Book Of The Round Table And The Three Quests
( Originally Published A Long Time Ago )
IN the beginning of King Arthur, after that he was chosen king by adventure and by grace, for the most part the barons knew not that he was Utherpendragon's son, but as Merlin made it appear openly known. But yet many kings and lords made great war against him for that cause, but King Arthur full well overcame them all; for the most part of the days of his life he was much ruled by the counsel of Merlin. So it befell on a time that King Arthur said unto Merlin, "My barons will let me have no rest, but needs they will have that I take a wife, and I will none take but by thy counsel and by thine advice." "It is well done," said Merlin, "that ye take a wife, for a man of your bounty and nobleness should not be without a wife. Now is there any fair lady that ye love better that another?" "Yea," said King Arthur, "I love Guenever, the king's daughter,—Leodegraunce, of the land of Cameliard, which Leodegraunce holdeth in his house the Table Round that ye told he had of my father, Uther. And this damsel is the most gentlest and fairest lady that I know living, or yet that I ever could find." "Sir," said Merlin, "as of her beauty and fairness she is one of the fairest that live ; but, and ye loved her not so well as ye do, I would find you a damsel, of beauty and of goodness, that should like you, and should please you, and your heart were not set ; but there as a man's heart is set, he will be loth to return." "That is truth," said King Arthur. But Merlin warned the King privily, that Guenever was not wholesome for him to take to wife, for he warned him that Launcelot should love her, and she him again; and so he turned his tale to the adventures of the Sancgreal. Then Merlin desired of the King to have men with him that should inquire of Guenever ; and so the King granted him. And Merlin went forth to King Leodegraunce of Cameliard, and told him of the desire of the King; that he would have to his wife Guenever his daughter. "That is to me," said King Leodegraunce, "the best tidings that ever I heard, that so worthy a king of prowess and nobleness will wed my daughter ; and, as for my lands, I will give him, wished I that it might please him, but he hath lands enough, he needeth none; but I shall send him a gift that shall please him much more, for I shall give him the Table Round, the which Utherpendragon gave me; and, when it is full complete, there is a hundred knights and fifty ; and, as for a hundred good knights, I have myself; but I lack fifty, for so many have been slain in my days." And so King Leodegraunce delivered his daughter, Guenever, unto Merlin, and the Table Round with the hundred knights ; and so they rode freshly with great royalty, what by water, and what by land, till they came that night unto London.
WHEN King Arthur heard of the coming of Guenever, and the hundred knights of the Round Table, he made great joy for their coming, and said, openly, "This fair lady is passing welcome to me, for I loved her long, and therefore there is nothing so pleasing to me ; and these knights with the Round Table please me more than right great riches." Then in all haste the King did ordain for the marriage and coronation, in the most honourable wise that could be devised. "Now, Merlin," said King Arthur, "go thou and espy me in all this land fifty knights, that be of most prowess and worship." Within short time Merlin made the best speed he might, and found twenty-eight good knights, but no more could he find. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury was sent for, and he blessed the sieges of his Round Table with great royalty and devotion ; and there sat the twenty-eight knights in their sieges. And when this was done, Merlin said, " I air sirs, ye must all arise and come unto King Arthur, for to do him homage; he will have the better will to maintain you." And so they arose and did their homage; and, when they were gone, Merlin found in the sieges letters of gold, that told the knights' names that had been sitten therein. But two sieges were void. And so anon came young Gawaine, and asked the King a gift. "Ask," said the King, "and I shall grant it you." "Sir, I ask ye will make me knight the same day that ye shall wed fair Guenever." "I will do it with a good will," said King Arthur, "and do to you all the worship that I may ; for I must so do, by reason you are my nephew and sister's son."
