Launcelot saw him he saluted hin not fair, but cried on high: Knight, keep thee, for thou hast done to me great unkindness. And then they put afore them their spears, and Sir Launcelot came so fiercely upon him that he smote him and his horse down to the earth, that he had nigh broken his neck. Then Sir Launcelot took the knight’s horse that was his own aforehand, and descended from the horse he sat upon, and mounted upon his own horse, and tied the knight’s own horse to a tree, that he might find that horse when that he was arisen. Then Sir Launcelot rode till night, and by adventure he met an hermit, and each of them saluted other; and there he rested with that good man all night, and gave his horse such as he might get. Then said the good man unto Launcelot: Of whence be ye? Sir, said he, I am of Arthur’s court, and my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake that am in the quest of the Sangreal, and therefore I pray you to counsel me of a vision the which I had at the Cross. And so he told him all.
How the hermit expounded to Sir Launcelot his advision, and told him that Sir Galahad was his son.
LO, Sir Launcelot, said the good man, there thou mightest understand the high lineage that thou art come of, and thine advision betokeneth. After the passion of Jesu Christ forty year, Joseph of Aramathie preached the victory of King Evelake, that he had in the battles the better of his enemies. And of the seven kings and the two knights: the first of them is called Nappus, an holy man; and the second hight Nacien, in remembrance of his grandsire, and in him dwelled our Lord Jesu Christ; and the third was called Helias le Grose; and the fourth hight Lisais; and the fifth hight Jonas, he departed out of his country and went into Wales, and took there the daughter of Manuel, whereby he had the land of Gaul, and he came to dwell in this country. And of him came King Launcelot thy grandsire, the which there wedded the king’s daughter of Ireland, and he was as worthy a man as thou art, and of him came King Ban, thy father, the which was the last of the seven kings. And by thee, Sir Launcelot, it signifieth that the angels said thou were none of the seven fellowships. And the last was the ninth knight, he was signified to a lion, for he should pass all manner of earthly knights, that is Sir Galahad, the which thou gat on King Pelles’ daughter; and thou ought to thank God more than any other man living, for of a sinner earthly thou hast no peer as in knighthood, nor never shall be. But little thank hast thou given to God for all the great virtues that God hath lent thee. Sir, said Launcelot, ye say that that good knight is my son. That oughtest thou to know and no man better, said the good man, for thou knewest the daughter of King Pelles fleshly, and on her thou begattest Galahad, and that was he that at the feast of Pentecost sat in the Siege Perilous; and therefore make thou it known openly that he is one of thy begetting on King Pelles’ daughter, for that will be your worship and honour, and to all thy kindred. And I counsel you in no place press not upon him to have ado with him. Well, said Launcelot, meseemeth that good knight should pray for me unto the High Father, that I fall not to sin again. Trust thou well, said the good man, thou farest mickle the better for his prayer; but the son shall not bear the wickedness of the father, nor the father shall not bear the wickedness of the son, but everych shall bear his own burden. And therefore beseek thou only God, and He will help thee in all thy needs. And then Sir Launcelot and he went to supper, and so laid him to rest, and the hair pricked so Sir Launcelot’s skin which grieved him full sore, but he took it meekly, and suffered the pain. And so on the morn he heard his mass and took his arms, and so took his leave.
How Sir Launcelot jousted with many knights, and how he was taken.
AND then mounted upon his horse, and rode into a forest, and held no highway. And as he looked afore him he saw a fair plain, and beside that a fair castle, and afore the castle were many pavilions of silk and of diverse hue. And him seemed that he saw there five hundred knights riding on horseback; and there were two parties: they that were of the castle were all on black horses and their trappings black, and they that were without were all on white horses and trappings, and everych hurtled to other that it marvelled Sir Launcelot. And at the last him thought they of the castle were put to the worse.
Then thought Sir Launcelot for to help there the weaker party in increasing of his chivalry. And so Sir Launcelot thrust in among the party of the castle, and smote down a knight, horse and man, to the earth. And then he rashed here and there, and did marvellous deeds of arms. And then he drew out his sword, and struck many knights to the earth, so that all those that saw him marvelled that ever one knight might do so great deeds of arms. But always the white knights held them nigh about Sir Launcelot, for to tire him and wind him. But at the last, as a man may not ever endure, Sir Launcelot waxed so faint of fighting and travailing, and was so weary of his great deeds, that he might not lift up his arms for to give one stroke, so that he weened never to have borne arms; and then they all took and led him away into a forest, and there made him to alight and to rest him. And then all the fellowship of the castle were overcome for the default of him. Then they said all unto Sir Launcelot: Blessed be God that ye be now of our fellowship, for we shall hold you in our prison; and so they left
 So W. de Worde; Caxton “but.”
him with few words. And then Sir Launcelot made great sorrow, For never or now was I never at tournament nor jousts but I had the best, and now I am shamed; and then he said: Now I am sure that I am more sinfuller than ever I was.
Thus he rode sorrowing, and half a day he was out of despair, till that he came into a deep valley. And when Sir Launcelot saw he might not ride up into the mountain, he there alighted under an apple tree, and there he left his helm and his shield, and put his horse unto pasture. And then he laid him down to sleep. And then him thought there came an old man afore him, the which said: Ah, Launcelot of evil faith and poor belief, wherefore is thy will turned so lightly toward thy deadly sin? And when he had said thus he vanished away, and Launcelot wist not where he was become. Then he took his horse, and armed him; and as he rode by the way he saw a chapel where was a recluse, which had a window that she might see up to the altar. And all aloud she called Launcelot, for that he seemed a knight errant. And then he came, and she asked him what he was, and of what place, and where about he went to seek.
How Sir Launcelot told his advision to a woman, and how she expounded it to him.
AND then he told her altogether word by word, and the truth how it befell him at the tournament. And after told her his advision that he had had that night in his sleep, and prayed her to tell him what it might mean, for he was not well content with it. Ah, Launcelot, said she, as long as ye were knight of earthly knighthood ye were the most marvellous man of the world, and most adventurous. Now, said the lady, sithen ye be set among the knights of heavenly adventures, if adventure fell thee contrary at that tournament have thou no marvel, for that tournament yesterday was but a tokening of Our Lord. And not for then there was none enchantment, for they at the tournament were earthly knights. The tournament was a token to see who should have most knights, either Eliazar, the son of King Pelles, or Argustus, the son of King Harlon. But Eliazar was all clothed in white, and Argustus was covered in black, the which were [over]come.
All what this betokeneth I shall tell you. The day of Pentecost, when King Arthur held his court, it befell that earthly kings and knights took a tournament together, that is to say the quest of the Sangreal. The earthly knights were they the which were clothed all in black, and the covering betokeneth the sins whereof they be not confessed. And they with the covering of white betokeneth virginity, and they that chose chastity. And thus was the quest begun in them. Then thou beheld the sinners and the good men, and when thou sawest the sinners overcome, thou inclinest to that party for bobaunce and pride of the world, and all that must be left in that quest, for in this quest thou shalt have many fellows and thy betters. For thou art so feeble of evil trust and good belief, this made it when thou were there where they took thee and led thee into the forest. And anon there appeared the Sangreal unto the white knights, but thou was so feeble of good belief and faith that thou mightest not abide it for all the teaching of the good man, but anon thou turnest to the sinners, and that caused thy misadventure that thou should’st know good from evil and vain glory of the world, the which is not worth a pear. And for great pride thou madest great sorrow that thou hadst not overcome all the white knights with the covering of white, by whom was betokened virginity and chastity; and therefore God was wroth with you, for God loveth no such deeds in this quest. And this advision signifieth that thou were of evil faith and of poor belief, the which will make thee to fall into the deep pit of hell if thou keep thee not. Now have I warned thee of thy vain glory and of thy pride, that thou hast many times erred against thy Maker. Beware of everlasting pain, for of all earthly knights I have most pity of thee, for I know well thou hast not thy peer of any earthly sinful man.
And so she commended Sir Launcelot to dinner. And after dinner he took his horse and commended her to God, and so rode into a deep valley, and there he saw a river and an high mountain. And through the water he must needs pass, the which was hideous; and then in the name of God he took it with good heart. And when he came over he saw an armed knight, horse and man black as any bear; without any word he smote Sir Launcelot’s horse to the earth; and so he passed on, he wist not where he was become. And then he took his helm and his shield, and thanked God of his adventure.
How Sir Gawaine was nigh weary of the quest of the Sangreal, and of his marvellous dream.
WHEN Sir Gawaine was departed from his fellowship he rode long without any adventure. For he found not the tenth part of adventure as he was wont to do. For Sir Gawaine rode from Whitsuntide until Michaelmas and found none adventure that pleased him. So on a day it befell Gawaine met with Sir Ector de Maris, and either made great joy of other that it were marvel to tell. And so they told everych other, and complained them greatly that they could find none adventure. Truly, said Sir Gawaine unto Sir Ector, I am nigh weary of this quest, and loath I am to follow further in strange countries. One thing marvelled me, said Sir Ector, I have met with twenty knights, fellows of mine, and all they complain as I do. I have marvel, said Sir Gawaine, where that Sir Launcelot, your brother, is. Truly, said Sir Ector, I cannot hear of him, nor of Sir Galahad, Percivale, nor Sir Bors. Let them be, said Sir Gawaine, for they four have no peers. And if one thing were not in Sir Launcelot he had no fellow of none earthly man; but he is as we be, but if he took more pain upon him. But an these four be met together they will be loath that any man meet with them; for an they fail of the Sangreal it is in waste of all the remnant to recover it.
