Part 9 out of 10
"Fair son," saith she, "Blessed be the hour that you were born
for by you all my great joy cometh back to me! Now well may I
depart, for I have lived long enow."
"Lady," saith he, "Your life ought to be an offence to none, for
to none hath it ever done ill, but, please God, you shall not end
in this place, but rather you shall end in the castle that was
your cousin's german, King Fisherman, there where is the most
Holy Graal and the sacred hallows are."
"Fair son," saith she, "You say well, and there would I fain be."
"Lady," saith he, "God will provide counsel and means whereby you
shall be there; and my sister, and she be minded to marry, will
we set in good place, where she may live worshipfully."
"Certes, fair brother," saith she, "None shall I never marry,
save God alone."
"Fair son," saith the Widow Lady, "The Damsel of the Car goeth to
seek you, and I shall end not until such time as she hath round
"Lady," saith he, "In some place will she have tidings of me and
I of her."
"Fair son," saith the Lady, "The damsel is here within that the
felonous knight wounded through the arm, that carried of your
sister, but she is healed."
"Lady," saith he, "I am well avenged."
He telleth her all the adventures until the time when he
reconquered the castle that was his uncle's. He sojourned long
time with his mother in the castle, and saw that the land was all
assured and peaceable. He departed thence and took his leave,
for he had not yet achieved all that he had to do. His mother
remained long time, and his sister, at Camelot, and led a good
life and a holy. The lady made make a chapel right rich about
the sepulchre that lay between the forest and Camelot, and had it
adorned of rich vestments, and stablished a chaplain that should
sing mass there every day. Sithence then hath the place been so
builded up as that there is an abbey there and folk of religion,
and many bear witness that there it is still, right fair.
Perceval was departed from Camelot and entered into the great
forest, and so rode of a long while until he had left his
mother's castle far behind, and came toward evening to the hold
of a knight that was at the head of the forest. He harboured him
therein, and the knight showed him much honour and made him be
unarmed, and brought him a robe to do on. Perceval seeth that
the knight is a right simple man, and that he sigheth from time
"Sir," saith he, "Meseemeth you are not over joyous."
"Certes, Sir," saith the knight, "I have no right to be, for a
certain man slew mine own brother towards the Deep Forest not
long since, and no right have I to be glad, for a worshipful man
was he and a loyal."
"Fair Sir," saith Perceval, "Know you who slew him?"
"Fair Sir, it was one of Aristor's knights, for that he was
sitting upon a horse that had been Aristor's, and whereon another
knight had slain him, and a hermit had lent him to my brother for
that the Red Knight's lion had maimed his own."
Perceval was little glad of these tidings, for that he had sent
him that had been slain on account of the horse.
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Your brother had not deserved his death,
methinketh, for it was not he that slew the knight."
"No, Sir, I know it all of a truth, but another, that slew the
Red Knight of the Deep Forest."
Perceval was silent thereupon. He lay the night at the hostel
and was harboured right well, and on the morrow departed when he
had taken leave. He wandered until he came to a hermitage there
where he heard mass. After the service, the hermit came unto him
and said: "Sir," saith he, "In this forest are knights all armed
that are keeping watch for the knight that slew Aristor and the
Red Knight and his lion as well. Wherefore they meet no knight
in this forest but they are minded to slay him for the knight
that slew these twain."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "God keep me from meeting such folk as
would do me evil."
With that he departed from the hermitage and took leave of the
hermit, and rideth until that he is come into the forest and
espieth the knight that sitteth on Aristor's horse for that he
hath slain the other knight. A second knight was with him. They
abide when they see Perceval.
"By my head," saith one of them, "This same shield bare he that
slew Aristor, as it was told us, and, like enough, it may be he."
They come toward him, full career. Perceval seeth them coming,
and forgetteth not his spurs, but rather cometh against them the
speediest he may. The two knights smote him upon the shield and
brake their spears. Perceval overtaketh him that sitteth on
Aristor's horse and thrusteth an ell's length of his spear
through his body and so overthroweth him dead.
After that, he cometh to the other knight, that fain would have
fled, and smiteth off the shoulder close to his side, and he
fell dead by the side of the other. He taketh both twain of
their destriers, and knotteth the reins together and driveth them
before him as far as the house of the hermit, that had issued
forth of his hermitage. He delivered unto him the horse of
Aristor and the other of the knight that he had sent thither.
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Well I know that and you shall see any
knight that hath need of it and shall ask you, you will lend him
one of these horses, for great courtesy is it to aid a worshipful
man when one seeth him in misfortune."
"Sir," saith the hermit, "But now since, were here three knights.
So soon as they knew that the two were dead whose horses you had
delivered unto me, they departed, fleeing the speediest they
might. I praised them much of their going, and told them they
did well not to die on such occasion, for that the souls of
knights that die under arms are nigher to Hell than to Paradise."
Perceval, that never was without sore toil and travail so long as
he lived, departed from the hermitage and went with great
diligence right through the midst of the forest, and met a knight
that came a great gallop over against him. He knew Perceval by
the shield that he bare.
"Sir," saith he, "I come from the Castle of the Black Hermit,
there where you will find the Damsel of the Car as soon as you
arrive, wherefore she sendeth you word by me that you speed your
way and go to her to ask for the chess-board that was taken away
from before Messire Gawain, or otherwise never again will you
enter into the castle you have won. Sir," saith he, "Haste,
moreover, on account of a thing most pitiful that I heard in this
forest. I heard how a knight was leading a damsel against her
will, beating her with a great scourge. I passed by the launde
on the one side and he on the other, so that I espied him through
the underwood that was between us; but it seemed me that the
damsel was bemoaning her for the son of the Widow Lady that had
given her back her castle, and the knight said that for love of
him he would put her into the Servent's pit. An old knight and a
priest went after the knight to pray him have mercy on the
damsel, but so cruel is he, that so far from doing so, he rather
waxed sore wroth for that they prayed it of him, and made cheer
and semblant as though he would have slain them."
The knight departed from Perceval and taketh leave and Perceval
goeth along the way that the knight had come, thinking that he
would go after the damsel for he supposeth certainly that it is
she to whom he gave back her castle, and would fain know what
knight it is that entreateth her in such fashion. He hath ridden
until he is come into the deepest of the forest and the thickest.
He bideth awhile and listeneth and heareth the voice of the
damsel, that was in a great valley where the Serpent's pit was,
wherein the knight was minded to set her. She cried right loud
for mercy, and wept, and the knight gave her great strokes of the
scourge to make her be still. Perceval had no will to tarry
longer, but rather cometh thither as fast as he may.
So soon as the damsel seeth Perceval, she knoweth him again. She
claspeth her two hands together and saith, "Ha, Sir, for God's
sake have mercy! Already have you given me back the castle
whereof this knight would reave me."
The horse whereon Perceval sat, the knight knew him.
"Sir," saith he, "This horse was the horse of Messire the Red
Knight of the Deep Forest! Now at last know I that it was you
that slew him!"
"It may well be," saith Perceval, "And if that I slew him, good
right had I to do so, for he had cut off the head of a son of
mine uncle, the which head this damsel carried of a long time."
"By my head," saith the knight, "Sith that you slew him, you are
my mortal enemy!"
So he draweth off in the midst of the launde and Perceval
likewise, and then they come together as fast as their horses may
carry them, and either giveth other great buffets in the midst of
their breast with their spears the most they may. Perceval
smiteth the knight so passing hard that he overthroweth him to
the ground right over the croup of his horse, and in the fall
that he made, he to-brake him the master-bone of his leg so that
he might not move. And Perceval alighteth to the ground and
cometh where the knight lay. And he crieth him mercy that he
slay him not. And Perceval telleth him he need not fear death,
nor that he is minded to slay him in such plight as he is, but
that like as he was fain to make the damsel do he will make him
do. He maketh alight the other old knight and the priest, then
maketh the knight be carried to the Pit of the Serpent and the
worms, whereof was great store. The pit was dark and deep. When
that the knight was therein he might not live long for the worms
that were there. The damsel thanked Perceval much of this
goodness and of the other that he had done her. She departeth
and returneth again to her castle, and was assured therein on all
sides, nor never thereafter had she dread of no knight, for the
cruel justice that Perceval had done on this one.
The son of the Widow Lady of his good knighthood knoweth not how
to live without travail. He well knoweth that when he hath been
at the Black Hermit's castle, he will in some measure have
achieved his task. But many another thing behoveth him to do
tofore, and little toil he thinketh it, whereof shall God be well
pleased. He hath ridden so far one day and another, that he came
into a land where he met knights stout and strong there where God
was neither believed in nor loved, but where rather they adored
false images and false Lord-Gods and devils that made themselves
manifest. He met a knight at the entrance of a forest.
"Ha, Sir!" saith he to Perceval, "Return you back! No need is
there for you to go further, for the folk of this island are not
well-believers in God. I may not pass through the land but by
truce only. The Queen of this land was sister of the King of
Oriande, that Lancelot killed in the battle and all his folk, and
seized his land, wherein all the folk were misbelievers. Now
throughout all the land they believe in the Saviour of the World.
