Gilbert's King Arthur's Knights
II. HOW LANCELOT WAS MADE A KNIGHT. THE FOUR WITCH
QUEENS, AND THE ADVENTURES AT THE CHAPEL PERILOUS
When King Arthur was arrived at the age of twenty-five,
his knights and barons counselled that he should take a queen, and his choice fell upon
Gwenevere, the daughter of King Leodegrance, of the land of Cameliard. This damsel was the
most beautiful and the most gracious in all the realm of Britain.
When the marriage was arranged between her father and Merlin, King Leodegrance said that,
for her dowry, instead of broad lands, of which King Arthur had many, he would give to
Arthur the Table Round, which Uther Pendragon had in friendship given to him many years
before. For, as King Arthur was already famous for his prowess and nobleness and his love
of knightly men and brave deeds, Leodegrance knew that this would be a gift beloved of
With the table were to go the knights who were its company. It seated one hundred and
fifty when it was complete, but many had been slain, and now they numbered but a hundred.
When King Arthur heard from Merlin of the coming of Gwenevere, with the hundred knights
bearing the Round Table with them, he was very glad, "for," said he, "their
noble company pleaseth me more than great riches." He charged Merlin to go and espy
tbrough all the land of Britain for another fifty knights, so that the table of the noble
company of the Round Table would be complete.
Now, it chanced that while Arthur sat in the hall of his palace at London, waiting for
Gwenevere to come to him, and for Merlin to return from his quest, King Ban, who had aided
him in his fierce battle against the eleven kings, sent his young son Lancelot to Arthut's
court, to learn knightly deeds and noble prowess.
None knew who he was but Arthur, who kept the matter secret. Many had smiled at the huge
limbs of Lancelot until his great strength had caused them to respect him; and being but a
young man he had not yet got all his courtly bearing and noble manners for which in later
time he was famous throughout all Christendom. So that many knights and ladies smiled
sourly upon him, but others saw that he would shortly prove a fine man of his hands, full
courteous and gentle, and of a noble nature and great presence.
At the court was also young Gawaine, son of King Lot, and nephew of the king. Both
Lancelot and Gawaine were as yet not knighted, but together they tilted at each other in
the lists beyond the walls, and spent their days in sword-play and all knightly exercises.
Lancelot was the stronger and the better fighter; and though Gawaine never overcame him,
yet did they twain love each other passing well.
Now Gawaine went to the king one day, and asked of him a gift, and King Arthur said he
would grant it.
"Sir," said Gawaine, while Lancelot stood a little way off, fondling the hounds
that licked at his hand, "I ask that ye will make me knight the same day that ye
shall wed fair Gwenevere."
"I will do it with a good will," said the king. "And, Lancelot," he
said, calling to the young man, "have ye no boon to ask of me?"
"Not at this time, sir," replied Lancelot, "but in a little while I
Into the hall next day, as the king sat at dinner came an old woman, bent and feeble, but
with reverend white hair and gentle face, and she kneeled at the king's feet.
"What is it, dame?" said Arthur. "What is't you crave?"
"Justice, lord king," she said in a weak voice, while the tears gushed from her
eyes. "Or else I die beside the gate where you do give the justice that all men
"Who hath done evil to you?" said the king.
"Sir Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower in the Marsh," replied the old woman. "I
and my son, lord, did build a little hut of wattle on a little plot which we banked from
the marsh, near the great wall of the rich baron, deeming it safe to rest within the
shadow of the strong lord, and though his hard rule was hateful to those whom he
oppressed, we were so humble that we thought he would not notice us. And meagrely we
reared our living from the ground, and sold our poor herbs to Sir Caradoc his steward, or
to the people in the villages in the marsh about us. But soon the Lord Caradoc desired the
land on which our little hut was standing, to make his lands the broader. He tore our poor
home down, and scattered all, and thrust us out to wander in the marshes, and when my poor
son pleaded with the lord, he had him whipped, and he was brought and cast half dead at my
feet as I waited outside the hall. Now if thou givest us not justice, we shall surely
"Doth any know Sir Caradoc?" asked the king of his knights.
