The Celtic Literature Collective

Sir Gawain and the Lady of Lys

HEARKEN to me and ye shall hear how the good King Arthur and his knights went forth to the wood for archery, and how at vesper-tide they gat them homeward right joyfully. The knights rode gaily ahead, holding converse the one with the other, and behind them came the king, on a tall and prancing steed. He ware no robe of state, but a short coat, which became him right well.

Behind all his men he rode, pensive and frowning, as one lost in thought. And as he thus lagged behind Sir Gawain looked back, and saw the king riding alone and pensive, and he bade his comrades draw rein and wait for their lord. And as the king came a'nigh he drew his steed beside him and stretched out his hand, laughing, and laid hold on the bridle, and said, “Sire, tell us, for the love of God, of what ye may now be thinking? Sire, your thoughts should be of naught but good, for there is no prince in this world equal to ye in valour or in honour, therefore should ye be very joyful!”

The king made answer courteously, “Fair nephew, an I may be joyful I will tell ye truly that whereon I thought. There is no king living on earth who hath had such good and such great service from his men as I; it seemeth to me now right and fitting that I should give to them that which they have deserved for the toil they have suffered for me, whereby I be come to such high estate. Fair nephew, I bethought me that my riches would avail little if through sloth I failed to reward the good service of these my knights, who have made me everywhere to be obeyed and honoured. Now without delay will I tell ye that I am minded to hold, at Pentecost, a far greater court than is my wont, and to give to each and all such gifts as shall be well pleasing to them, so that each may be glad and joyful, and ever hereafter of good will towards me.”

Swiftly, and before all the others, Sir Gawain made answer, “Fair Sire, blessed be the thought into which ye have fallen, for ‘tis so fair and so good that neither kaiser nor king nor count might think a better.”

And the king asked, “Nephew, tell me straightway where do ye counsel that this my court be held ?”

“Sire, at Carnarvon; there let all your knighthood assemble, for there is not in all your kingdom a fairer place, nor nobler halls, and it lieth in the marches of Wales, and of the land of Britain.”

The king and all his company rode back joyfully, and that selfsame night did the king Arthur give command that all the knights and all the barons thoughout the land should be summoned by letter to come to him at Pentecost.

That great knighthood came thither, that famous knighthood came thither, even so have I heard, and assembled for this court at Carnarvon.

Ah God! from what far-off lends did they come. Thither were come the men of Ireland, and of Scotland, of Iceland, of Wales, and of Galvoie a land where many a man goeth astray). From Logres they came, and from Escavalon; men of Norway, Bretons, Danes, and they of Orcanie. Never was so great a knighthood there is no prince in this world equal to ye in valour or in honour, therefore should ye be very joyful!”

The king made answer courteously, “Fair nephew, an I may be joyful I will tell ye truly that whereon I thought. There is no king living on earth who hath had such good and such great service from his men as I; it seemeth to me now right and fitting that I should give to them that which they have deserved for the toil they have suffered for me, whereby I be come to such high estate. Fair nephew, I bethought me that my riches would avail little if through sloth I failed to reward the good service of these my knights, who have made me everywhere to be obeyed and honoured. Now without delay will I tell ye that I am minded to hold, at Pentecost, a far greater court than is my wont, and to give to each and all such gifts as shall be well pleasing to them, so that each may be glad and joyful, and ever hereafter of good will towards me.”

Swiftly, and before all the others, Sir Gawain made answer, “Fair Sire, blessed be the thought into which ye have fallen, for ‘tis so fair and so good that neither kaiser nor king nor count might think a better.”

And the king asked, “Nephew, tell me straightway where do ye counsel that this my court be held ?“

“Sire, at Carnarvon; there let all your knighthood assemble, for there is not in all your kingdom a fairer place, nor nobler halls, and it lieth in the marches of Wales, and of the land of Britain.”

The king and all his company rode back joyfully, and that selfsame night did the king Arthur give command that all the knights and all the barons thoughout the land should be summoned by letter to come to him at Pentecost.

That great knighthood came thither, that famous knighthood came thither, even so have I heard, and assembled for this court at Carnarvon.

Ah God! from what far-off lends did they come. Thither were come the men of Ireland, and of Scotland, of Iceland, of Wales, and of Galvoie (a land where many a man goeth astray). From Logres they came, and from Escavalon; men of Norway, Bretons, Danes, and they of Orcanie. Never was so great a knighthood so soon as he lifted up his face Sir Gawain spake right courteously; “Sire, Sire, ‘tis neither right nor fitting that ye should have such wrath or displeasure as should make ye thus moody in the sight of so many high and noble barons as ye may see here around ye; rather should their solace and their company please and rejoice ye.”

“Gawain, will ye that I tell ye whence came the thought which has made me thus sad and silent ?“

“Yea, Sire, that do I pray of ye.”

“Fair nephew, know of a truth that I will tell ye willingly, in the hearing of all these good knights. My thoughts were of ye, and of many another whom I see here, of the wickedness of which ye are full, and of the envy and the treason long time hid, and now made manifest.” With that the king held his peace, and said no more.

Sir Gawain grew crimson with anger and shame, and throughout the palace all held their peace, for much they marvelled that the king spake thus evilly to his nephew, calling him in the hearing of all a traitor proven, and all were wroth therefor. Then he to whom the ill words were said answered as best he might, “Sire, that was an ugly word; for your honour bethink ye of what ye have said in the hearing of all who be here within.”

“Gawain,” answered the king, “‘tis no empty word, thus of a truth do I repeat it, and Ywain may well take heed and know that I thought of him but now, when I sat silent and pensive~ here within have I not one single comrade whom I do not accuse of treason and too great felony!“

With that I know not how many sprang to their feet, and a great clamour filled the hail. “Lords,” cried Tor fis Ares, “I conjure ye by the oath which ye and I alike sware to king Arthur that ye restrain yourselves, and act as is befitting; he accuses ye all of treason—these be right evil tidings!” In like wise also spake Sir Ywain. “Ah God,” quoth Sir Gawain,” with what joy was all this great court summoned and assembled, and in what grief shall it be broken up!”

The king heard, and, sighing, spake “Gawain, I have spoken but the truth!“

“Fair Sire, for the love of God, and for honesty, tell us after what manner and in what fashion we be felon and traitorous?”

