The Story of Lancelot of the Lake

Transcription Calligraphic Manuscript, Society of Antiquaries MS. 905.4, vol. 1, ff. 1-76

Autograph of William Morris [written on a square of paper pasted on verso flyleaf]

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Lancelot [written in pencil at very top of page]

Here beginneth the first volume of the Table Round concerning Lancelot of the Lake: Which same treateth firstly, of how after the death of Aramon King of Little Britain the King Claudas waged war against King Ban of Benwyk and King Boort of Ganys till he had disinherited them of their lands.

IN the Marches of Gaul and of Little Britain were of old time two Kings, brothers of blood, who had wedded two sisters of blood: one had to name King Ban of Benwyk and the other King Boort of Ganys: old was King Ban and his wife marvellous fair, a right good dame, and beloved of all folk: no child had these twain save one only whom men call commonly Lancelot; but by another name is he called; for his right name was Galahad; but wherefore he was called Lancelot this tale shall show hereafter.
      Now King Ban had a neighbour whose land marched on him on the side of Berry, called in those days the Waste Land, and this neighbour was called Claudas, Lord of Bourges and the country thereabout: a right hardy knight and a wise was Claudas, but a marvellous traitor: liegeman he was of the King of Gaul, which is also called France: the land of his realm was called the Waste, because it had all been wasted by Utherpendragon, and by Aramon, who in those days was King of Britain the Little, and who was by named Hoel: Aramon had under him Ganys and Benwyk, and Aquitain and all the Marches of Auvergne; the land of Almain also, and of Scotland; yea and aforetime this land of Bourges; but Claudas acknowledged him not nor would do him [deletion] service, but had made himself liegeman of the King of Gaul

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King Claudas’ land wasted

who in that time was subject to Rome, and to him he gave tribute. Now in those days were all Kings chosen of the people.
      NOW when Aramon saw that Claudas would take away his lordship from him by means of the power of the Romans, who gave him aid in the war, and that he had to aid also the King of Gaul and all his might, and that much he lost in this war, for long it endured: then came Utherpendragon who was Lord of Britain the great, and Aramon swore him his liegeman on covenant that he should bring this war to an ending: so Utherpendragon passed the sea with all his power, and they heard tidings that the Lord of Gaul was dead: so they fell both on Claudas and discomforted him, and took from him all his land, and drave him out of the countryside, and in such wise was the land wasted that in no stronghold was one stone left on another; but strong was the city of Bourges, and had safeguard from fire: nor would Utherpendragon give command to destroy it when he remembered that he had been born therein.
      Thereafter Utherpendragon gat him back to Little Britain, and abode there as long as he would, and then passed over into Britain the Great; and from that time forward was Britain under the Kingdom of Logres.
      AFTER the death of Aramon and Utherpendragon the land of Bourges abode under the hand of King Arthur: but there arose wars in diverse places against him, and in diverse fashion did the barons wage war in the beginning of his reign, when he had been no long time wedded to Queen Guenevere, and had abundant troubles on every side: then did Claudas begin again the war which had been left, and gat to him all his lands again: for so soon as Aramon was dead he began to war upon King Ban of Benwyk, because their lands marched

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King Ban in battle

together, and that King Ban was liegeman of Aramon through whom he had so long time lost his lands. In those days was Iraconse come from Rome, who was of great renown, and had to name Pontius Antonius: he aided Claudas, and delivered to him all the power of Gaul, and the countries subject thereunto, and they fell on King Ban and took from him Benwyk, and his city and all his lands, save and except one castle named Trible [sic], the chief castle of the land, and so strong that it might doubt nothing save famine or guile: in that castle had the Queen abided long while the war lasted: but the King Ban never entered therein so long as he might hold himself without: But on a day his enemies took by force a castle of his that was but three leagues from there whereas he lay, and when he went to succour the same, and would have got him therein, he beheld how they without were entering perforce: therewith he thrust into the host with great might and prowess, he and they of his knights who were with him; and they slew many of the host, and did so much that they who were at the assault heard it, and the assault was stayed, and all ran together to set on the King: so he gat him away, he and his: but over long had he abided; for Pontius Antonius, with all the people who were by the forest in array came against him.
       Then befel such brunt as neither King Ban nor his folk might endure, and there were all his company slain or taken save three only: nevertheless it fell out that King Ban slew Pontius Antonius, and did such deeds thereafter that they four alone turned the Romans to flight, and chased them so far that Claudas came hastily to the fray to meet them, and when King Ban saw him coming he spake a word meet for a man disinherited, full of griefs: “Lo,” said he, “Lord God, how here cometh my mortal foe! thou O God, who hast laid on me so many

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King Ban beateth down Claudas

dishonours grant me this now that I may slay him, and let me die so he escape me not: for so shall my griefs be well solaced.”
       Thereon they justed together, and King Ban beat down Claudas so mightily that he doubted not but that he was dead: wherewith departed King Ban full of joy, deeming that he had accomplished his will, and did so much by spurring that he came to the castle of Tribel.
      The fourth day after was that castle taken that King Claudas beset, so thence he came to beset King Ban of Benwyk. And when King Ban knew that Claudas was not dead he made so great mourning that he never went forth to battle again, as was well seen afterward.

How King Claudas beset the aforesaid castle of Tribel wherein was King Ban Benoyk, and how they held parley together.

CLADAS [sic] sat before the castle of Tribel a long space; and King Ban sent oftentimes to the King Arthur to have succour of him: but King Arthur had so much to do on all sides that he might not inter-meddle with the need of another.
       Furthermore King Boort, the brother of King Ban, who had ever aided him well, lay sick now and hard at death’s door; and all were overcome before King Claudas[.] But when Claudas saw that he might not lightly take the castle, he was fain to hold parley with King Ban, and either gave other safeconduct to come and go in good peace: King Ban went to the parley with two others and no more, to wit, his seneschal, and one Knight beside: Claudas also came no more accompanied: and the parley was holden before the senschal, who sat high aloft; and the host was round about the lodge; and the mound was steep enow, and hard to come up to.

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a parley between the Kings

         So when Claudas saw King Ban he fell complaining of Pontius Antonius, whom the King had slain; and therewith complained King Ban of his lands that Claudas had taken from him without reason or justice.
       “Nought of this have I done,” said Claudas, [“]for aught that thou hast done against me, nor for hate that I have toward thee, but because thou holdest the King Arthur for lord: for time was when Utherpendragon disinherited me: but seize me of this castle and become my liege-man, and hold thy lands of me, and I will get me gone.”
      “That will I never,” said King Ban, “for so were I perjured toward my lord King Arthur, whose man I am.”
      “Yea then hearken,” said King Claudas, “send thou a message to King Arthur, bidding him succour thee within forty days: and if he succour thee not, then render me the castle, and do me homage for all my lands, and thereto will I add fiefs rich enow.”
      King Ban said he would take council, and on the morrow would say or send message what he would do herein: and therewith departed King Ban, but his seneschal abode behind awhile: to whom spake King Claudas: “Seneschal,” quoth he, “I took well that King Ban is foredone and hapless; for of King Arthur he shall have no succour; and so by headstrong folly shall he lose all: heavy therefore I deem it that thou shouldst be abouts such a man as this, of whom no good may ever come to thee; and I have heard much good spoken of thee; wherefore I proffer thee to be on my side, and I will love thee loyally, and will give thee this Kingdom so soon as I shall have conquered it, and thou shalt be captain of all my host: but and if I take the perforce it will go against me that I must needs do thee some ill: for I have sworn by all the saints that none shall be taken perforce in this war, but he shall be slain or set in

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King Ban talketh with his Queen

prison on no day to come forth thence.”
      Now so much they talked together that the seneschal promised to aid him to his might, saving the betraying or rendering the body of his Lord; and Claudas promised him so soon as he had the castle of Tribel to render to him all the land; but so as he should hold it of King Claudas[’] hand.
      Therewith they departed, and Claudas went to his people, but the seneschal returned unto Tribel, and told King Ban how Claudas has talked much with him: “And he above all things desireth to have thy love.”
       “And what councillest thou?” said King Ban.
       “Sir,” said he, “The best road to my beholding is that thou thyself go and cry mercy of King Arthur, for this castle shall hold well till thy coming back again.[”]
      Then went the King to the Queen and told her the word and charge of Claudas: [space] “But,” said he, I know him so disloyal, that let him once have this castle, he will render it to me never, nay nor aught else of my land. Now tomorn must I answer what I will do: for he would have me send to my lord King Arthur, and giveth me truce for forty days: and if so be that within that time my lord the King succour me, it is well; but if he succour me not then King Claudas to be seized of all my lands this castle.”
      The Queen, who feared sorely his disinheriting counseled that so it be done.
      “Dame,” said he, “since ye are of accord hereto, I will do it; for I myself will go to my lord King Arthur, and cry him mercy of my disinheriting: and surely he will have greater pity of me when he seeth me than if I were to send another messenger. [space] But lo now array thyself; for thou shalt go with me, and we will have with us no more folk save my son and one squire only to do us such service as we have need of: for so belike will great pity take my lord of my grief when he beholdeth it. [space] And know

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that we depart this same night: take heed therefore to have with thee all the treasure that thou mayst, jewels and vessel, and set them in my great coffers: for I know not what may befal in my castle till I return; and by no means would I that ye abide here in adventure, whiles I go thither: notwithstanding I doubt not the taking of this castle by force; but none may guard him against guile.
      So the Queen arrayed her as the King bade, and then told him that all was ready; so the King chose him that one of all his varlets in whom he [deletion] trusted most, and bade him take heed that his hackney failed him nought: which varlet, who loved his lord did his commandment straightaway.
      Then came the King to the seneschal, and discovered his entent to him, and how he would go [to] the court of King Arthur:
      Said he: “I trust more in thee than in any one else, since I have ever loved thee: therefore I deliver thee my castle to guard as if it were the heart amidst my bosom: tomorrow say thou to King Claudas, that I send to King Arthur, and will give surety that if I be not succoured by my lord the King in forty days space this castle shall be yielded to his pleasure: but take heed lest he know that I am away hence, or a little thing would take away what is left with me.
      “Sir,” said the traitor, have no doubt, I will think well on all.”
       That night the King slept but little, for short were the nights; and saith the tale that if befel, somewhat before Mid August and on a Wednesday in the even that the King busied him about this journey.
      So he arose well three hours before the daybreak, and when the saddles were done on, and he was all arrayed, he commended his seneschal to God, and all his other folk.
      Then departed the King by a bridge over a little river, that ran below the castle: for the said castle was

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King Ban rideth from Tribel

beset but on one side for the space of three bowshots: nor might it be beset otherwhere because of the mires that were both great and deep, and void of all ways save one little and strait causeway which endured for the space of two good leagues.

How King Ban of Banwyk in company of his wife and Lancelot his son with one squire only departed from the castle of Tribel to go seek succour of King Arthur in Britain the Great

                  BY this causeway went King Ban and had with him his wife on an ambling palfrey sorel-hued, and the squire also, worthy and good at need, bearing the little one in a cradle before him on his hackney: the King rode a palfrey well proven, led by a varlet afoot: the squire bore his shield, and the Knave his helm and glaive and drave before him a sumpter-horse well laden with jewls and vessel and deniers: the King rode clad in breeches of mail and bawberk, girst with his sword, and with his rain-cloak wrapped about him; and so far he rode that he came out of the marish, and entered into a wood well half a league, and found an exceeding fair land where he had oftentimes been afore.    
        So far went the King he and his that he came to a lake at the head of that land lying under a very high hill whence was all the land to be seen: and it was now hard on day-break.
      Then said the King that he would go no further till day was fully dawned; for he was fain to climb the hill aloft to behold his castle that he loved over all castles of the world. [space] So he leapt from his horse, and abode till day grew bright: then he mounted his horse again, and left the Queen and his company down by the lake, which was great enow.
      Now this lake was called in the heathen time the Lake Diane: for Diane was Queen of Lysia, and

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Claudas[’] promise to the seneschal

reigned in the days of Virgil the good philosopher: and her the foolish folk of the miscreaunts accounted a goddess; and the lady was she of all the world who most loved the resort of the wild-wood, and day by day would she go a-hunting; wherefore the heathen folk called her the goddess of the wild-wood.
      Now this wood whereas Queen Diane would go passed in beauty all the forest of Gaul and Little Britain among forests that were not great; for it was but ten leagues English endlong and six or seven overthwart and it had to name Wood-in-dale.
      So the King laid him down on the hill, for sore he desired to look on the castle that he loved__But now leaveth the tale to tell of him, and speaketh of his seneschal.

How after the departure of King Ban from the castle of Tribel the seneschal to whom he had delivered the safe-guard therof betrayed the said castle into the hands of King Claudas.

Now when King Ban was departed from the said castle of Tribel the seneschal forgat not the covenant betwixt him and King Claudas but went forth from the town and came to Caludas and spake: “Sir, I bring thee good tidings, such as have befallen no man save thee, if so be thou wilt hold promise with me; for now straightly mayest thou take the castle without any defen[c]e made.”
       “How then,” said Claudas, [“]where is King Ban?”
       “Certes,” said he, “he hath left the castle and gone forth, he and my lady the Queen, and one squire and no more folk.[”]
      “Deliver me the castle then”, said Claudas, [“]and I will hold covenant with thee; and this Sunday following, which is the day of Mid-August, I will enfeof thee of these lands before all my barons, and thou shalt

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The Seneschal talketh with Banin

be my liegeman.
      “Full joyous was the seneschal hereof, and said: “Sir, I will go and set the gates open for thee, and say that we have good truce, and full certainly men will test them, for great misease have they had; but when thou and thy folk are gotten in, hold you wisely till ye have come by the master-castle.”
      “In such wise spake the traitor with Claudas, and then got him back to the castle; and when he was within he met a knight called Banin, and Kinsman of King Ban, who kept watch and ward every night armed at all points: and when he saw the seneschal he asked him what business he was about to go forth at such an hour.”
      ““I go”, said the traitor, “to take pledges of truce which the King my lord and thine has delivered.”
      “ When the other heard these words his heart grew a-cold, for sorely he doubted treason; and he said: “Certes seneschal, at such an hour goeth none to take truce of any mortal man if he do loyally.”
      ““How!” quoth the seneschal, “dost thou hold me for disloyal?”
      “ “God defend thee of disloyalty!” said Banin, and held his peace withal: but more had he said an he durst, for the seneschal had all might, and would speedily have let slay him.
      “Now the seneschal said to the warders, that God be thanked they had gotten truce, and he bade them go lie down, and full willingly they rested them.
      “But Banin had no list to sleep, but held ward still, and gat him up into a turret to behold the demeanour of them without: and they within went to open the gates, unwitting that they were [deletion] already open. But he saw a score of Knights acoming with laced helms, and other twenty after them, and so score by score,

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Banin commeth to the great tower

up to two hundred.
      “Then he doubted sore that the town was betrayed and the walls overpassed, and he cried in a loud voice: “Treason treason in the castle!”
      “And yet he thought not indeed that the gates had been opened.
      “Then was the cry raised in the castle, and they who were disarrayed ran to their arms; but speedily were Claudas’ Knights gotten within the first gate: and when Banin saw them he was as grieved at heart as any man might be, and ran so rudely at the first one that through shield and hawberk he thrust the glaive, and pierced the body of him through and through that he tumbled dead to earth: then the folk of King Claudas set on him, and Banin fled away into another tower, but as ever he got there they beat him down twice or thrice: then he gat him up to the walls by the stair, and ran along them till he came to the door of the great tower, and raised the drawbridge after him: and therein he found three sergents who guarded the tower, whereof one had opened the door to him, and the other twain were laid asleep therein in the lower parts of it: a band of Claudas’ Knights had followed him up to the walls, and thought to take him; but when they saw that they had failed of him they gat them back again. But the other had taken the little castle or ever the folk thereof were armed; and the cry was so great throughout all the castle, that God thundering had not been harkened.
      “At the noise of this cry went forth the seneschal and made semblance of defence; and he began to regret his lord that had been.
      “But Banin from aloft fell to crying: “Ah traitor, son of a whore, all this is thy bargain for us, and thou hast betrayed thy liege-lord who raised thee up from nought at all, and hast taken from him the hope that he had to recover his lands again! to such an end mayst thou come at last as came Judas the betrayer of him who came on earth to save him and other sinners,

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Banin holdeth the Great Tower

for the deeds of Judas hast thou verily done.
      “In such wise spake Banin to the traitor.
      “ But so withal was the little tower taken, and all the other strongholds save the great tower.
      “ But of one matter was Claudas wroth, that he knew not which of his men had set fire to the town, whereby were the excellent riches of the houses burnt up and destroyed.
      “ After this well did they of the tower keep and defend them, being but four men, three sergents to wit and Banin the fourth, and in the defence they slew great plenty of the folk of King Claudas!
      “ On the fifth day Claudas let array a petrary against the said tower nor might they long abide: nevertheless by the petrary had they not been taken had they whereof to eat; notwithstanding they defended themselves exceeding valiantly, and Banin above all the others, and many of the folk of King Claudas he slew with sharp rocks and stones which he cast against them.
      “Then spake Claudas when he had heard the name of him, and had seen the prowess which was in him, that if he had so good a Knight, and so loyal to him as was this man to another he would hold him dearer than his very self.
      “After they of the tower had failed them of all victual they held out yet three whole days, and were then exceeding heavy with anguish of hunger: but so it befel that at the end of the third night they took a howlet in the cavern of the said tower, for other fowl were none by reason of the strokes of the petrary, which had driven them away, and of this adventure were they very joyous.
      “Now called aloud Claudas unto Banin, saying: Render theyself, for not long mayst thou hold thee thus: but I will give thee horse and arms, and let lead thee, and feed thee thither where thou wouldst be: or if so be thou wilt abide with me, then, so may God help me, I

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Banin and Claudas parley

would love thee more than ever I loved knight for the prowess and loyalty which is in thee[.]
Thus prayed Claudas many a time till on a day Banin spake to him, as one fulfilled of marvelous displeasure: “Sir Claudas, Sir Claudas, whenso I shall render me unto thee know well that it shall be by such tokens that none shall blame me for rendering myself to thee or any other as of a trait[o]rous rendition.”
So long did Banin hold himself there that he was waxen all feeble with famine, he and his fellows, and every day Claudas prayed him to render himself, for he was fain of him: so when Banin saw that he might hold him no longer because of lack of victual, and because of the petrary which endanaged [sic] them exceedingly he began to make great dole: and his fellows, who might no longer endure, prayed him to give up the tower; so he said: “Sirs, be not dismayed! for I will indeed render up the tower, and that in such honourable wise that we shall never be shamed; and for me I am neither less wearied, nor less fortrawailed, nor less an-hungered than ye be; but whatsoever anguish be on a man yet ever must be guard his honour[.]”
That same day spake Claudas anew to Banin, asking him what his entent was, to render him up or to hold him yet. “Sir,” said he, “I have taken counsel of my fellows, and their redes is that we hold this tower, since for no long time have we held it, against stones or such-like engines: but I have no longer will to take the deed upon me; wherefore I offer now to render it up to thee with me myself or ^& my fellows; for meseemeth well that to no better man may I render it; yea and with thee would I abide: but now in this [deletion] presence give us surely to hold us safe against all men, and to sustain our right in thine house; in such wise that if any of us will demand aught of thee, of thee he shall have right: and if any of us have any quarrel

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Banin rendereth the tower

in any matter against any of thy household thou shalt do us right herein.”
So this covenant the said King Claudas agreed to hold, & let bear forth the holy things, and swore oath to them at the foot of the tower.”
Then went they forth therefrom, and King Claudas set a garison [sic] therein; and he hounoured Banin much, and was glad at heart for the great prowess he had seen in him.
The third day after these things came the seneschal and prayed for the fulfillment of his covenant, and Claudas said that he would grant it willingly: but ever he drew out speech thereover: and the word hereabout spread abroad in such wise that Banin knew somewhat thereof; and he came to Claudas, and spake this:
[“]SIR, I am fain that all thy barons know that I rendered myself to thee because thou heldest me assured of my rights in all matters I would have of thee, and that they of thine house of whom I should demand aught should do me right.”
Then said Claudas that so it was.
“Sir,” said Banin, “I will that thou sustain my right against this seneschal here, as against him who is traitor and perjured toward God and his liege-lord: and if he will deny the same I am ready to prove it on his body on such day as thou wilt.”
“Hearken seneschal,” said Claudas, “what this Knight saith of thee![deletion of quotation mark] I wrought much for the love of thee, and exalted thee according to my might, and now thou wouldst be traitor to me.[”]
“Sir,” said the seneschal, there is no Knight so good nor of such price that shall dare say I am traitor against any man, but I will defend me against him.
“Sire, hold my gage,” said Banin, “I will prove it on his body that I have both heard and seen the treason

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Claudas mocketh the Seneschal

which he hath done against his liege-lord.”
Now much was Claudas pleasured hereat, and was exceeding joyous if he might but find occasion whereby the seneschal should {missing verb} the thing he had promised him: so he asked him what he would do.
“Sir,” said he, “counsel me thyself; for this man hateth me not nor appealeth me of treason saving for thy sake.”
Said Claudas: [“] Since thou art hated defend thyself surely; for thou art no worser fashioned of body than Banin, and if he had appealed me as he hath thee, I should hold me blamed and shamed but if I defended me thereo: and know that thou hast but to do with the man, body to body, and he with thee in likeways: but and if thou wilt not defend thyself against him, then shalt thou seem to be such a man as feeleth himself to be guilty of treason.
And so much said Claudas that both the twain gave their gages into his hand: then he called the seneschal to him and said: “Seneschal, hitherto I have held thee for a full loyal man, and the King Ban thy lord held thee in likewise: Lo now I give thee the Kingdom of Benwyk, the rents thereof and all that cometh of it, save only the strong places which I will give to no man living: wherefore if thou art able to defend thee against Banin then do me fealty and homage for them; but if thous be a-tainted of the treason that he layeth to thy charge, to him will I deliver and give the said lands, so he become my man, and be loyal to me.”
Thus Claudas give the Kingdom of Benwyk to the seneschal, because he would not be forsworn of the oath which he had made; but he thought well that the seneschal would not long be lord of that land: for Banin was of great prowess, fulfilled of loyalty and well skilled in war[.]

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Banin slayeth the traitor

            So on the third day thence was done the battle between the two champions in the meadow of Benwyk midmost between Loire and Arsie; and there Banin smote the head from off the seneschal: whereon Claudas offered him the land of Benwyk to hold of him in homage: but Banin said: “Sir, I accorded to dwell with thee so I were free to do as I would, and now so my heart giveth me that I would depart presently: wherefore I require thee in presence of all these thy lords to give me leave: for thanked be God, I have accomplished that for which I abided with thee: and know for sure that God hath made no land so rich that I would have it or take it at thy hands.” Therewith departed Banin; but Claudas was heavy of heart, and did all his pains to keep him; for never had he seen a Knight whom his heart deemed of greater prowess or loyalty than he.
But now in this place no more speaketh the tale of Banin nor of Claudas nor his company, but returneth to King Ban.
€ How the King Ban died of grief when he saw his castle blaze and burn up, and how the Lady of the Lake bore away his son Lancelot

            NOW as King Ban abode on the hill to behold his castle that he loved the day began to dawn, and he looked and beheld the walls a-whitening, and the high tower and the fair baily round about: [space] But not long had he looked ere he saw an exceeding great smoke, and a little after the flames leaped out everywhere: and then in short space he saw the rich halls tumble to earth, and the churches and steeples melt away; and ever the flame flew from place to place, and the air was red and wrapt with fire, and the earth shone all round about.
Thus the King beheld his castle a burning which he loved more than any other, for his hope of the recoverance of his

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King Ban swooneth

lands lay in that castle. And when he saw that he had no more any earth dwelling on earth to turn to, and he felt that he was old and a weary, and his son was such that he might not help nor deliver, and his wife—young she was and good toward God and toward the world, and come withal of the high lineage of David—then great pity him seemed of all these things; whereas his son must needs grow up in poverty and great misery, and his wife be in danger of other men, and he himself old and sore grieving must wear away the remnant of his life.
All these things did King Ban call to mind and lay before him, whereof so great a grief pierced him that his tears were stayed and his heart swelled in his bosom, and therewith he swooned and fell in that swooning to the earth beneath his palfrey[’]s feet so heavily that marvel it was his neck brake not; and the blood ran from his mouth and his nose and both his ears.
A great while lay King Ban in such wise, and when he came to himself he spake as he might, and looking up to the heavens he said: “GOOD Lord God full surely I give thee thanks whereas it pleaseth thee that I finish my life in poverty, for thou camest down to earth to suffer death as one poor and miserable: Lord, whereas I might not abide on the earth without sinning I cry mercy of thee therefor; for well wot I that I draw toward mine end. O Lord and father, who wentest about to redeem us with thy blood, destroy not that spirit within me that whi within me thou didst set! But on this last day when mine end is made ready receive me as him who lamenteth the weight of his sins, so marvellous many that I may not tell over the sum of them: and if my flesh have misdone on earth, where none may be without sin, take vengeance of it, O Lord in such wise that my soul be not tormented when the flesh is past away; but rather let it dwell at some time in the company of them that dwell amid the everlasting light of thy joyous house!

[f. 18]


King Ban departeth

Lord God of pity take pity of Helen my wife, who is come of the high lineage that thou thyself didst set up on a throne of all adventure to exalt thy name thereby and the glory of thy faith: Lord counsel her left void of counsel, who is come of such high lineage, and hath loved ever to hold thy faith and thy commandments: have memory also, Lord of my poor little son who is poor and orphaned; for in thine hand and of thine aid are all poor folk.”
When the King had said these words he looked up to the heavens, and beat his breast, bewailing his sins before the sight of our Lord God: then he plucked up three handfuls of grass in the name of the Holy Trinity, and made therewith the token of the Holy Faith.
Then swelled the heart within him, and so great dole he had for his wife and his son, that all speech failed him, and the eyes were troubled in the head of him, and he fell to earth so heavily the this heart-strings cracked, and his heart brake within his bosom, and he lay void of life on the earth, his arms stretched out as a cross, his eyes meeting the heavens, and his head turned toward the east.
But his horse, all a feared at the fall of him turned about and fled down the hill toward the other horses.
WHOM, when the Queen saw she cried on the varlet to take him, so he set the child on the earth, and going to take the horse, came to the hill-top, and found the King even as ye heard: and when he saw him lying dead he cast forth so great a cry, that the Queen left the child lying on the earth among the feet of the heroes and ran a foot up the hill, and found the varlet cast down upon the King, making such moan as more might not be: and when she saw her lord dead she swooned on the body of him.
But when she came to herself she bemoaned those so great griefs of hers, tearing her hair which was long and lovely: and she rent her raiment and tore her face, for as fair and pleasant as it was, till the blood ran down her face cheeks; and she bewailed the great prowess of her lord and all his kindness,

[f. 19]

Lancelot in the arms of the Lady

crying so loud that the hill and the lake, yea all that great valley rang again.
So sore and long she bewailed herself that she could no more, and words failed her for the great grief that tore her heart: oftentimes and long she swooned, and when she came to herself she lamented and sorrowed and would nought save death.
But when she had abided long in this plight she called to mind her son, and had no ^hope of  comfort save in him; and for the great fear she had lest the horses had slain and destroyed him she cast forth a cry as great as might be, and ran down the hill like a woman demented, and thither whereas she had left her son: but so distraut she was by great grief and fear lest he were dead, that she swooned or ever she was come down; and when she came to herself she wept and lamented piteously, and then ran down right hastily: but when she came anigh the horses, which were by the lake-side, she saw her son gone from the cradle: but to a damsel holding him all naked in her bosom, and clipping and embracing him full sweetly between her two paps; and often she kissed him his eyes and his mouth, for he was one of the fairest children of the world.
Then said the Queen to the damsel: “Fair sweet friend, for God’s sake leave me my child, for enough have already of grief and mis-ease: but he hath fallen into great poverty and misery, and hath lost all joy: for his father is even now dead, and his lands he hath lost, which were no wise little if God had but kept them for him.[”]
But for nought that the Queen said did the damsel answer her ever a word: but when she saw her drawing nigh she lifted the child aloft, and went straightly to the lake, and set her feet together and cast herself therein: but the Queen seeing the child in the lake swooned straightway, and when she came to herself she saw neither child nor damsel. And then began sorrow so great that none bitterer might be, and the lady had cast herself into the lake but for

[f. 20]

~ a squire chaplain knows the Queen

the varlet’s holding of her back, who had left the King on the hill and was come to comfort her because of the great fear he had lest she should fall into despair[.]

                                                                        [blind emboss near top right of page]

€ how Queen Helen after the King was dead and she had lost her son became a religious in the Abbey of the Minster Royal

            NOW while things went thus with the Queen there came thereby an abbess with three nuns in her company, and her chaplain and two esquires: she heard the sore wailing of the Queen and had much pity of her, and turned thitherward, and saluted the Queen, and bade God give her joy.
“Certes,” said the Queen, “that were a great deed to do, for I am the most forlorn woman alive, who have lost this morning all honours, and all joys that I once had abundantly.”
“Lady,” said the Abbess, who beheld well the great beauty that was in her, “what art thou?[”]
[“] So may God help me,” said she, “it availeth thee little who I be, that have lived overlong.”
Then the chaplain looked on her, and said to the Abbess: “Dame, a-God’s name trow me never again but if this be my lady the Queen.”
Then fell the Abbess aweeping full tenderly, and said: “A God’s name, madam, tell me if thou be my lady the Queen?”
But at that word the Queen fell a swooning; and when she was amended the Abbess said: “For God’s love, madam, hide not thyself from me, for I know surely that thou art my lady the Queen.[”]
“God help me,” she said, “fully surely I am the Queen of Many Dolours.”
And because of this name that she gave herself is this beginning of the tale called the Tale of the Queen of Many Dolours. But she said to the Abbess: “Whosoever I be I pray thee

[f. 21]

the Queen would be made a nun

make me a nun among you: for nought else in the world do I desire.”
“Right willing lady,” said the Abbess, “but in God’s name tell me of thy mishap, for surely I am ill at ease till I know thereof.”
Then the Queen told all her grief from point to point, and how her lord lay dead on the hill-top, and of how she had lost her son, who was so sweet and lovely: then asked the Abbess for what cause her lord was dead, but she could neither say nor recount for why.
“Lady,” said the Abbess, “I deem well that it was because of his castle of Tribel, which is burnt up and destroyed.”
“Yea, and is it burnt?” said the Queen.
“Yea certes,” said the Abbess, “and I deemed indeed that ye had wotted well thereof.”
“Nay,” she said, “so may God give me a ease! # alas I know not what shall befal when the fairest place and the pleasantest of all the land is burnt and destroyed: surely I wot well that no other grief or ill brought him to his death: and so it is that I have no longer will to dwell in the world: henceforth would I live lonesome, and wear away the remnant of my days in the service of God. And moreover I pray you heartily to pleasure me, and to take all my wealth that here is, gold and vessel, and jewels, and to build here a little minster wherein folk shall sing perpetually for the soul of my lord.”
“Dame,” said the Abbess, “ye know not belike that it is a full weighty matter to enter religion; for therein are all toils of the body, and all perils of the soul: but come thou into our abbey, and be lady and mistress there, as ye ought to be: for the forefathers of my lord the King did establish the house even as it now is.[”]
“Dame,” said the Queen, I pray and require thee for the love of God make me a nun; for certainly I will no more of the world; nor will the world more of me: and if thou wilt not grant me this, then will I flee through this forest as one wild, forlorn, and demented.”