"Yea, sir," said one, "and he is a great man of his hands, fierce and bold,
of strong family, and his brother is Sir Turquine of Camber, who tried to slay thee at
Caerleon, and was with the eleven kings in battle. Caradoc liveth in a strong tower beyond
the marshes the south of the river, and he slayeth all that desire to pass them, unless
they pay him all he demands."
"What!" said the king with fierce anger, "within a few miles of this my
justice-seat doth such tyranny rule unchecked, and ye tell me naught of it? Are ye then
more fearful of this marsh robber than of me your king?"
The knights hung:their heads abashed, and were silent.
Then Lancelot came and stood before the king.
"Let me, sir king, go and summon this tyrant to your presience," he said,
"so that this poor dame may have justice, and that ye may punish him for his
"I fear me, Lancelot, thou art over young for so fierce a knight," said Arthur.
"I shall but bear thy words, sir," said Lancelot, "and he will not harm thy
"Take two stout men-at-arms with you, then," said Arthur, "and say to this
Sir Caradoc that if he come not back with thee to answer unto me, I will come and take his
life and burn his evil tower to the ground."
Many of the younger men that had despite against Lancelot for his greater prowess at the
sword and the lance thought that now, indeed, they would be ridded of him, for they deemed
Sir Caradoc would slay him.
Two days later came young Lancelot back with his two men-at-arms, and with them, bound
upon a great horse, was a full fierce and raging knight, red of face, large of body, his
clothes all tossed and torn, and his mouth full of dire threatenings against Lancelot. Men
made way for them marvelling, and together Lancelot and his captive rode up the hall to
"Here, lord, is Sir Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower in the Marsh," said Lancelot.
"He would not come when I gave him your message, so I bided my time until he was sunk
in wine, and was sleeping alone, and I have brought him secretly from his hold. Now, lord
king, I think Sir, Caradoc would joust with me, if you will give me knighthood."
"Joust with thee, thou smooth-faced boy!" cried, Sir Caradoc, straining at his
bonds. "I will spiit thee on my lance if I may get at thee and when thou art slain, I
will fight with this little king of thine - and his death shall wipe out this insult thou
hast put upon me!"
At this rage and fierce bearing men marvelled and many were afeared, seeing that Sir
Caradoc was great in lands and kinsmen, and big of his body.
"Thou art full young, Lancelot," said Arthur, "to joust with so strong a
knight. Let an older man have ado with him."
"Sir king," cried Lancelot eagerly, "I claim the first battle with this
strong tyrant. He is my captive, and I claim it."
"Have it as ye will," said Arthur, "and God speed you. But I misdoubt me
much 'twill end in your sorrow."
"Ay, and thine too, thou gentle lady's knight!" sneered Sir Caradoc.
"Peace, man, peace," said the king sternly. "I think God will fight in this
battle, for I have inquired far, and the tale of thy evil deeds is over-full."
Therewith King Arthur made young Lancelot knight, and men eagerly rushed away to the
tilting-gound to see the battle between the virgin knight, Sir Lancelot, and the old
robber knight, Sir Caradoc. And when Sir Caradoc was released and armed, he laughed and
shook his lance, so sure was he of revenge right speedily.
Then they hurtled together most fiercely and young Sir Lancelot was thrust from his horse
by Sir Caradoc. Quickly he rose from the ground, and dressed his shield and drew his
sword, and cried, "Alight, Sir Caradoc, for I will fight thee on foot." But Sir
Caradoc, being traitorous, rode at Sir Lancelot with his spear, as if he would pin him to
the earth, and the young knight had much ado to avoid him. All the knights cried out upon
Sir Caradoc for a foul knight, and for shame he threw down his lance and alighted, and
rushed at Sir Lancelot full fiercely, in order to slay him instantly.
