Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IV CHAPTER XX

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How a knight and a dwarf strove for a lady.

AND therewith he passed unto the one side of the laund; and on
the other side saw Sir Gawaine ten knights that hoved still and
made them ready with their shields and spears against that one
knight that came by Sir Gawaine.

Then this one knight aventred a great spear, and one <133>of the
ten knights encountered with him, but this woful knight smote him
so hard that he fell over his horse's tail.  So this same
dolorous knight served them all, that at the leastway he smote
down horse and man, and all he did with one spear; and so when
they were all ten on foot, they went to that one knight, and he
stood stone still, and suffered them to pull him down off his
horse, and bound him hand and foot, and tied him under the
horse's belly, and so led him with them.  O Jesu! said Sir
Gawaine, this is a doleful sight, to see the yonder knight so to
be entreated, and it seemeth by the knight that he suffereth them
to bind him so, for he maketh no resistance.  No, said his host,
that is truth, for an he would they all were too weak so to do
him.  Sir, said the damosel unto Sir Gawaine, meseemeth it were
your worship to help that dolorous knight, for methinketh he is
one of the best knights that ever I saw.  I would do for him,
said Sir Gawaine, but it seemeth he will have no help.  Then,
said the damosel, methinketh ye have no lust to help him.

Thus as they talked they saw a knight on the other side of the
laund all armed save the head.  And on the other side there came
a dwarf on horseback all armed save the head, with a great mouth
and a short nose; and when the dwarf came nigh he said, Where is
the lady should meet us here? and therewithal she came forth out
of the wood.  And then they began to strive for the lady; for the
knight said he would have her, and the dwarf said he would have
her.  Will we do well? said the dwarf; yonder is a knight at the
cross, let us put it both upon him, and as he deemeth so shall it
be.  I will well, said the knight, and so they went all three
unto Sir Gawaine and told him wherefore they strove.  Well, sirs,
said he, will ye put the matter in my hand?  Yea, they said both. 
Now damosel, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall stand betwixt them both,
and whether ye list better to go to, he shall have you.  And when
she was set between them both, she left the knight and went to
the dwarf, and the dwarf took her and went his way singing, and
the knight went his way with great mourning.

Then came there two knights all armed, and cried on high, Sir
Gawaine! knight of King Arthur's, make thee ready in all haste
and joust with me.  So they ran together, that either fell down,
and then on foot they drew their swords, and did full actually. 
The meanwhile the other knight went to the damosel, and asked her
why she abode with that knight, and if ye would abide with me, I
will be your faithful knight.  And with you will I be, said the
damosel, for with Sir Gawaine I may not find in mine heart to be
with him; for now here was one knight discomfited ten knights,
and at the last he was cowardly led away; and therefore let us
two go whilst they fight.  And Sir Gawaine fought with that other
knight long, but at the last they accorded both.  And then the
knight prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night.  So as
Sir Gawaine went with this knight he asked him, What knight is he
in this country that smote down the ten knights?  For when he had
done so manfully he suffered them to bind him hand and foot, and
so led him away.  Ah, said the knight, that is the best knight I
trow in the world, and the most man of prowess, and he hath been
served so as he was even more than ten times, and his name hight
Sir Pelleas, and he loveth a great lady in this country and her
name is Ettard.  And so when he loved her there was cried in this
country a great jousts three days, and all the knights of this
country were there and gentlewomen, and who that proved him the
best knight should have a passing good sword and a circlet of
gold, and the circlet the knight should give it to the fairest
lady that was at the jousts.  And this knight Sir Pelleas was the
best knight that was there, and there were five hundred knights,
but there was never man that ever Sir Pelleas met withal but he
struck him down, or else from his horse; and every day of three
days he struck down twenty knights, therefore they gave him the
prize, and forthwithal he went thereas the Lady Ettard was, and
gave her the circlet, and said openly she was the fairest lady
that there was, and that would he prove upon any knight that
would say nay.