Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XVII CHAPTER VIII
Legends and Sagas
How Galahad and his fellows came to a castle, and how they
were fought withal, and how they slew their adversaries,
and other matters.
SO it befell as they spoke thus there came a squire by them,
and asked what they were; and they said they were of
King Arthur's house. Is that sooth? said he. Now by
my head, said he, ye be ill arrayed; and then turned he
again unto the cliff fortress. And within a while they
heard an horn blow. Then a gentlewoman came to them,
and asked them of whence they were; and they told her.
Fair lords, said she, for God's love turn again if ye may,
for ye be come unto your death. Nay, they said, we will
not turn again, for He shall help us in whose service we be
entered in. Then as they stood talking there came knights
well armed, and bade them yield them or else to die. That
yielding, said they, shall be noyous to you. And therewith
they let their horses run, and Sir Percivale smote the
foremost to the earth, and took his horse, and mounted
thereupon, and the same did Galahad. Also Bors served
another so, for they had no horses in that country, for they
left their horses when they took their ship in other countries.
And so when they were horsed then began they to
set upon them; and they of the castle fled into the strong
fortress, and the three knights after them into the castle,
and so alighted on foot, and with their swords slew them
down, and gat into the hall.
Then when they beheld the great multitude of people
that they had slain, they held themself great sinners.
Certes, said Bors, I ween an God had loved them that we
should not have had power to have slain them thus. But
they have done so much against Our Lord that He would
not suffer them to reign no longer. Say ye not so, said
Galahad, for if they misdid against God, the vengeance is
not ours, but to Him which hath power thereof.
So came there out of a chamber a good man which was
a priest, and bare God's body in a cup. And when he saw
them which lay dead in the hall he was all abashed; and
Galahad did off his helm and kneeled down, and so did his
two fellows. Sir, said they, have ye no dread of us, for
we be of King Arthur's court. Then asked the good man
how they were slain so suddenly, and they told it him.
Truly, said the good man, an ye might live as long as the
world might endure, ne might ye have done so great an
alms-deed as this. Sir, said Galahad, I repent me much,
inasmuch as they were christened. Nay, repent you not,
said he, for they were not christened, and I shall tell you
how that I wot of this castle. Here was Lord Earl Hernox
not but one year, and he had three sons, good knights of
arms, and a daughter, the fairest gentlewoman that men
knew. So those three knights loved their sister so sore
that they brent in love, and so they lay by her, maugre her
head. And for she cried to her father they slew her, and
took their father and put him in prison, and wounded him
nigh to the death, but a cousin of hers rescued him. And
then did they great untruth: they slew clerks and priests,
and made beat down chapels, that Our Lord's service might
not be served nor said. And this same day her father sent
to me for to be confessed and houseled; but such shame
had never man as I had this day with the three brethren,
but the earl bade me suffer, for he said they should not
long endure, for three servants of Our Lord should destroy
them, and now it is brought to an end. And by this may
ye wit that Our Lord is not displeased with your deeds.
Certes, said Galahad, an it had not pleased Our Lord, never
should we have slain so many men in so little a while.
And then they brought the Earl Hernox out of prison
into the midst of the hall, that knew Galahad anon, and yet
he saw him never afore but by revelation of Our Lord.