But that was not easily to be done, for however wise Sir Caradoc was in sword-play, he was
mad with wrath and therefore thought of naught but to slay his instantly. He raged like a
wild boar, and gave Lancelot many evil strokes, yet never did he beat down the young
knight's guard. Soon men perceived that Sir Caradoc's great fierceness was causing him to
make blind strokes, and then Sir Lancelot seemed the more wary. Suddenly they saw the
young knight leap forward, and beat so heavily on the other's helm that it cracked. Sir
Caradoc strove to guard himself. but Sir Lancelot was so wroth, and so mighty of his
blows, that he could not. At last Sir Lancelot beat him to his knees, and then thrust him
grovelling to the ground. Sir Lancelot bade him yield, but he would not, and still sought
to thrust at the other. Then the young knight struck at him between the neck and the head
and slew him.
Both the knights and the common people shouted with joy, and acclaimed Sir Lancelot as a
noble and mighty knight. But the young man was full modest, and withdrew from the press.
King Arthur gave to him the Dolorous Tower and the lands which had belonged to Sir
Caradoc, and Lancelot caused the old dame and her sone to be given a fair piece of land
and a hut, and many other wrongs and evil customs that had been done by Sir
Lancelot caused to be righted.
The kinsmen of Sir Caradoc went apart and conspired to have Sir Lancelot slain, but for a
long time they could not come at him.
Then when the queen came unto King Arthur, there was great feasting and jousting and merry
games, and Sir Lancelot, for his knightly prowess in the lists, and for his gentle
courtesy and noble manners to all, both poor and rich, high and low, was sought by many,
and for some time rested himself in knightly games and play.
Then, on a day in June, when a sudden wind from a lattice blew upon his face as he laughed
and jested with ladies and knights in silks and rich garments, he be-thought him of the
fair green woods and the wide lands through which lonely roads were winding. And departing
from the hall forthwith, he bade his horse and arms be brought to him, and rode into a
deep forest and thought to prove himself in strange adventures.
Thus faring, he rode for two days and met with naught. On the third day the weather was
hot about noon, and Sir Lancelot had great list to sleep. He espied a great apple tree
full of white blossoms, and a fair shadow was beneath it, and he alighted and tied his
horse unto a thorn, and laid his helmet under his head and slept.
While he thus lay, there rode by him on white mules four ladies of great estate, with four
knights about them, who bore a canopy of green silk on four spears, so that the high sun
should not touch the faces of the ladies. Then, as they rode by, they heard a war-horse
grimly neigh, and looking aside, they were aware of Sir Lancelot all armed, and asleep
under the apple-tree.
The ladies came nigh him, and of them there was Queen Morgan le Fay, who was wife of King
Lot, and an evil witch; the Queen of Northgales, a haughty lady; the Lady of the
Out-Isles; and the Lady of the Marshes. And when the Lady of the Marshes saw the knight
"Now this is as good hap as ever could be, for this is he that slew my brother, Sir
Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower; and for revenge of that, I would have this knight taken to
my tower and torture him before I slay him."
"That is well said," said Morgan le Fay, "for he bids fair to be one of the
most strong knights of Arthur, whom I hate. This man, Sir Lancelot du Lake, is the
favourite of all the ladies at that court, who hate me. So will I lay an enchantment on
him, so that he shall sleep."
Then the evil queen laid her hands over the face of Sir Lancelot, and said strange words
that none could understand, and then he was laid across the crupper of one of the knights'
horses, and he did not wake.
When in the twilight Sir Lancelot awoke, he found
himself on a straw pallet in a strange room, and he leaped up and went to a narrow
arrow-slit in the wall and looked out. .Before him for a great distance was a black watery
land, with the sun sinking far away on the very edge, and the pools of the marsh were as
if they were of blood.
Then he beat at the door and called, but none responded, and for wrath he could have
dashed the door down, but it was too stout, and he had no weapon; for his arms had been
taken from him.
