Part 5 out of 10
whither Perceval had repaired, and from whence he had driven his
"Sir," saith she to Messire Gawain, "I plain me much of him, for
never hath he been fain to enter herewithin, save the one time
that he did battle with his uncle, but ever sithence hath he made
repair to this island and rowed about this sea."
"Lady," saith Messire Gawain, "and whereabout may he be now?"
"Sir, God help me," saith she, "I know not, for I have not seen
him now of a long space, and no earthly man may know his intent
nor his desire, nor whitherward he may turn."
Messire Gawain is right sorrowful for that he knoweth not where
to seek him albeit he hath so late tidings of him. He lay at the
castle and was greatly honoured, and on the morrow he heard mass
and took leave of the Queen, and rideth all armed beside the
seashore, for that the hermit had told him, and the Queen
herself, that he goeth oftener by sea than by land. He entereth
into a forest that was nigh the sea, and seeth a knight coming a
great gallop as if one were chasing him to slay him.
"Sir knight," saith Messire Gawain, "Whither away so fast?"
"Sir, I am fleeing from the knight that hath slain all the
"And who is the knight?" saith Messire Gawain.
"I know not who he is," saith the knight, "But and you go forward
you are sure to find him."
"Meseemeth," saith Messire Gawain, "that I have seen you
"Sir," saith he, "So have you! I am the Knight Coward that you
met in the forest there where you conquered the knight of the
shield party black and white, and I am man of the Damsel of the
Car. Wherefore I pray you for God's sake that you do me no hurt,
for the knight that I found down yonder hath a look so fierce
that I thought I was dead when I saw it."
"Need you fear nought of me," saith Messire Gawain, "For I love
your damsel well."
"Sir," saith the knight, "I would that all the other knights
would say as much in respect of me, for no fear have I save for
Messire Gawain departeth from the knight, and goeth his way
amidst the forest that overshadowed the land as far as the
seashore, and looketh forth from the top of a sand-hill, and
seeth a knight armed on a tall destrier, and he had a shield of
gold with a green cross.
"Ha, God," saith Messire Gawain, "Grant that this knight may be
able to tell me tidings of him I seek!"
Thitherward goeth he a great gallop, and saluteth him
worshipfully and he him again.
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "Can you tell me tidings of a knight
that beareth a shield banded of argent and azure with a red
"Yea, Sir," saith the knight, "That can I well. At the assembly
of the knights may you find him within forty days."
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "Where will the assembly be?"
"In the Red Launde, where will be many a good knight. There
shall you find him without fail."
Thereof hath Messire Gawain right great joy, and so departeth
from the knight and the knight from him, and goeth back toward
the sea a great gallop. But Messire Gawain saw not the ship
whereinto he entered, for that it was anchored underneath the
cliff. The knight entered thereinto and put out to sea as he had
wont to do. Howbeit Messire Gawain goeth his way toward the Red
Launde where the assembly was to be, and desireth much the day
that it shall be. He rideth until he cometh one eventide nigh to
a castle that was of right fair seeming. He met a damsel that
was following after a dead knight that two other knights bare
upon a horse-bier, and she rode a great pace right amidst the
forest. And Messire Gawain cometh to meet her and saluteth her,
and she returned the salute as fairly as she might.
"Damsel," saith Messire Gawain, "Who lieth in this bier?"
"Sir, a knight that a certain man hath slain by great outrage."
"And whither shall you ride this day?"
"Sir, I would fain be in the Red Launde, and thither will I take
this knight, that was a right worshipful man for his age."
"And wherefore will you take him there?" saith Messire Gawain.
"For that he that shall do best at the assembly of knights shall
avenge this knight's death."
The damsel goeth her way thereupon. And Messire Gawain goeth to
the castle that he had seen, and found none within save only one
solitary knight, old and feeble, and a squire that waited upon
him. Howbeit, Messire Gawain alighteth at the castle. The
Vavasour lodged him well and willingly, and made his door be well
shut fast and Messire Gawain be disarmed, and that night he
showed him honour as well as he might. And when it came to the
morrow and Messire Gawain was minded to depart thence, the
Vavasour saith to him, "Sir you may not depart thus, for this
door hath not been opened this long while save only yesterday,
when I made it be opened before you, to the intent that you
should meet on my behalf a certain knight that is fain to slay
me, for that the King of Castle Mortal hath had his hold
herewithin, he that warreth on the Queen of the Maidens.
Wherefore I pray you that you help me to defend it against the
"What shield beareth he?" saith Messire Gawain.
"He beareth a golden shield with a green cross."
"And what sort of knight is he?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Sir," saith the Vavasour, "A good knight and a hardy and a
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "And you can tell me tidings
of another knight whereof I am in quest, I will protect you
against this one to the best I may, and if he will do nought for
my prayer, I will safeguard you of my force."
"What knight, then, do you seek?" saith the Vavasour.
"Sir, a knight that is called Perceval, and he hath carried away
from the court of King Arthur a shield banded argent and azure
with a red cross on a band of gold. He will be at the assembly
in the Red Launde. These tidings had I of the knight you dread
Thereupon, whilst Messire Gawain was thus speaking to the
Vavasour, behold you the Knight of the Golden Shield, that
draweth rein in the midst of a launde that was betwixt the castle
and the forest. The Vavasour seeth him from the windows of the
hall, and pointeth him out to Messire Gawain. Messire Gawain
goeth and mounteth on his destrier, his shield at his neck and
his spear in his fist, all armed, and issueth forth of the door
when it had been unfastened, and cometh toward the knight, that
awaited him on his horse. He seeth Messire Gawain coming, but
moveth not, and Messire Gawain marvelleth much that the knight
cometh not toward him, for him thinketh well that the Vavasour
had told him true. But he had not, for never had the knight come
thither to do the Vavasour any hurt, but on account of the
knights that passed by that way that went to seek adventure, for
right glad was he to see them albeit he was not minded to make
himself known unto any. Messire Gawain looketh before him and
behind him and seeth that the door was made fast and the bridge
drawn up so soon as he was departed thence, whereof he marvelled
much and saith to the knight, "Sir, is your intent nought but
"By my head," saith he, "Nought at all, and readily will I tell
Thereupon, behold you a damsel that cometh a great pace, and held
a whip wherewith she hurrieth her mule onward, and she draweth
rein there where the two knights were.
"Ha, God!" saith she, "shall I ever find one to wreak me
vengeance of the traitor Vavasour that dwelleth in this castle?"
"Is he then traitor?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Yea, Sir, the most traitor you saw ever! He lodged my brother
the day before yesterday, and bore him on hand at night that a
certain knight was warring upon him for that the way whereby the
knights pass is here in front of this place, and lied to him so
much as that my brother held him in covenant that he would
assault a certain knight that he should point out to him, for
love of him. This knight came passing hereby, that had no
thought to do hurt neither to the Vavasour nor to my brother.
The knight was right strong and hardy, and was born at the castle
of Escavalon. My brother issued forth of the castle filled with
fool-hardiness for the leasing of the Vavasour, and ran upon the
knight without a word. The knight could do no less than avenge
himself. They hurtled together so sore that their horses fell
under them and their spears passed either through other's heart.
Thus were both twain killed on this very piece of ground."
"The Vavasour took the arms and the horses and put them in safe
keeping in his castle, and the bodies of the knights he left to
the wild beasts, that would have devoured them had I not chanced
to come thither with two knights that helped me bury them by
yonder cross at the entrance of the forest."
"By my head," saith Messire Gawain, "In like manner would he have
wrought me mischief had I been minded to trust him; for he bore
me in hand that this knight was warring upon him, and besought me
that I should safeguard him against him. But our Lord God so
helped me that I intermeddled not therein, for lightly might I
have wrought folly."
"By the name of God," saith the other, "Meseemeth it clear that
the Vavasour would fain that knights should kill each other."
"Sir," saith the damsel, "You say true; it is of his covetise of
harness and horses that he entreateth the knights on this-wise."
"Damsel," saith Messire Gawain, "Whither go you?"
"Sir," saith she, "After a knight that I have made be carried in
a litter for the dead."
"I saw him," saith he, "pass by here last night, full late last
The knight taketh leave of Messire Gawain, and Messire Gawain
saith that he holdeth himself a churl in that he hath not asked
him of his name. But the knight said, "Fair Sir, I pray you of
love that you ask not my name until such time as I shall ask you
Messire Gawain would ask nought further of the knight, and the
knight entered into the Lonely Forest and Messire Gawain goeth on
his way. He meeteth neither knight nor damsel to whom he telleth
not whom he goeth to seek, and they all say that he will be in
the Red Launde. He lodged the night with a hermit. At night,
the hermit asked Messire Gawain whence he came?
"Sir, from the land of the Queen of the Maidens."
"Have you seen Perceval, the Good Knight that took the shield in
King Arthur's court and left another there?"
"No, certes," saith Messire Gawain, "Whereof am I right
sorrowful. But a knight with a shield of gold and a green cross
thereon told me that he would be at the Red Launde."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "you say true, for it was he himself to
whom you spake. Tonight is the third night since he lay within
yonder, and see here the bracket he brought from King Arthur's
court, which he hath commanded me to convey to his uncle, King
"Alas!" saith Messire Gawain, "What ill chance is mine if this
"Sir," saith the hermit, "I ought not to lie, neither to you nor
other. By the brachet may you well know that this is true."
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "Of custom beareth he no such
"I know well," saith the hermit, "what shield he ought to bear,
and what shield he will bear hereafter. But this doth he that he
may not be known, and this shield took he in the hermitage of
Joseus, the son of King Hermit, there where Lancelot was lodged,
where he hanged the four thieves that would have broken into the
hermitage by night. And within there hath remained the shield he
brought from King Arthur's court, with Joseus the son of my
sister, and they are as brother and sister between the twain, and
you may know of very truth that albeit Joseus be hermit, no
knight is there in Great Britain of his heart and hardiment."
