Book Of Elaine
( Originally Published A Long Time Ago )
Thus it passed forth until our Lady-day, the assumption, and within fifteen days of that feast, King Arthur let cry a great joust and tournament that should be at that day at Camelot, that is, Winchester : and the King let cry that he, and the King of Scotland, would joust against all that would come against them. And when this cry was made, thither came many knights ; so there came thither the King of Northgalis, and King Anguish of Ireland, and the King with the hundred knights, and Sir Galihud, the haughty prince, and the King of Northumberland, and many other noble dukes and earls of divers countries. So King Arthur made him ready to depart to these jousts, and would have had the Queen with him, but at that time she would not go, she said, for she was sick, and might not ride at that time. "Then me repenteth," said the King, "for these seven years ye saw not such a fellowship together, except at Whitsuntide, when Sir Galahad departed from the court." "Truly," said the Queen unto the King, "ye must hold me excused ; I may not be there, and that me repenteth." And many deemed that the Queen would be there, because of Sir Launcelot du Lake, for Sir Launcelot would not ride with the King, for he said that he was not whole of the wound the which Sir Mador had given him ; wherefore the King was passing heavy and wrath, and so departed toward Winchester with his fellow-ship. And so, by way, the King lodged in a town called Astolat, which is now, in English, called Guildford; and there the King lay in the castle. So, when the King was departed, the Queen called Sir Launcelot unto her, and thus she said, "Sir Launcelot, ye are greatly to blame, thus to hold you behind my lord; what trow ye what your enemies and mine will say and deem? nought else but, See how Sir Launcelot holdeth him ever behind the King, and so doth the Queen, for that they would have their pleasure together, and thus will they say," said the Queen unto Sir Launcelot, "have ye no doubt thereof."("Madam," said Sir Launcelot to the Queen, "I allow your wit, it is of late come since ye were wise; and, therefore, as at this time I will be ruled by your counsel, and this night I will take my rest, and tomorrow betimes will I take my way towards Winchester: but, wit ye well," said Sir Launcelot unto Queen Guenever, "that at those jousts I will be against the King and all his fellowship." "Ye may there do as ye list," said Queen Guenever, "but by my counsel ye shall not be against your King and your fellowship, for therein are many hardy knights of your blood, as ye wot well enough it needeth not for to rehearse them." "Madam," said Sir Launcelot, "I pray you that ye be not displeased with me, for . I will take the adventure that God will send me." And so, on the morrow, Sir Launcelot went to the church and heard mass, and after broke his fast, and took his leave of the Queen, and so departed ; and then he rode so long till he came to Astolat, that now is called Guildford. And there it happened him in the eventide he came unto a baron's place which hight Sir Bernard of Astolat; and as Sir Launcelot entered into his lodgings, King Arthur espied him as he walked in a garden beside the castle how he took his lodging, and knew him full well. "It is well said," quoth King Arthur to all the knights that were there with him, in yonder garden, beside the castle, I have espied a knight which will full well play his play at the jousts, towards which we go : I under-stand he will do many deeds of arms." "Who is that, we pray you tell us?" said the knights that were there at that time. "Ye shall not know for me," said the King, "at this time :" so the King smiled, and went to his lodgings. So as Sir Launcelot was in his lodgings and his chamber unarming him, the old baron and the hermit came unto him, making him reverence, and welcomed him in the best manner that they could ; but the old knight knew not Sir Launcelot. "Fair sir," said Sir Launcelot to his host, "I would pray you to lend me a shield that were not openly known, for mine is too much known." "Sir," said his host, "ye shall have your desire, for me seemeth ye be one of the likeliest knights of the world; and, therefore, I shall show you friendship. Sir, wit ye well, I have two sons, which were but late made knights, and the eldest bight Sir Tirre, and he was hurt the same day that he was made knight, that he may not ride ; and his shield ye shall have, for that is not known, I dare say, but here, and in no place else : and my youngest son knight Sir Lavaine, and if it please you, he shall ride with you unto these jousts: and he is of his age strong and mighty—for much my heart giveth unto you that ye should be a noble knight; therefore, I beseech you, tell me your name," said Sir Bernard. "As for that," said Sir Launcelot, "ye must hold me excused as at this time, and if God give me grace to speed well at the jousts, I shall come again and tell you ; but I pray you heartily," said Sir Launcelot, "in any wise let me have your son, Sir Lavaine, with me, and that I may have his brother's shield." "Also this shall be done," said Sir Bernard. This old baron had a daughter at that time, that was called the fair maid of Astolat, and ever she beheld Sir Launcelot wonderfully; and she cast such a love unto Sir Launcelot, that she could not withdraw her love, wherefore she died ; and her name was Elaine le Blaunch. So thus as she came to and fro, she was so hot in her love, that she thought Sir Launcelot should wear upon him at the jousts a token of hers. "Fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "and if I grant you that, ye may say I do more for your love than ever I did for lady or damsel." Then he remembered him that he would ride unto the jousts disguised, and for because he had never before that time borne no manner of token of no damsel; then he bethought him that he would bear one of hers, that none of his blood thereby might know him. And then he said, "Fair damsel, I will grant you to wear a token of yours upon my helmet ; and therefore, what it is, show me." "Sir," said she, "it is a red sleeve of mine, of scarlet, well embroidered with great pearls ;" and so she brought it him. So Sir Launcelot received it, and said, "Never or this time did I so much for no damsel." And then Sir Launcelot betook the fair damsel his shield in keeping, and prayed her to keep it until he came again. And so that night he had merry rest and great cheer, for ever the fair damsel Elaine was about Sir Launcelot all the while that sin might be suffered.
So upon a day, in the morning King Arthur and all his knights departed; for the King had tarried there three days to abide his knights. And so when the King was ridden, Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine made them ready for to ride, and either of them had white shields, and the red sleeve Sir Launcelot let carry with him. And so they took their leave of Sir Bernard, the old baron, and of his daughter the fair maid of Astolat ; and then they rode so long till that they came to Camelot, which is now called Winchester. And there was great press of knights, dukes, earls and barons, and many noble knights. But there was Sir Launcelot privily lodged, by the means of Sir Lavaine, with a rich burgess, that no man was aware what they were. And so they sojourned there till our Lady-day, the assumption, as the great feast should be. So then trumpets began to blow unto the field, and King Arthur was set on high upon a scaffold, to behold who did best : but King Arthur would not suffer Sir Gawaine to go from him, for never had Sir Gawaine the better if Sir Launcelot were in the field; and many times was Sir Gawaine rebuked when Sir Launcelot came unto any jousts disguised. Then some of the kings, as King Anguish of Ireland, and the King of Scotland, were that time turned upon King Arthur's side. And then upon the other part was the King of Northgalis, and the King with the hundred knights, and the King of Northumberland, and Sir Galahalt, the haughty prince. But these three kings, and this one duke, were passing weak to hold against King Arthur's part, for with him were the most noble knights of the world. So then they withdrew them either part from other, and every man made him ready in his best manner to do what he might. Then Sir Launcelot made him ready, and put on his red sleeve upon his head, and fastened it : and Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine departed out of Winchester privily, and rode unto a little leaved wood behind the patty that held against King Arthur's part, and there they held them still till the parties smote together : and then came the King of Scotland, and the King of Ireland, on King Arthur's part. And against them came the King of Northumberland; and the King with the hundred knights smote down the King of Northumberland, and also the King with the hundred knights smote down King Anguish of Ireland. Then Sir Palomides, that was on King Arthur's part, encountered with Sir Galahalt, and either of them smote clown other, and either party helped their lords on horseback again. So there began a strong assail on both parties; and there came in Sir Brandiles, Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir Dodinas le Sauvage, Sir Kaye, the seneschal; Sir Griflet le fife de Dieu, Sir Mordred, Sir Meliot de Logris, Sir Ozanna le ever Hardy, Sir Safre, Sir Epinogris, and Sir Galleron of Galway : all these fifteen knights of the Round Table. So these, with other more, came in together, and beat back the King of Northumberland and the King of Wales. When Sir Launcelot saw this, as he halted in a little wood, he said unto Sir Lavaine, "See yonder is a company of good knights, and they hold them together as boars that were chased with dogs." "That is truth," said Sir Lavaine.