FORTHWALL there came a poor man into the court, and brought with him a fair young man, of eighteen years of age, riding upon a lean mare. And the poor man asked all men that he met, "Where shall I find King Arthur?" "Yonder he is," said the knights ; "wilt thou anything with him ?" "Yea," said the poor man, "therefore I came hither." Anon, as he came before the King, he saluted him, and said, "O King Arthur, the flower of all knights and kings, I beseech Jesus save thee. Sir, it was told me, that at this time of your marriage ye would give any man the gift that he would ask, except it were unreasonable." "That is truth," said the King, "such cries I let make; and that will I hold, so it impair not my realm nor mine estate." "Ye say well and graciously," said the poor man. "Sir, I ask nothing else but that ye will make my son here a knight." "It is a great thing that thou askest of me," said the King. "What is thy name," said the King to the poor man. "Sir, my name is Aries, the cowherd." "Whether cometh this of thee, or of thy son?" said the King. "Nay, sir," said Aries, "this desire cometh of my son, and not of me. For I shall tell you, I have thirteen sons, and all they will fall to what labour I put them to, and will be right glad to do labour; but this child will do no labour for me, for any thing that my wife or I may do, but always he will be shooting, or casting of darts, and glad to see battles, and to behold knights ; and al-ways, both day and night, he desireth of me that he might be made a knight." "What is thy name," said the King to the young man. "Sir, my name is Tor." The King beheld him fast, and saw he was passingly well visaged, and passingly well made of his years. "Well," said King Arthur to Aries, the cowherd, "fetch all thy sons afore me, that I may see them." And so the poor man did, and all were shapen much like the poor man ; but Tor was not like none of them all, in shape nor in countenance, for he was much more than any of them. "Now," said King Arthur unto Aries, the cowherd, "where is that sword that he shall be made knight withal?" "It is here," said Tor. "Take it out of the sheath," said the King, "and require me to make you a knight." Then Tor alighted off his mare, and pulled out his sword, kneeling, requiring the King that he would make him knight, and that he might be a knight of the Round Table. "As for a knight I will make you," and therewith smote him in the neck with the sword, saying, "Be ye a good knight ; and so I pray to God ye may be; and if ye be of, prowess, and of worthiness, ye shall be a knight of the Round Table." "Now, Merlin," said King Arthur, "say whether this Tor shall be a good knight or no." "Yea, sir, he ought to be a good knight, for he is come of as good a man as any is on live, and of king's blood." "How so, sir?" said the King. "I shall tell you," said Merlin; "this poor man, Aries, the cowherd, is not his father, he is nothing like to him ; for King Pellinore is his father." "I suppose nay," said the cow-herd. "Fetch thy wife afore me," said Merlin, "and she shall not say nay." Anon the wife was fetched, which was a fair housewife, and there she answered Merlin full womanly; and there she told the King and Merlin, that when she was a maid, and went to milking, "there met with me a stern knight, and he begot my son Tor; and he took from me my greyhound, that I had at that time with me, and said that he would keep the grey-hound for my love." "Ah !" said the cowherd, "I weened not this ; but I may believe it well, for the boy had never no likeness to me." "Sir," said Tor to Merlin, "dishonor not my mother." "Sir," said Merlin, "it is more for worship than your hurt; for your father is a good man, and a king, and he may right well advance you and your mother ; for ye were begotten or ever she was wedded." "That is truth," said the wife. "It is the less grief to me," said the cowherd.
So on the morrow King Pellinore came to the court of King Arthur, which had great joy of him, and told him of Tor, how he was his son, and how he had made him knight at the request of the cowherd. When King Pellinore beheld Tor, he pleased him much. So the King made Gawaine knight, but Tor was the first that he made at the feast. "What is the cause," said King Arthur, "that there be two places void in the sieges ?" "Sir," said Merlin, "there shall no man sit in those places but they that shall be of most worship. But in the Siege Perilous, there shall no man sit therein but one; and if there be any so hardy to do it, he shall be destroyed ; and he that shall sit there shall have no fellow." And therewith Merlin took King Pellinore by the hand, and, in the one hand next the two sieges and the Siege Perilous, he said, in open audience : "This is your place, and best he be worthy to sit therein of any that is here." Thereat had Sir Gawaine great envy, and said to Gaheris, his brother, "Yonder knight is put unto great worship; the which grieveth me sore, for he slew our father, King Lot, therefore I will slay him," said Sir Gawaine, "with a sword that was sent me, which is passing trenchant." "Ye shall not do so," said Gaheris, "at this time; for at this time I am but a squire, and, when I am made knight, I will be avenged on him; and there-fore, brother, it is best ye suffer till another time, that we have him out of the court, for and we did so now, we should trouble this high feast." "I will well," said Sir Gawaine, "as ye will."