Thereof is she passing sorrowful, and hateth all them that
believe in the New Law, insomuch as that she would not look upon
any that believed, and prayed to her gods that never might she
see none until such time as the New Law should be overthrown; and
God, that hath power to do this, blinded her forthwith. Now she
supposeth that the false gods wherein she believeth have done
this, and saith that when the New Law shall fall, she will have
her sight again by the renewal of these gods, and by their
virtue, nor, until this hour, hath she no desire to see. And I
tell you this," saith the knight, "because I would not that you
should go thither as yet, for that I misdoubt of your being
"Sir, Gramercy," saith Perceval, "But no knighthood is there so
fair as that which is undertaken to set forward the Law of God,
and for Him ought one to make better endeavour than for all
other. In like manner as He put His body in pain and travail for
us, so ought each to put his own for Him."
He departeth from the knight, and was right joyous of this that
he heard him say that Lancelot had won a kingdom wherein he had
done away the false Law. But and he knew the tidings that the
King had put him in prison, he would not have been glad at all,
for Lancelot was of his lineage and was therefore good knight,
and for this he loved him right well.
Perceval rideth until nightfall, and findeth a great castle
fortified with a great drawbridge, and there were tall ancient
towers within. He espied at the door a squire that had the
weight of a chain on his neck, and at the other end the chain was
fixed to a great bulk of iron. The chain was as long as the
length of the bridge. Then cometh he over against Perceval when
he seeth him coming.
"Sir," saith he, "Meseemeth you believe in God?"
"Fair friend, so do I, the best I may."
"Sir, for God's sake, enter not this castle!"
"Wherefore, fair friend?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith he, "I will tell you. I am Christian, even as are
you, and I am thrall within there and guard this gate, as you
see. But it is the most cruel castle that I know, and it is
called the Raving Castle. There be three knights within there,
full young and comely, but so soon as they see a knight of the
New Law, forthwith are they out of their senses, and all raving
mad, so that nought may endure between them. Moreover, there is
within one of the fairest damsels that saw I ever. She guardeth
the knights so soon as they begin to rave, and so much they dread
her that they durst not disobey her commandment in aught that she
willeth, for many folk would they evilly entreat were it not for
her. And for that I am their thrall they put up with me, and I
have no fear of them, but many is the Christian knight that hath
come in hither that never hath issued hence."
"Fair sweet friend," saith Perceval, "I will enter in thither and
I may, for I should not know this day how to go elsewhither, and
true it is that greater power hath God than the devil."
He entereth into the castle and alighteth in the midst of the
The damsel was at the windows of the hall, that was of passing
great beauty. She cometh down as soon as she may, and seeth
Perceval come in and the cross on his shield, and knoweth well
thereby that he is Christian.
"Ha, Sir, for God's sake," saith she, "Come not up above, for
there be three of the comeliest knights that ever were seen that
are playing at tables and at dice in a chamber, and they are
brothers-german. They will all go out of their senses so soon as
they shall see you!"
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Please God, so shall they not, and
such a miracle is good to see, for it is only right that all they
who will not believe in God should be raving mad when they see
the things that come of Him."
Perceval goeth up into the hall, all armed, for all that the
damsel saith. She followeth him as fast as she may. The three
knights espied Perceval all armed and the cross on his shield,
and forthwith leapt up and were beside themselves. They rolled
their eyes and tore themselves and roared like devils. There
were axes and swords in the hall that they go to lay hold on, and
they are fain to leap upon Perceval, but no power have they to do
so, for such was the will of God. When they saw that they might
not come a-nigh him, they ran either on other and so slew
themselves between them, nor would they stint their fighting
together for the damsel. Perceval beheld the miracle of these
folks that were thus killed, and the damsel that made right great
"Ha, damsel," saith he, "Weep not, but repent you of this false
belief, for they that are unwilling to believe in God shall die
like mad folks and devils!"
Perceval made the squires that were there within bear the bodies
out of the hall, and made them be cast into a running water, and
straightway slew all the other, for that they were not minded to
believe. The castle was all emptied of the misbelieving folk
save only the damsel and those that waited upon her, and the
Christian thrall that guarded the gate. Perceval set him forth
of the chain, then led him up into the hall and made him disarm
him. He found sundry right rich robes. The damsel, that was of
right great beauty, looked at him and saw that he was a full
comely knight, and well pleased she was with him. She honoured
him in right great sort, but she might not forget the three
knights that were her brothers, and made sore dole for them.
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Nought availeth it to make this dole,
but take comfort on some other manner."
Perceval looked at the hall from one end to the other and saw
that it was right rich, and the damsel, in whom was full great
beauty, stinted of making dole to look at Perceval. She seeth
that he is comely knight and gentle and tall and well furnished
of good conditions, wherefore he pleaseth her much, and forthwith
beginneth she to love him, and saith to herself that, so he would
leave his God for the god in whom she believed, right glad would
she be thereof, and would make him lord of her castle, for it
seemed her that better might she not bestow it, and sith that her
brothers are dead, there may be no bringing of them back, and
therefore better would it be to forget her dole. But little knew
she Perceval's thought, for had she known that which he thinketh,
she would have imagined not this; for, and had she been Christian
he might not have been drawn to love her in such sort as she
thinketh, sith that Josephus telleth us that never did he lose
his virginity for woman, but rather died virgin and chaste and
clean of his body. In this mind was she still, nor never might
she refrain her heart from him. Thinketh she rather that, and he
knew she was minded to love him, right joyous would he be
thereof, for that she is of so passing beauty. Perceval asketh
the damsel what she hath in her thought?
" Sir," saith she, "Nought think I but only good and you will."
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Never, please God, shall there be
hindrance of me but that you renounce this evil Law and believe
in the good."
"Sir," saith she, "Do you renounce yours for love of me, and I
will do your commandment and your will."
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Nought availeth to tell me this. Were
you man like as you are woman, your end would have come with the
others. But, please God, your tribulation shall tend itself to
"Sir," saith she, "So you are willing to promise me that you will
love me like as knight ought to love damsel, I am well inclined
to believe in your God."
"Damsel, I promise you as I am a Christian that so you are
willing to receive baptism, I will love you as he that firmly
believeth in God ought to love damsel."
"Sir," saith she, "I ask no more of you."
She biddeth send for a holy man, a hermit that was in the forest
appurtenant, and right gladly came he when he heard the tidings.
They held her up and baptized her, both her and her damsels with
her. Perceval held her at the font. Josephus witnesseth us in
this history that she had for name Celestre. And great joy made
she of her baptism, and her affections turned she unto good. The
hermit remained there with her, and taught her to understand the
firm believe, and did the service of Our Lord. The damsel was of
right good life and right holy, and ended thereafter in many good
Perceval departed from the castle, and gave thanks to Our Lord
and praise, that He hath allowed him to conquer a castle so cruel
and to attorn it to the Law. He went his way a great pace, all
armed, until he came into a country wherein was great grief being
made, and the more part said that he was come that should destroy
their Law, for that already had he won their strongest castle.
He is come towards an ancient castle that was at the head of a
forest. He looketh and seeth at the entrance of the gateway a
full great throng of folk. He seeth a squire come forth thence,
and asketh him unto whom belongeth the castle.
"Sir," saith he, "It is Queen Jandree's, that hath made her be
brought before her gate with the folk you see yonder, for she
hath heard tell how the knights of the Raving Castle are dead,
and another knight that hath conquered the castle hath made the
damsel be baptized, wherefore much she marvelleth how this may
be. She is in much dread of losing her land, for her brother
Madeglant of Oriande is dead, so that she may no longer look to
none for succour, and she hath been told how the knight that
conquered the Raving Castle is the Best Knight of the World, and
that none may endure against him. For this doubtance and fear of
him she is minded to go to one of her own castles that is
Perceval departeth from the squire and rideth until they that
were at the entrance of the gateway espied him. They saw the Red
Cross that he bare on his shield, and said to the Queen, "Lady, a
Christian knight is coming into this castle."
"Take heed," saith she, "that it be not he that is about to
overthrow our Law!"
Perceval cometh thither and alighteth, and cometh before the
Queen all armed. The Queen asketh what he seeketh.
"Lady," saith he, "Nought seek I save good only to yourself so
you hinder it not."
"You come," saith she, "from the Raving Castle, there where three
brothers are slain, whereof is great loss."
"Lady," saith he, "At that castle was I, and now fain would I
that your own were at the will of Jesus Christ, in like manner as
"By my head," saith she, "And your Lord hath so great power as is
said, so will it be."
"Lady, His virtue and His puissance are far greater than they
"That would I fain know," saith she, "presently, and I am fain to
pray you that you depart not from me until that it hath been
Perceval granteth it gladly. She returned into her castle and
Perceval with her. When he was alighted he went up into the
hall. They that were within marvelled them much that she should
thus give consent, for never, sithence that she had been blind,
might she allow no knight of the New Law to be so nigh her, and
made slay all them that came into her power, nor might she never
see clear so long as she had one of them before her. Now is her
disposition altered in such sort as that she would fain she might
see clear him that hath come in, for she hath been told that he
is the comeliest knight of the world and well seemeth to be as
good as they witness of him.
Perceval remained there gladly for that he saw the lady's cruelty
was somewhat slackened, and it seemed him that it would be great
joy and she were willing to turn to God, and they that are within
there, for well he knoweth that so she should hold to the New
Law, all they of the land would be of the same mind. When
Perceval had lain the night at the castle, the Lady on the morrow
sent for all the more powerful of her land, and came forth of her
chamber into the hall where Perceval was, seeing as clear as ever
she had seen aforetime.
