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Of the holy communication of an Abbot to Sir Bors, and how
the Abbot counselled him.

AND that night was Sir Bors served richly; and on the
morn early he heard mass, and the Abbot came to him,
and bade him good morrow, and Bors to him again.  And
then he told him he was a fellow of the quest of the Sangreal,
and how he had charge of the holy man to eat bread
and water.  Then [said the Abbot]:  Our Lord Jesu Christ
showed him unto you in the likeness of a soul that suffered
great anguish for us, since He was put upon the cross, and
bled His heart-blood for mankind: there was the token
and the likeness of the Sangreal that appeared afore you,
for the blood that the great fowl bled revived the chickens
from death to life.  And by the bare tree is betokened
the world which is naked and without fruit but if it come
of Our Lord.  Also the lady for whom ye fought for, and
King Aniause which was lord there-to-fore, betokeneth
Jesu Christ which is the King of the world.  And that ye
fought with the champion for the lady, this it betokeneth:
for when ye took the battle for the lady, by her shall ye
understand the new law of Jesu Christ and Holy Church;
and by the other lady ye shall understand the old law and
the fiend, which all day warreth against Holy Church,
therefore ye did your battle with right.  For ye be Jesu
Christ's knights, therefore ye ought to be defenders of
Holy Church.  And by the black bird might ye understand
Holy Church, which sayeth I am black, but he is
fair.  And by the white bird might men understand the
fiend, and I shall tell you how the swan is white without-
forth, and black within: it is hypocrisy which is without
yellow or pale, and seemeth without-forth the servants of
Jesu Christ, but they be within so horrible of filth and
sin, and beguile the world evil.  Also when the fiend
appeared to thee in likeness of a man of religion, and
blamed thee that thou left thy brother for a lady, so led
thee where thou seemed thy brother was slain, but he is
yet alive; and all was for to put thee in error, and bring
thee unto wanhope and lechery, for he knew thou were
tender hearted, and all was for thou shouldst not find the
blessed adventure of the Sangreal.  And the third fowl
betokeneth the strong battle against the fair ladies which
were all devils.  Also the dry tree and the white lily: the
dry tree betokeneth thy brother Lionel, which is dry
without virtue, and therefore many men ought to call him the
rotten tree, and the worm-eaten tree, for he is a murderer
and doth contrary to the order of knighthood.  And the
two white flowers signify two maidens, the one is a knight
which was wounded the other day, and the other is the
gentlewoman which ye rescued; and why the other flower
drew nigh the other, that was the knight which would
have defouled her and himself both.  And Sir Bors, ye
had been a great fool and in great peril for to have seen
those two flowers perish for to succour the rotten tree, for
an they had sinned together they had been damned; and
for that ye rescued them both, men might call you a very
knight and servant of Jesu Christ.