Quoth the king, “An ye will I will tell ye; now hearken. Ye know of a truth that aforetime there reigned in this land a folk who built castles and cities, strong towers and fortresses, and the great Chastel Orguellous did they fortify against us. When we heard tell thereof ye, my knights, delayed not to go thither, not with my will! There did I lose so many of my folk that the thought thereof yet grieveth my heart ; the greater part were slain, but some among them were made captive. They took one of my companions, three years long have they held him in prison, and thereof have I great grief at heart. Here within do I see no better knight; he was beyond measure valiant, fair of face and form, and very wise was he in counsel. But now, when all this great lordship was set down here to meat, I beheld that knight’s seat void and lacking its lord, and for sorrow and grief was my heart heavy and troubled when I saw him not in his place in your ranks; it lacked but little that I were distraught. Therefore, my lords, do I arraign ye all of treason; Giflet fis Do is he named that good and gentle knight, three whole years have gone by since he was imprisoned in that tower, and ye be all traitors who have left your comrade three years and have not sought for or freed him ! Yea, and I who have blamed ye, I be even more the traitor in that I ever ware crown, or made joy, or held high feast before I knew if he might be restored to me, or where he now may be, whether dead or living! Now on this have I set my heart, by the faith I owe to that Heavenly Lord who hath bestowed on me earthly honour, and kingdom, and lands, that for no hap that may befall me will I delay to set forth in search of him, be it in never so distant a land. For verily I tell ye all that the king who loseth so good a knight by wrongful deed or by sloth, he hath right neither to lands nor to honour, nor should he live a day longer, an he deliver not that knight who for his honour suffered toil and was made captive. In the ears of ye all do I make a vow that I will lie not more than one night in any place till that I know whether he be dead, or may be freed.”

Then all cried with one voice, “Shame upon him, Sire, who will not plead guilty to this treason, for ye speak with right and reason; by over-much sloth have we delayed to ride forth and seek him far hence, even at the Chastel Orguellous.”

“Lords,” quoth the king, “I tell ye here and at once that I shall set forth tomorrow, but by the faith that I owe to Saint Germain I must needs proceed with wisdom, for here is force of no avail.”

“True, fair Sire,” answered Sir Gawain.

“Know for sooth that the roads ‘twixt here and the Chastel Orguellous be passing hard and difficult; ‘tis a good fifteen days ere ye be come thither; longer days have ye never ridden I ‘Tis best that one tell ye the truth! And when ye be come thither, fair Sire, then shall ye have each day battle, as I know right well, one knight against the other, a hundred against a hundred, that shall ye find truly. Now take good counsel for the journey, what folk ye may best take with ye.”

“Lords,” said the king, “now let us to meat, and afterward will I see by aid of your counsel whom I take with me, and whom I leave to guard my land and my folk.”

With that all in the palace, great and small, ate as quickly as might be; and so soon as the king saw that ‘twas time and place to speak he bade remove the cloths, which they did without delay. Thereafter they brought water, and bare round the wine in cups of fine gold. Then, it seemeth me, there sprang to their feet at once more than three thousand knights, who cried the king mercy, and prayed that he would take them with him on this adventure, for right willingly would they go.

“Lords,” quoth the king, “they whom my barons elect, those will I take, and the others shall remain to keep my kingdom in peace.”

Then first, before all others, spake king Urien, a very wise knight was he. “My Lord king, ye have no need to take with ye too great a force; take with ye rather a few, but good, men, so to my thinking will ye more swiftly free Giflet, our good comrade, from his prison. Take with ye the best of your knights, ‘twill be for your greater honour, and your foes will be the more speedily vanquished; knight against knight must ye fight there, and I think me that such of their men shall there be worsted that they shall that same day yield ye Gifiet the good and valiant knight. Have no doubt for the when or how, but bid them make ready. I can but praise the folk who shall go with ye.”

Then quoth the king, “What say ye, Lords? I await your counsel I”

King Ydier spake. “Sire, none of us should give ye praise, or speak other than the best he knoweth. Shamed be he who should give ye counsel wherein ye may find no honour. I know full well that the more part of your folk would gladly go with ye, but if ye take them, Sire, ‘twill not be for your honour, but believe king Urien for he hath given good counsel so I tell ye of a truth.”

“Certes,” saith Sir Gawain, “he would be false and foolish who should give other rede!” And all said, “Let it be as the king will; let him take those whom he please, and leave the others in the land.”

“Ye have said well,” said the king; “now go ye to your lodging, and prepare to depart, and I will cause to be made ready a pennon of silk for each of those whom I shall lead with me.” As he said, so it was done, and all betook them to their lodging.

The king forthwith sent the pennonc, and bade them without fail be armed and a horse at dawn.

What more shall I tell ye ? At sunrise were all the knights armed, even as the king commanded, all they who had received the pennons came together ahorse before the hail.

Now will I tell ye their names: there were Sir Gawain, king Ydier, Guengasoains, Kay, and Lucans, the butler. The sixth was Tors. Then Saigremors, and Mabonagrain, who was nephew unto king Urien. Eight have I now named unto ye, counting the kinsman of king Urien. The ninth was Lancelot du Lac; the tenth Ider, son of Nut ; the Laid Hardi, the eleventh ; with Doon l’Aiglain have we twelve, all very courteous knights. Galegantins the Gaiois, and the brave Carados Briefbras, who was a right cheery comrade, made fourteen, and the fifteenth was the good Taulas de Rogemont: so many were they, nor more, nor less.

All ready armed were they before the hall the while they awaited the king, ere he came forth armed from his chamber.

Then he mounted his steed, and I tell ye that, to my knowledge, was never king so richly armed afore, nor ever hereafter shall there be such. The queen bare him company even to the entrance of the palace, then she turned her back.

Then the king bade his companions march, and they began to move as swiftly as might be on the highway, but so great a folk convoyed them that hardly might they depart or go forth from the burg. And when the king had ridden three miles he drew rein in the midst of a meadow, and there he bade farewell to his folk, who, sad and sorrowful, gat them back to the burg. And the king and his fifteen comrades rode on their way ; they passed even through the land of Britain, so I think me, and hasted them much to ride quickly.

One day the king, fasting, came forth from a very great forest, on to a heath ot broom; the sun was hot, and burning, and the country over large and waste. The king was so wearied by the heat, in that he rode fasting, that he had much need of rest, could he but find a fitting spot. By chance they found a great tree, where they drew bridle; beneath was a spring, and for heat and for weariness they bared their heads and their hands, and washed their faces and their mouths. I know well that one and all had much need of food, but they had naught with them, and all were sore vexed for the king) who suffered over much from the fast.

Sir Gawain gazed into the plain, far below, ‘neath the forest, and he showed unto the senescbal a house of thatch, well fenced about;” Kay,” quoth he,” methinks under that roof there must be folk!

“‘Tis true,” said Kay;” I will go and see if I may find victual, and ye shall await me here.” With that he departed from them, and went straightway to the house; within he found an old woman, but nothing of what he sought; food was there none.