"Lords," saith she, "Hearken ye all, for now will I tell you the
truth like as it hath befallen me. I was lying in my bed last
night, and well know ye that I saw not a whit, and made my
orisons to our gods that they would restore me my sight. It
seemed me they made answer that they had no power so to do, but
that I should make be slain the knight that was arrived here, and
that and I did not, sore wroth would they be with me. And when I
had heard their voices say that nought might they avail me as for
that I had prayed of them, I remembered me of the Lord in whom
they that hold the New Law believe. And I prayed Him right
sweetly that, and so it were that He had such virtue and such
puissance as many said, He would make me see clear, so as that I
might believe in Him. At that hour I fell on sleep, and meseemed
that I saw one of the fairest Ladies in the world, and she was
delivered of a Child therewithin, and He had about Him a great
brightness of light like it were the sun shone at right noonday."
"When the Child was born, so passing fair was He and so passing
gentle and of so sweet semblant that the looks of Him pleased me
well; and meseemed that at His deliverance there was a company
of folk the fairest that were seen ever, and they were like as it
had been birds and made full great joy. And methought that an
ancient man that was with Her, told me that My Lady had lost no
whit of her maidenhood for the Child. Well pleased was I the
while this thing lasted me. It seemed me that I saw it like as I
do you. Thereafter, methought I saw a Man bound to a stake, in
whom was great sweetness and humility, and an evil folk beat Him
with scourges and rods right cruelly, so that the blood ran down
thereof. They would have no mercy on Him. Of this might I not
hold myself but that I wept for pity of Him. Therewithal I awoke
and marvelled much whence it should come and what it might be.
But in anyway it pleased me much that I had seen it. It seemed
me after this, that I saw the same Man that had been bound to the
stake set upon a cross, and nailed thereon right grievously and
smitten in the side with a spear, whereof had I such great pity
that needs must I weep of the sore pain that I saw Him suffer. I
saw the Lady at the feet of the cross, and knew her again that I
had seen delivered of the Child, but none might set in writing
the great dole that she made. On the other side of the cross was
a man that seemed not joyful, but he recomforted the Lady the
fairest he might. And another folk were there that collected His
blood in a most holy Vessel that one of them held for it."
"Afterward, methought I saw Him taken down of hanging on the
cross, and set in a sepulchre of stone. Thereof had I great pity
for, so long as meseemed I saw Him thus never might I withhold
me from weeping. And so soon as the pity came into my heart, and
the tears into my eyes, I had my sight even as you see. In such
a Lord as this ought one to believe, for He suffered death when
He might lightly have avoided it had He so willed, but He did it
to save His people. In this Lord I will that ye all believe, and
so renounce our false gods, for they be devils and therefore may
not aid us nor avail us. And he that will not believe, him will
I make be slain or die a shameful death."
The Lady made her be held up and baptized, and all them that
would not do the same she made be destroyed and banished. This
history telleth us that her name was Salubre. She was good lady
and well believed in God, and so holy life led she thereafter
that in a hermitage she died. Perceval departed from the castle
right joyous in his heart of the Lady and her people that
believed in the New Law.
Afterward, this title telleth us that Meliot of Logres was
departed from Castle Perilous sound and whole, by virtue of the
sword that Lancelot had brought him, and of the cloth that he
took in the Chapel Perilous. But sore sorrowful was he of the
tidings he had heard that Messire Gawain was in prison and he
knew not where, but he had been borne on hand that two knights
that were kinsmen of them of the Raving Castle that had slain one
another, had shut him in prison on account of Perceval that had
won the castle. Now, saith Meliot of Logres, never shall he have
ease again until he knoweth where Messire Gawain is. He rideth
amidst a forest, and prayeth God grant him betimes to hear
witting of Messire Gawain. The forest was strange and gloomy.
He rode until nightfall but might not find neither hold nor
hermitage. He looketh right amidst the forest before him and
seeth a damsel sitting that bemoaneth herself full sore. The
moon was dark and the place right foul of seeming and the forest
gloomy of shadow.
"Ha, damsel, and what do you here at this hour?"
"Sir," saith she, "I may not amend it, the more is my sorrow.
For the place is more perilous than you think. Look," saith she,
"up above, and you will see the occasion wherefore I am here."
Meliot looketh and seeth two knights all armed hanging up above
the damsel's head. Thereof much marvelleth he.
"Ha, damsel," saith he, "Who slew these knights so foully?"
"Sir," saith she, "The Knight of the Galley that singeth in the
"And wherefore hath he hanged them in such wise?"
"For this," saith she, "that they believed in God and His sweet
Mother. And so behoveth me to watch them here for forty days,
that none take them down of hanging, for and they were taken
hence he would lose his castle, he saith, and would cut off my
"By my head," saith Meliot, "Such watch is foul shame to damsel,
and no longer shall you remain here."
"Ha, Sir," saith the damsel, "Then shall I be a dead woman, for
he is of so great cruelty that none scarce might protect me
"Damsel," saith Meliot, "Foul shame would it be and I left here
these knights in such wise for the reproach of other knights."
Meliot made them graves with his sword, and so buried them the
best he might.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "And you take not thought to protect me,
the knight will slay me. To-morrow, when he findeth not the
knights, he will search all the forest to look for me."
Meliot and the damsel together go their way through the forest
until they come to a chapel where was wont to be a hermit that
the Knight of the Galley had destroyed. He helpeth down the
damsel of his horse, and afterward they entered into the chapel,
where was a great brightness of light, and a damsel was there
that kept watch over a dead knight. Meliot marvelleth him much.
"Damsel," said Meliot, "When was this knight killed?"
"Sir, yesterday the Knight of the Galley slew him on the sea-
shore, wherefore behoveth me thus keep watch, and in the morning
will he come hither or ever he go to the castle where Messire
Gawain hath to-morrow to fight with a lion, all unarmed, and my
Lady, that is mistress both of me and of this damsel you have
brought hither, will likewise be brought to-morrow to the place
where the lion is to slay Messire Gawain, and she in like sort
will be afterward delivered to the lion and she renounce not the
New Law wherein the knight that came from Raving Castle, whereof
she is lady, hath made her believe; and we ourselves shall be in
like manner devoured along with her. But this damsel would still
have taken respite of my death and she had still kept guard over
the knights that were so foully hanged above her. Natheless,
sith that you have taken them down from where they were hanging,
you have done a right good deed, whatsoever betide, for the Lord
of the Red Tower will give his castle to the knight for this."
Meliot is right joyous of the tidings that he hath heard of
Messire Gawain that he is still on live, for well knoweth he,
sith that the Knight of the Galley will come by the chapel there,
that he will come thither or ever Messire Gawain doth battle with
"Sir," saith the damsel of the chapel, "For God's sake, take this
damsel to a place of safety, for the knight will be so wood mad
of wrath and despite so soon as he cometh hither, that he will be
fain to smite off her head forthwith, and of yourself also have I
"Damsel," saith Meliot, "The knight is but a man like as am I."
"Yea, Sir, but stronger is he and more cruel than seem you to
Meliot was in the chapel the night until the morrow, and heard
the knight coming like a tempest, and he brought with him the
lady of the castle and reviled her from time to time, and Meliot
seeth him come, and a dwarf that followeth after him a great
pace. He crieth out to him: "Sir, behold there the disloyal
knight through whom you have lost your castle. Now haste!
Avenge yourself of him! After that will we go to the death of
Meliot, so soon as he espieth him, mounteth and maketh his arms
"Is it you," saith the Knight of the Galley, "that hath
trespassed on my demesne and taken down my knights?"
"By my head, yours were they not! Rather were they the knights
of God, and foul outrage have you done herein when you slew them
He goeth toward the knight without more words, and smiteth him so
passing strong amidst the breast that he pierceth the habergeon
and thrusteth all the iron of his spear into his body and
afterward draweth it back to him with a great wrench. And the
knight smiteth him so hard on his shield that he maketh an ell's
length pass beyond, for right wroth was he that he was wounded.
The dwarf crieth to him, "Away, then! The knight endureth
against you that have slain so many of them!"
The Knight of the Galley waxeth wood wrath. He taketh his
career, and cometh as fast as his horse may carry him, and
smiteth Meliot so strongly that he breaketh his spear in such
sort that he maketh both him and his horse stagger. But Meliot
catcheth him better, for he thrusteth the spear right through his
body and hurleth against him at the by-passing with such
stoutness and force that he maketh him fall dead to the ground
from his horse. The dwarf thought to escape, but Meliot smote
off his head, whereof the damsels gave him great thanks, for many
a mischief had he wrought them.
Meliot buried the knight that he found in the chapel dead, then
told the damsels that he might abide no longer, but would go
succour Messire Gawain and he might. The damsels were horsed to
their will, for one had the horse of the knight that was slain
and the other the horse of the dwarf. The other damsel was come
upon a mule, and they said that they would go back, for the
country was made all safe by the death of the knight. They
thanked Meliot much, for they say truly that he hath rescued them
from death. Meliot departeth from the damsels and goeth right
amidst the forest as he that would most fain hear tidings of
Messire Gawain. When he had ridden of a long space, he met a
knight that was coming all armed at great pace.
"Sir Knight," saith he to Meliot, "Can you tell me tidings of the
Knight of the Galley?"
"What have you to do therein?" saith Meliot.
"Sir, the Lord of the Red Tower hath made bring Messire Gawain
into a launde of this forest, and there, all unarmed, must he do
battle with a lion. So my lord is waiting for the Knight of the
Galley, that is to bring two damsels thither that the lion will
devour when he shall have slain Messire Gawain."
"Will the battle be presently?" saith Meliot.