Thus Ector and Gawaine rode more than eight days, and on a Saturday they found an old chapel, the which was wasted that there seemed no man thither repaired; and there they alighted, and set their spears at the door, and in they entered into the chapel, and there made their orisons a great while, and set them down in the sieges of the chapel. And as they spake of one thing and other, for heaviness they fell asleep, and there befell them both marvellous adventures. Sir Gawaine him seemed he came into a meadow full of herbs and flowers, and there he saw a rack of bulls, an hundred and fifty, that were proud and black, save three of them were all white, and one had a black spot, and the other two were so fair and so white that they might be no whiter. And these three bulls which were so fair were tied with two strong cords. And the remnant of the bulls said among them: Go we hence to seek better pasture. And so some went, and some came again, but they were so lean that they might not stand upright; and of the bulls that were so white, that one came again and no mo. But when this white bull was come again among these other there rose up a great cry for lack of wind that failed them; and so they departed one here and another there: this advision befell Gawaine that night.
Of the advision of Sir Ector, and how he jousted with Sir Uwaine les Avoutres, his sworn brother.
BUT to Ector de Maris befell another vision the contrary. For it seemed him that his brother, Sir Launcelot, and he alighted out of a chair and leapt upon two horses, and the one said to the other: Go we seek that we shall not find. And him thought that a man beat Sir Launcelot, and despoiled him, and clothed him in another array, the which was all full of knots, and set him upon an ass, and so he rode till he came to the fairest well that ever he saw; and Sir Launcelot alighted and would have drunk of that well. And when he stooped to drink of the water the water sank from him. And when Sir Launcelot saw that, he turned and went thither as the head came from. And in the meanwhile he trowed that himself and Sir Ector rode till that they came to a rich man’s house where there was a wedding. And there he saw a king the which said: Sir knight, here is no place for you. And then he turned again unto the chair that he came from.
Thus within a while both Gawaine and Ector awaked, and either told other of their advision, the which marvelled them greatly. Truly, said Ector, I shall never be merry till I hear tidings of my brother Launcelot. Now as they sat thus talking they saw an hand showing unto the elbow, and was covered with red samite, and upon that hung a bridle not right rich, and held within the fist a great candle which burned right clear, and so passed afore them, and entered into the chapel, and then vanished away and they wist not where. And anon came down a voice which said: Knights of full evil faith and of poor belief, these two things have failed you, and therefore ye may not come to the adventures of the Sangreal.
Then first spake Gawaine and said: Ector, have ye heard these words? Yea truly, said Sir Ector, I heard all. Now go we, said Sir Ector, unto some hermit that will tell us of our advision, for it seemeth me we labour all in vain. And so they departed and rode into a valley, and there met with a squire which rode on an hackney, and they saluted him fair. Sir, said Gawaine, can thou teach us to any hermit? Here is one in a little mountain, but it is so rough there may no horse go thither, and therefore ye must go upon foot; there shall ye find a poor house, and there is Nacien the hermit, which is the holiest man in this country. And so they departed either from other.
And then in a valley they met with a knight all armed, which proffered them to joust as far as he saw them. In the name of God, said Sir Gawaine, sith I departed from Camelot there was none proffered me to joust but once. And now, sir, said Ector, let me joust with him. Nay, said Gawaine, ye shall not but if I be beat; it shall not for-think me then if ye go after me. And then either embraced other to joust and came together as fast as their horses might run, and brast their shields and the mails, and the one more than the other; and Gawaine was wounded in the left side, but the other knight was smitten through the breast, and the spear came out on the other side, and so they fell both out of their saddles, and in the falling they brake both their spears.
Anon Gawaine arose and set his hand to his sword, and cast his shield afore him. But all for naught was it, for the knight had no power to arise against him. Then said Gawaine: Ye must yield you as an overcome man, or else I may slay you. Ah, sir knight, said he, I am but dead, for God’s sake and of your gentleness lead me here unto an abbey that I may receive my Creator. Sir, said Gawaine, I know no house of religion hereby. Sir, said the knight, set me on an horse to-fore you, and I shall teach you. Gawaine set him up in the saddle, and he leapt up behind him for to sustain him, and so came to an abbey where they were well received; and anon he was unarmed, and received his Creator. Then he prayed Gawaine to draw out the truncheon of the spear out of his body. Then Gawaine asked him what he was, that knew him not. I am, said he, of King Arthur’s court, and was a fellow of the Round Table, and we were brethren sworn together; and now Sir Gawaine, thou hast slain me, and my name is Uwaine les Avoutres, that sometime was son unto King Uriens, and was in the quest of the Sangreal; and now forgive it thee God, for it shall ever be said that the one sworn brother hath slain the other.
How Sir Gawaine and Sir Ector came to an hermitage to be confessed, and how they told to the hermit their advisions.
ALAS, said Gawaine, that ever this misadventure is befallen me. No force, said Uwaine, sith I shall die this death, of a much more worshipfuller man’s hand might I not die; but when ye come to the court recommend me unto my lord, King Arthur, and all those that be left alive, and for old brotherhood think on me. Then began Gawaine to weep, and Ector also. And then Uwaine himself and Sir Gawaine drew out the truncheon of the spear, and anon departed the soul from the body. Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Ector buried him as men ought to bury a king’s son, and made write upon his name, and by whom he was slain.
Then departed Gawaine and Ector, as heavy as they might for their misadventure, and so rode till that they came to the rough mountain, and there they tied their horses and went on foot to the hermitage. And when they were come up they saw a poor house, and beside the chapel a little courtelage, where Nacien the hermit gathered worts, as he which had tasted none other meat of a great while. And when he saw the errant knights he came toward them and saluted them, and they him again. Fair lords, said he, what adventure brought you hither? Sir, said Gawaine, to speak with you for to be confessed. Sir, said the hermit, I am ready. Then they told him so much that he wist well what they were. And then he thought to counsel them if he might.
Then began Gawaine first and told him of his advision that he had had in the chapel, and Ector told him all as it is afore rehearsed. Sir, said the hermit unto Sir Gawaine, the fair meadow and the rack therein ought to be understood the Round Table, and by the meadow ought to be understood humility and patience, those be the things which be always green and quick; for men may no time overcome humility and patience, therefore was the Round Table founded, and the chivalry hath been at all times so by the fraternity which was there that she might not be overcome; for men said she was founded in patience and in humility. At the rack ate an hundred and fifty bulls; but they ate not in the meadow, for their hearts should be set in humility and patience, and the bulls were proud and black save only three. By the bulls is to understand the fellowship of the Round Table, which for their sin and their wickedness be black. Blackness is to say without good or virtuous works. And the three bulls which were white save only one that was spotted: the two white betoken Sir Galahad and Sir Percivale, for they be maidens clean and without spot; and the third that had a spot signifieth Sir Bors de Ganis, which trespassed but once in his virginity, but sithen he kept himself so well in chastity that all is forgiven him and his misdeeds. And why those three were tied by the necks, they be three knights in virginity and chastity, and there is no pride smitten in them. And the black bulls which said: Go we hence, they were those which at Pentecost at the high feast took upon them to go in the quest of the Sangreal without confession: they might not enter in the meadow of humility and patience. And therefore they returned into waste countries, that signifieth death, for there shall die many of them: everych of them shall slay other for sin, and they that shall escape shall be so lean that it shall be marvel to see them. And of the three bulls without spot, the one shall come again, and the other two never.
How the hermit expounded their advision.
THEN spake Nacien unto Ector: Sooth it is that Launcelot and ye came down off one chair: the chair betokeneth mastership and lordship which ye came down from. But ye two knights, said the hermit, ye go to seek that ye shall never find, that is the Sangreal; for it is the secret thing of our Lord Jesu Christ. What is to mean that Sir Launcelot fell down off his horse: he hath left pride and taken him to humility, for he hath cried mercy loud for his sin, and sore repented him, and our Lord hath clothed him in his clothing which is full of knots, that is the hair that he weareth daily. And the ass that he rode upon is a beast of humility, for God would not ride upon no steed, nor upon no palfrey; so in ensample that an ass betokeneth meekness, that thou sawest Sir Launcelot ride on in thy sleep. And the well whereas the water sank from him when he should have taken thereof, and when he saw he might not have it, he returned thither from whence he came, for the well betokeneth the high grace of God, the more men desire it to take it, the more shall be their desire. So when he came nigh the Sangreal, he meeked him that he held him not a man worthy to be so nigh the Holy Vessel, for he had been so defouled in deadly sin by the space of many years; yet when he kneeled to drink of the well, there he saw great providence of the Sangreal. And for he had served so long the devil, he shall have vengeance four-and-twenty days long, for that he hath been the devil’s servant four-and-twenty years. And then soon after he shall return unto Camelot out of this country, and he shall say a part of such things as he hath found.
Now will I tell you what betokeneth the hand with the candle and the bridle: that is to understand the Holy Ghost where charity is ever, and the bridle signifieth abstinence. For when she is bridled in Christian man’s heart she holdeth him so short that he falleth not in deadly sin. And the candle which sheweth clearness and sight signifieth the right way of Jesu Christ. And when he went and said: Knights of poor faith and of wicked belief, these three things failed, charity, abstinence, and truth; therefore ye may not attain that high adventure of the Sangreal.
Of the good counsel that the hermit gave to them.
