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How Sir Launcelot's horse was slain, and how Sir Launcelot
rode in a cart for to rescue the queen

THEN Sir Launcelot rode as fast as he might, and the
book saith he took the water at Westminster Bridge, and
made his horse to swim over Thames unto Lambeth.
And then within a while he came to the same place thereas
the ten noble knights fought with Sir Meliagrance.  And
then Sir Launcelot followed the track until that he came
to a wood, and there was a straight way, and there the
thirty archers bade Sir Launcelot turn again, and follow
no longer that track.  What commandment have ye
thereto, said Sir Launcelot, to cause me that am a knight
of the Round Table to leave my right way?  This way
shalt thou leave, other-else thou shalt go it on thy foot,
for wit thou well thy horse shall be slain.  That is little
mastery, said Sir Launcelot, to slay mine horse; but as
for myself, when my horse is slain, I give right nought
for you, not an ye were five hundred more.  So then they
shot Sir Launcelot's horse, and smote him with many
arrows; and then Sir Launcelot avoided his horse, and
went on foot; but there were so many ditches and hedges
betwixt them and him that he might not meddle with
none of them.  Alas for shame, said Launcelot, that ever
one knight should betray another knight; but it is an old
saw, A good man is never in danger but when he is in the
danger of a coward.  Then Sir Launcelot went a while,
and then he was foul cumbered of his armour, his shield,
and his spear, and all that longed unto him.  Wit ye well
he was full sore annoyed, and full loath he was for to leave
anything that longed unto him, for he dread sore the
treason of Sir Meliagrance.

Then by fortune there came by him a chariot that
came thither for to fetch wood.  Say me, carter, said Sir
Launcelot, what shall I give thee to suffer me to leap
into thy chariot, and that thou bring me unto a castle
within this two mile? Thou shalt not come within my
chariot, said the carter, for I am sent for to fetch wood
for my lord, Sir Meliagrance.  With him would I speak.
Thou shalt not go with me, said the carter.  Then Sir
Launcelot leapt to him, and gave him such a buffet that
he fell to the earth stark dead.  Then the other carter,
his fellow, was afeard, and weened to have gone the same
way; and then he cried:  Fair lord, save my life, and I
shall bring you where ye will.  Then I charge thee, said
Sir Launcelot, that thou drive me and this chariot even
unto Sir Meliagrance's gate.  Leap up into the chariot, said
the carter, and ye shall be there anon.  So the carter drove on
a great wallop, and Sir Launcelot's horse followed the chariot,
with more than a forty arrows broad and rough in him.

And more than an hour and an half Dame Guenever
was awaiting in a bay window with her ladies, and espied
an armed knight standing in a chariot.  See, madam, said
a lady, where rideth in a chariot a goodly armed knight;
I suppose he rideth unto hanging.  Where? said the
queen.  Then she espied by his shield that he was there
himself, Sir Launcelot du Lake.  And then she was ware
where came his horse ever after that chariot, and ever he
trod his guts and his paunch under his feet.  Alas, said
the queen, now I see well and prove, that well is him that
hath a trusty friend.  Ha, ha, most noble knight, said
Queen Guenever, I see well thou art hard bestead when thou
ridest in a chariot.  Then she rebuked that lady that likened
Sir Launcelot to ride in a chariot to hanging.  It was foul
mouthed, said the queen, and evil likened, so for to liken the
most noble knight of the world unto such a shameful death.
O Jesu defend him and keep him, said the queen, from
all mischievous end.  By this was Sir Launcelot come to
the gates of that castle, and there he descended down, and
cried, that all the castle rang of it:  Where art thou, false
traitor, Sir Meliagrance, and knight of the Table Round?
now come forth here, thou traitor knight, thou and thy
fellowship with thee; for here I am, Sir Launcelot du
Lake, that shall fight with you.  And therewithal he bare
the gate wide open upon the porter, and smote him under
his ear with his gauntlet, that his neck brast a-sunder.