King Arthur Pages
Marriage to Guinevere
How Sir Lancelot slew two giants,
And made a castle free.
From Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur
ANON withal came there upon him two great giants, well armed all save the heads, with two horrible clubs in their hands. Sir Lancelot put his
shield afore him, and put the stroke away of the one giant, and with his sword he clave his head asunder. When his fellow saw that, he ran away as
he were wood, for fear of the horrible strokes, and Sir Lancelot after him with all his might, and smote him on the shoulder, and clave him to
Then Sir Lancelot went into the hall, and there came afore him threescore ladies and damsels, and all kneeled unto him, and thanked God and him of their deliverance. For, sir, said they, the most part of us have been here this seven year their prisoners, and we have worked all manner of silk works for our meat, and we are all great gentlewomen born, and blessed be the time, knight, that ever thou wert born; for thou hast done the most worship that ever did knight in the world, that will we bear record, and we all pray you to tell us your name, that we may tell our friends who delivered us out of prison.
Fair damsels, he said, my name is Sir Lancelot du Lake. Ah, sir, said they all, well mayest thou be he, for else save yourself, as we deemed, there might never knight have the better of these two giants, for many fair knights have assayed it, and here have
ended, and many times have we wished after you, and these two giants dread never knight but you.
Now may ye say, said Sir Lancelot, unto your
friends, how and who hath delivered you, and greet them all from me, and if that I come in any of your marches, shew me such cheer as ye have cause; and what treasure that there is in this castle I give it you for a reward for your grievance: and the lord that is the owner of this castle I would that he received it as is right. Fair sir, said they, the name of this castle is Tintagil, and a duke owned it some time that had wedded fair Igraine, and after wedded her Uther Pendragon and gat on her Arthur.
Well, said Sir Lancelot, I understand to whom this castle belongeth. And so he departed from them and betaught them unto God. And then he mounted upon his horse, and rode into many strange and wild countries and through
many waters and valleys, and evil was he lodged.
And at the last by fortune him happened against a night to come to a fair courtelage, and therein he found an old gentlewoman that lodged him with a good will, and there he had good cheer for him and his horse. And when time was, his host brought him into a fair garret over the gate to his bed.
There Sir Lancelot unarmed him, and set his harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on sleep. So soon after there came one on horseback, and knocked at the gate in great haste.
And when Sir Lancelot heard this he arose up, and looked out at the window, and saw by the moon-light three knights came riding after that one man, and all three lashed on him at once with swords, and that one knight turned on them knightly again and defended him. Truly, said Sir Lancelot, yonder one knight shall I help, for it were shame for me to see three knights on one, and if he be slain I am partner of his death. And therewith he took his harness and went out at
a window by a sheet down to the four knights, and then Sir Lancelot said on high, Turn you knights unto me, and leave your fighting with that knight. And then they all three left Sir Kay, and turned unto Sir Lancelot, and there began great battle, for they alight all three, and strake many great strokes at Sir Lancelot, and assailed him on every
side. Then Sir Kay dressed him for to have holpen Sir Lancelot. Nay, sir, said he, I will none of your help, therefore as ye will have my help let me alone with them. Sir Kay for the pleasure of the knight suffered him for to do his will, and so stood aside.
And then anon within six strokes Sir Lancelot had stricken them to the earth.And then they all three cried, Sir knight, we yield us unto you as man of
might matchless. As to that, said Sir Lancelot, I will not take your yielding unto me, but so that ye yield you unto Sir Kay the seneschal, on that covenant I will save your lives and else not. Fair knight, said they, that were we loth to do; for as for Sir Kay we chased him hither, and had overcome him had not ye been; therefore to yield us unto him it were no reason.
Well, as to that, said Sir Lancelot, advise you well, for ye may choose whether ye will die or live, for and ye be yielden it shall be unto Sir Kay. Fair knight, then they said, in saving our lives we will do as thou commandest us.
Then shall ye, said Sir Lancelot, on Whitsunday next coming go unto the court of king Arthur, and there shall ye yield you unto queen Guenever, and put you all three in her grace and mercy, and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to be her prisoners.
Sir, they said, it shall done by the faith of our bodies, and we be living. And there they swore,
every knight upon his sword. And so Sir Lancelot suffered them so to depart. And then Sir Lancelot knocked at the gate with the pommel of his sword, and with that came his host, and in they entered, Sir Kay and he. Sir, said his host, I wend ye had been in your bed. So I was, said Sir Lancelot, but
I arose and lept out at my window for to help an old fellow of mine. And so when they came nigh the light Sir Kay knew well that it was Sir Lancelot, and therewith he kneeled down and thanked him of all his kindness that he hath holpen him twice from the death. Sir, he said, I have done nothing but that I ought to do, and ye are welcome, and here shall ye repose you and take your rest.
So when Sir Kay was unarmed he asked after meat, so there was meat fetched him, and he ate strongly. And when he had supped they went to their beds, and were lodged together in one bed. On the morn Sir Lancelot arose early, and left Sir Kay sleeping: and Sir Lancelot took Sir Kay's armour and his shield and armed him: and so he went to the stable and took his horse and took his leave of his host, and so he departed. Then soon after arose Sir Kay and missed Sir Lancelot : and then he espied that he had his armour and his horse. Now
by my faith I know well that he will grieve some of the court of king Arthur: for on him knights will be bold, and deem that it is I, and that will beguile them: and because of his armour and shield I am sure I shall ride in peace. And then soon after departed Sir Kay, and thanked his host.
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