Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XXI CHAPTER X

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How Sir Launcelot came to the hermitage where the Archbishop
of Canterbury was, and how he took the habit on

BUT sithen I find you thus disposed, I ensure you faithfully,
I will ever take me to penance, and pray while my life
lasteth, if I may find any hermit, either gray or white, that
will receive me.  Wherefore, madam, I pray you kiss me
and never no more.  Nay, said the queen, that shall I
never do, but abstain you from such works: and they
departed.  But there was never so hard an hearted man
but he would have wept to see the dolour that they made;
for there was lamentation as they had been stung with
spears; and many times they swooned, and the ladies bare
the queen to her chamber.

And Sir Launcelot awoke, and went and took his horse,
and rode all that day and all night in a forest, weeping.
And at the last he was ware of an hermitage and a chapel
stood betwixt two cliffs; and then he heard a little bell
ring to mass, and thither he rode and alighted, and tied his
horse to the gate, and heard mass.  And he that sang
mass was the Bishop of Canterbury.  Both the Bishop and
Sir Bedivere knew Sir Launcelot, and they spake together
after mass.  But when Sir Bedivere had told his tale all
whole, Sir Launcelot's heart almost brast for sorrow, and
Sir Launcelot threw his arms abroad, and said:  Alas, who
may trust this world.  And then he kneeled down on his
knee, and prayed the Bishop to shrive him and assoil him.
And then he besought the Bishop that he might be his
brother.  Then the Bishop said:  I will gladly; and there
he put an habit upon Sir Launcelot, and there he served God
day and night with prayers and fastings.

Thus the great host abode at Dover.  And then Sir
Lionel took fifteen lords with him, and rode to London to
seek Sir Launcelot; and there Sir Lionel was slain and
many of his lords.  Then Sir Bors de Ganis made the
great host for to go home again; and Sir Bors, Sir Ector
de Maris, Sir Blamore, Sir Bleoberis, with more other of
Sir Launcelot's kin, took on them to ride all England
overthwart and endlong, to seek Sir Launcelot.  So Sir
Bors by fortune rode so long till he came to the same
chapel where Sir Launcelot was; and so Sir Bors heard a
little bell knell, that rang to mass; and there he alighted
and heard mass.  And when mass was done, the Bishop
Sir Launcelot, and Sir Bedivere, came to Sir Bors.  And
when Sir Bors saw Sir Launcelot in that manner clothing,
then he prayed the Bishop that he might be in the same
suit.  And so there was an habit put upon him, and there
he lived in prayers and fasting.  And within half a year,
there was come Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Blamore, Sir
Bleoberis, Sir Villiars, Sir Clarras, and Sir Gahalantine.  So
all these seven noble knights there abode still.  And when
they saw Sir Launcelot had taken him to such perfection,
they had no lust to depart, but took such an habit as he

Thus they endured in great penance six year; and then
Sir Launcelot took the habit of priesthood of the Bishop,
and a twelvemonth he sang mass.  And there was none
of these other knights but they read in books, and holp
for to sing mass, and rang bells, and did bodily all manner
of service.  And so their horses went where they would,
for they took no regard of no worldly riches.  For when
they saw Sir Launcelot endure such penance, in prayers, and
fastings, they took no force what pain they endured, for to
see the noblest knight of the world take such abstinence
that he waxed full lean.  And thus upon a night, there
came a vision to Sir Launcelot, and charged him, in remission
of his sins, to haste him unto Almesbury:  And by
then thou come there, thou shalt find Queen Guenever
dead.  And therefore take thy fellows with thee, and
purvey them of an horse bier, and fetch thou the corpse of
her, and bury her by her husband, the noble King Arthur.
So this avision came to Sir Launcelot thrice in one