Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK XVIII  Previous  Next 


Of great jousts done all a Christmas, and of a great jousts and
tourney ordained by King Arthur, and of Sir Launcelot.

THUS it passed on till Christmas, and then every day
there was jousts made for a diamond, who that jousted
best should have a diamond.  But Sir Launcelot would
not joust but if it were at a great jousts cried.  But Sir
Lavaine jousted there all that Christmas passingly well,
and best was praised, for there were but few that did so
well.  Wherefore all manner of knights deemed that Sir
Lavaine should be made knight of the Table Round at
the next feast of Pentecost.  So at-after Christmas King
Arthur let call unto him many knights, and there they
advised together to make a party and a great tournament
and jousts.  And the King of Northgalis said to Arthur,
he would have on his party King Anguish of Ireland, and
the King with the Hundred Knights, and the King of
Northumberland, and Sir Galahad, the haut prince.  And
so these four kings and this mighty duke took part against
King Arthur and the knights of the Table Round.  And
the cry was made that the day of the jousts should be
beside Westminster upon Candlemas Day, whereof many
knights were glad, and made them ready to be at that
jousts in the freshest manner.

Then Queen Guenever sent for Sir Launcelot, and said
thus:  I warn you that ye ride no more in no jousts nor
tournaments but that your kinsmen may know you.  And
at these jousts that shall be ye shall have of me a sleeve of
gold; and I pray you for my sake enforce yourself there,
that men may speak of you worship; but I charge you as
ye will have my love, that ye warn your kinsmen that ye
will bear that day the sleeve of gold upon your helmet.
Madam, said Sir Launcelot, it shall be done.  And so
either made great joy of other.  And when Sir Launcelot
saw his time he told Sir Bors that he would depart, and
have no more with him but Sir Lavaine, unto the good
hermit that dwelt in that forest of Windsor; his name
was Sir Brasias; and there he thought to repose him, and
take all the rest that he might, because he would be fresh
at that day of jousts.

So Sir Launcelot and Sir Lavaine departed, that no
creature wist where he was become, but the noble men of
his blood.  And when he was come to the hermitage, wit
ye well he had good cheer.  And so daily Sir Launcelot
would go to a well fast by the hermitage, and there he
would lie down, and see the well spring and burble, and
sometime he slept there.  So at that time there was a lady
dwelt in that forest, and she was a great huntress, and
daily she used to hunt, and ever she bare her bow with
her; and no men went never with her, but always women,
and they were shooters, and could well kill a deer, both at
the stalk and at the trest; and they daily bare bows and
arrows, horns and wood-knives, and many good dogs they
had, both for the string and for a bait.  So it happed this
lady the huntress had abated her dog for the bow at a
barren hind, and so this barren hind took the flight over
hedges and woods.  And ever this lady and part of her
women costed the hind, and checked it by the noise of
the hounds, to have met with the hind at some water;
and so it happed, the hind came to the well whereas Sir
Launcelot was sleeping and slumbering.  And so when
the hind came to the well, for heat she went to soil, and
there she lay a great while; and the dog came after, and
umbecast about, for she had lost the very perfect feute of
the hind.  Right so came that lady the huntress, that
knew by the dog that she had, that the hind was at the
soil in that well; and there she came stiffly and found the
hind, and she put a broad arrow in her bow, and shot at
the hind, and over-shot the hind; and so by misfortune
the arrow smote Sir Launcelot in the thick of the buttock,
over the barbs.  When Sir Launcelot felt himself so hurt,
he hurled up woodly, and saw the lady that had smitten
him.  And when he saw she was a woman, he said thus:
Lady or damosel, what that thou be, in an evil time bear
ye a bow; the devil made you a shooter.