[f. 22]

the building of the Minster Royal

            “Dame,” said the Abbess, “since this is thine entent God be praised and blessed therefore; glad at heart we ought to be when God hath given us the fellowship of so high a lady and so good.”
So there without more ado were polled and cut the fair tresses of the Queen, and afterward was a cloth brought thither, and she was veiled.
But when her squire saw her veiled he said that for nought would he return into the world, since his lady was gone out of it; but he would be more content to wear away his life in religion than to be among the vanities of the world; saying to himself that the delights and pleasures of this world are often the cause of perdition and damnation of souls: so there he gave himself to enter religion hoping to gain things spiritual in the stead of things temporal: and they clad him in due wise or ever he departed thence.
Then they took the body of the King, and bore it into the abbey, which was no great way off: and they did a solemn service in such wise as befitteth a King; and the body was kept and guarded there until such time as a minster was made and built on the place whereas he died.
But the Queen dwelt in the abbey, and made many prayers and oraisons for her lord.
So the Abbess let raise a fair minster on the self-same place whereas the King had died, a minster most excellent of fashion, and that before a year was fully overpassed; and when it was dedicated the King was borne thither, and thither came the Queen with two nuns besides; and two chaplains were there and three brethren; and they did such service there as was pleasure to hearken.
Every day it was the wont of the Queen, so soon as she had heard mass sung for the King, to go down from the mountain, and come to the lake where she had lost her son: and when she was come there ever would she read he[r] psalter, and do what she knew of God’s service, and would weep and lament very tenderly. And so in these little devotions and prayers she abode a long space, leading a lonesome life.
But the matter was known and made

[f. 23]

King Bors of Banys dieth

common throughout all the land that the Queen of Benwyk was become nun in that place called the Minster Royal: and in a little while much was the place increased and augmented, and many gentle ladies of the land of Benwyk entered thereinto, what for the love of God, what for the love of the Queen.
But here leaveth the tale to tell of the Queen and her company, and returneth to King Claudas of the Wast Land.

€ How the King of Ganys died, and how the Queen his wife for fear of Claudas departed from her castle to go to the minster royal, where her sister was abiding in religion; and how on the way thither her two children Lyonel and Bors were taken away from her.

            SO much wrought Claudas that he got to him all the land of Benwyk and of Ganys: for after the death of King Ban was known King Bors made such dole for nine days space, that, what with that, what with heavy sickness that lay upon him, he verily died; and folk deemed that he died of the grief he had for his brother rather than from his own sickness[.]
Two children he had, so fair and goodly that it was marvel of them, of whom one had to name Lyonel, and the other Bors; and they were young of years; for Lyonel was but of ten years and four months, and Bors but nine years.
In the land of Ganys was great plenty of good men and loyal Knights, who held that land against King Claudas as long as they might; and the Queen, the wife of King Bors was led into a castle exceeding strong named Mount-clear, which was of her dower: but when King Claudas had gotten all the country he came and laid siege to the castle aforesaid: but the Queen was not of advice to abide him, because of the fear she had to be shamed if she were taken perforce: so she fled from the castle with her two children, and passed over a river that ran below the castle, and entered into a forest on the other side of that river: there she took horse, and went with but few folk with

[f. 24]

Farien meeteth the Queen

to make no stay in her journey till she came to the minster where her sister the Queen of Benwyk was entered into religion: so she went with her two children till she came into an exceeding fair land, wherein befel her great ill hap: I shall show you how.
TRUE it is, that King Bors yet being alive disinherited a Knight of the kingdom of Ganys for the slaying of a Knight: for the King was he of all the world that held the highest justice, but if it were King Ban his brother. Now this Knight who had been disinherited for the slaying came to Claudas as one knowing all the counsel and might of the two brethren: Claudas made him semblance of great love, and made him great and of high place, and delivered to him certain of his folk to go whithersoever he would: and the Knight did great pain to serve him.
Now it befell that the same day whereon the Queen was on her way to the minster of her sister, in the self-same forest where-through she was passing was King Claudas a-hunting of the boar, and the Knight disinherited was with him: the said Knight came on the Queen and her children a-passing through a thicket, and when he drew night her he knew her, and caught hold of her bridle: who, when she saw herself taken fell a weeping and lamenting very tenderly: but he let take the two children, who were in two cradles on a sumpter-horse, and bring them to the place where he had left his lord.
No need to ask if the Queen lamented, for none may devise of bitterer grief than she made, and full oft she fell fainting, that it was great pity to behold her.
But when the Knight saw her so sorrowful he had pity of her and said: “Dame ye have done me sore wrong and so hath the King that dead is; but my heart will not suffer me to cast thee into misery: for one service didst thou to me, which shall now stand thee in stead:

[f. 25]

the Queen is led out of the forest

whereas thou didst gain me respite, and wert heavy of my disinheriting: and now will I render thee guerdon therefor: for I will bring thee out of this forest: but my little lords here shalt thou leave with me, and I will guard them and nourish them till they grow great: and if ever they may recover their land, a God’s name so be it! Hereby thou shalt not fall into the hands of King Claudas of the Waste Land.”
When the Queen heard him she knew not what to do or deem: saying within herself that if she left the children she should see them never again; and on the other hand if she fell into the hands of her mortal foe she should have enow of shame and grief: whereon she deemed it better to take the lesser evil of the twain, and determined to leave the children in the keeping of our Lord God: wherefore she said to the Knight that she would leave the children in God’s keeping and his, and prayed him to guard them as he ought, and to lead her out of the wood, and put her in safe-guard.
Then the Knight took the two children, and delivered them to such as most he h trusted, and led the Lady out of the forest till she came to an abbey of monks; therein he set her, and said: “Lady, abide here the coming of a messenger I shall send thee, who shall tell thee when King Claudas is gone.”
And when she heard that word she fell at his feet weeping full tenderly, praying and beseeching him for the love of God to have pity of those children, and for no covetise to deliver them into the hands of their mortal foe: and he said on his oath that they should have no harm so far as his might went.
Therewith he departed, and when he came to King Claudas he found the boar slain; and even therewith came tidings of the taking of Mount-clear; whereof was Claudas exceeding joyous, and gat to horse and rode to the castle, and found that it was rendered to his folk; for since the Queen was gone they had no heart to keep it. But when he found not the Queen

[f. 26]

the two Queens meet at the minster

and the two children he was exceeding wroth: notwithstanding he took the castle to him, and in such wise held the two realms. But here leaveth the tale to tell of Claudas, and returneth to Queen Helen wife of King Ban.

€ How the Queen of Ganys her lord being dead and her children lost became a religious in the abbey wherein was her sister the Queen of Benwyk.

SO when the disinherited Knight heard how Mountclear was taken, and saw Claudas depart thitherward he took to him a squire, his nephew to wit, and sent him to the Queen, and bade him lead her to the minster where her sister abode: which thing his said nephew did diligently and with a good heart, and led the Queen to the minster where was her sister: No need to ask when they twain saw each other if either of them made enow of sorrow and joy, for so much they made as mouth of man may tell of: dole they had to see each other disinherited and exiled, who were wont to be honoured, and of great price and of mighty power: and yet on the other hand great joy they had to see each the other: but they thought to wear away the remnant of their lives thenceforward weeping and lamenting, and making mean of their great and piteous losses; and in praising of our Lord God, in whom alone they had comfort. But after they had talked enow of their disinheriting, and of the loss of their lords, then said the wife of King Ban:
“Ah! of my son, fair sister, who was the very rose of all entants, and of thine, what tidings shall be, where are they?”
Thereon swooned also, whereof all they who were thereby had great dole. But when the Queen of Ganys came to herself she fell to telling her sister how she had lost her two children.
“Woe worth the while!” said she of Benwyk, now are we both childless.”
And therewithal she fell to telling the tale of how her lord died, and how she had lost Lancelot her son

[f. 27]

Of the Lady of the Lake

when that damsel had cast herself into the lake.
Great was the mourning of the two sisters for the losses they had had, and but they were together bitterer had been their grief, but whereas they were in company somewhat their anguish was moderated and amended.
But now came the abbess thereto, and let poll the Queen of Ganys; for great fear she had of the disloyalty of Claudas; but after they were polled and veiled she had no longer fear of him: but of them for this present no more.
FOR the damsel that had borne Lancelot into the lake was a fay: but in that day were all they called fays who intermeddled with enchantments and charms; and for the more part they abode in Britain the Great: and they knew the might and virtue of words, of stones also, and of herbs; whereby they sustained them in their youth and beauty, and in great riches even as they would: and all this was done in the days of Merlin, the prophet of the English who knew all such wisdom as might from devils be drawn forth: wherefore he was so redoubted of the Britons and so honoured withal, that all the  highest ones called him the Holy Prophet, and the common folk held him for their God.
She of whom the tale now telleth had learned of Merlin all she knew of necromancy.
But this Merlin aforesaid was a man engendered of a woman by a devil, and he was called the Child without Father: of whom as saith the tale of these histories, the [deletion] generation was on this wise.

€  How Merlin was engendered of a devil, and how he was smitten by love for the Lady of the Lake.

            IN the marches of Scotland and Ireland was whileom [sic] a damsel of great beauty the daughter of a vavasor not right wealthy: this damsel was of age to marry, but she said to her father and mother that she would not marry, for that verily her mind was to wed no man she had ever beheld, for her heart might not suffer nor endure it. Then strove

[f. 28]

of the mother of Merlin

her father and mother if they might not bring her out of this mind, but by no manner they might: an she said to them that if they enforced her hereto, as soon as it befel she should die or go out of her wit.
Then her mother asked of her privily as her very mother if she would always keep her carnal body from man: and she said nay, not so if she might have the fellowship of such a man as she loved exceedingly; for her will was good thereto, but her heart might not suffer it.
Now they had no child save her, and they loved her as it behoveth folk to love their only child, and were loath to put in adventure the losing of her: so they bore with her long, and waited if perchance that will of hers might change: but meanwhile died her father, after whose death the mother bade the damsel take a husband, but she would not: for in nowise might she bring her mind to take any man whom she had beheld.
So such was the strife betwixt them that she might not endure to se any man; but to feel without seeing, that might she lightly.
So if befel that a devil came to the damsel in her bed when the night was dark, and fell a praying her sweetly, and promised that she should never see him: then she asked who he was: said he: “I am a man of a strange land, and whereas thou wilt nought of a man whom thou mayst see therefore am I come to thee; for I also may see no woman with whom I lie.”
The damsel touched him, and felt that he was goodly shapen of body-- notwithstanding, the devils have no bodies nor members that we may see or touch them: for things spiritual may not be touched, and all devils are things spiritual: but whiles the devils may shape and take them a body of air, which seemth to such as behold it a form of flesh and bone--[.]
So when she felt the body of this devil, the arms and the hands thereof, her deeming it was, so far as she might know by feeling, that it was well shapen of fairness: so she loved him much, and did and accomplished his will, and concealed the same
[f. 29]

Of Merlin’s birth and how he fell in love

diligently from her mother and all others.
BUT when she had led this life for five months space she began to grow big, and when she was delivered all the people marveled, because none knew aught of the father, neither would she tell thereof.
But the child was a man-child and had to name Merlin, for even so had commanded the devil when it was born: nor was it ever christened: and when he came to the age of twelve years he was brought to Utherpendragon.
And so after that the Duke of Tintagel was slain by the treason of Utherpendragon and Merlin for the sake of Egerver the duchess, whom Utherpendragon loved, Merlin went and took council with himself in the deep forests dark and ancient.
He was of the nature of his father, guileful and disloyal, knowing all wrongfulness that the heart can know.
Now there was in the marches of little Britain a damsel of exceeding great beauty named Vivien, and Merlin fell to loving her, and would oft be coming and going whereas she was both night and day: but she, who was exceeding wise and courteous kept her much from him, till on a day she required and conjured him to say what he was; and the very truth he told her: then the damsel promised to do that he would, if so be he would first of all teach her somewhat of his wisdom and knowledge: and he, that loved her so that more no mortal heart might love, promised and swore to learn her all she bade.
“Now,” quoth she, “I would have thee learn me how and in what wise I may make a place fast with mighty spells, and shut therein what I would, so that none may come in nor go out thence: learn me also how I may make to sleep without awaking or ever that which I would.”
“Wherefore”, said Merlin, “wouldst thou this knowledge?”
She said: [“]Because if my father know that thou lie with me he would slay me forthright: but sure should I be of him
[f. 30]

Merlin sent to sleep by enchantments

were I to make him sleep thus: but look to it,” quoth she, “that thou teach me no lying love herein, for wot ye well that so ye shall never have my love nor fellowship.”
So Merlin showed and learned her both the one thing and the other, and the damsel wrote the words on parchment: then she wrought the spell on him ever whenso he came in unto her, so that she straightly cast him into slumber: on her two paps moreover she set two words of wizardry, such that so long as they abode there no man might deflower her or have to do with her carnally.
And she might beguile him thus because he was a mortal man: for if he had been wholly a devil never might she have so beguiled him, for a devil may not sleep ever.
In the end she learned of him so many marvels, that on a time she left him asleep in a cavern of the Forest Perillous of Darnantes, which marches on the sea of Cornwall and the sea of Sorelleys; and there in such wise he abode; and that place was all beset with fays because of the spells wrought there: and Merlin was never again seen of men so that any had tidings to tell thereof[.]
BUT she who had so well cast Merlin into slumber was even the damsel that bore away Lancelot into the Lake: nor need ye ask if she held him dear whom she had gotten him: for so sweetly she nourished him that no woman soever had done it better.
The damsel abode not there alone, but had a great company of knights and dames and damsels. So was the child nourished right well, and when he was of age thereto she gave him a master to learn him what he should do: yet was there none there that knew his name saving the Damsel only: some called him the Fair Foundling, others the King’s Son; yea and she herself named him thus oft enow: but on a time she called him the Rich Orphan.
Thus was Lancelot for three years’ space well at ease
[f. 31]

Of Lancelot[’]s abode in the Lake

in the keeping of the Lady, and well he deemed that she was his mother: and he waxed more in those three years than another had done in five, and in all wise was he so goodly a child that none goodlier may be thought of.
The Lady that nourished him had no resort save in the forests. In the plain was there a mount somewhat lower than that whereon King Ban had died; and in this same place, where by seeming the wood was great and deep, had that lady very fair house full rich; and in the plain thereunder was there a gentle little river all plenteous of fishes: and so privy and hidden was the place that scantly might a man find it, for the semblance of the said lake covered it, so that it might not be seen.
So there is Lancelot in the keeping of the said Dame, where he waxed and amended marvelously: But here leaveth the Tale to tell of him, and returneth to his cousins, Lyonel and Bors, the sons of King Bors of Ganys.

How the Knight Farien, who bore away her two children from the Queen of Ganys brought them to his house, and let nourish them a certain space; and how King Claudas was amorous of the wife of the said Farien, and made him his seneschal therefore.

THE Tale tells that when the knight who bore away her two children from the Queen of Ganys was come into his country that King Claudas had given him he kept the two children in all honour and gave them all things they had need of; for he was minded but to hold them honourably till they should wax up and come to man’s estate: hoping that God would given them back their lands at the last; whereby he looked to have great honour if so be they ever came into power again. Thus he kept them in his house for three years so privily that none knew thereof save his wife only, a right fair dame,

[f. 32]

Farien would slay Claudas

and young and fair-spoken: but because of her great beauty it befel that Claudas loved her, and did so much that he gained her love; and for her love’s sake he made her husband seneschal of all his lands, increasing his estate with fair fiefs and very rich rents.
The Knight was valiant and hardy and the name of his was Farien.
But when he knew of the love betwixt his wife and King Claudas he was very heavy, for nought he loved saving the lady aforesaid: full oft he espied them, and on a day it chanced that Claudas sent him about some matter of his, and he made semblance to go, but set himself in such a place as whereby he might prove his wife; and so on a night time found Claudas with her, and thought to kill him but failed therof, for he cast himself out of the chamber by a window and escaped.
Farien knew well that it was King Claudas, whereof he was exceeding heavy because he had missed of slaying him, and had marvelous fear that the said King would undo him: so he fell to thinking how and in what wise he might save himself by guile, for by might should he do nought.
Wherefore he plucked up heart and went to King Claudas and drew him apart, and spake to him this wise:   
“Sir I am your liegeman and ought to do right to others, and they to me in likewise: now there is a knight of thine who beguileth thy ^my wife, and one time I have taken them in the deed.”
“Who is the knight?” said Claudas.
“Sir,” said he “I know not, for my wife would not name him: but so much she said to me that he was of thy knights: wherefore I prithee give me good council what I shall do if I take him[.]”
“Certes,” said the King, “I should slay him if I took him in such wise as thou hast.”

[f. 33]

Farien’s wife in prison

So Claudas deemed well that Farien knew not the sooth of his deed.
But Farien took leave of him and went back to his house and took his wife and set her in a tower in great misease alone of all company save one old woman who gave her to eat and to drink: yet never did Farien lay heavy words words on her for what she had done.
Such ills endured that dame as more she might not: but at the last she did so much that she spake a night time by the window to a cousin of hers, a squire to whom she had done many good deeds, whom she charged to go to the King and tell him that thus had her lord shut her up for love of him, and to pray him by all means to get speech of her and deliver her from her shame and grief: for that if she spake not with her presently hurt great enow he would have.
So the squire went to Claudas and did so much that he spake with him and told him what the lady had charged him withal, giving good token that she had sent him.
No long while thereafter King Claudas went a-hunting in the forest of Ganys with the mind to go see the Lady: so he took him a squire, and sent word to Farien that he would come dine in his house: which when Farien heard he made the messenger great cheer, and by seeming was joyous thereat: then he let bring the Lady from the tower and apparel her right richly and get ready victuals of all that be best; and when Claudas drew nigh he went to meet him, and made him exceeding good cheer, and led him into his house to a right great feast.

How King Claudas let appeal his Knight Farien of treason by the council of his wife, who told how he held the two children of King Bors of Ganys.

AFTER din[n]er the King sat him down and

[f. 34]

the counsel of Farien’s wife

the lady by him on a couch, and she fell bewailing her to him of the misease that Farien had made her suffer, and said to him “Sir, ye ought to take good council herein, for all these griefs have I borne for thee.”
“Of a right good will,” said Claudas, “would I find remedy herein.”
“I shall show you”, said she, “how ye may avenge me of him, yea and thyself withal, if ye love me as I have deserved it of thee.”

“Thereof be thou sure”, said Claudas, “for if I may see the occasion I swear by the word of a King I will avenge thee according to thy will.”
“Sir,” said she, “he knoweth that it was verily thou whom he found lying in my bed, but durst make no semblance of it, so much he feareth thee; and forsooth ye have good occasion to destroy him, for he hath kept for well nigh three years the two children of Bors of Ganys in a chamber ^under yonder tower till they shall have might and heart to slay thee; and since he hath so misdone against thee he hath deserved the death.”

“How,” said Claudas, [“]is this true?”

“Full surely,” said she “nor may ye have better occasion against him than this: for hereby hath he made forfeit, and deserveth to die, or to be disinherited at the least.”

“Yea so,” said the King, “leave we this as now, and make no semblance of it: or in a little while methinks I will turn myself hereto.”

Therewith the King took leave and departed thence, and went and lay that night at Ganys.

Now he had in his house a certain one, and adversary of Farien whom he hated deadly: to him came King Claudas and said that now was the hour come to avenge himself of Farien if so be he durst.

“How Sir?” said he.

“I shall show you,” said Claudas, but swear to me loyally to do by my council herein.”

So he swore.

[f. 35]                                                                                                                 

Farien appealed of treason

            “True it is,” said King Claudas, “that he holdeth the two children of King Bors in his castle, as I know by such as are most of his privity: now shalt thou appeal him before me of treason, as one, who being my man, keepeth in my despite my mortal enemies: and if by hap he durst deny the same thou shalt prove it on his body, and for reward I shall give thee the seneschalty of Ganys, to thee and thine heirs for ever.”
And so much did the King by his offers that the said Knight was content to do his commandment and was right glad of his promises and the great gifts offered him and he thanked the King full humbly, offering to accomplish all his will, and promising to do all that it pleased the King to command him.

SO wore the time that nought more was said hereof till on a day Farien would go to court, and his mind was as of a wise man who knew not what should befall him; for sorely Claudas hated him: he commanded all them that had charge of his matters that for a certain Knight, his nephew, they should do as much as for himself; for was the man of all the world whom he most trusted: and hereto he made all take oath.
Therewith he came to court, and the traitor Claudas received him with great joy.

On the morrow came the Knight who hated him, even as folk came forth from the minster, and said to the King before all them that were there:

“Sire sir, do me right of this Farien that here is, as of him who is thy traitor: for this I know surely, and if he will deny it I am ready to prove it before thee, whereas he holdeth thy mortal foes in thy despite, to wit, the two children of Bors of Ganys.”

“Hearken Farien,” quoth King Claudas, “what this Knight beareth witness against thee: certes if thou bewrayest me I am sore deceived, for ever have I honoured and advanced thee.”

“Sir,” said Farien, “thereof will I take council.[”]

“How! thou wilt take counsel,”

[f. 36]

the nephew of Farien will defend his uncle of treason

said a certain Knight who was nephew of Farien, “certes little needeth counsel herein; for what would any Knight if he be appealed of treason, who being guilty should be sent to the justice halter on neck: but and if he have good right then should he defend him to the uttermost.”

Therewith he went before King Claudas and said:

“Sir I will defend my lord and uncle in this matter.”

But his uncle stood forth and said that none other than his very self should set shield on neck herein:

“Have here,” said he, “my gage that I was never traitor against thee!”

“Knowest thou,” said King Claudas, “that thou hast the children of Bors in thy keeping?”

“Sir,” said the nephew, “if he have kept them he hath done well enough; for he is ready to prove that he hath done no treason against thee, and even as he is appealed is ready to defend him.”

“He is accused,” said King Claudas, “concerning the children of Bors, and let him deny it never so much here is one ready to prove the same.”

“Sir if he have kept them none the more hath he done treason against thee; and if there be here any knight who will prove that this be treason, for as hardy and valiant as he may be I am ready to defend it against him; for he hath never departed from the homage due to King Bors aforesaid: and though his lord were not at one with him yet ought he to guard the body of his liege-lord and of his children.”

Therewith he said to his uncle: “Go to Sire, defend thee of the treason which this Knight hath laid on thee, and I will defend it that no misdeed is the keeping of the children.”

And when he had said this word there was none durst say ought against it, and the Knight who had appealed Farien of treason held not his head so high as erst.

Then said King Claudas

[f. 37]

Farien slayeth the Knight Apellant [sic]

to the said appellant: “How answerest thou nought?’

So when he saw his lord’s pleasure he gave his gage for the maintaining of the treason, and on the other part Farien for the denying thereof: then they went to arm them, and Farien called his nephew and said to him: “Fair nephew, go to my castle and whatso may befall, take my two lords and lead them without stop or stay to the Minster Royal, wherein is my lady, and deliver them to her, for I can keep them no longer because of this traitor.”

Therewith departed the said nephew, and came to the castle and took the children, and did as he was commanded.

Meanwhile Farien did battle in such wise that he slew the Knight aforesaid before King Claudas: and therewith came tidings to King Claudas that the said nephew of Farien had departed, and how that he had lost the children, whereof he was sore displeased.

So he sent for Farien and made him full good cheer, and said at the last; “Farien render up to me the children; for I will swear by the Holy Things to guard them, and when they are of age to be knights I will render to them their heritage: and if I die I will let deliver the children into thine hands, and thou shalt have ward of them, and of the land of Ganys and of Benwyk withal even as it ought to appertain to them: for I have heard say that the son of King Ban is even now dead, and grieved I am thereat: but as for me I am of such age that above all things it behoveth me to think of the saving of my soul.

Now the cause why I disinherited their father was that he would in nowise be my man, no not when he had lost all aid of his own lord.
Then let King Claudas bear in the Holy Things, and made oath on them before the barons that the children should never have harm of him, and moreover that he would guard their land well and loyally till they came

[f. 38]

Claudas getteth to him those two children

of age: and Farien trowed in him because of his oath: so he gat to horse and went on the spur where he knew he should find his nephew, and found him, and brought back the children: and when King Claudas saw them he made great joy of them, and much did folk behold them, for they were marvellous fair.

So he commended them to the ward of Farien and his nephew: but no long time after he let bring them to the tower of Ganys; for he said that they were overyoung to ride, and he would hold them there in safeguard.

Thus are Lyonel and Bors in prison in the tower of Ganys and their masters with them: but Claudas made them fair semblance of love, and bade that they should have whatso victual they would: But here leaveth the tale to tell of them, and returneth to speak of Claudas.

THUS held King Claudas the kingdom of Ganys and of Benwyk also with none to gainsay him, and much was he redoubted of his neighbours and of other folk: no children had he save one son only hight Dorin, exceeding fair and gentle of the age of fifteen years or thereabout: so proud and hardy and eager was this Dorin that his father would not have him be made Knight: for he was afeared lest he should cast himself away in battle so soon as he had might thereto: yea and so open a hand had he that nought would abide with him: but Claudas was the most griping and greedy lord of the world, nor would he give aught save when he had great need of folk: Great and grand enow was the fashion of him; for, as tells the late [tale], he was nine feet of height of such feet as then were: his visage was big and black, his eyebrows bushy and his eyes great and black and set wide apart one from other: his nose big and upturned; his beard red, but his hair neither red nor black but intermeddled of either: his neck thick and his mouth big, his teeth

[f. 39]

the conditions of King Claudas

clear and white: his shoulders and his feet and all the remnant of his body so well fashioned that better might not be.

As to his conditions they were both good and evil; great love he had for such an one as was a poor man but a good knight, and scarce by his deeming might a rich man be a good knight: he hated them who were of more might than he, but loved them whom he overpassed, and if so be they desired to grow a little greater with a good will he would help them: yet did he not much good to poor folk: he would arise betimes in the morning and eat; he played not at tables nor chess, nor other games save but very little: he went of good will to the woods for two or three days together, but in no stately wise: lightly he made no covenant, and of the found occasion for fraud and guile.

Never had he loved woman save once; and when men asked him why he had left loving, he said that he desired to live long, and that no man might live long who loved par amours: for the heart of such a knight as loveth perfectly should be tender concerning one matter only, but therein to surpass all matters earthy: nor is there any body of mortal man which may endure to suffer that what the heart may conceive and undertake it should not in like manner bring to pass: “But,” said he, “if it were so that the might of the body could accomplish the uttermost of the heart’s desire, then would I love par amours all my life long, and overpass herein all the best in all prowess which may abide in body of Knight: for none may be excellent in deeds of love but if he love full loyally, and so much I know my heart, that I should love loyally above all that loyal are.”

So spake Claudas to men privily, and sooth he said; for he had been of marvellous prowess in love, and had had the praise and prize of Knighthood in many

[f. 40]

Claudas will go see King Arthur

a land.

Rivers he loved over all places, and falcons better than hounds: never rod he but on great destrier save when he rode long journeys, and then would he ever have a great destrier led, were it in peace or in war.
NOW when he had held the two kingdoms two years or more he turned in his mind a deed of high prowess, but no counsel he took therein save of his own heart; saying unto himself: [“]Full of riches and might am I and redoubted of much Folk; for King Arthur himself durst not rebel against me, though these two years I hold two kingdoms of his fiefs; wherefore well I wot that I am redoubted of other princes, since King Arthur feareth and doubeth me: so I have it in my heart to wage him war, for I shall not hold me for as doughty [g corrected from h] as I should be if I make him not hold all his lands of me: and now since he is of all folk holden so doughty, I would know beforehand if he be of so high a price as folk say, and gladly would I see somewhat of his estate; and if he be such as I should assail in war, then will I assail him presently: but if I see that I am not able to over come him, then shall my idle imagining have gone so far: for better it were to have had but a vain thought than to have bestirred me to set forward a vain deed.”

So thought and spake Claudas to himself, and therewith came to an uncle of his to tell him of his thought and entent, but first he made him swear on all holy things to discover nought of it, and then he said:

[“]Fair uncle, I would go to the house of King Arthur to espy if perchance he may be overcome; and if he be such that man may do it by me should it be done: but if I see that it would be vain to take it in hand then will I leave it even so: all my lands will I leave in thy safe-guard, for I will not that my son hold them till{?} the hour wherein ye know that I be dead: and

[f. 41]

the liegemen swear to do Claudas’ will

if it fall out that I come not back in a year’s space then may ye even deem me dead, and invest him with my lands in all surety and make my men swear troth to him.”

Then he let summon the liegemen of all the three kingdoms and said to them: “Lords, and my liegemen I go a pilgrimage so privily that there will none ago with me saving one squire: wherefore I will that ye do as much for this mind uncle as ye would for me until a year is worn: and if I return not in a year’s space then deem me dead: then do ye of the Waste Land ^& of Berry invest my son therewith and hold him for Lord thereof: but ye of the lands of Benwyk and Ganys shall give back to the sons of King Bors the lands that appertain to them, the land that I have conquered to wit: for I have heard say that the son of King Ban of Benwyk is dead along with his father: but I would not peril my soul after my death by the disinheriting of another: my son will have enow if he be valiant, and if he be ill nought will do well in his hands: but I will not that he be seized of one foot of ground before a year be worn away, and if he will otherwise ye shall swear to me beforehand that ye will do as I devise.”

So his uncle swore first, a man valiant and loyal, who had to name Patrice: lord he was of the castle of Charrow, and of another castle hight Dun: but as time wore the son of this Patrice, a man mighty & valiant, let call it Essudun, deeming the name thereo too little for a castle so good and abundant: so of this land was Patrice lord in his day: but when he had made oath, all the others swore after him.

Four days thereafter Claudas gat him to the business, taking with him a sergeant of his, an exceeding wise man, and mighty of his body, and of all other deeds.

€  How King Claudas in fashion of a strange Knight

[f. 42]

Claudas cometh to King Arthur’s house.

departed from the Kingdom of Ganys to go into Britain the Great, that he might espy in the court of King Arthur his might and demeanour.

            SO far rode Claudas that he came into Britain the Great, and found the King in his city of Logres, waging war against diverse of his barons; nor long had he been King: he had newly, for the space of about seven months to wit, been wedded to Queen Guenevere, who was the Fairest lady told of in the Kingdom of King Arthur: nor had she any to compare with her saving two, of whom one had to name Helain the Peerless dame of a castle called Garesolt of the marches of North Wales, and the other Armida or otherwise Eliabel: daughter she was of the Maimed King hight Pelleas, who was father also of Percival, him who saw openly the great marvels of the Holy Grail, and accomplished the Siege Perilous of the Table Round, and brought to an end the adventures of the Kingdom Adventurous, that is to say the Kingdom of Logres. But of great beauty was Queen Guenevere, nor might aught be higher than her glory and loveliness: for all ladies was she the wisest and most valiant: and therewith had God given her such grace, that never was any so loved and prized of all those that then were.

In those days had King Arthur war with King Lyon of Ireland, and King Anguish of Scotland his cousin, and with the King of the Outer Marches of Gaulonne moreover, and many other of his barons: and all these he overcame by the help of our Lord God, who aided him in many a place by means of the valiant men of all Christian lands, who came to his aid for the great valiancy that was in him: yea also many knights of heathen lands came to serve him, and many were christened for love of his valor, who were afterward of high prowess in his house.

So in such wise was King Claudas in the house of King Arthur from Mid-august to the end of May in fashion                                                                                                                             

[f. 43]

Claudas asketh rede of his squire

of a stranger man at arms, and regarded the joy of the King, his largess and his kindness, his great wit his beauty and his prowess: and he beheld all the might of his heart and of his body so that no man of whom he had ever heard tell might he hold of such account.        
Therewith departed Claudas, he and his squire; but or ever he crossed the sea he would prove his squire herein, whom he had found valiant in many a place and goal at need: so he said to him: “I have done thee much good, and have found thee valiant and loyal in many wise, and now conjure thee by the faith thou owest me to counsel me loyally in a matter whereo I will speak.”