THEN was the high feast made ready, and the King was wedded at Camelot unto dame Guenever, in the church of St. Stevens, with great solemnity; and, as every man was set after his degree, Merlin went unto all the knights of the Round Table, and bid them sit still, and that none should remove, "for ye shall see a marvellous adventure." Right so as they sat, there came running in a white hart into the hall, and a white brachet next him, and thirty couple of black running hounds came after with a great cry, and the hart went about the Round Table ; as he went by the other tables, the white brachet caught him by the buttock, and pulled out a piece, wherethrough the hart leapt a great leap, and overthrew a knight that sat at the table's side; and therewith the knight arose and took up the brachet, and so went forth out of the hall, and took his horse, and rode his way with the brachet. Right soon anon came in a lady on a white palfrey, and cried aloud to King Arthur, "Sir, suffer me not to have this despite, for the brachet was mine that the knight led away." "I may not do therewith," said the King. With this there came a knight riding all armed, on a great horse, and took the lady with him by force; and she cried and made great moan. When she was gone, the King was glad, because she made such a noise. "Nay," said Merlin, "ye may not leave these adventures so lightly, for these adventures must be brought again, or else it would be disworship to you, and to your feast." "I will," said the King, "that all be done by your advice." "Then," said Merlin, "let call Sir Gawaine, for he must bring again the white hart; also, sir, ye must let call Sir Tor, for he must bring again the brachet and the knight or else slay him ; also, let call King Pellinore, for he must bring again the lady and the knight, or else slay him; and these three knights shall do marvellous adventures or they come again." Then were they called all three, as it is rehearsed afore, and every each of them took their charge, and armed them surely. But Sir Gawaine had the first request, and there-fore we will begin with him.
SIR GAWAINE rode more than a pace, and Gaheris, his brother, rode with him instead of a squire, for to do him service. So as they rode they saw two knights fight on horseback passing sore; so Sir Gawaine and his brother rode between them, and asked them for what cause they fought so ? The one knight answered and said, "We fight for a simple matter, for we be two brethren, and born and begotten of one man and of one woman." "Alas," said Sir Gawaine, "why do ye so?" "Sir," said the elder, "there came a white hart this way this day, and many hounds chased him, and a white brachet was always near him ; and we understood it was adventure made for the high feast of King Arthur; and, therefore, I would have gone after to have won me worship, and here my younger brother said he would go after the hart, for he was a better knight than I, and for this cause we fell at debate; and so we thought to prove which of us both was better knight." "This is a simple cause," said Sir Gawaine ; "strange men ye should debate with, and not brother with brother; therefore, and if ye will do by my counsel, I will have ado with you ; that is, ye shall yield you unto me, and that ye go unto King Arthur, and yield you unto his grace." "Sir knight," said the two brethren, "we are sore fought, and much blood have we lost through our wilfulness; and, therefore, we would be loth to have ado with you." "Then do as I will have you," said Sir Gawaine. "We will agree to fulfil your will; but by whom shall we say that we be thither sent?" "Ye may say, by the knight that followeth the quest of the white hart. Now what is your names?" said Sir Gawaine. "Sorlouse of the Forest," said the elder ; "and my name is," said the younger, "Brian of the Forest." And so they departed and went to the King's court, and Sir Gawaine went in his quest, and as Sir Gawaine followed the hart by the cry of the hounds, even afore him there was a great river, and the hart swam over; and as Sir Gawaine would have followed after, there stood a knight on the other side and said, "Sir knight, come not over after the hart, but if thou wilt joust with me." "I will not fail as for that," said Sir Gawaine, "to follow the quest that I am in." And so he made his horse to swim over the water; and anon they got their spears, and ran together full hard; but Sir Gawaine smote him off his horse, and then he turned his horse, and bid him yield him. "Nay," said the knight, "not so, though thou have the better of me on horseback, I pray thee, valiant knight, alight on foot, and match we together with swords." "What is your name?" said Sir Gawaine. "Allardin of the Isles," said the other. Then either dressed their shields and smote together, but Sir Gawaine smote him through the helm so hard, that it went to the brains, and the knight fell down dead. "Ah !" said Gaheris, "that was a mighty stroke of a young knight."
