AH, said Sir Launcelot, that knight is my fellow, and him shall I rescue or else I shall lose my life therefore. And therewithal he rode fast till he came before the Castle of Pendragon; and anon therewithal there came six knights, and all made them ready to set upon Sir Launcelot at once; then Sir Launcelot feutred his spear, and smote the foremost that he brake his back in-sunder, and three of them hit and three failed. And then Sir Launcelot passed through them, and lightly he turned in again, and smote another knight through the breast and throughout the back more than an ell, and therewithal his spear brake. So then all the remnant of the four knights drew their swords and lashed at Sir Launcelot. And at every stroke Sir Launcelot bestowed so his strokes that at four strokes sundry they avoided their saddles, passing sore wounded; and forthwithal he rode hurling into that castle.
And anon the lord of the castle, that was that time cleped Sir Brian de les Isles, the which was a noble man and a great enemy unto King Arthur, within a while he was armed and upon horseback. And then they feutred their spears and hurled together so strongly that both their horses rashed to the earth. And then they avoided their saddles, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and flang together as wood men, and there were many strokes given in a while. At the last Sir Launcelot gave to Sir Brian such a buffet that he kneeled upon his knees, and then Sir Launcelot rashed upon him, and with great force he pulled off his helm; and when Sir Brian saw that he should be slain he yielded him, and put him in his mercy and in his grace. Then Sir Launcelot made him to deliver all his prisoners that he had within his castle, and therein Sir Launcelot found of Arthur's knights thirty, and forty ladies, and so he delivered them; and then he rode his way. And anon as La Cote Male Taile was delivered he gat his horse, and his harness, and his damosel Maledisant.
The meanwhile Sir Nerovens, that Sir Launcelot had foughten withal afore at the bridge, he sent a damosel after Sir Launcelot to wit how he sped at the Castle of Pendragon. And then they within the castle marvelled what knight he was, when Sir Brian and his knights delivered all those prisoners. Have ye no marvel, said the damosel, for the best knight in this world was here, and did this journey, and wit ye well, she said, it was Sir Launcelot. Then was Sir Brian full glad, and so was his lady, and all his knights, that such a man should win them. And when the damosel and La Cote Male Taile understood that it was Sir Launcelot du Lake that had ridden with them in fellowship, and that she remembered her how she had rebuked him and called him coward, then was she passing heavy.
SO then they took their horses and rode forth a pace after Sir Launcelot. And within two mile they overtook him, and saluted him, and thanked him, and the damosel cried Sir Launcelot mercy of her evil deed and saying: For now I know the flower of all knighthood is departed even between Sir Tristram and you. For God knoweth, said the damosel, that I have sought you my lord, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram long, and now I thank God I have met with you; and once at Camelot I met with Sir Tristram, and there he rescued this black shield with the white hand holding a naked sword that Sir Breuse Saunce Pite had taken from me. Now, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, who told you my name? Sir, said she, there came a damosel from a knight that ye fought withal at the bridge, and she told me your name was Sir Launcelot du Lake. Blame have she then, said Sir Launcelot, but her lord, Sir Nerovens, hath told her. But, damosel, said Sir Launcelot, upon this covenant I will ride with you, so that ye will not rebuke this knight Sir La Cote Male Taile no more; for he is a good knight, and I doubt not he shall prove a noble knight, and for his sake and pity that he should not be destroyed I followed him to succour him in this great need. Ah, Jesu thank you, said the damosel, for now I will say unto you and to him both, I rebuked him never for no hate that I hated him, but for great love that I had to him. For ever I supposed that he had been too young and too tender to take upon him these adventures. And therefore by my will I would have driven him away for jealousy that I had of his life, for it may be no young knight's deed that shall enchieve this adventure to the end. Pardieu, said Sir Launcelot, it is well said, and where ye are called the Damosel Maledisant I will call you the Damosel Bienpensant.
And so they rode forth a great while unto they came to the border of the country of Surluse, and there they found a fair village with a strong bridge like a fortress. And when Sir Launcelot and they were at the bridge there stert forth afore them of gentlemen and yeomen many, that said: Fair lords, ye may not pass this bridge and this fortress because of that black shield that I see one of you bear, and therefore there shall not pass but one of you at once; therefore choose you which of you shall enter within this bridge first. Then Sir Launcelot proffered himself first to enter within this bridge. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I beseech you let me enter within this fortress, and if I may speed well I will send for you, and if it happened that I be slain, there it goeth. And if so be that I am a prisoner taken, then may ye rescue me. I am loath, said Sir Launcelot, to let you pass this passage. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I pray you let me put my body in this adventure. Now go your way, said Sir Launcelot, and Jesu be your speed.
