Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER LXI

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How Palomides went for to fight with two brethren for the
death of King Hermance.

NOW will we leave them merry within Joyous Gard, and
speak we of Sir Palomides.  Then Sir Palomides sailed
evenlong Humber to the coasts of the sea, where was a
fair castle.  And at that time it was early in the morning,
afore day.  Then the mariners went unto Sir Palomides
that slept fast.  Sir knight, said the mariners, ye must
arise, for here is a castle there ye must go into.  I assent
me, said Sir Palomides; and therewithal he arrived.  And
then he blew his horn that the mariners had given him.
And when they within the castle heard that horn they put
forth many knights; and there they stood upon the walls,
and said with one voice:  Welcome be ye to this castle.
And then it waxed clear day, and Sir Palomides entered
into the castle.  And within a while he was served with
many divers meats.  Then Sir Palomides heard about him
much weeping and great dole.  What may this mean?
said Sir Palomides; I love not to hear such a sorrow, and
fain I would know what it meaneth.  Then there came
afore him one whose name was Sir Ebel, that said thus:
Wit ye well, sir knight, this dole and sorrow is here made
every day, and for this cause: we had a king that hight
Hermance, and he was King of the Red City, and this
king that was lord was a noble knight, large and liberal of
his expense; and in the world he loved nothing so much
as he did errant knights of King Arthur's court, and all
jousting, hunting, and all manner of knightly games; for
so kind a king and knight had never the rule of poor
people as he was; and because of his goodness and gentle
ness we bemoan him, and ever shall.  And all kings and
estates may beware by our lord, for he was destroyed in
his own default; for had he cherished them of his blood
he had yet lived with great riches and rest: but all estates
may beware by our king.  But alas, said Ebel, that we
shall give all other warning by his death.

Tell me, said Palomides, and in what manner was
your lord slain, and by whom.  Sir, said Sir Ebel, our
king brought up of children two men that now are
perilous knights; and these two knights our king had so
in charity, that he loved no man nor trusted no man of
his blood, nor none other that was about him.  And by
these two knights our king was governed, and so they
ruled him peaceably and his lands, and never would they
suffer none of his blood to have no rule with our king.
And also he was so free and so gentle, and they so false
and deceivable, that they ruled him peaceably; and that
espied the lords of our king's blood, and departed from
him unto their own livelihood.  Then when these two
traitors understood that they had driven all the lords of
his blood from him, they were not pleased with that rule,
but then they thought to have more, as ever it is an old
saw:  Give a churl rule and thereby he will not be
sufficed; for whatsomever he be that is ruled by a villain
born, and the lord of the soil to be a gentleman born, the
same villain shall destroy all the gentlemen about him:
therefore all estates and lords, beware whom ye take about
you.  And if ye be a knight of King Arthur's court remember
this tale, for this is the end and conclusion.  My
lord and king rode unto the forest hereby by the advice
of these traitors, and there he chased at the red deer,
armed at all pieces full like a good knight; and so for
labour he waxed dry, and then he alighted, and drank at
a well.  And when he was alighted, by the assent of these
two traitors, that one that hight Helius he suddenly smote
our king through the body with a spear, and so they
left him there.  And when they were departed, then by
fortune I came to the well, and found my lord and king
wounded to the death.  And when I heard his complaint,
I let bring him to the water side, and in that same ship I
put him alive; and when my lord King Hermance was in
that vessel, he required me for the true faith I owed unto
him for to write a letter in this manner.