Part 4 out of 10
He draweth back his spear without breaking it, and thinketh to
smite him again. But the lion cheateth him, and arising himself
on his two hinder feet, setteth his fore feet on his shoulders,
then huggeth him toward him like as one man doth another. But
the grip was sore grievous, for he rendeth his habergeon in twain
and so teareth away as much flesh as he can claw hold on.
When Clamados felt himself wounded, he redoubled his hardihood,
and grippeth the lion so straitly to him that he wringeth a huge
roar out of him, and then flingeth him to the ground beneath him.
Then he draweth his sword and thrusteth it to the heart right
through the breast. The lion roareth so loud that all the
mountains resound thereof. Clamados cutteth off his head and
goeth to hang it at the door of the hall. Then he cometh back to
his horse and mounteth the best he may. And the Damsel saith to
him, "Sir, you are sore wounded."
"Damsel," said he, "please God, I shall take no hurt thereof."
Thereupon, behold you a squire that issueth forth of the hall and
cometh after him full speed. "Hold, Sir Knight," saith he; "Foul
wrong have you wrought, for you have slain the lion of the most
courteous knight that may be known, and the fairest and most
valiant of this kingdom, and in his despite have you hung the
head at his door! Right passing great outrage have you done
"Fair sweet friend," saith Clamados, "it may well be that the
lord is right courteous, but the lion was rascal and would have
slain me and them that were passing by. And your lord loved him
so much he should have chained him up, for better liketh me that
I slew him than that he should slay me."
"Sir," saith the squire, "there is no road this way, for it is a
forbidden land whereof certain would fain reave my lord, and it
was against the coming of his enemies that the lion was allowed
"And what name hath your lord, fair friend?" saith Clamados.
"Sir, he is called Meliot of Logres, and he is gone in quest of
Messire Gawain, of whom he holdeth the land, for right dear is
he to him."
"Messire Gawain," saith Clamados, "left I at the court of King
Arthur, but behoveth him depart thence or ever I return thither."
"By my head," saith the squire, "faith would I you might meet
them both twain, if only my lord knew that you had slain him his
"Fair friend," saith Clamados, "and he be as courteous as you
say, no misliking will he have of me thereof, for I slew him in
defending mine own body, and God forbid I should meet any that
would do me evil therefor."
Thereupon the knight and the damsels depart and pass the narrow
strait in the lion's field, and ride on until they draw nigh a
right rich castle seated in a meadowland surrounded of great
waters and high forests, and the castle was always void of folk.
And they were fain to turn thitherward, but they met a squire
that told them that in the castle was not a soul, albeit and they
would ride forward they would find great plenty of folk. So far
forward have they ridden that they are come to the head of a
forest and see great foison of tents stretched right in the midst
of a launde, and they were compassed round of a great white sheet
that seemed from afar to be a long white wall with crenels, and
it was a good league Welsh in length. They came to the entrance
of the tents and heard great joy within, and when they had
entered they saw dames and damsels, whereof was great plenty, and
of right passing great beauty were they. Clamados alighteth,
that was right sore wounded. The Damsel of the Car was received
with right great joy. Two of the damsels come to Clamados, of
whom make they right great joy. Afterward they lead him to a
tent and made disarm him. Then they washed his wounds right
sweetly and tenderly. Then they brought him a right rich robe
and made him be apparelled therein, and led him before the ladies
of the tents, that made right great joy of him.
"Lady," saith the Damsel of the Car, "This knight hath saved my
life, for he hath slain the lion on account of which many folk
durst not come to you, wherefore make great joy of him."
"Greater joy may I not make, than I do, nor the damsels that are
herein, for we await the coming of the Good Knight that is
healed, from day to day. And now is there nought in the world I
more desire to see."
"Lady," saith Clamados, "Who is this Good Knight?"
"The son of the Widow Lady of the Valleys of Camelot," saith she.
"Tell me, Lady, do you say that he will come hither presently?"
"So methinketh," saith she.
"Lady, I also shall have great joy thereof, and God grant he come
"Sir Knight," saith she, "What is your name?"
"Lady" saith he, "I am called Clamados, and I am son of the lord
of the Forest of Shadows."
She throweth her arms on his neck and kisseth and embraceth him
right sweetly, and saith: "Marvel not that I make you joy
thereof, for you are the son of my sister-in-law, nor have I any
friend nor blood-kindred so nigh as are you, and fain would I you
should be lord of all my land and of me, as is right and reason."
The damsels of the tents make right great joy of him when they
know the tidings that he is so nigh of kin to the Lady of the
Tents. And he sojourned therewithin until that he was whole and
heal, awaiting the coming of the knight of whom he had heard the
tidings. And the damsels marvel them much that he cometh not,
for the damsel that had tended him was therewithin and telleth
them that he was healed of his arm, but that Lancelot is not yet
whole, wherefore he is still within the hermitage.
This high history witnesseth us and recordeth that Joseph, who
maketh remembrance thereof, was the first priest that sacrificed
the body of Our Lord, and forsomuch ought one to believe the
words that come of him. You have heard tell how Perceval was of
the lineage of Joseph of Abarimacie, whom God so greatly loved
for that he took down His body hanging on the cross, which he
would not should lie in the prison there where Pilate had set it.
For the highness of the lineage whereof the Good Knight was
descended ought one willingly to hear brought to mind and
recorded the words that are of him. The story telleth us that he
was departed of the hermitage all sound and whole, albeit he hath
left Lancelot, for that his wound was not yet healed, but he hath
promised him that he will come back to him so soon as he may. He
rideth amidst a forest, all armed, and cometh toward evensong to
the issue of the forest and seeth a castle before him right fair
and well seated, and goeth thitherward for lodging, for the sun
was set. He entereth into the castle and alighteth. The lord
cometh to meet him that was a tall knight and a red, and had a
felon look, and his face scarred in many places; and knight was
there none therewithin save only himself and his household.
When he seeth Perceval alighted, he runneth to bar the door, and
Perceval cometh over against him. For all greeting, the knight
saluteth him thus: "Now shall you have," saith he, "such guerdon
as you have deserved. Never again shall you depart hence, for my
mortal enemy are you, and right hardy are you thus to throw
yourself upon me, for you slew my brother the Lord of the
Shadows, and Chaos the Red am I that war upon your mother, and
this castle have I reft of her. In like manner will I wring the
life out of you or ever you depart hence!"
"Already," saith Perceval, "have I thrown myself on this your
hostel to lodge with you, wherefore to blame would you be to do
me evil. But lodge me this night as behoveth one knight do for
another, and on the morrow at departing let each do the best he
"By my head!" saith Chaos the Red, "mortal enemy of mine will I
never harbour here save I harbour him dead."
He runneth to the hall above, and armeth himself as swiftly as he
may, and taketh his sword all naked in his hand and cometh back
to the place where Perceval was, right full of anguish of heart
for this that he said, that he would war upon his mother and had
reft her of this castle. He flung his spear to the ground, and
goeth toward him on foot and dealeth him a huge buffet above the
helmet upon the coif of his habergeon, such that he cleaveth the
mail and cutteth off two fingers'-breadth of the flesh in such
sort that he made him reel three times round.
When Chaos the Red felt himself wounded, he was sore grieved
thereof, and cometh toward Perceval and striketh him a great
buffet above in the midst of his helmet, so that he made the
sparks fly and his neck stoop and his eyes sparkle of stars. And
the blow slippeth down on to the shield, so that it is cleft
right down to the boss. Perceval felt his neck stiff and heavy,
and feeleth that the knight is sturdy and of great might. He
cometh back towards him, and thinketh to strike him above in the
midst of his head, but Chaos swerved aside from him; howbeit
Perceval reached him and caught his right arm and cutteth it
sheer from his side, sword and all, and sendeth it flying to the
ground, and Chaos runneth upon him, thinking to grapple him with
his left arm, but his force was waning; nathless right gladly
would he have avenged himself and he might. Howbeit, Perceval
setteth on him again that loved him not in his heart, and smiteth
him again above on the head, and dealeth him such a buffet as
maketh his brains be all to-scattered abroad. His household and
servants were at the windows of the hall. When they see that
their lord is nigh to the death, they cry to Perceval: "Sir, you
have slain the hardiest knight in the kingdom of Logres, and him
that was most redoubted of his enemies; but we can do no
otherwise; we know well that this castle is your mother's and
ought to be yours. We challenge it not; wherefore may you do
your will of whatsoever there is in the castle; but allow us to
go to our lord that there lieth dead, and take away the body and
set it in some seemly place for the sake of his good knighthood,
and for that it behoveth us so to do."
"Readily do I grant it you," saith Perceval.
They bear the body to a chapel, then they disarm him and wind him
in his shroud. After that they lead Perceval into the hall and
disarm him and say to him: "Sir, you may be well assured that
there be none but us twain herewithin and two damsels, and the
doors are barred, and behold, here are the keys which we deliver
up to you."
"And I command you," saith Perceval, "that you go straightway to
my mother, and tell her that she shall see me betimes and I may
get done, and so salute her and tell her I am sound and whole.
And what is the name of this castle?"
"Sir, it hath for name the Key of Wales, for it is the gateway
of the land."