THEN Sir Gawaine and Sir Gaheris rode more than a pace after the white hart, and let slip at the hart three couple of greyhounds ; and so they chased the hart into the castle, and in the chief place of the castle they slew the hart that Sir Gawaine and Gaheris followed after. Right so there came a knight out of a chamber, with a sword in his hand, and slew two of the hounds, even in the sight of Sir Gawaine, and the remnant, he chased them with his sword out of the castle. And when he came again he said, "Oh! my white hart ! me repenteth that thou art dead, for my sovereign lady gave thee to me; and evil have I kept thee, and thy death shall be dear bought and I live." And anon he went into his chamber and armed him, and came out fiercely, and there he met with Sir Gawaine. "Why have you slain my hounds ?" said Sir Gawaine, "for they did but their kind, and I had rather ye had worked your anger upon me than the dumb beasts." "Thou sayest truth," said the knight, "I have avenged me on thy hounds, and so as I will be on thee or thou go." Then Sir Gawaine alighted on foot, and dressed his shield, and they stroke mightily, and cleave their shields, and stunned their helms, and brake their hawberks, that the blood ran down to their feet. At the last, Sir Gawaine smote the knight so hard, that he fell to the earth ; and then he cried mercy, and yielded him, and besought him as he was a knight, and a gentleman, to save his life. "Thou shalt die," said Sir Gawaine, "for slaying my hounds." "I will make amends unto my power," said the knight. Sir Gawaine would no mercy have, but unlaced his helm to have stricken off his head; right so came his lady out of her chamber and fell over him, and so he smote off her head by misadventure. "Alas !" said Gaheris, "that is foul and shamefully done, that shame shall never from you ; also, ye should give mercy unto them that ask mercy; for a knight without mercy is without worship." Sir Gawaine was so astonished at the death of this fair lady, that he wist not what he did; and said to the knight, "Arise, I will give thee mercy." "Nay, nay," said the knight, "I take no force of mercy now, for thou hast slain my love and my lady, that I loved best of all earthly things." "Me repenteth it sore," said Sir Gawaine, "for I thought to have stricken at thee; but now thou shalt go unto King Arthur, and tell him of thine adventures, and how thou art overcome by the knight that went in quest of the white hart." "I take no force," said the knight, "whether I live or die." But, for dread of death, he swore to go unto King Arthur ; and he made him for to bear one greyhound before him upon his horse; and another behind him also. "What is your name?" said Sir Gawaine, "or we depart." "My name is," said the knight, "Ablamore of the Marsh." So he departed towards Camelot.
AND Sir Gawaine went into the castle, and made him ready to lay there all night, and would have unarmed him. "What will ye do ?" said Gaheris ; "will ye unarm you in this country? ye may well think that ye have many enemies here about." They had no sooner said that word, but there came four knights well armed, and assailed' Sir Gawaine hard, and he said thus unto them : "Thou new-made knight, thou hast shamed thy knighthood, fora knight without mercy is dishonoured. Thou hast also slain a fair lady, which is unto thee great shame for evermore ; and, doubt thou not, thou shalt have great need of mercy or thou depart from us." And therewith one of them smote Sir Gawaine such a stroke, that he had nigh felled him to the earth, and Gaheris smote him again sore; and so they were on the one side, and on the other, that Sir Gawaine and Gaheris were in great jeopardy of their lives, and one of them, with a bow archer, smote Sir Gawaine through the arm, that it grieved him wondrous sore. And, as they should have been both slain, there came four ladies, and besought the knights of grace for Sir Gawaine. And goodly, at the request of the ladies, they gave Sir Gawaine and Gaheris their lives, and made them to yield them as prisoners ; then Sir Gawaine and Gaheris made great moan. "Alas !" said Sir Gawaine, "mine arm grieveth me sore—I am like to be maimed ;" and so made his complaint piteously. On the morrow early came one of the four ladies to Sir Gawaine, which had heard all his complaints, and said, "Sir knight, what cheer?" "Not good," said he. "It is your own default," said the lady, "for ye have done a passing foul deed in the slaying of the lady, which will be great villainy to you. But be ye not of King Arthur's kin?" said the lady. "Yes, truly," said Gawaine. "What is your name ?" said the lady, "ye must tell it or that ye pass." "My name is Gawaine, King Lot's son, of Orkney, and my mother is King Arthur's sister." "Ah! then ye are nephew unto King Arthur ?" said the lady, "and I shall so speak for you, that ye shall have conduct to go to King Arthur for his love." And so she departed, and told the four knights how their prisoner was King Arthur's nephew, "and his name is Gawaine, King Lot's son, of Orkney." Then they gave him the head of the white hart, because it was in his quest. Then anon they delivered Sir Gawaine under this promise, that he should bear the dead lady with him in this manner: her head was hanged about his neck, and the whole body of her lay before him upon the mane of his horse ; and in this manner he rode forth towards Camelot. And anon as he was come to the court, Merlin desired of King Arthur that Sir Gawaine should be sworn to tell of all his adventures, and so he was ; and showed how he slew the lady, and how he would give no mercy to the knight, where through the lady was villainously slain. Then the King and the Queen were greatly displeased with Sir Gawaine for the slaying of the lady ; and, thereby the ordinance of the Queen was set to an inquest of ladies on Sir Gawaine. And they judged him, ever while he lived to be with all ladies, and to fight their quarrels, and that he should ever be courteous, and never to refuse mercy to him that asketh mercy. Thus was Sir Gawain sworn upon the four Evangelists, that he would never be against ladies nor gentle-women, but if he fought for a lady, and his adversary for an-other. And thus endeth the adventure of Sir Gawaine, which he did at the marriage of King Arthur.
