Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XI CHAPTER IX

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How Dame Elaine was commanded by Queen Guenever to
avoid the court, and how Sir Launcelot became mad.

NOW turn we unto Queen Guenever and to the fair
Lady Elaine, that when Dame Elaine heard the queen so
to rebuke Sir Launcelot, and also she saw how he swooned,
and how he leaped out at a bay window, then she said unto
Queen Guenever:  Madam, ye are greatly to blame for Sir
Launcelot, for now have ye lost him, for I saw and heard
by his countenance that he is mad for ever.  Alas, madam,
ye do great sin, and to yourself great dishonour, for ye
have a lord of your own, and therefore it is your part to
love him; for there is no queen in this world hath such
another king as ye have.  And, if ye were not, I might
have the love of my lord Sir Launcelot; and cause I have
to love him for he had my maidenhood, and by him I have
borne a fair son, and his name is Galahad, and he shall be
in his time the best knight of the world.  Dame Elaine,
said the queen, when it is daylight I charge you and
command you to avoid my court; and for the love ye owe
unto Sir Launcelot discover not his counsel, for an ye do,
it will be his death.  As for that, said Dame Elaine, I dare
undertake he is marred for ever, and that have ye made;
for ye, nor I, are like to rejoice him; for he made the most
piteous groans when he leapt out at yonder bay window
that ever I heard man make.  Alas, said fair Elaine, and
alas, said the Queen Guenever, for now I wot well we
have lost him for ever.

So on the morn Dame Elaine took her leave to depart,
and she would no longer abide.  Then King Arthur
brought her on her way with mo than an hundred
knights through a forest.  And by the way she told Sir
Bors de Ganis all how it betid that same night, and how
Sir Launcelot leapt out at a window, araged out of his
wit.  Alas, said Sir Bors, where is my lord, Sir Launcelot,
become?  Sir, said Elaine, I wot ne'er.  Alas, said Sir Bors,
betwixt you both ye have destroyed that good knight.  As
for me, said Dame Elaine, I said never nor did never
thing that should in any wise displease him, but with
the rebuke that Queen Guenever gave him I saw him
swoon to the earth; and when he awoke he took his sword
in his hand, naked save his shirt, and leapt out at a window
with the grisliest groan that ever I heard man make.  Now
farewell, Dame Elaine, said Sir Bors, and hold my lord
Arthur with a tale as long as ye can, for I will turn again
to Queen Guenever and give her a hete; and I require
you, as ever ye will have my service, make good watch and
espy if ever ye may see my lord Sir Launcelot.  Truly,
said fair Elaine, I shall do all that I may do, for as fain
would I know and wit where he is become, as you, or any
of his kin, or Queen Guenever; and cause great enough
have I thereto as well as any other.  And wit ye well, said
fair Elaine to Sir Bors, I would lose my life for him rather
than he should be hurt; but alas, I cast me never for to
see him, and the chief causer of this is Dame Guenever.
Madam, said Dame Brisen, the which had made the
enchantment before betwixt Sir Launcelot and her, I pray
you heartily, let Sir Bors depart, and hie him with all his
might as fast as he may to seek Sir Launcelot, for I warn
you he is clean out of his mind; and yet he shall be well
holpen an but by miracle.

Then wept Dame Elaine, and so did Sir Bors de Ganis;
and so they departed, and Sir Bors rode straight unto
Queen Guenever.  And when she saw Sir Bors she wept
as she were wood.  Fie on your weeping, said Sir Bors de
Ganis, for ye weep never but when there is no bote.  Alas,
said Sir Bors, that ever Sir Launcelot's kin saw you, for
now have ye lost the best knight of our blood, and he
that was all our leader and our succour; and I dare say
and make it good that all kings, christian nor heathen, may
not find such a knight, for to speak of his nobleness and
courtesy, with his beauty and his gentleness.  Alas, said
Sir Bors, what shall we do that be of his blood?  Alas,
said Sir Ector de Maris.  Alas, said Lionel.