"Yea, Sir," saith the knight, "Soon enough betimes, for Messire
Gawain hath already been led thither and there bound to a stake
until such time as the lion shall be come. Then will he be
unbound, but even then two knights all armed will keep watch on
him. But tell me tidings of the Knight of the Galley, and you
have seen him?"
"Go forward," saith he, "and you will hear tidings of him."
Meliot departeth thereupon, a great gallop, and cometh nigh the
launde whereunto Messire Gawain had been brought. He espied the
two knights that kept guard over him, and if that Messire Gawain
were in fear, little marvel was it, for he thought that his end
had come. Meliot espied him bound to an iron staple with cords
about the body on all sides so that he might not move. Meliot
hath great pity thereof in his heart, and saith to himself that
he will die there sooner than Messire Gawain shall die. He
clappeth spurs to his horse when he cometh nigh the knights, and
overtaketh one of them with such a rush that he thrusteth his
spear right through his body, and beareth him down dead. The
other was fain to go to the castle for succour when he saw his
fellow dead. Meliot slew him forthwith. He cometh to Messire
Gawain, and so unbindeth him and cutteth the cords wherewith he
"Sir," saith he, "I am Meliot of Logres, your knight."
When Messire Gawain felt himself unbound, no need to ask whether
he had joy thereof. The tidings were come to the Red Court that
Queen Jandree was christened and baptized, and that the Knight
was come that had such force and puissance in him that none might
endure against him for the God in whom he believed, and they knew
likewise that the Knight of the Galley was dead, and Messire
Gawain unbound and the knights that guarded him slain. They say
that there may they not abide, so they depart from the castle and
say that they will cross the sea to protect their bodies, for
that there they may have no safety.
When Meliot had delivered Messire Gawain he made him be armed
with the arms, such as they were, of one of the knights he had
slain. Messire Gawain mounted on a horse such as pleased him,
and right great joy had he at heart. They marvel much how it is
that they of the castle have not come after them, but they know
not their thought nor how they are scared.
"Meliot," saith Messire Gawain, "You have delivered me from death
this time and one other, nor never had I acquaintance with any
knight that hath done so much for me in so short a time as have
They departed the speediest they might and rode nigh enow to the
castle, but they heard none moving within nor any noise, nor saw
they none issue forth, and much marvelled they that none should
come after them. They rode until they came to the head of the
forest and caught sight of the sea that was nigh enough before
them, and saw that there was a great clashing of arms at the
brink of the sea. A single knight was doing battle with all them
that would fain have entered into a ship, and held stour so
stiffly against them that he toppled the more part into the sea.
They went thither as fast as they might, and when they drew nigh
to the ship they knew that it was Perceval by his arms and his
shield. Or ever they reached it, the ship was put off into the
midst of the sea, wherein he was launched of his own great
hardiment, and they went on fighting against him within the ship.
"Meliot," saith Messire Gawain, "See you, there is Perceval the
Good Knight, and now may we say of a truth that he is in sore
peril of death; for that ship, save God bethink Him thereof,
shall arrive in such manner and in such a place as that never
more shall we have no witting of him, and, so he perish for ever,
no knight on live may have power to set forward the Law of our
Messire Gawain seeth the ship going further away, and Perceval
that defendeth himself therein against them that set upon him.
Right heavy is he that he came not sooner, or ever the ship had
put off from the land. He turneth back, he and Meliot together,
and right sorrowful was Messire Gawain of Perceval, for they knew
not in what land he might arrive, and, might he have followed,
right gladly would he have gone after him to aid him. They have
ridden until they meet a knight. Messire Gawain asketh him
whence he cometh, and he saith from King Arthur's court.
"What tidings can you tell us thereof?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Sir, bad enough!" saith he. "King Arthur hath neglected all his
knights for Briant of the Isles, and hath put one of his best
knights in prison."
"What is his name?" saith Messire Gawain.
"Sir, he is called Lancelot of the Lake. He had reconquered all
the islands that had been reft of King Arthur, and slain King
Madeglant, and conquered the land of Oriande that he turned to
the belief of the Saviour of the World, and, so soon as he had
conquered his enemies, King Arthur sent for him forthwith and
straightway put him in his prison by the counsel of Briant of the
Isles. But King Arthur will have a surfeit of friends betimes;
for King Claudas hath assembled his folk in great plenty to
reconquer the kingdom of Oriande and come back upon King Arthur
by the counsel of Briant of the Isles that betrayeth the King,
for he hath made him his Seneschal and commander of all his
"Sir Knight," saith Messire Gawain, "Needs must the King miscarry
that setteth aside the counsel of his good knights for the
leasings of a traitor."
Thereupon the knight departed from Messire Gawain. Right heavy
is he of this that he hath said, that the King hath put Lancelot
in prison. Never tofore did he aught whereby he wrought so much
Hereupon the story is silent of Messire Gawain and Meliot and
speaketh of King Claudas that hath assembled a great folk by the
counsel of Briant of the Isles to come into the land of King
Arthur, for he knoweth that it is disgarnished of the good
knights that wont there to be, and he knoweth all the secret
plottings of the court and what power King Arthur hath withal.
He draweth toward his land the nighest he may, and hath won back
the kingdom of Oriande all at his will. But they of Albanie
still hold against him and challenge the land the best they may.
Tidings thereof come to the court of King Arthur, and they of the
country sent him word that so he send them not succour betimes
they will yield up the land to King Claudas, and oftentimes they
long after Lancelot, and say that so they had a defender like
him, the islands would be all at peace. The King sent Briant of
the Isles thither many times, that ever incontinent returned
thence discomfit, but never sent he thither him that should have
power to protect the land against King Claudas. King Arthur was
sore troubled, for no witting had he of Messire Gawain nor
Messire Ywain nor of others whereby his court had use of right to
be feared and dreaded and of high renown throughout all other
kingdoms. The King was one day in the hall at Cardoil, right
heavy; and he was at one of the windows, and remembered him of
the Queen and of his good knights that he wont to see oftener at
court, whereof the more part were dead, and of the adventures
that wont to befall therein whereof they saw none no longer.
Lucan the Butler seeth him right heavy and draweth nigh unto him
"Sir," saith he, "Meseemeth you are without joy."
"Lucan," said the King, "Joy hath been somewhat far from me
sithence that the Queen hath been dead, and Gawain and the other
knights have held aloof from my court so that they deign come
hither no longer. Moreover, King Claudas warreth upon me and
conquereth my lands so that no power have I to rescue me for
default of my knights."
"Sir," saith Lucan, "Herein is there nought whereof you have
right to accuse any save yourself alone. For you have done evil
unto him that hath served you, and good unto them that are
traitors to you. You have one of the best knights in the world
and the most loyal in your prison, wherefore all the other hold
them aloof from your court. Lancelot had served you well by his
good will and by his good knighthood, nor never had he done you
any disservice whereof you might in justice have done him such
shame; nor never will your enemies withhold them from you nor
have dread of you save only through him and other your good
knights. And know of a truth that Lancelot and Messire Gawain
are the best of your court."
"Lucan," saith King Arthur, "So thought I ever again to have
affiance in him, I would make him be set forth of my prison, for
well I know that I have wrought discourteously toward him; and
Lancelot is of a great heart, wherefore would he not slacken of
his despite for that which hath been done unto him until such
time as he should be avenged thereof, for no king is there in the
world, how puissant soever he be, against whom he durst not well
maintain his right."
"Sir," saith Lucan, "Lancelot well knoweth that and you had taken
no counsel but your own, he would not have been thus entreated,
and I dare well say that never so long as he liveth will he misdo
in aught towards you, for he hath in him much valour and loyalty,
as many a time have you had good cause to know. Wherefore, and
you would fain have aid and succour and hold your realm again,
behoveth you set him forth of the prison, or otherwise never will
you succeed herein, and, if you do not so, you will lose your
land by treason."
The King held by the counsel of Lucan the Butler. He made bring
Lancelot before him into the midst of the hall, that was somewhat
made ean of his being in prison, but he bore him as he wont, nor
might none look at him to whom he seemed not to be good knight.
"Lancelot," saith the King, "How is it with you?"
"Sir," saith he, "It hath been ill with me long time, but, please
God, it shall be better hereafter."
"Lancelot," saith the King, "I repent me of this that I have done
to you, and I have bethought me much of the good services I have
found in you, wherefore I will do you amends thereof at your
will, in such sort as that the love between us shall be whole as
it was tofore."
"Sir," saith Lancelot, "Your amends love I much, and your love
more than of any other; but never, please God, will I misdo you
for aught that you may have done to me, for it is well known that
I have not been in prison for no treason I have done, nor for no
folly, but only for that it was your will. Never will it be
reproached me as of shame, and, sith that you have done me nought
whereof I may have blame nor reproach, my devoir it is to
withhold me from hating you; for you are my lord, and if that you
do me ill, without flattery of myself the ill you do me is your
own; but, please God, whatsoever you have done me, never shall my
aid fail you, rather, everywhere will I set my body in adventure
for your love, in like sort as I have done many a time."
In the court of King Arthur was right great joy of the most part
when they heard that Lancelot was set forth of prison, but not a
whit rejoiced were Briant and his folk. The King commanded that
Lancelot should be well cared for and made whole again, and that
all should be at his commandment. The court was all overjoyed
thereof, and they said: now at last might the King make war in
good assurance. Lancelot was foremost in the King's court and
more redoubted than was ever another of the knights. Briant of
the Isles came one day before the King.
