Book Of Sir Launcelot And The King
( Originally Published A Long Time Ago )
AT that season of the merry month of May, when every heart flourisheth and rejoiceth; for, as the season is lusty to behold and comfortable, so man and woman rejoice, and be glad of summer coming with her fresh flowers : for winter, with his rough winds and blasts, causeth a lusty man and woman to cower, and sit by the fire. So in this season, as the month of May, it happened there befell a great misfortune, the which stinted not till the flower of chivalry of all the world was destroyed and slain : and all was long of two unhappy knights, the which were named Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, that were brethren unto Sir Gawaine ; for these two knights, Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, had ever a privy hate unto the Queen, Dame Guenever, and unto Sir Launcelot; and, daily and nightly, they ever watched upon Sir Launcelot. So it mis-happened Sir Gawaine and his brethren were in King Arthur's court; and then Sir Agravaine said thus openly, and not in counsel, that many knights might hear it, "I marvel that we all be not ashamed both to see and know how Sir Launcelot cometh daily and nightly to the Queen, and all we know it so; and it is shamefully suffered of us all, that we all should suffer so noble a King, as King Arthur is, so to be ashamed." Then spake Sir Gawaine, and said, "Brother, Sir Agravaine, I pray you and charge you, have no such matter any more before me ; for wit you well," said Sir Gawaine, "I will not be of your counsel." "So God me help," said Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, "we will not be known, brother Sir Agravaine, of your deeds." "Then will I," said Sir Mordred. "I believe that well," said Sir Gawaine; "for ever unto all unhappiness, brother Sir Mordred, thereto will ye grant : and I would that ye left all this, and made you not so busy ; for I know well enough," said Sir Gawaine, "what will befall of it." "Fall of it what fall may," said Sir Agravaine, "I will disclose it unto the King." "Ye shall not do it by my counsel," said Sir Gawaine; "for, if there arise any war and wrath between Sir Launcelot and us, wit ye well, brother, there will be many kings and great lords hold with Sir Launcelot. Also, brother Sir Agravaine," said Sir Gawaine, "ye must remember how oftentimes Sir Launcelot bath rescued the King and the Queen ; and the best of us all had been full cold at the heart-root, had not Sir Launcelot been a better knight than we, and that hath he proved himself so oft : and, as for my part," said Sir Gawaine, "I will never be against Sir Launcelot for one day's deed, as when he rescued me from King Carados, of the Dolorous Tower, and slew him, and saved my life. Also, brothers Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, in likewise Sir Launcelot rescued you both, and threescore and two, from Sir Torquine. Me thinketh, brother, such kind deeds and kindness should be remembered." "Do as ye list," said Sir Agravaine; "for I will hide it no longer." With these words came to them King Arthur. "Now, brother, stint your noise," said Sir Gawaine. "We will not," said Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred. "Will ye so?" said Sir Gawaine: "then God speed you ; for I will not hear your tales, nor be of your counsel." "Nor more will I," said Sir Garath and Sir Gaheris : "for we will never say evil of that man ; for because," said Sir Gareth, "Sir Launcelot made me knight, by no manner ought I to say evil of him." And therewith they three departed, making great dole. "Alas !" said Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth, "now is the realm whole mischief, and the noble fellowship of the Round Table shall be dispersed." So they departed.
AND then King Arthur asked them what noise they made? "My lord," said Sir Agravaine, "I shall tell you which I may keep no longer. Here is I and my brother, Sir Mordred, brake unto my brother, Sir Gawaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Gareth. Now this we know all, that Launcelot holdeth your Queen, and hath done long; and we be your sister's sons, and we may suffer it no longer : and we know all, that ye are the King that made him knight; and, therefore, we will prove it that he is traitor to your person." "If it be so," said King Arthur, "wit ye well he is none other; but I would be loth to begin such a thing but if I might have proofs upon it : for I tell you Sir Launcelot is a hardy knight, and all ye know he is the best knight among us all. And but, if he be taken with the deed he will fight with him that bringeth up the noise, and I know no knight that is able to match with him : therefore, and it be sooth as ye say, I would he were taken with the deed." For King Arthur was loth thereto, that any noise should be upon Sir Launcelot and his Queen; for the King had a deeming, but he would not hear of it, for Sir Launcelot had done so much for him and for his Queen so many times, that wit ye well King Arthur loved him passingly well. "My lord,' said Sir Agravaine, "ye shall ride to-morrow on hunting, and doubt not Sir Launcelot will not go with you; then when it draweth towards night, ye may send the Queen word that ye will lie out all that night : and so may ye send for your cooks, and then upon pain of death we shall take him that night with the Queen, and either we shall bring him to you dead or quick." "I will well," said the King ; "then I counsel you," said the King, "take with you sure fellowship." "Sir," said Sir Agravaine, "my brother Sir Mordred and I will take with us twelve knights of the Round Table." "Be well ware," said King Arthur, "for I warn you ye shall find him full weighty." "Let us deal," said Sir Agravaine.
So on the morrow King Arthur rode on hunting, and sent word unto the Queen that he would lie out all that night. Then Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred gat unto them twelve knights, and hid themselves in a chamber in the castle of Carlisle, and thus were their names; first, Sir Colgrevaunce, Sir Mador de la Port, Sir Gingaline, Sir Melior de Logris, Sir Petipace, of Winchelsea; Sir Galleron, of Galway; Sir Melion, of the Mountain; Sir Astamore, Sir Gromore Somor Jour, Sir Cruse-laine, Sir Florence, Sir Lovell. So these twelve knights were with Sir Mordred and Agravaine; and all they were of Scot-land, either of Sir Gawaine's kin, either well-willers of his brethren. So when the night came, Sir Launcelot told Sir Bors how he would go that night and speak with Queen Quenever. "Sir," said Sir Bors, "ye shall not go this night by my counsel." "Why?" said Sir Launcelot. "Sir," said Sir Bors, "I always dread me much of Sir Agravaine, which waiteth you daily for to do you shame and us all, and never gave my heart against you going that ever ye went to the Queen so much as now ; for I mistrust that the King is out this night from the Queen because peradventure he hath lain some watch for you and the Queen, and therefore I dread me sore of treason." "Have ye no doubt," said Sir Launcelot, "for I shall go, and come again, and make no tarrying." "Sir," said Sir Bors, "that me sore repenteth, for I dread me greatly that your going out this night. shall wrath us all." "Fair nephew," said Sir Launcelot, "I marvel me much why ye say this, sithence the Queen hath sent for me; and wit ye well that I will not be such a coward, but that she shall understand I will see her good grace." "God speed you well," said Sir Bors, "and send you safe and sound again."
So Sir Launcelot departed, and took his sword underneath his arm; and so that noble knight went forth in his mantle, and put himself in great jeopardy : and so he passed till he came unto the Queen's chamber. And then Sir Launcelot was lightly put into the chamber ; and thus as the Queen and Sir Launcelot were together, there came Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, with twelve knights with them of the Round Table, and with a crying voice they said thus : "Traitor knight, Sir Launcelot du Lake, now art thou taken ;" and thus they cried with a loud voice, that all the court might hear it : and they all were fourteen, armed at all points, as they should fight in a battle. "Alas !" said Queen Guenever, "now are we mischieved both." "Madam," said Sir Launcelot, "is here any armour within your chamber that I might cover my body withal, and if there be any, I pray you heartily let me have it, and I shall soon stint their malice by the grace of God." "Truly," said the Queen, "I have none armour, shield, sword, or spear, where, I dread me sore our long love is come to a mischievous end ; for I hear by their noise there be many valiant knights, and well I wot they be surely armed, against them ye may not resist, wherefore ye are like to be slain, and then I shall be burnt; for, and ye might escape them," said the Queen, "I would not doubt but that ye would rescue me in what danger soever I stand in." "Alas !" said Sir Launcelot, "in all my life was I never thus bestood, that I should be thus shamefully slain for lack of mine armour." But always Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred cried, "Traitor knight, come out of the Queen's chamber ; for wit thou well, thou are so beset, that thou shalt not escape." "O Jesu mercy," said Sir Launcelot, "this shameful cry and noise we might not suffer; for better were death at once than thus to endure this pain." Then he took the Queen in his arms and kissed her, and said, "Most noble Christian Queen, I beseech you, as ye have ever been my special good lady, and I at all times your true and poor knight to my power, and as I never yet failed you in right, nor yet in wrong, since the first day that King Arthur made me knight, that ye will pray for my soul if that I be slain; for well I am assured, that Sir Bors, my nephew, and all the remnant of my kin, with Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre, that they will not fail you for to rescue you from the fire; and, therefore, mine own lady, recomfort yourself whatsoever come of me, that ye go with Sir Bors, my nephew, and Sir Urre, and they will do you all the pleasure they can or may, that ye shall live like a queen upon my lands." "Nay, Sir Launcelot," said the Queen, "wit thou well I will never live a day after thy days ; but, and thou be slain, I will take my death as meekly, for Jesu Christ's sake, as ever did any Christian Queen." "Well, madam," said Sir Launcelot, "since it is so that the day is come that our love must depart, wit you well that I shall sell my life as dear as I may; and a thousandfold," said Sir Launcelot, "I am more heavier for you than for myself. And now I had rather than to be lord of all Christendom, that I had sure armour upon me, that men might speak of my deeds or I were slain." "Truly," said Queen Guenever, "I would, and it might please God, that they would take me and slay me, and suffer you to escape." "That shall never be," said Sir Launcelot; "God defend me from such a shame, but Lord Jesu be thou my shield and mine armour."
