Part 6 out of 10
was with his mother of a long space, and with his sister, and was
much feared and honoured of all the knights of the land, alike
for his great wisdom and great pains-taking, as well as for the
valour of his knighthood.
This High History saith that Messire Gawain and Lancelot were
repaired to the court of King Arthur from the quest they had
achieved. The King made great joy thereof and the Queen. King
Arthur sate one day at meat by the side of the Queen, and they
had been served of the first meats. Thereupon come two knights
all armed, and each bore a dead knight before him, and the
knights were still armed as they had been when their bodies were
"Sir," say the knights, "This shame and this mischief is yours.
In like manner will you lose all your knights betimes and God
love you not well enough to give counsel herein forthwith of his
"Lords," saith the King, "How came these knights to be in so evil
"Sir," say they, "It is of good right you ought to know. The
Knight of the Fiery Dragon is entered into the head of your land,
and is destroying knights and castles and whatsoever he may lay
hands on, in such sort that none durst contend against him, for
he is taller by a foot than any knight ever you had, and of
grisly cheer, and so is his sword three times bigger than the
sword of ever another knight, and his spear is well as heavy as a
man may carry. Two knights might lightly cover them of his
shield, and it hath on the outer side the head of a dragon that
casteth forth fire and flame whensoever he will, so eager and
biting that none may long endure his encounter."
"None other, how strong soever he be, may stand against him, and,
even as you see, hath he burnt and evil-entreated all other
knights that have withstood him."
"From what land hath come such manner of man?"
"Sir," say the knights, "He is come from the Giant's castle, and
he warreth upon you for the love of Logrin the Giant, whose head
Messire Kay brought you into your court, nor never, saith he,
will he have joy until such time as he shall have avenged him on
your body or upon the knight that you love best."
"Our Lord God," saith the King, "Will defend us from so evil a
He is risen from the table, all scared, and maketh carry the two
dead knights to be buried, and the others turn back again when
they have told their message. The King calleth Messire Gawain
and Lancelot and asketh them what he shall do of this knight that
is entered into his land?
"By my head, I know not what to say, save you give counsel
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "We will go against him, so please you, I
and Messire Gawain between us."
"By my head," saith the King, "I would not let you go for a
kingdom, for such man as is this is no knight but a devil and a
fiend that hath issued from the borders of Hell. I say not but
that it were great worship and prize to slay and conquer him, but
he that should go against him should set his own life in right
sore jeopardy and run great hazard of being in as bad plight as
these two knights I have seen."
The King was in such dismay that he knew not neither what to say
nor to do, and so was all the court likewise in such sort as no
knight neither one nor another was minded to go to battle with
him, and so remained the court in great dismay.
Here beginneth one of the master branches of the Graal in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Perceval had been with his mother as long as it pleased him. He
hath departed with her good will and the good will of his sister,
and telleth them he will return into the land as speedily as he
may. He entereth into the great Lonely Forest, and rideth so far
on his journeys that he cometh one day at the right hour of noon
into a passing fair launde, and seeth a forest. He looketh
amidst the launde and seeth a red cross. He looketh to the head
of the launde and seeth a right comely knight sitting in the
shadow of the forest, and he was clad in white garments and held
a vessel of gold in his hand. At the other end of the launde he
seeth a damsel likewise sitting, young and gentle and of passing
great beauty, and she was clad in a white samite dropped of gold.
Josephus telleth us by the divine scripture that out of the
forest issued a beast, white as driven snow, and it was bigger
than a fox and less than a hare. The beast came into the launde
all scared, for she had twelve hounds in her belly, that quested
within like as it were hounds in a wood, and she fled adown the
launde for fear of the hounds, the questing whereof she had
within her. Perceval rested on the shaft of his spear to look at
the marvel of this beast, whereof he had right great pity, so
gentle was she of semblance, and of so passing beauty, and by her
eyes it might seem that they were two emeralds. She runneth to
the knight, all affrighted, and when she hath been there awhile
and the hounds rend her again, she runneth to the damsel, but
neither there may she stay long time, for the hounds that are
within her cease not of their questing, whereof is she sore
She durst not venture herself in the forest. She seeth Perceval
and so cometh toward him for protection. She maketh as though
she would lie down on his horse's neck, and he holdeth forth his
hands to receive her there so as that she might not hurt herself,
and evermore the hounds quested. Howbeit the knight crieth out
to him, "Sir Knight, let the beast go and hold her not, for this
belongeth neither to you nor to other, but let her dree her
The beast seeth that no protection hath she. She goeth to the
cross, and forthwith might the hounds no longer be in her, but
issued forth all as it were live hounds, but nought had they of
her gentleness nor her beauty. She humbled herself much among
them and crouched on the ground and made semblant as though she
would have cried them mercy, and gat herself as nigh the cross as
she might. The hounds had compassed her round about and ran in
upon her upon all sides and tore her all to pieces with their
teeth, but no power had they to devour her flesh, nor to remove
it away from the cross.
When the hounds had all to-mangled the beast, they fled away into
the wood as had they been raging mad. The knight and the damsel
came there where the beast lay in pieces at the cross, and so
taketh each his part and setteth the same on their golden
vessels, and took the blood that lay upon the earth in like
manner as the flesh, and kiss the place, and adore the cross, and
then betake them into the forest. Perceval alighteth and setteth
him on his knees before the cross and so hisseth and adoreth it,
and the place where the beast was slain, in like manner as he had
seen the knight and damsel do; and there came to him a smell so
sweet of the cross and of the place, such as no sweetness may be
compared therewith. He looketh and seeth coming from the forest
two priests all afoot; and the first shouteth to him: "Sir
Knight, withdraw yourself away from the cross, for no right have
you to come nigh it.": Perceval draweth him back, and the priest
kneeleth before the cross and adoreth it and boweth down and
kisseth it more than a score times, and manifesteth the most joy
in the world. And the other priest cometh after, and bringeth a
great rod, and setteth the first priest aside by force, and
beateth the cross with the rod in every part, and weepeth right
Perceval beholdeth him with right great wonderment, and saith
unto him, "Sir, herein seem you to be no priest! wherefore do
you so great shame?"
"Sir," saith the priest, "It nought concerneth you of whatsoever
we may do, nor nought shall you know thereof for us!"
Had he not been a priest, Perceval would have been right wroth
with him, but he had no will to do him any hurt. Therewithal he
departeth and mounteth his horse and entereth the forest again,
all armed, but scarce had he ridden away in such sort or ever he
met the Knight Coward, that cried out to him as far as he could
see him, "Sir, for God's sake, take heed to yourself!"
"What manner man are you?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith he, "My name is the Knight Coward, and I am man of
the Damsel of the Car. Wherefore I pray you for God's sake and
for your own valour that you touch me not."
Perceval looketh on him and seeth him tall and comely and
well-shapen and adroit and all armed upon his horse, so he saith
to him, "Sith that you are so coward, wherefore are you armed
"Sir," saith he, "Against the evil intent of any knight of whom I
am adread, for such an one might haply meet me as would slay me
"Are you so coward as you say?" saith Perceval.
"Yea," saith he, "And much more."
"By my head," saith he, "I will make you hardy. Come now along
with me, for sore pity is it that cowardize should harbour in so
comely a knight. I am fain that your name be changed speedily,
for such name beseemeth no knight."
"Ha, Sir, for God's sake, mercy! Now know I well that you desire
to slay me! No will have I to change neither my courage nor my
"By my head," saith Perceval, "Then will you die therefor,
He maketh him go before him, will he or nill he; and the knight
goeth accordingly with right sore grudging. They had scarce
ridden away, when he heard in the forest off the way, two damsels
that bewailed them right sore, and prayed our Lord God send them
Perceval cometh towards them, he and the knight he driveth before
him perforce, and seeth a tall knight all armed that leadeth the
damsels all dishevelled, and smiteth them from time to time with
a great rod, so that the blood ran down their faces.
"Ha, Sir Knight," saith Perceval, "What ask you of these two
damsels that you entreat so churlishly?"
"Sir," saith he, "They have disherited me of mine own hold in
this forest that Messire Gawain gave them."
"Sir," say they to Perceval, "This knight is a robber, and none
other but he now wonneth in this forest, for the other robber-
knights were slain by Messire Gawain and Lancelot and another
knight that came with them, and, for the sore suffering and
poverty that Messire Gawain and Lancelot saw in us aforetime, and
in the house of my brother in whose castle they lay, were they
fain to give us this hold and the treasure they conquered from
the robber-knights, and for this doth he now lead us away to slay
and destroy us, and as much would he do for you and all other
knights, so only he had the power."
"Sir Knight," saith Perceval, "Let be these damsels, for well I
know that they say true, for that I was there when the hold was
"Then you helped to slay my kindred," saith the knight, "And
therefore you do I defy!"
"Ha," saith the Knight Coward to Perceval, "Take no heed of that
he saith, and wax not wroth, but go your way!"
"Certes," saith Perceval, "This will I not do: Rather will I help
to challenge the honour of the damsels."
"Ha, Sir," saith the Knight Coward, "Never shall it be challenged
Perceval draweth him back. "Sir," saith he, "See here my
champion that I set in my place."
The robber knight moveth toward him, and smiteth him so sore on
the shield that he breaketh his spear, but he might not unseat
the Coward Knight, that sate still upright as aforehand in the
saddle-bows. He 1ooketh at the other knight that hath drawn his
sword. The Knight Coward 1ooketh on the one side and the other,
and would fain have fled and he durst. But Perceval crieth to
him: "Knight, do your endeavour to save my honour and your own
life and the honour of these two damsels!"
