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and she thee; and therefore it behooveth thee now to choose one of us. I am the Queen Morgane le Fay, and here is the Queen of North Wales, and the Queen of Eastland, and the Queen of the Isles. Now choose one of us which thou wilt have, for if thou choose not, in this prison thou shalt die." is a hard case," said Sir Launcelot, “ that either I must die, or else choose one of you; yet had I liever to die in this prison with worship, than to have one of you for my paramour, for ye be false enchantresses.”. “Well,” said the queens, “is this answer, that ye will refuse us?” “Yea, on my life it is,” said Sir Launcelot. Then they departed, making great sorrow.
Then at noon came a damsel unto him with his dinner, and asked him, “ What cheer ?” “ Truly, fair damsel,” said Sir Launcelot, “never so ill.”
Sir,” said she, “if you will be ruled by me, I will help you out of this distress. If ye will promise me to help my father on Tuesday next, who hath made a tournament betwixt him and the king of North Wales ; for the last Tuesday my father lost the field. “Fair maiden,” said Sir Launcelot, “ tell me what is your father's name, and then will I give you an answer."
“Sir knight,” she said, “my father is King Bagdemagus.” “I know him well,” said Sir Launcelot, “ for a noble king and a good knight; and, by the faith of my body, I will be ready to do your father and you service at that day.”
So she departed, and came on the next morning early and found him ready, and brought him out of twelve locks, and brought him to his own horse, and lightly he saddled him, and so rode forth.
And on the Tuesday next he came to a little wood where the tournament should be. And there were scaffolds and holds, that lords and ladies might look on, and give the prize. Then came into the field the king of North Wales, with eightscore helms, and King Bagdemagus came with fourscore helms. And then they couched their spears, and came together with a great dash, and there were overthrown at the first encounter twelve of King Bagdemagus's party and six of the king of North Wales's party, and King Bagdemagus's party had the worse.
With that came Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and thrust in with his spear in the thickest of the press ; and he smote down five knights ere he held his hand; and he smote down the king of North Wales, and he brake his thigh in that fall. And then the knights of the king of North Wales would just no more; and so the gree was given to King Bagdemagus.
And Sir Launcelot rode forth with King Bagdemagus unto his castle; and there he had passing good cheer, both with the king and with his daughter. And on the morn he took his leave, and told the king he would go and seek his brother, Sir Lionel, that went from him when he slept. So he departed, and by adventure he came to the same forest where he was taken sleeping. And in the highway he met a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and they saluted each other. “Fair damsel,” said Sir Launcelot, “know ye in this country any adventures ? ” “ Sir knight,” said the damsel, “here are adventures near at hand, if thou durst
them." “Why should I not prove adventures ?” said Sir Launcelot, “ since for that cause came I hither.” “Sir,” said she, “hereby dwelleth a knight that will not be overmatched for any man I know, except thou overmatch him. His name is Sir Turquine, and, as I understand, he is a deadly enemy of King Arthur, and he has in his prison good knights of Arthur's court threescore and more, that he hath won with his own hands." “Damsel, said Launcelot, “I pray you bring me unto this knight.” So she told him, “Hereby, within this mile, is his castle, and by it on the left hand is a ford for horses to drink of, and over that ford there groweth a fair tree, and on that tree hang many shields that good knights wielded aforetime, that are now prisoners ; and on the tree hangeth a basin of copper and latten, and if thou strike upon that basin thou shalt hear tidings." And Sir Launcelot departed, and rode as the damsel had shown him, and shortly he came to the ford, and the tree where hung the shields and the basin. And among the shields he saw Sir Lionel's and Sir Hector's shield, besides many others of knights that he knew.
Then Sir Launcelot struck on the basin with the
butt of his spear; and long he did so, but he saw no
And at length he was ware of a great knight that drove a horse before him, and across the horse there lay an armed knight bounden. And as they came near, Sir Launcelot thought he should know the captive knight. Then Sir Launcelot saw that it was Sir Gaheris, Sir Gawain's brother, a knight of the Table Round. “Now, fair knight,” said Sir Launcelot, “put that wounded knight off the horse, and let him rest awhile, and let us two prove our strength. For, as it is told me, thou hast done great despite and shame unto knights of the Round Table, therefore now defend thee.” “If thou be of the Table Round,” said Sir Turquine, “ I defy thee and all thy fellowship.” “That is overmuch said," said Sir Launcelot.
Then they put their spears in the rests, and came together with their horses as fast as they might run. And each smote the other in the middle of their shields, so that their horses fell under them, and the knights were both staggered ; and as soon as they could clear their horses, they drew out their swords and came together eagerly, and each gave the other many strong strokes, for neither shield nor harness might withstand their strokes. So within a while both had grimly wounds, and bled grievously. Then at the last they were breathless both, and stood leaning upon their swords. “Now, fellow," said Sir Turquine, “thou art the stoutest man that ever I met with, and best breathed; and so be it thou be not the knight that I hate above all other knights, the knight that slew my brother, Sir Carados, I will gladly accord with thee; and for thy love I will deliver all the prisoners that I have.”
“What knight is he that thou hatest so above others ?” “ Truly,” said Sir Turquine, “ his name is Sir Launcelot of the Lake.” “I am Sir Launcelot of the Lake, King Ban's son of Benwick, and very knight of the Table Round; and now I defy thee do thy best.” “Ah!” said Sir Turquine, “ Launcelot, thou art to me the most welcome that ever was knight; for we shall never part till the one of us be dead.” And then they hurtled together like two wild bulls, rashing and lashing with their swords and shields, so that sometimes they fell, as it were, headlong. Thus they fought two hours and more, till the ground where they fought was all bepurpled with blood.
Then at the last Sir Turquine waxed sore faint, and gave somewhat aback, and bare his shield full low for weariness. That spied Sir Launcelot, and leapt then upon him fiercely as a lion, and took him by the beaver of his helmet, and drew him down on his knees. And he rased off his helm, and smote his neck in sunder.
And Sir Gaheris, when he saw Sir Turquine slain, said, “Fair lord, I pray you tell me your name, for this day I say ye are the best knight in the world, for ye have slain this day in my sight the mightiest man and the best knight except you that ever I