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The Lady Yvette the Fair.
How Percival departed into the world and how he found a fair damsel in a pavilion; likewise how he came before Queen Guinevere and how he undertook his first adventure.
NOW after Percival had ridden upon his way for a very long time, he came at last out of that part of the forest and unto a certain valley where were many osiers growing along beside a stream of water. So he gathered branches of the willow-trees and peeled them and wove them very cunningly into the likeness of armor
|Percival maketh himself armor of willow twigs.|
By and by he came out of the forest altogether and unto a considerable village where were many houses thatched with straw. And Percival said to himself: "Ha! how great is the world; I knew not that there were so many people in the world."
But when the folk of that place beheld what sort of a saddle was upon the back of the pack-horse; and when they beheld what sort of armor it was that Percival wore--all woven of osier twigs; and when
|How Percival rode in the world.|
So he rode upon his way very happy, and whenever he met travellers, they would laugh at him; but he would laugh louder than they and give them greeting because of pure pleasure that the great world was so merry and kind.
Now in the declining of the afternoon, he came to a certain pleasant glade, and there he beheld a very noble and stately pavilion in among the trees. And that pavilion was all of yellow satin so that it shone like to gold in the light of the declining sun.
Then Percival said to himself: "Verily, this must be one of those churches concerning which my mother spake to me." So he descended from his horse and went to that pavilion and knelt down and said a pater-noster.
And when he had ended that prayer, he arose and went into the pavilion, and lo! he beheld there a wonderfully beautiful young damsel of sixteen
|Percival enters the golden pavilion.|
Now you are to know that the young lady who sat there was the Lady Yvette the Fair, the daughter of King Pecheur.
When Percival came to that pavilion the Lady Yvette looked up and beheld him with great astonishment, and she said to herself: "That must either be a madman or a foolish jester who comes hither clad all in armor of wattled willow twigs." So she said to him, "Sirrah, what dost thou here?" He said, "Lady, is this a church?" Upon that she was angered thinking that he had intended to make a jest and she said: "Begone, fool, for if my father, who is King Pecheur, cometh and findeth thee here, he will punish thee for this jest." But Percival replied, "Nay; I think he will not, lady."
Then the damosel looked at Percival more narrowly and she beheld how noble and beautiful was his countenance and she said to herself: "This is no fool nor a jester, but who he is or what he is I know not."
So she said to Percival, "Whence comest thou?" and he said, "From
|Percival breaks bread in the golden pavilion.|
Then when that damosel beheld what he did she laughed in great measure
and clapped her hands together in sport. And she said: "If my father and brothers should return and find thee at this, they would assuredly punish thee very sorely, and thou couldst not make thyself right with them." Percival said, "Why would they do that, lady?" And she said: "Because that is their food and drink, and because my father is a king and my brethren are his sons." Then Percival said, "Certes, they would be uncourteous to begrudge food to a hungry man"; and thereat the damsel laughed again.
Now when Percival had eaten and drunk his fill, he arose from where he sat. And he beheld that the damsel wore a very beautiful ring of carved gold set with a pearl of great price. So he said to her: "Lady, my mother told me that if I beheld a jewel or treasure and desired it for my own, I was to take it if I could do so without offence to anyone. Now I prithee give me that ring upon thy finger, for I desire it a very great deal." At this the maiden regarded Percival very strangely, and she beheld that he was comely beyond any man whom she had ever seen and that his countenance was very noble and exalted and yet exceedingly mild and gentle. So she said to him, speaking very gently, "Why should I give thee my ring?" Whereunto he made reply: "Because thou art the most beautiful lady whom mine eyes ever beheld and I find that I love thee more than I had thought possible to love anyone."
At that the damosel. smiled upon him and said, "What is thy name?
And he said, "It is Percival." She said, "That is a good name; who is thy father?" Whereunto he said: "That I cannot tell thee for my mother hath bidden me tell his name to no one yet whiles." She said, "I think he must be some very noble and worthy knight," and Percival said, "He is all that, for he too was a king."
Then the damsel said, "Thou mayst have my ring," and she gave it to him. And when Percival had placed it upon his finger he said: "My mother also told me that I should give freely of what is mine own,
|The damsel gives Percival her ring.|
At that the damsel said: "I know not what thou art or whence thou comest who should present thyself in such an extraordinary guise as thou art pleased to do, but, certes, thou must be of some very noble strain. Wherefore I do accept thee for my knight, and I believe that I shall some time have great glory through thee."
Then Percival said: "Lady, my mother said to me that if I met a damosel I was to salute her with all civility. Now have I thy leave to salute thee?"
|Percival salutes the damsel of the golden pavilion.|
Yet he knew not what the world was really like nor of what a sort it was nor how passing wide, else had he not been so certainly assured that he would win him credit therein, or that he could so easily find that young damsel again after he had thus parted from her.
