Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XX CHAPTER VI

Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK XX  Previous  Next 

 Of the counsel and advice that was taken by Sir Launcelot
 and his friends for to save the queen
 MY lord, Sir Launcelot, said Sir Bors, by mine advice ye
 shall take the woe with the weal, and take it in patience,
 and thank God of it.  And sithen it is fallen as it is, I
 counsel you keep yourself, for an ye will yourself, there
 is no fellowship of knights christened that shall do you
 wrong.  Also I will counsel you my lord, Sir Launcelot,
 than an my lady, Queen Guenever, be in distress, insomuch
 as she is in pain for your sake, that ye knightly
 rescue her; an ye did otherwise, all the world will speak
 of you shame to the world's end.  Insomuch as ye were
 taken with her, whether ye did right or wrong, it is now
 your part to hold with the queen, that she be not slain
 and put to a mischievous death, for an she so die the
 shame shall be yours.  Jesu defend me from shame, said
 Sir Launcelot, and keep and save my lady the queen from
 villainy and shameful death, and that she never be
 destroyed in my default; wherefore my fair lords, my kin,
 and my friends, said Sir Launcelot, what will ye do?
 Then they said all:  We will do as ye will do.  I put
 this to you, said Sir Launcelot, that if my lord Arthur by
 evil counsel will to-morn in his heat put my lady the
 queen to the fire there to be brent, now I pray you counsel
 me what is best to do.  Then they said all at once with
 one voice:  Sir, us thinketh best that ye knightly rescue
 the queen, insomuch as she shall be brent it is for your
 sake; and it is to suppose, an ye might be handled, ye
 should have the same death, or a more shamefuler death.
 And sir, we say all, that ye have many times rescued her
 from death for other men's quarrels, us seemeth it is more
 your worship that ye rescue the queen from this peril,
 insomuch she hath it for your sake.
 Then Sir Launcelot stood still, and said:  My fair
 lords, wit you well I would be loath to do that thing that
 should dishonour you or my blood, and wit you well I
 would be loath that my lady, the queen, should die a
 shameful death; but an it be so that ye will counsel me
 to rescue her, I must do much harm or I rescue her; and
 peradventure I shall there destroy some of my best friends,
 that should much repent me; and peradventure there be
 some, an they could well bring it about, or disobey my
 lord King Arthur, they would soon come to me, the
 which I were loath to hurt.  And if so be that I rescue
 her, where shall I keep her?  That shall be the least care
 of us all, said Sir Bors.  How did the noble knight Sir
 Tristram, by your good will? kept not he with him La
 Beale Isoud near three year in Joyous Gard? the which
 was done by your alther device, and that same place is
 your own; and in likewise may ye do an ye list, and take
 the queen lightly away, if it so be the king will judge her
 to be brent; and in Joyous Gard ye may keep her long
 enough until the heat of the king be past.  And then
 shall ye bring again the queen to the king with great
 worship; and then peradventure ye shall have thank for
 her bringing home, and love and thank where other shall
 have maugre.
 That is hard to do, said Sir Launcelot, for by Sir
 Tristram I may have a warning, for when by means of
 treaties, Sir Tristram brought again La Beale Isoud unto
 King Mark from Joyous Gard, look what befell on the
 end, how shamefully that false traitor King Mark slew
 him as he sat harping afore his lady La Beale Isoud, with
 a grounden glaive he thrust him in behind to the heart.
 It grieveth me, said Sir Launcelot, to speak of his death,
 for all the world may not find such a knight.  All this is
 truth, said Sir Bors, but there is one thing shall courage
 you and us all, ye know well King Arthur and King Mark
 were never like of conditions, for there was never yet man
 could prove King Arthur untrue of his promise.
 So to make short tale, they were all consented that
 for better outher for worse, if so were that the queen were
 on that morn brought to the fire, shortly they all would
 rescue her.  And so by the advice of Sir Launcelot, they
 put them all in an embushment in a wood, as nigh Carlisle
 as they might, and there they abode still, to wit what the
 king would do.