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How King Arthur was brought into the Forest Perilous,
and how Sir Tristram saved his life.

NOW shall ye hear what was the cause that King Arthur came into
the Forest Perilous, that was in North Wales, by the means of a
lady.  Her name was Annowre, and this lady came to King Arthur at
Cardiff; and she by fair promise and fair behests made King
Arthur to ride with her into that Forest Perilous; and she was a
great sorceress; and many days she had loved King Arthur, and
because she would have him to lie by her she came into that
country.  So when the king was gone with her many of his knights
followed after King Arthur when they missed him, as Sir
Launcelot, Brandiles, and many other; and when she had brought
him to her tower she desired him to lie by her; and then the king
remembered him of his lady, and would not lie by her for no craft
that she could do.  Then every day she would make him ride into
that forest with his own knights, to the intent to have had King
Arthur slain.  For when this Lady Annowre saw that she might not
have him at her will, then she laboured by false means to have
destroyed King Arthur, and slain.

Then the Lady of the Lake that was alway friendly to King Arthur,
she understood by her subtle crafts that <377>King Arthur was
like to be destroyed.  And therefore this Lady of the Lake, that
hight Nimue, came into that forest to seek after Sir Launcelot du
Lake or Sir Tristram for to help King Arthur; foras that same day
this Lady of the Lake knew well that King Arthur should be slain,
unless that he had help of one of these two knights.  And thus
she rode up and down till she met with Sir Tristram, and anon as
she saw him she knew him.  O my lord Sir Tristram, she said, well
be ye met, and blessed be the time that I have met with you; for
this same day, and within these two hours, shall be done the
foulest deed that ever was done in this land.  O fair damosel,
said Sir Tristram, may I amend it.  Come on with me, she said,
and that in all the haste ye may, for ye shall see the most
worshipfullest knight of the world hard bestead.  Then said Sir
Tristram: I am ready to help such a noble man.  He is neither
better nor worse, said the Lady of the Lake, but the noble King
Arthur himself.  God defend, said Sir Tristram, that ever he
should be in such distress.  Then they rode together a great
pace, until they came to a little turret or castle; and
underneath that castle they saw a knight standing upon foot
fighting with two knights; and so Sir Tristram beheld them, and
at the last the two knights smote down the one knight, and that
one of them unlaced his helm to have slain him.  And the Lady
Annowre gat King Arthur's sword in her hand to have stricken off
his head.  And therewithal came Sir Tristram with all his might,
crying:  Traitress, traitress, leave that.  And anon there Sir
Tristram smote the one of the knights through the body that he
fell dead; and then he rashed to the other and smote his back
asunder; and in the meanwhile the Lady of the Lake cried to King
Arthur:  Let not that false lady escape.  Then King Arthur
overtook her, and with the same sword he smote off her head, and
the Lady of the Lake took up her head and hung it up by the hair
of her saddle-bow.  And then Sir Tristram horsed King Arthur and
rode forth with him, but he charged the Lady of the Lake not to
discover his name as at that time.

When the king was horsed he thanked heartily Sir Tristram, and
desired to wit his name; but he would not tell him, but that he
was a poor knight adventurous; and so he bare King Arthur
fellowship till he met with some of his knights.  And within a
while he met with Sir Ector de Maris, and he knew not King Arthur
nor Sir Tristram, and he desired to joust with one of them.  Then
Sir Tristram rode unto Sir Ector, and smote him from his horse. 
And when he had done so he came again to the king and said:  My
lord, yonder is one of your knights, he may bare you fellowship,
and another day that deed that I have done for you I trust to God
ye shall understand that I would do you service.  Alas, said King
Arthur, let me wit what ye are?  Not at this time, said Sir
Tristram.  So he departed and left King Arthur and Sir Ector