The crone spake and said, “Sir, so God help me, for twenty miles round about are naught but waste lands, know that well, save only that the king of Meliolant has built there below ‘neath the trees a forest lodge. He cometh thither ofttimes privately with his hounds. There, Sir, will ye be well lodged, an ye find him; from that tree yonder may ye see the house on the hill.”

The seneschal straightway went even as the crone had said, and he saw the dwelling, right well enclosed with orchards, vineyards and meadows. Ponds were there, lands, and fish-tanks, all well fenced about. In the midst was a tower ; ye might ask no better, no derence was lacking to it.

Beholding it the seneschal stayed not, but passed the roadway, and the gate, and the chief drawbridge, and thus came to the foot of the tower. There did he dismount, but he found no living soul of whom he might ask concerning the dwelling and who might be within. Then he entered a hail, very high and long and wide. On a great hearth he saw a goodly fire alight, but he found no man save a dwarf, who was roasting a fat peacock (‘twere hard to find a better!), well larded, on a spit of applewood, which the dwarf knew right well how to turn.

Kay came forward quickly, and the dwarf beheld him with evil countenance. “Dwarf,” quoth the seneschal, “tell me if there be any here within save thyself.” But the wretch would not speak a word.

Kay would have slain him there and then, if he had not thought to be shamed thereby, but he knew right well that twere too great villainy.

“Miserable hunchback,” quoth he, “I see none here in this house save thee and this peacock, which I will now have for my dinner; I will share it as shall seem me good.”

“By the King Who licth not,” quoth the dwarf, “ye shall neither eat thereof yourself nor share it with others ; I counsel you to quit this hostel, or know ye well, and without doubt, that ye shall be right shamefully thrust out!”

This vexed Kay mightily, and he sprang forward to smite him; with his foot he thrust him against the pillar of the hearth so that the stone thereof became bloody. The dwarf bled freely for the heat, and made loud lament, for he feared lest he should be slain.

Then on the left the seneschal heard a door shut-to sharply, and there came forth a knight, tall and strong, and of proud countenance, and very fair and goodly to look upon; he might not be above thirty years old. He ware a vest of new samite, furred with ermine for warmth ; ‘twas not long, but wide, and of ample folds. Thus was he well clad and cunningly shod; and I tell ye truly that he ware a fair girdle of golden links; no treasury bath a richer. All uncovered he came forth, in guise of a man greatly wroth leading two greyhounds by a fair leash of silk which he held in his hand. When he saw that his dwarf bled, he spake, “Ye who be come all armed into this hall, wherefore have ye slain this my servant?

”A curse upon such a servant,” quoth Kay, “from this day on, for in all the world is there not one so evil, so small, or so misshapen!“

Then the knight answered, “By all the saints, but ye say ill, and I challenge ye for it, fair sir.”

Quoth the seneschal, “Many a gopdly knight have I seen, to the full as noble as ye may be, and ye be evil and vexatious, even if I have smitten this servant who roasted here this peacock, to speak thus concerning the matter.”

The knight answered frankly, “Sir, ye speak not courteously, but for God’s sake I would ask ye a mere nothing, even that ye vouchsafe to tell me your name.”

Kay spake in great wrath, “I will tell ye willingly, so help me God I have told it ere this to five hundred knights better than ye be; know of a truth that my name is Kay.”

“Certes, sir, I may well believe that ye speak truly; by your speech alone may one quickly know ye. This lad refused ye the peacock; ‘tis not the custom of my house that meat be refused to any who may ask for it; ye shall have your share of the peacock, and that right swiftly, so God help me!“ With that he seized the spit, and raised it aloft, and with great strength and force smote Sir Kay therewith, so that he well nigh slew him, and know that he smote him on the neck so that he must needs fall, he had no foot so firm that it might keep him upright. And as the peacock burst asunder, the hot blood thereof ran between the links of his hauberk in such wise that Sir Kay bare the mark thereof all the days of his life. Then the knight threw the peacock to his two hounds, and spake, “Sir Kay, rise, that be your share, ye shall have no more; now get out of my sight quickly, I am over wroth when I behold ye!”

With that came quickly two sergeants, fully armed, and led the seneschal forth from the hail. He mounted his steed, and turned him back, passing the bridge and the plain, and came to where the king had dismounted.

Then his comrades asked him, “Seneschal, have ye found nothing of that which ye went to seek?”

“Not I, my lords; ‘tis a right evil land here wherein to seek for food ; it behoveth us to ride far, for here may we find nor hostelry, nor victual—so hath it been told to me.”

Quoth Sir Gawain, laughing, “Certes, be with whom ye spake lives by meat, even as we; without meat might he not dwell in this great and well wooded land.”

“By my faith, no,” answered Kay, “but I tell ye truly, ‘tis so proud a vassal that for naught that we may say will he give us shelter.”

The king said, “Then is he right discourteous, and I counsel that we send Gawain to him. Fair nephew, go, and we will wait ye here.”

Sir Gawain mounted forthwith. What more shall I tell ye save that he came straight to the dwelling, and when the knight saw him he made marvellous joy or him, and asked his name, and he answered that men called him Gawain, and straightway the knight knew him.

Then he told him his errand, saying, “The king is not far distant, and would fain lodge with ye.” This was well pleasing to the knight, and he said, ”Fair Sir, go, bring the king hither.”

Then Sir Gawain rode swiftly back, and brought Arthur with him to the hostel; but ere they might enter all the waters were set free and the fountains ‘gan to play. For joy and in honour of the king the knight had assembled all his folk, and received him with very great honour, and led him into the tower. The hounds were yet there, devouring the flesh of the peacock. The king looked at Taulas, and quoth, “Body of Saint Thomas, these two hounds have fared better than we today!“ The knight heard, and laughed to himself. Kay saw that, but said naught.

From thence they passed into the ball, and when they had disarmed the meat was made ready, the knight bade bring white napkins, and pasties. After dinner he made them wash their heads, and their necks, and their feet, which were sorely bruised. Then he caused them to rest in fair beds, covered with cloth of samite, and they slept even to the morrow without stirring. But when they were awakened the host had prepared for them a right plenteous meal, this he did of his good will.

They sat them down joyfully, and were richly served. I would weary ye if I told all the dishes. The knights made much mirth of the seneschal’s burn, for the dwarf would not keep the tale secret from them, but began to speak thereof. Never would it have been known through Kay, if the dwarf had not brought it to mind, for he was over bent on hiding it, and the host even more than he; all that night his comrades mocked and made sport of him even till they betook them to rest.