THEN Sir Tor was ready, and he mounted on horseback, and rode forth his way a good pace after the knight with the brachet. And so as he rode, he met with a dwarf suddenly, which smote his horse on the head with a staff, that he went backward more than his spear's length. "In what intent doest thou smite my horse?" said Sir Tor. "For thou shalt not pass this way," said the dwarf ; "but that thou shalt first joust with yonder knights, that abide in yonder pavilions that thou seest." Then was Sir Tor ware where two pavilions were, and great spears stood out, and two shields hung on two trees by the pavilions. "I may not tarry," said Sir Tor, "for I am in a quest which I must needs follow." "Thou shalt not pass," said the dwarf; and therewith he blew his horn. Then there came one armed on horseback, and dressed his shield, and came fast toward Sir Tor; and he dressed him against him, and so ran together, that Sir Tor bare him from his horse. And anon the knight yielded him to his mercy ; "But, sir, I have a fellow in yonder pavilion, that will have ado with you anon." "He shall be welcome," said Sir Tor. Then was he ware of another knight coming with great random, and each of them dressed to other, that marvel it was to see; but the knight smote Sir Tor a great stroke in the midst of the shield, that his spear all to-shivered, and Sir Tor smote him through the shield below, that it went through the side of the knight, but the stroke slew him not. And therewith Sir Tor alight, and smote him upon the helm a great stroke ; and therewith the knight yielded him, and besought him of mercy. "I will well," said Sir Tor, "but thou and thy fellow must go unto King Arthur, and yield you prisoners to him." "By whom shall we say that we are thither sent?" "Ye shall say, by the knight that went with the brachet. Now, what be your names?" said Tor. "My name is," said the one, "Sir Felot of Langdoc." "And my name is," said the other, "Sir Petipace of Winchelsea." "Now go ye forth," said Sir Tor; "God speed you and me." Then came the dwarf, and said to Sir Tor, "I pray you to give me a gift." "I will well," said Sir Tor. "I ask no more," said the dwarf, "but that ye will suffer me to do you service, for I will serve no more recreant knights." "Then take a horse anon," said Sir Tor, "and come on and ride with me; I wot ye ride after the knight with the white brachet." "I shall bring you where he is," said the dwarf. And so they rode through the forest, and at the last they were ware of two pavilions by a priory with two shields, and the one shield was renewed with white, and the other shield was red.
THEREWITH Sir Tor alighted, and took the dwarf his spear, and so came to the white pavilion, and saw three damsels lie therein on a pallet sleeping. And then he went unto that other pavilion, and there he found a fair lady sleeping; and there was the white brachet that bayed at her fast. And therewith anon the lady awoke and went out of the pavilion, and all her damsels ; but anon as Sir Tor espied the white brachet, he took it by force, and took it to the dwarf. "What will ye do?" said. the lady; "will ye take away my brachet from me?" "Yea," said Sir Tor ; "this brachet have I sought from King Arthur's court to this place." "Well," said the lady, "sir knight, ye shall not go far with it, but that ye shall be met withal or it be long, and also evil handled." "I shall abide it, what adventure soever cometh by the grace of God ;" and so mounted upon his horse, and passed forth on his way toward Camelot ; but it was so near night that he might not pass but little further. "Know ye any lodging?" said Sir Tor. "I know none," said the dwarf ; "but here beside is a hermitage, and there ye must take such lodging as ye find." And within awhile they came to the hermitage and took lodging. And there was bread, and grass and oats for their horses ; soon it was sped, and full hard was their supper ; but there they rested them all the night till on the morrow, and heard a mass devoutly, and took their leave of the hermit, and Sir Tor prayed the hermit to pray for him. He said he would, and betook him to God ; and so mounted on horseback, and rode toward Camelot a long while. With that they heard a knight call loud that came after them, and said, "Knight, abide and yield my brachet that thou tookest from my lady." Sir Tor returned again and beheld him, and saw he was a seemly knight, and well horsed and armed at all points ; then Sir Tor dressed his shield, and took his spear in his hand, and the other came fiercely upon him, and smote each other that both horse and men fell to the earth. Anon they lightly arose, and drew their swords as eagerly as, two lions, and put their shields afore them, and smote through their shields, that the cantels fell off on both parties ; and also they brake their helms that the hot blood ran out, and the thick mails of their halberts they carved and rove asunder, that the hot blood ran to the ground, and they had both many great wounds, and were passing weary. But Sir Tor espied that the other knight fainted, and then he pursued fast upon him, and doubled his strokes, and made him fall to the ground on the one side. Then Sir Tor made him yield him. "That will I not," said Abellius, "while my life lasteth, and the soul within my body, unless that thou wilt give me the brachet." "That will I not do," said Sir Tor, "for it was my quest to bring again the brachet and thee, or else slay thee."
