Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK VI CHAPTER I

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How Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel departed from the court,
and how Sir Lionel left him sleeping and was taken.

SOON after that King Arthur was come from Rome into England, then
all the knights of the Table Round resorted unto the king, and
made many jousts and tournaments, and some there were that were
but knights, which increased so in arms and worship that they
passed all their fellows in prowess and noble deeds, and that was
well proved on many; but in especial it was proved on Sir
Launcelot du Lake, for in all tournaments and jousts and deeds of
arms, both for life and death, he passed all other knights, and
at no time he was never overcome but if it were by treason or
enchantment; so Sir Launcelot increased so marvellously in
worship, and in honour, therefore is he the first knight that the
French book maketh mention of after King Arthur came from Rome. 
Wherefore Queen Guenever had him in great favour above all other
knights, and in certain he loved the queen again above all other
ladies and damosels of his life, and for her he did many deeds of
arms, and saved her from the fire through his noble chivalry.

Thus Sir Launcelot rested him long with play and game.  And then
he thought himself to prove himself in strange adventures, then
he bade his nephew, Sir Lionel, for to make him ready; for we two
will seek adventures.  So they mounted on their horses, armed at
all rights, and <176>rode into a deep forest and so into a deep
plain.  And then the weather was hot about noon, and Sir
Launcelot had great lust to sleep.  Then Sir Lionel espied a
great apple-tree that stood by an hedge, and said, Brother,
yonder is a fair shadow, there may we rest us [and] our horses. 
It is well said, fair brother, said Sir Launcelot, for this eight
year I was not so sleepy as I am now; and so they there alighted
and tied their horses unto sundry trees, and so Sir Launcelot
laid him down under an appletree, and his helm he laid under his
head.  And Sir Lionel waked while he slept.  So Sir Launcelot was
asleep passing fast.

And in the meanwhile there came three knights riding, as fast
fleeing as ever they might ride.  And there followed them three
but one knight.  And when Sir Lionel saw him, him thought he saw
never so great a knight, nor so well faring a man, neither so
well apparelled unto all rights.  So within a while this strong
knight had overtaken one of these knights, and there he smote him
to the cold earth that he lay still.  And then he rode unto the
second knight, and smote him so that man and horse fell down. 
And then straight to the third knight he rode, and smote him
behind his horse's arse a spear length.  And then he alighted
down and reined his horse on the bridle, and bound all the three
knights fast with the reins of their own bridles.  When Sir
Lionel saw him do thus, he thought to assay him, and made him
ready, and stilly and privily he took his horse, and thought not
for to awake Sir Launcelot.  And when he was mounted upon his
horse, he overtook this strong knight, and bade him turn, and the
other smote Sir Lionel so hard that horse and man he bare to the
earth, and so he alighted down and bound him fast, and threw him
overthwart his own horse, and so he served them all four, and
rode with them away to his own castle.  And when he came there he
gart unarm them, and beat them with thorns all naked, and after
put them in a deep prison where were many more knights, that made
great dolour.