"Certes," saith Messire Gawain, "It was sore mischance for me
that I should see him yesterday before the castle where the
knights pass by, and speak to him and ask him his name, but he
besought me that I should not ask him his name until such time as
he should ask me mine; and with that he departed from me and
entered into the forest, and I came hitherward. Now am I so
sorrowful that I know not what I may do for the best, for King
Arthur sendeth me in quest of him, and Lancelot hath also gone to
seek him in another part of the kingdom of Logres. But now hath
too great mischance befallen me of this quest, for twice have I
seen him and found him and spoken to him, and now have I lost him
"Sir," saith the hermit, "He is so close and wary a knight, that
he is fain never to waste a word, neither will he make false
semblant to any nor speak word that he would not should be heard,
nor do shame of his body to his knowledge, nor carnal sin, for
virgin and chaste is he and doth never outrage to any."
"I know well," saith Messire Gawain, "that all the valours and
all the cleannesses that ought to be in a knight are in him, and
therefore am I the more sorrowful that I am not of them that he
knoweth, for a man is worth the more that hath acquaintance with
a good knight."
Messire Gawain lay the night in the hermit's house, right
sorrowful, and in the morning departed when he had heard mass.
Josephus the good clerk witnesseth us in this high history that
this hermit had to name Josuias, and was a knight of great
worship and valour, but he renounced all for the love of God, and
was fain to set his body in banishment for Him. And all these
adventures that you hear in this high record came to pass,
Josephus telleth us, for the setting forward the law of the
Saviour. All of them could he not record, but only these whereof
he best remembered him, and whereof he knew for certain all the
adventures by virtue of the Holy Spirit. This high record saith
that Messire Gawain hath wandered so far that he is come into the
Red Launde whereas the assembly of knights should be held. He
looketh and seeth the tents pitched and the knights coming from
all quarters. The most part were already armed within and before
their tents. Messire Gawain looketh everywhere, thinking to see
the knight he seeketh, but seemeth him he seeth him not, for no
such shield seeth he as he beareth. All abashed is he thereof,
for he hath seen all the tents and looked at all the arms. But
the knight is not easy to recognise, for he hath changed his
arms, and nigh enough is he to Messire Gawain, albeit you may
well understand that he knoweth it not. And the tournament
assembleth from all parts, and the divers fellowships come the
one against other, and the melly of either upon other as they
come together waxeth sore and marvellous. And Messire Gawain
searcheth the ranks to find the knight, albeit when he meeteth
knight in his way he cannot choose but do whatsoever a knight may
do of arms, and yet more would he have done but for his fainness
to seek out the knight. The damsel is at the head of the
tournament, for that she would fain know the one that shall have
the mastery and the prize therein.
The knight that Messire Gawain seeketh is not at the head of the
fellowships, but in the thickest of the press, and such feats of
arms doth he that more may no knight do, and smiteth down the
knights about him, that flee from him even as the deer-hound
fleeth from the lion.
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "sith that they have lied to
me about the knight, I will seek him no more this day, but forget
my discontent as best I may until evening."
He seeth the knight, but knoweth him not, for he had a white
shield and cognisances of the same. And Messire Gawain cometh to
him as fast as his horse may carry him, and the knight toward
Messire Gawain. So passing stoutly they come together that they
pierce their shields below the boss. Their spears were so tough
that they break not, and they draw them forth and come together
again so strongly that the spears wherewith they smote each other
amidst the breast were bended so that they unriveted the
holdfasts of their shields, and they lost their stirrups, and the
reins fly from their fists, and they stagger against the back
saddlebows, and the horses stumbled so as that they all but fell.
They straighten them in saddle and stirrup, and catch hold upon
their reins, and then come together again, burning with wrath and
fury like lions, and either smiteth on other with their spears
that may endure no longer, for the shafts are all to-frushed as
far as the fists in such sort that they that look on marvel them
much how it came to pass that the points had not pierced their
bodies. But God would not that the good knights should slay each
other, rather would He that the one should know the true worth of
the other. The habergeons safeguarded not their bodies, but the
might of God in whom they believed, for in them had they all the
valour that knight should have; and never did Messire Gawain
depart from hostel wherein he had lien, but he first heard mass
before he went if so he might, nor never found he dame nor damsel
discounselled whereof he had not pity, nor did he ever
churlishness to other knight, nor said nor thought it, and he
came, as you have heard, of the most holy lineage of Josephus and
the good King Fisherman.
The good knights were in the midst of the assembly, and right
wrathful was the one against the other, and they held their
swords naked and their shields on their arms and dealt each other
huge buffets right in the midst of the helms. The most part of
the knights come to them and tell them that the assembly waiteth
for them to come thereunto. They have much pains to part them
asunder, and then the melly beginneth again on all sides, and the
evening cometh on that parteth them at last. And on this wise
the assembly lasted for two days. The damsel that brought the
knight on a bier in a coffin, dead, prayed the assembly of all
the knights to declare which one of all the knights had done the
best, for the knight that she made be carried might not be buried
until such time as he were avenged. And they say that the knight
of the white shield and the other with the shield sinople and the
golden eagle had done better than all the other, but, for that
the knight of the white shield had joined in the melly before the
other, they therefore would give him the prize; but they judged
that for the time that Messire Gawain had joined therein he had
not done worse than the other knight. The damsel seeketh the
knight of the white shield among the knights and throughout all
the tents, but cannot find him, for already hath he departed.
She cometh to Messire Gawain and saith: "Sir, sith that I find
not the knight of the white shield, you are he that behoveth
avenge the knight that lieth dead in the litter."
"Damsel," saith Messire Gawain, "Do me not this shame, for it
hath been declared that the other knight hath better done herein
"Damsel, well you know that no honour should I have thereof, were
I to emprise to do that whereof you beseech me, ~for you have
said that behoveth none to avenge him, save only that hath borne
him best at this assembly, and that is he of the white shield,
and, so God help me, this have I well felt and proven."
The damsel well understandeth that Messire Gawain speaketh
"Ha, Sir," saith she, "He hath already departed hence and gone
into the forest, and the most divers-seeming knight is he and the
best that liveth, and great pains shall I have or ever I find him
"The best?" saith Messire Gawain; "How know you that?"
"I know it well," saith she, "for that in the house of King
Fisherman did the Graal appear unto him for the goodness of his
knighthood and the goodness of his heart and for the chastity of
his body. But he forgat to ask that one should serve thereof,
whence hath sore harm befallen the land. He came to the court of
King Arthur, where he took a shield that none ought to bear save
he alone. Up to this time have I well known his coming and
going, but nought shall I know thereof hereafter for that he hath
changed the cognisance of his shield and arms. And now am I
entered into sore pain and travail to seek him, for I shall not
have found him of a long space, and I came not to this assembly
save for him alone."
"Damsel," saith Messire Gawain, "You have told me tidings such as
no gladness have I thereof, for I also am seeking him, but I know
not how I may ever recognise him, for he willeth not to tell me
his name, and too often changeth he his shield, and well I know
that so I shall ever come in place where he hath changed his
cognisance, and he shall come against me and I against him, I
shall only know him by the buffets that he knoweth how to deal,
for never in arms have I made acquaintance with so cruel a
knight. But again would I suffer sorer blows than I have
suffered yet, so only I might be where he is."
"Sir," saith the damsel, "What is your name?"
"Damsel," saith he, "I am called Gawain."
With that he commendeth the damsel to God, and goeth his way in
one direction and the damsel in another, and saith to herself
that Perceval is the most marvellous knight of the world, that so
often he discogniseth himself. For when one seeth him one may
recognise him not. Messire Gawain rideth amidst the forest, and
prayeth the Saviour lead him into such place as that he may find
Perceval openly, in such sort that he may have his acquaintance
and his love that so greatly he desireth.
Herewithal the story is silent of Messire Gawain, and saith that
Lancelot seeketh Perceval in like manner as did Messire Gawain,
and rideth until that he cometh to the hermitage where he hanged
the thieves. Joseus made right great joy of him. He asked him
whether he knew any tidings of the son of the Widow Lady.
"I have seen him sithence that he came from King Arthur's court
but once only, and whither he is gone I know not."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "I would see him right fain. King Arthur
sendeth for him by me."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "I know not when I may see him again,
for when once he departeth hence he is not easy to find."
Lancelot entereth the chapel with the hermit, and seeth the
shield that Perceval brought from King Arthur's court beside the
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "I see his shield yonder. Hide him not
"I will not do so," saith the hermit. "This shield, truly, is
his, but he took with him another from hence, of gold with a
"And know you no tidings of Messire Gawain?"
"I have not seen Messire Gawain sithence tofore I entered into
this hermitage. But you have fallen into sore hatred on account
of the four robbers that were knights whom you hanged. For their
kinsmen are searching for you in this forest and in other, and
are thieves like as were the others, and they have their hold in
this forest, wherein they bestow their robberies and plunder.
Wherefore I pray you greatly be on your guard against them."
"So will I," saith Lancelot, "please God."
He lay the night in the hermitage, and departeth on the morrow
after that he hath heard mass and prayeth God grant he may find
Perceval or Messire Gawain. He goeth his way amidst the strange
forests until that he cometh to a strong castle that was builded
right seemly. He Looketh before him and seeth a knight that was
issued thereout, and was riding a great pace on a strong
destrier, and carded a bird on his fist toward the forest.
