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Book Of Sir Mador

( Originally Published A Long Time Ago )



I.

Now after that the quest of the Sancgreal was fulfilled, and that all the knights that were left alive were come again to the Round Table, as the book of the Sancgreal maketh mention, then there was there great joy in the court, and especially King Arthur and Queen Guenever made great joy of the remnant that were come home and passing glad was the King and the Queen of Sir Launcelot and of Sir Bors, for they had been passing long away in the quest of the Sancgreal. Then Sir Launcelot began to resort unto Queen Guenever again, and for-got the promise and the profession that he made in the quest ; had not Sir Launcelot been in his privy thoughts and in his mind set inwardly to the Queen, as 'he was in seeming outward unto God, there had no knight passed him in the quest of the Sancgreal, but ever his thoughts were privily upon the Queen. And so they loved together more hotter than they had done before, and had such privy meetings together; and many in the court spake of it, and most especially Sir Agravaine, and Sir Gawaine's brother, for he was ever open-mouthed. So it befell that Sir Launcelot had many resorts of Iadies and damsels, that daily resorted unto him, which besought him to be their champion. And in all such manners of right Sir Launcelot appealed him daily to do for the pleasure of our Lord Jesu Christ; and always as much as he might he withdrew him from the company and fellowship of Queen Guenever, for to eschew the slander and the noise. Wherefore, the Queen waxed wroth and angry with Sir Launcelot; and, upon a day, she I called Sir Launcelot unto her chamber, and said to him thus : "Sir Launcelot, I see and feel daily that thy love beginneth for to slack, thou hast no joy to be in my presence, but ever thou art out of this court, and quarrels and matters thou hast now-a-days for ladies and gentlewomen, more than ever they were wont to have in time past." "Ah, madam," said Sir Launcelot, "in this ye must have me excused for divers causes ; one is, that I was but late in the quest of the Sancgreal, and I thank God of his great mercy, and never of my deserving, that I saw in my quest as much as ever saw any sinful man, and so was it told me : and if I had not had my privy thoughts to return to your love again as I do, I had seen as great mysteries as ever saw my son, Sir Galahad, Sir Percivale or Sir Bors; and t therefore, madam, I was but late in that quest. Wit ye well, madam, it may not be yet lightly forgotten the high service in whom I did my diligent labour. also, madam, wit ye well that there be many men that speak of our love in this place, and have you and me greatly in await, as Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred; and wit ye well, madam, I dread them more for your sake than for any fear that I have of them myself, for I may happen to escape and rid myself in a great need, whereas ye must abide all that will be said to you. And then, if that ye fall in any distress through wilful folly, then is there none other remedy or help but by me and my blood. And wit ye well, madam, the boldness of you and me will bring us unto great shame and slander, and that were me loth to see you dishonoured; and that is the cause that I take upon me more for to do for damsels and maidens than ever I did before. Men should understand my joy and my delight is to have to do for damsels and maidens."

II.