And the robber-knight dealeth him a great buffet of his sword so
as that it went nigh to stun him altogether. Howbeit the Coward
Knight moveth not. Perceval looketh at him in wonderment and
thinketh him that he hath set too craven a knight in his place,
and now at last knoweth well that he spake truth. The, robber-
knight smiteth him all over his body and giveth him so many
buffets that the knight seeth his own blood.
"By my head," saith he, "You have wounded me, but you shall pay
therefor, for I supposed not that you were minded to slay me!"
He draweth his sword, that was sharp and strong, and smiteth his
horse right sore hard of his spurs, and catcheth the knight with
his sword right in the midst of his breast with a sweep so strong
that he beareth him to the ground beside his horse. He alighteth
over him, unlaceth his ventail and smiteth down his coif, then
striketh off his head and presenteth it to Perceval.
"Sir," saith he, "Here give I you of my first joust."
"By my head," said Perceval, "Right dearly love I this present!
Now take heed that you never again fall back into the cowardize
wherein you have been. For it is too sore shame to a knight!"
"Sir," saith he, "I will not, but never should I have believed
that one could become hardy so speedily, or otherwise long ago
would I have become so, and so should I have had worship and
honour thereof, for many a knight hath held me in contempt
herein, that elsewise would have honoured me."
Perceval answereth that right and reason it is that worshipful
men should be more honoured than the other.
"I commend these two damsels to your protection, and lead them to
their hold in safety, and be at their pleasure and their will,
and so say everywhere that you have for name the Knight Hardy,
for more of courtesy hath this name than the other."
"Sir," saith he, "You say true, and you have I to thank for the
The damsels give great thanks to Perceval, and take leave of him,
and so go their way with right good will toward the knight that
goeth with them on account of the knight he had slain, so that
thereof called they him the Knight Hardy.
Perceval departeth from the place where the knight lieth dead,
and rideth until that he draweth nigh to Cardoil where King
Arthur was, and findeth the country round in sore terror and
dismay. Much he marvelleth wherefore it may be, and demandeth of
some of the meaner sort wherefore they are in so sore affright.
"Doth the King, then, live no longer?"
"Sir," say the most part, "Yea, he is there within in this
castle, but never was he so destroyed nor so scared as he is at
this present. For a knight warreth upon him against whom no
knight in the world may endure."
Perceval rideth on until he cometh before the master hall, and is
alighted on the mounting-stage. Lancelot and Messire Gawain come
to meet him and make much joy of him, as do the King and Queen
and all they of the court; and they made disarm him and do upon
him a right rich robe. They that had never seen him before
looked upon him right fainly for the worship and valour of his
knighthood. The court also was rejoiced because of him, for sore
troubled had it been. So as the King sate one day at meat, there
came four knights into the hall, and each one of them bore before
him a dead knight. And their feet and arms had been stricken
off, but their bodies were still all armed, and the habergeons
thereon were all black as though they had been blasted of
lightning. They laid the knights in the midst of the hall.
"Sir," say they to the King, "Once more is made manifest this
shame that is done you that is not yet amended. The Knight of
the Dragon destroyeth you your land and slayeth your men and
cometh as nigh us as he may, and saith that in your court shall
never be found knight so hardy as that he durst abide him or
Right sore shame hath the King of these tidings, and Messire
Gawain and Lancelot likewise. Right sorrowful are they of heart
for that the King would not allow them to go thither. The four
knights turn back again and leave the dead knights in the hall,
but the King maketh them be buried with the others.
A great murmuring ariseth amongst the knights in the hall, and
the most part say plainly that they never heard tell of none that
slew knights in such cruel sort, nor so many as did he; and that
neither Messire Gawain nor Lancelot ought to be blamed for that
they went not thither, for no knight in the world might conquer
such a man and our Lord God did not, for he casteth forth fire
and flame from his shield whensoever him listeth. And while this
murmur was going on between the knights all round about the hall,
behold you therewithal the Damsel that made bear the knight in
the horse-bier and cometh before the King.
"Sir," saith she, "I pray and beseech you that you do me right in
your court. See, here is Messire Gawain that was at the assembly
in the Red Launde where were many knights, and among them was the
son of the Widow Lady, that I see sitting beside you. He and
Messire Gawain were they that won the most prize of the assembly.
This knight had white arms, and they of the assembly said that he
had better done than Messire Gawain, for that he had been first
in the assembly. It had been granted me, before the assembly
began, that he that should do best thereat, should avenge the
knight. Sir, I have sought for him until I have now found him at
your court. Wherefore I pray and beseech you that you bid him do
so much herein as that he be not blamed, for Messire Gawain well
knoweth that I have spoken true. But the knight departed so soon
from the assembly, that I knew not what had become of him, and
Messire Gawain was right heavy for that he had departed, for he
was in quest of him, but knew him not."
"Damsel," saith Messire Gawain, "Truth it is that he it was that
did best at the assembly in the Red Launde, and moreover, please
God, well will he fulfil his covenant towards you."
"Messire Gawain," saith Perceval, "Meseemeth you did best above
"By my faith," saith Messire Gawain, "You speak of your courtesy,
but howsoever I or other may have done, you had the prize therein
by the judgment of the knights. Of so much may I well call upon
the damsel to bear witness."
"Sir," saith she, "Gramercy! He ought not to deny me that I
require of him. For the knight that I have so long followed
about and borne on a bier was son of his uncle Elinant of
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Take heed that you speak truth. I
know well that Elinant of Escavalon was mine uncle on my father's
side, but of his son know I nought."
"Sir," saith she, "Of his deeds well deserved he to be known, for
by his great valour and hardiment came he by his death, and he
had to name Alein of Escavalon. The Damsel of the Circlet of
Gold loved him of passing great love with all her might. The
comeliest knight that was ever seen of his age was he, and had he
lived longer would have been one of the best knights known, and
of the great love she had in him made she his body be embalmed
when the Knight of the Dragon had slain him, he that is so cruel
and maketh desolate all the lands and all the islands. The
Damsel of the Circlet of Gold hath he defied in such sort that
already hath he slain great part of her knights, and she is held
fast in her castle, so that she durst not issue forth, insomuch
that all the knights that are there say, and the Lady of the
castle also, that he that shall avenge this knight shall have the
Circlet of Gold, that never before was she willing to part
withal, and the fairest guerdon will that be that any knight may
"Sir," saith she, "Well behoveth you therefore, to do your best
endeavour to avenge your uncle's son, and to win the Circlet of
Gold, for, and you slay the knight, you will have saved the land
of King Arthur that he threateneth to make desolate, and all the
lands that march with his own, for no King hateth he so much as
King Arthur on account of the head of the Giant whereof he made
such joy at his court."
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Where is the Knight of the Dragon?"
"Sir," saith she, "He is in the isles of the Elephants that wont
to be the fairest land and the richest in the world. Now hath he
made it all desolate, they say, in such sort that none durst
inhabit there, and the island wherein he abideth is over against
the castle of the Damsel of the Golden Circlet, so that every day
she seeth him carry knights off bodily from the forest that he
slayeth and smiteth limb from limb, whereof hath she right sore
grief at heart."
Perceval heareth this that the damsel telleth him, and marvelleth
much thereat, and taketh thought within himself, sith that the
adventure is thus thrown upon him, that great blame will he have
thereof and he achieveth it not. He taketh leave of the King and
Queen, and so goeth his way and departeth from the Court.
Messire Gawain departeth and Lancelot with him, and say they will
bear him company to the piece of ground, and they may go thither.
Perceval holdeth their fellowship right dear. The King and Queen
have great pity of Perceval, and say all that never until now no
knight went into jeopardy so sore, and that sore loss to the
world will it be if there he should die. They send to all the
hermits and worshipful men in the forest of Cardoil and bid them
pray for Perceval that God defend him from this enemy with whom
he goeth forth to do battle. Lancelot and Messire Gawain go with
him by the strange forests and by the islands, and found the
forests all void and desolate and wasted in place after place.
The Damsel followeth them together with the dead knight. And so
far have they wandered that they come into the plain country
before the forest. So they looked before them and saw a castle
that was seated in the plain without the forest, and they saw
that it was set in a right fair meadow-land, and was surrounded
of great running waters and girdled of high walls, and had within
great halls with windows. They draw nigh the castle and see that
it turneth all about faster than the wind may run, and it had at
the top the archers of crossbows of copper that draw their shafts
so strong that no armour in the world might avail against the
stroke thereof. Together with them were men of copper that
turned and sounded their horns so passing loud that the ground
all seemed to quake. And under the gateway were lions and bears
chained, that roared with so passing great might and fury that
all the ground and the valley resounded thereof. The knights
draw rein and look at this marvel.
"Lords," saith the damsel, "Now may you see the Castle of Great
Endeavour. Messire Gawain and Lancelot, draw you back, and come
not nigher the archers, for otherwise ye be but dead men. And
you, sir," saith she to Perceval, "And you would enter into this
castle, lend me your spear and shield, and so will I bear them
before for warranty, and you come after me and make such
countenance as good knight should, and so shall you pass through
into the castle. But your fellows may well draw back, for now is
not the hour for them to pass. None may pass thither save only
he that goeth to vanquish the knight and win the Golden Circlet
and the Graal, and do away the false law with its horns of
Perceval is right sorrowful when he heareth the damsel say that
Messire Gawain and Lancelot may not pass in thither with him
albeit they be the best knights in the world. He taketh leave of
them full sorrowfully, and they also depart sore grudgingly; but
they pray him right sweetly, so Lord God allow him escape alive
from the place whither he goeth, that he will meet them again at
some time and place, and at ease, in such sort as that they may
see him without discognisance. They wait awhile to watch the
Good Knight, that hath yielded his shield and spear to the
damsel. She hath set his shield on the bier in front, then
pointeth out to them of the castle all openly the shield that
belonged to the Good Soldier; after that she maketh sign that it
belongeth to the knight that is there waiting behind her.
