Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK VII CHAPTER II

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CHAPTER II

How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine were wroth because
Sir Kay mocked Beaumains, and of a damosel which
desired a knight to fight for a lady.

THEREAT was Sir Gawaine wroth, and in especial Sir Launcelot bade
Sir Kay leave his mocking, for I dare lay my head he shall prove
a man of great worship.  Let be said Sir Kay, it may not be by no
reason, for as he is, so he hath asked.  Beware, said Sir
Launcelot, so ye gave the good knight Brewnor, Sir Dinadan's
brother, a name, and ye called him La Cote Male Taile, and that
turned you to anger afterward.  As for that, said Sir Kay, this
shall never prove none such.  For Sir Brewnor desired ever
worship, and this desireth bread and drink and broth; upon pain
of my life he was fostered up in some abbey, and, howsomever it
was, they failed meat and drink, and so hither he is come for his
sustenance.

And so Sir Kay bade get him a place, and sit down to meat; so
Beaumains went to the hall door, and set him down among boys and
lads, and there he ate sadly.  And then Sir Launcelot after meat
bade him come to his chamber, and there he should have meat and
drink enough.  And so did Sir Gawaine: but he refused them all;
he would do none other but as Sir Kay commanded him, for no
proffer.  But as touching Sir Gawaine, he had reason to
<212>proffer him lodging, meat, and drink, for that proffer came
of his blood, for he was nearer kin to him than he wist.  But
that as Sir Launcelot did was of his great gentleness and
courtesy.

So thus he was put into the kitchen, and lay nightly as the boys
of the kitchen did.  And so he endured all that twelvemonth, and
never displeased man nor child, but always he was meek and mild. 
But ever when that he saw any jousting of knights, that would he
see an he might.  And ever Sir Launcelot would give him gold to
spend, and clothes, and so did Sir Gawaine, and where there were
any masteries done, thereat would he be, and there might none
cast bar nor stone to him by two yards.  Then would Sir Kay say,
How liketh you my boy of the kitchen?  So it passed on till the
feast of Whitsuntide.  And at that time the king held it at
Carlion in the most royallest wise that might be, like as he did
yearly.  But the king would no meat eat upon the Whitsunday,
until he heard some adventures.  Then came there a squire to the
king and said, Sir, ye may go to your meat, for here cometh a
damosel with some strange adventures.  Then was the king glad and
sat him down.

Right so there came a damosel into the hall and saluted the king,
and prayed him of succour.  For whom? said the king, what is the
adventure?

Sir, she said, I have a lady of great worship and renown, and she
is besieged with a tyrant, so that she may not out of her castle;
and because here are called the noblest knights of the world, I
come to you to pray you of succour.  What hight your lady, and
where dwelleth she, and who is she, and what is his name that
hath besieged her?  Sir king, she said, as for my lady's name
that shall not ye know for me as at this time, but I let you wit
she is a lady of great worship and of great lands; and as for the
tyrant that besiegeth her and destroyeth her lands, he is called
the Red Knight of the Red Launds.  I know him not, said the king. 
Sir, said Sir Gawaine, I know him well, for he is one of the
perilloust knights of the world; men say that he hath seven men's
strength, <213>and from him I escaped once full hard with my
life.  Fair damosel, said the king, there be knights here would
do their power for to rescue your lady, but because you will not
tell her name, nor where she dwelleth, therefore none of my
knights that here be now shall go with you by my will.  Then must
I speak further, said the damosel.