Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XVIII CHAPTER XV

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CHAPTER XV

Of the sorrow that Sir Bors had for the hurt of Launcelot;
and of the anger that the queen had because Launcelot
bare the sleeve.


AND when Sir Bors heard that, wit ye well he was an
heavy man, and so were all his kinsmen.  But when
Queen Guenever wist that Sir Launcelot bare the red
sleeve of the Fair Maiden of Astolat she was nigh out of
her mind for wrath.  And then she sent for Sir Bors de
Ganis in all the haste that might be.  So when Sir Bors
was come to-fore the queen, then she said:  Ah Sir Bors,
have ye heard say how falsely Sir Launcelot hath betrayed
me?  Alas madam, said Sir Bors, I am afeard he hath
betrayed himself and us all.  No force, said the queen,
though he be destroyed, for he is a false traitor-knight.
Madam, said Sir Bors, I pray you say ye not so, for wit
you well I may not hear such language of him.  Why Sir
Bors, said she, should I not call him traitor when he bare
the red sleeve upon his head at Winchester, at the great
jousts?  Madam, said Sir Bors, that sleeve-bearing
repenteth me sore, but I dare say he did it to none evil
intent, but for this cause he bare the red sleeve that none
of his blood should know him.  For or then we, nor none of
us all, never knew that ever he bare token or sign of maid,
lady, ne gentlewoman.  Fie on him, said the queen, yet
for all his pride and bobaunce there ye proved yourself his
better.  Nay madam, say ye never more so, for he beat
me and my fellows, and might have slain us an he had
would.  Fie on him, said the queen, for I heard Sir
Gawaine say before my lord Arthur that it were marvel to
tell the great love that is between the Fair Maiden of
Astolat and him.  Madam, said Sir Bors, I may not warn
Sir Gawaine to say what it pleased him; but I dare say,
as for my lord, Sir Launcelot, that he loveth no lady,
gentlewoman, nor maid, but all he loveth in like much.
And therefore madam, said Sir Bors, ye may say what
ye will, but wit ye well I will haste me to seek him, and
find him wheresomever he be, and God send me good
tidings of him.  And so leave we them there, and speak
we of Sir Launcelot that lay in great peril.

So as fair Elaine came to Winchester she sought there
all about, and by fortune Sir Lavaine was ridden to play
him, to enchafe his horse.  And anon as Elaine saw him
she knew him, and then she cried aloud until him.  And
when he heard her anon he came to her, and then she asked
her brother how did my lord, Sir Launcelot.  Who told
you, sister, that my lord's name was Sir Launcelot?  Then
she told him how Sir Gawaine by his shield knew him.
So they rode together till that they came to the hermitage,
and anon she alighted.

So Sir Lavaine brought her in to Sir Launcelot; and
when she saw him lie so sick and pale in his bed she might
not speak, but suddenly she fell to the earth down suddenly
in a swoon, and there she lay a great while.  And when
she was relieved, she shrieked and said:  My lord, Sir
Launcelot, alas why be ye in this plight? and then she
swooned again.  And then Sir Launcelot prayed Sir
Lavaine to take her up:  And bring her to me.  And
when she came to herself Sir Launcelot kissed her, and
said:  Fair maiden, why fare ye thus? ye put me to pain;
wherefore make ye no more such cheer, for an ye be come
to comfort me ye be right welcome; and of this little hurt
that I have I shall be right hastily whole by the grace of
God.  But I marvel, said Sir Launcelot, who told you my
name?  Then the fair maiden told him all how Sir
Gawaine was lodged with her father:  And there by your
shield he discovered your name.  Alas, said Sir Launcelot,
that me repenteth that my name is known, for I am sure
it will turn unto anger.  And then Sir Launcelot compassed
in his mind that Sir Gawaine would tell Queen
Guenever how he bare the red sleeve, and for whom; that
he wist well would turn into great anger.

So this maiden Elaine never went from Sir Launcelot,
but watched him day and night, and did such attendance
to him, that the French book saith there was never woman
did more kindlier for man than she.  Then Sir Launcelot
prayed Sir Lavaine to make aspies in Winchester for Sir
Bors if he came there, and told him by what tokens he
should know him, by a wound in his forehead.  For well
I am sure, said Sir Launcelot, that Sir Bors will seek me,
for he is the same good knight that hurt me.