Perceval was without shield in the saddle-bows, and holdeth his
sword drawn and planteth him stiffly in the stirrups after such
sort as maketh them creak again and his horse's chine swerve
awry. After that, he looketh at Lancelot and Messire Gawain.
"Lords," saith he, "To the Saviour of the World commend I you."
And they answer, "May He that endured pain of His body on the
Holy True Cross protect him in his body and his soul and his
With that he smiteth with his spurs and goeth his way to the
castle as fast as his horse may carry him, -- toward the Turning
Castle. He smiteth with his sword at the gate so passing
strongly that he cut a good three fingers into a shaft of marble.
The lions and the beast that were chained to guard the gate slink
away into their dens, and the castle stoppeth at once. The
archers cease to shoot. There were three bridges before the
castle that uplifted themselves so soon as he was beyond.
Lancelot and Messire Gawain departed thence when they had
beholden the marvel, but they were fain to go toward the castle
when they saw it stop turning. But a knight cried out to them
from the battlements, "Lords, and you come forward, the archers
will shoot and the castle will turn, and the bridges be lowered
again, wherefore you would be deceived herein."
They draw back, and hear made within the greatest joy that ever
was heard, and they hear how the most part therewithin say that
now is he come of whom they shall be saved in twofold wise, saved
as of life, and saved as of soul, so God grant him to vanquish
the knight that beareth the spirit of the devil. Lancelot and
Messire Gawain turn them back thoughtful and all heavy for that
they may not pass into the castle, for none other passage might
they see than this. So they ride on, until that they draw nigh
the Waste City where Lancelot slew the knight.
"Ha," saith he to Messire Gawain, "Now is the time at hand that
behoveth me to die in this Waste City, and God grant not counsel
He told Messire Gawain all the truth of that which had befallen
him therein. So, even as he would have taken leave of him,
behold you, the Poor Knight of the Waste Castle!
"Sir," saith he to Lancelot, "I have taken respite of you in the
city within there, of the knight that you slew, until forty days
after that the Graal shall be achieved, nor have I issued forth
of the castle wherein you harboured you until now, nor should I
now have come forth had I not seen you come for fulfilling of
your pledge, nor never shall I come forth again until such time
as you shall return hither on the day I have named to you. And
so, gramercy to you and Messire Gawain for the horses you sent
me, that were a right great help to us, and for the treasure and
the hold you have given to my sisters that were sore poverty-
stricken. But I may not do otherwise than abide in my present
poverty until such time as you shall be returned, on the day
whereunto I have taken respite for you, sore against the will of
your enemies, for the benefits you have done me. Wherefore I
pray yon forget me not, for the saving of your loyalty."
"By my head," saith Lancelot, "That will I not, and gramercy for
having put off the day for love of me."
They depart from the knight and come back again toward Cardoil
where King Arthur was.
Here the story is silent of Lancelot and Messire Gawain, and
saith that Perceval is in the Turning Castle, whereof Joseus
recounteth the truth, to wit, that Virgil founded it in the air
by his wisdom in such fashion, when the philosophers went on the
Quest of the Earthly Paradise, and it was prophesied that the
castle should not cease turning until such time as the Knight
should come thither that should have a head of gold, the look of
a lion, a heart of steel, the navel of a virgin maiden,
conditions without wickedness, the valour of a man and faith and
belief of God; and that this knight should bear the shield of the
Good Soldier that took down the Saviour of the World from hanging
on the rood. It was prophesied, moreover, that all they of the
castle and all other castles whereof this one was the guardian
should hold the old law until such time as the Good Knight should
come, by whom their souls should be saved and their death
respited. For, so soon as he should be come, they should run to
be baptized, and should firmly believe the new law. Wherefore
was the joy great in the castle for that their death should now
be respited, and that they should be released of all terror of
the knight that was their foe, whom they dreaded even to the
death, and of the sin of the false law whereof they had
heretofore been attaint.
Right glad is Perceval when he seeth the people of the castle
turn them to the holy faith of the Saviour, and the damsel saith
to him, "Sir, right well have you speeded thus far on your way;
nought is there now to be done save to finish that which
remaineth. For never may they that are within issue forth so
long as the Knight of the Dragon is on live. Here may you not
tarry, for the longer you tarry, the more lands will be desolate
and the more folk will he slay. Perceval taketh leave of them of
the castle, that make much joy of him, but sore misgiving have
they of him on account of the knight with whom he goeth to do
battle, and they say that if he shall conquer him, never yet
befell knight so fair adventure. They have heard mass before
that he departeth, and made rich offerings for him in honour of
the Saviour and His sweet Mother. The damsel goeth before, for
that she knew the place where the evil knight had his repair.
They ride until they come into the Island of Elephants. The
Knight was alighted under an olive tree, and had but now since
slain four knights that were of the castle of the Queen of the
Golden Circlet. She was at the windows of her castle and saw her
Knights dead, whereof made she great dole.
"Ha, God," saith she, "Shall I never see none that may avenge me
of this evildoer that slayeth my men and destroyeth my land on
She looketh up and seeth Perceval come and the damsel.
"Sir Knight, and you have not force and help and valour in you
more than is in four knights, come not nigh this devil! Howbeit,
and you feel that you may so do battle as to overcome and
vanquish him, I will give you the Golden Circlet that is within,
and will hold with the New Law that hath been of late
established. For I see well by your shield that you are a
Christian, and, so you may conquer him, then ought I at last to
be assured that your law availeth more than doth ours, and that
God was born of the Virgin."
Right joyous is Perceval of this that he heareth her say. He
crosseth and blesseth him, and commendeth him to God and His
sweet Mother; and is pricked of wrath and hardiment like a lion.
He seeth the Knight of the Dragon mounted, and looketh at him in
wonderment, for that he was so big that never had he seen any man
so big of his body. He seeth the shield at his neck, that was
right black and huge and hideous. He seeth the Dragon's head in
the midst thereof, that casteth out fire and flame in great
plenty, so foul and hideous and horrible that all the field stank
thereof. The damsel draweth her toward the castle and leaveth
the knight on the horsesaith.
"Sir," saith she to Perceval, "On this level plot was slain your
uncle's son whom here I leave, for I have brought him far enough.
Now avenge him as best you may, I render and give him over to
you, for so much have I done herein as that none have right to
With that she departeth. The Knight of the Dragon removeth and
seeth Perceval coming all alone, wherefore hath he great scorn of
him and deigneth not to take his spear, but rather cometh at him
with his drawn sword, that was right long and red as a burning
brand. Perceval seeth him coming and goeth against him, spear in
rest, as hard as his horse may carry him, thinking to smite him
through the breast. But the Knight setteth his shield between,
and the flame that issued from the Dragon burnt the shaft thereof
even to his hand. And the Knight smiteth him on the top of his
helmet, but Perceval covereth him of his shield, whereof had he
great affiance that the sword of the foeman knight might not harm
it. Josephus witnesseth us that Joseph of Abarimacie had made be
sealed in the boss of the shield some of the blood of Our Lord
and a piece of His garment.
When the Knight seeth that he hath not hurt Perceval's shield,
great marvel hath he thereof, for never aforetime had he smitten
knight but he had dealt him his death-blow. He turneth the head
of the Dragon towards Perceval's shield, but the flame that
issued from the Dragon's head turned back again as it had been
blown of the wind, so that it might not come nigh him. The
Knight is right wroth thereof, and passeth beyond and cometh to
the bier of the dead knight and turneth his shield with the
dragon's head against him. He scorcheth and burneth all to ashes
the bodies of the knight and the horses.
Saith he to Perceval, "Are you quit as for this knight's burial?"
"Certes," saith Perceval, "You say true, and much misliketh me
thereof, but please God I shall amend it."
The damsel that had brought the knight was at the windows of the
palace beside the Queen. She crieth out. "Perceval, fair sir,"
saith the damsel,"Now is the shame the greater and the harm the
greater, and you amend them not."
Right sorrowful is Perceval of his cousin that is all burnt to a
cinder, and he seeth the Knight that beareth the devil with him,
but knoweth not how he may do vengeance upon him. He cometh to
him sword-drawn, and dealeth him a great blow on the shield in
such sort that he cleaveth it right to the midst thereof where
the dragon's head was, and the flame leapeth forth so burning hot
on his sword that it waxed red-hot like as was the Knight's
And the damsel crieth to him: "Now is your sword of the like
power as his; now shall it be seen what you will do! I have been
told of a truth that the Knight may not be vanquished save by one
only and at one blow, but how this is I may not tell, whereof
Perceval looketh and seeth that his sword is all in a flame of
fire, whereof much he marvelleth. He smiteth the Knight so
passing sore that he maketh his head stoop down over the fore
saddle-bow. The Knight righteth him again, sore wrath that he
may not put him to the worse. He smiteth him with his sword a
blow so heavy that he cleaveth the habergeon and his right
shoulder so that he cutteth and burneth the flesh to the bone.
As he draweth back his blow, Perceval catcheth him and striketh
him with such passing strength that he smiteth off his hand,
sword and all. The Knight gave a great roar, and the Queen was
right joyous thereof. The Knight natheless made no semblant that
he was yet conquered, but turneth back toward Perceval at a right
great gallop and launched his flame against his shield, but it
availeth him nought, for he might not harm it. Perceval seeth
the dragon's head, that was broad and long and horrible, and
aimeth with his sword and thrusteth it up to the hilt into his
gullet as straight as ever he may, and the head of the dragon
hurleth forth a cry so huge that forest and fell resound thereof
as far as two leagues Welsh.
