mine own default, for I might have given you warning of
my being there. And then had I had no hurt, for it is an
old said saw, there is hard battle thereas kin and friends
do battle either against other, there may be no mercy but
mortal war. Therefore, fair cousin, said Sir Launcelot,
let this speech overpass, and all shall be welcome that God
sendeth; and let us leave off this matter and let us speak
of some rejoicing, for this that is done may not be
undone; and let us find a remedy how soon that I may
be whole.

Then Sir Bors leaned upon his bedside, and told Sir
Launcelot how the queen was passing wroth with him,
because he wore the red sleeve at the great jousts; and
there Sir Bors told him all how Sir Gawaine discovered it:
By your shield that ye left with the Fair Maiden of
Astolat. Then is the queen wroth, said Sir Launcelot
and therefore am I right heavy, for I deserved no wrath,
for all that I did was because I would not be known.
Right so excused I you, said Sir Bors, but all was in vain,
for she said more largelier to me than I to you now. But
is this she, said Sir Bors, that is so busy about you, that
men call the Fair Maiden of Astolat? She it is, said Sir
Launcelot, that by no means I cannot put her from me.
Why should ye put her from you? said Sir Bors, she is a
passing fair damosel, and a well beseen, and well taught;
and God would, fair cousin, said Sir Bors, that ye could
love her, but as to that I may not, nor I dare not, counsel
you. But I see well, said Sir Bors, by her diligence about
you that she loveth you entirely. That me repenteth,
said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said Sir Bors, she is not the first
that hath lost her pain upon you, and that is the more
pity: and so they talked of many more things. And so
within three days or four Sir Launcelot was big and strong


How Sir Launcelot armed him to assay if he might bear
arms, and how his wounds brast out again.

THEN Sir Bors told Sir Launcelot how there was sworn a
great tournament and jousts betwixt King Arthur and the
King of Northgalis, that should be upon All Hallowmass
Day, beside Winchester. Is that truth? said Sir Launcelot;
then shall ye abide with me still a little while until that I
be whole, for I feel myself right big and strong. Blessed
be God, said Sir Bors. Then were they there nigh a month
together, and ever this maiden Elaine did ever her diligent
labour night and day unto Sir Launcelot, that there was
never child nor wife more meeker to her father and husband
than was that Fair Maiden of Astolat; wherefore Sir Bors
was greatly pleased with her.

So upon a day, by the assent of Sir Launcelot, Sir Bors,
and Sir Lavaine, they made the hermit to seek in woods
for divers herbs, and so Sir Launcelot made fair Elaine to
gather herbs for him to make him a bain. In the meanwhile
Sir Launcelot made him to arm him at all pieces;
and there he thought to assay his armour and his spear, for
his hurt or not. And so when he was upon his horse he
stirred him fiercely, and the horse was passing lusty and
fresh because he was not laboured a month afore. And
then Sir Launcelot couched that spear in the rest. That
courser leapt mightily when he felt the spurs; and he that
was upon him, the which was the noblest horse of the world,
strained him mightily and stably, and kept still the spear
in the rest; and therewith Sir Launcelot strained himself
so straitly, with so great force, to get the horse forward,
that the button of his wound brast both within and
without; and therewithal the blood came out so fiercely that
he felt himself so feeble that he might not sit upon his
horse. And then Sir Launcelot cried unto Sir Bors: Ah,
Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine, help, for I am come to mine end.
And therewith he fell down on the one side to the earth
like a dead corpse. And then Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine
came to him with sorrow-making out of measure. And
so by fortune the maiden Elaine heard their mourning, and
then she came thither; and when she found Sir Launcelot
there armed in that place she cried and wept as she had
been wood; and then she kissed him, and did what she
might to awake him. And then she rebuked her brother
and Sir Bors, and called them false traitors, why they would
take him out of his bed; there she cried, and said she would
appeal them of his death.

With this came the holy hermit, Sir Baudwin of Brittany,
and when he found Sir Launcelot in that plight he
said but little, but wit ye well he was wroth; and then he
bade them: Let us have him in. And so they all bare him
unto the hermitage, and unarmed him, and laid him in his
bed; and evermore his wound bled piteously, but he stirred
no limb of him. Then the knight-hermit put a thing in
his nose and a little deal of water in his mouth. And then
Sir Launcelot waked of his swoon, and then the hermit
staunched his bleeding. And when he might speak he
asked Sir Launcelot why he put his life in jeopardy. Sir,
said Sir Launcelot, because I weened I had been strong, and
also Sir Bors told me that there should be at All Hallowmass
a great jousts betwixt King Arthur and the King of
Northgalis, and therefore I thought to assay it myself
whether I might be there or not. Ah, Sir Launcelot, said
the hermit, your heart and your courage will never be done
until your last day, but ye shall do now by my counsel
Let Sir Bors depart from you, and let him do at that
tournament what he may: And by the grace of God, said
the knight-hermit, by that the tournament be done and ye
come hither again, Sir Launcelot shall be as whole as ye, so
that he will be governed by me.


How Sir Bors returned and told tidings of Sir Launcelot;
and of the tourney, and to whom the prize was given.

THEN Sir Bors made him ready to depart from Sir Launcelot;
and then Sir Launcelot said: Fair cousin, Sir Bors,
recommend me unto all them unto whom me ought to
recommend me unto. And I pray you, enforce yourself
at that jousts that ye may be best, for my love; and here
shall I abide you at the mercy of God till ye come again.
And so Sir Bors departed and came to the court of King
Arthur, and told them in what place he had left Sir
Launcelot. That me repenteth, said the king, but since he shall
have his life we all may thank God. And there Sir Bors
told the queen in what jeopardy Sir Launcelot was when
he would assay his horse. And all that he did, madam,
was for the love of you, because he would have been at this
tournament. Fie on him, recreant knight, said the queen,
for wit ye well I am right sorry an he shall have his life.
His life shall he have, said Sir Bors, and who that would
otherwise, except you, madam, we that be of his blood
should help to short their lives. But madam, said Sir Bors,
ye have been oft-times displeased with my lord, Sir
Launcelot, but at all times at the end ye find him a true knight:
and so he departed.

And then every knight of the Round Table that were
there at that time present made them ready to be at that
jousts at All Hallowmass, and thither drew many knights
of divers countries. And as All Hallowmass drew near,
thither came the King of Northgalis, and the King with
the Hundred Knights, and Sir Galahad, the haut prince, of
Surluse, and thither came King Anguish of Ireland, and the
King of Scots. So these three kings came on King Arthur's
party. And so that day Sir Gawaine did great deeds of
arms, and began first. And the heralds numbered that Sir
Gawaine smote down twenty knights. Then Sir Bors de
Ganis came in the same time, and he was numbered that
he smote down twenty knights; and therefore the prize
was given betwixt them both, for they began first and
longest endured. Also Sir Gareth, as the book saith, did
that day great deeds of arms, for he smote down and pulled
down thirty knights. But when he had done these deeds
he tarried not but so departed, and therefore he lost his
prize. And Sir Palomides did great deeds of arms that
day, for he smote down twenty knights, but he departed
suddenly, and men deemed Sir Gareth and he rode together
to some manner adventures.

So when this tournament was done Sir Bors departed
and rode till he came to Sir Launcelot, his cousin; and
then he found him walking on his feet, and there either
made great joy of other; and so Sir Bors told Sir Launcelot
of all the Jousts like as ye have heard. I marvel, said Sir
Launcelot, that Sir Gareth, when he had done such deeds
of arms, that he would not tarry. Thereof we marvelled
all, said Sir Bors, for but if it were you, or Sir Tristram, or
Sir Lamorak de Galis, I saw never knight bear down so
many in so little a while as did Sir Gareth: and anon he
was gone we wist not where. By my head, said Sir Launcelot,
he is a noble knight, and a mighty man and well
breathed; and if he were well assayed, said Sir Launcelot
I would deem he were good enough for any knight that
beareth the life; and he is a gentle knight, courteous, true,
and bounteous, meek, and mild, and in him is no manner
of mal engin, but plain, faithful, and true.

So then they made them ready to depart from the
hermit. And so upon a morn they took their horses and
Elaine le Blank with them; and when they came to Astolat
there were they well lodged, and had great cheer of Sir
Bernard, the old baron, and of Sir Tirre, his son. And so
upon the morn when Sir Launcelot should depart, fair
Elaine brought her father with her, and Sir Lavaine, and
Sir Tirre, and thus she said:


Of the great lamentation of the Fair Maid of Astolat when
Launcelot should depart, and how she died for his love.

MY lord, Sir Launcelot, now I see ye will depart; now fair
knight and courteous knight, have mercy upon me, and
suffer me not to die for thy love. What would ye that I
did? said Sir Launcelot. I would have you to my husband,
said Elaine. Fair damosel, I thank you, said Sir Launcelot,
but truly, said he, I cast me never to be wedded man.
Then, fair knight, said she, will ye be my paramour? Jesu
defend me, said Sir Launcelot, for then I rewarded your
father and your brother full evil for their great goodness.
Alas, said she, then must I die for your love. Ye shall not
so, said Sir Launcelot, for wit ye well, fair maiden, I might
have been married an I had would, but I never applied me
to be married yet; but because, fair damosel, that ye love
me as ye say ye do, I will for your good will and kindness
show you some goodness, and that is this, that wheresomever
ye will beset your heart upon some good knight that
will wed you, I shall give you together a thousand pound
yearly to you and to your heirs; thus much will I give you,
fair madam, for your kindness, and always while I live to
be your own knight. Of all this, said the maiden, I will
none, for but if ye will wed me, or else be my paramour at
the least, wit you well, Sir Launcelot, my good days are
done. Fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, of these two things
ye must pardon me.