Next morn, without delay, the king arose at daybreak, and likewise did all the others, and armed themselves. Then the king thanked his host for the good lodging he had given them.

Why should I make long telling thereof?

The king saith, “Hide not from me how ye be called.”

“Sire, my name is Ydier the fair, and, Sire, this castle is mine own.”

Then Ydier prayed the king that of his kindness he would take him with him, but Arthur said he might not lead with him other save those whom he had brought from his own land; and he took leave of the knight since he might no longer abide in his hostelry, and went forth with his companions.

The tale is here over long, but I will shorten it for ye. Two days did they ride without food, for they might not sooner find place where they might win food or seek lodging. Thus must they needs ride till they came to the Orchard of the Sepulchres, where adventures be found oft and perilous. There they ate with the hermits, of whom there were a hundred and more. Here ‘tis not fitting to tell of the marvels of the cemetery, so diverse they be, and so great that there is no man living on earth who could think, or believe, that the tale be true. Since ‘twas made and established never has the tale been told whence came those graves, nor the custom which the hermits observed; to my mind ‘twould take too long did I tell it ye ere the fitting time and place be come. But this will I tell ye of a truth, when the king had sojourned two days, and beheld the Orchard, on the third, after meat, he departed, and took the road once more.

On the morrow he came to a wondrous fair land; small need to seek a richer in meadows, forests, or orchards planted with rare and diverse trees. In the forest ways the grass grew green and tall, reaching even to the horses’ girths. Towards even-tide they came to a trodden way, where the tall grass was beaten to earth, and trampled down by horses, even for the length of a bowshot. “A hundred and more have passed this way,” quoth the king’s men.

Sir Gawain spake to the king, “Fair Sire, follow me gently with these my comrades on this wide road. I will ride on ahead, and seek out, and ask whether there be near at hand hostel where we may lodge this night, for of lodging have we great need. Yet, Sire, I pray that ye leave not the road for word of any.”

With that he set spurs to his steed, and rode swiftly on his way; nor had he ridden long ere he was free of the forest, and saw before him a hill, and a company of wellnigh a hundred horsemen, who rode in knightly guise ; ‘twas on their track he followed.

Sir Gawain pressed on his steed, but when he had crossed the valley and mounted the hill there was never a man in sight. But he saw before him a castle; none so fair had he beheld afore, which stood on the bank of a broad river ; ‘twould take me over long to tell the fashion thereof, but this and no more will I say, ‘twas the fairest ever seen.

Then Sir Gawain looked toward the river, and beheld two maidens, in very fair vesture of purple, bearing pitchers of fine gold, wherein they had drawn water, and he quoth, “Maidens, God save ye, and give ye good speed!” and they answered, as was fitting, “Fair sir, God bless ye!“

“Maidens, by the faith ye owe me answer me, and hide it not, what bear ye in those pitchers?“

Quoth the one, “No need have we to hide aught; ‘tis but water, wherewith the good knight shall wash his hands.”

“Of a faith,” quoth Sir Gawain, “courteously have ye named him; great honour is there in such a name!”

The second maiden answered, “Sir, she bath spoken truth ; ye will not lightly find a fairer, or a better, knight. See, but now doth he enter within his burg.”

Then Sir Gawain hasted, and spake no more with the maidens, but rode over the bridge, and entered the castle by the gateway. Since the hour of his birth never had he seen one so fair, nor, I think me, so long as he live shall he see a fairer. All the way by which he passed was hung with curtains richly wrought, whereat he marvelled strangely. ‘Twas closed all along with fair buildings of diverse fashions. In long rows adown the Street Sir Gawain beheld rich booths of changers, wherein on many-coloured carpets were set forth vessels of gold and silver (no treasury ever held richer), cups, tankards, and dishes, the fairest ever seen, with money of all lands esteriins, besants, deniers of Africa, and treasure trove. Every kind of money was there, and much the good knight marvelled thereat.

Stuffs there were too, of all colours, the cost whereof was past his telling. All the doors stood open; but one thing troubled Sir Gawain sore there was never a living soul to be seen.

Then he said within himself, “Of a sooth, for love and kindness do they bear their lord, who but now hath entered the burg, company to the little castle yonder.”

Thus he went his way straight to that castle, and came within a goodly hail, both high and wide, and in length equal to a bowshot.

On every dais a linen cloth was spread, and sure never king nor count might eat off fairer or better wrought. All was made ready for meat, and the bread and wine set in readiness on the tables ; but never a living soul was there. In a side chamber he beheld on grails of silver more than a hundred boars’ heads, with pepper beside them, dressed for the serving. Sir Gawain beheld, and crossed himself with lifted hand, but would no longer abide, finding no man with whom he might have speech.

He turned him again through the castle, thinking to find at the bridgehead the maidens of whom I told but now, whom he had left bearing the water in golden pitchers, but nowhere might he find them, and it vexed him sore that he saw them not, since he thought within himself that they would surely have told him the truth concerning their lord, whom he had seen but now enter the burg.

Much he mused thereon, repenting him that he had not longer spoken with them, but now would he make no more abiding, but set him speedily on his way, to meet the king. Nor did he draw bridle till he came unto him.

“Fair nephew,” quoth Arthur, “shall we to-day find hostel where we may take rest, for we have sore need thereof?”

“Fair Sire, be at rest; food shall ye have now,” answered Sir Gawain.

“‘Tis a good word,” quoth Kay; “right gladly will I serve the first course unto the king, and to my comrades after!“

“Kay,” saith Sir Gawain “not for all the world might ye guess the marvels I have found !“ Then he told Unto them the adventure, even as it had fallen out, the while he guided them to the burg. As they rode adown the Street the king marvelled greatly at the riches he beheld, and Kay spake a courteous word, “Castle, he who hence might bear ye Would do ill an he should spare ye!”

Thus came they all into the inner burg, and, still a horse, into the great hail, but they found no man to whom they might speak, or to whose care they might give their steeds. Then they said to each other, “‘Twere ill to let them fast,” and the king spake, “I counsel that after supper we go forth into yonder fair meadow.”

This they held for good rede, and dismounted, making fast their steeds to the stag’s antlers on the wall. Then they washed their faces and their hands in a bowl of silver, and the king sat himself down first, and his knights after.

With no delay Kay set the first course before the king; ‘twas a great boar’s head, and he bare it joyfully, and thereafter swiftly served the rest, saying an any found cause for plaint, there was no lack, he could have at his will. “The food hath cost me naught and I give it freely; nay, of a verity we might, an we were so minded, feed our steeds on boars’ heads; this is no niggard hostelry ! See ye the fair couches in yonder chamber?” And he pointed to an open doorway.

