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How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir
Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the
knight's head.

AND then she let fetch to-fore him Linet, the damosel that had
ridden with him many wildsome ways.  Then was Sir Gareth more
gladder than he was to-fore.  And then they troth-plight each
other to love, and never to fail whiles their life lasteth.  And
so they burnt both in love, that they were accorded to abate
their lusts secretly.  And there Dame Lionesse counselled Sir
Gareth to sleep in none other place but in the hall.  And there
she promised him to come to his bed a little afore midnight.

This counsel was not so privily kept but it was understood; for
they were but young both, and tender of age, and had not used
none such crafts to-fore.  Wherefore the damosel Linet was a
little displeased, and she thought her sister Dame Lionesse was a
little over-hasty, that she might not abide the time of her
marriage; and for saving their worship, she thought to abate
their hot lusts.  And so she let ordain by her subtle crafts that
they had not their intents neither with other, as in their
delights, until they were married.  And so it passed on.  At-
after supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady
should go unto his rest.  But Sir Gareth said plainly he would go
no farther than the hall, for in such places, he said, was
convenient for an errant-knight to take his rest in; and so there
were ordained great couches, and thereon feather beds, and there
laid him down to sleep; and within a while came Dame Lionesse,
wrapped in a mantle furred with ermine, and laid her down beside
Sir Gareth.  And therewithal he began to kiss her.  And then he
looked afore him, and there he apperceived and saw come an armed
knight, with many lights about him; and this knight had a long
gisarm in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him.  When
Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he leapt out of his bed,
and gat in his hand his sword, and leapt straight toward that
knight.  And when the knight saw Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon
him, he smote him with a foin through the thick of the thigh that
the wound was a shaftmon broad and had cut a-two many veins and
sinews.  And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the helm such
a buffet that he fell grovelling; and then he leapt over him and
unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from the body.  And then
he bled so fast that he might not stand, but so he laid him down
upon his bed, and there he swooned and lay as he had been dead.

Then Dame Lionesse cried aloud, that her brother Sir Gringamore
heard, and came down.  And when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully
wounded he was sore displeased, and said:  I am shamed that this
noble knight is thus <250>honoured.  Sir, said Sir Gringamore,
how may this be, that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded? 
Brother, she said, I can not tell you, for it was not done by me,
nor by mine assent.  For he is my lord and I am his, and he must
be mine husband; therefore, my brother, I will that ye wit I
shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the pleasure that
I can.  Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will that ye wit it,
and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by me, nor by my
assent that this unhappy deed was done.  And there they staunched
his bleeding as well as they might, and great sorrow made Sir
Gringamore and Dame Lionesse.

And forthwithal came Dame Linet, and took up the head in the
sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment thereas it
was smitten off; and in the same wise she did to the other part
thereas the head stuck, and then she set it together, and it
stuck as fast as ever it did.  And the knight arose lightly up,
and the damosel Linet put him in her chamber.  All this saw Sir
Gringamore and Dame Lionesse, and so did Sir Gareth; and well he
espied that it was the damosel Linet, that rode with him through
the perilous passages.  Ah well, damosel, said Sir Gareth, I
weened ye would not have done as ye have done.  My lord Gareth,
said Linet, all that I have done I will avow, and all that I have
done shall be for your honour and worship, and to us all.  And so
within a while Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and
jocund, and sang, danced, and gamed; and he and Dame Lionesse
were so hot in burning love that they made their covenant at the
tenth night after, that she should come to his bed.  And because
he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his sword nigh his
bed's side.