Then she shrieked shrilly, and fell down in a swoon;
and then women bare her into her chamber, and there she
made over much sorrow; and then Sir Launcelot would
depart, and there he asked Sir Lavaine what he would do.
What should I do, said Sir Lavaine, but follow you, but
if ye drive me from you, or command me to go from you.
Then came Sir Bernard to Sir Launcelot and said to him:
I cannot see but that my daughter Elaine will die for your
sake. I may not do withal, said Sir Launcelot, for that
me sore repenteth, for I report me to yourself, that my
proffer is fair; and me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot, that
she loveth me as she doth; I was never the causer of it,
for I report me to your son I early ne late proffered her
bount nor fair behests; and as for me, said Sir Launcelot,
I dare do all that a knight should do that she is a clean
maiden for me, both for deed and for will. And I am
right heavy of her distress, for she is a full fair maiden,
good and gentle, and well taught. Father, said Sir
Lavaine, I dare make good she is a clean maiden as for my
lord Sir Launcelot; but she doth as I do, for sithen I first
saw my lord Sir Launcelot, I could never depart from him,
nor nought I will an I may follow him.

Then Sir Launcelot took his leave, and so they departed,
and came unto Winchester. And when Arthur
wist that Sir Launcelot was come whole and sound the
king made great joy of him, and so did Sir Gawaine and
all the knights of the Round Table except Sir Agravaine
and Sir Mordred. Also Queen Guenever was wood wroth
with Sir Launcelot, and would by no means speak with
him, but estranged herself from him; and Sir Launcelot
made all the means that he might for to speak with the
queen, but it would not be.

Now speak we of the Fair Maiden of Astolat that
made such sorrow day and night that she never slept, ate,
nor drank, and ever she made her complaint unto Sir
Launcelot. So when she had thus endured a ten days, that
she feebled so that she must needs pass out of this world,
then she shrived her clean, and received her Creator. And
ever she complained still upon Sir Launcelot. Then her
ghostly father bade her leave such thoughts. Then she
said, why should I leave such thoughts? Am I not an
earthly woman? And all the while the breath is in my
body I may complain me, for my belief is I do none offence
though I love an earthly man; and I take God to my
record I loved never none but Sir Launcelot du Lake, nor
never shall, and a clean maiden I am for him and for all
other; and sithen it is the sufferance of God that I shall
die for the love of so noble a knight, I beseech the High
Father of Heaven to have mercy upon my soul, and upon
mine innumerable pains that I suffered may be allegeance
of part of my sins. For sweet Lord Jesu, said the fair
maiden, I take Thee to record, on Thee I was never great
offencer against thy laws; but that I loved this noble
knight, Sir Launcelot, out of measure, and of myself, good
Lord, I might not withstand the fervent love wherefore I
have my death.

And then she called her father, Sir Bernard, and her
brother, Sir Tirre, and heartily she prayed her father that
her brother might write a letter like as she did indite it:
and so her father granted her. And when the letter was
written word by word like as she devised, then she prayed
her father that she might be watched until she were dead.
And while my body is hot let this letter be put in my right
hand, and my hand bound fast with the letter until that I
be cold; and let me be put in a fair bed with all the richest
clothes that I have about me, and so let my bed and all
my richest clothes be laid with me in a chariot unto the
next place where Thames is; and there let me be put
within a barget, and but one man with me, such as ye trust
to steer me thither, and that my barget be covered with
black samite over and over: thus father I beseech you let
it be done. So her father granted it her faithfully, all
things should be done like as she had devised. Then her
father and her brother made great dole, for when this was
done anon she died. And so when she was dead the corpse
and the bed all was led the next way unto Thames, and
there a man, and the corpse, and all, were put into Thames;
and so the man steered the barget unto Westminster, and
there he rowed a great while to and fro or any espied it.


How the corpse of the Maid of Astolat arrived to-fore King
Arthur, and of the burying, and how Sir Launcelot
offered the mass-penny.

SO by fortune King Arthur and the Queen Guenever were
speaking together at a window, and so as they looked into
Thames they espied this black barget, and had marvel
what it meant. Then the king called Sir Kay, and showed
it him. Sir, said Sir Kay, wit you well there is some new
tidings. Go thither, said the king to Sir Kay, and take
with you Sir Brandiles and Agravaine, and bring me ready
word what is there. Then these four knights departed
and came to the barget and went in; and there they found
the fairest corpse lying in a rich bed, and a poor man
sitting in the barget's end, and no word would he speak.
So these four knights returned unto the king again, and
told him what they found. That fair corpse will I see,
said the king. And so then the king took the queen by
the hand, and went thither.

Then the king made the barget to be holden fast,
and then the king and the queen entered with certain
knights with them; and there he saw the fairest woman
lie in a rich bed, covered unto her middle with many
rich clothes, and all was of cloth of gold, and she lay as
though she had smiled. Then the queen espied a letter
in her right hand, and told it to the king. Then the king
took it and said: Now am I sure this letter will tell what
she was, and why she is come hither. So then the king
and the queen went out of the barget, and so commanded
a certain man to wait upon the barget.

And so when the king was come within his chamber,
he called many knights about him, and said that he would
wit openly what was written within that letter. Then the
king brake it, and made a clerk to read it, and this was
the intent of the letter. Most noble knight, Sir Launcelot,
now hath death made us two at debate for your love. I
was your lover, that men called the Fair Maiden of
Astolat; therefore unto all ladies I make my moan, yet
pray for my soul and bury me at least, and offer ye my
mass-penny: this is my last request. And a clean maiden
I died, I take God to witness: pray for my soul, Sir
Launcelot, as thou art peerless. This was all the substance
in the letter. And when it was read, the king, the queen,
and all the knights wept for pity of the doleful complaints.
Then was Sir Launcelot sent for; and when he was come
King Arthur made the letter to be read to him.

And when Sir Launcelot heard it word by word, he
said: My lord Arthur, wit ye well I am right heavy of
the death of this fair damosel: God knoweth I was never
causer of her death by my willing, and that will I report
me to her own brother: here he is, Sir Lavaine. I will
not say nay, said Sir Launcelot, but that she was both fair
and good, and much I was beholden unto her, but she
loved me out of measure. Ye might have shewed her, said
the queen, some bounty and gentleness that might have
preserved her life. Madam, said Sir Launcelot, she would
none other ways be answered but that she would be my
wife, outher else my paramour; and of these two I would
not grant her, but I proffered her, for her good love that
she shewed me, a thousand pound yearly to her, and to her
heirs, and to wed any manner knight that she could find
best to love in her heart. For madam, said Sir Launcelot,
I love not to be constrained to love; for love must arise
of the heart, and not by no constraint. That is truth,
said the king, and many knight's love is free in himself,
and never will be bounden, for where he is bounden
he looseth himself.

Then said the king unto Sir Launcelot: It will be
your worship that ye oversee that she be interred worshipfully.
Sir, said Sir Launcelot, that shall be done as I can
best devise. And so many knights yede thither to behold
that fair maiden. And so upon the morn she was interred
richly, and Sir Launcelot offered her mass-penny; and all
the knights of the Table Round that were there at that
time offered with Sir Launcelot. And then the poor man
went again with the barget. Then the queen sent for Sir
Launcelot, and prayed him of mercy, for why that she had
been wroth with him causeless. This is not the first time,
said Sir Launcelot, that ye had been displeased with me
causeless, but, madam, ever I must suffer you, but what
sorrow I endure I take no force. So this passed on all
that winter, with all manner of hunting and hawking, and
jousts and tourneys were many betwixt many great lords,
and ever in all places Sir Lavaine gat great worship, so
that he was nobly renowned among many knights of the
Table Round.


Of great jousts done all a Christmas, and of a great jousts and
tourney ordained by King Arthur, and of Sir Launcelot.

THUS it passed on till Christmas, and then every day
there was jousts made for a diamond, who that jousted
best should have a diamond. But Sir Launcelot would
not joust but if it were at a great jousts cried. But Sir
Lavaine jousted there all that Christmas passingly well,
and best was praised, for there were but few that did so
well. Wherefore all manner of knights deemed that Sir
Lavaine should be made knight of the Table Round at
the next feast of Pentecost. So at-after Christmas King
Arthur let call unto him many knights, and there they
advised together to make a party and a great tournament
and jousts. And the King of Northgalis said to Arthur,
he would have on his party King Anguish of Ireland, and
the King with the Hundred Knights, and the King of
Northumberland, and Sir Galahad, the haut prince. And
so these four kings and this mighty duke took part against
King Arthur and the knights of the Table Round. And
the cry was made that the day of the jousts should be
beside Westminster upon Candlemas Day, whereof many
knights were glad, and made them ready to be at that
jousts in the freshest manner.