"Sir," saith he, "Behold, here is Lancelot that wounded me in
your service, wherefore I will that he know I am his enemy."
"Briant," saith Lancelot, "And if that you deserved it tofore,
well may you be sorry thereof, and sith that you wish to be mine
enemy, your friend will I not be. For well may I deem of your
love according as I have found it in you."
"Sir," saith Briant to the King, "You are my lord, and I am one
you are bound to protect. You know well that so rich am I in
lands and so puissant in friends that I may well despise mine
enemy, nor will I not remain at your court so long as Lancelot is
therein. Say not that I depart thence with any shame as toward
myself. Rather thus go I hence as one that will gladly avenge
me, so I have place and freedom, and I see plainly and know that
you and your court love him far better than you love me,
wherefore behoveth me take thought thereof."
"Briant," saith the King, "Remain as yet, and I will make amends
for you to Lancelot, and I myself will make amends for him to
"Sir," saith Briant, "By the faith that I owe to you, none amends
will I have of him nor other until such time as I have drawn as
much blood of his body as did he of mine, and I will well that he
With that Briant departeth from the court all wrathful, but if
that Lancelot had not feared to anger the King, Briant would not
have ridden a league English or ever he had followed and forced
him to fight. Briant goeth toward the Castle of the Hard Rock,
and saith that better would it have been for the King that
Lancelot were still in prison, for that such a plea will he move
against him and he may bring it to bear, as that he shall lose
thereof the best parcel of his land. He is gone into the land of
King Claudas, and saith that now at last hath he need of his aid,
for Lancelot is issued forth of the King's prison and is better
loved at court than all other, so that the King believeth in no
counsel save his only. King Claudas sweareth unto him and maketh
pledge that never will he fail him, and Briant to him again.
Herewithal is the story silent of Briant and talketh of Perceval,
that the ship beareth away right swiftly; but so long hath he
held battle therein that every one hath he slain of them that
were in the ship save only the pilot that steereth her, for him
hath he in covenant that he will believe in God and renounce his
evil Law. Perceval is far from land so that he seeth nought but
sea only, and the ship speedeth onward, and God guideth him, as
one that believeth in Him and loveth Him and serveth Him of a
good heart. The ship ran on by night and by day as it pleased
God, until that they saw a castle and an island of the sea. He
asked his pilot if he knew what castle it was.
"Certes," saith he, "Not I, for so far have we run that I know
not neither the sea nor the stars."
They come nigh the castle, and saw four that sounded bells at the
four corners of the town, right sweetly, and they that sounded
them were clad in white garments. They are come thither.
So soon as the ship had taken haven under the castle, the sea
withdraweth itself back, so that the ship is left on dry land.
None were therein save Perceval, his horse, and the pilot. They
issued forth of the ship and went by the side of the sea toward
the castle, and therein were the fairest halls and the fairest
mansions that any might see ever. He Looketh underneath a tree
that was tall and broad and seeth the fairest fountain and the
clearest that any may devise, and it was all surrounded of rich
pillars, and the gravel thereof seemed to be gold and precious
stones. Above this fountain were two men sitting, their beards
and hair whiter than driven snow, albeit they seemed young of
visage. So soon as they saw Perceval they dressed them to meet
him, and bowed down and worshipped the shield that he bare at his
neck, and kissed the cross and then the boss wherein were the
"Sir," say they, "Marvel not of this that we do, for well knew we
the knight that bare this shield tofore you. Many a time we saw
him or ever God were crucified."
Perceval marvelleth much of this that they say, for they talk of
a time that is long agone.
"Lords, know ye then how he was named?"
Say they, "Joseph of Abarimacie, but no cross was there on the
shield before the death of Jesus Christ. But he had it set
thereon after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for the sake of the
Saviour that he loved so well."
Perceval took off the shield from his neck, and one of the
worshipful men setteth upon it as it were a posy of herbs that
was blooming with the fairest flowers in the world. Perceval
looketh beyond the fountain and seeth in a right fair place a
round vessel like as it were ivory, and it was so large that
there was a knight within, all armed. He looketh thereinto and
seeth the knight, and speaketh unto him many times, but never the
more willeth the knight to answer him. Perceval looketh at him
in wonderment, and cometh back to the good men and asketh them
who is this knight, and they tell him that he may know not as
yet. They lead him to a great hall and bear his shield before
him, whereof they make right great joy, and show thereunto great
worship. He seeth the hall right rich, for hall so rich and so
fair had he seen never. It was hung about with right rich cloths
of silk, and in the midst of the hall was imaged the Saviour of
the World so as He is in His majesty, with the apostles about
Him, and within were great galleries that were full of folk and
seemed to be of great holiness, and so were they, for had they
not been good men they might not there have remained.
"Sir," say the two Masters to Perceval, "This house that you see
here so rich, is the hall royal."
"By my faith," saith Perceval, "So ought it well to be, for never
saw I none so much of worth."
He Looketh all around, and seeth the richest tables of gold and
ivory that he saw ever. One of the Masters clappeth his hands
thrice, and three and thirty men come into the hall all in a
company. They were clad in white garments, and not one of them
but had a red cross in the midst of his breast, and they seemed
to be all of an age. As soon as they enter into the hall they do
worship to God Our Lord and set out their cups. Then went they
to wash at a great laver of gold, and then went to sit at the
tables. The Masters made Perceval sit at the most master-table
with themselves. They were served thereat right gloriously, and
Perceval looked about him more gladlier than he ate.
And while he was thus looking, he seeth a chain of gold come down
above him loaded with precious stones, and in the midst thereof
was a crown of gold. The chain descended a great length and held
on to nought save to the will of Our Lord only. As soon as the
Masters saw it descending they opened a great wide pit that was
in the midst of the hall, so that one could see the hole all
openly. As soon as the entrance of this pit was discovered,
there issued thence the greatest cry and most dolorous that any
heard ever, and when the worshipful men hear it, they stretched
out their hands towards Our Lord and all began to weep. Perceval
heareth this dolour, and marvelleth much what it may be. He
seeth that the chain of gold descendeth thither and is there
stayed until they have well-nigh eaten, and then draweth itself
again into the air and so goeth again aloft. But Perceval
knoweth not what became thereof, and the Master covereth the pit
again, that was right grisly to see, and pitiful to hear were the
voices that issued therefrom.
The Good Men rose from the tables when they had eaten, and gave
thanks right sweetly to Our Lord; and then returned thither
whence they had come.
"Sir," saith the Master to Perceval, "The chain of gold that you
have seen is right precious and the crown of gold likewise. But
never may you issue forth from hence save you promise to return
so soon as you shall see the ship and the sail crossed of a red
cross; otherwise may you not depart hence."
"Tell me," saith he, "of the chain of gold and the crown, what it
"We will tell you not," saith one of the Masters, "Save you
promise that which I tell you."
"Certes, Sir," saith Perceval, "I promise you faithfully, that so
soon as I shall have done that I have to do for my lady my mother
and one other, that I will return hither, so I be on live and I
see your ship so marked as you say."
"Yea, be you faithful to the end herein, and you shall have the
crown of gold upon your head so soon as you return, and so shall
you be seated in the throne, and shall be king of an island that
is near to this, right plenteous of all things good, for nought
is there in the world that is there lacking that is needful for
man's body. King Hermit was the king thereof that thus hath
garnished it, and for that he approved himself so well in this
kingdom, and that they who are in the island consented thereto,
is he chosen to be king of a greater realm. Now they desire that
another worshipful man be sent them for king, that shall do for
them as much good as did he, but take you good heed, sith that
you will be king therein, that the island be well garnished; for,
and you garnish it not well, you will be put into the Poverty-
stricken Island, the crying whereof you have but now since heard,
and the crown thereof will again be reft from you. For they that
have been kings of the Plenteous Island and have not well
approved them, are among the folk that you saw in the Poverty-
stricken Island, lacking in all things good. And so I tell you
that King Hermit, whom you will succeed, hath sent thither a
great part of his folk. There are the heads sealed in silver,
and the heads sealed in lead, and the bodies whereunto these
heads belonged; I tell you that you must make come thither the
head both of the King and of the Queen. But of the other I tell
you that they are in the Poverty-stricken Island. But we know
not whether they shall ever issue forth thence."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Tell me of the knight that is all armed
in the ivory vessel, who he is, and what is the name of this
"You may not know," saith the Master, "until your return. But
tell me tidings of the most Holy Graal, that you reconquered, is
it still in the holy chapel that was King Fisherman's?"
"Yea, Sir," saith Perceval, "And the sword wherewith S. John was
beheaded, and other hallows in great plenty."
"I saw the Graal," saith the Master, "or ever Joseph, that was
uncle to King Fisherman, collected therein the blood or Jesus
Christ. Know that well am I acquainted with all your lineage,
and of what folk you were born. For your good knighthood and for
your good cleanness and for your good valour came you in hither,
for such was Our Lord's will, and take heed that you be ready
when place shall be, and time shall come, and you shall see the
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Most willingly shall I return, nor never
would I have sought to depart but for my lady my mother, and for
my sister, for never have I seen no place that so much hath
He was right well harboured the night within, and in the morning,
or ever he departed, heard a holy mass in a holy chapel the
fairest that he had seen ever. The Master cometh to him after
the mass and bringeth him a shield as white as snow. Afterwards,
he saith, "You will leave me your shield within for token of your
coming and will bear this."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "I will do your pleasure."