ALL this while the Queen stood still, and let Sir Launcelot say what he would ; and, when he had all said, she break out on weeping, and she sobbed and wept a great while : and when she might speak she said, "Sir Launcelot, now I understand that thou art a false, recreant knight, and lovest and boldest other ladies, and of me thou hast disdain and scorn. Por wit thou well," said she, "now I understand thy falsehood ; and, there-fore, I shall never love thee any more, and never be thou so hardy to come in my sight. And right here I charge thee, that thou never come more within this court; and I forbid thee my fellowship, and, upon pain of thy head, that thou see me no more." Right so Sir Launcelot departed with great heaviness, that unless he might sustain himself for great dole-making. Then he called Sir Bors, Sir Èctor de Maris, and Sir Lionel, and told them how the Queen had forbidden him the court ; and so he was in will to depart into his own country. "Fair knight," said Sir Bors de Ganis, "ye shall not depart out of this land by mine advice. Ye must remember in what honour ye are renowned, and called the most noble knight of the world, and many great matters ye have in hand; and women, in their hastiness, will do oftentimes that which sore repent them. And therefore, by my advice, ye shall take your horses, and ride to the hermitage beside Windsor, which sometime was a good knight, whose name is Sir Brastias; and there shall ye abide, till I send you word of better tidings." "Fair cousin," said Sir Launcelot, "wit ye well that I am full loth to depart out of this realm; but the Queen hath forbidden me so highly, that me seemeth she will never be my good lady as she hath been in times past." "Say ye never so," said Sir Bors ; "for many times beforetime she bath been wrath with you, and, after it, she was the first that repented it." "Ye say well," said Sir Launcelot; "for now will I do by your counsel, and take my horse and my harness, and ride to the hermit, Sir Brastias ; and there will I rest me, until I hear some manner of tidings from you. But, fair cousin, I pray you, get me the love of my lady, Queen Guenever, and ye may." "Sir," said Sir Bars, "ye need not to move me of such matters ; for well ye wot I will do what I may please to you." And then the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, departed suddenly with a right heavy cheer, that none earthly creature wist of him where he was become, but only Sir Bors. So, when Sir Launcelot was departed, the Queen made no manner of outward sorrow in showing to any of his blood, nor yet to none other; but wit ye well that inwardly she took great thought : but she bore it out with a proud countenance, as though she felt no thought nor danger.

III.

AND then the Queen let make a privy dinner in the city of London, unto the knights of the Round Table; and all was to show outward that she had a great joy in all other knights of the Round Table, as she had in Sir Launcelot. All only at that dinner she had Sir Gawaine and his brethren ; that is to say, Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, Sir Gareth, and Sir Mordred. Also there was Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Blamor de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Lionel, Sir Palomides, and his brother, Sir Safre; la Cote mal Tail, Sir Persuant, Sir Ironside, Sir Brandiles, Sir Kaye the seneschal, Sir Mador de la Port, Sir Patrice a knight of Ireland, Sir Aliducke, Sir Astomore, and Sir Pinell le Savage, the which was cousin unto Sir Lamoracke de Galis, the good knight, the which Sir Gawaine and brethren slew by treason. And so these knights should dine with the Queen in a privy place by themselves ; and there was made a great feast of all manner of dainty meats and drinks. But Sir Gawaine had a custom that he used daily at dinner and at supper, that he loved well all manner of fruits, and in especial apples and pears; and, therefore, whosoever dined or feasted, Sir Gawaine would commonly purvey for good fruit for him : and so did the Queen ; for, to please Sir Gawaine, she let purvey for him of all manner of fruits. For Sir Gawaine was a passing hot knight of nature; and this Sir Pinell hated Sir Gawaine, because of his kinsman, Sir Lamoracke de Galis : and, therefore, for pure envy and hate, Sir Pinell poisoned certain apples for to poison Sir Gawaine withal. And so this was well unto the end of the meat; and so it befell, by misfortune, that a good knight, named Sir Patrice, cousin unto Sir Mador de la Port, took one of the poisoned apples : and, when he had eaten it, he swelled till he burst ; and there Sir Patrice fell down dead suddenly among them. Then every knight leaped from the board, ashamed, and enraged for wrath nigh out of their wits ; for they wist not what to say, considering that Queen Guenever made the feast and dinner, they all had suspicion upon her. "My lady, the Queen," said Sir Gawaine, "wit ye well, madam, that this dinner was made for me : for all folks, that know my conditions, understand well that I love fruit; and now I see well I had been near slain : therefore, madam, I dread me least ye will be shamed." Then the Queen stood still, and was right sore abashed, that she wist not what to say. "This shall not be ended so," said Sir Mador de la Port; "for here have I lost a full noble knight of my blood : and, therefore, upon this shame and despite I will be revenged to the uttermost." And thereupon Sir Mador accused Queen Guenever of the death of his cousin, Sir Patrice. Then stood they all still, that none of them would speak a word against him ; for they had a great suspection unto Queen Guenever, because she let make the dinner. And the Queen was so sore abashed, that she could none otherwise do, but wept so heartily, that she fell in a swoon. With this noise and sudden cry came unto them King Arthur, and marvelled greatly what it might be; and, when he wist of their trouble, and the sudden death of that good knight, Sir Patrice, he was a passing heavy man.

