Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XX CHAPTER VI

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Of the counsel and advice that was taken by Sir Launcelot
and his friends for to save the queen

MY lord, Sir Launcelot, said Sir Bors, by mine advice ye
shall take the woe with the weal, and take it in patience,
and thank God of it.  And sithen it is fallen as it is, I
counsel you keep yourself, for an ye will yourself, there
is no fellowship of knights christened that shall do you
wrong.  Also I will counsel you my lord, Sir Launcelot,
than an my lady, Queen Guenever, be in distress, insomuch
as she is in pain for your sake, that ye knightly
rescue her; an ye did otherwise, all the world will speak
of you shame to the world's end.  Insomuch as ye were
taken with her, whether ye did right or wrong, it is now
your part to hold with the queen, that she be not slain
and put to a mischievous death, for an she so die the
shame shall be yours.  Jesu defend me from shame, said
Sir Launcelot, and keep and save my lady the queen from
villainy and shameful death, and that she never be
destroyed in my default; wherefore my fair lords, my kin,
and my friends, said Sir Launcelot, what will ye do?
Then they said all:  We will do as ye will do.  I put
this to you, said Sir Launcelot, that if my lord Arthur by
evil counsel will to-morn in his heat put my lady the
queen to the fire there to be brent, now I pray you counsel
me what is best to do.  Then they said all at once with
one voice:  Sir, us thinketh best that ye knightly rescue
the queen, insomuch as she shall be brent it is for your
sake; and it is to suppose, an ye might be handled, ye
should have the same death, or a more shamefuler death.
And sir, we say all, that ye have many times rescued her
from death for other men's quarrels, us seemeth it is more
your worship that ye rescue the queen from this peril,
insomuch she hath it for your sake.

Then Sir Launcelot stood still, and said:  My fair
lords, wit you well I would be loath to do that thing that
should dishonour you or my blood, and wit you well I
would be loath that my lady, the queen, should die a
shameful death; but an it be so that ye will counsel me
to rescue her, I must do much harm or I rescue her; and
peradventure I shall there destroy some of my best friends,
that should much repent me; and peradventure there be
some, an they could well bring it about, or disobey my
lord King Arthur, they would soon come to me, the
which I were loath to hurt.  And if so be that I rescue
her, where shall I keep her?  That shall be the least care
of us all, said Sir Bors.  How did the noble knight Sir
Tristram, by your good will? kept not he with him La
Beale Isoud near three year in Joyous Gard? the which
was done by your alther device, and that same place is
your own; and in likewise may ye do an ye list, and take
the queen lightly away, if it so be the king will judge her
to be brent; and in Joyous Gard ye may keep her long
enough until the heat of the king be past.  And then
shall ye bring again the queen to the king with great
worship; and then peradventure ye shall have thank for
her bringing home, and love and thank where other shall
have maugre.

That is hard to do, said Sir Launcelot, for by Sir
Tristram I may have a warning, for when by means of
treaties, Sir Tristram brought again La Beale Isoud unto
King Mark from Joyous Gard, look what befell on the
end, how shamefully that false traitor King Mark slew
him as he sat harping afore his lady La Beale Isoud, with
a grounden glaive he thrust him in behind to the heart.
It grieveth me, said Sir Launcelot, to speak of his death,
for all the world may not find such a knight.  All this is
truth, said Sir Bors, but there is one thing shall courage
you and us all, ye know well King Arthur and King Mark
were never like of conditions, for there was never yet man
could prove King Arthur untrue of his promise.

So to make short tale, they were all consented that
for better outher for worse, if so were that the queen were
on that morn brought to the fire, shortly they all would
rescue her.  And so by the advice of Sir Launcelot, they
put them all in an embushment in a wood, as nigh Carlisle
as they might, and there they abode still, to wit what the
king would do.