Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XI CHAPTER I

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How Sir Launcelot rode on his adventure, and how he holp
a dolorous lady from her pain, and how that he fought
with a dragon.

NOW leave we Sir Tristram de Liones, and speak we of
Sir Launcelot du Lake, and of Sir Galahad, Sir Launcelot's
son, how he was gotten, and in what manner, as the book
of French rehearseth.  Afore the time that Sir Galahad
was gotten or born, there came in an hermit unto King
Arthur upon Whitsunday, as the knights sat at the Table
Round.  And when the hermit saw the Siege Perilous, he
asked the king and all the knights why that siege was
void.  Sir Arthur and all the knights answered:  There
shall never none sit in that siege but one, but if he be
destroyed.  Then said the hermit:  Wot ye what is he?
Nay, said Arthur and all the knights, we wot not who is
he that shall sit therein.  Then wot I, said the hermit,
for he that shall sit there is unborn and ungotten, and
this same year he shall be gotten that shall sit there in
that Siege Perilous, and he shall win the Sangreal.  When
this hermit had made this mention he departed from the
court of King Arthur.

And then after this feast Sir Launcelot rode on his
adventure, till on a time by adventure he passed over the
pont of Corbin; and there he saw the fairest tower that ever
he saw, and there-under was a fair town full of people; and
all the people, men and women, cried at once:  Welcome,
Sir Launcelot du Lake, the flower of all knighthood,
for by thee all we shall be holpen out of danger.  What
mean ye, said Sir Launcelot, that ye cry so upon me?
Ah, fair knight, said they all, here is within this tower a
dolorous lady that hath been there in pains many winters
and days, for ever she boileth in scalding water; and but
late, said all the people, Sir Gawaine was here and he
might not help her, and so he left her in pain.  So may
I, said Sir Launcelot, leave her in pain as well as Sir
Gawaine did.  Nay, said the people, we know well that
it is Sir Launcelot that shall deliver her.  Well, said
Launcelot, then shew me what I shall do.

Then they brought Sir Launcelot into the tower; and
when he came to the chamber thereas this lady was, the
doors of iron unlocked and unbolted.  And so Sir Launcelot
went into the chamber that was as hot as any stew.
And there Sir Launcelot took the fairest lady by the hand
that ever he saw, and she was naked as a needle; and by
enchantment Queen Morgan le Fay and the Queen of
Northgalis had put her there in that pains, because she
was called the fairest lady of that country; and there she
had been five years, and never might she be delivered out
of her great pains unto the time the best knight of the
world had taken her by the hand.  Then the people
brought her clothes.  And when she was arrayed, Sir
Launcelot thought she was the fairest lady of the world,
but if it were Queen Guenever.

Then this lady said to Sir Launcelot:  Sir, if it please
you will ye go with me hereby into a chapel that we may
give loving and thanking unto God?  Madam, said Sir
Launcelot, come on with me, I will go with you.  So
when they came there and gave thankings to God all the
people, both learned and lewd, gave thankings unto God
and him, and said:  Sir knight, since ye have delivered
this lady, ye shall deliver us from a serpent there is here
in a tomb.  Then Sir Launcelot took his shield and said:
Bring me thither, and what I may do unto the pleasure
of God and you I will do.  So when Sir Launcelot came
thither he saw written upon the tomb letters of gold that
said thus:  Here shall come a leopard of king's blood, and
he shall slay this serpent, and this leopard shall engender
a lion in this foreign country, the which lion shall pass all
other knights.  So then Sir Launcelot lift up the tomb,
and there came out an horrible and a fiendly dragon,
spitting fire out of his mouth.  Then Sir Launcelot drew
his sword and fought with the dragon long, and at the
last with great pain Sir Launcelot slew that dragon.
Therewithal came King Pelles, the good and noble knight,
and saluted Sir Launcelot, and he him again.  Fair knight,
said the king, what is your name?  I require you of your
knighthood tell me!