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Sir Launcelot doeth battle with Sir Turquine.
How Sir Launcelot Sought Sir Lionel and How a Young Damsel Brought Him to the Greatest Battle that Ever He Had in All His Life.
So Sir Launcelot rode through the forest, and whilst he rode the day began to break. About sunrise he came out into an open clearing where certain charcoal-burners were plying their trade:
To these rude fellows he appeared out of the dark forest like some bright and shining vision; and they made him welcome and offered
|Sir Launcelot breaks his fast in the forest.|
He made forward until about the middle of the morning, what time he came suddenly upon that place where, two days before, he had fallen asleep beneath the blooming apple-tree. Here he drew rein and
|Sir Launcelot cometh again to the place of the apple-tree.|
Now whilst Sir Launcelot was still there, not knowing what to do to find Sir Lionel, there passed that way a damsel riding upon a white palfrey. Unto her Sir Launcelot made salutation, and she made salutation to him and asked him what cheer. "Maiden," said Sir Launcelot,
|Sir Launcelot perceives a damsel upon a palfrey.|
Upon this the damsel fell a-laughing: "Yea, Sir Knight," said she, "I know of an adventure not far away, but it is an adventure that no knight yet that ever I heard tell of hath accomplished. I can take thee to that adventure if thou hast a desire to pursue it."
"Why should I not pursue it," said Sir Launcelot, "seeing that I am here for that very cause--to pursue adventure?"
"Well," said the damsel, "then come with me, Sir Knight, I will take thee to an adventure that shall satisfy thee."
So Sir Launcelot and that damsel rode away from that place together; he upon his great war-horse and she upon her ambling palfrey beside him. And the sun shone down upon them, very pleasant and warm, and all who
|The damsel leads Sir Launcelot to an adventure.|
"Fair maiden," said Sir Launcelot, "as for telling you my name, that I will gladly do. I am called Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and I am a knight of King Arthur's court and of his Round Table."
At this the damsel was very greatly astonished and filled with admiration.
|Sir Launcelot and the maiden discourse together.|
"Fair damsel," quoth Sir Launcelot, "I too have hope that I shall hold mine own with him, when I meet him, and to that I shall do my best endeavor. Yet this and all other matters are entirely in the hands of God."
Then the damsel said, "If you should overcome this Sir Turquine, I know
of still another adventure which, if you do not undertake it, I know of no one else who may undertake to bring it to a successful issue."
Quoth Sir Launcelot, "I am glad to hear of that or of any other adventure, for I take great joy in such adventuring. Now, tell me, what is this other adventure?"
"Sir," said the damsel, "a long distance to the west of this there is a knight who hath a castle in the woods and he is the evilest disposed knight that ever I heard tell of. For he lurks continually in the outskirts of the woods, whence he rushes forth at times upon those who pass
|The maiden tells Sir Launcelot of the savage forest knight.|
"Well," said Sir Launcelot, "I believe it would be a good thing for any knight to do to rid the world of such an evil-disposed knight as that, so if I have the good fortune to overcome this Sir Turquine, I give my knightly word that I will undertake this adventure for thy sake, if so be thou wilt go with me for to show me the way to his castle."
"That I will do with all gladness," said the damsel, "for it is great pride for any lady to ride with you upon such an adventure."
Thus they talked, and all was arranged betwixt them. And thus they rode very pleasantly through that valley for the distance of two leagues or a little more, until they came to that place where the road crossed the smooth stream of water afore told of; and there was the castle of Sir Turquine as afore told of; and there was the thorn-bush and the basin hanging upon the thorn-bush as afore told of. Then the maiden said: "Sir Launcelot, beat upon that basin and so thou shalt summon Sir Turquine to battle with thee."
So Sir Launcelot rode to that basin where it hung and he smote upon
|Sir Launcelot smites upon the basin.|
Then, after a while, he was ware of one who came riding toward him, and he beheld that he who came riding was a knight very huge of frame, and long and strong of limb. And he beheld that the knight was clad entirely in black, and that the horse upon which he rode and all the furniture of the horse was black. And he beheld that this knight drave before him another horse, and that across the saddle of that other horse there lay an armed knight, bound hand and foot; and Sir Launcelot wist that the sable knight who came riding was that Sir Turquine whom he sought.
So Sir Turquine came very rapidly along the highway toward where Sir Launcelot sat, driving that other horse and the captive knight before him
|The sable knight bringeth Sir Gaheris captive.|
At this Sir Launcelot was very wroth; for he could not abide seeing a fellow-knight of the Round Table treated with such disregard as that which Sir Gaheris suffered at the hands of Sir Turquine; wherefore Sir Launcelot rode to meet Sir Turquine, and he cried out: "Sir Knight! put that wounded man down from his horse, and let him rest for a while, and we two will prove our strength, the one against the other! For it is a shame for thee to treat a noble knight of the Round Table with such despite as thou art treating that knight."