AND therewithal Sir Launcelot wrapped his mantle round about his arms well and surely ; and by then they had gotten a great form out of the hall, and therewithal they dashed at the chamber door. "Fair lords," said Sir Launcelot, "leave your noise and your dashing, and I shall set open the door, and then may ye do with me what it liketh you to do." "Come off then," said they all, "and do it, for it availeth thee not to strive against us all, and therefore let us into the chamber, and we shall save thy life until thou come to King Arthur." Then Sir Launcelot unbarred the door, and with his left hand he held it open a little, so that but one man might enter at once. And so anon there came in a striding good knight, and a big man, and a large, which was called Sir Colgrevaunce, of Gore; and he, with a sword, struck at Sir Launcelot mightily, and he put aside the stroke, and gave him such a buffet upon the helm, that he fell down dead, grovelling within the chamber door ; and then Sir Launcelot, with his great might drew, that dead knight within the chamber door; and then Sir Launcelot, with the help of the Queen and her ladies, was lightly armed in Sir Colgrevaunce's armour. And ever stood Sir Agravance and Sir Mordred crying, "Traitor knight, come out of the Queen's chamber." "Let be your noise," said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Agravaine, "ye shall not prison me this night; and, therefore, do ye by my counsel ; go ye all from this chamber door, and make no such crying, and such manner of slander as ye do; for I promise you by my knighthood, and ye will depart and make no more noise, I shall, as to-morrow, appear before you all, and before the King, and then let it be seen which of you will accuse me of treason : and there I shall answer you as a knight ought to do, that hither I came for no manner of evil, and that I will prove and make good with mine own hands." "Fie on thee, false traitor," said Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, "we will have the maugre thy head, and slay thee if we list, for we will let thee to wit that we have the choice of King Arthur to save thee or to slay thee." "Ah, sirs," said Sir Launcelot, "is there none other grace with you, then keep yourself." So then Sir Launcelot set the chamber door wide open, and mightily and knightly he strode among them and anon, at the first buffet, he slew Sir Agravaine, and twelve of his fellows, within a little while after, he had laid them to the cold earth ; and there was none of all the twelve that might stand with Sir Launcelot a buffet. Also, Sir Launcelot wounded Sir Mordred, and he fled with all his might. And then Sir Launcelot returned again unto the Queen and said, "Madam, now wit ye well that all our true love is brought unto end; for now will King Arthur ever be my foe ; and therefore, madam, and if it like you that I may have you with me, and I shall save you from all manner of ill adventures and danger." "That is not best," said the Queen ; "me seemeth now ye have done so much harm, it will be best ye hold you still with this; and if ye see that as to-morrow they will put me unto the death, then may ye rescue me as ye think best." "I will well," said Sir Launcelot, "for have ye no doubt while I am living I shall rescue you." And then he kissed her, and either gave other a ring; and so there he left the Queen, and went to his lodging.
So, when Sir Bors saw Sir Launcelot, he was never so glad of his home-coming as he was at that time. "Jesu, mercy," said Sir Launcelot, "what may this mean ?" "Sir," said Sir Bors, "after that ye were departed from us, we all, that be of your blood and your well-willers, were so dreaming, that some of us leapt out of our beds naked; and some, in their dreams, caught naked swords in their hands ; therefore," said Sir Bors, "we deem there is some great strife at hand. And then we all deemed that ye were betrayed with some treason : and, therefore, we made us thus ready, what need soever ye had been in." "My fair nephew," said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Bars, "now shall ye wit all, that this night I was more harder bestead than ever I was in my life, and yet I escaped." And so he told them all how, and in what manner, as ye have heard before. "And therefore, my fellows," said Sir Launcelot, "I beseech you all that ye will be of good heart, in what need soever that I stand in, for now is war come to us all." "Sir," said Sir Bors, "all is welcome that God sendeth us, and we all have had much wealth with you and much worship, and therefore we will take the woe with you as we have taken the wealth." And therefore they said all, which were many knights, "Look that ye take no discomfort, for there is no band of knights under heaven but that we shall be able to grieve them as much as they may us ; and, therefore, discomfort not yourself by no means, and ye shall gather together those that we love, and that loveth us, and what ye will have done shall be done ; and therefore, Sir Launcelot," said they, "we will take the woe with the wealth." "Gramercy," said Sir Launcelot, "of your good comfort ; for in my great distress, my fair nephew, ye comfort me greatly, and much I am be-holden unto you; but this, my fair nephew, I would that ye did in all haste that ye may, or it be four days, that ye will look in their lodgings, that been lodged here nigh about the King, which will hold with me, and which will not, for now I would fain know which were my friends from my foes." "Sir," said Sir Bors, "I shall do what I may; and, or it be seven of the clock, I shall wit of such as ye have said before, who will hold with you or not." Then Sir Bors called to him Sir Lionel, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Blamore de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, Sir Galahautine, Sir Galihodine, Sir Galihud, Sir Menadewke, with Sir Villiers the Valiant, Sir Hebes le Renomes, Sir Lavaine, Sir Urre of Hungary, Sir Neroveus, and Sir Plenorius, these two Sir Launcelot made knights, and the one of them he won upon a bridge, and therefore they would never be against him. And Sir Harry le Fife de Lake, and Sir Seslises of the Dolorous Tower, and Sir Melias de Lile, and Sir Bellangere le Beuse, which was Sir Alisaunder, Lorphelin's son, because his mother, Dame Alis la Beale Pilgrim, was of kin unto Sir Launcelot, he held with him. So there came Sir Palomides, and Sir Safre, his brother, to hold with Sir Launcelot, and Sir Clegis of Sadocke, and Sir Dinas, and Sir Clarius of Claremount. So these two-and-twenty knights drew them together, and anon they were armed and on horseback, and promised Sir Launcelot to do what he would. Then there fell to them what of North Wales, and what of Cornwall, for Sir Lamoracke's sake, and for Sir Tristram's sake, to the number of fourscore good and valiant knights. "My lords," said Sir Launcelot, "wit ye well that I have been ever, sithence I came into this country, well witling unto my lord, King Arthur, and unto my lady, Queen Guenever, unto my power; and this night, because my lady, the Queen sent for me to speak with her, I suppose it was by treason ; howbeit I dare largely excuse her person, notwithstanding I was thereby aforecast nigh slain, but as Jesu provided me, I escaped all their malice ;" and then that noble knight Sir Launcelot, told them all how he was hard bestead in the Queen's chamber, and how and in what manner he escaped from them. "And therefore," said Sir Launcelot, "wit ye well, my fair lords, I am sure there is naught but war unto me and mine ; and for because I have slain this night these knights, as Sir Agravaine, Sir Gawaine's brother, and at the least twelve of his fellows, and for this cause now I am sure of mortal war. These knights were sent and ordained by King Arthur to betray me, and therefore the King will in his hate and malice judge the Queen to the fire, and that may I not suffer, that she should be burnt for my sake. For and I may be heard and suffered, and so taken, I will fight for the Queen, that she is a true lady unto her lord ; but the King in his heat, I dread me, will not take me as I ought to be taken."
"MY lord Sir Launcelot," said Sir Bars, "by mine advice ye shall take the woe with the wealth, and take it patiently, and thank our Lord God for it. And sithence it is fallen as it is, I counsel you to keep yourself; for if ye will yourself, there is no fellowship christened of knights that shall do you any wrong. Also, I will counsel you, my lord Sir Launcelot, that and my lady, Queen Guenever, be in distress, insomuch as she is in pain for your sake, that ye knightly rescue her. And if ye did otherwise, all the world will speak of your shame to the world's end, insomuch as ye were taken with her. Whether ye did right or wrong„ it is now your part to hold with the Queen, that she be not slain and put to a mischievous death, for and the Queen die so, the shame shall be yours." "Oh, good Lord Jesu ! defend me from shame," said Sir Launcelot, "and keep and save my lady the Queen from villainy and from shameful death, and that she never be destroyed in my default. And therefore, my fair lords, ye that be of my kin and my friends," said Sir Launcelot, "what will ye do!" Then they said all, "We will do as ye will do yourself." "I put this to you," said Sir Launcelot, "that if my lord, King Arthur, by evil counsel, will to-morrow in his heat put my lady the Queen to the fire, there to be burnt, now I pray you counsel me what is best to be done." Then they said all at once, with one voice, "Sir, we think that the best that ye may do is this : that ye knightly rescue the Queen, inasmuch as she shall be burnt it is for your sake : and it is to be supposed that if ye might be handled, ye should have the same death, or else a more shamefuller death. And, sir, we say all, that many times ye have rescued the Queen from death, for other men's quarrels, us seemeth it is more your worship that ye rescue the Queen from this peril, so much as she hath it for your sake." Then Sir Launcelot stood still and said, "My fair lords, wit ye well that I would be loth to do that thing that should dishonour you or my blood. And wit ye well I would be right loth that my lady the Queen should die a shameful death : but and it be so that ye will counsel me for to rescue her, I must do much harm or I rescue her ; and peradventure I shall there destroy some of my best friends, which would repent me much. And peradventure there be some, and they could well bring it about, or disobey my lord, King Arthur, they would full soon come to me, the which I were loth to hurt; and if so be that I should rescue her, where should I keep her?" "That shall be the least care of us all," Said Sir Bors. "How did the noble knight, Sir Tristram, by your good will. Did not he keep with him in la beale Isoud nigh three years in Joyous Gard, the which was done by both your advices, and that same place is your own. And in likewise may ye do as ye list, and take the Queen lightly away, if it be so that the King will judge her to be hurt; and in Joyous Gard ye may keep her long enough, until the heat of the King be past, and then shall ye bring again the Queen unto the King with great worship ; and then, peradventure, ye shall have thanks for her bringing home again, where other shall have misfortune. "That is hard to do," said Sir Launcelot; "for by Sir Tristram I may have a warning : for when by means of the treaty Sir Tristram brought again la beale Isoud unto King Marke, from joyous Gard, look what fell on the end, how shamefully that false traitor (King Marke) slew that noble knight as he sat harping before his lady, la beale Isoud, with a sharp grounded lance-head thrust him behind to the heart. It grieveth me," said Sir Launcelot, "to speak of his death, for all the world may not find such a knight." "All this is truth," said Sir Bars, "but there is one thing shall courage you and us all. Ye know well that King Arthur and King Marke were never like of conditions, for there was never yet man that could prove King Arthur untrue of his promise." So, to make short tale, they were all consented that for better or worse, if it were so that the Queen were on the morrow brought to the fire, shortly they all would rescue her. And so, by the advice of Sir Launcelot, they put them all to an ambushment in a little wood as nigh Carlisle as they might, and there they abode awaiting what the King would do.