“So will I,” said he, “if so be I know I how.”

“Hearken then,” said King CLaudas, thou wottest ^not wherefore I came to the house of King Arthur, nor have I told it to thee or any other, but now I will tell it: Methought on a day how I was one of the mightiest of the world, and that if I might have the Kingdom of Logres and over come King Arthur in war I should be the most redoubted King that ever was, and might conquer so much that I might be the lord of all the world: Now thou art so wise and full of wit, that thou wottest well if I may have any avail of my intent; wherefore tell me the uttermost of thy deeming herein.”

“Sir,” said he, “lightly may one wot hereof, for my deeming it is that he who would vanquish and overcome King Arthur must overpass all in all measure of valour: for I deem not that God hath made such a man to be shamed or abashed, but rather to overcome all folk: these by the prowess of his heart and his high fellowship, these by his largess and kindness: for well wot we that he hath marvellous riches of lands; he hath in his house the flower of all the chivalry of the world: he is so fair a knight as none may better be: he is so full of high prowess and great wit that he overpasseth all knights, be they of his own house or strangers: he is so bountiful and free

[f. 44]

the squire answereth Claudas

that heart of man may not think on that he expendeth; he is so kind and full of good fellowship, that to high folk he ceaseth never to make great joy, and to poor folk great honour, and great gifts he giveth them: so knoweth he to gain the hearts both of rich and poor: for he entertaineth the rich for their fellowship, and the poor for the prowess that is in them, and for the increase of valour and love toward God and Heaven: yea and even if he were of ill conditions and full of great cowardice I see none the more how man might vanquish and overcome him, such will he hath to cherish valiant men about him: and it must needs be that whoso thinketh to disinherit him should be a richer man than he, and have great plenty of better knights in his host: But forsooth I deem not that there be lord in the the world of better conditions than King Arthur, or better furnished of good knights, wherefore it is not my deeming that he may by man be disinherited, neither hath God made such a man to forget him.

And as for me, I know no man, let him be my very worldly friend, let him have done me never so much good, but if he had will and might to disinherit him, and I to keep him, I would keep him to my might, and then get me to my penitence.”

[“]How![”] said King Claudas, “wouldst thou aid him against me, thy liege lord, who hath made thee rich and honoured in thy service.”
“Sir,” said he, “if thou wert warred on wrongfully I would aid thee to the death; but if ye had the will and might to disinherit him, and I might keep him therefrom so would I.”

“Then,” said Claudas, “thou wouldst be right disloyal and traitrous, being my liegeman to help another against me, as well thou wottest.”
“Sir,” said he, “I should be neither traitrous nor disloyal; for, so going against thee I should cast away thine homage to keep the whole world from dole and poverty, and to hold all knight-hood in it high and noble estate: for if that one                                                                                                                       

[f. 45]

the squire defieth Claudas

man only die I see not how knighthood may uphold itself: better that thou wert dead, or being but one man, fallen short of thine evil will, than that all the world should turn to harm and dole.

Yea, as well might all the world be dead as he disinherited who enforceth himself to uphold all the world in triumph and honour.
And if thou or any other will say that I have spoken disloyalty or treason I am ready to defend it in whatso place ye will: for he who is called to counsel by his lord ought to say that which his heart counsels him in all loyalty: and if his lord will believe him, and taketh it well, honour he hath for his good counsel given; but if he will not believe and taketh it ill no shame he hath having so acquitted and discharged himself.”

WHEN Claudas heard the man speak so hardily he deemed right well of him: for he wotted well that he spake but of a great and high heart: but to delight himself with such words wherein he had great pleasure, he pricked him forward more and more with hard words, saying as one full of wrath, that no sooner were he in his own land but he would prove it treason on him.

“A God’s name,” said the other, who took it full despitefully, “and here I give thee back thine homage: and pray thee to give me a day in thy court whereon I may gainsay the disloyalty against any who durst prove it, be he sergent, be he knight.”

Said Claudas, “None knoweth the truth of these words as do I; and I am ready to prove it here and now against thee that it is disloyalty and treason.”

“By the Holy Rood,” said the varlet, “since ye have a mind to prove it, I will never baulk thee; let the battle be here; and whoso hath the right, God give him joy!”

And he gat his sword in his hand, and Claudas in likewise, and they were void of any armour to cover them withal: not with standing Claudas had brought good arms from Britain, but he had left them hard by, because he would come covertly into

[f. 46]

Claudas afraid of his squire

his country, and they were far from all folk.
Now Claudas who had no heart for the battle saw the other come on him with drawn sword, and he knew him valiant and hardy to the uttermost, and it repented him that he had drawn the matter on so far; yet wist he not what to do: for if he cried him mercy he doubted lest the thing should be known, and that folk who heard thereof should hold him a craven, which thing his heart abhorred: and if he left him yet in his wrath he must needs abide as the fool proven of him who had demanded his right of him at the sword’s point: on the other hand he wotted well that one or other might not depart thence without death or sore hurt if stroke were striken.

Never was King Claudas so sore afeard of death nor deemed death so nigh him.

So they drew nigh together, and Claudas abode and saw him all ready to smite; then he cried abide awhile till he spake to him, so he stayed his hand, and Claudas said:

“Good fellow, I have nourished and cherished thee, and now if I slay thee I will that thou pardon me thy death; for other folk will know nought of how we have fought this battle, fight we never so well and truly.”

Quoth the other: “Sir Claudas, Sir Claudas, more wit there is in the heart of thee, if so thou wilt, than is in any heart: and now hast thou shown me that I should not fight wrongfully: but we shall pass by the parts of Gaul, and there if thou wilt we may bring this battle to an end: or indeed if I slay thee here it should ever be imputed unto me for murder and treason, and to thee also if thou slay me.”

Claudas heard these words right joyfully, and agreed to what the other would. Then he prayed leave of Claudas, saying that on the third day thence they should array them to do battle before the King of Gaul.
“How!” said Claudas, [“]this way thou showest me I will gainsay, for in evil faith thou dost to me, leaving me in a strange land at

[f. 47]

They come back to Bourges

my utter^bitter need: for I would nowise be found in such poverty: wherefore I pray thee abide with me and serve me as thy wont is.”
But he said he would nowise serve his mortal enemy nor abide one day in his service.

“Nay but hearken,” said Claudas, “thou knowest that this battle is delayed according to covenant till we be before the city of Gaul: and when I be in arms thou wottest I may play the play well against a better man than thou, and that such an one may be weary before he put me to the utterance: but lo now I will do thee an honour great enow; for this battle I will hold well over; and wot ye well I will speak nought thereof but in game: for such an hour have I had that right gladly would I have been over the Grecian sea, and right heartily had I never have brought the speech where it was: I am ready to swear on the Holy Things at the first church we come by that all thou has said I hold in good part: and for the prowess I know in thee I will make thee constable of my house, and shall presently make thee a knight on the day of S. John: for I would not have thee lost for the best castle I have.”

So much prayed Claudas as they rode that they were come to a church which they saw by the road-side, a hermitage to wit, and there swore Claudas to hold covenant and kissed him in token thereof.

Then they rode so far on their way that they were come to Bourges, and great joy did the folk of Claudas make of him.

On the third day Patrice his uncle came to him, and told him how Dorin his son had done much evil in the land, had broken towns and driven prey, and slain and hurt men.

“Of all this,[’] quoth Claudas, “am I nought wroth; for the son of a King should not turn aside from largess he may have heart to give, since a king may not abide to be too poor to give: but such

[f. 48]

Claudas telleth of King Arthur

largess have I seen since I departed from this land, that I had not deemed there might be such in all the world: and I wot well that the greatest nobleness it is in a rich man to give bountifully without stint, and even such is the largess of King Arthur.”

Then he told his folk how he had been into Britain the Great, and wherefore: and of the joyous life of King Arthur and his wife the Queen, and of the marvel [deletion] of chivalry which was in his house.
Thereafter he told of the strife and discord between him and his sergent, and showed them all from point to point : howbeit he spake nought of the great fear he had been in.

So great was the mocking throughout the court, and the sergent had great shame thereof, and held himself for a fool: but when the day of S[.] John was fully come Claudas dubbed him knight, and made him his constable in the presence of all them of his house; and his name was Archas the Flemming.

Thus is King Claudas returned to his land; of whom leaveth the tale to tell, and goeth back to Lancelot who is in the Lake.

€  How the Lady of the Lake gave Lancelot a master to teach him what befitteth the son of a King

            NOW when Lancelot had been held of the damsel for three year’s space even as ye have heard he was so fair that to look on him he was older by the third part than he verily was: wise was he also, and of good understanding, eager and quick above his young years. The damsel gave him a master to teach and show him the demeanour of a gentleman.

And not withstanding none of them that were knew what he was saving the damsel and a maiden of hers.

[f. 49]

of the learning of Lancelot

            As soon as he could help himself his master made him a bow of measure with his might, and light shafts, and from the cradle upwards taught him to draw the bow, and when he knew how to deal in such things he taught him to draw at the little birds in the forest: then as he began to wax and exercise his limbs and his body he would be busy with his bow and arrows, and began to shoot at the hares and other little beasts, and at great birds whenso he might find them.
Furthermore so soon as he might ride his master arrayed for him a right good horse full well furnished of saddle and bridle and other such matters: then would he ride endlong of the Lake, yet not right far.
For he had ever with him a very fair company of varlets great and little, and he knew so well how to hold him in their company, that all who saw him deemed him for once of the gentlest men of the world; and forsooth even so he is.

Lightly he learned the play of chess and tables and all other games which he saw play.

And when he was of batchelor’s age none had aught to learn the best fashioned of body and members: neither doth the Tale forget the fashion of him: but it is well to declare it for all folk’s sake, who may gladly hear tell of this so great beauty of the child:

Exceeding lovely of flesh was he, neither white nor brown, but intermeddled of one and other, in such wise that one might call it rather deer {sic: dear?} brown: cheeks he had illumined with natural vermillion hue in such fair measure and so justly, that God belike had blended it with the white and the brown; and so well was the vermillion colour apportioned therein, that the white was not quenched nor lost for the brown, nor the brown for the white, so attempered were they one with other, and the vermillion set above all gave a fair light thereto: so wholly were the colours blended together that there was nought too brown nor too vermillion, but the three all blended together.

[f. 50]

the bodily semblance of Lancelot

The mouth of him was not great, and the teeth were close-set and white: well fashioned was his chin and dimpled withal. His nose was long of measure and somewhat higher amidmost: his eyen gray, laughing and full of joy if he were blithe; but were he wroth then were they verily as live coals: and then by seeming on the pomel of his cheeks would burst forth drops of red blood, and his nostrils would swell in so great ire as a horses’ might; he would strain his teeth hard together as if he were gnashing them, and all bloody by deeming would be the foam from his mouth: and then so fiercely would he speak that it was as the voice of a bull, and whatso he held in hands or teeth to shards it went, for nought he heeded amid his great ire save that which wrought his wrath, as well was seen in many matters.

High and polished was his forehead and fair fashioned: his ears brown and departed plenteously: wavy was his hair, marvellous soft^light shining when it was long: but when he was in arms, as ye shall hear the natural softness ^lightness thereof was all changed and it became as a all sorel: but ever right clear, and crispy of measure, and pleasant.
Nought there is to ask of the neck of him, for were it the neck of a full fair lady, yet had it been meet enough and well-fashioned enough for such a body.

His shoulders were neither too thick nor too slender, nor his body long beyond measure, but the shoulders well knit and high in just measure. But the breast of him was such, that never was there such an one in such a body, so great and wide and deep; nor might any find aught to blame in him, as said all such as spake thereof, save that if he had been somewhat less furnished of breast somewhat more lovely he had been: but indeed it fell out that she who above all deemed of him, the valiant Queen Guenevere to wit, said that God had not given him a breast out of measure great and deep; because so great was the heart therein

  [f. 51]

Lancelot’s conditions told of

that it had been crushed but that its dwelling-place were fashioned of like measure: And, quoth she, were I God, no greater no better should Lancelot be than even as he is. Such were his shoulders and his breast: but his fingers were long and straight and right well wrought, yea as if they had bee {sic: been} aright of a lady, were they somewhat more little. His reins and his flanks, none might say that any better could be deemed of in Knight: his legs were straight and his feet well knit: never stood man so straight as he.

Marvellous well he sang when he would: never made man so little joy saving the cause were great: but when he had cause for joy he would be right joyous, nor might any be so merry and joyful, but he was more: and oft would he say in the joy of his heart, that nought might his heart find to do but his body would accomplish it; and so much he trusted in his great joy, that many a matter he brought to pass: but whereas he spake so assuredly many deemed it ill of him, deeming that he spake of pride and vaunting; but it was not so, but he spake rather of the surety he had in that whence came his joy.

Such were the members of Lancelot and the semblance of him, and right well was he fashioned of his body and all his members; and naught forgotten were the conditions of his heart to befit them; for never was child softer nor kinder in whatso kindness should be, but against felony never was found greater felon.

Never was such a child this side the sea, for he departed all to his fellows as willingly as they might take it: gentle folk he honoured with a whole heart, for to gentleness was his intent turned.

None knew him make [deletion] evil countenance but there was good cause why so that none might blame him; yet, let him be once wroth with aught, and not lightly was he appeased.

Of such good wit he was, that when he had passed ten years he did nought that was childish save for good cause why

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Lancelot meets a varlet afort

and if he had it in his heart to do aught that he deemed he should hold to, nought lightly might he be put there from[.]

NOW on a day he was a-hunting a roe in the forest and his master with him and his other fellows; and far had they gone, and now began to abide, but he and his master, who were better horsed left all the others, and in no long time after his master fell, he and his horse and the horse’s neck was all to broken: Lancelot looked not aback once, but spurred on after the quarry till he had slain it; then he leapt from his horse to truss the roe behind him, and before him he bare a brachet, which all day long had followed him before the others.

So as he returned toward his fellows he met a man leading with his hand a horse all weary and foredone; a right goodly varlet was he in the first springing of his beard, clad in a sanguine coat with a hood on his neck; spurs he had on his heels all bloody with the said horse which he had brought so far as no more he might.

When he saw the child he had full great shame, and fell a weeping right tenderly, and the child aske him what he was and whither away.
“Fair Sir, God give thee good adventure, trouble ye not who I be: poor enow be I, and poorer yet shall be in three days space, but if God see to it: but more ease have I had then now I have, and tide me weal tide me woe I am a gentleman born both of father and mother, wherefore am I the more troubled in my heart at my mishaps: for were I base-born lightlier might my heart have suffered the dole and grief that hath befallen.”

So Lancelot had great pity of him, and said: [“]If thou be a gentleman thou shouldest not lament for aught thou hast lost, nor have shame for aught that hath befallen thee, for a high heart should not be abashed for the loss of that may be won again.[”]

Much marvelled the varlet of that child, so young as he was

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Lancelot giveth the varlet his horse.

and such a fair word as he had spoken; and he answered: “Most fair Sir, I lament not the loss of land nor of friend, but because I am bound tomorrow in the morning at the Court of King Claudas to prove such an one a traitor, who hath e[']en now slain my father-in-law, a most valiant knight, in his very bed for the love of his wife; and as I went in the even-tide he let way-lay me in the passage of a forest, and there was I set on and my horse hurt grievously: but therewithal was I brought away whole and^& given this horse of a valiant gentleman, to whom God give honour. But now so much have I done to escape death, that the beast may serve me no more, neither me nor any other: and exceeding heavy am I that I may not keep my day in the King’s house: for let me once be there then would my heart be lightened of one half of my heavy dole, because of my good right, otherwise to shame shall I come because of my over-great staying.”

“Tell me now,” said the child, “if thou hadst a good and strong horse, mightst thou then be there at the due hour?[”]

“Yea certes Sir, full well,” said he.

“Then a God’s name”, said the child, “no shame shalt thou have by thy horse’s fault so far as my might goeth or the might of any gentleman else.”

And he leapt off therewith, and gave him the horse and mounted on the other, trussing the venison behind him, and leading the brachet by a leash: but when he had gone but a little way needs must be down, for the nag might go no more, so he drave him on before him.

And as he went he met a vavassor on a palfrey, having with him two greyhounds and a brachet: the child saluted him, who answered [“]God give him good day and amendment;[”] and asked him withal whence he was, and he said that he was of another land.

“Certes,” said the vavassor, “whatsoever thou be thou art fair enow and goodly of

  [f. 54]

the vavassor has a deeming of Lancelot

semblance: wither goest thou fair child?”

“Sir,” said he, “I come from the hunting even as ye see and have taken this venison, whereof ye shall have if ye will.”

“Grand mercy my child,” said the vavassor, “I will not refuse it, for thou hast offered it to me of thy soft heart and kindness: and certes I have great need of the venison: for today have I wedded my daughter, and have gone forth to take anything that might avail, but [deletion] have missed of taking aught.”

Then the vavassor leapt off and took the roe, and asked the child how much he would have him take.

“Sir,” said the child, “art thou not a Knight?”

“Yea certes,” said he.

“Nay then take it all,” said the child, “I can no better bestow it than for the wedding of a knight’s daughter.”

When the vavassor heard that he was very joyous, and took the roe and trussed it behind him, and bade the child to his house; but he said he must make not stay; “For my company awaiteth me not far hence.”

“Go,” said he, “and God be with thee then.” and therewith departed the vavassor.

Who when he was gone began to turn in his mind who this might be, for to his deeming he was like to someone, but whom he knew not: at the last he thought so long that he began to deem he was like the King of Benwyk: then he smote his palfrey with his spurs and followed after the child again till he came up with him, and said to him sighing:
“Fair child, maybe thou knowest not who thou art.”

“Maybe,” he said, “but what hast thou to do therewith?”

“Certes,” quoth he, “thou art like to my very lord; who was one of the valiantest of the world: and if thou hast need of me I will put me in adventure for thee, me and my lands, yea and forty knights therewith, who are less than four leagues hence.”

Said the child. “Who was the valiant one to whom I am

[f. 55]

like?”

The vavassor, answered weeping: “Certes”, said he, “he was King Ban of Benwyk, who was lord of all this land, and was disinherited full wrongfully and lost his son.”

And who disinherited him? said the child.

“Fair Sir,” said the vavassor, “a rich and mighty lord named King Claudas of the Waste; and if thou be this son for God’s love tell me: for great joy would it be to all those of this land, and I would guard thee to my power, and deliver up my body to keep thee from death.”

“Certes,” said the child,” the son of a King was I never to my deeming, but King’s son they oft times called me: but for thy words and proffer I love thee the better, for thou speakest as a loyal man.”

When the vavassor saw that he knew no more, yet would not his away from that imagination, and it was well his deeming that the child was the son of his lord, and he said: “Fair Sir, whoever thou be meseemeth thou art of exceeding high lineage: herewith have I two of the best grey-hounds of the world, and I prithee please to take one.”

The child was very joyous thereat, and said that the grey-hound he would not refuse, for he would heed it and reward it right well if he might bring it home: “give me[,”] quoth he[, “]the best thereof.”

The vavassor gave it him and then they commended each the other to God, and the child for his part went his ways, and the vavassor also, who might make no end to thinking [deletion] of the child.

In no long while the child met his master and three others, a seeking him, and they marveled much to see him on the lean nag with the two dogs in his hand, his bow on his neck and his quiver at his back belt: and he had so spurred the jade that he was all bloody

[f. 56]

to the calf of his leg: then asked his master what he had done with his horse, and he said he had lost it.

“And this one,” said the master, whence hadst thou him?”

The child answered; “He was given to me.”

But the master trowed him not, and conjured him by the faith that he owed to his lady to tell him the sooth thereof: so the child thereon confessed all, both of the horse and of the roe that he had given to the vavassor.

“How!” quoth the master, “have ye given away such a horse than which the world meseemeth holdeth none better, and the venison of my lady to whit [sic: wit] without leave?”

And he drew anigh him and menaced him sorely.

Said the child: “Master, be not wroth, for this grey hound is well worth two such steeds.”

“By the Holy Rood,” said the master, “it is ill thought on; neither shalt thou do such a folly without some what to remember it by.”

And therewith he heaved up his fist, and gave him such a buffet that he tumbled him down from his horse: but the child neither wept nor wailed for all that he was smitten and said ever that he had rather the grey hound than any two such horses.

When the master heard him so speak against the will of him he lifted a staff he held and smote the said greyhound on the flanks, and he was tender and fell a crying: then waxed the child exceeding wroth, and left the two dogs and caught his bow from about his neck, and got it in his hand: but the master, seeing him coming would guard himself; but light was the lad and leapt to the other side and smote him unawares with the bowstaff amid the head in such wise that he cut the skin and the flesh down to the bone and astonied

[f. 57]

him so rudely that he fell to the earth; and the bow flew all to pieces: and when he saw his bow broken he ran to him and smote him again on the head till there was nought of the bow left wherewith to smile: then ran the other three to take him; but when he saw them coming, he took the arrows out of his quiver and cast them at them; and they took to flight, and the master fled away through the thickest of the wood. Then took the child a horse of one of the varlets, and mounted him and carried away his greyhound and brachet; and went so long that he was come to a great valley wherein he saw a herd of hinds a feeding; so he went to take his bow, but when he called to mind how he had broken it upon his master he was sore displeased thereat, and swore to himself that if he might bring it about he should buy it full dear that he had made him to lose one of these hinds, for scarce might he have failed of one, having the best greyhound in the world, and the best brachet.
So he went his ways all wroth till he came to the Lake and went to his lady to show her his grey-hound and brachet: and when he came before her he found his master all bloody who even now was making plaint of him.

He saluted her, and she him again as one who loved him as much as child might be loved by heart, but, making semblance to be very wrath, she said to him:

“King’s son, why hast thou done such outrage on him I have given thee for master and to learn thee?”

“Certes my master and teacher is he not: he hath beaten me when I have done nought but well: yet of my beating was I nought wroth: but he smote this my greyhound so hardly that he missed but a little of killing him before my eyes because he wotted that I love him: and another grief hath he done me, for he hath taken me from me two hinds

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of the fairest I have seen ever.”

Then he told how he had given away his horse and his roe, and how he had found the hinds: “And wot ye well, dame,” said he,” that I know none who hath done me ill but it be he.”

When the lady heard him speak so eagerly she was exceeding joyous, for she saw well that he might not fail of being a valiant man by God’s help and his own, and she deemed him of great price: yet notwithstanding she made as if she were wroth.

Which when he saw he departed from before her full of fire, and menaced sorely him who had brought him into her displeasure.

But she called him back and said to him: “How, art thou such an one as to deem thou [deletion] mayest give away my horses and my goods, and beat the master I have set over thee to keep from follies and to teach thee good works? I will not away with such doings.”

“Lady,” said he, “I must needs take heed whiles I be in thy service and under a knave’s leading; but when I will no more thereof then will I go and live my life otherwhere: but meseemeth twere well that thou wotted how the heart of man may rise to nought great if he be too long under a master: and for me I have no longer need of a master, nay nor of a lord: but as to lady I say not so much: neither may a King[’]s son be joyous among other folk’s goods that he durst not give away; nor when he may not do his will at need, not deal with his own at his will.”

“How,” said the Lady, “deemest thou thyself son of a King?”

“Lady,” said he, “King[’]s son am I called, and for King’s son have I been helf[.]”

“Nay,” said she, “know surely that he who called thee King’s son knew thee not, nor had ever seen thee save that one time: but I say and cerify that King’s so thou art not.”

“Dame,” said he, sighing, “I am heavy-hearted thereof;

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for thus would I have it in my heart.”

And he turned away so wroth and downcast that more he might not be: but the said Lady caught him by the hand and drew him back: then fell she a-kissing his eyes and his mouth, and all his visage exceeding sweetly and said to him:

“Fair Son, be not ill at ease or wroth; for God be good to me! I would give thee hackneys and horses and all other things, and full enow shoulds’t thou have; and if thou went of the age of forty or fifty years, then good praise should be owen thee for the giving of the horse and the roe: furthermore I will that thou be lord and master now since thou wottest well all that apertaineth to childhood; yea and whosoever thou be, thou hast not failed of the heart of a King’s son: and thou art the son of one who durst well as said, and take on him the battle against the highest and valliantest [sic]  king of the world, because of the prowess of his body and his heart; yea, and unto/ into no ill end he brought it, so valiant and hardy was he.” With such words did the Lady comfort and assure Lanncelot [sic].

€ How the Queen Helaine went every day to make her moan on the place where her lord died, and then down by the lake-side where she had lost her son.

            QUEEN Helaine of Benwick [sic] and her sister, the Queen of Ganys were together at the Minster Royal, whereat they led a life full holy and fair; and so bettered and waxed the place, that within seven years after the Queen professed herself there there [rep] were well thirty nuns all gentlewoman of the country.

Now the Queen of Benwick [sic] was wont every day after high mass to go thither whereas her lord died, and by the lake-side wherein she had lost her son, and there to say such good things as God had taught her, that the lord God might have mercy upon him, and for her son also, whom she deemed well she had lost: and on a Monday morning she let sing a mass for the soul of her Lord and for her son; and she let sing high mass thereafter; and, that done

[f. 60]

went aloft on the hill and wept there long; and thereafter went down to the lake-side, and fell a-weeping very tenderly, hearkening to nought the while.

And as she abode thus lamenting, lo, a man of religion coming, clad in a black gown, and with a black hood on his head; who, when he saw the Queen making so great lamentation, marveled much what she was, and wherefore she made such moan.

So he drew anigh, and the Queen all intent on making her moan beheld him not as he stood before her; and he looked on her, and saw a lady full fair and noble as to his deeming, and he did off his hood and saluted her: “Dame,” said he, “God give thee joy, for little joy meseems thou hast as now.”

Then the Queen looked on the good man, and was troubled that he had so taken her unawares, yet she deemed, looking at him, that he was a right good man.

Forsooth he had been a valiant man in the world, but had left earthly chivalry, and was become a religious in an hermitage, wherein he had done so much that he had a convent of monks with him, right valiant men toward God, and of holy life; so he spake to the said Lady:
[“]Dame, for God’s love tell me who thou art and wherefore thou makest such moan: certes when a woman is given over to the service of the lord she ought not to lament, save for her sins only; but all earthly lack should she clean forget[.]”

When the Queen heard such words of him she deemed he would be a right holy man and of good counsel, and she said:

“Certes, Sir, if I make moan I may no otherwise; but wot ye well that for earthly good I or loss I lament not. I am foredone and poor, who was once Lady of the land of Benwyk, and of the land that lieth hereabout; and on the mount yonder did I lose my lord the King, a right valiant man: and here by the water-side I lost my son the fairest of all children: for a damsel bore him away in her two arms, and leapt with him and all into the lake; nor know I whether she were damsel or devil, but the body and semblance of a woman she had, and full fair was the fashion of her. [space] But now because my lord died of

[f. 61]

grief, have I great fear for his soul; for thereof ought I to have as great care as for mme [sic] own; and because of that fear for the soul of my lord I lament and make such moan as thou seest, hoping that God will have pity and mercy of the tears of such a sinner as I be: of my son withal have I great grief, whereas I lost him in such wise: for if he had died before mine eyes, then speedily might I have forgotten my grief, whereas I wot well that we must all die once; but when I call to mind that my son was drowned, who was com borne in loyal wedlock, and come of such high lineage, I cannot choose but weep: for meseems that God hath taken both the father and the son from me for some hate that he hateth me withal.

“Certes Lady,” said the good man, “ ye have good cause for your dole, for enough have ye lost; and not thou alone, but great is the scathe to much folk: notwithstanding, too much moan may ye make, for in all things should there be measure and understanding, and since thou hast departed from the world and done on thee the habit of religion, and all for the love of God, it is no more meet for thee to make moan always and in every place: for thy sins and for thy friends’ sins shouldst thou no lament before the people, but rather in thy cloister and privily: indeed I deem well that thou wouldst not do this for vain-glory’s sake, even if thou[d] do it not in secret, but for the solace and ease of thy soul; and well I wot that thine heart must needs be right weary, full of anquish and grief: yet shall God have pity on the valiant-man whose wife thou art; for great pity it is of him, neither mayst thou win him back again. But for thy son, be full sure that he is safe and sound, and well at ease.”

When the Queen had heard that, she was so astonied that she said no word a great while, and when she might speak she fell at his feet, and said, all weeping: “Fair Sir, tell me verily that my son Lancelot is safe!”
Said he, “so it is, by the faith of my habit.”

Then had she so great joy that she fell swooning: and there ran

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a man of her company to hold her up; and the good man had great pity of her, and bade her deem surely that he had spoken sooth.

“Fair Sir,” said she, how wottest thou thus? thou hast set in my heart the greatest joy that hath ever entered therein; and now if it be not true, then shall I be more dead than heretofore.”

“I know it for sooth,” said the good man, “by him that tendeth him night and morning; and wot well that if he were with thee, and thou still Queen of Benwyk he would be in no greater ease than whereas he is now nourished.”

“Sir,” said she, “for God’s love tell me where he is; and if he be in any place I may see I will look thereto often, and refresh myself therewith, since him I may not see.”

“Lady I may not tell thee,” said he, [“]for disloyal were it, since in privity was I told thereof: nor more may ye know of me saving that he is safe and sound: nor had ye known so much, but they who have heed of him would have thine heart in good-ease.”

“Sir,” said she, “for God’s sake tell me if he be tended by his [deletion] foes, or by folk who wish him well.”

“Dame,” said he, “be full sure that he is heeded of them that keep him from every ill they may, and that as for his foes, his body they shall never have.”

Thus to great joy had that Lady that she might not trow the sooth of what the good man said, and she spake again: “Sir knowest thou any of my sisters?”

He said that he deemed he knew well of some thereof and therewith he looked on her that was with them, as one who knew her: but him she knew right well; then the Queen was glad at heart and said: “Sir, please you to come home, and see those of my ladies whom ye know, and who will see thee with a good will.”

He said, “right willingly[”] [deletion of quotation mark] So the queen brought him to the door of the monastery, and he entered therein; and when the Ladies heard say that there was a good man come to see

[f. 63]

them, they went to meet him, and many there were that knew him, and made him great joy: and the Queen asked them earnestly if she might trow that which she had heard of him, and they said yea certes, for so good a man would never lie.

The ladies prayed him to eat, but he said that, God wot, the rules of his order forbade him to eat more than once a day: but said he: “Of this my Lady have I great pity: and on a time moreover great service she did me, that fain am I to reward somewhat: and I deem that she will call to mind the said service: forsooth her Lord, whose soul may God keep! held a court very noble and thronged on a certain Pentecost whereat he gave robes and rich and fair gifts: thither came I at the eve of the feast so late that it was hard upon vespers; and so many knights were there that all the goodly raiment had by then been given away: but when my Lady saw that I, who seemed a worthy man, must be without to be at the feast, she let dight a due robe for me of silk exceeding rich, and clad me therewithal, so that richer was my raiment than of other knights at the feast: this was the service which my Lady did me, and for no little one I hold it, and fain were I to reward it to my might, and aid her with my body, and with my tongue, which hath been hearkened to before high men enow.”

Then said he to the Queen: “Dame, great joy it is for the world, and great honour that so gentle a lady as thou, and come of such high kin, hast given thyself wholly to the service of God; and, if the Lord please, great good it shall be to thy soul: yet sorely lament for the land of Benwyk, and for Ganys in likewise, fallen into the hands of Claudas the disloyal to the scathe of thee and thine, and to the shame and dishonour of King Arthur, and cry out on him in thy behalf, and in behalf of thy son also, who, please God shall yet be lord of his Kingdom.”