Perceval lay the night in the castle he had reconquered for his
mother, and the morrow, when he was armed, he departed. These
promised that they would keep the castle loyally and would
deliver it up to his mother at her will. He rode until he came
to the tents where the damsels were, and drew rein and listened.
But there was not so great joy as when the damsel that rode like
a knight and led the Car came thither with Clamados. Great dole
heard he that was made, and beating of palms. Wherefore he
bethought him what folk they might be. Natheless he was not
minded to draw back without entering. He alighted in the midst
of the tents and set down his shield and his spear, and seeth the
damsels wringing their hands and tearing their hair, and much
marvelleth he wherefore it may be. A damsel cometh forward that
had set forth from the castle where he had slain the knight:
"Sir, to your shame and ill adventure may you have come hither!"
Perceval looketh at her and marvelleth much of that she saith,
and she crieth out: "Lady, behold here him that hath slain the
best knight of your lineage! And you, Clamados, that are within
there, he hath slain your father and your uncle! Now shall it be
seen what you will do!"
The Damsel of the Car cometh thitherward and knoweth Perceval by
the shield that he bare of sinople with a white hart.
"Sir," saith she, "welcome may you be! Let who will make dole, I
will make joy of your coming!"
Therewith the Damsel leadeth him into a tent and maketh him sit
on a right rich couch; afterward she maketh him be disarmed of
her two damsels and clad in a right rich robe. Then she leadeth
him to the Queen of the Tents that was still making great dole.
"Lady," saith the Damsel of the Car, "Stint your sorrow, for
behold, here is the Good Knight on whose account were the tents
here pitched, and on whose account no less have you been making
this great joy right up to this very day!"
"Ha," saith she, "Is this then the son of the Widow Lady?"
"Yea, certes," saith the Damsel.
"Ha," saith the Lady, "He hath slain me the best knight of all my
kin, and the one that protected me from mine enemies."
"Lady," saith the Damsel, "this one will be better able to
protect and defend us, for the Best Knight is he of the world and
The Queen taketh him by the hand and maketh him sit beside her.
"Sir," saith she, "Howsoever the adventure may have befallen, my
heart biddeth me make joy of your coming."
"Lady," saith he, "Gramercy! Chaos would fain have slain me
within his castle, and I defended myself to my power."
The Queen looketh at him amidst his face, and is taken with a
love of him so passing strong and fervent that she goeth nigh to
fall upon him. "Sir," saith she, "and you will grant me your
love, I will pardon you of all the death of Chaos the Red."
"Lady," saith he, "your love am I right fain to deserve, and mine
"Sir," saith she, "How may I perceive that you love me?"
"Lady," saith he, "I will tell you. There is no knight in the
world that shall desire to do you a wrong, but I will help you
against him to my power."
"Such love," saith she, "is the common love that knight ought to
bear to lady. Would you do as much for another?"
"Lady," saith he, "It well may be, but more readily shall a man
give help in one place than in another."
The Queen would fain that Perceval should pledge himself to her
further than he did, and the more she looketh at him the better
he pleaseth her, and the more is she taken with him and the more
desirous of his love. But Perceval never once thought of loving
her or another in such wise. He was glad to look upon her, for
that she was of passing great beauty, but never spake he nought
to her whereby she might perceive that he loved her of inward
love. But in no wise might she refrain her heart, nor withdraw
her eyes, nor lose her desire. The damsels looked upon her with
wonder that so soon had she forgotten her mourning.
Thereupon, behold you Clamados, that had been told that this was
the knight that, as yet only squire, had slain his father and put
Chaos his uncle to death. He cometh into the tent and seeth him
sitting beside the Queen, that looked at him right sweetly.
"Lady," saith he, "Great shame do you to yourself, in that you
have seated at your side your own mortal enemy and mine. Never
again henceforth ought any to have affiance in your love nor in
"Clamados," saith the Queen, "the knight hath thrown himself upon
me suddenly. Wherefore ought I do him no evil, rather behoveth
me lodge him and keep his body in safety. Nought, moreover, hath
he done whereof he might be adjudged of murder nor of treason."
"Lady," saith Clamados, "He slew my father in the Lonely Forest
without defiance, and treacherously cast a javelin at him and
smote him through the body, wherefore shall I never be at ease
until I have avenged him. Therefore do I appeal and pray you to
do me my right, not as being of your kindred, but as stranger.
For right willing am I that kinship shall avail me nought
Perceval looketh at the knight and seeth that he is of right
goodly complexion of body and right comely of face. "Fair Sir,"
saith he, "as of treason I would that you hold me quit, for never
toward your father nor toward other have had I never a mind to do
treason, and God defend me from such shame, and grant me strength
to clear myself of any blame thereof."
Clamados cometh forward to proffer his gage.
"By my head," saith the Queen, "not this day shall gage be
received herein. But to-morrow will come day, and counsel
therewith, and then shall fight be done to each."
Clamados is moved of right great wrath, but the Queen of the
Tents showeth Perceval the most honour she may, whereof is
Clamados right heavy, and saith that never ought any to put his
trust in woman. But wrongly he blameth her therein, for she did
it of the passing great love she hath for Perceval, inasmuch as
well she knoweth that he is the Best Knight of the world and the
comeliest. But it only irketh her the more that she may not find
in him any sign of special liking toward herself neither in deed
nor word, whereof is she beyond measure sorrowful. The knights
and damsels lay the night in the tents until the morrow, and went
to hear mass in a chapel that was in the midst of the tents.
When mass was sung, straightway behold you, a knight that cometh
all armed, bearing a white shield at his neck. He alighteth in
the midst of the tents and cometh before the Queen all armed, and
saith: "Lady, I plain me of a knight that is there within that
hath slain my lion, and if you do me not right herein, I will
harass you as much or more than I will him, and will harm you in
every wise I may. Wherefore I pray and require you, for the love
of Messire Gawain, whose man I am, that you do me right herein."
"What is the knight's name?" saith the Queen.
"Lady," saith he, "He is called Clamados of the Shadows, and
methinketh I see him yonder, for I knew him when he was squire."
"And what is your name?" saith the Queen.
"Lady," I am called Melior of Logres."
"Clamados," saith the Queen, "Hear you what this knight saith?"
"Yea, Lady," saith he; "But again I require that you do me right
of the knight that slew my father and my uncle."
"Lady," saith Melior, "I would fain go. I know not toward whom
the knight proffereth his gage, but him do I appeal of felony for
my lion that he hath slain." He taketh in his hand the skirt of
his habergeon: "Lady, behold here the gage I offer you."
"Clamados," saith the Queen, "Hear you then not that which this
"Lady," saith he, "I hear him well. Truth it is that I slew his
lion, but not until after he had fallen upon me, and made the
wounds whereof I have been healed herewithin. But well you know
that the knight who came hither last night hath done me greater
wrong than have I done this other. Wherefore would I pray you
that I may take vengeance of him first."
"You hear," saith she, "how this knight that hath come hither all
armed is fain to go back forthwith. Quit you, therefore, of him
first, and then will we take thought of the other."
"Lady, gramercy!" saith Meliot, "and Messire Gawain will take it
in right good part, for this knight hath slain my lion that
defended me from all my enemies. Nor is it true that the
entrance to your tent was deserted on account of my lion; and in
despite of me hath he hung the head at my gate."
"As of the lion," saith the Queen, "you have no quarrel against
him and he slew him in defending his body, but as of the despite
he did you as you say, when in nought had you done him any wrong,
it shall not be that right shalt be denied you in my court, and
if you desire to deliver battle, no blame shall you have
Clamados maketh arm him and mounteth on his horse, and he seemeth
right hardy of his arms and valorous. He cometh right in the
midst of the tent, where the ground was fair and level, and found
Meilot of Logres all armed upon his horse, and a right comely
knight was he and a deliver. And the ladies and damsels were
round about the tilting-ground.
"Sir," saith the Queen to Perceval, "I will that you keep the
field for these knights."
"Lady," saith he, "At your pleasure."
Meliot moveth toward Clamados right swiftly and Clamados toward
him, and they melled together on their shields in such sort that
they pierced them and cleft the mail of their habergeons asunder
with the points of their spears, and the twain are both wounded
so that the blood rayeth forth of their bodies. The knights draw
asunder to take their career, for their spears were broken short,
and they come back the one toward the other with a great rush,
and smite each other on the breast with their spears so stiffly
that there is none but should have been pierced within the flesh,
for the habergeons might protect them not. They hurtle against
each other so strongly that knights and horses fall together to
the ground all in a heap. The Queen and the damsels have great
pity of the two knights, for they see that they are both so
passing sore wounded. The two knights rise to their feet and
hold their swords naked and run the one on the other right
wrathfully, with such force as they had left.
"Sir," saith the Queen to Perceval, "Go part these two knights
asunder that one slay not the other, for they are sore wounded."
Perceval goeth to part them and cometh to Meliot of Logres.
"Sir," saith he, "Withdraw yourself back; you have done enough."
Clamados felt that he was sore wounded in two places, and that
the wound he had in his breast was right great. He draweth
himself back. The Queen is come thither. "Fair nephew," saith
she, "Are you badly wounded?"
"Yea, Lady," saith Clamados.
"Certes," saith the Queen, "this grieveth me, but never yet saw I
knight and he were desirous of fighting, but came at some time by
mischance. A man may not always stand on all his rights."