Now turn we again unto Sir Mordred, which when he was escaped from the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, he anon gat his horse and mounted upon him, and rode straight to King Arthur, sore wounded, and beaten, and all bebled. And there he told the King all how it was, and how they were all slain but he. "Jesus, mercy! how may this be?" said the King; "did ye take him in the Queen's chamber." "Yea, so God me help," said Sir Mordred, "there we found him unarmed, and there he slew Sir Colgrevaunce, and armed him in his armour ; and all this he told the King from the beginning to the ending."
"Ah! Jesus mercy," said the King, "he is a marvellous knight of prowess. Alas ! me sore repenteth,"' said the King, "that ever Sir Launcelot should be against me; now I am sure the noble fellowship of the Round Table is broken for ever, for with him will hold many a noble knight : and now it is befallen so," said King Arthur, "that I may not with my worship but that the Queen must suffer death." So then there was made great ordinance in this heat, that the Queen must be judged to death. And the law was such in those days, that whatsoever they were, of what estate or degree, if that they were found guilty of treason, there should be none other remedy but death, and either the men or the taking with the dead should be the causer of their hasty judgment. And right so was it ordained for Queen Guenever ; because Sir Mordred was escaped sore wounded, and the death of twelve knights of the Round Table : these proofs and experiences caused King Arthur to command the Queen to the fire there to be burnt. Then spake Sir Gawaine, and said, "My lord, King Arthur, I would counsel you, and not to be overhasty, but that ye would put in respite this judgment of my lady, the Queen, for many causes. One is, though it were so that Sir Launcelot were found in the Queen's chamber, yet it might be so that he came thirther for none evil. For ye know, my lord," said Sir Gawaine, "that the Queen is much beholden to Sir Launcelot, more than to any other knight alive : for oftentimes he hath saved her life, and done battle for her, when all the court refused the Queen. And, peradventure, she sent for him for goodness, and for none evil, to reward him for the good deeds he had done to her in time past; and, peradventure, my lady, the Queen, sent for him to that intent, that Sir Launcelot should come to her good grace privily and secretly, weening to her that it was best so to do, in eschewing and dreading of slander. For oftentimes we do many things that we ween it is for the best, and yet peradventure it turneth to the worst : for I dare say," said Sir Gawaine, "that my lady, your Queen, is to you both good and true. And as for Sir Launcelot," said Sir Gawaine, "he will make it good upon any knight living, that. will put upon himself any villainy or shame; and in likewise he will make good for my lady, Dame Guenever." "That I believe well," said King Arthur, "but I will not that way with Sir Launcelot, for he trusteth so much upon his hands and his might, that he doubteth no man ; and therefore, for the Queen, he shall never fight more, for she shall have the law. And if that I may get Sir Launcelot, wit ye well he shall have a shameful death." "Jesu defend," said Sir Gawaine, "that I may never see it." "Wherefore say ye so?" said King Arthur unto Sir Gawaine: "for truly ye have no great cause to love Sir Launcelot, for this night last past he slew your own brother, Sir Agravaine, a full good knight; and also he had almost slain your other brother, Sir Mordred; and also there he slew twelve good knights ; and also, Sir Gawaine, remember you how he slew two sons of yours, Sir Florence and Sir Lovel." "My lord," said Sir Gawaine, "of all this I have knowledge, of whose death I repent me sore : but insomuch as I gave them warning, and told my brethren and my sons beforehand what would fall in the end, insomuch as they would not do by my counsel, I will not meddle me thereof, nor revenge me nothing of their deaths, for I told them it was no boot to strive with Sir Launcelot, howbeit I am sorrow of the death of my brother and of my sons, for they were the causers of their own death. For oftentimes I warned my brother, Sir Agravaine, and told him the perils the which be now befallen."
THEN said the noble King Arthur to Sir Gawaine, "My dear nephew, I pray you that ye will make you ready in your best array, with your brethren, Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, to bring my Queen to the fire, there to have her judgment, and receive her death." "Nay, my most noble lord," said Sir Gawaine, "that will I never do in my life: for wit you well, that I will never be in place where so noble a queen, as is my lady Queen Guenever, shall take such a shameful ending. For wit ye well," said Sir Gawaine, "that my heart will never serve me to see her die; and it shall never be said that ever I was of your counsel of her death." "Then," said King Arthur unto Sir Gawaine, "suffer your brothers, Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, to be there." "My lord," said Sir Gawaine, "wit you well that they will be loth to be there present, because of many adventures which be like to fall there ; but they are young, and full unable to say you nay." Then spake Sir Gaheris, and the good knight, Sir Gareth, unto King Arthur, "Sir, ye may well command us to be there, but wit ye well it shall be sore against our will ; but and we be there by your straight commandment, ye shall plainly hold us there excused : we will be there in peaceable wise, and bear no harness of war upon us." "In the name of God," said the King, "then make you ready, for she shall soon have her judgment." "Alas !" said Sir Gawaine, "that ever I should endure to see this woeful day." So Sir Gawaine turned him and wept heartily, and so he went into his chamber. And then the Queen was led forth without Carlisle, and there she was despoiled unto her smock; and so then her priestly father was brought to her, to be shriven of her misdeeds. Then there was weeping and wailing, and wringing of hands, of many lords and ladies. But there was but few, in comparison, that would bear any armour, for to strengthen the death of the Queen. Then was there one which Sir Launcelot had sent unto that place, for to espy what time the Queen should go unto her judgment; and anon, as he saw that the Queen was despoiled unto her smock, and also that she was shriven, then he gave Sir Launcelot warning thereof. Then was there spurring and plucking up of horses. And right so they came to the fire, and who that stood against them there, they were slain ; there might none withstand Sir Launcelot : so all that bear arms, and withstood them, there were they slain many a noble knight. For there was slain Sir Belias le Orgulous, Sir Sagwardes, Sir Griflet, Sir Brandiles, Sir Aglouvaile, Sir Tor, Sir Gauter, Sir Guillimere, Sir Reinolds, three brethren, Sir Damas, Sir Priamus, Sir Kaye, the stranger, Sir Driaunt, Sir Lambegus, Sir Herminde, Sir Pertelopoe, Sir Perimone's two brethren, which were called the green knight and the red knight. And at this rushing and hurtling, as Sir Launcelot through here and there, it mishappened him to slay Sir Gaheris, and the noble knight, Sir Gareth, for they were unarmed and unaware. For Sir Launcelot smote Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris upon the brain-pans, wherethrough they were both slain in the field. Howbeit, in very truth, Sir Launcelot saw them not; and so were they found dead among the thickest of the press. Then, when Sir Launcelot had thus done, and had put them to flight all they would withstand him, then he rode straight unto Queen Guenever, and made a kirtle and a gown to be cast upon her, and then he made her to be set behind him, and prayed her to be of good cheer. Wit ye well that the Queen was glad that she was escaped from death : and then she thanked God and Sir Launcelot. And so he rode his way with the Queen unto Joyous Gard, and there he kept her as a noble knight should do. And many great lords and kings sent Sir Launcelot many good knights ; and many noble knights drew unto Sir Launcelot. When this was known openly, that King Arthur and Sir Launcelot were at debate, many knights were glad of their debate, and many knights were sorry of their debate.
Now turn we again to King Arthur, that, when it was told him how and in what manner of wise the Queen was taken away from the fire, and when he heard of the death of his noble knights, and in special of Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth's death, then the King swooned for pure sorrow ; and, when he was revived, he said, "Alas ! that ever I bare any crown upon my head, for I have now lost the fairest fellowship of noble knights that ever held Christian king together. Alas ! my good knights be slain away from me: now, within these two days, have I lost forty knights, and also the noble fellowship of Sir Launcelot and his blood, for now I may never more hold them together with my worship. Alas ! that ever this war began. Now, fair fellows," said the King, "I charge you that no man tell Sir Gawaine of the death of his two brethren; for I am sure," said the King, "when Sir Gawaine heareth that Sir Gareth, his brother, is dead, he will nigh go out of his mind. Oh, merciful Jesu !" said the King, "why slew he Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris. For I dare say, as for Sir Gareth, he loved Sir Launcelot above all earthly men." "That is truth," said some knights ; "but they were slain in the hurtling, as Sir Launcelot thrang in the thick of the press ; and, as they were unarmed, he smote them, and wist not whom he smote, and so unhappily they were slain." "The death of them," said King Arthur, "will cause the greatest mortal war that ever was. I am sure, wist Sir Gawaine that Sir Gareth were slain, I should never have rest of him till that I had destroyed Sir Launcelot's kin and himself both, or else he to destroy me, and therefore wit you well that his heart was never so heavy as it is now ; and much more greater sorrow for my good knights' loss than for the loss of my Queen ; for queens might have enough, but such a fellowship of good knights shall never be together in no company. And now I dare say," said the King, "that there was never Christian king that held such a fellowship together. Alas ! that ever Sir Launcelot and I should be at debate. Ah ! Agravaine ! Agravaine !" said the King, "Jesu forgive it thy soul, for thine evil will that thou and thy brother, Sir Mordred, had unto Sir Launcelot, hath caused all this sorrow." And ever, among these complaints, King Arthur wept and swooned.