IV.

AND ever Sir Mador stood still before King Arthur, and ever he charged Queen Guenever of treason. For the custom was such at that time, that all manner of shameful death was called treason. "Fair lords," said King Arthur, "me repenteth sore of his trouble, but the cause is so, we may not have to. do in this matter ; for I must be a rightful judge, and that repenteth me that I may not do battle for my wife; for, as I deem, this deed came never of her, and therefore I suppose we shall not be all destitute, but that some good knight shall put his body in jeopardy, rather than she should be burnt in a wrong quarrel.

And, therefore, Sir Mador, be not so hasty, for it may happen she shall not be all friendless : and, therefore, desire thou the day of battle, and she shall purvey her of some good knight, which shall answer you, or else it were to me great shame, and unto all my court." "My gracious lord," said Sir Mador, "ye must hold me excused : for, though ye be our King in that degree, ye are but a knight as we are, and ye are sworn unto knighthood as we are : and, therefore, I pray you, that ye will not be displeased ; for there is none of the twenty knights that were bidden for to come unto this dinner, but all they have great suspicion unto the Queen. What say ye all, my lords?" said Sir Mador. Then they answered by-and-by, and said, that they "could not excluse the Queen; for why she made the dinner : and either it must come by her, or by her servants." "Alas !" said the Queen, "I made this dinner for a good intent, and never for any evil (so God help me in my right!) as I was never purposed to do such evil deeds, and that I report me unto God." "My lord, the King," said Sir Mador, "I require you heartily, as ye be a righteous king, give me a day that I may have justice." "Well," said King Arthur, "I give you a day this day fifteen days, that ye be ready armed on horse-back in the meadow beside Westminster ; and, if it so fall that there be any knight to encounter with you, there may ye do your best, and God speed the right : and, if it so fall that there be no knight at that day, then must my Queen be burnt, and there shall ye be ready to have her judgment." "Well, I am answered," said Sir Mador ; and every knight went where it liked him. So when the King and the Queen were together, the King asked the Queen how this case befell. Then answered the Queen,"So God me help, I wot not how, or in what manner." "Where is Sir Launcelot?" said King Arthur; "and he were here, he would not grudge to do battle for you." "Sir," said the Queen, "I cannot tell you where he is; but his brother, and all his kinsmen, deem that he is not within this realm." "That sore repenteth me," said King Arthur ; "for and he were here, he would full soon stint this strife. Then I will counsel you," said the King, "that ye go unto Sir Bors, and pray him to do that battle for you for Sir Launcelot's sake : and, upon my life, he will not refuse you. For right well I perceive," said King Arthur, "that none of all those twenty knights, without more, that were with you in fellowship together at your dinner, where Sir Patrice was so traitorously slain, that will do battle for you, nor none of them will say well of you ; and that shall be great slander for you in this court." "Alas !" said the queen, "I cannot do withal: but now I miss Sir Launcelot; for, and he were here, he would put me full soon unto my heart's ease." "What aileth you," said King Arthur, "that ye cannot keep Sir Launcelot on your side? For wit ye well," said King Arthur, "whosoever hath the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, on his part, hath the most man of worship in the world on his side. Now, go your way," said the King unto the Queen, "and require Sir Bors to do battle for you for Sir Launcelot's sake."

V.