She made him be carried on his shield into a tent, and made
search his wounds, and saw that of one had he no need to fear,
but that the other was right sore perilous.
"Lady," saith Clamados, "Once more do I pray and require you that
you allow not the knight that slew my father to issue forth from
hence, save he deliver good hostage that he will come back when I
shall be healed."
"So will I do, sith that it is your pleasure."
The Queen cometh to the other knight that was wounded, for that
he declareth himself Messire Gawain's man, and maketh search his
wounds, and they say that he hath not been hurt so sore as is
Clamados. She commandeth them to tend him and wait upon him
right well-willingly, "Sir," saith she to Perceval, "Behoveth you
abide here until such time as my nephew be heal, for you know
well that whereof he plaineth against you, nor would I that you
should depart hence without clearing you of the blame."
"Lady, no wish have I to depart without your leave, but rather
shall I be ready to clear myself of blame whensoever and
wheresoever time and place may be. But herewithin may I make not
so long sojourn. Natheless to this will I pledge my word, that I
will return thither within a term of fifteen days from the time
he shall be whole."
"Sir," saith the Damsel of the Car, "I will remain here in
hostage for you."
"But do you pray him," saith the Queen, "that he remain
herewithin with us."
"Lady," saith Perceval, "I may not, for I left Lancelot wounded
right sore in my uncle's hermitage."
"Sir," saith the Queen, "I would fain that remaining here might
have pleased you as well as it would me."
"Lady," saith he, "none ought it to displease to be with you, but
every man behoveth keep his word as well as he may, and none
ought to lie to so good a knight as he."
"You promise me, then," saith the Queen, "that you will return
hither the soonest you may, or at the least, within the term
appointed after you shall have learnt that Clamados is healed, to
defend you of the treason that he layeth upon you?"
"Lady," saith he, "and if he die shall I be quit?"
"Yea, truly, Sir, and so be that you have no will to come for
love of me. For right well should I love your coming."
"Lady," saith he, "never shall be the day my services shall fail
you, so I be in place, and you in need thereof."
He taketh leave and departeth, armed. The Damsel of the Car
commendeth him to God, and Perceval departeth full speed and
rideth so far on his journeys that he cometh to his uncle's
hermitage and entereth in, thinking to find Lancelot. But his
uncle telleth him that he hath departed all sound and all heal of
his wound, as of all other malady, as him thinketh.
Another branch of the Graal again beginneth in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
And the story is here silent of Perceval, and saith that Lancelot
goeth his way and rideth by a forest until he findeth a castle
amidst his way at the head of a launde, and seeth at the gateway
of the castle an old knight and two damsels sitting on a bridge.
Thitherward goeth he, and the knight and damsels rise up to meet
him, and Lancelot alighteth.
"Sir," saith the Vavasour, "Welcome may you be."
The damsels make great joy of him and lead him into the castle.
"Sir," saith the Vavasour, "Sore need had we of your coming."
He maketh him go up into the hall above and be disarmed of his
arms. "Sir," saith the Vavasour, "Now may you see great pity of
these two damsels that are my daughters. A certain man would
reave them of this castle for that no aid nor succour have they
save of me alone. And little enough can I do, for I am old and
feeble, and my kin also are of no avail, insomuch that hitherto
have I been able to find no knight that durst defend me from the
knight that is fain to reave this castle from me. And you seem
to be of so great valiance that you will defend me well herein
to-morrow, for the truce cometh to an end to-night."
"How?" saith Lancelot, "I have but scarce come in hither to
lodge, and you desire me so soon already to engage myself in
"Sir," saith the Vavasour, "Herein may it well be proven whether
there be within you as much valour as there seemeth from without
to be. For, and you make good the claim of these two damsels
that are my daughters to the fiefs that are of right their own,
you will win thereby the love of God as well as praise of the
They fall at his feet weeping, and pray him of mercy that they
may not be disherited. And he raiseth them forthwith, as one
that hath great pity thereof.
"Damsels," saith he, "I will aid you to my power. But I would
fain that the term be not long."
"Sir," say they, "to-morrow is the day, and to-morrow, so we have
no knight to meet him that challengeth this castle, we shall have
lost it. And our father is an old knight, and hath no longer
lustihood nor force whereby he might defend it for us, and all of
our lineage are fallen and decayed. This hatred hath fallen on
us on account of Messire Gawain, whom we harboured."
Lancelot lay there the night within the castle and was right well
lodged and worshipfully entreated. And on the morrow he armed
himself when he had heard mass, and leant at the windows of the
hall and seeth the gate shut and barred, and heareth a horn sound
without the gate three times right loud.
"Sir," saith the Vavasour, "the knight is come, and thinketh that
within here is no defence."
"By my head," saith Lancelot, "but there is, please God!"
The knight bloweth another blast of his horn.
"Hearken, Sir," saith the Vavasour, "It is nigh noon, and he
thinketh him that none will issue hence to meet him."
Lancelot cometh down below and findeth his horse saddled and is
mounted as soon. The damsels are at his stirrup, and pray him
for God's sake remember to defend the honour that is theirs of
the castle, for, save only he so doth, they must flee like
beggars into other lands. Thereupon the Knight soundeth his horn
again. Lancelot, when he heareth the blast, hath no mind to
abide longer, and forthwith issueth out of the castle all armed,
lance in hand and shield at his neck. He seeth the knight at the
head of the bridge, all armed under a tree. Thitherward cometh
Lancelot full speed. The knight seeth him coming, and crieth to
"Sir Knight," saith he, "What demand you? Come you hither to do
"Yea," saith Lancelot, "for that evil are you fain to do to this
castle; wherefore on behalf of the Vavasour and his daughters do
I defy you."
He moveth against the knight and smiteth him on the shield with
his spear and the knight him. But Lancelot pierceth his shield
for him with his sword, and smiteth him so stiffly that he
pinneth his arm to his side, and hurtleth against him so passing
stoutly that he thrusteth him to the ground, him and his horse,
and runneth over him, sword drawn.
"Ha," saith the knight to Lancelot, "withdraw a little from over
me, and slay me not, and tell me your name, of your mercy."
"What have you to do with my name?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir," saith he, "Gladly would I know it, for a right good knight
seem you to be, and so have I well proven in the first
"Sir" saith he, "I am called Lancelot of the Lake. And what is
"Sir." saith he, "I am called Marin of the castle of Gomeret. So
am I -- father of Meliot of Logres. I pray you, by that you most
love in the world, that you slay me not."
"So will I do," saith Lancelot, "and you renounce not your feud
against this castle."
"By my faith," saith the knight, "thus do I renounce it, and I
pledge myself that thenceforth for ever shall it have no
disturbance of me."
"Your pledge," saith Lancelot, "will I not accept save you come
"Sir," saith the knight, "You have sore wounded me in such sort
that I cannot mount but with right great pain."
Lancelot helpeth him until he was mounted again on his horse, and
leadeth him into the castle with him, and maketh him present his
sword to the Vavasour and his daughters, and yield up his shield
and his arms, and afterward swear upon hallows that never again
will he make war upon them. Lancelot thereupon receiveth his
pledge to forego all claim to the castle and Marin turneth him
back to Gomeret. The Vavasour and his daughters abide in great
The story saith that Lancelot went his way by strange lands and
by forests to seek adventure, and rode until he found a plain
land lying without a city that seemed to be of right great
lordship. As he was riding by the plain land, he looketh toward
the forest and seeth the plain fair and wide and the land right
level. He rideth all the plain, and looketh toward the city and
seeth great plenty of folk issuing forth thereof. And with them
was there much noise of bag-pipes and flutes and viols and many
instruments of music, and they came along the way wherein was
Lancelot riding. When the foremost came up to him, they halted
and redoubled their joy.
"Sir," say they, "Welcome may you be!"
"Lords," saith Lancelot, "Whom come ye to meet with such joy?"
"Sir," say they, "they that come behind there will tell you
clearly that whereof we are in need."
Thereupon behold you the provosts and the lords of the city, and
they come over against Lancelot.
"Sir," say they, "All this joy is made along of you, and all
these instruments of music are moved to joy and sound of gladness
for your coming."
"But wherefore for me," saith Lancelot.
"That shall you know well betimes," say they. "This city began
to burn and to melt in one of the houses from the very same hour
that our king was dead, nor might the fire be quenched, nor never
will be quenched until such time as we have a king that shall be
lord of the city and of the honour thereunto belonging, and on
New Year's Day behoveth him to be crowned in the midst of the
fire, and then shall the fire be quenched, for otherwise may it
never be put out nor extinguished. Wherefore have we come to
meet you to give you the royalty, for we have been told that you
are a good knight."
"Lords," saith Lancelot, "Of such a kingdom have I no need, and
God defend me from it."
"Sir," they say, "You may not be defended thereof, for you come
into this land at hazard, and great grief would it be that so
good land as you see this is were burnt and melted away by the
default of one single man, and the lordship is right great, and
this will be right great worship to yourself, that on New Year's
Day you should be crowned in the fire and thus save this city and
this great people, and thereof shall you have great praise."
Much marvelleth Lancelot of this that they say. They come round
about him on all sides and lead him into the city. The ladies
and damsels are mounted to the windows of the great houses and
make great joy, and say the one to another, "Look at the new king
here that they are leading in. Now will he quench the fire on
New Year's Day."