CERTES, said Gawaine, soothly have ye said, that I see it openly. Now, I pray you, good man and holy father, tell me why we met not with so many adventures as we were wont to do, and commonly have the better. I shall tell you gladly, said the good man; the adventure of the Sangreal which ye and many other have undertaken the quest of it and find it not, the cause is for it appeareth not to sinners. Wherefore marvel not though ye fail thereof, and many other. For ye be an untrue knight and a great murderer, and to good men signifieth other things than murder. For I dare say, as sinful as Sir Launcelot hath been, sith that he went into the quest of the Sangreal he slew never man, nor nought shall, till that he come unto Camelot again, for he hath taken upon him for to forsake sin. And nere that he nis not stable, but by his thought he is likely to turn again, he should be next to enchieve it save Galahad, his son. But God knoweth his thought and his unstableness, and yet shall he die right an holy man, and no doubt he hath no fellow of no earthly sinful man. Sir, said Gawaine, it seemeth me by your words that for our sins it will not avail us to travel in this quest Truly, said the good man, there be an hundred such as ye be that never shall prevail, but to have shame. And when they had heard these voices they commended him unto God.
Then the good man called Gawaine, and said: It is long time passed sith that ye were made knight, and never sithen thou servedst thy Maker, and now thou art so old a tree that in thee is neither life nor fruit; wherefore bethink thee that thou yield to Our Lord the bare rind, sith the fiend hath the leaves and the fruit. Sir, said Gawaine an I had leisure I would speak with you, but my fellow here, Sir Ector, is gone, and abideth me yonder beneath the hill. Well, said the good man, thou were better to be counselled. Then departed Gawaine and came to Ector, and so took their horses and rode till they came to a forester’s house, which harboured them right well. And on the morn they departed from their host, and rode long or they could find any adventure.
How Sir Bors met with an hermit, and how he was confessed to him, and of his penance enjoined to him.
WHEN Bors was departed from Camelot he met with a religious man riding on an ass, and Sir Bors saluted him. Anon the good man knew him that he was one of the knights-errant that was in the quest of the Sangreal. What are ye? said the good man. Sir, said he, I am a knight that fain would be counselled in the quest of the Sangreal, for he shall have much earthly worship that may bring it to an end. Certes, said the good man, that is sooth, for he shall be the best knight of the world, and the fairest of all the fellowship. But wit you well there shall none attain it but by cleanness, that is pure confession.
So rode they together till that they came to an hermitage. And there he prayed Bors to dwell all that night with him. And so he alighted and put away his armour, and prayed him that he might be confessed; and so they went into the chapel, and there he was clean confessed, and they ate bread and drank water together. Now, said the good man, I pray thee that thou eat none other till that thou sit at the table where the Sangreal shall be. Sir, said he, I agree me thereto, but how wit ye that I shall sit there. Yes, said the good man, that know I, but there shall be but few of your fellows with you. All is welcome, said Sir Bors, that God sendeth me. Also, said the good man, instead of a shirt, and in sign of chastisement, ye shall wear a garment; therefore I pray you do off all your clothes and your shirt: and so he did. And then he took him a scarlet coat, so that should be instead of his shirt till he had fulfilled the quest of the Sangreal; and the good man found in him so marvellous a life and so stable, that he marvelled and felt that he was never corrupt in fleshly lusts, but in one time that he begat Elian le Blank.
Then he armed him, and took his leave, and so departed. And so a little from thence he looked up into a tree, and there he saw a passing great bird upon an old tree, and it was passing dry, without leaves; and the bird sat above, and had birds, the which were dead for hunger. So smote he himself with his beak, the which was great and sharp. And so the great bird bled till that he died among his birds. And the young birds took the life by the blood of the great bird. When Bors saw this he wist well it was a great tokening; for when he saw the great bird arose not, then he took his horse and yede his way. So by evensong, by adventure he came to a strong tower and an high, and there was he lodged gladly.
How Sir Bors was lodged with a lady, and how he took upon him for to fight against a champion for her land.
AND when he was unarmed they led him into an high tower where was a lady, young, lusty, and fair. And she received him with great joy, and made him to sit down by her, and so was he set to sup with flesh and many dainties. And when Sir Bors saw that, he bethought him on his penance, and bade a squire to bring him water. And so he brought him, and he made sops therein and ate them. Ah, said the lady, I trow ye like not my meat. Yes, truly, said Sir Bors, God thank you, madam, but I may eat none other meat this day. Then she spake no more as at that time, for she was loath to displease him. Then after supper they spake of one thing and other.
With that came a squire and said: Madam, ye must purvey you to-morn for a champion, for else your sister will have this castle and also your lands, except ye can find a knight that will fight to-morn in your quarrel against Pridam le Noire. Then she made sorrow and said: Ah, Lord God, wherefore granted ye to hold my land, whereof I should now be disherited without reason and right? And when Sir Bors had heard her say thus, he said: I shall comfort you. Sir, said she, I shall tell you there was here a king that hight Aniause, which held all this land in his keeping. So it mishapped he loved a gentlewoman a great deal elder than I. So took he her all this land to her keeping, and all his men to govern; and she brought up many evil customs whereby she put to death a great part of his kinsmen. And when he saw that, he let chase her out of this land, and betook it me, and all this land in my demesnes. But anon as that worthy king was dead, this other lady began to war upon me, and hath destroyed many of my men, and turned them against me, that I have well-nigh no man left me; and I have nought else but this high tower that she left me. And yet she hath promised me to have this tower, without I can find a knight to fight with her champion.
Now tell me, said Sir Bors, what is that Pridam le Noire? Sir, said she, he is the most doubted man of this land. Now may ye send her word that ye have found a knight that shall fight with that Pridam le Noire in God’s quarrel and yours. Then that lady was not a little glad, and sent word that she was purveyed, and that night Bors had good cheer; but in no bed he would come, but laid him on the floor, nor never would do otherwise till that he had met with the quest of the Sangreal.
Of an advision which Sir Bors had that night, and how he fought and overcame his adversary.
AND anon as he was asleep him befell a vision, that there came to him two birds, the one as white as a swan, and the other was marvellous black; but it was not so great as the other, but in the likeness of a Raven. Then the white bird came to him, and said: An thou wouldst give me meat and serve me I should give thee all the riches of the world, and I shall make thee as fair and as white as I am. So the white bird departed, and there came the black bird to him, and said: An thou wolt, serve me to-morrow and have me in no despite though I be black, for wit thou well that more availeth my blackness than the other’s whiteness. And then he departed.
And he had another vision: him thought that he came to a great place which seemed a chapel, and there he found a chair set on the left side, which was worm-eaten and feeble. And on the right hand were two flowers like a lily, and the one would have benome the other’s whiteness, but a good man departed them that the one touched not the other; and then out of every flower came out many flowers, and fruit great plenty. Then him thought the good man said: Should not he do great folly that would let these two flowers perish for to succour the rotten tree, that it fell not to the earth? Sir, said he, it seemeth me that this wood might not avail. Now keep thee, said the good man, that thou never see such adventure befall thee.
Then he awaked and made a sign of the cross in midst of the forehead, and so rose and clothed him. And there came the lady of the place, and she saluted him, and he her again, and so went to a chapel and heard their service. And there came a company of knights, that the lady had sent for, to lead Sir Bors unto battle. Then asked he his arms. And when he was armed she prayed him to take a little morsel to dine. Nay, madam, said he, that shall I not do till I have done my battle, by the grace of God. And so he leapt upon his horse, and departed, all the knights and men with him. And as soon as these two ladies met together, she which Bors should fight for complained her, and said: Madam, ye have done me wrong to bereave me of my lands that King Aniause gave me, and full loath I am there should be any battle. Ye shall not choose, said the other lady, or else your knight withdraw him.
Then there was the cry made, which party had the better of the two knights, that his lady should rejoice all the land. Now departed the one knight here, and the other there. Then they came together with such a raundon that they pierced their shields and their hauberks, and the spears flew in pieces, and they wounded either other sore. Then hurtled they together, so that they fell both to the earth, and their horses betwixt their legs; and anon they arose, and set hands to their swords, and smote each one other upon the heads, that they made great wounds and deep, that the blood went out of their bodies. For there found Sir Bors greater defence in that knight more than he weened. For that Pridam was a passing good knight, and he wounded Sir Bors full evil, and he him again; but ever this Pridam held the stour in like hard. That perceived Sir Bors, and suffered him till he was nigh attaint. And then he ran upon him more and more, and the other went back for dread of death. So in his withdrawing he fell upright, and Sir Bors drew his helm so strongly that he rent it from his head, and gave him great strokes with the flat of his sword upon the visage, and bade him yield him or he should slay him. Then he cried him mercy and said: Fair knight, for God’s love slay me not, and I shall ensure thee never to war against thy lady, but be alway toward her. Then Bors let him be; then the old lady fled with all her knights.
How the lady was returned to her lands by the battle of Sir Bors, and of his departing, and how he met Sir Lionel taken and beaten with thorns, and also of a maid which should have been devoured.
SO then came Bors to all those that held lands of his lady, and said he should destroy them but if they did such service unto her as longed to their lands. So they did their homage, and they that would not were chased out of their lands. Then befell that young lady to come to her estate again, by the mighty prowess of Sir Bors de Ganis. So when all the country was well set in peace, then Sir Bors took his leave and departed; and she thanked him greatly, and would have given him great riches, but he refused it.