So the Queen departed from the King, and sent for Sir Bors into her chamber; and when he was come, she besought him of succor. "Madam," said he, "what would ye that I do? for I may not with my worship have to do in this manner, because I was at the same dinner, for dread that any of those knights would have me in suspection. Also, madam," said Sir Bors, "now miss ye Sir Launcelot; for he would not have failed you, neither in right, nor yet in wrong, as ye have well proved when ye have been in danger; and now have ye driven him out of this country, by whom ye and we all were daily worshipped. Therefore, madam, I greatly marvel me how ye dare for shame require me to do any thing for you, insomuch as ye have chased him out of your country, by whom I was borne up and honoured." "Alas ! fair knight," said the Queen, "I put me wholly in your grace; and all that is done amiss I will amend, as ye will counsel me." And therewith she kneeled down upon both her knees, and besought Sir Bors to have mercy upon her, "for I shall have a shameful death, and thereto I never offended." Right so came King Arthur, and found the Queen kneeling before Sir Bors. Then Sir Bors took her up, and said, "Madam, ye do to me great dishonour." "Ah! gentle knight," said King Arthur, "have mercy upon my Queen, for I am now in a certain that she is now untruly defamed; and, therefore, courteous knight," said the King, "promise her to do battle for her : I require you for the love of Sir Launcelot." "My lard," said Sir Bors, "ye require me of the greatest thing that any man may require me; and wit ye well if I grant to do battle for the Queen, I shall wrath many of my fellowship of the Round Table; but, as for that," said Sir Bors, "I will grant my lord, for my lord Sir Launcelot's sake, and for your sake, I will at that day be the Queen's champion, unless that there come by adventure a better knight than I am to do battle for her." "Will ye promise this," said the King, "by your faith?" "Yes, sir," said Sir Bors, "of that will I not fail you, nor her both : but if that there come a better knight than I am, then shall he have the battle." Then was the King and the Queen passing glad, thanked him heartily, and so departed.

So then Sir Bors departed secretly upon a day, and rode unto Sir Launcelot there as he was with the hermit by Sir Brastias, and told him of all his adventures. "Ah! Jesu," said Sir Launcelot, "this is happily come as I would have it, and there-fore I pray you make you ready to do battle; but look that ye tarry till ye see me come as long as ye may, for I am sure Sir Mador is a hot knight, if he be chafed, for the more ye suffer him, the hastier will he be to do battle." "Sir," said Sir Bors, "let me deal with him; doubt ye not ye shall have all your will." Then departed Sir Bors from him, and came unto the court again. Then was it noised in all the court that Sir Bors should do battle for the Queen ; wherefore many knights were greatly displeased with him, that he should take upon him to do battle in the Queen's quarrel ; for there were but few knights in the court but that they deemed the Queen was in the wrong and that she had done that treason. So Sir Bors answered thus unto his fellows of the Round Table, "Wit ye well, my fair lords, it were shame unto us all, and we suffered to see the most noble queen of the world for to be shamed openly, considering that her lord and our lord is the man of most worship of the world, and the most christened; and he hath always worshipped us all in all places." Many knights answered him again, and said, "As for our most noble King Arthur, we love him and honour him as well as ye do; but as for Queen Guenever we love her not, for because she is a destroyer of good knights." "Fair lords," said Sir Bars, "me seemeth, ye say, not as ye should say, for never yet in all my days knew I, nor heard say, that ever she was a destroyer of any good knight ; but at all times, as far as l ever could know, she was always a maintainer of good knights; and always she bath been large and free of her goods to all good knights, and the most bounteous lady of her gifts and her good grace that ever I saw, or heard speak of; and therefore it were great shame (said Sir Bors) unto us all to our most noble King's wife, if we suffer her to be shamefully slain: and wit ye well (said Sir Bors) I will not suffer it; for I dare say so much the Queen is not guilty of Sir Patrice's death, for she ought him never none evil will, nor none of the twenty knights that were at that dinner ; for I dare well say that it was for good love she had us to dinner, and not for malice, and that I doubt not shall be proved hereafter ; for howsoever the game goeth, there was treason among some of us." Then some said to Sir Bors, "We may well believe your words." And so some of them were well pleased, and some were not pleased.

VI.

THE day came on fast until the even that the battle should be. Then the Queen sent for Sir Bors, and asked him "how he was disposed." "Truly, madam," said he, "I am disposed in likewise as I promised you ; that is to say, I shall not fail you, unless by adventure there come a better knight than I to do battle for you; then, madam, am I discharged of my promise." "Will ye," said the Queen, "that I tell my lord, King Arthur, thus ?" "Do as it shall please you, madam," said Sir Bors. Then the Queen went unto the King, and told him the answer of Sir Bors. "Have ye no doubt," said the King, "of Sir Bors, for I call him now one of the best knights of the world, and the most valiant man ; and this is past forth until the morrow." And the King and the Queen, and all the knights that were there at that time, drew them to the meadow beside Winchester, whereas the battle should be. And so when the King was come with the Queen, and many knights of the Round Table, then the Queen was put there in the constable's ward, and there was made a great fire about the iron stake, that and Sir Mador de la Port had the better she should be burnt; such a custom was used in those days, that neither for favour, nor for love, nor for affinity, there should be none other but right wise judgment as well upon a King as upon a knight, as well upon a Queen as upon another poor lady.