Sir Gawain looked, and saw a shield hanging on the wail, and within the shield yet stood the fragment of a mighty lance, with a silken pennon hanging from it. I tell ye of a truth, so soon as he was ware thereof the blood stirred in his veins; he spake no word, but swiftly as might be he sprang up from meat, casting aside the knife he held, and gat him to his steed, and girthed him tightly, and set his helmet on his head, and sat him down again on a bench near by the dais, his shield beside him.

The king marvelled greatly, and the knights said the one to the other, "Ha, God, what aileth Sir Gawain?" Each would fain know wherefore he had armed himself thus swiftly; they thought of a surety his head had grown light through over much fasting and the great heat of the day.

They were sore dismayed thereat, for they had seen and heard naught that might give occasion for arming, and they might not guess the cause.

The king spake simply, "Fair nephew, say, wherefore have ye ceased to eat? And wherefore thus arm in haste? Ye make us much to marvel; tell me, I pray, doth aught ail ye?"

"Naught, Sire, save that I pray ye to eat quickly, an ye love me!"

"How," quoth Arthur, "without ye, who have fasted even as we? Methinks that were ill done!"

"By God and Saint Thomas, to eat here will profit me naught; ye are wrong, Sire!" Thus answered Sir Gawain, swearing that for naught in the world would he eat in this hostelry, neither might he be joyful or at ease so long as they abode therein. "But I pray ye, Sire, hasten and eat."

Then the king in the hearing of all sware straitly by Him who lieth not, that he would eat naught till that he knew wherefore his nephew had thus donned his helmet.

"Sire," quoth Sir Gawain, "ill and falsely should I have wrought if for the telling of so slight a matter I should make ye fast this day; certes I will tell ye, and lie not. Ye know well how five years agone ye led an army great and strong against the city of Branlant; many a king, many a baron, with twenty thousand men all told, with ye laid siege to the city. Within were many of great valour to aid the lord who held the seignorie of that land. One morn, at break of day, they made a sortie on our host ; the cry and clamour were so great that I took no leisure to arm me, but mounted my steed and rode forth, even as I was, to learn the cause of the tumult, bearing with me but shield and lance. Thus I rode forth from the camp, and came straightway on the men of the city, who were hasting to return with their spoil. I followed them, wherein I did foolishly, since I came near to lose my life thereby, for I was wounded by a spear in the shoulder, as ye know, so that I was like to die, and must needs lie sick four months and more ere that I was whole and sound.

"One morning, as I lay in my tent, I bade them raise the hangings around that I might look on the land, and I beheld one of my squires, mounted on the Gringalet, making his way from the stream where he had watered the steed. I called him, and he came to me, and I bade him without delay saddle the good horse, and he did my bidding. I clad me swiftly the while, and bade them bring me my armour secretly, and when I had armed me I mounted, and rode alone out of the camp. Fair Sire, ye followed me, ere I came beyond the tents, praying me straitly to return, but I entreated ye gently that since I had lain overlong sick ye would grant me to go forth into the fields to disport myself, and to test if I were in very truth healed of my wound, promising to return speedily to camp. By this covenant, Sire, ye granted me to ride forth.

“Thus I went my way till I came to a leafy grove, beset with flowers, and abounding in birds, which sang loud and clear. I stayed my steed to hearken, and for the sweetness of the song my heart grew light, and I felt nor pain nor ill. Then I set spurs to my steed, and galloped adown the glade. I found myself hale and strong, and feared no longer for my wound.

“Thus I hearkened to the sweet song of the birds till that I forgat myself, and passed a second grove, and a third, and a fourth ere that I bethought me of returning. Thus I rode till I came to a clearing fair and wide, where I saw beside a fountain a pavilion, richly fashioned. I rode even to the doorway, and looked within, and there on a couch I beheld so wondrous fair a maiden that I was abashed for her great beauty. Sire, I dismounted, and fastened my steed without the tent and entered and saluted the maiden ; but, Sire, first she greeted Sir Gawain ere that she made answer to me.

“Then I asked her wherefore she did thus, and she answered that she held Sir Gawain in honour above all knights, and therefore she first gave him greeting. And when I heard this I spake saying that I was indeed Sir Gawain, and her most true knight, but scarce would the maiden believe me. I must needs unhelm, and from an inner chamber she brought forth a silken ribbon, whereon a Saracen maiden of the queen’s household had wrought my semblance. And when she had looked thereon, and beheld me disarmed, and knew of a verity that I was he whom she desired, then she threw her arms around me, and kissed me more than a hundred times, saying that she was mine even as long as she might live.

“Then I took that fair gift right joyfully, and we spake together long, and had our will the one of the other. And this I tell ye that ere we parted I sware to her that other love would I never have. Then when I had armed me again, and mounted my steed, I took leave of the maid right lovingly, and turned me again for the camp, joyful of this my fair adventure.

"Thus I rode swiftly through one grove, but had gone scarce a bowshot beyond when a knight came fast behind me, marvellous well armed, and bearing a lance with a fair pennon. He cried loudly upon me, ‘Traitor, ye may go no further; ye must pay dearly for my brother, whom ye slew, and for this my daughter, whom ye have now dishonoured.’ Then I answered him, ‘Sir Knight, ye might speak more courteously, for I have done ye neither shame nor evil; an I had, I were ready to give ye what amends ,might seem good to ye and to my lady; treason have I not done.’

"‘With that I set spurs to my steed, and he likewise, and we came fast the one against the other, and his lance was shivered on my shield, but my blade pierced him through shield and hauberk, so that he fell to the ground sore wounded. Sire, I pray ye eat, for an I tell ye more it may turn to evil." And the king quoth, "Nephew, say on speedily, and delay not."

Then spake Sir Gawain, "Sire, I left the knight lying, and went my way, but ere I had gone far I heard one cry upon me, ‘Traitor, stay; ye must pay for my uncle and this my father, whom ye have wrongfully slain, and for my sister, whom ye have dishonoured! ‘ Then I stayed my steed, and prayed him to speak more courteously, for that I was ready to make amends an I had done wrong, but that I was no traitor.