When he saw Lancelot coming he drew up. "Sir," saith he, "Be
"Good adventure to you," saith Lancelot. "What castle is this?"
"Sir, it is the Castle of the Golden Circlet. And I go to meet
the knights and dames that come to the castle, for this day is
the day ordained for the adoration of the Golden Circlet."
"What is the Golden Circlet?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir, it is the Crown of Thorns," saith the knight, "that the
Saviour of the world had on His head when He was set upon the
Rood. Wherefore the Queen of this castle hath set it in gold and
precious stones in such sort that the knights and dames of this
kingdom come to behold it once in the year. But it is said that
the knight that was first at the Graal shall conquer it, and
therefore is no strange knight allowed to enter. But, so please
you, I will lead you to mine own hold that is in this forest."
"Right great thanks," saith Lancelot, "But as yet it is not time
to take lodging."
He taketh leave of the knight, and so departeth and looketh at
the castle, and saith that in right great worship should the
knight be held that by the valour of his chivalry shall conquer
so noble a hallow as is the Golden Circlet when it is kept safe
in a place so strong. He goeth his way right amidst the forest,
and looketh forth before him and seeth coming the damsel that
hath the knight carried in the litter for the dead.
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "Be welcome."
"Sir, God give you good adventure! Sir," saith the damsel,
"Greatly ought I to hate the knight that slew this knight, for
that he hath forced me thus to lead him in this wise by fell and
forest. So also ought I to mislike me much of the knight that it
standeth upon to avenge him, whom I may not find."
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "Who slew this knight?"
"Sir," saith she, "The Lord of the Burning Dragon."
"And who ought of right to avenge him?"
"Sir," saith she, "The knight that was in the Red Launde at the
assembly, that jousted with Messire Gawain, and had the prize of
"Did he better than Messire Gawain?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir, so did they adjudge him; for that he was a longer time in
"A good knight was he, then," saith Lancelot, "sith that he did
better than Messire Gawain!"
"By my head," saith the damsel, "You say true, for he is the Best
Knight of the World."
"And what shield beareth he?" saith Lancelot.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "At the assembly he bore white arms, but
before that, he had arms of another semblance, and one shield
that he had was green, and one gold with a green cross."
"Damsel," saith he, "Did Messire Gawain know him?"
"Sir, not at all, whereof is he right sorrowful."
"Is he, then," saith he, "Perceval, the son of the Widow Lady?"
"By my head, you say true!"
"Ha, God!" saith Lancelot, "the more am I mazed how Messire
Gawain knew him not. Damsel," saith he, "And know you
whitherward they are gone?"
"Sir," saith she, "I know not whither, nor have I any tidings,
neither or the one nor the other."
He departeth from the damsel and rideth until the sun was set.
He found the rocks darkling and the forest right deep and
perilous of seeming. He rode on, troubled in thought, and weary
and full of vexation. Many a time Looketh he to right and to
left, and he may see any place where he may lodge. A dwarf
espied him, but Lancelot saw him not. The dwarf goeth right
along a by-way that is in the forest, and goeth to a little hold
of robber-knights that lay out of the way, where was a damsel
that kept watch over the hold. The robbers had another hold
where was the damsel where the passing knights are deceived and
entrapped. The dwarf cometh forthright to the damsel, and saith:
"Now shall we see what you will do, for see, here cometh the
knight that hanged your uncle grid your three cousins german."
"Now shall I have the best of him," saith she, "as for mine own
share in this matter, but take heed that you be garnished ready
"By my head," saith the dwarf, "that will I, for, please God, he
shall not escape us again, save he be dead."
The damsel was of passing great beauty and was clad right
seemingly, but right treacherous was she of heart, nor no marvel
was it thereof, for she came of the lineage of robbers and was
nurtured on theft and robbery, and she herself had helped to
murder many a knight. She is come upon the way, so that Lancelot
hath to pass her, without her kerchief. She meeteth Lancelot and
saluteth him and maketh him right great joy, of semblant.
"Sir," saith she, "Follow this path that goeth into the forest,
and you will find a hold that my forefathers stablished for
harbouring of such knights as might be passing through the
forest. The night is dark already, and if you pass on further no
hold will you find nearer than a score leagues Welsh."
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "Gramercy heartily of this that it
pleaseth you to say, for right gladly will I harbour me here, for
it is more than time to take lodging, and with you more willingly
On this wise they go their way talking, as far as the hold.
There was none therewithin save only the dwarf, for the five
robber knights were in their hold at the lower end of the forest.
The dwarf took Lancelot's horse, and stabled him, then went up
into the hall above, and gave himself up wholly to serving him.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "Allow yourself to be disarmed, and have
full assurance of safety."
"Damsel," saith he, "Small trouble is it for me to wear mine
arms, and lightly may I abide it."
"Sir," saith she, "Please God, you shall nor lie armed within
yonder. Never yet did knight so that harboured therein."
But the more the damsel presseth him to disarm, the more it
misliketh him, for the place seemeth him right dark and
foul-seeming, wherefore will he not disarm nor disgarnish
"Sir," saith she, "Meseemeth you are suspicious of something, but
no call have you to misdoubt of aught here within, for the place
is quite safe. I know not whether you have enemies?"
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "Never yet knew I knight that was loved
of everybody, yet sometimes might none tell the reason thereof."
Lancelot, so saith the story, would not disarm him, wherefore he
made the table be set, and sate thereat beside the damsel at
meat. He made his shield and his helmet and spear be brought
into the hall. He leant back upon a rich couch that was
therewithin, with his sword by his side, all armed. He was weary
and the bed was soft, so he went to sleep. Howbeit, the dwarf
mounteth on his horse that he had left still saddled, and goeth
his way to the other hold where the robbers were, all five, that
were Lancelot's mortal enemies. The damsel remained all alone
with him that she hated of a right deadly hate. She thought to
herself that gladly would she slay him, and that, so she might
compass it, she would be thereof held in greater worship of all
the world, for well she knew that he was a good knight, and that
one so good she had never slain. She filched away the sword that
was at his side, then drew it from the scabbard, then looketh to
see where she may lightliest smite him to slay him. She seeth
that his head is so covered of armour that nought appeareth
thereof save only the face, and she bethinketh her that one
stroke nor two on the helmet would scarce hurt him greatly, but
that and she might lift the skirt of his habergeon without
awakening him she might well slay him, for so might she thrust
the sword right through his heart. Meanwhile, as she was
searching thus, Lancelot, that was sleeping and took no heed
thereof, saw, so it seemed him, a little cur-dog come
therewithin, and brought with him sundry great mongrel ban-dogs
that ran upon him on all sides, and the little cur bit at him
likewise among the others. The ban-dogs held him so fast that he
might not get away from them. He seeth that a greyhound bitch
had hold of his sword, and she had hands like a woman, and was
fain to slay him. And it seemed him that he snatched the sword
from her and slew the greyhound bitch and the biggest and most
masterful of the ban-dogs and the little cur. He was scared of
the dream and started up and awoke, and felt the scabbard of his
sword by his side, that the damsel had left there all empty, the
which he perceived not, and soon thereafter he fell on sleep
again. The dwarf that had stolen his horse cometh to the robber
knights, and crieth to them, "Up, Sirs, and haste you to come and
avenge you of your mortal enemy that sent the best of your
kindred out of the world with such shame! See, here is his horse
that I bring you for a token!" He alighteth of the horse, and
giveth him up to them. Right joyous are the robbers of the
tidings he telleth them. The dwarf bringeth them all armed to
Lancelot was awake, all scared of the dream he had dreamed. He
seeth them enter within all armed, and the damsel crieth to them:
"Now will it appear," saith she, "what you will do!"
Lancelot hath leapt up, thinking to take his sword, but findeth
the scabbard all empty. The damsel that held the sword was the
first of all to run upon him, and the five knights and the dwarf
set upon him from every side. He perceived that it was his own
sword the damsel held, the one he prized above all other. He
taketh his lance that was at his bed's head and cometh toward the
master of the knights at a great sweep, and smiteth him so
fiercely that he thrusteth him right through the body so that the
lance passeth a fathom beyond, and beareth him to the ground
dead. His spear broke as he drew it back. He runneth to the
damsel that held the sword, and wresteth it forth of her hands
and holdeth it fast with his arm right against his flank and
grippeth it to him right strait; albeit she would fain snatch it
again from him by force, whereat Lancelot much marvelled. He
swingeth it above him, and the four knights come back upon him.
He thinketh to smite one with the sword, when the damsel leapeth
in between them, thinking to hold Lancelot fast, and thereby the
blow that should have fallen on one of the knights caught the
damsel right through the head and slew her, whereof he was right
sorrowful, howsoever she might have wrought against him.
When the four knights saw the damsel dead, right grieved were
they thereof. And the dwarf crieth out to them: "Lords, now
shall it be seen how you will avenge the sore mischief done you.