"Now," said Sir Launcelot, "and ye will help me a little, ye shall see yonder fellowship, which chased now these men of our side, that they shall go as fast backward as they went forward." "Sir, spare not," said Sir Lavaine, "for I shall do what I may." Then Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine came in at the thickest of the press, and there Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Brandiles, Sir Sagramore, Sir Dodinas, Sir Kaye, and Sir Griflet, and all this he did with one spear. And Sir Lavaine smote down Sir Lucas the butler, and Sir Bediver. And then Sir Launcelot got another great spear, and there he smote down Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, Sir Mordred, and Sir Meliot de Logris. And Sir Lavaine smote down Ozanna le ever Hardy : And then Sir Launcelot drew out his sword, and then he smote on the right hand and on the left ; and by great force he unhorsed Sir Safre, Sir Epinogris, and Sir Galleron. And the knights of the Round Table withdrew them back, after they had gotten their horses as well as they might. "O mercy, Jesu," said Sir Gawaine, "what knight is that I see yonder, that doth so marvellous deeds of arms in the fields?" "I wot well who is that," said King Arthur, "but all this time I will not name him." "Sir," said Sir Gawaine, "I would say it were Sir Launcelot, by the riding, and by his buffets that I see him deal. But always me seemeth it should not be he, because he beareth the red sleeve upon the helm, for I wist him never yet bar token at no jousts of lady or gentlewoman." "Let him be," said King Arthur, "for he will be better known, and do more, or he depart." Then the party that were against King Arthur were well comforted, and they held them together, which beforehand were sore rebuked. Then Sir Bors, Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Lionel called unto them the knights of their blood, as Sir Blamore de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Aliduke, Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, and Sir Bellangere le Beuse : so these nine knights of Sir Launcelot's kin thrust in mightily, for they were all noble knights ; and they, of great hate and despite that they had to him, thought to rebuke those noble knights, Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine, for they knew them not. And so they came hurtling together, and smote down many knights of Northgalis and of Northumberland. And when Sir Launcelot saw them fare so he got a spear in his hand, and there encountered with them all at once ; Sir Bors, Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Lionel smote him all at once with their spears.
And with force of themselves they smote Sir Launcelot's horse unto the ground, and by misfortune Sir Bors smote Sir Launcelot through the shield into the side, and the spear brake, and the head abode still inside. When Sir Lavaine saw his master lie upon the ground, he ran to the King of Scotland, and smote him to the ground; and by great force he took his horse, and, maugre them all, he made him to mount upon that horse. and then Sir Launcelot did maugre them all, he made him to mount upon that horse ; and then Sir Launcelot got him a great spear in his hand, and there he smote Sir Bors, both horse and man, to the ground : and in the same wise he served Sir Ector and Sir Lionel. And Sir Lavaine smote down Sir Blamore de Ganis; and then Sir Launcelot began to draw his sword, for he felt himself so sore hurt, that he weened there to have had his death; and then he smote Sir Bleoberis such a buffet upon the helm, that he fell down to the ground in a swoon; and in the same wise he served Sir Aliduke and Sir Galihud. And Sir Lavaine smote down Sir Bellangere, that was the som of Sir Alisaunder Lorphelin. And by that time Sir Bors was horsed, and then he came with Sir Ector and Sir Lionel, and they three smote with their swords upon Sir Launcelot's helmet; and when he felt their buffets, and his wounds, that was grievous, then he thought to do what he might while he might endure; and then he gave Sir Bors such a buffet, that he made him to bow his head passing low, and therewithal he raised his helm, and might have slain him, and so pulled him down. And in the same manner of wise he served Sir Ector and Sir Lionel: for he might have slain them ; but, when he saw their visages, his heart might not serve him thereto, but left them there lying. And then after he hurtled in among the thickest press of them all, and did there marvellous deeds of arms that ever any man saw or heard speak of ; and alway the good knight, Sir Lavaine, was with him. And then Sir Launcelot, with his sword, smote and pulled down more knights, and the most part were of the Round Table. And Sir Lavaine did full well that day, for he smote down ten knights of the Round Table.
"AH! mercy Jesu," said Sir Gawaine unto King Arthur, "I marvel what knight he is with the red sleeve?" "Sir," said King Arthur, "he will be known or he depart." And then the King let blow unto lodging, and the prize was given by heralds to the knight with the white shield, and that bear the red sleeve. Then came the King with the hundred knights, the King of Northgalis, and the King of Northumberland, and Sir Galahalt, the haughty prince, and said unto Sir Launcelot, "Fair knight, God thee bless, for much have ye done this day for us ; therefore, we pray you, that ye will come with us, that ye may receive the honour and the prize, as ye have worship-fully deserved it." "My fair lords," said Sir Launcelot, "wit ye well, if I have deserved thanks, I have sore bought it, and that me repenteth, for I am like never to escape with my life ; therefore, 'fair lords, I pray you that ye will suffer me to de-part where me liketh, for I am sore hurt, I take no force of none honour; for I had liefer to rest me than to be lord of all the world." And therewith he groaned piteously, and rode a great gallop away from them, until he came under a wood's side; and when he saw that he was from the field nigh a mile, that he was sure he might not be seen, then he said, with a high voice, "O gentle knight, Sir Lavaine, help me, that this truncheon were out of my side, for it sticketh so sore, that it al-most slayeth me." "O, mine own lord," said Sir Lavaine, "I would fain help you, but it dreads me sore, and I draw out the truncheon, that ye shall be in peril of death." "I charge you," said Sir Launcelot, "as ye love me, draw it out." And there-with he descended from his horse, and so did Sir Lavaine ; and forthwith Sir Lavaine drew the truncheon out of his side : and Sir Launcelot gave a great shriek, and a marvellous ghastly groan, and his blood burst out nigh a pint at once, that at the last he sank down upon his buttocks and swooned, pale and deadly. "Alas," said Sir Lavaine, "what shall I do now?" And then he turned Sir Launcelot into the wind, but so he lay there nigh half-an-hour, as he had been dead. And so at last Sir Launcelot cast up his eyes, and said, "O, Sir Lavaine, help me, that I were upon my horse ; for here, fast by, within these two miles, is a gentle hermit, which sometime was a noble knight, and a great lord of possessions, and for great goodness he hath taken him unto wilful poverty, and hath forsaken his possessions, and his name is Sir Bawdewine of Britain, and he is a full noble surgeon, and a right good leech. Now, let see, help me up, that I were there; for always my heart giveth me that I shall not die of my cousin-german's hands." And then with great pain Sir Lavaine helped him upon his horse, and then they rode a great gallop together ; and ever Sir Launcelot bled, that it ran down to the earth. And so, by fortune, they came unto that hermitage, the which was under a wood, and a great cliff on the other side, and a fair water running under it. And then Sir Lavaine beat on the gate with the end of his spear, and cried, "Let me in, for Christ's sake." And then came a fair child to them, and asked them what they would. "Fair son," said Sir Lavaine, "go and pray thy lord, the hermit, for God's sake, to let in a knight which is right sore wounded ; and this day, tell thy lord, that I saw him do more deeds of arms than ever I heard say that any man did." So the child went in lightly, and then he brought the hermit, that was a passing good man. So when Sir Lavaine saw him, he prayed him, for God's sake, of succor. "What knight is he ?" said the hermit, "is he of the house of King Arthur or not?" "I wot not," said Sir Lavaine, "what he is,' nor what is his name; but well I wot I saw him do marvellously this day, as of deeds of arms." "On whose part was he ?" said the hermit. "Sir," said Sir Lavaine, "he was this day against King Arthur, and there he won the prize of all the knights of the Round Table." "I have seen the day," said the hermit, "I would have loved him the worse, because he was against my lord King Arthur ; for I was sometime one of the fellowship of the Round Table : but now, I thank God, I am otherwise disposed. But where is he? Let me see him." Then Sir Lavaine brought the hermit where the most noble knight, Sir Launcelot, was.