That night Percival came to a part of the forest where were many huts of folk who made their living by gathering fagots. These people gave him harborage and shelter for the night, for they thought that he was some harmless madman who had wandered afar. And they told him many things he had never known before that time, so that it appeared to him that the world was still more wonderful than he had thought it to be at first.
So he abided there for the night, and when the next morning had come he arose and bathed himself and went his way; and, as he rode upon his poor starved horse, he brake his fast with the bread and cheese that his mother had put into his wallet, and he was very glad at heart and rejoiced exceedingly in the wonderfulness and the beauty of the world in which he found himself to be.
So Percival journeyed on into that forest, and he took such great delight in the beauty of the world in which he travelled that he was at times like
|How Percival travelled in the forest.|
Thus he rode, somewhiles all in a maze of green, and somewhiles out thence into an open glade where the light was wide and bright; and other whiles he came to some forest stream where was a shallow pool of golden gravel, and where the water was so thin and clear that you might not tell where it ended and the pure air began. And therethrough he would drive
his horse, splashing with great noise, whilst the little silvery fish would dart away upon all sides, hither and thither, like sparks of light before his coming.
So, because of the beauty of this forest land in its spring-time verdure and pleasantness, the heart of Percival was uplifted with so much joy and delight that he was like to weep for pure pleasure as aforesaid.
Now it chanced at that time that King Arthur and several of his court had come into that forest ahawking; but, the day being warm, the Queen had grown weary of the sport, so she had commanded her attendants to set up a pavilion for her whilst the King continued his hawking. And the pavilion was pitched in an open glade of the forest whereunto Percival came riding.
Then Percival perceived. that pavilion set up among the trees, and likewise he saw that the pavilion was of rose colored silk. Also he perceived that not far from him was a young page very gayly and richly clad.
Now when the page beheld Percival and what a singular appearance he presented, he laughed beyond all measure, and Percival, not
|Percival bespeaketh the Lady Guinevere's page.|
At this Percival was very glad, for he deemed that he should now find Sir Lamorack. So he said: "I pray thee tell me, is Sir Lamorack of Gales with the court of the King, for I come hither seeking that good worthy knight?"
Then the page laughed a very great deal, and said: "Who art thou to seek Sir Lamorack? Art thou then a jester?" And Percival said, "What sort of a thing is a jester?" And the page said, "Certes, thou art a silly fool." And Percival said, "What is a fool?"
Upon this the page fell alaughing as though he would never stint his mirth so that Percival began to wax angry for he said to himself: "These people laugh too much and their mirth maketh me weary." So, without more ado, he descended from his horse with intent to enter the Queen's pavilion and to make inquiry there for Sir Lamorack.
Now when that page saw what Percival had a mind to do, he thrust in to prevent him, saying, "Thou shalt not go in!" Upon that Percival said, "Ha! shall I not so?" And thereupon he smote the page such a buffet that the youth fell down without any motion, as though he had gone dead.
Then Percival straightway entered the Queen's pavilion.
And the first thing he saw was a very beautiful lady surrounded by a court
of ladies. And the Queen was eating a mid-day repast whilst a page waited upon her for to serve her, bearing for her refreshment pure wine in a cup
|Percival beholdeth Queen Guinevere.|
Now when Percival entered the tent Sir Kay looked up, and when he perceived what sort of a figure was there, he frowned with great displeasure.
"Ha!" he said, "what mad fool is this who cometh hitherward?"
Unto him Percival made reply: "Thou tall man, I prithee tell me, which of these ladies present here is the Queen?" Sir Kay said, "What wouldst thou have with the Queen?" To this Percival said: "I have come hither for to lay my case before King Arthur, and my case is this: I would fain obtain knighthood, and meseems that King Arthur may best help me thereunto."
When the Queen heard the words of Percival she laughed with great merriment. But Sir Kay was still very wroth, and he said: "Sirrah, thou
|Sir Kay chides Percival.|
"Ha," said Percival, "it seems to me that thou art very foolish--thou tall man--to judge of me by my dress and equipment. For, even though I wear such poor apparel as this, yet I may easily be thy superior both in birth and station."
Then Sir Kay was exceedingly wroth and would have made a very bitter answer to Percival, but at that moment something of another sort befell.
|Sir Boindegardus enters the Queen's pavilion.|
So now this savage knight entered that pavilion with his helmet upon his hip and his shield upon his shoulder, and all those ladies who were there were terrified at his coming, for they wist that he came in anger with intent of mischief.