"Then we set ourselves to joust, and I tell ye, Sire, we came so hard together that we were borne both of us to the earth. Then we betook us to our swords, and dealt many a blow the one to the other; but in the end, in that I was scarce healed of my wound, he dealt me more harm than I might deal him ; in this I lie not, I was well-nigh worn down, and put to the worse. Then I bethought me, Sire, and prayed him to tell me his name since I was fain to know it; and he told me he was Bran de Lis. Ider de Lis, the good and valiant, was his father, and Melians de Lis his uncle, and he said did I get the better of him, then had I slain the three best knights in any land, yet he deemed well, an God would help him, that he might even avenge the twain; for he quoth, ‘I know well that a combat betwixt us may not endure over long, but that one of us must needs be slain.’ And I answered, ‘Sir, let us do otherwise, for an ye put me to the worse but few will believe the tale, for in this land it were not lightly held that any man may vanquish me. Methinks ‘twere better that our combat be fought in the sight of many, who shall bear true witness as to the which of us comes off the better.’ Thus, Sire, we made covenant together by token that in what place soever he should find me, whether armed or unarmed, there we should fight. This we sware, the one to the other. By the love I bear ye, Sire, never since that day have I heard aught of him in any land where I might be. Thus was our combat ended, as I tell ye, and of a truth I saw him no more.

"But even now, Sire, as I sat at meat, from which I arose in wrath and misease (willingly would I have eaten an I might), this is what chanced I saw in yonder chamber the selfsame shield which Bran de Lis bare the day we did combat together; full well I remember it, and there it hangeth on the wall. Fair lord king, an God help me ‘tis no lie ; there in the shield standeth fast my pennon, and a great splinter of my lance ; by that token, Sire, Bran de Lis doth haunt this country, since his shield be here. Therefore am I vexed and wrathful, and therefore I arose from meat, since I feared to be taken at a loss; in sooth, I somewhat fear him, for so good a knight I never saw! Sire, now have I told ye the truth, and wherefore I have donned my helmet, ye need press me no further, since not for the kingdom of Logres would I be found unarmed in such place as he may be. Fair Sire, I pray ye hasten, otherwise, an there be long abiding, I may chance to pay over dear for my meat."

Quoth the king, "Fair nephew, sit ye down again, nor have fear of any foe. lie cometh not." But Sir Gawain answered, "Sire, for naught that ye may say will I eat in this hostel!"

"So be it," quoth the king, "an ye will do naught for my prayer." With that all the others betook them to meat in good fellowship.

After no long time they beheld a little brachet, which ran out from a side chamber and came into the hail. A long leash trailed behind it, and round its neck was a collar of gold, wherein were many precious stones, red, and green as ivy leaves. The brachet was white as snow, and smoother than any ermine. I tell ye of a truth ‘twas not ugly, but very fair and well shapen, and the king gazed long at it. It barked loudly at the knights on the dais, and made small joy of them, I tell ye. Then Kay the seneschal coveted it and spake to the king, "Sire, I will keep this brachet, and take it hence, an ye grant me this gift; ‘twill be a comrade for Huden." And the king said, "Take it, seneschal, and bear it hence."

With that the brachet turned tail, and Kay with no delay sprang up and thought to seize it, but the dog would not await him, but fled on through a chamber wrought in marble, and the leash which was long fell about the feet of Kay, who would fain have caught it but might not come at it. Might he set foot on the leash he could have held it, but he failed to catch it.

Thus the chase went from chamber to chamber till five were passed, and the seneschal came into a fair garden set with olive trees and pines, wherein were more folk than in a city. They were playing at diverse games, and making such joy and festivity as ‘twere overlong to recount, for that day they were keeping the feast of a saint of that land.

Beneath the shade of a laurel in the midst of an orchard a knight was disarming; tall he was and strong, valiant and proud, and to serve him and honour him the best and most renowned of the folk stood and knelt around waiting on his disarming. The brachet which Kay was chasing stayed not till it came to the knight, and took shelter betwixt his legs, barking loudly at the pursuer.

Kay stayed his steps, abashed at the sight and sound of this folk, and thought to return swiftly, and with no delay; but the knight looked on his people and said, "There is a stranger among us, whoever he may be!" Then beholding Kay, who would turn him again whence he came, he spake, "See him there, take him, and bring him hither!"

This they did swiftly, and brought Kay before him, and when the knight beheld him he said joyfully, "Sir Kay, ye are right welcome as my friend and comrade; where is the king, your master?"

"Sir, he is within, on the dais, and with him many a valiant knight; they are even now at meat!"

"And is the king’s nephew, Gawain, there? Fain would I be assured thereof." And Kay answered, "The best knight in the world is in the king’s company; without him would he go nowhither!"

Now when the knight heard this he was like to fly for joy. Half armed as he was he sprang to his feet, and for very gladness stayed not to finish his disarming. A rich mantle had they hung on his shoulders, but the neck was yet unfastened, nor would he tarry to clasp it, for haste and joy. And know that one leg was still shod with iron, which hung downward, half unlaced, nor would he stay to rid himself thereof. Thus he sped in all haste to the hail, and his folk after him, and without slacking speed he ran into the hail, followed by so great a crowd that the king was sore abashed when he heard the tumult.

The knight went forward even to the dais, and saluted the king courteously, and commanded the folk to bring torches, for twas scarce light therein, and they did at his pleasures, and he bade bring other meats, so that Arthur, the valiant and courteous, was well served as befitting a king.

The knight was very joyous, and quoth, "Sire, now hath God done me great honour, for never before might I do ye service; now am I right glad and joyous that ye be lodged here! I have greeted ye in all fair friendship without thought of ill, ye and this goodly company, save one whom as yet I see not!"

With that there entered men bearing torches and tapers, so that the hail, which before was dark and dim, became light and clear. The folk who had come thither that they might look upon the king, of whom they had oft heard tell, made such haste to see him that there was no space to sit down, and all the palace was but a sea of heads.

The lord was sore vexed. He held in his hand a little round staff; short and heavy, and being chafed with anger in that he saw not Sir Gawain, and knew not where he might be, began laying about him to part the crowd, making them by force to mount on the dais, and sills of the windows, and buttresses of the walls, since he might not drive them from the hail.

When Sir Gawain saw that the folk was thus parted asunder, without delaying he mounted him on his steed. Then first the lord of the castle beheld him, and was sore vexed that he had not come upon him disarmed, Scowling for very anger, he threw his staff aside, and when he had somewhat bethought him he lifted his head, and gat him to Sir Gawain, and laid hold of his bridle, saying, "Fair sir, hearken, are ye ready to keep the covenant ye made with me? It vexeth me that ye are so far quit that I have failed to find ye disarmed, as I fain had done; I had better have been slain the day I made this compact, for then, verily, ye too had died, had I not granted the respite, but now I deem our battle shall last the longer!"

Sir Gawain straightway granted him his battle, and the knight bade bring more torches, for the stars already shone forth. and when he had done this he came before the king and said, "Eat joyfully, and be not dismayed ; behold me, that I am strong and bold, hale and swift. Your nephew on his part is even as I am; I know not if he hath told ye how the matter be come to this point that the one of us must needs die ere we be parted. ‘Twere hard to think this morn that the one of us was so nigh unto his end!"