"Lord!" say the most part, "What great pity is it of so comely a
knight that he shall end on such-wise!"
"Be still!" say the others. "Rather should there be great joy
that so fair city as is this should be saved by his death, for
prayer will be made throughout all the kingdom for his soul for
Therewith they lead him to the palace with right great joy and
say that they will crown him. Lancelot found the palace all
strown with rushes and hung about with curtains of rich cloths of
silk, and the lords of the city all apparelled to do him homage.
But he refuseth right stoutly, and saith that their king nor
their lord will he never be in no such sort. Thereupon behold
you a dwarf that entereth into the city, leading one of the
fairest dames that be in any kingdom, and asketh whereof this joy
and this murmuring may be. They tell him they are fain to make
the knight king, but that he is not minded to allow them, and
they tell him the whole manner of the fire.
The dwarf and the damsel are alighted, then they mount up to the
palace. The dwarf calleth the provosts of the city and the
"Lords," saith he, "sith that this knight is not willing to be
king, I will be so willingly, and I will govern the city at your
pleasure and do whatsoever you have devised to do."
"In faith, sith that the knight refuseth this honour and you
desire to have it, willingly will we grant it you, and he may go
his way and his road, for herein do we declare him wholly quit."
Therewithal they set the crown on the dwarf's head, and Lancelot
maketh great joy thereof. He taketh his leave, and they command
him to God, and so remounteth he on his horse and goeth his way
through the midst of the city all armed. The dames and damsels
say that he would not be king for that he had no mind to die so
soon. When he came forth of the city right well pleased was he.
He entereth a great forest and rideth on till daylight began to
fall, and seeth before him a hermitage newly stablished, for the
house and the chapel were all builded new. He cometh thitherward
and alighteth to lodge. The hermit, that was young without beard
or other hair on his face, issued from his chapel.
"Sir," saith he to Lancelot, "you are he that is welcome."
"And you, sir, good adventure to you," saith Lancelot. "Never
have I seen hermit so young as you."
"Sir, of this only do I repent me, that I came not hither ere
Therewith he maketh his horse be stabled, and leadeth him into
his hermitage, and so maketh disarm him and setteth him at ease
as much as he may.
"Sir," saith the hermit, "Can you tell me any tidings of a knight
that hath lain sick of a long time in the house of a hermit?"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "it is no long time agone sithence I saw
him in the house of the good King Hermit, that hath tended me and
healed me right sweetly of the wounds that the knight gave me."
"And is the knight healed, then?" saith the hermit.
"Yea, Sir," saith Lancelot, "Whereof is right great joy. And
wherefore do you ask me?"
"Well ought I to ask it," saith the hermit, "For my father is
King Pelles, and his mother is my father's own sister."
"Ha, Sir, then is the King Hermit your father?"
"Yea, Sir, certes."
"Thereof do I love you the better," saith Lancelot, "For never
found I any man that hath done me so much of love as hath he.
And what, Sir, is your name?"
"Sir," saith he, "My name is Joseus, and yours, what?"
"Sir," saith he, "I am called Lancelot of the Lake."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "Right close are we akin, I and you."
"By my head," saith Lancelot, "Hereof am I right glad at heart."
Lancelot looketh and seeth in the hermit's house shield and
spear, javelins and habergeon. "Sir," saith Lancelot, "What do
you with these arms?"
"Sir," saith he, "this forest is right lonely", and this
hermitage is far from any folk, and none are there here-within
save me and my squire. So, when robbers come hither, we defend
"But hermits, methought, never assaulted nor wounded nor slew."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "God forbid I should wound any man or
"And how, then, do you defend yourselves?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir, I will tell you thereof. When robbers come to us, we arm
ourselves accordingly. If I may catch hold of any in my hands,
he cannot escape me. Our squire is so well-grown and hardy that
he slayeth him forthwith or handleth him in such sort that he may
never help himself after."
"By my head," saith Lancelot, "Were you not hermit, you would be
"By my head," saith the squire. "You say true, for methinketh
there is none so strong nor so hardy as he in all the kingdom of
The lodged Lancelot the night the best he could.
When as they were in their first sleep, come four robber-knights
of the forest that knew how a knight was lodged therewithin, and
had coveted his horse and his arms. The hermit that was in his
chapel saw them first, and awoke his squire and made him bring
his arms all secretly; then he made his squire arm. "Sir," saith
the squire, "Shall I waken the knight?"
"In nowise," saith the hermit, "until such time as we shall know
He maketh open the door of the chapel and taketh a great coil of
rope, and they issue forth, he and his squire, and they perceived
the robbers in the stable where Lancelot's horse was. The hermit
crieth out: the squire cometh forward and thereupon beareth one
to the ground with his spear. The hermit seizeth him and bindeth
him to a tree so strait that he may not move. The other three
think to defend them and to rescue their fellow. Lancelot
leapeth up all startled when he heareth the noise and armeth
himself as quickly as he may, albeit not so quickly but that or
ever he come, the hermit hath taken the other three and bound
them with the fourth. But of them were some that were wounded
"Sir," saith the hermit to Lancelot, "It grieveth me that you
have been awakened."
"Rather," saith Lancelot, "have you done me great wrong for that
you ought to have awakened me sooner."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "We have assaults such as this often
The four robbers cry mercy of Lancelot that he will pray the
hermit to have pity upon them. And Lancelot saith God help not
him that shall have pity on thieves! As soon as it was daylight,
Lancelot and the squire led them into the forest, their hands all
tied behind their backs, and have hanged them in a waste place
far away from the hermitage. Lancelot cometh back again and
taketh leave of Joseus the young hermit, and saith it is great
loss to the world that he is not knight.
"Sir," saith the squire, "to me is it great joy, for many a man
should suffer thereby."
Lancelot is mounted, and Joseus commendeth him to God, praying
him much that he salute his father and cousin on his behalf, and
Messire Gawain likewise that he met in the forest what time he
came all weeping to the hermitage.
Lancelot hath set him forth again upon his way, and rideth by the
high forests and findeth holds and hermitages enough, but the
story maketh not remembrance of all the hostels wherein he
harboured him. So far hath he ridden that he is come forth of
the forest and findeth a right fair meadow-land all loaded with
flowers, and a river ran in the midst there of that was right
fair and broad, and there was forest upon the one side and the
other, and the meadow lands were wide and far betwixt the river
and the forest. Lancelot looketh on the river before him and
seeth a man rowing a great boat, and seeth within the boat two
knights, white and bald, and a damsel, as it seemed him, that
held in her lap the head of a knight that lay upon a mattress of
straw and was covered with a coverlid of marten's fur, and
another damsel sate at his feet. There was a knight within in
the midst of the boat that was fishing with an angle, the rod
whereof seemeth of gold, and right great fish he took. A little
cock-boat followed the boat, wherein he set the fish he took.
Lancelot cometh anigh the bank the swiftest he may, and so
saluteth the knights and damsels, and they return his salute
"Lords," saith Lancelot, "is there no castle nigh at hand nor no
"Yea, Sir," say they, "Beyond that mountain, right fair and rich,
and this river runneth thither all round about it."
"Lords, whose castle is it?"
"Sir," say they, "It is King Fisherman's, and the good knights
lodge there when he is in this country; but such knights have
been harboured there as that the lord of the land hath had good
right to plain him thereof."
The knights go rowing along the river, and Lancelot rideth until
he cometh to the foot of the mountain and findeth a hermitage
beside a spring, and bethinketh him, since it behoveth him to go
to so high a hostel and so rich, where the Holy Graal appeareth,
he will confess him to the good man. He alighteth and confesseth
to the good man, and rehearseth all his sins, and saith that of
all thereof doth he repent him save only one, and the hermit
asketh him what it is whereof he is unwilling to repent.
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "it seemeth to me the fairest sin and the
sweetest that ever I committed."
"Fair Sir," saith the hermit, "Sin is sweet to do, but right
bitter be the wages thereof; neither is there any sin that is
fair nor seemly, albeit there be some sins more dreadfuller than
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "this sin will I reveal to you of my lips,
but of my heart may I never repent me thereof. I love my Lady,
which is the Queen, more than aught else that liveth, and albeit
one of the best Kings on live hath her to wife. The affection
seemeth me so good and so high that I cannot let go thereof, for,
so rooted is it in my heart that thence may it nevermore depart,
and the best knighthood that is in me cometh to me only of her
"Alas!" saith the hermit, "Sinner of mortal sin, what is this
that you have spoken? Never may no knighthood come of such
wantonness that shall not cost you right dear! A traitor are you
toward our earthly lord, and a murderer toward Our Saviour. Of
the seven deadly sins, you are labouring under the one whereof
the delights are the falsest of any, wherefore dearly shall you
aby thereof, save you repent you forthwith."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "never the more do I desire to cast it
"As much," saith the hermit, "is that as to say that you ought
long since to have cast it from you and renounced it. For so
long as you maintain it, so long are you an enemy of the
"Ha, Sir," saith Lancelot, "She hath in her such beauty and worth
and wisdom and courtesy and nobleness that never ought she to be
forgotten of any that hath loved her!"