As for Sir Kay (he being clad only in a silken tunic of green color and with scarlet hosen and velvet shoes, fit for the court of a lady) he was afraid, and he wist not how to bear himself in the presence of Sir Boindegardus. Then Sir Boindegardus said, "Where is King Arthur?" And Sir Kay made no reply because of fear. Then one of the Queen's damsels said, "He is hawking out beyond here in the outskirts of the forest." Then Sir Boindegardus said: "I am sorry for that, for I had thought to find him here at this time and to show challenge to him and his entire court, for I fear no one of them. But, as King Arthur is not here, I may, at least, affront his Queen."
With that he smote the elbow of the page who held the goblet for the Queen, and the wine was splashed all in the Queen's
|Sir Boindegardus affronts the Queen.|
Thereupon the Queen shrieked with terror, and one of her maidens ran to her aid and others came with napkins and wiped her face and her apparel and gave her words of cheer.
Then Sir Kay found courage to say: "Ha! thou art a churlish knight to so affront a lady."
With that Sir Boindegardus turned very fiercely upon him and said: "And thou likest not my behavior, thou mayst follow me hence into a meadow a little distance from this to the eastward where thou mayst avenge that affront upon my person if thou art minded to do so."
Then Sir Kay knew not what to reply for he wist that Sir Boindegardus was a very strong and terrible knight. Wherefore he said, "Thou seest that I am altogether without arms or armor." Upon that Sir Boindegardus laughed in great scorn, and therewith seized the golden goblet from the hands of the page and went out from the pavilion, and mounting his horse rode away bearing that precious chalice with him.
Then the Queen fell aweeping very sorely from fright and shame, and when young Percival beheld her tears, he could not abide the sight thereof. So he cried out aloud against Sir Kay, saying: "Thou tall
|Percival berates Sir Kay.|
knighthood, I will take this quarrel upon myself and will do what I may to avenge this lady's affront, if I have her leave to do so."
And Queen Guinevere said: "Thou hast my leave, since Sir Kay does not choose to assume my quarrel."
Now there was a certain very beautiful young damsel of the court of the Queen hight Yelande, surnamed the "Dumb Maiden," because she would
|The damsel praises Percival.|
Then Sir Kay was very angry with that damsel and he said: "Truly, thou art ill taught to remain for all this year in the court of King Arthur
|Sir Kay strikes the damsel.|
Upon this Percival came very close to Sir Kay and he said: "Thou discourteous tall man; now I tell thee, except that there are so many ladies here present, and one of these a Queen, I would have to do with thee in such a manner as I do not believe would be at all to thy liking. Now, first of all I shall follow yonder -uncivil knight and endeavor to avenge this noble Queen for the affront he hath put upon her, and when I have done with him, then will I hope for the time to come in which I shall have to do with thee for laying hands upon this beautiful young lady who was so kind to me just now. For, in the fulness of time, I will repay the foul blow thou gavest her, and that twenty-fold."
Thereupon Percival straightway went out from that pavilion and mounted upon his sorry horse and rode away in the direction that Sir Boindegardus had taken with the golden goblet.
Now after a long time, he came to another level meadow of grass, and there he beheld Sir Boindegardus riding before him in great state with the golden goblet hanging to the horn of his saddle. And Sir
|Percival follows Sir Boindegardus.|
Then Sir Boindegardus was very wroth and he said: "Thou fool; I have a very good intention for to slay thee." Therewith he raised his spear and smote Percival with it upon the back of the neck so terrible a blow that he was flung violently down from off his horse. Upon this Percival was so angry that the sky all became like scarlet before his eyes. Wherefore, when he had recovered from the blow he ran unto Sir Boindegardus and catched the spear in his hands and wrestled with such terrible strength that he plucked it away from Sir Boindegardus. And having thus made himself master of that spear, he brake it across his knee and flung it away.
Then Sir Boindegardus was in furious rage, wherefore he drew his bright, shining sword with intent to slay Percival. But when Percival saw what he would be at, he catched up his javelin and, running to a
|Percival slays Sir Boindegardus.|
Now a little after Percival had quitted the pavilion of Queen Guinevere, King Arthur and eleven noble knights of the court returned
|King Arthur sends Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack in quest of Percival.|
assuming this quarrel of the Queen's, but I believe that thou, a well-approved knight, hast in thy fear of Sir Boindegardus been the cause of sending this youth upon an adventure in which he will be subject to such great danger that it may very well be that he shall hardly escape with his life. Now I will that two of you knights shall follow after that youth for to rescue him if it be not too late; and those two shall be Sir Launcelot of the Lake and Sir Lamorack of Gales. So make all haste, Messires, lest some misfortune shall befall this brave, innocent madman."
Thereupon those two knights mounted straightway upon their horses and rode away in that direction whither Percival had gone.