"Sir," said Sir Turquine, "as I treat that knight, so treat I all knights of the Round Table-and so will I treat thee if thou be of the Round Table."
"Well," said Sir Launcelot, "as for that, I am indeed of the Round Table, and I have come hither for no other reason than for to do battle with thee."
"Sir Knight," said Sir Turquine, "thou speakest very boldly; now I pray thee to tell me what knight thou art and what is thy name."
"Messire," said Sir Launcelot, "I have no fear to do that. I am called Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and I am a knight of King Arthur's, who made me knight with his own hand."
"Ha!" said Sir Turquine, "that is very good news to me, for of all knights in the world thou art the one I most desire to meet, for I have looked for thee for a long while with intent to do battle with thee. For it was thou who didst slay my brother Sir Caradus at Dolorous Gard, who was held to be the best knight in all the world. Wherefore, because of this, I have the greatest despite against thee of any man in the world, and it was because of that despite that I waged particular battle against all the knights of King Arthur's court. And in despite of thee I now hold five score and eight knights, who are thy fellows, in the dismallest dungeon of my castle. Also I have to tell thee that among those knights is thine own brother, Sir Ector, and thy kinsman, Sir Lionel. For I overthrew Sir Ector and Sir Lionel only a day or two ago, and now they lie almost naked in the lower parts of that castle yonder. I will put down this knight as thou biddst me, and when I have done battle with thee I hope to tie thee on his saddle-horn in his place."
So Sir Turquine loosed the cords that bound Sir Gaheris and set him from off the horse's back, and Sir Gaheris, who was sorely wounded and very weak, sat him down upon a slab of stone near-by.
Then Sir Launcelot and Sir Turquine made themselves ready at all points, and each took such stand as seemed to him to be best; and
|Sir Launcelot and Sir Turquine do battle together.|
So fierce was that onset that each horse fell back upon the ground and only by great skill and address did the knight who rode him void his saddle, so as to save himself from a fall. And in that meeting the horse of Sir Turquine was killed outright and the back of Sir Launcelot's horse was broken and he could not rise, but lay like dead upon the ground.
Then each knight drew his sword and set his shield before him and they came together with such wrath that it appeared as though their fierce eyes shot sparks of fire through the occulariums of their helmets. So they met and struck; and they struck many scores of times, and their blows were so violent that neither shield nor armor could withstand the strokes they gave. For their shields were cleft and many pieces of armor were hewn from their limbs, so that the ground was littered with them. And each knight gave the other so many grim wounds that the ground presently was all sprinkled with red where they stood.
Now that time the day had waxed very hot, for it was come high noontide, so presently Sir Turquine cried out: "Stay thee, Sir Launcelot, for I have a boon to ask!" At this Sir Launcelot stayed his hand and said: "What is it thou hast to ask, Sir Knight?" Sir Turquine said: "Messire, I am athirst--let me drink." And Sir Launcelot said: "Go and drink."
So Sir Turquine went to that river and entered into that water, which was presently stained with red all about him. And he stooped where he stood and drank his fill, and presently came forth again altogether refreshed.
Therewith he took up his sword once more and rushed at Sir Launcelot and smote with double strength, so that Sir Launcelot bent before him and had much ado to defend himself from these blows.
Then by and by Sir Launcelot waxed faint upon his part and was athirst, and he cried out: "I crave of thee a boon, Sir Knight!" "What wouldst thou have?" said Sir Turquine. "Sir Knight," said Sir Launcelot, "bide while I drink, for I am athirst." "Nay," said Sir Turquine, "thou shalt not drink until thou quenchest thy thirst in Paradise." "Ha!" cried Sir Launcelot, "thou art a foul churl and no true knight. For when thou wert
athirst, I let thee drink; and now that I am athirst, thou deniest me to quench my thirst."
Therewith he was filled with such anger that he was like one gone wode; wherefore he flung aside his shield and took his sword in both hands and rushed upon Sir Turquine and smote him again and again; and the blows he gave were so fierce that Sir Turquine waxed somewhat bewildered and bore aback, and held his shield low for faintness.
Then when Sir Launcelot beheld that Sir Turquine was faint in that wise, he rushed upon him and catched him by the beaver of his helmet and pulled
|Sir Launcelot overcometh Sir Turquine.|
Then for a while Sir Launcelot stood there panting for to catch his breath after that sore battle, for he was nearly stifled with the heat and fury thereof. Then he went down into the water, and he staggered like a drunken man as he went, and the water ran all red at his coming. And Sir Launcelot stooped and slaked his thirst, which was very furious and hot.