[f 64]

The Queen of Ganys swooneth

At this word came the Queen of Ganys forth from her chamber, and when she heard say that Lancelot her sister’s son was alive, so joyous was she as none might be more, and swooned thereof: then the Queen of Benwyk and the other ladies took her and raised her up, and the good man asked who she was and what ailed her.

“What Sir,” said the Queen of Benwyk, “she is the Queen of Ganys my sister, and I wot well that for joy she hath of my son hath she swooned.”

“A God’s name!” said she when she was come to herself, “for joy of my sister’s son I fainted not, but for dole of my two sons that I have lost: and such a passion took hold on my heart, that I had well nigh passed away.[”]

“Dame,” said the good man, “be not abashed for thy children, God hath might enow to keep them, as he hath kept thy nephew; and wot well that they are safe and sound among thy friends: so ought ye from henceforth to comfort each the other for your harm and sorrow, and rejoice together over your good hap; and think of the riches of Paradise, which are without end measureless: for enough have ye had of great riches earthly, and once for all must all leave all things of this world: deem that our Lord Christ will not forget you, but that he who is so piteous and kind will have pity on you, and take you from the grief wherein ye now are: for I, being but a man sinful and mortal am so full of pity thereof, that no ease may I have but in hearkening to God’s service, till I be in the house of King Arthur to cry out on him for your disinheriting, and great shame he hath therein. [space] Withal I know not what shall betide hereafter, and no marvel to me were it though the matter were tarried; for barons enow wage war on him in his own land, and many folk have it in their hearts that he shall be exiled in the end; wherefore peradventure he will never hearken or heed clamour or complaint of this matter.”

€ How the good religious who had told tidings of her son Lancelot to Queen Helaine took leave of her, and went

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to King Arthur in Britain the Great

THEN departed the good man, and commanded to God the Queen and her sister and all the other ladies, and so rode great journeys till he came to the Kingdom of Britain the Great, and found King Arthur in London amid plenteous folk.

The first week of September was it, and King Arthur was new-come from Scotland and King Anguishe who had waged war on him.  He had made good peace between them, and had taken truce of the King of the Outer Marches till Easter-tide.

It was of a Sunday, and King Arthur was set down to dinner with diverse manner of folk about him. [space] So the monk from the Land of Benwyk entered there, and went with great strides down the hall, right up to the dais where the King ate in company of many big barons, and he pulled off his hood, and was by seeming a worthy man: hardy of mien was he and discreet of tongue, and he began his matter so high, that he was well harkened:

“King Arthur,” said he, “I salute thee as the best and valiantest that ever was save for one thing only.”

The King looked on the good man that blamed him of evil and praised him of great price before all his folk, and had great shame; and all men thereby marvelled greatly: but the King, who was exceeding wise and courteous, gave back his greeting: “Fair Sir,” said he, “God bless thee, be thou good or ill: now show me wherefore I be the best King and the valiantest man living in the world; for right fain am I to know.

“I will tell thee,” said the good man, “forsooth thou art the King of all who now are, who maintainest the most chivalry in great honour; but slothful art thou to avenge thee of thy scathe and shame: for who so doth shame or scathe to thy man doth it unto thee: and whatso scathe thy man have, the shame thereof is ever thine: thou honourest those who reward thee disloyally, and forgettest them that have served thee loyally and well, without falsing their faith: who have lost their lands, and peradventure shall lose their souls in

[f. 66]

doing thee service.”

When King Arthur heard him he was all abashed, and all they in the hall were abashed, both knights and barons, and said never had they heard religious man speak so hardily to so mighty a lord: then came in Bedvere, and saw that because of the word of the monk had more than half of the knights left eating, and he said: “Sir, leave these words till my Lord hath done his meat, and then may ye speak to him at your leisure; for by that ye have already spoken have ye troubled the court.”

“How!” said the good man, “must I refrain me from the wor[l]d which may amend all the world to let comfort so evil a vessel, and so envious as the belly? Sure such goodly victuals as be now on the board shall not thereby become evil and ugly: nor will I ever hold my peace of that which lieth on my heart: and when my word is said no knight, be he never so hardy, shall dare to say it be not sooth, but gainsayed shall he be, and beaten before all the barons here: and great default of thee it is, that thou art come before all the valiant men here to bid me speak no more, whereas ye know neither my great need, nor the good that shall come of my speech: nor deem I that thou be more valiant or more of price than the two valiant men I have seen, time was, in the house of Uther-Pendragon, Hanin of Caelle to wit, and Hervey of Rivell: whereof have I seen such prize of arms, as no two knight could more: nor every by them was any man poor and miserable driven from court, but rather furthered in all they might do: nor were they less lords of the house of Uther-Pendragon, whose soul God keep, than ye are of the house of King Arthur his son.”

Then stood forth Hervey of Rivell who was at the head of the dresser whereat he served; for King Arthur was never so privy but there served in his house knights of all ages, old and young: but when Hervey knew the good man, he made him joy and honour, and embraced him very tenderly, and kissed him often on the mouth; and then took him by the left hand and led him before the King and said: [space] “Sir, trow well what this man saith

f 67]

to thee, for Kings and counts should hold his words dear: and know that his heart hath been enlightened by such high prowess, that never hath God made body of Knight to whom I would more trust in my great need for the safeguard of mine honour.”

“How,” said the King, “who is he?”

“Sir” said Hervey, “he is Adragues the Brown, brother of Mador the Black, Knight of the Black Lily.”

Now in those days yet lived lived [repetition in mss] upon the earth and there abode King Urien, who much honoured this good man for the love of Mador his brother, for they were companions in arms a long while. So when he was known scarce may man say the joy that was madehim; and King Arthur himself, who had oft-times seen him, knew well how to honour him: yet was Bedvere sore displeased at those words of his.

Said the King to the good man: “Fair Sir, ye may say all ye will, be it to mine honour or my shame; for such an one ye be, that there is no so high man on earth, but he ought to hearken thee.”

“Sir” said he, “there is but one thing to be spoken of laid against thee, the death of King Ban to whit, whom thou didst not avenge, though he died a coming to thy court; and his wife hath abided naked and disinherited, and despoiled of the fairest child that ever was: and ugly and evil thing it is of thee, and much blame hast thou herein: and I deem there is no sin else in all the world that shall come uppermost for thy troubling: and know, King Arthur, that I am not come to thee saving for the pity I have of his wife, who for fear of shame and for grief is become a veiled in a monastery; and Claudas is so feared and redoubted in the land, that there is no man so hardy who either for God or for might? durst come hither to make complaint before thee.”
“Sir good man,” said the King, “certes I deem well that thou hast reason and right: yet heard I no tidings of this complaint; and withal time has been, that whatsoever wailing or complaint were made before me, all might had I lacked to remedy the same: for much have I had to do this long while, in such wise
[f 68]

that many folk said I should be driven unto the unto the uttermost ends of the earth. Natheless wherein I have done amiss, it behoves me to amend it when God shall give me might to do so much: and wot thou, that I look to have such might, as that no man shall blame me henceforward. Surely I know that I be liege lord of King Ban of Benwyk and King Bors of Ganys, and they were my men; and if God give me might presently to amend it, even so with a good will shall I do.”
Therewith departed the good man from the house of King Arthur who was fain to keep him, but he would not abide.

And when he was returned, he told these tidings to the Queen of Benwyk, and comforted her much: “Please God, Dame,” said he [“]ye shall have tidings in good time.”

So she thanked him heartily, and therewith departed he from the Queen, and went to the house of religion whence he was come. But here leaveth the tale to tell of him and the two Queens, and returneth to King Claudas of the Waste Land: but first for a little to the Lady of the Lake.

€ How the Lady of the Lake sent her Damsel to the court of King Claudas to deliver the two children of King Bors, whom King Claudas kept in prison.

WHEN the Lady of the Lake knew that the children of King Bors were in prison in the tower of Ganys she had pity of them, and would fain have delivered them out of the hands of King Claudas, and ofttimes she thought thereon. So much she learned that she knew how King Claudas held court at Ganys, and feasted full solemnly after the wont of Kings of those days to hold right high and rich courts on the day of their crowning, and on all other days when they bore the crown. Now this feast which King Claudas would array so richly, was to be holden on Maudlin-mass.

So when the day came before the ever of the said feast, the Lady
[f. 69]

said to a damsel of hers exceeding wise Samidre by name: “Samidre, needs must thou into the city of Ganys against Maudlin-mass to do an errand which shall grieve thee nought, for those shalt bring thence two children, great men enow, to wit the sons of King Bors of Ganys.”
Therewith she gave her charge to do as ye shall bear after, and gave her such things as she needed. [space] Then gat the damsel to those, and departed from her lady, who had of long season proved her; [deletion] and neice [sic] was she of the man who had made her outcry for King Ban of Benwyk: the damsel had with her two squires, and other folk to the number of ten; and so sped they, that they came into the meadow under Ganys on the day of the feast at the hour of tierce: nigh this meadow, to the left hand thereof was a little thicket, high-grown and close; there abode the damsel and her folk, and let learn by a squire when King Claudas was set down to meat; and as soon as she knew thereof she went her ways hastily in a palfrey with but two squires, whereof either had a grey hound in a chain of silver.

So rode they till they came into the city, and then the damsel let learn if the children of King Bors were yet in prison, and folk said yea.
Now Claudas sat at high feast with his barons, whereof he had a many, and there sat before him Dorin his son whom he had made knight, and valiant and open-handed he was, nor had Claudas other son save him. [space] Great was the feast and noble and proud; but for the crowning of Claudas, and also because his son was new-made a knight: and more bountiful was Claudas on the eve of the Feast and on the Feast itself than ever since he had been made King, yea and all his life long: and yet more had he mind to give e’er the Feast ending, for much was he amended [correction] by the great largesse that he had seen the in the court of King Arthur.

So as Claudas sat at meat even as ye have hear, in came the Damsel of the Lake, and stood before Claudas, who was but served of his first meats: she led in her hand the two
[f. 70]

grey-hounds by two rich chains, and she spake so high that well was she heard, and said: “King Claudas, I salute thee from the valiantest lady of the world, and who hath held thee of most price hitherto [sic], but  now she deemeth thee not to have half the wit that hath been told of thee, nor is she wrong herein: for here is more of blame than I thought for; so shall I go my ways and tell her what I have seen of thee.”

The King looked on the maiden who had spoken so proudly, and even as she turned about called to her and said: [“]Damsel, thou art right welcome hither, and goodhap have thy lady; and maybe she hath heard more good of me than verily is: but whereas she sendeth me greeting, I know nought, but if it be to my hurt, that I will not accomplish for the love of her: and now by the faith thou owest her, tell me the sooth, for I would fain learn wherein I may amend me.”
“So much have ye adjured me,” said the damsel, that I will hide it no longer from thee: I am as I have told thee, of the house of the most valiant lady of the world, who hath heard tell so much good of thee, that she holdeth no christened man of more prize than thee: for she hath heard say that thou wert the gentlest King, and the kindest of the world, the most virtuous, the bountifullest, and the most of prowess: Therefore hath she sent me hither to learn if the word she hath heard spoken of thee be true; but I have seen that thou fullest short of three of the best vertues that may be in Knight; for wit thou hast not, nor kindness, nor courtesy.”

DAMSEL,” said the King, if these three things I lack, little worth is the remnant; nevertheless, tell if thou mayst whereby thou knowest that I am neither kind nor courteous.”

“I will tell thee,” said the damsel; “True it is that thou holdest in prison the children of King Bors de Ganys in evil wise, knowing well that they have nought misdone against thee: and all folk deem that thou dost it with the mind to slay them in the end; whereof
[f. 71]
there is no man but hath pity in his heart, and hateth thee deadly therefore: but such an one as will make himself hated of all folk, well seem it is that there is no folly more grievous: Furthermore, wert thou courteous, thou hadst taken these two children, who are as noble as thou, and let serve them honourably, as appertaineth to the children of Kings, and they would be sitting here before thee to thy great honour; for all the world would say that thou wert the gentlest and most courteous of the world in maintaining these orphans honourably and guarding their land; and thus wouldst thou have gained the hearts of many folk, and been held for wise, courteous and kind.”

“May God be good to me, damsel,” said Claudas, but thou art right: but whoso trusteth evil counsel, to none other but evil end cometh he: nor know I aught worthier than [correction] that which thou hast taught me e’en now.”

Therewith he called his seneschal and said to him: “Seneschal, go speedily, and seek the children of King Bors, and have with thee such company as meet is for the fellowship of King’s sons, and bring hither with them their two masters.”

The Seneschal did the commandment of his lord, [deletion] and went to bring the children, who were not well at ease, nor they that guarded them; for great dole they had, because Lyonel had troubled them all; and for this cause: on the eve of the feast, when the children’s supper was served, they sat them down and ate together, and Lyonel ate so eagerly, that his master looked upon him wondering; yea, and looked so long on him, that at the last he left eating, and began to weep very piteously, so that Lyonel beheld it and said: “What aileth thee, fair master, why weepest thou?”

“Fair sir,” said Farien, [“]let it trouble thee nought, for there is no gain therein.”

“A God’s name,” said he, “I will know, and I conjure thee by the faith thou owest me to tell me.”

“Ah Sir,” said Farien, “why will ye ask me for that which
[f. 72]
shall profit thee nought?”

“By the faith that I owe to the soul of my father,” said Lyonel [“]I will not eat before I know.”

“Fair Sir,” said Farien, “then will I tell thee, that that [repetition] thou lack not eating: I weep because it came into my mind of the great nobleness and prosperity of thy lineage, and how, time was, it flourished; and my heart is full of trouble and anguish when I behold you twain thus held in prison, while another holdeth court and lordship whereas ye ought to hold it.”

“How,” said Lyonel, “and who holdeth lordship whereas I ought to hold mine?”

“Sir,” said Farien, “the King Claudas of the Waste Land who in this town holdeth it, which ought to be the head of the thy Kingdom: [deletion of quotation marks] he beareth crown, and maketh his son Knight today, and holdeth high feast, and assembleth all the barons and knight of his realm: and for this cause have I such grief of heart when I see so high and honourable a lineage, which God hath in time past exalted, now at this present disinherited, and that he hath taken away their lordship who is the the [rep] disloyallest man of the world.”
NOW when the child knew the mind of him he was sore displeased, and leapt from the table, and strode about the place in great wrath; and having no care to see aught, he went up into a window the better to think wholly at leisure: then came Farien his master to him, and said: “Ah Sir, what hast thou done to break up the table for wrath’s sake on such a high feast as today? Come and eat; or if thou have no desire thereto, yet shouldst thou make semblance for the love of Bors thy brother, who will not eat without thee.”

“Master,” said Lyonel, “I will not eat: go ye and eat, thou and he.”
“Nay Sir,” said Farien, “not without thee.”

“How!” said Lyonel, “are ye not my folk, even my brother, and his master?[”]

“Yea certes,” said Farien.
[f. 73]


Lyonel tells how he would fain slay Claudas

“Then must ye needs go eat,” said Lyonel, “for never will I eat until I have accomplished my will.”

“Sir,” said Farien, “if this thing be aught wherein counsel may avail, tell me therof, and I will pain myself therein.”

“Master,” said he, “I will tell thee, so though gainsay me not, but aid me.”

“Of a right good will,” said Farien.

“Forsooth,” said Lyonel, I have in heart to avenge me of King Claudas, or ever I eat.”

“Nay sir, and how thinkest thou to avenge thee?” said Farien.

“I will tell thee,” said Lyonel, I will send tomorrow, and pray him come see us; and then may I avenge me, for I durst well take in hand to slay him.”

“And then,” said Farien, “when thou hast slain him, what wilt thou?[”]
“What,” said Lyonel, “are not they of the land my men? they will keep me to their might; yea, or if they will not, God will see to it: and if so be I are in the conquering of my right, welcome shall death be; for rather would I die with honour than live with shame and be disinherited of my lands: and who disinherits a King’s son of his own, forfeit is his life.”
Said Farien; “Fair Sir, do not so, for thou shalt not escape with life; nor oughtest thou to take in hand such a deed without counsel, but abide till God give thee more might.”

And Farien pressed him sore, bidding him do by his counsel, and abide time and place due for avenging him: “Yea, said he, “but take heed that I see not Claudas or his sons, for then should I not more refrain my vengeance.”

So passed they the night, and ever was Claudas ^Farien in great fear for his lord, whom he saw so wroth, for no cheer made he, either that night or the morrow.

€ How the Seneschal of King Claudas by the commandment of his lord went to seek in prison the two sons of King Bors of Ganys.

[f. 74]

Lyonel will take a knife with him to court.

NOW when the morrow was come, the seneschal of King Claudas went to seek the children, and Lyonel had not yet eaten, but lay in his chamber and said that he was ill at ease, and Farien was hard put to it to make Bors eat: and now was Farien before Lyonel weeping piteously; and when the seneschal came before Lyonel, he knelt and said:

“Sir, my lord the King saluteth thee, and biddeth and prayeth thee to come see his court, thou and thy brother, and [deletion] your masters with you; for {unreadable} is that he hold his high court without you, as he hath begun to do.”

So soon as Lyonel heard these tidings he leapt up, and said to the Seneschal that he would go fain, and great semblance of joy he made: but his master beholding him sighed heavily, and was sore of heart because of the great ill he doubted would befall. Then Lyonel said to him: “Fair master make good cheer to those that are come to bid us.”
Therewithal he entered into his chamber, and called him chamberlain, and drew forth a knife that had been given him for his disport: and his master followed him, and asked what he did, and when he saw him holding the knife, he took it from his hand saying that he should not have it.

“Ah,” said Lyonel, “I see well that thou hatest me, whereas thou takest my pleasure from me.”

“Sir,” said Farien, “it is no wisdom in thee to bear this knife, for all folk will behold it, but I will bear it, which will avail better; for know of a truth, that I love thy welfare and honour a mine own.”

“Then shalt thou promise me,’ said Lyonel, that at what times-soever I ask the knife of thee, thou wilt give it straightway.”

“Surely,” said Farien,” if thou promise that thou wilt do nought blameworthy therewith.”

“I will do nought,” said he, which may of right be called blameworthy.”
“Sir,” said Farien, “then gainsay I thee nought: swear to me that thou wilt hurt no man.”

[f. 75]


The children come before King Claudas

“Fair master,” said Lyonel, “cast away the knife or keep it for thyself if thou wilt: thou mayst have need thereof.”

Therewith he gat him back into the hall, where the seneschal abode him, and mounted a palfrey, and Bors another, and his master went behind each: so went they riding to the place where the court was; and Farien ever counseled Lyonel much, and prayed him for God’s sake not to do such a folly, whereby he should be put to death, and all they who were with him.

“Be not dismayed,” said he, “for I am no fool to take in hand that which I may not bring to pass; and now had I will to begin, thou hast seen well thereto, whereas thou hast left me but my naked hands.”
[stray mark]     And now were they come to the court, and found folk enough to see them off their beasts and to array them: so came they before King Claudas with a great company of Knights; and there were many Knights of the realm of Benwyk and the Kingdom of Ganys who were so fain of them that they might not refrain from weeping when they saw their lords coming, such fair children in servitude to another: and Lyonel went with head raised aloft, looking about the hall right proudly and by semblance of full noble blood.

So when the children were come before the King they were marvelously regarded of all folk: and the King sat on his high-seat in a chair which was exceeding rich, and before him was his crown laid on a great cushion of silver, and a sword straight from the pommel down and the hilts all glittering: and below that, said crown was the scepter of gold and gems of price: and he was clad in the holy gown wherein he had been hallowed: forsooth a marvelous mighty man he seemed, and naught fell or evil seemed he, if a man might deem from his visage.

€ How the two children of King Bors of Ganys hurt King Claudas and slew Dorrin his son; and how the Damsel of the Lake brought them away in guise of two

[f. 76]

The Damsel doeth wreaths on the children greyhounds

NOW when he saw the children come, be made them good cheer, and called Lyonel to him, whom he deemed full worthy of countenance, and the child came to him, to that part of the table whereas lay the crown and sword; then the King, who had will to honour him, and was not minded to keep them any more in prison, reached his fair cup to him, and bade [correction from bdde] him drink: but Lyonel looked not once at him: Claudas deemed not that he abstained from drinking but from shame of all that folk which he saw. But the Damsel of the Lake drew anigh, and put her two hands about his cheeks, and said to him. “Drink, fair King’s son and I will amend thee much.”

Then she set on his head a full fair hat of fresh flowers, and on his neck a little clasp of gems, and in likewise did she unto Bors his brother: then she said to Lyonel.

“Now, fair King’s son, mayst thou well drink, for good enough pledge hast thou.”

But he answered as one wroth and troubled: “Damsel I will drink, but another shall pay[.]

And now were the two children of heart for wild deeds, because of the herb on the hats of them, and the stones in their clasps: and so well were they furnished that none might draw blood of them, nor cut any member nor hurt it while these were on them.

So Lyonel took the cup, but Bors cried out to cast it to earth; but instead thereof Lyonel raised it awry in his two hands, so that the wind fell on his gown somewhat; and therewith he smote King Claudas on the face with all his might, so that the remmant of the wine ran all down him, and entered into his eyes, and nose and mouth [deleted comma] in such wise that there was well nigh an end of him; and a shard of the cup smote him on the brow and cut skin and flesh to the bone: then Lyonel drew the crown to him so rudely that he made the scepter and sword that lay before it fly scattering, and with his two hands              

Transcribed by Karen Carcia, 2014-15.  

Transcription Calligraphic Manuscript, Society of Antiquaries MS. 405.3, vol. 3, ff. 1-307.  

      [f 1]

 

King Arthur dreams dreams

€ How King Arthur dreamed many dreams, and sent thereon for all the wise clerks of his realm to know the meaning of them.  

            NOW saith the tale that King Arthur had abided long at Cardueil: and because no great haps had befallen there, the fellows of the King were aweary of that long sojourn, wherein they beheld nought of what they would: and chief of all was Kay the Seneschal exceeding weary, and spake often, saying that their abiding there had been weary and overlong: then said the King; “Kay, what wouldst thou that we do?”

            “Certes,” said Kay, “I counsel that we go to Camelot, for that city is the most adventurous that thou hast, and there often we see and hear marvels that we see not here; and here have we already abided two months, and beheld no great tidings.”

            “Let us go to Kamalot [sic] then,” said the King since so thou givest counsel.”

            And on the morrow the King was to depart, but a marvelous hap befel him in the night; for he dreamed that all the hairs of his head, and of his beard fell off; and sore afeared he was thereof; and because of this he abode yet in the town; and the third night thereafter he dreamed that all the fingers fell from his hands saving his thumbs only; whereat he was more abashed than afore.

            € But on another night he dreamed that all the toes fell from his feet saving the great toes, whereof he was so sore troubled that more might not be: then said his chaplain to whom he had told hereof, “Sir, trouble thee not, for in the dreams is nought to trow.”

            Then the King told it to his Queen, and she answered even as the chaplain.

            “Of a sooth,” said he, “I will not leave the matter thus.”

            And he summoned to him at Camelot within nine days’ space all his bishops and archbishops, and that they should bring with them all the wisest clerks they had, or might find: then he departed from                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                        [f 2]

 

The clerks come to Camelot    

 Cardueil, and went by his castles and cities, till on the ninth day he was come to Camelot, and thither also were come the clerks of the land. Of them he asked counsel of his dreams, and they chose ten of their wisest, and the King let shut them up, and said that they should never out of prison till they had told him the meaning of his dreams. So for nine days’ space they proved the might of their science, and then came to the King and told him that they had found nought.

            “So may God help me,” said the King, “ye shall not escape me thus!”

            Then they asked for respite till the third day after, and he gave it them: the three days passed they came before the King, and said that nought they had found, and asked for yet more delay, and gat it: then again they came to crave other three days respite even as the King had dreamed every third night.

            “Wot ye well,” said the King, “that ye get no more.”

            And so when it was come to the third day they said they had found nought.

            “This availeth nothing,” said the King, “I will destroy you all, but ye tell me the sooth.”

            And they said: “Sir we know not what to say.”

            Then the King thought to fear them with death; and he let make a great fire, and commanded in their presence that five of them should be cast therein, and other five hanged: but privily he bade the bailifs to bring them but to the fear of death: so when the five who were to be led unto the gallows had the ropes about their necks they feared the death, and said that if the other five would tell the truth, so would they.

            This tidings came to the five who were to be burned, who also said that they would speak if the others would: then were they brought together before the King, and the wisest of them said: “Sir we would say that we have found, but we would not that thou shouldst account us liars if it cometh not to pass; for soothly we would not that it should: and we will that however it fall, we shall never have ill of thee therefor.” So he promised them; and then said he who spake for all:

                         [f 3]                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the areding of the dreams.

            “Sir, know that thou must needs lose this land, and all thine honour, and that those in whom thou most trustest shall fail thee; this is the substance and the significance of thy dreams.”

            Hereof was the King all abashed: “Tell me,’ said he, “if there is a thing that may keep me from this?”

            “Certes,” said the master, “one thing have we seen, but it is the greatest of marvels, and we durst not tell thee.”

            “Speak in all surety,” said the King, “for worse ye may not say than ye have said.”

            “Sir” said they, “nought may keep thee from losing all earthly honour, save the Wild Lion and the Leech without medicine by the rede of the Flower: now this seemeth to be such folly as we dare not say to thee, for a wild lion there may not be, or leech without medicine, nor a flower which speaketh.”

            Now was the King all distraught with this matter; yet made he better cheer than his heart would.

            And on a day went the King a hunting in the wood betimes of a morning, and had with him Sir Gawain and Kay the Seneschal, and such other as pleased him.

            But here leaveth the tale to tell of him, and goeth back to telling of the knight whose name Sir Gawain brought to the court.

            FOR when the knight who had vanquished the Assembly had departed from the place where he had fought with his host he wandered all day without finding other adventure. He lay that night at the house of a widow lady some five leagues English from Camelot: he rose betimes on the morrow, and went, he and his squires, and the damsel, till they met a certain squire: “Varlet,” said he, [“]knowst thou any tidings?”

            “Yea,” said he, “my lady the Queen is here hard by Camelot.”

            “What Queen?” said the knight.

            “The wife of King Arthur,” said the squire.

            So the knight departed, and rode till he came to a strong house, and saw there a lady in her surcoat looking on the meads and the forest; and she had a damsel with her.                                                                                                                              

                        [f 4] 

Lancelot sees the Queen

            And the knight stayed and regarded the lady a long while till he forgat all things else: and therewith came by a knight armed at all arms who said to him: “Sir knight, what abidest thou?”

            But he answered him never a word, for he heard him not: then the knight thrust him, and aked what he beheld thus: said he: “I behold even that I will;” and scantly art thou courteous who hast driven away my thought.”

            “By the faith thou owest to God,” said the stranger knight, “knowest thou who is the lady thou lookest upon?”

            “Meseems I know somewhat,” said he.

            “Yea, and who is she?” said the other.

            “My lady the Queen,” said the knight.

            “So may God help me, thou knowest her strangely: in the devil[’]s name art thou a looking on ladies.”

            “Wherefore?” said he.

            “Because thou durst not follow me before the Queen whither I will go.”

            “Certes,” said the good knight, “if thou durst go, where I dare follow thou wilt pass in courage all the greatest dare-devils that ever were.”

            Then departed the knight, and the good knight followed after him: and when they were gone a while the other said to him: “Thou shalt abide tonight with me, and on the morrow I will lead thee whither I said.”

            And the good knight asked him whether he must needs so do.

            “Yea” said he.

            So he said he would do even so; and he lay at the knight’s  that even hard by the river of Camelot, and had right good lodging; both he and his squires, and the damsel. 

€ How the King of the Outer Marches named Gallehault sent to defy King Arthur: and how Lancelot slew two giants hard by Camelot 

            NOW the King returned from the wood by high noon,

                                                                                                         

                        [f 5]

 King Arthur defied

and sat him down to supper before vespers: then came a knight well enow stricken in years, who seemed a good man: armed was he all save the hand and the head and girt with his sword withal: he saluted not the King, but spake to him thus: “King, to thee am I sent by the best man of the World; to wit Gallehault son of the giant-wife, who biddeth thee render to him all thy land: for thirty realms hath he won, yet will he not be crowned king ere he have won the realm of Logres: therefore he biddeth thee pay rent to him of thy land, or hold it of him, and he will hold thee dearer than any king he hath won heretofore.”

            “Fair Sir,” said King Arthur, “of God only do I hold my land, nor will I hold it of this man.”

            “Surely am I heavy thereof,” said the knight, “for thou shalt lose honour and lands both.”

            “Of all thou sayest I am not troubled,” said the King, “for if God will I shall have no harm thereof.”

            “King Arthur,” said the knight, “know that my lord defieth thee; and I tell thee on his part that he will be in thy land within seven days; and from the hour that he hath entered therein he will not depart till he have conquered all; and he will take from thee Guenevere thy wife, of whom he hath heard say that she is the prize of beauty and goodliness of all women earthly.”

            “Sir knight,” said the King, “I have heard what thou hast said, and wot well that I am nought afeard for all thy great menaces: let each do the best he may.”

            So the knight went his ways; but when he was at the hall door he turned about to the King and said; “Ah God what grief and evil hap!” and so gat to horse without more words: and two knights abode him without the door.

            Now the King asked Gawain if he had ever seen Gallehault, and he said nay; and so said diverse that were there: but Gallegantin le Gallois, who had been in many a place, said to the King: “Sir I have seen Gallehault; he is greater than                       

                        [f 6] 

Lancelot follows a certain knight 

than any man here by a full foot, and is a right young man: and one of the most liberal men of the world: yet ever I deem him not to be of might to overcome thee; and if I wotted otherwise, liefer were I to die and not live.”

            So then they left that speech, and on the morrow the king went a hunting: But here leave we of the King and Queen, and return to telling of the knight who won the Assembly.

            WHEN the knight who had won the assembly had lain in the house of him who had drawn him from his thinking, he arose betimes in the morning, and went with his host whither he would lead him, but left the damsel and his squires in the house; for thither he thought to return: so the host went on before, and the good knight followed him till they were come hard by Camelot; and the good knight looked on the town and knew that it was Camelot wherein he was made knight: therewith he fell a thinking a long while, and rode more leisurely; and his host went on afore a great pace to know if he abode for cowardice: but he looked on the lodges, and beheld the Queen leaning out thence. [S]he had been abroad that morning with the King, and was all wrapped about for the cold, which was great as then betwixt All hallows and Yule-tide.

            So he said to the Queen: “Dame, art thou Queen Guenevere?”

            “Yea,” she said, [“]wherefore askest thou?”

            “Certes,” said he, “because such thou seemest verily: or if thou be not she, thou art like to her; and I behold thee now as the foolishest of all knights.”

            “Art thou such?” said the Queen.

            “Nay,” said he, “but rather he that followeth after.”

            Therewith he went his ways toward the forest, and right so came the other knight going down the river-side: he stayed in the meadows, and saw women washing cloths, of whom he asked if they had seen a knight pass thereby; and they said nay, that they were but newcome there.

            WHEN the Queen saw the knight and heard what he was asking she called him, and said: “Sir knight I have seen him whom thou seekest, and he is gone his ways to the forest.”                                             

                        [f 7]

 Lancelot like to drown.

            So he raised his head, and saw the Queen calling him, and knew her well by her speech: “Dame,” said he, “hast thou seen aught of him?”

            “Yea,” said she.

            “And whither went he, lady?”

            “Right thitherwise,” said she[.]

            So he smote his horse with the spurs as soon as she had spoken, yet let him go whither he would; for he thought not but of beholding the Queen; and the horse, desiring to drink, leapt into the river; the water was deep and fordless there, and the horse began to drown, and might not gain the shore because the bank was high; and he sank till the knight was in the water up to his shoulders.

            Then the Queen beheld him and fell a crying: “Saint Mary! here is a knight a drowning!”

