Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XVI CHAPTER XII
Legends and Sagas
How the devil in a woman's likeness would have had Sir
Bors to have lain by her, and how by God's grace he
ALAS, said she, Bors, shall ye not do my will? Madam,
said Bors, there is no lady in the world whose will I will
fulfil as of this thing, for my brother lieth dead which was
slain right late. Ah Bors, said she, I have loved you long
for the great beauty I have seen in you, and the great
hardiness that I have heard of you, that needs ye must lie
by me this night, and therefore I pray you grant it me.
Truly, said he, I shall not do it in no manner wise. Then
she made him such sorrow as though she would have died.
Well Bors, said she, unto this have ye brought me, nigh
to mine end. And therewith she took him by the hand,
and bade him behold her. And ye shall see how I shall
die for your love. Ah, said then he, that shall I never see.
Then she departed and went up into an high battlement,
and led with her twelve gentlewomen; and when
they were above, one of the gentlewomen cried, and said:
Ah, Sir Bors, gentle knight have mercy on us all, and
suffer my lady to have her will, and if ye do not we must
suffer death with our lady, for to fall down off this high
tower, and if ye suffer us thus to die for so little a thing
all ladies and gentlewomen will say or you dishonour.
Then looked he upward, they seemed all ladies of great
estate, and richly and well beseen. Then had he of them
great pity; not for that he was uncounselled in himself
that liefer he had they all had lost their souls than he his,
and with that they fell adown all at once unto the earth.
And when he saw that, he was all abashed, and had thereof
great marvel. With that he blessed his body and his
visage. And anon he heard a great noise and a great cry,
as though all the fiends of hell had been about him; and
therewith he saw neither tower, nor lady, nor gentlewoman,
nor no chapel where he brought his brother to. Then
held he up both his hands to the heaven, and said: Fair
Father God, I am grievously escaped; and then he took
his arms and his horse and rode on his way.
Then he heard a clock smite on his right hand; and
thither he came to an abbey on his right hand, closed
with high walls, and there was let in. Then they supposed
that he was one of the quest of the Sangreal, so they led
him into a chamber and unarmed him. Sirs, said Sir
Bors, if there be any holy man in this house I pray you
let me speak with him. Then one of them led him unto
the Abbot, which was in a chapel. And then Sir Bors
saluted him, and he him again. Sir, said Bors, I am a
knight-errant; and told him all the adventure which he
had seen. Sir Knight, said the Abbot, I wot not what ye
be, for I weened never that a knight of your age might
have been so strong in the grace of our Lord Jesu Christ.
Not for then ye shall go unto your rest, for I will not
counsel you this day, it is too late, and to-morrow I shall
counsel you as I can.