So he entered, and anon there met with him two brethren, the one hight Sir Plaine de Force, and the other hight Sir Plaine de Amours. And anon they met with Sir La Cote Male Taile; and first La Cote Male Taile smote down Plaine de Force, and after he smote down Plaine de Amours; and then they dressed them to their shields and swords, and bade La Cote Male Taile alight, and so he did; and there was dashing and foining with swords, and so they began to assail full hard La Cote Male Taile, and many great wounds they gave him upon his head, and upon his breast, and upon his shoulders. And as he might ever among he gave sad strokes again. And then the two brethren traced and traversed for to be of both hands of Sir La Cote Male Taile, but he by fine force and knightly prowess gat them afore him. And then when he felt himself so wounded, then he doubled his strokes, and gave them so many wounds that he felled them to the earth, and would have slain them had they not yielded them. And right so Sir La Cote Male Taile took the best horse that there was of them three, and so rode forth his way to the other fortress and bridge; and there he met with the third brother whose name was Sir Plenorius, a full noble knight, and there they jousted together, and either smote other down, horse and man, to the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, and one while the one knight was afore on the bridge, and another while the other. And thus they fought two hours and more, and never rested. And ever Sir Launcelot and the damosel beheld them. Alas, said the damosel, my knight fighteth passing sore and over long. Now may ye see, said Sir Launcelot, that he is a noble knight, for to consider his first battle, and his grievous wounds; and even forthwithal so wounded as he is, it is marvel that he may endure this long battle with that good knight.
THIS meanwhile Sir La Cote Male Taile sank right down upon the earth, what for-wounded and what for-bled he might not stand. Then the other knight had pity of him, and said: Fair young knight, dismay you not, for had ye been fresh when ye met with me, as I was, I wot well that I should not have endured so long as ye have done; and therefore for your noble deeds of arms I shall show to you kindness and gentleness in all that I may. And forthwithal this noble knight, Sir Plenorius, took him up in his arms, and led him into his tower. And then he commanded him the wine, and made to search him and to stop his bleeding wounds. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, withdraw you from me, and hie you to yonder bridge again, for there will meet with you another manner knight than ever was I. Why, said Plenorius, is there another manner knight behind of your fellowship? Yea, said La Cote Male Taile, there is a much better knight than I am. What is his name? said Plenorius. Ye shall not know for me, said La Cote Male Taile. Well, said the knight, he shall be encountered withal whatsomever he be.
Then Sir Plenorius heard a knight call that said: Sir Plenorius, where art thou? either thou must deliver me the prisoner that thou hast led unto thy tower, or else come and do battle with me. Then Plenorius gat his horse, and came with a spear in his hand walloping toward Sir Launcelot; and then they began to feutre their spears, and came together as thunder, and smote either other so mightily that their horses fell down under them. And then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and like two bulls they lashed together with great strokes and foins; but ever Sir Launcelot recovered ground upon him, and Sir Plenorius traced to have gone about him. But Sir Launcelot would not suffer that, but bare him backer and backer, till he came nigh his tower gate. And then said Sir Launcelot: I know thee well for a good knight, but wit thou well thy life and death is in my hand, and therefore yield thee to me, and thy prisoner. The other answered no word, but struck mightily upon Sir Launcelot's helm, that the fire sprang out of his eyes. Then Sir Launcelot doubled his strokes so thick, and smote at him so mightily, that he made him kneel upon his knees. And therewith Sir Launcelot leapt upon him, and pulled him grovelling down. Then Sir Plenorius yielded him, and his tower, and all his prisoners at his will.
Then Sir Launcelot received him and took his troth; and then he rode to the other bridge, and there Sir Launcelot jousted with other three of his brethren, the one hight Pillounes, and the other hight Pellogris, and the third Sir Pellandris. And first upon horseback Sir Launcelot smote them down, and afterward he beat them on foot, and made them to yield them unto him; and then he returned unto Sir Plenorius, and there he found in his prison King Carados of Scotland, and many other knights, and all they were delivered. And then Sir La Cote Male Taile came to Sir Launcelot, and then Sir Launcelot would have given him all these fortresses and these bridges. Nay, said La Cote Male Taile, I will not have Sir Plenorius' livelihood; with that he will grant you, my lord Sir Launcelot, to come unto King Arthur's court, and to be his knight, and all his brethren, I will pray you, my lord, to let him have his livelihood. I will well, said Sir Launcelot, with this that he will come to the court of King Arthur and become his man, and his brethren five. And as for you, Sir Plenorius, I will undertake, said Sir Launcelot, at the next feast, so there be a place voided, that ye shall be Knight of the Round Table. Sir, said Plenorius, at the next feast of Pentecost I will be at Arthur's court, and at that time I will be guided and ruled as King Arthur and ye will have me. Then Sir Launcelot and Sir La Cote Male Taile reposed them there, unto the time that Sir La Cote Male Taile was whole of his wounds, and there they had merry cheer, and good rest, and many good games, and there were many fair ladies.