Then the king’s eyes filled with tears, and the knight, beholding, spake in his pride "Certes, Sire, I prize ye less than afore; ye are but half-hearted who are thus compassionate for naught; by all the Saints in the calendar, ye be like unto him who crieth out afore he be hurt! Never before did I set eyes on a king who wept, and knew not wherefore! By my faith, this cometh of a cowardly heart!"

He turned him again without further word, and armed him swiftly, and did on his harness, and when he was armed he mounted his steed, and bade bring a lance, stout and strong, with shining blade. Then he hung his shield on his neck by a broidered band, and settled him well in his caddie, and called unto Sir Gawain, and quoth, "Here in this house is the lordship mine by right of heritage, yet would I do no outrage nor take vantage thereof; the rather do I bid and conjure ye to take that part of the hall which seemeth best; now look well where ye will make your stand."

Sir Gawain hearkened, but stirred not, save that he drew somewhat back, and lowered his lance, and his foe, on his part, did likewise. I testify of a truth, and tell ye, that they rode over hard a joust, for as they came together at their horses’ full speed the one smote the other so fiercely on the shield that both alike were split asunder, so that the sharp blade passed right through, yet they harmed not the hauberks which clung close and tight. Thus as they sped on the lances bent and brake, yet the steeds stayed not, and the knights who bestrode them were naught dismayed, but when they would have passed each other in their course they came together with such weight of body and shield, and full front of the horses, that they smote each other to the ground, and all four fell on a heap, the good steeds undermost. But the knights lightly sprang to their feet, and threw aside their lances, and drew their good swords, and dealt each the other so mighty a blow on the shining helm that it was well indented. The king and they who looked on were sore anguished and afraid, but the twain, ‘twixt whom there was such enmity, ran again on each other in such fashion that, I tell ye and lie not, never was so fierce a mêlée of two knights beheld. They made sparks to spring from the helmet and smote the circlets asunder as those who make no feint to fight. When the good swords smote the shields they made the splinters to fly apace so eager was each to put the other to the worse that they ceased not nor slackened this the first assault till that both were covered with blood. Then the heat which vexed them mightily made them perforce draw asunder, to recover breath. Too heavy and too sore had been their combat for those who loved them to behold; never day of his life had King Arthur so feared for his nephew.

Now at the head of the master dais was a door, opening into an inner chamber, and, as the tale telleth, in a little space there came forth a damosel, so fair of face and form that Christendom might not show her peer. She was clad in fair and fitting fashion, in a vesture richly broidered in gold, and had seen, perchance, some twenty summers. She was so fair, so tall and gracious, that no woman born might equal her, and all marvelled at her beauty.

She leant awhile on the head of the dais, beholding the two knights, who strove hard to slay each the other. They had returned to the onslaught in such pride and wrath that verily I tell ye they might not long endure. Such blows they dealt on helm and shield with their naked blades that they made the splinters fly, and the crimson blood welled from their wounds and streamed through the mail of their hauberk down on to the pavement. Nor was the fight equal, for Sir Gawain had broken the laces of his helm, so that ‘twas no longer on his head, but lay on the ground at his feet. Yet he covered himself full well with his shield, as one who was no child in sword play. But his toeman pressed him sore, and oft he smote him with hard and angry blows; Sir Gawain defended himself right valiantly, but it went too ill with him in that he had lost his helm, therefore as much as might be he held himself on the defensive. But once, as he made attack, Bran de Lis smote him so fierce and heavy a blow at his head that, but that it fell first on the shield,it had then and there ended the matter, and all said that without fail he had been a dead man. Bran de Lis spake wrathfully, "Take this blow for mine uncle; ye shall have one anon for my father; if I may, it shall be the last."

Sir Gawain struck back, but he was sore hindered by the blood which ran down into his eyes (‘twas that which vexed him the most) ; he would fain have drawn him back, but Bran de Lis left him no space, so wrathfully did he run upon him, and Sir Gawain withstood him sturdily, yet so hardly was he pressed that whether he would or no he must needs yield ground.

Then the damosel of whom I spake but now turned her, and ran swiftly into the inner chamber, and in a short space came forth with a little child, whom she set upon the dais. He wore a little coat of red samite, furred with ermine, cut to his measure; and of his age no fairer child might be seen. His face was oval and fair, his eyes bright and laughing ; he was marvellous tall and strong for his age, which might not be more than four years; and by the richness of his clothing ‘twas clear that there were those who held him dear.

The knights who fought below still dealt each other such mighty blows that all who beheld them had dole and wrath. I can tell ye each was weak and weary enow, but verily Sir Gawain had yielded ground somewhat, and would fain have wiped away the blood which ran adown his face and into, his eyes, but he might in no wise do so, since Bran de Lis held him so close, doing what he might to slay or wound him.

Then without delay the damosel took her child, there where he stood before her, and said very softly, "Fair little son, go quickly to yonder tall knight, ‘tis thine uncle, doubt it not, fall at his feet, little son, and kiss them, and pray for God’s sake the life of thy father that he slay him not.'"

Straightway she set him on the ground, and the child ran, and clasped his uncle by the right leg, and kissed his foot, and said, "My mother prays ye for the love of God, that ye slay not my father, fair sweet Uncle; she will die of grief an ye do!"

Great pity fell upon the king when he heard the child speak thus, and all who hearkened and beheld were filled with wrath and anguish. All had compassion on the child, save Bran de Lis alone, for he quoth in wrath and anger, "Get thee hence, son of a light woman!" and he withdrew his foot so swiftly from the child’s clasp that, whether he would or no, he fell, and smote face and forehead hard on the stone of the pavement, so that he grazed mouth and face, and lay senseless and bleeding on the floor.

Then King Arthur sprang from the dais, and caught the child to him, and kissed it twenty times on face and eyes and mouth, and wept for very anger; nor for the blood on the child’s face would he cease to caress it, so great love had he towards it, for he thought of a truth that he held again Gawain, whom he now counted for lost. He quoth, "Sir Bran de Lis, this little child is very fair; never in your life did ye do such villainy as to go near to slay so sweet a child, nor ought ye to have denied the request he made, for he asked naught Outrageous. Nor will I have him slain, for he is my joy and my solace; henceforward know well that for naught will I leave him in your care!"

Quoth Bran de Lis, "Sire, ye are less courteous than I had heard tell, and ye make overmuch dole and plaint for the life of a single knight; ye should not so be dismayed, this is naught but feebleness of heart."