AND when the hermit beheld him, as he sat leaning upon his saddle-bow, ever bleeding piteously ; and alway the knight hermit thought that he should know him, but he could not bring him to knowledge, because he was so pale for bleeding. "What knight are ye?" said the hermit, "and where were ye born?" "Fair lord," said Sir Launcelot, "I am a stranger, and a knight adventurous, that laboureth throughout many realms, for to win worship." Then the hermit advised him better, and saw, by a wound on the cheek, that he was Sir Launcelot. "Alas !" said the hermit, "mine own lord, why hide ye your name from me; forsooth, I ought to know you of right, for ye are the most noble knight of the world. For well I know you for Sir Launcelot." "Sir," said he, "sith ye know me, help me and ye may, for Christ's sake; for I would be out of this pain at once, either to death or to life." "Have ye no doubt," said 'the hermit, "ye shall live, and fare right well." And so the hermit called to him two of his servants : and so he and his servants bear him into the hermitage, and lightly unarmed him, and laid him in his bed. And then anon the hermit stenched the blood, and then he made him to drink good wine; so by that Sir Launcelot was right well refreshed, and came to himself again. For, in those days, it was not the guise of hermits, as it now is in these days : for there were no hermits in those days, but that they had been men of worship and of prowess; and those hermits held great households, and refreshed people that were in distress. Now turn we unto King Arthur, and leave we Sir Launcelot in the hermitage. So when the Kings were together, on both parties, and the great feast should be holden, King Arthur asked the King of Northgalis, and his fellowship, where was the knight that bare the red sleeve, "bring him before me, that he may have his land and honour, and the prize, as it is right." Then spake Sir Galahalt, the haughty prince, and the King with the hundred knights, "We suppose that knight is mischieved, and that he is never like to see you, nor none of us all; and that is the most greatest pity that ever we wist of any knight." "Alas !" said King Arthur, "how may this be, is he so hurt? What is his name?" said King Arthur. "Truly," said they all, "we know not his name, nor from whence he came, nor whither he would." "Alas !" said King Arthur, "these be to me the worst tidings that ever came to me these seven years ; for I would not, for all the lands I have, to know, and wit it were so, that noble knight were slain." "Know ye him?" said they all. "As for that," said King Arthur, "whether I know him or not, ye shall not wit for me what he is; but Almighty Jesu send me good tidings of him." And so they said all. "By my head," said Sir Gawaine, "if it be so that the good knight be so hurt, it is great damage and pity to all this land, for he is one of the noblest knights that ever I saw in a field handle a spear or a sword; and, if he may be found, I shall find him, for I am sure that he is not far from this town." "Bear you well," said King Arthur, "and ye may find him ; without that he be in such a plight that he may not bestir himself." "Jesu de-fend," said Sir Gawaine, "but I shall know what he is and if I may find him." Right so, Sir Gawaine took a squire with him, and rode upon two hackneys, all about Camelot, within six or seven miles. But as he went, so he came again, and could hear no word of him. Then within two days King Arthur, and all the fellowship, returned to London again ; and so, as they rode by the way, it happened Sir Gawaine, at Astolat, to lodge with Sir Bernard, where Sir Launcelot was lodged. And so, as Sir Gawaine was in his chamber, for to take his rest, Sir Bernard, the old baron, came to him, and also his fair daughter, Elaine, for to cheer him, and to ask him what tidings he knew, and who did best at the tournament at Winchester. "So God help me," said Sir Gawaine, "there were two knights, which bear two white shields, but the one of them bear a red sleeve upon his head, and certainly he was one of the best knights that ever I saw joust in the field. For, I dare make it good," said Sir Gawaine, "that one knight with the red sleeve smote down forty valiant knights of the Round Table, and his fellow did right well and worshipfully." "Now, blessed be God," said the fair maid of Astolat, "that the good knight sped so well ; for he is the man in the world which I first loved, and truly he shall be the last man that ever after I shall love." "Now, fair maid," said Sir Gawaine, "is that good knight your love?" "Certainly," said she, "wit ye well he is my love," "Then know ye his name?" said Sir Gawaine, "Naturally," said the maid, "I know not his name, nor from whence he came : but, to say that I love him, I promise God and you that I love him." "How had ye knowledge of him first?" said Sir Gawaine.
THEN she told him, as ye have heard before, and how her father betook him her brother to do him service, and how her father lent him her brother Sir Tine's shield, and here with her he left his own shield. "For what cause did he so?" said Sir Gawaine. "For this cause," said the damsel; "for his shield was too well known among many noble knights." "Ah, fair damsel," said Sir Gawaine, "please it you for to let me have a sight of that shield." "Sir," said she, "it is in my chamber, covered with a case, and if it will please you to come in with me ye shall see it." "Not so," said Sir Bernard unto his daughter, "let send for it." So when the shield was come Sir Gawaine took off the case; and, when he beheld that shield, he knew anon that it was Sir Launcelot's shield, and his own arms. "Ah! Jesu mercy," said Sir Gawaine, "now is my heart more heavier than ever it was before." "Why?" said the dam-sel, Elaine. "For I have a great cause," said Sir Gawaine ; "is that knight that owneth that shield your love ?" "Yes, truly," said she, "my love he is : God would that I were his love." "So God me speed !" said Sir Gawaine, "fair damsel, ye love the most honourable knight of the world, and the man of most worship." "So me thought ever," said the damsel, "for never or that time, for no knight that ever I saw, loved I never none erst." "God grant," said Sir Gawaine, "that either of you may rejoice other, but that is in a great adventure. But truly," said Sir Gawaine unto the damsel, "ye may say ye have a fair grace ; for why? I have known that noble knight this fourteen years and never or that day, I or none other knight, I dare make it good, saw nor heard that ever he bear token or sign of no lady nor gentlewoman, nor maid at any jousts nor tournament; and therefore, fair maid," said Sir Gawaine, "ye are much beholden to give him thanks. But I dread me," said Sir Gawaine, "ye shall never see him in this world, and that is great pity as ever was of earthly knight." "Alas !" said she, "how may this be; is he slain ?" "I say not so," said Sir Gawaine ; "but wit ye well that he is grievously wounded by all manner of signs, and by men's sight more likelier to be dead than to be alive, and wit ye well, he is the noble knight, Sir Launcelot; for by his shield I know him." "Alas! said the fair maid Elaine, "how may it be? what was his hurt ?" "Truly," said Sir Gawaine, "the man in the world that loveth him best hurt him so, and I dare say," said Sir Gawaine, "and that knight that hurt him knew the very certain that he had hurt Sir Launcelot, it would be the most sorrow that ever came to his heart." "Now, fair father," said Elaine, "I require you give me leave to ride and to seek him, or else I wot well I shall go out of my mind, for I shall never stint till that I have found him and my brother, Sir Lavaine." "Do as ye think best," said her father, "for me right sore repenteth of the hurt of that noble knight." So the maid made her ready before Sir Gawaine, making great dole. Then on the morrow Sir Gawaine came unto King Arthur, and told him how he had found Sir Launcelot's shield in the keeping of the fair maid of Astolat. "All that I knew," said King Arthur, "and that caused me I would not suffer you to have to do at the great jousts. For I espied him," said King Arthur, "when he came into his lodgings, full late in the evening, in Astolat ; but marvel have I," said King Arthur, "that ever he would bear any sign of any damsel, for or now I never heard say nor knew that ever he bear any token of no earthly woman." "By my head," said Sir Gawaine, "the fair maid of Astolat loveth Sir Launcelot marvellously well, but what it meaneth I cannot say; and she is ridden after him for to seek him."