So help me God, great shame may you have and you cannot conquer a
They run upon him again on all sides, but maugre all their heads
he goeth thither where he thinketh to find his horse; but him
findeth he not. Thereby well knoweth he that the dwarf hath made
away with him, wherefore he redoubled his hardiment and his wrath
waxed more and more. And the knights were not to be lightly
apaid when they saw their lord dead and the damsel that was their
cousin. Sore buffets they dealt him of their swords the while he
defended himself as best he might. He caught the dwarf that was
edging them on to do him hurt, and clave him as far as the
shoulders, and wounded two of the knights right badly, and he
himself was hurt in two places; but he might not depart from the
house, nor was his horse there within, nor was there but a single
entrance into the hall. The knights set themselves without the
door and guard the issue, and Lancelot was within with them that
were dead. He sate himself down at the top of the hall to rest
him, for he was sore spent with the blows he had given and
received. When he had rested himself awhile, he riseth to his
feet and seeth that they have sate them down in the entrance to
the hall. He mounteth up to the windows and flingeth them down
them that were dead within through the windows. Just then the
day appeared, fair and clear, and the birds began to sing amidst
the forest, whereof the hall was overshadowed. He maketh fast
the door of the hall and barreth it and shutteth the knights
without; and they say one to the other and swear it, that they
will not depart thence until they have taken him or famished him
to death. Little had Lancelot recked of their threats and he
might have had his horse at will, but he was not so sure of his
stroke afoot as a-horseback, as no knight never is. Him thinketh
he may well abide the siege as long as God shall please, for the
hall was well garnished of meat in right great joints. He is
there within all alone, and the four knights without that keep
watch that he goeth not, but neither wish nor will hath he to go
forth afoot; but, and he had had his horse, the great hardiment
that he hath in him would have made that he should go forth
honourably, howsoever they without might have taken it and what
grievance soever they might have had thereof.
Here the story is silent of Lancelot, and talketh of Messire
Gawain that goeth to seek Perceval, and is right heavy for that
twice hath he found him when he knew him not. He cometh back
again to the cross whereas he told Lancelot he would await him so
he should come thither before him. He went and came to and fro
by the forest more than eight days to wait for him, but could
hear no tidings. He would not return to King Arthur's court, for
had he gone thither in such case, he would have had blame
thereof. He goeth back upon the quest and saith that he will
never stint therein until he shall have found both Lancelot and
Perceval. He cometh to the hermitage of Joseus, and alighted of
his horse and found the young hermit Joseus, that received him
well and made full great joy of him. He harboured the night
therewithin. Messire Gawain asked him tidings of Perceval, and
the hermit telleth him he hath not seen him since before the
assembly of the Red Launde.
"And can you tell me where I may find him?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Not I," saith the hermit, "I cannot tell you whereabout he is."
While they were talking on this wise, straightway behold you a
knight coming that hath arms of azure, and alighteth at the
hermitage to lodge there. The hermit receiveth him right gladly.
Messire Gawain asketh him if he saw a knight with white arms ride
amidst the forest.
"By my faith," saith the knight, "I have seen him this day and
spoken with him, and he asked me and I could tell him tidings of
a knight that beareth a shield of sinople with a golden eagle,
and I told him, no. Afterward, I enquired wherefore he asked it,
and he made answer that he had jousted at him in the Red Launde,
nor never before had he found so sturdy assault of any knight,
wherefore he was right sorrowful for that he was not acquainted
with him, for the sake of his good knighthood."
"By my faith," saith Gawain, "The knight is more sorrowful than
he, for nought is there in the world he would gladlier see than
The knight espieth Messire Gawain's shield and saith, "Ha, Sir,
methinketh you are he."
"Certes," saith Messire Gawain, "you say true. I am he against
whom he jousted, and right glad am I that so good a knight smote
upon my shield, and right sorrowful for that I knew him not; but
tell me where I may find him?"
"Sir," saith Joseus the Hermit, "He will not have gone forth from
this forest, for this is the place wherein he wonneth most
willingly, and the shield that he brought from King Arthur's
court is in this chapel."
So he showeth the shield to Messire Gawain that maketh great joy
"Ha, Sir," saith the knight of the white arms, "Is your name
"Fair Sir," saith he, "Gawain am I called."
"Sir," saith the knight, "I have not ceased to seek you for a
long while past. Meliot of Logres, that is your man, the son of
the lady that was slain on your account, sendeth you word that
Nabigant of the Rock hath slain his father on your account;
wherefore he challengeth the land that hath fallen to him; and
hereof he prayeth you that you will come to succour him as
behoveth lord to do to his liege man."
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "Behoveth me not fail him
therein, wherefore tell him I will succour him so soon as I may;
but tell him I have emprised a business that I cannot leave but
with loss of honour until such time as it be achieved."
They lay the night at the hermitage until after mass was sung on
The knight departed and Messire Gawain remained. So when he was
apparelled to mount, he looketh before him at the issue of the
forest toward the hermitage, and seeth coming a knight on a tall
horse, full speed and all armed, and he bore a shield like the
one he saw Perceval bearing the first time.
"Sir," saith he, "Know you this knight that cometh there!"
"Truly, Sir, well do I know him. This is Perceval whom you seek,
whom you so much desire to see!"
"God be praised thereof!" saith Messire Gawain, "Inasmuch as he
He goeth afoot to meet him, and Perceval alighteth so soon as he
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "Right welcome may you be!"
"Good joy may you have," saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith the hermit, "Make great joy of him! this is Messire
Gawain, King Arthur's nephew."
"Thereof do I love him the better!" saith he. "Honour and joy
ought all they to do him that know him!"
He throweth his arms on his neck, and so maketh him great joy.
"Sir," saith he, "Can you tell me tidings of a knight that was in
the Red Launde at the assembly of knights?"
"What shield beareth he?" saith Messire Gawain.
"A red shield with a golden eagle," saith Perceval. "And more by
token, never made I acquaintance with any so sturdy in battle as
are he and Lancelot."
"Fair sir, it pleaseth you to say so," saith Messire Gawain. "In
the Red Launde was I at the assembly, and such arms bore I as
these you blazon, and I jousted against a knight in white arms,
of whom I know this, that all of knighthood that may be lodged in
the body of a man is in him."
"Sir," saith Perceval to Messire Gawain, "You know not how to
blame any man."
So they hold one another by the hands, and go into the hermitage.
"Sir," saith Messire Gawain, "When you were in the court of King
Arthur for the shield that is within yonder, your sister was also
there, and prayed and besought the help of the knight that should
bear away the shield, as being the most discounselled damsel in
the world. The King granted it her, and you bore away the
shield. She asked your aid of the King as she that deemed not
you were her brother, and said that if the King failed of his
covenant, he would do great sin, whereof would he have much
blame. The King was fain to do all he might to seek you, to make
good that he had said, and sent us forth in quest of you, so that
the quest lieth between me and Lancelot. He himself would have
come had we been unwilling to go. Sir, I have found you three
times without knowing you, albeit great desire had I to see you.
This is the fourth time and I know you now, whereof I make myself
right joyous; and much am I beholden to you of the fair lodging
your mother gave me at Camelot; but right sore pity have I of
her, for a right worshipful woman is she, and a widow lady and
ancient, and fallen into much war without aid nor comfort,
through the evil folk that harass her and reave her of her
castles. She prayed me, weeping the while right sweetly, that
and if I should find you that are her son, I should tell you of
her plight, that your father is dead, and that she hath no
succour nor aid to look for save from you alone, and if you
succour her not shortly, she will lose her own one castle that
she holdeth, and must needs become a beggar, for of the fifteen
castles she wont to have in your father's time, she hath now only
that of Camelot, nor of all her knights hath she but five to
guard the castle. Wherefore I pray you on her behalf and for
your own honour, that you will grant her herein of your counsel
and your valour and your might, for of no chivalry that you may
do may you rise to greater worship. And so sore need hath she
herein as you hear me tell, nor would I that she should lose
aught by default of message, for thereof should I have sin and
she harm, and you yourself also, that have the power to amend it
and ought of right so to do!"
"Well have you delivered yourself herein," saith Perceval, "And
betimes will I succour her and our Lord God will."
"You will do honour to yourself," saith Messire Gawain. "Thereof
will you have praise with God and worship with the world."
"Well know I," saith Perceval, "that in me ought she to have aid
and counsel as of right, and that so I do not accordingly, I
ought to have reproach and be blamed as recreant before the
"In God's name," saith the hermit, "you speak according to the
scripture, for he that honoureth not his father and mother
neither believeth in God nor loveth Him."
"All this know I well," saith Perceval, "And well pleased am I to
be reminded thereof, and well know I also mine intent herein,
albeit I tell it to none. But if any can tell me tidings of
Lancelot, right willingly shall I hear them, and take it kindly
of the teller thereof."
"Sir," saith Joseus, "It is but just now since he lay here
within, and asked me tidings of Messire Gawain, and I told him
such as I knew. Another time before that, he lay here when the
robbers assailed us that he hanged in the forest, and so hated is
he thereof of their kinsfolk that and they may meet him, so they
have the might, he is like to pay for it right dear, and in this
forest won they rather than in any other. I told him as much,
but he made light thereof in semblant, even as he will in deed
also if their force be not too great."
"By my head," saith Perceval, "I will not depart forth of this
forest until I know tidings of him, if Messire Gawain will pledge
And Messire saith he desireth nothing better, sith that he hath
found Perceval, for he may not be at ease until such time as he
shall know tidings of Lancelot, for he hath great misgiving sith
that he hath enemies in the forest.
Perceval and Messire Gawain sojourned that day in the forest in
the hermitage, and the morrow Perceval took his shield that he
brought from King Arthur's court, and left that which he brought
with him, and Messire Gawain along with him that made himself
right joyous of his company. They ride amidst the forest both
twain, all armed, and at the right hour of noon they meet a
knight that was coming a great gallop as though he were all
scared. Perceval asketh him whence he cometh, that he seemeth so
"Sir, I come from the forest of the robbers that won in this
forest wherethrough you have to pass. They have chased me a full
league Welsh to slay me, but they would not follow me further for
a knight that they have beset in one of their holds, that hath
done them right sore mischief, for he hath hanged four of their
knights and slain one, as well as the fairest damsel that was in
the kingdom. But right well had she deserved the death for that
she harboured knights with fair semblant and showed them much
honour, and afterward brought about their death and destruction,
between herself and a dwarf that she hath, that slew the
"And know you who is the knight?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith the knight, "Not I, for no leisure had I to ask him,
for sorer need had I to flee than to stay. But I tell you that
on account of the meat that failed him in the hold wherein they
beset him, he issued forth raging like a lion, nor would he have
suffered himself be shut up so long but for two wounds that he
had upon his body; for he cared not to issue forth of the house
until such time as they were healed, and also for that he had no
horse. And so soon as he felt himself whole, he ventured himself
against the four knights, that were so a-dread of him that they
durst not come a-nigh. And moreover he deigneth not to go
a-foot, wherefore if they now come a-nigh, it may not be but he
shall have one at least out of their four horses, but they hold
them heedfully aloof."