Then Queen Guenever sent for Sir Launcelot, and said
thus: I warn you that ye ride no more in no jousts nor
tournaments but that your kinsmen may know you. And
at these jousts that shall be ye shall have of me a sleeve of
gold; and I pray you for my sake enforce yourself there,
that men may speak of you worship; but I charge you as
ye will have my love, that ye warn your kinsmen that ye
will bear that day the sleeve of gold upon your helmet.
Madam, said Sir Launcelot, it shall be done. And so
either made great joy of other. And when Sir Launcelot
saw his time he told Sir Bors that he would depart, and
have no more with him but Sir Lavaine, unto the good
hermit that dwelt in that forest of Windsor; his name
was Sir Brasias; and there he thought to repose him, and
take all the rest that he might, because he would be fresh
at that day of jousts.

So Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine departed, that no
creature wist where he was become, but the noble men of
his blood. And when he was come to the hermitage, wit
ye well he had good cheer. And so daily Sir Launcelot
would go to a well fast by the hermitage, and there he
would lie down, and see the well spring and burble, and
sometime he slept there. So at that time there was a lady
dwelt in that forest, and she was a great huntress, and
daily she used to hunt, and ever she bare her bow with
her; and no men went never with her, but always women,
and they were shooters, and could well kill a deer, both at
the stalk and at the trest; and they daily bare bows and
arrows, horns and wood-knives, and many good dogs they
had, both for the string and for a bait. So it happed this
lady the huntress had abated her dog for the bow at a
barren hind, and so this barren hind took the flight over
hedges and woods. And ever this lady and part of her
women costed the hind, and checked it by the noise of
the hounds, to have met with the hind at some water;
and so it happed, the hind came to the well whereas Sir
Launcelot was sleeping and slumbering. And so when
the hind came to the well, for heat she went to soil, and
there she lay a great while; and the dog came after, and
umbecast about, for she had lost the very perfect feute of
the hind. Right so came that lady the huntress, that
knew by the dog that she had, that the hind was at the
soil in that well; and there she came stiffly and found the
hind, and she put a broad arrow in her bow, and shot at
the hind, and over-shot the hind; and so by misfortune
the arrow smote Sir Launcelot in the thick of the buttock,
over the barbs. When Sir Launcelot felt himself so hurt,
he hurled up woodly, and saw the lady that had smitten
him. And when he saw she was a woman, he said thus:
Lady or damosel, what that thou be, in an evil time bear
ye a bow; the devil made you a shooter.


How Launcelot after that he was hurt of a gentlewoman
came to an hermit, and of other matters.

NOW mercy, fair sir, said the lady, I am a gentlewoman
that useth here in this forest hunting, and God knoweth I
saw ye not; but as here was a barren hind at the soil in
this well, and I weened to have done well, but my hand
swerved. Alas, said Sir Launcelot, ye have mischieved
me. And so the lady departed, and Sir Launcelot as he
might pulled out the arrow, and left that head still in his
buttock, and so he went weakly to the hermitage ever
more bleeding as he went. And when Sir Lavaine and
the hermit espied that Sir Launcelot was hurt, wit you
well they were passing heavy, but Sir Lavaine wist not
how that he was hurt nor by whom. And then were they
wroth out of measure.

Then with great pain the hermit gat out the arrow's
head out of Sir Launcelot's buttock, and much of his blood
he shed, and the wound was passing sore, and unhappily
smitten, for it was in such a place that he might not sit in
no saddle. Have mercy, Jesu, said Sir Launcelot, I may
call myself the most unhappiest man that liveth, for ever
when I would fainest have worship there befalleth me
ever some unhappy thing. Now so Jesu me help, said Sir
Launcelot, and if no man would but God, I shall be in the
field upon Candlemas Day at the jousts, whatsomever fall
of it: so all that might be gotten to heal Sir Launcelot
was had.

So when the day was come Sir Launcelot let devise
that he was arrayed, and Sir Lavaine, and their horses, as
though they had been Saracens; and so they departed and
came nigh to the field. The King of Northgalis with an
hundred knights with him, and the King of Northumberland
brought with him an hundred good knights, and
King Anguish of Ireland brought with him an hundred
good knights ready to joust, and Sir Galahad, the haut
prince, brought with him an hundred good knights, and
the King with the Hundred Knights brought with him
as many, and all these were proved good knights. Then
came in King Arthur's party; and there came in the
King of Scots with an hundred knights, and King Uriens
of Gore brought with him an hundred knights, and King
Howel of Brittany brought with him an hundred knights,
and Chaleins of Clarance brought with him an hundred
knights, and King Arthur himself came into the field
with two hundred knights, and the most part were
knights of the Table Round, that were proved noble
knights; and there were old knights set in scaffolds for
to judge, with the queen, who did best.


How Sir Launcelot behaved him at the jousts, and
other men also.

THEN they blew to the field; and there the King of
Northgalis encountered with the King of Scots, and there
the King of Scots had a fall; and the King of Ireland
smote down King Uriens; and the King of Northumberland
smote down King Howel of Brittany; and Sir Galahad,
the haut prince, smote down Chaleins of Clarance.
And then King Arthur was wood wroth, and ran to the
King with the Hundred Knights, and there King Arthur
smote him down; and after with that same spear King
Arthur smote down three other knights. And then when
his spear was broken King Arthur did passingly well; and
so therewithal came in Sir Gawaine and Sir Gaheris, Sir
Agravaine and Sir Mordred, and there everych of them
smote down a knight, and Sir Gawaine smote down four
knights; and then there began a strong medley, for then
there came in the knights of Launcelot's blood, and Sir
Gareth and Sir Palomides with them, and many knights
of the Table Round, and they began to hold the four
kings and the mighty duke so hard that they were discomfit;
but this Duke Galahad, the haut prince, was a
noble knight, and by his mighty prowess of arms he held
the knights of the Table Round strait enough.

All this doing saw Sir Launcelot, and then he came
into the field with Sir Lavaine as it had been thunder.
And then anon Sir Bors and the knights of his blood
espied Sir Launcelot, and said to them all: I warn you
beware of him with the sleeve of gold upon his head, for
he is himself Sir Launcelot du Lake; and for great
goodness Sir Bors warned Sir Gareth. I am well apaid, said
Sir Gareth, that I may know him. But who is he, said
they all, that rideth with him in the same array? That is
the good and gentle knight Sir Lavaine, said Sir Bors. So
Sir Launcelot encountered with Sir Gawaine, and there by
force Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Gawaine and his horse
to the earth, and so he smote down Sir Agravaine and Sir
Gaheris, and also he smote down Sir Mordred, and all this
was with one spear. Then Sir Lavaine met with Sir
Palomides, and either met other so hard and so fiercely
that both their horses fell to the earth. And then were
they horsed again, and then met Sir Launcelot with Sir
Palomides, and there Sir Palomides had a fall; and so Sir
Launcelot or ever he stint, as fast as he might get spears,
he smote down thirty knights, and the most part of them
were knights of the Table Round; and ever the knights
of his blood withdrew them, and made them ado in other
places where Sir Launcelot came not.

And then King Arthur was wroth when he saw Sir
Launcelot do such deeds; and then the king called unto
him Sir Gawaine, Sir Mordred, Sir Kay, Sir Griflet, Sir
Lucan the Butler, Sir Bedivere, Sir Palomides, Sir Safere,
his brother; and so the king with these nine knights
made them ready to set upon Sir Launcelot, and upon Sir
Lavaine. All this espied Sir Bors and Sir Gareth. Now
I dread me sore, said Sir Bors, that my lord, Sir Launcelot,
will be hard matched. By my head, said Sir Gareth,
I will ride unto my lord Sir Launcelot, for to help him,
fall of him what fall may, for he is the same man that
made me knight. Ye shall not so, said Sir Bors, by my
counsel, unless that ye were disguised. Ye shall see me
disguised, said Sir Gareth; and therewithal he espied a
Welsh knight where he was to repose him, and he was
sore hurt afore by Sir Gawaine, and to him Sir Gareth
rode, and prayed him of his knighthood to lend him his
shield for his. I will well, said the Welsh knight. And
when Sir Gareth had his shield, the book saith it was
green, with a maiden that seemed in it.

Then Sir Gareth came driving to Sir Launcelot all
that he might and said: Knight, keep thyself, for yonder
cometh King Arthur with nine noble knights with him
to put you to a rebuke, and so I am come to bear you
fellowship for old love ye have shewed me. Gramercy,
said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said Sir Gareth, encounter ye
with Sir Gawaine, and I shall encounter with Sir Palomides;
and let Sir Lavaine match with the noble King
Arthur. And when we have delivered them, let us three
hold us sadly together. Then came King Arthur with
his nine knights with him, and Sir Launcelot encountered
with Sir Gawaine, and gave him such a buffet that the
arson of his saddle brast, and Sir Gawaine fell to the
earth. Then Sir Gareth encountered with the good
knight Sir Palomides, and he gave him such a buffet that
both his horse and he dashed to the earth. Then encountered
King Arthur with Sir Lavaine, and there either of
them smote other to the earth, horse and all, that they
lay a great while. Then Sir Launcelot smote down Sir
Agravaine, and Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred; and Sir
Gareth smote down Sir Kay, and Sir Safere, and Sir
Griflet. And then Sir Lavaine was horsed again, and he
smote down Sir Lucan the Butler and Sir Bedevere and
then there began great throng of good knights.