When it was dark, suddenly it seemed to Sir Lancelot that the room smelled foul, as if he
had been carried into the midst of the quaking marsh, and was sunk deep in the slime and
weeds of a pool. Then, through the arrow-slit, he saw many strange lights come, dim and
blue like the wild lights that dance and flit over the lonely marshes by night; but that
which made him marvel was that these lights were two to ether, as if they were the eyes of
evil things. And they came up to him with a breath that was cold and dank, and they seemed
to peer into his face, but he could see naught of their bodies. The hair upon his head
rose, and his skin went cold. They pressed all about him, and to defend himself he struck
at the eyes, but his blows beat only the air. Then suddenly Sir Lancelot felt sharp pains,
as if small keen knives had been thrust into his flesh at many places. The stabs increased
in number and in pain, and Sir Lancelot beat about himself and ran to and fro in the
narrow chamber to escape the evil eyes and the stabs, but it was in vain, and thus all
night in much misery he suffered. When for sheer weariness he lay down and tried to close
his eyes, the evil things would not let him, but ever they tore at him and stabbed him. He
was in anguish of mind more than he could bear, and for all his thought he could not think
of any way to fight against the evil powers which followed and tortured him wherever he
But at dawn they fled, and then the door of the room opened, and a damsel appeared, and in
her hands was a manchet of sour bread, and a beaker of water from the ditch of the moat.
The damsel was evilly clad in rags, and seemed like a scullion maid.
"These," she said, "my mistresses bid me say shall be your food until you
"Damsel," said Lancelot, "tell me who hath brought me here and used me so
"It is Queen Morgan le Fay," said the damsel, "and the three witch queens,
the Queen of Northgales, the Queen of the Out-Isles, and the Lady of the Marshes."
"I doubt not, then, that they would slay me?" said Lancelot. "But why, hate
"It is for this," went on the damsel, "that you did slay Sir
brother of the Lady of the Marshes."
"Alas, then," said Sir Lancelot, "there is no pity for me, and none, of my
dear friends shall learn of my shameful death."
"And so that you should suffer much ere you are slain," went on the damsel,
"they sent in the night the Coranians, the marsh fiends, to torture you. Thus will
they do until you die, unless, sir knight, you are a knight with a stout heart, and a good
fighter, and will do me justice. If you will be ruled by me, and will give me a promise, I
will aid you."
"Damsel, that will I grant you," said Lancelot, "for this would be an evil
death for a knight. And full of terror hath been this night, from the foul things which
have beset me."
"I may not stay further now," said the maid, "lest they think I tarry
over-long. But by evening I will come again."
The day passed and twilight came, and Sir Lancelot was adread for fear of the night. But
anon the damsel came secretly to him and said:
"Now must you promise me this, that you will release my father, whom Sir
Sir Caradoc's brother, hath kept in his foul dungeons since I was but a little child. And
all his lands did Sir Turquine rob from him, and me he gave as a kitchen slut to Morgan le
Fay, and evilly have I been treated who am a good knight's daughter. Now, will ye promise
to free my father?"
"That will I, my poor damsel," said Lancelot; "and I will, God aiding me,
slay this Sir Turquine as I slew Sir Caradoc his brother."
So at the dead of night the damsel opened his door, and with the keys that she had stolen,
she opened twelve other locks that stood between them and the postern door. Then she
brought him to his armour, which she had hidden in a bush, and she led forth his horse,
and he mounted with much joy, and took the maid with him, and she showed him the way to a
convent of white nuns, and there they had good cheer.
Then, on the morrow, she led him to a thick forest with many hills therein, and anon they
came to a fair ford, and over the ford there grew a tree, and on it there shields, each
with the device of some knights thereon, and Sir Lancelot was astounded to see the shields
of many of King Arthur's knights hung there. And on the bole of a tree there was bason of
"Now," said the damsel, "I have brought you here where is Sir
mightiest knight that ever was found, as men say, and was never overmatched by any. And in
his dungeons are many poor knights, and my dear father, Sir Darrel. Now strike the bason
with the butt of vour spear."
Sir Lancelot beat such strokes that the bason burst asunder, and then he was aware of a
great knight riding on a black horse. "This is he," said the damsel, "and
now God aid you."