            And Sir Yrain heard her, who was on horse hard by, having been minded to go to the wood with the King, but had arisen over late: he asked the Queen where it was, and she showed him: then went Sire Yrain and took the horse by the bridle and lead him out of the river, and the knight was all drenched: then Sir Yrain asked of him: “Fair Sir how gat ye into the water?”

            And he said he had been minded to water his horse.

            “In evil wise hast thou watered him,” said Sir Yrain, “for it was a near thing but ye were drowned: but whither goest thou?”

            Said he, “I am following after a knight.”

            Now Sir Yrain had known him had he born the shield he bare at the Assembly, but he had left it at the house of his host, and had taken one old and worn, because his host feared lest he should be stayed in the house of King Arthur: therefore Sir Yrain had him of the less account, deeming him but of poor and little life: so he asked him if he would follow the knight, and he said yea, so he brought him across the ford: and then fell the knight to looking at the Queen as his horse bore him out of the river.

            A little after he met Dagonet the Fool, and Dagonet saluted him, and the knight answered him never a word, for his thoughts were otherwhere: then said Dagonet: “I take thee then,” and led him back with no defence

                         [f 8]

Dagonet leads away Lancelot

made.

            Now Sir Yrain was gone back to the Queen, who said to him: “verily drowned had been the knight but for thee.”

            “And overmuch scathe were that, lady,” said he, “for he was full fair.”

            “Withal he hath done marvels,” said the Queen, “for he hath won over the water, and will be following the knight.”

            And as they talked thus, lo the knight and Dagonet: “See ye,” said the Queen, “someone bringeth back our knight.”

            Then went Sir Yrain to the ford, and when he saw that it was Dagonet he was all abashed, and led him before the Queen.

            “Dame,” said he, “Dagonet hath taken this knight.”

            “Dagonet,” said she, “by the faith thou owest the King, how didst thou take him?”

            Said he: “I met him hard by the river, and saluted him, and he answered me never a word; so I took him by the bridle and led him away without defence made.”

            “I trow well that thus thou tookest him,” said Sire Yrain, “and I will lodge him.”

            “So will I well,” said Dagonet: and the Queen fell a laughing, and all they that heard.

            NOW this Dagonet was a knight, but a fool innocent withal; witless was he, and as faintheart as might be; and all and some made game of him for the great follies that he did; and how he would say that he would go seek adventures, and come back with a tale of two knights or three slain by him.

            The Queen looked on the knight and beheld him so well fashioned of his body and members that better might not be, and she said: “Dagonet, by the faith thou owest my lord the King and me knowest thou not who he is?”

            “Nay my lady,” said he, “so God help me, for he spake never a word to me.”

            And the knight held his spear athwart by the thickest; and when he heard the Queen speak he raised his head, and the spear fell in such wise that it pierced the samite of the Queen’s mantle; and she looked on him and said to Sir Yrain: “The knight seemeth to be not right wise.”

            “Thou sayest sooth,” said Sir Yrain, “else had he not suffered himself to be led away by Dagonet: and moreover he hath said no word                                                                                                                       

                        [f 9]

 Lancelot follows the knight again

since he came hither: I have will to ask him who he is: [“]Sir Knight,” said he, “who art thou?”

            So he looked up and saw that he was amidst of the hall: “Sir,” said he, “I am a knight.”

            “And what seekest thou here? thou art in prison,” said Sir Yrain.

            “Even so meseemeth,” said he.

            “And wilt thou not tell us more, Sir Knight?”

            “I know not what to say,” said he.

            “Dame,” said Sir Yrain, “I have him in my keeping, but if thou wilt be my surety I will let him go: shall it suffice, Dagonet?”

            “Yea Dame,” said he.

            So she laughed: “I will be good surety,” said she.

            “Then will I let him go,” said Sir Yrain, and led him out, and showed him the ford, saying: “Fair Sir, lo the ford and the way the knight took whom thou followest.”

            So he passed the ford and went his ways after the knight toward the forest. But Sir Yrain went presently to his house, and gat spurless on a horse, and followed the knight from afar, for he would not be known. But the knight entered into the forest and fell a listening if perchance he might hear aught of the knight whom he sought: and he saw a spear standing on a mound and a penon hanging thereto; so thitherward he went, and saw the knight coming down to meet him: “Sir knight,” said he, “I have followed thee till I have found thee.”

            “In evil tide,[”] said he, “hast thou found me for thou shalt leave me somewhat of thine.”

            “What wouldst thou?” said the good knight.

            “I would have thy horse and arms,” said he.

            “So shall it not be,” said the knight.

            Then he who was come down from the mound, gat somewhat away, and took shield and spear, and dressed himself against him, who arrayed him for defence, and they smote their horses with the spurs, and let run one against the other; and the knight of the mound smote him on the shield that his spear flew apieces; and the other smote him so mightily that he bore him to earth over his horse[’]s crupper; and he took his horse by the bridle and brought it to him.

            “Take thy horse,” said he, “and let me go, for I have to do elsewhere.”

            Then that knight arose, and said: “Nay not thus dost thou depart from me; needs must

                        [f 10] 

Lancelot and the giants

thou fight with me.”

            “Nay,” said he.

            “Yea so,” said that other.

            So the knight drew aback when he saw he must needs fight, and lighted down, and drew his sword, and they met full fiercely and smote each other on helm and shield; and the knight whom Dagonet had taken enforced himself, and set on full mightily, and made the other give place, till he saw well he might not endure against him, and said: “Stay, I will fight no more with thee; but come thou whither I will lead thee, and I will show thee marvels.”

            “And where is it?” said the knight[.]

            “Hard hereby,” said he.

            “I will go then,” said the knight.

            So they mounted on their horses, and Dagonet’s knight had yet his spear unbroken as for the other.

            Sir Yrain heard all that they had done and said; and he said to himself that he would yet follow after them.

            WHEN the knight who led had gone a space, he said, “Lo there the two giants who have destroyed and wasted a great part of the land: and hereby durst pass no knight that loveth King Arthur, nor the Queen nor those of his house; go meet them if thou darest.”

            Then the knight made no words, but took his shield, and set his spear under his saddle, and smote his horse with his spurs, and turned toward one of them: and the giant cried: [“]Sir Knight, if thou hatest King Arthur and the Queen, come on well assured and have no fear of us: but dead art thou if thou lovest them.”

            “By my faith do I love them,” said the knight: Then hove up the giant a mace and thought to smite him; but huge he was, and had arms so long that the stroke fell to earth behind the knight and his horse: and the knight smote him so stoutly with his spear amidst the body that he overthrew him dead to earth: then the other giant smote the horse with his mace so mightily that he brake the thighs of him, and he fell adown: but the knight leapt to his feet all wroth that his horse was slain, and drew his sword, and set his shield before him, and came on the giant: and the giant hove up his mace and smote him

                        [f 11] 

Yrain tells of Lancelot’s deeds 

on the shield, but the stoke fell to earth, and this knight smote the giant that he smote off his arm from the shoulder: then the giant hove up his foot and thought to smite him, but the knight smote him on the leg that the foot flew off.

            Therewith when the giant was dead came a fair maiden before Sir Yrain, and looked on him. “Sir knight,” said she, “it is the third?”

            And Sir Yrain wotted not why she spake that word: so he passed on toward the knight, who as soon as he saw him said: “Sir Knight lo you how these evil giants have slain my horse so that I must needs go afoot.”

            “Not so,” said Sir Yrain, “for I will give thee mine; but speak to this knight here to lend me his unto Camelot.”

            “Sir,” said the good knight, “I thank thee much for thy horse, for at greater need mightest thou not give him me.”

            Then he said unto the knight who had brought him thither: “Light down, Sir Knight;” and he did so: then he said to Sir Yrain, “get thou up into the saddle, and he shall mount behind thee.”

            So Sir Yrain leapt into the saddle, and the knight behind him, all armed as he was, and so departed; and the knight who had slain the giant went his own ways.

            Sir Yrain, and the other knight came to Camelot, and found clad and arrayed after mass heard, and Sir Gawain was bringing her from the minster: the hall was all full of knights; and they who were at the windows said: “Lo a marvel; here cometh Sir Yrain bringing an armed knight.”

            And when Sir Yrain was at the foot of the hall he lighted down on to the stair; and the knight said, “I will away.”

            But Sir Yrain went up into the hall, and met Sir Gawain and the Queen new-come from the minster.

            “Sir Gawain,” said he, folk speak of marvels in Camelot, and that many a hap is there; and certes they say sooth: but I deem not that there be any knight here, who hath seen such marvels as have I this day.

            “Tell us thereof.” said Sir Gawain.

            So he fell to telling them, and told before all the others what he had seen of the knight; and how he had fought with that knight, and had worsted him at the utterance, had he willed, and how he had slain the giants. 

                        [f 12] 

Gawain talks to the Queen of Lancelot 

            Then leapt forth Dagonet, and cried; “It is the knight I took.”

            “Yea forsooth, so is it,” said Sir Yrain.

            “Ah ah!” said Dagonet, such knights have I good skill to take.” [A]nd he said to Sir Gawain: “Hadst thou taken him as I, what talk had been of thy prowess!”

            Then said Sir Yrain to Sir Gawain: “Furthermore, Sir, have I to tell thee: when the knight had overcome the giants there came a maiden by me who said: “Sir knight it is the third.”

            And when Sir Gawain heard this he sunk his head and smiled; and the Queen saw it and took him by the hand, and they went and sat in a window together.

            “Gawain,” said she, “by the faith thou owest to the King and to me, tell me wherefore thou smiledst even now.”

            “I will tell thee,” said he; “I smiled of what Sir Yrain said concerning the damsel’s word, the third it is: mindest thou not what the damsel said to thee in the Dolorous Gard who was in prison in the tower there?”

            “Nay I mind me not,” said the Queen.

            Quoth Gawain: “She said to us that we should hear tidings of the knight who let us enter into the Dolorous Gard, at the first Assembly which should be in the realm of Logres, at the second and at the third to wit: and this is the third,” said Sir Gawain; “and know of a sooth that the knight who hath slain the giants is Sir Lancelot of the Lake.”

            “I trow it well,” said the Queen.

            But now Dagonet made such a noise and stir that men might scarce bear him, and said to everyone, [“]I have taken the knight who won the giants.[”]

            So abode they the coming of the King at Vesper-tide, and told him of the knight who had slain the giants: and great joy had the King thereof, and all his company and the folk of the land.”

            But Dagonet came to the [K]ing and said: “Sir I have taken the good knight.”

            And the King laughed loud with a right good will. 

€ How Lancelot slew a knight who said he loved the wounded less than the wounder; and how he was assailed of forty knights, and set in prison the Lady of Mallehault

                         [f 13] 

Lancelot well lodged. 

SO long rode the knight through the forest, that he passed throughout it, and night-fall was nigh: then he met a vavassor who was riding in the wood with his squire, and had taken a fawn: the vavassor saluted him and said; “Sir it is time to house you; and so please you a good lodging shall ye have of me.”

            The knight agreed thereto and went with him: and therewith came the damsel who said to Sir Yrain; [“]It is the third;[”] and they went all four to the house of the vavassor and were well lodged that night.

            On the morrow the knight went his ways with the damsel, and they came at the hour of tierce to the entry of a causeway which endured well nigh a league, and on either side were quagmires great and deep: at the entry of the causeway was a knight armed at all arms, and when the good knight drew near to go on his ways the other stood forth and asked him who he was, and the good knight answered that he was a knight of King Arthur’s house.

            “Of a sooth then,” quote the knight of the causeway, “thou passest not hereby.”

            “Wherefore?,” said the good knight[.]

            “Because they of the King’s house have wrought my kinsman scathe.”

            “What scathe?” said the good knight.

            “If befell,” said the other, “that a wounded knight came a while agone before King Arthur, and prayed him to let rid him by such a knight as would swear by the holy things to avenge him on all such as said they loved and wounder better than wounded: now this wounded knight had slain a cousin germain of mine, a right valiant man: and because there was a knight of King Arthur’s house who took in hand to fulfill the will of the wounded, I am abiding in this place with the intent to avenge the death of my cousin: and wot well that he who hath taken this deed on him hath still enough to do.”

            “Hour,” said the good knight, “art thou of the number of those that love better the dead than the living.”

            “Of good right were I,” said he, “for the dead man was my kinsman as I have told thee.”                       

                        [f 14] 

Lancelot slayeth his host 

            “Verily,” said the good knight, “that grieveth me, for I must needs fight with thee, whenas I was deeming to go my ways freely.”

            “Art thou then,” said he, “the knight who would avenge the wounded?”

            He said he would do his might thereto.

            “Of a sooth then,” said the other, “thou shalt slay me or I will avenge my kinsman.”

            So they departed each from other, and came together as fast as the horses might drive, and he of the causeway brake his spear, but the other smote him so rudely that he bare him to earth: but young and lithe he was, and gat straightway to his feet, and put his shield before him, and drew his sword: but the good knight lighted down on foot, and took the shield from his neck and drew his sword, and they fell on each other briskly enow, but in the end the knight of the causeway began to draw aback and give place, and the good knight enforced him much, for he had yet heart and might enow, and he gave him such a stroke that he made a great piece of his shield fly about the place; and his foe had lost much blood and one of the laces of his helm was broken which grieved him sore. Therewith the good knight tore the helm from the head of him, and cast it away as far as he could, and then said to him: “Now must thou grant that thou lovest the wounded better than the wounder.”

            “I see nought as yet to make me say so,” said the other.

            “Needs must thou say so or die,” said the good knight, and fell on him therewith; but he set what of shield he had above his head, and defended him right valiantly a long while, but in the end he might not endure, and began again to give place: and again the good knight prayed him to say that he loved better the wounded than the wounder, but he would not: and the good knight fetched him a blow on the left arm, and wounded him sore and his shield felt to earth; then he fell on him with all his might, and smote him on his head all bare of helm, and clave it to the teeth, and dead fell the aforesaid knight of the causeway; whereof the other was sore grieved; but he might not amend it.

                                                                                                                            
                        [f 15]

Lancelot set in prison of the Lady of Mallehault.

THEN he came to his horse which the maiden held, and mounted thereon; and they twain rode along the causeway, and until they came to a city called the Pike of Mallehault: then came up with them two squires, whereof one bare the shield, and the other the helm of the new-slain knight: these passed straight before going a great gallop, and spake never a word: But the knight went on toward the city he and his maiden, and as they drew nigh a great cry arose, and there came to meet them knights and men-at-arms more than forty, coming on all together with their spears dressed against him and his horse; and they assailed him till they bore him to earth and slew his horse, and he abode on foot defending himself right valiantly with his sword, smiting asunder their spears and slaying their horses: but when he saw that he might not abide them he cast himself under the stair of a strong house that was thereby, and defended him as long as he might.

Then came thither the lady of the city and bade him yield him to her.

“Dame,” said he,” wherein have I done amiss?”

“Thou hast slain the son of my seneschal here.”

“Dame,” said he, “I might none otherwise do, for need drave me.”

“Yield thee to me,” said she, “I counsel thee.”

So he reached his sword to her, and she led him into her house into prison, and set him in a jail which was tiled with stone; and was two toises square, and as high as the paring of the hall which was full fair within: and in each square of the jail were two windows of glass, so clear that whoso was therein might see all who entered into the hall.

Of that jail knew the maiden nought, for she departed from before the gate, deeming surely that the knight was dead: so she went forth making her moan, nor durst she go back to the Lady of the Lake; but betook her to the first house of religion she might find: but now the tale leaveth to tell of her awhile, and of the knight who was in prison, and returneth to King Arthur.

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 16]
King Arthur summoned to help the Lady of Selices

€ How Gallehault gathered together against King Arthur on a day while Lancelot was yet in prison: and how on the morrow Lancelot was delivered from prison, and vanquished the assembly between the two Kings.

IT befell on a day while the King abode at Camelot that the lady of the Marches of Selices sent him a message to wit how that Gallehault the son of the Giantwife was come into her land, and had taken it away from her, saving two castles which she had in the land there: “Wherefore King Arthur,” quoth the message, “my Lady biddeth thee come and defend thy land, for she may not hold long but if thou come.”

“I will come speedily” said the King, “hath he a many men?”

“He hath two hundred thousand men a-horseback.”

“Fair friend, go tell thy lady that I will depart tomorrow to go against Gallehault.”

“Sir,” said his men, “do it not, but wait for thy folk, for overmany hath he; and thou shouldest not put thyself in adventure.”

“Never may God help me,” said the King, “if folk fall on my land, and I abide more than one night in any town till I meet them.[”]

So on the morrow the King departed and went till he came to the castle wherein was the Maiden of the Marches; and he had but seven thousand knights; but he had let cry and command, according to the custom that then was, to have together all his power[.]

Gallehault held siege before the said castle, and had brought thither a manner of folk who shot poisoned arrows, and were well armed as for footmen: and he had brought thither engines of iron in carts and in chariots so many that they environed about his host so that no enemies might fall on them unwares from behind.

Now Gallehault heard say that King Arthur was come with but few folk: so he bade to him his men, to wit, the thirty Kings he had conquered, and of the others as many as he would[.]

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 17]
Gallehault[’]s Assembling 

“Lords,” said he, “King Arthur is come, and hath but few folk as I hear tell: now it sorteth not with my honour that my proper host should be arrayed against him, while he hath but few folk; yet would I that my men should go against his.”

“Sir,” said the King of the Hundred Knights, [“]so please thee I will go tomorrow morning and look on his host.”
“It is well said,” quoth Gallehault.

ON the morrow came the King of the Hundred Knights and drew nigh the castle wherein was the King to look on the host of King Arthur: now about a seven leagues English herefrom, was a city called the Pike of Mallehault, and thereby was a high mount nigher to the host than the city: thereon mounted the King of the Hundred Knights, to espy the host of King Arthur, and by his deeming they were not more than seven thousand: so he gat back to Gallehault and said to him: “Sir, I have held account of their folk, and deem them not more than ten thousand.”

He spake thus measurely for that he would not be blamed of Gallehault’s men.
So Gallehault said: “Take ten thousand men according to thy will, and go deal with them.”

“With a good will Sir,” said the King of the Hundred Knights.

So he chose ten thousand men such as he would, and they armed them at all points, and went without array against the host of King Arthur; and neither was muster made of them, nor battle arrayed.

Then came tidings into the host of King Arthur that Gallenhault[’]s folk were coming on in disarray, and they armed them speedily: Gawain came to King Arthur his uncle and said: “Sir the Knights of Gallehault come on us to draw us to the gathering.”

“Fair nephew,” said King Arthur, go thou against them with as many men as we have: but divide your bands and array your battles, and look to it that it be done wisely; for they have many more folk than we have as yet.”

“Sir,” said Sir Gawain, it shall be done in the best wise we may.”

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 18]
The two hosts meet in battle. 

So Sir Gawain and the others passed the ford; for the host was on a river; and when they were over the water they divided their bands and arrayed their battles: but the folk of Gallenhault came on without array: so Sir Gawain sent a battle against them to join the fight; and they of Gallehault fell on, and King Arthurs’ folk abode them full well, and marvellously began the play.

But the folk of King Arthur were put to the worse, for they might not abide their foes, who were overmany; so when Sir Gawain saw that it was timely he sent them another battle, and then a third and then a fourth; and so even as he saw that the foes enforced them he sent men to meet them; and when he saw that the ten thousand knights were come, he rode to gather against them: now all they did well, but Sir Gawain overpast all other: many there were of King Arthur’s house who did marvels of arms, and in likewise of Gallehault’s. A long while lasted the play and enow of knights were slain of either side: the folk of Gallehault might not abide the folk of King Arthur, and for all that they were the more they were discomfited, and the seven thousand of King Arthur chaced them away.

BUT when the King of the Hundred Knights saw his folk turn to flight he was full sorry; for there he himself had played full manly: so he sent to Gallehault to have more knights, whereas he might not endure nor suffer the power of King Arthur: so Gallehault sent him thirty thousand who came flock-meal into the fray so that the dust flew up into the air: and when Sir Gawain saw them, and the other folk of King Arthur, it is no marvel that they were afeard: but the King of the Hundred Knights saw them with great joy; and they turned again, he and his folk and fell fiercely upon those of King Arthur: and Sir Gawain drew him aback, him and his folk, and held them together; for they doubted their enemies, who came on

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 19]
Great deeds of Sir Gawain

desiring to join battle: Then said Sir Gawain to his folk: “Now, let see who shall do well; or else shall we lose all and therewith ourselves!”

So Sir Gawain and his folk plucked up heart, and smote so lustily that their spears flew a pieces, and many a man beat down either the other: there was the play marvellous, and the King’s folk endured well, and defended them stoutly; but so many were there of the other side that but for the might of Sir Gawain all they of the King had been taken and slain: but he did so well that never knight did better: none the less his great deeds might not avail them long, for overmany were they of the other side, who by the force of many folk chaced them down to the ford: there Sir Gawain and the knights of King Arthur’s house abode so much that never knights abade more: and Sir Gawain passed them over the ford before, and then began a battle full great before the said castle; but Sir Gawain so played that the folk of King Arthur gat them therein: but ever had they lost a many; for Gallehault’s folk had taken many knights.

Then they drew back on either side for the night-season: but Sir Gawain had that day suffered so much of anguish and travail, and had so enforced him to do well that he was now in such a plight that he fell fainting from his horse, and needs was to bear him home to his lodging: the King and the Queen, and the other knights were afraid for him lest he were undone with the battle he had sustained daylong so mightily.

Now the castle appertained to a lady right noble, wise, and good, a widow with a child; and she was much beloved of all those that knew her; and the folk of the land loved and prized her so much, that when other folk asked them, who is your lady? they would answer, “The Queen of all ladies.” THIS lady had a knight in prison in her jail, which was great enow, and so light that he might well see all

                        [f 20]

The Lady of Mallehault talks with the prisoner

folk of that place: now on the night of the day whereon the battle had been the knights of that city came before the lady and told her all the tidings thereof: and she asked them who had done best, and they said, “Sir Gawain, for us seemeth that no knight ever did so well.”

The knight who was in prison heard these tidings, and when the sergeants who guarded him brought him his meat he asked them: “Who is the knight who is most privy with your lady?” So they named him.
“Prithee,” said the prisoner, “bring him to speech with me.”

“Right willingly” said they, and went to him and said: “The knight who is in prison would speak with thee.”
And he went thither straightway: to whom said the knight: “So please thee pray my lady to speak with me for for this cause have I sent for thee.”

[“]Right willingly fair Sir,” said he; and departed from the jail and came to the lady and said to her, “Dame, give me a gift.”

“What gift?” said she.

“Grant it me,” said he, [“]and then will I tell thee.”

“Speak assuredly,” said she, if thou hast need of aught I will give it to thee.”

“I thank thee dame, and now hast thou granted me that thou wilt speak with the knight who is in prison here.”
“Lead him hither then,” said she.

The knight brought him thither and departed leaving them to speak together.

“What wouldest thou fair Sir,” said the lady, “that thou wouldst speak with me?”

“Lady,” said he, “I would pray thee to deliver me: for I have heard that King Arthur is in this land, and I am a poor batchelor, but yet know diverse of his folk who would speedily give me my ransom.”

“Fair Sir,” said she, “I hold thee not for any covetise of ransom but for justice, whereas thou knowest well thou hast done great outrage.”

“Dame,” said he, “the deed I may not deny, nor may it be otherwise with my honour saved; yet wilt thou do well to deliver me, for I have heard say that there was an Assembly in this land

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 21]
The Lady gives the prisoner leave to go to the Assembly

and that three days hence there will be yet another; so spake the knights today amidst the hall: wherefore if thou wilt not deliver me, let me go and I pledge myself to thee that I will come back at the night-tide into they prison, if I have not forfeited my body.”

“With a good will,” said she, “so that I know thy name.”

“It may not be,” said he.

“Then thou goest not,” she said.

“Ha lady,” said he, “let me go, and I promise that I will tell thee my name timely.”

“Thou promisest me?” said she.

“Yea,” said he.

“Go then, said she, “on such covenant that thou come back at even to my prison, if so be thou have not made forfeit of thy body.”

“I promise,” said he.

So she took his pledge, and he went back into the jail, and abode there all that day and the next.

Now there came folk from all parts to King Arthur; and on the other side Gallehault’s men came to him and said: “Sir gather we together tomorrow against them of King Arthur?”

“Yea,” said Gallehault, “I will choose such as shall go.”

“To choose,” said they, “ availed nought but ye send away such as be ready to flee: send away now those who will flee, and keep only such as shall flee not.”

“It is well said,” quoth he, “and I will those forty thousand, who fled not that other time go; and in three days from tomorrow I will let my own host go forth.[”]

The night wore away, and King Arthur charged his folk that none should cross the water against them, and they did even as the King commanded: and the knights from all the countryside were come to the King’s host: then the Lady of the city delivered to the knight she held in prison a horse and a red shield, and the same arms that he had when she took him, for he would none other.

ON the morrow he went forth all-armed from the city and went toward the host of King Arthur, which lay above the ford: thereby was a lodge wherein were the King and

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 22]
The Red Knight pensive by the river

the Queen set to look on with divers dames and damsels; and Sir Gawain also, for as sick as he was let himself be borne thither.

The knight of the red shield stayed him by the ford resting on his spear; and the folk of Gallehault came on to the fray led on by a king of them he had conquered, who as they drew nigh departed from his folk, and went forth alone with his shield about his neck.

Then they of the host of King Arthur fell a crying on the Knight of the red shield, “Lo one who abideth thee; this long while he goeth all alone.”

So said they, but he answered never a word: and the said afore-conquered King drew very nigh, and the varlets grew a-weary of crying on the Knight of the red shield; but a certain lad brisk and light came to him, and took the red shield from his neck, and hung it to his own, nor ever did the Knight take any heed thereof: and another lad who was a foot deemed he was witless, and took up a clod of earth, and cast at him and smote him on the nose-piece of his helm, and cried: “Knight foredone, what dreamest thou!”

Now the clod was somewhat wet, and the water therefrom ran into his eyes, and when he felt it he opened his eyes, and lo the afore-conquered King coming on him: so he smote his horse with the spurs, and sunk his spear, and met him with great might: the King smote him on the foot, but the hauberk was good and perished not, and the spear flew a-pieces: but the Knight smote him so stoutly and mightily that he fell, man and horse even on the ground they stood on.

So after the Knight had striken this stroke the lad who had taken the shield from his neck came to the Knight, and took him by the rein and hung his shield about his neck, saying: “Sir take it, for thou shalt use it better than I deemed ye would.”

The Knight looked on him and saw that he hung his shield to his neck, took it, but made no semblance of heeding him.

The folk of the King overthrown when they saw him fall pricked on to his help: and therewith the battles of King Arthur arrayed them: and when they were

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 23]
The Red Knight vanquisheth all.

arrayed they passed the ford, and the knights drew one to the other.

Then the Knight of the red shield let run on a fellow of the King he had beaten down, and smote him so hard that he bare him to earth, and the spear flew a-pieces; and a right fair play began on both sides.
The battles of King Arthur crossed the ford thronging thick one on another; and from the other side came the folk of Gallehault sore desiring to join battle with the men of Arthur; which same received them on the iron of their spears that left many dead and many wounded that day: nevertheless the men of Gallehault bore themselves valiantly; but Arthur’s men more valiantly yet: and good need there was thereof, for they were but a twenty thousand, and the others sixty thousand.
A long while endured the said medley, and right good was the play, and Gallehault’s folk did well, and well did King Arthur[’]s folk; but he of the red arms vanquished all, and at vespers he departed, and so privily that none knew where he had betaken him.

€ How King Arthur was reproved of his vices and was right well counselled by a knight who came into his host; and how Gallehault gave truce to King Arthur for a year’s space.

RIGHT great fear had King Arthur to lose his lands and honour, and to be bewrayed of his men as those this clerks foretold him: on the other side Gallehault spake to his men saying that it was no honour to war against the King in this wise: “For overfew folk hath he, and if I conquer him and his land I shall have no honour therewith.”

“Sir,” said his men, “what wouldest thou say?”

“I shall tell you,” said he, “it liketh me not to war in this wise; so I shall give him truce for a year, on the covenant that he will bring all his might at the year’s end: thus shall I have greater honour if I conquer his land than I should

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 24]
King Arthur reproved of his sins.

have otherwise.”

Now there came herewith into the host of King Arthur a man of great wisdom, whereof the King was much comforted, for he deemed well that God had sent him help: so he gat to horse, and went to meet him with a great company and saluted him, but the good-man saluted him not again, but said as one wroth: “Of thy healeh have I no keep, for thou art the greatest sinner of all sinners; therefore I love thee not: and well it seemeth, for all honour earthly hast thou gone nigh to lose.”

Then the folk drew them aback, and those twain rode alone together, and the King said: “Ha fair master, tell me why thou hast no heed of my health, and why I am so vile a sinner.”

“I will tell thee,” said the good man, “for I know better what thou art than thou thyself: for know well that thou wert not born in lawful wedlock but in the great sin of adultery: and also ought thou to know that mortal man never gave thee thy lordship to keep, but God only, to the end that thou migtest keep it in goodly wise: but so evilly dost thou keep it, that thou thyself destroyest it who ought to guard it: for the right of the poor man and the feeble may not come before thee, when ever by his might is the rich man disloyal before thy face: poor in thy lordship is the right of the widow and the orphan; wherefore God shall punish thee full cruelly, who hath said by the mouth of the prophet David that he is the guard of the widows, and sustaineth the orphans, and will destroy the way of the ungodly.

What wilt thou say to God of thy people he hath given thee? therefore shalt thou come to destruction, for if God destroyeth the ungodly thee first of all will he destroy; for of all the ungodly art thou the ungodliest.”
“Ha fair sweet master,” said the King, “for God’s love counsel me; for certes I am sore afraid.”

“The fool asketh counsel, and troweth it not?” said the master.

“By my faith,” said the King, “whatso thou biddest that will I do.”

And therewithal came the twain talking to the

                        [f 25]

King Arthur doeth penance

tent of the King; and the King took up the word again, and said: “Fair master, for God’s love counsel me, for great is my need thereof.”

Then said the goodman: “Timely yet is the counsel if thou wilt trow in me, and I shall teach thee the beginning of the way of health: go thou into thy chapel, and bid to thee the best clerks and the wisest that thou mayst find in thy land, and there to all of them together confess all the sins that thy heart[’]s memory may teach thy tongue: and look to it that heart and mouth go together, for nought availeth the confession if the heart repenteth not: far art thou put from the love of our Lord God, and mayst not win it again save by three things: first by confession of the mouth, secondly by contrition of the heart, and thirdly by pain of the body and by works of alms and charity: such is the right way to the love of God. Go thy ways then and shrive thee in such wise and receive the discipline at the hands of thy confessors; for it is a token of well-closing, and were I appointed to hear confessions thine would I hear: but none may do but according to ordinance: then after thy confession come to me, and I hope that God will give thee good counsel, if misdoing undo thee not. Go thy ways and do as I have bidden.”

Then bade the King his bishops to him, whereof were many in the host, and they came all into his chapel: and he came before them all naked and weeping, and holding his hands full of little rods, which he threw ever before them sighing, and bidding them take vengeance on him: “For I am the vilest sinner and the most disloyal of the world.”

And they, when they heard were all abashed, and said: “Sir, what aileth thee?”

Said he, “I come before you as my fathers, and before you all would I confess to God all my great sins and felonies; for I am the greatest sinner of all sinners.”

The bishops and prelates had great pity of him hereat, and fell a weeping; but he cast him on his knees before them all naked and unshod till he had confessed to his deeming all his

                                                                                                                                                                        [f 26]
King Arthur prayeth counsel of the good man

great sins that he might call to mind; and afterwards he received the discipline of them, and full sweetly withal he took it.