Then Sir Launcelot hurtled here and there, and raced
and pulled off helms, so that at that time there might
none sit him a buffet with spear nor with sword; and Sir
Gareth did such deeds of arms that all men marvelled
what knight he was with the green shield, for he smote
down that day and pulled down mo than thirty knights
And, as the French book saith, Sir Launcelot marvelled;
when he beheld Sir Gareth do such deeds, what knight he
might be; and Sir Lavaine pulled down and smote down
twenty knights. Also Sir Launcelot knew not Sir Gareth
for an Sir Tristram de Liones, outher Sir Lamorak de
Galis had been alive, Sir Launcelot would have deemed he
had been one of them twain. So ever as Sir Launcelot
Sir Gareth, Sir Lavaine fought, and on the one side Sir
Bors, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Lionel, Sir Lamorak de
Galis, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Pelleas,
and with mo other of King Ban's blood fought upon
another party, and held the King with the Hundred
Knights and the King of Northumberland right strait.


How King Arthur marvelled much of the jousting in the field,
and how he rode and found Sir Launcelot.

SO this tournament and this jousts dured long, till it was
near night, for the knights of the Round Table relieved
ever unto King Arthur; for the king was wroth out of
measure that he and his knights might not prevail that
day. Then Sir Gawaine said to the king: I marvel where
all this day [be] Sir Bors de Ganis and his fellowship of Sir
Launcelot's blood, I marvel all this day they be not about
you: it is for some cause said Sir Gawaine. By my head,
said Sir Kay, Sir Bors is yonder all this day upon the right
hand of this field, and there he and his blood do more
worshipfully than we do. It may well be, said Sir Gawaine,
but I dread me ever of guile; for on pain of my life, said
Sir Gawaine, this knight with the red sleeve of gold is
himself Sir Launcelot, I see well by his riding and by his
great strokes; and the other knight in the same colours
is the good young knight, Sir Lavaine. Also that knight
with the green shield is my brother, Sir Gareth, and yet
he hath disguised himself, for no man shall never make
him be against Sir Launcelot, because he made him
knight. By my head, said Arthur, nephew, I believe
you; therefore tell me now what is your best counsel.
Sir, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall have my counsel: let blow
unto lodging, for an he be Sir Launcelot du Lake, and
my brother, Sir Gareth, with him, with the help of that
good young knight, Sir Lavaine, trust me truly it will be
no boot to strive with them but if we should fall ten or
twelve upon one knight, and that were no worship, but
shame. Ye say truth, said the king; and for to say
sooth, said the king, it were shame to us so many as we
be to set upon them any more; for wit ye well, said King
Arthur, they be three good knights, and namely that
knight with the sleeve of gold.

So then they blew unto lodging; but forthwithal King
Arthur let send unto the four kings, and to the mighty
duke, and prayed them that the knight with the sleeve of
gold depart not from them, but that the king may speak
with him. Then forthwithal King Arthur alighted and
unarmed him, and took a little hackney and rode after
Sir Launcelot, for ever he had a spy upon him. And so
he found him among the four kings and the duke; and
there the king prayed them all unto supper, and they
said they would with good will. And when they were
unarmed then King Arthur knew Sir Launcelot, Sir
Lavaine, and Sir Gareth. Ah, Sir Launcelot, said King
Arthur, this day ye have heated me and my knights.

So they yede unto Arthur's lodging all together, and
there was a great feast and great revel, and the prize was
given unto Sir Launcelot; and by heralds they named
him that he had smitten down fifty knights, and Sir
Gareth five-and-thirty, and Sir Lavaine four-and-twenty
knights. Then Sir Launcelot told the king and the
queen how the lady huntress shot him in the forest of
Windsor, in the buttock, with an broad arrow, and how
the wound thereof was that time six inches deep, and in
like long. Also Arthur blamed Sir Gareth because he
left his fellowship and held with Sir Launcelot. My lord,
said Sir Gareth, he made me a knight, and when I saw
him so hard bestead, methought it was my worship to
help him, for I saw him do so much, and so many noble
knights against him; and when I understood that he was
Sir Launcelot du Lake, I shamed to see so many knights
against him alone. Truly, said King Arthur unto Sir
Gareth, ye say well, and worshipfully have ye done and
to yourself great worship; and all the days of my life,
said King Arthur unto Sir Gareth, wit you well I shall
love you, and trust you the more better. For ever, said
Arthur, it is a worshipful knight's deed to help another
worshipful knight when he seeth him in a great danger;
for ever a worshipful man will be loath to see a worshipful
man shamed; and he that is of no worship, and fareth
with cowardice, never shall he show gentleness, nor no
manner of goodness where he seeth a man in any danger,
for then ever will a coward show no mercy; and always a
good man will do ever to another man as he would be
done to himself. So then there were great feasts unto
kings and dukes, and revel, game, and play, and all
manner of noblesse was used; and he that was courteous,
true, and faithful, to his friend was that time cherished.


How true love is likened to summer.

AND thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter,
that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart
beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like
as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May,
in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover,
springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth
unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May, in
something to constrain him to some manner of thing
more in that month than in any other month, for divers
causes. For then all herbs and trees renew a man and
woman, and likewise lovers call again to their mind old
gentleness and old service, and many kind deeds that
were forgotten by negligence. For like as winter rasure
doth alway arase and deface green summer, so fareth it
by unstable love in man and woman. For in many persons
there is no stability; for we may see all day, for a little
blast of winter's rasure, anon we shall deface and lay apart
true love for little or nought, that cost much thing; this
is no wisdom nor stability, but it is feebleness of nature
and great disworship, whosomever useth this. Therefore,
like as May month flowereth and flourisheth in many
gardens, so in like wise let every man of worship flourish
his heart in this world, first unto God, and next unto the
joy of them that he promised his faith unto; for there
was never worshipful man or worshipful woman, but
they loved one better than another; and worship in arms
may never be foiled, but first reserve the honour to God,
and secondly the quarrel must come of thy lady: and
such love I call virtuous love.

But nowadays men can not love seven night but they
must have all their desires: that love may not endure by
reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty heat,
soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot
soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not
so; men and women could love together seven years, and
no licours lusts were between them, and then was love,
truth, and faithfulness: and lo, in like wise was used love
in King Arthur's days. Wherefore I liken love nowadays
unto summer and winter; for like as the one is hot and the
other cold, so fareth love nowadays; therefore all ye that
be lovers call unto your remembrance the month of May,
like as did Queen Guenever, for whom I make here a little
mention, that while she lived she was a true lover, and
therefore she had a good end.

And here followeth liber xix.>



How Queen Guenever rode a-Maying with certain knights of
the Round Table and clad all in green.

SO it befell in the month of May, Queen Guenever called
unto her knights of the Table Round; and she gave them
warning that early upon the morrow she would ride a-Maying
into woods and fields beside Westminster. And I
warn you that there be none of you but that he be well
horsed, and that ye all be clothed in green, outher in silk
outher in cloth; and I shall bring with me ten ladies, and
every knight shall have a lady behind him, and every
knight shall have a squire and two yeomen; and I will
that ye all be well horsed. So they made them ready in
the freshest manner. And these were the names of the
knights: Sir Kay le Seneschal, Sir Agravaine, Sir Brandiles,
Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir Dodinas le Savage, Sir
Ozanna le Cure Hardy, Sir Ladinas of the Forest Savage,
Sir Persant of Inde, Sir Ironside, that was called the Knight
of the Red Launds, and Sir Pelleas, the lover; and these
ten knights made them ready in the freshest manner to ride
with the queen. And so upon the morn they took their
horses with the queen, and rode a-Maying in woods and
meadows as it pleased them, in great joy and delights; for
the queen had cast to have been again with King Arthur
at the furthest by ten of the clock, and so was that time
her purpose.

Then there was a knight that hight Meliagrance, and
he was son unto King Bagdemagus, and this knight had at
that time a castle of the gift of King Arthur within seven
mile of Westminster. And this knight, Sir Meliagrance,
loved passing well Queen Guenever, and so had he done
long and many years. And the book saith he had lain in
await for to steal away the queen, but evermore he forbare
for because of Sir Launcelot; for in no wise he would
meddle with the queen an Sir Launcelot were in her company,
outher else an he were near-hand her. And that
time was such a custom, the queen rode never without a
great fellowship of men of arms about her, and they were
many good knights, and the most part were young men
that would have worship; and they were called the Queen's
Knights, and never in no battle, tournament, nor jousts,
they bare none of them no manner of knowledging of their
own arms, but plain white shields, and thereby they were
called the Queen's Knights. And then when it happed
any of them to be of great worship by his noble deeds,
then at the next Feast of Pentecost, if there were any slain
or dead, as there was none year that there failed but some
were dead, then was there chosen in his stead that was
dead the most men of worship, that were called the Queen's
Knights. And thus they came up all first, or they were
renowned men of worship, both Sir Launcelot and all the
remnant of them.

But this knight, Sir Meliagrance, had espied the queen
well and her purpose, and how Sir Launcelot was not with
her, and how she had no men of arms with her but the ten
noble knights all arrayed in green for Maying. Then he
purveyed him a twenty men of arms and an hundred
archers for to destroy the queen and her knights, for he
thought that time was best season to take the queen.


