Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XX CHAPTER IX

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Of the sorrow and lamentation of King Arthur for the
death of his nephews and other good knights, and also
for the queen, his wife

SO turn we again unto King Arthur, that when it was told
him how and in what manner of wise the queen was taken
away from the fire, and when he heard of the death of
his noble knights, and in especial of Sir Gaheris and Sir
Gareth's death, then the king swooned for pure sorrow.
And when he awoke of his swoon, then he said:  Alas,
that ever I bare crown upon my head! for now have
I lost the fairest fellowship of noble knights that ever
held Christian king together.  Alas, my good knights be
slain away from me: now within these two days I have
lost forty knights, and also the noble fellowship of Sir
Launcelot and his blood, for now I may never hold
them together no more with my worship.  Alas that
ever this war began.  Now fair fellows, said the king,
I charge you that no man tell Sir Gawaine of the death
of his two brethren; for I am sure, said the king, when
Sir Gawaine heareth tell that Sir Gareth is dead he will go
nigh out of his mind.  Mercy Jesu, said the king, why
slew he Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris, for I dare say as for
Sir Gareth he loved Sir Launcelot above all men earthly.
That is truth, said some knights, but they were slain in
the hurtling as Sir Launcelot thrang in the thick of the
press; and as they were unarmed he smote them and wist
not whom that he smote, and so unhappily they were
slain.  The death of them, said Arthur, will cause the
greatest mortal war that ever was; I am sure, wist Sir
Gawaine that Sir Gareth were slain, I should never have
rest of him till I had destroyed Sir Launcelot's kin and
himself both, outher else he to destroy me.  And therefore,
said the king, wit you well my heart was never so
heavy as it is now, and much more I am sorrier for my
good knights' loss than for the loss of my fair queen;
for queens I might have enow, but such a fellowship of
good knights shall never be together in no company.
And now I dare say, said King Arthur, there was never
Christian king held such a fellowship together; and alas
that ever Sir Launcelot and I should be at debate.  Ah
Agravaine, Agravaine, said the king, Jesu forgive it thy soul,
for thine evil will, that thou and thy brother Sir Mordred
hadst unto Sir Launcelot, hath caused all this sorrow: and
ever among these complaints the king wept and swooned.

Then there came one unto Sir Gawaine, and told him
how the queen was led away with Sir Launcelot, and nigh
a twenty-four knights slain.  O Jesu defend my brethren,
said Sir Gawaine, for full well wist I that Sir Launcelot
would rescue her, outher else he would die in that field;
and to say the truth he had not been a man of worship had
he not rescued the queen that day, insomuch she should
have been brent for his sake.  And as in that, said Sir
Gawaine, he hath done but knightly, and as I would have
done myself an I had stood in like case.  But where are
my brethren? said Sir Gawaine, I marvel I hear not of
them.  Truly, said that man, Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris
be slain.  Jesu defend, said Sir Gawaine, for all the world
I would not that they were slain, and in especial my good
brother, Sir Gareth.  Sir, said the man, he is slain, and
that is great pity.  Who slew him? said Sir Gawaine.
Sir, said the man, Launcelot slew them both.  That may I
not believe, said Sir Gawaine, that ever he slew my brother,
Sir Gareth; for I dare say my brother Gareth loved him
better than me, and all his brethren, and the king both.
Also I dare say, an Sir Launcelot had desired my brother
Sir Gareth, with him he would have been with him against
the king and us all, and therefore I may never believe that
Sir Launcelot slew my brother.  Sir, said this man, it is
noised that he slew him.