The dragon's head turneth it toward his lord in great wrath, and
scorcheth him and burneth him to dust, and thereafter departed up
into the sky like lightning. The Queen cometh to Perceval, and
all the knights, and see that he is sore hurt in his right
shoulder. And the damsel telleth him that never will he be
healed thereof save he setteth thereon of the dust of the knight
that is dead. And they lead him up to the castle with right
great joy. Then they make him be disarmed, and have his wound
washed and tended and some of the knight's dust that was dead set
thereon that it might have healing. She maketh send to all the
knights of her land: "Lords," saith she, "See here the knight
that hath saved my land for me and protected your lives. You
know well how it hath been prophesied that the knight with head
of gold should come, and through him should you be saved. And
now, behold, hath he come hither. The prophecy may not be
belied. I will that you do his commandment."
And they said that so would they do right willingly. She
bringeth him there where the Circlet of Gold is, and she herself
setteth it on his head. After that, she bringeth his sword and
delivereth it unto him, wherewith he had slain the giant devil,
both the knight that bare the devil, and the devil that the
knight bare in his shield.
"Sir," saith she, "May all they that will not go to be baptized,
nor accept your New Law, be slain of this your sword, and hereof
I make you the gift."
She herself made her be held up and baptized first, and all the
other after. Josephus maketh record that in right baptism she
had for name Elysa, and a good life she led and right holy, and
she died a virgin. Her body still lieth in the kingdom of
Ireland, where she is highly honoured. Perceval was within the
castle until that he was heal. The tidings spread throughout the
lands that the Knight of the Golden Circlet had slain the Knight
of the Dragon, and great everywhere was the joy thereof. It was
known at the court of King Arthur, but much marvelled they that
it was said the Knight of the Golden Circlet had slain him, for
they knew not who was the Knight of the Golden Circlet.
When Perceval was whole, he departed from the castle of the Queen
of the Golden Circlet, all of whose land was at his commandment.
The Queen told him that she would keep the Golden Circlet until
he should will otherwise, and in such sort he left it there, for
he would not carry it with him, sith that he knew not whitherward
he might turn. The history telleth us that he rode on until one
day he came to the Castle of Copper. Within the castle were a
number of folk that worshipped the bull of copper and believed
not in any other God. The bull of copper was in the midst of the
castle upon four columns of copper, and bellowed so loud at all
hours of the day that it was heard for a league all round about,
and there was an evil spirit within that gave answers concerning
whatsoever any should ask of it.
At the entrance to the gateway of the castle were two men made of
copper by art of nicromancy, and they held two great mallets of
iron, and they busied themselves striking the one after the
other, and so strongly they struck that nought mortal is there in
the world that might pass through amongst their blows but should
be all to-crushed thereby. And on the other side was the castle
so fast enclosed about that nought might enter thereinto.
Perceval beholdeth the fortress of the castle, and the entrance
that was so perilous, whereof he marvelleth much. He passeth a
bridge that was within the entry, and cometh nigh them that guard
the gate. A Voice began to cry aloud above the gate that he
might go forward safely, and that he need have no care for the
men of copper that guarded the gate nor be affrighted of their
blows, for no power had they to harm such a knight as was he. He
comforteth himself much of that the Voice saith to him. He
cometh anigh the serjeants of copper, and they cease to strike at
once, and hold their iron mallets quite still. And he entereth
into the castle, where he findeth within great plenty of folk
that all were misbelievers and of feeble belief. He seeth the
bull of copper in the midst of the castle right big and horrible,
that was surrounded on all sides by folk that all did worship
thereunto together round about.
The bull bellowed so passing loud that right uneath was it to
hear aught else within the castle besides. Perceval was
therewithin, but none was there that spake unto him, for, so
intent were they upon adoring the bull that, and any had been
minded to slay them what time they were yet worshipping the same,
they would have allowed him so to do, and would have thought that
they were saved thereby; and save this had they none other
believe in the world. It was not of custom within there to be
armed, for the entrance of the fortress was so strong that none
might enter but by their will and commandment, save it were the
pleasure of our Lord God. And the devil that had deceived them,
and in whom they believed, gave them such great abundance
therewithin of everything they could desire, that nought in the
world was there whereof they lacked. When he perceived that they
held no discourse with him, he draweth himself on one side by a
great hall, and so called them around him. The more part came
thither, but some of them came not. The Voice warneth him that
he make them all pass through the entrance of the gateway there
where the men with the iron mallets are, for there may he well
prove which of them are willing to believe in God and which not.
The Good Knight draweth his sword and surroundeth them all and
maketh them all go in common before him, would they or nould
they. And they that would not go willingly and kindly might be
sure that they should receive their death. He made them pass
through the entrance there where the serjeants of copper were
striking great blows with their iron mallets. Of one thousand
five hundred that there were, scarce but thirteen were not all
slain and brained of the iron mallets. But the thirteen had
firmly bound their belief in Our Lord, wherefore the serjeants
took no heed of them.
The evil spirit that was in the bull of copper issued forth
thereof as it had been lightning from heaven, and the bull of
copper melted all in a heap so as that nought remained in that
place thereof. Then the thirteen that remained sent for a hermit
of the forest and so made themselves be held up and baptized.
After that, they took the bodies of the misbelievers and made
cast them into a water that is called the River of Hell. This
water runneth into the sea, so say many that have seen it, and
there where it spendeth itself in the sea is it most foul and
most horrible, so that scarce may ship pass that is not wrecked.
Josephus maketh record that the hermit that baptized the thirteen
had the name of Denis, and that the castle was named the Castle
of the Trial. They lived within there until the New Law was
assured and believed in throughout all the kingdoms, and a right
good life led they and a holy. Nor never might none enter with
them thereinto but was slain and crushed save he firmly believed
in God. When the thirteen that were baptized in the castle
issued forth thereof they scattered themselves on every side
among strange forests, and made hermitages and buildings, and put
their bodies to penance for the false law they had maintained and
to win the love of the Saviour of the World.
Perceval, as you may hear, was soldier of Our Lord, and well did
God show him how He loved his knighthood, for the Good Knight had
much pain and sore travail and pleased Him greatly. He was come
one day to the house of King Hermit that much desired to see him,
and made much joy of him when he saw him, and rejoiced greatly of
his courage. Perceval relateth to him all the greater adventures
that have befallen him at many times and in many places sithence
that he departed from him, and King Hermit much marvelleth him of
"Uncle," saith Perceval, "I marvel me much of an adventure that
befell me at the outlet of a forest; for I saw a little white
beast that I found in the launde of the forest, and twelve hounds
had she in her belly, that bayed aloud and quested within her.
At last they issued forth of her and slew her beside the cross
that was at the outlet of the forest, but they might not eat of
her flesh. A knight and a damsel, whereof one was at one end of
the launde and the other at the other, came thither and took the
flesh and the blood, and set them in two vessels of gold. And
the hounds that were born of her fled away into the forest."
"Fair nephew," saith the Hermit, "I know well that God loveth you
sith that such things appear to you, for His valour and yours and
for the chastity that is in your body. The beast, that was
kindly and gentle and sweet, signifieth Our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the twelve dogs that yelped within her signify the people of
the Old Law that God created and made in His own likeness, and
after that He had made and created them He desired to prove how
much they loved Him. He sent them forty years into the
wilderness, where their garments never wasted, and sent them
manna from heaven that served them whatsoever they would to eat
and to drink, and they were without evil and without trouble and
without sickness, and such joy and pleasance had they as they
would. And they held one day their council, and the master of
them said that and God should wax wroth with them and withhold
this manna, they would have nought to eat, and that it might not
last always albeit that God sent it in so passing great plenty.
Wherefore they purposed to set aside great part thereof in store,
so that if the Lord God should wax wroth they might take of that
which was stored and so save themselves for a long space. They
agreed among themselves and did thereafter as they had purposed
and determined amongst them.
"God, that seeth and knoweth all things, knew well their thought.
He withdrew from them the manna from heaven that had come to them
in such abundance, and which they had bestowed in caverns
underground, thinking to find there the manna they had set aside,
but it was changed by the will of God into efts and adders and
worms and vermin, and when they saw that they had done evil, they
scattered themselves over strange lands. Fair, sweet nephew,"
saith the Hermit, "These twelve hounds that bayed in the beast
are the Jews that God had fed, and that were born in the Law that
He established, nor never would they believe on Him, nor love
Him, but rather crucified Him and tore His Body after the
shamefullest sort they might, but in no wise might they destroy
His flesh. The knight and damsel that set the pieces of flesh in
vessels of gold signify the divinity of the Father, which would
not that His flesh should be minished. The hounds fled to the
forest and became savage what time they had torn the beast to
pieces, so in like manner are the Jews that were and ever shall
be savage, subject to them of the New Law henceforth for ever."
"Fair uncle," saith Perceval, "Good right and reason is it that
they should have shame and tribulation and evil reward sith that
they slew and crucified Him that had created and made them and
deigned to be born as a man in their Law. But two priests came
after, whereof the one kissed the cross and worshipped it right
heartily and made great joy thereof, and the other did violence
thereunto and bear it with a great rod, and wept right sore and
made the greatest dole in the world. With this last was I right
sore wrath, and willingly would I have run upon him had he not
been a priest."
"Fair nephew," saith the Hermit, "He that beat it believed in God
equally as well as he that adored, for that the holy flesh of the
Saviour of the World was set thereon, that abhorred not the pains
of death. One smiled and made great joy for that He redeemed His
souls from the pains of hell that would otherwise have been
therein for evermore; and for this made he yet greater joy, that
he knew He was God and Man everlastingly in His nature, for he
that hath not this in remembrance shall never believe aright.