"The more of beauty and worth she hath in her," saith the hermit,
"so much the more blame hath she of that she doeth, and you
likewise. For of that which is of little worth is the loss not
so great as of that which is much worth. And this is a Queen,
blessed and anointed, that was thus, therefore, in her beginning
vowed to God; yet now is she given over to the Devil of her love
for you, and you of your love for her. Fair, sweet my friend,"
saith the hermit, "Let go this folly, which is so cruel, that you
have taken in hand, and be repentant of these sins! So every day
will I pray to the Saviour for you, that so truly as He pardoned
His death to him that smote Him with a lance in His side, so may
He pardon you of this sin that you have maintained, and that so
you be repentant and truly confessed thereof, I may take the
penance due thereunto upon myself!"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "I thank you much, but I am not minded to
renounce it, nor have I no wish to speak aught wherewith my heart
accordeth not. I am willing enough to do penance as great as is
enjoined of this sin, but my lady the Queen will I serve so long
as it may be her pleasure, and I may have her good will. So
dearly do I love her that I wish not even that any will should
come to me to renounce her love, and God is so sweet and so full
of right merciful mildness, as good men bear witness, that He
will have pity upon us, for never no treason have I done toward
her, nor she toward me."
"Ha, fair sweet friend," saith the hermit, "Nought may you avail
you of whatsoever I may say, wherefore God grant her such will
and you also, that you may be able to do the will of Our Saviour.
But so much am I fain to tell you, that and if you shall lie in
the hostel of King Fisherman, yet never may you behold the Graal
for the mortal sin that lieth at your heart."
"May our Lord God," saith Lancelot, "counsel me therein at His
pleasure and at His will!"
"So may He do!" saith the hermit, "For of a truth you may know
thereof am I right fain."
Lancelot taketh leave of the hermit, and is mounted forthwith and
departeth from the hermitage. And evening draweth on, and he
seeth that it is time to lodge him. And he espieth before him
the castle of the rich King Fisherman. He seeth the bridges,
broad and long, but they seem not to him the same as they had
seemed to Messire Gawain. He beholdeth the rich entrance of the
gateway there where Our Lord God was figured as He was set upon
the rood, and seeth two lions that guard the entrance of the
gate. Lancelot thinketh that sith Messire Gawain had passed
through amidst the lions, he would do likewise. He goeth toward
the gateway, and the lions that were unchained prick up their
ears and look at him. Howbeit Lancelot goeth his way between
them without heeding them, and neither of them was fain to do him
any hurt. He alighteth before the master-palace, and mounteth
upward all armed. Two other knights come to meet him and receive
him with right great joy, then they make him be seated on a couch
in the midst of the hall and be disarmed of two servants. Two
damsels bring him a right rich robe and make him be apparelled
therewithal. Lancelot beholdeth the richness of the hall and
seeth nought figured there save images of saints, men or women,
and he seeth the hall hung about with cloths of silk in many
places. The knights lead him before King Fisherman in a chamber
where he lay right richly. He findeth the King, that lieth on a
bed so rich and so fair apparelled as never was seen a better,
and one damsel was at his head and another at his feet. Lancelot
saluteth him right nobly, and the King answereth him full fairly
as one that is a right worshipful man. And such a brightness of
light was there in the chamber as that it seemed the sun were
beaming on all sides, and albeit the night was dark, no candles,
so far as Lancelot might espy, were lighted therewithin.
"Sir," saith King Fisherman, "Can you tell me tidings of my
sister's son, that was son of Alain li Gros of the Valleys of
Camelot, whom they call Perceval?"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "I saw him not long time sithence in the
house of King Hermit, his uncle."
"Sir," saith the King, "They tell me he is a right good knight?"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "He is the best knight of the world. I
myself have felt the goodness of his knighthood and his valour,
for right sorely did he wound me or ever I knew him or he me."
"And what is your name?" saith the King.
"Sir, I am called Lancelot of the Lake, King Ban's son of
"Ha," saith the King, "you are nigh of our lineage, you ought to
be good knight of right, and so are you as I have heard witness,
Lancelot," saith the King. "Behold there the chapel where the
most Holy Graal taketh his rest, that appeared to two knights
that have been herewithin. I know not what was the name of the
first, but never saw I any so gentle and quiet, nor had better
likelihood to be good knight. It was through him that I have
fallen into languishment. The second was Messire Gawain."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "the first was Perceval your nephew."
"Ha!" saith King Fisherman, "take heed that you speak true!"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "I ought to know him well!"
"Ha, God!" saith the King, "Wherefore then did I know him not?
Through him have I fallen into this languishment, and had I only
known then that it was he, should I now be all whole of my limbs
and of my body, and right instantly do I pray you, when you shall
see him, that he come to see me or ever I die, and that he be
fain to succour and help his mother, whose men have been slain,
and whose land hath been reaved in such sort that never may she
have it again save by him alone. And his sister hath gone in
quest of him throughout all kingdoms."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "This will I tell him gladly, if ever I
may find him in any place, but it is great adventure of finding
him, for oft-times will he change his cognizance in divers
fashion and conceal his name in many places."
King Fisherman is right joyous of the tidings he hath heard of
his nephew, wherefore he maketh Lancelot be honoured greatly.
The knights seat them in the hall at a table of ivory at meat,
and the King remaineth in his chamber. When they had washen, the
table was dight of rich sets of vessels of gold and silver, and
they were served of rich meats of venison of hart and wild boar.
But the story witnesseth that the Graal appeared not at this
feast. It held not aloof for that Lancelot was not one of the
three knights of the world of the most renown and mightiest
valour, but for his great sin as touching the Queen, whom he
loved without repenting him thereof, for of nought did he think
so much as of her, nor never might he remove his heart therefrom.
When they had eaten they rose from the tables. Two damsels
waited on Lancelot at his going to bed, and he lay on a right
rich couch, nor were they willing to depart until such time as he
was asleep. He rose on the morrow as soon as he saw the day, and
went to hear mass. Then he took leave of King Fisherman and the
knights and damsels, and issued forth of the castle between the
two lions, and prayeth God that He allow him to see the Queen
again betimes, for this is his most desire. He rideth until he
hath left the castle far behind and entereth the forest, and is
in right great desire to see Perceval, but the tidings of him
were right far away. He looketh before him in the forest and
seeth come right amidst the launde a knight, and a damsel clad in
the richest robe of gold and silk that ever he had seen tofore.
The damsel came weeping by the side of the knight and prayed him
oftentimes that he would have mercy upon her. The knight is
still and holdeth his peace, and saith never a word.
"Ha, Sir," saith the damsel to Lancelot, "Be pleased to beseech
this knight on my behalf."
"In what manner?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir," saith she, "I will tell you. He hath shown me semblance
of love for more than a year, and had me in covenant that he
would take me to wife, and I apparelled myself in the richest
garments that I had to come to him. But my father is of greater
power and riches than is he, and therefore was not willing to
allow the marriage. Wherefore come I with him in this manner,
for I love him better than ever another knight beside. Now will
he do nought of that he had me in covenant to do, for he loveth
another, better, methinketh, than me. And this hath he done, as
I surmise, to do shame to my friends and to me."
Lancelot seeth the damsel of right great beauty and weeping
tenderly, whereof hath he passing great pity.
"Hold, Sir!" saith Lancelot to the knight, "this shall you not
do! You shall not do such shame to so fair a damsel as that you
shall fail to keep covenant with her. For not a knight is there
in the kingdom of Logres nor in that of Wales but ought to be
right well pleased to have so fair a damsel to wife, and I pray
and require that you do to the damsel that whereof you held her
in covenant. This will be a right worshipful deed, and I pray
and beseech that you do it, and thereof shall I be much beholden
"Sir, saith the knight, "I have no will thereunto, nor for no man
will I do it, for ill would it beseem me."
"By my head, then," saith Lancelot, "the basest knight are you
that ever have I seen, nor ought dame nor damsel ever hereafter
put trust in you, sith that you are minded to put such disgrace
upon this lady."
"Sir," saith the knight, "a worthier lover have I than this, and
one that I more value; wherefore as touching this damsel will I
do nought more than I have said."
"And whither, then, mean you to take her?" saith Lancelot.
"I mean to take her to a hold of mine own that is in this forest,
and to give her in charge to a dwarf of mine that looketh after
my house, and I will marry her to some knight or some other man."
"Now never God help me," saith Lancelot, "but this is foul
churlishness you tell me, and, so you do not her will, it shall
betide you ill of me myself, and, had you been armed as I am, you
should have felt my first onset already."
"Ha," saith the damsel to Lancelot, "Be not so ready to do him
any hurt, for nought love I so well as I love his body,
whatsoever he do unto me. But for God's sake pray him that he do
me the honour he hath promised me."
"Willingly," saith Lancelot. "Sir Knight, will you do this
whereof you had the damsel in covenant?"
"Sir," saith the knight, "I have told you plainly that I will
"By my head," saith Lancelot, "you shall do it, or otherwise
sentence of death hath passed upon you, and this not so much for
the sake of the damsel only, but for the churlishness that hath
taken possession of you, that it be not a reproach to other
knights. For promise that knight maketh to dame or damsel
behoveth him to keep. And you, as you tell me, are knight, and
no knight ought to do churlishly to his knowledge, and this
churlishness is so far greater than another, that for no prayer
that the damsel may make will I suffer that it shall be done, but
that if you do not that whereof you held her in covenant, I shall
slay you, for that I will not have this churlishness made a
reproach unto other knights."