"Sir," saith Perceval,"Gramercy of these tidings."
They were fain to depart from the knight, but said he: "Ha,
Lords, allow me so much as to see the destruction of this evil
folk that have wrought such mischief in this forest! Sir" saith
he to Messire Gawain, "I am cousin to the Poor Knight of the
Waste Forest that hath the two poor damsels to sister, there
where you and Lancelot jousted between you, and when the knight
that brought you tidings thereof died in the night."
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "These tidings know I well,
for you say true, and your company hold I right dear for the love
of the Poor Knight, for never yet saw I more courteous knight,
nor more courteous damsels, nor better nurtured, and our Lord God
grant them as much good as I would they should have."
Messire Gawain made the knight go before, for well knew he the
robbers' hold, but loath enough had he been to go thither, had
the knights not followed him behind. Lancelot was issued forth
of the hold sword in hand, all armed, angry as a lion. The four
knights were upon their horses all armed, but no mind had they
come a-nigh him, for sore dreaded they the huge buffets he dealt,
and his hardiment. One of them came forward before the others,
and it seemed him shame that they might not vanquish one single
knight. He goeth to smite Lancelot a great stroke of his sword
above in the midst of his head, nor did Lancelot's sword fail of
its stroke, for before he could draw back, Lancelot dealt him
such a blow as smote oft all of his leg at the thigh, so that he
made him leave the saddlebows empty. Lancelot leapt up on the
destrier, and now seemed him he was safer than before. The three
robber-knights that yet remained whole ran upon him on all sides
and began to press him of their swords in right sore wrath.
Thereupon behold you, the knight cometh to the way that goeth to
the hold and saith to Messire Gawain and Perceval, "Now may you
hear the dashing of swords and the melly."
Therewithal the two good knights smite horse with spur and come
thither where the three robber-knights were assailing Lancelot.
Each of the twain smiteth his own so wrathfully that they thrust
their spears right through their bodies and bear them to the
ground dead. Howbeit the third knight was fain to flee, but the
knight that had come to show Messire Gawain the way took heart
and hardiment from the confidence of the good knights, and smote
him as he fled so sore that he pierced him with his spear to the
heart and toppled him to the ground dead. And the one whose leg
Lancelot had lopped off was so trampled underfoot of the knights
that he had no life in him.
When Lancelot knew Perceval and Messire Gawain he made great joy
of them and they of him.
"Lancelot," saith Messire Gawain, "This knight that led us hither
to save your life is cousin to the Poor Knight of the Waste
Castle, the brother of the two poor damsels that lodged us so
well. We will send him these horses, one for the knight that
shall be the messenger, and the two to the lord of the Waste
Castle, and this hold that we have taken shall be for the two
damsels, and so shall we make them safe all the days of their
life. This, methinketh, will be well."
"Certes," saith Perceval, "you speak of great courtesy."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "Messire Gawain hath said, and right
willingly will I grant him all his wish."
"Lords," saith the knight, "They have in this forest a hold
wherein the knights did bestow their plunder, for the sake
whereof they murdered the passers by. If the goods remain there
they will be lost, for therein is so great store as might be of
much worth to many folk that are poverty-stricken for want
They go to the hold and find right great treasure in a cave
underground, and rich sets of vessels and rich ornaments of cloth
and armours for horses, that they had thrown the one over another
into a pit that was right broad.
"Certes," saith he, "Right well hath it been done to this evil
folk that is destroyed!"
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "in like manner would they have dealt with
me and killed me if they might; whereof no sorrow have I save of
the damsel that I slew, that was one of the fairest dames of the
world. But I slew her not knowingly, for I meant rather to
strike the knight, but she leapt between us, like the hardiest
dame that saw I ever."
"Sirs," saith the knight, "Perceval and Lancelot, by the counsel
of Messire Gawain, granted the treasure to the two damsels,
sisters to the Poor Knight of the Waste Castle, whereupon let
them send for Joseus the Hermit and bid him guard the treasure
until they shall come hither."
And Joseus said that he would do so, and is right glad that the
robbers of the forest are made away withal, that had so often
made assault upon him. He guarded the treasure and the hold
right safely in the forest; but the dread and the renown of the
good knights that had freed the forest went far and wide. The
knight that led the three destriers was right joyfully received
at the Waste Castle; and when he told the message wherewith he
was charged by Messire Gawain, the Poor Knight and two damsels
made great joy thereof. Perceval taketh leave of Messire Gawain
and Lancelot, and saith that never will he rest again until he
shall have found his sister and his widow mother. They durst not
gainsay him, for they know well that he is right, and he prayeth
them right sweetly that they salute the King and Queen and all
the good knights of the court, for, please God, he will go see
them at an early day. But first he was fain to fulfil the
promise King Arthur made to his sister, for he would not that the
King should be blamed in any place as concerning him, nor by his
default; and he himself would have the greater blame therein and
he succoured her not, for the matter touched him nearer than it
did King Arthur.
With that the Good Knight departeth, and they commend him to God,
and he them in like sort. Messire Gawain and Lancelot go their
way back toward the court of King Arthur, and Perceval goeth
amidst strange forests until he cometh to a forest far away,
wherein, so it seemed him, he had never been before. And he
passed through a land that seemed him to have been laid waste,
for it was all void of folk. Wild beast only seeth he there,
that ran through the open country. He entered into a forest in
this waste country, and found a hermitage in the combe of a
mountain. He alighted without and heard that the hermit was
singing the service of the dead, and had begun the mass with a
requiem betwixt him and his clerk. He looketh and seeth a pall
spread upon the ground before the altar as though it were over a
corpse. He would not enter the chapel armed, wherefore he
hearkened to the mass from without right reverently, and showed
great devotion as he that loved God much and was a-dread. When
the mass was sung, and the hermit was disarmed of the armour of
Our Lord, he cometh to Perceval and saluteth him and Perceval him
"Sir," saith Perceval, "For whom have you done such service?
meseemed that the corpse lay therewithin for whom the service was
"You say truth," saith the hermit. "I have done it for Lohot,
King Arthur's son, that lieth buried under this pall."
"Who, then, hath slain him?" saith Perceval.
"That will I tell you plainly," saith the hermit.
"This wasted land about this forest wherethrough you have come is
the beginning of the kingdom of Logres. There wont to be therein
a Giant so big and horrible and cruel that none durst won within
half a league round about, and he destroyed the land and wasted
it in such sort as you see. Lohot was departed from the land and
the court of King Arthur his father in quest of adventure, and by
the will of God arrived at this forest, and fought against
Logrin, right cruel as he was, and Logrin against him. As it
pleased God, Lohot vanquished him; but Lohot had a marvellous
custom: when he had slain a man, he slept upon him. A knight of
King Arthur's court, that is called Kay the Seneschal, was come
peradventure into this forest of Logres. He heard the Giant roar
when Lohot dealt him the mortal blow. Thither came he as fist as
he might, and found the King's son sleeping upon Logrin. He drew
his sword and therewith cut off Lohot's head, and took the head
and the body and set them in a coffin of stone. After that he
hacked his shield to pieces with his sword, that he should not be
recognised; then came he to the Giant that lay dead, and so cut
oft his head, that was right huge and hideous, and hung it at his
fore saddle-bow. Then went he to the court of King Arthur and
presented it to him. The King made great joy thereof and all
they of the court, and the King made broad his lands right freely
for that he believed Kay had spoken true. I went," saith the
hermit, "on the morrow to the piece of land where the Giant lay
dead, as a damsel came within here to tell me with right great
joy. I found the corpse of the Giant so big that I durst not
come a-nigh it. The damsel led me to the coffin where the King's
son was lying. She asked the head of me as her guerdon, and I
granted it to her willingly. She set it forthwith in a coffer
laden with precious stones that was all garnished within of
balsams. After that, she helped me carry the body into this
chapel and enshroud and bury it.
"Afterwards the damsel departed, nor have I never heard talk of
her since, nor do I make remembrance hereof for that I would King
Arthur should know it, nor for aught that I say thereof that he
should do evil to the knight; for right sore sin should I have
thereof, but deadly treason and disloyalty hath he wrought."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "This is sore pity of the King's son, that
he is dead in such manner, for I have heard witness that he ever
waxed more and more in great chivalry, and, so the King knew
thereof, Kay the Seneschal, that is not well-loved of all folk,
would lose the court for ever more, or his life, so he might be
taken, and this would be only right and just."
Perceval lay the night in the hermitage, and departed on the
morrow when he had heard mass. He rideth through the forest as
he that right gladly would hear tidings of his mother, nor never
before hath he been so desirous thereof as is he now. He heard,
at right hour of noon, a damsel under a tree that made greater
dole than ever heard he damsel make before. She held her mule by
the reins and was alighted a-foot and set herself on her knees
toward the East. She stretched her hands up toward heaven and
prayed right sweetly the Saviour of the World and His sweet
Mother that they would send her succour betimes, for that the
most discounselled damsel of the world was she, and never was
alms given to damsel to counsel her so well bestowed as it would
be upon her, for that needs must she go to the most perilous
place that is in the world, and that, save she might bring some
one with her, never would that she had to do be done.