Fair nephew, the other priest bear the cross and wept for the
passing great anguish and torment and dolour that our Lord God
suffered thereon, for so sore was the anguish as might have
melted the rock, nor no tongue of man may tell the sorrow He felt
upon the cross. And therefore did he bear it and revile it for
that He was crucified thereon, even as I might hate a spear or
sword wherewith you had been slain. For nought else did he thus,
and ever, so often as he remembereth the pain that God suffered
thereon, cometh he to the cross in such manner as you saw. Both
twain are hermits and dwell in the forest, and he is named Jonas
that kissed and adored the cross, and he that beat and reviled it
is named Alexis."
Willingly heareth Perceval this that his uncle telleth and
recordeth him. He relateth how he did battle with the devil-
knight that bare in his shield the head of a dragon that cast
forth fire and flame, and how the dragon burnt up his lord at the
"Fair nephew," saith the hermit, "Right glad am I of these
tidings that you tell me, for I have been borne on hand that the
Knight of the Golden Circlet had slain him."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "It may well be, but never at any time saw
I knight so big and horrible."
"Fair nephew," saith the Hermit, "None might overcome him save
the Good Knight only, for all true worshipful men behoveth do
battle with the Devil, nor never may he be worshipful man that
fighteth not against him. And even as the devil withal that was
figured on his shield slew and burnt up his master, even so doth
one devil torment and molest other in the world to come; and
greater evil might not the Knight of the Devil do you than burn
the body oś your uncle's son that he had killed, as I have heard
tell. Power had he over his body, but, please God, not over his
soul to burn it."
"Fair uncle," saith Perceval, "I went thither by a Turning
Castle, where were archers of copper that shot bolts, and bears
and lions chained at the entrance of the gateway. So soon as I
drew nigh and smote thereon with my sword the castle stopped
"Fair nephew," said King Hermit, "Nought had the Devil outwardly
besides this castle. It was the entrance to his fortress, nor
would they within ever have been converted save you had been
"Sir," saith he, "Right sorrowful am I of Messire Gawain and
Lancelot, for well I loved their fellowship, and great aid would
they have been in my need."
"Fair nephew, had they been chaste as are you, well might they
have entered on account of their good knighthood. For were they
not wanton, the two best knights in the world are they.
"Fair nephew, in the time of your knighthood have you much
advanced the Law of the Saviour, for you have destroyed the
falsest believe in the world, and this was of them that believed
on the bull of copper and the devil that was therein. If this
folk had remained, and had failed of you, never would it have
been destroyed until the end of the world. Wherefore marvel not
that you have travail in serving God, but endure it willingly,
for never had worshipful man honour without pains. But now
behoveth you achieve another matter. All they of the land of
King Fisherman your uncle have abandoned the New Law, and
returned to that which God hath forbidden. But the most part do
so rather perforce and for fear of the King that hath seized the
land, who is my brother and your uncle, than on account of aught
else. Wherefore behoveth you set counsel therein, for this thing
may not be achieved by any earthly man save by you only. For the
castle and land should be yours of right, and sore mischief is it
when one that cometh of lineage so high and so holy is traitor to
God, and disloyal to the world.
"Fair nephew," saith the good man, "The castle hath been much
strengthened, for there are now nine bridges newly made, and at
each bridge are there three knights tall and strong and hardy,
whereof hath he much defence, and your uncle is there within that
keepeth the castle. But never sithence, none of the knights of
King Fisherman nor of his priests have there appeared, nor
knoweth any what hath befallen them. The chapel wherein the most
Holy Graal appeared is all emptied of its sacred hallows; the
hermits that are by the forest are fain of your coming, for never
see they there a knight pass by that believeth in God. And so
you shall have achieved this enterprise, it is a thing whereof
shall God be well pleased."
"Fair uncle," saith Perceval, "Thither will I go, sith that you
commend it to me, for no reason is it that he should have the
castle that hath entered thereinto. Of better right ought my
mother to have it, that was the next-born to King Fisherman, of
whose death am I right sorrowful."
"Fair nephew, you are right! for on your account fell he into
languishment, and, had you then gone again, so say many, then
would he have been whole, but how this might have been I know not
of a certainty. But methinketh our Lord God willed his
languishment and death, for had it been His will, you would have
made the demand, but He willed otherwise, wherefore ought we to
give thanks and praise Him whatsoever He doth, for He hath
foreseen of every man that which shall come to him. I have
within here a white mule that is very old. Fair nephew, you will
take her with you. She will follow you right willingly, and a
banner shall you bear, for the power of God and His virtue shall
avail more than your own. Seven-and-twenty knights guard the
nine bridges, all chosen and of approved great valour, and none
ought now to believe that a single knight may vanquish so many,
save the miracle of Our Lord and His virtue shall open a way for
him. So I pray and beseech you that you have God always in
remembrance and His sweet Mother, and, so at any time you be put
to the worse of your knighthood, mount upon the mule and take the
banner, and your enemies shall forthwith lose their force, for
nought confoundeth any enemy so swiftly as doth the virtue and
puissance of God. It is a thing well known that you are the Best
Knight of the World, but set not affiance in your strength nor in
your knighthood as against so many knights, for against them may
you not endure."
Perceval hearkeneth unto his uncle's discourse and his
chastening, and layeth fast hold on all that he saith, wherewith
is he pleased full well, for great affiance hath he in his words.
"Fair nephew," saith the Hermit, "Two lions are there at the
entry of the gateway, whereof the one is red and the other white.
Put your trust in the white, for he is on God's side, and look at
him whensoever your force shall fail you, and he will look at you
likewise in such sort as that straightway you shall know his
intent, by the will and pleasure of Our Saviour. Wherefore do
according as you shall see that he would, for no intent will he
have save good only, and to help you; nor may you not otherwise
succeed in winning past the nine bridges that are warded of the
twenty-seven knights. And God grant you may win past in such
wise that you may save your body and set forward withal the Law
of Our Lord that your uncle hath hindered all that he might."
Perceval departeth from the hermitage, and carrieth away the
banner, according to his uncle's counsel, and the white mule
followeth after. He goeth his way toward the land that was the
land of King Fisherman, and findeth a hermit that was issued
forth of his hermitage and was going at a great pace through the
forest. He abideth so soon as he beholdeth the cross on
"Sir," saith he, "I well perceive that you are a Christian, of
whom not a single one have I seen this long time past. For the
King of Castle Mortal is driving us forth of this forest, for he
hath renounced God and His sweet Mother, so that we durst not
remain in His defence."
"By my faith," saith Perceval, "But you shall! for God shall
lead you forward, and I after. Are there more hermits in this
forest?" saith Perceval.
"Yea, Sir, there be twelve here that are waiting for me at a
cross yonder before us, and we are minded to go to the kingdom of
Logres and put our bodies to penance for God's sake, and to
abandon our cells and chapels in this forest for dread of this
felon King that hath seized the land, for he willeth that none
who believeth in God should here abide."
Perceval is come with the hermit to the cross where the good men
had assembled them together, and findeth Joseus, the young man
that was King Pelles' son, of whom he maketh right great joy, and
he maketh the hermits turn back again with him, saying that he
will defend them and make them sate, by God's help, in the
kingdom, and prayeth them right sweetly that they make prayer for
him to our Lord that He grant him to win back that which of right
is his own. He is come forth of the forest and the hermits with
him. He draweth nigh to the castle of King Fisherman, and strong
was the defence at the entrance thereof. Some of the knights
well knew that Perceval would conquer him, for long since had it
been prophesied that he who bare such shield should win the Graal
of him that sold God for money.
The knights saw Perceval coming and the company of hermits with
him right seemly to behold, and much marvel had they thereof.
About a couple of bowshots above the bridge was a chapel
fashioned like the one at Camelot, wherein was a sepulchre, and
none knew who lay therein. Perceval abideth thereby and his
company. He leaneth his shield and spear against the chapel, and
maketh fast his horse and mule by the reins. He beholdeth the
sepulchre, that was fight fair, and forthwith the sepulchre
openeth and the joinings fall apart and the stone lifteth up in
such wise that a man might see the knight that lay within, of
whom came forth a smell of so sweet savour that it seemed to the
good men that were looking on that it had been all embalmed.
They found a letter which testified that this knight was named
Josephus. So soon as the hermits beheld the sepulchre open, they
said to Perceval: "Sir, now at last know we well that you are the
Good Knight, the chaste, the holy."
The knights that warded the bridge heard the tidings that the
sepulchre had opened at the coming of the knight, whereof were
they in the greater dismay, and well understood that it was he
that was first at the Graal. The tidings came to the King that
held the castle, and he bade his knights not be dismayed for
dread of a single knight, for that he would have no force nor
power against them, nor might it never befall but that one only
of his own knights should be enough to conquer him.
Perceval was armed upon his horse. The hermits make the sign of
the cross over him, and bless him and commend him to God. And he
holdeth his spear in rest and cometh toward the three knights
that guard the first bridge. They all set upon him at once and
break their spears upon his shield. One of them he smiteth with
such force that he maketh him topple over into the river that
runneth under the bridge, both him and his horse. Of him was he
quit, for the river was wide and deep and swift. The others held
out against him a much longer bout with sharp sword-play, but he
vanquished them and smote them to pieces, and flung their bodies
into the water. They of the second bridge came forward, that
were right good knights, and many a tough bout had he of them and
many a felon onslaught. Joseus that was his uncle's son was
there, and said to the other hermits that right fainly would he
go help him, but that he deemed it might be sin, and they bade
him take no heed of that, for that great work of mercy would it
be to destroy the enemies of Our Lord. He doeth off his grey
cape and fettleth him in his frock, and taketh one of them that
were doing battle with Perceval and trusseth him on his neck and
so flingeth him into the river all armed, and Perceval slayeth
the other twain and hurleth them into the river in like manner as
By the time he had won the two bridges he was full spent and
weary, wherefore he bethinketh him of the lion, the manner
whereof his uncle had told him. Then looketh he toward the
entrance of the gateway and seeth the white lion, that stood
upright on his two hinder feet, for that he was fain to see him.