He draweth his sword and would have come toward him, when the
knight cometh over against him and saith to him: "Slay me not.
Tell me rather what you would have me do?"
"I would," saith he, "that you take the damsel to wife without
"Sir," saith he, "it pleaseth me better to take her than to die.
Sir, I will do your will."
"I thank you much therefor," saith Lancelot. "Damsel, is this
your pleasure also?"
"Yea, Sir, but, so please you, take not your departure from us
until such time as he shall have done that which you tell him."
"I will, well that so it be," saith Lancelot, "for love of you."
They ride together right through the forest, until they came to a
chapel at a hermitage, and the hermit wedded them and made much
joy thereof. When it cometh to after-mass, Lancelot would fain
depart, but the damsel prayeth him right sweetly that he should
come right to her father's house to witness that the knight had
"Sir," saith she, "My father's hold is not far away."
"Lady," saith Lancelot, "Willingly will I go sith that you
beseech me thereof."
They ride so long right amidst the forest, that presently they
come to the castle of the Vavasour, that was sitting on the
bridge of his castle, right sorrowful and troubled because of his
daughter. Lancelot is gone on before and alighteth. The
Vavasour riseth up to meet him, and Lancelot recounteth unto him
how his daughter hath been wedded, and that he hath been at the
wedding. Thereof the Vavasour maketh right great joy.
Therewithal, behold you, the knight and the Vavasour"s daughter
that are straightway alighted, and the Vavasour thanketh Lancelot
much of the honour he hath done his daughter. Therewith he
departeth from the castle and rideth amidst the forest the day
long, and meeteth a damsel and a dwarf that came a great gallop.
"Sir," saith the damsel to Lancelot, "From whence come you?"
"Damsel," saith he, "I come from the Vavasour's castle that is in
"Did you meet," saith she, "a knight and a damsel on your way?"
"Yea," saith Lancelot, "He hath wedded her."
"Say you true?" saith she.
"I tell you true," saith Lancelot, "But had I not been there, he
would not have wedded her."
"Shame and ill adventure may you have thereof, for you have reft
me of the thing in the world that most I loved. And know you
well of a truth that joy of him shall she never have, and if the
knight had been armed as are you, never would he have done your
will, but his own. And this is not the first harm you have done
me; you and Messire Gawain between you have slain my uncle and my
two cousins-german in the forest, whom behoved me bury in the
chapel where you were, there where my dwarf that you see here was
making the graves in the burial-ground."
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "true it is that I was there, but I
departed from the grave-yard, honour safe."
"True," saith the dwarf, "For the knights that were there were
craven, and failed."
"Fair friend," saith Lancelot, "Rather would I they should be
coward toward me than hardy."
"Lancelot," saith the damsel, "Much outrage have you done, for
you slew the Knight of the Waste House, there whither the brachet
led Messire Gawain, but had he there been known, he would not
have departed so soon, for he was scarce better loved than you,
and God grant you may find a knight that may abate the outrages
that are in your heart and in his; for great rejoicing would
there be thereof, for many a good knight have you slain, and I
myself will bring about trouble for you, so quickly as I may."
Thereupon the dwarf smiteth the mule with his whip, and she
departeth. Lancelot would answer none of her reviling, wherefore
he departed forthwith, and rideth so long on his journeys that he
is come back to the house of the good King Hermit, that maketh
right great joy of him. And he telleth him that he hath been
unto the house of King Fisherman, his brother that lieth in
languishment, and telleth him also how he hath been honoured in
his hostel, and of the salutations that he sent him. King Hermit
is right joyous thereof, and asketh him of his nephew, and he
telleth him he hath seen him not since he departed thence. King
Hermit asketh him whether he hath seen the Graal, and he telleth
him he hath seen it not at all.
"I know well," saith the King, "wherefore this was so. And you
had had the like desire to see the Graal that you have to see the
Queen, the Graal would you have seen."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "The Queen do I desire to see for the sake
of her good intent, her wisdom, courtesy and worth, and so ought
every knight to do. For in herself hath she all honourable
conditions that a lady may have."
"God grant you good issue therein," saith King Hermit, "and that
you do nought whereof He may visit you with His wrath at the Day
Lancelot lay the night in the hermitage, and on the morrow
departed thence and took leave when he had heard mass, and cometh
back as straight as he may to Pannenoisance on the sea of Wales,
where were the King and Queen with great plenty of knights and
This High History witnesseth whereof this account cometh, and
saith that Perceval is in the kingdom of Logres, and came great
pace toward the land of the Queen of the Tents to release the
Damsel of the Car, that he had left in hostage on account of
Clamados, that had put upon him the treason whereof behoved him
to defend himself. But, or ever he entered into the land of the
Queen of the Tents, he met the Damsel of the Car that was coming
thence. She made right great joy of him, and told him that
Clamados was dead of the wound that Meliot of Logres had dealt
him, and that Meliot of Logres was heal.
"Sir," saith she, "The tents and the awnings are taken down, and
the Queen hath withdrawn herself to the castle with her maidens,
and by my coming back from thence may you well know that you are
altogether quit. Wherefore I tell you that your sister goeth in
quest of you, and that never had your mother so sore need of help
as now she hath, nor never again shall your sister have joy at
heart until such time as she shall have found you. She goeth
seeking for you by all the kingdoms and strange countries in sore
mis-ease, nor may she find any to tell her tidings of you."
Therewith Perceval departeth from the Damsel, without saying
more, and rideth until he cometh into the kingdom of Wales to a
castle that is seated above the sea upon a high rock, and it was
called the Castle of Tallages. He seeth a knight issue from the
castle and asketh whose hold it is, and he telleth him that it
belonged to the Queen of the Maidens. He entereth into the first
baby of the castle, and alighteth at the mounting-stage and
setteth down his shield and his spear, and looketh toward the
steps whereby one goeth up to the higher hall, and seeth upon
them row upon row of knights and damsels. He cometh thitherward,
but never a knight nor dame was there that gave him greeting of
any kind. So he saluted them at large. He went his way right
amidst them toward the door of the great hall, which he findeth
shut, and rattled the ring so loud that it made the whole hall
resound thereof. A knight cometh to open it and he entereth in.
"Sir Knight, welcome may you be!"
"Good adventure may you have!" saith Perceval.
He lowereth his ventail and taketh off his helm. The knight
leadeth him to the Queen's chamber, and she riseth to meet him,
and maketh great joy of him, and maketh him sit beside her all
"With that, cometh a damsel and kneeleth before the Queen and
saith: "Lady, behold here the knight that was first at the Graal.
I saw him in the court of the Queen of the Tents, there where he
was appeached of treason and murder."
"Now haste," saith the Queen to the knight, "Let sound the ivory
horn upon the castle."
The knights and damsels that were sitting on the steps leapt up,
and make right great joy, and the other knights likewise. They
say that now they know well that they have done their penance.
Thereupon they enter into the hall, and the Lady issueth from her
chamber and taketh Perceval by the hand and goeth to meet them.
"Behold here," saith she, "the knight through whom you have had
the pain and travail, and by whom you are now released
"Ha!" say the knights and dames, "welcome may he be!"
"By my head," saith the Queen, "so is he, for he is the knight of
the world that I had most desire to see."
She maketh disarm him, and bring the rich robe of cloth of silk
to apparel him. "Sir," saith the Queen, "Four knights and three
damsels have been under the steps at the entrance of the hall
ever since such time as you were at the hostel of King Fisherman,
there where you forgot to ask whereof the Graal might serve, nor
never since have they had none other house nor hold wherein to
eat nor to drink nor to lie, nor never since have they had no
heart to make joy, nor would not now and you had not come hither.
Wherefore ought you not to marvel that they make joy of your
coming. Howbeit, on the other hand, sore need have we in this
castle of your coming, for a knight warreth upon me that is
brother of King Fisherman, and his name is the King of Castle
"Lady," saith he, "He is my uncle, albeit I knew it not of a long
time, nor of the good King Fisherman either, and the good King
Hermit is my uncle also. But I tell you of a very truth, the
King of Castle Mortal is the most fell and cruel that liveth,
wherefore ought none to love him for the felony that is in him,
for he hath begun to war upon King Fisherman my uncle, and
challengeth him his castle, and would fain have the Lance and the
"Sir," saith the Queen, "in like sort challengeth he my castle of
me for that I am in aid of King Fisherman, and every week cometh
he to an island that is in this sea, and oft-times cometh
plundering before this castle and hath slain many of my knights
and damsels, whereof God grant us vengeance upon him."
She taketh Perceval by the hand and leadeth him to the windows of
the hall that were nighest the sea. "Sir," saith she, "Now may
you see the island, there, whereunto your uncle cometh in a
galley, and in this island sojourneth he until he hath seen where
to aim his blow and laid his plans. And here below, see, are my
gallies that defend us thereof."
Perceval, as the history telleth, was much honoured at the castle
of the Queen of the Maidens, that was right passing fair. The
Queen loved him of a passing great love, but well she knew that
she should never have her desire, nor any dame nor damsel that
might set her intent thereon, for chaste was he and in chastity
was fain to die. So long was he at the castle as that he heard
tell his uncle was arrived at the island whither he wont to come.