He hath taken leave, and so departeth from the rich mansion, and
findeth the ship all apparelled, and heareth sound the bells at
his forth-going the same as at his coming. He entereth into the
ship and the sail is set. He leaveth the land far behind, and
the pilot steereth the ship and Our Lord God guideth and leadeth
him. The ship runneth a great speed, for far enough had she to
run, but God made her speed as He would, for He knew the passing
great goodness and worth of the knight that was within.
God hath guided and led the ship by day and by night until that
she arrived at an island where was a castle right ancient, but it
seemed not to be over-rich, rather it showed as had it been of
great lordship in days of yore. They cast anchor, and Perceval
is come toward the castle and entereth in all armed. He seeth
the castle large, and the dwelling chambers fallen down and the
house-place roofless, and he seeth a lady sitting before the
steps of an old hall. She rose up as soon as she saw him, but
she was right poorly clad. It seemed well by her body and her
cheer and her bearing that she was a gentlewoman, and he seeth
that two damsels come with her that are young of age and are as
poorly clad as is the lady.
"Sir," saith she to Perceval, "Welcome may you be. No knight
have I seen enter this castle of a long time."
"Lady," saith Perceval, "God grant you joy and honour!"
"Sir," saith she, "Need have we thereof, for none scarce have I
had this long while past."
She leadeth him into a great ancient hall that was right poorly
"Sir," saith she, "Here will you harbour you the night, and you
would take in good part that we may do and you knew the plight of
She maketh him be unarmed of a servant that was there within, and
the damsels come before him and serve him right sweetly. The
lady bringeth him a mantle to do on.
"Sir," saith she, "Within are no better garments wherewith to
show you honour than this."
Perceval looketh on the damsels and hath great pity of them, for
so well shapen were they of limb and body as that nature might
not have better fashioned them, and all the beauty that may be in
woman's body was in them, and all the sweetness and simpleness.
"Lady," saith Perceval, "Is this castle, then, not yours?"
"Sir," saith she, "So much is all that remaineth unto me of all
my land, and you see there my daughters of whom is it right sore
pity, for nought have they but what you see, albeit gentlewomen
are they and of high lineage, but their kinsfolk are too far
away, and a knight that is right cruel hath reft us of our land
sithence that my lord was dead, and holdeth a son of mine in his
prison, whereof I am right sorrowful, for he is one of the
comeliest knights in the world. He had not been knight more than
four years when he took him, and now may I aid neither myself nor
other, but I have heard tell that there is a knight in the land
of Wales that was the son of Alain li Gros of the Valleys of
Camelot, and he is the Best Knight in the World, and this Alain
was brother of Calobrutus, whose wife was I, and of whom I had my
son and these two daughters. This know I well, that and the Good
Knight that is so near akin to them were by any adventure to come
into this island, I should have my son again, and my daughters
that are disherited would have their lands again freely, and so
should I be brought out of sore pain and poverty. I am of
another lineage that is full far away, for King Ban of Benoic
that is dead was mine uncle, but he hath a son that is a right
good knight as I have been told, so that and one of these two
should come nigh me in any of these islands right joyous should I
Perceval heareth that the two damsels are his uncle's daughters,
and hath great pity thereof.
"Lady," saith he, "How is he named that is in prison?"
"Sir," saith she, "Galobruns, and he that holdeth him in prison
is named Gohaz of the Castle of the Whale."
"Is his castle near this, Lady?" saith he.
"Sir, there is but an arm of the sea to cross, and in all these
islands of the sea is there none that hath any puissance but he
only, and so assured is he that no dread hath he of any. For
none that is in this land durst offend against him. Sir, one
thing hath he bid me do, whereof I am sore grieved, that and I
send him not one of my daughters, he hath sworn his oath that he
will reave me of my castle."
"Lady," saith Perceval, "An oath is not always kept. To the two
damsels, please God, shall he do no shame, and right heavy am I
of that he hath done already, for they were daughters of mine
uncle. Alain li Gros was my father and Galobrutus my uncle, and
many another good man that now is dead."
When the damsels heard this, they kneeled down before him, and
began to weep for joy and kiss his hands, and pray him for God's
sake have mercy on them and on their brother. And he saith that
he will not depart from their land until he hath done all he may.
He remaineth the night in the castle and his mariner likewise.
The lady made great joy of Perceval, and did him all the honour
she might. When the morrow came they showed him the land of the
King that had reft them of their land, but the lady could not
tell him where her son was in prison. He departeth and cometh
back to his ship when he hath taken leave of the lady and the
damsels, and right glad was he to know that the damsels were so
nigh to him of kin. So he prayeth God grant him that he may be
able to give them back their land and bring them out of the
poverty wherein they are. He roweth until that he is come under
a rock, wherein was a cave at top round and narrow and secure
like as it were a little house. Perceval looketh on that side,
and seeth a man sitting within. He maketh the ship draw nigh the
rock, then looketh and seeth the cutting of a way that went
upwards through the rock. He is come forth of the ship and goeth
up the little path until he cometh into the little house. He
findeth within one of the comeliest knights in the world. He had
a ring at his feet and a collar on his neck with a chain whereof
the other end was fixed by a staple into a great ledge of the
rock. He rose up over against Perceval as soon as he saw him.
"Sir Knight," saith Perceval, "You are well made fast."
"Sir, that irketh me," saith the knight, "Better should I like
myself elsewhere than here."
"You would be right," saith Perceval, "For you are in right evil
plight in the midst of this sea. Have you aught within to eat or
"Sir," saith he, "The daughter of the Sick Knight that dwelleth
in the island hard by, sendeth me every day in a boat as much
meat as I may eat, for she hath great pity of me. The King that
hath imprisoned me here hath reft her castles like as he hath
those of my lady my mother."
"May none remove you hence?"
"Sir, in no wise, save he that set me here, for he keepeth with
him the key of the lock, and he told me when he departed hence
that never more should I issue forth."
"By my head," saith Perceval, "but you shall! And you were the
son of Galobrutus, you were the son of mine uncle," saith
Perceval, "and I of yours, so that it would be a reproach to me
for evermore and I left you in this prison."
When Galobruns heareth that he is his uncle's son, great joy hath
he thereof. He would have fallen at his feet, but Perceval would
not, and said to him, "Now be well assured, for I will seek your
He cometh down from the rock, and so entereth the ship and roweth
of a long space. He looketh before him and seeth a right rich
island and a right plenteous, and on the other side he seeth in a
little islet a knight that is mounted up in a tall tree that was
right broad with many boughs. There was a damsel with him, that
had climbed up also for dread of a serpent, great and evil-
favoured that had issued from a hole in a mountain. The damsel
seeth Perceval's ship coming, and crieth out to him.
"Ha, Sir," saith she, "Come to help this King that is up above,
and me that am a damsel!"
"Whereof are you afeard, damsel?" saith Perceval.
"Of a great serpent, Sir," saith she, "that hath made us climb
up, whereof ought I not to be sorry, for this King hath carried
me off from my father's house, and would have done me shame of my
body and this serpent had not run upon him."
"And what is the King's name, damsel?" saith Perceval.
"Sir, he is called Gohaz of the Castle of the Whale. This great
land is his own that is so plenteous, and other lands enow that
he hath reft of my father and of other."
The King had great shame of this that the damsel told him, and
made answer never a word. Perceval understandeth that it was he
that held his cousin in prison, and is issued from the ship
forthwith, sword drawn. The serpent seeth him, and cometh toward
him, jaws yawning, and casteth forth fire and flame in great
plenty. Perceval thrusteth his sword right through the gullet.
"Now may you come down," saith he to the King.
"Sir," saith he, "The key of a chain wherewith a certain knight
is bound hath fallen, and the serpent seized it."
Perceval rendeth open the throat and findeth the key forthwith,
all red-hot with the fire of the serpent. The King cometh down,
that hath no dread of aught, but cometh, rather, as he ought, to
thank Perceval of the goodness he had done him, and Perceval
seizeth him between his arms and beareth him away to the ship.
"Sir Knight," saith Gohaz, "Take heed what you do, for I am King
of this land."
"Therefore," saith Perceval, "I do it. For, had it been another
I should do it not."
"Ha, Sir," saith the damsel, "Leave me not here to get forth as I
may, but help me until that I shall be in the house of my father,
the Sick Knight, that is sore grieved on my account."
Perceval understandeth that it is the damsel of whom Galobruns
spake such praise. He goeth to bring her down from the tree,
then bringeth her into the ship, and so goeth back toward the
rock where his cousin was.
"Sir Knight," saith Gohaz, "Where will you put me?"
"I will put you," saith he, "as an enemy, there, where you have
put the son of mine uncle in prison; so shall I avenge me of you,
and he also at his will."
When the King heard this, he was glad thereof not a whit, and the
damsel was loath not a whit, whom he had thus disherited. They
row until they come to the rock. Perceval issueth forth of the
ship, and bringeth Gohaz up maugre his head. Galobruns seeth him
coming and maketh great joy thereof, and Perceval saith to him:
"Behold here your mortal enemy! Now do your will of him!"
He taketh the key and so looseth him of the irons wherein he was
"Galobruns," saith Perceval, "Now may you do your pleasure of
"Sir," saith he, "Right gladly!"
He maketh fast the irons on his feet that he had upon his own,
and afterward setteth the collar on his neck.
"Now let him be here," saith he, "in such sort and in such prison
as he put me; for well I know that he will be succoured of none."