Then there came one man unto Sir Gawaine, and told him the Queen was laid away with Sir Launcelot, and nigh twenty-four knights slain. "Oh, Jesu! defend my brethren," said Sir Gawaine, "for full well wist I that Sir Launcelot would rescue her, or else he would die in the field : and so, for to say the truth, he had not been a man of worship if he had not rescued the Queen that day, insomuch as she should have been burnt for his sake. And as in that," said Sir Gawaine, "he hath done but knightly, and as I would have done myself, and I had stood in like case. But where are my brethren ?" said Sir Gawaine; "I marvel that I hear not of them." "Truly," said the man, "your two brethren, Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris, be slain." "Jesu defend !" said Sir Gawaine, "for all the good in the world, I would not that they were slain, and in especial Sir Gareth." "Sir," said the man, "he is slain, and that is great pity." "Who slew him?" said Sir Gawaine. "Sir," said the man, "Sir Launcelot slew them both." "That may I not believe," said Sir Gawaine, "that he slew my brother, Sir Gareth; for I dare say my brother Sir Gareth loved him better than me, and all his brethren, and the King both. Also, I dare say, and if Sir Launcelot had desired my brother, Sir Gaheris, to have been with him, he would have been with him against the King, and us all, and therefore I may never believe that Sir Launcelot slew my brother." "Sir," said the man, "it is noised that he slew him."
"ALAS!" said Sir Gawaine, "now is all my joy gone," and then he fell down in a swoon, and long he lay there, as he had been dead; and then, when he arose out of his swoon, he cried out so ruefully, and said, "Alas !" And right so Sir Gawaine ran unto the King, crying and weeping, "Oh, King Arthur, mine uncle, my good brother, Sir Gaheris, is slain, and my brother, Sir Gareth, also, the which were two noble knights." Then the King wept, and he both, and they fell down in a swoon. And when they were revived again, Sir Gawaine spake and said, "Sir, I will go see my brother, Sir Gareth." "Ye may not see him," said the King, "for I caused him to be buried, and Sir Gaheris both. For I well understood that he would make over much sorrow; and the sight of Sir Gareth should have caused you double sorrow." "Alas ! mine own lord," said Sir Gawaine, "who slew my brother, Sir Gareth? mine own good lord, I pray you that you will tell me." "Truly," said the King, "I shall tell you as it is told me: Sir Launcelot slew him and Sir Gaheris both." "Alas !" said Sir Gawaine, "neither of them bear none arms against him." "I wot not how it was," said the King, "but, as it is said, Sir Launcelot slew them both in the thickest of the press, and knew them not, and therefore let us make a remedy for to avenge their deaths."
"My most gracious lord, and my uncle," said Sir Gawaine, , "wit you well that now I shall make you a promise, the which I shall hold by my knighthood, that from this day I shall never fail Sir Launcelot, until the one of has slain the other, and therefore I require you, my lord and my King, dress you unto the war : for, wit you well, I shall be revenged upon Sir Launcelot. And, therefore, as ye will have my service and my love, now haste you thereto, and assay your friend; for I promise unto God," said Sir Gawaine, "that for the death of my brother, Sir Gareth, I shall seek Sir Launcelot throughout seven kings' realms, but I shall slay him, or else he shall slay me." "Ye shall not need to seek him so far," said the King; "for, as I heard say, Sir Launcelot will abide me and you in Joyous Gard, and much people draweth unto him, as I hear say." "That may I full well believe," said Sir Gawaine; "but my lord, assay your friends, and I will assay mine." "It shall be done," said the King; "and, as I suppose, I shall be big enough to draw him out of the highest tower of his castle." So then King Arthur sent letters and writs throughout all England, both in the length and in the breadth, for to assemble all his knights. And so unto King Arthur drew many knights, dukes, and earls, so that he had a great host. And, when they were assembled, the King informed them all how Sir Launcelot had bereft him of his Queen. Then the King and all his host made them ready to lay siege about Sir Launcelot, where as he lay within Joyous Gard. Thereof heard Sir Launcelot, and pursued him of many a good knight ; for with him held many knights, some for his own sake, and some for the Queen's sake. Thus they were on both parties well furnished and garnished of all manner of things that belonged to the war. But King Arthur's host was so big, that Sir Launcelot would not abide him in the field : for he was full loth to do battle against the King. But Sir Launcelot drew him to his strong castle, with all manner of victuals, and as many noblemen as might suffice, both within the town and the castle. Then came King Arthur and Sir Gawaine, with a huge host, and laid a siege about Joyous Gard, both at the town and at the castle ; and there they made full strong war on both parties. But in nowise Sir Launcelot would not ride out nor go out of the castle of a long time, neither would he suffer any of his good knights to issue out, neither none of the town, nor of the castle, until fifteen weeks were past.
So it befell on a day in harvest that Sir Launcelot looked over the walls, and spake on high to King Arthur and Sir Gawaine : "My lords, both wit ye well it is in vain that ye labour at this siege, for here win ye no worship, but dishonour and mauger; for, and it list me come out myself and my good knights, I should full soon make an end of this war." "Come forth," said King Arthur unto Sir Launcelot, "and thou darest, and I promise thee I shall meet thee in the midst of the field." "God defend me," said Sir Launcelot, "that ever I should encounter with the most noble King that made me a knight." "Fie upon thy fair language," said the King ; "for wit thou well, and trust it, that I am thy mortal foe, and ever will be to my dying day ; for thou hast slain my good knights and the noble men of my blood, which I shall never recover again; also thou hast holden my Queen many winters, and since like a traitor taken her from me by force." "My most noble King," said Sir Launcelot, "ye may say what ye will ; for wit you well that with yourself I will not strive : but whereas ye say that I have slain your good knights, I wot well that I have done so, and that me sore repenteth, but I was enforced to do battle with them in saving of my life, or else I must have suffered them to have slain me; and as for my lady, Queen Guenever (except your person of your highness, and my lord, Sir Gawaine), there is no knight under heaven that dare make it good upon me, that ever I was a traitor unto your person ; and where it pleaseth you to say that I have holden my lady, your Queen, years and winters, unto that I shall make answer, and prove it upon any knight that bareth life (except your person, and Sir Gawaine), that my lady, Queen Guenever, is a true lady unto your person, and that will I make good with my hands ; howbeit hath liked her good grace to have me in charity, and to cherish me more than any other knight ; and unto my power I have de-served her love again : for oftentimes, my lord, ye have consented that she should be burnt and destroyed in your heat, and then it fortuned me to do battle for her, and, on that I departed from her adversaries, they confessed their untruths, and she full worshipfully excused. And at such times, my lord Arthur," said Sir Launcelot, "ye loved me, and thanked me when I saved your Queen from the fire, and then ye promised me for ever to be my gracious lord, and now me thinketh ye reward me full evil for my good service. And, my good lord, me seemeth that I had lost a part of my worship in my knight-hood if I had suffered my lady, your Queen, to have been burnt, insomuch as she should have been burnt for my sake : for since I have done battles for your Queen in other quarrels than in mine own, me seemeth now I had more right to do battle for here in a right quarrel ; and, therefore, my good and gracious lord," said Sir Launcelot, "take your Queen unto your good grace, for she is both fair, true, and good." "Fie on thee, false, recreant knight," said Sir Gawaine; "I let thee to wit that my lord, mine uncle, King Arthur, shall have his Queen, and thee despite thy visage, and slay you both, where it shall please him." "It may well be," said Sir Launcelot; "but wit ye well, my lord, Sir Gawaine, and me list to come out of this castle, ye should win me and the Queen more harder than ever ye won a strong battle." "Fie upon thy proud words," said Sir Gawaine ; "as for my lady, the Queen, I will never say of her shame. Ah ! thou false, recreant knight, what cause hadst thou to slay my good brother, Sir Gareth, that loved thee more than all thy kin? Alas ! thou madest him knight with thine hands ; why slewest thou him that loved thee so well ?" "For to excuse me," said Sir Launcelot, "it helpeth me not ; but, by Jesu," said Sir Launcelot, "and by the faith that I owe unto the high order of knighthood, I should, with as good a will, have slain my nephew, Sir Bors de Ganis, at that time. But alas ! that ever I was so unhappy," said Sir Launcelot, "that I had seen Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris." "Thou liest, false, recreant knight," said Sir Gawaine, "thou slewest him in despite of me; and, therefore, wit thou well that I shall make war unto thee, all the while that I may live." "That me sore repenteth," said Sir Launcelot, "for well I understand that it helpeth me not to seek for none accordment whiles that ye, Sir Gawaine, are so mischievously set; and if ye were not, I would not doubt to have the good grace of my lord, King Arthur." "I believe it well, false recreant knight," said Sir Gawaine, "for thou hast many long days overlaid me, and us all, and hast destroyed many of our good knights." "Ye say as it pleased you," said Sir Launcelot, "and yet may it never be said on me, and openly proved, that ever I before cast of reason slew a good knight, as ye, my lord, Sir Gawaine, have done; and so did I never, but in my own defence, and that I was driven thereto in saving of my life." "Ah ! false knight," said Sir Gawaine, "that thou meanest by Sir Lamoracke; but wit thou well that I slew him." "Ye slew him not yourself," said Sir Launcelot, "for it had been overmuch for you to have slain him, for he was one of the best knights christened of his age, and it was great pity of his death."
