Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK VI  Previous  Next 


How Sir Launcelot at the request of a lady recovered a
falcon, by which he was deceived.

AND so Sir Launcelot rode through many strange countries, over
marshes and valleys, till by fortune he came to a fair castle,
and as he passed beyond the castle him thought he heard two bells
ring.  And then was he ware of a falcon came flying over his head
toward an high elm, and long lunes about her feet, and as she
flew unto the elm to take her perch the lunes over-cast about a
bough.  And when she would have taken her flight she hung by the
legs fast; and Sir Launcelot saw how she hung, and beheld the
fair falcon perigot, and he was sorry for her.

The meanwhile came a lady out of the castle and cried on high:  O
Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art flower of all knights, help me
to get my hawk, for an my hawk be lost my lord will destroy me;
for I kept the hawk and she slipped from me, and if my lord my
husband wit it he is so hasty that he will slay me.  What is your
lord's name? said Sir Launcelot.  Sir, she said, his name is Sir
Phelot, a knight that longeth unto the King of Northgalis.  Well,
fair lady, since that ye know my name, and require me of
knighthood to help you, I will do what I may to get your hawk,
and yet God knoweth I am an ill climber, and the tree is passing
high, and few boughs to help me withal.  And therewith Sir
Launcelot alighted, and tied his horse to the same tree, and
prayed the lady to unarm him.  And so when he was unarmed, he put
off all his <204>clothes unto his shirt and breech, and with
might and force he clomb up to the falcon, and tied the lines to
a great rotten boyshe, and threw the hawk down and it withal.

Anon the lady gat the hawk in her hand; and therewithal came out
Sir Phelot out of the groves suddenly, that was her husband, all
armed and with his naked sword in his hand, and said:  O knight
Launcelot, now have I found thee as I would, and stood at the
bole of the tree to slay him.  Ah, lady, said Sir Launcelot, why
have ye betrayed me?  She hath done, said Sir Phelot, but as I
commanded her, and therefore there nis none other boot but thine
hour is come that thou must die.  That were shame unto thee, said
Sir Launcelot, thou an armed knight to slay a naked man by
treason.  Thou gettest none other grace, said Sir Phelot, and
therefore help thyself an thou canst.  Truly, said Sir Launcelot,
that shall be thy shame, but since thou wilt do none other, take
mine harness with thee, and hang my sword upon a bough that I may
get it, and then do thy best to slay me an thou canst.  Nay, nay,
said Sir Phelot, for I know thee better than thou weenest,
therefore thou gettest no weapon, an I may keep you therefrom. 
Alas, said Sir Launcelot, that ever a knight should die
weaponless.  And therewith he waited above him and under him, and
over his head he saw a rownsepyk, a big bough leafless, and
therewith he brake it off by the body.  And then he came lower
and awaited how his own horse stood, and suddenly he leapt on the
further side of the horse, fro-ward the knight.  And then Sir
Phelot lashed at him eagerly, weening to have slain him.  But Sir
Launcelot put away the stroke with the rownsepyk, and therewith
he smote him on the one side of the head, that he fell down in a
swoon to the ground.  So then Sir Launcelot took his sword out of
his hand, and struck his neck from the body.  Then cried the
lady, Alas ! why hast thou slain my husband?  I am not causer,
said Sir Launcelot, for with falsehood ye would have had slain me
with treason, and now it is fallen on you both.  And then she
swooned as though she would <205>die.  And therewithal Sir
Launcelot gat all his armour as well as he might, and put it upon
him for dread of more resort, for he dreaded that the knight's
castle was so nigh.  And so, as soon as he might, he took his
horse and departed, and thanked God that he had escaped that