Perceval drew himself up when he heard the damsel bemoaning thus.
He was in the shadow of the forest so that she saw him not. The
damsel cried out all weeping, "Ha, King Arthur, great sin did you
in forgetting to speak of my business to the knight that bare
away the shield from your court, by whom would my mother have
been succoured, that now must lose her castle presently save God
grant counsel herein; and so unhappy am I, that I have gone
through all the lands of Great Britain, yet may I hear no tidings
of my brother, albeit they say that he is the Best Knight of the
world. But what availeth us his knighthood, when we have neither
aid nor succour thereof? So much the greater shame ought he to
have of himself, if he love his mother, as she, that is the most
gentle lady that liveth and the most loyal, hath hope that, and
he knew, he would come thither. Either he is dead or he is in
lands so far away that none may hear tidings of him. Ha, sweet
Lady, Mother of Our Saviour, aid us when we may have no aid of
any other! for if my lady mother loseth her castle, needs must
we be forlorn wanderers in strange lands, for so have her
brothers been long time; he that had the most power and valour
lieth in languishment, the good King Fisherman that the King of
Castle Mortal warreth on, albeit he also is my uncle, my mother's
brother, and would fain reave my uncle, that is his brother, of
his castle by his felony. Of a man so evil my lady mother
looketh for neither aid nor succour. And the good King Pelles
hath renounced his kingdom for the love of his Saviour, and hath
entered into a hermitage. He likewise is brother of my mother,
and behoveth him make war upon none, for the most worshipful
hermit is he of the world. And all they on my father's side have
died in arms. Eleven were there of them, and my father was the
twelfth. Had they remained on live, well able would they have
been to succour us, but the knight that was first at the Graal
hath undone us, for through him our uncle fell in languishment,
in whom should have been our surest succour."
At this word Perceval rode forward, and the damsel heareth him.
She riseth up, and looketh backward and seeth the knight come,
the shield at his neck banded argent and azure, with a red cross.
She clasped her two hands toward heaven, and saith, "Ha, sweet
Lady that didst bear the Saviour of the World, you have not
forgotten me, nor never may be discounselled he nor she that
calleth upon you with the heart. Here see I the knight come of
whom we shall have aid and succour, and our Lord God grant him
will to do His pleasure, and lend him courage and strength to
She goeth to meet him, and holdeth his stirrup and would have
kissed his foot, but he avoideth it and crieth to her: "Ill do
you herein, damsel!" And therewith she melteth in tears of
weeping and prayeth him right sweetly.
"Sir," saith she, "Of such pity as God had of His most sweet
Mother on that day He took His death, when He beheld Her at the
foot of the cross, have pity and mercy of my lady mother and of
me. For, and your aid fail us, we know not to whom to fly for
rescue, for I have been told that you are the Best Knight of the
world. And for obtaining of your help went I to King Arthur's
court. Wherefore succour us for pity's sake and God's and for
nought beside, for, so please you, it is your duty so to do,
albeit, had you been my brother that is also such a knight as
you, whom I cannot find, I might have called upon you of a
greater right. Sir," saith she, "Do you remember you of the
brachet you had at the court waiting for you until such time as
you should come for the shield, and that went away with you, how
he would never make joy nor know any save me alone? By this know
I well that if you knew the soreness of our need you would
succour us. But King Arthur, that should have prayed you
thereof, forgat it."
"Damsel," saith he, "so much hath he done that he hath not failed
of his covenant with you, for he sent for me by the two best
knights of his court, and. so I may speed, so much will I do
herein as that God and he shall be well pleased thereof."
The damsel had right great joy of the knight that he should grant
her his aid, but she knew not he was her brother, or otherwise
she would have doubled her joy. Perceval knoweth well that she
is his sister, but he would not yet discover himself and manifest
his pity outwardly. He helpeth the damsel to mount again and
they rode on together.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "Needs must I go to-night by myself to
the Grave-yard Perilous."
"Wherefore go you thither?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith she, "I have made vow thereof, and moreover a holy
hermit hath told me that the knight that warreth upon us may not
be overcome of no knight, save I bring him not some of the cloth
wherewith the altar in the chapel of the Grave-yard Perilous is
covered. The cloth is of the most holiest, for our Lord God was
covered therewith in the Holy Sepulchre, on the third day when He
came back from death to life. Nor none may enter the holy
grave-yard that bringeth another with him, wherefore behoveth me
go by myself, and may God save my life this night, for the place
is sore perilous, and so ought I greatly to hate him that hath
procured me this dolour and travail. Sir," saith she, "You will
go your way toward the castle of Camelot: there is the Widow Lady
my mother, that awaiteth the return and the succour of the Good
Knight, and may you remember to succour and aid us when you shall
see how sore is our need of succour.
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "So God allow me I will aid you to the
utmost of my power."
"Sir," saith she, "See, this is my way, that is but little
frequented, for I tell you that no knight durst tread therein
without great peril and great dread. And our Lord God have your
body in keeping, for mine own this night shall be in sore
jeopardy and hazard."
Perceval departeth from the damsel, his sister, and hath right
great pity for that she goeth in so perilous place all alone.
Natheless would he nor forbid her, for he knew well that she
might not go thither with him nor with other, sith that such was
the custom of the grave-yard that twain might not pass the
entrance, wherefore needs must one remain without. Perceval was
not willing that his sister should break her vow, for never none
of his lineage did at any time disloyalty nor base deed
knowingly, nor failed of nought that they had in covenant, save
only the King of Castle Mortal, from whom he had as much evil as
he had good of the others.
The damsel goeth her way all alone and all forlorn toward the
grave-yard and the deep of the forest, all dark and shadowy. She
hath ridden until the sun was set and the night draweth nigh.
She looketh before her and seeth a cross, high and wide and
thick. And on this cross was the figure of Our Lord graven,
whereof is she greatly comforted. She draweth nigh the cross,
and so kisseth and adoreth it, and prayeth the Saviour of the
world that was nailed on Holy Rood that He would bring her forth
of the burial-ground with honour. The cross was at the entrance
of the grave-yard, that was right spacious, for, from such time
as the land was first peopled of folk, and that knights began to
seek adventure by the forest, not a knight had died in the
forest, that was full great of breadth and length, but his body
was borne thither, nor might never knight there be buried that
had not received baptism and had repented him not of his sins at
Thereinto entered the damsel all alone, and found great multitude
of tombs and coffins. Nor none need wonder whether she had
shuddering and fear, for such place must needs be dreadful to a
lonely damsel, there where lay so many knights that had been
slain in arms. Josephus the good clerk witnesseth us that within
the grave-yard might no evil spirit meddle, for that Saint Andrew
the apostle had blessed it with his hand. But never might no
hermit remain within for the evil things that appeared each night
all round about, that took the shapes of the knights that were
dead in the forest, wherof the bodies lay not in the blessed
The damsel beholdeth their sepulchres all round about the grave-
yard whereinto she was come. She seeth them surrounded of
knights, all black, and spears had they withal, and came one
against another, and made such uproar and alarm as it seemed all
the forest resounded thereof. The most part held swords all red
as of fire, and ran either upon other, and gashed one another's
hands and feet and nose and face. And great was the clashing
they made, but they could not come a-nigh the grave-yard. The
damsel seeth them, and hath such affright thereof that she nigh
fell to the ground in a swoon. The mule whereon she sate draweth
wide his nostrils and goeth in much fear. The damsel signeth her
of the cross and commendeth her to the Saviour and to His sweet
Mother. She looketh before her to the head of the grave-yard,
and seeth the chapel, small and ancient. She smiteth her mule
with her whip, and cometh thitherward and alighteth. She entered
therewithin and found a great brightness of light. Within was an
image of Our Lady, to whom she prayeth right sweetly that She
will preserve her senses and her life and enable her to depart in
safety from this perilous place. She seeth above the altar the
most holy cloth for the which she was come thither, that was
right ancient, and a smell came thereof so sweet and glorious
that no sweetness of the world might equal it. The damsel cometh
toward the altar thinking to take the cloth, but it goeth up into
the air as if the wind had lifted it, and was so high that she
might not reach it above an ancient crucifix that was there
"Ha, God!" saith the damsel, "It is for my sin and my disloyalty
that this most holy cloth thus draweth itself away from me!"
"Fair Father God, never did I evil to none, nor never did I shame
nor sinned deadly in myself, nor never wrought against your will,
so far as in me lay, but rather do I serve you and love and fear
you and your sweet Mother; and all the tribulation I receive,
accept I in patience for your love, for well I know that such is
your pleasure, nor have I no will to set myself against nought
that pleaseth you.
"When it shall please you, you will release me and my mother of
the grief and tribulation wherein we are. For well you know that
they have reaved her of her castles by wrong, and of her land,
for that she is a Widow Lady without help. Lord, you who have
all the world at your mercy and do your commandment in all
things, grant me betimes to hear tidings of my brother and he be
on live, for sore need have we of him. And so lend force to the
knight and power against all our enemies, that for your love and
for pity is fain to succour and aid my mother that is sore
discounselled. Lord, well might it beseem you to remember of
your pity and the sweetness that is in you, and of compassion
that she hath been unrighteously disherited, and that no succour
nor aid nor counsel hath she, save of you alone. You are her
affiance and her succour, and therefore ought you to remember
that the good knight Joseph of Abarimacie, that took down your
Body when it hung upon the rood, was her own uncle. Better loved
he to take down your Body than all the gold and all the fee that
Pilate might give him. Lord, good right of very truth had he so
to do, for he took you in his arms beside the rood, and laid your
Body in the holy sepulchre, wherein were you covered of the
sovran cloth for the which have I come in hither. Lord, grant it
be your pleasure that I may have it, for love of the knight by
whom it was set in this chapel; sith that I am of his lineage it
ought well to manifest itself in this sore need, so it come
according to your pleasure."