THEN said Sir Gawaine unto Sir Launcelot, "Sith thou upbraidest me of Sir Lamoracke, wit thou well I shall never leave thee till I have thee at such advantage, that thou shalt not escape my hands." "I trust you well enough," said Sir Launcelot, "that if ye may get me, I shall have but little mercy." But King Arthur would have taken his Queen again, and would have been accorded with Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine would not suffer him by any manner of means. And then Sir Gawaine made many men to blow upon Sir Launcelot, and all at once they called him "False, recreant knight." Then when Sir Bars de Ganis, Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Lionel heard this outcry, they called unto them Sir Palomides, and Sir Safre, his brother, and Sir Lavaine, with many other more of their blood ; and all they went unto Sir Launcelot, and to him they said thus: "My lord, Sir Launcelot, wit ye well that we have great scorn of the great rebukes that we heard Sir Gawaine say unto you, wherefore we beseech you, and charge you as ye will have our service, keep us no longer within these walls ; wit ye well, as we will ride into the field, and do battle with them; for ye fare as a man that was afraid: and for all your fair speech, it will not avail you ; for wit ye well, Sir Gawaine will not suffer you to be accorded with- King Arthur: and, therefore, fight for your life and your right, and ye dare." "Alas !" said Sir Launcelot, "for to ride out of this castle, and do battle, I am full loth to do it." Then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto King Arthur and Sir Gawaine : "My lords, I require you and beseech you, since I am thus required and conjured to ride into the field, that neither you, nor my lord, King Arthur, nor you, Sir Gawaine, come not into the field." "What shall we do then ?" said Sir Gawaine ; "is not this the King's quarrels with thee to fight, and it is my quarrel to fight with thee, Sir Launcelot: because of the death of my brother, Sir Gareth." "Then must I needs unto battle," said Sir Launcelot : "now wit ye well, my lord, King Arthur, and Sir Gawaine, ye will repent it, whensoever I do battle with you." And so then they departed either from the other ; and then on the morrow either party made them ready for to do battle, and great purveyance was made on both sides; and Sir Gawaine let purvey many knights for to wait upon Sir Launcelot, for to overset him, and to slay him. And on the morrow, at nine in the morning, King Arthur was ready in the field with three great hosts; and then Sir Launcelot's fellowship came out at three gates, in full good array : and Sir Lionel came in the foremost battle, and Sir Launcelot came in the middle battle, and Sir Bors came out at the third gate. Thus they came in order and rule as valiant knights ; and always Sir Launcelot charged all his knights in any wise to save King Arthur and Sir Gawaine.
THEN came forth Sir Gawaine from the knights' host, and he came before and proffered to joust ; and Sir Lionel was a fiery knight, and lightly he encountered with Sir Gawaine, and there Sir Gawaine smote Sir Lionel throughout the body, that he dashed unto the earth as he had been dead : and then Sir Ector de Maris, and many others, bear him unto the castle. Then began a great stir, and much people was there slain. And ever Sir Launcelot did what he might to save the people on King Arthur's part; for Sir Palomides, and Sir Bors, and Sir Safre overthrew many knights, for they were deadly knights ; and Sir Blamor de Ganis, and Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, with Sir Bellangere le Breuse, these six knights did much damage and hurt. And ever King Arthur was nigh about Sir Launcelot for to have slain him ; and Sir Launcelot suffered him, and would not strike again. So Sir Bors encountered with King Arthur, and there with a spear Sir Bors smote him down to the ground; and so he alighted and drew his sword, and said unto Sir Launcelot, "Shall I make an end of this war." And he meant for to have slain King Arthur. "Not so hardy," said Sir Launcelot, "upon pain of thy head that thou touch him no more; for I will see that most noble King that made me a knight neither slain nor shamed." And therewithal Sir Launcelot alighted from his horse and took up the King, and horsed him again, and said unto him thus : "My lord, Arthur, for God's love stint this strife, for ye may get here no worship, and I would do mine uttermost, but ever I forbear you; and ye nor none of yours forbeareth me. My lord, remember what I have done in many places, and now I am evil rewarded." When King Arthur was again on horseback, he looked upon Sir Launcelot, and then the tears burst out of his eyes, thinking on the great courtesy that was in Sir Launcelot, more than in any other man : and therewith the King rode forth his way, and might no longer behold him, and said to himself, "Alas ! that ever this war began." And then either parties of the battles withdrew them for to rest them, and buried the dead bodies, and to the wounded men they laid soft salves. And thus they endured that night till on the morrow ; and, on the morrow, by undern, they made them ready to do battle : and then Sir Bors led them forward. So on the morrow came Sir Gawaine, as grim as any bear, with a spear in his hand. And when Sir Bars saw him, he thought to revenge his brother, Sir Lionel, of the despite that Sir Gawaine had done him the other day : and so they that knew either other fentered their spears, and, with all the might of their horses and themselves, they met together so furiously, that either bear other through, and so they fell both to the ground: and then the battles joined together, and there was great slaughter on both sides. Then Sir Launcelot rescued Sir Bors, and sent him into the castle. But neither Sir Gawaine nor Sir Bors died not of their wounds, for they were both holpen. Then Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre prayed Sir Launcelot to do his pain, and fight as they done, "for we see that ye forbear and spare, and that doth much harm ; therefore, we pray you, spare not your enemies, no more than they do you." "Alas !" said Sir Launcelot, "I have no heart to fight against my lord, King Arthur, for al-ways me seemeth I do not as I ought to do." "My lord," said Sir Palomides, "though ye spare them all this day, they will never give you thanks ; and if they may get you at any vantage, ye are but dead." So then Sir Launcelot understood well that they told him truth, and then he strained himself more than he did aforehand, and because that his nephew, Sir Bors, was sore wounded. And then, within a little while, by even-song time, Sir Launcelot and his party better stood : for their horses went in blood above their footlocks, there was so much people slain on both parties : and then, for pity, Sir Launcelot withdrew his knights, and so did King Arthur's part; and then Sir Launcelot, and his party entered into their castle, and either party buried the dead bodies, and put salve to the wounded men.
So when Sir Gawaine was hurt, they, on King Arthur's party, were not half so orgulous and proud as they were before to do battle. Of this war was noised through all Christendom; and, at the last, it was noised before the Pope; and he considering the great goodness of King Arthur and Sir Launcelot, which was called the most noble knight of the world, where-fore the Pope called unto him a noble clerk, that at that time was there present, which was the Bishop of Rochester. And the Pope gave him bulls, under lead, unto King Arthur of England, charging him upon pain of interdicting of all England, that he take his Queen, Dame Guenever, to him again, and accord with Sir Launcelot.
So when this Bishop was come to Carlisle he showed the King these bulls; and when the King understood the bulls, he wist not what to do : gladly he would accord with Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine would not suffer him : but as for to have the Queen again, thereto he agreed, but in no wise Sir Gawaine would not suffer the King to accord with Sir Launcelot; but as for the Queen she consented. And then the Bishop had of the King his great seal, and his assurance, as he was a true anointed King, that Sir Launcelot should come and go safe, and that the Queen should not be reproved of the King, nor of none other, for nothing done before time past : and of all these appointments the Bishop brought with him assurance and writing to show Sir Launcelot. So when the Bishop came to Joyous Gard, there he showed Sir Launcelot how the Pope had written unto King Arthur, and unto him; and there he told him of the perils, if he withheld the Queen from the King. "It was never my thought," said Sir Launcelot, "for to withhold the Queen from my lord, King Arthur; but inasmuch as she would have been dead for my sake, me seemeth it was my part to save her life, and put her from that danger till better recover might come ; and I now thank God that the Pope hath made her peace: for God knoweth," said Sir Launcelot, "I would be a thousandfold more gladder to bring her again than I was of her taking away; with this that I may be sure for me and mine to come safe, and go safe, and that the Queen shall have her liberties as she had before, and never for nothing that hath been surmised before this time, that she never from this day stand in no peril: for else," said Sir Launcelot, "I dare adventure me for to keep her from a harder shower than ever I kept her." "That shall not need," said the Bishop, "for to dread you so much ; for wit you well the Pope must be obeyed : and if it were not the Pope's worship, and my poor honesty, ye were distressed, neither the Queen, neither in peril, nor shamed." And then he showed Sir Launcelot all his writings, both from the Pope and from King Arthur, "This is sure enough," said Sir Launcelot; "for full well I dare trust my lord's own writing, and his seal ; for he was never yet shamed of his promise : therefore," said Sir Launcelot unto the Bishop, "ye shall ride unto the King before me, and recommend me unto his good grace, and let him have knowledge that this same day eight days, by the grace of God, I myself shall bring my lady, Queen Guenever, unto him. And ye may say unto my most redoubted lord, King Arthur, that I will say largely for my lady, the Queen, that I shall expect none for dread, nor fear but the King himself, and my lord, Sir Gawaine, and that is more for King Arthur's love than for himself." So the Bishop departed, and came to the King at Carlisle, and told him all how Sir Launcelot had answered him; and then the tears burst out of King Arthur's eyes. Then Sir Launcelot purveyed him a hundred knights, and they all were clothed in green velvet, and their horses trapped to the heels ; and every knight held a branch of olive in his hand, in token of peace ; and the Queen had with her twenty gentlewomen following her in the same wise, and Sir Launcelot had twelve coursers following him : and upon every courser sat a young gentleman, and they all were arrayed in green velvet, with girdles of gold about their quarters, and their horses trapped in the same wise down to the heels, with many clasps, and set with stones and pearls in gold, to the number of a thousand ; and Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot were clothed in white cloth of gold tissue. And right so as ye have heard, he rode with the Queen from Joyous Gard unto Carlisle; and so Sir Launcelot rode throughout Carlisle, and so into the castle, that every man might behold : and with you well there was many a weeping eye : and then Sir Launcelot alighted and avoided his horse, and took the Queen, and led her whereas King Arthur sat in his seat, and Sir Gawaine sat before him, and many other great lords. So when Sir Launcelot saw the King and Sir Gawaine, then he led the Queen by the arm, and then he kneeled down and the Queen both. Wit you well then there was many a bold knight with King Arthur that wept as tenderly as though they had seen all their kin before them.