AND in the meanwhile came Sir Kay, the Seneschal, and Sir Brandiles, and anon they fellowshipped with them. And then within ten days, then departed those knights of Arthur's court from these fortresses. And as Sir Launcelot came by the Castle of Pendragon there he put Sir Brian de les Isles from his lands, for cause he would never be withhold with King Arthur; and all that Castle of Pendragon and all the lands thereof he gave to Sir La Cote Male Taile. And then Sir Launcelot sent for Nerovens that he made once knight, and he made him to have all the rule of that castle and of that country, under La Cote Male Taile; and so they rode to Arthur's court all wholly together. And at Pentecost next following there was Sir Plenorius and Sir La Cote Male Taile, called otherwise by right Sir Breunor le Noire, both made Knights of the Table Round; and great lands King Arthur gave them, and there Breunor le Noire wedded that damosel Maledisant. And after she was called Beauvivante, but ever after for the more part he was called La Cote Male Taile; and he proved a passing noble knight, and mighty; and many worshipful deeds he did after in his life; and Sir Plenorius proved a noble knight and full of prowess, and all the days of their life for the most part they awaited upon Sir Launcelot; and Sir Plenorius' brethren were ever knights of King Arthur. And also, as the French book maketh mention, Sir La Cote Male Taile avenged his father's death.
NOW leave we here Sir La Cote Male Taile, and turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones that was in Brittany. When La Beale Isoud understood that he was wedded she sent to him by her maiden Bragwaine as piteous letters as could be thought and made, and her conclusion was that, an it pleased Sir Tristram, that he would come to her court, and bring with him Isoud la Blanche Mains, and they should be kept as well as she herself. Then Sir Tristram called unto him Sir Kehydius, and asked him whether he would go with him into Cornwall secretly. He answered him that he was ready at all times. And then he let ordain privily a little vessel, and therein they went, Sir Tristram, Kehydius, Dame Bragwaine, and Gouvernail, Sir Tristram's squire. So when they were in the sea a contrarious wind blew them on the coasts of North Wales, nigh the Castle Perilous. Then said Sir Tristram: Here shall ye abide me these ten days, and Gouvernail, my squire, with you. And if so be I come not again by that day take the next way into Cornwall; for in this forest are many strange adventures, as I have heard say, and some of them I cast me to prove or I depart. And when I may I shall hie me after you.
Then Sir Tristram and Kehydius took their horses and departed from their fellowship. And so they rode within that forest a mile and more; and at the last Sir Tristram saw afore him a likely knight, armed, sitting by a well, and a strong mighty horse passing nigh him tied to an oak, and a man hoving and riding by him leading an horse laden with spears. And this knight that sat at the well seemed by his countenance to be passing heavy. Then Sir Tristram rode near him and said: Fair knight, why sit ye so drooping? ye seem to be a knight-errant by your arms and harness, and therefore dress you to joust with one of us, or with both. Therewithal that knight made no words, but took his shield and buckled it about his neck, and lightly he took his horse and leapt upon him. And then he took a great spear of his squire, and departed his way a furlong. Sir Kehydius asked leave of Sir Tristram to joust first. Do your best, said Sir Tristram. So they met together, and there Sir Kehydius had a fall, and was sore wounded on high above the paps. Then Sir Tristram said: Knight, that is well jousted, now make you ready unto me. I am ready, said the knight. And then that knight took a greater spear in his hand, and encountered with Sir Tristram, and there by great force that knight smote down Sir Tristram from his horse and had a great fall. Then Sir Tristram was sore ashamed, and lightly he avoided his horse, and put his shield afore his shoulder, and drew his sword. And then Sir Tristram required that knight of his knighthood to alight upon foot and fight with him. I will well, said the knight; and so he alighted upon foot, and avoided his horse, and cast his shield upon his shoulder, and drew his sword, and there they fought a long battle together full nigh two hours. Then Sir Tristram said: Fair knight, hold thine hand, and tell me of whence thou art, and what is thy name. As for that, said the knight, I will be avised; but an thou wilt tell me thy name peradventure I will tell thee mine.
NOW fair knight, he said, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Sir, said the other knight, and my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. Ah, Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, well be we met, and bethink thee now of the despite thou didst me of the sending of the horn unto King Mark's court, to the intent to have slain or dishonoured my lady the queen, La Beale Isoud; and therefore wit thou well, said Sir Tristram, the one of us shall die or we depart. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, remember that we were together in the Isle of Servage, and at that time ye promised me great friendship. Then Sir Tristram would make no longer delays, but lashed at Sir Lamorak; and thus they fought long till either were weary of other. Then Sir Tristram said to Sir Lamorak: In all my life met I never with such a knight that was so big and well breathed as ye be, therefore, said Sir Tristram, it were pity that any of us both should here be mischieved. Sir said Sir Lamorak, for your renown and name I will that ye have the worship of this battle, and therefore I will yield me unto you. And therewith he took the point of his sword to yield him. Nay, said Sir Tristram, ye shall not do so, for well I know your proffers, and more of your gentleness than for any fear or dread ye have of me. And therewithal Sir Tristram proffered him his sword and said: Sir Lamorak, as an overcome knight I yield me unto you as to a man of the most noble prowess that ever I met withal. Nay, said Sir Lamorak, I will do you gentleness; I require you let us be sworn together that never none of us shall after this day have ado with other. And therewithal Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak sware that never none of them should fight against other, nor for weal nor for woe.