How Sir Meliagrance took the queen and her knights, which
were sore hurt in fighting

SO as the queen had Mayed and all her knights, all were
bedashed with herbs, mosses and flowers, in the best
manner and freshest. Right so came out of a wood Sir
Meliagrance with an eight score men well harnessed, as
they should fight in a battle of arrest, and bade the queen
and her knights abide, for maugre their heads they should
abide. Traitor knight, said Queen Guenever, what cast
thou for to do? Wilt thou shame thyself? Bethink thee
how thou art a king's son, and knight of the Table Round,
and thou to be about to dishonour the noble king that
made thee knight; thou shamest all knighthood and thyself,
and me, I let thee wit, shalt thou never shame, for I had
liefer cut mine own throat in twain rather than thou
shouldest dishonour me. As for all this language, said Sir
Meliagrance, be it as it be may, for wit you well, madam,
I have loved you many a year, and never or now could I
get you at such an advantage as I do now, and therefore I
will take you as I find you.

Then spake all the ten noble knights at once and said:
Sir Meliagrance, wit thou well ye are about to jeopard your
worship to dishonour, and also ye cast to jeopard our
persons howbeit we be unarmed. Ye have us at a great
avail, for it seemeth by you that ye have laid watch upon
us; but rather than ye should put the queen to a shame
and us all, we had as lief to depart from our lives, for an if
we other ways did, we were shamed for ever. Then said
Sir Meliagrance: Dress you as well ye can, and keep the
queen. Then the ten knights of the Table Round drew
their swords, and the other let run at them with their
spears, and the ten knights manly abode them, and smote
away their spears that no spear did them none harm. Then
they lashed together with swords, and anon Sir Kay, Sir
Sagramore, Sir Agravaine, Sir Dodinas, Sir Ladinas, and
Sir Ozanna were smitten to the earth with grimly wounds.
Then Sir Brandiles, and Sir Persant, Sir Ironside, Sir
Pelleas fought long, and they were sore wounded, for
these ten knights, or ever they were laid to the ground,
slew forty men of the boldest and the best of them.

So when the queen saw her knights thus dolefully
wounded, and needs must be slain at the last, then for pity
and sorrow she cried Sir Meliagrance: Slay not my noble
knights, and I will go with thee upon this covenant, that
thou save them, and suffer them not to be no more hurt,
with this, that they be led with me wheresomever thou
leadest me, for I will rather slay myself than I will go
with thee, unless that these my noble knights may be in my
presence. Madam, said Meliagrance, for your sake they
shall be led with you into mine own castle, with that ye will
be ruled, and ride with me. Then the queen prayed the
four knights to leave their fighting, and she and they
would not depart. Madam, said Sir Pelleas, we will do as
ye do, for as for me I take no force of my life nor death.
For as the French book saith, Sir Pelleas gave such buffets
there that none armour might hold him.


How Sir Launcelot had word how the queen was taken, and
how Sir Meliagrance laid a bushment for Launcelot

THEN by the queen's commandment they left battle, and
dressed the wounded knights on horseback, some sitting,
some overthwart their horses, that it was pity to behold
them. And then Sir Meliagrance charged the queen and
all her knights that none of all her fellowship should
depart from her; for full sore he dread Sir Launcelot du
Lake, lest he should have any knowledging. All this
espied the queen, and privily she called unto her a child of
her chamber that was swiftly horsed, to whom she said:
Go thou, when thou seest thy time, and bear this ring unto
Sir Launcelot du Lake, and pray him as he loveth me that
he will see me and rescue me, if ever he will have joy of
me; and spare not thy horse, said the queen, neither for
water, neither for land. So the child espied his time, and
lightly he took his horse with the spurs, and departed as
fast as he might. And when Sir Meliagrance saw him so
flee, he understood that it was by the queen's commandment
for to warn Sir Launcelot. Then they that were
best horsed chased him and shot at him, but from them all
the child went suddenly. And then Sir Meliagrance said
to the queen: Madam, ye are about to betray me, but I
shall ordain for Sir Launcelot that he shall not come lightly
at you. And then he rode with her, and they all, to his
castle, in all the haste that they might. And by the way
Sir Meliagrance laid in an embushment the best archers
that he might get in his country, to the number of thirty,
to await upon Sir Launcelot, charging them that if they
saw such a manner of knight come by the way upon a
white horse, that in any wise they slay his horse, but in no
manner of wise have not ado with him bodily, for he is
over-hardy to be overcome.

So this was done, and they were come to his castle, but
in no wise the queen would never let none of the ten
knights and her ladies out of her sight, but always they
were in her presence; for the book saith, Sir Meliagrance
durst make no masteries, for dread of Sir Launcelot, insomuch
he deemed that he had warning. So when the child
was departed from the fellowship of Sir Meliagrance,
within a while he came to Westminster, and anon he found
Sir Launcelot. And when he had told his message, and
delivered him the queen's ring: Alas, said Sir Launcelot,
now I am shamed for ever, unless that I may rescue that
noble lady from dishonour. Then eagerly he asked his
armour; and ever the child told Sir Launcelot how the
ten knights fought marvellously, and how Sir Pelleas, and
Sir Ironside, and Sir Brandiles, and Sir Persant of Inde,
fought strongly, but namely Sir Pelleas, there might none
withstand him; and how they all fought till at the last they
were laid to the earth; and then the queen made appointment
for to save their lives, and go with Sir Meliagrance.

Alas, said Sir Launcelot, that most noble lady, that she
should be so destroyed; I had liefer, said Sir Launcelot,
than all France, that I had been there well armed. So
when Sir Launcelot was armed and upon his horse, he
prayed the child of the queen's chamber to warn Sir
Lavaine how suddenly he was departed, and for what cause.
And pray him as he loveth me, that he will hie him after
me, and that he stint not until he come to the castle where
Sir Meliagrance abideth, or dwelleth; for there, said Sir
Launcelot, he shall hear of me an I am a man living, and
rescue the queen and the ten knights the which he traitorously
hath taken, and that shall I prove upon his head, and
all them that hold with him.


How Sir Launcelot's horse was slain, and how Sir Launcelot
rode in a cart for to rescue the queen

THEN Sir Launcelot rode as fast as he might, and the
book saith he took the water at Westminster Bridge, and
made his horse to swim over Thames unto Lambeth.
And then within a while he came to the same place thereas
the ten noble knights fought with Sir Meliagrance. And
then Sir Launcelot followed the track until that he came
to a wood, and there was a straight way, and there the
thirty archers bade Sir Launcelot turn again, and follow
no longer that track. What commandment have ye
thereto, said Sir Launcelot, to cause me that am a knight
of the Round Table to leave my right way? This way
shalt thou leave, other-else thou shalt go it on thy foot,
for wit thou well thy horse shall be slain. That is little
mastery, said Sir Launcelot, to slay mine horse; but as
for myself, when my horse is slain, I give right nought
for you, not an ye were five hundred more. So then they
shot Sir Launcelot's horse, and smote him with many
arrows; and then Sir Launcelot avoided his horse, and
went on foot; but there were so many ditches and hedges
betwixt them and him that he might not meddle with
none of them. Alas for shame, said Launcelot, that ever
one knight should betray another knight; but it is an old
saw, A good man is never in danger but when he is in the
danger of a coward. Then Sir Launcelot went a while,
and then he was foul cumbered of his armour, his shield,
and his spear, and all that longed unto him. Wit ye well
he was full sore annoyed, and full loath he was for to leave
anything that longed unto him, for he dread sore the
treason of Sir Meliagrance.

Then by fortune there came by him a chariot that
came thither for to fetch wood. Say me, carter, said Sir
Launcelot, what shall I give thee to suffer me to leap
into thy chariot, and that thou bring me unto a castle
within this two mile? Thou shalt not come within my
chariot, said the carter, for I am sent for to fetch wood
for my lord, Sir Meliagrance. With him would I speak.
Thou shalt not go with me, said the carter. Then Sir
Launcelot leapt to him, and gave him such a buffet that
he fell to the earth stark dead. Then the other carter,
his fellow, was afeard, and weened to have gone the same
way; and then he cried: Fair lord, save my life, and I
shall bring you where ye will. Then I charge thee, said
Sir Launcelot, that thou drive me and this chariot even
unto Sir Meliagrance's gate. Leap up into the chariot, said
the carter, and ye shall be there anon. So the carter drove on
a great wallop, and Sir Launcelot's horse followed the chariot,
with more than a forty arrows broad and rough in him.

And more than an hour and an half Dame Guenever
was awaiting in a bay window with her ladies, and espied
an armed knight standing in a chariot. See, madam, said
a lady, where rideth in a chariot a goodly armed knight;
I suppose he rideth unto hanging. Where? said the
queen. Then she espied by his shield that he was there
himself, Sir Launcelot du Lake. And then she was ware
where came his horse ever after that chariot, and ever he
trod his guts and his paunch under his feet. Alas, said
the queen, now I see well and prove, that well is him that
hath a trusty friend. Ha, ha, most noble knight, said
Queen Guenever, I see well thou art hard bestead when thou
ridest in a chariot. Then she rebuked that lady that likened
Sir Launcelot to ride in a chariot to hanging. It was foul
mouthed, said the queen, and evil likened, so for to liken the
most noble knight of the world unto such a shameful death.
O Jesu defend him and keep him, said the queen, from
all mischievous end. By this was Sir Launcelot come to
the gates of that castle, and there he descended down, and
cried, that all the castle rang of it: Where art thou, false
traitor, Sir Meliagrance, and knight of the Table Round?
now come forth here, thou traitor knight, thou and thy
fellowship with thee; for here I am, Sir Launcelot du
Lake, that shall fight with you. And therewithal he bare
the gate wide open upon the porter, and smote him under
his ear with his gauntlet, that his neck brast a-sunder.