So King Arthur sat still, and said not a word ; and, when Sir Launcelot saw his countenance, he arose and took up the Queen with him: and thus spake he unto the most noble King Arthur full knightly, and like a man of great honour :
"My most redoubted lord, ye shall understand that, by the Pope's commandment and yours, I have brought unto you my lady, the Queen, as right requireth ; and if there be any knight, of whatsoever degree he be (except your person), that will say, or dare to say, but that she is true and clean unto you, I here myself, Sir Launcelot, will make it good upon his body, that she is a true lady unto you. But liars ye have listened unto, and that has caused great hate between you and me; for the time hath been, my lord, King Arthur, that ye had been greatly pleased with me, when I did battle for my lady, your Queen ; and full well ye know, my most noble lord and King, that she has been put into great wrong or this time. And sith it pleased you, at many times, that I should fight for her, me seemeth, my good lord, I had more cause to rescue her from the fire, insomuch as she should have been burnt for my sake : for they that told you those tales were liars, and so it fell upon them. For by likelihood, had not the might of God been with me, I might never have endured against fourteen knights, and they armed and before purposed, and I unarmed and not purposed. For I was sent for unto my lady, your Queen, I wot not for what cause; but I was not so soon within the chamber door, but anon Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred called me false traitor and recreant knight." "They called thee right," said Sir Gawaine. "My lord, Sir Gawaine," said Sir Launcelot, "in this quarrel they proved themselves not in the right." "Well; well, Sir Launcelot," said King Arthur, "I have given thee no cause to do me as thou hast done; for I have worshipped thee and thine more than all my knights." "My good lord and King," said Sir Launcelot, "so ye be not displeased, ye shall understand that I and mine have often done better service than any other knights in divers places ; and, where ye have been full hard bestead, divers times I have myself rescued you from many dangers ; and even unto my power I was glad for to please you and my lord, Sir Gawaine, both in jousts and in tournaments, and in battles set both on horseback and on foot I have often rescued you and my lord, Sir Gawaine, and more of your knights, in divers places. For now I will make my avaunt," said Sir Launcelot, "I will that ye all wit that yet I found never any manner of knight, but that I was overhard for him; and I had done mine uttermost, thanked be God. Howbeit, I have been matched with good knights, as Sir Tris-tram and Sir Lamoracke ; but ever I had a favour to them, and a deeming what they were. And I take God to record," said Sir Launcelot, "I was never wrath nor greatly heavy with any knight, and I saw him busy about to win worship; and full glad I was ever when I found any knight that might endure me on horseback and on foot. Howbeit, Sir Carados, of the Dolorous Tower, was a full noble knight, and a passing strong man, and that ye know, my lord, Sir Gawaine : for he might full well be called a noble knight, when he by fine force pulled you out of your saddle, and bound overthwart his horse before him to his saddle-bow. And there, my lord, Sir Gawaine, I rescued you, and slew him before your face: and I found his brother, Sir Torquine, in likewise leading Sir Gaheris, your brother, bound before him ; and there I rescued your brother, and slew that Sir Torquine, and delivered forty-four of my lord Arthur's knights out of prison. And now, I dare say," said Sir Launcelot, "I met never with so strong knights, nor so well fighting, as was Sir Carados and Sir Torquine ; for I fought with them to the uttermost. And therefore," said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Gawaine, "me seemeth that ye ought of right for to remember this ; for, and I might have your good will, I would trust to God to have my lord King Arthur's good grace."
"THE King may do as he will," said Sir Gawaine; "but wit thou well, Sir Launcelot, thou and I shall never be accorded while we live : for thou hast slain three of my brethren, and twain of them thou slewest traitorously and piteously; for they bore no harness against thee, nor none would bear." "God would they had been armed," said Sir Launcelot; "for then had they been alive. And wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, as for Sir Gareth, I love none of my kinsmen so much as I do him; and ever while I live," said Sir Launcelot, "I will bewail Sir Gareth's death. Not all only for the great fear that I have of you, but many causes causeth me to be sorrowful: one is, for I made him knight; another is, I wot well he loved me above all earthly knights ; and the third is, he was passing noble, true, virtuous, and gentle, and well-conditioned; the fourth is, I wist well anon, as I heard that Sir Gaheris was dead, that I should never after have your love, but everlasting war between us. And also I wist well that ye would cause my lord, King Arthur, for ever to be my mortal foe : and, as Jesu be my help," said Sir Launcelot, "I slew never Sir Gareth nor Sir Gaheris by my will. But alas ! that they were unarmed that unhappy day ! But this much I offer you," said Sir Launcelot, "if it may please the King's good grace, and you, my lord, Sir Gawaine : and first I shall begin at Sandwich, and there shall I go in my shirt and barefoot ; and, at every ten miles' end, I will found and cause to make a house of religion, of what order ye will assign me, with a holy convent to sing and to read day and night in especial, for Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris' sake, and this shall I perform from Sandwich unto Carlisle, and every house shall have sufficient livelihood ; and this shall I perform while I have any livelihood in Christendom : and there is none of all these religious places but they shall be performed, furnished, and garnished, in all things as a holy place ought to be, I promise you faithfully. And this, Sir Gawaine, me thinketh were more fair, and better unto their souls, than that my most noble lord Arthur and you should war on me; for thereby shall ye get none avail." Then all the knights and ladies that were there wept as they had been mad; and the tears fell upon King Arthur's cheeks. "Sir Launcelot," said Gawaine, "I have well heard thy speech and thy great proffers ; but wit thou well (let the King do as it shall please him), I will never forgive thee my brethren's death, and in especial the death of my brother, Sir Gareth, and, if mine uncle; King Arthur, will accord with thee, he shall lose my service; for wit thou well, that thou art both false to the King and to me ." "Sir," said Sir Launcelot, "he bareth not the life that may make that good; and if that ye, Sir Gawaine, will charge me with so high a thing, ye must pardon me; for then needs must I answer you." "Nay," said Sir Gawaine, "we are past that as at this time, and that caused the Pope ; for he hath charged mine uncle, the King, that he shall take the Queen again, and for to accord with thee Sir Launcelot, as for this season; and, therefore, thou shalt go safe, Sir Launcelot, as thou camest : but in this land thou shall not abide past fifteen days—such warning I give thee. So the King and we were consented and accorded or thou camest hither; and else," said Sir Gawaine, "wit thou well that thou shouldest not have come hither, but if it were mauger thy head : and, if that it were not for the Pope's commandment, I should do battle with my body against thy body, and prove it unto thee that thou hast been false unto mine uncle, King Arthur, and to me both; and that shall I prove upon thy body, when thou are departed from hence, wheresoever I find thee."
THEN Sir Launcelot sighed, and therewith the tears fell on his cheeks, and then he said these words :—"Alas! most noble Christian realm, whom I have loved above all other realms, and in thee have I gotten a great part of my worship, and now I shall depart in this wise. Truly me repenteth that ever I came into this realm, that I should be thus shamefully banished undeserved and causeless. But fortune is so variable, and the wheel so mutable, that there is no constant abiding; and that may be proved by many old chronicles of noble Hector, and Troylus, and Alisaunder, the mighty conqueror, and many other more, when they were most in their royalty they alighted lowest: and so is fareth by me," said Sir Launcelot; "for in this realm I have had worship, and by me and mine all the whole Round Table hath been increased more in worship by me and my blood than by any other. And, therefore, wit thou well, Sir Gawaine, I may live as well upon my lands as any knight that is here ; and if ye, my most renowned King, will come upon my lands with your nephew Sir Gawaine, for to war upon me, I must endure you as well as I may. But as for you, Sir Gawaine, if that ye come there, I beseech you and require you, charge me not with treason nor felony ; for, and ye do, I must answer you." "Do thou thy best," said Sir Gawaine; "therefore, hie thee fast that thou were gone : and wit thou well, we shall soon come after, and break the strongest castle that thou hath upon thy head." "That shall not need," said Sir Launcelot, "for, and I were as orgulous proudly and set as ye are, wit ye well I should meet with you in the midst of the field." "Make ye no more ado," said Sir Gawaine, "but deliver the Queen from thee, and get thee lightly out of this court." "Well," said Sir Launcelot, "and I had wist of this short answer, I would have advised me twice or I had come hither; for, and the Queen had been so dear to me as ye noise her, I durst have kept her from the fellowship of the best knights under heaven."