So King Arthur and all his court came to London, and there Sir Gawaine openly disclosed unto all the court that it was the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, that jousted best.
AND when Sir Bors heard that, wit ye well he was a heavy and a sorrowful man, and so were all his kinsmen. But when Queen Guenever wist that Sir Launcelot bear the red sleeve of the fair maid of Astolat, she was nigh out of her mind for anger and wrath : and then she sent for Sir Bors de Ganis, in all the haste that might be. So when Sir Bors came afore the Queen, she said unto him, "Ah! Sir Bors, have ye heard say how falsely Sir Launcelot hath betrayed me?" "Alas! madam," said Sir Bors, "I am afraid he hath betrayed him-self and us all." "No force," said the Queen, "though that he be destroyed, for he is but a false, traitorous knight." "Madam," said Sir Bors, "I beseech you say not so, for wit ye well I may not hear such language of him." "Why, Sir Bors," said the Queen, "should I not call him a traitor, when he bear the red sleeve upon his head at Winchester, at the great tournament?" "Madam," said Sir Bors, "that red sleeve-bearing repenteth me sore; but I dare say he did it to none evil intent, but for this cause he bear the red sleeve, that none of us that be of his blood should know him. Por or then he nor one of us all, never knew that ever he bear token or sign of maid, lady, or gentlewoman." "Vie on him," said the Queen, "notwithstanding for all his pride and boldness, yet there ye proved yourself his better." "Nay, madam," said Sir Bors, "say ye never more so, for he beat me and my fellows, and might have slain us, if he had liked." "Fie on him," said Queen Guenever, "for I heard Sir Gawaine say, before my lord Arthur, that marvel it were to tell the great love that is between the fair maid of Astolat and him." "Madam," said Sir Bors, "I may not warn Sir Gawaine to say what it pleased him; but I dare say, as for my lord, Sir Launcelot, that he loveth no lady, gentlewoman, nor maid, but all he loveth in like much; and therefore, madam," said Sir Bors, "ye may say what ye will that I will haste me to seek him and find him wheresoever he be, and God send me good tidings of him."
And so leave we them there, and speak we of Sir Launcelot, that lay in great peril. So as the fair maid Elaine came to Winchester, she sought there all about, and by fortune Sir Lavaine was ridden to play him and to enchase his horse. And anon as fair Elaine saw him, she knew him, and then she cried aloud unto him : and when he heard her, anon he came unto her, and then she asked her brother, "How fareth my lord, Sir Launcelot ?" "Who told you, sister, that my lord's name was Sir Launcelot?" Then she told him how Sir Gawaine by his shield knew him. So they rode together till they came unto the hermitage, and anon she alighted : so Sir Lavaine brought her unto Sir Launcelot, and when she saw him lie so sick and pale in his bed, she might not speak, but suddenly she fell unto the ground in a swoon, and there she lay a great while. And when she was relieved, she sighed, and said, "My lord, Sir Launcelot, alas! why go ye in this plight?" and then she swooned again. Then Sir Launcelot prayed Sir Lavaine to take her up, and to bring her to him. And when she came to herself again, Sir Launcelot kissed her, and said, "Fair maid, why fare ye thus, ye put me to pain; wherefore make ye no more such cheer, for and ye be come to comfort me, ye be right welcome, and of this little hurt that I have, I shall be full hastily whole by the grace of God. But I marvel," said Sir Launcelot, "who told you my name?" Then the fair maid told him all how Sir Gawaine was lodged with her father, "and there by your shield he discovered your name." "Alas!" said Sir Launcelot, "me sore repenteth that my name is known, for I am sure that it will turn to anger." And then Sir Launcelot compassed in his mind that Sir Gawaine would tell Queen Guenever how he bear the red sleeve, and for whom, that he wist well that it would turn to great anger. So this maid, Elaine, never went from Sir Launcelot, but watched him day and night, and gave such attendance upon him, there was never woman did more kindlier for man than she did. Then Sir Launcelot prayed Sir Lavaine to make espies in Winchester for Sir Bors, if he came there, and told him by what token he should know him, by a wound in his forehead. "For well I am sure," said Sir Launcelot, "that Sir Bors will seek me, for he is the good knight that hurt me."
Now turn ye unto Sir Bors de Ganis, that came to Winchester to seek after his cousin, Sir Launcelot : and so when he came to Winchester, anon there were men that Sir Lavaine had made to lie in watch for such a man, and anon Sir Lavaine had warning thereof. And then Sir Lavaine came to Winchester and found Sir Bors, and there he told him what he was, and what his name was. "Now, courteous knight," said Sir Bors, "I require you that ye will bring me unto my lord, Sir Launcelot." "Sir," said Sir Lavaine, "take your horse, and within this hour ye shall see him." And so they departed and came unto the hermitage, where Sir Launcelot was ; and when Sir Bors saw Sir Launcelot lie in his bed all pale and discoloured, anon Sir Bors lost his countenance, and for kindness and for pity he might not speak, but wept full tenderly a great while. And then when he might speak, he said unto him thus : "O, my lord, Sir Launcelot ! God bless you, and send you hasty recovery ; and full heavy am I of my misfortune, and of mine unhappiness, for now I may call myself unhappy, and I dread and fear me that God is greatly displeased with me, that he would suffer me to have such a shame for to hurt you, that are all our leader and all our worship, and therefore I call myself unhappy. Alas ! that ever such a captive knight as I am should have power, by unhappiness, to hurt the most noble knight of all the world, where I so shamefully set upon you, and over-charged you ; and whereas ye might have slain me, ye saved me, and so did not I, for I and my blood did to you our utter-most. I marvel," said Sir Bors, "that my heart or blood would serve me, wherefore, my lord, Sir Launcelot, I ask you mercy." "Fair cousin," said Sir Launcelot, "ye are right heartily welcome, and wit ye well ye say overmuch to please me, which pleaseth me not ; for why I have the same I sought, for I would with pride have overcome you every each one, and there in my pride I was nigh slain, and that was through mine own fault, for I might have given you warning of my being there, and then had I not been hurt : for it is an old saying, `There is a hard battle whereas kin and friendship do battle either against other, there may be no mercy, but mortal war ! Therefore, fair cousin," said Sir Launcelot, "let this speech overpass, and all shall be welcome that God sendeth ; and let us leave of this matter, and let us speak of some rejoicing. For this that is done may not be undone, and let us find some remedy how soon that I may be whole." Then Sir Bors leaned upon his bed's side, and there he told Sir Launcelot how the Queen was passing watch with him, because he wore the red sleeve at the great jousts. And there Sir Bors told him all how Sir Gawaine discovered it by his shield, which he left with the fair maid of Astolat. "Then is the Queen wroth," said Sir Launcelot, "and therefore am I right heavy, for I deserved no wrath ; for all that I did was because that I would not be known." "Knight, so excused I you," said Sir Bors ; "but all was in vain : for she said more largelier to me than I to you now. But is this she," said Sir Bors, "that is so busy about you, that men call the Fair Maid of Astolat?" "She it is," said Sir Launcelot, "which, by no manner of means, I can put from me." "Why should ye put her from you?" said Sir Bors, "she is a passing fair damsel, and well beseen, and well taught ; and, would to God, fair cousin," said Sir Bors, "that ye could love her. But, as to that, I may not, nor dare not, counsel you ; but I see well," said Sir Bors, "by her diligence about you, that she loveth you entirely." "That me repenteth," said Sir Launcelot. "Sir," said Sir Bors, "she is not the first that hath lost her pain upon you, and that is the more pity." And so they talked of many other things more; and so, within four or five days, Sir Launcelot was big and strong again.