"What needst thou, sir knight?" cried the other.
"To try my strength on thee," cried Lancelot, "for thou hast done great despite
and shame unto many good knights of the Round Table."
"Art thou of that caitiff crew of ladies' knights?" sneered Sir
"Then I defy thee."
"Thou hast said enough," replied Lancelot.
They put their spears in their rests, and came like the wind against each other, and
either smote other in the middle of their shields, so that both their horses' girths
broke. Then, lightly avoiding their beasts, they came at each other with great fierceness,
and so fared for two hours, feinting and striking, and so heavy were their blows that each
bled from many wounds as they stood. At last, for sheer breathlessness, each leaned upon
"Now, fellow," said Sir Turquine haughtily, "answer me these questions I
shall put to thee."
"Say on," said Sir Lancelot.
"Thou art", went on Sir Turquine, "the biggest man that ever I met with,
and like one knight that I hate above all others, and I would liefer be thy friend than
thy foe. Now, therefore I will give up to thee my captive knights if thou wilt tell me thy
name, and if thou art not the knight I hate most."
"Willingly," said Sir Lancelot. "But what knight hatest thou above all
other? And why?"
"It is Sir Lancelot du Lake," cried the knight, "for he slew my brother Sir
Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower in the Marsh, who was one of the best knights living. And
ever I have sought this Lancelot, and slain and maimed many good knights and imprisoned
others in the quest. To slay that fellow I have made a vow, and him I would meet above all
"Ha!" laughed Sir Lancelot, "and I am the first thou hast met whose love
thou wouldst liefer have than my hatred? Well. I will have thee to wit that I am he ye
seek, Sir Lancelot du Lake, and thy brother was an evil knight and an oppressor."
'"What sayest thou?" cried Sir Turquine. "Thou art he I seek? Then,
Lancelot, thou art unto me most welcome as ever was any knight, for we shall never part
till the one of us be dead."
Then they ran at each other like two wild boars, lashing and dashing with their swords and
shields, so that sometimes in their fury they slipped together on the grass, which was
wetted with blood, and fell striking at each other. But at last Sir Turquine waxed faint
and tried to avoid Sir Lancelot's blows, and his shield sank low, for his arm was very
weary. Seeing this, Sir Lancelot leaped upon him fiercelv, and got him by the banner of
his helmet, and thrust him on his knees, and slew him at a stroke.
When he had rested a while, he went to the castle of Sir Turquine and released all his
prisoners, and was rejoiced to see the damsel find her father alive. He caused the old
knight to have his lands again, and bade the others that they should betake themelves to
the court of King Arthur to be cheered and comforted, while their possessions, which Sir
Turquine had robbed of them, should be given back to them.
Then fared Sir Lancelot further afield, glad exceedingly that he had escaped the foul
plots of the four witch queens, and also that he had vanquished the evil Sir
Then he rode a great while in a deep and dark
forest, and as he followed the winding ways, suddenly he saw a black hound
before him, with its nose to the ground as if seeking a scent. He followed the
beast, and ever she looked behind her. Soon she left the forest, and picked her
way through a great marsh, and Sir Lancelot followed, until in the wide distance
he saw a little hill with trees upon it, and in the midst a ruined manor.
The hound went towards the ruin, and Sir Lancelot followed. The wall was broken down in
many places, and the path all overgrown and weedy, and as he came to the courtyard before
the house, he saw the fishponds choked with weeds and the horseblock green with moss, and
in the great doorway grew chamel and hellebore, and the spiked hemlock waved and split its
seed in the wind. The windows hung by their hinges, and the green moss crept down the wide
wet cracks in the walls.
But the dog ran over the drawbridge into the house, and Sir Lancelot gat from his horse
and tethered it to the post beside the horseblock, and so went across the bridge, which
was full sodden and worm-eaten, and bent beneath his weight.