How Sir Meliagrance required forgiveness of the queen, and
how she appeased Sir Launcelot; and other matters

WHEN Sir Meliagrance heard that Sir Launcelot was there
he ran unto Queen Guenever, and fell upon his knee, and
said: Mercy, madam, now I put me wholly into your
grace. What aileth you now? said Queen Guenever;
forsooth I might well wit some good knight would revenge
me, though my lord Arthur wist not of this your work.
Madam, said Sir Meliagrance, all this that is amiss on my
part shall be amended right as yourself will devise, and
wholly I put me in your grace. What would ye that I
did? said the queen. I would no more, said Meliagrance,
but that ye would take all in your own hands, and that ye
will rule my lord Sir Launcelot; and such cheer as may
be made him in this poor castle ye and he shall have until
to-morn, and then may ye and all they return unto Westminster;
and my body and all that I have I shall put in your
rule. Ye say well, said the queen, and better is peace than
ever war, and the less noise the more is my worship.

Then the queen and her ladies went down unto the
knight, Sir Launcelot, that stood wroth out of measure in
the inner court, to abide battle; and ever he bade: Thou
traitor knight come forth. Then the queen came to him
and said: Sir Launcelot, why be ye so moved? Ha,
madam, said Sir Launcelot, why ask ye me that question?
Meseemeth, said Sir Launcelot, ye ought to be more wroth
than I am, for ye have the hurt and the dishonour, for wit
ye well, madam, my hurt is but little for the killing of a
mare's son, but the despite grieveth me much more than
all my hurt. Truly, said the queen, ye say truth; but
heartily I thank you, said the queen, but ye must come in
with me peaceably, for all thing is put in my hand, and all
that is evil shall be for the best, for the knight full sore
repenteth him of the misadventure that is befallen him.
Madam, said Sir Launcelot, sith it is so that ye been
accorded with him, as for me I may not be again it,
howbeit Sir Meliagrance hath done full shamefully to me,
and cowardly. Ah madam, said Sir Launcelot, an I had
wist ye would have been so soon accorded with him I
would not have made such haste unto you. Why say ye
so, said the queen, do ye forthink yourself of your good
deeds? Wit you well, said the queen, I accorded never
unto him for favour nor love that I had unto him, but
for to lay down every shameful noise. Madam, said Sir
Launcelot, ye understand full well I was never willing nor
glad of shameful slander nor noise; and there is neither
king, queen, nor knight, that beareth the life, except my
lord King Arthur, and you, madam, should let me, but I
should make Sir Meliagrance's heart full cold or ever I
departed from hence. That wot I well, said the queen,
but what will ye more? Ye shall have all thing ruled as
ye list to have it. Madam, said Sir Launcelot, so ye be
pleased I care not, as for my part ye shall soon please.

Right so the queen took Sir Launcelot by the bare
hand, for he had put off his gauntlet, and so she went
with him till her chamber; and then she commanded him
to be unarmed. And then Sir Launcelot asked where
were the ten knights that were wounded sore; so she
showed them unto Sir Launcelot, and there they made
great joy of the coming of him, and Sir Launcelot made
great dole of their hurts, and bewailed them greatly. And
there Sir Launcelot told them how cowardly and traitorly
Meliagrance set archers to slay his horse, and how he was
fain to put himself in a chariot. Thus they complained
everych to other; and full fain they would have been
revenged, but they peaced themselves because of the queen.
Then, as the French book saith, Sir Launcelot was called
many a day after le Chevaler du Chariot, and did many
deeds, and great adventures he had. And so leave we of
this tale le Chevaler du Chariot, and turn we to this tale.

So Sir Launcelot had great cheer with the queen, and
then Sir Launcelot made a promise with the queen that the
same night Sir Launcelot should come to a window outward
toward a garden; and that window was y-barred with
iron, and there Sir Launcelot promised to meet her when
all folks were asleep. So then came Sir Lavaine driving
to the gates, crying: Where is my lord, Sir Launcelot du
Lake? Then was he sent for, and when Sir Lavaine saw
Sir Launcelot, he said: My lord, I found well how ye
were hard bestead, for I have found your horse that was
slain with arrows. As for that, said Sir Launcelot, I pray
you, Sir Lavaine, speak ye of other matters, and let ye
this pass, and we shall right it another time when we
best may.


How Sir Launcelot came in the night to the queen and lay
with her, and how Sir Meliagrance appeached the
queen of treason

THEN the knights that were hurt were searched, and soft
salves were laid to their wounds; and so it passed on till
supper time, and all the cheer that might be made them
there was done unto the queen and all her knights. Then
when season was, they went unto their chambers, but in
no wise the queen would not suffer the wounded knights
to be from her, but that they were laid within draughts by
her chamber, upon beds and pillows, that she herself might
see to them, that they wanted nothing.

So when Sir Launcelot was in his chamber that was
assigned unto him, he called unto him Sir Lavaine, and
told him that night he must go speak with his lady, Dame
Guenever. Sir, said Sir Lavaine, let me go with you an
it please you, for I dread me sore of the treason of Sir
Meliagrance. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, I thank you, but
I will have nobody with me. Then Sir Launcelot took
his sword in his hand, and privily went to a place where
he had espied a ladder to-forehand, and that he took under
his arm, and bare it through the garden, and set it up to
the window, and there anon the queen was ready to meet
him. And then they made either to other their complaints
of many divers things, and then Sir Launcelot
wished that he might have come into her. Wit ye well,
said the queen, I would as fain as ye, that ye might come
in to me. Would ye, madam, said Sir Launcelot, with
your heart that I were with you? Yea, truly, said the
queen. Now shall I prove my might, said Sir Launcelot,
for your love; and then he set his hands upon the bars
of iron, and he pulled at them with such a might that he
brast them clean out of the stone walls, and therewithal
one of the bars of iron cut the brawn of his hands
throughout to the bone; and then he leapt into the chamber
to the queen. Make ye no noise, said the queen, for my
wounded knights lie here fast by me. So, to pass upon
this tale, Sir Launcelot went unto bed with the queen, and
he took no force of his hurt hand, but took his pleasaunce
and his liking until it was in the dawning of the day; and
wit ye well he slept not but watched, and when he saw his
time that he might tarry no longer he took his leave and
departed at the window, and put it together as well as he
might again, and so departed unto his own chamber; and
there he told Sir Lavaine how he was hurt. Then Sir
Lavaine dressed his hand and staunched it, and put upon
it a glove, that it should not be espied; and so the queen
lay long in her bed until it was nine of the clock.

Then Sir Meliagrance went to the queen's chamber,
and found her ladies there ready clothed. Jesu mercy,
said Sir Meliagrance, what aileth you, madam, that ye
sleep thus long? And right therewithal he opened the
curtain for to behold her; and then was he ware where
she lay, and all the sheet and pillow was bebled with the
blood of Sir Launcelot and of his hurt hand. When Sir
Meliagrance espied that blood, then he deemed in her
that she was false to the king, and that some of the
wounded knights had lain by her all that night. Ah,
madam, said Sir Meliagrance, now I have found you a
false traitress unto my lord Arthur; for now I prove well
it was not for nought that ye laid these wounded knights
within the bounds of your chamber; therefore I will
call you of treason before my lord, King Arthur. And
now I have proved you, madam, with a shameful deed;
and that they be all false, or some of them, I will make
good, for a wounded knight this night hath lain by you.
That is false, said the queen, and that I will report me
unto them all. Then when the ten knights heard Sir
Meliagrance's words, they spake all in one voice and said
to Sir Meliagrance: Thou sayest falsely, and wrongfully
puttest upon us such a deed, and that we will make good
any of us; choose which thou list of us when we are whole
of our wounds. Ye shall not, said Sir Meliagrance, away
with your proud language, for here ye may all see, said
Sir Meliagrance, that by the queen this night a wounded
knight hath lain. Then were they all ashamed when they
saw that blood; and wit you well Sir Meliagrance was
passing glad that he had the queen at such an advantage,
for he deemed by that to hide his treason. So with this
rumour came in Sir Launcelot, and found them all at a
great array.


How Sir Launcelot answered for the queen, and waged battle
against Sir Meliagrance; and how Sir Launcelot was
taken in a trap

WHAT array is this? said Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Meliagrance
told them what he had found, and showed them
the queen's bed. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, ye did not
your part nor knightly, to touch a queen's bed while it
was drawn, and she lying therein; for I dare say my lord
Arthur himself would not have displayed her curtains, she
being within her bed, unless that it had pleased him to
have lain down by her; and therefore ye have done
unworshipfully and shamefully to yourself. I wot not
what ye mean, said Sir Meliagrance, but well I am sure
there hath one of her wounded knights lain by her this
night, and therefore I will prove with my hands that she
is a traitress unto my lord Arthur. Beware what ye do,
said Launcelot, for an ye say so, an ye will prove it, it
will be taken at your hands.

