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parties withdrew to repose them, and buried the dead.
But the war continued, and it was noised abroad through all Christendom, and at last it was told afore the pope; and he, considering the great goodness of King Arthur, and of Sir Launcelot, called unto him a noble clerk, which was the Bishop of Rochester, who was then in his dominions, and sent him to King Arthur, charging him that he take his queen, dame Guenever, unto him again, and make peace with Sir Launcelot.
So, by means of this bishop, peace was made for the space of one year; and King Arthur received back the queen, and Sir Launcelot departed from the kingdom with all his knights, and went to his own country. So they shipped at Cardiff, and sailed unto Benwick, which some men call Bayonne. And all the people of those lands came to Sir Launcelot, and received him home right joyfully. And Sir Launcelot stablished and garnished all his towns and castles, and he greatly advanced all his noble knights, Sir Lionel and Sir Bohort, and Sir Hector de Marys, Sir Blamor, Sir Lawayne, and many others, and made them lords of lands and castles; till he left himself no more than any one of them.
But when the year was passed, King Arthur and Sir Gawain came with a great host, and landed upon Sir Launcelot's lands, and burnt and wasted all that they might overrun. Then spake Sir Bohort and said, “ My lord, Sir Launcelot, give us leave to meet
them in the field, and we shall make them rue the time that ever they came to this country.” Then said Sir Launcelot, “I am full loath to ride out with my knights for shedding of Christian blood; so we will yet a while keep our walls, and I will send a messenger unto my lord Arthur, to propose a treaty; for better is peace than always war.” So Sir Launcelot sent forth a damsel, and a dwarf with her, requiring King Arthur to leave his warring upon his lands; and so she started on a palfrey, and the dwarf ran by her side. And when she came to the pavilion of King Arthur, she alighted, and there met her a gentle knight, Sir Lucan the butler, and said, “Fair damsel, come ye from Sir Lāuncelot du Lac?” “Yea, sir," she said, “I come hither to speak with the king.” “ Alas!” said Sir Lucan,
my lord Arthur would be reconciled to Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawain will not suffer him." And with this, Sir Lucan led the damsel to the king, where he sat with Sir Gawain, to hear what she would say. So when she had told her tale, the tears ran out of the king's eyes; and all the lords were forward to advise the king to be accorded with Sir Launcelot, save only Sir Gawain; and he said, “My lord, mine uncle, what will ye do? Will you now turn back, now you are so far advanced upon your journey? If ye do, all the world will speak shame of you.” “Nay,” said King Arthur, “I will do as ye advise me; but do thou give the damsel her answer, for I may not speak to her for pity.”
Then said Sir Gawain, “Damsel, say ye to Sir Launcelot, that it is waste labor to sue to mine uncle for peace, and say that I, Sir Gawain, send him word that I promise him, by the faith I owe unto God and to knighthood, I shall never leave him till he have slain me or I him.” So the damsel returned ; and when Sir Launcelot had heard this answer, the tears ran down his cheeks.
Then it befell on a day Sir Gawain came before the gates, armed at all points, and cried with a loud voice, “Where art thou now, thou false traitor, Sir Launcelot ? Why hidest thou thyself within holes and walls like a coward ? Look out now, thou traitor knight, and I will avenge upon thy body the death of my three brethren." All this language heard Sir Launcelot, and the knights which were about him; and they said to him, “Sir Launcelot, , now must ye defend you like a knight, or else be shamed for ever, for you have slept overlong and suffered overmuch.” Then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto King Arthur, and said, “ My lord Arthur, now I have forborne long, and suffered you and Sir Gawain to do what ye would, and now must I needs defend myself, inasmuch as Sir Gawain hath appealed me of treason." Then Sir Launcelot armed him and mounted upon his horse, and the noble knights came out of the city, and the host without stood all apart; and so the covenant was made that no man should come near the two knights, nor deal with them, till one were dead or yielded.
Then Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawain departed a great way asunder, and then they came together with all their horses' might, and each smote the other in the middle of their shields, but neither of them was unhorsed, but their horses fell to the earth. And then they leapt from their horses, and drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, so that the blood burst out in many places. Now Sir Gawain had this gift from a holy man, that every day in the year, from morning to noon, his strength was increased threefold, and then it fell again to its natural measure. Sir Launcelot was aware of this, and therefore, during the three hours that Sir Gawain's strength was at the height, Sir Launcelot covered himself with his shield, and kept his might in
And during that time Sir Gawain gave him many sad brunts, that all the knights that looked on marvelled how Sir Launcelot might endure them. Then, when it was past noon, Sir Gawain had only his own might; and when Sir Launcelot felt him so brought down, he stretched himself up, and doubled his strokes, and gave Sir Gawain such a buffet that he fell down on his side; and Sir Launcelot drew back and would strike no more. “Why withdrawest thou, false traitor?” then said Sir Gawain; “now turn again and slay me, for if thou leave me thus, when I am whole again, I shall do battle with thee again." “ I shall endure you, sir, by God's grace," said Sir Launcelot, “but know thou well, Sir Gawain, I will never smite a felled knight.” And so Sir Launcelot went into the city, and Sir Gawain was borne into King Arthur's pavilion, and his wounds were looked to.