Perceval looketh him full between the two eyes, and understandeth
that the lion is minded by the will of God to do him to wit that
the knights of the third bridge are so hardy and of such strength
that they may not be overcome of a single knight and our Lord God
of his holy bounty open not the way, but that he must fain take
the mule and carry the banner if he would conquer them. Perceval
understandeth the white lion's intent, and giveth God thanks
thereof and draweth him back, and Joseus the young man likewise.
As soon as they look back, they see that the first bridge is
already lifted up behind them.
Perceval cometh to where the white mule was, and she was starred
on the forehead with a red cross. He mounteth thereupon, and
taketh the banner and holdeth his sword drawn. So soon as the
white lion seeth him coming, he unchaineth himself and runneth
incontinent to the bridge that was lifted, right amidst the
knights, and lowereth it forthwith. The King of Castle Mortal
was on the battlements of the greater fortress of the castle, and
crieth to the knights that warded the bridge, "Lords," saith he,
"You are the most chosen knights of my land and the hardiest, but
no hardiment is it to lift the bridges on account of a single
knight whom you durst not abide body to body, whereof meseemeth
it great cowardize and not hardiment. But the lion is hardier
than you all, that of his hardiment hath lowered the bridge.
Wherefore now know I well that had I set him to ward the first
bridge, he would have warded it better than these that have
allowed themselves to be slain."
Thereupon, behold you Perceval come upon his white mule, sword
drawn all naked in his fist, and cometh toward them of the third
bridge, whereof he smiteth the first so sore that he overthroweth
him into the water. Joseus the hermit cometh forward and would
fain have seized the other twain, but they cry mercy of Perceval,
and say that they will be at his will in all things, and so will
believe on God and His sweet Mother and abandon their evil lord.
And they of the fourth bridge say likewise. On such condition he
alloweth them to live by the counsel of Joseus, and they cast
away their arms and yield up the bridges at his will. Perceval
thinketh within himself that God's virtue hath right great power,
but that knight who hath force and power ought well to approve
his prowess for God's sake. For of all that he shall do or
suffer for Him, shall God be well pleased. For, were all the
world against our Lord God, and He should grant to any single one
that should be His champion all His power and might, he would
conquer them all in one hour of the day. But He willeth that a
man should travail for Him, even as He Himself suffered travail
for His people.
Perceval cometh again back and alighteth of the white mule and
delivereth the banner to Joseus, and then mounteth again on his
destrier and cometh back to them of the fifth bridge, and these
defend themselves right stoutly, for that hardy knights are they,
and do battle against Perceval full sturdily. Joseus the hermit
cometh thither and assaulteth them with passing great lustihood,
that had the Lord God not saved him they would have overthrown
and slain him. Howbeit, he holdeth the banner and grappleth them
when he may lay hold, and grippeth them so straight that they may
not help themselves. Perceval slayeth them and crusheth them and
maketh them topple over into the water that ran swiftly beneath
the bridge. When they of the sixth bridge saw that these were
conquered, they cried mercy of Perceval and yielded themselves to
him and delivered up their swords to him, and they of the seventh
bridge likewise. When the red lion saw that the seventh bridge
was Won, and that the knights of the two bridges had yielded
themselves up to Perceval, he leapt up with such fury that he
burst his chain as had he been wood mad. He came to one of the
knights and bit him and slew him, whereof the white lion was full
wroth, and runneth upon the other lion and teareth him to pieces
with his claws and teeth.
Straightway thereafter he raiseth himself up on his two hinder
feet and looketh at Perceval, and Perceval at him. Perceval
understandeth well the lion's intent, to wit, that they of the
last bridge are worse to conquer than the others, and that they
may not be conquered at all save by the will of God and by him
that is the lion. And the lion warned him that he go not against
them with the banner, holy though it were, nor receive them into
mercy what surety soever they might make, for that they are
traitors, but that he must fain mount upon the white mule, for
that she is a beast on God's side, and that Joseus should bring
the banner and all the hermits go before, that are worshipful men
and of good life, so as to dismay the traitor King, and so shall
the end and the conquest of the castle be brought nigh. Of all
this the lion made signs to Perceval, for speak he could not.
Great affiance hath Perceval in the lion's warning. He alighteth
of his destrier and remounteth on the mule, and Joseus holdeth
the banner. The company of twelve hermits was there, right
seemly and holy. They draw nigh the castle. The knights on the
last bridge see Perceval coming towards them and Joseus the
hermit holding the banner, by whom they had seen their other
fellows wrestled withal and put to the worse.
The virtue of Our Lord and the dignity of the banner and the
goodness of the white mule and the holiness of the good hermits
that made their orisons to Our Lord so struck the knights that
they lost all power over themselves, but treason might not go
forth of their hearts, wherefore right heavy were they of their
kinsmen that they had seen slain before them. They bethought
them that and if by mercy they might escape thence, they would
never end until they had slain Perceval. They come to meet him
and so cry him mercy passing sweetly in semblance, and say that
they will do his will for ever and ever, so only he will let them
depart safe and sound. Perceval looketh at the lion to know what
he shall do; he seeth that the lion thinketh them traitors and
disloyal, and that so they were destroyed and dead the King that
was in the castle would have lost his force; and that, so
Perceval will run upon them, the lion will help him slay them.
Perceval telleth the knights that never will he have mercy upon
them, and forthwith runneth upon them, sword drawn, and sorely it
misliked him that they defended not themselves, insomuch that he
all but left to slay them for that no defence found he in them.
But the lion is so far from holding them in the like disdain,
that he runneth upon them and biteth and slayeth them, and then
casteth forth their limbs and bodies into the water. Perceval
alloweth that this is well and seemly, and pleaseth him much of
that he seeth the lion do, nor never before had he seen any beast
that he might love and prize so highly as this one.
The King of Castle Mortal was on the battlements of the wall, and
seeth how his knights are dead, and how the lion helpeth to slay
the last. He setteth himself on the highest place of the walls,
then lifteth the skirt of his habergeon and holdeth his sword all
naked, that was right keen and well-tempered, and so smiteth
himself right through the body, and falleth all adown the walls
into the water, that was swift and deep, in such sort that
Perceval saw him, and all the good hermits likewise, that
marvelled much of a King that should slay himself in such manner;
but they say according to the judgment of the scripture, that by
right of evil man should the end be evil. On such wise was the
end of this King of whom I tell you. Josephus relateth us how
none ought to marvel that of three brothers, even though they be
sons of the same father and mother, one brother should be evil;
and the real marvel, saith he, is when one evil corrupteth not
the two that are good, for that wickedness is so hard and keen
and beguiling, and goodness so kindly and simple and humble.
Cain and Abel were brothers-german, yet Cain slew his brother
Abel, the one flesh betrayed the other. But great sorrow is it,
saith Josephus, when the flesh that ought to be one becometh
twain, and the one flesh goeth about by wickedness to deceive and
destroy the other. Josephus recordeth us by this evil king that
was so traitorous and false and yet was of the lineage of the
Good Soldier Joseph of Abarimacie. This Joseph, as the scripture
witnesseth, was his uncle, and this evil king was brother-german
of King Fisherman, and brother of the good King Pelles that had
abandoned his land, in order that he might serve God, and brother
of the Widow Lady that was Perceval's mother, the most loyal that
was ever in Great Britain. All these lineages were in the
service of Our Lord from the beginning of their lives unto the
end, save only this evil King that perished so evilly as you have
You have heard how the King that had seized the castle that had
been King Fisherman's slew himself in such wise, and how his
knights were discomfited. Perceval entered into the castle and
the worshipful hermits together with him. It seemed them when
they were come within into the master hall, that they heard chant
in an inner chapel `Gloria in excelsis Deo', and right sweet
praising of Our Lord. They found the hails right rich and seemly
and fairly adorned within. They found the chapel open where the
sacred hallows were wont to be. The holy hermits entered therein
and made their orisons, and prayed the Saviour of the World that
He would swiftly restore to them the most Holy Graal and the
sacred hallows that wont to be therewithin whereby they might be
The good men were there within with Perceval, that much loved
their company. Josephus witnesseth us that the ancient knights
that were of the household of King Fisherman, and the priests and
damsels, departed so soon as the King that slew himself had
seized the castle, for that they would not be at his court, and
the Lord God preserved them from him and made them go into such a
place as that they should be in safety. The Saviour of the World
well knew that the Good Knight had won the castle by his valour
that should have been his own of right, and sent back thither all
them that had served King Fisherman. Perceval made right great
joy of them when he saw them, and they of him. They seemed well
to be a folk that had come from some place where God and His
commandments were honoured, and so indeed had they.