Then he rode all that day till night, and came to an harbour to a lady which knew him well enough, and made of him great Joy. Upon the morn, as soon as the day appeared, Bors departed from thence, and so rode into a forest unto the hour of midday, and there befell him a marvellous adventure. So he met at the departing of the two ways two knights that led Lionel, his brother, all naked, bounden upon a strong hackney, and his hands bounden to-fore his breast. And everych of them held in his hands thorns wherewith they went beating him so sore that the blood trailed down more than in an hundred places of his body, so that he was all blood to-fore and behind, but he said never a word; as he which was great of heart he suffered all that ever they did to him, as though he had felt none anguish.
Anon Sir Bors dressed him to rescue him that was his brother; and so he looked upon the other side of him, and saw a knight which brought a fair gentlewoman, and would have set her in the thickest place of the forest for to have been the more surer out of the way from them that sought him. And she which was nothing assured cried with an high voice: Saint Mary succour your maid. And anon she espied where Sir Bors came riding. And when she came nigh him she deemed him a knight of the Round Table, whereof she hoped to have some comfort; and then she conjured him: By the faith that he ought unto Him in whose service thou art entered in, and for the faith ye owe unto the high order of knighthood, and for the noble King Arthur’s sake, that I suppose made thee knight, that thou help me, and suffer me not to be shamed of this knight. When Bors heard her say thus he had so much sorrow there he nist not what to do. For if I let my brother be in adventure he must be slain, and that would I not for all the earth. And if I help not the maid she is shamed for ever, and also she shall lose her virginity the which she shall never get again. Then lift he up his eyes and said weeping: Fair sweet Lord Jesu Christ, whose liege man I am, keep Lionel, my brother, that these knights slay him not, and for pity of you, and for Mary’s sake, I shall succour this maid.
How Sir Bors left to rescue his brother, and rescued the damosel; and how it was told him that Lionel was dead.
THEN dressed he him unto the knight the which had the gentlewoman, and then he cried: Sir knight, let your hand off that maiden, or ye be but dead. And then he set down the maiden, and was armed at all pieces save he lacked his spear. Then he dressed his shield, and drew out his sword, and Bors smote him so hard that it went through his shield and habergeon on the left shoulder. And through great strength he beat him down to the earth, and at the pulling out of Bors’ spear there he swooned. Then came Bors to the maid and said: How seemeth it you? of this knight ye be delivered at this time. Now sir, said she, I pray you lead me thereas this knight had me. So shall I do gladly: and took the horse of the wounded knight, and set the gentlewoman upon him, and so brought her as she desired. Sir knight, said she, ye have better sped than ye weened, for an I had lost my maidenhead, five hundred men should have died for it. What knight was he that had you in the forest? By my faith, said she, he is my cousin. So wot I never with what engine the fiend enchafed him, for yesterday he took me from my father privily; for I, nor none of my father’s men, mistrusted him not, and if he had had my maidenhead he should have died for the sin, and his body shamed and dishonoured for ever. Thus as she stood talking with him there came twelve knights seeking after her, and anon she told them all how Bors had delivered her; then they made great joy, and besought him to come to her father, a great lord, and he should be right welcome. Truly, said Bors, that may not be at this time, for I have a great adventure to do in this country. So he commended them unto God and departed.
Then Sir Bors rode after Lionel, his brother, by the trace of their horses, thus he rode seeking a great while. Then he overtook a man clothed in a religious clothing; and rode on a strong black horse blacker than a berry, and said: Sir knight, what seek you? Sir, said he, I seek my brother that I saw within a while beaten with two knights. Ah, Bors, discomfort you not, nor fall into no wanhope; for I shall tell you tidings such as they be, for truly he is dead. Then showed he him a new slain body lying in a bush, and it seemed him well that it was the body of Lionel, and then he made such a sorrow that he fell to the earth all in a swoon, and lay a great while there. And when he came to himself he said: Fair brother, sith the company of you and me is departed shall I never have joy in my heart, and now He which I have taken unto my master, He be my help. And when he had said thus he took his body lightly in his arms, and put it upon the arson of his saddle. And then he said to the man: Canst thou tell me unto some chapel where that I may bury this body? Come on, said he, here is one fast by; and so long they rode till they saw a fair tower, and afore it there seemed an old feeble chapel. And then they alighted both, and put him into a tomb of marble.
How Sir Bors told his dream to a priest, which he had dreamed, and of the counsel that the priest gave to him.
NOW leave we him here, said the good man, and go we to our harbour till to-morrow; we will come here again to do him service. Sir, said Bors, be ye a priest? Yea forsooth, said he. Then I pray you tell me a dream that befell to me the last night. Say on, said he. Then he began so much to tell him of the great bird in the forest, and after told him of his birds, one white, another black, and of the rotten tree, and of the white flowers. Sir, I shall tell you a part now, and the other deal to-morrow. The white fowl betokeneth a gentlewoman, fair and rich, which loved thee paramours, and hath loved thee long; and if thou warn her love she shall go die anon, if thou have no pity on her. That signifieth the great bird, the which shall make thee to warn her. Now for no fear that thou hast, ne for no dread that thou hast of God, thou shalt not warn her, but thou wouldst not do it for to be holden chaste, for to conquer the loos of the vain glory of the world; for that shall befall thee now an thou warn her, that Launcelot, the good knight, thy cousin, shall die. And therefore men shall now say that thou art a manslayer, both of thy brother, Sir Lionel, and of thy cousin, Sir Launcelot du Lake, the which thou mightest have saved and rescued easily, but thou weenedst to rescue a maid which pertaineth nothing to thee. Now look thou whether it had been greater harm of thy brother’s death, or else to have suffered her to have lost her maidenhood. Then asked he him: Hast thou heard the tokens of thy dream the which I have told to you? Yea forsooth, said Sir Bors, all your exposition and declaring of my dream I have well understood and heard. Then said the man in this black clothing: Then is it in thy default if Sir Launcelot, thy cousin, die. Sir, said Bors, that were me loath, for wit ye well there is nothing in the world but I had liefer do it than to see my lord, Sir Launcelot du Lake, to die in my default. Choose ye now the one or the other, said the good man.
And then he led Sir Bors into an high tower, and there he found knights and ladies: those ladies said he was welcome, and so they unarmed him. And when he was in his doublet men brought him a mantle furred with ermine, and put it about him; and then they made him such cheer that he had forgotten all his sorrow and anguish, and only set his heart in these delights and dainties, and took no thought more for his brother, Sir Lionel, neither of Sir Launcelot du Lake, his cousin. And anon came out of a chamber to him the fairest lady than ever he saw, and more richer beseen than ever he saw Queen Guenever or any other estate. Lo, said they, Sir Bors, here is the lady unto whom we owe all our service, and I trow she be the richest lady and the fairest of all the world, and the which loveth you best above all other knights, for she will have no knight but you. And when he understood that language he was abashed. Not for then she saluted him, and he her; and then they sat down together and spake of many things, in so much that she besought him to be her love, for she had loved him above all earthly men, and she should make him richer than ever was man of his age. When Bors understood her words he was right evil at ease, which in no manner would not break chastity, so wist not he how to answer her.
How the devil in a woman’s likeness would have had Sir Bors to have lain by her, and how by God’s grace he escaped.
ALAS, said she, Bors, shall ye not do my will? Madam, said Bors, there is no lady in the world whose will I will fulfil as of this thing, for my brother lieth dead which was slain right late. Ah Bors, said she, I have loved you long for the great beauty I have seen in you, and the great hardiness that I have heard of you, that needs ye must lie by me this night, and therefore I pray you grant it me. Truly, said he, I shall not do it in no manner wise. Then she made him such sorrow as though she would have died. Well Bors, said she, unto this have ye brought me, nigh to mine end. And therewith she took him by the hand, and bade him behold her. And ye shall see how I shall die for your love. Ah, said then he, that shall I never see.
Then she departed and went up into an high battlement, and led with her twelve gentlewomen; and when they were above, one of the gentlewomen cried, and said: Ah, Sir Bors, gentle knight have mercy on us all, and suffer my lady to have her will, and if ye do not we must suffer death with our lady, for to fall down off this high tower, and if ye suffer us thus to die for so little a thing all ladies and gentlewomen will say or you dishonour. Then looked he upward, they seemed all ladies of great estate, and richly and well beseen. Then had he of them great pity; not for that he was uncounselled in himself that liefer he had they all had lost their souls than he his, and with that they fell adown all at once unto the earth. And when he saw that, he was all abashed, and had thereof great marvel. With that he blessed his body and his visage. And anon he heard a great noise and a great cry, as though all the fiends of hell had been about him; and therewith he saw neither tower, nor lady, nor gentlewoman, nor no chapel where he brought his brother to. Then held he up both his hands to the heaven, and said: Fair Father God, I am grievously escaped; and then he took his arms and his horse and rode on his way.
Then he heard a clock smite on his right hand; and thither he came to an abbey on his right hand, closed with high walls, and there was let in. Then they supposed that he was one of the quest of the Sangreal, so they led him into a chamber and unarmed him. Sirs, said Sir Bors, if there be any holy man in this house I pray you let me speak with him. Then one of them led him unto the Abbot, which was in a chapel. And then Sir Bors saluted him, and he him again. Sir, said Bors, I am a knight-errant; and told him all the adventure which he had seen. Sir Knight, said the Abbot, I wot not what ye be, for I weened never that a knight of your age might have been so strong in the grace of our Lord Jesu Christ. Not for then ye shall go unto your rest, for I will not counsel you this day, it is too late, and to-morrow I shall counsel you as I can.
Of the holy communication of an Abbot to Sir Bors, and how the Abbot counselled him.