So in the meanwhile came in Sir Mador de la Port, and took the oath before the King, that Queen Guenever did this treason unto his cousin, Sir Patrice, and unto his oath he would prove it with his body, hand for hand, who that would say the contrary thereto. Right so came Sir Bors de Ganis, and said "that as for Queen Guenever she is in the right, and that will I make good with my hands, that she is not culpable of this treason that is put upon her." "Then make thee ready," said Sir Mador, "and we shall soon prove whether thou be in the right or I." "Sir," said Sir Bors, "wit ye well I know thee for a good knight, not for then I shall not fear thee so greatly, but I trust unto Almighty God, my Maker, I shall be able enough to witstand thy malice ; but thus much have I promised my lord, King Arthur, and my lady, the Queen, that I shall do battle for her in this case to the uttermost, unless that there came a better knight than I am, and discharged me." "Is that all," said Sir Mador; "either come thou off and do battle with me, or else say nay." "Take your horse," said Sir Bors, "and as I suppose ye shall not tarry long, but that ye shall be answered." Then either departed to their tents, and made them ready to mount upon horseback as they thought best. And anon Sir Mador de la Port came into the field with his shield on his shoulder, and a spear in his hand, and so rode about the place, crying unto King Arthur, "Bid your champion come forth if he dare." Then was Sir Bors ashamed, and took his horse, and came to the list end ; and then was he ware whereas came out of a wood there fast by, a knight, all armed at all points, upon a white horse, with a strong shield and of strange arms ; and he came riding all that he might run. And so he came to Sir Bors, and said, "Fair knight, I pray you, be not displeased, for here must a better knight than ye are have this battle; therefore I pray you to withdraw you; for I would ye knew I have had this day a right great journey, and this battle ought to be mine, and so I promised you when I spake with you last, and with all my heart I thank you for your good will." Then Sir Bors rode unto King Arthur, and told him how there was a knight come that would have the battle for to fight for the Queen. "What knight is he ?" said King Arthur. "I cannot show you," said Sir Bors, "but such a covenant made he with me for to be here this day. Now, my lord," said Sir Bors, "here am I discharged."

VII.

THEN the King called unto the knight, and asked him "if he would fight for the Queen ?" Then he answered unto the King, "Therefore came I hither ; and, therefore, Sir King," he said, "tarry me no longer, for I may not tarry; for anon as I have finished this battle, I must depart hence, for I have to do many matters elsewhere : for wit ye well," said that knight, "this is dishonour unto you, all knights of the Round Table, to see and know so noble a lady and so courteous a Queen, as Queen Guenever is, thus to be rebuked and shamed among you." Then marvelled they all what knight that might be, that so took the battle upon him ; but there was not one that knew him save it were Sir Bors. "Then," said Sir Mador de la Port unto the King, "now let me wit with whom I shall have to do withal." And then they rode to the list's end, and there they couched their spears, and ran the one against the other with all their mights : and Sir Mador's spear break all to pieces : but Sir Launcelot's spear held, and bear Sir Mador's horse and all backward to the ground, and had a great fall ; but mightily and suddenly he avoided his horse, and dressed his shield before him, and then drew his sword, and bade that other knight alight and do battle with him on foot. Then that knight descended lightly from his horse like a valiant man and put his shield afore him, and either gave other many sad strokes, tracing and traversing, racing and foyning, and hurtling together with their swords, as they had been two wild boars.