After that, he flingeth the key into the sea as far as he might,
and so seemed it to Galobruns that he well avenged himself in
such wise, and better than if he had killed him. Perceval
alloweth him everything therein at his will. They enter into the
ship and leave Gohaz all sorrowing on the rock, that never
thereafter are nor drank. And Perceval bringeth his cousin and
the damsel, and they row until that they come into their land,
and Perceval maketh send for all the folk of King Gohaz and
maketh all the more powerful do sure homage to Galobruns and his
sisters in such sort that the land was all at their will. He
sojourned there so long as it pleased him, and then departed and
took leave of the damsel and Galobruns, that thanked him much for
the lands that he had again through him.
Perceval hath rowed until that he is come nigh a castle that was
burning fiercely with a great flame, and seeth a hermitage upon
the sea hard by. He seeth the hermit at the door of the chapel,
and asketh him what the castle is that hath caught fire thus.
"Sir," saith the hermit, "I will tell you. Joseus, the son of
King Pelles, slew his mother there. Never sithence hath the
castle stinted of burning, and I tell you that of this castle and
one other will be kindled the fire that shall burn up the world
and put it to an end."
Perceval marvelleth much, and knew well that it was the castle of
King Hermit his uncle. He departeth thence in great haste, and
passeth three kingdoms and saileth by the wastes and deserts on
one side and the other of the sea, for the ship ran somewhat
a-nigh the land. He looketh and seeth on an island twelve
hermits sitting on the seashore. The sea was calm and
untroubled, and he made cast the anchor so as to keep the ship
steady. Then he saluteth the hermits, and they all bow down
to him in answer. He asketh them where have they their repair,
and they tell him that they have not far away twelve chapels and
twelve houses that surround a grave-yard wherein lie twelve dead
knights that we keep watch over. They were all brothers-german,
and right worshipful men, and none thereof lived more than twelve
years knight save one only, and none of them was there but won
much land and broad kingdoms from the misbelievers, and they all
died in arms; and the name of the eldest was Alain li Gros, and
he came into this country from the Valleys of Camelot to avenge
his brother Alibans of the Waste City that the Giant King had
slain, and he took vengeance on him thereof, but he died
thereafter of a wound that the Giant had given him."
"Sir," saith one of the hermits, "I was at his death, but nought
was there he so longed after as a son of his, and he said that
his name was Perceval. He was the last of the brothers that
When Perceval heard this he had pity thereof, and issued forth of
the ship and came to land, and his mariner with him. He prayed
the hermits that they would lead him to the graveyard where the
knights lay, and gladly did they so. Perceval is come thither
and seeth the coffins right rich and fair, and the chapels full
fairly dight, and every coffin lay over against the altar in each
"Lords, which coffin is that of the Lord of Camelot?"
"This, the highest," say the hermits, "and the most rich, for
that he was eldest of all the brethren."
Perceval kneeleth down before it, then embraceth the coffin and
prayeth right sweetly for the soul of his father, and in like
manner he went to all the other coffins. He harboured the night
with the hermits, and told them that Alain li Gros was his father
and all the other his uncles. Right joyous were the hermits for
that he was come thither, and the morrow, or ever he departed, he
heard mass in the chapel of his father and in the others where he
might. He entered into the ship and sped full swift, and so far
hath the ship run that he draweth nigh the islands of Great
Britain. He arriveth at the head of a forest under the Red Tower
whereof he had slain the lord, there where Meliot delivered
Messire Gawain. He is issued forth of the ship and leadeth forth
his horse and is armed, and commendeth the pilot to God. He
mounteth on his destrier, all armed, and goeth amidst the land
that was well-nigh void of people, for he himself had slain the
greater part thereof, albeit he knew it not. He rideth so long,
right amidst the country, that he cometh toward evensong to a
hold that was in a great forest, and he bethought him that he
would go into the hermitage, and he cometh straight into the
hold, and seeth a knight lying in the entrance of the gate on a
straw mattress, and a damsel sate at the bed's head, of passing
great beauty, and held his head on her lap.
The knight reviled her from time to time, and said that he would
make cut of her head and he had not that he desired to have, for
that he was sick. Perceval looked at the lady that held him and
served him full sweetly, and deemed her to be a good lady and a
loyal. The Sick Knight called to Perceval.
"Sir," saith he, "Are you come in hither to harbour?"
"Sir," saith Perceval, "So please you, I will harbour here."
"Then blame me not," saith the knight, "of that you shall see me
do unto my wife."
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Sith that she is yours, you have a right
to do your pleasure, but in all things ought one to be heedful on
The knight made him be carried back into the dwelling, for that
he had been in the air as long as pleased him, and commanded his
wife that she do much honour to the knight that is come to lodge
"But take heed," saith he, "that you be not seen at the table,
but eat, as you are wont, at the squire's table, for, until such
time as I have the golden cup I desire, I will not forego my
despite against you."
Perceval unarmed him. The lady had brought him a surcoat of
scarlet for him to do on, and he asked her wherefore her lord
reviled her and rebuked her in such sort, and she told him all
the story how Lancelot had married her to him, and how her lord
ever sithence had dishonoured her.
"Sir," saith she, "Now hath he fallen into misease, sithence
then, and he hath a brother as sick as he is, and therefore hath
Gohaz of the Castle of the Whale reft him of his land, whereof is
he right sorry, and my lord hath never been heal since that he
heard thereof. And well you know that such folk wax wroth of a
little, and are overjoyed when they have a little thing that
pleaseth them, for they live always in desire of somewhat. My
lord hath heard tell of a cup of gold that a damsel beareth, that
is right rich and of greater worth than aught he hath seen this
long time, and a knight goeth with the damsel that beareth the
cup, and saith that none may have it save he be the Best Knight
in the World. My lord hath told me many times, sithence he heard
tidings thereof, that never shall the despite he hath toward me
be forgone, until that he shall have the cup. But he is so angry
withal with his brother that hath lost his land, that I aby it
right dear, for I do all his will and yet may I have no fair
treatment of him. Howbeit, for no ill that he may do, nor no
churlishness that he may say, will I be against him in nought
that he hath set his mind on. For I would have him, and I had
him, blessed be Lancelot through whom it was so. As much as I
loved him in health, so much love I him in his sickness, and more
yet, for I desire to deserve that God shall bring him to a better
"Lady," saith Perceval, "Great praise ought you to have of this
that you say; but you may well tell him of a truth that the sick
King his brother hath all his land freely and his daughter, for I
was at the reconquering thereof, and know the knight well that
gave it back unto him. But of the golden cup can I give you no
"Sir," saith she, "The damsel is to bear it to an assembly of
knights that is to be held hard by this, under the White Tower.
There hath she to give it to the best knight, and him that shall
do best at the assembly, and the knight that followeth the damsel
is bound to carry it whither he that shall win it may command,
and if he would fain it should be given to another rather than to
"Lady," saith Perceval, "Well meseemeth that he who shall win the
cup by prize of arms will be right courteous and he send it to
you, and God grant that he that hath it may do you such bounty as
"Sir," saith she, "Methinketh well, so Lancelot were there,
either he or Messire Gawain, that, and they won it, so they
remembered them of me, and knew how needful it were to me, they
would promise me the cup."
"Lady," saith Perceval, "By one of these Ywain ought you well to
have it, for greater prize now long since have they won."
She goeth to her lord and saith to him: "Sir," saith she, "Now
may you be more joyous than is your wont, for that your brother
hath his land again all quit. For the knight that is within was
at the reconquering."
The Sick Knight heard her and had great joy thereof.
"Go!" saith he to his wife, "and do great honour to the knight,
but take heed you sit not otherwise than you are wont."
"Sir," saith she, "I will not."
The damsel maketh Perceval sit at meat. When he had washen, he
thought that the lady should have come to sit beside him, but she
would not disobey her lord's commandment. When Perceval was set
at the table and he had been served of the first meats, thereupon
the lady went to sit with the squires. Perceval was much shamed
that she should sit below, but he was not minded to speak, for
she had told him somewhat of her lord's manner. Howbeit, he lay
the night in the hold, and, on the morrow when he had taken
leave, he departed, and bethought him in his courage that the
knight would do good chivalry and great aims that should do this
sick knight his desire as concerning the cup, in such sort as
that his wife should be freed of the annoy that she is in, for
that all knights that knew thereof ought to have pity of her.
Perceval goeth his way as he that hath great desire to accomplish
that he hath to do, and to see the token of his going again to
the castle where the chain of gold appeared to him, for never yet
saw he dwelling that pleased him so much. He hath ridden so far
that he is come into the joyless forest of the Black Hermit, that
is so loathly and horrible that no leaves nor greenery are there
by winter nor by summer, nor was song of bird never heard
therein, but all the land is gruesome and burnt, and wide are the
cracks therein. He hath scarce gone thereinto or ever he hath
overtaken the Damsel of the Car, that made full great joy of him.
"Sir," saith she, "Bald was I the first time I saw you; now may
you see that I have my hair."
"Certes, yea!" saith Perceval, "And, as methinketh, hair passing
"Sir," saith she, "I was wont to carry my arm at my neck in a
scarf of gold and silk, for that I thought the service I did you
in the hostel of King Fisherman your uncle. had been ill
bestowed; but now well I see that it was not; wherefore now carry
I the one arm in the same manner as the other; and the damsel
that wont to go a-foot now goeth a-horseback; and blessed be you
that have so approved you in goodness by the good manner of your
heart, and by your likeness to the first of your lineage, whom
you resemble in all good conditions. Sir," saith she, "I durst
not come nigh the castle, for there be archers there that shoot
so sore that none may endure their strokes, and hereof will they
stint not, they say, until such time as you be come thither. But
well know I wherefore they will cease then, for they will come to
shut you up within to slay and to destroy. Natheless all they
that are within will have no power, nor will they do you evil,
save only the lord of the castle; but he will do battle against
you right gladly."