WITH that came a damsel riding upon a palfrey, as fast as she might drive, and cried with a loud voice unto Sir Tor. "What will ye with me ?" said Sir Tor. "I beseech thee," said the damsel, "for King Arthur's love, give nie a gift; I requite thee, gentle knight, as thou art a gentleman." "Now," said Sir Tor, "ask a gift, and I will give it you." "Gramercy," said the damsel, "I ask the head of this false knight Abellius, for he is the most outrageous knight that liveth, and the greatest murderer." "I am right sorry and loth," said Sir Tor, "of that gift which I have granted ; let him make you amends in that which he bath trespassed against you." "He cannot make amends," said the damsel, "for he bath slain mine own brother, which was a better knight than ever he was, and he had no mercy upon him ; insomuch that I kneeled half-an-hour afore him in the mire, for to save my brother's life which had done him no damage, but fought with by adventure of arms as knights adventurous do ; and for all that I could do or say, he smote off my brother's head; wherefore I require thee, as thou art a true knight, to give me my gift, or else I shall shame thee in all the court of King Arthur, for he is the falsest knight living, and a great destroyer of good knights." Then when Abellius heard this he was sore afraid, and yielded him, and asked mercy. "I may not now," said Sir Tor, "but if I should be found false of my promise ; for when I would have taken you to mercy, ye would none ask, but if you had the brachet again that was my quest." And therewith he took off his helm, and he arose and fled, and Sir Tor after him, and smote off his head quite. "Now, sir," said the damsel, "it is near night, I pray you come and lodge with me here at my place, it is here fast by." "I will well," said Sir Tor, for his horse and he had fared evil sith they departed from Camelot. And so he rode with her, and had passing good cheer with her, and she had an old knight to her husband, which made him passing good cheer, and well eased Sir Tor and his horse. And on the morrow he heard mass, and brake his fast, and took his leave of the knight and of the lady, which besought him to tell them his name. "Truly," said he, "my name is Sir Tor, that late was made knight; and this was the first request of arms that ever I did to bring again that this knight Abellius took away from King Arthur's court." "Oh ! knight," said the lady and her husband, "if ye come again here in our marches, come and see our poor lodging, and it shall be always at your commandment." So Sir Tor departed, and came to Camelot on the third day by noon ; and the King and the Queen, and all the court, was passing glad of his coming, and made great joy that he was come again, for he went from the court with little succor; but that his father, King Pellinore, gave him an old courser, and King' Arthur gave him armour and a sword, and else had he none other succor, but rode so forth himself alone. And then the King and the Queen, by Merlin's advice, made him to swear to tell of his adventures, and so he told and made profess of his deeds, as it is afore rehearsed; wherefore the King and the Queen made great joy. "Nay," said Merlin, "these be but jests to that he shall do ; he shall prove a noble knight of prowess, as good as any living, and gentle and courteous, and full of good parts, and passing true of his promise, and never shall do outrage." Where, through Merlin's words, King Arthur gave him an earldom of lands that fell unto him ; and here endeth the quest of Sir Tor, King Pellinore's son.