My lord, Sir Launcelot, said Sir Meliagrance, I rede
you beware what ye do; for though ye are never so good
a knight, as ye wot well ye are renowned the best knight
of the world, yet should ye be advised to do battle in a
wrong quarrel, for God will have a stroke in every battle.
As for that, said Sir Launcelot, God is to be dread; but
as to that I say nay plainly, that this night there lay none
of these ten wounded knights with my lady Queen
Guenever, and that will I prove with my hands, that ye
say untruly in that now. Hold, said Sir Meliagrance,
here is my glove that she is traitress unto my lord,
King Arthur, and that this night one of the wounded
knights lay with her. And I receive your glove, said Sir
Launcelot. And so they were sealed with their signets,
and delivered unto the ten knights. At what day shall
we do battle together? said Sir Launcelot. This day
ight days, said Sir Meliagrance, in the field beside
Westminster. I am agreed, said Sir Launcelot. But now, said
Sir Meliagrance, sithen it is so that we must fight together,
I pray you, as ye be a noble knight, await me with no
treason, nor none villainy the meanwhile, nor none for
you. So God me help, said Sir Launcelot, ye shall right
well wit I was never of no such conditions, for I report
me to all knights that ever have known me, I fared never
with no treason, nor I loved never the fellowship of no
man that fared with treason. Then let us go to dinner,
said Meliagrance, and after dinner ye and the queen and
ye may ride all to Westminster. I will well, said Sir

Then Sir Meliagrance said to Sir Launcelot: Pleaseth
it you to see the estures of this castle? With a good
will, said Sir Launcelot. And then they went together
from chamber to chamber, for Sir Launcelot dread no
perils; for ever a man of worship and of prowess dreadeth
least always perils, for they ween every man be as they
be; but ever he that fareth with treason putteth oft a man
in great danger. So it befell upon Sir Launcelot that no
peril dread, as he went with Sir Meliagrance he trod on
a trap and the board rolled, and there Sir Launcelot fell
down more than ten fathom into a cave full of straw;
and then Sir Meliagrance departed and made no fare as
that he nist where he was.

And when Sir Launcelot was thus missed they marvelled
where he was become; and then the queen and many of
them deemed that he was departed as he was wont to do
suddenly. For Sir Meliagrance made suddenly to put
away aside Sir Lavaine's horse, that they might all
understand that Sir Launcelot was departed suddenly. So it
passed on till after dinner; and then Sir Lavaine would
not stint until that he ordained litters for the wounded
knights, that they might be laid in them; and so with the
queen and them all, both ladies and gentlewomen and other,
went unto Westminster; and there the knights told King
Arthur how Meliagrance had appealed the queen of high
treason, and how Sir Launcelot had received the glove of
him: And this day eight days they shall do battle afore
you. By my head, said King Arthur, I am afeard Sir
Meliagrance hath taken upon him a great charge; but
where is Sir Launcelot? said the king. Sir, said they all,
we wot not where he is, but we deem he is ridden to some
adventures, as he is ofttimes wont to do, for he hath Sir
Lavaine's horse. Let him be, said the king, he will be
founden, but if he be trapped with some treason.


How Sir Launcelot was delivered out of prison by a lady,
and took a white courser and came for to keep his day

SO leave we Sir Launcelot lying within that cave in great
pain; and every day there came a lady and brought him
his meat and his drink, and wooed him, to have lain by
him; and ever the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, said her
nay. Sir Launcelot, said she, ye are not wise, for ye may
never out of this prison, but if ye have my help; and
also your lady, Queen Guenever, shall be brent in your
default, unless that ye be there at the day of battle. God
defend, said Sir Launcelot, that she should be brent in my
default; and if it be so, said Sir Launcelot, that I may not
be there, it shall be well understanded, both at the king and
at the queen, and with all men of worship, that I am dead,
sick, outher in prison. For all men that know me will
say for me that I am in some evil case an I be not there
that day; and well I wot there is some good knight either
of my blood, or some other that loveth me, that will take
my quarrel in hand; and therefore, said Sir Launcelot, wit
ye well ye shall not fear me; and if there were no more
women in all this land but ye, I will not have ado with
you. Then art thou shamed, said the lady, and destroyed
for ever. As for world's shame, Jesu defend me, and as
for my distress, it is welcome whatsoever it be that God
sendeth me.

So she came to him the same day that the battle should
be, and said: Sir Launcelot, methinketh ye are too
hard-hearted, but wouldest thou but kiss me once I should
deliver thee, and thine armour, and the best horse that is
within Sir Meliagrance's stable. As for to kiss you, said
Sir Launcelot, I may do that and lose no worship; and
wit ye well an I understood there were any disworship
for to kiss you I would not do it. Then he kissed her,
and then she gat him, and brought him to his armour.
And when he was armed, she brought him to a stable,
where stood twelve good coursers, and bade him choose
the best. Then Sir Launcelot looked upon a white
courser the which liked him best; and anon he commanded
the keepers fast to saddle him with the best saddle
of war that there was; and so it was done as he bade.
Then gat he his spear in his hand, and his sword by his
side, and commended the lady unto God, and said: Lady,
for this good deed I shall do you service if ever it be in
my power.


How Sir Launcelot came the same time that Sir Meliagrance
abode him in the field and dressed him to battle

NOW leave we Sir Launcelot wallop all that he might, and
speak we of Queen Guenever that was brought to a fire to
be brent; for Sir Meliagrance was sure, him thought, that
Sir Launcelot should not be at that battle; therefore he
ever cried upon King Arthur to do him justice, other-else
bring forth Sir Launcelot du Lake. Then was the king
and all the court full sore abashed and shamed that the
queen should be brent in the default of Sir Launcelot.
My lord Arthur, said Sir Lavaine, ye may understand that
it is not well with my lord Sir Launcelot, for an he were
alive, so he be not sick outher in prison, wit ye well he
would be here; for never heard ye that ever he failed his
part for whom he should do battle for. And therefore,
said Sir Lavaine, my lord, King Arthur, I beseech you
give me license to do battle here this day for my lord and
master, and for to save my lady, the queen. Gramercy
gentle Sir Lavaine, said King Arthur, for I dare say all
that Sir Meliagrance putteth upon my lady the queen is
wrong, for I have spoken with all the ten wounded
knights, and there is not one of them, an he were whole
and able to do battle, but he would prove upon Sir
Meliagrance's body that it is false that he putteth upon
my queen. So shall I, said Sir Lavaine, in the defence of
my lord, Sir Launcelot, an ye will give me leave. Now
I give you leave, said King Arthur, and do your best,
for I dare well say there is some treason done to Sir

Then was Sir Lavaine armed and horsed, and suddenly
at the lists' end he rode to perform this battle; and right
as the heralds should cry: Lesses les aler, right so came in
Sir Launcelot driving with all the force of his horse. And
then Arthur cried: Ho! and Abide! Then was Sir
Launcelot called on horseback to-fore King Arthur, and
there he told openly to-fore the king and all, how Sir
Meliagrance had served him first to last. And when the
king, and the queen, and all the lords, knew of the
treason of Sir Meliagrance they were all ashamed on his
behalf. Then was Queen Guenever sent for, and set by the
king in great trust of her champion. And then there was
no more else to say, but Sir Launcelot and Sir Meliagrance
dressed them unto battle, and took their spears; and so
they came together as thunder, and there Sir Launcelot
bare him down quite over his horse's croup. And then
Sir Launcelot alighted and dressed his shield on his
shoulder, with his sword in his hand, and Sir Meliagrance
in the same wise dressed him unto him, and there they
smote many great strokes together; and at the last Sir
Launcelot smote him such a buffet upon the helmet that
he fell on the one side to the earth. And then he cried
upon him aloud: Most noble knight, Sir Launcelot du
Lake, save my life, for I yield me unto you, and I require
you, as ye be a knight and fellow of the Table Round,
slay me not, for I yield me as overcome; and whether I
shall live or die I put me in the king's hands and yours.

Then Sir Launcelot wist not what to do, for he had had
liefer than all the good of the world he might have been
revenged upon Sir Meliagrance; and Sir Launcelot looked
up to the Queen Guenever, if he might espy by any sign
or countenance what she would have done. And then the
queen wagged her head upon Sir Launcelot, as though she
would say: Slay him. Full well knew Sir Launcelot by
the wagging of her head that she would have him dead;
then Sir Launcelot bade him rise for shame and perform
that battle to the utterance. Nay, said Sir Meliagrance, I
will never arise until ye take me as yolden and recreant.
I shall proffer you large proffers, said Sir Launcelot, that
is for to say, I shall unarm my head and my left quarter
of my body, all that may be unarmed, and let bind my
left hand behind me, so that it shall not help me, and
right so I shall do battle with you. Then Sir Meliagrance
started up upon his legs, and said on high: My lord
Arthur, take heed to this proffer, for I will take it, and
let him be disarmed and bounden according to his proffer.
What say ye, said King Arthur unto Sir Launcelot, will ye
abide by your proffer? Yea, my lord, said Sir Launcelot,
I will never go from that I have once said.

Then the knights parters of the field disarmed Sir
Launcelot, first his head, and sithen his left arm, and his
left side, and they bound his left arm behind his back,
without shield or anything, and then they were put
together. Wit you well there was many a lady and
knight marvelled that Sir Launcelot would jeopardy
himself in such wise. Then Sir Meliagrance came with his
sword all on high, and Sir Launcelot showed him openly
his bare head and the bare left side; and when he weened
to have smitten him upon the bare head, then lightly he
avoided the left leg and the left side, and put his right
hand and his sword to that stroke, and so put it on side
with great sleight; and then with great force Sir Launcelot
smote him on the helmet such a buffet that the stroke
carved the head in two parts. Then there was no more
to do, but he was drawn out of the field. And at the
great instance of the knights of the Table Round, the
king suffered him to be interred, and the mention made
upon him, who slew him, and for what cause he was slain;
and then the king and the queen made more of Sir
Launcelot du Lake, and more he was cherished, than ever
he was aforehand.


