Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2

Contents:
Author: Thomas Malory

Chapter XX

What message Sir Gawaine sent to Sir Launcelot; and how King Arthur laid siege to Benwick, and other matters

THEN Sir Gawaine said to the damosel thus: Damosel, say ye to Sir Launcelot that it is waste labour now to sue to mine uncle; for tell him, an he would have made any labour for peace, he should have made it or this time, for tell him now it is too late; and say that I, Sir Gawaine, so send him word, that I promise him by the faith I owe unto God and to knighthood, I shall never leave him till he have slain me or I him. So the damosel wept and departed, and there were many weeping eyen; and so Sir Lucan brought the damosel to her palfrey, and so she came to Sir Launcelot where he was among all his knights. And when Sir Launcelot had heard this answer, then the tears ran down by his cheeks. And then his noble knights strode about him, and said: Sir Launcelot, wherefore make ye such cheer, think what ye are, and what men we are, and let us noble knights match them in midst of the field. That may be lightly done, said Sir Launcelot, but I was never so loath to do battle, and therefore I pray you, fair sirs, as ye love me, be ruled as I will have you, for I will always flee that noble king that made me knight. And when I may no further, I must needs defend me, and that will be more worship for me and us all than to compare with that noble king whom we have all served. Then they held their language, and as that night they took their rest.

And upon the morn early, in the dawning of the day, as knights looked out, they saw the city of Benwick besieged round about; and fast they began to set up ladders, and then they defied them out of the town, and beat them from the walls wightly. Then came forth Sir Gawaine well armed upon a stiff steed, and he came before the chief gate, with his spear in his hand, crying: Sir Launcelot, where art thou? is there none of you proud knights dare break a spear with me? Then Sir Bors made him ready, and came forth out of the town, and there Sir Gawaine encountered with Sir Bors. And at that time he smote Sir Bors down from his horse, and almost he had slain him; and so Sir Bors was rescued and borne into the town. Then came forth Sir Lionel, brother to Sir Bors, and thought to revenge him; and either feutred their spears, and ran together; and there they met spitefully, but Sir Gawaine had such grace that he smote Sir Lionel down, and wounded him there passing sore; and then Sir Lionel was rescued and borne into the town. And this Sir Gawaine came every day, and he failed not but that he smote down one knight or other.

So thus they endured half a year, and much slaughter was of people on both parties. Then it befell upon a day, Sir Gawaine came afore the gates armed at all pieces on a noble horse, with a great spear in his hand; and then he cried with a loud voice: Where art thou now, thou false traitor, Sir Launcelot? Why hidest thou thyself within holes and walls like a coward? Look out now, thou false traitor knight, and here I shall revenge upon thy body the death of my three brethren. All this language heard Sir Launcelot every deal; and his kin and his knights drew about him, and all they said at once to Sir Launcelot: Sir Launcelot, now must ye defend you like a knight, or else ye be shamed for ever; for, now ye be called upon treason, it is time for you to stir, for ye have slept over-long and suffered over-much. So God me help, said Sir Launcelot, I am right heavy of Sir Gawaine’s words, for now he charged me with a great charge; and therefore I wot it as well as ye, that I must defend me, or else to be recreant.

Then Sir Launcelot bade saddle his strongest horse, and bade let fetch his arms, and bring all unto the gate of the tower; and then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto King Arthur, and said: My lord Arthur, and noble king that made me knight, wit you well I am right heavy for your sake, that ye thus sue upon me; and always I forbare you, for an I would have been vengeable, I might have met you in midst of the field, and there to have made your boldest knights full tame. And now I have forborne half a year, and suffered you and Sir Gawaine to do what ye would do; and now may I endure it no longer, for now must I needs defend myself, insomuch Sir Gawaine hath appealed me of treason; the which is greatly against my will that ever I should fight against any of your blood, but now I may not forsake it, I am driven thereto as a beast till a bay.

Then Sir Gawaine said: Sir Launcelot, an thou durst do battle, leave thy babbling and come off, and let us ease our hearts. Then Sir Launcelot armed him lightly, and mounted upon his horse, and either of the knights gat great spears in their hands, and the host without stood still all apart, and the noble knights came out of the city by a great number, insomuch that when Arthur saw the number of men and knights, he marvelled, and said to himself: Alas, that ever Sir Launcelot was against me, for now I see he hath forborne me. And so the covenant was made, there should no man nigh them, nor deal with them, till the one were dead or yelden.

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Chicago: Thomas Malory, "Chapter XX," Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Evans, Sebastian in Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2 Original Sources, accessed January 16, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7F1Z8KM8G4FRFK.

MLA: Malory, Thomas. "Chapter XX." Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Evans, Sebastian, in Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2, Vol. 2, Original Sources. 16 Jan. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7F1Z8KM8G4FRFK.

Harvard: Malory, T, 'Chapter XX' in Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2, ed. and trans. . cited in , Le Mort d’Arthur, Vol. 2. Original Sources, retrieved 16 January 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7F1Z8KM8G4FRFK.