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How the Lady of the Lake demanded the knight's head that
had won the sword, or the maiden's head.

THE meanwhile, that this knight was making him ready to depart,
there came into the court a lady that hight the Lady of the Lake. 
And she came on horseback, richly beseen, and saluted King
Arthur, and there asked him a gift that he promised her when she
gave him the sword.  That is sooth, said Arthur, a gift I
promised you, but I have forgotten the name of my sword that ye
gave me.  The name of it, said the lady, is Excalibur, that is as
much to say as Cut-steel.  Ye say well, said the king; ask what
ye will and ye shall have it, an it lie in my power to give it. 
Well, said the lady, I ask the head of the knight that hath won
the sword, or else the damosel's head that brought it; I take no
force though I have both their heads, for he slew my brother, a
good knight and a true, and that gentlewoman was causer of my
father's death.  Truly, said King Arthur, I may not grant neither
of their heads with my worship, therefore ask what ye will else,
and I shall fulfil your desire.  I will ask none other thing,
said the lady.  When Balin was ready to depart, he saw the Lady
of the Lake, that by her means had slain Balin's mother, and he
had sought her three years; and when it was told him that she
asked his head of King Arthur, he went to her straight and said,
Evil be you found; ye would have my head, and therefore ye shall
lose yours, and with his sword lightly he smote off her head
before King Arthur.  Alas, for shame! said Arthur, why have ye
done so? ye have shamed me and all my court, for this was a lady
that I was beholden to, and hither she came under my safe-
conduct; I shall never forgive you that <54>trespass.  Sir, said
Balin, me forthinketh of your displeasure, for this same lady was
the untruest lady living, and by enchantment and sorcery she hath
been the destroyer of many good knights, and she was causer that
my mother was burnt, through her falsehood and treachery.  What
cause soever ye had, said Arthur, ye should have forborne her in
my presence; therefore, think not the contrary, ye shall repent
it, for such another despite had I never in my court; therefore
withdraw you out of my court in all haste ye may.

Then Balin took up the head of the lady, and bare it with him to
his hostelry, and there he met with his squire, that was sorry he
had displeased King Arthur and so they rode forth out of the
town.  Now, said Balin, we must depart, take thou this head and
bear it to my friends, and tell them how I have sped, and tell my
friends in Northumberland that my most foe is dead.  Also tell
them how I am out of prison, and what adventure befell me at the
getting of this sword.  Alas! said the squire, ye are greatly to
blame for to displease King Arthur.  As for that, said Balin, I
will hie me, in all the haste that I may, to meet with King
Rience and destroy him, either else to die therefore; and if it
may hap me to win him, then will King Arthur be my good and
gracious lord.  Where shall I meet with you? said the squire.  In
King Arthur's court, said Balin.  So his squire and he departed
at that time.  Then King Arthur and all the court made great dole
and had shame of the death of the Lady of the Lake.  Then the
king buried her richly.