Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK XVII  Previous  Next 

 How Sir Galahad entered into the ship, and of a fair bed
 therein, with other marvellous things, and of a sword.
 IN the meanwhile Galahad blessed him, and entered therein;
 and then next the gentlewoman, and then Sir Bors and Sir
 Percivale.  And when they were in, it was so marvellous
 fair and rich that they marvelled; and in midst of the
 ship was a fair bed, and Galahad went thereto, and found
 there a crown of silk.  And at the feet was a sword, rich
 and fair, and it was drawn out of the sheath half a foot
 and more; and the sword was of divers fashions, and the
 pommel was of stone, and there was in him all manner of
 colours that any man might find, and everych of the
 colours had divers virtues; and the scales of the haft
 were of two ribs of divers beasts, the one beast was a
 serpent which was conversant in Calidone, and is called
 the Serpent of the fiend; and the bone of him is of such
 a virtue that there is no hand that handleth him shall
 never be weary nor hurt.  And the other beast is a
 fish which is not right great, and haunteth the flood of
 Euphrates; and that fish is called Ertanax, and his bones
 be of such a manner of kind that who that handleth them
 shall have so much will that he shall never be weary, and
 he shall not think on joy nor sorrow that he hath had
 but only that thing that he beholdeth before him.  And
 as for this sword there shall never man begrip him at the
 handles but one; but he shall pass all other.  In the name
 of God, said Percivale, I shall assay to handle it.  So he
 set his hand to the sword, but he might not begrip it.
 By my faith, said he, now have I failed.  Bors set his
 hand thereto and failed.
 Then Galahad beheld the sword and saw letters like
 blood that said:  Let see who shall assay to draw me out
 of my sheath, but if he be more hardier than any other;
 and who that draweth me, wit ye well that he shall never
 fail of shame of his body, or to be wounded to the death.
 By my faith, said Galahad, I would draw this sword out
 of the sheath, but the offending is so great that I shall not
 set my hand thereto.  Now sirs, said the gentlewoman,
 wit ye well that the drawing of this sword is warned to
 all men save all only to you.  Also this ship arrived in
 the realm of Logris; and that time was deadly war between
 King Labor, which was father unto the maimed king, and
 King Hurlame, which was a Saracen.  But then was he
 newly christened, so that men held him afterward one of
 the wittiest men of the world.  And so upon a day it
 befell that King Labor and King Hurlame had assembled
 their folk upon the sea where this ship was arrived; and
 there King Hurlame was discomfit, and his men slain;
 and he was afeard to be dead, and fled to his ship, and
 there found this sword and drew it, and came out and
 found King Labor, the man in the world of all Christendom
 in whom was then the greatest faith.  And when
 King Hurlame saw King Labor he dressed this sword,
 and smote him upon the helm so hard that he clave him
 and his horse to the earth with the first stroke of his
 sword.  And it was in the realm of Logris; and so befell
 great pestilence and great harm to both realms.  For
 sithen increased neither corn, nor grass, nor well-nigh no
 fruit, nor in the water was no fish; wherefore men call
 it the lands of the two marches, the waste land, for that
 dolorous stroke.  And when King Hurlame saw this
 sword so carving, he turned again to fetch the scabbard,
 and so came into this ship and entered, and put up the
 sword in the sheath.  And as soon as he had done it
 he fell down dead afore the bed.  Thus was the sword
 proved, that none ne drew it but he were dead or maimed.
 So lay he there till a maiden came into the ship and cast
 him out, for there was no man so hardy of the world to
 enter into that ship for the defence.