AND that night was Sir Bors served richly; and on the morn early he heard mass, and the Abbot came to him, and bade him good morrow, and Bors to him again. And then he told him he was a fellow of the quest of the Sangreal, and how he had charge of the holy man to eat bread and water. Then [said the Abbot]: Our Lord Jesu Christ showed him unto you in the likeness of a soul that suffered great anguish for us, since He was put upon the cross, and bled His heart-blood for mankind: there was the token and the likeness of the Sangreal that appeared afore you, for the blood that the great fowl bled revived the chickens from death to life. And by the bare tree is betokened the world which is naked and without fruit but if it come of Our Lord. Also the lady for whom ye fought for, and King Aniause which was lord there-to-fore, betokeneth Jesu Christ which is the King of the world. And that ye fought with the champion for the lady, this it betokeneth: for when ye took the battle for the lady, by her shall ye understand the new law of Jesu Christ and Holy Church; and by the other lady ye shall understand the old law and the fiend, which all day warreth against Holy Church, therefore ye did your battle with right. For ye be Jesu Christ’s knights, therefore ye ought to be defenders of Holy Church. And by the black bird might ye understand Holy Church, which sayeth I am black, but he is fair. And by the white bird might men understand the fiend, and I shall tell you how the swan is white without- forth, and black within: it is hypocrisy which is without yellow or pale, and seemeth without-forth the servants of Jesu Christ, but they be within so horrible of filth and sin, and beguile the world evil. Also when the fiend appeared to thee in likeness of a man of religion, and blamed thee that thou left thy brother for a lady, so led thee where thou seemed thy brother was slain, but he is yet alive; and all was for to put thee in error, and bring thee unto wanhope and lechery, for he knew thou were tender hearted, and all was for thou shouldst not find the blessed adventure of the Sangreal. And the third fowl betokeneth the strong battle against the fair ladies which were all devils. Also the dry tree and the white lily: the dry tree betokeneth thy brother Lionel, which is dry without virtue, and therefore many men ought to call him the rotten tree, and the worm-eaten tree, for he is a murderer and doth contrary to the order of knighthood. And the two white flowers signify two maidens, the one is a knight which was wounded the other day, and the other is the gentlewoman which ye rescued; and why the other flower drew nigh the other, that was the knight which would have defouled her and himself both. And Sir Bors, ye had been a great fool and in great peril for to have seen those two flowers perish for to succour the rotten tree, for an they had sinned together they had been damned; and for that ye rescued them both, men might call you a very knight and servant of Jesu Christ.
How Sir Bors met with his brother Sir Lionel, and how Sir Lionel would have slain Sir Bors.
THEN went Sir Bors from thence and commended the Abbot unto God. And then he rode all that day, and harboured with an old lady. And on the morn he rode to a castle in a valley, and there he met with a yeoman going a great pace toward a forest. Say me, said Sir Bors, canst thou tell me of any adventure? Sir, said he, here shall be under this castle a great and a marvellous tournament. Of what folks shall it be? said Sir Bors. The Earl of Plains shall be in the one party, and the lady’s nephew of Hervin on the other party. Then Bors thought to be there if he might meet with his brother Sir Lionel, or any other of his fellowship, which were in the quest of the Sangreal. And then he turned to an hermitage that was in the entry of the forest.
And when he was come thither he found there Sir Lionel, his brother, which sat all armed at the entry of the chapel door for to abide there harbour till on the morn that the tournament shall be. And when Sir Bors saw him he had great joy of him, that it were marvel to tell of his joy. And then he alighted off his horse, and said: Fair sweet brother, when came ye hither? Anon as Lionel saw him he said: Ah Bors, ye may not make none avaunt, but as for you I might have been slain; when ye saw two knights leading me away beating me, ye left me for to succour a gentlewoman, and suffered me in peril of death; for never erst ne did no brother to another so great an untruth. And for that misdeed now I ensure you but death, for well have ye deserved it; therefore keep thee from henceforward, and that shall ye find as soon as I am armed. When Sir Bors understood his brother’s wrath he kneeled down to the earth and cried him mercy, holding up both his hands, and prayed him to forgive him his evil will. Nay, said Lionel, that shall never be an I may have the higher hand, that I make mine avow to God, thou shalt have death for it, for it were pity ye lived any longer.
Right so he went in and took his harness, and mounted upon his horse, and came to-fore him and said: Bors, keep thee from me, for I shall do to thee as I would to a felon or a traitor, for ye be the untruest knight that ever came out of so worthy an house as was King Bors de Ganis which was our father, therefore start upon thy horse, and so shall ye be most at your advantage. And but if ye will I will run upon you thereas ye stand upon foot, and so the shame shall be mine and the harm yours, but of that shame ne reck I nought.
When Sir Bors saw that he must fight with his brother or else to die, he nist what to do; then his heart counselled him not thereto, inasmuch as Lionel was born or he, wherefore he ought to bear him reverence; yet kneeled he down afore Lionel’s horse’s feet, and said: Fair sweet brother, have mercy upon me and slay me not, and have in remembrance the great love which ought to be between us twain. What Sir Bors said to Lionel he rought not, for the fiend had brought him in such a will that he should slay him. Then when Lionel saw he would none other, and that he would not have risen to give him battle, he rashed over him so that he smote Bors with his horse, feet upward, to the earth, and hurt him so sore that he swooned of distress, the which he felt in himself to have died without confession. So when Lionel saw this, he alighted off his horse to have smitten off his head. And so he took him by the helm, and would have rent it from his head. Then came the hermit running unto him, which was a good man and of great age, and well had heard all the words that were between them, and so fell down upon Sir Bors.
How Sir Colgrevance fought against Sir Lionel for to save Sir Bors, and how the hermit was slain.
THEN he said to Lionel: Ah gentle knight, have mercy upon me and on thy brother, for if thou slay him thou shalt be dead of sin, and that were sorrowful, for he is one of the worthiest knights of the world, and of the best conditions. So God help me, said Lionel, sir priest, but if ye flee from him I shall slay you, and he shall never the sooner be quit. Certes, said the good man, I have liefer ye slay me than him, for my death shall not be great harm, not half so much as of his. Well, said Lionel, I am greed; and set his hand to his sword and smote him so hard that his head yede backward. Not for that he restrained him of his evil will, but took his brother by the helm, and unlaced it to have stricken off his head, and had slain him without fail. But so it happed, Colgrevance a fellow of the Round Table, came at that time thither as Our Lord’s will was. And when he saw the good man slain he marvelled much what it might be. And then he beheld Lionel would have slain his brother, and knew Sir Bors which he loved right well. Then stert he down and took Lionel by the shoulders, and drew him strongly aback from Bors, and said: Lionel, will ye slay your brother, the worthiest knight of the world one? and that should no good man suffer. Why, said Lionel, will ye let me? therefore if ye entermete you in this I shall slay you, and him after. Why, said Colgrevance, is this sooth that ye will slay him? Slay him will I, said he, whoso say the contrary, for he hath done so much against me that he hath well deserved it. And so ran upon him, and would have smitten him through the head, and Sir Colgrevance ran betwixt them, and said: An ye be so hardy to do so more, we two shall meddle together.
When Lionel understood his words he took his shield afore him, and asked him what that he was. And he told him, Colgrevance, one of his fellows. Then Lionel defied him, and gave him a great stroke through the helm. Then he drew his sword, for he was a passing good knight, and defended him right manfully. So long dured the battle that Bors rose up all anguishly, and beheld [how] Colgrevance, the good knight, fought with his brother for his quarrel; then was he full sorry and heavy, and thought if Colgrevance slew him that was his brother he should never have joy; and if his brother slew Colgrevance the shame should ever be mine. Then would he have risen to have departed them, but he had not so much might to stand on foot; so he abode him so long till Colgrevance had the worse, for Lionel was of great chivalry and right hardy, for he had pierced the hauberk and the helm, that he abode but death, for he had lost much of his blood that it was marvel that he might stand upright. Then beheld he Sir Bors which sat dressing him upward and said: Ah, Bors, why come ye not to cast me out of peril of death, wherein I have put me to succour you which were right now nigh the death? Certes, said Lionel, that shall not avail you, for none of you shall bear others warrant, but that ye shall die both of my hand. When Bors heard that, he did so much, he rose and put on his helm. Then perceived he first the hermit-priest which was slain, then made he a marvellous sorrow upon him.
How Sir Lionel slew Sir Colgrevance, and how after he would have slain Sir Bors.
THEN oft Colgrevance cried upon Sir Bors: Why will ye let me die here for your sake? if it please you that I die for you the death, it will please me the better for to save a worthy man. With that word Sir Lionel smote off the helm from his head. Then Colgrevance saw that he might not escape; then he said: Fair sweet Jesu, that I have misdone have mercy upon my soul, for such sorrow that my heart suffereth for goodness, and for alms deed that I would have done here, be to me aligement of penance unto my soul’s health. At these words Lionel smote him so sore that he bare him to the earth. So he had slain Colgrevance he ran upon his brother as a fiendly man, and gave him such a stroke that he made him stoop. And he that was full of humility prayed him for God’s love to leave this battle: For an it befell, fair brother, that I slew you or ye me, we should be dead of that sin. Never God me help but if I have on you mercy, an I may have the better hand. Then drew Bors his sword, all weeping, and said: Fair brother, God knoweth mine intent. Ah, fair brother, ye have done full evil this day to slay such an holy priest the which never trespassed. Also ye have slain a gentle knight, and one of our fellows. And well wot ye that I am not afeard of you greatly, but I dread the wrath of God, and this is an unkindly war, therefore God show miracle upon us both. Now God have mercy upon me though I defend my life against my brother: with that Bors lift up his hand and would have smitten his brother.
