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The High History of the Holy Graal

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the hands of the knight, and saith that she shall praise him much
thereof to the King and Messire Gawain. She goeth her way and
carrieth off the head, and Perceval biddeth her to God. He
returned back to Castle Perilous, and the damsel made great joy
thereof when she understood that he had slain Brundans. Perceval
lay there that night, and departed on the morrow after that he
had heard mass. When he came forth of the castle he met the
knight by whom he had sent the cup to the Sick Knight's wife.
Perceval asketh how it is with him.

"Sir, saith he, "I have carried out your message right well, for
never was a thing received with such good will. The Sick Knight
hath forgone his grudge against his wife. She eateth at his
table, and the household do her commandment."

"This liketh me right well," saith Perceval, "and I thank you of
doing this errand."

"Sir," saith the knight, "No thing is there I would not do for
you, for that you made my brother Knight Hardy there where you
first saw him Knight Coward."

"Sir," saith Perceval, "Good knight was your brother and a right
good end he made, but a little it forthinketh me that he might
have still been living had he abided in his cowardize."

"Sir," saith he, "Better is he dead, sith that he died with
honour, than that he should live with shame. Yet glad was I not
of his death, for a hardy knight he was, and yet more would have
been, had he lived longer."


Perceval departeth from the knight and commendeth him to God. He
hath wandered so far one day and another that he is returned to
his own most holy castle, and findeth therein his mother and his
sister that the Damsel of the Car had brought thither. The Widow
Lady had made bear thither the body that lay in the coffin before
the castle of Camelot in the rich chapel that she had builded
there. His sister brought the cerecloth that she took in the
Waste Chapel, and presented there where the Graal was. Perceval
made bring the coffin of the other knight that was at the
entrance of his castle within the chapel likewise, and place it
beside the coffin of his uncle, nor never thereafter might it be
removed. Josephus telleth us that Perceval was in this castle
long time, nor never once moved therefrom in quest of no
adventure; rather was his courage so attorned to the Saviour of
the World and His sweet Mother, that he and his sister and the
damsel that was therein led a holy life and a religious. Therein
abode they even as it pleased God, until that his mother passed
away and his sister and all they that were therein save he alone.
The hermits that were nigh the castle buried them and sang their
masses, and came every day and took counsel of him for the
holiness they saw him do and the good life that he led there. So
one day whilst he was in the holy chapel where the hallows were,
forthwith, behold you, a Voice that cometh down therein:
"Perceval," saith the Voice, "Not long shall you abide herein;
wherefore it is God's will that you dispart the hallows amongst
the hermits of the forest, there where these bodies shall be
served and worshipped, and the most Holy Graal shall appear
herein no more, but within a brief space shall you know well the
place where it shall be."

When the Voice departed, all the coffins that were therein
crashed so passing loud that it seemed the master-hall had
fallen. He crosseth and blesseth him and commendeth him to God.
On a day the hermits came to him. He disparted the holy relics
among them, and they builded above them holy churches and houses
of religion that are seen in the lands and in the islands.
Joseus the son of King Hermit, remained therein with Perceval,
for he well knew that he would be departing thence betimes.


Perceval heard one day a bell sound loud and high without the
manor toward the sea. He came to the windows of the hall and saw
the ship come with the white sail and the Red Cross thereon, and
within were the fairest folk that ever he might behold, and they
were all robed in such manner as though they should sing mass.
When the ship was anchored under the hall they went to pray in
the most holy chapel. They brought the richest vessels of gold
and silver that any might ever see, like as it were coffins, and
set therein one of the three bodies of knights that had been
brought into the chapel, and the body of King Fisherman, and of
the mother of Perceval. But no savour in the world smelleth so
sweet. Perceval took leave of Joseus and commended him to the
Saviour of the World, and took leave of the household, from whom
he departed in like manner. The worshipful men that were in the
ship signed them of the cross and blessed them likewise. The
ship wherein Perceval was drew far away, and a Voice that issued
from the manor as she departed commended them to God and to His
sweet Mother. Josephus recordeth us that Perceval departed in
such wise, nor never thereafter did no earthly man know what
became of him, nor doth the history speak of him more. But the
history telleth us that Joseus abode in the castle that had been
King Fisherman's, and shut himself up therein so that none might
enter, and lived upon that the Lord God might send him. He dwelt
there long time after that Perceval had departed, and ended
therein. After his end, the dwelling began to fall. Natheless
never was the chapel wasted nor decayed, but was as whole
thereafter as tofore and is so still. The place was far from
folk, and the place seemed withal to be somewhat different. When
it was fallen into decay, many folk of the lands and islands that
were nighest thereunto marvel them what may be in this manor.
They dare a many that they should go see what was therein, and
sundry folk went thither from all the lands, but none durst never
enter there again save two Welsh knights that had heard tell of
it. Full comely knights they were, young and joyous hearted. So
either pledged him to other that they would go thither by way of
gay adventure; but therein remained they of a long space after,
and when again they came forth they led the life of hermits, and
clad them in hair shirts, and went by the forest and so ate
nought save roots only, and led a right hard life; yet ever they
made as though they were glad, and if that any should ask whereof
they rejoiced in such wise, "Go," said they to them that asked,
"thither where we have been, and you shall know the wherefore."

In such sort made they answer to the folk. These two knights
died in this holy life, nor were none other tidings never brought
thence by them. They of that land called them saints.


Here endeth the story of the most Holy Graal. Josephus, by whom
it is placed on record, giveth the benison of Our Lord to all
that hear and honour it. The Latin from whence this history was
drawn into Romance was taken in the Isle of Avalon, in a holy
house of religion that standeth at the head of the Moors
Adventurous, there where King Arthur and Queen Guenievre lie,
according to the witness of the good men religious that are
therein, that have the whole history thereof, true from the
beginning even to the end. After this same history beginneth the
story how Briant of the Isles renounced King Arthur on account of
Lancelot whom he loved not, and how he assured King Claudas that
reft King Ban of Benoic of his land. This story telleth how he
conquered him and by what means, and how Galobrus of the Red
Launde came to King Arthur's court to help Lancelot, for that he
was of his lineage. This story is right long and right
adventurous and weighty, but the book will now forthwith be
silent thereof until another time.


For the Lord of Neele made the Lord of Cambrein this book be
written, that never tofore was treated in Romance but one single
time besides this; and the book that was made tofore this is so
ancient that only with great pains may one make out the letter.
And let Messire Johan de Neele well understand that he ought to
hold this story dear, nor ought he tell nought thereof to ill-
understanding folk, for a good thing that is squandered upon bad
folk is never remembered by them for good.


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