Thereafter he came up out of the water again, all dripping, and he went to where the damsel was and he said to her: "Damsel, lo, I have overcome Sir Turquine; now I am ready to go with thee upon that other adventure, as I promised thee I would."
At this the damsel was astonished beyond measure, wherefore she cried: "Sir, thou art sorely hurt, and in need of rest for two or three days, and maybe a long time more, until thy wounds are healed."
"Nay," said Sir Launcelot, "no need to wait; I will go with thee now."
Then Sir Launcelot went to Sir Gaheris--for Sir Gaheris had been sitting for all that while upon that slab of stone. Sir Launcelot said to Sir Gaheris: "Fair Lord, be not angry if I take your horse, for I must presently go with this damsel, and you see mine own horse hath broke his back."
"Sir Knight," said Sir Gaheris, "this day you have saved both me and my horse, wherefore it is altogether fitting that my horse or anything that is mine should be yours to do with as you please. So I pray you take my horse, only tell me your name and what knight you are; for I swear by my sword that I never saw any knight in all the world do battle so wonderfully as you have done to-day."
"Sir," said Sir Launcelot, "I am called Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and I
am a knight of King Arthur's. So it is altogether fitting that I should do such service unto you as this, seeing that you are the
|Sir Launcelot makes himself known to Sir Gaheris.|
Now when Sir Gaheris heard who Sir Launcelot was, he made great exclamation of amazement--"Ha, Sir Launcelot!" he cried, "and is it thou! Often have I heard of thee and of thy prowess at arms! I have desired to meet thee more than any knight in the world; but never did I think to meet thee in such a case as this." Therewith Sir Gaheris arose, and went to Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot came to him and they met and embraced and kissed one another upon the face; and from that time forth they were as brethren together.
Then Sir Launcelot said to Sir Gaheris: "I pray you, Lord, for to go up unto yonder castle, and bring succor to those unfortunates who lie therein. For I think you will find there many fellow-knights of the Round Table. And I believe that you will find therein my brother, Sir Ector, and my cousin, Sir Lionel. And if you find any other of my kindred I pray you to set them free and to do what you can for to comfort them
|Sir Launcelot bids Sir Gaheris to free the castle captives.|
Then Sir Gaheris was very much astonished, and he cried out upon Sir Launcelot: "Sir! Sir! Surely you will not go forth upon another adventure at this time, seeing that you are so sorely wounded."
But Sir Launcelot said: "Yea, I shall go now; for I do not think that my wounds are so deep that I shall not be able to do my devoirs when my time cometh to do them."
At this Sir Gaheris was amazed beyond measure, for Sir Launcelot was very sorely wounded, and his armor was much broken in that battle, wherefore Sir Gaheris had never beheld a person who was so steadfast of purpose as to do battle in such a case.
So Sir Launcelot mounted Sir Gaheris' horse and rode away
|Sir Launcelot departs with the damsel.|
In that castle he found five score and eight prisoners in dreadful case,
for some who were there had been there for a long time, so that the hair of them had grown down upon their shoulders, and their beards had grown down upon their breasts. And some had been there but a short time, as
|Sir Gaheris frees the castle captives.|
"Not so," said Sir Gaheris, "it was not I who set you free; it was Sir Launcelot of the Lake. He overcame Sir Turquine in such a battle as I never before beheld. For I saw that battle with mine own eyes, being at a little distance seated upon a stone slab and wounded as you see. And I make my oath that I never beheld so fierce and manful a combat in all of my life. But now your troubles are over and done, and Sir Launcelot greets you all with words of good cheer and bids me tell you to take all ease and comfort that you can in being free, and in especial he bids me greet you, Sir Ector, and you, Sir Lionel, and to tell you that you are to follow him no farther, but to return to court and bide there until he cometh; for he goeth upon an adventure which he must undertake by himself."
"Not so," said Sir Lionel, "I will follow after him, and find him." And
|Sir Lionel and Sir Ector and Sir Kay follow alter Sir Launcelot.|
As for those others, they ransacked throughout the castle of Sir Turquine, and they found twelve treasure-chests full of treasure, both of silver and of gold, together with many precious jewels; and they found many bales of cloth of silk and of cloth of gold. So, as Sir Launcelot had bid them do so, they divided the treasure among themselves, setting aside a part for Sir Ector and a part for Sir Lionel and a part for Sir Kay. Then, whereas before they had been mournful, now they were joyful at having been made so rich with those precious things.
Thus happily ended that great battle with Sir Turquine which was very likely the fiercest and most dolorous fight that ever Sir Launcelot had in all of his life. For, unless it was Sir Tristram, he never found any other knight so big as Sir Turquine except Sir Galahad, who was his own son.
And now it shall be told how Sir Launcelot fared upon that adventure which he had promised the young damsel to undertake.