How there came a voice which charged Sir Bors to touch him not, and of a cloud that came between them.
AND then he heard a voice that said: Flee Bors, and touch him not, or else thou shalt slay him. Right so alighted a cloud betwixt them in likeness of a fire and a marvellous flame, that both their two shields brent. Then were they sore afraid, that they fell both to the earth, and lay there a great while in a swoon. And when they came to themself, Bors saw that his brother had no harm; then he held up both his hands, for he dread God had taken vengeance upon him. With that he heard a voice say: Bors, go hence, and bear thy brother no longer fellowship, but take thy way anon right to the sea, for Sir Percivale abideth thee there. Then he said to his brother: Fair sweet brother, forgive me for God’s love all that I have trespassed unto you. Then he answered: God forgive it thee and I do gladly.
So Sir Bors departed from him and rode the next way to the sea. And at the last by fortune he came to an abbey which was nigh the sea. That night Bors rested him there; and in his sleep there came a voice to him and bade him go to the sea. Then he stert up and made a sign of the cross in the midst of his forehead, and took his harness, and made ready his horse, and mounted upon him; and at a broken wall he rode out, and rode so long till that he came to the sea. And on the strand he found a ship covered all with white samite, and he alighted, and betook him to Jesu Christ. And as soon as he entered into the ship, the ship departed into the sea, and went so fast that him seemed the ship went flying, but it was soon dark so that he might know no man, and so he slept till it was day. Then he awaked, and saw in midst of the ship a knight lie all armed save his helm. Then knew he that it was Sir Percivale of Wales, and then he made of him right great joy; but Sir Percivale was abashed of him, and he asked him what he was. Ah, fair sir, said Bors, know ye me not? Certes, said he, I marvel how ye came hither, but if Our Lord brought ye hither Himself. Then Sir Bors smiled and did off his helm. Then Percivale knew him, and either made great joy of other, that it was marvel to hear. Then Bors told him how he came into the ship, and by whose admonishment; and either told other of their temptations, as ye have heard to-forehand. So went they downward in the sea, one while backward, another while forward, and everych comforted other, and oft were in their prayers. Then said Sir Percivale: We lack nothing but Galahad, the good knight.
How Sir Galahad fought at a tournament, and how he was known of Sir Gawaine and Sir Ector de Maris.
NOW saith this story, when Galahad had rescued Percivale from the twenty knights, he yede tho into a waste forest wherein he rode many journeys; and he found many adventures the which he brought to an end, whereof the story maketh here no mention. Then he took his way to the sea on a day, and it befell as he passed by a castle where was a wonder tournament, but they without had done so much that they within were put to the worse, yet were they within good knights enough. When Galahad saw that those within were at so great a mischief that men slew them at the entry of the castle, then he thought to help them, and put a spear forth and smote the first that he fell to the earth, and the spear brake to pieces. Then he drew his sword and smote thereas they were thickest, and so he did wonderful deeds of arms that all they marvelled. Then it happed that Gawaine and Sir Ector de Maris were with the knights without. But when they espied the white shield with the red cross the one said to the other: Yonder is the good knight, Sir Galahad, the haut prince: now he should be a great fool which should meet with him to fight. So by adventure he came by Sir Gawaine, and he smote him so hard that he clave his helm and the coif of iron unto his head, so that Gawaine fell to the earth; but the stroke was so great that it slanted down to the earth and carved the horse’s shoulder in two.
When Ector saw Gawaine down he drew him aside, and thought it no wisdom for to abide him, and also for natural love, that he was his uncle. Thus through his great hardiness he beat aback all the knights without. And then they within came out and chased them all about. But when Galahad saw there would none turn again he stole away privily, so that none wist where he was become. Now by my head, said Gawaine to Ector, now are the wonders true that were said of Launcelot du Lake, that the sword which stuck in the stone should give me such a buffet that I would not have it for the best castle in this world; and soothly now it is proved true, for never ere had I such a stroke of man’s hand. Sir, said Ector, meseemeth your quest is done. And yours is not done, said Gawaine, but mine is done, I shall seek no further. Then Gawaine was borne into a castle and unarmed him, and laid him in a rich bed, and a leech found that he might live, and to be whole within a month. Thus Gawaine and Ector abode together, for Sir Ector would not away till Gawaine were whole.
And the good knight, Galahad, rode so long till he came that night to the Castle of Carboneck; and it befell him thus that he was benighted in an hermitage. So the good man was fain when he saw he was a knight-errant. Tho when they were at rest there came a gentlewoman knocking at the door, and called Galahad, and so the good man came to the door to wit what she would. Then she called the hermit: Sir Ulfin, I am a gentlewoman that would speak with the knight which is with you. Then the good man awaked Galahad, and bade him: Arise, and speak with a gentlewoman that seemeth hath great need of you. Then Galahad went to her and asked her what she would. Galahad, said she, I will that ye arm you, and mount upon your horse and follow me, for I shall show you within these three days the highest adventure that ever any knight saw. Anon Galahad armed him, and took his horse, and commended him to God, and bade the gentlewoman go, and he would follow thereas she liked.
How Sir Galahad rode with a damosel, and came to the ship whereas Sir Bors and Sir Percivale were in.
SO she rode as fast as her palfrey might bear her, till that she came to the sea, the which was called Collibe. And at the night they came unto a castle in a valley, closed with a running water, and with strong walls and high; and so she entered into the castle with Galahad, and there had he great cheer, for the lady of that castle was the damosel’s lady. So when he was unarmed, then said the damosel: Madam, shall we abide here all this day? Nay, said she, but till he hath dined and till he hath slept a little. So he ate and slept a while till that the maid called him, and armed him by torchlight. And when the maid was horsed and he both, the lady took Galahad a fair child and rich; and so they departed from the castle till they came to the seaside; and there they found the ship where Bors and Percivale were in, the which cried on the ship’s board: Sir Galahad, ye be welcome, we have abiden you long. And when he heard them he asked them what they were. Sir, said she, leave your horse here, and I shall leave mine; and took their saddles and their bridles with them, and made a cross on them, and so entered into the ship. And the two knights received them both with great joy, and everych knew other; and so the wind arose, and drove them through the sea in a marvellous pace. And within a while it dawned.
Then did Galahad off his helm and his sword, and asked of his fellows from whence came that fair ship. Truly, said they, ye wot as well as we, but of God’s grace; and then they told everych to other of all their hard adventures, and of their great temptations. Truly, said Galahad, ye are much bounden to God, for ye have escaped great adventures; and had not the gentlewoman been I had not come here, for as for you I weened never to have found you in these strange countries. Ah Galahad, said Bors, if Launcelot, your father, were here then were we well at ease, for then meseemed we failed nothing. That may not be, said Galahad, but if it pleased Our Lord.
By then the ship went from the land of Logris, and by adventure it arrived up betwixt two rocks passing great and marvellous; but there they might not land, for there was a swallow of the sea, save there was another ship, and upon it they might go without danger. Go we thither, said the gentlewoman, and there shall we see adventures, for so is Our Lord’s will. And when they came thither they found the ship rich enough, but they found neither man nor woman therein. But they found in the end of the ship two fair letters written, which said a dreadful word and a marvellous: Thou man, which shall enter into this ship, beware thou be in steadfast belief, for I am Faith, and therefore beware how thou enterest, for an thou fail I shall not help thee. Then said the gentlewoman: Percivale, wot ye what I am? Certes, said he, nay, to my witting. Wit ye well, said she, that I am thy sister, which am daughter of King Pellinore, and therefore wit ye well ye are the man in the world that I most love; and if ye be not in perfect belief of Jesu Christ enter not in no manner of wise, for then should ye perish the ship, for he is so perfect he will suffer no sinner in him. When Percivale understood that she was his very sister he was inwardly glad, and said: Fair sister, I shall enter therein, for if I be a miscreature or an untrue knight there shall I perish.
How Sir Galahad entered into the ship, and of a fair bed therein, with other marvellous things, and of a sword.
IN the meanwhile Galahad blessed him, and entered therein; and then next the gentlewoman, and then Sir Bors and Sir Percivale. And when they were in, it was so marvellous fair and rich that they marvelled; and in midst of the ship was a fair bed, and Galahad went thereto, and found there a crown of silk. And at the feet was a sword, rich and fair, and it was drawn out of the sheath half a foot and more; and the sword was of divers fashions, and the pommel was of stone, and there was in him all manner of colours that any man might find, and everych of the colours had divers virtues; and the scales of the haft were of two ribs of divers beasts, the one beast was a serpent which was conversant in Calidone, and is called the Serpent of the fiend; and the bone of him is of such a virtue that there is no hand that handleth him shall never be weary nor hurt. And the other beast is a fish which is not right great, and haunteth the flood of Euphrates; and that fish is called Ertanax, and his bones be of such a manner of kind that who that handleth them shall have so much will that he shall never be weary, and he shall not think on joy nor sorrow that he hath had but only that thing that he beholdeth before him. And as for this sword there shall never man begrip him at the handles but one; but he shall pass all other. In the name of God, said Percivale, I shall assay to handle it. So he set his hand to the sword, but he might not begrip it. By my faith, said he, now have I failed. Bors set his hand thereto and failed.