Forthwith the cloth came down above the altar, and she
straightway found taken away therefrom as much as it pleased Our
Lord she should have. Josephus telleth us of a truth, that never
did none enter into the chapel that might touch the cloth save
only this one damsel. She set her face to it and her mouth or
ever the cloth removed.
Thereafter, she took the piece that God would and set it near
herself full worshipfully, but still the stout went on of the
evil spirits round about the church-yard, and they dealt one
another blows so sore that all the forest resounded thereof, and
it seemed that it was all set on fire of the flame that issued
from them. Great fear would the damsel have had of them, had she
not comforted herself in God and in His dear, sweet Mother, and
the most holy cloth that was within there. A Voice appeared upon
the stroke of midnight from above the chapel, and speaketh to the
souls whereof the bodies lie within the grave-yard: "How sore
loss hath befallen you of late, and all other whose bodies lie in
other hallowed church-yards by the forests of this kingdom! For
the good King Fisherman is dead that made every day our service
be done in the most holy chapel there where the most Holy Graal
every day appeared, and where the Mother of God abode from the
Saturday until the Monday that the service was finished. And now
hath the King of Castle Mortal seized the castle in such sort
that never sithence hath the Holy Graal appeared, and all the
other hallows are hidden, so that none knoweth what hath become
of the priests that served in the chapel, nor the twelve ancient
knights, nor the damsels that were therein. And you, damsel,
that are within, have no affiance in the aid of strange knight in
this need, for succoured may you never be save of your brother
With that the Voice is still, and a wailing and a lamentation
goeth up from the bodies that lay in the church-yard, so dolorous
that no man is there in the world but should have pity thereof,
and all the evil spirits that were without departed groaning and
making so mighty uproar at their going away that it seemed the
earth trembled. The damsel heard the tidings of her uncle that
was dead, and fell on the ground in a swoon, and when she raised
herself, took on to lament and cried: "Ha, God! Now have we lost
the most comfort and the best friend that we had, and hereof am I
again discomforted that I may not be succoured in this my next
need by the Good Knight of whom I thought to have succour and
aid, and that was so fain to render it. Now shall I know not
what to ask of him, for he would grant it right willingly, and
may God be as pleased with him thereof as if he had done it."
The damsel was in sore misdoubting and dismay, for she knew not
who the knight was, and great misgiving had she of her uncle's
death and right sore sorrow. She was in the chapel until it was
day, and then commended herself to God and departed and mounted
on her mule and issued forth of the church-yard full speed, all
The story saith that the damsel went her way toward her mother's
castle as straight as she might, but sore dismayed was she of the
Voice that had told her she might not be succoured save of her
brother alone. She hath ridden so far of her journeys that she
is come to the Valley of Camelot, and seeth her mother's castle
that was surrounded of great rivers, and seeth Perceval, that was
alighted under the shadow of a tree at the top of the forest in
order that he might behold his mother's castle, whence he went
forth squire what time he slew the Knight of the Red Shield.
When he had looked well at the castle and the country round
about, much pleasure had he thereof, and mounted again forthwith.
Thereupon, behold you, the damsel cometh.
"Sir," saith she, "In sore travail and jeopardy have I been
sithence that last I saw you, and tidings have I heard as bad as
may be, and right grievous for my mother and myself. For King
Fisherman mine uncle is dead, and another of my uncles, the King
of Castle Mortal, hath seized his castle, albeit my lady mother
ought rather to have it, or I, or my brother."
"Is it true " saith Perceval, "that he is dead?"
"Yea, certes, Sir, I know it of a truth."
"So help me God!" saith he, "This misliketh me right sore. I
thought not that he would die so soon, for I have not been to see
him of a long time."
"Sir," saith she, "I am much discomforted as concerning you, for
I have likewise been told that no force nor aid of any knight may
avail to succour nor aid me from this day forward save my
brother's help alone. Wherefore, and it be so, we have lost all,
for my lady mother hath respite to be in her castle only until
the fifteenth day from to-day, and I know not where to seek my
brother, and the day is so nigh as you hear. Now behoveth us do
the best we may and abandon this castle betimes, nor know I any
refuge that we now may have save only King Pelles in the
hermitage. I would fain that my lady mother were there, for he
would not fail us."
Perceval is silent, and hath great pity in his heart of this that
the damsel saith. She followeth him weeping, and pointeth out to
him the Valleys of Camelot and the castles that were shut in by
combes and mountains, and the broad meadow-lands and the forest
that girded them about.
"Sir," saith she, "All this hath the Lord of the Moors reaved of
my lady mother, and nought coveteth he so much as to have this
castle, and have it he will, betimes."
When they had ridden until that they drew nigh the castle, the
Lady was at the windows of the hall and knew her daughter.
"Ha, God!" saith the Lady, "I see there my daughter coming, and a
knight with her. Fair Father God, grant of your pleasure that it
be my son, for and it be not he, I have lost my castle and mine
heirs are disherited."
Perceval cometh nigh the castle in company with his sister, and
knoweth again the chapel that stood upon four columns of marble
between the forest and the castle, there where his father told
him how much ought he to love good knights, and that none earthly
thing might be of greater worth, and how none might know yet who
lay in the coffin until such time as the Best Knight of the world
should come thither, but that then should it be known. Perceval
would fain have passed by the chapel, but the damsel saith to
him: "Sir, no knight passeth hereby save he go first to see the
coffin within the chapel."
He alighteth and setteth the damsel to the ground, and layeth
down his spear and shield and cometh toward the tomb, that was
right fair and rich. He set his hand above it. So soon as he
came nigh, the sepulchre openeth on one side, so that one saw him
that was within the coffin. The damsel falleth at his feet for
joy. The Lady had a custom such that every time a knight stopped
at the coffin she made the five ancient knights that she had with
her in the castle accompany her, wherein they would never fail
her, and bring her as far as the chapel. So soon as she saw the
coffin open and the joy her daughter made, she knew that it was
her son, and ran to him and embraced him and kissed him and began
to make the greatest joy that ever lady made.
"Now know I well," saith she, "that our Lord God hath not
forgotten me. Sith that I have my son again, the tribulations
and the wrongs that have been done me grieve me not any more.
Sir," saith she to her son, "Now is it well known and proven that
you are the Best Knight of the world! For otherwise never would
the coffin have opened, nor would any have known who he is that
you now see openly."
She maketh her chaplain take certain letters that were sealed
with gold in the coffin. He looketh thereat and readeth, and
then saith that these letters witness of him that lieth in the
coffin that he was one of them that helped to un-nail Our Lord
from the cross. They looked beside him and found the pincers all
bloody wherewith the nails were drawn, but they might not take
them away, nor the body, nor the coffin, according as Josephus
telleth us, for as soon as Perceval was forth of the chapel, the
coffin closed again and joined together even as it was before.
The Widow Lady led her son with right great joy into her castle,
and recounted to him all the shame that had been done her, and
also how Messire Gawain had made safe the castle for a year by
his good knighthood.
"Fair son," saith she, "Now is the term drawn nigh when I should
have lost my castle and you had not come. But now know I well
that it shall be safe-guarded of you. He that coveteth this
castle is one of the most outrageous knights on live. And he
hath reaved me of my land and the Valleys of Camelot without
reasonable occasion. But, please God, you shall well repair the
harm he hath done you, for nought claim I any longer of the land
since you are come. But so avenge your shame as to increase your
honour, for none ought to allow his right to be minished of an
evil man, and the mischiefs that have been done me for that I had
no aid, let them not wax cold in you, for a shame done to one
valiant and strong ought not to wax cold in him, but rankle and
prick in him, so ought he to have his enemies in remembrance
without making semblant, but so much as he shall show in his
cheer and making semblant and his menaces, so much ought he to
make good in deed when he shall come in place. For one cannot do
too much hurt to an enemy, save only one is willing to let him be
for God's sake. But truth it is that the scripture saith, that
one ought not to do evil to one's enemies, but pray God that He
amend them. I would fain that our enemies were such that they
might amend toward us, and that they would do as much good to us
without harming themselves as they have done evil, on condition
that mine anger and yours were foregone against them. Mine own
anger I freely forbear against them so far forth as concerneth
myself, for no need have I to wish evil to none, and Solomon
telleth how the sinner that curseth other sinner curseth himself
"Fair son, this castle is yours, and this land round about
whereof I have been reft ought to be yours of right, for it
falleth to you on behalf of your father and me. Wherefore send
to the Lord of the Moors that hath reft it from me, that he
render it to you. I make no further claim, for I pass it on to
you; for nought have I now to do with any land save only so much
as will be enough wherein to bury my body when I die, nor shall I
now live much longer since King Fisherman my brother is dead,
whereof right sorrowful am I at heart, and still more sorrowful
should I be were it not for your coming. And, son, I tell you
plainly that you have great blame of his death, for you are the
knight through whom he fell first into languishment, for now at
last I know well that and if you had afterwards gone back and so
made the demand that you made not at the first, he would have
come back to health. But our Lord God willed it so to be,
wherefore well beseemeth us to yield to His will and pleasure."
Perceval hath heard his mother, but right little hath he answered
her, albeit greatly is he pleased with whatsoever she hath said.