THEN Sir Bors told Sir Launcelot how that there was sworn a great tournament and jousts between King Arthur and the King of Northgalis, that should be upon Allhallowmas-day, beside Winchester. "Is that truth?" said Sir Launcelot; "then shall ye abide still with me a little while, until that I be whole; for I feel myself right big and strong." "Blessed be God," said Sir Bors. Then they abode there almost a month together ; and ever this fair maid, Elaine, did her diligence and labour night and day unto Sir Launcelot, that there was never child more meeker unto the father, nor wife unto her husband, than was that fair maid of Astolat; wherefore, Sir Bors, was greatly pleased with her. So upon a day, by the assent of Sir Launcelot, Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine made the hermit to go seek in woods for divers herbs ; and so Sir Launcelot made fair Elaine for to gather herbs for him to make him a bane. In the meanwhile Sir Launcelot made him to arm him at all points, and there he thought for to assay his armour and his spear for his hurt or not. And, when he was upon his horse, he spurred him fiercely; and the horse was passing lusty and fresh, be-cause he was not laboured a month before : and then Sir Launcelot couched his spear in the rest. So that courser leapt mightily, when he felt the spurs, and him that was upon him, the which was the noblest knight in the world ; he steered him rigorously, and he stiffly and stably kept still the spear in the rest. And therewith Sir Launcelot strained himself so straightly with so great a force to get his horse forward, that the bottom of the wound broke, both within and without; and therewith the blood came out so fiercely, that he felt himself so feeble that he might not sit upon his horse. And then Sir Launcelot cried unto Sir Bors, "Ah! Sir Bors, and Sir Lavaine, help me; for I come unto mine end." And therewith he fell down on the one side unto the ground, like a dead corpse. And then Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine came to him, making out of measure great sorrow ; and so, by fortune, the maid Elaine heard their sorrow and dole, and then she came thither. And, when she found Sir Launcelot there armed in that place, she cried and wept as she had been mad; and then she kissed him, and did what she might to awake him. And then she rebuked her brother and Sir Bors, and called them both false traitors, and why they would take him out of his bed? There she cried, and said she would appeal them of his death. With this came the holy hermit, Sir Bawdewine of Britain ; and, when he found Sir Launcelot in that plight, he said but little; but wit ye well he was right wrath. And then he said to them, "Let us have him in." And so they all bear him into the hermitage, and unarmed him, and laid him in his bed ; and evermore his wound bled piteously, but he stirred no limb of his body. Then the knight-hermit put a thing in his nose, and a little deal of water in his mouth; and then Sir Launcelot awakened out of his swoon. And then the hermit staunched his bleeding ; and, when he might speak, he asked Sir Launcelot why he put his life in jeopardy. "Sir," said Sir Launcelot, "for because I weened I had been strong enough ; and also Sir Bors told me that there should be at Allhallowmas a great joust between King Arthur and the King of Northgalis : and, therefore, I thought to assay myself, if I might be there or not." "Ah! Sir Launcelot," said the hermit, "your heart and your courage will never be done, until your last day. But ye shall do now by my counsel. Let Sir Bors depart from you, and let him do at that tournament what he may. And, by the grace of God," said the knight-hermit, "by that the tournament be done, and ye come hither again, Sir Launcelot shall be as whole as ye, so that he will be ruled by me."
AND then Sir Bors made him ready to depart from Sir Launcelot; and then Sir Launcelot said, "Fair cousin, Sir Bors, recommend me unto all them unto whom I ought to recommend me unto; and I pray you enforce yourself at that joust, that ye may be best for my love; and here shall I abide you, at the mercy of God, till ye come again." And so Sir Bors departed, and came to the court of King Arthur, and told them in what place he had left Sir Launcelot. "That me repenteth," said the King; "but, sith he shall have his life, we all may thank God." And there Sir Bors told the Queen in what great jeopardy Sir Launcelot was, when he would assay his horse. "And all that he did, madam, was for the love of you, because he would have been at this tournament." "Fie on him, recreant knight !" said the Queen ; "for wit ye well I am right sorry and he shall have his life." "His life shall he have," said Sir Bars; "and who that would otherwise (except you, madam), we that be of his blood should help to shorten their lives. But, madam," said Sir Bors, "ye have been oftentimes displeased with my lord, Sir Launcelot; but at all times, at the end, ye find him a true knight." And so he departed ; and then every knight of the Round Table that was there present at that time made them ready to be at the jousts of Allhallowmas and thither drew many knights of many countries. And, as Allhallowmas drew near, thither came the King of Northgalis, and the King with the hundred knights, and Sir Galahalt, the haughty prince of Surluse; and thither came King Anguish of Ireland, and the King of Scotland. So these three knights came on King Arthur's part. And so that day Sir Gawaine did great deeds of arms, and began first ; and the heralds numbered that Sir Gawaine smote down twenty knights. Then came in at that same time Sir Bors de Ganis, and he was numbered that he had smitten down twenty knights ; and, therefore, the prize was given between them both : for they began first, and longest endured. Also Sir Gareth did that day great deeds of arms : for he smote down and pulled down thirty knights : but, when he had done these deeds, he tarried not, but so departed; and, therefore, he lost his prize. And Sir Palomides did great deeds of arms that day; for he smote down twenty knights. But he departed suddenly; and men deemed that Sir Gareth and he rode together on some adventure.