Then he went back to the master, and he asked him how he had done; and he answered that he had confessed him of all his sins whereof he had memory; but the good man said to him: “Art thou shriven of thy great sin against King Ban of Benwyk, who died in thy service; and against his wife who was disinherited by the death of her lord? [O]f her son whom she lost I speak not, for one loss was lighter than the other.”

Then was the King all abashed, and said; “Certes master nay:” for I have forgotten it, yet great was the sin.”
And he returned straightway to his chapel, and found the clerks yet there speaking of his confession, and he told them of that sin: but they gave him no penance either for that or for the others, for on one matter they were not of accord: so he had respite of them till more counsel should be holden.

THEN returned the King to his master, who asked him what he had done; and he said: “Fair Sir, give me counsel, and I will trow in whatso thou sayest; for much am I adread of my men falling from me.”

“No marvel if they fail thee,” said the good man, “for if a man fail himself well may other fail him; and whereas thou hast misdone against the maker of the great lordship he hath given thee, and hast set it at nought, needs must thy folk fail thee: notwithstanding some shall fail thee with their will, and othersome against their will: they shall fail thee of their own will whom thou shouldest have honoured greatly, to wit, the common folk of the land by whom thou shouldest be maintained: for no realm may be upheld if the commons will not have it: so shall these fail thee of their own will. But the others who without their will shall fail thee, are they of thine house to whom thou hast given great riches; and these by God[’]s will shall fail thee against their will; and so both one and other shall fail thee.

                        [f 27]

The counsel of the good man

For these come into they power perforce, because they must needs hold safe their lands and honour; but those come to thee for the good thou hast done to them, and yet doest. But they who come to thee perforce, avail thee nothing more that if they were dead, for the heartless body no might may have. Think thou how much may avail shield or hauberk or helm, spear or sword, or speed of horse without the heart of a man: sure for nought might they avail: yea and if thou hadst all men which have been since the world’s beginning, and all garnished and arrayed with arms, yet if they lacked the heart, of no more aid were they unto thee than if they were otherwhere. Lo these are they, who perforce come under thee; of whom thou hast gained the bodies and lost the hearts. What! deemest thou I say thee sooth?”

“Certes,” said the King, “meseemeth ‘tis over-true: but for God’s sake counsel me what I may do: for right so do they tell me, who expound my dreams to me, that it will befal me: wherefore for God’s love, since thou hast taken in hand to counsel me, counsel me so much that I may have help thereof, if it may be.”

“I will counsel thee,” said the good man, “unto thine honour, and the profit of thy soul: and the fairest of crafts will I learn thee, for I will learn thee to heal the sick heart, and make it whole, a fair feat of medecine! give me thy word then to do as I will have thee.”

“Certes Master,” said he, “so will I.”

“Then will I tell thee,” said the goodman, what thou shalt do to have aid and counsel; and make thou no long delay therein. Thou shalt go and abide in they country, passing through thy good towns, and dwelling in each more or less according to the greatness and worth thereof: but take thou heed to abide long enow to hear the rights and the wrongs of great and small.

                        [f 28] 

King Arthur counselled

for the poor man shall be far more joyous if he have right in his quarrel before thee than before any other, and will say everywhere that thou hast guarded his right for him: and thus ought a King to do who will win the love of God and the World. Moreover I shall tell thee what thou shouldest do: thou shalt summon to thee the great men of the country when thou art abiding in any town, and the knights, both rich and poor; and they shall come to thee willingly or perforce, and thou shalt go to meet them and shall give them great welcome and honour: and whereas thou seest batchelor in poverty, and that he hath not forgotten prowess of heart, but is left among poor folk, forget him not for his poverty, nor for his lowly lineage; for under lack of goods lieth oft a wealthy heart; and oft times is a poor heart wrapped about with great store of gold and land.

But whereas thou by thyself alone mayst not know the good and evil of every country-side, meet it is that thou wheresoever thou comest seek for the loyallest knight thereof, and the best furnished with goodness and prowess: by whose report shalt thou do good to the knights of his country; for none knoweth so well a valiant man as he who is endowed with valiancy: and when he shall do thee to wit of the good needy man who keepeth him afar from thee, take heed that thou holdest notso dear the company of the great, as not to visit him and make him thy friend: for so with thou win the love of all men by thy lowliness: nor mayst thou see any man, be he never so high, in whom is wit and kindness, but if thou rise from before him, to go into the fellowship of the needy, he will hold it wisely done and valiantly: and if fools account it evil, trouble not thyself: for the word of the fool waneth ever; and ever waxeth the praise of the wise.

                        [f 29]

King Arthur counselled

Furthermore hold fellowship with the barons of thy realm, for never ought one to be worsened by other.

NOW when thou hast sojourned in the town according to thy pleasure, thou mayst depart to such fellowship as thou hast had. Then are arrayed good horses, rich cloths, vessels of gold and silver, and money good store, and whenso thou seest a good knight and needy whom thou knowest, draw nigh to him and make him good cheer; light down from thy horse and give it unto him, saying that thou wilt have him keep it for the love of thee, and after let give him of thy gold; which same thou shalt give him for the defraying of his costs, but the horse for his prowess sake: so shalt thou give to the needy valiant.

But otherwise shalt thou give to the vavassor; for if he be well at ease in his house thou shalt give him robes and palfreys to serve him at need; but take heed that thou hast sat thereon first, for then shall he say that he hath the palfrey whereon thou hast ridden.

Take heed that thou increasest ever the fiefs of the needy according to their substance; for so shalt thou win the hearts of them, and better shall the lands be warded; for thou mayst do therewith what thou wilt by them alone: and thou shouldst be better content that valiant men should have some part in the honour of thy lands than that thou shouldest lose both land and honour in shameful wise.

Furthermore to great men shalt thou give gifts: and what? rich vessels forsooth, and jewels, and fair cloths of silk; and thou shalt not look so much to the richness of the said gifts as to the beauty of them and the pleasantness: for why give riches to the rich: but to the poor man is it good to give things good rather than fair; for the needy needeth not but amending; and the rich may not give richly to all but he will love all his riches, nor is it mastery to give to a man whereof he hath enow.

                        [f 30]

King Arthur would be counselled of his dreams.

Moreover thou must give according to right; and so doing must thou cause the Queen to give to the dames and the damsels of the country whereunto she cometh. Needs also must thou give as the wise man biddeth; and be as joyous in giving as the other in taking gift; nor give with sour cheer, but making joyous countenance. For in two wise is a gift given, and that which is given grudgingly is no gift. Thou wettest well that by giving loseth no man his heritage, but by overmuch holding fast mayst thou come to ill: by bounty never was man destroyed, but there have been whom love hath exiled. Ever give enough, and ever shalt thou have enough wherewith; for if thou givest ever thy land shalt thou have: wherefore look to it to give and not to spare: which if thou doest, thou shalt win the honour of the world, the hearts of folk and the love of our Lord God: and by the lack of these three things cometh a man to nought; nor should any turn his mind to the gaining of aught else.
WHAT seemeth thee; have I counselled thee faithfully?”

“Certes Master,” said he, “well hast thou counselled me; and even so shall I do, if God lead me back in honour to my country. But for God’s sake counsel me concerning the great marvel which they told me who expounded my dream to me, how that nought might keep me from the losing of my lands save the Wild lion and the Leech without Medecine by the counsel of the Flower: make me wise of these three things if so it may be; for I may not understand them.”

“Hearken,” said the good man, “I have shown thee why thou hast lost the heart of the folk, and how thou mayst regain it; and furthermore I will tell thee of these three things that thou prayest me of: and wot that they said not thus causeless; for this Lion is God; and

                        [f 31]
The good man interpreteth the dreams
God is betokened by the Lion because of the nature of the lion which are diverse from other beasts: but whereas them seemed he was wild a great marvel is that: they called him wild because they seemed to see him in the water; which water is the World; for even as the fishes may live not save in the water, even so may we live not without the World, that is to say the things of the World; and in this World are enwrapped they who saw the Lion; and because they were stained with the sin of the World it befel them to see the Lion in the water: for had they been such as they should have been, loyal to wit, chaste, truthful, piteous and religious, they had seen the Lion in Heaven: for Heaven is the abode everlasting ordained for man, if he will enter it according to the commandment of his Creator: nought such is the Earth, but a ditch digged rather, and a grave for man that liveth contrary to Reason, that is to say in Pride, in Cruelty, in Felony, in Avarice, in Covetise, in Luxury. Even such were those clerks who interpreted thy dream for thee: yet for the might of the priesthood that was in them were they able to see the power of the Lion: but such earthly priesthood might see nought save the Lion; for nought knew they what it might betoken; moreover they deemed they saw it in the water, wherein were they deceived; and therefore they called it Wild.
[“]But the Lion is Jesus Christ, for even as the Lion is lord of all beasts, so is God lord of all things: other conditions hath the Lion also whereby he betokeneth God, whereof I will not speak as now: but so much I say unto thee that this is that Lion by whom thou shalt be holpen if ever thou art holpen.”
“Master,” said the King, “I have well heard the interpretation of the Lion, and right well hast thou showed it me: now tell me of the Leech without Medecine, for Leech without Medecine deemed I never might be

                        [f 32]

The dreams interpreted

“The more I behold thee,” said the Master, “the greater thy folly seemeth to me; for hadst thou good wit thou hadst known these things one by the other; but since I have begun to counsel a King’s Crown, I will tell thee what is the Leech without Medecine.[”]

“KNOW,” said the good man, that the leech without Medecine is God, and that all other leeches have of him what wit is in them to know the ills of the body and the healing of them: and all that they do is by him: for he giveth them herbs whereby they bring about the healing of the body: but he without herbs healeth well: wherefore hath he the name of the Leech without Medicine, and by him mayst thou be healed if he will.
[“]Now,” said the good man, “hast thou well understood that I have told thee?”

“Certes Master,” said he, right well hast thou shown it me: but yet me marvelleth of the Flower that should give me counsel; for I see in no manner wise how a flower may speak or give me any counsel.”

“Ha,” said the good man, “I shall show thee well, and do thee to wit: the Flower is the Mother of our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, wherein the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost enshadowed them without corrupting her virginity, or the flower which is in her; and she it is who prayeth for all poor sinner to her dear son, and she it is who, if thou dost her commandment, shall make thy peace with the Wild Lion and the Leech without Medecine, if so be thou doest as I have bidden.”

So he said that so he would if God led him into his own country with honour.

“Even so will he do,” said the good man.

“So may God give me ease my Master,” said the King “thou hast learned me well to know the Flower, by the counsel whereof the Wild Lion may aid me, and the Leech without Medecine.

                        [f 33]

Gallehault will have truce

So when they had finished their counsel came two knights, Kings both of them, who were from the host of Gallehault, and one was the King of the Hundred Knights, and the other the King first conquered; the King turned him to meet them; albeit he deemed not that they had been kings.

“Sir,” said the King of the Hundred Knights, “Gallehault sendeth me to thee, and would have thee give him truce tomorrow for a year, and ye both to return to this self same place, on such covenant that either shall bring all his might hither: for he deemeth it no honour to tourney with thee in this wise, ye being but a few folk; and him seemeth there is no King in the the World so high as thou.”

“I grant it,” said King Arthur.

“And moreover he would have the Good Knight,[”] saith he, [“]if he may be found.”
Therewith they departed, and returned to their lord.

The King abode full pensive for love of the Good Knight of the red arms, because Gallehault claimed him: but the good man areded the King and said: “King Arthur, now mayst thou see that the counsel of the Flower hath been good at need, and hath already prayed for thee; for thou wert at point to lose they land.”

“Sir, thou sayest sooth; but tell me if the good knight who hath vanquished this assembly shall be with Gallehault?”

“Nay sure,” said the good man.

“Ah,” said the King, “for God’s sake bring me to know him.”

“Such things will easily befall thee,” said the good man, “nor wilt thou learn more of me.”

So on the morrow King Arthur departed, and came into his own land, and had Gawain with him in a litter: a long while he dwelt at Carduel, and forgat not the teaching of the good man.

                        [f 34]

Tidings of the Assembly brought to the Lady of Mallehault.

But Gallehault brought his host into his own country.

€ How after Lancelot had vanquished the assembly he returned to the prison of the Lady of Mallehault; and how she knew him by his horse and his hurts, which were even such as the knight had who vanquished the assembly.

TELLS the tale, that the night whereon Lancelot departed from the assembly as ye have heard, he came to Mallehault, and it was night when he came; so he entered into the hall as privily as might be, and there the Lady let wait for him, being well assured that he would return; and when he was disarmed he entered into the jail, and laid him down, for nought might he eat.

The same night came back the knights whom the Lady of Mallehault had sent to the host; of whom the Lady asked news concerning the assembly, and how men had done on this side or that: and they said that the knight with the red shield had conquered all: and as she heard this she fell a looking on a maiden her cousin german who was lady of all her household: then she abode till the knights were departed thence, and so soon as she was rid of them, she called her cousin and said to her: “May not this be our knight?”

“Dame,” said she, “we may soon know if ye will.”

“Yea, but I will,” said the Lady, “that none know thereof, saving us twain.”

“Dame,” said she, [“]with a good will.” And therewith the damsel cleared the house so that there was none left save they twain: and the damsel bore a handful of candles, and they entered into the stable, and found the horse wounded in many places and lying before the manger, for he might not eat.

Then said the Lady, “So may God be good to me, thou seemest well to be the horse of a valiant man! what

                        [f 35]

The Lady goeth to see the knight in prison

sayest thou, cousin?”

“Madam, meseemeth he hath had more labour than rest; but he is not him that the knight led away hence.”
“Yea, but wot ye,” said the Lady, “that he hath used more than one: come let us go look on the arms, and see what seemeth of them.”

So they went into the chamber wherein they were, and found the hauberk all perished and full of great rents, and the shield cloven and clipped and shorn with great strokes of swords this way and that, and the helm to shattered and dinted, with the nasal cut back from it: then said the Lady to her cousin: “What seemeth thee of these arms?”

“Certes,” said she, “meseemeth that whoso bore them was not over idle.”

“Thou mayst well say,” said the Lady, “that the most valiant man who ever came hither hath borne them.”
“Dame,” said she, “it may well be.”

“Now go we,” said the Lady, “and look on the knight; I have not yet seen enow to be full sure.”

So they came to the door of the jail and found it open, and the lady took a candle, and put her head in at the door, and saw the knight lying on his bed all naked, but he had drawn the coverlet up from his feet, but his arms were cast without because of the heat, and full fast he slept: his face and his forehead were torn and his hands swollen and full of blood, and his shoulders all cut about and wounded.  So she looked on her damsel and and fell a laughing; “Certes thou shalt see marvels,[”] said she.

Then she entered into the jail and looked all about, and gave the candles to the damsel to hold, and walked a little forward and the damsel said; “What wilt thou?”

                        [f 36]

The Lady would kiss the knight

Said the Lady: “Never shall I be at such good point to kiss him as now.”
“Come away my Lady,” said she, “and do no such folly; for if he knew thereof he should account the less of thee:  be not, as all women, so surprised by him, that he may mind you of the shame hereafter.”
Said the Lady, “What shame in God’s name may I have of such a valiant man?”
“Ah dame,” said the damsel, “with his pleasure will he please him; and if this be not his pleasure then shall the shame be double: and such an one may he be as hath all valiancy of body but lacketh valiancy of heart: and as I deem thou mayst do him all joy, and all thy joy shall turn within his heart into outrage and envy; and so is all thy service lost.”
So much said the young maiden to the Lady, that she led her away without more done: but when they were come into the chamber she fell a weeping and speaking of the knight: but the damsel restrained her words all she might; for she saw well the love wherewith the Lady loved him; and in the end she said to her: “Dame, I deem that this knight thinketh of other things than thou deemest.”
“So may God help,” said the Lady,” I deem that he thinketh of things higher than ever man hath, and that God, who hath made him fairer and better than any other hath granted to him also a good end to turn his thoughts toward[.]”
Many things that night they said of him, and sore marvelled the Lady wherefore he was doing such deeds of arms; and well she deemed he loved lovesomely in a high place.
€ How Sir Gawain with forty fellows took on him the quest of finding the knight who bore the red

                        [f 37] 

King Arthur is pensive

arms at the Assembly between King Arthur and Gallehault.

NOW saith the tale that King Arthur went first to Carduel when he came into his land; and there he dwelt twenty days, and every day held solemn court, doing right well the commandment of his Master.
On the fifteenth day was Sir Gawain healed, whereof was all the court full joyous.

But at the end of thirteen days it befel that the King sat at dinner, but when he had eaten a while he fell a-thinking full sorely; and it was well seen of his thinking that his heart had no ease thereof: then came Sir Gawain who was serving before him and said: “Sir, thou art over much thinking at thy meat; which shall turn to thy harm, for here are many knights, who shall blame thee.”

Then answered the King right wrathfully: “Gawain, Gawain, thou hast drawn me from the kindest thought that ever I had, whereof none might blame me, for I was a thinking on the valiantest and the best of all good Knights: him, to wit, who vanquished the Assembly between me and Gallehault; and Gallehault hath boasted that he will have him on his side at this Assembly coming. Time has been when the fellows of my house had they done a thing I desired would have sought him, were never so far in the outlands: for folk were wont to say that all earthly prowess was in my court; but I say that so it is no longer, since this knight is out of it.”
“Certes,” said Sir Gawain, “thou art right, and thou shalt have the knight if he may be found in all the world.”
Therewith Sir Gawain turned away, and when he was come to the door of the hall he turned back toward the table, where was sitting at       

     [f 38] 

Sir Gawain goeth on his quest.

meat many a good knight, and spake so loud that all might hear him saying: “Lords and knights who would enter on the highest quest that ever was saving that of the Graal, follow after me: herein is all prize and all honour ready for him to whom God will give the honour of finding so high a treasure!”

            Therewith departed Sir Gawain, and knights sprang up to follow him, and the tables were voided, and Sir Gawain was now come on to the stair: then waked the King wroth that none abode behind; and he called to him Sir Gawain, and said to him; “Fair nephew I am angry with thee, that thou wouldst thus lead away my fellowship from me, and great shame thou dost me therein, and I withal in case where I must needs maintain me more joyously than my wont: and who forsooth saw ever such assembly made for the finding of one knight. Wouldst thou take perforce all the knights of my land, when the lesser thy folk is the more is the honour to gain.”

            Thereat Sir Gawain acknowledged that the King spake but truth, and said: “Sir, they alone shall come whom ye will; and I spake not but to have fellows for courtesy-sake; for all alone had I gone on this quest, if need were: and yet if many knights seek him the sooner shall he be found.”

             “Thou sayest well,” quoth King Arthur, “choose thou forty as thou wilt.”

            So he chose them whom he would, and they entered on their quest, swearing not to leave it till the Assembly between King Arthur and Gallehault.

 

€ How the Lady of Mallehault put to ransom the knight whom she had held in prison, and let him go when she saw that she might not know his name.

            SAITH the tale that on a day the Lady let bring 

            [f 39]

The Lady of Mallehault would know the Knight’s name

him out of jail to talk with him; and when he came before her he went and sat him down at her feet; but she full desirous to honour him made him sit on high beside her, and said to him: “Sir knight, I have held thee a long while in my prison and in all honour against the will of my seneschal and all my kin, so great thanks thou owest me.”

            “Dame,” said he, “even such thanks that I am ever thy knight at need[.]”

            “Gramercy,” said she, “and that shalt thou show me well: for I pray thee to tell me in reward who thou art, and what thine intent is?”

            “God’s mercy, Dame,” said he, “thou mayst never know it, for unto none will I tell it.”

            “Nay?” said she, “thou wilt not tell me in any wise?”

            “Dame,” said he, “thou mayst do thy pleasure with me, for even if thou mays must smite off my head, I will not tell thee.”

            “An evil word forsooth; for by all that I love most thou goest not forth from my prison before the Assembly; and moreover till that day shalt thou have shame enow, and there is yet a year thereto: but and if thou hadst told me shouldst thou have been quit this very night: and thy name I shall know in thy despite for I shall go into such a place as I shall learn it well therein.”

            “Yea and where, Dame?” said he.

            Said she: “At the court of King Arthur.”

            “Dame,” said he, “I may do no more.”

            So the Lady sent him back to the jail, making semblance to be very wroth with him; but it was not so; for she loved him beyond measure, and day by day waxed her love for him.

            But in no long space she came to the court of King 

            [f 40] 

Ransom offered to the Knight

Arthur to gather tidings, but found none to tell her aught: moreover King Arthur said that his nephew Sir Gawain was gone a-seeking him with a company of forty. And when she heard it she gat her back full heavy that she might not know his name: but so much had she been told that he was not of the House of King Arthur, nor of his land.

            WHEN she was come back she bade bring the knight whom she held in prison, and made semblance of great ire to him: “Sir knight,” said she “that other day thou didst gainsay mine asking of thy name; but so much have I learned of thee, that I will quit thee if thou wilt pay me ransom.”

            “Dame” said he, “gramercy; for God’s love tell me of my ransom!”

            “Wot ye,” said she, “what it shall be? I will name three to thee, and if thou take not one thereof, never goest thou forth from my prison.”

            “Say thy will then, Dame,” said he.

            Quoth she. “First, if thou tell me thy name thou art quit: next if thou wilt say thou lovest me with hot love: but if thou wilt not say either one or other then tell me if thou lookest to do ever again such deeds of arms as thou didest at the Assembly.”

            When he heard this he fell a sighing sorely and said: “Dame, I see now that thou hatest me grievously; for thou wilt have none but shameful ransom of me: and now thou thou hast told me thy pleasure of my great shame, what surety have I that thou wilt quit me for this word?”

            “I swear to thee,” said she, “that so soon as thou hast taken one of these three ransoms thou shalt go quit.”

            Then fell the knight a weeping tenderly, and said: “Dame, I see well that by shameful ransom must I needs 

            [f 41] 

The Knight payeth ransom.

escape if I will begone, and since it is better that I myself tell my shame than another, I tell thee that I look to do more deeds of arms than I have ever done if so I am commanded. And now that that hast wrought me shame tell me if I may go now according to thy pleasure.”

            “Enough hast thou said,” quoth she, “and thou mayst begone now when it pleaseth thee; yet since I have held thee so honourably, I pray thee give me a gift, which shall cost thee nought.”

            “Dame,” said he, thou shalt have thy pleasure herein if it be possible to me.”

            “Gramercy,” said she, “I pry thee to abide here until the Assembly, and I will furnish thee forth a good horse, and arms such as thou wilt bear; then depart hence to the Assembly, and I shall forewarn thee of the day appointed.”

            “Dame,” said he, “I will do thy pleasure.”

            “I will tell thee,” said she, “what thou shalt do; thou shalt abide in thy jail and have all that pleaseth thee, and I will bear thee company full oft; and I will that none know what thou hast done for me. But say now what arms thou wouldst bear.”

            So he said arms all black; and therewith gat him back to his jail. And the Lady let array for him a shield all black, and a horse of like colour, and coat armour and coverings of the like: but here leaveth the Tale of the Lady and the knight and telleth of King Arthur.

 

€ How Sir Gawain and his fellows returned from their quest with nought done; and how, the truce being out worn, Gallehault let draw together against King Arthur.

            KING Arthur abode in his land doing well the 

            [f 42]

The Kings go to the Assembly

commandment of his Master in the honouring of his folk, so that by then half the year was worn he had in such wise gained the hearts of his folk, that there were more than a thousand houses in that spot of land; and all said that they had liefer die than that the King should lose his land. So came they to King Arthur as thronging as they might fifteen days before the Nativity; then too on the other hand come Sir Gawain and his fellows from the quest, wherein they had done nought and were well ashamed thereof: but the sore need of King Arthur brought them back, and Sir Gawain said that better it were to die for the honour of their King, than that he should be left alone to be shamed or disinherited. So by these words of Sire Gawain came the forty fellows to the court, and the King received them with full great joy, for he had been somewhat afeared lest they should not come betimes. So went the King arrayed to defend his land.

            On the other part came Gallehault with a many folk: for whereas he had one man that other time, now had he two, so that the chains of iron wherewith all that first host had been enclosed withal might not now go about the half of it.

            WHEN the truce was outworn both one and other desired sore to draw to a meeting: then they asked of Gallehault that he would send the first to the Assembly, and how many men withal: and he said that his body would not bear arms but if need drave him thereto; and as at this first time he would not that his folk did aught save look on the folk of King Arthur: “but on another day, let us meet so fiercely that one or other be utterly discomforted.”

            Then he commanded that the King first conquered should assemble with thirty thousand men, according to to what he deemed was the measure of King Arthur’s 

            [f 43]

The beginning of the battle

folk, but that if need were of more he should send nought doubting to the host. So spake Gallehault to his men; and on the other side spake Sir Gawain to King Arthur, and said: “If Gallehault beareth not arms tomorrow neither wilt thou?”

            “Fair nephew, thou sayest sooth,” said he, “but thou shalt arm and lead a many of my men: and look to it to do well as thou wottest need is.”

            “Sir,” said he, “we will do thy pleasure.”

            So on the morrow they arose betimes both on one part and the other, and when they had heard mass they went to arm. The folk of the King passed the lists little by little, and they gathered thick on either side; and fair justs befel in many places.

            Now drew forth a good man of Gallehault’s folk, a valiant man who was afterward in King Arthur’s court, Estarans the Needy he hight, and was a full good man at arms. He all alone fell on where was a band of more than a hundred knights, and ran so fiercely that all looked on him; and admidst of that band were many valiant men, who let him smite where he would: he brake his glaive where he thought to do best, and went through the ranks with the truncheon to smite one called Gallegrignans brother of Sir Yrain the Little, who was coming to the justing, and with such might they met, that they were borne to earth, and lay there long: then knights of King Arthur[’]s house, five of them ran thither to take Estarans: there was the melee full hard, and stout defence made they of Gallehault, but they might not long endure, for they were nought so good knights as they of King Arthur: so was Gallegrignans recovered, and the other six, and Estarance was beat down again. And at this rescue of Estarance and Gallegrignance [sic] drew together what 

            [f 44]

Great deeds of Sir Gawain

on one side what on the other more than fifty thousand men.

            Right well did King Arthur’s folk, for but twenty thousand were they, and the others thirty thousand or more, yet had they the better part in the battle. Then came in the host of the King first conquered, who was a full valiant knight and trusty: but when Sir Gawain gathered against him the folk of the King first conquered held their own but little and began to flee shamefully; and when Gawain saw it he was right joyous, and Gallehault was full of grief; and he sent them so many folk that the field was all covered with them. But when Sir Gawain saw them he drew together again, and prayed the folk sore to do right well. Then came their enemies to the fray and smote on them as hard as they might, and they received them full stoutly.

            There did Sir Gawain marvels, and all his fellows followed after his well doing: yet might their deeds avail nought, because for one man of Gawain’s had Gallehault three; but they endured a great while very great scathe, and in the end must give place and were borne aback to the lists. There shewed Sir Gawain some deal of his prowess, for he endured so much, that all his fellows marvelled, yea and they of Gallehault even were astonied at him.

            WHEN King Arthur saw that they might not more endure, he said they had already borne overmuch, and he sent them as many knights as he had aforetime sent, and prayed them to play wisely. And now had they already passed the lists, and Sir Gawain’s horse was slain, and he afoot, and in great need of succor.

            And when they came thither they abode till the King came pricking thither and with him twenty thousand all told: there befel a great medley, and right well they did both on one side and the other; and such deeds did Sir Yrain, that never erst had he done so well: thrice he re-horsed Sir Gawain,  

            [f 45]

Sir Gawain sore hurt.

who was by now so battered as never worse had he been. Then began the prowess of Sir Yrain; and so endured the battle day long until vespers, and when one side was discomforted their folk sent them succour, till either side began to draw aback; but with his folk went not Sir Gawain, who was gone to the rescue of one of his fellows hight Gahus of Karahew; whereof nought knew Sir Yrain or any of his fellows as they went their ways, till a squire called on Sir Yrain, saying that his fellow and his friend was dead; “Or at the least so will he be speedily, or taken else, but if ye go succor him.”

            Then turned back Sir Yrain as fast as his horse might go, so abashed as he had never been more, and after him followed many valiant men: and when he came into the battle he found Sir Gawain so sore hurt that the blood was coming from out his mouth, and he looked to die unshriven; yet was he still a horseback. There was the medley mightier and more than all that day it had been; but ever had the folk of Sir Gawain the better part, and the others fled away.

            Then retured Sir Gawain, and Sir Ywain [sic] and had with them captives enow, and the King gave them welcome full goodly.

            But when Sir Gawain was come before the tent he fell fainting, whereat was the King all abashed: then were the leeches brought, who said that three ribs of him were broken; and they deemed well that he would die; yet durst they not say so much to the King, but said that they would heal him.

            Great grief was there over Sir Gawain, and great and small bewailed him; saying that never had died so valiant a man.

            NOW when Sir Gawain fainted before the lent, that saw well the knights of Mallehault: so when their Lady asked of them who had done best, they 

            [f 46]

The Knight in prison talks with the Lady

said that Sir Gawain had overcome all, but was hurt deadly.

            Of this tidings was the Lady right sorry, and said: “Ah Gawain, never died a man more gentle!”

            So spread the rumour thereabout, that there was no knight but spake thereof, till the knight of the jail heard the tidings, who if the others had held their peace alone had made moan enough for all, and said: “If this be true never may the loss be made good.”

            And when the knights were gone to their lodgings the knight of the jail did so much that he spake with the Lady and said: “Dame, is it sooth that Sir Gawain is dead?”

            “Nay,” said she, “but he is hurt: great scathe is that; and on the day of his death should all joy cease.”

            Then he said to her; “Dame, why hast thou so shamefully bewrayed me? thou covenantedst while agone to do me to wit of the day of the Assembly.”

            “If I gave covenant,” said the Lady, “now I acquit me thereof, for enough have our folk lost.”

            “Dame,” said he, “it is over late.”

            “Not so,” said she, “but timely rather; for the Assembly shall be in three days hence; I have arrayed for thee horse and arms such as I promised thee, but I counsel stir not for three days, and then go straight to the place.”

            “Dame at thy pleasure,” said he.

            THEN went he to rest him in the jail; but the Lady departed on the morrow to go into the host of King Arthur and look on the Assembly; for she would fain be there before the coming of the knight with the black arms. So she went till she came to the host, and the Queen made great joy of her: she found Sir Gawain in better cheer than had been told her, so was she full joyous.

            On the third day the knight arose betimes, and the  

            [f 47]

The Black Knight pensive by the river

cousin of the Lady[’]s helped him arm, and when he was armed he commended the maiden to God, and went his ways. So journeyed he till he came to the very place whereas the lad took the shield from his neck; there he fell a looking on the galleries to behold the ladies that were therein: thither was now come Sir Gawain and the Lady of Mallehault, and King Arthur’s folk were armed, and were thronging over the water; and in likewise did the folk of Gallehault, and in no long while the meadows were covered with justing men and medleys of fight: but the knight abode leaning on his spear all pensive, and looking on the gallery.

            “Ah God,” said the Queen, “the knight I see yonder on the river-side, who may he be?”

            Then all, both men and women, fell a looking on him; and Sir Gawain asked if he might see him, and the Lady of Mallehault said that she would turn him in such wise that he might behold all down the meadow: and so did she. Then he looked down and saw the knight with the black shield, and said to the Queen: “Mindest thou not when I was even as sore hurt as now I am, and was lying here, and on a morning there passed a knight over that river? this is either he or another: but then he bore red arms, and he it was who vanquished the Assembly.”

            “Fair nephew,” said the Queen, “it may well be so; but why speakest thou thereof?”

            “I speak thereof because I were fain that he it were; no prowess of a knight would I gladlier behold than his; and I deem that we shall good store thereof today.”