The High History witnesseth us that when the conquest of the
castle was over, the Saviour of the World was right joyous and
well pleased thereof. The Graal presented itself again in the
chapel, and the lance whereof the point bleedeth, and the sword
wherewith St John was beheaded that Messire Gawain won, and the
other holy relics whereof was right great plenty. For our Lord
God loved the place much. The hermits went back to their
hermitages in the forest and served Our Lord as they had been
wont. Joseus remained with Perceval at the castle as long as it
pleased him, but the Good Knight searched out the land there
where the New Law had been abandoned and its maintenance
neglected. He reft the lives of them that would not maintain it
and believe. The country was supported by him and made safe, and
the Law of Our Lord exalted by his strength and valour. The
priests and knights that repaired to the castle loved Perceval
much, for, so far from his goodness minishing in ought, they saw
from day to day how his valour and his faith in God increased and
multiplied. And he showed them the sepulchre of his uncle King
Fisherman in the chapel before the altar. The coffin was rich
and the tabernacle costly and loaded of precious stones. And the
priests and knights bear witness that as soon as the body was
placed in the coffin and they were departed thence, they found on
their return that it was covered by the tabernacle all dight as
richly as it is now to be seen, nor might they know who had set
it there save only the commandment of Our Lord. And they say
that every night was there a great brightness of light as of
candles there, and they knew not whence it should come save of
God. Perceval had won the castle by the command of God. The
Graal was restored in the holy chapel, and the other hallows as
you have heard. The evil believe was done away from the kingdom,
and all were assured again in the New Law by the valour of the
Now is the story silent of Perceval and cometh back to King
Arthur, the very matter thereof, like as testifieth the history,
that in no place is corrupted and the Latin lie not. King Arthur
was at Cardoil on one day of Whitsuntide that was right fair and
clear, and many knights were in the hall. The King sate at meat
and all the knights about him. The King looketh at the windows
of the hall to right and left, and seeth that two sunbeams are
shining within that fill the whole hall with light. Thereof he
marvelleth much and sendeth without the hall to see what it might
be. The messenger cometh back again and saith thereof that two
suns appear to be shining, the one in the East and the other in
the West. He marvelleth much thereat, and prayeth Our Lord that
he may be permitted to know wherefore two suns should appear in
such wise. A Voice appeared at one of the windows that said to
him: "King, marvel not hereof that two suns should appear in the
sky, for our Lord God hath well the power, and know well that
this is for joy of the conquest that the Good Knight hath made
that took away the shield from herewithin. He hath won the land
that belonged to good King Fisherman from the evil King of Castle
Mortal, that did away thence the good believe, and therefore was
it that the Graal was hidden. Now God so willeth that you go
thither, I and that you choose out the best knights of your
court, for better pilgrimage may you never make, and what time
you shall return hither, your faith shall be doubled and the
people of Great Britain shall be better disposed and better
taught to maintain the service of the Saviour."
Thereupon the Voice departed and well pleased was the King of
that it had said. He sitteth at meat beside the Queen.
Straightway behold you, a damsel that cometh of such beauty as
never was greater, and clad right richly, and she beareth a
coffer richer than ever you saw, for it was all of fine gold and
set with precious stones that sparkled like fire. The coffer is
not large. The damsel holdeth it between her hands. When she
was alighted she cometh before the King and saluteth him the
fairest she may and the Queen likewise. The King returneth her
"Sir," saith she, "I am come to your court for that it is the
sovran of all other, and so bring I you here this rich vessel
that you see as a gift; and it hath within the head of a knight,
but none may open the coffer save he alone that slew the knight.
Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as you are the best king that
liveth, that you first set your hand thereon, and in like manner
afterwards make proof of your knights, and so the crime and the
blood-wite thereof be brought home to you or to any knight that
may be within yonder. I pray you that the knight who shall be
able to open the coffer wherein the head of the knight lieth, and
who therefore is he that slew him, shall have grace of forty days
after that you shall be returned from the Graal."
"Damsel," saith the King, "How shall it be known who the knight
"Sir," saith she, "Right eath, for the letters are sealed within
that tell his name and the name of him that slew him."
The King granteth the damsel her will in such wise as she had
asked of him. He hath received the coffer, then maketh her be
set at meat and right richly honoured.
When the King had eaten, the damsel cometh before him.
"Sir," saith she, "Make your knights be summoned and ready for
that which you have granted me, and you yourself first of all."
"Damsel," saith the King, "Right willingly."
He setteth his hand to the coffer, thinking to open it, but it
was not right that it should open for him. As he set his hand
thereon the coffer sweated through just as had it been sprinkled
all over and was wet with water. The King marvelled greatly, and
so made Messire Gawain set his hand to it and Lancelot and all
those of the court, but he that might open it was not among them.
Messire Kay the Seneschal had served at meat. He heard say that
the King and all the others had essayed and proved the coffer but
might not open it. He is come thither, all uncalled for.
"Now, then, Kay," saith the King, "I had forgotten you."
"By my head," saith Kay, "You ought not to forget me, for as good
knight am I and of as much worth as they that you have called
before me, and you ought not to have delayed to send for me. You
have summoned all the others, and me not a whit, and yet am I as
well able, or ought to be, to open the coffer as are they; for
against as many knights have I defended me as they, and as many
have I slain in defending my body as have they."
"Kay," saith the King, "Shall you be so merry and you may open
the coffer, and if you have slain the knight whose head lieth
therein? By my head, I that am King would fain that the coffer
should not open for me, for never was no knight so poor as that
he should have neither kinsman nor friend, for he is not loved of
all the world that is hated by one man."
"By my head," saith Kay, "I would that all the heads of all the
knights I have slain, save one only, were in the midst of this
hall, and that there were letters sealed with them to say that
they were slain by me. Then would you believe what you are not
willing to believe for the envious ones that think they are
better worth than I, and yet have not served you so well."
"Kay," saith the King, "Come forward, there is no need of this."
Messire Kay the Seneschal cometh to the dais before the King,
whereon was the coffer, and taketh it right boldly and setteth
one of his hands below it and the other above. The coffer opened
as soon as he clapped hand thereon, and the head within could be
seen all openly. A passing delicate-savoured smell and right
sweet issued therefrom, so that not a knight in the hall but
"Sir," saith Kay to the King, "Now may you know that some prowess
and some hardiment have I done in your service, nor might none of
your knights that you prize so highly open the coffer this day,
nor would you have known this day who is therein for them! But
now you know it by me, and therefore of so much ought you to be
well pleased with me!"
"Sir," saith the damsel that had brought the coffer, "Let the
letters be read that are within, so shall you know who the knight
was and of what lineage, and what was the occasion of his death."
The King sitteth beside the Queen, and biddeth call one of his
own chaplains. Then maketh he all the knights in the hall be
seated and keep silence, and commandeth the chaplain that he
should spell out the letters of gold all openly according as he
should find them written. The chaplain looketh at them, and when
he had scanned them down, began to sigh.
"Sir," saith he to the King and Queen, "hearken unto me, and all
the other, your knights.
"These letters say that the knight whose head lieth in this
vessel was named Lohot and he was son of King Arthur and Queen
Guenievre. He had slain on a day that is past, Logrin the Giant,
by his hardiment. Messire Kay the Seneschal was passing by
there, and so found Lohot sleeping upon Logrin, for such was his
custom that he went to sleep upon the man after that he had slain
him. Messire Kay smote off Lohot's head, and so left the head
and the body on the piece of ground. He took the head of the
Giant and so bore it to the court of King Arthur. He gave the
King and Queen and all the barons of the court to understand that
he had slain him, but this did he not; rather, that he did was to
slay Lohot, according to the writing and the witness of these
When the Queen heareth these letters and this witting of her son
that came thus by his death, she falleth in a swoon on the
coffer. After that she taketh the head between her two hands,
and knew well that it was he by a scar that he had on his face
when he was a child. The King himself maketh dole thereof so
sore that none may comfort him, for before these tidings he had
thought that his son was still on live and that he was the Best
Knight in the world, and when the news came to his court that the
Knight of the Golden Circlet had slain the Knight of the Dragon,
he supposed that it had been Lohot his son, for that none had
named Perceval nor Gawain nor Lancelot. And all they of the
court are right sorrowful for the death of Lohot, and Messire Kay
hath departed, and if the damsel had nor respited the day until
the fortieth after the King's return, vengeance would have been
taken of Kay or ever he might have turned him thence. For never
did no I man see greater dole made in the King's court than they
of the Table Round made for the youth. King Arthur and the Queen
were so stricken of sorrow that none durst call upon them to make
cheer. The damsel that brought thither the coffer was well
avenged of the shame that Messire Kay the Seneschal had done her
on a day that was past, for this thing would not have been known
so soon save it had been by her.
When the mourning for the King's son was abated, Lancelot and
many others said unto him, "Sir, you know well that God willeth
you should go to the castle that was King Fisherman's on
pilgrimage to the most Holy Graal, for it is not right to delay a
thing that one hath in covenant with God."
"Lords," saith the King, "right willingly will I go, and thereto
am I right well disposed."
The King apparelleth himself for the pilgrimage, and saith that
Messire Gawain and Lancelot shall go with him, without more
knights, and taketh a squire to wait upon his body, and the Queen
herself would he have taken thither but for the mourning she made
for her son, whereof none might give her any comfort. But or
ever the King departed he made the head be brought into the Isle
of Avalon, to a chapel of Our Lady that was there, where was a
worshipful holy hermit that was well loved of Our Lord. The King
departed from Cardoil and took leave of the Queen and all the
knights. Lancelot and Messire Gawain go along with him and a
squire that carrieth their arms. Kay the Seneschal was departed
from the court for dread of the King and his knights. He durst
not abide in the Greater Britain, and so betook himself into the
Lesser. Briant of the Isles was of great power in those times, a
knight of great strength and hardiment, for all Great Britain had
had many disputes between him and King Arthur. His land was full
strong of castles and forests and right fruitful, and many good
knights had he in his land. When he knew that Kay the Seneschal
had departed in such sort from the court, and that he had crossed
the sea, he sent for him and held him of his household, and said
that he would hold him harmless against the King and against all
men. When he knew that the King had departed he began to war
upon the land and to slay his men and to challenge his castles.
