Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK XVIII  Previous  Next 


How Sir Launcelot armed him to assay if he might bear
arms, and how his wounds brast out again.

THEN Sir Bors told Sir Launcelot how there was sworn a
great tournament and jousts betwixt King Arthur and the
King of Northgalis, that should be upon All Hallowmass
Day, beside Winchester.  Is that truth? said Sir Launcelot;
then shall ye abide with me still a little while until that I
be whole, for I feel myself right big and strong.  Blessed
be God, said Sir Bors.  Then were they there nigh a month
together, and ever this maiden Elaine did ever her diligent
labour night and day unto Sir Launcelot, that there was
never child nor wife more meeker to her father and husband
than was that Fair Maiden of Astolat; wherefore Sir Bors
was greatly pleased with her.

So upon a day, by the assent of Sir Launcelot, Sir Bors,
and Sir Lavaine, they made the hermit to seek in woods
for divers herbs, and so Sir Launcelot made fair Elaine to
gather herbs for him to make him a bain.  In the meanwhile
Sir Launcelot made him to arm him at all pieces;
and there he thought to assay his armour and his spear, for
his hurt or not.  And so when he was upon his horse he
stirred him fiercely, and the horse was passing lusty and
fresh because he was not laboured a month afore.  And
then Sir Launcelot couched that spear in the rest.  That
courser leapt mightily when he felt the spurs; and he that
was upon him, the which was the noblest horse of the world,
strained him mightily and stably, and kept still the spear
in the rest; and therewith Sir Launcelot strained himself
so straitly, with so great force, to get the horse forward,
that the button of his wound brast both within and
without; and therewithal the blood came out so fiercely that
he felt himself so feeble that he might not sit upon his
horse.  And then Sir Launcelot cried unto Sir Bors:  Ah,
Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine, help, for I am come to mine end.
And therewith he fell down on the one side to the earth
like a dead corpse.  And then Sir Bors and Sir Lavaine
came to him with sorrow-making out of measure.  And
so by fortune the maiden Elaine heard their mourning, and
then she came thither; and when she found Sir Launcelot
there armed in that place she cried and wept as she had
been wood; and then she kissed him, and did what she
might to awake him.  And then she rebuked her brother
and Sir Bors, and called them false traitors, why they would
take him out of his bed; there she cried, and said she would
appeal them of his death.

With this came the holy hermit, Sir Baudwin of Brittany,
and when he found Sir Launcelot in that plight he
said but little, but wit ye well he was wroth; and then he
bade them:  Let us have him in.  And so they all bare him
unto the hermitage, and unarmed him, and laid him in his
bed; and evermore his wound bled piteously, but he stirred
no limb of him.  Then the knight-hermit put a thing in
his nose and a little deal of water in his mouth.  And then
Sir Launcelot waked of his swoon, and then the hermit
staunched his bleeding.  And when he might speak he
asked Sir Launcelot why he put his life in jeopardy.  Sir,
said Sir Launcelot, because I weened I had been strong, and
also Sir Bors told me that there should be at All Hallowmass
a great jousts betwixt King Arthur and the King of
Northgalis, and therefore I thought to assay it myself
whether I might be there or not.  Ah, Sir Launcelot, said
the hermit, your heart and your courage will never be done
until your last day, but ye shall do now by my counsel
Let Sir Bors depart from you, and let him do at that
tournament what he may:  And by the grace of God, said
the knight-hermit, by that the tournament be done and ye
come hither again, Sir Launcelot shall be as whole as ye, so
that he will be governed by me.