Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK VI CHAPTER IV

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CHAPTER IV

How Sir Launcelot was delivered by the mean of a damosel.

RIGHT so at the noon came the damosel unto him with his dinner,
and asked him what cheer.  Truly, fair damosel, said Sir
Launcelot, in my life days never so ill.  Sir, she said, that me
repenteth, but an ye will be ruled by me, I shall help you out of
this distress, and ye shall have no shame nor villainy, so that
ye hold me a promise.  Fair damosel, I will grant you, and sore I
am of these queen-sorceresses afeard, for they have destroyed
many a good knight.  Sir, said she, that is sooth, and for the
renown and bounty that they hear of you they would have your
love, and Sir, they say, your name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, the
flower of knights, and they be passing wroth with you that ye
have refused them.  But Sir, an ye would promise me to help my
father on Tuesday next coming, that hath made a tournament
betwixt him and the King of Northgalis--for the last Tuesday past
my father lost the field through three knights of Arthur's
court--an ye will be there on Tuesday next coming, and help my
father, to-morn or prime, by the grace of God, I shall deliver
you clean.  Fair maiden, said Sir Launcelot, tell me what is your
father's name, and then shall I give you an answer.  Sir knight,
she said, my father is King Bagdemagus, that was foul rebuked at
the last tournament.  I know your father well, said Sir
Launcelot, for a noble king and a good knight, <181>and by the
faith of my body, ye shall have my body ready to do your father
and you service at that day.  Sir, she said, gramercy, and to-
morn await ye be ready betimes and I shall be she that shall
deliver you and take you your armour and your horse, shield and
spear, and hereby within this ten mile, is an abbey of white
monks, there I pray you that ye me abide, and thither shall I
bring my father unto you.  All this shall be done, said Sir
Launcelot as I am true knight.

And so she departed, and came on the morn early, and found him
ready; then she brought him out of twelve locks, and brought him
unto his armour, and when he was clean armed, she brought him
until his own horse, and lightly he saddled him and took a great
spear in his hand and so rode forth, and said, Fair damosel, I
shall not fail you, by the grace of God.  And so he rode into a
great forest all that day, and never could find no highway and so
the night fell on him, and then was he ware in a slade, of a
pavilion of red sendal.  By my faith, said Sir Launcelot, in that
pavilion will I lodge all this night, and so there he alighted
down, and tied his horse to the pavilion, and there he unarmed
him, and there he found a bed, and laid him therein and fell
asleep sadly.