Coming into a great hall, foul with many rotting leaves, he saw a table in the midst
thereof, and on.it,was a knight that was a seemly man, and he lay as if he were dead, and
the black hound licked his wound. And by his side there was a lovely lady, who started up,
weeping and wringing her hands, and she said:
"O knight, too much evil have you brought to me!"
"Why say ye so?" said Sir Lancelot; "I never did harm to this knight, for
hither did this hound lead me, and therefore, fair lady, be not displeased with me, for
grief is upon me for your sorrow and your sadness."
"Truly, sir," said the lady, and she laid her face in her hands and sobbed full
sorely, so that Sir Lancelot was much stirred thereat, "I trow, as ye say it, that
you are not the knight that hath near slain my love and my husband. And never may he be
healed of his deadly wound except some good knight aid me. But he must be so bold and
valiant a man, that never, I think, may I find such a one in the little time I have before
my dear lord shall die!"
"Now on the honour of my knighthood," replied Sir Lancelot, "I do not
presume that I am such a one as you desire; but if I may aid you and ease your sorrow,
that would I do most willingly. What is it I should do?"
"Oh, sir knight!" cried the lady, and her lovely eyes looked full thankfully at
Sir Lancelot, "If ye would, it were the greatest deed you have ever done, however
bold a knight ye may be. For this my lord is sore wounded by a knight whom he met in the
forest this day, and by one thing only may he be made whole. For there is a lady, a
sorceress, that dwelleth in a castle here beside, and she hath told me that my husband's
wounds may never be whole till I may find a knight that would go at midnight into the
Chapel Perilous beside the Mere, and that therein he should find before the high altar a
sword, and the shroud in which the dead wizard-knight is lapped, and with that sword my
husband's wounds should be searched, and a piece of the shroud should bind them."
"This is a marvellous thing," said Sir Lancelot, "and I will essay it. But
what is your husband's name?"
"Sir," she said, "his name is Sir Meliot de Logres."
"That me repenteth," said Sir Lancelot, "for he is a fellow of the Round
Table, and for him will I do all in my power."
Going to the table he looked upon the ashen face of the wounded man, and it was Sir
Meliot, even as the lady said.
"Now, sir," said the lady, when Sir Lancelot had mounted his horse,"do ye
follow that hard way across the marsh, and it will lead ye by midnight to the Chapel
Perilous, and may ye speed well."
Right so, Sir Lancelot departed, and the sun was near its setting.
For some hours Sir Lancelot fared across the marsh, until it was deep night, save for the
stars; then he came upon a broad road, grass-grown and banked high, where the night wind
piped in the long grass. This he knew was a road which the great Roman necromancers had
wrought, and he thought he had missed his way, for there was no other path.
As he stood marveling, the figure of a man, tall and gaunt and but half clad, came down
the broad road towards him, and cried in a hollow voice:
"For the love of charity, sir knight, give to a poor man who is outcast."
Sir Lancelot pitied the sunken eyes of the poor man, and gave him alms.
"God give thee comfort, poor soul," said the knight, "and get thee a roof,
for the night wind blows chill."
"God bless thee, sir knight," said the man, in awful tones, "for courtesy
and pity such as thine are rare. Whither goest thou this night?"
"I seek the Chapel Perilous," said Sir Lancelot.
At which the shape threw back its head and cried out as if with great sorrow.
"God fend thee, sir knight," he said, "and bring thee safe alive. What thou
gettest there, keep thou in thy hands until the dawn, or thy soul shall suffer
Then he vanished, and Sir. Lancelot knew it had been a phantom.
Then as he crossed himself. he looked up, and through some thin and withered trees a
little way off upon a slope he saw the shirnmer of light, as if a chapel was lit up. He
went towards it, and he saw a high wall that was broken down in many places, and an old
grey chapel beyond, and the windows were shimmering with a ghostly light. As he came
through the trees he saw they were all dead, with neither leaf nor twig upon them, their
roots were crooked out of the ground if they would throw his horse, and their limbs were
as stretched as if they strained to clutch him.