How Sir Urre came into Arthur's court for to be healed of
his wounds, and how King Arthur would begin to handle

THEN as the French book maketh mention, there was a
good knight in the land of Hungary, his name was Sir
Urre, and he was an adventurous knight, and in all places
where he might hear of any deeds of worship there would
he be. So it happened in Spain there was an earl's son,
his name was Alphegus, and at a great tournament in
Spain this Sir Urre, knight of Hungary, and Sir Alphegus
of Spain encountered together for very envy; and so
either undertook other to the utterance. And by fortune
Sir Urre slew Sir Alphegus, the earl's son of Spain, but
this knight that was slain had given Sir Urre, or ever he
was slain, seven great wounds, three on the head, and four
on his body and upon his left hand. And this Sir
Alphegus had a mother, the which was a great sorceress;
and she, for the despite of her son's death, wrought by her
subtle crafts that Sir Urre should never be whole, but ever
his wounds should one time fester and another time bleed,
so that he should never be whole until the best knight of
the world had searched his wounds; and thus she made
her avaunt, wherethrough it was known that Sir Urre
should never be whole.

Then his mother let make an horse litter, and put him
therein under two palfreys; and then she took Sir Urre's
sister with him, a full fair damosel, whose name was
Felelolie; and then she took a page with him to keep
their horses, and so they led Sir Urre through many
countries. For as the French book saith, she led him so
seven year through all lands christened, and never she
could find no knight that might ease her son. So she
came into Scotland and into the lands of England, and by
fortune she came nigh the feast of Pentecost until King
Arthur's court, that at that time was holden at Carlisle.
And when she came there, then she made it openly to be
known how that she was come into that land for to heal
her son.

Then King Arthur let call that lady, and asked her
the cause why she brought that hurt knight into that
land. My most noble king, said that lady, wit you well
I brought him hither for to be healed of his wounds, that
of all this seven year he might not be whole. And then
she told the king where he was wounded, and of whom;
and how his mother had discovered in her pride how she
had wrought that by enchantment, so that he should never
be whole until the best knight of the world had searched
his wounds. And so I have passed through all the lands
christened to have him healed, except this land. And if I
fail to heal him here in this land, I will never take more
pain upon me, and that is pity, for he was a good knight,
and of great nobleness. What is his name? said Arthur
My good and gracious lord, she said, his name is Sir Urre
of the Mount. In good time, said the king, and sith ye
are come into this land, ye are right welcome; and wit
you well here shall your son be healed, an ever any
Christian man may heal him. And for to give all other
men of worship courage, I myself will assay to handle
your son, and so shall all the kings, dukes, and earls that
be here present with me at this time; thereto will
I command them, and well I wot they shall obey and do after
my commandment. And wit you well, said King Arthur
unto Urre's sister, I shall begin to handle him, and search
unto my power, not presuming upon me that I am so
worthy to heal your son by my deeds, but I will courage
other men of worship to do as I will do. And then the
king commanded all the kings, dukes, and earls, and all
noble knights of the Round Table that were there that
time present, to come into the meadow of Carlisle. And
so at that time there were but an hundred and ten of the
Round Table, for forty knights were that time away;
and so here we must begin at King Arthur, as is kindly to
begin at him that was the most man of worship that was
christened at that time.


How King Arthur handled Sir Urre, and after him many
other knights of the Round Table

THEN King Arthur looked upon Sir Urre, and the king
thought he was a full likely man when he was whole;
and then King Arthur made him to be taken down off
the litter and laid him upon the earth, and there was laid
a cushion of gold that he should kneel upon. And then
noble Arthur said: Fair knight, me repenteth of thy hurt,
and for to courage all other noble knights I will pray thee
softly to suffer me to handle your wounds. Most noble
christened king, said Urre, do as ye list, for I am at the
mercy of God, and at your commandment. So then
Arthur softly handled him, and then some of his wounds
renewed upon bleeding. Then the King Clarence of
Northumberland searched, and it would not be. And
then Sir Barant le Apres that was called the King with
the Hundred Knights, he assayed and failed; and so did
King Uriens of the land of Gore; so did King Anguish
of Ireland; so did King Nentres of Garloth; so did King
Carados of Scotland; so did the Duke Galahad, the haut
prince; so did Constantine, that was Sir Carados' son of
Cornwall; so did Duke Chaleins of Clarance; so did the
Earl Ulbause; so did the Earl Lambaile; so did the Earl

Then came in Sir Gawaine with his three sons, Sir
Gingalin, Sir Florence, and Sir Lovel, these two were
begotten upon Sir Brandiles' sister; and all they failed.
Then came in Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, Sir Mordred,
and the good knight, Sir Gareth, that was of very knighthood
worth all the brethren. So came knights of Launcelot's
kin, but Sir Launcelot was not that time in the court,
for he was that time upon his adventures. Then Sir
Lionel, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Blamore
de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, Sir Gahalantine, Sir Galihodin,
Sir Menaduke, Sir Villiars the Valiant, Sir Hebes le
Renoumes. All these were of Sir Launcelot's kin, and all
they failed. Then came in Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir
Dodinas le Savage, Sir Dinadan, Sir Bruin le Noire, that
Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile, and Sir Kay le
Seneschal, Sir Kay de Stranges, Sir Meliot de Logris, Sir
Petipase of Winchelsea, Sir Galleron of Galway, Sir Melion
of the Mountain, Sir Cardok, Sir Uwaine les Avoutres,
and Sir Ozanna le Cure Hardy.

Then came in Sir Astamor, and Sir Gromere, Grummor's son,
Sir Crosselm, Sir Servause le Breuse, that was
called a passing strong knight, for as the book saith, the
chief Lady of the Lake feasted Sir Launcelot and Servause
le Breuse, and when she had feasted them both at sundry
times she prayed them to give her a boon. And they
granted it her. And then she prayed Sir Servause that he
would promise her never to do battle against Sir Launcelot
du Lake, and in the same wise she prayed Sir Launcelot
never to do battle against Sir Servause, and so either
promised her. For the French book saith, that Sir
Servause had never courage nor lust to do battle against
no man, but if it were against giants, and against dragons,
and wild beasts. So we pass unto them that at the king's
request made them all that were there at that high feast,
as of the knights of the Table Round, for to search Sir
Urre: to that intent the king did it, to wit which was
the noblest knight among them.

Then came Sir Aglovale, Sir Durnore, Sir Tor, that
was begotten upon Aries, the cowherd's wife, but he was
begotten afore Aries wedded her, and King Pellinore begat
them all, first Sir Tor, Sir Aglovale, Sir Durnore, Sir
Lamorak, the most noblest knight one that ever was in
Arthur's days as for a worldly knight, and Sir Percivale
that was peerless except Sir Galahad in holy deeds, but
they died in the quest of the Sangreal. Then came Sir
Griflet le Fise de Dieu, Sir Lucan the Butler, Sir Bedevere
his brother, Sir Brandiles, Sir Constantine, Sir Cador's son
of Cornwall, that was king after Arthur's days, and Sir
Clegis, Sir Sadok, Sir Dinas le Seneschal of Cornwall, Sir
Fergus, Sir Driant, Sir Lambegus, Sir Clarrus of Cleremont,
Sir Cloddrus, Sir Hectimere, Sir Edward of Carnarvon,
Sir Dinas, Sir Priamus, that was christened by Sir
Tristram the noble knight, and these three were brethren;
Sir Hellaine le Blank that was son to Sir Bors, he begat
him upon King Brandegoris' daughter, and Sir Brian de
Listinoise; Sir Gautere, Sir Reynold, Sir Gillemere, were
three brethren that Sir Launcelot won upon a bridge in
Sir Kay's arms. Sir Guyart le Petite, Sir Bellangere le
Beuse, that was son to the good knight, Sir Alisander le
Orphelin, that was slain by the treason of King Mark.
Also that traitor king slew the noble knight Sir Tristram,
as he sat harping afore his lady La Beale Isoud, with a
trenchant glaive, for whose death was much bewailing of
every knight that ever were in Arthur's days; there was
never none so bewailed as was Sir Tristram and Sir
Lamorak, for they were traitorously slain, Sir Tristram
by King Mark, and Sir Lamorak by Sir Gawaine and his
brethren. And this Sir Bellangere revenged the death of
his father Alisander, and Sir Tristram slew King Mark,
and La Beale Isoud died swooning upon the corse of Sir
Tristram, whereof was great pity. And all that were
with King Mark that were consenting to the death of Sir
Tristram were slain, as Sir Andred and many other.

Then came Sir Hebes, Sir Morganore, Sir Sentraile,
Sir Suppinabilis, Sir Bellangere le Orgulous, that the good
knight Sir Lamorak won in plain battle; Sir Neroveus
and Sir Plenorius, two good knights that Sir Launcelot
won; Sir Darras, Sir Harry le Fise Lake, Sir Erminide,
brother to King Hermaunce, for whom Sir Palomides
fought at the Red City with two brethren; and Sir Selises
of the Dolorous Tower, Sir Edward of Orkney, Sir Ironside,

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