Thus were they fighting nigh an hour; for this Sir Mador was a full strong knight, and mightily proved in many strong battles. But, at last, the knight smote Sir Mador groveling upon the ground, and the knight stepped near him for to have pulled Sir Mador flat-long upon the ground. And therewith, all suddenly, Sir Mador arose; and, in his arising, he smote that knight through the thigh, that the blood ran out right fiercely. And when he felt himself so wounded, and saw his blood, he let him arise upon his feet, and then he gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell flat-long to the ground. And therewith he strode to him, for to have pulled off his helm from his head : and then Sir Mador prayed that knight to save his life; and so he yielded him as an overcome knight, and released the Queen of his quarrel. "I will not grant thee life," said the knight, "but only that you freely release the Queen forever, and that no manner of mention be made upon Sir Patrice's tomb that ever Queen Guenever consented to that treason." "All this shall be done," said Sir Mador; "and clearly I discharge my quarrel forever." Then the knights' porters of the list took up Sir Mador, and led him to his tent ; and the other knight went straight to the stair-foot, whereas King Arthur sat. And by that time was the Queen come unto the King, and either kissed other lovingly. And, when the King saw that knight, he stooped unto him, and thanked him ; and in likewise did the Queen : and then the King prayed him to put off his helm, and to rest him, and to take a sup of wine. And then he put off his helm to drink, and then every knight new that he was the noble knight, Sir Launcelot. As soon as the King wist that, he took the Queen by the hand, and went unto Sir Launcelot, and said, "Gramercy! of your great travail that ye have had this day for me, and for my Queen." "My lord," said Sir Launcelot, "wit ye well that I ought of right ever to be in your quarrel, and in my lady the Queen's quarrel, to do battle; for ye are the man that gave me the high order of knighthood; and that day my lady, your Queen did me great worship, or else I had been shamed. For that same day ye made me knight, through my hastiness I lost my sword, and my lady, your Queen, found it, and lapped it in her train, and gave me my sword when I had need thereof, or else had I been shamed among all knights. And, therefore, my lord, King Arthur, I promised her at that day ever to be her knight in right or in wrong." "Gramercy," said King Arthur, "for this journey: and wit you well," said King Arthur, "I shall acquit you of your goodness." And ever the Queen beheld Sir Launcelot, and wept so tenderly that she sank almost down upon the ground for sorrow that he had done to her so great goodness, whereas she had showed him great unkindness. Then the knights of his blood drew unto him, and there either of them made great joy of other; and so came all the knights of the Round Table that were there at the time, and he welcomed them; and then Sir Mador was had to leechcraft, and Sir Launcelot was healed of his wound : and then was there made great joy and mirth in the court.

VIII.

AND SO it befell that the Damsel of the Lake, which was called Nimue, the which wedded the good knight, Sir Pelleas; and so she came to the court, for ever she did great goodness unto King Arthur, and to all his knights, through her sorcery and enchantments. And so when she heard how the King was angry for the death of Sir Patrice, then she told it openly that she was never guilty ; and there she disclosed by whom it was done, and named him Sir Pinell, and for what cause he did it, there it was openly disclosed : and so the Queen was excused, and the knight, Sir Pinell, fled into his country. Then was it openly known that Sir Pinell empoisoned the apples of the feast, to the intent to have destroyed Sir Gawaine, because Sir Gawaine and his brethren destroyed Sir Lamoracks de Galis, to whom Sir Pinell was cousin unto. Then was Sir Patrice buried in the church of Winchester, in a tomb, and thereupon written, "Here lieth Sir Patrice of Ireland, slain by Sir Pinell le Sauvage, that empoisoned apples to have slain Sir Gawaine ; and, by misfortune, Sir Patrice eat one of those apples, and then suddenly he burst. Also there was written upon the tomb, that Queen Guenever was appealed of treason of the death of Sir Patrice by Sir Mador de la Port : and there was made mention how Sir Launcelot fought with him for Queen Guenever, and overcame him in plain battle : and this was writ upon the tomb of Sir Patrice in excusing of the Queen. And then Sir Mador sued daily and long to have the Queen's good grace : and so, by the means of Sir Launcelot, he caused him to stand in the Queen's grace, and all was forgotten.



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