So when this tournament was done, Sir Bors departed, and rode till he came to Sir Launcelot, his cousin, and then he found him walking on his feet ; and there either made great joy of other. And so Sir Bors told Sir Launcelot of all the jousts, like as ye have heard. "I marvel," said Sir Launcelot, "that Sir Gareth, when he had done such deeds of arms, that he would not tarry." "Thereof we marvelled all," said Sir Bors; "for, but if it were you, or Sir Tristram, or Sir Lamoracke de Galis, I saw never knight bear down so many in so little a while as did Sir Gareth; and anon he was gone we wist not where." "By my head," said Sir Launcelot, "he is a noble knight, and a mighty man, and well breathed. And if that he were strongly assayed," said Sir Launcelot, "I would deem that he were good enough for any man that bareth life. And he is a gentle knight, courteous, true, and bounteous, meek and mild; and in him is no manner of malice, but plain, faithful, and true." So then they made them ready to depart from the hermit. And so, upon a day, they took their horses, and took Elaine de Blaunch with them ; and, when they came to Astolat, there they were well lodged, and had great cheer of Sir Bernard, the old baron, and of Sir Tirre, his son. And so, on the morrow, when Sir Launcelot should depart, fair Elaine brought her father with her, and her two brethren, Sir Tirre and Sir Lavaine, and thus she said :
"MY lord, Sir Launcelot, now I see that ye will depart, fair and courteous knight, have mercy upon me, and suffer me not to die for your love." "What would you that I did?" said Sir Launcelot. "I would have you unto my husband," said the maid Elaine. "Fair damsel, I thank you," said Sir Launcelot; "but certainly," said he, "I cast me never to be married." "Then, fair knight," said she, "will ye be my love ?" "Jesu defend me !" said Sir Launcelot ; "for then should I reward your father and your brother full evil for their great goodness." "Alas !" said she, "then must I needs die for your love." "Ye shall not," said Sir Launcelot; "for wit ye well, fair damsel, that I might have been married and I had would; but I never applied me to be married. But because, fair damsel, that ye will love me as ye say ye do, I will, for your good love and kindness, show you some goodness ; and that is this : That wheresoever ye will set your heart upon some good knight that will wed you, I shall give you together a thousand pounds yearly to you and to your heirs. Thus much will I give you, fair maid, for your kindness, and always while I live to be your own knight." "Of all this," said the damsel, "I will none; for but if ye will wed me, or else be my love at the least, wit ye well, Sir Launcelot, my good days are done." "Fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "of these two things ye must pardon me." Then she shrieked shrilly, and fell down to the ground in a swoon; and that gentlewoman bear her into her chamber, and there she made ever much sorrow. And then Sir Launcelot would depart; and there he asked Sir Lavaine what he would do? "What should I do," said Sir Lavaine, "but follow you, but if ye drive me from you." Then came Sir Bernard unto Sir Launcelot, and said unto him thus : "I cannot see but that my daughter, Elaine, will die for your sake." "I may not do thereto," said Sir Launcelot, "for that me sore repenteth. For I report me unto yourself, that my proffer is fair; and me repenteth," said Sir Launcelot, "that she loveth me as she doth. I was never the causer of it: for I report me unto your son, I early nor late proffered her bounty nor fair behests. And as for me," said Sir Launcelot, "I dare do all that a good knight should do, that she is a clean maid for me, both for deed and for will; and I am right heavy of her distress; for she is a full fair maid, good and gentle, and right well taught." "Father," said Sir Lavaine, "I dare make it good that she is a clean maid as for my lord, Sir Launcelot; but she doth as I do. For, sithence that I first saw my lord, Sir Launcelot, I could never depart from him; nor nought I will, and I may follow him." Then Sir Launcelot took his leave; and so they de-parted, and came to Winchester. And when King Arthur wist that Sir Launcelot was come whole and sound, the King made great joy of him; and so did Sir Gawaine and all the knights of the Round Table, except Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred." And also Queen Guenever was waxed wrath with Sir Launcelot, and would by no means speak with him, but estranged herself from him: and Sir Launcelot made all the means that he might to speak with the Queen, but it would not be.
Now speak we of the fair maid of Astolat, which made such sorrow day and night, that she never slept, eat, nor drank ; and always she made her complaint unto Sir Launcelot. So when she had thus endured about ten days, that she felt that she must needs pass out of this world. Then she shrove her clean, and received her Creator ; and ever she complained still upon Sir Launcelot. Then her ghostly father bade her leave such thoughts. Then said she, "Why should I leave such thoughts? am I not an earthly woman? and all the while the breath is in my body, I may complain. For my belief is, that I do none offence, though I love an earthly man ; and I take God unto record, I never loved any but Sir Launcelot du Lake, nor never shall : and a maiden I am, for him and for all other. And sith it is the sufferance of God that I shall die for the love of so noble a knight, I beseech the high Father of heaven for to have mercy upon my soul ; and that mine innumerable pains which I suffer may be allegiance of part of my sins. Por our sweet Saviour, Jesu Christ," said the maiden, "I take thee to record I was never greater offender against thy laws, but that I loved this noble knight, Sir Launcelot, out of all measure: and of myself, good Lord ! I might not withstand the fervent love, wherefore I have my death." And then she called her father, Sir Bernard, and her brother, Sir Tirre; and heartily she prayed her father that her brother might write a letter like as she would indite it. And so her father granted it her. And, when the letter was written, word by word, as she had- devised, then she prayed her father that she might be watched until she were dead. "And while my body is whole let this letter be put into my right hand, and my hand bound fast with the letter until that I be cold; and let me be put in a fair bed, with all the richest clothes that I have about me. And so let my bed, with all my rich clothes, be laid with me in a chariot to the next place whereas the Thames is ; and there let me be put in a barge, and but one man with me, such as ye trust, to steer me thither, and that my barge be covered with black samite over and over. Thus, father, I beseech you let be done." So her father granted her faithfully that all this thing should be done like as she had devised. Then her father and her brother made great dole ; for, when this was done, anon she died. And so, when she was dead, the corpse, and the bed, and all, were led the next way unto the Thames ; and there a man, and the corpse and all, were put in a barge on the Thames : and so the man steered the barge to Westminster, and there he rode a great while to and fro or any man discovered it.
So, by fortune, King Arthur and Queen Guenever were speaking together at a window : and so as they looked into the Thames, they espied the black barge, and had marvel what it might mean. Then the King called Sir Kaye, and showed him it. "Sir," said Sir Kaye, "wit ye well that there is some new tidings." "Go ye thither," said the King unto Sir Kaye, "and take with you Sir Brandiles and Sir Agravaine, and bring me ready word what is there." Then these three knights departed and came to the barge, and went in; and there they found the fairest corpse, lying in a rich bed, that ever they saw, and a poor man sitting in the end of the barge, and no word would he speak. So these three knights returned unto the King again, and told him what they had found. "That fair corpse will I see," said King Arthur. And then the King took the Queen by the hand, and went thither. Then the King made the barge to be holden fast; and then the King and the Queen went in with certain knights with them ; and there they saw a fair gentlewoman, lying in a rich bed, covered unto her middle with many rich clothes, and all was cloth of gold : and she lay as though she had smiled. Then the Queen espied the letter in the right hand, and told the King thereof. Then the King took it in his hand, and said, "Now I am sure this letter will tell what she was, and why she is come hither." Then the King and Queen went out of the barge ; and the King commanded certain men to wait upon the barge. And so when the King was come within his chamber, he called many knights about him, and said "that he would wit openly what was written within that letter." Then the King broke it open, and made a clerk read it. And this was the intent of the letter: ---
"Most noble knight, my lord, Sir Launcelot du Lake, now hath death made us two at debate for your love. I was your love, that men called me Fair Maiden of Astolat; therefore unto all ladies I make my moan. Yet for my soul that ye pray, and bury me at the least, and offer me my mass penny. This is my last request : and a clean maid I died, I take God to my witness. Pray for my soul, Sir Launcelot, as thou art a knight peerless." This was all the substance of the letter. And when it was read, the Queen and all the knights wept for pity of the doleful complaints. Then was Sir Launcelot sent for; and when he was come King Arthur made the letter to be read to him. And when Sir Launcelot had heard it, word by word, he said, "My lord, King Arthur, wit you well that I am right heavy of the death of this fair damsel. God knoweth I was never causer of her death by my will; and that I will report me unto her own brother here, he is Sir Lavaine. I will not say nay," said Sir Launcelot, "but that she was both fair and good ; and much was I beholden unto her : but she loved me out of measure." "Ye might have showed her," said the Queen, "some bounty and gentleness, that ye might have preserved her life." "Madam," said Sir Launcelot, "she would none other way be answered, but that she would be my wife, or else my love ; and of these two I would not grant her; but I proffered her for her good love, which she showed me, a thousand pounds yearly to her and her heirs, and to wed any manner of knight that she could find best to love in her heart. For, madam," said Sir Launcelot, "I love not to be constrained to love ; for love must arise of the heart, and not by constraint." "That is truth," said King Arthur and many knights; "love is free in himself, and never will be bound ; for where he is bound, he loseth himself. Then," said the King unto Sir Launcelot, "it will be your worship that ye oversee that she be buried worshipfully." "Sir," said Sir Launcelot, "that shall be done as I can best devise." And so many knights went thither to behold the fair dead maid. And on the morrow she was richly buried, and Sir Launcelot offered her mass penny; and all the knights of the Round Table that were there, at that time, offered with Sir Launcelot. And then, when all was done, the poor man went again with the barge. Then the Queen sent for Sir Launcelot, and prayed him of mercy, for because she had been wrath with him causeless. "This is not the first time," said Sir Launcelot, "that ye have been displeased with my counsels; but, madam, ever I must suffer you, but what sorrow that I endure, ye take no force." So this passed forth all that win-ter, with all manner of hunting and hawking, and jousts and tourneys were many between many great lords. And ever, in all manner of places, Sir Lavaine got great worship, that he was nobly renowned among many of the knights of the Round Table. Thus it passed on until Christmas, and every day there were jousts made for a diamond, that whosoever joust best should have a diamond. But Sir Launcelot would not joust, but if it were a great joust cried: but Sir Lavaine jousted there all the Christmas passing well, and most was praised; for there were but few that did so well as he; wherefore all manner of knights deemed that Sir Lavaine should be made a knight of the Round Table, at the next high feast of Pentecost.
