Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XIX CHAPTER III

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CHAPTER III

How Sir Launcelot had word how the queen was taken, and
how Sir Meliagrance laid a bushment for Launcelot


THEN by the queen's commandment they left battle, and
dressed the wounded knights on horseback, some sitting,
some overthwart their horses, that it was pity to behold
them.  And then Sir Meliagrance charged the queen and
all her knights that none of all her fellowship should
depart from her; for full sore he dread Sir Launcelot du
Lake, lest he should have any knowledging.  All this
espied the queen, and privily she called unto her a child of
her chamber that was swiftly horsed, to whom she said:
Go thou, when thou seest thy time, and bear this ring unto
Sir Launcelot du Lake, and pray him as he loveth me that
he will see me and rescue me, if ever he will have joy of
me; and spare not thy horse, said the queen, neither for
water, neither for land.  So the child espied his time, and
lightly he took his horse with the spurs, and departed as
fast as he might.  And when Sir Meliagrance saw him so
flee, he understood that it was by the queen's commandment
for to warn Sir Launcelot.  Then they that were
best horsed chased him and shot at him, but from them all
the child went suddenly.  And then Sir Meliagrance said
to the queen:  Madam, ye are about to betray me, but I
shall ordain for Sir Launcelot that he shall not come lightly
at you.  And then he rode with her, and they all, to his
castle, in all the haste that they might.  And by the way
Sir Meliagrance laid in an embushment the best archers
that he might get in his country, to the number of thirty,
to await upon Sir Launcelot, charging them that if they
saw such a manner of knight come by the way upon a
white horse, that in any wise they slay his horse, but in no
manner of wise have not ado with him bodily, for he is
over-hardy to be overcome.

So this was done, and they were come to his castle, but
in no wise the queen would never let none of the ten
knights and her ladies out of her sight, but always they
were in her presence; for the book saith, Sir Meliagrance
durst make no masteries, for dread of Sir Launcelot, insomuch
he deemed that he had warning.  So when the child
was departed from the fellowship of Sir Meliagrance,
within a while he came to Westminster, and anon he found
Sir Launcelot.  And when he had told his message, and
delivered him the queen's ring:  Alas, said Sir Launcelot,
now I am shamed for ever, unless that I may rescue that
noble lady from dishonour.  Then eagerly he asked his
armour; and ever the child told Sir Launcelot how the
ten knights fought marvellously, and how Sir Pelleas, and
Sir Ironside, and Sir Brandiles, and Sir Persant of Inde,
fought strongly, but namely Sir Pelleas, there might none
withstand him; and how they all fought till at the last they
were laid to the earth; and then the queen made appointment
for to save their lives, and go with Sir Meliagrance.

Alas, said Sir Launcelot, that most noble lady, that she
should be so destroyed; I had liefer, said Sir Launcelot,
than all France, that I had been there well armed.  So
when Sir Launcelot was armed and upon his horse, he
prayed the child of the queen's chamber to warn Sir
Lavaine how suddenly he was departed, and for what cause.
And pray him as he loveth me, that he will hie him after
me, and that he stint not until he come to the castle where
Sir Meliagrance abideth, or dwelleth; for there, said Sir
Launcelot, he shall hear of me an I am a man living, and
rescue the queen and the ten knights the which he traitorously
hath taken, and that shall I prove upon his head, and
all them that hold with him.