As Bran de Lis thus spake to the king Sir Gawairi wiped off the blood which ran down his face, and bound up his wounds, the while he had respite ; the king, who was wise enow, held his foeman the longer in speech that his nephew might be the more refreshed, for the strength and valour of that good knight doubled as midnight passed. For this was the custom of Sir Gawain: when as ever midnight had struck his strength was redoubled and he waxed in force even until noon.

Now so soon as his strength came again, and he saw the king, and his love, and the great folk who beheld them, then a mighty shame overtook him, and he ran in wrath on his foe, and assailed him straitly, but the other yielded not, crying, "Honour to ye that ye thus seek me!"

Then might ye see them smite blows great and fierce, with the swords they wielded, so that they were well nigh beaten down. Sir Bran de Lis smote a mighty blow, thinking to catch Sir Gawain on the head, but that good knight, who knew right well how to cover himself, held his shield in such wise that the stroke fell upon it, and split it adown the midst; so hard had he smitten that the blade entered even to the hilt, and his body following the blow he bent him forwards, and ere he might recover him Sir Gawain smote him full on the helm, so that the laces brake, and it flew off adown the hall, leaving the head bare. And ere Sir Bran de Lis was well aware he followed up the blow with one above the ventaille so that he bled right freely. Now were they again on a par, so that one might scarce tell the which of them had the better. In great pride and wrath they ran each on the other, so that in short space of time they had lost overmuch blood. Mightily each strove to put his foe to the worse, and all who looked upon them waxed strangely pitiful, and would fain have parted them asunder had they dared.

Now might ye have seen that gentle knight, who full oft had made offering of good deeds and alms, right well acquit himself for so sorely he vexed his foeman that he hacked his shield all to pieces, and he might no longer hold his ground, but whether he would or no he must yield place, and wavered backward adown the hail. Then he smote him again, so that he tottered upon his feet, and Sir Gawain hasted, and threw himself upon him with such weight of body and of shield that he well nigh bare him to earth, so he drave him staggering adown the hail till he fell against a days.

When the damosel saw this she tare her child from the king’s arms, and ran swiftly, and threw herself right valiantly betwixt the two, so that she came nigh to be cut in pieces, and cried," Son, pray thy father that he have pity on thy mother, and stay his hand ere he slay my brother, whom I love more than mine own life!" But the child spake no word, but looked up at the glancing sword blades, and laughed blithely. And all were moved to pity and wrath who saw him anon bleeding and now laughing for very joy.

Then Sir Gawain, of right good will, drew himself aback, but he whom he had thus hard pressed drave forward at him, like one reft of his senses, and came nigh to doing him a mischief in that Sir Gawain was off his guard. Then she who held the child sprang swiftly betwixt them, and cried, "Now by God I will see the which of ye twain will slay him, for he shall be cloven asunder ere that I take him hence."

The swords clashed together aloft, but wrought no ill, for neither might come at the other for fear of the child whom they were loth to harm, and for fear of her who held him. And the child laughed gaily at the glancing swords, and stretched up his hands to his own shadow, which he saw on the shining blade, and showed it with his finger to his father when he saw it come anear, and had fain sprung up and caught the blades, sharp though they might be. And many a man wept, and there arose within the hail a great cry, as of one voice, "Good lord king, stay the fight; we will all aid thee thereto, for no man should longer suffer this!"

Then Arthur sprang up swiftly, and seized his sword and shield, and came unto the twain, and parted them asunder, whether they would or no, and said to the knight ye have heard me praise, "Sir, take the amends offered, and I tell ye truly I will add thereto, for I myself will do ye honour, and become your man, for the sake of peace." And all cried with one voice, "Sir, by God and by the True Cross, ye shall not reftise this, for the king has spoken as right valiant man." Then the knight held his hand, hearing that which pleased him.

Thus was peace made, and the battle parted asunder, and Sir Bran de Lis did right sagely, for he spake, "Sire, it were nor right nor reason that ye should become my man, hence will I do ye true homage, but for hostage will I ask the knights of the Round Table, who are the most valiant in the world ; also shall your nephew do other amends, even as he promised me, in abbey and nuns, for the repose of my father’s soul, and ye shall free one hundred serfs with your own hand." And the king answered, "Know of a truth that all shall be done at my charges."

Then Bran dc Lis did homage to the king, and kissed him in all good faith, and then came forward Sir Gawain, and he humbled himself before him, kneeling at his feet, and praying that he would pardon his ill will; and Sir Gawain took him by the hand, and raised him up, and quoth, "I pardon thee all, and henceforth will I be your friend in all good faith and courage, nor will I fail ye for any harm ye may aforetime have done me."

Both were sore faint and feeble, and void of strength by reason of the blood they had lost, so that scarce might they stand on their feet without falling to the ground. They bare them to an inner chamber; never knight nor maiden entered within a fairer, for I tell of a truth there was no good herb in Christendom with which it was not strewn. ‘Twas richly garnished, and four great tapers, cunningly placed, gave fitting light. Then leeches searched their wounds and said there was no need for dismay, for neither was wounded to the death, and within fifteen days both might well be healed, and all were joyful at the tidings.

The king and his barons abode the fifteen days at the castle.of Lys, nor departed therefrom ; in all the world was neither fish nor fowl, fruit nor venison, of which the king might not each day eat in plenty if he so willed. But he was loth to part from Sir Bran de Lis, by reason of the good tales which he told concerning the folk of the Castle Orguellous, whereat the king rejoiced greatly.

"Sire," quoth Bran de Lis, "I myself will go with ye, and we will take with us squires and footmen. My pavilion is large and fair, and by faith, we will carry that too along with us; and also a pack of hounds, the best we may find, for there be thick forests all around, where we may hunt at our will, and go a-shooting too, an it please us, for we shall find great plenty of deer and other game."

Sir Gawain took little heed of all he said, so wholly was he taken up with his lady, and she forgat him not, but was ever at his service, at any hour that might please him; ‘twas all gladness, and no ill thought. Nor did Sir Gawain mislike his fair son, whom he caressed right often. Fain would he have tarried long time with them. Nor marvel at that, my masters, for he was there at ease, and he who hath whatsoever he may desire doeth ill methinks to make over haste to change, nor will he make plaint, since he suffereth nor pain nor ill.

But when the fifteen days came to an end, then did the king bid make ready, for he had no mind to tarry longer; well I know ‘twas a Tuesday morn that they set them on their way, and with them went that good knight, Sir Bran de Lis.

On to Part Two---


Sir Gawain at the Grail Castle. ed. and trans. Jessie L. Weston. London: D. Nutt, 1903.
On to the Story---
Back to Continental Texts
Back to CLC