Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XVII CHAPTER X
Legends and Sagas
How they were desired of a strange custom, the which they
would not obey; wherefore they fought and slew many
THIS gentlewoman that ye lead with you is a maid?
Sir, said she, a maid I am. Then he took her by the
bridle and said: By the Holy Cross, ye shall not escape
me to-fore ye have yolden the custom of this castle. Let
her go, said Percivale, ye be not wise, for a maid in what
place she cometh is free. So in the meanwhile there came
out a ten or twelve knights armed, out of the castle, and
with them came gentlewomen which held a dish of silver.
And then they said: This gentlewoman must yield us
the custom of this castle. Sir, said a knight, what maid
passeth hereby shall give this dish full of blood of her
right arm. Blame have ye, said Galahad, that brought
up such customs, and so God me save, I ensure you of
this gentlewoman ye shall fail while that I live. So God
me help, said Percivale, I had liefer be slain. And I also,
said Sir Bors. By my troth, said the knight, then shall
ye die, for ye may not endure against us though ye were
the best knights of the world.
Then let they run each to other, and the three fellows
beat the ten knights, and then set their hands to their
swords and beat them down and slew them. Then there
came out of the castle a three score knights armed. Fair
lords, said the three fellows, have mercy on yourself and
have not ado with us. Nay, fair lords, said the knights
of the castle, we counsel you to withdraw you, for ye be
the best knights of the world, and therefore do no more,
for ye have done enough. We will let you go with this
harm, but we must needs have the custom. Certes, said
Galahad, for nought speak ye. Well, said they, will ye die?
We be not yet come thereto, said Galahad. Then began
they to meddle together, and Galahad, with the strange
girdles, drew his sword, and smote on the right hand and
on the left hand, and slew what that ever abode him, and
did such marvels that there was none that saw him but
weened he had been none earthly man, but a monster.
And his two fellows halp him passing well, and so they
held the journey everych in like hard till it was night:
then must they needs depart.
So came in a good knight, and said to the three
fellows: If ye will come in to-night and take such harbour
as here is ye shall be right welcome, and we shall ensure
you by the faith of our bodies, and as we be true knights,
to leave you in such estate to-morrow as we find you,
without any falsehood. And as soon as ye know of the
custom we dare say ye will accord therefore. For God's
love, said the gentlewoman, go thither and spare not for
me. Go we, said Galahad; and so they entered into the
chapel. And when they were alighted they made great
joy of them. So within a while the three knights asked
the custom of the castle and wherefore it was. What it
is, said they, we will say you sooth.