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How four knights fought against Gawaine and Gaheris,
and how they were overcome, and their lives saved at
request of four ladies.

AND Sir Gawaine went into the castle, and made him ready to lie
there all night, and would have unarmed him.  What will ye do,
said Gaheris, will ye unarm you in this <89>country?  Ye may
think ye have many enemies here.  They had not sooner said that
word but there came four knights well armed, and assailed Sir
Gawaine hard, and said unto him, Thou new-made knight, thou hast
shamed thy knighthood, for a knight without mercy is dishonoured. 
Also thou hast slain a fair lady to thy great shame to the
world's end, and doubt thou not thou shalt have great need of
mercy or thou depart from us.  And therewith one of them smote
Sir Gawaine a great stroke that nigh he fell to the earth, and
Gaheris smote him again sore, and so they were on the one side
and on the other, that Sir Gawaine and Gaheris were in jeopardy
of their lives; and one with a bow, an archer, smote Sir Gawaine
through the arm that it grieved him wonderly sore.  And as they
should have been slain, there came four fair ladies, and besought
the knights of grace for Sir Gawaine; and goodly at request of
the ladies they gave Sir Gawaine and Gaheris their lives, and
made them to yield them as prisoners.  Then Gawaine and Gaheris
made great dole. Alas! said Sir Gawaine, mine arm grieveth me
sore, I am like to be maimed; and so made his complaint

Early on the morrow there came to Sir Gawaine one of the four
ladies that had heard all his complaint, and said, Sir knight,
what cheer?  Not good, said he.  It is your own default, said the
lady, for ye have done a passing foul deed in the slaying of the
lady, the which will be great villainy unto you.  But be ye not
of King Arthur's kin? said the lady.  Yes truly, said Sir
Gawaine.  What is your name? said the lady, ye must tell it me or
ye pass.  My name is Gawaine, the King Lot of Orkney's son, and
my mother is King Arthur's sister.  Ah! then are ye nephew unto
King Arthur, said the lady, and I shall so speak for you that ye
shall have conduct to go to King Arthur for his love.  And so she
departed and told the four knights how their prisoner was King
Arthur's nephew, and his name is Sir Gawaine, King Lot's son of
Orkney.  And they gave him the hart's head because it was in his
quest.  Then anon they delivered Sir Gawaine under this promise,
that he should bear the dead lady with him in <90>this manner;
the head of her was hanged about his neck, and the whole body of
her lay before him on his horse's mane.  Right so rode he forth
unto Camelot.  And anon as he was come, Merlin desired of King
Arthur that Sir Gawaine should be sworn to tell of all his
adventures, and how he slew the lady, and how he would give no
mercy unto the knight, wherethrough the lady was slain.  Then the
king and the queen were greatly displeased with Sir Gawaine for
the slaying of the lady.  And there by ordinance of the queen
there was set a quest of ladies on Sir Gawaine, and they judged
him for ever while he lived to be with all ladies, and to fight
for their quarrels; and that ever he should be courteous, and
never to refuse mercy to him that asketh mercy.  Thus was Gawaine
sworn upon the Four Evangelists that he should never be against
lady nor gentlewoman, but if he fought for a lady and his
adversary fought for another.  And thus endeth the adventure of
Sir Gawaine that he did at the marriage of King Arthur.  Amen.