THEN King Pellinore armed him and mounted upon his horse and rode more than pace after the lady that the knight led away. And so as he rode in the forest, he saw in a valley a damsel sit by a well side, and a wounded knight between her arms, and Sir Pellinore saluted her. And when she was ware of him, she cried overloud, "Help me, knight, for Christ's sake." King Pellinore would not tarry, he was so eager in his quest; and ever she cried more than a hundred times after help. And when she saw he would not abide, she prayed unto God for to send him as much need of help as she had, and that he might know it or he died. And as the book telleth, the knight died that lay there wounded; wherefore the lady for pure sorrow slew herself with her love's sword. So as King Pellinore rode in that valley, he met with a poor labouring man. "Sawest thou not," said King Pellinore, "a knight riding and leading away a lady ?" "Yes," said the poor man. "I saw that knight, and the lady that made great moan; and yonder beneath in a valley there ye shall see two pavilions, and one of the knights of the pavilions challenged that lady of that knight, and said, 'she was his near cousin, wherefore he should lead her no farther;' and so they waged in that quarrel, for the one said, 'he would have her by force ;' and the other said, 'he would have the rule of her, because he was her kinsman, and would lead her to her friends ;' for this quarrel I left them fighting, and if ye ride apace ye shall find them yet fighting, and the lady is in keeping with the squires in the pavilions." "God thank thee," said King Pellinore. Then he rode a gallop till that he had a sight of the two pavilions, and the two knights fighting. Anon rode he to the two pavilions, and saw the lady that was his quest, and said to her, "Pair lady, ye must come with me unto King Arthur's court." "Sir knight," said the two squires that were with her, "yonder be two knights that fight for this lady, go thither and depart them, and be agreed with them, and then may ye have her at your own pleasure." "Ye say well," said King Pellinore. And anon he rode between them, and parted them asunder, and asked the cause why they fought. "Sir knight," said the one, "I shall tell you : this lady is my nigh kinswoman, mine aunt's daughter; and when I heard her complain that she was with him maugre her head, I waged battle to fight him." "Sir knight," said the other, whose name was Ontzlake, of Wentland, "this lady I gat by my prowess of arms, this day of King Arthur's court." "That is untruly said," quoth King Pellinore, "for ye came in there all suddenly, as we were at the high feast, and took away this lady or any man might make him ready; and therefore it was my request for to bring her again, and you also, or else the one of us abide in the field ; therefore the lady shall go with me to King Arthur, or I shall die for it, for I have promised it unto him, and therefore fight no more for her, for none of you both shall have no part of her at this time; and if ye list to fight for her, fight with me, and I will defend her." "Well," said the knight, "make you ready, and we shall assail you with all our power." And as King Pellinore would have put his horse from them, and alight on foot, Sir Ontzlake run his horse through with the sword, and said, "Now art thou on foot as well as we." And when King Pellinore saw that his horse was so slain, he was wrath, and then fiercely and lightly leapt from his horse, and in great haste drew out his sword and put his shield afore him, and said, "Knight, keep well thy head ; for thou shalt have a buffet for the slaying of my horse." So King Pellinore gave him such a stroke upon the helm that he clove down the head to the chin, and therewith he fell to the earth dead.
AND then he turned him to that other knight that was sore wounded ; but when he had seen the buffet that the other had, he would not fight, but kneeled down and said, "Take my cousin, the lady, with you, at your request; and I require you, as ye be a true knight, put her to no shame nor villainy." "What," said King Pellinore, "will ye not fight for her ?" "No, sir," said the knight, "I will not fight with a knight of prowess as ye be." "Well," said King Pellinore, "ye say well ; I promise you she shall have no villainy by me, as I am a true knight. But now I lack a horse," said King Pellinore, "I will have Ontzlake's horse." "Ye shall not need," said the knight ; "for I shall give you such a horse as shall please you, so that ye will lodge with me, for it is near night." "I will well," said King Pellinore, "abide with you all night." And there he had with him right good cheer, and fared of the best, with passing good wine, and had merry rest that night; and on the morrow he heard a mass, and after dined, and then was brought him a fair bay courser, and King Pellinore's saddle set upon him. "Now what shall I call you ?" said the knight, "inasmuch as ye have my cousin at your desire of your quest." "Sir, I shall tell you: my name is Pellinore, king of the Isles, and knight of the Round Table." "Now I am glad," said the knight, "that such a noble man as ye shall have the rule of my cousin." "What is now your name ?" said King Pellinore ; "I pray you tell me." "Sir," said he, "my name is Sir Meliot of Logurs, and this lady, my cousin, hight Nimue; and the knight, that is in that other pavilion, is my sworn brother, a passing good knight, and his name is Brian of the Isles, and he is full loth to do any wrong, and full loth to fight with any man or knight ; but if he be sought upon, so that for shame he may not leave." "It is marvel," said King Pellinore, "that he will not have ado with me." "Sir, he will not have ado with no man but if it be at his request." "Bring him one of these to the court of King Arthur," said King Pellinore. "Sir, we will come together." "Ye shall be greatly welcome there," said King Pellinore, "and also greatly allowed for your coming." And so he departed with the lady, and brought her to Camelot. So, as they rode in a valley that was full of stones, the lady's horse stumbled, and threw her down, wherewith her arm was sore bruised, and near she swooned for pain and anguish. "Alas ! sir," said the lady, "mine arm is out of joint, wherethrough I must needs rest me." "Ye shall do well," said King Pellinore. And so he alighted under a fair tree, whereas was fair grass, and put he his horse thereto, and so laid him under the tree, and slept till it was nigh night, and when he awoke he would have ridden. "Sir," said the lady, "it is so dark that ye may as well ride backward as forward." So they abode still and make there their lodging. Then King Pellinore put off his armour, and then, a little be-fore midnight, they heard the trotting of a horse. "Be ye still," said King Pellinore, "for we shall hear of some adventure."
