Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XVI CHAPTER VII
Legends and Sagas
How Sir Bors was lodged with a lady, and how he took upon
him for to fight against a champion for her land.
AND when he was unarmed they led him into an high
tower where was a lady, young, lusty, and fair. And she
received him with great joy, and made him to sit down by
her, and so was he set to sup with flesh and many dainties.
And when Sir Bors saw that, he bethought him on his
penance, and bade a squire to bring him water. And so
he brought him, and he made sops therein and ate them.
Ah, said the lady, I trow ye like not my meat. Yes,
truly, said Sir Bors, God thank you, madam, but I may
eat none other meat this day. Then she spake no more
as at that time, for she was loath to displease him. Then
after supper they spake of one thing and other.
With that came a squire and said: Madam, ye must
purvey you to-morn for a champion, for else your sister
will have this castle and also your lands, except ye can
find a knight that will fight to-morn in your quarrel
against Pridam le Noire. Then she made sorrow and
said: Ah, Lord God, wherefore granted ye to hold my
land, whereof I should now be disherited without reason
and right? And when Sir Bors had heard her say thus,
he said: I shall comfort you. Sir, said she, I shall tell
you there was here a king that hight Aniause, which held
all this land in his keeping. So it mishapped he loved a
gentlewoman a great deal elder than I. So took he her
all this land to her keeping, and all his men to govern;
and she brought up many evil customs whereby she put to
death a great part of his kinsmen. And when he saw that,
he let chase her out of this land, and betook it me, and all
this land in my demesnes. But anon as that worthy king
was dead, this other lady began to war upon me, and hath
destroyed many of my men, and turned them against me,
that I have well-nigh no man left me; and I have nought
else but this high tower that she left me. And yet she
hath promised me to have this tower, without I can find a
knight to fight with her champion.
Now tell me, said Sir Bors, what is that Pridam le
Noire? Sir, said she, he is the most doubted man of this
land. Now may ye send her word that ye have found a
knight that shall fight with that Pridam le Noire in God's
quarrel and yours. Then that lady was not a little glad,
and sent word that she was purveyed, and that night Bors
had good cheer; but in no bed he would come, but laid
him on the floor, nor never would do otherwise till that
he had met with the quest of the Sangreal.