His face is to-flushed of hardiment, and courage hath taken hold
on him. His mother looketh at him right fainly, and hath him
disarmed and apparelled in a right rich robe. So comely a knight
was he that in all the world might not be found one of better
seeming nor better shapen of body. The Lord of the Moors, that
made full certain of having his mother's castle, knew of
Perceval's coming. He was not at all dismayed in semblant, nor
would he stint to ride by fell nor forest, and every day he
weened in his pride that the castle should be his own at the hour
and the term he had set thereof. One of the five knights of the
Widow Lady was one day gone into the Lonely Forest after hart and
hind, and had taken thereof at his will. He was returning back
to the castle and the huntsmen with him, when the Lord of the
Moors met him and told him he had done great hardiment in
shooting with the bow in the forest, and the knight made answer
that the forest was not his of right, but the Lady's of Camelot
and her son's that had repaired thither.
The Lord of the Moors waxed wroth. He held a sword in his hand
and thrust him therewith through the body and slew him. The
knight was borne dead to the castle of Camelot before the Widow
Lady and her son.
"Fair son," saith the Widow Lady, "More presents of such-like
kind the Lord of the Moors sendeth me than I would. Never may he
be satisfied of harming my land and shedding the blood of the
bodies of my knights. Now may you well know how many a hurt he
hath done me sithence that your father hath been dead and you
were no longer at the castle, sith that this hath he done me even
now that you are here. You have the name of Perceval on this
account, that tofore you were born, he had begun to reave your
father of the Valleys of Camelot, for your father was an old
knight and all his brethren were dead, and therefore he gave you
this name in baptism, for that he would remind you of the
mischief done to him and to you, and that you might help to
retrieve it and you should have the power."
The Dame maketh shroud the knight, for whom she is full
sorrowful, and on the morrow hath mass sung and burieth him.
Perceval made arm two of the old knights with him, then issued
forth of the castle and entered the great dark forest. He rode
until he came before a castle, and met five knights that issued
forth all armed. He asked whose men they were. They answer, the
Lord's of the Moors, and that he goeth seek the son of the Widow
Lady that is in the forest.
"If we may deliver him up to our lord, good guerdon shal we have
"By my faith," saith Perceval, "You have not far to seek. I am
Perceval smiteth his horse of his spurs and cometh to the first
in such sort that he passeth his spear right through his body and
beareth him to the ground dead. The other two knights each smote
his man so that they wounded them in the body right sore. The
other two would fain have fled, but Perceval preventeth them, and
they gave themselves up prisoners for fear of death. He bringeth
all four to the castle of Camelot and presenteth them to his lady
"Lady," saith he, "see here the quittance for your knight that
was slain, and the fifth also remaineth lying on the piece of
ground shent in like manner as was your own."
"Fair son," saith she, "I should have better loved peace after
another sort, and so it might be."
"Lady," saith he, "Thus is it now. One ought to make war against
the warrior, and be at peace with the peaceable."
The knights are put in prison. The tidings are come to the Lord
of the Moors that the son of the Widow Lady hath slain one of his
knights and carried off four to prison. Thereof hath he right
great wrath at heart, and sweareth and standeth to it that never
will he be at rest until he shall have either taken or slain him,
and that, so there were any knight in his land that would deliver
him up, he would give him one of the best castles in his country.
The more part are keen to take Perceval. Eight came for that
intent before him all armed in the forest of Camelot, and hunted
and drove wild deer in the purlieus of the forest so that they of
the castle saw them.
Perceval was in his mother's chapel, where he heard mass; and
when the mass was sung, his sister said: "Fair brother, see here
the most holy cloth that I brought from the chapel of the
Grave-yard Perilous. Kiss it and touch it with your face, for a
holy hermit told me that never should our land be conquered back
until such time as you should have hereof."
Perceval kisseth it, then toucheth his eyes and face therewith.
Afterward he goeth to arm him, and the four knights with him;
then he issueth forth of the chamber and mounteth on his horse,
then goeth out of the gateway like a lion unchained. He sitteth
on a tall horse all covered. He cometh nigh the eight knights
that were all armed, man and horse, and asketh them what folk
they be and what they seek, and they say that they are enemies of
the Widow Lady and her son.
"Then you do I defy!" saith Perceval.
He cometh to them a great run, and the four knights with him, and
each one overthroweth his own man so roughly that either he is
wounded in his body or maimed of arm or leg. The rest held the
melly to the utmost they might endure. Perceval made take them
and bring to the castle, and the other five that they had
overthrown. The Lord of the Moors was come to shoot with a bow,
and he heard the noise of the knights, and cometh thitherward a
great gallop all armed.
"Sir," saith one of the old knights to Perceval, "Look! here is
the Lord of the Moors coming, that hath reft your mother of her
land and slain her men. Of him will it be good to take
vengeance. See, how boldly he cometh."
Perceval looketh on him as he that loveth him not, and cometh
toward him as hard as his horse may carry him, and smiteth him
right through the breast so strongly that he beareth to the
ground him and his horse together all in a heap. He alighteth to
the ground and draweth his sword.
"How?" saith the Lord of the Moors, "Would you then slay me and
put me in worse plight than I am?"
"By my head," saith Perceval, "No, nor so swiftly, but I will
slay you enough, betimes!"
"So it seemeth you," saith the Lord of the Moors, "But it shall
not be yet!"
He leapeth up on his feet and runneth on Perceval, sword drawn,
as one that fain would harm him if he might. But Perceval
defendeth himself as good knight should, and giveth such a buffet
at the outset as smiteth off his arm together with his sword.
The knights that came after fled back all discomfited when they
saw their lord wounded. And Perceval made lift him on a horse
and carry him to the castle and presenteth him to his mother.
"Lady," saith he, "See here the Lord of the Moors! Well might
you expect him eftsoons, sith that you were to have yielded him
up your castle the day after to-morrow!"
"Lady," saith the Lord of the Moors, "Your son hath wounded me
and taken my knights and myself likewise. I will yield you up
your castle albeit I hold it mine as of right, on condition you
cry me quit."
"And who shall repay her," saith Perceval, "for the shame that
you have done her, for her knights that you have slain, whereof
never had you pity? Now, so help me God, if she have mercy or
pity upon you, never hereafter will I trouble to come to her aid
how sore soever may be her need. Such pity and none other as you
have had for her and my sister will I have for you. Our Lord God
commanded in both the Old Law and the New, that justice should be
done upon man-slayers and traitors, and justice will I do upon
you that His commandment be not transgressed."
He hath a great vat made ready in the midst of the court, and
maketh the eleven knights be brought. H e maketh their heads be
stricken off into the vat and bleed therein as much blood as
might come from them, and then made the heads and the bodies be
drawn forth so that nought was there but blood in the vat. After
that, he made disarm the Lord of the Moors and be brought before
the vat wherein was great abundance of blood. He made bind his
feet and his hands right strait, and after that saith: "Never
might you be satisfied of the blood of the knights of my lady
mother, now will I satisfy you of the blood of your own knights!"
He maketh hang him by the feet in the vat, so that his head were
in the blood as far as the shoulders, and so maketh him be held
there until that he was drowned and quenched. After that, he
made carry his body and the bodies of the other knights and their
heads, and made them be cast into an ancient charnel that was
beside an old chapel in the forest, and the vat together with the
blood made he be cast into the river, so that the water thereof
was all bloody. The tidings came to the castles that the son of
the Widow Lady had slain the Lord of the Moors and the best of
his knights. Thereof were they in sore misgiving, and the most
part said that the like also would he do to them save they held
themselves at his commandment. They brought him the keys of all
the castles that had been reft of his mother, and all the knights
that had before renounced their allegiance returned thereunto and
pledged themselves to be at his will for dread of death. All the
land was assured in safety, nor was there nought to trouble the
Lady's joy save only that King Fisherman her brother was dead,
whereof she was right sorrowful and sore afflicted.
One day the Widow Lady sate at meat, and there was great plenty
of knights in the hall. Perceval sate him beside his sister.
Thereupon, behold you the Damsel of the Car that came with the
other two damsels before the Widow Lady and her son, and saluted
them right nobly.
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Good adventure may you have!"
"Sir," saith she, "You have speeded right well of your business
here, now go speed it elsewhere, for thereof is the need right
sore. King Hermit, that is your mother's brother, sendeth you
word that, and you come not with haste into the land that was
King Fisherman's your uncle, the New Law that God hath stablished
will be sore brought low. For the King of Castle Mortal, that
hath seized the land and castle, hath made be cried throughout
all the country how all they that would fain maintain the Old Law
and abandon the New shall have protection of him and counsel and
aid, and they that will not shall be destroyed and outlawed."
"Ha, fair son," saith the Widow Lady, "Now have you heard the
great disloyalty of the evil man that is my brother, whereof am I
right sorrowful, for that he is of my kindred."
"Lady," saith Perceval, "Your brother nor my uncle is he no
longer, sith that he denieth God! Rather is he our mortal enemy
that we ought of right to hate more than any stranger!"
"Fair son," saith the Widow Lady, "I pray and beseech you that
the Law of the Saviour be not set aside in forgetfulness and
neglect there where you may exalt it, for better Lord in no wise
may you serve, nor one that better knoweth how to bestow fair
guerdon. Fair son, none may be good knight that serveth Him not
and loveth Him. Take heed that you be swift in His service nor
delay not for no intent, but be ever at His commandment alike at
eventide as in the morning, so shall you not bely your lineage.
And the Lord God grant you good intent therein and good will to
go on even as you have begun."
The Widow Lady, that much loved her son, riseth up from the
tables, and all the other knights, and seemeth it that she is
Lady of her land in such sort as that never was she better. But
full often doth she give thanks to the Saviour of the World with
her whole heart, and prayeth Him of His pleasure grant her son
length of life for the amendment both of soul and body. Perceval