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How twelve knights came from Rome and asked truage for this land
of Arthur, and how Arthur fought with a knight.

WHEN the knight saw him lie so on the ground, he alighted, and
was passing heavy, for he weened he had slain him, and then he
unlaced his helm and gat him wind, and so with the truncheon he
set him on his horse, and so betook him to God, and said he had a
mighty heart, and if he might live he would prove a passing good
knight.  And so Sir Griflet rode to the court, where great dole
was made for him.  But through good leeches he was healed and
saved.  Right so came into the court twelve knights, and were
aged men, and they came from the Emperor of Rome, and they asked
of Arthur truage for this realm, other else the emperor would
destroy him and his land.  Well, said King Arthur, ye are
messengers, therefore ye may say what ye will, other else ye
should die therefore.  But this is mine answer: I owe the emperor
no truage, nor none will I hold him, but on a fair field I shall
give him my truage that shall be with a sharp spear, or else with
a sharp sword, and that shall not be long, by my father's soul,
Uther Pendragon.  And therewith the messengers departed passingly
wroth, and King Arthur as wroth, for in evil time came they then;
for the king was passingly wroth for the hurt of Sir Griflet. 
And so he commanded a privy man of his chamber that or it be day
his best horse and armour, with all that longeth unto his person,
be without the city or to-morrow day.  Right so or to-morrow day
he met with his man and his horse, and so mounted up and
<42>dressed his shield and took his spear, and bade his
chamberlain tarry there till he came again.  And so Arthur rode a
soft pace till it was day, and then was he ware of three churls
chasing Merlin, and would have slain him.  Then the king rode
unto them, and bade them:  Flee, churls! then were they afeard
when they saw a knight, and fled.  O Merlin, said Arthur, here
hadst thou been slain for all thy crafts had I not been.  Nay,
said Merlin, not so, for I could save myself an I would; and thou
art more near thy death than I am, for thou goest to the
deathward, an God be not thy friend.

So as they went thus talking they came to the fountain, and the
rich pavilion there by it.  Then King Arthur was ware where sat a
knight armed in a chair.  Sir knight, said Arthur, for what cause
abidest thou here, that there may no knight ride this way but if
he joust with thee? said the king.  I rede thee leave that
custom, said Arthur.  This custom, said the knight, have I used
and will use maugre who saith nay, and who is grieved with my
custom let him amend it that will.  I will amend it, said Arthur. 
I shall defend thee, said the knight.  Anon he took his horse and
dressed his shield and took a spear, and they met so hard either
in other's shields, that all to-shivered their spears.  Therewith
anon Arthur pulled out his sword.  Nay, not so, said the knight;
it is fairer, said the knight, that we twain run more together
with sharp spears.  I will well, said Arthur, an I had any more
spears.  I have enow, said the knight; so there came a squire and
brought two good spears, and Arthur chose one and he another; so
they spurred their horses and came together with all their
mights, that either brake their spears to their hands.  Then
Arthur set hand on his sword.  Nay, said the knight, ye shall do
better, ye are a passing good jouster as ever I met withal, and
once for the love of the high order of knighthood let us joust
once again.  I assent me, said Arthur.  Anon there were brought
two great spears, and every knight gat a spear, and therewith
they ran together that Arthur's spear all to-shivered.  But the
other knight hit him so hard in midst of the <43>shield, that
horse and man fell to the earth, and therewith Arthur was eager,
and pulled out his sword, and said, I will assay thee, sir
knight, on foot, for I have lost the honour on horseback.  I will
be on horseback, said the knight.  Then was Arthur wroth, and
dressed his shield toward him with his sword drawn.  When the
knight saw that, he alighted, for him thought no worship to have
a knight at such avail, he to be on horseback and he on foot, and
so he alighted and dressed his shield unto Arthur.  And there
began a strong battle with many great strokes, and so hewed with
their swords that the cantels flew in the fields, and much blood
they bled both, that all the place there as they fought was
overbled with blood, and thus they fought long and rested them,
and then they went to the battle again, and so hurtled together
like two rams that either fell to the earth.  So at the last they
smote together that both their swords met even together.  But the
sword of the knight smote King Arthur's sword in two pieces,
wherefore he was heavy.  Then said the knight unto Arthur, Thou
art in my daunger whether me list to save thee or slay thee, and
but thou yield thee as overcome and recreant, thou shalt die.  As
for death, said King Arthur, welcome be it when it cometh, but to
yield me unto thee as recreant I had liefer die than to be so
shamed.  And therewithal the king leapt unto Pellinore, and took
him by the middle and threw him down, and raced off his helm. 
When the knight felt that he was adread, for he was a passing big
man of might, and anon he brought Arthur under him, and raced off
his helm and would have smitten off his head.