Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK IV  Previous  Next 


How Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine met with twelve fair
damosels, and how they complained on Sir Marhaus.

THEN Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine went and saluted them, and asked
why they did that despite to the shield.  Sir, said the damosels,
we shall tell you.  There is a knight in this country that owneth
this white shield, and he is a passing good man of his hands, but
he hateth all ladies and gentlewomen, and therefore we do all
this despite to the shield.  I shall say you, said Sir Gawaine,
it beseemeth evil a good knight to despise all ladies and
gentlewomen, and peradventure though he hate you he hath some
certain cause, and peradventure he loveth in some other places
ladies and gentlewomen, and to be loved again, an he be such a
man of prowess as ye speak of.  Now, what is his name?  Sir, said
they, his name is Marhaus, the king's son of Ireland.  I know him
well, said Sir Uwaine, he is a passing good knight as any is
alive, for I saw him once proved at a jousts where many knights
were gathered, and <128>that time there might no man withstand
him.  Ah! said Sir Gawaine, damosels, methinketh ye are to blame,
for it is to suppose, he that hung that shield there, he will not
be long therefrom, and then may those knights match him on
horseback, and that is more your worship than thus; for I will
abide no longer to see a knight's shield dishonoured.  And
therewith Sir Uwaine and Gawaine departed a little from them, and
then were they ware where Sir Marhaus came riding on a great
horse straight toward them.  And when the twelve damosels saw Sir
Marhaus they fled into the turret as they were wild, so that some
of them fell by the way.  Then the one of the knights of the
tower dressed his shield, and said on high, Sir Marhaus, defend
thee.  And so they ran together that the knight brake his spear
on Marhaus, and Marhaus smote him so hard that he brake his neck
and the horse's back.  That saw the other knight of the turret,
and dressed him toward Marhaus, and they met so eagerly together
that the knight of the turret was soon smitten down, horse and
man, stark dead.