And then Sir Launcelot said unto Queen Guenever, in hearing of the King and all the knights, "Madam, now I must de-part from you and this noble fellowship for ever; and sithence it is so, I beseech you pray for me, and send me word if ye be noised with any false tongues ; lightly, my lady, let me have knowledge; and, if any knight's hands may deliver you by battle, I shall deliver you." And so therewith Sir Launcelot kissed the Queen ; and then he said openly, that all they that were there might hear him, "Now let me see what he be in this, that dare say the Queen is not true unto my lord, King Arthur ; let see who will speak, and he dare speak." And therewith he brought the Queen unto the King, and then Sir Launcelot took his leave and departed ; and there was neither King, duke, nor earl, baron nor knight, lady nor gentlewoman, but that they all wept as people out of their wits, except Sir Gawaine. And so, when the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, took his horse for to ride out of Carlisle, there was sobbing and weeping for pure dole of his departing; and so he took his way to Joyous Gard, and afterwards he called it the Dolorous Gard; and thus Sir Launcelot departed from the court forever. And so, when he came to Joyous Gard, he called of his fellows unto him, and asked them what they would do? Then they answered altogether with one voice, that they would do as he would do. "My fair fellows," said Sir Launcelot, "I must depart out of this most noble realm; and now I shall depart with no worship ; for a banished man departeth never out of any realm with worship. And that is my heaviness; for ever I fear, after my days, that they shall chronicle upon me that I was banished out of this realm; and I had not dread shame my lady, Dame Guenever, and I should never have parted asunder." Then spake many noble knights—as Sir Palomides, Sir Safre, his brother ; and Sir Bellanger le Breuse, and Sir Urre, with Sir Lavaine, and with many others: "Sir, and ye be so disposed for to abide in this country, we will never fail you ; and, if ye list not to abide in this country, there is none of the good knights that be here will fail you for divers causes. One is this:—All we that be not of your blood shall never be welcome to the court of King Arthur; and, since it liketh us to take part with you in your distress and heaviness in the realm, wit you well it shall like us all well for to go in other countries with you, and there to take such part as ye do." "My fair lords," said Sir Launcelot, "I well understand you, and as I can I thank you ; and ye shall understand as to such livelihood as I am born unto : I shall depart it with you in this manner of wise; that is to say, that I shall depart all my livelihood and all my lands freely among you : and I myself will have as little as any of you ; for I have sufficient that may be-long to my person : I will ask none other rich array, and I trust to God to maintain you on my lands as well as ever were maintained any knights." Then spake all the knights at once, "He have shame that will leave you; for we all understand in this realm will be now no quiet, but ever strife and debate, now the fellowship of the Round Table is broken : for by the noble fellowship of the Round Table was King Arthur borne up, and by their nobleness the King and all his realm was in quietness and in rest: and a great part," said they all, "was because of your great nobleness."
"TRULY," said Sir Launcelot, "I thank you for your good saying, howbeit I wot well in me was not all the stability of this realm; but in that I might I did my endeavors; and well I am sure I knew many rebellious in my days, which by me were peaced. I trow we all shall hear of them in short space, and that me sore repenteth. For ever I dread me," said Sir Launcelot, "that Sir Mordred will make republic, for he is passing envious, and applieth him to trouble." So they were accorded to go with Sir Launcelot unto his lands : and, for to make short tale, they made ready and payed all that would ask them. And well a hundred knights departed with Sir Launcelot at once, and made their vows, that they would never depart from him for weal nor for woe : and so they shipped at Cardiff, and sailed unto Benwicke (some men call it Beyon, and some men call it Beaund, whereas the wine of Beaune is).
But, for to say the truth, Sir Launcelot and his nephews were lords of the realm of France, and of all the lands that belonged unto France, he and his kindred rejoiced it through Sir Launcelot's noble prowess : and then Sir Launcelot stuffed and furnished and garnished all his good towns and castles. Then all the people of those lands came unto Sir Launcelot on feet and hands : and so when he had established all these countries, he shortly called a parliament; and there he crowned Sir Lionel King of France; and he made Sir Bors to be crowned King of all King Claudas's lands; and Sir Ector de Maris, which was Sir Launcelot's youngest brother, he crowned him King of Benwicke, and also King of all Guian, which was Sir Launcelot's own land; and he made Sir Ector prince of them all: and thus he parted his honour. Then Sir Launcelot rewarded his noble knights, and many more, that me seemeth it were too long to rehearse.
So leave we Sir Launcelot in his lands, and his noble knights with him, and return we again unto King Arthur and Sir Gawaine, that made a great host ready, to the number of three-score thousand, and all things was ready for. their shipping to pass over the sea; and so they shipped at Cardiff. And there King Arthur made Sir Mordred chief ruler of all England; and also he put Queen Guenever under his governance, for because Sir Mordred was King Arthur's son, he gave him the rule of all his land, and of his Queen. And so King Arthur passed over the sea, and landed upon Sir Launcelot's land ; and there he burnt and wasted, through the vengeance of Sir Gawaine, all that they might overrun. When these tidings came unto Sir Launcelot, that King Arthur and Sir Gawaine were landed upon his lands, and that they made great destruction and waste, then spake Sir Bors and said, "My lord Sir Launcelot, it is great shame that we suffer them thus to ride over our lands ; for wit ye well, suffer ye them as long as ye will, they will do you no favour, and they may handle you." Then said Sir Lionel, which was ware and wise, "My lord, Sir Launcelot, I will give you this counsel—let us keep our strong walled town until they have hunger and cold, and blow on their nails, and then let us freshly set upon them, and cut them down as sheep in the field, that all aliens may take ex-ample for ever how they land upon our lands." Then spake King Bagdemagus unto Sir Launcelot : "Sir, your courtesy will hurt us all, and your courtesy bath caused all this sorrow ; for and they thus override our lands, they shall, by process of time, bring us all to nought, whilst we thus hide us in holes,"
Then said the good knight, Sir Galihud, to Sir Launcelot, "Sir, here be knights come of kings' blood that will not long droop, and they were without the walls; and therefore give us leave, as we are knights, to meet them in the field, and we shall slay them, that they shall curse the time that ever they came into this country." Then spake the seven brethren of North Wales, and they were seven noble knights, as a man might seek in seven lands or he might find such noble knights; then they spake all with one voice, "Sir Launcelot, for Christ's sake let us ride out with Sir Galihad, for we have been never wont to cower in castles nor in towns." Then spake Sir Launcelot, which was master and governor of them all, "My fair lords, wit you well I am full loth to ride out with my knights, for shedding of Christian men's blood; and yet my lords, I understand we are full bare to sustain any boast a while: for the mighty warriors that other whiles made King Claudas and my father, King Ban, and mine uncle, King Bors, for to obey. Howbeit we will keep our strong walls, and I shall send a messenger unto my lord, King Arthur, desiring him to take a treaty; for better is peace than always war." So Sir Launcelot sent forth a damsel, and a dwarf with her, requiring King Arthur to leave his war upon his lands ; and so she start upon a palfrey, and the dwarf ran by her side. And when she came unto the pavilion of King Arthur, there she alighted ; and there met her a knight, whose name was Sir Lucan, the butler, that said, "Fair damsel, come ye from Sir Launcelot du Lake?" "Yea," said she, "therefore come I hither to speak to my lord, King Arthur." "Alas!" said Sir Lucan, "my lord, King Arthur, would love Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine will not suffer him." And then he said, "I pray to God, damsel, ye may speed well, for all we that are about the King would that Sir Launcelot did best of any knight living." And so with this Lucan led the damsel unto King Arthur, where he sat with Sir Gawaine, for to hear what she would say. So when she had told her tale, the water began to run out of King Arthur's eyes ; and all the lords were right glad to advise the King to be accorded with Sir Launcelot, save all only Sir Gawaine, and he said, "My lord, mine uncle, what will ye do? will ye now turn again, now ye are past thus far upon this journey? all the world will speak of your villainy." "Nay," said King Arthur, "wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, I will do as ye will advise me, and yet me seemeth," said King Arthur, "his fair proffers were not good to be refused ; but since that I am come so far upon this journey, I will that ye give the damsel her answer, for I may not speak to her for pity."