AND therewith he armed him. So, right even afore him, there met two knights; the one came from Camelot, and the other from the north, and either saluted other. What tidings at Camelot ?" said the one. "By my head," said the other, "there have I been, and espied the court of King Arthur; and there is such a fellowship that they may never be broke, and well nigh all the world holdeth with King Arthur ; for there is the flower of chivalry. Now for this cause I am riding into the north to tell our chieftains of the fellowship which is with-holden with King Arthur." "As for that," said the other knight, "I have brought a remedy with me, that is the greatest poison that ever ye heard speak of, and to Camelot will I with it; for we have a friend right nigh King Arthur, and well cherished, that shall poison King Arthur ; so he hath promised our chieftains, and hath received great gifts for to do it." "Be-ware," said the other knight, "of Merlin, for he knoweth all things by the devil's craft; therefore will I not let it," said the knight. And so they departed in sunder. Anon after King Pellinore made him ready, and his lady, and rode towards Camelot; and as they came by the well, whereas the wounded knight was, and the lady, there he found the knight and the lady eaten with lions, or wild beasts, all save the head ; where-fore he made great mourn, and wept passing sore, and said, "Alas ! her life I might have saved ; but I was so fierce in my quest, therefore I would not abide." "Wherefore make ye such dole?" said the lady. "I wot not," said King Pellinore; "but my heart mourneth sore for the death of this lady, for she was a passing fair lady, and a young." "Now shall ye do by mine advice," said the lady ; "take this knight and let him be buried in a hermitage, and then take this lady's head and bear it with you unto King Arthur's court." So King Pellinore took this dead knight on his shoulders, and had him to the hermitage, and charged the hermit with his corpse, and that service should be done for the soul, and take his harness for your labour and pain. "It shall be done," said the hermit, "as I will answer to God."
AND therewith they departed, and came whereas the head of the lady lay with fair yellow hair, which grieved King Pellinore passing sore when he looked upon it; for much he cast his heart on the visage. And so by noon they came to Camelot, and King Arthur and the Queen were passing glad of his coming to the court ; and there he was made to swear, upon the four Evangelists, for to tell the truth of his quest, from the beginning unto the ending. "Ah! Sir Pellinore," said the Queen, "ye were greatly to blame that ye saved not the lady's life." "Madam," said King Pellinore, "ye were greatly to blame and if ye would not save your own self and ye might; but, saving your honour, I was so furious in my quest that I would not abide, and that repenteth me, and shall do all the days of my life." "Truly," said Merlin, "ye ought sore to re-pent it; for the lady was your own daughter, born of the Lady of the Rule, and that knight that was dead was her love, and should have wedded her, and he was a right good knight of a young man, and would have proved a good man, and to this court was he coming, and his name is Sir Miles of the Launds, and a knight came behind him and slew him with a spear, and his name is Loraine le Savage, a false knight, and a very coward, and she for great sorrow slew herself with his sword, and her name was Elaine; and because ye would not abide and help her, ye shall see your best friend fail you when ye be in the greatest distress that ever ye were, or shall be in ; and that penance God hath ordained you for that deed, that he that ye shall most trust to, of any man alive, he shall leave you there as ye shall be slain." "Me forethinketh," said King Pellinore, "that this shall betide me; but God may well foredo all destinies."
Thus when the quest was done of the white hart that Sir Gawaine followed, and the quest of the brachet followed of Sir Tor, son unto King Pellinore, and the quest of the lady that the knight took away, the which King Pellinore at that time followed, then King Arthur established all his knights, and gave them lands, that were not rich of land, and charged them never to do outrage nor murder, and always to flee treason; also by no means to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asked mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damsels, and gentlewomen succor, upon pain of death; also that no ma.' take no battles in a wrong quarrel for no law, nor for worldly goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Round Table, both old and young; and every year they were sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.