Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XX CHAPTER Ill

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How Sir Launcelot was espied in the queen's chamber, and
how Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred came with twelve
knights to slay him

SO Sir Launcelot departed, and took his sword under his arm,
and so in his mantle that noble knight put himself in great
Jeopardy; and so he passed till he came to the queen's
chamber, and then Sir Launcelot was lightly put into the
chamber.  And then, as the French book saith, the queen
and Launcelot were together.  And whether they were
abed or at other manner of disports, me list not hereof
make no mention, for love that time was not as is now-a-days.
But thus as they were together, there came Sir
Agravaine and Sir Mordred, with twelve knights with
them of the Round Table, and they said with crying
voice:  Traitor-knight, Sir Launcelot du Lake, now art
thou taken.  And thus they cried with a loud voice, that
all the court might hear it; and they all fourteen were
armed at all points as they should fight in a battle.  Alas
said Queen Guenever, now are we mischieved both
Madam, said Sir Launcelot, is there here any armour
within your chamber, that I might cover my poor body
withal?  An if there be any give it me, and I shall soon
stint their malice, by the grace of God.  Truly, said the
queen, I have none armour, shield, sword, nor spear;
wherefore I dread me sore our long love is come to a
mischievous end, for I hear by their noise there be many
noble knights, and well I wot they be surely armed, and
against them ye may make no resistance.  Wherefore ye
are likely to be slain, and then shall I be brent.  For an
ye might escape them, said the queen, I would not doubt
but that ye would rescue me in what danger that ever I
stood in.  Alas, said Sir Launcelot, in all my life thus
was I never bestead, that I should be thus shamefully
slain for lack of mine armour.

But ever in one Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred cried:
Traitor-knight, come out of the queen's chamber, for wit
thou well thou art so beset that thou shalt not escape.
O Jesu mercy, said Sir Launcelot, this shameful cry and
noise I may not suffer, for better were death at once than
thus to endure this pain.  Then he took the queen in his
arms, and kissed her, and said:  Most noble Christian
queen, I beseech you as ye have been ever my special good
lady, and I at all times your true poor knight unto my
power, and as I never failed you in right nor in wrong
sithen the first day King Arthur made me knight, that ye
will pray for my soul if that I here be slain; for well I
am assured that Sir Bors, my nephew, and all the remnant
of my kin, with Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre, that they will
not fail you to rescue you from the fire; and therefore, mine
own lady, recomfort yourself, whatsomever come of me,
that ye go with Sir Bors, my nephew, and Sir Urre, and
they all will do you all the pleasure that they can or may,
that ye shall live like a queen upon my lands.  Nay,
Launcelot, said the queen, wit thou well I will never live
after thy days, but an thou be slain I will take my death
as meekly for Jesu Christ's sake as ever did any Christian
queen.  Well, madam, said I-auncelot, sith it is so that
the day is come that our love must depart, wit you well I
shall sell my life as dear as I may; and a thousandfold,
said Sir Launcelot, I am more heavier for you than for
myself.  And now I had liefer than to be lord of all
Christendom, that I had sure armour upon me, that men
might speak of my deeds or ever I were slain.  Truly,
said the queen, I would an it might please God that they
would take me and slay me, and suffer you to escape.
That shall never be, said Sir Launcelot, God defend me
from such a shame, but Jesu be Thou my shield and mine