Perceval maketh arm him forthwith and entereth into a galley
below the hall, and maketh him be rowed toward his uncle, that
much marvelleth when he seeth him coming, for never aforetime
durst no knight issue out alone from this castle to meet him, nor
to come there where he was, body to body. But had he known that
it was Perceval, he would not have marvelled. Thereupon the
galley taketh the ground and Perceval is issued forth. The Queen
and the knights and her maidens are come to the windows of the
castle to behold the bearing of the nephew and the uncle. The
Queen would have sent over some of her knights with him, but
Perceval would not. The King of Castle Mortal was tall and
strong and hardy. He seeth his nephew come all armed, but
knoweth him not. But Perceval knew him well, and kept his sword
drawn and his shield on his arm, and sought out his uncle with
right passing wrathfulness, and dealeth him a heavy buffet above
upon his helm that he maketh him stoop withal. Howbeit, the King
spareth him not, but smiteth him so passing stoutly that he had
his helm all dinted in thereby. But Perceval attacketh him
again, thinking to strike him above on the head, but the King
swerveth aside and the blow falleth on the shield and cleaveth it
right down as far as the boss. The King of Castle Mortal draweth
him backward and hath great shame within himself for that
Perceval should thus fettle him, for he searcheth him with his
sword in every part, and dealeth him great buffets in such sort
that, and his habergeon had not been so strong and tough, he
would have wounded him in many places.
The King himself giveth him blows so heavy that the Queen and all
they that were at the windows marvelled how Perceval might abide
such buffets. The King took witting of the shield that Perceval
bare, and looketh on it of a long space.
"Knight," saith he, "who gave you this shield, and on behalf of
whom do you bear such an one?"
"I bear it on behalf of my father," saith he.
"Did your father, then, bear a red shield with a white hart?"
"Yea," saith Perceval, "Many a day."
"Was your father, then, King Alain of the Valleys of Camelot?"
"My father was he without fail. No blame ought I to have of him,
for a good knight was he and a loyal."
"Are you the son of Yglais my sister, that was his wife?"
"Yea!" saith Perceval.
"Then are you my nephew," saith the King of Castle Mortal, "For
she was my sister."
"That misliketh me," saith Perceval, "For thereof have I neither
worship nor honour, for the most disloyal are you of all my
kindred, and I knew well when I came hither that it was you, and,
for the great disloyalty that is in you, you war upon the best
King that liveth and the most worshipful man, and upon the Lady
of this castle for that she aideth him in all that she may. But,
please God, henceforward she shall have no need to guard her to
the best of her power against so evil a man as are you, nor shall
her castle never be obedient to you, nor the sacred hallows that
the good King hath in his keeping. For God loveth not you so
much as He doth him, and so long as you war upon him, you do I
defy and hold you as mine enemy."
The King wotteth well that his nephew holdeth him not over dear,
and that he is eager to do him a hurt, and that he holdeth his
sword in his fist and that he is well roofed-in of his helmet,
and that he is raging like a lion. He misdoubteth him sore of
his strength and his great hardiment. He hath well proven and
essayed that he is the Best Knight of the world. He durst no
longer abide his blows, but rather he turneth him full speed
toward his galley, and leapeth thereinto forthwith. He pusheth
out from the shore incontinent, and Perceval followeth him right
to the beach, full heavy that he hath gotten him away. Then he
crieth after him: "Evil King, tell me not that I am of your
kindred! Never yet did knight of my mother's lineage flee from
other knight, save you alone! Now have I conquered this island,
and never on no day hereafter be you so over-hardy as be seen
The King goeth his way as he that hath no mind to return, and
Perceval cometh back again in his galley to the Queen's castle,
and all they of the palace come forth to meet him with great joy.
The Queen asketh him how it is with him and whether he is
"Lady," saith he, "Not at all, thank God."
She maketh disarm him, and honoureth him at her pleasure, and
commandeth that all be obedient to him, and do his commandment so
long as he shall please to be there. Now feel they safer in the
castle for that the king hath so meanly departed thence, and it
well seemeth them that never will he dare come back for dread of
his nephew more than of any other, whereof make they much joy in
Now is the story silent about Perceval, and saith that King
Arthur is at Pannenoisance in Wales with great plenty of knights.
Lancelot and Messire Gawain are repaired thither, whereof all the
folk make great joy. The King asketh of Messire Gawain and
Lancelot whether they have seen Lohot his son in none of these
islands nor in none of these forests, and they answer him that
they have seen him nowhere.
"I marvel much," saith the King, "what hath become of him, for no
tidings have I heard of him beyond these, that Kay the Seneschal
slew Logrin the giant, whose head he brought me, whereof I made
great joy, and right willingly did I make Kay's lands the broader
thereof, and well ought I to do him such favour, for he avenged
me of him that did my land more hurt than any other, wherefore I
love him greatly."
But, and the King had only known how Kay had wrought against him,
he would not have so highly honoured his chivalry and his
hardiment. The King sate one day at meat and Queen Guenievre at
his side. Thereupon behold you, a damsel that alighteth before
the palace, then mounteth the steps of the hall and is come
before the King and the Queen.
"Sir, I salute you as the sorest dismayed and most discounselled
damsel that ever you have seen! Wherefore am I come to demand a
boon of you for the nobleness and valour of your heart."
"Damsel," saith the King, "God counsel you of His will and
pleasure, and I myself am full fain to partake therein."
The damsel looketh at the shield that hangeth in the midst of the
"Sir," saith she, "I beseech you that you deign grant me the aid
of the knight that shall bear this shield from hence. For sorer
need have I thereof than ever another of them that are
"Damsel," saith the King, "Full well shall I be pleased, so the
knight be also fain to do as you say."
"Sir," saith she, "And he be so good knight as he is reported,
never will he refuse your prayer, nor would he mine, if only I
were here at such time as he shall come. For, had I been able to
find my brother that I have been seeking this long time, then
well should I have been succoured long agone! But I have sought
him in many lands, nor never could I learn where he is.
Therefore to my sorrow, behoveth me to ride all lonely by the
strange islands and put my body in jeopardy of death, whereof
ought these knights to have great pity."
"Damsel," saith the King, "For this reason do I refuse you nought
of that you wish, and right willingly will I put myself to
"Sir," saith she, "much thanks to God thereof!"
He maketh her be set at meat, and much honour be done her. When
the cloths were drawn, the Queen leadeth her into her chamber
with the maidens, and maketh much joy of her. The brachet that
was brought thither with the shield was lying on a couch of
straw. He would not know the Queen nor her damsels nor the
knights that were in the court, but so soon as ever he heard the
damsel he cometh to her and maketh greater joy of her than ever
was brachet seen to make before. The Queen and her damsels
marvelled much thereof, as did the damsel herself to whom the
brachet made such joy, for never since that he was brought into
the hall had they seen him rejoice of any. The Queen asked her
whether she knew him.
"Certes, Lady, no, for never, so far as I know, have I seen him
The brachet will not leave her, but will be always on her lap,
nor can she move anywhither but he followeth her. The damsel is
long time in the court in this manner, albeit as she that had
sore need of succour she remained in the chapel every day after
that the Queen was come forth, and wept right tenderly before the
image of the Saviour, and prayed right sweetly that His Mother
would counsel her, for that she had been left in sore peril of
losing her castle. The Queen asked her one day who her brother
"Lady," saith she, "one of the best knights of the world, whereof
have I heard witness. But he departed from my father's and
mother's hostel a right young squire. My father is since dead,
and my Lady mother is left without help and without counsel,
wherefore hath a certain man reaved her of her land and her
castles and slain her men. The very castle wherein she hath her
hold would he have seized long agone had it not been for Messire
Gawain that made it be safe-guarded against her enemies for a
year. The term is now ended and my Lady mother is in dread lest
she shall lose her castle, for none other hold hath she.
Wherefore is it that she hath sent me to seek for my brother, for
she hath been told that he is a good knight, and for that I may
not find him am I come to this court to beseech of King Arthur
succour of the knight that shall bear away the shield, for I have
heard tell that he is the Best knight of the world; and, for the
bounty that is in him will he therefore have pity on me."
"Damsel," saith the Queen, "Would that you had found him, for
great joy would it be unto me that your mother were succoured,
and God grant that he that ought to bear the shield come quickly,
and grant him courage that he be fain to succour your mother."
"So shall he be, please God, for never was good knight that was
The Queen hath much pity of the damsel, for she was of right
great beauty, and well might it be seen by her cheer and her
semblant that no joy had she. She had told the Queen her name
and the name of her father and mother, and the Queen told her
that many a time had she heard tell of Alain li Gros, and that he
was said to be a worshipful man and good knight. The King lay
one night beside the Queen, and was awoke from his first sleep so
that he might not go to sleep again. He rose and did on a great
grey cape and issueth forth of the chamber and cometh to the
windows of the hall that opened toward the sea, calm and
untroubled, so that much pleasure had he of looking thereat and
leaning at the windows. When he had been there of a long space,
he looked out to sea and saw coming afar off as it were the
shining of a candle in the midst of the sea. Much he marvelled
what it might be. He looked at it until he espied what seemed
him to be a ship wherein was the light, and he was minded not to
move until such time as he should know whether a ship it were or
something other. The longer he looketh at it, the better
perceiveth he that it is a ship, and that it was coming with
great rushing toward the castle as fast as it might. The King
espieth it nigh at hand, but none seeth he within nor without
save one old man, ancient and bald, of right passing seemliness
that held the rudder of the ship. The ship was covered of a
right rich cloth in the midst and the sail was lowered, for the
sea was calm and quiet. The ship was arrived under the palace
and was quite still. When the ship had taken ground, the King
looketh thereat with much marvelling, and knoweth not who is
there within, for not a soul heareth he speak. Him thinketh that
he will go see what is within the ship, and he issueth forth of
the hall, and cometh thither where the ship was arrived, but he
might not come anigh for the flowing of the sea.