THEN Sir Gawaine said unto the damsel thus : "Damsel, ye shall say unto Sir Launcelot, that it was but idle labour now to send to mine uncle; for tell him, and he would have made any labour for peace, he should have made it or this time, for tell him that now it is too late : and say that Sir Gawaine sendeth him word, and that I promise him by the faith I owe to God, and unto the order of knighthood, that I shall never leave him till he hath slain me or I him." So the damsel wept and departed, and there were many weeping eyes; and so Sir Lucan brought the damsel unto her palfrey. And so she came unto Sir Launcelot, whereas 'he was among all his knights ; and, when Sir Launcelot had heard this answer, then the tears ran down by his cheeks : and then his noble knights that stood about him said, "Sir Launcelot, wherefore make ye such cheer ? think what ye are, and what men we are, and let us noble knights match them in the midst of the field." "That may lightly be done," said Sir Launcelot, "but I was never so loth to do battle ; there, I pray you fair sirs, as ye love me, be ruled as I will have you, for I will always flee that noble King that made me knight : and, when I may no farther, I must needs defend me, and that will be the more worship for me, and every one of us, than to compare with the noble King, whom we all have served." Then they held their language, and as at that night they took their rest; and on the morrow, early in the dawning of the day, as the knights looked out, they saw how the city of Benwicke was besieged round about, and fast they began to set up ladders; and then they defied them out of the town, and beat them mightily from the walls. Then went forth Sir Gawaine, well armed at all points, upon a stiff steed, and he came before the chief gate, crying on high, "Sir Launcelot! where art thou? Is there not one of you proud knights that dare break a spear with me?" Then Sir Bors made him ready, and came forth out of the town : and there Sir Gawaine encountered with Sir Bors, and so he smote Sir Bors down from his horse, and almost he had slain him, and anon Sir Bors was rescued and borne into the town Then came forth Sir Lionel, brother unto Sir Bors, and thought to revenge him, and either feutred their spears and ran together, and there they met right spitefully : but Sir Gawaine was so fiery, that he smote Sir Lionel down, and wounded him there passing sore; and then Sir Lionel was rescued and borne into the town. And thus Sir Gawaine came every day, and failed not but that he smote down one knight or other. So thus they endured well half a-year, and much slaughter of people there was on both parties. Then it befell upon a day that Sir Gawaine came before the gates armed at all pieces, upon a great courser, with a great spear in his hand : and then he cried with a loud voice, "Where art thou now, thou false traitor, Sir Launcelot ! why dost thou hide thyself within holes and walls like a coward? Look out now, thou false traitor knight, and here I shall revenge upon my body the death of my three brethren." All this language heard Sir Launcelot, and his kin, every deal, and then his knights drew about him, and they said all at once unto Sir Launcelot, "Sir Launcelot, now ye must defend you like a knight, or else ye be shamed for ever; for now ye be called upon treason, it is time for you to stir, for ye have slept over long, and slept overmuch." "So God me help," said Sir Launcelot, "I am right heavy of Sir Gawaine's words, for now he chargeth me with a great charge; and, therefore, I wot it as well as ye, that I must defend me, or else to be a recreant knight." Then Sir Launcelot commanded to saddle his strongest horse, and bid fetch his armour, and bring all unto the gate of the tower : and then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto King Arthur, and said, "My lord, and noble King, which made me knight, wit you well that I am right heavy for your sake, that ye thus sue upon me, and always I forbear you ; for, and I would have been revengeful, might I have met you in the midst of the field, and there to have made your boldest knights full tame : and now I have forborne you halfa-year, and have suffered you and Sir Gawaine to do what ye would, and now must I needs defend myself, inasmuch as Sir Gawaine hath appealed me of treason, the which is greatly against my will, that ever I should fight against any of your blood : but now I may not forsake it, I am driven thereto as best to obey." Then Sir Gawaine said unto Sir Launcelot, "Sir Launcelot, and thou darest do battle, leave thy babbling, and come off, and let us ease our hearts." Then Sir Launcelot began to arm him lightly, and mounted upon his horse; and either of the knights gat great spears in their hands, and the host without stood still apart, and the noble knights came out of the city by a great number, insomuch, that when King Arthur saw the number of men and knights, he marvelled and said to himself, "Alas ! that ever Sir Launcelot was against me, for now I see that he hath forborne me." And so the covenant was made, there should no man come nigh them, nor deal with them, till that one were dead or yielden.
THEN Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot departed a great way in sunder, and then they came together with all their horses' might, as fast as they might run, and either smote other in the midst of their shields ; but the knights were so strong, and their spears so big, that their horses might not endure their buffets : and so their horses fell to the earth. Then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields before them; then they strode together, and gave many said strokes upon divers places of their bodies, that the blood burst out of many places. Then had Sir Gawaine such a grace and gift, which a holy man had given him, that every day in the year, from nine in the morning till high noon, his might increased those three hours as much as thrice his own strength, and that caused Sir Gawaine to win great honour : and for his sake, King Arthur made an ordinance, that all manner of battles, for any quarrels that should be done before King Arthur, they should begin at nine in the morning. And all this was done for Sir Gawaine's sake, that by likelihood, if that Sir Gawaine were on the one party, he should have the better hand in battle, while that his strength endured three hours; but there were but few knights that time living that knew this vantage that Sir Gawaine had, but King Arthur only. Then Sir Launcelot fought with Sir Gawaine; and when Sir Launcelot felt his might evermore increase, Sir Launcelot had of him great wonder, and dread him sore to be shamed ; for he weened, when he felt Sir Gawaine double his strength, that he had been fiend, and none earthly man; wherefore, Sir Launcelot traced, and traversed, and covered himself with his shield, and kept his might and his breath during three hours; and that while Sir Gawaine gave him many sad brunts, and many strokes, that all knights that beheld Sir Launcelot marvelled how he might endure him. But full little understood they the travail that Sir Launcelot had for to endure him. And then when it was past noon, Sir Gawaine had no more but his own might. Then, when Sir Launcelot felt him so come down, then began he to stretch himself up, and stood near Sir Gawaine, and said to him these words: "My lord, Sir Gawaine, now I feel that ye have done, now my lord, Sir Gawaine, I must do my part, for many great and grievous strokes I have endured you this day with pain." Then Sir Launcelot began to double his strokes, and gave Sir Gawaine many a buffet upon the helmet, that he fell down on his side, and then Sir Launcelot withdrew him from him. "Why withdrawest thou thyself?" said Sir Gawaine, "now turn again, traitor, and slay me; for, and thou leave me thus, when I am whole I shall do battle with thee again." "Sir, I shall endure you by the grace of God," said Sir Launcelot ; 'but wit you well, Sir Gawaine, I will never smite a felled knight." And so Sir Launcelot went into the city, and Sir Gawaine was borne into one of King Arthur's pavilions : and anon there was leeches brought to him, which searched his wound, and salved it with soft ointments. And then Sir Launcelot said, "Now have good day my lord, the King, for wit ye well ye shall win no worship at these walls; and, if I would bring out my knights, there should many a man die. Therefore, my lord, King Arthur, remember you of old kindness, and, howsoever I fare, Jesu be your guide in all places."
"ALAS!" said the King, "that ever this unhappy war began ; for ever Sir Launcelot forbeareth me in all places, and in like-wise my kin, and that is seen this day by my nephew, Sir Gawaine." Then King Arthur fell sick, for sorrow of Sir Gawaine, that was so sore hurt, and because of the war between him and Sir Launcelot. So then they of King Arthur's part kept the siege with little war and small force, and they within kept their walls, and defended them when need was. Thus Sir Gawaine lay sick about three weeks in his tent, with all manner of leech-craft that might be had; and, as soon as Sir Gawaine might go and ride, he armed him all points, and start upon a courser, and got a spear in his hand. And so he came riding before the chief gate of Benwicke, and there he cried on high, "Where art thou, Sir Launcelot? come forth; thou false traitor knight, and recreant, for I am here : Sir Gawaine will prove this that I say on thee." All this language Sir Launcelot heard, and then he said thus : "Sir Gawaine, me repenteth of your foul saying, that ye will not cease of your language. For wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, I know your might, and all that ye may do." "And well ye wot," said Sir Gawaine, "that ye may not greatly hurt me. Come down, thou traitor knight, and make it good, contrary with thy hands, for it mishappened me, the last battle, to be hurt of thy hands, therefore wit thou well that I am come this day to make amends. "For I ween this day to lay thee as low as thou laidest me." "Jesu defend me," said Sir Launcelot, "that ever I should be so far in your danger as ye have been in mine : for then my days were at an end. But, Sir Gawaine," said Sir Launcelot, "ye shall not think that I tarry long ; but since that ye so unknightly call me of treason, ye shall have both your hands full of me." And then Sir Launcelot armed him at all points, and mounted upon his horse, and gat him a great spear in his hand, and rode out at the gate ; and both the hosts were assembled, of them without and of them within, and stood in array full manly; and both parties were charged for to hold them still, to see and behold the battle of these two noble knights : and then they laid their spears in their rests, and they ran together as thunder, and Sir Gawaine break his spear upon Sir Launcelot in a hundred pieces unto his hand ; and Sir Launcelot smote him with a greater might, that Sir Gawaine's horse's feet raised, and so the horse and he fell to the earth. Then Sir Gawaine full quickly avoided his horse, and put his shield before him; and eagerly drew his sword, and bid Sir Launcelot alight, "traitor knight, for though this mare's son hath failed me, wit thou well, that a king's son, and a queen's son, shall not fail thee.' Then Sir Launcelot avoided his horse, and dressed his shield before him, and drew his sword, and so they stood together, and gave many hard strokes, that all men on both parties had thereof passing great wonder. But when Sir Launcelot felt Sir Gawaine's might so marvellously increase, he then withheld his courage and his wind, and kept himself wondrous covered from his might; and under his shield he traced, traversed, here and there, for to break Sir Gawaine's strokes and his courage. And Sir Gawaine enforced him with all his might and power to destroy Sir Launcelot ; for ever as Sir Gawaine's might increased, right so increased his wind and his evil will. Thus Sir Gawaine did great pain unto Sir Launcelot three hours continually, that Sir Launcelot found it hard to defend himself; and after that the three hours were passed, then Sir Launcelot felt verily that Sir Gawaine was come to his own proper might and strength, and that his great power was done. ' "Then Sir Launcelot said unto Sir Gawaine, "Now have I well proved you twice, that ye are a full dangerous knight, and a wonderful man of your might, and many wonderful deeds have you done in your days ; for by your might increasing ye have deceived many a noble and valiant knight; and now I feel that ye have done your mighty deed. Now, wit you well, I must do my deeds :" and then Sir Launcelot stood near Sir Gawaine, and doubled his strokes, and Sir Gawaine defended him mightily. But, never-the less, Sir Launcelot smote such a stroke upon Sir Gawaine's helm, and upon the old wound, that Sir Gawaine sunk down upon his one side in a swoon : and anon, as he was awake, he raved and foamed at Sir Launcelot there, as he lay, and said, "Traitor knight, wit thou well that I am not yet slain; come thou near, and perform this battle to the uttermost." "I will no more do than I have done," said Sir Launcelot; "for when I see you on foot, I will do battle with you all the while I see you stand on your feet; but, for to smite a wounded man that may not stand, God defend me from such a shame." And then he turned him and went his way toward the town; and Sir Gawaine evermore calling him traitor knight, and said, "Wit thou well, Sir Launcelot, when I am whole, I shall do battle with thee again, for I shall never leave thee till that one of us be slain."
Thus, as this siege endured, and as Sir Gawaine lay sick near a month, and when he was well recovered, and ready within three days to do battle again with Sir Launcelot, right so came tidings unto King Arthur from England, that made King Arthur and all his host to remove.