Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

me ?

Knight Launcelot, now have I got thee as I would," and stood at the boll of the tree to slay him. “Ah, lady!” said Sir Launcelot, “why have ye betrayed

“ She hath done,” said Sir Phelot, “but as I commanded her; and therefore there is none other way but thine hour is come, and thou must die.” “ That were shame unto thee,” said Sir Launcelot; “thou an armed knight to slay a naked man by treason.' “ Thou gettest none other grace,” said Sir Phelot, “and therefore help thyself if thou canst.” “Alas !” said Sir Launcelot," that ever a knight should die weaponless !” And therewith he turned his eyes upward and downward; and over his head he saw a big bough leafless, and he brake it off from the trunk. And then he came lower, and watched how his own horse stood; and suddenly he leapt on the further side of his horse from the knight. Then Sir Phelot lashed at him eagerly, meaning to have slain him. But Sir Launcelot put away the stroke, with the big bough, and smote Sir Phelot therewith on the side of the head, so that he fell down in a swoon to the ground. Then Sir Launcelot took his sword out of his hand and struck his head from the body. Then said the lady, “ Alas! why hast thou slain my husband ?” “I am not the cause,” said Sir Launcelot, "for with falsehood ye would have slain me, and now it is fallen on yourselves.” Thereupon Sir Launcelot got all his armor, and put it upon him hastily, for fear of more resort, for the knight's castle was so nigh. And as soon as he might, he took his horse and departed, and thanked God he had escaped that adventure.

And two days before the feast of Pentecost, Sir Launcelot came home; and the king and all the court were passing glad of his coming. And when Sir Gawain, Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramour, and Sir Hector de Marys saw Sir Launcelot in Sir Kay's armor, then they wist well it was he that smote them down, all with one spear. Then there was laughing and merriment among them; and from time to time came all the knights that Sir Turquine had prisoners, and they all honored and worshipped Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Gaheris said, “I saw all the battle from the beginning to the end," and he told King Arthur all how it was. Then Sir Kay told the king how Sir Launcelot had rescued him, and how he “ made the knights yield to me, and not to him.”

And there they were, all three, and confirmed it all. “And, by my faith,” said Sir Kay, “because Sir Launcelot took my harness and left me his, I rode in peace, and no man would have to do with me.”

And so at that time Sir Launcelot had the greatest name of any knight of the world, and most was he honored of high and low.

agans, slay not my noble knights and I will go with you, upon this covenant, that they be led with me wheresoever thou leadest me." “ Madame," said Maleagans, “ for your sake they shall be led with you into my own castle, if that ye will be ruled, and ride with me." Then Sir Maleagans charged them all that none should depart from the queen, for he dreaded lest Sir Launcelot should have knowledge of what had been done.

Then the queen privily called unto her a page of her chamber that was swiftly horsed, to whom she said, “Go thou when thou seest thy time, and bear this ring unto Sir Launcelot, and pray him as he loveth

me, that he will see me, and rescue me. And spare not thy horse," said the queen, “neither for water nor for land.” So the child espied his time, and lightly he took his horse with the spurs, and departed, as fast as he might. And when Sir Maleagans saw him so flee, he understood that it was by the queen's commandment for to warn Sir Launcelot. Then they that were best horsed chased him, and shot at him, but the child went from them all. Then Sir Maleagans said to the queen, “Madam, ye are about to betray me, but I shall arrange for Sir Launcelot that he shall not come lightly at you.” Then he rode with her and them all to his castle, in all the haste that they might. And by the way

Sir Maleagans laid in ambush the best archers that he had, to wait for Sir Launcelot. And the child came to Westminster, and found Sir Launcelot, and told his message, and delivered him the queen's ring. “ Alas!” said Sir Launcelot, "now am I shamed for ever, unless I may rescue that noble lady.” Then eagerly he asked his armor, and put it on him, and mounted his horse and rode as fast as he might; and men say he took the water at Westminster Bridge, and made his horse swim over Thames unto Lambeth. Then within a while he came to a wood, where was a narrow way; and there the archers were laid in ambush. And they shot at him, and smote his horse, so that he fell. Then Sir Launcelot left his horse and went on foot, but there lay so many ditches and hedges betwixt the archers and him that he might not meddle with them. 6 Alas! for shame,” said Sir Launcelot, “ that ever one knight should betray another! but it is an old saw, a good man is never in danger, but when he is in danger of a coward.” Then Sir Launcelot went awhile, and he was exceedingly cumbered by his armor, his shield, and his spear, and all that belonged to him. Then by chance there came by him a cart that came thither to fetch wood.

Now at this time carts were little used except for carrying offal, and for conveying criminals to execution. But Sir Launcelot took no thought of anything but the necessity of haste for the purpose of rescuing the queen; so he demanded of the carter that he should take him in, and convey him as speedily as possible for a liberal reward. The carter consented, and Sir Launcelot placed himself in the cart, and only lamented that with much jolting he made but little progress. Then it happened Sir Gawain passed by, and seeing an armed knight travelling in that unusual way, he drew near to see who it might be. Then Sir Launcelot told him how the queen had been carried off, and how, in hastening to her rescue, his horse had been disabled, and he had been .compelled to avail himself of the cart rather than give up his enterprise. Then Sir Gawain said, “ Surely it is unworthy of a knight to travel in such sort”; but Sir Launcelot heeded him not.

At nightfall they arrived at a castle, and the lady thereof came out at the head of her damsels to welcome Sir Gawain. But to admit his companion, whom she supposed to be a criminal, or at least a prisoner, it pleased her not; however, to oblige Sir Gawain, she consented. At supper Sir Launcelot came near being consigned to the kitchen, and was only admitted to the lady's table at the earnest solicitation of Sir Gawain. Neither would the damsels prepare a bed for him. He seized the first he found unoccupied, and was left undisturbed.

Next morning he saw from the turrets of the castle a train accompanying a lady, whom he imagined to be the queen. Sir Gawain thought it might be so, and became equally eager to depart. The lady of the castle supplied Sir Launcelot with a horse, and they traversed the plain at full speed. They learned from some travellers whom they met, that there were two roads whieh led to the castle of Sir Maleagans.

« ForrigeFortsett »