So after Christmas King Arthur let call to him many of his knights, and there they advised them together to make a part, and a great tournament and jousts. And the King of Northgalis said unto King Arthur, "that he should have on his part King Anguish of Ireland, and the King with the hundred knights, and the King of Northumberland, and Sir Galahalt, the haughty prince." So these four Kings, and this mighty duke, took a part against King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. And the cry was made of the day, and jousts should be beside Westminster on Candlemas-day; whereof many knights were full glad, and made them ready to be at that joust in the freshest manner that they could. Then Queen Guenever sent for Sir Launcelot; and, when he was come, she said to him in this manner: "I warn you that ye ride no more in no jousts nor tournament, but that your kinsmen may know you ; for at these jousts that shall be, ye shall have of me a sleeve of cloth of gold; and I pray you, for my sake, enforce yourself so there, that men may speak of your worship : but I charge you, as ye will have my love, that ye warn your kinsmen, that ye will bear that day the sleeve of cloth of gold upon your helmet." "Madam," said Sir Launcelot, "your desire shall be done." And so either made of other great joy. And when Sir Launcelot saw his time, he told Sir Bors, "that he should depart, and no more with him but Sir Lavaine, unto the good hermit that dwelled in the forest of Windsor, whose name was Sir Brastias, and there he thought to rest him, and to take all the ease that he might, because he would be fresh at that day of jousts." When Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine were ready, they de-parted, that no creature wist where he was become, but the noble men of his blood. And so when he was come unto the hermitage, wit you well he had good cheer; and so daily Sir Launcelot would go to a well, fast by the hermitage, and there he would lie down and see the well spring and bubble, and sometimes he slept there. So at that time there was a lady dwelled in that forest, and she was a great huntress, and daily she used to hunt; and always she bear her bow with her; and no men went never with her, but always women, and they were shooters, and could well kill a deer, but at the stalk and at the trest; and they daily bear bows and arrows, horns, and wood knives, and many good hounds they had, both for the string and for a bait. So it happened that this lady, the huntress, had baited her hounds for the bow, at a barren hind; and this barren hind took her flight over heaths and woods. And ever this lady and part of her gentlewomen coursed the hind, and checked it by the noise of the hound, for to have met with the hind at some water. And so it happened that the said hind came to the well, whereas Sir Launcelot was sleeping and slumbering. And so the hind, when she came to the well, for heat she went to the soil, and there she lay a great while; and the hound came fast after, and made a cast about, for. she had lost the perfect scent of the hind. Right so there came the lady huntress, which knew by her hound that the hind was at the soil in that well: and there she came stiffly, and found the hind. And anon she put a broad arrow in her bow, and shot at the hind, and overshot the hind, and, by misfortune, the broad arrow smote Sir Launcelot in the thick of the buttock over the barbs. When Sir Launcelot felt himself so hurt, he hurtled up woodly, and saw the lady which had smitten him. And then when he saw she was a woman, he said thus : "Lady, or damsel, what that thou be, in an evil time bear thou a bow, the devil made thee a shooter."
"Now mercy, fair sir," said the lady, "I am a gentlewoman that used here in this forest hunting, and our Lord knoweth I saw you not; but as here is a barren hind at the soil in the well, and I weened to have done well, but my hand swerved." "Alas !" said Sir Launcelot, "now have ye mischieved me." And so the' lady departed. And Sir Launcelot as well as he might drew out the arrow, and the head abode still in his buttock, and so went weakly into the hermitage, ever bleeding as he went. And when Sir Lavaine and the hermit espied that Sir Launcelot was hurt, wit ye well they were passing heavy ; but Sir Launcelot nor the hermit wist not how he was hurt, nor by whom : and then were they wrath out of measure. Then, with great pain, the hermit got out the arrow-head out of Sir Launcelot's buttock, and much of his blood he shed at that time, and the wound was passing sore, and right unhappily smitten; for the wound was in such a place that Sir Launcelot might not sit in a saddle. "Ah ! mercy, Jesu," said Sir Launcelot, I call myself the most unhappiest knight that liveth; for ever when I would fainest have worship, there befalleth me ever some unhappy thing. Now, so Jesu me help," said Sir Launcelot, "and if no man would but God, I shall be in the field upon Candlemas-day at the jousts, whatsoever fall of it." So all that might be gotten to heal Sir Launcelot was had. So when the day was come, Sir Launcelot let devise that he was arrayed, and Sir Lavaine and their horses, as though they had been Saracens.
And so they departed, and came nigh to the field. The King of Narthgalis, with a hundred knights with him ; and the King of Northumberland also brought with him a hundred good knights; and King Anguish, of Ireland, brought with him a hundred good knights, ready to joust; and Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, brought with him a hundred good knights ; and the King with the hundred knights brought with him as many; and all these were proved knights. And then came in King Atthur's part : and there came in the King of Scotland, with a hundred, knights ; and King Urience, of Core, brought with him a hundred good knights; and King Howel, of Britain, brought with him a hundred knights ; and King Chalaunce, of Clarence, brought with him a hundred knights ; and King Arthur himself came into the field with two hundred knights, and the most part were knights of the Round Table, which were proved noble knights. And there were old knights set upon scaffolds,' to judge with the Queen who did best.
