Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IX CHAPTER I

Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK IX  Previous  Next 


How a young man came into the court of King Arthur, and
how Sir Kay called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile.

AT the court of King Arthur there came a young man and bigly
made, and he was richly beseen: and he desired to be made knight
of the king, but his over-garment sat over-thwartly, howbeit it
was rich cloth of gold.  What is your name? said King Arthur. 
Sir, said he, my name is Breunor le Noire, and within short space
ye shall know that I am of good kin.  It may well be, said Sir
Kay, the Seneschal, but in mockage ye shall be called La Cote
Male Taile, that is as much to say, the evil-shapen coat  It is a
great thing that thou askest, said the king; and for what cause
wearest thou that rich coat? tell me, for I can well think for
some cause it is.  Sir, he answered, I had a father, a noble
knight, and as he rode a-hunting, upon a day it happed him to lay
him down to sleep; and there came a knight that had been long his
enemy, and when he saw he was fast asleep he all to-hew him; and
this same coat had my father on the same time; and that maketh
this coat to sit so evil upon me, for the strokes be on it as I
found it, and never shall be amended for me. Thus to have my
father's death in remembrance I wear this coat till I be
revenged; and because ye are called the most noblest king of the
world I come to you that ye should make me knight.  Sir, said Sir
Lamorak and Sir Gaheris, it were well done to make him knight;
for him <352>beseemeth well of person and of countenance, that he
shall prove a good man, and a good knight, and a mighty; for,
Sir, an ye be remembered, even such one was Sir Launcelot du Lake
when he came first into this court, and full few of us knew from
whence he came; and now is he proved the man of most worship in
the world; and all your court and all your Round Table is by Sir
Launcelot worshipped and amended more than by any knight now
living.  That is truth, said the king, and to-morrow at your
request I shall make him knight.

So on the morrow there was an hart found, and thither rode King
Arthur with a company of his knights to slay the hart.  And this
young man that Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile was there left
behind with Queen Guenever; and by sudden adventure there was an
horrible lion kept in a strong tower of stone, and it happened
that he at that time brake loose, and came hurling afore the
queen and her knights.  And when the queen saw the lion she cried
and fled, and prayed her knights to rescue her.  And there was
none of them all but twelve that abode, and all the other fled. 
Then said La Cote Male Taile:  Now I see well that all coward
knights be not dead; and therewithal he drew his sword and
dressed him afore the lion.  And that lion gaped wide and came
upon him ramping to have slain him.  And he then smote him in the
midst of the head such a mighty stroke that it clave his head in
sunder, and dashed to the earth.  Then was it told the queen how
the young man that Sir Kay named by scorn La Cote Male Taile had
slain the lion.  With that the king came home.  And when the
queen told him of that adventure, he was well pleased, and said: 
Upon pain of mine head he shall prove a noble man and a faithful
knight, and true of his promise: then the king forthwithal made
him knight.  Now Sir, said this young knight, I require you and
all the knights of your court, that ye call me by none other name
but La Cote Male Taile: in so much as Sir Kay hath so named me so
will I be called.  I assent me well thereto, said the king.