Perceval goeth toward the castle of the Black Hermit, and the
Damsel of the Car after. The archers draw and shoot stoutly.
Perceval goeth forward a great gallop, but they know him not on
account of the white shield. They think rather that it is one of
the other knights, and they lodge many arrows in his shield. He
came nigh a drawbridge over a moat right broad and foul and
horrible, and the bridge was lowered so soon as he came, and all
the archers left of shooting. Then knew they well that it was
Perceval who came. The door was opened to receive him, for they
of the gate and they of the castle within thought to have power
to slay him. But so soon as they saw him, they lost their will
thereof and were all amared and without strength, and said that
they would set this business on their lord that was strong enough
and puissant enough to slay one man. Perceval entered all armed
into a great hall, and found it filled all around with a great
throng of folk that was right foul to look on. He that was
called the Black Hermit was full tall and Seemed to be of noble
lordship, and he was in the midst of the hall, all armed.
"Sir," say his men, "And you have not defence of yourself, never
no counsel nor aid may you have of us!"
"We are yours to guard, to protect, and oftentimes have we
defended you; now defend us in this sore need."
The Black Hermit sate upon a tall black horse, and was right
richly armed. So soon as Perceval espieth him, he cometh with
such a rush against him that he maketh all the hall resound, and
the Black Hermit cometh in like sort. They mell together with
such force that the Black Hermit breaketh his spear upon
Perceval, but Perceval smiteth him so passing stoutly on the left
side upon the shield, that he beareth him to the ground beside
his horse, so that in the fall he made he to-frushed two of the
great ribs in the overturn. And when they that were therein saw
him fall, they opened the trap-door of a great pit that was in
the midst of the hall. So soon as they had opened it, the
foulest stench that any smelt ever issued thereout. They take
their lord and cast him into this abysm and this filth. After
that, they come to Perceval, and so yield the castle and put them
at his mercy in everything. Thereupon, behold you, the Damsel of
the Car that cometh. They deliver up to her the heads sealed in
gold, both the head of the King and of the Queen, and she
departeth forthwith, for well knoweth she that Perceval will
achieve that he hath to do without her. She departeth from the
castle and goeth the speediest she may toward the Valleys of
Camelot. And all they of the castle that had been the Black
Hermit's are obedient to Perceval to do his will, and they have
him in covenant that never more shall knights be harassed there
in such sort as they had been theretofore, but rather that they
should receive gladly any knights that should pass that way, like
as in other places. Perceval departed from the castle rejoicing
for that he had drawn them to the believe of Our Lord, and every
day was His service done therein in holy wise, like as it is done
in other places.
Hereof ought the good knight to be loved that by the goodness of
his heart and the loyalty of his knighthood hath achieved all the
emprises he undertook, without reproach and without blame.
Perceval hath ridden until he hath overtaken the damsel that
carried the rich cup of gold and the knight that was along with
her. Perceval saluteth him, and the knight maketh answer, may he
be blessed of God and of His sweet Mother.
"Fair Sir," saith Perceval, "Is this damsel of your company?"
Saith the knight, "Rather am I of hers. But we are going to an
assembly of knights that is to be under the White Tower to the
intent to prove which knight is most worth, and to him that shall
have the prize of the assembly shall be delivered this golden
"By my head," saith Perceval, "That will be fair to see!"
He departeth from the knight and the damsel, and goeth his way a
great pace amidst the meadows under the White Tower, whither the
knights were coming from all parts, and many of them were already
armed to issue forth. So soon as it was known that the damsel
with the cup was come thither, the fellowships assembled on all
sides, and great was the clashing of arms. Perceval hurleth into
the assembly in such sort that many a knight he smiteth down and
overthroweth at his coming, and he giveth so many blows and so
many receiveth that all they that behold marvel much how he may
abide. The assembly lasted until evensong, and when it came to
an end the damsel came to the knights and prayed and required
that they would declare to her by right judgment of arms which
had done the best. The more part said that he of the white
shield had surpassed them all in arms, and all agreed thereto.
The damsel was right glad, for well she knew that they spake
truth. She cometh to Perceval; "Sir," saith she, "I present you
this cup of gold for your good chivalry, and therefore is it meet
and right you should know whence the cup cometh. The elder
Damsel of the Tent where the evil custom was wont to be, sent it
to Messire Gawain, and Messire Gawain made much joy thereof. And
it came to pass on such wise that Brundans, the son of the sister
of Briant of the Isles, slew Meliot of Logres, the most courteous
knight and the most valiant that was in the realm of Logres, and
thereof was Messire Gawain so sorrowful that he knew not how to
contain himself. For Meliot had twice rescued him from death,
and King Arthur once. He was liegeman of Messire Gawain.
Wherefore he prayeth and beseecheth you on his behalf that you
receive not the cup save you undertake to avenge him. For he was
loved of all the court, albeit he had haunted it but little.
Brundans slew him in treason when Meliot was unawares of him."
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Were there no cup at all, yet
natheless should I be fain to do the will of Messire Gawain, for
never might I love the man that had deserved his hatred." He
taketh the cup in his hand. "Damsel," saith he, "I thank you
much hereof, and God grant I may reward you for the same."
"Sir," saith she, "Brundans is a right proud knight, and beareth
a shield party of vert and argent. He is minded never to change
his cognisance, for that his father bore the same."
Perceval called the knight that was of the damsel's company. "I
beseech you," saith he, "of guerdon and of service, that you bear
this cup for me to the hold of the Sick Knight, and tell his wife
that the Knight of the White Shield that was harboured there
within hath sent it her by you."
"Sir," saith the knight, "This will I do gladly to fulfil your
He taketh the cup to furnish out the conditions of the message,
and so departeth forthwith.
Perceval lay the night in the castle of the White Tower, and
departed thence on the morrow as he that would fain do somewhat
whereof he might deserve well of Messire Gawain. Many a time had
he heard tell of Meliot of Logres and of his chivalry and of his
great valour. He was entered into a forest, and had heard mass
of a hermit, from whom he had departed. He came to the Castle
Perilous that was hard by there where Meliot lay sick, lay
wounded, when Lancelot brought him the sword and the cloth
wherewith he touched his wounds. He entered into the castle and
alighted. The damsel of the castle, that made great dole, came
to meet Perceval. "Damsel," saith he, "Wherefore are you so
"Sir," saith she, "For a knight that I tended and healed
herewithin, whom Brundans hath killed in treason, and God thereof
grant us vengeance yet, for so courteous knight saw I never."
While she was speaking in this manner, forthwith behold you a
damsel that cometh.
"Ha, Sir," saith she to Perceval, "Mount you again and come to
aid us, for none other knight find I in this land nor in this
forest but only you all alone!"
"What need have you of my aid?" saith Perceval.
"A knight is carrying off my lady by force, that was going to the
court of King Arthur."
"Who is your lady?" saith Perceval.
"Sir, she is the younger Damsel of the Tent where Messire Gawain
overthrew the evil customs. For God's sake, hasten you, for he
revileth her sore for her love of the King and of Messire
Perceval remounteth forthwith and issueth forth of the castle on
the spur. The damsel bringeth him on as fast as the knight can
go. They had not ridden far before they came a-nigh, and
Perceval heard the damsel crying aloud for mercy, and the knight
said that mercy upon her he would not have, and so smote her on
the head and neck with the fiat of his sword.
Perceval espied the knight and saw that the cognisance of his
shield was such as that which had been set forth to him.
"Sir," saith he, "Too churlishly are you entreating this damsel!
What wrong hath she done you?"
"What is it to you of me and of her?"
"I say it" saith Perceval, "for that no knight ought to do
churlishly to damsel."
"He will not stint for you yet!" saith Brundans. He raiseth his
sword and dealeth the damsel a buffet with the fiat so passing
heavy that it maketh her stoop withal so that the blood rayeth
out at mouth and nose.
"By my head," saith Perceval, "On this buffet I defy thee, for
the death of Meliot and for the shame you have done this damsel."
"Neither you nor none other may brag that you have heart to
attack me, but you shall aby it right dear!"
"That shall you see presently," saith Perceval and so draweth
back the better to let drive at him, and moveth towards him as
fast as his horse may run, and smiteth him so passing sore that
he pierceth his shield and bursteth his habergeon and then
thrusteth his spear into his body with such force that he
overthroweth him all in a heap, him and his horse, in such sort
that he breaketh both legs in the fall.
Then he alighteth over him, lowereth his coif, unlaceth the
ventail, and smiteth off his head.
"Damsel," saith he, "Take it, I present it to you. And, sith
that you are going to King Arthur's court, I pray and beseech you
that you carry it thither and so salute him first for me, and
tell Messire Gawain and Lancelot that this is the last present I
look ever to make them, for I think never to see them more.
Howbeit, wheresoever I may be, I shall be their well-wisher, nor
may I never withdraw me of my love, and I would fain I might make
them the same present of the heads of all their enemies, but that
I may do nought against God's will."
The damsel giveth him thanks for that he hath delivered her from