Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XV CHAPTER II

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Of a dead man, how men would have hewn him, and it would
not be, and how Sir Launcelot took the hair of the dead

THEN was there peace betwixt the earl and this Aguarus,
and great surety that the earl should never war against
him.  Then this dead man that here lieth came to this
hermitage again; and then the earl made two of his
nephews for to be avenged upon this man.  So they came
on a day, and found this dead man at the sacring
of his mass, and they abode him till he had said mass.
And then they set upon him and drew out swords to
have slain him; but there would no sword bite on him
more than upon a gad of steel, for the high Lord which he
served He him preserved.  Then made they a great fire,
and did off all his clothes, and the hair off his back.  And
then this dead man hermit said unto them:  Ween you to
burn me?  It shall not lie in your power nor to perish me
as much as a thread, an there were any on my body.  No?
said one of them, it shall be assayed.  And then they
despoiled him, and put upon him this shirt, and cast him in a
fire, and there he lay all that night till it was day in that
fire, and was not dead, and so in the morn I came and
found him dead; but I found neither thread nor skin
tamed, and so took him out of the fire with great fear, and
laid him here as ye may see.  And now may ye suffer me
to go my way, for I have said you the sooth.  And then
he departed with a great tempest.

Then was the good man and Sir Launcelot more
gladder than they were to-fore.  And then Sir Launcelot
dwelled with that good man that night.  Sir, said the good
man, be ye not Sir Launcelot du Lake?  Yea, sir, said he.
What seek ye in this country?  Sir, said Sir Launcelot, I
go to seek the adventures of the Sangreal.  Well, said he,
seek it ye may well, but though it were here ye shall have
no power to see it no more than a blind man should see a
bright sword, and that is long on your sin, and else ye were
more abler than any man living.  And then Sir Launcelot
began to weep.  Then said the good man:  Were ye confessed
sith ye entered into the quest of the Sangreal?  Yea,
sir, said Sir Launcelot.  Then upon the morn when the
good man had sung his mass, then they buried the dead
man.  Then Sir Launcelot said:  Father, what shall I do?
Now, said the good man, I require you take this hair that
was this holy man's and put it next thy skin, and it shall
prevail thee greatly.  Sir, and I will do it, said Sir
Launcelot.  Also I charge you that ye eat no flesh as long as ye
be in the quest of the Sangreal, nor ye shall drink no
wine, and that ye hear mass daily an ye may do it.  So he
took the hair and put it upon him, and so departed at

And so rode he into a forest, and there he met with a
gentlewoman riding upon a white palfrey, and then she
asked him:  Sir knight, whither ride ye?  Certes, damosel,
said Launcelot, I wot not whither I ride but as fortune
leadeth me.  Ah, Sir Launcelot, said she, I wot what
adventure ye seek, for ye were afore time nearer than ye
be now, and yet shall ye see it more openly than ever ye
did, and that shall ye understand in short time.  Then Sir
Launcelot asked her where he might be harboured that
night.  Ye shall not find this day nor night, but to-morn ye
shall find harbour good, and ease of that ye be in doubt of
And then he commended her unto God.  Then he rode
till that he came to a Cross, and took that for his host as
for that night.