Then Galahad beheld the sword and saw letters like blood that said: Let see who shall assay to draw me out of my sheath, but if he be more hardier than any other; and who that draweth me, wit ye well that he shall never fail of shame of his body, or to be wounded to the death. By my faith, said Galahad, I would draw this sword out of the sheath, but the offending is so great that I shall not set my hand thereto. Now sirs, said the gentlewoman, wit ye well that the drawing of this sword is warned to all men save all only to you. Also this ship arrived in the realm of Logris; and that time was deadly war between King Labor, which was father unto the maimed king, and King Hurlame, which was a Saracen. But then was he newly christened, so that men held him afterward one of the wittiest men of the world. And so upon a day it befell that King Labor and King Hurlame had assembled their folk upon the sea where this ship was arrived; and there King Hurlame was discomfit, and his men slain; and he was afeard to be dead, and fled to his ship, and there found this sword and drew it, and came out and found King Labor, the man in the world of all Christendom in whom was then the greatest faith. And when King Hurlame saw King Labor he dressed this sword, and smote him upon the helm so hard that he clave him and his horse to the earth with the first stroke of his sword. And it was in the realm of Logris; and so befell great pestilence and great harm to both realms. For sithen increased neither corn, nor grass, nor well-nigh no fruit, nor in the water was no fish; wherefore men call it the lands of the two marches, the waste land, for that dolorous stroke. And when King Hurlame saw this sword so carving, he turned again to fetch the scabbard, and so came into this ship and entered, and put up the sword in the sheath. And as soon as he had done it he fell down dead afore the bed. Thus was the sword proved, that none ne drew it but he were dead or maimed. So lay he there till a maiden came into the ship and cast him out, for there was no man so hardy of the world to enter into that ship for the defence.
Of the marvels of the sword and of the scabbard.
AND then beheld they the scabbard, it seemed to be of a serpent’s skin, and thereon were letters of gold and silver. And the girdle was but poorly to come to, and not able to sustain such a rich sword. And the letters said: He which shall wield me sought to be more harder than any other, if he bear me as truly as me ought to be borne. For the body of him which I ought to hang by, he shall not be shamed in no place while he is girt with this girdle, nor never none be so hardy to do away this girdle; for it ought not be done away but by the hands of a maid, and that she be a king’s daughter and queen’s, and she must be a maid all the days of her life, both in will and in deed. And if she break her virginity she shall die the most villainous death that ever died any woman. Sir, said Percivale, turn this sword that we may see what is on the other side. And it was red as blood, with black letters as any coal, which said: He that shall praise me most, most shall he find me to blame at a great need; and to whom I should be most debonair shall I be most felon, and that shall be at one time.
Fair brother, said she to Percivale, it befell after a forty year after the passion of Jesu Christ that Nacien, the brother-in-law of King Mordrains, was borne into a town more than fourteen days’ journey from his country, by the commandment of Our Lord, into an isle, into the parts of the West, that men cleped the Isle of Turnance. So befell it that he found this ship at the entry of a rock, and he found the bed and this sword as we have heard now. Not for then he had not so much hardiness to draw it; and there he dwelled an eight days, and at the ninth day there fell a great wind which departed him out of the isle, and brought him to another isle by a rock, and there he found the greatest giant that ever man might see. Therewith came that horrible giant to slay him; and then he looked about him and might not flee, and he had nothing to defend him with. So he ran to his sword, and when he saw it naked he praised it much, and then he shook it, and therewith he brake it in the midst. Ah, said Nacien, the thing that I most praised ought I now most to blame, and therewith he threw the pieces of his sword over his bed. And after he leapt over the board to fight with the giant, and slew him.
And anon he entered into the ship again, and the wind arose, and drove him through the sea, that by adventure he came to another ship where King Mordrains was, which had been tempted full evil with a fiend in the Port of Perilous Rock. And when that one saw the other they made great joy of other, and either told other of their adventure, and how the sword failed him at his most need When Mordrains saw the sword he praised it much: But the breaking was not to do but by wickedness of thy selfward, for thou art in some sin. And there he took the sword, and set the pieces together, and they soldered as fair as ever they were to-fore; and there put he the sword in the sheath, and laid it down on the bed. Then heard they a voice that said: Go out of this ship a little while, and enter into the other, for dread ye fall in deadly sin, for and ye be found in deadly sin ye may not escape but perish: and so they went into the other ship. And as Nacien went over the board he was smitten with a sword on the right foot, that he fell down noseling to the ship’s board; and therewith he said: O God, how am I hurt. And then there came a voice and said: Take thou that for thy forfeit that thou didst in drawing of this sword, therefore thou receivest a wound, for thou were never worthy to handle it, as the writing maketh mention. In the name of God, said Galahad, ye are right wise of these works.
How King Pelles was smitten through both thighs because he drew the sword, and other marvellous histories.
SIR, said she, there was a king that hight Pelles, the maimed king. And while he might ride he supported much Christendom and Holy Church. So upon a day he hunted in a wood of his which lasted unto the sea; and at the last he lost his hounds and his knights save only one: and there he and his knight went till that they came toward Ireland, and there he found the ship. And when he saw the letters and understood them, yet he entered, for he was right perfect of his life, but his knight had none hardiness to enter; and there found he this sword, and drew it out as much as ye may see. So therewith entered a spear wherewith he was smitten him through both the thighs, and never sith might he be healed, nor nought shall to-fore we come to him. Thus, said she, was not King Pelles, your grandsire, maimed for his hardiness? In the name of God, damosel, said Galahad.
So they went toward the bed to behold all about it, and above the head there hung two swords. Also there were two spindles which were as white as any snow, and other that were as red as blood, and other above green as any emerald: of these three colours were the spindles, and of natural colour within, and without any painting. These spindles, said the damosel, were when sinful Eve came to gather fruit, for which Adam and she were put out of paradise, she took with her the bough on which the apple hung on. Then perceived she that the branch was fair and green, and she remembered her the loss which came from the tree. Then she thought to keep the branch as long as she might. And for she had no coffer to keep it in, she put it in the earth. So by the will of Our Lord the branch grew to a great tree within a little while, and was as white as any snow, branches, boughs, and leaves: that was a token a maiden planted it. But after God came to Adam, and bade him know his wife fleshly as nature required. So lay Adam with his wife under the same tree; and anon the tree which was white was full green as any grass, and all that came out of it; and in the same time that they medled together there was Abel begotten: thus was the tree long of green colour. And so it befell many days after, under the same tree Caym slew Abel, whereof befell great marvel. For anon as Abel had received the death under the green tree, it lost the green colour and became red; and that was in tokening of the blood. And anon all the plants died thereof, but the tree grew and waxed marvellously fair, and it was the fairest tree and the most delectable that any man might behold and see; and so died the plants that grew out of it to-fore that Abel was slain under it. So long dured the tree till that Solomon, King David’s son, reigned, and held the land after his father. This Solomon was wise and knew all the virtues of stones and trees, and so he knew the course of the stars, and many other divers things. This Solomon had an evil wife, wherethrough he weened that there had been no good woman, and so he despised them in his books. So answered a voice him once: Solomon, if heaviness come to a man by a woman, ne reck thou never; for yet shall there come a woman whereof there shall come greater joy to man an hundred times more than this heaviness giveth sorrow; and that woman shall be born of thy lineage. Tho when Solomon heard these words he held himself but a fool, and the truth he perceived by old books. Also the Holy Ghost showed him the coming of the glorious Virgin Mary. Then asked he of the voice, if it should be in the yerde of his lineage. Nay, said the voice, but there shall come a man which shall be a maid, and the last of your blood, and he shall be as good a knight as Duke Josua, thy brother-in-law.
How Solomon took David’s sword by the counsel of his wife, and of other matters marvellous.
NOW have I certified thee of that thou stoodest in doubt. Then was Solomon glad that there should come any such of his lineage; but ever he marvelled and studied who that should be, and what his name might be. His wife perceived that he studied, and thought she would know it at some season; and so she waited her time, and asked of him the cause of his studying, and there he told her altogether how the voice told him. Well, said she, I shall let make a ship of the best wood and most durable that men may find. So Solomon sent for all the carpenters of the land, and the best. And when they had made the ship the lady said to Solomon: Sir, said she, since it is so that this knight ought to pass all knights of chivalry which have been to-fore him and shall come after him, moreover I shall tell you, said she, ye shall go into Our Lord’s temple, where is King David’s sword, your father, the which is the marvelloust and the sharpest that ever was taken in any knight’s hand. Therefore take that, and take off the pommel, and thereto make ye a pommel of precious stones, that it be so subtly made that no man perceive it but that they be all one; and after make there an hilt so marvellously and wonderly that no man may know it; and after make a marvellous sheath. And when ye have made all this I shall let make a girdle thereto, such as shall please me.
All this King Solomon did let make as she devised, both the ship and all the remnant. And when the ship was ready in the sea to sail, the lady let make a great bed and marvellous rich, and set her upon the bed’s head, covered with silk, and laid the sword at the feet, and the girdles were of hemp, and therewith the king was angry. Sir, wit ye well, said she, that I have none so high a thing which were worthy to sustain so high a sword, and a maid shall bring other knights thereto, but I wot not when it shall be, nor what time. And there she let make a covering to the ship, of cloth of silk that should never rot for no manner of weather. Yet went that lady and made a carpenter to come to the tree which Abel was slain under. Now, said she, carve me out of this tree as much wood as will make me a spindle. Ah madam, said he, this is the tree the which our first mother planted. Do it, said she, or else I shall destroy thee. Anon as he began to work there came out drops of blood; and then would he have left, but she would not suffer him, and so he took away as much wood as might make a spindle: and so she made him to take as much of the green tree and of the white tree. And when these three spindles were shapen she made them to be fastened upon the selar of the bed. When Solomon saw this, he said to his wife: Ye have done marvellously, for though all the world were here right now, he could not devise wherefore all this was made, but Our Lord Himself; and thou that hast done it wottest not what it shall betoken. Now let it be, said she, for ye shall hear tidings sooner than ye ween. Now shall ye hear a wonderful tale of King Solomon and his wife.
