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How Sir Galahad fought with the knights of the castle, and
destroyed the wicked custom.

WHEN Sir Galahad heard this he thanked God, and took
his horse; and he had not ridden but half a mile, he saw
in the valley afore him a strong castle with deep ditches,
and there ran beside it a fair river that hight Severn; and
there he met with a man of great age, and either saluted
other, and Galahad asked him the castle's name.  Fair sir,
said he, it is the Castle of Maidens.  That is a cursed
castle, said Galahad, and all they that be conversant therein,
for all pity is out thereof, and all hardiness and mischief
is therein.  Therefore, I counsel you, sir knight, to turn
again.  Sir, said Galahad, wit you well I shall not turn
again.  Then looked Sir Galahad on his arms that nothing
failed him, and then he put his shield afore him; and anon
there met him seven fair maidens, the which said unto
him:  Sir knight, ye ride here in a great folly, for ye have
the water to pass over.  Why should I not pass the water?
said Galahad.  So rode he away from them and met with
a squire that said:  Knight, those knights in the castle
defy you, and defenden you ye go no further till that they
wit what ye would.  Fair sir, said Galahad, I come for to
destroy the wicked custom of this castle.  Sir, an ye will
abide by that ye shall have enough to do.  Go you now,
said Galahad, and haste my needs.

Then the squire entered into the castle.  And anon
after there came out of the castle seven knights, and all
were brethren.  And when they saw Galahad they cried:
Knight, keep thee, for we assure thee nothing but death.
Why, said Galahad, will ye all have ado with me at once?
Yea, said they, thereto mayst thou trust.  Then Galahad
put forth his spear and smote the foremost to the earth,
that near he brake his neck.  And therewithal the other
smote him on his shield great strokes, so that their spears
brake.  Then Sir Galahad drew out his sword, and set
upon them so hard that it was marvel to see it, and so
through great force he made them to forsake the field;
and Galahad chased them till they entered into the castle,
and so passed through the castle at another gate.

And there met Sir Galahad an old man clothed in
religious clothing, and said:  Sir, have here the keys of
this castle.  Then Sir Galahad opened the gates, and saw
so much people in the streets that he might not number
them, and all said:  Sir, ye be welcome, for long have we
abiden here our deliverance.  Then came to him a gentlewoman
and said:  These knights be fled, but they will
come again this night, and here to begin again their evil
custom.  What will ye that I shall do? said Galahad.
Sir, said the gentlewoman, that ye send after all the
knights hither that hold their lands of this castle, and
make them to swear for to use the customs that were used
heretofore of old time.  I will well, said Galahad.  And
there she brought him an horn of ivory, bounden with
gold richly, and said:  Sir, blow this horn which will be
heard two mile about this castle.  When Sir Galahad had
blown the horn he set him down upon a bed.

Then came a priest to Galahad, and said:  Sir, it is
past a seven year agone that these seven brethren came
into this castle, and harboured with the lord of this castle
that hight the Duke Lianour, and he was lord of all this
country.  And when they espied the duke's daughter,
that was a full fair woman, then by their false covin they
made debate betwixt themself, and the duke of his goodness
would have departed them, and there they slew him
and his eldest son.  And then they took the maiden and
the treasure of the castle.  And then by great force they
held all the knights of this castle against their will under
their obeissance, and in great service and truage, robbing
and pilling the poor common people of all that they
had.  So it happened on a day the duke's daughter said:
Ye have done unto me great wrong to slay mine own
father, and my brother, and thus to hold our lands: not
for then, she said, ye shall not hold this castle for many
years, for by one knight ye shall be overcome.  Thus she
prophesied seven years agone.  Well, said the seven
knights, sithen ye say so, there shall never lady nor knight
pass this castle but they shall abide maugre their heads, or
die therefore, till that knight be come by whom we shall
lose this castle.  And therefore is it called the Maidens'
Castle, for they have devoured many maidens.  Now, said
Galahad, is she here for whom this castle was lost?  Nay
sir, said the priest, she was dead within these three nights
after that she was thus enforced; and sithen have they
kept her younger sister, which endureth great pains with
mo other ladies.

By this were the knights of the country come, and
then he made them do homage and fealty to the king's
daughter, and set them in great ease of heart.  And in
the morn there came one to Galahad and told him how
that Gawaine, Gareth, and Uwaine, had slain the seven
brethren.  I suppose well, said Sir Galahad, and took his
armour and his horse, and commended them unto God.