            A long while they spake of him, and never stirred he from his place the while.

            But now had King Arthur ordered his battles, and had four thereof; and in each well nigh fifteen thousand knights*.

            Sir Yrain led the first, and did full well that day. The

*and a fifth wherein were more than twenty thousand. 

            [f 48]

The Lady of Mallehault and the Black Knight

second led Hervey of Rivel, one of the wisest in war of all men of the world. The third led Anguisance, King of Scotland, cousin of King Arthur. The fourth led King Yons, and the fifth Sir Yrain son of King Uriens.

            In likewise did Gallehault, and in each one of four battles twenty thousand men, and in the fifth forty thousand: the first led Malanges seneschal of the King of the Hundred Knigths [sic]; the second the King first conquered: the third the King of Hadeban; the fourth king Clamadeus: and the fifth King Vendemalengin, a man right valiant in knighthood, and wise in council.

            That day Gallehault bore not knight’s arms; but was armed as a sergeant, and held a staff in his hand sitting on a horse meet for a valiant man. So rode they into the field on one side and the other.

            But the knight of the black arms still stood pensive on the riverbank: so the Lady of Mallehault called to the Queen and said: “Dame, bid yonder knight do some deed of arms for the love of thee, and show thee what he is: so shall we see what he may do.”

            “Fair lady,” said the Queen, “I have other matter on hand.”

            “Yea and what?” said the Lady of Mallehault.

            “I shall tell thee,” said the Queen, “my lord is in adventure to lose land and honour, and my nephew lieth sore hurt as ye may see, wherefore I am over heavy to have heart for disport as my wont was: but do thou and all these other ladies lay that charge on him.”

            “Certes Dame,” said she of Mallehault, “I am all ready thereto: but if thou wert to bid him I were gladly thy fellow therein.”

            “Dame,” said the Queen, “I will not meddle with it: bid him thou, and these other ladies if ye will.”

            Then said the Lady of Mallehault that if the other ladies would bid him so would she with a good will; 

            [f 49]

The ladies bid the Black Knight do a deed of arms

and they all granted it to her; and so the Queen sent him a damsel to do the message, and the Lady of Mallehault devised the message: and Sir Gawain sent him two spears of his by a squire who bore them.

            Then said the Lady to the damsel: “Go thou to yonder knight, and say to him that all the dames and damsels of the court, and my Lady the Queen salute him, saving my Lady the Queen all only, and command and pray him if he would at any time be winning honour, or have any courtesy, to do some deed of arms today for their love: also give to him these two spears which Sir Gawain sendeth to him.”

            Then gat the damsel a horseback, and the squire who bore the glaives, and she came to the knight and gave her message.

            WHEN he heard it what she bade him, he looked up and took leave of the maiden and bade the varlet follow him: he looked to his legs and settled them in the stirrups, and Sir Gawain who was beholding him deemed he had waxed half a foot higher, as he went off good speed pricking with spur: and Sire Gawain seeing him said to the Queen: “Dame, dame, lo there a knight peerless in the world!”

            Then ran they to the windows and battlemented places and saw the knight going as fast as his horse might drive: and they saw on the right and on the left fall fair justs, for great plenty of the King’s folk were already past the lists; so went he through all the Assembly till he came upon a certain band, wherein might be well an {an? on?} hundred knights; he struck in amongst them, and smote one knight so rudely that he bore him to earth, horse and man; and when his glaive was perished he smote with the truncheon as long as it held out: then he drave forth out of the press to the squire who bare the two glaives 

            [f 50]

Sir Gawain’s counsel to the Queen

and took another, and drave among them so freely that all other left their justs to behold him: so wrought he with the three glaives while they endured, so that Sir Gawain testified that never man had done so much: and so soon as the three glaives were broken he came to the same place by the river where he had been erst, and turned his visage toward the gallery.

            Then spake Sir Gawain to the Queen: “Look on yonder knight, and wot ye well that he is the best in the World: and now whereas thou wouldst not be named in the bidding, peradventure he held it for pride in thee, and deemeth thou accountest but little of him, since thou deignedst not to bid him do arms for the love of thee.”

            “By by faith,” said the Lady of Mallehault,” it seemeth well that for us he will do no more.”

            “Dame,” said Sir Gawain to the Queen, “what deemest thou have I spoken rightly.”

            “Fair newphew,” said she, “what wouldest thou that I do?”

            “Dame,” said he, “this is a great treasure to have—a good man: for by the body of one good man only have many great deeds been brought about, and many valliancies: so my lady I shall tell thee what thou shalt do: send greeting to him and cry him mercy, saying that the honour of my lord the King and thine shall this day come to nought but if God and he help not; and that if he look ever to have joy and honour where thou hast might let him do some deed of arms that thou mayest owe him thanks therefore: for wot ye well that if he take on him the defence of the King, he shall not be taken for all Gallehault’s might: and I will send him ten glaives, wherewith this day thou shalt see great deeds of arms wrought, and three good horses withal housed with my arms: and wot thou that if he will but put forth all his might he will bring them to 

            [f 51]

The Black Knight bidden to arms for the Queen’s love

nought.

            Then the Queen bade Sir Gawain give him what message he would in her name, for that she was well content. Thereat was the Lady of Mallehault marvellous glad.

            THEN Sir Gawain called to him the damsel who had done the message, and set forth to her what he had shown to the Queen; then he called three squires, and let lead three horses all garnished with his coat armour, and another bare three glaives: then departed the damsel, and came to the knight, and told him what Sir Gawain and the Queen bade him, and therewith delivered to him the gifts, and the knight asked: “Where is my lady?”

            “Sir,” said she, “up in yonder gallery; and wot well that thou shalt be well looked on.”

            Then said the knight: “Say thou to my lady and Sir Gawain that I will do their pleasure, and great thanks I give them.”

            Then he took the strongest of the glaives that the varlet bore, and bade the said squires to follow him; and the damsel went to the Queen and Sir Gawain and told them the message of the knight.

            The knight let run down the meadow where were many good knights gathered of either side; for by now were all passed the lists and great battle there was, and either side did well.

            But he eschewed all the medleys, making semblance of knowing none, and passed all through the battle unto the King First Conquered where were twenty thousand knights: on them he turned and fell among them whereso he thought best to deal in strokes, till there was none stood before him, for all he bore to earth till his glaive was broken.

            This marvel saw many knights of King Arthur’s House; Kay the Seneschal to wit, and Sagramor le Desirée, and Girflet, and Yrain the bastard, and Sir Brandelis, and Gaheriet 

            [f 52]

Great deeds of the Black Knight

the brother of Sir Gawain, who were coming to the fray all ready for well doing: and Kay said to them: “Lo lords here have we a fair fight since all is done by the body of one only knight: hither are we come to win honour and prize, nor ever shall we be anywhere where we may work to such good account; and as for me I will hasten to follow him, for he is hardy and valiant, and I would have honour in his following, nor will I leave him today but I be dead or maimed.” Then he smote his horse with his spurs, and the others in likewise.

            And the Black knight having broken his glaives drew out of the press, and took another, and came again into the medley; and they who followed after him smote after him in the battle, and fell to beating down knights and horses, and tearing shields from off of necks and wresting helms from heads.

            So much did the Good Knight in short space that all his ten glaives were broken, and one of his horses dead under him: and as he was there in the press came the six fellows to him, and one of the squires bringing him a horse: so he leapt into the saddle and went back into the medley, as fresh as if he had stricken no stroke that day[.]

            WHEN the six fellows saw the horse arrayed in the arms of Sir Gawain they marvelled much, and knew well that he was a good knight. And in this play no knight took other by the bridle, nor did they fall on one by two or three, but whoso might most of arms most he did.

            So did the Black Knight marvels in arms, he and his company, yet they but a little longer endured but for an adventure that befel: for the battle of the King of the Hundred Knights was discomforted, and might no longer hold them against their foes: thereof had 

            [f 53]

The Black Knight hard bestead.

the King of the Hundred Knights great dole for he was a good knight of his hands.

            Thereafter fell the folk of King Arthur on the battle of the King First Conquered who was more than they, being forty thousand in two battles, but with King Yons were but fifteen thousand. There was well seen the prowess of the Black Knight; he beat down knights and horses, and sheared though with his sword whatso he touched, and oft it befel that he found none anigh to smite; but wheresoever he smote fairly, nought might endure before him; and so well he did that all they anigh him marvelled thereat. And the rumour of him ran all about the host of King Arthur so that none was told of save he; yea and in the host of Gallehault also: and all they who saw him said that he was the best knight of the world.

            A great while he held him thus, and ever the six fellows followed after him: then was his horse slain and straight way he leapt on another, but presently was dismounted anew; then began the company to worsen, who all day long had done well; wherewith called Kay the Seneschal to his squire and said: “Go thou to Hervey of Rivel, where thou seest that banner broidered of gold and sinople, and give him this my message, that soon shall all the world cry out on him: for he letteth die now the best knight that ever hung shield on neck; and wot well that if he die all the knighthood of King Arthur shall die with him; and he who should have succoured him shall be evil accounted of for ever thereafter.[”]

            SO departed the squire and came to Hervey and did his message to him, and when he heard it he was all ashamed, and said: “Ah God certes treason did I never, nor will I fall to it now I am old.”

            Then he bade his folk look to their array, and said to the squire: [“]Go thou and tell Kay the Seneschal 

            [f 54]

The onset of Hervey of Rivel

that if he may endure till I come he shall no more account me a traitor.”

            So the varlet went and told Kay the word of Hervey, and Kay laughed for as little ease as he was in: then he asked of the varlet who was the Black Knight, and he said he knew not. “Wherefore then hath Sir Gawain given him his horses,” said Sir Kay.

            “Nay no more I know than I have told thee,” said the other.

            So Kay did on his helm that he had taken off, and turned back to the medley. Therewith came Hervey of Rivel with all his battle well arrayed, and as they fell on they cried our so loud that all the host rang again.

            Great there was the medley, so that many horses ran loose, and many a knight was slain or hurt. Then began Hervey of Rivel to do marvels about all men; for because of that word of Kay’s did he enforce him to do more than need was, for he was passed of eighty winters.

            Right well as at this time did the folk of King Arthur, but above all did the black Knight do well: for such marvels of arms he did as it was a great matter to behold.

            Never after the coming of Hervey might the folk of Gallehault hold their own, though they were more by the fourth part than the others: Vengart saw that his folk were put to the worse, so he succoured them with his battle, and came on as fast as the horses might go: then great scathe befel the folk of Hervey, for they of Gallehault were full two against one: but when they had been beaten back a little, King Anguisance brought them succor, and then they held them stoutly.

            Then fell on King Clamadeus and King Yrain against him, and now were four battles on either side in the field, but they of Gallehault were full twenty thousand more than the others, and notwithstanding so wrought the Black Knight, and the 

            [f 55]

Gallehault cometh to battle

Knights of King Arthur that they gave aback a long space, and the Black Knight followed them up cruelly, and none durst abide his great strokes.

            So gave aback the folk of Gallehault; and when he saw them giving aback he marvelled what might ail them, for they were many more than the others; and he asked what was toward: “Sir,” said a knight who had no lust to turney, “whoso will see marvels, let him go see there whence we are come, and greater shall he see than ever were, or ever will be.”

            “How,” said Gallehault, “what marvels them?”

            “What,” said he, “why down there is a knight whose body beareth down all, nor may any endure him.”

            “By my faith,” said Gallehault,” I will believe it when I see it.”

            Therewith he set aside ten thousand men, and bade King Vendemalengrin not to stir till he came to him, and in likewise bade he the ten thousand.

            THEN gat he to the battle, and caused all draw aback with him whom he met; and when Clamadeus saw him coming, he turned full fiercely on his foes, and Gallehault called on them he led to thrust on into the fray, and they let run at the commandment of that valiant man: then was well descried a dawning the banner of Gallehault and both one side and other deemed that much folk were drawing near to their helping.

            And now full evilly had the folk of King Arthuf been dealt with had the Black Knight not been, but he all only took the brunt upon him, and in every place they found him ready to defend him. There was his horse slain, which was the last of those that Sir Gawain had given him: but he fell to his defence so stoutly that none durst draw nigh him; neither might his own folk remount him. There did he such valiant deeds of arms, that all marvelled at him; and Gallehault himself was all abashed how the body of one only knight might do all this; 

            [f 56]

Gallehault giveth his horse to the Black Knight.

and he said to himself that he would not conquer all lands beneath the heavens, if such a man must die therefor. Then he smote his horse with his spurs, and thrust into the press to depart the medley; and he called to the knight of the Black shield, saying; “Have no fear!”

            Who answered that he had none.

            “Wottest thou,” said Gallehault, “what I would say to thee; I would teach thee one of my customs: wot ye that I have forbidden all my men to lay hand on thee whiles thou art afoot: and I make thee sure that if being overcome thou leave to do feats of arms, there is none shall take thee: and if thy horse be dead dismay thee not, for I will give thee one so long as thy body may use him, and thy squire will I be daylong today; and then if I may not win thy body never shall man living win it.”

            Therewith he lighted down from his horse and gave it to the knight, who leaped on him without more stay; and Gallehault mounted another and came to his company. Then he had with him the ten thousand and bade them draw forward: “But thou, said he to the King, thou shalt follow after, nor full on till these are in the fray; but when the last of these be come into the fight, then fall on, and I myself will come to seek you.” Then he led on the ten thousand to the onset; and when he was entered into the battle he let blow up the horns so that all rang again. And when the Black Knight heard him coming him seemed that much folk was there; so he drew him aback a little to his own folk, and called them about him, and said to them: “Lords yeare all friends of the King, so see ye to it what ye will do.”

            And Sir Yrain when he saw them come on said to his folk: “Be ye full sure that we shall not be overthrown today by much folk.”

            And this he said because he deemed that Gallehault’s 

            [f 57]

Gallehault followeth after the Black Knight

men were all come.

            WHEN the ten thousand of Gallehault[’]s fell on full great was the stir, and much folk they beat a down at their coming: but when Sir Yrain came he greatly recomforted the folk of King Arthur, and all the fleers turned back with him, and Gallehault drew aback to his company and bade them come on stoutly, and smite the folk of King Arthur in such wise, that none of them should abide on his horse: “All fresh ye are; so look to it how ye do!”

            Then rode these companies before their folk who had already been worsted; and when the company of Gallehault was come, then was the play all changed about, for much folk he had; and at their coming was the Black Knight beaten to earth, and those six fellos also, who all day long had been anigh him.

            Then came Gallehault, who remounted him on the very horse whereon his own body sat: and so soon as he was horsed he turned back into the medley, as fresh as he had been that day: and when he came to handy strokes all who saw him marvelled. So endured the battle till night-fall, and at night-tide they drew apart; and ever the folk of king Arthur had had the better.

            The good knight departed from the host the most privily he might, going by a way betwixt the meadows and a hill, and deemed that none saw him; but Gallehault took good heed to it, and spurred his horse in such wise that he gat before him by craft, and came to meet him at the hills foot, and saluted him, and bade God guide him. But he looked at him askance, and scarce at all gave him back greeting.

            “Fair friend,” said Gallehault, “what art thou?”

            “Sir,” said he, “I am a knight as thou mayst see.”

            “Certes” said Gallehault, “knight art thou, and the best that may be: and thou art the man in the world 

            [f 58]

Gallehault promiseth great things

whom I would most honour: and I am come to pray thee to lodge with me this night.”

            And this he said even as if he had never seen him erst.

            “What art thou sir, who prayest me to lodge and abide with thee?”

            Quoth he, “I am Gallehault lord of this folk hereby, from whom thou hast this day saved the kingdom of Logres, which I had conquered by now had not thy body been.”

            “How!” said the other, thou art the foe of King Arthur, and thou prayest me to lodge with thee? with thee will I lodge never, as the matter goeth.”

            “Ah Sir,” said Gallehault, “more had I done for thee, but I had to begin: I pray thee to abide with me on covenant that I do to thee all thou mayst ask of me.”

            Then the knight made stay, and said to Gallehault: “Sir, enough thou promisest, but I wot how thou wilt hold thereto.”

            Said Gallehault: “Sir if thou wilt lodge with me tonight, I will give thee all thou durst ask with mouth, and well assured shalt thou be.”

            And he sware to him, and promised to give good pledges thereafter; so they went both together into the host. 

€ How Gallehault followed the knight of the black arms, and did so much by fair words that he brought him into his host, whereof King Arthur and all his folk were sore troubled.

            NOW Sir Gawain had seen the knight of the black shield depart; and with a good will had he followed him, might he but have sat his horse: then he looked down the river and saw Gallehault and the Black Knight coming back thence to go to the host, and he said to the Queen: “Ha Lady, now may we well say that we are a lost people: lo who Gallehault hath by 

            [f 59]

The Black Knight cometh to Gallehault’s host.

craft conquered.”

            So she looked and saw that it was the Black knight whom Gallehault was leading away, and waxed so wroth that not one word might she say: and Sir Gawain fainted thrice in short space.

            King Arthur came thither and heard them all acrying, “He is dead, he is dead!”

            So he came to him and embraced him, and fell a weeping full tenderly, and Sir Gawain came to himself: and when he saw King Arthur, he reproached him, saying: “Now is come the end which the clerks foretold thee; look upon the treasure thou hast lost! This man shall take from thee thy land, that all day long he hath guarded with his very body; hadst thou been a valiant man, thou wouldst have kept him, as hath done the most valiant man alive, who leadeth him away yonder.”

            Then passed by King Gallehault leading the knight, whereof had King Arthur such dole that it lacked but a little of his falling down; and from weeping he might not refrain; but ever he made the best cheer that he might for the recomforting of his nephew: but when he came into the hall he made great moan and so made every valiant man.

            NOW Gallehault and the knight went till they were come before the host; then said the knight to him: “Sir now I am entering into thine host, bring me to speech of the two most valiant men thou hast.”

            And Gallehault granted it; and went into his camp, and took the two men whom he trusted most in the world, and said to them; “Come with me, and ye shall see the mightiest man of the world.”

            “How,” said they, “art thou not the mightiest of the world?”

            “Nay,” said he; “but I may be ere I sleep.” 

            [f 60]

The Black Knight taketh witness of Gallehault.

Now these twain were the King First Conquered, and the King of the Hundred Knights; and when they saw the knight they made him great joy, for they knew him well by his arms; then the knight asked them what they were, and they named themselves even as ye have heard; and he said to them: “Lords, your lord hath done you great honour, for he hath said that ye are the two men of the world whom most he loveth; now betwitxt him and me is a covenant which I would have you hearken; for he hath sworn if I lodge this night with him, he will give me therefore whatso I may ask of him; [“]Sir,” said the knight, “I would have withal the surety of these men.”

            Gallehault said; “Tell me in what wise.”

            Said the knight: “They shall swear that if thou failest in thy covenant with me, they shall leave thee, and come with me whitherso I bid them.[”]

            Then Gallehault called the King First Conquered apart, and said to him: “Go on before, and bid my barons to assemble presently as fairly as they may; and take heed that in my tent be all the delights that may be found in the host.”

            Then went he spurring to fulfill the commandment of his lord, and Gallehault held the knight in talk, he and his seneschal till his bidding were done: so in no long while he came to meet them two hundred barons, who were all men of Gallehault, twenty eight kings to wit and the others dukes and counts. There was the knight so honoured, that never was such joy made over one man unknown, as was made for him as at that time; and great and little said to him; “welcome Flower of the knighthood of the World.” Whereof was 

            [f 61]

The Black Knight in Gallehault’s tent.

he sore ashamed.

            Then came they to the tent of Gallehault, nor may the tale be told of the delights and the minstrelsy that was there in. With such joy was he received.

            And when he was unarmed Gallehault let bring him a robe right rich and clad him therewith; and when supper was arrayed and ready, they sat at table and were full richly served, and exceeding honour had the knight. After meat Gallehault commanded men to make four beds whereof one was larger than the others, and when they were all richly arrayed Gallehault led the knight to bed, saying; “Sir, thou wilt lie here.”

            “And who will lie there?” said the knight.

            “Four sergeants, who shall serve thee,” said Gallehault, but I will go into a chamber hard by to the end that thou mayst be the more in peace.”

            “Ha Sir, God’s sake let me not lie in more ease than the other knights; for that shall be accounted churlishness in me.”

            “Take no keep,” said Gallehault, “for for nought thou mayst do wilt thou be held churlish of me.”

            Therewith departed Gallehault, and the knight fell a-thinking of the great honour Gallehault did him, and held him of great account: then he laid him down, and slept presently, for he was exceeding weary.

            But when Gallehault knew that he was sleeping, he came as privily as he might, and lay in another bed beside him, and in the two other beds were laid two other knights; and there were no more in the chamber than they four.

            In the night-season the knight bewailed him much as he slept, and Gallehault heard it well, for he slept not much; for all the night he was athinking how he might keep him. 

            [f 62]

The Black Knight asketh his gift

On the morrow the knight arose, and went to hear mass; Gallehault was risen already, for he would not that the knight should be ware of him.

            So when they came from the minster the knight prayed for his arms, and Gallehault asked him wherefore; and he said that he would depart.

            Gallehault said; “Fair friend, abide with me, and deem not that I would deceive thee; for thou shalt not know how to ask for aught that thou shalt not have: and wot ye, that; though thou mayst well have fellowship with a mightier man than I; yet shalt thou never have one who loveth thee better.”

            “Sir,” said the knight, “I will abide with thee then, since it pleaseth thee; for better fellowship than thine may I never have; yet shall I tell thee presently for what gift I will abide with thee, and if I have it not, I will not abide.”

            “Sir,” said Gallehault, “speak assuredly, and thou shalt have it if I may accomplish it for thee.”

            Then the knight called the two {unreadable insertion} and spake before them: “I ask that so soon as thou hast overcome King Arthur thou shalt go cry him mercy, so soon as I shall summon thee thereto.”

            When Gallehault heard this, he was all abashed, and fell a-thinking: but the two kings said to him: “On what art thou musing now? thou hast run so far, that thou mayst not turn again.”

            “How,” said Gallehault, “deemest thou that I repent me? if all the world were mind I should have heart to give it him: but I was a-thinking on one word that he spake—yet may God help me not if thou have not thy gift; for nought may I do for thee which shall be shame to me: yet I pray thee that thou take not thy fellowship from me to give it to another.”

            And the knight sware to him that he would not. 

            [f 63]

The Black Knight comes into the field

So he abode, and they sat down to table, which was now dight: and great joy they made throughout all the host that the knight was to abide with them.

            So wore they away that night; but on the morrow they went to hear mass, Gallehault and his fellow, and Gallehault said to him: “Sir today is the day of the Assembly; wilt thou bear arms?”

            “Yea,” said he.

            “Then bear thou mine in the beginning,” said Gallehault.

            So he said he would bear them with a good will: “but bear thou no arms,” said he to Gallehault, “save as any sergeant.”

            “Nay,” said he.

            Then they let bring in the arms, and armed the knight in a strong hawberk and mail-hosen long and close. Then the folk of Gallehault armed them, and the folk of King Arthur in likewise, and passed the lists, with such as there were; though ever the King had forbidden that many should pass them: so in short space were fair justings, and all the hosts assembled before the lists, and fell to deeds of arms.

            King Arthur abode by his banner, and had bidden men lead the Queen into safe-guard if perchance they were discomfited.

            So when all the hosts were assembled, and the good knight was armed, all deemed it had been Gallehault; and cried out all Lo Gallehault, Lo Gallehault! But Sir Gawain knew him well and said: “this is not Gallehault, but the Knight of the Black arms, the best knight of the world.”

            Now so soon as they fell on together, no whit might King Arthur and his men hold against them since the coming in of the good knight, and overmuch were they discomforted that he was against them; so were they beaten aback to the barriers, for very many mighty men were with Gallehault 

            [f 64]

King Arthur overcome

            At the barriers’ ending they held them a while, and endured for long, but nought it availed them: great was the scathe among the men of King Arthur, and, saith the Tale, the Knight had little less pain in holding back the folk of Gallehault that they passed not beyond the barriers, than in chacing of the folk of King Arthur: nevertheless much had he borne them up, for he might have thrust them out perforce had he willed, but he abode amidmost the battle for the holding back of the others.

            But now he looked about him, and fell acrying: “Gallehault! Gallehault!”

            And Gallehault came speedily, and said; “Fair friend, what wouldst thou?”

            “What?” said he, “I would that thou hold covenant with me.”

            “By my faith,” said Gallehault,” I am all ready to accomplish it, since it pleaseth thee.”

            So he pricked his horse with the spurs, and came to the banner, where was King Arthur making so great dole that he had well nigh slain himself because of his overthrow: but the Queen was now gotten a horseback, and forty knights were leading her away. And Sir Gawain were they fain to bear away in a litter; but he said that he had liefer die there and then, than see all knighthood dead and shamed: and he fainted in such wise, that they deemed well he would die straightway[.]

 

€ How Lancelot by his prowess conquered all, and did so much that Gallehault cried mercy of King Arthur.

WHEN the knight saw Gallehault ready to accomplish his covenant, he swore that never was found so loyal a fellow: such pity he had that he sighed heavily, and  

            [f 65]

Gallehault crieth mercy of King Arthur

said between his teeth: “Ah God! who may deserve it?”

            But Gallehault rode up to the banner, and cried on King Arthur, who came forth sore grieving, as one who hath lost all honour and joy on earth. And when Gallehault saw him he said to him: “Sir King Arthur, come forth, and be not afeard, for I would speak with thee.”

            And when the King heard it he marvelled much what it might be.

            But so soon as Gallehault saw the King drawing near, he lighted down from his horse, and knelt adown, and said: “Sir I am come to do thee right for my misdoing against thee; I repent me, and put me to they mercy.”

            When the King heard that he had marvellous great joy, and lifted his hands up to heaven, praising God of that adventure: and if the King made good cheer, yet better made Gallehault, and rose up from his knees, and they kissed together, and either made other right great cheer.

            Then said Gallehault: “Sir do thy pleasure on me; for my body give I into thine hands to work thy will upon: but if it please thee I will draw aback my folk, and return to thee presently.”

            “Go then,” said the King, “for I would speak with thee.”

            Then departed Gallehault, and came to his folk, and made them go their ways.

            But the King sent after the Queen, who went on her way making great moan; and the messengers rode on till they reached her, and they came to her, and told her of the joy which was befallen: but she might not believe it till she saw the tokens that the King had sent her.

            Withal so spread these tidings that Sir Gawain knew thereof, who had great joy over all other, and said to the King: “Sir, how was it?” 

            [f 66]

Gallehault goeth to the court of King Arthur

            “Certes I know not,” said he, “but I trow that so our Lord God would have it.”

            Full great was the joy, and much did all men marvel how it came to pass.

            Now said Gallehault to his fellow: What wilt thou that I do; I have done thy commandment, and the King hath bidden me return; but I will go with thee first into thine own land.”

            “Ha Sir,” said the knight “go thou to the King, and do him all the honour thou mayst: so much hast thou done for me as I may never deserve: yet so much I pray of thee yet for God’s sake, and for the love thou hast for me, that none may know where I am.”

            So they went to their tents; and all men knew that peace is made; and yet were many sorry thereof, for they loved war better than peace.

            Now lighted down the two fellows; and so soon as they were unarmed Gallehault took of his best robes to go into the court, and let cry throughout all the host, that every man should begone, saving they of his house only. Thereafter he called to him the two kings, and delivered his fellow to them, bidding them do as much for him as they would for his very body.

            Then mounted Gallehault and went to the court of King Arthur; and the King came to meet him, and the Queen, who was now come back, and the Lady of Mallehault, and many dames and damsesls.

            Then went they into the gallery where Sir Gawain lay sick, who, when he knew that Gallehault was come, enforced him to make him good cheer, as he who had never erst seen him so nigh. And he said: “Thou art welcome, and much have I desired to know thee; for thou art the man of all the world who aright should most be prized and loved of all folk; and I deem that none knoweth where to find so valiant a 

            [f 67]

Gallehault speaketh of the Queen

man as thou; and well is it seen of thee.”

            So spake Sir Gawain to Gallehault, who asked how it went with him; and Gawain said: “I have been at death’s door; but the great love which hath befallen betwixt thee and the King hath healed me.”

            Exceeding great joy had King Arthur and the Queen and Sir Gawain of the coming of Gallehault, and all the day they spake of love and fair acquaintance, but of the Black Knight were no words spoken.

            So wore the day in rejoicing one the other until vespers, and then Gallenhault asked leave to go see his folk, and the King gave it: “But come thou back presently,” said he; and Gallehault granted it.

            Then he gat him back to his fellow and asked him how it fared with him; and he answered Well.

            “Sir,” said Gallehault, “what do I? the King hath prayed me sore to return to him; but it grieveth one to leave thee in this plight.”

            “Ha Sir Knight,” said he, “I will that thou do what the King would have thee; for a more valiant man hast thou never known: yet would I have thee give me a gift.”

            Said Gallehault; “Ask what thou wilt I will never gainsay thee.”

            “Sir,” said he, “I thank thee; thou hast granted me herein not to ask my name of me before I tell it thee.”

            “Thereto will I hold since thou wilt have it so,” said Gallehault[, “] though doubt thou not that it had been the first of my askings; yet now will I hold my peace.”

            Then asked the knight of his friendliness with King Arthur, but name not the Queen. And Gallehault said that the King was a right valiant man; “And it grieveth me that I knew him not while agone; for much had I been amended thereby: but my lady the Queen is so valiant, that never have I seen lady so glorious.”

            But when the knight heard him tell of the Queen, he 

            [f 68]

The Black Knight bewaileth him in his sleep.

turned away, and sighed heavily: and Gallehault looked on him and marvelled much, for the tears were falling from his eyes. Then he fell a-talking of other matters.

            BUT when they had long talked together, the Black Knight said “Go thou keep company with the King, and hearken if so be thou hear any word spoken of me, and tell me thereof on the morrow.”

            “With a good will,” said Gallehault. Then he kissed him, and said to the Kings; “I give this man into your keeping, as if he were the heart in my bosom.”

            Therewith departed Gallehault, and the knight abode in the keeping of those two valiant men of Gallehault’s land; nor is need to ask if he were honoured, for they would fain do more for him than he might desire.

            That night lay the two kings in Gallehault for the love of the knight and did him to wit that they would not lie down: but he made them lie down, even as Gallehault had done the other night.

            At the first the knight slept fast; but as it drew toward midnight he began to turn about, and made such moan, that all they who were about him waked; and in his moan he said oft; “Ah wretched me, what may I do?” And all night long he kept on such-like dole.

            On the morrow uprose the two kings as secretly as they might, marvelling much what ailed him.

            On the other hand Gallehault arose and came to his tent to see his fellow, and asked of the two kings how his fellow had fared: who said that nightlong he had made great moan. Then he came into the chamber where he was; but so soon as he heard him coming, he shut his eyes; whereon Gallehault deemed he slept yet, and went out; but no sooner was he gone than the knight arose. Then Gallehault saw that his eyes were red and swollen: so he took him by the hand, and drew him apart, and said to him: “Fair sweet fellow, wherefore slayest thou thyself in this wise?”

    [f 69] 

Gallehault would comfort the Black Knight 

whence is this moan that thou hast made all night, and the displeasure thou hast? I pray thee for God’s sake tell me the cause; and I will help thee if any mortal man may.”

            But he fell a weeping as bitterly as if the think he loved best were dead; and Gallehault was sore grieved and said to him: “Fair sweet fellow, tell one thy ill hap; for there is no man on earth, if thou have lost aught, but I will thee thine own in his despite.”

            But he said that none had done him any hurt.

            “Fair sweet friend, wherefore then makest thou such great moan? art thou heavy-hearted that I have made thee my master and my fellow.”