The story saith that King Arthur goeth his way and Lancelot and
Messire Gawain with him, and they had ridden so far one day that
night came on in a forest and they might find no hold. Messire
Gawain marvelled him much that they had ridden the day long
without finding neither hold nor hermitage. Night was come and
the sky was dark and the forest full of gloom. They knew not
whitherward to turn to pass the night.
"Lords," saith the King, "Where may we be able to alight to-
"Sir, we know not, for this forest is fight wearisome."
They make the squire climb up a tall tree and tell him to look as
far as he may to try whether he may espy any hold or house where
they may lodge. The squire looketh on all sides, and then
telleth them he seeth a fire a long way off as if it were in a
waste house, but that he seeth nought there save the fire and the
"Take good heed," saith Lancelot, "in which quarter it is, so
that you may know well how to lead us thither."
He saith that right eath may he lead them.
With that he cometh down and mounteth again on his hackney, and
they go forward a great pace and ride until they espy the fire
and the hold. They pass on over a bridge of wattles, and find
the courtyard all deserted and the house from within great and
high and hideous. But there was a great fire within whereof the
heat might be felt from afar. They alight of their horses, and
the squire draweth them on one side amidst the hall, and the
knights set them beside the fire all armed. The squire seeth a
chamber in the house and entereth thereinto to see if he may find
any meat for the horses, but he cometh forth again the swiftest
he may and crieth right sweetly on the Mother of the Saviour.
They ask him what aileth him, and he saith that he hath found the
most treacherous chamber ever he found yet, for he felt there,
what with heads and what with hands, more than two hundred men
dead, and saith that never yet felt he so sore afeared. Lancelot
went into the chamber to see whether he spake true, and felt the
men that lay dead, and groped among them from head to head and
felt that there was a great heap of them there, and came back and
sate at the fire all laughing. The King asketh whether the
squire had told truth. Lancelot answereth him yea, and that
never yet had he found so many dead men together.
"Methinketh," saith Messire Gawain, "Sith that they are dead we
have nought to fear of them, but God protect us from the living."
While they were talking thus, behold you a damsel that cometh
into the dwelling on foot and all alone, and she cometh lamenting
"Ha, God!" saith she, "How long a penance is this for me, and
when will it come to an end?"
She seeth the knights sitting in the midst of the house. "Fair
Lord God," saith she, "Is he there within through whom I am to
escape from this great dolour?"
The knights hearken to her with great wonderment. They look and
see her enter within the door, and her kirtle was all torn with
thorns and briars in the forest. Her feet were all bleeding for
that she was unshod. She had a face of exceeding great beauty.
She carried the half of a dead man, and cast it into the chamber
with the others. She knew Lancelot again so soon as she saw him.
"Ha, God !" saith she, "I am quit of my penance! Sir," saith
she, "Welcome may you be, you and your company!"
Lancelot looketh at her in wonderment. "Damsel," saith he, "Are
you a thing on God's behalf?"
"Certes, Sir," saith she, "Yea! nor be you adread of nought! I
am the Damsel of the Castle of Beards, that was wont to deal with
knights so passing foully as you have seen. You did away the
toll that was levied on the knights that passed by, and you lay
in the castle that demanded it of them that passed through the
demesne thereof. But you had me in covenant that so the Holy
Graal should appear unto you, you would come back to me, for
otherwise never should I have been willing to let you go. You
returned not, for that you saw not the Graal. For the shame that
I did to knights was this penance laid upon me in this forest and
this manor, to last until such time as you should come. For the
cruelty I did them was sore grievous, for never was knight
brought to me but I made his nose be cut off or his eyes thrust
out, and some were there as you saw that had their feet or their
hands stricken off. Now have I paid full dear thereof since, for
needs must I carry into this chamber all the knights that are
slain in this forest, and within this manor must I cast them
according to the custom thereof, alone, without company; and this
knight that I carried in but now hath lain so long in the forest
that wild beasts have eaten half of his body. Now am I quit of
this foul penance, thanks to God and to you, save only that I
must go back when it shall be daylight in like manner as I came
"Damsel," saith Lancelot, "Right glad am I that we should have
come to lodge the night here within, for love of you, for I never
saw I damsel that might do so cruel penance."
"Sir," saith she, "You know not yet what it is, but you will know
it ere long this night, both you and your fellows, and the Lord
God shield you from death and from mischief! Every night cometh
a rout of knights that are black and foul and hideous, albeit
none knoweth whence they come, and they do battle right sore the
one against other, and the stour endureth of a right long while;
but one knight that came within yonder by chance, the first night
I came hither, in like manner as you have come, made a circle
round me with his sword, and I sate within it as soon as I saw
them coming, and so had I no dread of them, for I had in
remembrance the Saviour of the World and His passing sweet
Mother. And you will do the same, and you believe me herein, for
these are knights fiends."
Lancelot draweth his sword and maketh a great circle round the
house-place, and they were within.
Thereupon, behold you the knights that come through the forest
with such a rushing as it seemed they would rend it all up by the
roots. Afterward, they enter into the manor and snatch great
blazing firebrands and fling them one at another. They enter
into the house battling together, and are keen to fall upon the
knights, but they may not. They hurl the firebrands at them from
afar, but they are holding their shields and their swords naked.
Lancelot maketh semblant as though he would leap towards them,
and sore great cowardize it seemeth him nor to go against them.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "Take heed that you go not forth of the
circle, for you will be in sore jeopardy of death, for well you
see what evil folk be these."
Lancelot was nor minded to hold himself back, but that he would
go toward them sword drawn, and they run upon him on all sides,
but he defendeth him stoutly and smiteth the burning firebrands
so that he maketh red-hot charcoal fly, and thrusreth his sword
amidst their faces. King Arthur and Messire Gawain leap up to
help Lancelot and smite upon these evil folk and cut them limb
from limb, and they bellow like fiends so that the whole forest
resoundeth thereof. And when they fell to the ground, they may
no longer endure, but become fiends and ashes, and their bodies
and their horses become devils all black in the shape of ravens
that come forth of their bodies. They marvel right sore what
this may be, and say that such hostel is right grievous.
When they had put them all to the worse, they sate them down
again and rested; but scarce were they seated or ever another
rout of yet blacker folk came about them, and they bare spears
burning and flaming, and many of them carried dead knights that
they had slain in the forest, and dropped them in the midst of
the house, and then bid the damsel carry and set them with the
others. Howbeit, she answereth that she is quit of their
commandment and service, nor no longer is forced to do nought for
them sith that she hath done her penance. They thrust forward
their spears toward the King and the two knights, as though they
were come to avenge their companions; but they all three leapt up
together and attacked them right stoutly. But this rout was
greater and of knights more hideous. They began to press the
King and his knights hard, and they might not put them to the
worse as they did the others. And while they were thus in the
thickest of the conflict, they heard the stroke of a bell
sounding, and forthwith the knight fiends departed and hurried
away a great pace.
"Lords," saith the damsel, "Had this sound not been heard, scarce
might you have endured, for yet another huge rout of this folk
was coming in such sort as that none might have withstood them,
and this sound have I heard every night, whereby my life hath
Josephus telleth us that as at this time was there no bell
neither in Greater Britain nor in Lesser; but folk were called
together by a horn, and in many places there were sheets of
steel, and in other places clappers of wood. King Arthur
marvelled him much of this sound, so clear and sweet was it, and
it well seemed him that it came on God's behalf, and right fain
was he to see a bell and so he might. They were the night until
the morrow in the house, as I tell you. The damsel took leave of
them and so departed. As they came forth of the hold, they met
three hermits that told them they were going to search for the
bodies that were in this manor so that they might bury them in a
waste chapel that was hard by, for such knights had lain there as
that henceforward the haunting of the evil folk would be stayed
in such sort as that they would have no more power to do hurt to
any, wherefore they would set therewithin a worshipful hermit
that should build up the place in holiness for the service of
God. The King was right joyful thereof, and told them that it
had been too perilous. They parted from the hermits and entered
into a forest, nor was there never a day so long as King Arthur
was on pilgrimage, so saith the history, but he heard the sound
of one single bell every hour, whereof he was right glad. He
bade Messire Gawain and Lancelot that they should everywhere
conceal his name, and that they should call him not Lord but
Comrade. They yielded him his will, and prayed to Our Lord that
he would guide and lead them to such a castle and such a hostel
as that they might be lodged honourably therein. They rode on
until evening drew nigh, and they found a right fair hold in the
forest, whereinto they entered and alighted. The damsel of the
hold came to meet them and made them right great cheer, then made
them be disarmed, afterward bringeth them right rich robes to
wear. She looketh at Lancelot and knoweth him again.
"Sir," saith she, "You had once, on a day that is past, right
great pity of me, and saved me my honour, whereof am I in great
unhappiness. But better love I to suffer misease in honour, than
to have plenty and abundance in shame or reproach, for shame
endureth, but sorrow is soon overpassed."
Thereupon behold you the knight of the hold, whither he cometh
from shooting in the forest and maketh carry in full great plenty
venison of deer and wild boar. He alighted to greet the knights,
and began to laugh when he saw Lancelot.
"By my head," saith he, "I know you well For you disappointed me
of the thing I best loved in the world, and made me marry this
damsel that never yet had joy of me, nor never shall have."
"Faith, Sir," saith Lancelot, "You will do your pleasure therein,
for she is yours. Truth it is that I made you marry her, for you
were fain to do her a disgrace and a shame in such sort that her
kinsfolk would have had shame of her."
"By my head," saith the knight, "the damsel that I loved before
loveth you no better hereof, nay, rather, fain would she procure
your vexation and your hurt and your shame if she may, and great