THEN they blew unto the field, and there the King of Northgalis encountered with the King of Scotland, and there the King of Scotland had a fall. And the King of Ireland smote down King Urience, and the King of Northumberland smote down King Howel, of Britain ; and Sir Galahalt, the haut prince smote down King Chalaunce, of Clarence. And at that King Arthur was waxed wrath, and ran to the King with the hundred knights, and there King Arthur smote him down ; and after, with that same spear, King Arthur smote down three other knights ; and then, when his spear was broken, King Arthur did passing well. And so therewithal came Sir Gawaine and Sir Gaheris, Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, and there every each of them smote down a knight. And Sir Gawaine smote down four knights. And then there began a full strong meddle : for then there came in the knights of Sir Launcelot's blood, and Sir Gareth, and Sir Palomides with them, and many knights of the Round Table : and they began to hold the four kings and the mighty duke so hard, that they were discomfited. But their duke, Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, was a noble knight, and by his mighty prowess of arms he held the knights of the Round Table straight enough. All these doings saw Sir Launcelot, and then he came into the field with Sir Lavaine, as it had been thunder. And then Sir Bors, and the knights of his blood, espied Sir Launcelot, and said unto them all, "I warn you, beware of him with the sleeve of gold upon his head, for he himself is Sir Launcelot du Lake." And for great goodness, Sir Bors warned Sir Gareth. "I am well assayed," said Sir Gareth, "that I may know him in the same array." "That is the good and gentle knight, Sir Lavaine," said Sir Bors. So Sir Launcelot encountered with Sir Gawaine, and there, by force, Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Gawaine and his horse to the ground; and likewise he smote down Sir Agravaine and Sir Gaheris, and also he smote down Sir Mordred, and all this was done with one spear. Then Sir Lavine met with Sir Palomides, and either met other so hard and so fiercely that both their horses fell to the ground, and then they were horsed again. And then met Sir Launcelot with Sir Palomides, and there Sir Palomides had a fall. So Sir Launcelot, or ever he stinted, as fast as he might get spears, he smote down thirty knights, and the most of them were knights of the Round Table. And ever the knights of his blood withdrew then, and made them to do in other places where Sir Launcelot came not. And then King Arthur was wrath, when he saw Sir Launcelot do such deeds. Then the King called unto Sir Gawaine, Sir Mordred, Sir Kaye, Sir Griflet, Sir Lucas, the butler; Sir Pedivere, Sir Palomides, and Sir Safre, his brother, and so King Arthur, with these nine knights, made them ready for to set upon Sir Launcelot and upon Sir Lavaine. All this espied Sir Bore de Galis, and Sir Gareth of Orkey. "Now I dread me sore," said Sir Bors, "that my lord Sir Launcelot will be hard matched." "By my head," said Sir Gareth, "I will ride unto my Lord Sir Launcelot for to help him, befall of me what may, for he is the same man that made me knight." "Ye shall not do so," said Sir Bors, "by my counsel, unless that ye were disguised." "Ye shall see me disguised," said Sir Gareth, "and that anon."
And therewith he espied a Welsh knight where he was to rest himself; and he was sore hurt before by Sir Gawaine, and to him Sir Gareth rode, prayed him of his knighthood for to lend him his shield for his. "I will well," said the Welsh knight. And when Sir Gareth had his shield, it was green, with a maiden that seemed in it. Then Sir Gareth came driving as fast as he might unto Sir Launcelot, and said thus unto him, "Sir knight, keep thyself, for yonder cometh King Arthur, with nine noble knights with him, to put you to rebuke; and so am I come to bear you fellowship for old love ye have shown me." "Gramercy," said Sir Launcelot. "Sir," said Sir Gareth, "encounter with Sir Gawaine, and I shall encounter with Sir Palomides, and let Sir Lavaine match with King Arthur; and when we have delivered them, let us three hold us steadily together." Then came King Arthur with his nine knights with him, and Sir Launcelot encountered with Sir Gawaine, and gave him such a buffet, that the arson of his saddle broke, and Sir Gawaine fell to the earth. Then Sir Gareth encountered with the good knight, Sir Palomides, and he gave him such a buffet, that both his horse and he dashed to the earth. Then encountered King Arthur with Sir Lavaine, and there either of them smote other to the earth, horse and all, that they lay a great while.
Then Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred. And then Sir Gareth smote down Sir Kaye, Sir Safre, and Sir Griflet; and when Sir Lavaine was horsed again, he smote down Sir Lucas, the butler, and Sir Pedivere; and then there began a great throng of good knights. Then Sir Launcelot hurtled and pulled off helms, so that at that time there might none sit him a buffet with his spear nor his sword. And Sir Gareth did such deeds of arms, that all men marvelled what knight he was with the green shield, for he smote down that day and pulled down more than thirty knights. And Sir Launcelot marvelled greatly when he beheld Sir Gareth do such deeds what knight he might be. Also Sir Launcelot knew not Sir Gareth, for and Sir Tristram de Lyons or Sir Lamoracke de Galis had been alive, Sir Launcelot would have deemed that he had been one of them twain.
So ever as Sir Launcelot, Sir Gareth, and Sir Lavaine fought; and, on the other side, Sir Bors, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Lionel, Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Pelleas, with more others of King Ben's blood, fought on another part, and held the King with the hundred knights, and also the King of Northumberland, right straight and right hardy.
So this jousting and the tournament endured long, till it was almost night; for the knights of the Round Table relieved ever unto King Arthur, for the King was wrath out of measure, but he and his knights might not prevail this day. Then Sir Gawaine said unto King Arthur, "I marvel where all this day Sir Bars de Galis, and his fellows of Sir Launcelot's blood be; I marvel me all this day greatly that they be not about you; it is for some cause," said Sir Gawaine. "By my head," said Sir Kaye, "Sir Bors is yonder all this day upon the right hand of the field, and there he and his blood done more worshipfully than we do." "It may well be," said Gawaine, "but I dread me always of guile; for, upon pain of my life," said Sir Gawaine, "this knight with the red sleeve of gold is Sir Launcelot himself, I see well by his riding, and by his great strokes given; and the other knight in the same colour is the good young knight, Sir Lavaine. Also, that knight with the green shield is my brother, Sir Gareth, and yet he hath disguised him-self, for no man can make him to be against Sir Launcelot, be-cause he made him knight." "By my head," said King Arthur, "nephew, I believe you, therefore tell me now what is your best counsel." "Sir," said Sir Gawaine, "ye shall have my best counsel : let blow unto lodging, for and if he be Sir Launcelot, and my brother, Sir Gareth, with him, with the help of that good young knight, Sir Lavaine, trust me truly it will be no boot to strive with them, but if we should fall ten or twelve upon one knight, and that were no worship, but shame." "Ye say truth," said the King, "and for to say sooth," said the King, "it were shame to us, so many as we be, to set upon them any more; for, wit ye well," said King Arthur, "they be three good knights, and, namely, that knight with the red sleeve of gold :" so then they blew unto lodging. But forthwithal King Arthur let send unto the four kings, and unto the mighty duke, that the knight with the sleeve of cloth of gold depart not from them, but that the King may speak with him. Then forth-withal King Arthur alighted and unarmed him, and get him a little hackney, and rode after Sir Launcelot, for ever he had an s eye upon him. And so they found him among the four kings and the duke. And there King Arthur prayed them all unto sup-per, and they answered with a good will. And so when they were all unarmed, King Arthur knew Sir Launcelot, Sir Lavaine, and Sir Gareth. "Ah, Sir Launcelot," said King Arthur, "this day ye have hated me and my knights." So they went unto King Arthur's lodging altogether; and the prize was given unto Sir Launcelot; and by heralds they named him that he had smitten down fifty knights, and Sir Gareth thirty-five, and Sir Lavaine twenty-four knights. Then Sir Launcelot told the King and the Queen how the lady huntress shot him in the forest of Windsor, in the buttock with a broad arrow, and how the wound thereof was that times six inches deep, and also in like long. And King Arthur blamed Sir Gareth, because he left his fellowship and held with Sir Launcelot. "My lord," said Sir Gareth, "he made me a knight, and when I saw him so hard bestead, me thought it was my worship to help him, because I saw him do so much, and so many noble knights against him. And when I understood that he was Sir Launcelot du Lake, I shamed me to see so many knights against him alone;' "Truly," said King Arthur unto ' Sir Gareth, "ye say well, and worshipfully have ye done, and to yourself great worship ; and all the days of my life," said King Arthur unto Sir Gareth, "wit ye well, I shall love you and trust you the better : for ever," said King Arthur, "it is a worshipful knight's deed for to help another worshipful knight, when he seeth him in great danger ; for, ever a worshipful man will be loth to see a worshipful man shamed : and he that is of no worship, and fareth with cowardice, never shall he show gentleness, nor no manner of goodness, whereas he seeth a man in any danger ; for then ever a coward will show no mercy, and always a good knight will do ever to another knight as he would be done unto himself." So then there were made great feasts to kings and dukes, and revel, game, and play, and all manner of nobleness was used: and he that was courteous, true, and faithful unto his friend, was that time cherished.