            “Ah,” said he, “thou hast done more for me than I have deserved; and nought in the world wrongeth me save my heart, which is as fulfilled of fear as my mortal heart may be: so I fear me much lest thy great kindness slay me.”

            Hereof was Gallehault sore grieved, and comforted his fellow: and thereafter they went to hear mass: and so when the priest had departed in three the body of God, Gallehault came forth, holding his fellow by the hand, and showed him God’s body which the priest was holding in his hands: then he said to him: [“]Trowest thou not that yonder is the body of our Lord God?”

            “Surely I trow therein,” said the knight[.]

            Then said Gallehault: “Fair friend, doublt of me no more than thou doubtest of those three pieces of flesh that thou seest in form of bread, nor think that in all my life I would do aught to grieve thee: rather whatsoever I know will please thee shall I win for thee at my most might.”

            “Sir,” said he “I thank thee.” And therewith they held their peace till mass was done: then asked Gallehault of his 

            [f 70]

King Arthur and the others talk of the Black Knight 

fellow what ailed him.

            “Sir,” said he, “leave not the King as now; go make him company.”

            “Gramercy sir,” said he. And again commended him to the valiant men, and went unto the court of King; and Gallehault’s folk did all honour to the knight.

            NOW after dinner the King and the Queen, and Gallehault were sitting by the bed of Sir Gawain, who said to Gallehault: “Sir, be not angry with a thing I would ask thee.”

            And Gallehault said Nay certes.

            “Sir by that thou most lovest in the world, tell me who brought about this peace betwixt thee and mine uncle?”

            “Sir” said he,  “thou hast adjured me so strongly that I will tell thee: a certain knight brought it about.”

            “And who was the knight?” said Sir Gawain.

            “So may God help me I know not,” said Gallehault.

            “Who was he of the black arms?” said Sir Gawain.

            Said Gallehault; “He was a knight.”

            “That is a word easy spoken,” said Gawain, “but needs must thou acquit thee of thy promise.”

            “Nay I am quit wherein thou hast adjured me: I will not tell thee more; nore had I told thee so much, but for thy adjuring.”

            “By God,” said the Queen, “the Black Knight it was: come show him to us.”

            “Whom then, my lady?” said Gallehault, “I may not show that whereof I know nought.”

            “Hold thy peace!” said the Queen, “he abode with thee, and bare arms yesterday.”

            “Dame,” said he, “true it is; yet have I not seem him since I departed from the King the first time.”

            “How,” said the King, “knowest thou him not? I deemed he would be of thy land.”

            “Nay verily so may God help me!” said Gallehault. 

            [f 71]

They make offers for the Black Knight. 

            “Certes,” said the King, “he is none the more of mine.”

            A long while the King and the Queen held speech with Gallehault to have the name of the knight, but might draw no more from him: and Sir Gawain was afeared lest he had troubled Gallehault, so he said to the King: “Let us leave talking thereof; certes the knight was a valiant man, and would God I were like him.”

            And much did Sir Gawain praise the knight.

            Then he left talking, and Gallehault took up the word, saying: “Sir didst thou ever see better knight than him of the black shield?”

            “Certes,” said the King, “never saw I man whom I had fainer known in knighthood.”

            “Nay,” said Gallehault; “come tell me by the faith thou owest to my lady here, what wouldst thou give to have his friendship for evermore?”
“As God may help me, I would share with him the half of all I might, saving this my lady.”

            “Certes thou layest down enough,” said Gallehault; “and thou Sir Gawain, if God give thee health that thou so much desirest; what hurt wouldst thou bide to have the company of so valiant a man?”

            When Sir Gawain heard him, he mused a while, as one who never looked to be whole again: then said he: “If God give me the health I desire, then would I straightway be one of the fairest ladies of the world; if so be he might love me all the days of my life.”

            “By my faith,” said Gallehault, “thou too hast given enough. And thou my lady, what wouldst thou lose to have such a knight ever in thy service?”

            “By God,” said she, “Sir Gawain hath already given all a lady may.”

            And Sie Gawain and they all fell a laughing.

            “Gallehault,” said Sir Gawain, “thou hast adjured us           

[f 72]

The Queen would see the Black Knight 

all; now by the oath whereby I erst swore thee, what wouldst thou lay down?”

            “As God may help me,” said Gallehault, I would turn my honour into shame to have such a knight ever in my company.”

            “So help me God,” said Sir Gawain, “thou hast given more than we.” And he deemed withal that it must have been the Black Knight who had brought about the peace, because for him had he turned his honour into shame, even at the point of victory: and Gawain spake so much unto the Queen; and for that cause was Gallehault yet more prized.

            A long while they held speech of the knight, till the Queen turned, and said she would fain go toward the gallery, to look abroad on the meadows, and would have Gallehault lead her thither: so the Queen took him by the hand, and said to him: “Gallehault, I love thee much; and I wot it sooth that thou hast in thy keeping this same knight; and peradventure he is one whom I know well; wherefore I pray thee, as thou holdest my love dear, to do so much that I may see him.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, “I have him no more in my keeping, nor have I seen him since peace was made between the King and me: and even if he were in my tent, yet might he have other will than thine or mine: yet wot ye well, that so sore as ye have adjured me, I I will do what in me lieth to have him to speech with thee.”

            “If thou wilt do thy might herein,” said she, “I shall surely see him; so I will wait for thy deed herein, and do thou so much and make me thine forever; for he is one of the men of all the world whom I have best will to see.”

            “Dame,” said he, “I will do my might.” 

            [f 73]

Gallehault cometh to his fellow again.  

            “Gramercy,” said she; “but look to it that I see him as speedily as thou mayst: for he is in thy keeping I wot well; but if he be in thy land, send and seek him.”

            Therewith departed Gallehault to the King and Sir Gawain; and the King said to him: “Gallehault I have voided my folk: so let thy men draw nigh to mine, and even so will I: for nought have we now save our privy households.”

            “Sir,” said Gallehault, “I will let mine draw nigh to the other side the river, so that my tent shall be over against thine, and I will let array a ship wherein we may pass from one side to the other.”

            “Certes,” said the King, “thou has spoken right well.”

            THEN departed Gallehault to his tent, and found his fellow full pensive, and he asked him, how he doth now. And he said well, were not fear dealing with him. So Gallehault said: “Whereof hast thou such fear?”

            “Lest I be known,” said he.

            “Have thou no fear thereof: for known thou shalt not be, if thus thy will is.”

            Therewith he told him what offers the King and Sir Gawain had made for him, and how the noble Queen had made many words with him to see him, and how he had answered: “And wot well that none doth she desire to see so much as thee: and my lord the King hath prayed me to bring my folk anear, for that we are too far one from the other: come tell me what thou wilt have me do, for all lieth on thy pleasure.”

            “I would have thee do as my lord the King would.”

            “And to my lady, what shall I answer, fair sweet friend?”

            “Certes,” said he “I wot not,” and fell a sighing withal.

            But Gallehault said to him: “Fair sweet friend, be not dismayed, but tell me how thou wouldst have it; for liefer were I to be at enmity with the half of the World, then with thee alone: nay tell me what shall please thee.”

            “Sir,” said the knight, “even that which thou shalt counsel 

            [f  74]

The Black Knight will go see the Queen 

me; for I am in thy keeping from henceforth.”

            “Certes,” said Gallehault, “meseemeth it will worsen thee nought to see my lady.”

            For now Gallehault saw his heart well enow; and held him so short that he granted his asking: “But,” said he, “needs must I see her privily, and so that none know thereof save thou and I only.”

            Gallehault bade him not to trouble himself.”

            “Say then to my lady,” said the knight that thou hast sent to seek me.”

            “Nay, leave thou the rest to me,” said Gallehault.

            Therewith he departed and bade pitch his tents where he had agreed with the King; and his seneschal did his will.           

€ How Gallehault did so much that the Queen saw Lancelot, and how they held converse together, and spake of many things. 

THEN departed Gallehault, and came to the King’s camp, and so soon as the Queen saw him she ran to meet him, and asked him how he had wrought in her matter: “Dame,” said he “I have done so much that I fear lest the love thy prayer have taken from me the thing in the world that most I love.”

            “As God may help me thou shalt lose nought by me,” said she, “that I will not render it back twofold: but what mayst thou lose?” said she.

            “Even that which thou wouldst have,” said Gallehault, “for I fear lest I anger him, and lose him for ever.”

            “Certes,” said she, “this is a thing I may not give thee back; yet, so please God, thou shalt not lose him by me: but tell me, when will he come?”

            “Dame,” said he, “when he may; for I have sent to seek him, and I deem he will not tarry long.”

            Now the Lady of Mallehault heard somewhat of 

            [f 75]

The Queen goeth into the close 

their counsel, but she took heed and made no semblance thereof. Then departed Gallehault and came to his folk, who were lodged where he had commanded[.]

            SO when he was lighted down he spake to his seneschal and commanded him; “When I shall send to seek thee, come to me, thou and my fellow, to this place here.”

            So the King of the Hundred Knights, who was his seneschal, said that with a right good will he would do his bidding and pleasure.

            Then Gallehault saluted his fellow and went back to the court of the King: and when the Queen saw Gallehault come, she bade him keep well and loyally what he had promised; and he said to her: “Dame, I believe that this night thou shalt see what thou hast so much desired.”

            When she heard that she was exceeding joyous, and grew full weary of the day for the longing she had to accomplish her desire of speaking to him, on whom were all her thoughts. Then Gallehault said to her: “We will go after supper into the close down there.”

            And she granted it. And so when supper was over the Queen called to her the Lady of Mallehault, and a damsel of hers, the Lady of Cardueil; and went straight to where Gallehault had told of.

            But Gallehault called a squire to him, and said: “Go thou and bid my seneschal come thither where I commanded him to come.” [A]nd the squire went: and in no long space came thither the seneschal, he and the knight; and they were both both full goodly men: but when they drew nigh the Lady of Mallehault knew the knight for him whom she had so long while kept in her prison; and because she would not that he knew her, she turned aside, and they passed by her.

            Now the seneschal saluted them; and Gallehault said to the Queen: “Dame, whom deemest 

            [f 76]

Queen Guenevere talketh with Lancelot 

thou this will be?”

            She said: “Certes these be two goodly knights, both of them; yet see I not the body which may have such prowess in it as had the Black Knight.”

            “Yet wot thou, dame, that he is one of these twain.[”]

            And now are they come before her, and the knight trembled so, that scarce might he salute the Queen; and she marvelled thereat. Then they knelt down, they twain, and the knight saluted the Queen, but right poorly, for he was ashamed: then thought the Queen that this would be he.

            But Gallehault said to the seneschal; [“]Go thou make company for yonder ladies.”

            So he did as his lord commanded him.

            Then the Queen took the knight by the hand, and set him down beside her. Then she made him full fair semblance and said to him: “Sir, sorely have we desired thee, till by God’s mercy and Gallehault’s we see thee now: and nevertheless I believe not yet that it is he whom I craved: saith Gallehault that thou art he: yet would I know from thy very mouth who thou art, were it thy pleasure.”

            He said he knew not; nor ever looked in her face.

            And the Queen so marvelled what ailed him, that somewhat had she deeming of what was toward: and Gallehault, seeing him so shamefast deemed that he was fain to tell the Queen his thought alone with her: so he went to the others, and made the damsels sit down again, who were risen up to meet him: so they fell a-talking of many things.

            But the Queen said to the knight: “Fair Sir, wherefore dost thou hide thyself from me? certes there is no cause therefore: art thou not he who bore the black arms at the Assembly?”

            “Nay lady.”

              [f 77]

Lancelot telleth who made him knight

            “Then art thou not he who yesterday bare the arms of Gallehault?”

            “Yea, lady.”

            “Art thou he then, who was conqueror in the first day of assembly made between us and Gallehault?”

            “Nay dame, I am not.”

            When the Queen heard the knight speak thus, she saw well that he would not be known for the conqueror in the Assembly, and the more she prized him therefore: for when a man praiseth himself he turneth his honour into shame.

            “Tell me now,” said the Queen to Lancelot, “who made thee knight?”

            “Thou, lady,” said he.

            “I?” she said, “and when?”

            “Dame,” said he, “dost thou not mind thee when there came a knight to Camelot wounded with two truncheons of a spear through his body, and a sword in his head: and a varlet came to court on a Friday, and was made knight on Sunday, and rid the wounded knight?”

            “Thereof I mind me well,” said she, “and so God help thee, art thou not he whom the Lady of the Lake brought to court clad in a white gown?”

            “Yea lady.”

            “Wherefore sayest thou then that I made thee knight?”

            “Dame,” said he, “I will say thee sooth; so goeth the custom, that none may be made knight but he be girt with sword: and that one of whom he hath his sword maketh him knight; and of thee I had mine: for the King never gave me sword; therefore say I that thou madest me knight.”

            Thereof was the Queen fulfilled of joy; and she said: “Whither didst thou go when thou departedst from the court?”  

            [f 78]

Lancelot tells of his adventures 

            “Lady, I went to the succor of the Lady of Noehault.”

            “And sentest thou me no message that while?”

            “Yea lady, I sent thee two maidens.”

            “True it is,” said the Queen; “and when thou wert gone from Noehault mettest thou not a knight who said he belonged to me?”

            “Yea lady, one who guarded a ford, and bade me light down from my horse for that he would have it; and I asked him whose he was, and he said thine: then I asked him on whose part he bade me; and he said he had no commandment but his own; so I set my foot in the stirrup again and remounted, for I was already lighted down, and said he should not have it, and I fought with __ but surely if I have done outrage agains thee, I cry thee mercy.”

            “Certes no outrage didst thou against me: for he was none of mine; and ill-content was I that he called himself mine. But tell me whither wentest thou thence?

            “Dame, I went to the Dolorous Gard.”

            “And who conquered it?”

            “Dame, I entered therein.”

            “And did I never see thee once?”

            “Yea more than thrice.”

            “And when?” said she.

            “Lady,” said he, “on a day when I asked of thee if thou wouldst enter in, and thou saidst yea.”

            “And by seeming thou wert all abashed. But what shield didst thou bear?”

            “Lady, the first time I bore a white shield with a red bend; and the next one with two bends.”

            “And saw I thee again?”

            “Yea on the night when thou deemedst well ye had lost Sir Gawain and his fellows; and the folk cried on me

             [f 79]

Queen Guenevere knows him for Lancelot.

to take me: but I came through them all, with a shield thrice bended.”

            “Certes,” said she, “I am sorry therefore; for had they stayed thee, the enchantments had abided there. But tell me wert thou he that delivered Sir Gawain from out of prison?”

            “Dame I helped him according to my might.”

            “Certes,” said she, in all thou hast told me, I have found nought but sooth. But tell me who was she in a turret over my lord’s chamber?”

            “Dame it was a damsel whereof I will say no ill: for the Lady of the Lake sent her to me; and she found me in that turret, and there had honour enow for my sake. But when we heard tidings of Sir Gawain I was sore grieved and departed from the damsel, who should have been with me, and prayed and required her not to stir thence, till she had either me or my message: but I was so sore surprised by overgreat matters, that I forgat her; and she was more loyal toward me than I was courteous toward her; for she stirred not till she had tokens from me, which was a long while after. 

 € How the Queen knew Lancelot after he had talked a long while with her, and told her of his adventures; and how Queen Guenevere and Lancelot were first brought together in love by the means of Gallehault.

            WHEN the Queen heard him tell of the damsel, she knew well that it was Lancelot; yet she asked him of all things that she had heard of him, and found him soothfast in all.

            “Now tell me,[”] quoth she, [“] have I seen thee since?”

            “Yea Dame,” said he, “and at such an hour as thou wert good at need to me; for I had been drowned at Camelot 

             [f 80]

Lancelot telleth for whom he did those deeds of arms

 

hadst thou not been.”

            “How! wert thou he whom Dagonet the Fool took?”

            “Dame, I was taken without fault of mine.”

            “And whither wert thou going?”

            “Dame, I was following after a knight.”

            “And thou hadst battle with him?”

            “Yea lady.”

            “And whither wentest thou thence?[”]

            “Lady I met two great churls, who slew my horse; but Sir Yrain whom I met by good hap gave me another.”

            “Ah ah!” said she, “I know well who thou art: thy name is Lancelot of the Lake.”

            He held his peace; but she said: “By God, for nought thou hidest thyself: long time it is since Sir Gawain brought tidings of thy name into the court.” Therewith she told him how Sir Yrain had told of the damsel, who said, It is the third. “But what arms didst thou bear then?”

            “Red arms,” said he.

            Quoth she, “It is sooth by my head: and why didst thou the other day do such deeds of arms as we beheld?”

            Then he fell a sighing, and she said, “Speak in all surety; for I wot well that for some dame or damsel thu didest them: wherefore by the faith thou owest me tell me who she is.”       

            “Ha lady, I see well that I must needs tell thee: for thee I did them.”

            “For me?” she said.

            “Yea truly, lady[.]”

            [“]Nay for me thou brakest not those three spears that my damsel brought thee; for I drew me aback from the bidding of thee.”

            “Lady, I did for her that which I ought; but for thee that which I might.” 

             [f 81]

Lancelot telleth why he first loved her 

            “And how long is it since thou hast loved me so?”

            “From the day whereon I was accounted for knight, and yet was no knight.”

            “By the faith that thou owest me, whence came the love that thou lovest me withal?”

            “Lady,” said he, “thou thyself didst bring it about for me, who with thine own mouth, that has not lied, didst make me thy friend.”

            “My friend?” said she, “in what wise?”

            “Lady,” said he, “I came before thee when I had taken leave of my lord the King, and thou didst bid me God speed, saying that I should be thy knight in all places; and thou didst say that thou wouldst have me be thy friend and thy knight; and I said Adieu lady: and thou saidst Adieu my fair sweet friend: this was the word has made me valiant man; not have I ever been in such peril but I minded me thereof: this word has comforted me against my foes: this word has healed me of my ills: this word has made me rich in my poverty.”

            “By my faith,” said the Queen, “this word was spoken in happy hour: and God be praised for it: yet certes I spake it not as thou hast taken it: for to many a valiant man have I said it when I was thinking on nought save the word: it is even the same custom as knights use, who to many a lady make semblance of things that are nowise in their hearts.”

            This spake she to see how much anguish she might give him; for she saw well that he thought of none other love than hers; but it was a joy to her to look upon his pain; and so great anguish had he that he well nigh fainted; and the Queeen feared lest he should fall: so she called on Gallehault, and he came up running. And when he saw that his fellow was

             [f 82]

Gallehault prays the Queen have mercy on Lancelot 

grieved, he had such sore anguish that more might not be.

            “Ha Dame,” said Gallehault, thou mayst well take him away from us, and overgreat scathe were that.”

            “Certes Sir, scathe to me,” she said.

            “And knowest thou not,[”] said Gallehault “for whom he hath done such deeds of arms?”

            “Nay surely,” said she, “but true it is that he saith he hath done them for me.”

            “So may God give me ease, dame, thou mayst well trow therein; for even as he is the most valiant of all men; so is his heart the truest of all hearts.”  

“Thou wouldst verily call him valiant,” said she, “didst thou know what deeds of arms he hath done since he was made knight.”

            Therewith she told him all as ye have heard it; “And wot ye,” said she, that all this he did for me.”

            Then Gallehault prayed her and said: “For God’s sake have mercy on him, and do for me as I did for thee, when thou prayedst me.”

            “What mercy,” said she, “wouldst thou that I have of him?”

            “Dame, thou knowest that he loveth thee above all things, and hath done for thee more than ever did knight for lady: and wot thou that the peace betwixt me and thy lord had never been made but for this man.”

            “Certes,[”] said she [“]he hath done for me more than I may ever deserve, nor may he ever ask aught of me that I will gainsay: but he asketh nought of me, and is marvellous melancholy.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, “have mercy on him! he is even he whom thou lovest more than thyself.”

            “So may God give me ease,” said she, “I wotted nought of his will when he came hither, save that he feared to be known; and nowise would he discover himself to me

 

            [f 83]

Queen Guenever will grant him mercy 

yet,” said she [“]I will have such mercy on him as thou wouldst have me.”

            “Dame” said Gallehault, [“]thou hast done for me then what I have prayed thee, so ought I also from henceforth to do what thou shalt ask of me.”

            “But,” said the Queen, “he craveth nought of me.”

            “Surely Dame,” said Gallehault, [“]he durst not, for none loveth, but he feareth also: but I will pray thee for him; and even if he pray thee not, yet shouldest thou win him, for a richer treasure mayst thou not buy.”

            “Certes,” said she [“]I know it well and I will all that thou commandest.”

            “Dame,” said he, “gramercy: I pray thee to give him thy love, and to hold him for thy love for ever, and to be his loyal lady all thy life-days; and so wilt thou have made him richer than if thou hadst given him all the world.”

            “Surely,” said she, “I grant him to be mine, and I to be all his, and that by thee all my misdeeds be amended.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, “I thank thee and now must the service begin[.]”

            “Thou mayst devise nought” said the queen, [“]that I will not do.”

            “Kiss him then before me for the beginning of true love.”

            “For kissing,” said she, “I see neither time nor place; yet doubt not that I would be as willing thereto as he may be: but these ladies hereby; they will marvel much at such deeds; and it may not be but they will see us: notwithstanding if he will have it, with a good will shall I kiss him[.]”

            Then was he so joyous that he might not answer, save that he said; “Lady I thank thee.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, “doubt thou nought of his will, for he is all thine own: but wot thou that none shall see it: we three shall go apart together as

             [f 84]

 

Guenevere kisseth Lancelot.

 

though we would take counsel.”

            “Wherefore needs thou pray me,” said she, “I will it more than thou.”

            So they drew apart, and made semblance of talking together; and the Queen saw that the knight durst do no more, so she took him by the chin and kissed him before Gallehault long enough. But the Lady of Mallehault knew of a verity that she kissed him.

            Then spake the Queen, who was a right wise and valiant lady: “Fair sweet friend,[”] said she, “thou hast down so much that I am thine.”

            Then was he all fulfilled of joy.

            “Take heed,” she said, “that the thing be hidden for great need is thereof: I am one of the ladies of best report in the world; and if my fair fame were worsened by thee, it were an ugly and evil love: thou too Gallehault, I pray thee guard my honor and fair fame: for thou art the wisest of men, and if ill befall me it will be but by thee, even as by thee I have gotten my good and my joy.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, he may never misdo against thee; and freely have I done they commandment, wherefore I pray thee do my will even as I have done thine.”

            “Speak hardily,” said she, “what is thy pleasure: for thou mayst not bid me anything that I will not do.”

            “Dame,” said he, then hast thou granted me to be his fellow for ever.”

            “Certes,” said she “didst thou miss thereof the pain thou hast had for him and for me were ill spent.”

            Then she took the knight by the hand and said: “Gallehault; I give thee this knight for ever, saving my first part in him; swear thou hereof to me.”

            So he swore and the knight also.

            “Knowest thou, Gallehault,” said she, “whom I have given thee? I have give thee Lancelot of the Lake 

             [f 85]

They go back to the tents. 

son of King Ban of Benwick.”

            Thus did she make the knight known, who had great shame thereof.

            But Gallehault had greater joy than ever erst, for he had oft heard say how the rumour ran than he was the best knight and the valiantest of the world; and he knew well that King Ban had been a right gentleman, and full rich of friends and land.

            SO first came together the Queen and Lancelot by the mean of Gallehault: and Gallehault never knew him but by the sight of him because he had caused him swear that he would not ask of his name till he told it him, or some other for him.

            So then they rose up all three, and the night fell fast: but the moon was arisen, and shone so clear, that its light lay on all the mead.

            So then the knight and the Seneschal got them back alone over the meadows toward the ---- and Gallehault followed after them and the ladies till they came to the tents of Gallehault: Then sent Gallehault his fellow to his tent who took leave of the Queen; but Gallehault led her back to the King’s tent: and when the King saw them he asked whence they came.

            “Sir[”] said Gallehault, “we come from beholding the meadows with so little a company as thou seest.”

            Then they sat down, and spake of many things and the Queen and Gallehault were well at ease.

            IN the end the Queen arose, and went to the gallery, and Gallehault led her thither: then he commended her to God, and said that he would go and abide with his fellow.

            “It will be well done,” said the Queen, “so shall he be at the better ease.”

            Then Gallehault departed, and came to the King to take leave, and said that if it pleased him he would 

 

            [f 86] 

The Lady of Mallehault talks with the Queen 

go lie among his folk, because this long while he had not lain there; “And Sir,” quoth he, “I should pain myself to pleasure them, for they love me much.”

            “Sir,” said Sir Gawain, “thou sayest well, and he who hath valiant men ought well to honour them.”

            Then departed Gallehault, and came to his fellow, and they lay there in one bed, and talked a long while.

            But now leave we to tell of Sir Galleahult and his fellow, and tell we of the Queen, who is come to the gallery[.]

            FOR when Gallehault was gone the Queen went into a window, and fell a thinking of that which which pleased her most.

            Then drew night to her the Lady of Mallehault when she saw her all alone, and said to her as privily as she might: “Ha my lady, wherefore is four ill company?”

            The Queen heard her well, but spake no word, making as though she heard her not: but in no long time after the lady had said that word, the Queen called to her and said: “Dame why saidst thou so?’

            “Lady,” she said, “pardon me, I will say it no more; for peradventure I have said more than befits me: nor ought one to be more in the privity of one’s lady than due is, lest speedily hatred be gained thereby.”

            “So may God help me,” said the Queen, “thou mayst say nought to me that I should hate thee therefore; and I hold thee so wise and so courteous, that I deem not thou wouldst say aught against my pleasure: so speak hardily. [F]or I will, and pray thee thereto.”

            “Dame,” said she, “I will tell thee then: I said that four is right good company: today have I seen thy new-made friendship with the knight who spake to thee down in the close there: and wot well that he is the one in the world who most loveth thee, and thou art nowise

 

            [f 87]

The Lady of Mallehault would be of their company 

wrong to love him: for in a better place mightst thou not set thy love.”

            “How,” said the Queen, “knowest thou him then?”

            “Dame,” she said, “time has been when, I might well have gainsaid thee, as perchance thou mayst now do to me; for I have held him in my prison a year and a half: he it is who in the red arms won the Assembly, and in the black arms won that other; and both arms did I give him: and when he was pensif on the river-bank the other day, and I would bid him do valiantly in arms, I did it not save that I hoped he loved thee; time was indeed when I deemed he might love me; but he showed me his thought, that it was not of me.”

            Therewith she told her how she had held him in prison a year and a half and why she took him.

            “Yea but tell me,” said the Queen, “why better is the company of four than of three: for better is a thing hidden by three than by four.”

            “Certes it is not so; and I will tell thee wherefore: true it is that the knight loveth thee, and that Gallehault loveth him, and henceforward will they comfort one the other in whatsoever land they be; for here they will not abide long; but thou wilt be left behind alone, and none will know thereof save thyself, and thou wilt have none to whom to show thy thought, but must thyself all alone beat thine own burden: but if it please thee that I be the fourth in the company, then shall we two ladies solace each the other as those two knights do, and thou shalt be the more at ease.”

            “Knowest thou,” said the Queen, “who the knight is?”

            “Nay,” said the lady, “so God help me! thou hast heard well how he hid him from me.”

            “Certes,” said the Queen, thou art exceeding keen eyed, and he must be right wise who would hoodwink thee

 

            [f 88]

The queen would know of the Lady’s love 

[b]ut since it is so that thou hast seen it and thou cravest my company, thou shalt have it; but I will that thou bear they burden, even as I bear mine.”

            “Dame,” she said, “I will do what thou wilt so I may have such high fellowship.”

            “Of a sooth,” said the Queen thou shalt have it: for better company than thine may I not have.”

            “Dame,” said she, [“]we will be together every hour that it pleaseth thee.”

            “I am joyful thereof,” said the Queen, “and tomorrow we will make sure the company of us four.”

            Then she told of Lancelot how he had wept when he looked on her: “And I wot well that he knoweth thee; and wot well that he is Lancelot of the Lake the best knight alive.”

            So long they talked together, and made great joy of their new friendship; and that night the Queen of Logres would nowise suffer the Lady of Mallehault to lie but with her; but she lay there perforce, for sore she doubted lying with so mighty a lady.

            But when they were abed they fell a-talking of their new loves: and the Queen asked the Lady of Mallehault if she had never a love, and she said Nay.

            “Wot thou, lady, that I never loved save once, and of that love I have nought to do to think.”

            This she said of Lancelot, whom she had loved as much as a woman may love a mortal man; but never had she any joy of him: nothwithstanding she said not that it was.

            The Queen deemed that it would be the love of the Lady and Gallehault; but she would nought speak thereof till she knew of Gallehault, whether he would love her or not; for otherwise she would not ask it of him.

            On the morrow morn they arose, they twain, and went

             [f 89]

 

The Queen asketh of Gallehault’s love. 

to the tent of the King, who lay there to make company for Sir Gawain and his other knights. So the Queen awaked him saying that he was a sluggard to be a-sleeping at that hour; and then went forth with those dames and damsels along the meadows, and they went thither whereas their loves had been brought together; and the Queen told the Lady of Mallehault all her knowledge of Lancelot, and how he had been abashed before her, and had had nought to say to her: then she began to praise Gallehault, saying that he was the wisest man and the goodliest and the best in the world: “Certes,” said she, [“]I shall tell him of the friendship of us twain when he cometh; and be sure that he shall have great joy thereof: but come, for in no long while will he be here.”          

 € How Gallehault and the Lady of Mallehault were first brought together by the mean of the Queen of Logres; and how Lancelot and Gallehault went to talk and be merry with their ladies.

            THEREWITHAL the ladies gat them back, and by then they were come was the King arisen, and had sent to seek Gallehault, who came presently, and to him told the Queen of the friendship made betwixt her and the Lady of Mallehault.

            “Sayst thou sooth, Dame?” said he.

            “Yea,” said she, and by the faith thou owest to that thou lovest most, lovest thou any dame or damsel?”

            “Nay by my faith,” said he.

            “Knowest thou wherefore I ask it?” said she.

            “Nay,” said he.          

            Quoth she; “I have laid my love where thou wouldest have me; now lay thine on that I would: and wot ye whereon? on a fair lady, a wise and a courteous,

             [f 90]

 

Queen Guenevere bringeth together Gallehault and the Lady. 

a right gentle woman and of great honour.”

            “Do thy will on me, my body and my heart both,” said Gallehault, “but who is she whose thou wouldest have me be?”

            “The Lady of Mallehault; lo there she goeth:” and she showed her to him; and told how she had got to to know her, and how she had held Lancelot in her prison a year and a half, and how she would have kissed him, and how and wherefore she spake to him; and how Lancelot had wept when he looked on her: “And because,” said the Queen, “she is the valiantest lady of the world would I join you twain together in love; for the valiantest knight of the world should have for his dear the valiantest lady. When ye are in a strange country, thou and my knight, and bemoaning you one to other, then we also shall solace each other of our woes; and each shall bear his own burden.”

            “Dame,” said Gallehault, “lo here my heart and my body, do thy will with it even as I have set thine where I would.”        

            Then the Queen came to the Lady of Mallehault, and said to her: “Lady, thou art ready to do that which I would?”          

            “Yea truly lady,” said she.      “By my faith,” said the Queen, “I would give thee away, body and soul.”

            “Dame,” said she, “do with them as with thine own!”

            So the Queen took her by one hand, and Gallehault by the other, and said to Gallehault; “Sir I give thee to this lady as true friend & loyal to be hers wholly and only in heart and body: and thou lady I give thee to this knight as loyal friend in all soothfast love.”  

            Hereto they said yea both, and the Queen brought them to kiss one another[.]         

 Transcribed by Karen Carcia, 2015. 

 

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