"Sir," saith he that held the rudder, "Allow me a little!"
He launcheth forth of the ship a little boat, and the King
entereth thereinto, and so cometh into the great ship, and
findeth a knight that lay all armed upon a table of ivory, and
had set his shield at his head. At the head of his bed had he
two tall twisted links of wax in two candlesticks of gold, and
the like at his feet, and his hands were crossed upon his breast.
The King draweth nigh toward him and so looketh at him, and
seemed him that never had he seen so comely a knight.
"Sir," saith the master of the ship, "For God's sake draw you
back and let the knight rest, for thereof hath he sore need."
"Sir," saith the King, "who is the knight?"
"Sir, this would he well tell you were he willing, but of me may
you know it not."
"Will he depart forthwith from hence?" saith the King.
"Sir," saith the master, "Not before he hath been in this hall,
but he hath had sore travail and therefore he taketh rest."
When the King heard say that he would come into his palace,
thereof had he great joy. He cometh to the Queen's chamber and
telleth her how the ship is arrived. The Queen riseth and two of
her damsels with her, and apparelleth her of a kirtle of cloth of
silk, furred of ermine, and cometh into the midst of the hall.
Thereupon behold you, the knight that cometh all armed and the
master of the ship before him bearing the twisted link of wax in
the candlestick of gold in front of him, and the knight held his
sword all naked.
"Sir," saith the Queen, "Well may you be welcome!"
"Lady," saith he, "God grant you joy and good adventure."
"Sir," saith she, "Please God we have nought to fear of you?"
"Lady," saith he, "No fear ought you to have!"
The King seeth that he beareth the red shield with the white hart
whereof he had heard tell. The brachet that was in the hall
heareth the knight. He cometh racing toward him and leapeth
about his legs and maketh great joy of him. And the knight
playeth with him, then taketh the shield that hung at the column,
and hangeth the other there, and cometh back thereafter toward
the door of the hall.
"Lady," saith the King, "Pray the knight that he go not so
"Sir," saith the knight, "No leisure have I to abide, but at some
time shall you see me again."
The knights also say as much, and the King and Queen are right
heavy of his departure, but they durst not press him beyond his
will. He is entered into the ship, and the brachet with him.
The master draweth the boat within, and so they depart and leave
the castle behind. King Arthur abideth at Pannenoisance, and is
right sorrowful of the knight, that he hath gone his way so soon.
The knights arose throughout the castle when the day waxed light,
and learnt the tidings of the knight that had borne the shield
thence, and were right grieved for that they had not seen him.
The damsel that had asked the boon cometh to the King.
"Sir," saith she, "Did you speak of my business to the knight?"
"Damsel," saith the King, "Never a whit! to my sorrow, for he
hath departed sooner than I would!"
"Sir," saith she, "You have done a wrong and a sin, but, please
God, so good a King as are you shall not fail of his covenants to
damsel so forlorn as am I."
The King was right sorrowful for that he had remembered not the
damsel. She departeth from the court, and taketh leave of the
King and Queen, and saith that she herself will go seek the
knight, and that, so she may find him, she will hold the King
quit of his covenant. Messire Gawain and Lancelot are returned
to the court, and have heard the tidings of the knight that hath
carried away the shield, and are right grieved that they have not
seen him, and Messire Gawain more than enough, for that he had
lien in his mother's house. Lancelot seeth the shield that he
had left on the column, and knoweth it well, and saith, "Now know
I well that Perceval hath been here, for this shield was he wont
to bear, and the like also his father bore."
"Ha," saith Messire Gawain, "What ill-chance have I that I may
not see the Good Knight!"
"Messire Gawain," saith Lancelot, "So nigh did I see him that
methought he would have killed me, for never before did I essay
onset so stout nor so cruel of force of arms, and I myself
wounded him, and when he knew me he made right great joy of me.
And I was with him at the house of King Hermit a long space until
that I was healed."
"Lancelot," saith Messire Gawain, "I would that he had wounded
me, so I were not too sore harmed thereof, so that I might have
been with him so long time as were you."
"Lords," saith the King, "Behoveth you go on quest of him or I
will go, for I am bound to beseech his aid on behalf of a damsel
that asked me thereof, but she told me that, so she might find
him first, I should be quit of her request."
"Sir," saith the Queen, "You will do a right great service and
you may counsel her herein, for sore discounselled is she. She
hath told me that she was daughter of Alain li Gros of the
Valleys of Camelot, and that her mother's name is Yglais, and her
"Ha, Lady," saith Messire Gawain, "She is sister to the knight
that hath borne away the shield, for I lay at her mother's house
wherein I was right well lodged."
"By my head," saith the Queen, "it may well be, for so soon as
she came in hither. the brachet that would have acquaintance with
none, made her great joy, and when the knight came to seek the
shield, the brachet, that had remained in the hall, played gladly
with him and went "
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "I will go in quest of the
knight, for right great desire have I to see him."
"And I," saith Lancelot, "Never so glad have I been to see him
aforetime as! should be now."
"Howsoever it be," saith the King, "I pray you so speed my
business that the damsel shall not be able to plain her of me."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "We will tell him and we may find him,
that his sister is gone in quest of him, and that she hath been
at your court."
The two knights depart from the court to enter on the quest of
the Good Knight, and leave the castle far behind them and ride in
the midst of a high forest until they find a cross in the midst
of a launde, there where all the roads of the forest join
"Lancelot," saith Messire Gawain, "Choose which road soever you
will, and so let each go by himself, so that we may the sooner
hear tidings of the Good Knight, and let us meet together again
at this cross at the end of a year and let either tell other how
he hath sped, for please God in one place or another we shall
hear tidings of him."
Lancelot taketh the way to the right, and Messire Gawain to the
left. Therewithal they depart and commend them one another to
Here the story is silent of Lancelot, and saith that Messire
Gawain goeth a great pace riding, and prayeth God that He will so
counsel him that he may find the knight. He rideth until the day
cometh to decline, and he lay in the house of a hermit in the
forest, that lodged him well.
"Sir," saith the hermit to Messire Gawain, "Whom do you go seek?"
"Sir," saith he, "I am in quest of a knight that I would see
"Sir," saith the hermit, "In this neighbourhood will you find no
"Wherefore not?" saith Messire Gawain, "Be there no knights in
"There was wont to be plenty," saith the hermit, "But now no
longer are there any, save one all alone in a castle and one all
alone on the sea that have chased away and slain all the others."
"And who is the one of the sea?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Sir," saith the hermit, "I know not who he is, save only that
the sea is hard by here, where the ship runneth oftentimes
wherein the knight is, and he repaireth to an island that is
under the castle of the Queen of the Maidens, from whence he
chased an uncle of his that warred upon the castle, and the other
knights that he had chased thence and slain were helping his
uncle, so that now the castle is made sure. And the knights that
might flee from this forest and this kingdom durst not repair
thither for the knight, for they dread his hardiment and his
great might, sith that they know well they might not long endure
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "Is it so long a space sithence that
he hath haunted the sea?"
"Sir," saith the hermit, "It is scarce more than a twelvemonth."
"And how nigh is this to the sea?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Sir," saith the hermit, "It is not more than two leagues Welsh.
When I have gone forth to my toil, many a time have I seen the
ship run close by me, and the knight, all armed, within, and
meseemed he was of right great comeliness, and had as passing
proud a look as any lion. But I can well tell you never was
knight so dreaded in this kingdom as is he. The Queen of the
Maidens would have lost her castle ere now but for him. Nor
never sithence that he hath chased his uncle from the island,
hath he entered the Queen's castle even once, but from that time
forth hath rather rowed about the sea and searched all the
islands and stricken down all the proud in such sort that he is
dreaded and warily avoided throughout all the kingdoms. The
Queen of the Maidens is right sorrowful for that he cometh not to
her castle, for so dear she holdeth him of very love, that and he
should come and she might keep him so that he should never issue
forth again, she would sooner lock him up with her there safe
"Know you." saith Messire Gawain, "what shield the knight
"Sir," saith the hermit, "I know not now to blazon it, for nought
know I of arms. Three score years and more have I been in this
hermitage, yet never saw I this kingdom before so dismayed as is
Messire Gawain lay the night therewithin, and departed when he
had heard mass. He draweth him as nigh the sea as he may, and
rideth along beside the shore and many a time draweth rein to
look forth if he might see the knight's ship. But nowhere might
he espy it. He hath ridden until he cometh to the castle of the
Queen of the Maidens. When she knew that it was Messire Gawain,
she made thereof great joy, and pointed him out the island