A wonderful tale of King Solomon and his wife.
THAT night lay Solomon before the ship with little fellowship. And when he was asleep him thought there came from heaven a great company of angels, and alighted into the ship, and took water which was brought by an angel, in a vessel of silver, and sprent all the ship. And after he came to the sword, and drew letters on the hilt. And after went to the ship’s board, and wrote there other letters which said: Thou man that wilt enter within me, beware that thou be full within the faith, for I ne am but Faith and Belief. When Solomon espied these letters he was abashed, so that he durst not enter, and so drew him aback; and the ship was anon shoven in the sea, and he went so fast that he lost sight of him within a little while. And then a little voice said: Solomon, the last knight of thy lineage shall rest in this bed. Then went Solomon and awaked his wife, and told her of the adventures of the ship.
Now saith the history that a great while the three fellows beheld the bed and the three spindles. Then they were at certain that they were of natural colours without painting. Then they lift up a cloth which was above the ground, and there found a rich purse by seeming. And Percivale took it, and found therein a writ and so he read it, and devised the manner of the spindles and of the ship, whence it came, and by whom it was made. Now, said Galahad, where shall we find the gentlewoman that shall make new girdles to the sword? Fair sir, said Percivale’s sister, dismay you not, for by the leave of God I shall let make a girdle to the sword, such one as shall long thereto. And then she opened a box, and took out girdles which were seemly wrought with golden threads, and upon that were set full precious stones, and a rich buckle of gold. Lo, lords, said she, here is a girdle that ought to be set about the sword. And wit ye well the greatest part of this girdle was made of my hair, which I loved well while that I was a woman of the world. But as soon as I wist that this adventure was ordained me I clipped off my hair, and made this girdle in the name of God. Ye be well found, said Sir Bors, for certes ye have put us out of great pain, wherein we should have entered ne had your tidings been.
Then went the gentlewoman and set it on the girdle of the sword. Now, said the fellowship, what is the name of the sword, and what shall we call it? Truly, said she, the name of the sword is the Sword with the Strange Girdles; and the sheath, Mover of Blood; for no man that hath blood in him ne shall never see the one part of the sheath which was made of the Tree of Life. Then they said to Galahad: In the name of Jesu Christ, and pray you that ye gird you with this sword which hath been desired so much in the realm of Logris. Now let me begin, said Galahad, to grip this sword for to give you courage; but wit ye well it longeth no more to me than it doth to you. And then he gripped about it with his fingers a great deal; and then she girt him about the middle with the sword. Now reck I not though I die, for now I hold me one of the blessed maidens of the world, which hath made the worthiest knight of the world. Damosel, said Galahad, ye have done so much that I shall be your knight all the days of my life.
Then they went from that ship, and went to the other. And anon the wind drove them into the sea a great pace, but they had no victuals: but it befell that they came on the morn to a castle that men call Carteloise, that was in the marches of Scotland. And when they had passed the port, the gentlewoman said: Lords, here be men arriven that, an they wist that ye were of King Arthur’s court, ye should be assailed anon. Damosel, said Galahad, He that cast us out of the rock shall deliver us from them.
How Galahad and his fellows came to a castle, and how they were fought withal, and how they slew their adversaries, and other matters.
SO it befell as they spoke thus there came a squire by them, and asked what they were; and they said they were of King Arthur’s house. Is that sooth? said he. Now by my head, said he, ye be ill arrayed; and then turned he again unto the cliff fortress. And within a while they heard an horn blow. Then a gentlewoman came to them, and asked them of whence they were; and they told her. Fair lords, said she, for God’s love turn again if ye may, for ye be come unto your death. Nay, they said, we will not turn again, for He shall help us in whose service we be entered in. Then as they stood talking there came knights well armed, and bade them yield them or else to die. That yielding, said they, shall be noyous to you. And therewith they let their horses run, and Sir Percivale smote the foremost to the earth, and took his horse, and mounted thereupon, and the same did Galahad. Also Bors served another so, for they had no horses in that country, for they left their horses when they took their ship in other countries. And so when they were horsed then began they to set upon them; and they of the castle fled into the strong fortress, and the three knights after them into the castle, and so alighted on foot, and with their swords slew them down, and gat into the hall.
Then when they beheld the great multitude of people that they had slain, they held themself great sinners. Certes, said Bors, I ween an God had loved them that we should not have had power to have slain them thus. But they have done so much against Our Lord that He would not suffer them to reign no longer. Say ye not so, said Galahad, for if they misdid against God, the vengeance is not ours, but to Him which hath power thereof.
So came there out of a chamber a good man which was a priest, and bare God’s body in a cup. And when he saw them which lay dead in the hall he was all abashed; and Galahad did off his helm and kneeled down, and so did his two fellows. Sir, said they, have ye no dread of us, for we be of King Arthur’s court. Then asked the good man how they were slain so suddenly, and they told it him. Truly, said the good man, an ye might live as long as the world might endure, ne might ye have done so great an alms-deed as this. Sir, said Galahad, I repent me much, inasmuch as they were christened. Nay, repent you not, said he, for they were not christened, and I shall tell you how that I wot of this castle. Here was Lord Earl Hernox not but one year, and he had three sons, good knights of arms, and a daughter, the fairest gentlewoman that men knew. So those three knights loved their sister so sore that they brent in love, and so they lay by her, maugre her head. And for she cried to her father they slew her, and took their father and put him in prison, and wounded him nigh to the death, but a cousin of hers rescued him. And then did they great untruth: they slew clerks and priests, and made beat down chapels, that Our Lord’s service might not be served nor said. And this same day her father sent to me for to be confessed and houseled; but such shame had never man as I had this day with the three brethren, but the earl bade me suffer, for he said they should not long endure, for three servants of Our Lord should destroy them, and now it is brought to an end. And by this may ye wit that Our Lord is not displeased with your deeds. Certes, said Galahad, an it had not pleased Our Lord, never should we have slain so many men in so little a while.
And then they brought the Earl Hernox out of prison into the midst of the hall, that knew Galahad anon, and yet he saw him never afore but by revelation of Our Lord.
How the three knights, with Percivale’s sister, came unto the same forest, and of an hart and four lions, and other things.
THEN began he to weep right tenderly, and said: Long have I abiden your coming, but for God’s love hold me in your arms, that my soul may depart out of my body in so good a man’s arms as ye be. Gladly, said Galahad. And then one said on high, that all heard: Galahad, well hast thou avenged me on God’s enemies. Now behoveth thee to go to the Maimed King as soon as thou mayest, for he shall receive by thee health which he hath abiden so long. And therewith the soul departed from the body, and Galahad made him to be buried as him ought to be.
Right so departed the three knights, and Percivale’s sister with them. And so they came into a waste forest, and there they saw afore them a white hart which four lions led. Then they took them to assent for to follow after for to know whither they repaired; and so they rode after a great pace till that they came to a valley, and thereby was an hermitage where a good man dwelled, and the hart and the lions entered also. So when they saw all this they turned to the chapel, and saw the good man in a religious weed and in the armour of Our Lord, for he would sing mass of the Holy Ghost; and so they entered in and heard mass. And at the secrets of the mass they three saw the hart become a man, the which marvelled them, and set him upon the altar in a rich siege; and saw the four lions were changed, the one to the form of a man, the other to the form of a lion, and the third to an eagle, and the fourth was changed unto an ox. Then took they their siege where the hart sat, and went out through a glass window, and there was nothing perished nor broken; and they heard a voice say: In such a manner entered the Son of God in the womb of a maid Mary, whose virginity ne was perished ne hurt. And when they heard these words they fell down to the earth and were astonied; and therewith was a great clearness.
And when they were come to theirself again they went to the good man and prayed him that he would say them truth. What thing have ye seen? said he. And they told him all that they had seen. Ah lords, said he, ye be welcome; now wot I well ye be the good knights the which shall bring the Sangreal to an end; for ye be they unto whom Our Lord shall shew great secrets. And well ought Our Lord be signified to an hart, for the hart when he is old he waxeth young again in his white skin. Right so cometh again Our Lord from death to life, for He lost earthly flesh that was the deadly flesh, which He had taken in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary; and for that cause appeared Our Lord as a white hart without spot. And the four that were with Him is to understand the four evangelists which set in writing a part of Jesu Christ’s deeds that He did sometime when He was among you an earthly man; for wit ye well never erst ne might no knight know the truth, for ofttimes or this Our Lord showed Him unto good men and unto good knights, in likeness of an hart, but I suppose from henceforth ye shall see no more. And then they joyed much, and dwelled there all that day. And upon the morrow when they had heard mass they departed and commended the good man to God: and so they came to a castle and passed by. So there came a knight armed after them and said: Lords, hark what I shall say to you.
How they were desired of a strange custom, the which they would not obey; wherefore they fought and slew many knights.
THIS gentlewoman that ye lead with you is a maid? Sir, said she, a maid I am. Then he took her by the bridle and said: By the Holy Cross, ye shall not escape me to-fore ye have yolden the custom of this castle. Let her go, said Percivale, ye be not wise, for a maid in what place she cometh is free. So in the meanwhile there came out a ten or twelve knights armed, out of the castle, and with them came gentlewomen which held a dish of silver.