Coming to the gate in the wall, his horse trembled and plunged, and would go no further;
whereat Sir Lancelot alighted, and tied it to a thorn-tree, and went through the gate. By
the ghostly light that came from the windows of the ruined chapel he saw that under the
eaves were hung fair shields, with rich devices, and all were turned upside down. Many of
them were those of knights he had known or heard of, long since dead or lost. When he had
made a few steps on the grass-grown pathway towards the door, of a sudden he saw, coming
from the church, thirty tall knights, each a foot higher than he, each in black
and each with sword uplifted, as they rushed towards him.
Their feet and their armour made no sound as they pressed forwards, and a thin blue flame
licked about each naked sword.
They came upon him, but Sir Lancelot, with a prayer to God, dressed his shield and sword
and stood firm, though his flesh quaked and his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth.
They mowed and gnashed at him, and heaved their swords about him; then suddenly their
vizors went up and he looked into their faces. And at that he was sore adread, for he knew
they were dead men.
But he would not be overcome, and said in a loud voice:
"In the name of God, avaunt ye!"
He made a step forward, and they scattered before him, but followed closely behind. Then
he went into the chapel, where he saw no light but a dim lamp burning upon the altar. It
was an old, old chapel, with dust upon its floor like a thick carpet, the walls and
windows were holed and broken, and the timber of the seats was rotten.
He went up to the high altar, and saw before it a trestle, and upon it was a dead man, all
covered with a cloth of silk. Sir Lancelot stooped down, and with his sword cut a piece of
that cloth away.
With that his blood seemed turned to water, and his feet seemed eager to run towards the
door, for with a mighty roar the earth shook beneath him, and the walls of the chapel
rocked. But he looked for the sword, which he must take, and saw it under the trestle, and
picked it up and went out of the chapel..
The ghosts of the knights pressed about him as he walked, and strove to tear the sword
from his grasp. But he would not suffer them to take it, and when he reached the gate they
could no further go, and so left him.
At the gate there came running up to him a fair damsel, crying to him:
"O brave knight, give me the sword and the cloth, that. I may take them at once to my
mistress, the lady of Sir Meliot, for he is at the point of death, arid she is waiting in
sorrow and tears beside him."
But Sir Lancelot remembered the words of the phantom beggar, and made reply:
"Fair damsel, I shall take them myself to the lady of Sir Meliot, for these things I
may not give to any until the dawning."
The damsel would have torn the sword and the cloth full hastily from his hands, but he was
aware of her intent, and hindered her, and bade her in the name of God to withdraw.
Whereat, with a great shriek, she vanished.
"Now," said Sir Lancelot, "may God, who has brought me through these evil
adventures, shield me from any further subtle crafts of these foul things."
Straightway he mounted his horse, and took his way towards the marsh, so that he should
give the sword and cloth into the hands of the lady of Sir Meliot, for healing of her
But at the dawn Merlin met him.
"Sir Lancelot," said the old white wizard, "ye have no need to go to the
ruined manor, except ye would have the proof of what I tell you."
"And what is that?" asked Sir Lancelot.
"That all that hath befallen thee hath been done by evil magic," replied Merlin.
"The black dog that led thee to the manor was a fiend, the fair lady that entreated
ye was an evil witch, and she and the damsel at the chapel were the same, and all was
caused by witch queens who had you in their tower; and the likeness of the wounded knight
to Sir Meliot was formed by wizardry. They that craved your death did hope that ye would
fail at the terrors of the Chapel Perilous, and that your soul would be lost as have the
souls of those evil or weak knights whose ghosts assailed ye. But by your courage and
great heart ye won through all."
"This is a great marvel," said Sir Lancelot, "and I thank God that He hath
shielded me of His mercy."
When Sir Lancelot was returned to Camelot, and Merlin had told King Arthur of the knight's
adventures, the king made him one of the knights of the Round Table.
"Ye do well," said Merlin privily unto the king, "for he shall prove the
most man of worship that is in the world- and all your court and all your Round Table
shall be by him made more famous than by any knight now living. Yet shall he not be one of
those three that shall achieve the Holy Graal."